Blog Miscellaneous Playlists

WKNC’s Top Tracks, Artists, and Albums of 2023

Welcome to the 4th annual roundup of this series, where we asked WKNC’s DJs and Staff to submit their 3 favorite tracks, artists, and albums of 2023!

You can check out each staff member’s Spinitron through the link in their name, to see all their sets and all of the other music they’ve been playing on WKNC, as well as their Instagram or other contacts if they chose to link those.

As always, you can check out the playlist on our Spotify page.

*Denotes songs not available on Spotify.

Erie/valkerie; General Manager, DJ

  • Fever Ray – Carbon Dioxide
  • Tzusing – Balkanize
  • MarAxe – Demon
  • The National
  • Sylvan Esso
  • Setaoc Mass
  • Fever Ray – Radical Romantics
  • Tzusing – Green Hat
  • Snow Strippers – April Mixtape 3

Eilee/space cadet; Promotions Director, DJ

  • Kitchen – Fall
  • Car Colors – Old Death
  • Greg Mendez – Goodbye/Trouble
  • Kitchen
  • The Wrens
  • Wednesday
  • Kitchen – Breath Too Long
  • Wednesday – Rat Saw God
  • Greg Mendez – Greg Mendez

Isabella/BEL$; Daytime Music Director, DJ

  • MSPAINT – Titan of Hope
  • feeble little horse – Freak
  • Pinkshift – Lullaby
  • Joyce Manor
  • Sweet Pill
  • Turnstile
  • feeble little horse – Girl With Fish
  • Truth Club – Running the from Chase
  • MSPAINT – Post-American

William/dj bluegill; Underground Music Director, DJ

  • McKinley Dixon – Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!
  • Dana and Alden – Dragonfly
  • Sufjan Stevens – Will Anybody Ever Love Me?
  • Danny Brown
  • Yussef Dayes
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • McKinley Dixon – Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!
  • Yussef Dayes – Black Classical Music
  • Sufjan Stevens – Javelin

chalcopyrite; Assistant Afterhours Music Director, DJ

  • Material Girl (feat. Childboy) – Mikahel
  • lostrushi – INFINITUDE // UROBOROS
  • Oneohtrix Point Never – Plastic Antique
  • Naked Flames
  • Purity Filter
  • Frost Children
  • Kikuo – Kikuomiku 7
  • Poison Damage – KSA
  • lostrushi – SISTERHOOD

Maddie/cowball; DJ

  • Truth Club – It’s Time
  • Slow Pulp – Cramps
  • Laurel Halo – Belleville
  • Wednesday
  • Cindy Lee
  • Snow Strippers
  • Wednesday – Rat Saw God
  • Xiu Xiu – Ignore Grief
  • Laurel Halo – Atlas

Mason/DJ Crush; DJ

  • Jessie Ware – Begin Again
  • beabadoobee & Laufey – A Night To Remember
  • Chappell Roan – Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl
  • Florence + The Machine
  • Jessie Ware
  • Rina Sawayama
  • That! Feels Good!
  • The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess
  • This Is Why

Alex/DJ Sles; DJ

  • feeble little horse – steamroller
  • deux visages – cheetah
  • billy woods & kenny segal – Soundcheck
  • julie
  • blue smiley
  • Panchiko
  • feeble little horse – Girl With Fish
  • billy woods & kenny segal – Maps

Sleepyhead/Emi; DJ

  • Lucki – Super Ski
  • Pupil Slicer – The Song at Creations End
  • our eyes go blank tonight – Monster Reserve
  • Lucki
  • Pupil Slicer
  • Dying Wish
  • Lucki –
  • Pupil Slicer – Blossom
  • Dying Wish – Symptoms of Survival

Erik/Erik++; DJ

  • SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE – really happening
  • Läuten der Seele – Molch, Pfütze, Schilf & Stein
  • Yeat – Mysëlf
  • Spirit of the Beehive
  • Playboi Carti
  • Yeat
  • Spirit of the Beehive – I’m so lucky
  • Tara Clerkin Trio – On the turning ground
  • PinkPantheress – capable of love

DJ Hubcap; Board Op, DJ

  • McKinley Dixon – Live! from the Kitchen Table
  • 100 gecs – 757
  • Danny Brown feat. Bruiser Wolf – Y.B.P.
  • Fiona Apple
  • In Love With a Ghost
  • Kero Kero Bonito
  • Screaming Females – Desire Pathway
  • McKinley Dixon – Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!?

