TRANSVERSO

- A culture magazine reaching terminal verbosity -

Music List

A Very Transverso Holiday: 50 Songs for the Season

Music ListTransverso MediaComment

The holidays are a magical time of year, a time often evoked through the use of song. We at Transverso have decided to collect some of our favorite festive tunes into a playlist for you and yours to enjoy in the coming days, beginning with the original Christmas song, Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime."

These 50 seasonal tracks are sure to be the perfect soundtrack as you hang ornaments on your tree, bake cookies, or leave your young son at home without supervision in a crime-ridden Chicago suburb for an extended period of time.

A Guide to Finding the Best Headphones for Your Money

Music List, Other ReviewFouzan AlamComment

In recent years it’s become harder and harder to find headphones that allow you to listen to music the way it’s meant to be heard, as more and more audio gear is made with heavy bias. The iPod explosion contributed to a saturated market for headphones, and so many companies felt the need to differentiate their products based on creating a unique sound. Unfortunately, this trend has made it much more difficult for purists to enjoy music in the best way possible - the way the artist originally intended for it to be heard.

Headphones that are unbiased may not sound very impressive when you first try them on in a shop. However, just like a good wine, you will notice that they provide more subtle details to every single track in your library in time, and that they aren’t horrible for listening to certain genres or more complex tracks, as biased equipment can often be. If there is bass or treble in the actual track, you will hear it in all its genuine texture and crispness, and if there is NOT, then you won’t have it added to the music in a bombastic, bloated manner, distracting you from the essence of the music. If you’re coming from sub-par headphones, it can be an unusual experience, but it will grow on you.

There are still headphones in every price range that were made with the goal of achieving this transparency, and we have reviewed and sorted them below by price range and in-ear v. over-the-head categories.


UNDER $50


In Ear:
VSonic VSD1S ($49)

VSonic came into the audio world with a splash, and provides a wide range of headphones, from the cheap yet quite clean sounding VSD1S to the more expensive products like the GR07. This particular model is the best you can do for an in-ear headphone at this price. For those on a budget, this will handle everything you throw at them.

 

 

Headphones:
Sony MDR ZX100 ($32)

If you’re looking for strong headphones for this price range, Sony has your back. They make the most well balanced and clean sounding headphones that won’t break the bank.

 


$50–150


39295716_SE215-xlarge.jpeg

In Ear:
Sure SE 215 ($99)

Ah, Sure. They’ve done an amazing job with their in-ear monitors, and the SE215 is the first place you start to see a good dual driver earbud. These are also the first balanced armature headphones on the list. Balanced Armature drivers are smaller, and produce a more accurate sound, but across less pitch. Sure got around that by sticking two balanced armatures in each earpiece. One for the highs, and one for the lows, contributing to a nice clean sound, with plenty of detail to boot.

Headphone:
AKG ATH M50X ($150)

If you search around online it's not hard to find a lot of people who really love the ATH M50X. They are an improved model of the ATH M50, and are most people’s
gateway drug into audiophilia. Comfortable and noise cancelling, they also have excellent sound quality. If you're the type to close your eyes and imagine your favorite band playing in front of you, this is the way to do it.


$150–250


In Ear:
Westone UM2 ($250)

Like Sure, Westone has done some wonderful things for in-ear lovers. Again, using a dual balanced armature system, but with better tuning and more detail, Westone creates a winner at this price point for those who want every detail in their music, from their morning commute, to their daily run.

Headphone:
Sony MDR1R ($223)

Big brother to the other MDR mentioned earlier, these headphones have some of the clearest, crispest sounding instrumentals and vocals you can find for
this price. The are also one of the first headphones in this list where you start to get some real soundstaging. The music feels 3D, and the sounds of an orchestra
will envelop you.


$250–350


In Ear:
Logitech Ultimate Ears 900 ($349)

Ultimate Ears was its own company until Logitech bought them a few years back. While their lower end models aren’t really anything special, the UE 900
stands out as one of the best sounding in ear headphones I’ve heard at this price. Sporting an impressive four balanced armature drivers per ear they have separate drivers for the mids, highs, and bass. The soundstaging on these is beautiful, and when you walk around, it feels like the band is following you through
space. It’s a wonderful feeling. Oh, and as an added bonus, the cables are removable.

