Posts in Opinion
Three Piece Combo: Frank Ocean's Blond

In a recurring series, strangelooks presents some of our favorite sequential three track combinations. Here, we have tracks 7, 8, and 9 from Frank Ocean's Blonde.

written by: Forrest Bloom

Funny thing: the first time I listened to Blonde, I hated it. I guess the high pitched vocals, lack of drums, and overall experimentation turned me off...at first. However, fast-forward to the present and Blonde is my favorite album ever... EVER. It’s my “you can only pick one” album for when I get stuck on an (existential) island. This album is home to one of the best three piece combos in music: the magnificent trio of Self Control, Good Guy, and Nights. It’s almost a cheat code because Self Control and Nights are easily two of Frank Ocean’s greatest songs; I’m speaking subjectively AND objectively. 

Track 7: Self Control

Self Control is a song about disconnection.  Musically, it sends summer AND winter vibes at the same damn time. It’s a musical masterpiece that manages to keep you engaged through the entire listen. The sonic textures are inviting and the lyrics are captivating. Austin Feinstein’s guitar is the perfect backdrop for Frank Ocean’s soothing melodies. The emotions are so deep that just a single play-through can leave you drained. 

blond.jpg

Track 8: Good Guy

Good Guy is a quick, sweet, and curious song that breathes a feeling of nostalgia. It’s related to Self Control in the way that it speaks to the disconnection plaguing Ocean’s potentially intimate relationships. Here, Ocean links up with a guy through a mutual friend (the "good guy").  Although Ocean seems to be searching for a deeper, more meaningful relationship, his date is not. 

“Here's to the highlights. When I was convinced. That this was much more than. Just some night shit. I know you don't need me right now. And to you. It's just a late night out.”

This disconnect is further symbolized in the phrase: 

“First time I’d ever saw you. And you text nothing like you look.” 

The disconnect is seen in the differences between our true self and the virtual self that we push into the world. Good Guy, in its fleeting nature, ends with a seemingly uncomfortable conversation—related to their sexuality—between two guys. If you’ve ever seen the movie Moonlight, this snippet reminds me of the scene when Kevin is telling Chiron how he got in detention for getting it with a girl and Chiron is just awkwardly listening. 

"This nigga, all the bitches in the neighborhood wanna fuck you nigga. He told me. I used to fuck with all of 'em. Yeah I ain't got bitches no more. But now I don't care about bitches like that my nigga. That shit Jasmine fucking wrecked my heart. I don't even know how to even feel about it."
 Frank Ocean for 032c. Photo by Petra Collins.

Frank Ocean for 032c. Photo by Petra Collins.

Track 9: Nights

Nights is exceptionally interesting because it's basically two songs in one. The first verse can be interpreted as an ode to a past relationship that Frank has since moved on from. Continuing into the pre-chorus, he seems to be having a conversation with himself, and holding himself accountable for his own work: 

"New beginnings ahh. New beginnings wake up ahh. The sun's going down. Time to start your day bruh. Can't keep being late on me. Know you need the money if you gon' survive. The every night shit, every day shit.”

The chorus explains the cyclical nature of life. Frank Ocean spends the day with his lover, but has to drop them off so he can get to work at night. The every day stress is ever present and he uses marijuana as a “cheap vacation.” 

In the bridge, the night is ending and morning is on the horizon. Even though he didn't have his lover spend the night, cause he had work to do, he gets a craving when the morning comes. He uses his past memories to temporarily quell the craving, but it’s a constant cycle: 

“Every night fucks every day up. Every day patches the night up.”

Personally, I think there are two interpretations to these lines. First, he could be referencing the fact that the strain of nightlife leaves you with a hangover for the next day. In turn, the day patches you up for the next night. Second, he could be referring to the fact that each night leaves him stressed and craving his lover, but he sees them in the morning to fix himself up.

Either way you interpret these songs, they tell a beautiful story in a very musical way. Self Control is Act I, Nights is Act II, and Good Guy is the extremely personal interlude. 
 

Is Kanye West Preparing a Yeezus Part Two?

