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The Awkward Freshman Playlist | “Beyond the Beelzebubs”

Posted: October 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Blog, Columns | Tags:

This week’s post is hopefully only one of many I’ll be writing about Tufts musicians over the course of the year.  Last week I wrote briefly about DJ and his band Take Care.  It seems, however, that I was way behind.  They have actually released a new demo and two of their songs have already been featured on indierockcafe’s best new releases list alongside big-deal names like Sufjan Stevens and Belle and Sebastian.  This new demo is really quite good; an immense improvement from the earlier album (NOT EP as I mistakenly suggested last week) and you should download it here.

On October 5th, I had the opportunity to learn about some more Tufts artists when I attended Tufts Unplugged, an acoustic music showcase put on by the Musicians Collective at Tufts (MCAT).  For those of you who aren’t familiar, MCAT is in theory a sort of communal forum for musicians to interact and create.  In practice it is an email list.  At the concert there were 13 artists, each playing two original songs. My favorite act, Greg Beach, is currently between musical endeavors and therefore does not have a Myspace so I sadly cannot link to any of his music.  He was hilarious, odd, and unique and he won the award for best song lyric of the night: “Fuck everything except you; I like you.”  In case you are wondering, the panel of judges for this award consisted of my three friends and me.  Anyway stay tuned for some of Greg’s music in a later post.

A high school friend of mine also played in the acoustic show so I am taking this opportunity to give him a major plug.   Hayes Peebles, the token hipster of Houston Hall, has a myspace and an EP on iTunes. He’s really fantastic, and I’m not just saying that because he’s a friend.  At the showcase he performed one new song, Blackout, which he describes as pop-y though that’s certainly not a word I would use.  He also played Dissolve an older song from his EP.  He was excellent as always.  His voice keeps getting better and he has recently started reaching more into his falsetto voice which I bet you a Rezquad latte is due in large part to the influence of Bon Iver. Incidentally, Hayes is also a great educational resource when I’m in need of music guidance.  I recently got fed up with feeling lost whenever people raved about Local Natives.  Finally I just stuck a blank CD under his door in Houston with a note imploring him to burn me their album, Gorilla Manor.  This turned out to be an extremely effective music sharing method and I now can finally join in the Local Natives hysteria.

Another favorite from the acoustic showcase was the event’s organizer, Ben Anshutz (Ben Crane in music world).  Ben has a handful of different musical projects, ranging from his solo work with what he calls “front porch folk music” to fronting his piano rock band The Smoking Jackets.  After studying music in India last year, he also released a batch of Hindi inspired songs called Maitri which you can download on his website.  At the showcase he played one of his folky tunes and then improvised on the theme from Norwegian Wood on his Sitar.   Last week when I interviewed Anshutz, he gave me a copy of The Smoking Jackets’ CD, Wolves In Cheap Clothing, which is fun, interesting, and definitely worth a listen.  Though I personally prefer his folky solo stuff, the band has a very cool sound and I especially like the brass section.  I am also intrigued by the absence of guitar in the group.

There are so many more artists and bands on campus that I’ve yet to discover but I want to take this last paragraph just to freak out about The Antlers as I promised I would in last week’s post.  My fabulous friend Kelly saw them live at Lollapalooza and then recommended them to me after we bonded during wilderness orientation.  After many more recommendations from other kids on campus I finally bought their CD and did the appropriate music research.  The band is Brooklyn based (woohoo!) and in 2009, New York Magazine listed their song, Kettering, as one of Brooklyn’s top 40 songs.  Hospice, the band’s 2009 release is a concept album about a patient in a hospital.  It is as dark and depressing as it sounds but it is also fascinating, eerie and great.  Their lyrics are mournful and strange and laden with hospital imagery as in Kettering:

“Walking in that room when you had tubes in your arms, those singing morphine alarms out of tune kept you sleeping and even, and I didn’t believe them when they called you a hurricane thunderclap.”

The album is beautiful and really ought to be appreciated as an album, not as various singles bought on iTunes over time (or otherwise obtained).  If you really don’t feel like buying it, you can always just slip a blank CD under my door.

1.  Halfway House – Take Care
2.  Too Much – Sufjan Stevens
3.  Condense – Hayes Peebles
4.  Dissolve – Hayes Peebles
5.  Cards and Quarters – Local Natives
6.  Shades of Warhol – Ben Crane
7.  Intention – Ben Crane
8.  Cameo – The Smoking Jackets
9.  Kettering – The Antlers
10.  Shiva – The Antlers

Ellen Mayer is a freshman from Brooklyn, NY. She has no idea what she wants to major in and is open to suggestions. Seriously. She likes singing, leather boots, local food, and talking to people about music. You can find her procrastinating at Rezquad Cafe or just email her at ellen.mayer@tufts.edu.

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