Categories
Miscellaneous

The Book Nook Pt. 1

If you look inside my closet right now, I have three full shelves dedicated to my collection of books, records and magazines. I know this doesn’t sound like a lot, but my closet only has four shelves total. Meanwhile, my clothes are haphazardly shoved into the remaining drawer and crammed onto coathangers.

I’ve invested a lot of time, energy and, to be frank, money into my little library. As I was reorganizing it last week, it seemed a shame that it was banished to the inside of my closet, never to reach the light of day. That’s why I decided to start this little series on my favorite books that I’ve collected over the years. Since most of them are music-related, I figured the WKNC blog would be the perfect place to do it. Without further ado, here’s this week’s installment of The Book Nook:

Book: Crossroads—The Experience Music Project Collection

Date Published: 2000

Rating: 9/10

Summary: Described as a “time capsule” by the Experience Music Project’s (now known as the Museum of Pop Culture) Director of Curatorial and Collections, Chris Bruce, this fantastic coffee table book is a glimpse into the history of modern pop music that defined cultural movements. The Experience Music Project was originally founded by Microsoft Co-Owner Paul Allen in 2000 as a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. His success at Microsoft along with his passion for classic rock allowed him to acquire an amazing collection of rock n’ roll memorabilia. This book is a compilation of essays written by the Experience team and photos of the most notable memorabilia the Experience has to offer. From the birth of rock in the 50s to the emergence of hip-hop in the 80s, “Crossroads” catalogs pop music in a fascinating way. Now, the Experience Music Project is known as the Museum of Pop Culture, and its exhibitions range from sci-fi movies to rare audio recordings of famous musicians throughout time.

Best Part: “Crossroads” first captured my attention when I saw Jimi Hendrix’s lyrics to “Belly Button Window” scrawled over the front cover in his signature messy handwriting. The third chapter, which is dedicated to Hendrix specifically, has to be the best part. After flipping through the pages, I was immediately hooked. I’m such a geek for anything Jimi Hendrix, and they dedicate a huge portion of the book to showcasing his many guitars, outfits and writing samples. Not only are the photos impeccably arranged, but also thoughtfully paired with informative essays.

Choice Photos:

From the chapter, “New Day Rising: Punk and the Birth of Alternative Rock”
From the chapter “Northwest Passage: All Roads Lead to the Mountains, All Driveways Lead to the Garage”
From the chapter “Experiencing Hendrix: Two Curators on the Meaning of Jimi to Experience Music Project, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Modern Culture”

Happy reading,

DJ Butter

Categories
Playlists

Top 10 Tyler, the Creator Tracks

If you haven’t listened to “Call Me if You Get Lost” yet, then what are you doing? Close your computer, pop those earbuds in and give Tyler the undivided attention he deserves. When you’re done you can come back and read this blog. I promise we won’t get mad at you.

It’s been honestly so wonderful to see how much Tyler, the Creator has grown as an artist since his debut in 2007. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve been a ride-or-die fan throughout his whole career, especially that first album, but his arc as a producer, art director, rapper and all-around icon has truly done a full 180.

His discography is so rich and extensive that it makes it difficult to rank, but I’ll try my best. In honor of his newest album, here’s a look back at some of my favorite tracks from Mr. Baudelaire himself:

1. SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE – Call Me if You Get Lost
This track is by far my favorite from “Call Me if You Get Lost.” At nearly ten minutes long, it’s a relaxing, rollercoaster ride of a song. Tyler himself has expressed how much he loved creating it. From Bossa Nova-type beats to steady lyrical flows, it’s impossible to listen without feeling the heart behind it.

2. OKAGA, CA – Cherry Bomb
Another soft, romantic ballad, “OKAGA, CA” is the best kind of song to share with your lover. The lyrics alone make this is my favorite song off “Cherry Bomb,” but his use of synths and layering take it to a whole different level.

3. November – Flower Boy
I could listen to this song a million times over again, and honestly, I probably have. Tyler’s ability to communicate seemingly incommunicable feelings through music is evident in “November.” His use of poetic lyrics, snippets from conversations, and beat switches creates such an atmospheric, nostalgic song.

4. She – Goblin
Being one of the few soft songs from his first album, this one is an obvious favorite for most Tyler, the Creator fans. Frank Ocean is a constant feature in his discography, but he really stands out on this track.

5. PartyIsn’tOver/Campfire/Bimmer – Wolf
“Wolf” seemed to be a real turning point for Tyler, as his songs started to move away from the ferocity of “Goblin” and into something a bit softer. This three-part song is full of his signature dark yet almost childlike humor. “Campfire” especially is reminiscent of some sort of twisted Boyscout trip.