Written by: Forrest Bloom

Yeezus is my favorite

Like many, I'm a diehard Kanye West fan. None of his albums are bad, but my favorite is Yeezus. This is closely followed by My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and 808s & Heartbreak. As a few of my friends are aware, I have a running (hopeful) theory that Kanye West has been diligently working to release a Yeezus Part II. When I say "Yeezus Part II," I don't necessarily mean that the album will be explicitly named "Yeezus Part II." Instead, I mean it will have the same raw & authentic—almost industrial—sound that is only possible through the collaborative environment and reductionist techniques used to create the original Yeezus masterpiece. These techniques, as explained to me by a good friend, are related to the cubism movement of the 20th century.

Cubism

Cubism was an art movement characterized by a visual language of geometric planes and compressed space that rejected the typical perspective techniques of the time. Cubism reduced visual reality to a series of overlapping planes and facets. In the realm of music, Kanye West and his team did a similar thing when making Yeezus.

 A cubism piece by  Paul Ygartua

A cubism piece by Paul Ygartua

A few clues...

  1. Yeezus was released June 18, 2013. Kanye's newest album will supposedly be released June 1, 2018.
  2. Yeezus extensively harnessed the minimalist techniques of genius producer Rick Rubin for Yeezus. Currently, it's been rumored that Kanye was holed up in Wyoming with none other than Rick Rubin.
  3. Yeezus, coming in at 10 tracks, is Kanye's shortest album to date. Interestingly, his newest album is supposedly only 7 tracks.

Kanye's recent tweets have sparked widespread uproar about the connections between race, power, and politics. The emotions running through the veins of long-time Kanye West fans & supporters are contradictory and difficult to understand. Is this serious, or just an extravagant trolling attempt to generate buzz? 

Either way, Kanye's recently revealed "free thinking" mindset suggests that his new music will be anything but orthodox. I'm not saying I'm 100% positive that Kanye West's new album will be Yeezus-esque, but the clues are certainly matching up. Moving forward, all we can do is wait and hope. Until then, scoopidity poop.

Music, OpinionForrest Bloom
Moving

written by: Elisha BenNet

In my socks on a cloud of an island in my mind. I was in some godforsaken town outside of Philadelphia. Reading and eating dinner by myself across from an extended table of contemporaries who think they’re all friends despite the fact that they only seem to talk about work. Stuck out past Manayunk—where business sends hope to die—there seems to be a few towns that serve as truck stops. Imagine a destitute Jersey City: lavish with trendy chain eateries that are inexplicably always adjacent to hotels sporting ballrooms. The town planners knew exactly what they were doing when they put a Dave & Busters across the street.

So why am I here? For a job. A job that was a means to an end; relocation. Relocation to Philadelphia. In my head, that's where I want to be. I specify in my head because in reality, why am I moving? Is it because there are concerts there every night, or because girls there seem to think I’m cuter than the girls at home? If I had to sell it to someone, I would say it's because I fit in. 

“Utopia is on the horizon. I move two steps closer; it moves two steps further away. I walk another ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps further away. As much as I may walk, I'll never reach it. So what's the point of utopia? The point is this: to keep walking.” - Eduardo Galeano

I suffer from a certain strain of the disease of more. The disease of desire, and it never seems to end. I’m not out shopping every day. Instead, my symptoms manifest in an existential itchiness as if what I need is somewhere else. Change things up, live somewhere new, go into grad school undeclared, it all makes sense. The confusion is the worst part, and not knowing if it’s irrational or not. But, doing nothing is a choice, the worst choice.

So what if I were to leave? I can’t really leave. My friends & family are here. My life is here. I would be a tourist. Besides; I really love where I live, my friends, and my life. I’m not miserable, why would I be? I live by the water, it’s sick. New Jersey is sick. The world is so alluring, though. Why couldn’t I run some diner in the Gilmore Girls town? Living out my life with my asshole nephew where we share sexual tension with the same family? But there's stuff to do, and it’s not here.

It seems that I won’t be happy anywhere. I mean, you can’t have everything you want. Going through a door closes others. We’re in an opt-out, not opt-in system, and the opt-out path is an ugly way. If somebody told you that the reality of our situation is preconception, would you really subscribe?

So, I’ll keep walking. It’s all I can do here. I’m here. I might as well participate, make the most of it, and try to figure out what’s up.


