Categories
Classic Album Review

Ramsey Lewis’ “Rocky Raccoon” Song Review

The prolific jazz musician Ramsey Lewis passed away earlier this September at the age of 87. Lewis was a Grammy award winning artist and is best known for albums like “Sun Goddess” and “The In Crowd.” 

Lewis is also responsible for a wonderful cover album of The Beatles’ music, called “Mother Nature’s Son.” “Rocky Raccoon,” off of The Beatles’ self-titled album (better known as “The White Album”) is my favorite song by the band. Lewis’ cover of “Rocky Raccoon” breathes a wonderful and vibrant life into the song, making it one of my favorite songs of all time.

The country song makes a wonderful canvas for a jazz cover. The cover starts off rather percussive and before you know it, a whole band of instruments have bled their way into the scene. The cover builds until it’s a pleasant storm of noise, with the melody on the keys serving as the rain and everything else draped behind it as the clouds.

Only 2 minutes and 38 seconds long, the cover is around a minute shorter than the original, and packs the same spirit into the same amount of time.

If you haven’t heard of Ramsey Lewis until now, I suggest you check out his rather extensive discography, there is something for everyone there. Or, at the very least, listen to his cover of “Rocky Raccoon.”

Categories
Playlists

Hopscotch Music Festival 2022 – A Sampler

I unfortunately do not have the pleasure of attending Hopscotch Music Festival this year, but boy, they have quite a lineup.

Between their main lineup, their club shows at Pour House and Slims, and their day parties, Hopscotch has packed quite a lot of talent into such a short period. From international sensations like Courtney Barnett and Perfume Genius, to amazing local acts like BANGZZ and MJ Lenderman, the lineup is bound to impress.

If you, like me, cannot attend Hopscotch, or if you are attending and want to get a good feel for what you’ll be hearing, I’ve made a playlist with some of my favorite songs by the artists and bands that will be performing. The playlist is a sampler with a little bit of everything to amuse the palate.

For your convenience, I’ve made the playlist accessible through Spotify.

Categories
Concert Preview

Eight September Shows in the Triangle

The Triangle has a lot to look forward to this September: from Hopscotch Music Festival to the weather hopefully getting cooler. In my opinion, the end of the summer is best celebrated with attending a show and getting out into your community. Here are eight shows you won’t want to miss in the Triangle this month.

  1. Friday, Sep 2 @ 9:00 PM: Sk the Novelist Album Release Show @ The Pour House
  1. Saturday, Sep 3 & 4 @ 7:00 PM: Mipso @ Cat’s Cradle
  1. Saturday, Sep 3 @ 7:00 PM: Oliver Tree @ The Ritz
  1. Sunday, Sep 4 @ 8:00 PM: Interpol @ The Ritz
  1. Thursday, Sep 8 @ 1:00 PM: WKNC Hopscotch Day Party w/ Max Gowan, Kenny Wavinson, & Tiger Beach @ DH Hill Library
  1. Tuesday, Sep 13 @ 8:00PM: Haley Heynderickx w/ Illegal Son @ The Pinhook
  1. Thursday, Sep 22 @ 9:00PM: Wednesday w/ Truth Club @ Motorco
  1. Sunday, Sep 25 @ 9:00 PM: Pie Face Girls w/ Dream Boat & Head Kicker @ The Pour House

Grab a friend, a partner, a family member or a classmate and schedule a night to see a show. Whether it’s your favorite band/artist, one you’re only vaguely familiar with or one you’ve never even heard of before: get out there, try something new (or revisit something familiar). Some of my favorite memories have been at shows, and I hope to be able to attend at least one in September.

Categories
Playlists

Albums for the Beach

Nothing says summertime quite like a trip to the beach with your friends. Between the hot summer sun, the relaxation, the good eats and the memories made– a beach vacation is an utmost pleasing experience. The following are some albums that are great options to soundtrack your summer vacations to the beach.


“CRASH” – Charli XCX

A fun and lighthearted album from Charli XCX that leans more into traditional pop than her usual experimental side, this LP is perfect for dancing to, tanning to, driving to and is just straight up fun. “CRASH” is a  perfectly high energy and approachable album to jam out to with your friends.