rensenware; DJ

  • Camellia – Tempo Katana
  • Camellia – Lost Technologie – Data Scraper (Long Version)
  • Hail the Sun – Mind Rider
  • Us, From Outside
  • Camellia
  • Goreshit
  • Goreshit, Lil Kevo 303 – X61
  • Camellia – Ashed Wings
  • Hail the Sun – Divine Inner Tension

Erin/Pink Milk; DJ

  • Aphex Twin – Blackbox Life Recorder 21f
  • Four Tet – Three Drums
  • Sluice – Fourth of July
  • Yo La Tengo
  • The Magnetic Fields
  • Bladee
  • Parannoul – After the Magic
  • Yo La Tengp – This Stupid World
  • Jeff Rosenstock – HELLMODE

Dante/Wizard of Gore; DJ

  • Odz Manouk – The Last Bastion of the Serpent’s Tongue*
  • Demoniac – La caída
  • Afterbirth – Angels Feast on Flies
  • Odz Manouk
  • Savage Oath
  • Infibulated
  • Odz Manouk – Bosoragazan (Բոսորագազան)
  • Demoniac – Nube negra
  • JPEGMAFIA x Danny Brown – Scaring the Hoes

Annabelle / DJ Big Anthony; DJ

  • Wednesday – Chosen to Deserve
  • Colin Miller – Off the Mountain
  • Lil Yachty – drive ME crazy!
  • Fugazi
  • Sunny Day Real Estate
  • Rick James
  • Lil Yachty – Let’s Start Here.
  • Indigo De Souza – All of This Will End

twerp; DJ

  • BeautyWorld – “Beautycore”*
  • desert sand feels warm at night & Mindspring Memories – “Eighty Four, Zero One”
  • greenhouse – “theriocide”*
  • hoverman
  • Pasocom Music Club
  • Windows 96
  • hoverman – “Wasting Man”
  • BeautyWorld – “Beautiful World”
  • greenhouse – “arc,regn”


  • Initiate – Waste Your Life
  • Jeff Rosenstock – HEAD
  • JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown – Run The Jewels
  • Circuit Circuit
  • Corrupt Vision
  • Soulkeeper
  • Initiate – Cereberal Circus
  • Jeff Rosenstock – HELLMODE

Ben; Blog Content Creator; DJ

  • Gonemage – Dream Surfing the Astral Corridors
  • Aesop Rock – Salt and Pepper Squid
  • Washer – Answer to Hell
  • Gonemage
  • Washer
  • Screaming Females
  • Rat Saw God
  • Celestial Invocation
  • Desire Pathway

Ezra Kinsch / Poncho Diego; DJ

  • Mutant Strain – “Words Fall”
  • Sheer Mag – “All Lined Up”
  • Electric Chair – “Fatal Disease Pt. II”
  • Van Halen
  • Dark Thoughts
  • Paint Fumes
  • Paint Fumes – Real Romancer
  • Electric Chair – Act of Agression
  • Mutant Strain – Murder of Crows

MJ; Blog Content Contributor

  • MIKE feat. El Cousteau, Niontay – Mussel Beach
  • King Krule feat. Raveena – Seagirl
  • bar italia – my little tony
  • MIKE
  • bar italia
  • King Krule
  • MIKE – Burning Desire
  • Yves Tumor – Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)
  • King Krule – Space Heavy

DJ Mithrax; DJ

  • KNOWER – I’m The President
  • Battle Tapes – One Night In Burbank
  • Red Vox – Almost A Stranger
  • GUM
  • Battle Tapes
  • GUM – Saturnia
  • Kane Parsons – Backrooms (Original Score), Vol. 2
  • Blur – The Ballad of Darren

Sarah/Scrimble; Board Op, DJ

  • 100 gecs – 757
  • Wednesday – Chosen to Deserve
  • Nicki Minaj – Red Ruby Da Sleeze
  • Tegan and Sara
  • Chappell Roan
  • Ice Spice
  • Chappell Roan – The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess
  • 100 gecs – 10,000 gecs
  • Lil Yachty – Let’s Start Here.

