Category Archives: Music Reviews

Album Review: The Smith Street Band – ‘More Scared of You Than You Are of Me’

Fans of The Smith Street Band, and their vocalist/lyricist Wil Wagner, are no strangers to having their hearts broken through music. Wagner has a habit of penning lyrics in a way that is somehow both intensely personal and profoundly relatable. The band, however, has outdone themselves with their latest release, More Scared of You Than You Are of Me. This record finds The Smith Street Band going bigger, bolder, and darker with their art.

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Hamilton Mixtape Roots Musical in Real-World Struggles

On December 2nd, Lin-Manuel Miranda and his army of hip hop, pop, and R&B contemporaries dropped the Hamilton Mixtape. The release, while planned well in advance of political controversy, came mere weeks after Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended the musical and was treated to a stern but emotive speech courtesy of the cast.
The musical has never been shy about its goal to illuminate modern race relations in America. Using rap and hip hop to propel itself into the mainstream, Hamilton draws connections between the Founding Fathers’ working-class rhetoric and the racially- and ethnically-diverse backbone of the present-day American workforce (“immigrants: we get the job done”). It brings to light the all-white version of the Revolutionary War taught in history classes by insisting on a cast of minorities (the original leads were Latino [Lin-Manuel Miranda], Black [Leslie Odom, Jr.], and Chinese-American [Phillipa Soo]). What’s more, the use of rap and hip hop as the lyrical theme to the musical serves purposes beyond just adding unique texture and replicating the speed of the Founding Fathers’ thought processes. When theater audiences (which, as many have pointed out, are predominantly white) hear actors of color rap, it requires them to connect the actions of the Revolution with the every-day lives of the Black and Latin@ artists who populated rap and hip hop’s political beginnings.

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Album Review: Jeff Rosenstock – WORRY.

I have been more excited for Jeff Rosenstock’s third solo album, WORRY., than I’ve been for pretty much anything in the past year or two. When it went up on Spotify last night, I had a brief moment of terror, where for a split second I questioned whether I had hyped it up too much. Maybe my expectations were too high. Then I hit play and realized that was a stupid mistake.

The music I listen to could be described less as a genre and more as an emotional state: I’m a big sucker for media made by and about people who have struggled but still manage to find a glimmer of hope in the world. That’s why I love musicians like Frank Turner and shows like Bojack Horseman, so it should surprise no one that I love WORRY. Jeff Rosenstock has dealt with his anxieties in all of his solo work, but this album feels especially poignant now, when the United States is best characterized by police shooting unarmed black people and a fascist Cheeto bragging about sexually assaulting women after referring to Mexican immgrants as “rapists”. So many of us in this country are terrified of what will become of it. Add that to our personal insecurities about falling in love, being able to afford our rent, and whether or not our friends really like us, and you have a recipe for disaster. Rosenstock is able to address all of these thoughts and fears on WORRY. while still giving an upbeat and hopeful finale. Continue reading Album Review: Jeff Rosenstock – WORRY.