Summer Album Reviews: Lil Yachty & Frank Ocean

Lil Yachty fails to impress, while Frank Ocean’s new
album leaves plenty to discuss after a four-year wait

By: Andy Dolen

Summer Songs 2 – Lil Yachty

Lil Yachty, aka Lil Boat, has been buzzing as of late, and it’s mainly due to his collaborations with many big-name rappers such as Chance The Rapper and new hit artist D.R.A.M. When rappers have a glimpse of fame, it’s seen as an opportunity to jump on it, just as Lil Yachty has done with his new mixtape “Summer Songs 2”.

The rapper’s unique tone and verses have had people excited to finally hear an album of his own; however, it was not as hot as expected. Just like Frank Ocean’s new album, Yachty only released his album exclusively to Apple Music.

“For Hot 97” and “All In” are some of the few songs in this album where you can actually listen to the whole song without it being repetitive This is most likely because these are the two songs with the most features from other artists.

Lil Boat’s best songs seem to have a limited amount of lyrics. Listening to Yachty’s kaleidoscopic verses for an entire song become annoying, but when he comes in the middle of a song with a good verse it definitely lights up the track. I’m predicting Lil Yachty remains as mostly a feature rapper with some other big name artists, but may not become his own star for a while. Rating: 2 out of 5.

Blond – Frank Ocean

The visionary artist’s highly anticipated new album was finally released this summer after years of begging and some disappointment by his fans. Four years after Ocean released his best selling album “Channel Orange”, he has decided to show another side of himself and his versatile singing voice.

After listening to Frank Ocean’s new album “Blond”, it was easy to see that Frank was striving for more of a quieter, meditative sound, and it didn’t fail to impress. “Blond” not only shows a sense of the old Frank Ocean, which the world has been waiting to hear for four years, but also shows his true artistic talent, range of vocals, and rhythms in a storytelling-type album.

After years of staying on the down low Frank still decided to keep his music exclusive and initially will only release it to Apple Music subscribers, but this most likely won’t last for long. After this much anticipation, I predict that “Blond” will be in the top three rated albums of summer 2016. Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Hidden Gem Reviews: Breakfast

Who doesn’t love a good breakfast? Three Squallers set out to find the hidden breakfast spots in the Dexter/Ann Arbor area. Here’s what they found.
By Lucas Bell, Kyle Doyle & Christopher Gaskin

Nicks

A delightful haven of breakfast delicacies that is hidden off Ann Arbor-Saline road was our first breakfast place to indulge. However, indulgence did not come immediately.

Saturday mornings are the best time to get breakfast, but try to get there early. After 30 minutes of waiting, we were seated. The atmosphere of Nick’s calls to mind a more modern diner, with it’s combination of incredibly comfortable booths and tables, paired with a rusty tan tile.

image1The ambiance feels diner, the business occurs like a formal restaurant.

A huge arrangement of hits from across the decades (From “What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye to “3AM” by Matchbox 20) played over the radio at a good volume; Not overbearing, but loud enough to hear. The waitress that took our order was obviously stressed with a full section, but she remained calm. However, she was forgetful, as it took her until midway through the meal for one of our coffees to come. Another  waitress spilled some coffee on the table and just walked away without a word.

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Music Review: Melanie Martinez’s “Cry Baby”

By Abbey Dinsdale
Special for The Squall

“I like the idea of pop music . . . but it’s not being used the right way”

Melanie Martinez, originally a contestant on The Voice, debuted with her first studio album Cry Baby on August 14, 2015. She topped the indie music charts, as well as made it to number six on Billboard, with the album. Prior to the release of  Cry Baby, Martinez had released several singles, most of which were featured on the album.

Categorized as as darkwave, indie pop, electro pop, and emo pop, Cry Baby succeeded in bringing a darker mix of reality and fantasy to the American music scene. As stated by Martinez,  she just “wanted to talk about stuff that was honest.”

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Music Review: Rachael Yamagata’s “Elephants… Teeth Sinking Into Heart”

By Kate Montero
Special for The Squall

Rachael Yamagata released her first album Happenstance in 2004, on RCA Victor. It took her a total of two years to finally release a two disc masterpiece, Elephants… Teeth Sinking into Heart, because of a conflict with the label.

She released Elephants… Teeth Sinking Into Heart in 2008 with Warner Bros. Record. Previously stated, the album is separated into two discs, each contrasting the other significantly.

The first disc, Elephants, has a dark, haunting and intimate tone. Starting off the disc is the actual song, “Elephants.” This song is powerful and sung with such raw and real emotion. The fragile strength in her voice paired with beautifully broken lyrics about love and lust make this song an absolute favorite. The album itself is told like a story.