Auxymoron; DJ

  • underscores – “Locals (Girls like us) [with gabby start]”
  • Sufjan Stevens – “Sh*t Talk”
  • Spiritbox – “Cellar Door”
  • Jane Remover
  • Parannoul
  • Model/Actriz
  • underscores – “Wallsocket”
  • Dispirited Spirits – “The Redshift Blues”
  • 100 gecs – “10,000 gecs”

Kelly/ dj kellykares; DJ

  • Machine Girl, Special Interest – Concerning Peace
  • Bktherula – TATTI
  • Steve lacy
  • 100 gecs
  • Eartheater
  • Steve Lacy – APOLLO XXI
  • Rico Nasty – Las Ruinas
  • Death Grips – The Money Store

Reid/Rub.E; DJ

  • Full Body 2 – “nokia login”
  • Tanukichan & Enumclaw – “Thin Air”
  • BrokenTeeth – “138”
  • Cocteau Twins
  • All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors
  • Subsonic Eye
  • Full Body 2 – “infinity signature”
  • feeble little horse – “Girl with Fish”
  • Unrecovery – “It’s Agreed, My Willing Test”

Justin/JustinTime; DJ

  • Tyler, The Creator – “What a Day”
  • JPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown – “Jack Harlow Combo Meal”
  • Lil Yachty – “drive ME crazy!”
  • Jeff Buckley
  • Elliott Smith
  • Björk
  • JPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown – “Scaring The Hoes”
  • Lil Yachty – “Let’s Start Here.”
  • Black Country, New Road – “Live At Bush Hall”

sai <3 / dirty chai; DJ

  • Little Dragon and April + VISTA – Layers
  • Paradis
  • Khruangbin
  • Little Dragon – Slugs of Love

Zen/Zach; DJ

  • The Brook & The Bluff – “Bluebeard”
  • The South Hill Experiment – “Gabo’s Last Resort”
  • redveil – “captain”
  • The Brook & The Bluff
  • boygenius
  • Daft Punk
  • boygenius – The Record
  • Billy Woods – Maps

Ewan/Eweecorn; DJ

  • Maebi – The Lobotomy
  • Rumskib – Troløs blomst
  • boggio and Key After Key – SENSORY OVERLOAD
  • The Shins
  • Spellcasting
  • Jason Falkner
  • The New Pornographers – Continue as a Guest
  • Maebi – Saudade

johnny ghost; DJ

  • DADDY LONG LEGS – “Street Sermon”
  • Low Cut Connie – “WHIPS AND CHAINS”
  • Miranda and the Beat – “Concrete”
  • Warren Zevon
  • Townes Van Zandt
  • Bob Dylan
  • DADDY LONG LEGS – Street Sermons
  • Low Cut Connie – ART DEALERS
  • The Nude Party – Rides On
Blog Concert Review

Boy Harsher Concert Review

When I saw that Boy Harsher was coming to Cat’s Cradle it felt surreal, like there’s no way that band was coming to that venue at this time. For the uninitiated, Boy Harsher is a darkwave artist, sort of on the edge of post-punk and electronic, and darkwave is a genre that I have been essentially submerged in this whole semester. Seeing one of my favorite darkwave bands in my favorite venue felt too good to be true, but no, it happened and it was awesome.

The opening acts did what all great opening acts should: got us moving and excited for what was to come while also leaving their mark on the show. Durham’s Permanent was someone I had wanted to see for awhile as they were at some shows I was really close to attending but couldn’t quite make, and they certainly lived up to the hype. As it was an opening act the crowd sadly wasn’t as energetic as they would be later which was a shame as Permanent really was going hard, with somewhat dissonant and chaotic synths that still came together with the drums to create an extremely danceable set. 

Club Music, the second opener, kept the energy levels up and I liked the order because they felt like the perfect hybrid between Permanent and Boy Harsher, definitely bringing some darkwave as well as some traditional sounding, well, club music. They played on despite being on crutches and even incorporated it into the show by raising it in the air like they were leading a cavalry charge during some of the more powerful moments.

Then Boy Harsher was on, their arrival announced by completely filling the stage with smoke to the point where it (almost) concealed a guy’s vape in the front row. And through the murkiness came the first of many exquisite synth lines of their set. Vibes took center stage here, with an emphasis on echoey vocals and the feeling they imparted. The absolute peak of the show was this one ~30 second part where lead singer Jae Matthews kneeled and repeatedly screamed over almost ritualistic pounding drums in an incredibly memorable and bizarre sequence that captured what makes Boy Harsher so fun to listen to: taking sounds straight out of 80s synthpop and twisting them into something intriguing and sinister. 

