Categories
Miscellaneous

Holiday Season: Locally Owned Stores

As the holiday season quickly approaches, for many it’s time to start thinking about gathering gifts and presents for friends and loved ones.

As a little background, I grew up in Cary, NC and my parents have been living in Cary since the early nineties.

The Triangle Area has gone through a ton of changes in the last few decades. This includes an increased population, more housing developments, tech industries entering the area and more stores.

The rise of online shopping has also severely increased.

These developments have in many ways overshadowed and threatened the existence of locally owned small businesses throughout the area.

If you are looking for some great locally owned stores, I have highlighted some of my favorites in the Raliegh and Cary area. Hope you all have a happy and healthy holiday season.

Unlikely Professionals / Edge of Urge

Location: 212 E Franklin St, Raleigh, NC 27604 

If you are looking for gifts that are unique, modern and well made– this duo is perfect when shopping for that person you are unsure what they would like. These stores truly have something for everyone.

This family-owned business has a wide collection of clothing, jewelry, beauty products and oddities. In Unlikely Professionals they also make a collection of handmade leather goods.

They are located right across the street from one another, and their collections complement each other beautifully.

Not to mention, the stores are absolutely stunning. Great decor and friendly staff make the shopping experience that much more enjoyable.

They also have a great online store where you can look at their products in the comfort of your own home.

So & So Books

Location: 719 N Person St, Raleigh, NC 27604

Located right next to the Unlikely Professionals, this lovely little bookstore is a great place for some peaceful reading and shopping.

Airy and open, this store is a breath of fresh air in the shopping experience.

Although it has a relatively small collection of books in-store it has a great range of genres including fantasy, cookbooks, children’s books and poetry.

City Garden Design

Location: 117 W Chatham St, Cary, NC 27511

Nestled in the heart of downtown Cary this plant shop has a great assortment of greenery, pots and accessories for indoor house plants.

I have yet to find a plant shop that is as beautiful and diverse as this one. They have a great selection of plants, from airplants to succulents to large leafy plants.

The other element I love about this shop is that all the plants are very healthy.

A brief disclaimer, I do not have the biggest green thumb. However, I have brought many different types of plants from this shop and all of them have been healthy, happy and have survived for years.

Sometimes you can buy plants that are unknowing already dying and have been mistreated, but that is not the case at this shop.

The shop is run by a mother and son duo– the son has a degree in Horitculture from the University of Georgia. It is clear upon entering this store that the owners deeply care about growing great plants and sharing their passion.

Cary Gallery of Artists

Location: 200 S Academy St, Cary, NC 27511

Also located in downtown Cary, this gallery space is a great opportunity to admire and purchase locally made art and crafts.

Every time I go here, I have been greeted by the sweetest staff. It is a pleasant experience to look at the galleries even if you are not looking to purchase.

They support and showcase dozens of local artists; this shop is yet another unique experience.

Science Safari

Location: 1255 Kildaire Farm Rd, Cary, NC 27511 

Last but certainly not least, has been one of my favorite shops as a kid. This toy story and science education center has been in Cary for decades.

Defined by their friendly staff, science classes and unique toys, this shop is great for finding gifts for the younger relatives and siblings.

They also have live animals in store, including an iguana, chinchilla, turtles, frogs and fish. This shop is extremely unique.

They also offer free giftwrapping and offer personalized shopping closer to the holiday season.

Categories
Blog Concert Review

Origami Angel, Pool Kids & Insignificant Other Concert Review

Tuesday, Nov.15 these Origami Angel, Pool Kids and Insignificant Other performed at The Blind Tiger in Greensboro, NC.

To briefly summarize: these three performances had drastically different personalities that evoked drastically different audience responses. It had some very high and very low moments.

I’ll be taking a dive into my experience at this show, focusing on the first impressions of each band, their overall stage presence and the quality of their music.

If you are interested in learning more about each band and their discography, WKNC also posted a concert preview blog. You can find the concert preview on our blog.

Insignificant Other

Insignificant Other performance, taken by author

Insignificant Other was a sufficient start to this concert but had some awkward moments that took away from their performance.

Unfortunately, this band felt a little disconnected live. Although this does not directly impact the sound of their music, each of the band member had very different energy during their performance.

To give some context, their van broke down a few days prior to this performance, which threatened their continuation of the tour and required many costly repairs and setbacks. The band was obviously in a poor mood.

However, this issue was brought up in their performance multiple times. One of the members going as far as saying, “please show us some love at the merch table, I don’t want to beg, but we are broke.”

