Categories
Playlists

Playlist of the Week

New year, new show! This semester, I decided to branch off from Daytime Rock. The Tangerine Hour (which is on Fridays at 11:30am, and you should totally listen to) is my new show dedicated to deep cuts from the 60s and 70s. If you’ve read any of my blogs, you know that I’m a geek for that era, especially the music. I wanted to explore the songs and artists that didn’t quite make it out of the Age of Aquarius, but are fantastic nonetheless. It’s been SO FUN to dig into weird, obscure artists and explore songs that were relatively forgotten by the mainstream, even if they were released by popular artists. Here’s an inside look at some of the tracks I’ve played already and what you can expect to hear in the upcoming weeks!

1. Pretty Big Mouth – Count Five

Count Five was a band that peaked around 1966, as they were only able to release one album, “Psychotic Reaction,” before they broke up. Only one of their songs made it onto the charts. Despite their relative lack of notoriety, “Pretty Big Mouth” is a great song.

2. Paul – The Pyramids

The Pyramids were one of the last successful surf rock bands to emerge in the early 60s. Their one hit, “Penetration,” is heralded as a classic, but the rest of their discography was forgotten. “Paul” is a fantastic instrumental, especially if you’re into that California sunny surf vibe.

3. Eddie’s Rush – Ultimate Spinach

Ultimate Spinach is a weird band. Their psychedelic song, “Mind Flowers,” is usually what people remember them for, but in 1969 they transitioned to performing the blues and garage rock, as such was the trend. “Eddie’s Rush” is another great instrumental from their last album.

4. Psycho Daisies (Single B-Side) – The Yardbirds

The Yardbirds are one of my favorite bands, simply because their history is fascinating. Three of the greatest guitar players of all time, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page, passed through the band at some point or another. “Psycho Daisies” is off “Roger the Engineer,” the only album that featured Beck as the sole guitarist.

5. Path Through the Forest – The Factory

The Factory is another band that didn’t quite make it out of the 70s, but “Path Through the Forest” is a superb psychedelic rock ballad.

6. Ease Back – The Meters

The Meters were possibly one of the best funk bands to walk this earth. Their work served as the foundation for the birth of hip-hop in the 80s! “Ease Back” is from their self-titled album, “The Meters,” released in 1969.

7. Soul Sanction – Booker T. & the M.G.’s

Another classic funk band, Booker T. & The M.G.’s showed the world how powerful Southern soul could be. With Booker T. Washington’s cutting organ lines, “Soul Sanction” is absolutely unreal.

8. Let Me Ride – Ginger Baker’s Air Force

Ginger Baker was most known for his role as the drummer in Cream, but god, do I wish he had done more with Ginger Baker’s Air Force. Branching off of the classic rock sound, Baker aimed to combine funk, soul, blues, and African music in his new project. Unfortunately, they only ended up releasing one album, “Do What You Like.”

9. Paranoia – Yesterday’s Children

Another band lost in the explosion of music in the late 60s was Yesterday’s Children. Combining heavy metal, glam rock, and that signature garage sound, they’re a true hidden gem.

Like what you see? Make sure to tune in to the Tangerine Hour every Friday!

– DJ Butter

Categories
Classic Album Review

Classic Review: This Old Dog – Mac DeMarco

ALBUM: “This Old Dog” by Mac DeMarco

RELEASE YEAR: 2017

LABEL: Captured Tracks

RATING: 10/10

BEST TRACKS: “One More Love Song,” “Moonlight on the River” and “For the First Time”

FCC: Clean

“This Old Dog” has to be my all-time favorite Mac DeMarco album (although “Here Comes the Cowboy” comes in a close second). Out of his entire discography, “This Old Dog” stands out as epitomizing Mac’s personality the most; lovable, gentle, and goofy. Looking to turn your mood around? There exist few better albums to do the trick. It’s both calming and upbeat at the same time, staying true to Mac’s classic, easygoing spirit.

What makes Mac so incredible to me is his ability to combine synth tones and acoustic guitar. It’s a fine line to walk, but he toes it excellently without sounding over-processed or unnatural. “This Old Dog” is no exception; songs like “Dreams From Yesterday” and “Sister” are a perfect balance between soft acoustics and synth. Even “On the Level,” which is almost entirely comprised of synth music, feels organic and mellow.

