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Ke$ha to headline Block Party 2013

UPDATE: Trey Songz and Drop City Yacht Club added to the lineup for the April 26 concert in the Carrier Dome with the auto-tuned pop star.

Is Syracuse University ready to get sleazy? Let's sure hope so.

Glitter-infused popstar Ke$ha will headline Syracuse University's annual year-end concert Block Party, joined by singer Trey Songz, the campus programming board University Union announced Tuesday.

Kesha Rose Sebert, more commonly known as Ke$ha, broke into the mainstream American pop charts in early 2009 after appearing on Flo Rida's No. 1. single, "Right Round." She released her first album Animal, and EP Cannibal in 2010, featuring hits like "Tik Tok" and "We R Who We R." Her eighth top 10 single, "Die Young," came on the heels of the release of her second album Warrior in December 2012. Ke$ha's become known for her use of auto-tune throughout many of her songs, as well as her party-girl, drink-till-you-drop themed lyrics.

Having produced five albums since 2005, Songz has earned Grammy nominations for R&B tracks "Can't Help but Wait" and "Heart Attack," as well as an album nomination for Ready in 2010. Also, Songz has acted in movies including this year's Texas Chainsaw 3D.

Block Party is scheduled for Friday, April 26. Tickets are $15 for SU students and $40 for the general public. The student pre-sale will start on Tuesday April 2 at 10 a.m. via Ticketmaster, and will be available in the Schine Box Office on Friday April 5 at 12 p.m. General public tickets will go on sale on Friday April 5 at 10 a.m. via Ticketmaster. Click here to view the official UU Facebook event and find out how to win tickets.

Supporting acts for the event will be announced at a later date.

House music DJ Kaskade and indie rockers Cold War Kids played last year's Block Party, while rappers Kid Cudi and Drake have also played in the last three years.

For the latest on all University Union events, follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Rapper Earl Sweatshirt to headline Mayfest 2013

The annual year-end celebration will also feature electronic band Sound Remedy, with a third act TBA.

Los Angeles rapper Earl Sweatshirt will headline this year's Mayfest in Walnut Park on April 26, with support from electronic band Sound Remedy and a third act TBA, University Union announced Sunday night via Twitter.

Earl Sweatshirt is a member of the hip-hop collective Odd Future. He's collaborated with Pharrell Williams, Mac Miller and Tyler, The Creator, and is set to release his second studio album Doris later this year.

Syracuse University's annual year-end celebration of free food, drinks and music will lead into University Union's Block Party 2013, which will feature glitter-infused pop start Ke$ha, as announced by UU last Sunday via Twitter.

Mayfest will start at 1 p.m. in Walnut Park, and last until 6 p.m. Block Party will begin in the Dome at 6:30 p.m. Tickets will be available in the Schine Box Office starting Monday April 8 and include food, non-alcoholic beverages and entertainment. Beer is included for students over 21 with valid ID. Tickets are $21.50 for SU/SUNY ESF students, and are limited to one per person.

Last year's Mayfest featured indie pop dance artist Outasight, dub-rap duo Timeflies, Syracuse-based jam-rappers AER and dubsteppers 5 & A Dime.

More information about Mayfest 2013 is available at the Mayfest site.

For the latest on all University Union events, follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Which area college has the best spring concert?

Central and Western New York colleges will welcome a slew of musicians to the region over the next month. Which college's programming board got it right?

University Union announced Sunday via Twitter that Ke$ha would headline this year's Block Party on April 26. They retweeted a number of SU students who were ecstatic about the news, but there were many who were unhappy with the announcement as the hashtag #ThingsIdRatherDoThanGoToBlockParty resurfaced on Twitter. So did Syracuse University get the best performer compared to the other artists who are stopping by area colleges in the coming months? You tell us.

  • SUNY Oswego, Rapper Lupe Fiasco @ Oswego Campus Center Arena: Saturday April 20. Tickets are $10, general public sale starts April 1. More info here.

  • SUNY Cortland, West Coast rapper Kendrick Lamar and DJ Steve Aoki @ Cortland Alumni Arena: Saturday April 27. Tickets are $30. More infohere.

  • Cornell University, Bob Dylan and indie rock band Dawes @ Barton Hall: Saturday April 20. Tickets are $10, general public sale starts April 1. More info here. Cornell will also host Kendrick Lamar for their year-end concert Slope Day, though more details have not been officially released.