Headphone:
Sennheiser HD 600 ($340)

Sennheiser has long been regarded as the king of headphones, until they were usurped by Audeze a few years ago. Even then, at this price range, you simply
cannot get anything better than the HD600. This is the stage where the sound you get out of MP3 files starts to feel like it’s not quite enough, so switching to some lossless audio, or more detailed sources, such as CD or Vinyl is suggested for maximum enjoyment. Keep in mind that these are open back headphones, though.
People will be able to hear what you’re listening to. But don’t worry too much - everyone will appreciate some Tchaikovsky.


$350–450


In Ear:
InEar StageDiver 2 ($450)

There’s a lot that could be said about German engineering, but the only thing I will say is that these are the first In Ear headphones I've heard that match the
soundstage of over-the-head headphones in their price category. There are two things that balanced armatures tend to struggle with. First, they have trouble doing
bass, and second, they have trouble with the 3D nature of sound, simply because they’re so close to your ears. The StageDiver 2 is not held back by either of these, and has two precision tuned balanced armature drivers. It
presents a beautiful sound that’s perfect for portable users, with some of the most perfectly balanced bass, mids, and highs in a 3D setting. These are the holy grail of in ear monitors.

Headphone:
Oppo PM3 ($399)

Now we’re getting into some interesting stuff. with the Oppo PM3, for the first time, we see a planar magnetic headphone under $500. Planar magnetic headphones are the “next level” of speaker technology, too big to be placed into tiny in ear units, but perfect for large headphones. The Oppos are comfortable, and
impeccably detailed. They leave nothing to chance, and just present clean, beautiful, smooth, and perfect sound. The bass is not overpowering, but it reveals texture as it goes low... so, so low. It doesn’t feel like someone is playing in your head, it feels like they’re in the room, revolving around you.

oppo-pm3.png

Thanks, Obama! POTUS Releases Two Summer Playlists

Music List, Music NewsTransverso MediaComment

The White House released two Spotify playlists today, both "hand-picked" by POTUS himself. One is made for the daytime, featuring artists such as Bob Dylan, Coldplay, and Florence + The Machine, while the other is for the night, with music from Van Morrison, Ray Charles, Leonard Cohen, and more.

This comes after current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently released her own playlist, though her airtight, overly-uplifting pop picks came off more as a campaign exercise while Obama's selections feel a bit more genuine, especially with so much classic soul and surprise picks like the lesser-known Okkervil River. If you're gonna feed us a PR stunt at least make it sound good enough to make us forget that part.

The President's playlists clock in at just over an hour and a half each, and you can Ba-rock out to both of them below. (We're so sorry.)

Now we eagerly await Donald Trump's inevitable contribution.

 

Transverso's 2015 Lollapalooza Playlist

Music ListTransverso MediaComment

With Lollapalooza looming large we've compiled the 30 best tracks from the best artists you can expect to see at the festival this year. With artists from Paul McCartney to Shakey Graves, Chicago's Grant Park is the place to be this weekend, and you can prepare yourself by clicking play below or on our Spotify profile!

Relive Bonnaroo with our two playlists for that festival, take the "Music Festival Name or Type Illness Quiz" on Buzzfeed here, and if that's not enough, you can always turn on our 2015 Summer Playlist.

Listen to Transverso's 2015 Summer Playlist

Music ListTransverso MediaComment

Summer has officially started, which means you need a summer playlist! We've taken the responsibility of compiling 20 of the best tunes to come out so far this year that can serve as the perfect soundtrack to all of your typical summer activities, whether it be driving with the top down, relaxing by the pool, hanging out at a family reunion, or feeding gummy bears to Belle & Sebastian. Check it out below.

10 of the Best Musical Cameos on TV

TV/Film List, Music ListEllen WilsonComment
 Jack White on Portlandia

Jack White on Portlandia

1. The Shins on Gilmore Girls 

Gilmore Girls is known for their fast paced dialogue and countless pop culture references, often mentioning numerous artists an episode, so it would make sense that Rory and co would stumble upon a hip new band playing in a club while on spring break. James Mercer and band play "So Says I" for an uninterrupted minute and a half, which is a pretty impressive amount of airtime for television. Rory and friends don't arrive until the last song, though, so we can assume they are the worst concert goers ever. Shortly after you can hear "The Laws Have Changed" by The New Pornographers while Rory and Paris uncomfortable try to fit in with the club-goers stating, "no one can sniff out the hip like we can." 