The biggest difference between “This Old Dog” and Mac’s previous albums is the amount of humor he interjects. His older releases, like “Rock and Roll Night Club,” “Mac Demarco 2,” and “Salad Days,” all seem to have the same distinctive sense of ridiculousness that you just can’t help laughing at. However, “This Old Dog” reveals Mac’s more sensitive side. You could peg him as a hopeless romantic by listening to nearly any one of his albums, but “One More Love Song” and “For the First Time” really hit me right in the heartstrings.

“This Old Dog” will forever be a gem among the indie genre. Whether you haven’t heard it before or it’s been a hot minute, go give it a listen!

– DJ Butter

Categories
Band/Artist Profile

Band Highlight: The Babe Rainbow

Sunshine, good vibes, and relaxation are what The Babe Rainbow delivers. The Australian neo-psychedelic group is one of my personal favorites. They’re one of those rare bands that never seems to have a “dud” song; You can listen straight through every album and enjoy each track.

Drummer/lead singer Angus Dowling and guitarist Jack Crowther originally met when they were in high school in Byron Bay, a place known for it’s organic, back-to-nature culture. Influenced by ’60s surf rock and the counter-culture movement, The Babe Rainbow creates music that feels like walking through a magic garden at sunset. In an interview with Beat Magazine, Crowther speaks to how the band uses the hippie movement to inform their discography:

“I really like the back to the earth movement, putting a really high value on the appreciation of nature, all the resources that we use. There was a real movement around where we live in the ‘70s, people were coming from Sydney and Melbourne up here to live that life.  For me, it’s got a lot to do with that, and lots of other things link up with that.”

Jack “Cool Breeze” Crowther (guitarist) Source

In their early years, The Babe Rainbow caught the attention of Stu Mackenzie from King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, who offered to produce their debut self-titled album. Mackenzie’s influences are strong in “The Babe Rainbow,” but The Babe’s work following their original 2017 release is their own. Though it’s easy to compare them to other neo-surf bands like The Growlers and King Gizzard, The Babe Rainbow offers a unique, more relaxed version of psych-rock. Their music makes you feel centered and happy, almost like a meditation of sorts. The Babes are truly one-of-a-kind.

Discography:

“The Babe Rainbow” (2017)

“Double Rainbow” (2018)

“Today” (2019)

Best Songs:

Bella Luna – Double Rainbow

Peace Blossom Boogy – The Babe Rainbow

The Wind – Single

Aloe Vera – Single

Something New – The Babe Rainbow

– DJ Butter

Categories
Playlists

Best Spotify Playlists: Hip-Hop Edition

Ever at a loss to find new music? Fret no more sweet readers, because this week I’m going to cover some of my favorite rap and hip-hop Spotify playlists. When I first started at WKNC, I actually did an Underground show every Saturday night. It was super fun and I’m absolutely stoked that we’re extending Underground to play all day on Mondays too! These playlists are where I dug around to find new music, back then and now:

QUARANTINA – Flatbush Zombies

“QUARANTINA” was gifted to us in the Spring of 2020, right as COVID was starting to get really bad. The members of Flatbush Zombies, Zombie Juice, Meechy Darko and Erick the Architect, made this playlist filled with uplifting rap and r&b tunes to help out our anxious spirits. It’s a sample platter of different eras and genres of hip-hop from artists like Outkast, D’Angelo, and Mac Miller.

Spilled Ink – Spotify

This playlist is one of the best Spotify has to offer. It’s filled with the perfect mixture of underground and notable artists, including Freddie Gibbs, Deem Spencer, and LUCKI. Extremely lo-fi and very lyrical, it’s a great playlist to turn to for some nice ambiance music.

boom bap/chill rap – Dadswell

A bit more on the mainstream side of things, this playlist features artists like J. Cole, Joey Bada$$, and Kendrick Lamar. Nevertheless, the songs it does include from those big names are some of my favorites.