6. PUPPET – IGOR
“IGOR” is such an interesting album for so many reasons, but this song really struck me. The melancholy nature of it is a fantastic mixture of heartbreaking and sentimental.

7. 2SEATER – Cherry Bomb
Another gem from “Cherry Bomb,” this is one of the first Tyler, the Creator songs I ever heard (besides “Yonkers”). I was amazed by its softness and romantic nature.

8. Treehome95 – Wolf
If Erykah Badu’s feature isn’t enough to make you want to listen to “Treehome95,” I don’t know what is. That’s all.

9. I THINK – IGOR
This high-energy song is a wonderful little ode to real love and deep feeling. The lyrics “I think I’m falling in love, this time I think it’s for real” echo throughout the entire track, making it both heartwarming and energetic.

10. WILSHIRE – Call Me if You Get Lost

“WILSHIRE,” a simple track that sounds like a freestyle more than anything, is chock-full of raw emotion. Tyler narrates the story that he had been alluding to throughout the album, one of heartbreak, rejection and love. Though it lacks his signature complex production style, the depth of his lyrics is enough to make this one of the best songs from “Call Me if You Get Lost.”

Happy listening,

DJ Butter

Categories
Playlists

Proto-metal Starter Kit

If you’ve kept up with my blog posts, it’s pretty obvious how obsessed with the 1970s I am — the fashion, the design trends, the hairstyles (can I get a cheer for shags anyone?), but most of all, the music.

Though hard rock was born in the ’60s, it truly reached its peak in the early ’70s. These two decades both proved how music and current events were deeply connected. Mainstream America was starting to become more and more cynical surrounding our involvement in the Vietnam War. There was a massive sense of government distrust, especially among younger people. The flower-child, happy-go-lucky, swingin’ 60s were over, and a rawer, more honest cultural movement slowly took its place. This change was very much so reflected in the music that came out of the early to mid-’70s. Rock shifted into something heavier and darker. Heavy blues were mixed with psychedelia, down-tuned guitars and leather. Hence, proto-metal was born.

Now you might immediately jump to thinking of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple when you hear the words “early metal,” but there were tons of lesser-known groups experimenting with heavy rock around the same time. There’s a lot to sift through (and not all of it is that great), so that’s why I’ve laid out some of my favorite proto-metal tracks, both mainstream and underground:

The Obvious Picks:

1. Communication Breakdown – Led Zeppelin

2. Sweet Leaf – Black Sabbath

3. The Ostrich – Steppenwolf

4. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida – Iron Butterfly

5. Rock Me Baby – Blue Cheer

6. Into the Void – Black Sabbath

7. Black Night – Deep Purple

8. Freelance Fiend – Leaf Hound

9. One of These Days – Ten Years After

10. Master Heartache – Sir Lord Baltimore

Lesser-Known Gems

1. Guts – Budgie

2. Lions, Christians – Bang

3. Toxic Shadows – Lucifer’s Friend

4. Magic Potion – The Open Mind

5. Chocolate Piano – Orangutan

6. Long Tall Sally – Cactus

8. Plastic Man – Bodkin

9. MOTHER GREASE THE CAT – Ancient Grease

10. Hunter’s Moon – Yesterday’s Children

Enjoy the thrash,

DJ Butter

Categories
Concert Preview

Concerts We’re Looking Forward To

I could not be more excited (though albeit a little anxious) to get back into concert season. Even though I think it’s going to take a hot minute for me personally to feel comfortable enough to be squeezed up against hundreds of sweaty strangers, it’s nice to know that live music is slowly creeping its way back. Here are some of the concerts I’m looking forward to most, all within the Triangle area:

1. Japanese Breakfast

Date: July 26

Venue: Cat’s Cradle

The Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill really has an incredible lineup of concerts for this summer and fall. If you’ve been paying attention to our weekly charts, Japanese Breakfast has been at number one for the past two weeks, and for good reason. Her new album, “Jubilee,” is a work of experimental, indie-pop magic. The intimacy of the Cradle will only enhance the beauty of her discography.

2. Dead and Company

Date: August 13

Venue: Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek

Even though Jerry Garcia isn’t around to bless us with his sweet turtle face and otherwordly guitar skills, it’s pretty incredible that the Grateful Dead (and guests) are still touring. You’ll find all kinds at a Dead & Co show: ageing hippies, dad rockers, new age yogis and pretty much everything in between. I consider myself to have a little bit of all those personalities, so you can bet I’ll be there.