It is extremely unfortunate that they had such a big issue mid-tour, but they allowed this issue to impact their performance greatly. It would have been more beneficial for them to bring it up once, then put on a killer performance despite the circumstances.

Personally, it’s not your comments that will move me to buy your merch– it’s the music.

The van was brought up so many times that I hardly remember what their performance was like– their complaints were at the forefront of my mind.

I want to acknowledge how difficult it must be to be an opener. The audience is not warmed up yet and the energy is low.

However, the best opening performances I have seen have been the bands that are unapologetically high energy and excited to share their music (bands like Similar Kind and Nordista Freeze).

Insignificant Other took a different route, begging for the audience to dance and overall coming off as insecure. I was hoping to see more confidence from them.

I hope in the rest of their tour they are able to cast aside their worries and put on a great show. They certainly have the skill and the discography to do so.

Pool Kids

Pool Kid’s Performance, taken by author

Pool Kids were my favorite performance of the night. They did a phenomenal job, and their performance brought a newfound admiration to their music.

I could clearly see how much this band loved working together. They glowed on the stage and had a contagious confidence to them. There were so many moments when the members would share the biggest smile with each other.

The friendship and talent on the stage was a joy to watch.

Beyond their great chemistry, they make some outstanding music. I was unfamiliar with some of their newest songs, but despite not listening to them prior, they won me over on first listen.

They provided some great moments for moshing and dancing, but also had some great moments of stillness. Overall, just a tremendously talented and well-rounded performance.

Origami Angel

Origami Angel performance, taken by author

I had some pretty high expectations from headliner, Origami Angel; and their performance was nothing short of outstanding. This emo-rock performance has so much skill packed within the two members.

This tour has been their first headlining tour, yet they had such a mature and refined sound. Their performance alluded to a band that had been on many, many headlining tours.

The Audience

Why where they not my favorite performance of the night? The audience.

Unfortunately, their fan base in this concert dampened my experience greatly. It could be due to the fact that they are a relatively new band, emerging in 2017 or it could be their angsty lyrics or pop culture references– their audience was extremely immature.

I have mentioned this in previous blog posts, but the audience is always the worst part of any performance. This audience was by far the worst I have ever experienced.

The moshing and crowd surfing was completely unhinged. Multiple people near me had gotten injured and unwilling individuals would get sucked into the chaos.

Certain individuals abused the chaos. There were two people in particular that jumped on stage and crowd surfed 8-10 times each. These individuals greatly took away from the performance by jumping on stage so frequently.

All to say, there were some poor audience members, and their behavior directly impacted the performers.

It was clear lead singer and guitarist, Ryland Heagy, got increasingly upset throughout the performance due to the shear amount of heckling and chaos on the stage. Not just in the crowd– on the stage.

It was really unfortunate to have such outstanding musicians get upstaged by such inconsiderate audience members.

I cannot stress it enough– Ryland Heagy and drummer Pat Doherty are outstanding live. I am looking forward to the opportunity to see Origami Angel again, hopefully with a more considerate audience.

Categories
Band/Artist Profile New Album Review

The Ups and Downs of Turnover

Turnover, once emo, once indie rock, now synth pop has been through many dramatic changes.

Their newest album, “Myself in the Way” has certainly been the biggest change yet. For better or for worse, Turnover has stepped entirely away from their humble emo-rock roots and is evolving into a highly synthentizer oriented band.

Past Work and Criticism

To give some history, this is not the first time Turnover has had a genre shift. Their 2019 album, “Altogether” was quite controversial due to their sudden departure from indie rock.

“Altogether” is provided many new sounds and tones from Turnover that throughly diversified and matured their overall discography. Although it was a shift, it still referenced their previous work.

However, “Altogether” was poorly received in comparison to their previous albums, “Peripheral Vision” and “Good Nature”.

In Pitchfork’s review of “Altogether” they claimed, “Turnover shot themselves in the foot at the get-go. They hoped for an album that was simple, but the banality that manifested instead was a pretty inevitable side effect.”

I as much as I enjoyed the sounds that emerged in “Altogether”, I was surprised to see them step even further away from their more popular genres.

“Peripheral Vision” was an undeniably solid indie rock album. They finally came into their voice in this album, it is hard to imagine them stepping away from it. In stead of doubling down and producing another solid rock album, they decided to explore. I don’t blame them for that.

“Altogether” was a successful exploration. “Myself in the Way” took that exploration a step too far– the result creating an unfamiliar band that is hard to connect to.

