Poached Eggs, Nick Drake, and Dire Consequences: An Interview With Clea

The world needs more Clea.

Originally from Brisbane, Australia, she is a singer-songwriter of the highest quality, singing all the right words in all the right places. Listening to her is a luxury, with only two of her songs currently available on Soundcloud.

I first heard “Polyester” about a year ago, being absolutely blown away by Clea’s vocal range and attention to lyrical detail. It’s such a personal song, the type of tune that is made to make you think, bask, and relate as much as feel. I should also mention the velocity and skill of her guitar work, which takes the song to an even higher level of wander and wonder.


Then you get “Dire Consequences,” a track that really steps it up in the production department. The useful blend of multi-instrumentation elevates the importance of Clea’s subject matter, with her voice reverberating and echoing throughout.


Enough talk… 

HG: So, the world wants to know… when is the “Dire Consequences” video dropping? I’m dying over here.

C: Soon soon! I can’t tell you when exactly but I assure you very soon!

HG: How long have you been singing and playing for? What lead you to make your own music?

C: I’ve been singing since I was a little girl and playing guitar for about 5 years. I then started to gig in 2013. I was so motivated and influenced by other musicians to make music… I was kind of like hey! I want to do that!



HG: Describe your perfect breakfast.

C: Poached eggs, sautéed mushrooms, cooked spinach, 1 piece of fresh sourdough and lots of salt! + 1 small soy flat white… Mmm I’m starting to salivate.




HG: Who are some of your favorite artists to listen to? Is there one that especially touches your soul?

C: Wye Oak, Grizzly Bear, Laura Marling, Nick Drake, Ainslie Wills, Beck.
I have a soft spot for Grizzly Bear, I’ve been a teary-eyed fan girl for quite some time.


HG: How excited are you for your London shows? What do you think about touring so far? Any places you’d like to travel next?

C: Excitement for London shows gets an 8 out of 10. I’m more so traveling around and playing a show here and there rather than on tour…. but it’s bloody fantastic so far. Yeah! I’ll be heading to Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and possibly a few others! Europe is alright.



HG: Tell me about your songwriting process. Is there a certain method to creating your music?

C: I write about my feelings and sentiments at the time. I muck around on the guitar, find a sweet chord and go from there. I mumble a few lyrics, some may stick and some I have to write down later. It can take me up to a day or a month to finish a song.

HG: “Polyester” is such a beautiful song. Tell me about when you wrote that. It seems so personal to me.

C: Oh thank you! I was a heart broken girl when I wrote “Polyester”. Yeah it’s very personal… I guess most of my songs are.


HG: What is next? What can your fans expect?

C: I shall be traveling for the next 4 months, playing shows, writing and meeting fresh faces! As soon as I hit home soil I’ll be getting stuck into my EP!


For more on Clea, click here.

If you wish to submit music, send it to blueharvestbeat@gmail.com.

Artistry, Industry, and Double-Edged Swords: An Interview With Majesty Da God

Straight from the belly of Los Angeles, Majesty Da God has been making a name for himself.

Born Melchizedec Andrews-Bey, the South Central rapper has been dropping lyrical dynamite on Soundcloud, with catchy instrumentals to back his dynamic rasp of a voice. He grew up with a passion for artists that spoke about their surroundings honestly, falling in love with hip-hop icons like N.W.A. and Notorious B.I.G.

Da God shows appreciation for his influences without ripping off the artists he has idolized, something many, many rappers struggle with daily (let alone for their whole careers).

Here’s what we talked about…

HG: “God” is the latest single you’ve dropped on Soundcloud, and on the track, your voice and flow match the beat perfectly. How do you know when a song is finished? How do you prepare and write your verses?

MTG: I just have to feel really good about the song from start to finish. I’ll listen to a song for a couple of days sometimes weeks before I put the stamp on it. As far as verses, I just write. I find the right beat, pick a topic and just go. I’m always recording lines here and there on my phone that I freestyle throughout the day so if I’m having writer’s block I go to the catalogue, find something I like and run with it.


HG: “The game done changed since I was younger, they flooded the market with bullshit left the good shit buried under.” How do you feel about the current state of modern hip-­hop?

MTG: I think it has its pros and cons just like anything else. I think when you’re looking at the majors it seems like most of them are following a pattern of how to turn a profit which is the objective of any business. It’s just unfortunate that the artistry is taking a dive because of it. A lot of independent artists are trying to fit into that mold as well so you get a bunch of music that sounds the same.

It then trickles down to the consumer because most people don’t want to take a chance on a new artist because they’re bombarded with the same material all day. But then on the other side you have great artists making phenomenal music because it’s easier to get your music on iTunes and all these platforms where fans listen to music now. But there’s so much competition and only so much advertising space to go around. It’s very hard to get through the noise, but once you do the world can witness great music.

It’s definitely a double-­‐edged sword so as an artist you just have to pick your lane and go.

HG: Describe your perfect breakfast.

MTG: I think the best breakfast I ever had was the French toast from Hash-­House A Go Go in Vegas. Get you some cheese eggs with green onions and a couple strips of bacon. That’s a breakfast for the Gods.

HG: Who are some of your favorite artists in the game right now?

MTG: Lately I’ve been banging that Panda track. It’s pretty dope. I’m curious to hear what he follows up with. My main artists though are Kanye, Kendrick, Drake, Pusha T, and Jay-Z. I also can’t wait to hear that No Way Out 2 by Diddy. The 1st one was a classic. He should reach out and get me on that album.

HG: “Bass” absolutely bumps. Tell me about collaborating with Black jacket Pictures for the video. Did you have an idea of what you wanted before you shot it?

MTG: First off, shout out to Ro and all the fam at Black Jacket. Those cats are phenomenal. I didn’t really have a clear idea at first but once I took Ro and Amanda to the venue where we shot it, they came up with these dope ideas that really made the visual pop. Our zombie chick was pretty dope.

HG: Tell me what makes a good song to you.

MTG: A song that stirs up emotion in you. It could make you dance, laugh, cry, angry, anything. Those are the songs that last and stand the test of time.

HG: What’s next for Majesty Da God? What can the fans expect in the future?