Joining Matthews onstage was the other half of Boy Harsher, Augustus Miller, who in addition to working various synths and MIDI controllers had a really cool electronic drum pad that he would occasionally turn to. Drums featured heavily in all of the songs but he would pull out the drum pad for specific moments when another dimension was needed such as the aforementioned ritualistic pounding, and the live performance of the drum in the middle of all these other electronic instruments was a great touch. Their chemistry was awesome, with their movements often synchronized and there were many moments where they just let the instrumental play while dancing.

While I knew I was going to like this show, I didn’t know going in that it would end up being one of my favorites I’ve been to yet. There was just something about the hypnotic way the evening rolled out, nonstop pounding drums and interesting melodies that combined with some amazing lighting choices (every show needs horizontally spinning lights from now on) truly made this an evening to remember.


New Album Review

“Billions” by Caroline Polacheck Review

Caroline Polacheck has had a year. After years of releasing quality yet underappreciated work, carryover support from her first solo album “Pang” and the success of single “Bunny is a Rider” has built into a hype train with a head of steam. It’s well deserved too, almost every song she has released since leaving synthpop duo Chairlift has been an absolute banger that plays into pop conventions while also having a very distinctive voice and musical language.

“Billions”, a two-song single, slightly lacks some of the immediacy and punchiness of her best solo work but carries over her unique pairing of swing-for-the-fences maximalist vocals with minimal, haunting production which both adds value with fun motifs and knows when to get out of the way and let Caroline loose on the mic. Titular track “Billions” highlights a lot of these strengths, drawing memorable moments from unconventional methods, such as a hook where she stutters through “say, say say say something to me” which comes after mentioning “the pearl of the oyster” almost in non-sequitur. Unique word choices are a key strength of Caroline’s music, earlier in the track “salted flavor” is given an entire line in the verse to impart a lot of imagery and visceral feelings from just a couple of words, and this use of hyperspecificity with words that have a very particular association with them really makes the short verses feel much longer and more resonant. There’s a strong contrast from the first minute or so of the song, which steps back and lets Caroline do her thing, to the back end that lays down the rhythmic chanting and forceful production, creating a cool flow across the entire song to accentuate the individual moments.

“Long Road Home” is maybe the more straightforward of the two, atop a glittering backbeat with a fun drumline that makes the perfect soundstage for emotional howls and a delivery that stretches lines out to add significance. There’s a powerful violin line that keeps things moving which lets those haunting moments not also slow the pace down to a crawl, an ideal happy medium for songs structured to provide a lot of impact in not a lot of time.

“Billions” was a release I was massively anticipating, and it certainly delivered. It’s definitely not just more of 2019 Caroline Polacheck, and I’m glad that’s the case, I never want an artist to stagnate and just try to copy what worked before. This is 2022 Caroline Polacheck, maybe a bit more experimental and slower but just as incisive and, above all else, fun to listen to.


Blog New Album Review

“Year Of The Snake” by Softcult EP Review

“Year Of The Snake” has been a long time coming. The first single, “Spit It Out”, was released in July 2021 and the other singles have trickled out since then, building anticipation for the final product that was released on February 4, 2022. And while all of the singles are individually brilliant, hearing them in one coherent order with the flow the artist intended really highlights the sonic intention behind every line.

The energy of the tracks is probably my favorite part. There’s an extremely fine line where music is able to sound effortless and be drowning in feedback-laden guitars without also sounding bored and laconic, and Softcult spends the 6-song EP dancing on that line. Verses are often broken up by instrumental sections creating a disjointed structure that adds to the nervous excitement that defines “Year Of The Snake.” Album highlight “House Of Mirrors” uses a very call and response setup for the chorus – “Who knows? Who cares? (It hurts to see the truth)” before quickly bleeding into the next verse, and both of those were propelled by the staccato guitar solo that happened before it.

