Editor’s Spotify:My crunch playlist

As an Entertainment Arts and Engineering student I constantly find myself working deep into the night on my games or crunching. This week especially I had to crunch from one PM to one AM multiple nights in a row. You, dear reader, might be wondering how I managed to spend 12 hours fiddling with a computer screen? The answer is four words. Dope. Ass. Crunching. Playlist. Keeping me motivated and energized.

The secret to a Dope Ass Crunching Playlisttm is to strike a balance between songs that motivate and songs that will energizes as they play in the background whilst you work meticulously. Think of it as the Eminem vs. Chance the Rapper conflict. Eminem has been, is, and always will be my artist of choice for motivation. His raps are consistently about him kicking assand getting the respect he deserves. “Till I collapse I’m spilling these raps long as you feel ’em/Till the day that I drop you’ll never say that I’m not killing ’em/‘Cause when I am not, then I’ma stop penning ’em.” He is all about being the underdog, working hard, and winning, making him the perfect artist to start out a work session with. Hit the ground running and lose yourself in the music. But the emotional high of an Eminem song doesn’t go on forever, as the hours tick away something different is required, the motivation is there but no the groove.

Considered Chance the Rapper. I always put him in my Crunching Playlist, he also never raps about being the underdog and is nowhere near as aggressive as Eminem. But he is still great for working, his bars are fire, the beats are mellow but still have the energy to keep your pace, and who doesn’t want to listen to Chance’s voice while they work? He is perfect for mid crunch; his rhythms bring a groove that can be focused into working energy. For example, take the second half of the first verse of All We got “It was a dream, you could not mess with the Beam/This is like this many rings /You know what I mean? /This for the kids of the king of all kings /This is the holiest thing/This is the beat that played under the words /This is the sheep that ain’t like what it heard/This is officially first/This is the third.” Just reading that you can feel the groove bringing forth energy within, perfect for keeping a steady stream of work.

This dichotomy doesn’t exist only in rap either. It’s everywhere, Cold War Kids vs. Saint Motel, Devo Vs. Talking Heads, even Blink-182 Vs. Less than Jake. Whatever the genre I assure you there are certain bands that provide hard heavy hitting motivation, focusing on being the underdog and fighting you way back and bands that can just exude energy to maintain your work groove. Those bands make up any good crunching playlist. Of course, you still need to include Stan Bush’s classics The Touch and Dare from The Transformers: The Movie but I’ll explain that some other time.

Editor’s Spotify: Theo Katzman’s Heartbreak Hits

I was listening to my Discovery Playlist on Spotify earlier the week when I found someone I had to talk about, an LA based rocker named Theo Katzman and his album Heartbreak Hits. Katzman’s Soul, Rock, and Jazz influences combine to create a modern rock album that hits all check marks, even a punky picture of the lead man on the cover, and it’s all I’ve been listening to this week.

There’s not a bad track on this album, from top to bottom and front to back it’s solid as a rock. The opening track I Put In The Hard Work where Katzman laments time and energy put into a past romance, gives us something of a teaser. While subject matter, like most songs on this album, isn’t going to give anyone a revelation about break ups, it’s so well done I couldn’t help to groove to it. The guitar heavy intro brought me in as a well composed swinging beat topped off by Katzman lyrics sung with in classic rock falsetto, there was no escape I needed to listen to the whole thing.

Heartbreak Hits isn’t afraid throw a fast ball and switch to a slow song like Break-up together and my 1-bedroom. Katzman’s grooving energetic tone somehow sticks around during these tracks and I still found myself rocking back and forth as he shows a more sensitive touch. These songs are heavily influenced by Katzman’s Jazz upbringing with a strong focus complex melodies and employing full use of the chorus and piano that otherwise take a back seat to guitars and Katzman’s lead vocals for the rest of the album.

Katzman is at his best when he goes loud. In this humble editor-in-chief’s opinion there is no exciting moment on Heartbeak Hits then when Katzman goes full rocker. The guitars whale, the drums burst into a beat straight out of the garage, and Katzman puts all out there the mic. My Heart is Dead, Lost and Found, and As the Romans Do are the type of polished and heart-felt rock songs that we just do not get a lot of these days, and it’s great to hear a student at the Art go town.

Although with all of that said I would be remorse if I didn’t mention the album’s most powerful track. Paine Jane Heroine. I can’t tell if the song is about a girl, Heroin, or some combination of both. But after learning about the Opioid epidemic that faces our country this week I couldn’t help but be moved. The song is sliced somewhere in the middle when it comes to energy, not soft not loud but perfect for painting the picture of drug addiction and its disastrous effects on lives. The sincerity and simplicity that make this album work is on full display and if you are going to listen to one song off this album this is the one.

Heartbreak Hits isn’t a complex album. There’s minimal amounts of production that creates a clean sound. There is no wonky instrumentation to create some weird hook and Katzman barely isn’t flashy in any sort of way, he is just a dude lookin’ to rock. It’s ten solid Pop Rock songs on level that I haven’t heard in while that together create the solidest album I have so far this year, take or leave it, but that it’s what’s on my Spotify.