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Aug. 5, 2014

Turning up the heat: new hot albums for this season

by Brian Le, Online News Editor
When your summer is missing a little kick, you can never go wrong with some music. Whether youíre on the road, on the beach or just sitting around at home, try listening to a few of these to give your day that extra boost.

The cover of "good kid, m.A.A.d city", a picture of Lamar's parents' van, depicts the honesty of the album. Courtesy of Slideshare
The cover of "good kid, m.A.A.d city", a picture of Lamar's parents' van, depicts the honesty of the album.

good kid, m.A.A.d city
Kendrick Lamarís "good kid, m.A.A.d city" is different from a typical album: instead of several distinct pieces, the tracks collectively serve as a narrative of his life with each song falling somewhere in the timeline. Which is awesome. In this genius work, Lamar describes growing up in troubled Compton and transforming into an international artist. If you donít want to listen to the entire hour-long documentary, I recommend "Money Trees" for an addictive beat and ear-candy lyrics, or "B****, Donít Kill My Vibe" for a mood boost. There are also darker songs like "Sing About Me, Iím Dying of Thirst" for a touching 12-minute experience. With such a diversity of tracks, this album is one of the most relatable, well-rounded of its kind.

Classical music has always had a bad rap, so hear me out on this one. 27-year-old pianist Yuja Wang is young and brilliant, which is why her album, "Transformation", is a must for any music lover: it features the most difficult pieces written for piano, and all played faultlessly. Take, for example, Petrouchka, the first piece in her album. Wangís hands move at inhuman speeds to cover for all the sparkling chords and cascading passages, and youíre left to gape at what just happened. The only downside is that thereís not much emotional depth to Wangís flying fingers. Still, "Transformation" is a perfect combination of young energy and pyrotechnics and I guarantee that it will have you wanting to hear more.

Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekendís "Vampire Weekend" is the epitome of carefree. Lead singer Ezra Koenigís upbeat voice coupled with the natural instrumentation gives you a nice, "homey" feeling thatís becoming less and less frequent in the music industry today. Also, the African-inspired drums Ė most prominent in "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" Ė are pretty awesome. I recommend "Mansard Roof", "Oxford Comma" (itís about Oxford commas) or "M79" for energetic songs to pump you up, or "I Stand Corrected" if youíre looking for something more restrained and down-to-earth.

Yours Truly
Who says TV stars canít sing? In her album "Yours Truly", Ariana Grande showcases her ability to hit really high notes really well. Sheís one of the leading R&B singers of the new generation, so itís no surprise that her album is impressive, passionate and just enjoyable to listen to. Thereís also some great engineering, so all of the songs have a nice clean feeling. Just watch out for some of the lyrics Ė they can become a little ooey-gooey ("Baby I": "all Iím tryna say is youíre my everything, baby") Ė but Grandeís airy voice makes them ring true. All of the tracks are great, but I especially suggest "Tattooed Heart" for a nice 50ís feel. Also, "Honeymoon Avenue", "Piano" and "Better Left Unsaid" are uber-catchy earworms.

"Salad Days" is sure to make you feel like you're chilling in the Bahamas. Courtesy of Wikimedia
"Salad Days" is sure to make you feel like you're chilling in the Bahamas.

Salad Days
Mac Demarcoís "Salad Days" is the go-to relaxation album. He wrote this after an extensive year-and-a-half long tour and then recorded all of the tracks in his apartment in Brooklyn, so itís only natural that the album gives off a chill vibe Ė and thatís exactly what it does. Itís lazy and tired. All of his songs have a groovy, walking tempo and a Bahamas feel. And the whole thing is only about thirty minutes long, so if you just want to wind down on a hot day, "Salad Days" is the perfect album to accompany you.

You can find all five albums on iTunes:
"good kid, m.A.A.d city"
"Vampire Weekend"
"Yours Truly"
"Salad Days"

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  • Yess on August 6, 2014 at 1:42 AM
    Brian is my favorite writer!
  • bree zee on August 10, 2014 at 8:16 PM
    you rock
  • Nick Ompup on August 20, 2014 at 1:24 AM
    Nice article. I really enjoy B**** Don't Kill My Vibe as well. When I'm feeling down it really gives me this awesome boost and makes me feel like a total bawss. 28384849 thumbs up bra!
  • Brock Le (View Email) on August 22, 2014 at 12:53 AM
    Nice article. I really enjoy B**** Don't Kill My Vibe as well. When I'm feeling down, it really gives me this awesome mood boost and makes me feel like a total bawss. The lyrics are immaculately written and rapped out. Honestly whenever I heard it, i can't help swaying animatedly from side to side and feeling awesome. I also sing the title in this awesome swag tone of voice that makes me even feel more killer. Super rad article, super sick albums. Yuja Wang is also awesome. Have you heard her playing Flight of the Bumblebee? Or perhaps her Mendelssohn concerto? Even though i agree that she sometimes lacks musicality, her technique is awesome and inspiring. Her music really strikes a feeling in me and amazing me. Thanks for the article, Brian!
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