Summer of Gainz Playlist: 20 Songs to Help You Get Jacked pt2

All right, meatheads, summer is officially on its last legs and you’re probably in need of some much-deserved motivation. You’ve probably been killing it in the gym for the last few months and have poured a solid concrete foundation to the brick house you have become. That being said, you may feel like you are running out of time and energy to continue to fight the good fight of fitness. After all, abs were not built in a day.

Well I have news of you, pal. Just because summer is almost over doesn’t mean that your journey to the land of gainz and honey has to be! We here at Atomic Sky have decided that now is the perfect time to release the second part to out carefully crafted playlist designed so both your iPod and yourself can be shredded.

SO, in order to facilitate your continued success, I present to you part two of the Summer of Gains playlist.

Can’t Deny It – Turnstile

Embrace The Madness – Black Tusk

We’ve Tried Nothing and We’re All Out of Ideas – Kill Your Idols

The Bed is Burning- Full of Hell

Manipulate – Mind Eraser

Back Burner – August Burns Read

Mother Abyss – Black Breath

Sacrifice – Motorhead

Hanging By a Thread – Suburban Scum

Isolation – Harms Way

Eat, lift and be merry!

asap-rocky-at-long-last-asap-album

Hip-Hop: Back From the Dead

It’s an exciting time to be enamored with music, especially hip-hop. The earl sweatshirtbest thing about being a music lover in 2015 (as opposed to being a fan back in the ’80’s) is that you have the ability to decide what you want to listen to now more than ever. The advertising departments of labels don’t play nearly as much of a role in terms of what we listen to as they used to. All it takes is someone relatively unknown writing about an album; people find it and do the advertising themselves without realizing it. We document every single thing that we do nowadays, including throwing a screenshot of the new favorite album on Twitter or Instagram. One Google search later the next person’s headphones are filled with your newest obsession, and thirty minutes later they are texting their like-minded friends about said artist.

travis scottThis push towards finding more obscure hip-hop artists has helped to catapult the amount of interesting rappers in the mainstream community. Rappers like Earl Sweatshirt, A$AP Rocky, and Travi$ Scott have been able to establish a very strong fanbase not in spite of, but because of their strangeness. Producers are given much more leeway to create what they want; no longer are beats created in a boom-bap fashion to appease listeners. Beat-makers like Erick Arc Elliot (Flatbush Zombies) and Blue Sky Black Death give tracks more atmosphere than they have ever had, which in turn makes the lyrical content less important. The art in hip-hop was always relative to the lyrical genius of artist, but now we have rappers with questionable rapping talent sitting at the top of the charts. It doesn’t necessarily point to a flaw in what we are enjoying as fans, though. The harsh truth is that there has always been some terrible artists sitting on top (remember Styles P? Ja Rule, anyone?), but now that the beats are more important in the construction of a track, it makes these rappers inherently more interesting.

This has in turn made hip-hop more interesting the past several years. We have watched the likes of Mac Miller teaming up with Rick Ross for a song without batting an eyelash. It has also allowed for hip-hop artists with something legitimate to say like Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples to vince-staplesascend the ranks as well. A$AP Rocky’s At Long Last A$AP melds soul and rock samples in a smooth package that has been one of the highlights of this year, and Vince Staples’ double-disc release Summertime ’06 combines lurid storytelling with hypnotic beats. The glut of amazing albums this year proves that hip-hop is alive and well, or at the very least risen from the grave. The undead genre is lurching about and giving us the most creative listening this side of early Wu. I have included a list of songs from 2015 that you simply can’t miss this summer. Turn the bass up in your car and jam to these amazing tracks; thank me later.