MTG: Well I’ll be dropping the The Apollo EP II soon. The first video I’m filming this month is for the song “Chain on 50.” I’m doing that one with Black Jacket as well and It’s gonna be better than anything we’ve ever done so far so I’m excited about that. And I’ll definitely be on the road a lot more this year so make sure you follow me @MajestyDaGod on all social media to stay updated on dates and new music. As far as the future, I’ll just say that I’m always growing and learning as a person and I hope that will be reflected in my future projects. I just encourage my fans to enjoy the ride and where ever it takes us is where we’ll be.


For more information on Majesty Da God, click here.

For interview queries or article ideas, please contact blueharvestbeat@gmail.com



Smooth bars, Fried Eggs, and Saturday Blues: My Interview with Healy


By: Harrison Giza

Hip-hop is at it’s biggest climax in history, with artists struggling to sound different and striving to stand out. However, Healy is doing just fine in that department, dropping some of the tastiest raps this side of planet Earth.

Based out of Memphis, Tennessee and signed to UK label DeepMatter, this guy really knows how to make smooth hip-hop. His track “life like” is beach-coated glimmer with a dash of homie enormity. It is one of my favorite songs of the year.

What makes Healy so good? To put it simply, his precise care when recording. His voice matches his instrumentals, with both the words and instruments behind him syncing perfectly. On “saturday blues,” with an instrumental produced by Chris McClenney, Healy mixes genres with the swiftest of ease, rapping and singing better than any rapper on the radio currently.

I got to talking with the man just a few weeks ago, asking about his career and what exactly is next for him.

HG: What do you think is the hardest thing to accomplish when you’re writing a new track?

H: The most time-consuming part of songwriting for me is for sure the formation of the story. I like to let my life be a catalyst for most of the songs I write, and sometimes that just takes time. I can’t really wake up and say, “I’ll write a song about unrequited love today.” It’s a passive process that kind of just happens, but it’s pretty incredible when it does.

HG: You pick your beatmakers perfectly. How did you get in contact with Chris McClenney for “Saturday Blues?” How did the creative process go?

H: I actually haven’t spoken with Chris to this day. I was hiking in Knoxville and found his tracks on soundcloud and just kind of started jamming to them. Before Chris’ vocals came on in ‘More Love’ I had this cool vision, so I cut the track up a bit. A few months later some Saturday night plans fell through with friends so I picked up a 6-pack and wrote that song in my car outside my house.

HG: Describe your perfect breakfast.

H: I’ve got this solid routine at the moment of waking up and frying two eggs over medium, toasting an English muffin, slapping some pb and honey on it, and making a latte. I’m a big proponent of chicken and waffles as well.

HG: Tell me what makes a good song to you.

H: Anything that evokes emotion.

HG: What are your favorite albums in hip-hop? What makes them your favorites?

H: I listened to Graduation almost everyday on my way to and from high school. Aside from anything Kanye, Section.80, You’re Dead!, The Carter III, and Power in Numbers are some of my favorites.

HG: How do you feel about the current state of hip-hop?

H: It’s cool. There’s no use in being scared of progression or innovation within genres. All genres, including hip-hop, are subject to this sort of perpetual evolution. Right now you have several artists creating and employing new flows, bending meter, and incorporating live instruments in their music. I think it’s awesome and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.

HG: A few blogs have labeled your work as “acoustic-rap.” Do you find that label suits your work?

H: Labels are labels, man. If somebody thinks I make pop music, they can think that. The same goes with the acoustic-rap stuff. When I think of acoustic-rap, turn of the decade Ed Sheeran comes to mind, but to each his or her own.

HG: I absolutely love “life like.” The groove, the bars, all are mixed perfectly with some tasty sound effects. How long did it take for that track to be finished? What was the songwriting process like?

H: I think I found that track mid-March and sat on it for about three or four months. I was living in Florida this past summer, so one day I woke up with this killer view and got some really unique inspiration and wrote it. The track fits along in a story of several tracks, but this particular part of the story is offering insight into the character’s delusions of grandeur. I wrote and recorded that day, checked myself for like three weeks, then sent it over to Christian (tyler coolidge). I explained the story to him and he was all for it. He really adorned the track and contributed to this neat, symbiotic songwriting experience I’ve yet to encounter since.

HG: What’s next for you? What can we expect next?

H: I have a few collabs with some really cool dudes being wrapped up in the next few weeks. I’m in school at the moment, so I’ve just accepted this incredibly irregular rhythm of production.

For more:

Salmon Breakfast, Sly Gusto, And Baby Spice: My Interview With Oscar


By: Harrison Giza
Photo: Daniyel Lowden

Oscar Scheller is an artist who deserves a Grammy. He’s dropping a new album soon, but before you go and fall in love with his sure-to-be unreleased beauties, you should get familiar with the songwriter himself.
He has dropped just three songs on his Soundcloud, but the trio of tracks are nothing short of absolute pleasure. Oscar has a way of making his art come across with sly gusto, a magnificent feat with a Morrisey atmosphere. The lyric video for “Daffodil Days” is great too, simple enough to match Oscar’s vintage new-wave vantage like sand at the dreaded beach.
On Facebook, he describes his music as being in the “Poptart” genre, but does not go into what flavor it consists of. Is it frosted? Is it not? Is there really a need to be asking these questions?

I talked with Oscar a few weeks ago, trying to put together little pieces of the artist as best as I could.

HG: “Stay” is an addicting listen. Tell me how you wrote that piece?

OS: I wrote the chorus chords on my little Casio keyboard that I carry around with me everywhere I go. They came first and then the verse came afterwards. It started out with quite an R’n’B type attitude to it, but then the chord progression brought out something more mellow.

HG: In “Beautiful Words,” you talk about your love of using the English language. Do you have a favorite word?

OS: My favourite word at the moment is ‘mystic.’
HG: Describe your perfect breakfast.

OS: Smoked Salmon on a toasted sesame seed bagel with Avocado and Poached Eggs!

HG: How did you end up making the Spice Girls swoon at such an early age? When was that photo taken?

OS: I think I was so shy in front of them. Me and Baby got on the most (makes sense) but at the time my favourite was Sporty. That photo was taken in 1996 by the Camden Lock. My mum interviewed for her magazine just before they reached world fame.


