Lollapalooza, We’re Yours

It’s time. That time. The one when three hundred thousand human beings congregate in a park in Chicago, IL to stand, and soak, and sweat, and kiss, and drink, and smoke, and puke, and love, and cheer, and fight, and fuck. It’s the most raucous, unwieldy collection of strange and disfigured people: small, tall, fat, thin, old, young. And they’re all together to listen to some other folks make glorious, glorious sounds from metal boxes. They’ll hit things, shake things, strum things, blow things, crash things, smash things, and vibrate their throats until we’ve had enough and then they’ll do it some more. That’s the human transaction. That’s the state of music. That’s Lollapalooza.

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Tapes Didn’t Go Away, You Did: Pitchfork Music Festival and Challenging Independent Identity

It is Friday afternoon and I’m standing silently alongside many large groups waiting impatiently for the Green Line train to take us to the Pitchfork Music Festival. The scene is nothing new for people who annually attend the festival in Chicago’s Union Park: clusters of predominantly white, flannel-wearing men with their hands in their pockets excitedly muttering amongst each other about the acts they want to see; women arguing with their respective partners about whom was supposed to buy cigarettes and bring the tickets; two guys in matching Minor Threat t-shirts scoffing at the crowd who, to them, don’t seem like the real Godspeed You! Black Emperor fans they were looking for; nervous looking people crouching to check if their contraband is well hidden in their backpacks; and all while the regular Green Line patrons look on confused as if aliens had dropped bunches of disaffected hipsters from the sky. One of these patrons rolls their eyes at someone who loudly remarks “I’ve never even heard of this El Line!” as if to say, “this happens every year.

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Why Frank Ocean Matters

If you were on Facebook or twitter last Monday, July 9, you probably heard something about Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE—someone scrobbling late at night, or maybe a cryptic lyric posted. Monday marked the true genesis of Frank Ocean as major recording artist, and the world is taking notice.

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Airspace Sessions: Sorry, Charlie

The musician Charles Wynne, the force behind Sorry, Charlie, is a singer-songwriter hailing from the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He began playing guitar at 13 and writing songs at 16, and over the years has honed his craft while drawing influence from the likes of Bon Iver, Peter and the Wolf, and The Mountain Goats.

Now 19, Wynne plays a unique brand of emotional, genuine music that comes directly from his experiences. His lyrics narrate the journey of his life, providing honest reflection and poignant observation from the perspective of a young man on the verge of adulthood facing the daunting life choices that will define him while learning from his past. Carefully crafted melodies provide the platform for Wynne’s straightforward yet poetic lyricism, forming a whole that is at once blissfully minimalist and intriguingly complex.

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The Week in A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky has had a busy week: distancing himself from the pack, hyping his new album, and working with Lana Del Rey. Read about his roles as trillwave pioneer and JFK inside.

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Justin Leaves Little to Believe In

It would be easy to listen to two tracks from the new Justin Bieber release, slag the whole album as pop garbage, and leave it at that.

At just over 48 minutes long, Believe does plenty of things right. A small army of producers, including big names Diplo, Zedd, and Bei Maejor, give the album’s 13 tracks an impressive range of beats and synth lines. Try as you might, you can’t find an unsatisfying chord progression or drumbeat anywhere.

The album is consistent, but this turns out to be more of a drawback than a virtue. Too many of the tracks are nothing more than half of a verse followed by a neverending chorus. “As Long As You Love Me,” one of the album’s better cuts, teases the listener with a dubstep-inspired beat that never develops beyond the first minute.

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The Last Six: Best Music at the Mid-Year

2012 is over half way through, and as music festivals approach, its important to recognize the best musical pieces of the year. We start with the LP, the medium of choice for the great releases. EPs, mixtapes, and other releases are included in a separate list at the bottom. Every LP or EP on this list has been put into a Spotify playlist, embedded at the bottom. Altogether it is almost a day’s worth of listening, but well worth it to be up to date on all the great musical happenings of the past sixth months.