3. Jack Harlow

Date: September 14

Venue: The Ritz

The Ritz is one of my favorite venues in Raleigh. Any place that’s just one giant pit is absolute gold to me. There’s no doubt that seeing Jack Harlow in a place like that will result in some moshing injuries, but it’ll definetely be worth it.

4. Crumb

Date: October 16

Venue: Cat’s Cradle

Another gem at the Cradle. Crumb, best known for their hit single “Locket,” is one of the mellowest, most psychotropic bands on the indie scene today. If you’re interested in hearing more about them, DJ Psyched just did an interview with them last month on their newest album, “Ice Melt.”

5. Khruangbin

Date: October 23

Venue: Red Hat Amphitheater

This has to be the show that I’m most excited about. Khruangbin has been one of my favorite bands for the past couple of years, and seeing the trio at Red Hat will be even better. That’s where I experienced my first concert (Cage the Elephant in 2013), and I still feel that good energy every time I go there. The combination of their lo-fi psychedelia and the spacious lawn at Red Hat will make for a perfect concert experience.

I know it’ll be a little scary at first to get back into seeing live music, and I truly encourage everyone to stick to their comfort level. Some have already jumped back in, but I think it’s important to engage in big group activities like that at your own pace. Even though North Carolina is starting to open up again, there’s no shame in waiting for some of those later concerts to roll around.

Happy listening,

DJ Butter

Categories
New Album Review

Tyler, The Creator Returns with “Lumberjack”

The day has finally arrived. Since “IGOR” dropped in early 2019, Tyler, the Creator fans have been itching for a new album. “IGOR” will always have a special place in my heart because it was the soundtrack to a really lovely time in my life, but I couldn’t be more excited to see what he’s been cooking up.

Sure, we haven’t been completely left in the dark. Tyler released several singles over the past two years, including “Best Interest,” “Group B” and “Tell Me How,” his playful track made for a Coca-Cola commercial. It was only a matter of time before he returned with his usual gusto, full-length album in hand. After releasing a teaser video on June 14, his new single, “Lumberjack” followed shortly after. It’s filled with his classic production style: quick beats, bright yet ominous synths, and that unmistakable baritone voice. “Lumberjack” has more of an old-school feel than “IGOR,” playing off the sounds of early hip-hop.

The music video that accompanies the track has all the delight of Tyler’s impeccable visual taste. Though it’s short at only a minute and 18 seconds long, his trademark humor, artistic originality and incredible fashion taste are all present in a way that highlights the mood of “Lumberjack” perfectly.

After the “Lumberjack’s” release, Tyler officially announced that the full album, titled “Call Me If You Get Lost,” will be released on Friday, June 25. Each of his albums sounds so different in a way that really shows how he’s grown as a rapper and producer over his 10-year-long career. For now, we can only speculate what his sixth studio album will sound like, but don’t doubt that it will be full of his usual goodness.

Categories
Music Education

Why Independent Radio Matters

There’s nothing like turning on the radio and hearing one of your favorite songs, especially if said song is not a Top 40 hit or “Highway to Hell,” which for some reason seems to be the song that every commercial rock station loves to air every ten minutes. No wonder we turned to other ways of finding new music. It’s pretty hard to discover fresh artists when the same handful have been played on repeat since 1975.

Steaming services have completely dismantled and redefined the music industry. I wrote a blog about this phenomenon a while back, but algorithms have changed the way we pay artists, listen to music and even write songs. With thousands of curated playlists at the tips of our fingers, it’s beyond easy to find new music nowadays. But where’s the human aspect? That lovely, warm feeling of requesting a track and then hearing it played for thousands of people is impossible to recreate on Spotify. Heck, that feeling is why I decided to become a DJ at WKNC (and why I love getting phone-in requests during my show).

Independent radio has an incredibly rich history. WKNC (then WLAC) started in 1922 as an experiment in NC State’s Communications department. From there, it’s morphed into a hub of community engagement and one of the only public sources of alternative music in the Triangle. Other college radio stations, such as KALX 90.7 for the University of California and Ithaca’s WICB 91.7, have had similar impacts in their own communities. Non-commercial stations that aren’t affiliated with a college or university still remain popular, some of the most notable being those with NPR programming.

Although, when it comes to music, indie radio has seen a significant decline. Stations to the left of the dial are commercial, and most likely owned by one of the major broadcasting companies, such as iHeartMedia or Entercom. These for-profit stations air commercials very frequently and generally stick to playing Top 40 and classics, pandering to the widest audience possible to increase listenership. Many of these stations have forgone live DJs and opted for customized, pre-recorded air breaks instead to cut costs. Turning on the radio doesn’t really feel like turning on the radio anymore. What’s the point of listening to the same songs over and over (with commercials breaks at that), if that personal, human feeling is lost? These types of stations threaten the beauty of radio as we know it.

