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Tuesday, July 17

Vinnie the Intern's Blog #6: A Great Week For Music

I had many options on what to write this week. In fact, too many options. So I'm just going to cover them all. It has truly been a great week in music. Four albums have been released over this past week that, I feel, have exceeded all expectations and have much lived up to their hype. I will be going over The Dirty Projector's Swing Lo Magellan, Frank Ocean's Channel Orange, Azealia Banks' Fantasea, and Passion Pit's Gossamer, as well as previewing Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti's forthcoming album, Mature Themes, due this August.

1. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
The newest album from David Longstreth and Company is easily their most accessible to date. Swing Lo Magellan features exceptional guitar playing, an emphasis on handclaps (or just rhythm in general), and expansive vocal range that they are often noted for. This album is the last place I would have expected them to travel to after 2009's Bitte Orca, but then again, I said the same thing after listening to the that album after 2007's Rise Above. The unexpectedness that I get with every release is the reason why I love this band. Some immediate standouts for me were: "Dance For You," "See What She's Seeing," "Swing Lo Magellan, and "Just From Chevron."

2. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
Odd Future affiliate had a lot prove with Channel Orange. In the past month and a half he has released the sprawling ten minute track "Pyramids" featuring John Mayer and received much praise from a letter he released on his Tumblr regarding his sexuality which he followed with his performance of "Bad Religion" on Live On Jimmy Fallon last Monday. Channel Orange can be streamed on Frank Ocean's Tumblr. The album has similar subject matter to Nostalgia, Ultra, such as his references to retro gaming (the opener "Start" contains a sample of the opening sounds of a Playstation One). But the difference between the two albums is his focus. There is not one song that drags on or overstays its welcome. Frank Ocean has grown into quite the storyteller, containing much more ambiguity and strength in his songwriting. Some standouts are "Thinking About You," "Crack Rock," "Pyramids," "Lost," and "Pink Matter" featuring two standout verses by Andre 3000.

3. Azealia Banks - Fantasea
I feel that I talk about Azealia Banks a little too much. This must be the third time that I have mentioned her in one of my posts, but I can't help this considering her continuous release schedule and the overall quality of the bulk of her songs. Fantasea, her newest mix-tape is available for free download. Some tracks to check out are "US," "Luxury," "Esta Noche," and "Jumanji." Her third and final release of the calendar year, Broke With Expensive Taste, is scheduled to come out this fall.

4. Passion Pit - Gossamer
Passion Pit's second full length album, Gossamer, is set for release on the 24th, but can be streamed on NRP now. I would say this album is stronger than their great first full length Manners from 2009. The sticky-sweet poppy element is still present, so it is not a large deviation away from the Passion Pit formula, but it is a little more varied due to the album's glitchy textures, probably best exemplified on "I'll Be Alright." Michael Angelakos' falsetto (which is usually the obstacle when I talk to people about Passion Pit) is stronger and better than ever, in my opinion. Tracks to check out: "I'll Be Alright," "Constant Conversations," "Cry Like A Ghost," and the closer "Where We Belong."

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Only In My Dreams (Single)

The last thing that I was excited for this week was the new Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti song "Only In My Dreams" which can be downloaded on 4AD's website. So far, there have been two tracks released, the other one being the Donnie and Joe Emerson cover "Baby," from Mature Themes, their newest album. It is scheduled for release on August 20th. Before Today was an incredible album and Mature Themes has a lot of expectations to live up to, but if any of the aforementioned artists have proved, this seems to be a good time to do so.

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