HG: You have a new album on the way. If you could, describe it’s sound for us.

OS: It’s quite a varied sound, it’s like a bag of pick ‘n’ mix. There’s sweet and sour. Different shapes and sizes.

HG: The riffs that you make force my feet to shake. In your opinion, what makes a good guitar line? Who is your ideal guitarist?

OS: I’m glad that’s the case! A good guitar line is one that makes you want to play along, and something that isn’t too complicated. Like a story that you can follow without getting lost. My ideal guitarist is Link Wray.

HG: “Daffodil Days” pumps with energy and cleverness. When recording a song like that, do you find yourself more focused on perfecting a track or going with the flow until it comes out just right?


OS: That song was one that melodically came together fast but I had a real fight to fully realize the drum pattern in both the verses and the choruses. Originally, it was going to be drum-less, and stood more as a grungy lullaby. Then, after a few days of listening, I decided on that Motown pattern, and in the verses something more minimal.

HG: What’s the last song you want to hear before you die?

OS: Too difficult to say at this point. I suppose it would have to be something pretty epic and transcendental.

HG: Besides making great music, you’ve also got great style. What do you find yourself wearing the most?

OS: I’m a real sucker for denim, and also, love a good jacket.

HG: And finally, where do you want to be a year from now?

OS: In a studio, recording the second album and making a challenging and new sonic journey, discovering, playing all over the world. I want to keep evolving.

For more on Oscar, click on the links below:

Walt Disney’s Absalom: Don Bluth and the Nine Old Men


By: Colby J. Herchel

Twitter: @cjherchel

There is a fourth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as watching Toy Story in your pajamas. It is the middle ground between taste and talent, between sound and vibration, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his pop cultural knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call… THE FOURTH PLANE.


Ah, Don Bluth, the eternal example of a man who no one remembers but inexplicably everyone knows his work. For my first career-spanning look back, I’ve elected to give this remarkable artist his due, even if some of his work is looked on rather poorly in hindsight (hem hem “Rock-a-doodle”).

Suffice it to say you’ve seen “The Land Before Time.” You have. People forget that this picture made the most money for any animated feature EVER before “The Lion King,” then bested by “Toy Story 3” and “Frozen.” See a pattern? But before the roar of the Disney Renaissance, they had, aptly, the Disney Dark Age, and who, if we’re going to represent the European history analogy to its fullest (I will, you’ll see), the Byzantine Empire was Don Bluth.

Our hero began like a young Walt– he loved animation for its innovation, and where better to prosper than at Walt Disney Animation itself? He had a hand in films like “Sleeping Beauty” and “The Sword in the Stone” (which would go on to inspire our dear John Lasseter to take up the fold years later), and even directed the animation portions of the oft forgotten “Pete’s Dragon” (Which certainly should not be). This is a particularly enjoyable venture, with a bundle of fantastic songs to boot. In fact it’s going to be remade in a year or two if I’m not mistaken, but without these songs [refer to the power ballad “Candle on the Water” to understand the heinousness of this act:

Yet even though his successes were growing at the studio, he found that even though he was the young darling of the Nine Old Men, animators who became the proverbial disciples of Disney at his passing, the old timers were fairly adverse to innovation, and were largely behind a span of the Dark Ages known as the Xerox Era (the timeline’s coming, I promise). Here, they replicate scenes in new features by “xeroxing” the new characters on old templates. For fun examples, shown here:


So we’re circling around the late 60s early 70s at this point. And of course, all the new animators, still young and idealistic, were frustrated at having to serve under a series of talented but conservatively dated elders. Don Bluth was, of course, their Absalom, ready to rebel against the studio that birthed him for refusing to let go of the past and innovate on.

thumbIt was for his 42nd birthday that Don Bluth rounded up the best and newest animators from under Disney’s nose and created a new studio, and as is habit for big new upstarts, it began in his garage (see every post ’75 innovator ever) with a thirty minute short called “Banjo the Woodpile Cat.” It’s all available on Youtube, and its quite fun. Actually, I highly recommend it. It’s got a wonderful story, and though it has a couple of references that our old pal presentism might take issue with, ex. smoking and corporal punishment, you never see the titular cat get the spanking and it’s not to really be thought about.

This story comes from a personal one from Don Bluth– he had a cat who lived in his woodpile in Utah. It becomes kind of a love letter to his own youth; yeah, if you get in trouble, your dad would spank you, it was how it was, not that that should be promoted. And it plays with every kid’s thoughts that come when they get in trouble: “This isn’t fair, I want to run away from home!” This short plays with that, with a lovely set of cats in Salt Lake City showing him that maybe things weren’t awful where you were. This protagonist isn’t always in the right, which really is a departure– when have we seen that post “Pinocchio?”

Oh, and the songs are wonderful. Don Bluth himself wrote the music and lyrics. I’m thoroughly impressed, as the thirty minute journey is mostly musical. Of course, it didn’t get much screen time, and that venture faded quickly. It was on to new things and here I won’t go into too much detail– we’ll discuss the movies he made from here as we go along, week by week. But after “Banjo” he got the rights to a phenomenal children’s novel by Robert C. O’Brien, “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH,” and made what many consider to be his masterpiece, “The Secret of NIMH” in 1982. This of course received few showings across the country, but had, as would be a norm for Bluth, done well with the home video market.


The studio didn’t have a lot of money at this point, but continued to do non-features such as a scene from the campy “Xanadu” and a cult classic arcade game, “Dragon’s Lair” (along with its even zanier sequel), which quite honestly started the action-adventure game in my book, followed by its companion “Space Ace” in 1984. A couple of guys got wind of the amazing “Secret” and decided to give animation a try. These bozos were none other than Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, and they brought Bluth around to animate two pictures: “An American Tail” and “The Land Before Time.”

These did exponentially well, and even when their collaboration ended (they were done with Bluth’s darker storytelling), the studio went on to make a string of so-so work to flops, and eventually Bluth started working for 20th Century Animation, making his final work there. It’s imperative we discuss the tone of Bluth’s work– he set out to treat kids with darker stories, he believed they could handle it. And you know, it’s because of him that people even consider making animation on that level, and look at Pixar– they almost follow his model to a T. He focuses on character flaw, and flawed they are, just like Woody and Buzz were when we first met them.

