All posts by The Hound

Journalism student at University of Missouri music addict not looking for an AA meeting self-proclaimed funny guy who makes funnies for guys. and girls. no discriminating. dreamer of low-paying music journalist career paths

A Celebration of Stormzy: “Gang Signs and Prayer,” One Year Later

In anticipation of the one-year anniversary of rapper Stormzy’s debut solo album “Gang Signs and Prayer,” I thought I’d talk about why the record is so unique and important.


Stormzy is a musician that has helped introduce the world to grime and paved his own path as one of the U.K.’s most innovative artists. At 24, he’s already accomplished an impressive variety of feats. His debut solo album, released almost exactly one year ago, just went platinum in the U.K., and he received two awards at the Brit Awards 2018 last night for Best British Album and Best Male Artist. The man doesn’t fuck around, and he’s gradually gaining the acclaim he deserves.

A charismatic MC with a towering demeanor at 6’ 5” and a charming smile, Stormzy is a rapper who blends genres, spits rapid-fire verses and knows how to create powerful music videos.  Following the stylings of grime aficionados like Skepta and Wiley, Stormzy goes hard and appeals to the youth of U.K. (and hopefully more and more American rap fans). He reps his roots of South London, stands up to injustice and always celebrates black excellence. He also delivered one of the best albums of 2017, “Gang Signs and Prayer.”

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A gushy review of “Moon River,” Frank Edition

We may only be 50 days into 2018, but Frank Ocean has yet again proved he is our generations’ top crooner with the years’ best vocal performance thus far. With the gripping delicateness of man who has proved time and time again  his ability to give a ballad so much genuine emotion, Ocean’s cover of “Moon River” is really a beautiful thing.

The track, written by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini, was made famous by Audrey Hepburn’s performance of it in the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Hepburn sits along a windowsill and sings of a beautiful night shared by “two drifters.” The song won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 1961 and two Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1962. So you could say it touched a few hearts back then.

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An Essay: by Patrick McKenna

He walks along the mud-splattered sidewalk while cars drive through puddles and a crackling guitar is his only soundtrack. Decade. One of those walks where he needed to tune everything out and focus on two goals: get from point A to point B and let the riffs of Neil Young guide your path.

It starts with a flimsy, scratchy guitar run in “Cowgirl in the sand.” The music has some bizarre power of ultimate transportation, as if a few notes together have some interlocking command of the senses. The repetitious solo gets tiresome around minute seven, and he makes a decision. Skip.

All of a sudden, gentle piano and gentler singing graces his ears. “I was thinking of what a friend had said, I was hoping it was a lie.” Those words transitioning into that horn park speaks to him like nothing else could. Thoughts of self-doubt and shame float about, but the beautiful tune squashes those out. “All in a dream, in a dream…” He thinks about his own love for Mother Nature, his own new home in this world.

Just like that, a brewing, boisterous opening to “Tonight’s the Night” enters. The bass thumps and pumps with the rest of Crazy Horse. A wagging finger and bitter call for a friend is all Neil Young has. He probably knew this night would happen eventually. He knew the tale of Bruce Berry’s life isn’t sustainable. But a good jam might help the pain.

The walk is almost over. He knows how he wants to end it.

He puts on “Heart of Gold,” and it’s like a weight on his back falls to the floor. He knows what its like to get old, to search fall and in between for a heart of gold.

He wants to experience life. He wants to always, always keep searching.

He’ll find his heart of gold. And when he does, he’ll remember Neil Young. He’ll remember what music has the power to do to his brain.

And he’ll remember this walk.

The story of the Stage Manager

This year, I volunteered at Columbia’s True False Film Festival as a Stage Manager at the Odd Fellows Lodge.

All within three days, I had the chance to watch six full-length films and 14 shorts. I heard the insights of directors who spent years with their film’s subjects, discussing what it means to offer a narrative that while subjective aims to inform to uninformed, to bring light to the hidden shadows that haunt different facets of our society.

I had the chance to literally discuss each director’s him with the actual director, which was less of a “star struck” moment as it was just something enlightening. How often does someone actually get the chance to meet someone so passionate about their artwork?

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Singing about love without bullshit: The Father John Misty Story

The Hound gives this album 5 out of 5 stars

Father John Misty has presented 45 minutes of music that takes an outlook on love so original listeners will be weeping tears of bliss, heartbreak, sadness and laughter all throughout each second.

After reigning as drummer/godlike harmonizer in indie-folk group Fleet Foxes and releasing multiple solo albums under his real name Josh Tillman, the moniker of Father John Misty was created. The character evolved into the Jim Morrison-meets-modern day cynic/lady swooner that released the critically acclaimed psychedelic-folk Fear Fun (2012) and amazed audiences with his semi-deranged onstage banter and the mind-blowing delight his voice can bring.

With his most recent output I Love You, Honeybear, Tillman takes storytelling alongside a delicate acoustic guitar and a beautiful, Laurel Canyon-esque production to a place of raw honesty and truer-than-true romantic confession. Labeled by Tillman as a concept album “about Josh Tillman,” nearly every song’s lyrical content has a strong influence of the artist’s recent marriage to photographer Emma Elizabeth Tillman.

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The New Age of Fluid Musical Identities

This past summer, I had the privilege of enjoying a major music festival that took place a stone throw (and three stops on the Blue Line) away from my Chicago suburb, Elmhurst, Ill. I was overflowing with excitement as I prepared myself for my first experience with Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival, a festival known for guaranteeing a lineup of diversity so strong it would put the original organizers of the ‘60s Monterey Pop and Woodstock Festival into a fit of shock.

I had a list of 16 different artists I hoped to catch glimpses at, some deserving a simple sitting and watching-glimpse while others were given hours of pre-show wait time. Interestingly enough, the many different friends and old high school classmates I saw at the festival also had hopes to make bizarre show transitions similar to my own, going from a punk-rock set to a vocal-focused, more synth-heaving experimental pop.

Saturday led me to hop from boisterous hip-hop MC Danny Brown, where crowd-surfing and mobs of sweaty teens shouting obscenities back and forth lasted the entire performance, to art-rock mqueen St. Vincent, where flocks of fans would be heard crying through smiles and song at the musician’s delectable, and then end with the legendary indie-rock group Neutral Milk Hotel.

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A love letter to Dave Grohl

Dear Dave,

First off, I would like to thank you for looking equally majestic with long hair as you do with short hair. Its just uncanny the level of intensity and warmth that you supply, whether sporting the simple soul patch or the full goatee. Similar to your musical endeavors, it’s nearly impossible to provide anything mediocre. Also Nirvana was decent, I guess.

Now that I got the more embarrassing side of the laundry list of praising I have out of the way, I’d like to move onto recognizing your latest project, the album/documentary series Sonic Highways.

Here’s the thing, David. Can I call you David? Great, I feel like we’re on that level too. Anyways, to put it bluntly, I think the documentary series is the greatest thing created since heated bathroom floors. Actually, fuck it. It’s better.

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