Lyrics are also a crucial part of the world Softcult builds on this EP. Lead singer Mercedes Arn-Horn puts a lot of emphasis on vocal deliveries that approach shouting, which sounds really cool over the instrumental, but pay attention to what she’s saying and the songwriting is just as interesting, with lots of clever wordplay that fleshes out the characters and events depicted. “Looking back at a face, barely recognize you // But the eyes are a shade of the same perfect blue //I watched you change into someone new // Saw it all degrade into deja vu” off the track “Perfect Blue” is an entire emotional arc, and this is the chorus, this attention to detail and straightforward yet intriguing method of building imagery in the mind of the listener.

When I listen to music, I imagine a void, a corner of deep space, and the song fills that void with something; a guitar line so memorable I can picture the artist playing it or a moment of songwriting clarity that paints a mental picture. Softcult embraces this darkness and blends perfectly into the void, with instrumentation that is often minimal in scope but feels expansive and evocative, drawing you in alongside the songs about conflict and danger, a film noir made of sound that would make Hitchcock proud.


Blog New Album Review

“We” by Mythless EP Review

I’ve noticed that in a lot of the album reviews I’ve done in the past few months I’ve made one specific observation: the lack of a verse-chorus-verse structure. I bring this up whenever I get the chance because it’s usually associated with a more experimental presentation that I notice and appreciate, but by now I’ve probably reviewed more albums that don’t adhere to this standard songwriting practice than do. So strap in as I talk about yet another structurally experimental release, this drone metal EP by Mythless.

Confession: Metal music isn’t one of my areas of expertise, and I had never intentionally listened to a drone metal project before so I didn’t really know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find a very restrained, emotive group of songs, kind of like a souped up Animal Collective sound. Opening track “Dreadless” kicks things off with a frenetic drumbeat and soft keys to propel things forward slowly, for me this was the weakest off the project because it had this one annoying piano line that kept popping up but the rest of the track was quite good; the vocals have a very intriguing cadence that says as much as the lyrics behind them and the way the drum patterns combine to elevate the song.

It only gets better from there, with closing track Glossless being a particular highlight. It has the slow, characteristic buildup of drone but with a driving pace and exciting horns that propel the track forward in a unique and fun way. The chanting vocals suit this instrumental style perfectly and the unceasing motion of the track makes every line feel like a powerful mantra which is the kind of maximalist vibe that I want to see out of this type of freeform, emotionally charged music.

Drone and its various forms has always felt somewhat unapproachable to me, as I got into music through vocal-focused indie rock and this is structurally different in almost every way. But if you’re like me and want to dip your toe into drone music but don’t know where to start, “We” is a pretty great place to begin, it’s accessible and almost like the pop of ambient music where it takes concepts that are definitely unique to the genre and packages them into short bursts of enjoyment. I know I have a long way to go and that this is a genre I’m by no means an expert on, but I know a good EP when I hear one and this definitely fits the bill.


Blog Music Education

Should We Judge An Album By Its Cover?

While CDs are definitely falling out of favor in our general listening habits, WKNC still receives a healthy amount of CDs, of which the album cover quality tends to…vary substantially. I was just informed I had a mailbox and have begun logging all of my submissions, and a piece of advice I received was that most of the time, you could look at an album cover and not bother listening to it. This was interesting to me, someone who got into music in the streaming era when the album cover is just something in the corner of the screen, but when new favorites were found in record store racks the album cover was basically the only window into what the experience would be.

In particular, the inspiration for this blog was the album “Meatcup Just Snack” by Noodle Muffin. Now, with all due respect to Noodle Muffin, this cover is genuinely hard to look at and, while it did certainly make me curious as to how the music would relate to the weirdly Photoshopped teacup full of meat (that’s a sentence), I would still definitely come in with some negative biases.

But why is that? I like to explore the weirder areas of music, what should an album cover have to do with why I would choose one album over another, or wouldn’t that be enticing for a cover to be as weird as possible. Well, to me there are different kinds of weird, and the kind I like the most is an artistically focused weird. A cover with someone’s severed head framed in stylistic lighting is weird but in a cool, evocative way, while a bad photoshop is, well, a bad photoshop. It’s like if there is a certain level of professionalism in the cover, that will be reflected in the quality of production. Noise pop can sound distorted and intentionally dense on a structural level, but when it’s good there’s a level of care and passion that can be felt through all of that.