“My Own Mess” – Skegss

It’s no surprise that an Australian surf-rock band makes great summery music. “My Own Mess” juxtaposes Skegss’ bright sound with existential lyrics and sounds oh-so-good while doing it. I exclusively stream this album during the summer because it’s designed to listen to while the sun shines down on you.

“More Adventurous” – Rilo Kiley

Like Skegss’ “My Own Mess,” “More Adventurous” by Rilo Kiley is a bright-sounding album with some seriously existential moments. Jenny Lewis, lead singer of the now broken-up Rilo Kiley, is amazing at making even the saddest lyrics sound hopeful. I recommend this album for listening to while on a walk or run down the shore.

“Jump Rope Gazers” – The Beths

This 2020 album by the indie-pop New Zealand band The Beths is a short but sweet project that I think would be best listened to whilst laying out in the sun and reading a book. At times high-energy and at times low and earnest, “Jump Rope Gazers” is perfect for beach-listening.

Happy listening and don’t forget SPF,

Caitlin

Categories
Band/Artist Profile

Unabashed Love Songs by The Mountain Goats

Some people enjoy The Mountain Goats for their lofi work, some listen for the shameless anger of tracks like “Foreign Object” and some are fans who are there for it all. I like a lot of what The Mountain Goats put out, but their love songs are especially potent to me. Let’s explore some of my favorites.

“Love Love Love”

The message at the core of the song also happens to be my favorite iteration of the song’s chorus: “Some things you do for money and some you do for fun / But the things you do for love are gonna come back to you one by one.” A hopeful song that serves as a bright spot on the emotionally-intense “The Sunset Tree,” “Love Love Love” is a beautiful testament to the grandiose and minute ways that love shows itself to us in everyday life.

“Animal Mask”

A wonderfully tender and intimate song, “Animal Mask” paints a picture of doing anything to protect your loved ones. John Darnielle almost-whispers “Some things you will remember/ Some things stay sweet forever” in the chorus. The song could be a lullaby if stripped down to just the guitar.

“Riches and Wonders”

The lyrics to this track read like a love letter or a manifesto. For the Mountain Goats, love is finding home in another person in “Riches and Wonders.” Nothing could be more romantic than having a dream life with everything you want and more alongside the person you love most: “We are filled with riches and wonders / Our love keeps the things it finds.”

“Twin Human Highway Flares”

This song paints a singular scene of driving to a motel with a lover. It describes an all-consuming and explosive kind of love. A passionate, fleeting, loud and large kind of love. A kind of love that makes all other loves feel small and pointless. The song closes with the profound statement: “On the day that I forget you / I hope my heart explodes.”


John Darnielle knows how to tap into all kinds of love. He wrote the single greatest lyric of all time in “Hair Match” (a song that I wouldn’t even consider romantic): “I loved you before I even ever knew what love was like.” These are just four of my favorites, but trust that for every The Mountain Goats song that makes you want to fight your lifelong enemy, there’s a song that will make you want to hold your loved ones close.

Categories
Classic Album Review

“Jubilee” by Japanese Breakfast Album Review

Michelle Zauner is an extremely talented songwriter, and her talents especially shine on Japanese Breakfast’s 2021 album, “Jubilee.” The third LP released by Japanese Breakfast, “Jubilee” is a sickeningly sweet and at times devastating record that Zauner herself says is meant to be joyful. 

This is my favorite work of Japanese Breakfast’s as I’m a sucker for an indie-pop record and this is a masterfully-made one. With ten songs that clock in at just over 37 minutes, this Grammy-nominated album is one I’m sure will continue to soundtrack my early 20s. 

Although Zauner says the album is meant to be a joyful one, a lot of the lyrics seem like they’re more adjacent to yearning than joy. “Be Sweet,” the album’s most popular song, has lyrics that beg for kindness and attention: “Be sweet to me, baby / I wanna believe in you” and “Make it up once more with feeling / Recognize your mistakes and I’ll let you back in.” “Kokomo, IN” begs the desperate question “These days I can’t shake the awful feeling / I’m missing something I can’t place, is that you?” in verse two. The feeling of longing is littered throughout the album, making even your first listen to it a painfully nostalgic experience.