  • Rochester Institute of Technology, Rappers Macklemore and Ryan Lewis @ Gordon Field House, RIT: Sunday April 28. General public tickets are $41, and are available online. More info here.

  • SUNY Geneseo, Psychedelic rock duo MGMT @ Kuhl Gymnasium: Sunday April 28. General public tickets are $40, and are available online. More info here.

  • University at Buffalo, Spring Fest: Kendrick Lamar and Steve Aoki on Sunday April 14 AND Bob Dylan and Dawes. Both concerts will be held in the Alumni Arena. General public tickets are $35 for Kendrick Lamar, and $49.50 for Bob Dylan, and are available on Ticketmaster. More info here.

Preview: Jukebox the Ghost to play in Schine Underground March 19

Vocalist/pianist Ben Thornewill talked to The NewsHouse in February about Czech bakeries, touring and new music.

Ben Thornewill is standing on the sidewalk outside Czech bakery-gas station hybrid in the middle of Texas in February, on his way to a show in Dallas.

“We always stop here on tour,” Thornewill says. “It’s just so doughy and good.”

For the vocalist and pianist of indie rock outfit Jukebox the Ghost, a pulled pork dinner roll—Thornewill’s choice treat from the bakery—is a small travel comfort. He’s been on tour with fellow band mates Tommy Siegel (vocals/guitar) and Jesse Kristin (drums) nearly nonstop since the release of their third studio album Safe Travels in June.

Ben Thornewill of Jukebox the Ghost plays at Rochester's Water Street Music Hall in September.

Thornewill says that he, Siegel and Kristin have evolved into different people six years after meeting at George Washington University, starting Jukebox the Ghost, and making their first album Live and Let Ghosts. It’s a change that’s really mirrored in their newer music, which is an interesting juxtaposition of upbeat melodies and intimate themes.

“You just make music at 26 or 27 than you do at age 21,” Thornewill says. “We’re taking on more mature, heavier topics, and the lyrics are definitely more personal.”

Tonight, the trio is set to play the Schine Underground at 7:30 p.m. as part of the second and final Bandersnatch show of the semester.

Thornewill said the band loves playing college shows, because they know people will show up. “The pressure is off and the kids get rowdy,” he says.

Jukebox the Ghost shouldn’t have any trouble drawing a crowd. The guys have toured extensively around the United States, playing over 200 shows in 2010 and opening for bands like Jack’s Mannequin and the Barenaked Ladies. They’ve played on The Late Show with David Letterman, and performed at huge festivals like the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn.

Being on the road for months at a time is a strange experience, Thornewill says: “It really turns you into a totally different person. No one is made to do this.”

But despite the incongruities of tour life, Jukebox the Ghost wouldn’t trade it for the world. This round of touring is the band’s first actual headlining tour with Safe Travels, and Thornewill said it’s been “a victory lap.”

With Safe Travels, the band has really polished their live show and knows how to get an audience cheering and dancing, “The crowds have been absolutely fantastic,” he says, describing the band’s show at NYC’s Webster Hall in January in the beginnings of a blizzard.

“[Webster] was one of the biggest shows we’ve played, and afterward we got into a giant snowball fight with the fans,” Thornewill says. “I got absolutely pummeled.”

Here’s to hoping Syracuse’s snow will yield a similar experience.

Indie-rock duo Io Echo will open for Jukebox the Ghost tonight, March 19. The show is sponsored by University Union, and tickets are still available in the Schine Box Office. $5 for students, $8 for public.

Listen to Jukebox the Ghost's "Somebody" below.

Photo via zbellink on Flickr.

The Vanderbuilts release new single, music video

Review: Syracuse-based band The Vanderbuilts released "I Wish I Was a Saber-Toothed Tiger" Feb. 14 via their website and YouTube.

"I Wish I Was a Saber Tooth-Tiger" starts out slow and melodic, a guitar progression accompanied by a few plucked banjo notes. But much like its accompanying video, it quickly morphs into something imaginative and upbeat, fluid vocals layered over guitar riffs, piano and violin.

If it's any indication of what's to be expected on The Vanderbuilts' second album, we can expect something great.

The Syracuse indie rock/baroque pop band plans to release their second LP What We Forget on March 1. The band, comprised of frontman/vocalist Sam Kogon, multi-instrumentalist Dave Riddell, violinist Aya Yamamoto, bassist Max Newland and drummer Grennan Milliken, formed in the fall of 2010 and have since released an EP titled Far From Here and their full-length debut Miguel's Orchard (February 2012). They have been featured in the SXSW showcase the past two years, and have shared the stage with bands like Titus Andronicus and Cults.