2. The Decemberists on Parks and Recreation 

The Decemberists get about 30 seconds of airtime playing "Crane Wife 3" at the Pawnee-Eagletown unity concert. While they might not have gotten as much airtime as deserved the entire episode was full of additional musical guest such as Jeff Tweedy, Ginuwine, and Yo La Tengo. 

 

3. Jack White on Portlandia 

Jack White magically appears on the Portlandia sketch "The Studio" in which Fred's character portrays a man who has a "top notch" studio with overwhelming similarities the studio used when recording the Beach Boy's album Pet Sounds. Jack White magically appears and silently watches Fred's character as he struggles to make sense of it all. The lack of dialogue from White makes his facial expressions even more hilarious and one of the best musical guest Portlandia has locked down. 

4. Britt Daniel of Spoon in Veronica Mars

Britt sings a karaoke version of the song appropriately titled "Veronica" by Elvis Costello. The Spoon song "I Summon You" was also featured in the same episode. You can read more about Britt's decision to do the show here

5. Death Cab For Cutie on The OC 

Death Cab was famously the favorite band of OC stud Seth Cohen, despite Summer's less-than-flattering analysis, "it's one guitar and a whole lot of complaining." When the band finally appears they play a show at the infamous fictional venue, The Bait Shop, and were featured on the official soundtrack. 

6. Prince on New Girl 

Prince, the majestic being himself, guest stars in an episode of New Girl. In the episode, he plays himself and gives Jess (portrayed by Zooey Deschanel) relationship advice. The highlight, though, is when the The Purple One asks, "Do you like pancakes?" 

7. Beck on Futurama 

After Bender is hospitalized he discovers Beck's disembodied head is occupying the bed next to him. Beck then loans Bender a set of neck-mounted robotic mini-arms, and the two go on tour together as Bender uses the arms to scrape across his mangled body and earn the position of Beck's washboard player. As the episode continues, Bender writes a song about broken robots, and the duo decide to put on a benefit concert in San Francisco to help all the disabled machines. While helping Bender write a song about his feelings, disembodied Beck explains how emotion is an important part of his musical process as well, saying, "When I'm upset I write a song about it. Like when I wrote 'Devil's Haircut,' I was feeling really... what's that song about?"

8. The Beach Boys on Full House 

The Beach Boys have a long standing friendship with the Tanner family, appearing in not one, not two, but three separate episodes. The most notable episode is the one in which DJ wins two tickets to the Beach Boys show but has the tricky decision of picking which family member to take. Naturally, The Beach Boys show up and invite the whole bunch along (except for baby Michelle) to the show where they sing and do some sort of a line dance on stage. 

9. Radiohead on South Park

In this particularly dark episode, Cartman vows to take revenge after being tricked by eighth grader Scott Tenorman. Upon learning that Radiohead is Scott's favorite band, Cartman writes a letter to Radiohead claiming that Scott is a victim of "cancer, in his ass" and the British rock band visits South Park just in time to watch Scott cry after hearing he ate his parents.  

10. Sir Paul McCartney on 30 Rock 

In one of these two brilliant episodes of 30 Rock, Sir Paul McCartney appears as himself to prove the point that "it's live TV, anything can happen." The look on Alec Baldwin's bewildered face as Paul McCartney grins and slaps Baldwin's face makes this one of the best moments of 30 Rock's entire seven season run. 








2015 Bonnaroo Playlist (Saturday + Sunday)

Music ListTransverso MediaComment

As we discussed previously in Part One (Thursday + Friday), Manchester, Tennessee's annual music festival and hedonist mud orgy Bonnaroo is right around the corner, kicking off June 11-14th. Any good concertgoer knows to familiarize oneself with the music beforehand, and we've done the work for you, compiling a playlist of the top songs by the best artists featured during the last two days, which you can check out below:

2015 Bonnaroo Playlist (Thursday + Friday)

Music ListTransverso MediaComment

Manchester, Tennessee's annual music festival and hedonist mud orgy Bonnaroo is right around the corner, kicking off June 11-14th. Any good concertgoer knows to familiarize oneself with the music beforehand, and we've done the work for you, compiling a playlist of the top songs by the best artists featured during the first two days, which you can check out below.

