Music Spotlight: The sounds of spring

By Alexis Tomrell


In his upcoming fifth studio release, the mellow Johnson takes a somewhat different direction and exchanges his trademark acoustic ballads for a faster, electric sound.

“I’ve been listening to a lot of Radiohead and The White Stripes,” Johnson said in Rolling Stone.

On the track “From the Clouds,”  these musical influences are evident in Johnson’s more upbeat melodies, which complement his new guitar work nicely.

Fans can expect more recognizable work from Johnson’s pianist Zack Gill in the title track, “To The Sea.” 

There is some definite diversity in this album, but don’t expect much change from the surfer sound appeal that made him famous.


Nas and Damian Marley have a history of collaboration, but they haven’t worked together since Marley’s 2005 hit release, “Welcome to Jamrock.” By May, they plan to have a new set of recordings out.

Damian Marley is the youngest son of the late Bob Marley and Nas is the New York hip-hop legend; both work together in “Distant Relatives” to relay positivity.

On the funky, horn-filled track, “As We Enter,” Marley and Nas sample Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke and fuse the world beat with the rapid rhymes of the two MCs.

African rhythm seems to be the theme of the album and both artists plan on taking the proceeds from the album sales to donate to various charities.  

In his website, Nas has said he plans to elaborate on further charity efforts; “I want to build whatever we can build (from the profits); We can build schools and hospitals. I mean, we want to give our whole heart.” 


The Akron, Ohio duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney doesn’t take time off. With two tours, solo releases and their recent collaborative project Blakroc and their 2008 release, “Attack and Release,” the boys aren’t slowing down.

“Brothers,” slated to be released mid-May, will contain 15 tracks, the longest Black Key’s album to date.

Like “Attack and Release,” the guys again team up with Gnarls Barkley’s super producer Danger Mouse.

Drummer Carney reflected on the recording process and said, “Dan and I grew up a lot as individuals and musicians prior to making this album. Our relationship was tested in many ways, but at the end of the day, we’re brothers, and I think these songs reflect that.” 


Toronto-based MC Drake (23 year-old Aubrey Graham Drake) has had a hell of a 2009 with his countless collaborations with major artists and promotions by Young Money leader Lil Wayne. But in 2010 he hopes to take the hip-hop crown with his long-awaited full-length release.

Drake’s breakout song, “Best I Ever Had,” off his “So Far Gone” mixtape was recently Grammy-nominated for Best Rap song. His smooth R&B infused rhymes have resonated with a diverse audience. 

Drake collaborates with a variety of big famers like Jay-Z in the track “Light Up.” You can hear his recently released single “Over” on various blogs, produced by Boi-1da. 

“I love the fact that I can tell my story and people enjoy it,” Drake said. “And it’s catchy. That makes me feel good. The fact that I have to perform these songs over again, the fact that they have integrity; I never tire of them.”

Drake performs at the Meadow Brook Music Festival April 15 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the CSA office. Prices are $15-$20 for Oakland students and $15-$30 for non-students.