Every month at the AE offices, we choose our Pop Culture Picks. It could be an album, a band, a book, a movie, a TV show, a podcast, or anything else we enjoyed over the previous 30 days. Keep scrolling to find out what caught our attention this month!
Flower Boy by Tyler The Creator (Album)
TLDR; Flower Boy is a creative masterpiece that brings something new and fresh to the world of Hip Hop.
Behold, the soundtrack of Avery’s life during the month of August. The production value on this thing is amazing, especially considering Tyler The Creator himself produced it. Tyler’s talent is fully showcased on Flower Boy, no question. Flower Boy is a creative masterpiece that brings something new and fresh to the world of Hip Hop.
Raw creative drive is masterfully harnessed and propagated throughout each track while seamlessly tying the album into beautiful coherence. Each track is undeniably funky, marching along with strong breakbeat grooves. This is then layered with either extremely pretty chords like on “See You Again” or downright nasty melodies such as on “Who Dat Boy.” Oh yeah, and Tyler’s low register punchy rhymes are tight as usual.
There is a certain honesty invoked in this album that is rare in music, let alone in an entire album. It is honest in the sense that you can hear the artist’s pure unhinged expression of creativity. And I for one am completely blown away.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishihuro (Book)
TL;DR: A beautiful book about a group of students growing up in a boarding school in England. The only twist: they were born and raised to provide organs for other people.
This month I read a book that was as strange as it was entertaining.
The story follows the main character Kathy and her two friends Ruth and Tommy as they grow up in a boarding school in England in the 20th century (the book isn’t exact, but I’d guess the 1970’s/1980’s). This boarding school is completely isolated from the outside world and the students only interact with their teachers (a.k.a. ‘Guardians’) and each other up until they graduate. The students grow up together, forming deep friendships, and over the course of their education, they slowly learn what they really are: ‘Donors’ and ‘Carers’.
It turns out that the students are grown for the sole purpose of donating their organs, one by one until they ‘Complete’ (die!). The students claim that they always sort of knew their fate, despite being taught this reality piece by piece and when they were too young to fully understand. It is a simple truth in this fictional society and no one questions it: not even the students themselves.
The novel focuses more on the students’ experience of growing up, leaving this a grim subplot that lurks in the background. Ultimately, this is what makes Never Let Me Go a haunting and morally heart-wrenching read.
Be the Cowboy by Mitski (Album)
In short: My pick gives you sweet, angsty and surprising songs.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve had an album on repeat. Enter Be the Cowboy by Mitski.
Now admittedly, I have a bit of thing for angsty women and Mitski is bang-on: angsty, sweet, and confused. But what I love most about Mitski’s album is that each track is so very different:
- “Me and My Husband” is instantly catchy. You will be humming this song.
- “Lonesome Love” has a lovely guitar strum and beautiful vocals.
- “Nobody” is a new-disco track. How can you not love Mitski singing into her hairbrush in the video?
You need to listen to the full album to appreciate her range. The songs will surprise you. Enjoy.
Insight Timer (App)
What you need to know: Insight Timer is a mobile app that offers thousands of free guided meditations, courses and, of course, a timer for your meditations. It is a game-changer for those looking to start a meditation practice.
Insight Timer is my favourite app right now because nothing else has been so effective at getting me to meditate.
The first thing you will see is a world map lit up with dots. These are people who are using the app right now to meditate (3,993). Next to that is the day’s total number of meditations so far (426,882) and the option to search for meditators near you. Meditating is a solitary practice but it sure is nice to know that you aren’t alone!
Who knew that you could gamify meditating. The app tracks your activity allowing you to see your stats: frequency, duration, and averages with pretty charts to boot. You can also reach milestones and earn badges based on your activity (for example, the 7 days in a row milestone or the lofty 365 consecutive days badge!). It is actually weirdly motivating…
The meditation timer itself has lots of handy features like interval bells to keep you focused, ambient sounds and 9 different singing bowls to choose from to signal the end of your practice. I love that it keeps on timing after the bell sounds so that you can add on the extra minutes if you go over.
If having a meditation practice has ever been on your list of new year’s resolutions, this is the life hack you’ve been waiting for!
Future Me Hates Me by The Beths (Album)
TL;DR: Crunchy indie pop rock hooks on kiwi band’s great debut album.
The Beths are an indie garage pop band from Auckland, New Zealand. Fronted by singer/songwriter Elizabeth Stokes, the Beth’s write euphoric guitar-driven pop with huge hooks and that crunchy lo-fi-on-purpose sound associated with indie bands.
Future Me Hates Me is the band’s debut album, but you wouldn’t know it: their songwriting is accomplished, their sound is tight and they’re already making waves on the global circuit. Highlights include “Little Death,” “River Run: LVL 1,” “Not Running,” and the title track “Future Me Hates Me.”