1. Vince Staples – Senorita – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OAYMMod9Wo

2. A$AP Rocky (featuring Bones) – “Canal St. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kf_fcj–Zxw

3. Drake – “Energy” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-AjsctjklI

4. Wale – “The Middle Finger” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86gxgtVWlAk

5. Meek Mill (featuring Drake) – “R.I.C.O.” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgRrxFsX538

6. Kendrick Lamar – “The Blacker the Berry” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AhXSoKa8xw

7. Lupe Fiasco – “Mural” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwS6Qn7hCcA

8. Earl Sweatshirt – “Grief” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZ5Mu2gs-M8

9. Joey Bada$$ – “Paper Trail$” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stoLqWXsIOY

10. Flatbush ZOMBies – “Did U Ever Think?” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIoMfcyYXJw

Summer of Gainz Playlist: 20 Songs to Help You Get Jacked Pt. 1

*Banner courtesy of Rise Above Fitness

In case you hadn’t noticed, the summer season is officially under way. Many a gym rat has been working hard all year with diet and exercise so they can go out and show off their sick bods in a Top Gun-esque show of manhood.

Then, there are probably those of you who have not. Those who eye their beefy peers jealously and wish in vain to be blessed with a six-pack so chiseled you could do laundry on it and the shoulders of a linebacker. But fear not! There is hope!

Whether you look like Magic Mike or Newman the mailman, getting stoked can help you achieve the energy or mental state of mind needed to crush your workout. Thankfully, the gods of music have given us hardcore and metal to aid in such a quest. Here are 10 songs to help you do just that gang. Click the links below to kick the jams.

BEHOLD THE SOUNDTRACK TO THE HARBINGER OF GAINZ.

  1. No Serenity – Xibalba
  2. The Rising End – Zao
  3. Hammer of Doubt – Power Trip
  4. Unsilent Death – Nails
  5. Altercate – Nomads
  6. Soul Swallower – Steel Nation
  7. Manufacturing Political Leverage – The Holy Mountain
  8. No Chain – Dead in the Dirt
  9. Jock Powerviolence – Weekend Nachos
  10. Persevere and Overcome – Reign Supreme

Be on the lookout for part two of the Summer of Gainz Playlist, coming soon.

Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2

rtj

I’ll be honest-I almost wanted this release to disappoint me. Many friends had a countdown going for the release date, and I soon became tired of hearing about the album before I even heard the first song released. The amount of hype was staggering, albeit for good reason. Run the Jewels was undoubtedly the surprise of 2013, with El-P producing synth-drenched soundscapes that dwarfed any other hip-hop release last year and both rappers giving top-notch lyrical performances. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of listening to the two was the undeniable fact that they were having a blast creating music together. And the good news with Run the Jewels 2 is that the chemistry between Killer Mike and El-P has only gotten better this time around. Truly what it comes down to is that these two bring the best out of each other whether they’re introspectively rapping over a subtle beat on “Jeopardy”, or simply slinging their patented creative braggadocio on tracks like “Blockbuster Part 1” or “All My Life”.

It’s hard to determine if Run the Jewels labored intensively to make as perfect a record as they could, or if they just went in a studio and had the time of their lives. It skirts a fine line between meticulous construction and haphazardly (yet confidently) throwing together everything that they ever wanted to test out. The Zach de la Rocha-featured track “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)” should have stood out like a sore thumb on this release, given the fact that his style couldn’t be further from Killer Mike’s syrupy Southern delivery and El-P’s quick-draw precision. It ends up not only being a strong standout, but it left me wistfully hoping that the dynamic duo would soon be allowing a third into Run the Jewels due to the natural collaborative effort. Having de la Rocha’s proclamation of “Run them jewels fast” looped over the beat was a stroke of genius and propels the explosive track into the stratosphere, with Zach providing a stellar verse at the end of the song. Travis Barker (of Blink-182 fame) lends his drum talents to the high-octane “All Due Respect”, where Killer Mike goes from throwing nuns in a double penetration situation to making a Pulp Fiction reference. It is deliciously irreverent, but at this point it’s exactly what listeners expect lyrically. On top of the ever-improving lyricism, it also seems that El-P is only getting better in terms of producing infectious yet still low-key beats. “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry” is a stiff contender for song of the year. The spacey and minimalist beat unobtrusively drapes over the rappers as they trade off effortlessly, producing an endless amount of quotable lines.