Werner Herzog's 2010 documentary "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," which examines the Chauvet cave paintings in Southern France, influenced What We Forget's theme, according to Kogon. Like "I Wish I Was A Saber-Toothed Tiger," the rest of the album plays with "ancient themes, sounds and images."

As for the song's origins, "I dreamt that I was listening to the radio and Paul McCartney and an old '70s song was playing, and I woke up with a melody," Kogon said. "I woke up, sang it into my phone, and then basically we worked on it the next day and it just came to life from there."

The video is a perfect mirror to the imagery of Kogon's lyrics and the band's musical backing. Multimedia artist Sessa Lund created it, mixing stop motion animation, claymation and photographs from Kogon's own taxidermy collection. The video is animated, but feels life-like. The combination of medias and textures give it a very real tangibility.

Much of the video starts out looking kaleidoscopic, a misshapen ball of orange-brown clay appearing on a black backdrop. As Kogon's vocals begin, so does the clay's manipulation. It travels through a desert-like landscape, watched by disembodied chalk-drawn eyes. The clay takes many forms—including what looks like a scaly bird and a piranha with a fingerprint-like texture—but it never quite reaches its desired mold: the saber-toothed tiger.

"I Wish I Was A Saber Toothed Tiger" is currently available for free download on The Vanderbuilts' website. The band's other music is available on iTunes, but is also streaming free on Spotify.

Rapper Joey Bada$$ to headline first Bandersnatch show this semester

University Union announced via Twitter Wednesday night that Joey Bada$$ will play in the Schine Underground on March 5.

Brooklyn independent rapper Joey Bada$$ will play the Schine Underground on Tuesday March 5 as part of University Union's Bandersnatch Music Series.

Doors will open at 7:30 p.m., and the show will start at 8. Tickets go on sale Friday Feb. 15 at 12 p.m. and are $5 with ID for SU/ESF students, faculty and staff. The opener has yet to be announced.

Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott, better known by his stage name Joey Bada$$, is an 18-year-old rapper and producer from Brooklyn, N.Y. He released his debut mixtape 1999 in June, with a second, Rejex following shortly after at the beginning of September. Joey Bada$$ has collaborated with artists like ASAP Rocky and Mac Miller, and is currently working on his not-yet-titled debut album, which is expected later this year. He recently released the track "Unorthodox" free online.

The second spring semester Bandersnatch series headliner is Jukebox the Ghost. The Brooklyn-based rock band will play in the Schine Underground on Tuesday March 19.

For the latest on all University Union events, follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

10 songs you should avoid on a first date

We're here to help you avoid the wrong soundtrack when you're getting ready for a first date.

Happy Valentine's Day from

“Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody” – David Lee Roth
The tawdry subject matter of male prostitution and the depths of loneliness that life engenders is dodgy subject to bring up on a date for sure. David Lee Roth is some kind of manic cartoon, one born out of bad makeup, old music video references and more mugging and crappy dancing than you can shake a stick at. Bust this video out on a date, and I’m sure before you can say “parachute pants” you’ll be spending your evening sad and lonely too. – Joseph DiDomizio

“Trapped in the Closet” – R. Kelly
If you’ve even thought about putting on ANY R. Kelly song in the context of a date, you probably don’t deserve to be on said date. Unless your companion has an affinity for voyeurism, “hip hoperas” and malapropos bubble sound effects, steer clear of all 33 chapters. – Suggested by Ian Macks

“Song for the Dumped” – Ben Folds Five
A song talking about how much you hate your former lover probably won’t sit well with a new one. – Suggested by Emmery Brakke

“Alice’s Restaurant” – Arlo Guthrie
Does your date love 23-minute, spoken-word songs? Do they love Thanksgiving? What about throwing garbage off a cliff and getting arrested for it? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, this is the soundtrack to your first date.

“Seventy Times 7” – Brand New
This song is the ultimate “f-ck you.” Unless your date’s still into high school-era revenge, Lacey’s screams hoping that you “have another drink and drive yourself home” don’t serve to set the mood.

“That’s The Way It Is” – Celine Dion
Yes, Celine Dion did the theme song for one of what many consider one of the most romantic movies of all time, but this is quite possibly the least sexy song ever. An outfit that consists of white pants and red boots played on multiple television screens in a storefront doesn’t exactly scream romance. – Suggested by Meera Jagannathan

“Baby Got Back” – Sir Mix-a-Lot
Even if you do appreciate your potential lover’s derriere, you probably don’t want to make it as obvious as Sir Mix-a-Lot does on your first date.