He’s far from the perfecter, but he is the innovator. And some of his work is absolutely gorgeous. I still think some of his final work is ahead of its time. You’ll hear me gush and sigh a plenty about the fellow, but all in all his impact on family entertainment is substantial. He may have fallen when Disney got its sea legs again, but his influence is echoing even today.




Colby is an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut. He can be found singing with old women in his spare time.


Losing to Silence of the Lambs: Animation as a Serious Medium

11653313_10204710484264197_1853948115_nBy: Colby J. Herchel

Twitter: @cjherchel

There is a fourth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as watching Toy Story in your pajamas. It is the middle ground between taste and talent, between sound and vibration, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his pop cultural knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call… THE FOURTH PLANE.


It’s often you’ll meet someone from the generation just beyond the first 1990 birthdays who cares for animation with fondness into adulthood. We were born with the Disney Renaissance, myself days from the premiere of The Lion King. But what sets us apart is the fact that we didn’t grow up with Disney. It’s where we started.

As our cognizance grew of what separated films we liked and films we didn’t, the studio that emerged was– you guessed it, Pixar. Our relationship with the Disney Classics was on home video, but Pixar was cranking original after original in the early two thousands. I recall seeing Finding Nemo in the theatres with my brother, and going with my mom and a friend to see The Incredibles the very next year. And with Pixar came John Lasseter.


There will come a time when I delve deeper into John Lasseter, the man and the boy, but now it’s only important that I discuss what he did besides of course head Pixar, then be pulled onto Disney Animation as well (please, these are two disparate studios. Brave is not a Disney Movie and Wreck-it-Ralph is not a Pixar). One of the most important things he did to bring animation to the forefront of this generation’s mind was by dubbing and releasing Studio Ghibli films.


Before the year Spirited Away beat out Lilo and Stitch at the Oscars, Japanese Animation was only Anime, and in America, Pokemon (not to say I was not absolutely OBSESSED with Pokemon, like so many others… say, is there a correlation… oh well, another time). To this day, if my sister is in the room when I pop in Howl’s Moving Castle to sob a little bit, she’ll tease “Are you watching Pokemon?” To which I’ll take the bait and shout through my tear streaked face “No, this is a MIYAZAKI!” She, of course, was too old to rent it at Hollywood Video (yes, we were that family), and consequently never realized animation was a medium for more than children.

But we did. And look, Beauty and the Beast was nominated for Best Picture the year it came out (losing to Silence of the Lambs), and then Up and Toy Story 3 in more recent memory. Isn’t it time for an animation to be regarded as the best, at least in the course of a year? The amount of craft that goes into every frame, yes, I’m even talking about The Penguins of Madagascar, the stellar music, the character arcs. I’ve wept more at cartoons than live action dramas (looking at you, Inside Out)! Japan has awarded their top prize to Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. Why can’t we do the same?

It goes without saying that ever since the feature length animation appeared in the U.S, it’s been kid fare. Many people mistake this as a bad thing, but I disagree. A wise friend told me that a film that can please kids and adults is much more difficult to make than a gritty drama. And look at the numbers The Lion King got! While Birdman walked away with Best Picture, more families saw Big Hero 6 like it or not.

Animation as a medium has been criminally sidelined in the world, but when you get down to it– animation is, in my humble blogger’s opinion, the most amazing medium out there. There are absolutely no limitations. You can make an audience feel for inanimate objects, animals, emotions, demons, and humans. You can dissolve the lines between fiction and non. I love that animators in the stop-motion and computer generated realm call each character a “puppet,” because both utilize the same suspension of belief as puppetry, allowing the audience to take a leap of imagination with the creators. And animation is just moving art whereas live action is moving photograph. Think of Starry Night by Van Gogh, and imagine if the people in that little village all come up to ride on the stars. To do that in a live action film, you would actually need to animate over the film to accomplish the same contours. Or you could just make it a cartoon.


I’d like to take a week to week glance at animated films with you all, and what work went into each one. Note that I am doing mostly traditional animation, but as I catch up with the timelines, you’ll know that I’m unbiased with CGI versus traditional. Oh hell who wouldn’t find it refreshing to see traditional animation on the big screen (besides foreign studios who never get proper distribution… if I had a nickel…).

In recent years, a lot of people have tried to encompass the history of animation, but I feel that sometimes these function as reviews over explanations. And insofar as reviews go, I certainly am passionate on why I like a picture or not. But I think that we, as the post 90s generation, tend to see a movie as good or bad on whether the plot was good. Plot is an element, not a movie (steps down from soapbox). Be prepared to let go of plot– animation is fickle, and can avoid structure like water a sieve.

My hope is that maybe some of these ideas may make you want to watch some of these pictures again– or for the first time. There are some real duds out there, but there are some splendorous oversights. And who knows? Perchance by the end of this quest, I’ll be discussing the first animated best picture. One can hope. Tune in next week (tune? scroll? Oh. Subscribe) to hear the beginning of a most Shakespearean chapter in the lore of the animated film– the Tragedy of Don Bluth.

Colby is an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut. He can be found singing with the homeless in his spare time.



To The Max: What You Need To Know About The AL East

Yes pleaase

By: Max Klein

Through the first month of the MLB season, most fans are still optimistic, maybe

cautiously so, about their favorite team. Through the next six posts, I will give you a

reason for you to be optimistic and a reason to be concerned about each team. These

reasons will end with a final outlook on each team’s current season and future. Going

along with the east coast bias, I decided to start with the AL East.

Baltimore Orioles

Reason to be optimistic: The Baltimore Big Three

The most notable “big three” in recent baseball history was the dominant Oakland rotation made up of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito. The Orioles have a big three of position players that Dan Duquette and the rest of the front office will look to keep together for years to come. The first member of the big three, Adam Jones is hitting at a torrid pace with five home runs, 21 RBIs, and a major league leading .355 batting average. It is unlikely Jones will keep up these video game statistics as he has cooled off of late, but nonetheless he is headed for another good year.