Run the Jewels 2 shocked the shit out of me; not because it was good, as I certainly expected that. I just didn’t expect it to be this good. “Crowns” sees Killer Mike looking inwardly at his guilt for selling cocaine to a pregnant mother years ago, only to find that the child was having developmental issues later on. The heartwarming bars of, “I release you from all your sins and your shame/Cause I’ve been redeemed/I found in Christ/Whatever it take I hope you find it, Mike” introduce a vulnerability not heard in the Run the Jewels music thus far. These small deviations (or maturations, if you prefer) from the normal formula embraced are what make this album so good. The ability to take musical risks while still not seeming to end up too far away from where Run the Jewels resides is certainly impressive. “Angel Duster” is a seductive, slow closer, proving that Run the Jewels will continue to surprise its fans; Killer Mike and El-P have waited a long time for their time in the limelight, and they obviously have a death grip on it now. We might as well enjoy the ride.

Rating: 4.8/5

Tracklist:

1. Jeopardy
2. Oh My Darling Don’t Cry
3. Blockbuster Night – Part I
4. Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck) [featuring Zack de la Rocha]
5. All My Life
6. Lie, Cheat, Steal
7. Early (featuring Boots)
8. All Due Respect (featuring Travis Barker)
9. Love Again (Akinyele Back)
10. Crown (featuring Diane Coffee)
11. Angel Duster
12. Blockbuster Night – Part II (featuring Despot and Wiki) [Bonus Track]

Ty Segall – Manipulator

When I first heard the term “Flower Punk”, my brain kind of exploded. Not only had I never heard of anything similar to that term before, but I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to. Being a fan of garage rock/punk, I liked many of Ty Segall’s previous works, particularly Reverse Shark Attack and one of his few recordings with a full band entitled Slaughterhouse. I knew that he had since expanded his genre list even more on his more recent records and covered what seemed to be a slightly different genre for each release. All were good, but not necessarily my cup of tea. So when I heard about his first double vinyl release which took the longest amount of time out of any of his albums yet to create (about 14 weeks), I was naturally curious. I had to check it out.

Manipulator is the most well rounded album that Ty Segall has released. He has managed to infuse all of his previous sounds in to one cohesive sonic emission, the likes of which are stunning. The tracks on Manipulator are an impressive amalgam of power pop, 70’s psych rock, and garage rock with considerably less (but still prevalent), punk and noise influences. The psych rock influence is far from subtle but isn’t quite enough to make the album annoying (although it does come close at times). The album also is pretty synth-heavy and super groovy throughout (Not a bad 70’s joke folks; every song is a toe-tapper or a foot-stomper).

The mid to slow tempo songs that make up this album are very well produced, straying from the lo-fi sound that Segall championed in many of his early releases. Segall also managed to track the whole album by himself, with the exception of track 6, entitled “The Faker.” Considering the comparatively polished sound of this record, mixed with the fact that Segall is the sole performer as well as the catchiness and technical prowess which abounds throughout the entire album, Manipulator is quite a feat. I strongly recommend picking this album up if you are a fan of any of the aforementioned musical genres or even if you are just in the mood for something original and creative. You can pick it up through Drag City Records, or ITunes if you’re lazy.

Score: 4.25/5

Track List

1.”Manipulator” 3:10
2.”Tall Man Skinny Lady” 4:03
3.”The Singer” 4:16
4.”It’s Over” 3:01
5.”Feel” 4:17
6.”The Faker” 4:09
7.”The Clock” 2:53
8.”Green Belly” 2:33
9.”The Connection Man” 2:19
10.”Mister Main” 2:48
11.”The Hand” 4:45
12.”Susie Thumb” 2:30
13.”Don’t You Want To Know? (Sue)” 2:36
14.”The Crawler” 2:25
15.”Who’s Producing You?” 2:55
16.”The Feels” 3:09
17.”Stick Around” 4:34

TMP

Tiny Moving Parts – Pleasant Living

TMP

 

Pleasant Living is certainly an interesting listen. With emo and post hardcore being the two main influences, it wouldn’t be difficult to expect subdued melodies and somewhat depressing lyrics. With so many  bands embracing the same “sad” Midwestern emo sound, there aren’t many ways to escape from the monotony. Admittedly, many bands embody the sound very well; it’s absolutely the reason why the emo revivalist movement has exploded in popularity, especially the past few years. Tiny Moving Parts have allowed themselves to stand out from their peers with just a few tweaks to the proven formula. Armed with a more energetic, pop punk approach and lyrics encroaching on endearingly hopeful territory, Pleasant Living is a breath of fresh air. From the Modest-Mouse aping guitars (this is a compliment, of course) in the beginning of “Movies” to the concluding yell of “There is so much more/Out there waiting” in the mostly subdued “Skinny Veins”, the album is proof that bands can still stand out from a glut of bands within the scene.

