New Beginnings

When I started this blog 7 years ago, it was a place for me to explore my love of music in a new way. I have always been a playlist maker and a journaler (okay, owner of many journals), and have a preoccupation with documenting things. I really loved doing research on new bands and albums and discovered that I actually enjoyed writing.

Since then, I’ve tried to start new blogs about 5 times and ended up deleting them before I ever posted anything. I got into makeup (and really into spending money on it) in college and started a YouTube channel. That was fun (except for the credit card debt), but what I really loved was the creative process- the brainstorming, the editing, the revising. So I tried to create a beauty blog, which lasted for an hour while I made a beautiful webpage, then realized I had no interest in writing about products.

I’ve returned to Suburban Hipster time and time again, sometimes to draft a post in hopes of revamping it, other times just to look at old posts and laugh at my teenaged insights. I want to keep this blog that I’ve poured so much into, but I don’t want it to just be a music blog anymore. I think I’ve been afraid of de-niche-ifying Suburban Hipster, because rule #1 in the blogosphere is find your goddamn niche and stick with it. Well, my new niche is being a 20-something with a lot of interests and a space to explore them. I live in Minneapolis and have a love/hate relationship with the city (mostly love). I work in education and want to talk about the school to prison pipeline. I’m in an amazing relationship and I want to brag about it (sorry, not sorry). I might also want to talk about the Sims. And my dog Rudy. I’ll probably talk about him, too.

I’m no longer a suburbanite (though I’d like to return), and definitely not a hipster (co-ops are expensive), but I’m still a blogger and 16-year-old Allegra worked hard on it, so the name stays. Welcome back, y’all!

New Fave: Glass Animals’ How to Be a Human Being

In the months leading up to their sophomore album, Glass Animals released a few tracks that rocked my summer. “Life Itself” and “Youth” (which happen to be the first two tracks on the album) tell stories with infectious rhythms and melodies. I couldn’t get enough.

Needless to say, my calendar was marked for August 26. As soon as I got out of class, I biked back to my dorm room, fired up my speakers, and flopped onto the futon for an optimal listening experience. I expected a good album, but I was blown away. Before How to Be a Human Being, I thought of Glass Animals as chill out music. Most of the lyrics on Zaba are nearly undecipherable, but I enjoyed the sounds of “Gooey” and “Toes.” Rather than falling into the sophomore slump, Dave Bayley and the crew created a series of irresistible stories, some funny, some sad, that together make up what I think will be a top 5 album of the year. Stream it here!

Jain: My Musical Souvenir

I was lucky enough to find myself in Paris and Geneva recently, where I got to hear some of the latest in French music. One day while watching TV in my hotel room in Geneva, a short clip aired about a singer called Jain. The 23-year old was born in France but lived in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and the Congo while growing up. She learned different instruments and musical techniques in each location, and the influence of her worldly upbringing can be heard on her EP Hope. “Makeba” and “Come” are danceable earworms for sure, combining African beats with strummed guitars and synths to create a unique soundscape. Listen to a few tracks below, and if you like what you hear, you can read her in-depth interview with The Fader here.

“Why Are You OK” Leaves One Feeling Less Than OK

Last Friday, Band of Horses released their fifth studio album, Why are You OK. I was hyped for this release, but my mood deflated as I listened through it. I loved the singles released in advance- “Casual Party” and “In a Drawer” definitely caught my attention in the weeks leading up to the release. However, I got the feeling of watching a movie whose best moments were given away in the trailer. The songs were good, but I was left wanting more. And I can’t lie, the last few tracks made me drowsy. As much as I wanted to love Why Are You OK, it was just… OK. Sad face.

Summer 2016 Preview

Summer is almost here, and with it will come releases from several of my all time favorite bands. Get excited in advance for albums from Band of Horses (!) and Red Hot Chili Peppers (!) among others.

I’m kicking my summer off with Catfish and the Bottlemen’s newest release, The Ride. It was actually released this week, but isn’t yet available on most streaming platforms. However, if “Soundcheck” and “Twice” accurately set the scene, it should be excellent.

Next up is a new release from Tegan and Sara, called Love You to Death. The twin sisters haven’t released an album since 2013, but their single “Boyfriend” features the same synthpop vibe as 2013’s “Closer.”

On June 10, get ready for 3 (hopefully) great albums at once.

Band of Horses: Why Are You Ok? Featuring “Casual Party,” which I am in love with. I have very high hopes for this one, and will definitely post a review.

Fitz and the Tantrums’ self-titled album- this one will be on repeat, even if it’s just to hear “HandClap” one more time.

Peter Bjorn and John: Breakin’ Point- Not sure what to expect from PB and J. “Dominos” sounds really different from old favorites like “Young Folks,” so we may be in for a surprise.

A week later, look out for the newest album from Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Getaway will be their first release since 2011’s I’m With You. I’m already repeating the title track and cannot wait to hear the rest. They just don’t quit!

The last album with a definite release date (for now) is the Avett Brothers’ True Sadness, out June 24. While I’m an outspoken opponent of country music, the Avett Bros cross genre lines with every album. We’ll see what True Sadness has to offer!

Happy listening, and don’t forget to mark your calendars for some hot new tunes.

Sample Answer: An Irish Indie Boy with Attitude

Hey all, hope your 2016 has treated you well so far. I’ve been listening to tons of new music lately, and one artist keeps coming up in my “recommended” playlists. Now based in London, Dublin-born Sample Answer has a sound that ranges from funky and urban to poppy acoustic tunes. His debut effort Good Boy EP was released last July, and he released another, Textile Baby EP, in October. Songs like “No Need to Say” and “Hold On to Me” feature simple vocals and acoustic guitar over harmonized string parts, while “Proud” (my favorite) and “Good Boy” feel almost like hip hop, with heavy drums and rapped lyrics. Give Sample Answer a listen and let me know what you think on Facebook or Twitter!



 

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Songs of the Day: “Sophomore Slump” by Bryn Rich & “Mental Case” by SKATERS

I received two submissions fairly recently that I felt mirrored the exact emotions I’ve been feeling lately. With the changing seasons, exam weeks, and general chaos of campus life, I often feel like a mental case indeed. And while the senior slide is undeniable, the sophomore slump is a beast of its own. All I want to do lately is read books, listen to music, and have long conversations with friends. School is important, of course, but the general mood lately has been one of introspection.

So, for the songs of the day. I like the laid-back fingerpicking featured in “Sophomore Slump.” Chicago-based songwriter Bryn Rich does a nice job of balancing guitar and vocals, playing in swells when he isn’t singing. The song is slow, and while I favor more upbeat tunes I am thoroughly enjoying the mellow, melancholy feel of this one.

“Mental Case” by New Yorkers SKATERS features a more typical indie rock sound: drums, synths, the works. “I’m a mental case… I really might be sane” are the words repeated over and over: sad, dysfunctional, and oh so catchy. Give these two a listen and do some deep thinking or fireplace staring or something.

Tune in to Indie @ ND this morning at 10 EDT/ 9 CST for some new tunes!