A special stretch of Waterloo Road in Cleveland, OH
I was recently in Cleveland for the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, when I discovered a much more vital and enjoyable source of music: The three-block stretch on Waterloo Road that begins at 157th Street and ends at 161st Street. It begins with Beachland Ballroom, a spectacular music venue that also happens to serve some of the best biscuits I’ve ever had. There’s an intimate bar stage and an impressive main room—best of all, there’s a vintage store downstairs, which contains great clothing, music, art, and all sorts of other things. That way, even if the second band on a bill bores you, there’s somewhere to go. I had great food, watched a double bill of bands, and felt more at home than I do at relatives’ houses.
But the music didn’t stop there. Somehow, two great record stores manage to exist one block away from each other, and they both had great stuff to offer. (That is a beautiful miracle, and everyone in that city should be impressed and support them both.) For new releases, I went to Music Saves, a great shop with decent prices, knowledgeable employees, and every single Record Store Day item I was looking for. For the used stuff, I went another block further down, to Blue Arrow Records & Boutique, a store with not only a great selection of music and clothes, but some of the nicest staff I’ve ever interacted with while record shopping. On top of that, the owner, Pete, recently started a label, offering 7-inches from the likes of Jonathan Richman, among others.
As if that weren’t enough, there’s a music-themed art gallery, more vintage goodness, and incredibly nice people everywhere you turn. Of my time in Cleveland, the hours I spent on this small strip of land were far and away the best. I can’t recommend it enough to anyone visiting or living in the city. [Alex McCown]
“Why” by Mas Ysa
Back in February of 2014, I completely missed the release of Mas Ysa’s (singer, songwriter, and producer Thomas Arsenault) EP Worth. The nine-track offering featured lead single “Why,” which I recently stumbled upon after my coworker Cameron Scheetz sent me Mas Ysa’s newest single, “Margarita.” Both tracks are capable of camping out in one’s brain for a while, showcasing electro-pop that toes the line between new wave and drum and bass, but it’s the snotty lyrics of “Why” that have kept the song on repeat. Quips like, “And I won’t go, when you get me home girl you’re too well known” paired with biting insults such as, “She said, ‘I, no I don’t want you’ / And I said, ‘Why?’ / ‘You’re not that cute’” make for a fun kiss-off song with vocals that keep it from being too petulant. Mas Ysa’s newest and first full-length album, Seraph, comes out July 24, featuring the aforementioned “Margarita” and the energetic “Look Up.” Buy the album or catch Mas Ysa as he wraps up his current tour this July. [Becca James]
Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless Headphones
I don’t consider myself lazy, but I do often find myself settling for something out of convenience. Hence the fact that I’ve been using Apple brand earbuds for years, denying myself a noteworthy listening experience while wasting minutes upon minutes untangling those damn things. Well, I finally made the leap and I’m never going back, thanks to Sennheiser’s Urbanite XL wireless headphones. Though the brand tends to skew toward a more tech-savvy audience, the Urbanites are an attempt to nudge its way into the luxury streetwear market, currently dominated by Beats By Dre. They don’t have the same sleek sheen as Beats, because Urbanites are more concerned with function over fashion, and that’s a good thing. For one, the large, pillowy ear-pads and (for lack of a better term) squishy band make for unexpectedly pleasant headwear, nestling comfortably atop my unruly shock of hair. Another draw here is the wireless capability, which uses built-in touchpads and Bluetooth technology to allow you to go cordless for a surprisingly long distance, a functionality I was able to test while dancing around my apartment to the new Jamie xx album. And, of course, the sound is fantastic, offering bass that prompted me to retire those earbuds for good. Besides, I’m too lazy to have to untangle my headphones every time I pull them out of my backpack. [Cameron Scheetz]