I Love My West Coast Classics – Spotify

WARNING: This playlist is only for people who can handle time traveling back to the 90s.The name says it all, but this Spotify curated playlist is a fantastic collection of some of the biggest hits in West Coast rap. If you’re into songs like “It Was A Good Day” by Ice Cube and “I Got 5 On It” by Luniz, you’re gonna love this one.

black creativity – Nej

You might recognize Raleigh-based rapper Lesthegenius on this playlist. With more of a softer tone, “black creativity” is something really worth sitting down and enjoying. It’s a beautiful collection of thoughtful r&b, soul, and rap.

– DJ Butter

Categories
Miscellaneous

Top Second-Hand Stores in The Triangle

Second-hand shopping is the best shopping. Not only are you (usually) saving a pretty penny by thrifting, but you’re also avoiding fast fashion! It’s so important to shop sustainably, and buying pre-loved goods is one of the easiest ways to do so. My new year’s resolution was to only buy clothes, books, and furniture used, and it’s been super rewarding! One of my favorite pastimes is to explore rows of antiques. Here are some of my favorite second-hand stores near NC State (in no particular order):

1. The Cheshire Cat

This place is a treasure trove if you love antiquing. Located in Cameron Village next to the Goodberries, the Cheshire Cat is a huge underground antique store. It’s filled with just about anything you can imagine from dozens of different vendors. There are records, books, furniture, clothes, knick-knacks, and literally the most random stuff you’ll ever see. I’m not exaggerating when I say that you could get lost in there for hours. If you’re looking for cheap vinyl, they have lots of $1 records available.

2. Nice Price Books & Records

Nice Price is an obvious favorite, especially since it’s right across from campus next to Cup a Joe. They’ve been around for over 20 years and continue to be one of Raleigh’s best record stores. Not only do they have new releases from current artists, but they also have rare used records as well. It’s a bit pricey for me, but their used book section is fantastic and you’re sure to find something special.

3. Rumors Chapel Hill

Since I moved to Chapel Hill last summer, Rumors has become my favorite spot. Though Franklin St. will never compare to Hillsborough St. (to me at least), the little side avenue where Rumors lives is the exception. They have tons of used, on-trend clothes and some really nice vintage pieces. If you’re on a budget, Rumors is probably the best curated thrift store to hit up because of their low prices. Looking to get some clothes off your hands? They also buy clothes at a really fair price!

4. Father & Son

Because they get the majority of their stock from estate sales, Father & Son is the peak of high-end vintage shopping, but get ready to drop some cash if you’re shopping there. They have the most beautiful mid-century furniture and art. Their clothing selection includes lots of ball gowns, leather jackets, and quality vintage pieces. Despite being on the more expensive side of things, Father & Son does have some cheap records!

5. Reader’s Corner

Reader’s Corner is the best place to find used books. Period. It’s one of those places that people often forget about but are amazed by when they walk through the doors. Though it’s a small place, it’ wall-to-wall with books. This is where I get all my vintage collage magazines and prints from! They are very budget-friendly and super helpful in there. Located a bit up the street from Nice Price, it’s a definite must-see!

6. Design Archives Emporium

Though it’s a bit of a haul away from Raleigh, the Design Archive Emporium is a second-hand shop in Downtown Greensboro that I absolutely love. Like the Cheshire Cat, it’s a vendor-based thrift store with (mostly) clothes for sale. I’ve found some amazing pieces there for super cheap! If you’re ever taking a trip westward you gotta make a stop there.

– DJ Butter

Categories
Music Education

The Issue With Streaming Platforms

It’s rare to see someone walking down the street with a Discman, boombox, or even an iPod nowadays. Subscription services like Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music have taken over the music streaming industry. Their convenience and affordability make any other music-listening method seem archaic. Remember when getting a $10 iTunes gift card was one of the best Christmas presents ever? I have a distinct memory of opening up The Black Eyed Peas’ “The E.N.D.” CD on my 9th birthday and feeling like I struck gold. I can’t even imagine being excited about either of these products now, since today we have access to every song ever made at the tips of our fingers.

Royalties & Inequality

Unfortunately, this convenience comes with a price. Recently, there’s been talk surrounding the inequality involved in the music streaming industry. As artists were forced to cancel their gigs and concerts amidst the pandemic, many realized that the royalties they made off streams were abysmal. While issues with the royalty system have been apparent for years, staying inside has made artists take a long, hard look at where exactly the money from their listeners is going.