WKNC has remained one of the most popular stations in the Triangle because we’re keeping the ridiculous, unique fun of independent radio alive. Yes, you may tune in and hear a new (or experienced) DJ fumbling over their words. There might be random, brief silences when someone forgets to turn the “aux” button on. And yet, we all come together for the music. Never mind hearing the same song twice in one day, it’s almost impossible to hear the same song twice in one week. Each DJ is unique in their style and truly takes pride in their sets. We’re a random, silly hodgepodge of alt college kids, but you’ll always find something new on 88.1.

Categories
New Album Review

New Album Review: Delta Kream by The Black Keys

If you’re like me, you despised “Let’s Rock,” The Black Keys’ most recent album behind “Delta Kream.” It lacked all the gritty, garage blues of their previous releases, and seemed to indicate that the rock duo was moving closer and closer to pop. Needless to say, I was not necessarily looking forward to listening to “Delta Kream,” thinking it would be comprised of the same kind of stuff.

Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. “Delta Kream” could not be more different than their previous album. It’s a magnificent homage to the Mississippi Delta blues that Patrick Carney (drums) and Dan Auerbach (voice & guitar) drew their original musical inspiration from. Comprised of covers from classic artists like R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and Johnny Lee Hooker, it’s a masterpiece of slow, crawling blues. In fact, Burnside’s bassist (Eric Deacon) and Kimbrough’s slide guitarist (Kenny Brown) play alongside the duo throughout the entire album.

Recorded in just ten hours at Auerbach’s Nashville studio, it has the spontaneous energy of a jam session, rather than a meticulous, drawn-out album. Studio chatter and little mistakes fill the gaps between songs, reminiscent of a true rock ‘n roll spirit. You can tell that there were no rehearsals and little planning, just a group of amazing musicians coming together. Nevertheless, each song is incredibly nuanced. The addition of Deacon and Brown creates a sound that is wonderfully layered and free-flowing, unlike the usual hard-hitting simplicity of the Black Keys’ work. Though I’m a real sucker for their original sound, “Delta Kream” is a refreshing pull in a new, yet classic, direction.

Some would argue that there’s not much variation between the songs, but it is a tried and true tribute to country blues. Many of the tracks are classics that have been covered and re-covered for decades. Originally performed by Big Joe Williams (but made famous by Johnny Lee Hooker) “Crawling Kingsnake” is made into a muddy, six-minute-long jam, contrasting the twangy ’60s rock version by The Doors. “Going Down South,” a Burnside track, stands out with a rare falsetto appearance from Auerbach and some truly amazing sliding guitar work.

You can really sense how passionate Carney and Auberach are about country blues, especially the work of Junior Kimbrough. Their 2006 album “Chulahoma” is comprised entirely of his work, and “Delta Kream” is nearly the same. The song “Do the Romp,” one of Kimbrough’s originals, also appeared on The Black Keys’ first album. It’s incredible to hear the difference in their style and how they’ve matured after nearly two decades of fame.

Yes, better covers of the songs in “Delta Kream” exist. It is certainly not the best blues album in the world, but The Black Keys’ spirit and passion is tangible. It’s clear that their hearts lie with country blues, and they sure are good at it.

Categories
Classic Album Review

Retro Review: Funkadelic

As the British-blues-flower-child era came to a close, new sounds filled its place: heavy rock, funk, soul, metal. The music that arose in the early ’70s was filled with a raunchier sort of angst that left the doo-woppers of the ’60s to cower in their flower crowns. Psychedelia would still reign supreme, but it became twinged with a glamorous grit.

Funkadelic’s debut album encapsulates this transition perfectly.

Having been a part of the Parliaments, a Motown group, George Clinton found himself at a crossroads. His talent still lay in classic Motown, but psychedelics and hard rock were calling to his spirit. After breaking from the Parliaments, (which would later become Parliament, Funkadelic’s sister band) Clinton brought together a new group of musicians. Thus, Funkadelic was born.

Their first album is an incredible mishmash of soul, funk, classic country blues and acid trips. The opening track, “Mommy, What’s A Funkadelic?” is an ode to the sultry nature of funk itself. Clinton’s voice, as well as several other “funkadelics”, can be heard crooning over a slow, bluesy track, whispering sermons and shouting in a true Motown spirit. “I’ll Bet You” is more upbeat, a perfect example of the “true funk” that would come to be in the mid to late ’70s.

