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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

VH New Music Fridays: Lennon Stella, Cage the Elephant and more

The Hustler Life staff reviews this week’s new releases

In VH New Music Fridays, the Life staff cover this week’s new music releases, from pop to country to alternative.

Pop: Taylor Hopkins

“BITCH (takes one to know one)” Lennon Stella

Former Nashville star Lennon Stella has had an eventful year: collaborating with Liam Payne, releasing her first EP Love, me and now a new single “BITCH (takes one to know one),” which may lead to an album. While I haven’t listened to Stella’s past work, if it’s all similar to “BITCH (takes one to know one)” I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything. While Stella’s vocals are good, they don’t make up for the song’s overall lack of anything special. From the cliche theme of “takes one to know one” to the uncomplicated instrumental work to the subtle auto-tuning, Stella’s newest track is no different than many other pop songs that blend together on the radio. Like many other female pop artists Stella falls victim to an innate “basic-ness” that prevents them from every truly attaining pop stardom. While I wouldn’t complain if this song came on in Rand, I also wouldn’t care enough to actually listen to the lyrics.

“Tomorrow” Trevor McBane

American Idol may not have worked out for Trevor McBane, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping him as he releases his first single “Tomorrow.” A strong building drum beat coupled with moments of quiet piano and percussion accompaniment support McBane’s voice through his powerful belts and near whispers. “Tomorrow” sends a clear message of determination as McBane sings, “Tomorrow I swear I’ll quit/ Tomorrow if I wake up/ Tomorrow here I go again/ Tomorrow if I don’t quit/ Tomorrow don’t dare say that you’re sorry/ cause here I go again/ Tomorrow never comes.” While iTunes categorizes “Tomorrow” under the pop genre, I also hear notes of country. McBane’s poignant rasps, focus on living like “tomorrow never comes,” and even the single’s cover in which he wears a cowboy hat resemble some hallmarks of country music. “Tomorrow” demonstrates McBane’s strengths and point towards a promising future in music, and while he may not be an idol today, there’s nothing stopping him from becoming a star tomorrow.


Country: Alexa Bussmann

George Strait, “The Weight of the Badge”

Strait released another song this week ahead of his latest album, Honky Tonk Time Machine, set to be released March 29. “The Weight of the Badge” is a thoughtful tribute to those who serve our country on the streets each day. While honoring those who serve has long been a popular theme in country music (looking at you, Toby Keith), it’s a more charged topic in modern America. Strait’s take on the subject focuses on the emotional burden that police officers carry as part of their career. The heavy subject matter complemented by strong vocals makes for a powerful and thought-provoking ballad.

Rachel Wammack, “Enough”

Muscle Shoals native Rachel Wammack has been in Nashville for several years, but has recently been catching critic’s ears. Her deep, soulful voice anchors her new single “Enough.” The story of being satisfied in love rather than material possessions is a tried and tired topic in country music, but Wammack’s solid vocals save the song. Hopefully future music from Wammack will feature more inspired lyrics to complement her promising talent.


Hip Hop: Brendan Sawyer

ScHoolboy Q, “Numb Numb Juice”

ScHoolboy Q drops his first new material since 2016 with the new single “Numb Numb Juice.” While the track come along with a hilarious music video, the single itself feels surprisingly basic for Q. At only 2 minutes, the track feels like it ends before it really starts. The instrumental also feels a little lackluster, far from the hard hitting cuts of “Groovy Tony” and “Dope Dealer.” Still, ScHoolboy offers up many dynamic flows and clever one liners to offer a nice tease to his upcoming project.

Tierra Whack, “Wasteland”

Tierra Whack continues to strike while the iron is hot with “Wasteland,” her fourth weekly single since mid February. The instrumental offers a warm, comforting vibe that complements her mellow vocal melodies. While the lyrics are simple and blunt, they are sure to put any listener in a blissful trance. Whack is certainly one of the strongest up and coming voices in R&B/Rap, and i cannot wait to see what she’ll be dropping next.


R&B and Rap: Tina Qin

Anderson .Paak, “King James”

Anderson .Paak reclaimed his identity midnight with single “King James.” In November of last year, the artist released his third studio album, Oxnard more than three years after his last project. In an almost compensatory swiftness, .Paak revealed a fourth completed album, Ventura, due this April.

What’s so exciting about “King James” is .Paak’s apparent return to the jazzy roots of Malibu and Yes Lawd! that fans found devastatingly missing in his latest album release. His salute to Lebron captures many of the important social issues he tackles in Oxnard without the uncharacteristically gritty sound. The single is a tantalizing promise that Ventura will again be marked by the nostalgic R&B that accentuates his smooth rasp, the soulful resonance that defines Anderson .Paak.


Indie and Alternative: Angela Karas

Cage the Elephant, “House of Glass”

Cage the Elephant is back with the second single from their upcoming LP, Social Cues. “House of Glass” showcases the full extent of frontman Matt Shultz’s vocal range. Much of the song is comprised of a not-quite-singing, not-quite-rapping, and not-quite-traditional-shouting sort of vocal inflection that makes the song stand out not just in Cage’s expansive discography, but in the umbrella of the different subgenres of alternative music. “House of Glass” effectively even further increases the hype for Social Cues, as this second single both compliments and offers variety compared to the album’s first single, “Ready to Let Go.” Let the countdown to the album’s April 19 release begin.

The Black Keys, “Lo/High”

The Black Keys have returned from a five-year hiatus with a new single: “Lo/High.” While in its own right a valid alt rock song, it lacks the anthem appeal that one would expect from a comeback single (let’s just say the Jonas Brothers have a better grasp on how to execute an effective return to the industry). The Black Keys have also announced a tour with Modest Mouse (including a Nashville date on Oct. 1), implying that an album announcement is imminent. All in all, “Lo/High” does stand its own ground as a single, and fans of the band should have much to look forward to in the upcoming months.

Cover Photo: Lennon Stella, Anderson .Paak and Cage the Elephant


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About the Contributor
Alexa Bussmann
Alexa Bussmann, Former Content Development Director
Alexa Bussmann is from Minnetonka, Minnesota. She majored in political science, economics and Spanish. Alexa previously served as Content Development Director and has written for The Hustler since her freshman year. She wrote the "Hannah, Alexa and Joe" and "New Music Fridays" columns. In her free time, Alexa enjoys trying new coffee shops in Nashville and following U.S. politics.
Reach Alexa at: [email protected]
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