The production, done by Michelle Zauner and Craig Hendrix (Japanese Breakfast’s drummer), is dreamlike and nostalgic, at times large and sweeping and at times intricate in a smaller and more subtle way. 

Upon the album’s release some critics said that the album fell short in the back half, and while I agree that tracks like “Sit” and “In Hell” aren’t the strongest, the album is tied together fantastically with one of my favorite songs of all time, “Posing For Cars.” It is the album’s final track and is nearly seven minutes long (the back half of which is 3 minutes of the most beautiful guitar solo you can imagine) and is just absolutely devastating in a way that could bring anyone to their knees.

So while I don’t agree with Zauner that “Jubilee” elicits much joy, it does feel summer-y: wide open, nostalgic, filled with the highest highs and lowest lows.

Rating: 9.5/10

Categories
Miscellaneous

Rating and Reviewing My Headphones

Somehow, in my years of being a music enjoyer, Apple device owner and human being functioning in society… I’ve piled up 5 pairs of headphones/earbuds (which all have their different purposes).

I’m certainly no audiophile nor expert in sound quality, but I do have an above average number of headphones and I want to breakdown their pros and cons.

Anker Soundcore Q20 Headphones

I snagged this pair on sale last week and I must say having noise canceling headphones (of any quality) is a game changer. I think this pair of headphones is a reasonably priced introduction to headphones with good sound quality and they’re Bluetooth which is convenient. They’re a good fit for me, have great battery life, and are intuitive to use. My one qualm with these is that the built-in microphone is subpar.

Rating: 9/10

Apple Earbuds

I have two pairs of these guys because one has the headphone jack for my computer and the other has a headphone jack for my phone (which, is very annoying in my personal opinion). As far as sound quality goes, these are fine and get the job done, but now that I know what good sound quality sounds like… these leave something to be desired.

These do have an excellent built-in microphone. They are very convenient and portable, however the convenience is somewhat impeded by the fact that they are wired headphones. But again, for the price, they’re good (and are some of the only earbuds that fit in my ear).

Rating: 7/10

Airpods

I have an older generation of Airpods, so they don’t have noise-canceling or any of the other features that come with new Airpods. Airpods are fairly pricey, but I’ve had mine for over 3 years now and I still use them nearly every single day. It’s worth noting that the battery life decreases with time, they are extremely easy to misplace, and the microphone is terrible.

I’m sure there are better Bluetooth earbuds on the market, but this is the pair I have and I love them dearly. 

Rating: 8/10

Sony MDR-V150 Monitor Series Headphones

These headphones were an impulse buy because I needed a wired pair of headphones for DJ purposes. These are fine for what I use them for (hearing myself during air breaks), but otherwise are a below average pair of headphones.

They were cheap and definitely reflect that… with these, you’re paying for what you get (for the worse). The wire is entirely too long, there is no built in microphone and they have a rather uncomfortable fit.

Rating: 3.5/10


Here’s to hoping all of these headphones and earbuds last me a long time.

Categories
Playlists

amongstEverything: A Playlist

The music I find most fulfilling is music that grounds and centers me. More often than not music that performs this role, for me at least, is music that centers around some part of the human condition.

amongstEverything is a playlist I curated around this concept. Some of the songs’ sound leans into a synthy and otherworldly feeling, while others’ lyrics tap into the core of what it is to be a human.

Ideally, this playlist would be listened to outside and would be paired with an ice-cold glass of lemonade, a clear head and an open heart.

amongstEverything can be streamed on Spotify, and without further ado, here are some songs that fulfill me and I hope do the same for you.

  1. “Life” — Jeffrey Lewis
  2. “Walking the Cow” — Daniel Johnston
  3. “Lady Gaga you once said in an interview that you write music for the fashion industry. Is fashion as important to you as music?” — Jan Jelinek
  4. “Thank You!” — Kilo Kish
  5. “Alien Observer” — Grouper
  6. “I Was Born in Arizona” — Dear Nora
  7. “POKKA POKKA” — Fishmans
  8. “白日” — Polaris
  9. “Crab” — Alex G
  10. “Flower” — Mega Bog
  11. “Clay Pigeons” — Michael Cera
  12. “How Sad, How Lovely” — Connie Converse
  13. “Knight Rider” — of Montreal
  14. “I Was Born (A Unicorn)” — The Unicorns
  15. “Spring’s Near” — Parsley Sound

Until next time,

Caitlin

Categories
Band/Artist Profile

What Makes The Mountain Goats Special?