Second, Chris Davis has added seven home runs and 19 RBIs of his own. Davis may not have another 56 home run season, but he will make a run at 25-30. Lastly, the youngest member, Manny Machado has fewer than 30 hits, but has made them count with five home runs and 14 RBIs. With Machado’s defense already at gold glove quality (see link below) and his offense improving, Baltimore has a legitimate big three.

Reason to be concerned: Pitching Problems

The reason the Orioles are 13-15 to start the season is their pitching staff has struggled mightily with a 4.25 staff ERA. When accounting for unearned runs as well, the Orioles are allowing an atrocious 4.5 runs per game. Bud Norris and Chris Tillman have struggled in the rotation and Jason Garcia, Kevin Gausman, and Tommy Hunter have struggled out of the bullpen. That being said, starters Wei-Yin Chen and Ubaldo Jimenez have been fantastic both with sub 3.00 ERAs, while Miguel Gonzalez has collected three wins of his own. Darren O’Day has only allowed one earned run in twelve relief appearances and Zach Britton has converted six of seven save opportunities.

The AL East is the worst pitching division is baseball and the Orioles are no exception. However, moving Kevin Gausman to the starting rotation and putting Bud Norris in the bullpen is a move the Orioles need to make if they want to repeat as division champions this season.

Outlook: Very Optimistic

Boston Red Sox

Reason to be optimistic: Mookie Betts, Future Face of the Franchise

Mookie Betts is a star. The 22 year old has burst into Beantown, exciting fans with spectacular defense, blazing speed (see link below), and surprising power. He won the starting center field job in spring training and it looks like he will be there long term. With his speed and ability to put the bat on the ball, Betts has become the leadoff hitter for this phenomenal Red Sox offense. With the fans already behind him, Betts figures to be the face of the franchise when Big Papi and Dustin Pedroia eventually decide its time to retire. Hanley Ramirez has also been great for the Red Sox, looking like one of the best off-season acquisitions from around the league with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs. Boston has also received solid contributions from Dustin Pedroia and Pablo Sandoval.

Reason to be concerned: Second Worst ERA in the Majors

The lowest ERA in the Red Sox rotation is Rick Porcello at 4.38; he is the only member under 5.00. The bullpen has only been shaky with a combined 5 for 10 on save opportunities with Koji Uehara being the only person able to close out a game. The Red Sox rotation has been rough from top to bottom, with the most surprising of these being Wade Miley, who usually eats a lot of innings, throwing only 28 2/3 innings in four starts. Joe Kelly, Justin Masterson, and Clay Buchholz have all been hit around as well. Fenway is definitely a hitter’s park and the new arms in Boston have yet to adjust to those conditions. If the rotation and bullpen do not turn things around, the Red Sox will fail to make the playoffs, leaving Boston fans disappointed.

Outlook: Cautiously Optimistic

New York Yankees

Reason to be optimistic: The Triumphant Return of Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez is rightfully the biggest villain in baseball this year. The Yankees did what they could to distance themselves from Rodriguez last year after he was suspended yet again for steroid use. But this year, the Yankees would be lost without A-Rod at DH. He has delivered with seven home runs, including this 471-foot bomb (see link below), passing Willie Mays and moving into fourth all time with 661. Mark Teixeira has also been absolutely raking this season with ten home runs and 25 RBIs of his own. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner have continued their recent success, both hitting over .300 this month and scoring 25 and 22 runs respectively. Chris Young has been one of the biggest surprises for the Yankees in the early season, hitting over .300 with six home runs and 12 RBIs.

The Yankees rotation has been the best in the AL East, but the recent injury to ace Masahiro Tanaka could change that. Chase Whitley will take over in his spot and will look to build upon the success of the Yankees pitching staff thus far.

Didi Gregorious has the impossible task of filling in for Derek Jeter at shortstop. Gregorious is much better than Jeter ever was defensively, with a cannon for an arm and a good glove. However he has been a bit wild this year, with four errors. Gregorious also has continued his struggles hitting against lefties, with a .190 average against them this year. He has not been any better against righties, hitting only .215 against them. If the Yankees want him to be the long-term solution at short, he needs to control his arm and change his approach when he faces lefties.

Stephen Drew has hit four home runs this season on only 16 hits. For the most part, Drew has struggled in the box and in the field, with three errors. He is not the Yankees long-term solution at second base; that is likely Rob Refsnyder. Refsnyder hit .364 in 44 at-bats this spring, and was sent to Triple A because of his defense. If the Yankees are concerned about defense so much, Stephen Drew should not be starting at second. Brian Cashman and the front office are better off calling up Refsnyder and giving him time to adjust to major league pitching.

Outlook: Cautiously Optimistic

Tampa Bay Rays

Reason to be optimistic: Under 30 Outfield

The Rays starting outfielders are all under 30 and just entering the prime years for position players (27-33). Desmond Jennings (28), Kevin Kiermaier (25), and Steven Souza Jr. (26) make up one of the best young outfields in baseball. Jennings has struggled a bit at the onset of the season, but he has never been a high average guy. He provides consistent offense with some pop and the ability to hit 15 home runs and 60 RBIs in a season. Kevin Kiermaier is an unreasonably good defender, easily one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball. Aside from making web gems every night (see link below), Kiermaier has seen his offense improve with 12 extra base hits so far this season. The Rays traded for Steven Souza Jr. in December, which has turned out very well for them so far, as Souza has five home runs and 14 RBIs to start the season. Brandon Guyer and David DeJesus (both over 30) also provide the Rays with veteran options in the outfield, playing well in the time they have seen this year.

Also worth mentioning, first overall pick in the 2008 MLB draft, Tim Beckham, was all but written off as a major bust. Don’t look now, but at just 25-years-old, Beckham has broken into the majors with three home runs and twelve RBIs. The Rays have a lot of players just entering their prime years and will build off this for the next couple seasons.