 

Three Piece Combo: Car Seat Headrest's Teens of Denial

In a recurring series, strangelooks presents some of our favorite sequential three track combinations. Here, we have tracks 4, 5, and 6 from Car Seat Headrest's Teens of Denial.

written by: Casper

Will Toledo aka Car Seat Headrest, is becoming one of the most well-received contemporary Indy Rock artists, with much of his acclaim coming from his 2016 album Teens of Denial. From that album, multiple songs tackle the struggles of teens in the modern age, but three in particular show the realizations and maturation of Toledo himself.

Track 4: Drugs With Friends

Joe gets kicked out of school for using drugs. This song has simple instrumentation, which puts nearly all of the focus on the lyrics. It starts with the self loathing of a young alcoholic: “Hangovers feel good when I know it’s the last one. Then I feel so good that I have another one.” Toledo then mentions using hallucinogens in the hope of expanding his mind, only to feel like a walking piece of shit.

Being part of the youth drug culture, he recognizes that he and his friends are in a cycle of anxiety and self-medication, which only makes them feel more anxious. “Afraid of the cops when I was outside. Afraid of my friends when I was inside. And I grew tired of the scene.” He comes to the realization that he and the ones around him are, in many ways, lost. “There were people getting drunk. There were people getting high. They were falling to pieces right before my eyes.” He comes to see this form of self medication as an unfortunate generational norm. Sarcastically embracing this, he repeats the phrases “drugs are better with friends," and “drugs are better than friends.” 

Track 5: Not What I Needed

As a confused youth looking for answers, Toledo mocks blanketed advice “I know when I’m being catered to. I will not settle for the lowest common denominator.” He continues this point and shows his witty sense of humor when he sings:

“Good people give good advice. Get a job, eat an apple, it will work itself out. It’s a phase. It’s chemistry. It’s your own fault. Well, don’t listen to us. We’re just people too.”

He continues to reference other advice he receives throughout the song, only to realize that in the end, true understanding comes from within. 

Track 6: Drunk Drivers (Killer Whales)

The centerpiece of the album, Toledo creates a heavy but fitting juxtaposition by comparing Drunk Drivers to Killer Whales. Through out the song he states “It’s not okay Drunk Drivers.” He continues:

“You share the same fate as the people you hate. Here’s that voice in your head giving you shit again. But you know he loves you, and he doesn’t mean to cause you pain. Please listen to him. It’s not too late to turn off the engine, get out of the car and start to walk. Drunk Drivers.”

Sounding almost on on the verge of tears from emotional strife, Toledo repeats “Drunk Drivers, it doesn’t have to be like this.” 

The reworked single version of the song continues in its closing lines:

“If you run out of drugs you can sleep without ‘em, I know you can. And if you wanna go home, you can call a taxi. And if you don’t want to talk you can sit in the backseat.” 

Throughout the album, Toledo shows his sense of humor, wit, and overall awareness to the things around him. These three songs show his progression from turning to drugs as a solution to his problems to realizing that they give him a sense of emptiness.

Frank Ocean, the Wait is Endless

written by: Forrest Bloom

On Cyber Monday, 2017, Frank Ocean released a few Endless products on his website blonded.co. Two of my friends, knowing that I'm a diehard "confirmed wavy" Frank Ocean stan, separately purchased something on Cyber Monday in the hopes of giving it to me as a Christmas present. Well, Christmas soon arrived, but the Endless vinyl and VHS did not. Hmm...then I thought maybe (hopefully) it'd be here by my birthday—which comes soon after Christmas. Nope. I don't understand; the shipping timeframe was 6-8 weeks...Well, friends, I sit here no sooner than 126 days after ordering and I have not yet received my vinyl or VHS. Many other fans are just as confused and upset

I get it, sometimes things get backed up and delayed, but a statement would be nice. Even a "hey guys, they're backordered but coming soon" type of thing. I understand Mr. Ocean's resistance to public limelight, and we're very lucky to have seen him perform at Panorama, but can we at least get a Tumblr post update? Anything...please.

In the mean time, I'll reflect on these videos I took during Panorama last year.

*Edit: My DVD and CD shipped!