Stay tuned for Part Two (Saturday + Sunday).

The 7 Best Songs Over 7 Minutes Long From the Last 7 Years

Music ListWeston PaganoComment

Ever since John Lennon decided to add a few minutes of “Na Na Na’s” to the end of what would become the timeless hit “Hey Jude” purely to piss off the radio stations with strict three or four minute run-time limitations, artists everywhere have experimented with song length, often to brilliant results. While many “Best of” lists of this nature have been compiled before, they contain almost exclusively classic rock tracks such as “Free Bird” and Pink Floyd; looking amidst our own generation I give you the seven best songs over seven minutes long from the last seven years in chronological order. Compound songs (hidden tracks and such) were not considered.


Peter Bjorn and John / Up Against The Wall

Writer’s Block (2006)

7:06

Delightful Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John claim to be Abba’s illegitimate sons. While that may be ridiculous, they do have a legitimate claim to something else: The title of most underrated indie pop rock band. While you may have heard their whistling hit “Young Folks,” overlooking the rest of the masterpiece album,Writer’s Block, is a terrible mistake, especially “Up Against The Wall.” The rolling drums, meandering guitar, and subtle vocalization techniques combine to make such a biting reflection of a relationship deceptively upbeat and toe-tapping:  “Maybe we could make this work / But now you start to leave before it's getting worse / I don't know what you came here for / It's almost that I wish we hadn't met at all.” I could not say the same to Peter, Bjorn, and John; I am incredibly thankful to have found them.

of Montreal / The Past is a Grotesque Animal

Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? (2007)

11:53

This tense 12 minute adventure in angst and confession is the turning point in Hissing Fauna, arguably the best album in of Montreal’s extensive discography. It is within this song that front man Kevin Barnes claims to have transformed into his alter-ego, Georgie Fruit, a "dark mutation” that takes the form of a “black she-male,” as he deals with antidepressants and their effect on his marriage. Themes of existentialism and hopelessness intertwine as he struggles to come to terms with how someone could have “red-rovered the gestapo circling [his] heart” and love him despite his crippling flaws. The chilling ooh’s that begin around 4:20 will continue to haunt you long after the song has ended, and the synth undulations that appear later on sound straight out of Pink Floyd’s “Animals.” The line “It's like we weren't made for this world / Though I wouldn't really want to meet someone who was” epitomizes Barnes’s entire artistic career: bizarre alien creations that somehow feel more comfortable and better exemplify our most basic and secret human emotions than we ever imagined possible. He goes on to wonder if his lover “mythologizes” him as he does her and admits he’s so “touched by [her] goodness” he feels “criminal,” beautifully articulating the insecurity and altered perceptions that accompany the most vulnerably irrevocable love.

MGMT / Siberian Breaks

Congratulations (2010)

12:10

Following the success of their anthemic debut, Oracular Spectacular, psychedelic duo MGMT were given almost absolute artistic freedom by their record label while making their immensely underrated follow-up, Congratulations. That freedom allowed them to stray from the pop single structure of “Kids” and “Time To Pretend” and create this sprawling 12 minute conglomeration of acid-tinged streams of consciousness which vocalist Andrew VanWyngarden claims is his favorite of the album, saying, "It's kind of like eight different songs strung together into one, and the general theme is about surfing in the Arctic Circle by Russia." With crushing retorts such as “There's no reason / There's no secret to decode / If you can't save it / Leave it dying on the road” and the suicide note-worthy “If you’re conscious you must be depressed / Or at least cynical” amidst heavy reverb, this song undoubtedly has a depressing air about it, and yet the glittering synth and fitting realization of “Being here's always changing tunes” leaves you with an almost indifferent taste of acceptance in your mouth as you fade away, gently reminded nothing is truly ever “created or destroyed.”