“Myself in the Way”

I have been a fan of all of Turnover’s work up until this newest album.

They have stripped themselves of all the authenticity and skill seen in “Peripheral Vision” and “Altogether” and replaced it with a hollow mess of synthesizers and autotune.

The album has been described as a blend of dream pop, disco, funk, and synth pop. Simply no reference to their perilous genres they have spent their entire careers developing.

I appreciate and admire artists that defy expectations and try something new, but Turnover is not building upon their strengths. They have ignored their best moments and amplified their worst.

For example, Turnover’s lyrics have always been on the borderline of genuine or hollow– and unfortunately the lyricism in this album is quite a disappointment. Track, “Fantasy” is the prime example of this,

“What’s your fantasy
I’d really like to know
What you’re thinking about
When your smile starts to show”

To highlight a positive, track “Wait Too Long” was a favorite on the album. Although it had very distracting, conflicting backing tracks, it was nice to hear a nice bass line and some reference to the sounds in “Altogether”.

One of the failures of Turnover in their previous work and in this release, was inserting unnecessary instruments into their songs. In track, “People That We Know” there is a rambunctious, bold trumpet line.

In the right song with deliberate placement– brass lines can take a good song to a great song. Although, in this scenario it is too timid to be the highlight yet too frequent that it takes away from the song.

To summarize, this album was disappointing and distracting.

This album truly made me doubt the overall skill of this band. Was he success of the past few albums just a fluke? Have they abandoned their roots entirely? I sincerely hope not.

Final Thoughts

I am quite interested to see how this album will be received by the general public.

Turnover has been one of my favorite bands for quite some time, but has lost some of that love in this release. I sincerely hope they return to some of the sounds in their past.

However, bands change and music change. If this is the new avenue for Turnover and this is the genre that brings them passion– so be it.

If you would like to hear more of Turnover and see them perform, they will be touring at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro Dec. 15.

Categories
Band/Artist Profile Classic Album Review

“Black Shark” by Hammer No More The Fingers

I was first introduced to Hammer No More The Fingers during my discussion with Jeremy Leonard, NC State architecture professor and former WKNC DJ.

Emerging in the mid 2000’s, this band is pure indie rock power.

As I learned within my discussion with Jeremy, there was limited means or finding new and underground artists just a decade ago. WKNC was a leading platform for finding under exposed artists and local bands such as this one.

One of the initial break-throughs for this band was at WKNC’s very own Double Barrel Benefit.

Not only is this band musically extraordinary, but it local to the triangle area– emerging from Durham, NC.

Members, Duncan Webster, Joe Hall and Jeff Stickley formed the band after their graduation from UNC Chapel Hill and East Carolina University in 2007.

They thrived in the local Durham scene. Later touring across North Carolina and the US.

Upon listening to their discography, I was surprised we are not talking about them more at WKNC and beyond.

To highlight some of their success, I will be doing a dive into their 2011 album, “Black Shark”.

Ambitious, robust and high energy, this album will not disappoint.

“Black Shark” Review

“Black Shark” by Hammer No More The Fingers cover art

This band is a great example of the power and versatility of a guitar, some drums and a voice.

This three piece band is able to create such rich and fulfilling tracks through timeless elements and skill.

Right out of the gate, “Atlas of an Eye” displays their indisputable harmony and skill together. There is a clear distinction between bands that have been performing together for years and those that collided recently.

This trio has been performing together since 1994– giving this album confidence and harmony that can only be achieve through consistent collaboration and time.

One aspect I adore about this band is the vocal harmonies they achieve. Especially in opening track, “Atlas of an Eye” they achieve some beautiful vocal layering and echos. This layering is reflected in overlapping waves of strings and percussion.

Simply a great opening track. It builds so much momentum for the album to come.

Track number 3, “Shark” was the true hook for me in this album. The chorus is so strong. This track alone captures the energy and style of Hammer No More The Fingers– simple elements, unhinged skill.

I love that this band does not over complicate their lyrics. This is true for every song, but I particularly love the lyrics in “Shark”.

Further into the album, “It’s About Caring” has some of my favorite guitar lines. This track has very melancholy vocal work, giving the album an angsty, emo rock undertone. This weighty angst is contrasted beautifully with heavy guitar.

The strings are the star in this track.

Continuing the outstanding guitar work, prior track “Steam” is high energy and well balanced. All three band members shine here. This track feels like the true climax of the album– although every track competes for this title.

“Steam” has some the best moments of collaboration in the album.

