Kyle Loomis is a journalism senior and Mustang Daily music columnist.
With a new year comes more new music, and 2013 has kicked off with some exciting new albums from talented artists. From the indie scene, Tegan and Sara and Toro y Moi have recently released new material, and the debut album from a rap artist that’s quickly becoming a household name is finally available. As per usual, I’ve rated the albums on a scale of one to 10 (10 being good).
“Heartthrob” — Tegan and Sara
Released Jan. 29
The Canadian twins Tegan and Sara Quin have quietly been a part of the indie music scene for the past decade, best known for hits such as “Back In Your Head” (“The Con,” 2007) or “Walking With a Ghost” (“So Jealous,” 2004).
This time around, Tegan and Sara employed the talents of Greg Kurstin, who produced albums for pop stars such as Pink and Kelly Clarkson — which helps explain why the tracks on “Heartthrob” seem so … different.
Case in point: the duo’s new hit single, “Closer.” The track is an obvious departure from the simplicity of Tegan and Sara’s indie folk influences that marked the twins’ early success, in favor of today’s wishy-washy house-pop mixed with generic ’80s glitter rock. I have to admit I’m disappointed, and I fear this transition will alienate Tegan and Sara fans (a loss that will likely be compensated by an influx of a new, younger fan base).
Though the Quin twins departed from their roots, there is still a taste of typical Tegan and Sara within their new album. Among the synthesizer hooks and dance beats, Tegan and Sara stay true to their traditional lyrical content, exploring the ups and downs of relationships.
Before I heard “Heartthrob,” I was excited to see Tegan and Sara on this year’s Coachella lineup. Now, I’m not so sure I want to see them.
“Anything In Return” — Toro Y Moi
Released Jan. 22
Working within a genre commonly referred to as “chillwave,” this indie pop artist fuzes ambient music with R&B grooves. “Anything In Return” continues Bundick’s tradition of blurring the lines between several genres, but his third album is more lush and seductive than his previous two, incorporating more dance tempos and funk melodies.
The songs “Say That” and “So Many Details” stand out as superb tracks, flirting with dance music but maintaining a sense of mellow relaxation. The former embraces nu-disco beats, vocal samples and layers of synth melodies, whereas the latter takes it down a notch into a slow grind.
More than his previous material, Bundick seems more confident with his vocal abilities, liberating his alluring near-falsetto.
If you’re looking for some good study music, or something uplifting (but not overpowering) to accompany you on your commute to morning class, I highly recommend “Anything In Return.”
“Long.Live.A$AP” — A$AP Rocky
Released Jan. 11
Early this past month, rapper A$AP Rocky released his debut studio album to high praise from the hip-hop community.
You’ve probably heard tracks from “Long.Live.A$AP” all over radio stations these past couple months. The whistling hooks and deep, bass-ified voice from “Goldie” are admittedly catchy (my new guilty pleasure), and the hugely popular anthem “F**kin’ Problems,” which features fellow rap stars Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar, will likely help define hip-hop during the coming months.
I also have to praise A$AP Rocky for his collaborative efforts with artists outside of his genre. “Wild for the Night” features dubstep icon Skrillex and electronic dance music up-and-comer Birdy Nam Nam. The track is packed with the screeching lasers and heavy-handed bass beats that have made Skrillex so (in)famous.
While A$AP Rocky’s lyrics leave me wanting more (I’m a fan of “conscious” rap), I enjoy this album because of the diversity of its guest artists, its striking beats and A$AP Rocky’s talents regarding rhythm and cadence — aspects of rapping I often overlook.
Overall, this album is a great debut effort, and I look forward to a great career from this 24-year-old Harlem native.