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Music Review: Rihanna’s “Anti”

By Lisa Zuiderveen
Special for The Squall

Rihanna released her eighth studio album Anti on January 28, 2016. The album starts off well with “Consideration (feat. SZA).” The song has a very good beat and is entertaining. SZA also helps to create some diversity in the song other than just Rihanna singing. Overall, this was my favorite song on the album and the one with the best sound.  

Many have heard her song “Work,” track No. 5, and can’t seem to get it out of their heads because of the repetition. If you’ve listened to the song you’ve also heard, or not heard, her mumbling words that no one really understands, Rihanna thinks otherwise and confronted the issue by saying  that “You get what I’m saying, but it’s not all the way perfect. Because that’s how we speak in the Caribbean.”

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Music Review: Justin Bieber’s “Purpose”

By Courtney Fiegel
Special for The Squall

Pop sensation Justin Bieber, known for his most recent poor decisions, released his eleventh album since his first album, My World, was released in 2009.  Bieber needed an unforgettable comeback from his unacceptable behavior to redeem himself after the confiscation of his pet monkey in Munich, a DUI in 2014, and a brothel visit in Rio de Janeiro.  

Purpose was made available for purchase on November 13, 2015. Purpose is an album that consists of music that sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before.  The album begins with “Mark my words” which is a slower tempo song but contains a deeper meaning.  Bieber says, “you’re the only reason why, oh I don’t wanna live a lie, mark my words, mark my words.”

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Music Review: Selena Gomez’s “Revival”

By Kelsey Crosby
Special for The Squall

In Gomez’s new album Revival she starts it off with the song “Revival” talking about how she’s breaking away from her old life in search for something better.

Selena’s first line is, “I dive into the future, But I’m blinded by the sun, I’m reborn in every moment, So who knows what I’ll become.” Selena has a variety of music in her album from slow, calm music like “Nobody“ to more upbeat and fast songs such as “Me & the Rhythm.”

Gomez pours her soul into every song she writes and sings with such grace. One of her songs, “Sober,” stands out in a different way; you can’t make an exact connection with a person she’s writing about. She says, “when the bottles done, you pull me closer.”

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Music Review: Coldplay’s “A Head Full Of Dreams”

By Owen Wesorick
Special for The Squall

When I first listened to the album A Head Full of Dreams, it confused me, because somehow, Coldplay managed to span an entirety of different moods in their music, including upbeat, sad, and everywhere in between; yet every single song managed to sound exactly the same.

That said, there was a definite difference in quality between several songs on the album. Some songs, such as “Hymn For The Weekend”, were actually really good. They included unique background beats and synth parts, which allowed for some much needed variation in the album.

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Music Review: Fall Out Boy’s “American Beauty/American Psycho”

A pop punk side project makes their way into the spotlight.
By Steven Li
Special for The Squall

Formed in a little village of Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, Fall Out Boy made their way into our radios with their pop rock music. Rooting from Chicago’s hardcore punk scene, bassist Pete Wentz and guitarist Joe Trohman formed this band as a pop punk side project. Vocalist and guitarist Patrick Stump and drummer Andy Hurley would join the band later. This four man group hit the stage with their first debut album, Take This to Your Grave, in 2003. The band gained success and a dedicated fanbase and their music took off from there.

From lyrics written in a trailer, Fall Out Boy premiered their first single “Centuries” from their sixth studio album, American Beauty/American Psycho, September 8, 2014.

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The Hidden Gem Reviews: Mexican Style

On their Mexican adventure, two Squallers found ‘the best burrito’ they’ve ever had
By Amanda Fileccia & Lexi Heath

TacoKing

    At the corner of Stadium and Liberty a local go to is hiding some of Ann Arbor’s tastiest treasures. Taco King is a fast casual restaurant that serves all of your Mexican needs. Attached to the restaurant is “Tienda La Libertad,” a Latin American grocery store. This added an authentic vibe but did not make up for the lack of background noise. It was extremely quiet except for the TV that only played infomercials. We only saw one staff member, who took our order. It took about 10 minutes to get our food.

Their menu included everything you could think of. We dined on their enchiladas, one burrito, and two tacos. The burrito did not compare to the superior taste of Chela’s and the tacos were quite similar. The enchiladas at Taco King were outstanding. They each came with a different type of meat inside: ground beef, chicken, and shredded beef.  Our total for all three meals was $23.30. This was a great deal considering each plate came with beans and rice.

Illustrator - Kate Mesaros
Illustrator – Kate Mesaros

VALUEATMOSPHERETASTESERVICE

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