This collaboration results in the highest energy in the album. The ending section combines all the strengths of the band– vocal harmonies, strong guitar and solid drums.

Simple elements executed with excellence.

Final track, “Fingernails”, is perhaps the most perfect ending for such a well crafted album. It provides low and high energy moments to lift the listener out of the album while reflecting on the best moments.

There are many tracks on this album that I did not mention, but they are truly all fantastic.

Concluding Thoughts

Many leading indie rock artists tend to over complicate music. In our modern world, there are so many resources and endless elements that can both enhance and diminish music.

Bands like Hammer No More The Fingers give a refreshing reminder that great music can be achieved without any excessive elements or fancy tools.

The true excellence in music comes from the passion to create and collaboration.

If you would like to listen to more of Hammer No More the Fingers, they have two other fantastic albums, “Looking for Bruce” and self titled, “Hammer No More the Fingers”.

There are simply and unbelievable about of talent within the triangle area, look forward to more local band reviews in the near future.

Categories
Playlists

Music and Wellness

Thursday, Nov. 3 was a university-wide wellness day.

The wellness day has brought further attention to the importance of mental health resources and the overarching mental health crisis.

If you or someone you know is in mental distress, the university counseling center can be reached on campus at 2815 Cates Avenue, directly across from Witherspoon Student Center, or through their website.

The counseling center helped me find the support I needed in the beginning of my college career. College can be daunting and overwhelming at times– reaching out helps guide us to support needed. Support from peers. Support from parents or guardians. Support from professors and mentors. Support from the University. Support is vital to both our mental wellbeing and general success.

Above all, it is important to look after ourselves by doing the things we truly enjoy. Whether that be something as simple as getting a coffee or singing; doing the things that bring life meaning is simply refreshing.

I spent much of my wellness day listening to music.

As many, many individuals can relate, music has been such a source of support and love in my life.

To share some of this passion and wellbeing, I have selected a handful of songs that have brought me a lot of wellness. I hope you all enjoy, take care of yourselves.

Song Selections

Spud Infinity by Big Thief

Wonder by Lomelda

Spiral by Pinegrove

Elm by Clever Girl

Tin Man by America

Categories
Band/Artist Profile

Four Fantastic Woman Led Bands

This goes without saying, but there are an unfathomable amount of talent within the music industry.

These four bands in particular have brought me a newfound appreciation for the skill, creativity and diversity of women voices in the indie rock world.

Although this is just scratching the surface, these selections have been frequenting my queue time and time again. Ranging from punk, pop, emo and psychedelic, these bands exemplify some of the upcoming voices in the indie world. I hope you enjoy.

Warehouse

Colorful blocky patter on navy background
“super low” album cover art by Warehouse

Warehouse is an Atlanta based indie rock and punk band.

What sets this band apart of all others is the richness and power of Elaine Edenfield lead vocals. Stripped and rugged, her androgynist voice taps into grudge influences while holding an identity entirely of its own.

Warehouse notes Pylon, another phenomenal female led punk band from Georgia, as being one of their most prominent influences. Warehouse embodies the experimental essence of Pylon in a renewed timeliness.

With talented strings to match, this band hits hard. Below are some of my favorite tracks by Warehouse:

Super Low“, “Oscillator” and “Succession.”

Lime Garden

Blurry dark figure walking in red light
“Bitter” cover art by Lime Garden

This pop rock quartet from Brighton is energetic, explorative and simply spectacular. Lime Garden is made of drummer Annabel Whittle, guitarist Leila Deeley, guitarist Chloe Howard and bassist Tippi Morgan.

These four ladies each bring a different musical background to the table, together forming a sound greater than its individual parts. This variety of musical background brought a lot of challenges for the band, but ultimately resulted in a richer, layered sound in their releases.

This band utilizes synthesizers beautifully, highlighting only the best parts of their sound without drowning out the pure instruments. Below are some of my favorites:

Bitter” and “Sick & Tired.”

Sweet Pill

Image is a painting of a person's face, painted red, gripped by two hands, painted light blue.
Sweet Pill, “Where the Heart Is” album art

Sweet Pill is an alternative emo band from Philadelphia. Lead singer, Zayna Youssef has quickly become one of my favorite voices after their newest release, “Where the Heart Is” earlier this year.

Dynamic and powerful, Zayna provides a refreshing voice to the musical world. Listening to this band is simply stress relieving.

Lyrically they are aggressive and confident. Lyrics that are carried beautifully through Zayna’s vocals. She has so much emotion and strength within her voice– the classic angst of emo bands is replaced with unapologetically bold passion through her performance.