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Indie Loves Songs for Your Hipster Sweetheart Pt. II

One of our inaugural Spotifriday playlists, Indie Love Songs for Your Hipster Valentine, is quite popular and quite good, so we’ve worked to expand it with a sequel. This time the song choices tend a bit darker, but maintain the tender nature of the first set—in fact, sometime the most tender (Pale Blue Eyes, Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime) are also the most bleak. In a way this playlist is the Godfather Part II of playlists: just as good or better than the original, and a bit darker.

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Spotifriday: Dylan’s 71

In honor of the great bard’s 71st birthday, the Airspace put together a playlist of Bob Dylan’s best 71 songs. Experience greatness once more with this excellent Spotifriday playlist.

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Turntable 101: Needles, Arms, Motors, and Grooves

Happy Record Store Day. Go out and buy some vinyl to support the real industry of music. Go right now then come back. Okay, you’re back now with your copy of “The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends” or something equally awesome. You pull out the 12 inch slab, spin it around, and admire the vinyl microgrooves. Buy the disc, take the ride. You head over to your turntable, which you call a record player, that appears to be made my Fisher Price. It’s got some rad knobs, a sweet plastic housing, and you’re pretty sure you saw a DJ with something like in a movie from the 90s. It’s connected to a receiver that belonged to your parents, and that’s connected to speakers that your Grandpa owned before your Dad took them to college and spilled beer on them every weekend during his six year stint at education. You pop the record on, sit back, and comment to your girl/boyfriend (or maybe just to yourself) how much better vinyl sounds than digital. You immediately drown in the sludge of your own smugness.

What you’re listening to doesn’t sound better than a digital file. I 93 percent guarantee that. Your turntable is cheap, light, and imprecise in every possible way. Your speakers likely have diaphragm issues and need to have some rotten foam gaskets replaced depending on when they were made. Your amp might be okay. (They age well and the technology hasn’t really changed much in the last 40 years. In fact, older amps are better because newer ones are over-priced and plasticized to support ridiculous home theatre set-ups.) But it’s not your fault your set-up is awful. You’re trying your hardest with your limited resources and understanding of the technology. Rest assured, the rumors of vinyl sounding better than CD, Tape, MP3, and FLAC are completely true.

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Commentary Ticker

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    July 12, 2014 | 4:02 pm

    If you haven’t heard, electroencephalograms (EEGs) have been getting better. Way better. Artificial limbs and even video game controllers are utilizing the non-invasive brain-wave monitoring method to guide computers by thought. Now English startup This Place has developed a way to bring the technology to Google Glass, allowing Google’s wearable to read your mind. Well, […]

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    Within the cultural centers of the world lurks a mechanical beast draped in silver spinning madly and capturing everything, sometimes even itself. In 2011 Google created the Art Project, an initiative to bring their Street View technology inside the cultural epicenters of the world. Google enlisted 17 world-class museums in short time. Institutions such as […]

  • Purple Mountunes Majesty: The Most Patriotic Playlist
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    A while ago, Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest, a music-analysis company, took to finding each state’s most distinctive, yet popular, artist in a viral article. Spotify took note, purchasing Echo Nest for their analytical talent. Together, they’ve released a blog post documenting each state’s most distinctively American song creating a patriotic playlist for the […]

  • Emojinealogy: Where the Heck Emojis Come From
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    On June 16th, the Unicode Consortium announced that 250 new emoji would be added to the list of symbols available to people’s cellphones and computer devices. The list of the new symbols can be found on Emojipedia. And no, the list doesn’t include the much needed minority representation, but it does include your favorite (?) […]

  • The Decline and Fall of the American Mall
    June 24, 2014 | 9:07 pm

    For ages, the shopping mall was as essential to the architecture of suburbia as Levittowns and freeways. But in an era of online shopping, these epicenters of brick and mortar yesteryear are quietly being abandoned across the country. While the U.S. currently has around 1,500, the number may soon shrink, and rapidly, leading to abandoned […]

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