The entire album is both an ode to traditional Black country music and the changing, drug-fueled culture of the late ’60s. “Music for my Mother” demonstrates this exquisitely. Listening to Clinton murmur the words “Sit down by old beat-up railroad train/ And get me, get myself a little of that old funky thang/ Can you all feel what I mean?/ This is what you call way back younger funk” over harmonicas and steel string guitar shows how perfectly they infuse both psychedelia and soul.

It is truly one of the greatest albums to come out of the early ’70s. Gloriously unapologetic, terrifyingly experimental and filled with soul, “Funkadelic” is worth taking a listen to.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Yearbook: Seth Rogen’s Hilarious Autobiography

Comedian, actor and writer Seth Rogen is one of those people that always manages to make a film funnier. Whether it be through his early work in “Freaks and Geeks” and “Superbad,” or in his more recent films like “The Interview” and “An American Pickle,” he is endlessly endearing. You get the feeling that he’s not an extravagant, ridiculous celebrity, but more like a “normal” person. His new book, “Yearbook,” proves this.

As final exams ended and summer began, I found myself craving a nice read. I’d heard that Seth Rogen was releasing a new book, and I was super excited to get into it. I decided to listen to the audiobook, which I highly recommend. It’s narrated by Rogen himself and features over 80 different voice actors including Snoop Dogg, Nick Kroll, Sacha Baron Cohen and Billy Idol.

I know I said “Yearbook” was an autobiography in the title, but I lied for the sake of conciseness. It’s more of a collection of essays about Rogen’s childhood and acting career. He touches on growing up Jewish, his early comedic flops, the insane drama behind “The Interview” and tons of other horrifying, hilarious stories. Read in his signature wit, he dives into the delights and challenges of adolescence, being famous and drug-fueled escapades.

Each essay is wonderfully engaging and ridiculously funny. My personal favorite is the time when he, as a 14-year-old, had to perform standup right after Jerry Seinfeld at a comedy festival. Another great part is when he tells about how Kanye West forced Rogen and his wife to sit in the backseat of his limo with him while he freestyled for two hours. The book ends on a spectacularly dramatic note as he recounts a near-death camping experience from his childhood.

It’s truly one of the best audiobooks I’ve had the pleasure of listening to in a while. If you’re looking for a laugh, give “Yearbook” a read (or a listen).

Categories
DJ Highlights

DJ Butter’s New Digs on WKNC: Goo Lagoon

Every semester, WKNC DJs have the option to keep their old show or start a completely new one. My ever-shifting music taste has, once again, led me to do the latter. The Tangerine Hour will be missed, but I’m absolutely stoked to delve into a wider mix of genres with Goo Lagoon, which you can catch on-air every Friday from 2-3pm.

Before you ask, yes, Goo Lagoon is the beach from Spongebob. No, I am not playing anything from the Spongebob soundtrack, though I’d like to think Sandy Cheeks would headbang along with me in the stu.

So then what on earth is Goo Lagoon about, you may ask? I’ll mainly be exploring sludgy surf, heavy rock and psychedelia, save for some sneaky funk, soul and blues tracks. However, unlike the Tangerine Hour, this show will encompass every era from the ’60s till now. Though classic rock is by far my favorite genre, I found that restricting myself to that decade was hindering me from playing some really great tunes on-air.

Wanna see exactly what kind of music to expect Friday afternoons on 88.1? Here are some songs I played last week that perfectly encapsulate Goo Lagoon:

1. HazeMaze – Fuzz

Fuzz lives up perfectly to their name. This song is a great example of how they take modern proto-metal into new directions through fuzz-pedals and electric riffs.

2. Reverberation – 13th Floor Elevators

13th Floor Elevators are one of those bands from the ’60s that I just can’t get enough of. This song is a classic psychedelic anthem.

3. Beer Good – The Electric Peanut Butter Company

I couldn’t even find this song on Apple Music, but the extra digging around on YouTube was worth it. I am obsessed with this heavy, surfy instrumental track.

4. Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts – Funkadelic

I saved this song for the very end of my set, tieing it all together on a mellower note. Though I didn’t play the full nine-minute-long track, the entire thing is a relaxing, spacey, guitar-filled dream.

5. Stalking Legs – The Shivas

We all know that The Shivas are masters of modern-day surfy punk, but this song really stands out as one of their best. Their garage-like guitar is to die for in this track.

6. Looking Ahead – Monophonics

Though it’s only about a minute long, “Looking Ahead” is one of those songs that should be ten times longer. It’s a slow, wah-wah-filled trip that’s sure to put you in a daze.

7. Fresh Air – Quicksilver Messanger Service

I apologize to all the people who regularly listened to The Tangerine Hour and heard me play this song every other week. I just can’t get enough of it. It is by no means a deep cut, but it was a hit for good reason.