With strong bass and drums to match, Sweet Pill provides a striking performance for our listening pleasure:

Blood,” “Where the Heart Is” and “Cut.”

Goat Girl

Colorful landscape with lots of little creatures and monsters
“On All Fours” album cover art by Goat Girl

This quartet from London provides a mix of psychedelic, pop and rock elements in their genre bending discography.

Members, Lottie Cream, L.E.D, Holly Hole and Rosy Bones, combine their passion for music and social activism to produce songs that highlight society flaws and shortcomings. In their 2021 album, “On All Fours”, is an exploration into some of these societial themes.

Goat Girl creates music that is both deeply meaningful and contagiously energetic.

In their earlier releases they have a more angsty and heavy lyricism and musical style that is matured in there newest album. This dichotomy is really refreshing in their overall discography. Here are some of my picks:

Creep,” “Mighty Despair” and “Pest.”

Categories
Non-Music News

New Podcast Highlight: “WKNC’s Brain Trust”

Each new year at WKNC invites a new arrival of content.

This year, student and content creator, Lucas Marsh, joined the team and has created a new podcast– “WKNC’s Brain Trust”– a podcast that focuses on having introspective and thought provoking discussions with guests from across NC state.

To welcome his new project, I set up an interview with Lucas. Together we explored some of his motivations for creating the podcast and the knowledge he has gained along the way.

Below are some of the highlights from our discussion.

To start off, what is your name, year,  major and where are you from? 

My name is Lucas Marsh. I’m a freshman of class 2026, and I’m majoring in aerospace engineering and I’m from Long Island, New York.

What roles do you fulfill at WKNC? How long have you been involved with WKNC?

I’m a content creator at WKNC. I started not exactly at the beginning of the semester, but the first few weeks. I technically started as a content creator October 10th. 

What motivated you to join WKNC? What inspired you to be a content creator?

I have some broadcasting experience because I did a broadcasting class my senior year in high school. I really enjoyed it. I would do the morning announcements and do other projects in the class like that.

Originally I was like, “Oh, I’ll try to be a DJ”, but to put it simply, I don’t have the music taste that they’re looking for, but I wanted to be involved in WKNC even though I couldn’t be a DJ. So I asked them, “What else can I do?”

I was looking at all the other options I don’t know, like Blogs, interviews and videos; that doesn’t really seem too exciting to me, but the podcasts… that sounds like a lot of fun. So I applied and they hired me.

What inspired you to create “WKNC’s Brain Trust”? 

My inspiration for this podcast came from a conversation I had with my roommate about nostalgia. It was like eleven thirty at night, and  we sat and had a long conversation, and at the end of it I was like, “Wow, we’re capable of intellectual discussion”. And since I had the opportunity to be a content creator I thought that is exactly how it’s done, but recorded. 

I’m not the most serious person, which is why at first I was kind of shocked that we had such a solid conversation on something that deep. I wanted to do it again, but record it this time.

So for the first episode I had that same discussion with my roommate since it went so smoothly before. We talked about nostalgia, what it is, how it makes you feel, how it affects us, how we feel it differently and where it comes from.

How would you describe the energy of your podcast?

The tone is light hearted, but introspective. It isn’t super serious. I’ll put it like this, it’s not as serious as a documentary, but it’s not as joking as a cartoon.

What are you most excited about for your podcast?

I’m excited about all of it. In general I’m a very positive person, so I’m looking forward to getting more episodes up, and really just seeing my logo and my podcast on a website. I’m looking forward to seeing the products of my own work.

As someone who created, developed and is producing podcasts, what advice would you give to other students or individuals interested in podcast creation?

I’m still relatively new at it, but I would say, if your heart’s not in it, your head’s not in it. Fancy way to word that, but if you don’t really enjoy it it’s not going to work. 

It’s a lot of fun. So if you enjoy it, go ahead and try it… if you enjoy what you are making it is okay if others don’t like it.

What advice would you give NC State Students interested in joining WKNC?

Go to the interest meeting. I didn’t know I could do podcasts, interviews,  videos or blogs. I didn’t know I could do any of that, I thought it was just a radio station. 

It also helps experience in recording software, specifically adobe addition. If you can find access to that– give yourself a little crash course on it.

To round out our discussion, how has WKNC benefited your college experience?

It’s definitely made it more enjoyable. This is something else for me to do on campus. It’s a new group of people to meet and a new group of people to work with. It allows me to connect with my peers and have a fun time doing it– all while producing an episode and making content. 