I ended up looking into Noodle Muffin and found that the cover might have been more intentional than I initially thought. They’re a band that employs crass humor to craft their songs and are very heavily targeted towards the college radio crowd. Interestingly, despite the surreal nature of the album, I didn’t guess that, something about it told me it was a failure of intention rather than a deliberate aesthetic choice. And after actually listening to the album, it’s genuinely well produced, the band has been around for a decade and knows how to put a track together. I judged an album based on a cover and missed. I guess my punishment is opening more mail.


Blog Miscellaneous

The Music of “Ted Lasso”

At the beginning of 2022, I opened my iPhone to be treated with a surprise: 3 free months of Apple TV+. While that came as a welcome surprise, I didn’t really know what was good on the platform, with the only name I had heard of being “Ted Lasso.” I gave it a shot and was rewarded with a uniquely charming, funny, and engaging show that also had, and this is relevant for WKNC blog readers, a killer soundtrack.

Pop culture references are the language the show is built on, and there are often mentions of artists by the characters such as Elton John and Robbie Williams. It’s definitely populist, often using tracks that it expects the audience to be familiar with. A moment where lifelong fans of soccer team Richmond AFC finally getting to stand on the field has Queen’s “We Are The Champions” playing triumphantly over it, while the titular character enters England to “God Save The Queen” by Sex Pistols. It’s clearly a very expensive show and casually flexing songs from that caliber of artist adds to the production value. 

And in my opinion at least it does it well; when a lot of shows use really obvious musical cues it feels like a symptom of poor writing and a cheap emotional play, but “Ted Lasso” strikes this interesting balance where it uses familiar songs as a way to bring everyone to the party in a way. It’s like how when you’re at a club, super popular songs you would never admit to listening to on your own time become danceable bangers just because you’ve heard them before. There’s a particular episode where “Never Gonna Give You Up” is used as a plot point, and how a connection to that song helps a character overcome grief, taking what is a very played out song by this point and adding emotional resonance to it.

One other way I thought songs were used in an obvious but creative way is through very on the nose lyrical choices. The line “strangers to friends, friends into lovers” is sung over a quasi-montage of two characters going through that exact arc, while Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally)” plays over, naturally, a character being alone again. This is a technique that always results in cringe, and yet although it’s maybe one of the weaker elements of the show, it genuinely works with “Ted Lasso” in a way I rarely see. Maybe it’s because those songs are often slow and subtle so it’s not very in your face, but I think it’s more of a tonal phenomenon: the show is wholesome in a way where obvious gestures add to the appeal. That’s why I wanted to talk about it today, it’s a wholly unique experience even at the sonic level and I’m really glad it’s been seeing the awards success and viewership that it has been getting. Season 3 is set to start filming soon and it’s probably my most anticipated show right now. And of course I can’t wait to hear it as well, with inspired song choices and musical motifs being such a cornerstone of the experience.


New Album Review

Album Review: “Last Room” by waveform*

For me, the year tends to start pretty slow musically, with a few months passing by before I find albums I really connect to. In 2022 though, I didn’t make it out of January without finding some absolute bangers. Last week it was “Multiverse” by Reptaliens, and now I found myself loving “Last Room” by waveform* (the asterisk is very important). While this technically came out on Bandcamp in 2020, it’s just now hitting other streaming services and is a great spin for any fan of slower indie rock.

The indie rock sensibilities are immediately apparent on opening track Favorite Song, which features a methodical strum with an emotive downbeat, melting into longing vocal harmonies. “I can’t wait to see you tomorrow” and “I’m getting tired of being alone” are plaintive expressions heard throughout the annals of indie rock but there’s a reason for the universality, when over the right plucked chords and delivered as well as they are here, it always manages to resonate.

The highlights keep coming, “Shooting Star” is a particular favorite, with an wistful yet upbeat chorus over lines like “I want to bleed from the inside” making an interesting contrast in tone that is in some ways more impactful than if everything were gloomy. It, like most tracks on the album, is characterized by a disconnect from one’s surroundings, a longing for something that is at once already here and that never existed. Waveform* wield this ennui expertly and bring it out through individual evocative images (“I want to cut your hair”) that at once mean nothing yet say everything they need to.

“Last Room” is a comfort album, which is weird to say as it isn’t the happiest of listens. But it hits that sweet spot of indie rock cliches that are executed to near perfection. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but instead smoothing the edges to make one hell of a ride.