Reason to be concerned: Injury Problems in the Rotation

The Rays bullpen has started out terrible this season, but has changed that tune lately, cutting their ERA down to 3.42. Ernesto Frieri has started to pitch better, but Grant Balfour has yet to show his best stuff this season. Trading Joel Peralta to the Dodgers and losing Jake McGee to injury has left the Rays bullpen a little depleted, but Kevin Jepsen (one save) and Brad Boxberger (eight saves) have done their best to anchor the Ray’s bullpen this season. Chris Archer, as the ace of the rotation, has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season with a 2.59 ERA this season. Alex Colome and Jake Odorizzi also give the Rays pieces to make up one of the best rotations in baseball. Nate Karns, Erasmo Ramirez, and Matt Andriese have been knocked around in their starts, leaving the Rays with a big question mark for the back end of rotation until Matt Moore and Alex Cobb are eventually able to return from injury. Drew Smyly, who had also been fantastic so far this season, will have season-ending shoulder surgery. Injury problems have plagued the Rays rotation for a few years now, and with Cobb and Smyly not returning until next season, this problem will continue for yet another year.

Outlook: Concerned, but Optimistic about the Future

Toronto Blue Jays

Reason to be optimistic: Devon Travis is for REAL

The Blue Jays have a great offense. Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnación, and Josh Donaldson make up possibly the scariest middle of the order in the American League. Trading for Josh Donaldson was definitely an upgrade at third base over Brett Lawrie, at least from a power stance. However, the best Blue Jays player in the first month of the season has easily been Devon Travis. The second base job seemed like it was Ryan Goins’ for the taking until Devon Travis exploded in the spring with 31 hits in only 85 at bats. Manager John Gibbons tabbed Travis as the Toronto second basemen, which has proven to be the right call. The 24-year-old already has been a pleasant surprise for the team up North launching seven home runs, and 24. Travis has never been a big home run hitter through his time in the minors, so the early power has been unexpected. However, it is important to remember that there was an American League leading 2.30 home runs per game hit at the Rogers Centre last season. Regardless of whether his power is here to stay, Devon Travis is a good hitter and he is for real (see link below).

Reason to be concerned: Pitching Staff Struggles

The Blue Jays rotation has a lot of potential, but has been poor to start the season. The unpredictable knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has been the best, with three quality starts although he is rolling with a 4.384 ERA. Mark Buehrle struggled in the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, but the veteran lefty, has faced rough patches before and should be able to turn his season around. The rest of the rotation is made of three of the best young starting pitchers in baseball: Drew Hutchinson (24), Daniel Norris (22), and Aaron Sanchez (22). They have all struggled out of the gate, but they each have the tools to be successful in the majors. Miguel Castro has been decent in the closer role, succeeding in four of six opportunities while appearing in thirteen games. Aaron Loup and Brett Cecil, both an integral part of the Blue Jays bullpen, have struggled mightily in the first month. That being said Steve Delabar, Roberto Osuna and Marco Estrada have been able to help anchor the pen in the wake of their teammates’ struggles. The Blue Jays have the talent to push for the division title both offensively and defensively. If the starting rotation and bullpen can reach their expectations, the Blue Jays will be playing in October.

Outlook: Very Optimistic

Friends, Fins, and Toast: My Interview with Dorsal Fins


By: Harrison Giza

Twitter: @BlueHarvestBeat

As of right now, there are few bands that I enjoy more than Dorsal Fins.

To say I love their music is simply not enough. I bask in it, wading through the lush production of mind-alienating Australian psychedelia. They experiment with each song they make. Are they fearless? Completely and continually, with signs of multi-genre wisdom and a Reflektor admiration (check out “Heart On The Floor”).

Yet, while swimming in a sea of influence, the group strives for originality and succeeds every time. My ears swooned the first time I heard “Fell,” a song that slides with melodramatic funk breakdowns, unconventional invention, and real lyricism. Their tracks are constantly changing and range with a variety of Bill Murray likeability.

Mind Renovation is their first full album and I’m sure I’m not the first to discuss how strong of a debut it is. As a “music fan” and “critical hob-snob,” nothing so far this year has caught my attention more… except for To Pimp A Butterfly.

I recently got to talking with Liam McGorry, member and Gmail correspondent for the fifteen-person group. Chatting with him was smooth, conversationally efficient, and only made me appreciate the band more.

HG: Mind Renovation opens with “Nothing Left To Hide.” I absolutely love it: the pounding drums, ripping guitar riffs, and that spastic spacey breakdown really just kick ass. Where did that song come from? How long does it usually take you guys to finish a song?

LM: That was actually (with Fell) the first of the songs we ever did. I made this instrumental I thought would sound great with Jarrad’s voice. He took it away and came back with the vocal and then we re-recorded it all with some friends at a studio with a friend. It all happened pretty quickly though. For the rest of the album we were writing songs the week before heading in the studio and then fleshing a lot out as we went.

HG: How did you all come together as Dorsal Fins? What led to such a refreshing sound?

LM: I guess it started as a vehicle just to work with my best friends in a more experimental realm. The goals were just do what sounds best and what comes to mind first. It’s super fun just to not be super precious about stuff when you know that you have all your friends who can play and add their own ideas into the mix.

HG: Describe your perfect breakfast.

LM: Avocado on Toast with Mushrooms.

HG: Tell me what Dorsal Fins is like live. Any strange tour stories?

LM: We’re still pretty fresh, we’ve only played about 10 shows so we haven’t done too much touring yet, but what we have done has been really fun. We’re 9 people live and most of the time with other guests too. It’s just about having fun with mates.

HG: Jason Galea did a fantastic job with your videos. How did you end up working with him?

LM: We just loved his work for King Gizzard and The Murlocs so that’s how we got to working with him. He’s super amazing and prolific. A really inspiring guy.

HG: What were the first records you ever became obsessed with? Any particular albums come to mind?

LM: Definitely when I started really getting into music, it was The Clash – London Calling , The Cat Empire – Self-Titled, Amy Winehouse – Back To Black. I’m pretty obsessed by Beck’s Midnite Vultures too.

HG: What is the best thing about you guys as a group? What holds you together?

LM: For me it’s just so great to play with friends. I’ve played in a lot of groups where it was kind of like session work, and it’s just not for me. There’s just something incredible about collaborating with friends.

HG: How do you balance living in a band with living your own individual lives?

LM: To be honest there isn’t much that is individual from life as a band, I don’t really have that many other interests other than reading. Pretty one dimensional I guess.

HG: Tell me about the future. What is next?