Concluding Thoughts

There is something so magical and energizing about starting a new project. Lucas’s enthusiastic and confident demeanor fit this energy perfectly, there is no doubt he will be a fantastic podcast host. 

To give “WKNC’s Brain Trust”, you can find it on Transistor (or any platform you listen to Podcasts).

It was great to interview Lucas, I am looking forward to all he will create in the near future.

Categories
Concert Preview Music News and Interviews

Upcoming Local Concerts

MICHELLE – Oct.31

Opener: Nickname Jos

Where: Motorco Music Hall, Durham

When: 8pm Monday, Oct.31

Price: $18/$24

MICHELLE Tickets

It is a shame Halloween fell on a Monday this year, but MICHELLE is here to excite the Monday nightlife and welcome November

MICHELLE is a R&B group from New York City. Their discography is filled to the brim with upbeat tracks and rich harmonies. This vocal-led group is extremely dynamic in rhythm, tone and musical composition. Each member has so much vocal control and range, allowing the group to create some stunning vocal lines. They will put on a fantastic show.

Superorganism – Nov. 3

Opener: Blood Cultures

Where: Motorco Music Hall, Durham

When: 8pm Thursday, Nov. 3

Price: $22/$25

Superorganism Tickets

Superorganism is a psychedelic indie pop band from London. I would also like to highlight their opener, Blood Cultures, an anoynoymus experimental indie pop project from Brooklyn. Both of these bands have such a unique aura.

To add to the excitement of this performance, Superorganism released their album, “World Wide Pop” this year and just released a remix album, “World Wide Pop- Reeeemix!” Oct.28. These two bands will certainly bring lots of new sounds to the stage.

Oso Oso – Nov.6

Opener: M.A.G.S and Anxious

Where: Motorco Music Hall, Durham

When: 8pm Sunday, Nov.6

Price: $19/$23

OSO OSO Tickets

Oso Oso is an alternative emo band from Long Beach, New York. Oso Oso has such a well versed discography, ranging from heavy rock to light alternative tracks. The openers M.A.G.S. and Anxious will complement his wide range of music wonderfully.

Opener, M.A.G.S is an indie garage rock and pop project from Buffalo, New York. Anxious is an dreamo band from Connecticut. This trio of artists have a wide variety of sounds, yet remain unified in their melancholy tone.

Sorry – Nov.12

Opener: N/A

Where: Local 506, Chapel Hill

When: 9pm Saturday, Nov.12

Price: $13/$15

Sorry Tickets

Sorry taps into an astral of genres to create there unique sound– ranging from bubblegrunge, punk, indie rock, and psychedelic. Hailing from London, this duo brings with them a weighty discography.

Their newest album, “Anywhere by Here” released Oct. 7. In my opinion, it contains some of their best work.

The freshness of their album will certainly contribute to an extremely energized show.

Omar Apollo – Nov. 20

Opener: N/A

Where: The Ritz, Raleigh

When: 7:45pm Sunday, Nov.20

Price: $50

Omar Apollo Tickets

Last, but certainly not least, R&B artist Omar Apollo. He released his fourth full album, “Ivory” earlier this year. Although I think it was less successful compared to his previous work– it is clear his energy is ecstatic throughout this tour.

If this show reflects “Ivory”, it will have an excellent variety of high and low energy tracks. Each track in his discography is rich– he just has such a great voice.

Omar Apollo keeps achieving more with each and every release, this performance will be rich in talent, stage presence and musical variety.

Categories
DJ Highlights

The Seven Year DJ, Spaceman Spiff

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Jeremy Leonard, also known as DJ Spaceman Spiff, who was a WKNC DJ for seven years between 2008 and 2015. Jeremy fulfilled a variety of roles within his time at WKNC including Station Librarian and Daytime Assistant Music Director. 

Within his time at NC State, he received his Bachelor of Architecture within the College of Design, receiving numerous awards and recognition. Jeremy later went on to receive his Master of Architecture from Yale University.

 I met Jeremy last semester, who at the time was my architecture studio professor. Upon learning of his involvement with WKNC earlier this semester, it was only fitting to set up an interview.

I would like to highlight, there are very few students that have the opportunity to be involved with WKNC for such a long period of time, let alone the sheer drive and love for it.

It was clear in our interview that Jeremy has a profound passion for local and underexposed music, a love that was curated throughout his life and prospered within WKNC. 