I’m currently working my way through listening to the entirety of The Mountain Goats’ album discography. Why? There are several reasons. 

My dear friend (and former WKNC DJ, Deethony Jaythony) is a big fan of The Mountain Goats, as so is one of my favorite writers, John Green. They both speak so highly of The Mountain Goats, I’ve been a casual fan for a while and I’ve been needing something to keep my mind occupied on these long summer days.

The Mountain Goats are a California created but currently Durham-based band that have been making music since the mid 90s. John Darnielle, the band’s creator and front-man, is the life blood of The Mountain Goats and has, at times, been the only member.

“Love Love Love” from their 2005 album “The Sunset Tree” was my first introduction to The Mountain Goats back in 2019, and it’s been one of my favorite songs since. 

Since then, I had collected casual interest in some of their bigger songs like “No Children,” “This Year,” and “Going to Georgia.”

Throughout this project of listening to their discography, I’ve wondered: what is it that keeps their dedicated fanbase so hooked?

It could be several things, like John Darnielle’s crafty lyricism, or their genre-spanning sound or the continuity of themes and tropes throughout their discography.

But 11 albums in, I’ve found the quality of their music that keeps me hooked. John Darnielle’s ability to intertwine love and anger so closely; The Mountain Goats have written some of the most romantic songs and some of the most fury-inducing songs I’ve ever listened to.

The man who wrote “I am drowning / There is no sign of land / You are coming down with me / Hand in unlovable hand / And I hope you die / I hope we both die” in “No Children” also wrote “I loved you before I even ever knew what love was like” in “Hair Match.”

Darnielle illustrates the tender moments of love so wonderfully: “You felt shelter somewhere in me / I find great comfort in you / And I keep you safe from harm / You hold me in your arms” he writes in “Riches and Wonders.”

He also taps into a primal anger at times. In “Foreign Object” he sings “Sink my teeth into your scalp, take a nice big bite / Save nothing for the cameras, play the angles all night / One of these days my legs will both snap like twigs / If you can’t beat ’em make ’em bleed like pigs.” 

The Mountain Goats are a beast of their own kind, and I look forward to listening to the rest of their (rather lengthy) discography and finding where the hard exterior gives way to the tenderness.

Categories
Miscellaneous

“Survivor” and it’s Score

As of January of 2021, I am a fan of the reality TV show/ game show “Survivor.” I’ve watched about ⅔ of the 42 seasons and can’t seem to pry myself away from the forums, podcasts, and communities where fans discuss the abundance of content that CBS has provided in the form of “Survivor.”

There is a subset of “Survivor” fans who are really into the music that is used to score the episodes. In fact, there are communities of people who work really hard to source the music from the episodes, as the score isn’t uploaded anywhere and thus people have to edit out the voices of people talking over the music. 

A few months ago, I discovered the subreddit r/survivormusic. On this subreddit, people create, share, and consolidate the aforementioned score edits. Among this community, there is somewhat of a legend, a YouTube user by the name of survivorfan191. This user is known for having the best score edits in the community, but one fateful day several months ago, copyright struck down these videos and subsequently user survivorfan191 seemed to disappear. 

For a while, there was distress and disarray in the “Survivor” music community. Where had this user gone? Why were all of their videos suddenly gone? How else were they supposed to track down the edits survivorfan191 had created?

Then, around a month ago, they began reuploading past videos and even uploading content from the newest season of “Survivor.” Order had finally been restored to the “Survivor” music community, that survivor191 is carrying on their back.

I love these edits, they’re great study music and remind me of my favorite show. As all good music does, the score tells a story; I am eternally grateful to Russ Landau (the composer of the show’s theme song), the other talented musicians involved in the creation of the score of “Survivor”, and to survivorfan191 (along with other “Survivor” score editors) for allowing me and other fans to enjoy this music.

Until next time,

Caitlin