Photo courtesy of Spin.com

Photo courtesy of Spin.com

By Nick Rattigan

Juan Wauters, former front man of   the garage rock band The Beets, makes   his debut as a solo artist with “N.A.P.   North American Poetry.” The album   is defined by Wauters broken, yet   strangely enjoyable, English and his   memorable acoustic Spanish guitar to   create simple, yet addictive pop songs.

Think: A Wes Anderson soundtrack set   in Barcelona.   N.A.P. was released on Captured   Tracks, a record label that has dominated the indie music scene for the   last five years. Whether it is the 80s   dream-pop of Wild Nothings or the   post-punk indie divas DIIV, Captured   Tracks has always been best at finding   the most unique talent defining the   indie genre.

The great thing about “N.A.P.” is how   Wauters effectively differentiates himself from most of the label’s synth-pop   sound. He aligns himself more with   music heartthrob and labelmate Mac  DeMarco, bringing another soothing   and contextual pop singer into the   label’s discography.

Only, instead   DeMarco sings sweet nothings, while   Wauters adds a cultural touch of rich   Spanish guitar riffs and endearing   lyrics.   Lead single “Sanity or Not,” is an incredibly addicting piece of garage rock   magic, but the true soul of “N.A.P.”   shines on the track “Water,” an acoustic guitar driven ballad accompanied  by Wauter’s signature basic lyricism.

Singing, “Do I belong? Who is it that   I am? What is it that I am for?” does   not necessarily redefine the art of   songwriting, but he still picks at the emotions no one wants to think about.   Through sentiments like this, N.A.P.   encapsulates the beauty of simplicity   in pop music, and simplicity is bliss.

Nick Rattigan can be reached at thersko@sagebrush.unr.edu.

 

By Conor Ploeger

 

Photo courtesy of Pitchfork.com

Photo courtesy of Pitchfork.com

St. Vincent’s Annie Clark has   spent the last seven years radically   evolving and changing her style,   both physically and musically. At   the same time, she has built upon   the unique and exciting brand of   indie pop that made her noteworthy   in the first place, something her   peers in independent music have   struggled with for sometime.

For her   fourth, self-titled album, the unique   singer has made her most upbeat   album, and one of her best to date.   “St. Vincent’s” opener “Rattlesnake” introduces listeners to   the more upbeat nature of the   record,while examining the topic of   mortality via her encounter with a   rattlesnake while alone in the Texas   wilderness.

Clark also further proves   her ability as a guitarist with lead   single “Birth in Reverse,” in which   the self-taught musician’s ability   dominates the track.   Throughout the album, Clark   is able to transition from peak   Madonna-like 80s ballads such as   the record’s “I Prefer Your Love” and   the experimental Talking Headsesque dance numbers in “Digital   Witness,” with amazing confidence.

St. Vincent’s analysis of humanity in   the digital age is a recurring lyrical   theme, but despite the lofty topic,   it never comes off as overbearing.   Clark is able to examine our new-found fixation with our devices,   while not being too critical of the   topic, like Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor.”

When it’s so easy for someone to   blend different genres so seamlessly,   it can be hard not to just gape in awe.   While her intellectual songwriting   and dense song structures can be a   bit overwhelming for the casual ear,   St. Vincent’s latest proves that she’s   one of the strongest artists in today’s   pop scene.   Conor

Ploeger can be reached at   thersko@sagebrush.unr.edu.

 

Photo courtesy of Strangemusicinc.com

Photo courtesy of Strangemusicinc.com

By Luke Keck

Quincy Hanley, better known by his   moniker ScHoolboy Q, made an intense   entrance into the hip-hop scene with   his major label debut, “Oxymoron.”

The record has enjoyed a great deal of   critical acclaim, and after a brief listen,   it isn’t hard to see why. “Oxymoron”   is packed with a variety of different   sounds and influences from various rap   subgenres.

Q offers several uplifting tracks,   such as “Collard Greens” and “Hell of   a Night,” as well as the bass-beating   “Fuck LA” and “Los Awesome,” which   Q described in an interview as a song   that his “gang-banger [fans] could…   identify to.”

ScHoolboy Q also channels   the dark, berserk sound of Odd Future   in the siren-backed track “The Purge,”   which is complemented by a gritty   hook from Tyler the Creator and a savage verse from Kurupt.

That said, “Oxymoron” provides   much more than club bangers and   talented features; in the biographical   track “Hoover Street,” Hanley provides   listeners with an uncensored look into   his poverty-ridden background, writing   especially poignant lines concerning   his devoted grandmother and his   abusive, drug addicted uncle.

Similarly,   Q softens hearts in his lament-filled   drug ballad, “Prescription-Oxymoron,”   in which he explores his failures as   a father with subtle, but heart-string   tugging cries by his daughter, pleading,   “Wake up, daddy!”

ScHoolboy Q’s debut in the major   rap scene parades his proficiency as   an artist, not only from his solo hits on   “Oxymoron,” but also through his ability to stand in the face of Kendrick Lamar’s bilingual verse on the marijuana   anthem, “Collard Greens,” as well as his   seamless companionship with Tyler the   Creator, Raekwon and SZA.

Luke Keck can be reached at thersko@sagebrush.unr.edu.