“Girlfriend in a Coma” – The Smiths
Much like R. Kelly’s music, anything written by Morrissey isn’t the best soundtrack for a first date. His relationship is so miserable, he can’t stand the thought of his girlfriend waking up.

“Creep” – Radiohead
Nothing says “Be my boyfriend/girlfriend” like Thom Yorke’s deep, eerie tenor, especially when he’s singing about stalking a woman he’s too scared to approach. Can anyone think of a legitimately romantic Radiohead song? I can’t.

“I Want Candy” – Aaron Carter
This song would have totally been appropriate during your first date with your Valentine in middle school, but now it’s just creepy. While Aaron Carter jumping around in shiny silver pants and a bubble coat really takes you back, it’s probably not a nostalgia trip you’d like to take in the beginnings of a relationship.

“My Way” – Limp Bizkit
If you’re incredibly inflexible and you want your date to know, this song is the perfect choice. Let Fred Durst’s bald head and perfectly-sculpted beard do the talking.

Honorable mentions:

“Can’t Be Tamed” – Miley Cyrus

“Physical” – Olivia Newton-John

Comedian Seth Meyers to perform at SU in March

The SNL star will visit Goldstein Auditorium for "An Evening of Comedy" on Wednesday March 27.

Comedian Seth Meyers will perform in Schine Student Center's Goldstein Auditorium March 27, campus programming board University Union announced Sunday via Twitter.

Meyers is currently the head writer at Saturday Night Live, and the host of SNL's parody news show Weekend Update. He joined the cast in 2001, and has been a host of Weekend Update for six seasons.

"An Evening of Comedy with Seth Meyers" will feature Meyers' original stand-up comedy. The event is scheduled for Wednesday March 27 in Goldstein Auditorium. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.

Tickets go on sale Monday Feb. 11 at 9 a.m. in the Schine Box Office and are available to SU students, faculty and staff for $5.

For the latest on all University Union events, follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Watch the video below for a look at Meyers' most recent appearance on Weekend Update:

DJ Pauly D, Jukebox the Ghost set for spring shows at SU

"Jersey Shore's" DJ Pauly D, rock band Jukebox the Ghost and comedy troupe Upright Citizen's Brigade will perform at Syracuse University this spring.

DJ Pauly D of "Jersey Shore" fame and Brooklyn-based rock band Jukebox the Ghost are both scheduled to play on campus semester, according to the Schine Box Office Events Calendar.

On Wednesday, on-campus programming board University Union originally announced via Twitter and Facebook that they were planning a Sunday announcement for their Goldstein Auditorium show:

Pauly D will play in Goldstein Auditorium on Thursday Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. as part of Syracuse University's Winter Carnival. On Sunday night, UU officially announced the show via Twitter and Facebook. Alt hip-hop artist Rockie Fresh will also appear as a special guest. Tickets are $10 for students and will be available through the Schine Box Office Starting Monday Feb. 4.

Pauly D gained popularity after appearing on MTV's "Jersey Shore," and has since launched his disc jockey career, as well as a "Jersey Shore" spin-off "The Pauly D Project." He released the first single of his debut album, "Back to Love (feat. Jay Sean)" on Jan. 15.

Jukebox the Ghost will play on Tuesday March 19 in the Schine Underground. The band has toured extensively, opening for bands like Barenaked Ladies and Jack's Mannequin, and released their third album, Safe Travels, in June.

The Upright Citizen's Brigade improv and sketch comedy troupe will also perform in the Schine Underground on Wednesday Feb. 27. UCB, which began as part of Chicago's ImprovOlympic in 1990, has had a number of famous members including "Parks and Rec's" Amy Poehler, SNL alum Horatio Sanz and "Scrubs'" Neil Flynn.

Tickets are expected to be available through the Schine Box Office for the Upright Citizen's Brigade and Jukebox the Ghost shows once they are officially announced.

This post was updated on Sunday Feb. 3 to reflect the official announcement of the Pauly D show by UU.

2012 Album Roundup: The Best of the Year

Review: Our incoming entertainment lead recounts her favorite music of 2012.

Favorite releases of the year:

David Byrne and St. Vincent, Love This Giant

         This collaboration between Talking Heads’ David Byrne and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark is a delightfully delicious cocktail of pop, funk and big brassy horns. Clark’s one of indie rock’s best rhythm guitarists, and her partnership with the multi-faceted Byrne was a pleasantly surprising display of the pair’s joint songwriting chops and musical acumen.