The continuity of the album is incredibly impressive, as it sounds natural without the tracks sounding too similar to distinguish from one another. The catchy qualities of the album are also at the forefront of Pleasant Living, providing plenty of vocal hooks (“Sundress”) and memorable angular guitar lines (“Always Focused”). The absolutely anthemic “Boxcar” is a foot-stomping and invigorating song from start to finish, transitioning from a low-key sound complete with hushed vocals to an energetic frenzy with ease several times in the two and a half minute runtime. It’s more than just a strength of the band, as they make those transitions quite a bit throughout the entirety of the album; it’s actually the biggest determining factor that allows them to stand out. “Entrances and Exits” display some of the best lyrics on the album, and also some of the most incisive lyrics about the topic of friendships in general. Tiny Moving Parts are able to make themselves seem human through their lyrics and music, which is the biggest compliment that a band can receive.

With all of the praise heaped onto this album, there is still some room for improvement. The lyrics range from incredibly insightful to full-on cheesiness at times, and while it fits with their aesthetic it does detract from an otherwise excellent release. Closer “Van Beers” add piano and horns to their sound, and they have never sounded more natural or energized because of it. It points to an even better progression for the next album, but Pleasant Living is a more than welcome placeholder while Tiny Moving Parts perfect their sound.

Rating: 4.2/5

Tracklist:

01. Sundress
02. Always Focused
03. Fourth of July
04. I Hope Things Go The Way I Hope
05. Whiskey Waters
06. Movies
07. The Better Days
08. Boxcar
09. Spring Fever
10. Entrances & Exits
11. Skinny Veins
12. Van Beers

The Copyrights – Report

Have you ever had a moment when listening to a record where you put your head in you hands and wonder, “How in the hell are these guys so talented? How is it possible to write an album that is so consistently catchy?” Well folks, wait no more, because if you like pop-punk in the vein of Screeching Weasel, The Lillingtons, and The Riptides then this album will do it for you.

Report, the newest effort from Illinois’ The Copyrights, is their most solid release to date. The boys pump out 14 songs where each one is equally as catchy and anthemic as the last. The album’s opening track “Slider” kicks the record off with a cool and low-key bass riff that then explodes into an unapologetically powerful intro that firmly plants the standard for the rest of the record.The melodies and hooks on this album are insane, drawing from what seems to be every instrument in their ensemble to contribute to the sing along choruses. Innovative and interesting bridges (see “Stuck in The Fall”) remind the listeners that this is a band that has over a decade of writing and touring under their belts and are only getting better. The sheer singability (see what I did there?) of this record alone makes it everything that this reviewer could want from a modern day pop-punk album.

The only gripe that I have with this album is the lyrics. The Copyrights have a knack for being able to cleverly say the same things on each of their records. For the most part, the standard pop-punk themes of struggling with money, relationships, and trying to have a good time through it all abound. The saving grace in this respect is that the lyrics are so catchy that it makes me want to claw my eyes out (in a good way). They didn’t try to reinvent the lyrical wheel on this release and that adds to its charm. They are what they are, and what they are is a pop-punk band that has honed their specific sound to the best version of themselves yet.

You can check out Report via Red Scare Industries.

Score: 5/5

1. Slider
2. Heart Of Glue
3. Telescope
4. Stuck In The Fall
5. This World Is Such A Drag
6. Keep The Change
7. Worlds On Fire
8. No Knocks
9. Fireworks
10. Wishbone
11. The New Frontier
12. Try So Hard
13. Basement
15. Away We Go