My discussion with him really opened my eyes to how passionate DJs can be about the music they put on the air. Radio is so much more than music– it is an outreach, a platform for underexposed music and a powerful form of self expression. 

Our discussion also introduced me to some absolutely phenomenal bands. If you are interested in hearing some of DJ Spaceman Spiff’s picks, he created a playlist of some of his favorite and nostalgic tracks from his time at WKNC. You can find his playlist on Spotify.

Below are some of the highlights from our discussion.

Read more

How did you get involved with WKNC?

I grew up in Raleigh and went to high school in Garner. I used to listen to WKNC in high school and my older sister listened to it too. I very much looked up to my sister so I gravitated towards WKNC to be more like her in a way…. also the show The OC. My sister bought the show soundtrack which had some awesome indie rock songs featured on the show, and I was craving more of that style. I started listening to WKNC to find more bands that had that sound.  I used to listen to WKNC on the way to my high school. My favorite DJ was Rochester, who had a show called “Carpooling with Rochester”.  He had a great personality and played killer music. 

I knew as soon as I became a NC State student I wanted to be a DJ. In my first week of school, I attended Welcome Week and signed up for a training session… DJ Sweet Annie Rich was my trainer. She had an Americana show but I ended up going the  daytime rock route. 

The coolest thing about WKNC is that they play everything.  I’m not into Chainsaw Rock, but I love that they play metal and have a devoted audience.  I wouldn’t have heard great electronic music if not for Afterhours.

Can you describe your involvement with WKNC? What year did you start and what roles did you fulfill in your time at the station?

I started in 2008 when I was a freshman. I graduated in 2013, but Jamie let me continue my show into 2015.

During my freshman year, I was the librarian and I helped organize the CD collection.  I was also an assistant daytime music director for my first couple years at the station.  In that role, I would review five to ten albums a week.

There is an unbelievable amount of music released every month.I had to open my mind and expand my taste so that I could be better at my job.  Between me and the other music directors, we would select the songs that would be put into rotation–I wanted to make sure that our selections were catchy but also boundary-pushing. By reviewing so much music, I listened to albums I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Are there any artists or albums that you found during your time at WKNC that you still listen to? If not, what do you find yourself gravitating toward today?

I still listen to many of the albums I discovered at WKNC. There is this band called Royal Bangs, whose music is unbelievably rambunctious and infectious.  Their second album, called “Let It Beep“, I thought was just f—ing awesome.

Another was Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. He makes these melancholy, two-minute pop songs built around warbly synths and lo-fi percussion.  Throw Me The Statue and Portland Cello Project are two others that I particularly liked from my time reviewing albums. 

All just really good music that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise.

My musical interests are still focused around sad people with guitars, but  I’m a musical omnivore, and listen to a little of everything. I listen to bluegrass and Robyn… I still love indie music and I love a good pop song. 

What was the origin of your DJ name?

My DJ name was Spaceman Spiff, which is an alter-ego of Calvin from the comic Calvin and Hobbes.  He would daydream being a lonely space explorer when he was supposed to be paying attention at school. I’d like to think my time as a DJ was my escape from the intensity of my college classes.

Are there any particular artists or songs that motivated you to join WKNC?

The station’s support of the Triangle’s music scene is what I found most appealing.

I remember being blown away when I heard Hammer No More The Fingers song “Vodka Grasshopper” on the airwaves.  This was music you could only hear on WKNC–no one else was covering it, except for the Independent. 

I also love Double Barrel Benefit. Max Indian’s set in 2010 was a major highlight for me.  On their album, their songs sound lo-fi, but on stage, it sounded like blistering, stone cold classic rock.  They’re a band that I think should have been huge.  

Without WKNC’s guiding light,  I never would have heard the album  “Antarctica” by The Never.  Their lush pop-rock soundtracked an exquisitely illustrated storybook by singer Noah Smith.    WKNC is so important in my life for introducing me to this music and a multitude of phenomenal NC-based artists.

Given your experience as an Assistant Music Director and DJ, where do you recommend finding artists that don’t get a lot of exposure?

The radio, of course!  I’m always jotting down songs that I liked on WKNC.  I used to have a piece of paper in my car where I would log the times to look up when I got back to my computer, but now the station provides scrolling text that displays directly on my dashboard!  . 

When I was in high school my options to discover music were the radio or I would go to amazon.com and listen to 30 second clips of songs. This around 2004 to 2006 when I was first finding music on my own and platforms like Spotify were not around.