LCD Soundsystem / Dance Yrself Clean

This Is Happening (2010)

8:56

It was difficult to pick only one song by the unfortunately now-disbanded indie dance pop masters and synth gods of the long song that are LCD Soundsystem, but I decided on “Dance Yrself Clean” based on the fact that it is quite simply perfect. Although a bitch to play on air during my radio show due to its immensely dynamic volume range (either it’s too quiet or peaking, always!) it is infectiously catchy and well worth the struggle. The initial soft patter of percussion and whispered vocals give way to a barrage of delicious, dance-inducing noise and hair-raising howls around the three minute mark, creating a drop that ended dubstep before it even began. Frontman James Murphy later admitted to needing steroids to help carry his voice through the recording process and protect it from injury, and while this may feel like cheating to some, it is a testament to his dedication as a musician and drive to create the best that he can, and the thought of this work of art having never been completed instead is far more discomforting, especially when considering it ended up being the very last song LCD Soundsystem ever made. “Break me into bigger pieces / So some of me is home with you,” he cries; careful when giving in to this song around your expensive music playing equipment, or he may not be the only thing left in pieces.

Cold War Kids / Fashionable (Bonus Track)

Mine Is Yours (Deluxe Version) (2011)

7:02

I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed by the overproduced and polished third album by the soulful and, until this point, brilliantly raw Cold War Kids. And although it was still enjoyable, Mine Is Yours even left out the best song of all: “Fashionable” is only listed as a bonus track on the deluxe version, or a rare 7” that used to be available exclusively at shows before they quickly sold out (I had to hide mine under a couch in Atlanta’s Buckhead Theatre back in 2011, but that’s another story). It begins with vocalist Nathan Willett gently cooing over bouncy acoustic guitar before transitioning to a church organ, in turn introducing the percussion, and eventually building up to a delightful return to his wonderfully powerful and emotional wails of old (sadly, the only song post-Loyalty to Loyalty to really do so), as it builds in excitement towards the end, sending chills down your spine. “I am your style / Oh and you are my style” he belts out before asking, “Who will sweep you off your feet?” You do, Nathan. You do.

 

Young Man / 21

Vol. 1 (2012)

7:04

Colin Caulfield’s big break happened when his YouTube cover of a Deerhunter song caught the ear of the band’s frontman.  An album and record deal later he has put together a full band under the name Young Man, and the resulting fuller sound is perfectly showcased in “21.” The almost eerie piano opening is reminiscent of Musique pour Supermarché as it blooms into soothing guitar melodies driven by pulsating snares and Caulfield’s gently probing cries of “crying shame.” The also lyricized “indeterminate feelings” swirl throughout the seven-plus minute runtime, presenting indie dream-pop at its best since Beach House’s Bloom.

Grizzly Bear / Sun in Your Eyes

Shields (2012)

7:07

Daniel Rossen’s flawless vocals lift this song along with its listeners above the clouds in fits of beauty. “It overflows / It overflows / It overflows” within you, receding momentarily as the piano seems to contemplate it’s very existence, before it resumes, “Silver inside / Rushing on.” After erupting with pulses of distortion, the last track on the band’s latest album, and the final song they played when I was lucky enough to see them live, signs off with a blunt, “I’m never coming back.” We can only hope this isn’t true, and that Grizzly Bear merely hibernates before returning with the sun to shine on us once more.


Honorable Mentions

Bright Eyes / Firewall

The People’s Key (2011)

7:17

I’ll admit, I’m still not quite sure what to make of the prophetic mumbling that makes up the first two and a half minutes (Hitler being name-dropped here and throughout the album reeks of stabs at sensationalism), yet I can’t help but be intrigued. The commanding, military ritual drums, rolling guitar befitting of a sedated Jack White, and the typical Conor Oberst misery spouting of lines like “On all fours she's just so insistent / Fills my mind with jump ropes and slit wrists” seem to lack some genuineness, but even at their most calculated, Bright Eyes are still worth a mention.

Death Cab for Cutie / I Will Possess Your Heart

Narrow Stairs (2008)

8:26

Although it may be one of my favorite songs from Ben Gibbard’s extensive repertoire, it doesn’t quite make the list on merit of length, as it is essentially a 4 minute song with an enjoyable yet unnecessarily drawn out intro. I might prefer it half as long but played twice as much.

Real Estate / All The Same

Days (2011)

7:22

The sweet jangly melodies of New Jersey band, Real Estate, are impossible not to hum or whistle or sing along to (although not all at once, that would be impossible). This is the perfect song for lazy warm afternoons, or, I imagine, painting.