LM: We’re playing a few shows with our friends Saskwatch at home in April / May. Hopefully we’ll be able to head O/S sometime in the near future. But we’re doing a new album as well.

HG: Are there any groups that you would like to collaborate with in the future? Death Grips, perhaps?

LM: There’s a lot of friends from Melbourne that I hope we can work with in the near future to be honest. But if Beck put his hand up…

Twitter: @dorsalfinsss

Facebook: https://www.Facebook.com/dorsalfins

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/d-o-r-s-a-l-f-i-n-s

Nelson Mandela > Tupac: My Analysis of To Pimp A Butterfly


By: Harrison Giza

Twitter: @BlueHarvestBeat

Disclaimer: if you are the type of person that gets offended at the mention of racial slurs in the context of rap music as well as the eternally-unneeded analysis of hip-hop culture, get back to reading music reviews from your local newspaper.


To Pimp A Butterfly album is as complex as a hostage situation, as delicate as the subject of race it devours, and is too motherfucking groovy for words to bear. It is less than gangsta, raw in poetic justice, but maintains an emotional monologue that is enveloped through every single track on To Pimp A Butterfly.


It opens with the lines “every nigger is a star” over and over again, popping with the thriving likeability of a seventies pop hit. I was already getting a chill, one I hadn’t felt in a long, long time. Subject matter for rap music usually goes weed, women, good times. But going political and straight up Black America like he’s Curtis Mayfield? I didn’t even know he had it in him.


Kendrick drew a line for his fans right at the get-go, asserting his hip-hop importance with simple lyrical controversy. Without hesitation, I hopped over, although I do understand people who can’t stand this album (it is absolutely nothing like Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City). I hadn’t heard a new Kendrick Lamar album in three years. I was more than interested.



The second I heard that Boris Gardiner sample in “Wesley’s Theory,” I realized that I was going to listen to an album that was political, lyrically residual, and intelligently tolerable on a widespread variety of conversation-worthiness. Mr. Lamar has the capability to give that feeling, no matter the amount of time he has allotted. And what was to be discussed in his latest release? Loyalty, money, women, the nature of men, stereotyping yourself, addiction, experimentation, individual determination, popularity, physical complexion, and the need for a prominence of human respect in these ever-warping times. Holy George Carlin, Batman!

And then it hit me. Out of nowhere with the fury of seventy thousand thunderbolts, strapped with the never-ending dynamite of the slippery and slide-slink bassists that birthed it, The Funk arose through my headphones. George Carlin became George Clinton, while my mouth was left ajar in the process. The song talks about Lamar’s past, present, and icon-ridden future. Flying Lotus, one of the most dynamic producers in the music industry, constructed the beat for “Wesley’s Theory.” His sonic touch never seems to leave the album, perfectly fitting Kendrick on all fronts of his complex character. Combining Fly Lo with K-Dot, Clinton, and Thundercat, “Wesley’s Theory” becomes the musical equivalent of P-Funk and 2 Pac tripping acid together in the simulated glory of everything Black Pop Culture; watching Chappelle’s Show sketches and barrowing a line or two from Rick James himself (i.e. Thundercat the chorus is beyond hilarious). There are a lot of metaphors leavin’ miracles metaphysically in a state of euphoria here. Even Dr. Dre pops in for a quick check-up:

“Remember the first time you came out to the house?

You said you wanted a spot like mine

But remember, anybody can get it

The hard part is keeping it, motherfucker”

The Internet has informed me that some of you think that Dre dropping in like this is totally out of context. Give me a little time before I prove you wrong.


“For Free? – Interlude” is a powerhouse of what Kendrick is capable off. Sure, everybody won’t like this beat, not because it is jazz-thunked womp, but because it is “Backstreet Freestyle 2.0” with a more-than-complicated instrumental. The tune builds itself, swimming through ol’ Broadway melodies and Gil Scott-Heron scat. America, Uncle Sam, and most importantly, hoes, are discussed here in a swish-swash of interpretation. Kendrick’s former groupies label him a “motherfucker,” “ho-ass nigga,” and that he’s under the delusion of being “God’s gift to Earth.” “This dick ain’t free” is repeated, over and over again, amidst the elegiac bounty of Kendrick’s subtle poetic sweetness. Why? Because it ain’t free, son.

“I need forty acres and a mule

Not a forty ounce and a pitbull

Bullshit, matador, matador”

I love Kendrick as a rapper not for his raspy inflection or ability to rip through dozens of different characters with distinctly flavorful perspective, but because each of his lines are open to any interpretation imaginable. No one person is right because so much is open for discussion. There are rare instances of blatant morals, but Lamar never lets his ethics dictate over his true feelings towards a subject. To me, that makes him more appealing as an artist.

“King Kunta” develops with sinister funk flint and loosens with a few drops of horrorcore guitar, reminiscent of Marshall Mathers’ early days. He talks about the century-sacred power of yams, the amount of modern day rappers secretly housing ghostwriters, and that The Funk itself can help lead Black America to a level of intellectual freedom and comfort never-thought to be known or achieved. The tremendously retro beat comes from Sounwave, a guy that is all over this album, composing and cooperating over five tracks that entail Pharrell, Rapsody, and the closing operetta “Mortal Man.”

I could go on and on about each individual track, but I won’t prattle on out of respect for individual, critical expression. This album can be looked at room a variety of different angles. Let me just say a few things about my favorite tracks.

“Institutionalized” is slick with Rick flare bridges, with a beat change as potent as Snoop Doggy Dogg’s marijuana and marijuana accessories. Kendrick makes all of his featured guests stars, but Snoop literally gets to live his dream of being Slick Rick. It’s D-O-G-G-Y baby! Holla at a G when he pimping in his Kendrick Review! Going back to my natural narrative tone, Anna Wise and Bilal are congruently together in making words become music on this tune. The zooming and zapping paired against a few of Kendrick’s flows from his last album makes the track a really calm, understated moment. You don’t recognize the familiarity at first either.

I love the way “Walls” displays two perspectives on sex: one as a funky, entertaining, erotic freedom of bodily bliss, the other showcasing the destructiveness of the act itself. The pacing? Pure magic.