These days, YouTube and Spotify have good algorithms. If you listen to things a little off the radar they will feed you things similar to that. I know I’m praising the dark side.  Although these platforms can be the enemies of smaller artists, they also provide a good platform to discover them.

In my experience, Bandcamp is the best platform for discovery.  I’ll click around on people’s pages and find what they’re enthusiastic about. 

One band that I found this way is default genders.  They make really emotional  synth pop music.  Their album “Main Pop Girl 2019” is jaw-dropping.  It was only after I heard that album that I realized  I heard of them originally on WKNC, back when they made music as Elite Gymnastics Bandcamp + WKNC for the win.

How did WKNC benefit or influence your college career?

Finding all this new music was incredible, but I also became really good friends with my co-DJs. I had a show with my friend Kirsten (DJ Vice) and Justin (J Town) for a couple years called the “After School Special”, which usually was Wednesdays from 5 to 7pm. The three of us would push each other really well. We would bring in music the others didn’t know, and we would all bring different music together and suggest things that the others would like. 

It was also nice to get out of the College of Design for a bit. I would  go to the literal opposite side of campus and engage with the broader college. WKNC allowed me to get outside of the bubble. I love architecture but I love music just as much if not more. I would say more.

Concluding Thoughts

If you are interested in reading up more on Jeremy and his architectural work, you can explore his online portfolio. Beyond having a large array of musical knowledge and DJ experience, he has a stunning array of architectural work.

It was a treat to interview DJ Spaceman Spiff and get another perspective into the WKNC experience.

Stay tuned for more DJ interviews in the near future.

Categories
New Album Review

“Nicks and Grazes” by Palm Album Review

Palm is a garage psych band from Philadelphia who just released their third full album, “Nicks and Grazes” Oct. 14 of this year.

Palm is made of drummer Hugo Stanley, bassist Gerasimos Livitsanos and vocalists and guitarists Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt.

I am happy to say this was my first experience listening to this band, and I am glad to have discovered them when I did. “Nicks and Grazes” has so many great highlights, and could absolutely be the project that results in a major breakthrough for this band.

It is clear this band is pulling from many influences to mold their album into what is is. There are elements of rhythmic electronic, free spirited rock and sheer aggressive noise. This album is transparent in its exploratory nature. It does not belong to one genre, instead seamlessly dips into multiple.

To jump right into the individuals tracks, “Touch and Go’ and “Feathers” are bold intros to the album. This band does such an excellent job of integrating the pure sounds of guitars, drums and vocals with a jarring collage of electronica.

Most notably in “Feathers”, they channel the same energy as fellow garage psych band Spirit of the Beehive. I really love Eve Alpert’s voice in this track. Her voice is extremely clear and their lyrics are clean and concise:

“Make it up / Like a performer / I’m gonna make it up / Like I’m devout”

As the album progresses, her voice slowly begins to dissolve into the music and comes the rhythm itself. This is very prominent in “Eager Copy”. The mystic vocal and heavy keys almost dance throughout the track, both empowering and dissolving each other.

Perhaps my favorite moment of the album proceeds after the vocal and elerontic struggle within “Eager Copy”.

Following track, “Brille” is almost like waiting room music– as if it is waiting for something to load. This non-vocal track is airy and light, with sudden moments of harsh clangs and aystemmical rythym.

The track opens up to “On The Sly”, one of the most vocal dominate songs on the album. It taps into the roots of garage psych, really focusing on pure guitar, drums and distant lyrics. They really tone down the use of electronic elements in this song to bright light to their unity as a band. They achieve such a confident sound here.

A little further into the album they dive completely into noise and electronic genres. “Suffer Dragon” is almost beyond description. If you enjoy pure noise, this is the highlight for you. It is chaotic yet calm, dismantled yet unified. It brought a very uneasy feeling to the album. Although the beginning is a simply so much noice, it quickly mellows into a tune reminiscent of music by C418.

“Mirror Mirror” follows, and may be my favorite highlight of the album. This track does a great job of unifying many of the explorations within the entire project. I really enjoy the electronic quality achieved at the end of this track.

The final two tracks “Tumbleboy” and “Nicks and Grazes” deserve much praise. This entire album is very bold, these tracks do a great job of tying it all together and lifting the listener out of the composition. They are a fitting end to such a varied album.

This album was a treat a listen to. It is a great example of orderly chaos in music. The noise they are able to achieve here is destined for growth.

I’ll be keeping an ear out for anything new from Palm. If you are interested in seeing them live, they have a show in Durham, NC on Nov. 18. For tickets and information you can visit the venue website.