December was a somber time for many in the Wesleyan community in the light of news of Claire Randall ’12‘s untimely passing due to a horrific act of gun violence. Around a week ago, Nate Mondschein ’12 posted a public status on Facebook announcing the release of Trot Fox’s cover of The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize?” The rendition is led by Claire as lead vocalist, and is truly a poignant reminder of the talents that she shared with so many.
Back in the spring of 2016, Claire, Nate, and other members of Trot Fox Gabe Gordon ’11 and Declan O’Connell recorded the first version of the cover during a one-day session at Converse Rubber Tracks Studio in Brooklyn. The initial recording was recorded in a single take and, according to Nate, “Claire delivered what remains one of the most honest, astonishingly powerful performances I have ever heard her give.”
The final version of the “Do You Realize” was produced after Claire’s passing, with the help of 30 of her friends and family.
On February 22, Mel Hsu ’13 and Josh Smith ’11 came together with a cohort of their friends—students and recent alumni—to play an intimate living room show on campus. Although the concert was ostensibly a Mel and Josh reunion, it also marked the official release of Hsu’s second album, Call Home the Crow, comprised of music written for her senior recital. Hsu and I agreed that instead of having an interview, we wanted to just talk as friends and have a conversation in the spirit of Hsu’s music: honest, slow, and maybe even vulnerable.
Mel Hsu: There’s just a lot in my head right now. At this point, I have no idea what to do next with this thing. But in a lot of ways, Wesleying seems more intimate than Facebook because it’s a community that I know, as opposed to this giant abyss.
Gabe: Which is why I thought we could just have this as a conversation. I have a few questions, and we can just abandon them as we go.
MS: I’m excited for the slow-going-ness of this. Right now I’m feeling really anxious, so I’m excited to have a slow-going conversation.
G: Let me pull this up in iTunes, because I put the new CD on my computer as soon as I got home from the living room concert, actually. The album is called Call Home the Crow, and it was your senior recital concert. Did you write each song individually, or did you the write the concert as one long piece?
MS: Let me think about this for a quick second. I feel as though it became more cohesive as the songs were written. When I began, I had no idea what was going to happen, and so it wasn’t a full work until probably the Monday before my recital.
That’s all, folks. Lioness, the band formerly known as Linus formerly known as Friendsome, has recorded and published its final song, placing the cap neatly on the group’s four year-long career here. Comprised of the killer team of Dema Paxton Fofang ’13, Jason Katzenstein ’13, Ethan Young ’13, Dylan Bostick ’13, Adrien Defontaine ’13, and John Snyder ’12, Lioness formed at an Open Mic in 2009, won the Battle of the Bands in 2010 and opened Spring Fling (for the yet-to-be-rivaled-and-probably-never-will-be lineup of Dirty Projectors, Black Lips, and Big Boi). And now they’re graduated. They sure do grow up fast, don’t they?
Lioness’ Bandcamp page is loaded with free-to-download single goodies, and probably boasts one of the more colorful collections of album artwork as well as music in the BandCampWes World. “Bullets” is no exception. Where their previous singles like “Hot Mess” pumped up the beach-punk vibe to the level of Surfer Blood, “Bullets” is a gorgeously crafted and easygoing tune reminiscent of Beach House. It’s pretty indicative of what the Ampersand once coined the “Post-Linus” music genre.
Evan Okun ’13— slam poet, musician, and generally all-around awesome person—wants you to know about a new single released today as part of Music & Public Life. His description below:
Click here to play and download (for free): “Billionaire (remix)“—composed, written, recorded, mixed, and mastered entirely by Wesleyan students/graduates: Evan Okun ’13 (Rapper & Lyricist), Mel Hsu ’13 (Cellist and Vocalist), Sam Friedman ’13 (Harmonica player and Pianist ), Greg Shaheen ’13 (Percussionist), Garth Taylor ’12 (Vocalist), and Jared Paul ’11 (Engineer). Even the photograph used for the Album Art was shot and edited by a Wesleyan student!
The song is being released to promote the year-long campus-wide exploration of Music & Public Life, which began this past Friday with THE MASH. After listening, please find a room, an instrument, a friend, and make music!
This song simultaneously examines (1) the human tendency to self indulge (focusing on liberal-elites recent tendency to place all blame on the 1% without addressing the unsustainable standard of living that we, the top 10%, have grown accustom to) and (2) the Buddhist theory that all craving ultimately leads to dissatisfaction, since it implicitly frames life without the desired object/body as empty or devoid of substantial value. Bang Bang.
A little over a month ago, we covered efforts by Mel Hsu ’13 and Josh Smith ’11 to gain financial support for their first album together via Kickstarter. And support there was! They overshot their goal by over $900!
Mel and Josh released the album a couple days ago. Titled Analogue, it is incredibly moving, combining beautiful vocals, acoustic instrumentation, fluid rap, and spoken word.
A number of Wes students and recent alumni contributed to the album, including Jard Paul ’11, Jessica Best ’14, Tory Mathieson ’14, Gabe Gordon ’11, Louis Russo ‘11, Nate Mondschein ’12, and Mike Rosen ’11.
You can (and should!) download it on their bandcamp page.
Jared Paul ’11 is not to be fucked with.
Jared Paul takes his sense for solid beat building and mixes it with guest verses by Wes music veteran Josh Smith ’11, an awesome variety of samples (from ethereal to frantically energetic), metal (no, seriously: listen for the blastbeats), and…well, weird shit all on the same album, Ubeatquitous – usually with several on the same track. Possibly a little bit in the spirit of more-recent-than-Alvin-Lucier Wesleyan musical experimenters Shloggfather and Professor MEGASLAM, Jared Paul takes the instrumental and transforms it into more than one half of a hip hop track. Somehow, he manages to simultaneously display diverse musical tastes and a solid attention span within the same cohesive work. Listen if you want to hear something different. Like, Obama-sipping-whiskey-with-dinosaurs different.
Click through to check out a message from the legend himself, including info on some of the other campus artists involved in the project, the download link (name your price!), and a concert you’d be doing yourself a huge favor to attend (WARNING FOR THE TROLLS: THE PRECEDING POST CONTAINS SEVERAL OPINIONS. HANDLE WITH CAUTION.).