New Album Review

Track Review: “Love is Violence” by Alice Glass

Catharsis is one of the most powerful emotions that can be communicated through music, as it is a very multilayered feeling. There is the empowerment and triumph that comes along with it, but also the place the catharsis has to come out of, the vulnerability and toil that leads to the singular victory that is catharsis. Alice Glass’s solo career has been defined by this, reaching to the absolute darkest places of human experience to craft explosive bangers that resonate because of their authenticity as much as their craft.

Love is Violence” doesn’t take very long to bring the energy. From the first second of the song screaming vocals come in with a short verse filled with primal imagery, “you taste of rotten meat // sips of spoiled milk” is the first line. Alice Glass’ line delivery has always been very direct, not by screaming as loud as some metal bands but by being able to pack a lot of complex feelings into every yell that acts as a courier for the lyrical themes as well. As the song progresses, the relationship between the central characters unfolds, it’s clearly abusive and taking a toll on the protagonist who is desperate for some outlet for her frustrations: “I don’t want to think // I need to kill”. In tapping into very basic and fundamental emotions, Glass creates a universality while offering a powerfully obvious presentation of what she and the character in the song are feeling.

All of this is conveyed on top of suitably thrilling instrumentals. When the track goes hard the bass goes harder, with powerful kicks accompanying spurts of furious hi-hats to keep up with the speed of the vocal delivery, and when the track goes contemplative there is a simple synth line in the background, comparatively calming but still building towards the next outburst. The quiet is often placed right beside the ferocious to create a contrast that’s both thematic and memorable.

If you get a chance, definitely check out the music video but maybe don’t watch it while eating like I did. It cuts back and forth between two people watching an Alice Glass video and disemboweling each other, all shown in excruciating detail to hammer home her themes of pain in a relationship.

Alice Glass’ debut album, “Prey//IV” is set to release on February 16 and it’s definitely my most anticipated album of the early part of 2022. Part of the anticipation is due to her career trajectory; she left her previous band, Crystal Castles, in 2014 but has taken a long time to heal from the trauma she experienced while a part of it, which has come up in the singles and EP she released since then as well as the statement on the homepage of her website (trigger warning, this gets really heavy). If she feels she’s ready to release an album now, then I’m both very happy she feels she’s at the right place mentally to make more music and also excited for what that means in terms of the music being released.


Classic Album Review

Classic Album Review: “A Life of Crime” by Office Culture

When making a story-focused album, especially a soft rock one where the instrumentals drop back to let the vocals take command, there are a lot of directions one can take to evoke emotion with listeners. There are many archetypes that songwriters will often fall back on, but a highly scheduled corporate life isn’t a typical one. Thankfully Office Culture proves there is a ghost in the machine with a beautiful album that sneaks up on you with its charm.

“Monkey Bone”, the closing track and my favorite on the album, exemplifies what I love about the project. There are explicit references to climbing the corporate ladder, the distrust and betrayal that comes in competitive settings, and a lot of the mundanity of the life within these structures, but the chorus is this cathartic release of emotion, the capturing of a single untainted moment “in the pale moonlight.” This juxtaposition of a very classic natural description to elicit emotion with the rest of the song heightens the effect, along with how it’s presented within the rest of the song, coming suddenly at the end of verses to feel that much more intertwined with the overall narrative.

Of course there are other highlights. “Hard Times in the City” is maybe the sweetest depiction of a stock market crash in music history, the falsetto and over-enunciation of “calculations” acting as a defense mechanism to conceal a quiet terror felt by everyone impacted. And “Diamonds” takes a different approach with relatively abrasive horns and emotional growls detailing how material goals affect relationships; the unsettling swirl of instruments fitting an angry yet resigned response to this phenomenon.

One unifying strength is the playful, understated instrumentals. The guitars pave a winding road for the lyrics to walk down, the little hi-hats and soft taps combined with a smooth piano on songs like “Too Many” present this very classy, elevator music ambiance for the stories being told, kind of like creating a corporate party atmosphere to talk about corporate life.

This album isn’t an instant, critically lauded classic, but it’s the kind of album that almost wouldn’t want to be. Along with the chill and lowkey instrumentals, the album’s relative obscurity almost adds to the experience, if this was a super popular project it wouldn’t achieve this underdog feeling it imparts. It’s a textbook hidden gem.