“Hood Politics” is smooth, sterilizing, and as ignorantly irritating as it is logical and scary. I feel like Flatbush Zombies could have spit a couple verses on this track if it was longer. The bass is warm, slathered with ingenuity; steadily able to keep tripping you out despite how many listens you’ve given it. The Sufjan Stevens and Killer Mike references are great too.    

“Alright” is a blessing. Pharrell is Pharrell again, not “your mom’s new favorite artist” or that “really happy guy” falsely balding live on television. The vocals at the beginning are reminiscent of the last Frank Ocean/Beyoncé collab, but with three times the muscle, menace, and marginality. You can almost feel him grinning with each verse he spits. It is gangsta, but with a self-consciousness seldom seen. Gotta give it up to Pharrell. This song takes me to Neptune and that hook is simply Drop-It-Like-It’s-Hawt as hell fire.


“The Blacker The Berry” is worth each piece of praise it has received and I already have tweeted enough about it to ramble anymore. The beat is deafening and the message is anything but. Rapsody’s verse on ”Complexion (A Zulu Love) is Missy Elliot intelligent. Some of the best lines on the album come from her.

“Mortal Man” is the final track. By any measure, it is a hip-hop odyssey, the highest and most efficient manifesto in the genre I have heard since Kanye West’s “Last Call” or the final minute of Franky O’s “American Wedding.” It opens with rambling G piano rolls, the warmth of a jazz band tuning up, and hungry, hurtful vocals that Drake will mimic soon enough. Then, the beat, appearing as quickly as it needs to, as simple as it needs to be, pairs with Kendrick’s final verses like he was born to rap over them.

The song asks the question: “when shit hit the fan, is you still a fan?” or better yet, “will you still respect me after you realize I’m not the immortal presence you see me claim to be?” Lamar then addresses common heroes of the past and present, Martin Luther King Jr, JFK, and Michael Jackson. However, these names are not brought back for entirely good nature.

“How many leaders you said you needed then left ‘em for dead?

Is it Moses, is it Huey Newton or Detroit Red?

Is it Martin Luther, JFK, shoot or you assassin

Is it Jackie, is it Jesse, oh I know, it’s Michael Jackson”


How many people have been idolized in our culture only to be forgotten after their popularity has come and gone? Two influential black men are discussed at length in “Mortal Man,” Nelson Mandela and Tupac Shakur. One is considered to be one of the greatest rappers of all-time, with politically focused rap bangers and a pop cultural status of the most legendary heights. The other was a man wrongfully imprisoned for over 27 years, who went onto become the first President of South Africa. Lamar puts these two in the spotlight not to emphasize the popularity of both men, but that natural human legacy heralds above superficial beings of fame, success, and pop culturally existent accomplishment.


This album at its core explores the idea of what it means to be a successful black man, starting with the foundation “every nigger is a star” while culminating with an achievement of future racial peace and questioning self-worth.

“Going back and forth trying to convince myself the stripes I earned,

Or maybe how A-1 my foundation was,

But while my loved ones was fighting the continuous war back in the city, I was entering a new one,

A war that was based on apartheid and discrimination,

Made me wanna go back to the city and tell the homies what I learned,

The word was respect,

Just because you wore a different gang colour than mine’s,

Doesn’t mean I can’t respect you as a black man,

Forgetting all the pain and hurt we caused each other in these streets,

If I respect you, we unify and stop the enemy from killing us,

But I don’t know, I’m no mortal man, maybe I’m just another nigga”

Kendrick asks Black America: do you have the aspiration to become President and try to change the world or become just “another nigga” in this fucked up, multicolored and underprivileged society? Do you want to be the new leader of an untainted, immortal message of justice or end your life getting shot after a Mike Tyson fight?

Dr. Dre is on this album for less than ten seconds, sure, but what does he say in his pimpin’ short amount of time?

Remember the first time you came out to the house?

You said you wanted a spot like mine

But remember, anybody can get it

The hard part is keeping it, motherfucker


Kendrick owes Dre, becoming another padawan in the Doctor’s long list of profitable hip-hop prophets… but when Kendrick tells him that he wants “a spot” just like his, it should be noted that he isn’t talking about the multi-million dollar mansion the Compton-bred, Beat Guru calls home. He wants to have Dre’s title of conversation-worthiness, ability to stay permanently relevant, and to do so without breaking the truth of his own homegrown being. Haters be warned, but Nelson Mandela’s flow >2 Pac’s.


Dre was absolutely needed, not for his fame and his fortune or awards and his wealth. Not for “keepin’ it gangsta” by any means at all. Dre is the rap game George Clinton in a way, both with his women and Chronic wisdom. Kendrick owes his success and influence to them. It makes sense some of the most successful and respected black musicians are on an album that ends with an ode to Nelson Mandela.

Without George Clinton, Dr. Dre’s production and Snoop Dogg’s flow would have been pretty fucking vanilla, lacking lots of funk. Kendrick takes both of these influences and raises them higher in both terms of sound and his respect for them, making sure that the funk, sweat, and soul of his being are in the heart of this jazz rap, G-funk festival of Good Kid, M.A.D.D Vibrations. He even lets an Isley Brother play God! WHAT ELSE DO YOU PEOPLE HAVE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT?

While Kanye took the final moments of his debut album “The College Dropout” to shout out the people who stood behind him and his ego struggle to get to the top of the music industry, Thundercat, Robert Glasper, Sounwave and almost every artist who worked on To Pimp A Butterfly stand together with Kendrick and his ideas, hopping behind their respective ringleader. The man has become one of the most outstanding, perspectival rappers the genre has ever produced.

To have this level of talent, this virtuoso ability to pick apart layers of societal, intellectual, and personal grievance is a once-in-a-decade find for mainstream music connoisseurs. The man was expected to bring another drinkable, smokeable, fun-lovin’ album to the forefront of pop culture. And what does he package and sell to us instead? The greatest hip-hop album in over ten years most people won’t hear past the first minute.

The last time I praised an album this much was when I listened to Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. One of my favorite artists. Period. Those two albums are in my cornerstone of favorite albums. Whatever the future holds for Kendrick Lamar and his imminent “next album,” I will be there to eagerly hear his generational brand of The Funk.