By: Julian Harvey
The Billboard year-end charts continued to reflect the backward-looking nature of the public’s music appetite. Taylor Swift and Drake, two artists who have been on top since the 2000s remain in firm control of the charts. Beyond that, the world all of a sudden seems very interested again in more traditional genres like country and even Corridos music. Many of the songs that were big this year weren't even from 2023! Songs like “As It Was,” “Save your Tears” and even “Heat Waves” all somehow remained in the Top 40 all year. With that said, I’ve heard some critics claim that 2023 might be one of the worst years for new music ever and with that - I disagree.. It’s no surprise that my favorite albums and songs this year didn’t show up anywhere on the Billboard year-end list (with one glaring exception) but it’s not like these are super underground projects. The next ten albums were my favorites of the year in no particular order: (quick honorable mentions go to The Record by Boy Genius, 6 by Kenny Mason, Mega Tron 2 by Baby Tron, Heaven Knows by Pink Pantheress and Michael by Killer Mike.)
KSLU's Publication Committee historically produces semesterly publications to show our fellow KSLUers and fans of KSLU and The AMP what we've been up to throughout the semester. Publications Director Lucy Radocha and Brand Director Elaine Lohse are bringing back this tradition with the creation of KSLU's first ever ZINE!!! Check it out and leave your comments below!
To celebrate the release of The revAMP, we threw a release party/karaoke night/ticket giveaway/cookie decorating bonanza.
By Paige Bostic
Since the beginning of October, and now well into November, "The Great Pumpkin Waltz" is once again soaring in popularity on Spotify, and for good reason. It’s a sweet, nostalgic waltz that reminds many of us of being little kids watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! Songs from this special, like “Linus and Lucy” and “Snoopy and the Leaf,” are auditory motifs of the autumn season, and for good reason! The composer of many of my favorite Peanuts specials, Vince Guaraldi, was a talented jazz and bossa nova musician both within and outside his work with Charles Schultz. While his work may not be as widespread as, say, stadium rock, his stylings are just as awe-inspiring.
By: Lucy Radocha
I do not, and will not fear tomorrow because I feel as though today has been enough.
The line from Zach Bryan’s “Fear and Friday’s (Poem)” sums up the feeling of his recent release of a new, self-titled album. While the opening track is named as a poem, the rest of his lyrics throughout the album take on this same feeling of deep-rooted, heart-wrenching lyricism.
by: julian harvey
The Sunflower Convertibles might be from the future. Their debut EP “Sheboygan” is an eclectic mix of mind-melting production, soulful and passionate vocals and storyteller lyrics. The record was spawned from the group’s journey from their native Chicago to the tape’s titular city and aims to make you feel like you were brought along for the adventure. Themes of wanting to unwind and reconnect with your inner child are all over the six-track project. All four members bring something different to the table. This paired with their hip-hop-centered, genre-bending style means that The Convertibles invoke an early Brock Hampton. Chief among their influences are other Chicago artists, including their collaborators like Elijah Free, who provided the album's cover art.
“Sheboygan” was preceded by a pretty elaborate and ambitious rollout. The “Days before the Sheboygan” campaign consisted of sketches, wheatpaste prints, a music video for the song “Full Moon,” and even a concert that doubled as the project's release party. This undertaking was no small task but has helped to build local buzz in the city. The Sunflower Convertibles recently sat down with me for an interview. We discussed the serendipitous nature of their group's formation, the struggles of getting listeners as underground artists and next steps for the group. That interview is going to be broadcast on my show “Spin Cycle” but the record is out now everywhere.
By: Julian Harvey
By: Paige Bostic
Thrumming basslines, thudding drums, catchy lyrics, and guitar solos that last long enough to sound cool but not long enough that you get bored. These make up the integral building blocks of the stadium rock subgenre – save for the eponymous pillar: the stadium. Stadium rock is built on the salt-slicked backs of thousands of screaming fans crammed shoulder to shoulder in arenas swollen past full capacity. But stadium rock is well past its golden age. For many listeners, it’s become a bit of a joke genre – a soulless cash cow that’s strayed from its mother. Let’s peel back the layers of what stadium rock is, why it’s become a bit of a derided subject, and why I think we should give it another chance.
What is Stadium Rock?
Stadium rock, otherwise known as arena rock or (horrifyingly) corporate rock, is a subgenre of rock music that’s made specifically to be performed to large audiences or on the radio. Emerging in the 1960s with the wild fanaticism that was Beatlemania, it’s undeniable that stadium rock is a lucrative genre. If you need a better idea of the sound of stadium rock, try and imagine that you’re watching a commercial for a pickup truck. What music is playing? Probably a rock-adjacent earworm that slips into your skull and plays for the rest of the day against your will. Common examples of stadium rock include the works of artists like Aerosmith, Poison, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Van Halen and Bon Jovi (which are conveniently some of my most listened-to artists on Spotify, but we’ll get to that later).
Stadium rock aesthetics can also apply to punk and metal; the core of stadium rock is its popularity more so than the actual quality of its artistry. Even the siren song that is ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ qualifies as stadium rock! The popularity of arena rock–and the subgenres it utilized–gave rise to some of the more ‘high-brow’ artistry that any self-conscious listener would be proud to have in their collection: grunge, alt-rock, indie rock, etc. These subgenres, while awesome in their own right, are squeamish about being connected to their more mainstream roots popularized by arena rock. In a way, it’s like how a teenager at the mall distances themself from their mom by ducking into the back of a nearby Spencer’s.
By: Lucy radocha
By: Julian harvey
The Atlanta rapper garnered a die-hard following after his 2015 debut. Songs like “One Night” and the Dram-assisted “Broccoli” exploded the then-teenage artist well past the SoundCloud trending charts and onto the cover of the 2016 XXL Magazine Freshman Class edition.
Since then, Yachty has dropped some of his most successful records and has certainly seen his fair share of the Hot 100—mostly as a feature or alongside featured artists. He appears on songs like 2017’s “ISPY” with Kyle and again in that same year with his Quality Control labelmate Quavo on “Ice Tray.”
I love lots of songs from this era of Yachty, and I can even get behind some of his albums as a whole. Around “Nuthin’n 2 prove,” though, I can admit I started to lose interest. It felt to me like Yachty—who had started to transition more into the fashion and internet content space—had become more of a personality than a musician.
I was resigned to no longer expecting greatness when Yachty dropped.
That all changed in late 2022 when a viral snippet started to trend on TikTok. I was elated to hear what I initially assumed was an unreleased song from half a decade ago that had bubbled up through the algorithm to find me. I went to SoundCloud with the feeling that I was dusting off an old record player, ready for a throwback and a little bit of nostalgia. I started to second-guess myself when I couldn't find the song no matter what I searched. It occurred to me that the song had to be an unreleased snippet of a new and upcoming Lil Yachty track—one with the unique voice and perspective that caught the attention of a younger me.
The song went on to be called “Poland” and it was everything I wanted to see from Boat: funny, catchy, clever and made complete by a Lyrical Lemonade music video. Not long after that, he seemed to catch lightning in a bottle twice when his record “Strike” caught fire in much the same way “Poland” had. The record was packaged in a small EP on its official release and that EP introduced tons of people, including myself, to a few of the standouts from Yachty’s album that had more quietly dropped earlier that year.
I write this now on the night of the official release of yet another new classic in the Lil Yachty canon: “SOLO STEPPIN CRETE BOY,” which he previewed as part of a cypher last week. The still-only 25-year-old artist seems to be hitting his second prime and I, for one, am excited to welcome this new era of Lil Boat supremacy.