Sharon Van Etten, Tramp

         I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t discover Sharon Van Etten until this third release, and I had no idea what I was missing. Though this hauntingly beautiful, sentimental album features guest appearances from members of The National, Beirut’s Zach Condon and Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner, Van Etten’s voice is its true star. The music is subtle but powerful, and somehow manages to hit you all at once.

Andrew Bird, Break It Yourself

         Even after nearly 25 releases in various shapes and sizes, the ever-talented multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird rarely disappoints, and Break It Yourself is no exception. His songwriting has aged gracefully, each album richer and more insightful than the last. Break It Yourself is the musical illustration of the dynamic sounds that Bird is capable of, and tracks ranging from under a minute to over eight are worth as many listens as listeners are willing to give.

First Aid Kit, The Lion’s Roar

         Comprised of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, Swedish folk pop duo First Aid Kit is irresistible. Gaining momentum after releasing a cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song,” the sisters have been surrounded by a notable buzz in the indie music blogosphere. Their second LP The Lion’s Roar is charming, peppered with catchy choruses and an uncanny combination of instruments. Plus, the album’s last song features Bright Eyes’ frontman Conor Oberst—what’s not to like?

Bad Books, II

         The union between Brooklyn singer-songwriter Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull continues on Bad Books’ sophomore album II, a decidedly more distinctive release than their first effort. More upbeat songs like “No Sides” (Devine’s lyrics) transition seamlessly into quieter acoustic fare like “Pyotr” (Hull’s), conveying the pair’s growth as songwriters, and their ability to create a work absolutely more cohesive than their last record.

Delta Spirit, Delta Spirit:

         California rock outfit Delta Spirit’s self-titled release is honest and punchy, full of twangy rock guitar riffs and thumping drum beats. The band’s third full length delivers 11 well-produced tunes and an evolution that separates them from their Americana roots.

Right Away, Great Captain! The Church of the Good Thief

         On the final album in the Right Away, Great Captain! trilogy (after 2007’s The Bitter End and 2008’s The Eventually Home), Manchester Orchestra frontman Andy Hull wraps up his solo project somberly. Telling the story of a 17th century sailor who catches his wife cheating with his brother, the narrative’s conclusion is dark and conflicted, ultimately ending in a funeral at sea. Hull’s at his best stripped down to a piano and acoustic guitar like he is on Church, which allows his lyrical capabilities to shine.

Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan

         I haven’t listened to Dirty Projectors other material much, but Swing Lo Magellan floored me. It’s chaotic and grungy in a way that’s reminiscent of Jack White, and just the right shade of pretentious. It’s wide-ranging but manages to stay fun, and laden with musical surprises. 

mewithoutYou, Ten Stories:

         Philadelphia natives mewithoutYou have a flair for telling stories, with their latest release exploring the experiences of circus animals after a train crash. The post-hardcore, indie rock band’s Ten Stories is a logical progression in their discography, staying true to songs on the teetering brink of being encumbered by too many words and frontman Aaron Weiss’ spoken-singing. Plus it’s got lyrical allusions to the French Revolution. I’m sold.

Honorable mentions: Band of Horses’ Mirage Rock, The Mountain Goats’ Transcendental Youth and Yeasayer’s Fragrant World


Favorite individual songs:

Lana del Rey, “Blue Jeans” off Born To Die: I listen to this album unironically because I’m secretly a Lana lover, and “Blue Jeans” succinctly depicts the album’s vintage-obsessed sound.

M. Ward, “Sweetheart” feat. Zooey Deschanel off A Wasteland Companion: I’m generally not a fan of M. Ward, and especially not She & Him, but this latest release has a few songs that I can get behind.

Santigold, “Disparate Youth” off Master of My Make-Believe: Purely Santigold’s zany brand of electro-dance music, “Disparate Youth” is rebellious but simultaneously catchy.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, “Oh Susannah” off Americana: Young’s cover infuses grungy rock n’ roll into this American classic, as does the rest of his cover album.


2012’s biggest disappointments:

Mumford & Sons, Babel

The Shins, Port of Morrow

The xx, Coexist

These three albums were the victims of too much hype: Mumford & Sons got too big too quickly; The Shins have been on a downward slope since their proliferation after Garden State in 2004; and The xx’s Coexist is a little too minimalist for my liking.