On average, streaming services take 30% of profits from subscription fees, while the other 70% goes to record labels, who then decide how much goes to the artists themselves. Included in this “artist” category are the producers, lyricists, composers, and performers. Once this process is all said and done, the actual percentage the artists receive is incredibly low, usually around 10%-15%. Considering that Spotify and Apple Music pay creators less than $0.006 per stream, independent and mid-level artists are failing to receive virtually any profits.

How Artists Are Adapting

Besides the economical issues, there is strong evidence that streaming is also changing the way music is written and appreciated. Before Spotify, Apple Music, or even iTunes existed, the act of listening to music was generally done by sitting through entire albums. Almost all traditional forms of media, like CDs and vinyl, followed this system. This made buying music something to be cherished and deeply acknowledged, as it increased the importance of newly released albums. I’m not saying that new albums from our favorite artists are not appreciated today, but the rise of playlist-based listening has changed the way we consume music.

Now, we listen by mood, era, feeling, genre. Just last week I wrote a blog about my favorite Spotify playlists. Playlists are fantastic and easy, but they take away the element of sitting through a single artist’s LP, as we used to do with CDs and records. Consequentially, artists are making less money and streaming platforms are making more. Songs are getting shorter and choruses are coming in earlier. In other words, pop is slowly becoming the formula for producing music, as there’s less risk involved and a greater likelihood of widespread streaming.

Though it’s unlikely that Spotify is going to go away anytime soon (or that we’re going to stop using it) it’s important to be aware of how musicians are being affected by these platforms. The good news is that there still are lots of alternatives to support your favorite artists. Vinyl is making a huge comeback, and there are websites like Bandcamp and Patreon that allow you to contribute directly to independent musicians.

– DJ Butter

All sources for this blog were found in these articles from NPR and Forbes.

Categories
Classic Album Review

Album Review: Bears Like This Too

ALBUM: “Bears Like This Too” by Spillage Village

RELEASE YEAR: 2015

LABEL: Spillage Village Records

RATING: 9.5/10

BEST TRACKS: “Spaced,” “Sky” and “Fryin”

FCC: Explicit

“Bears Like This Too” was the sequel we were all waiting for after Spillage Village released “Bears Like This” in 2014. Filled with psychedelic beats and a laid-back ambiance, it’s one of my favorite lowkey rap albums. The members of Spillage Village, EarthGang, J.I.D, Jordxn Bryant, and Hollywood JB, show their capability for creating an easy listening experience in their solo work, but “Bears Like This Too” is a masterpiece. Though only eight songs long, it’s the kind of album that you can listen to over and over again, volume turned all the way up or as background music.

Each song seems to fit together so seamlessly. Don’t get me wrong, I love some tempo variation, but sometimes it’s nice to hear a steady vibe maintained throughout an album. “Bears Like This Too” accomplishes this perfectly. While the mood is definitely on the relaxed side, don’t let this fool you into not appreciating the lyrical complexity. Each song is a poetic commentary on a variety of topics, from police violence in “Fryin” to untamed lust in “Spaced.” The core members of Spillage Village are fantastic, but my favorite songs are the ones that include guest artists Mereba and 6LACK (very early in his career). They both add a softness to the album, really helping to weave that mellow tone Spillage Village is so good at building.

If you’re in need of an album to accompany late nights spent on the couch, “Bears Like This Too” is the one. Absolute immaculate vibes.

– DJ Butter

Categories
DJ Highlights

DJ Butter’s Record Collection

Inspired by DJ Mango’s vinyl collection blog, I’ve decided to show off some of my own! One of my favorite pastimes is hunting through heaps of used records to find some from my favorite artists, especially if they contain music that’s not been widely heard. Without further ado, here are some of my personal favorites!

Gilberto & Jobim – João Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim

Can you believe I found this gem at the Cheshire Cat for only $1? Truly the best dollar I’ve ever spent. Originally recorded in 1964, this LP is a collection of Gilberto and Jobim’s finest works, including the famous “Corcovado” from “Getz and Gilberto.”

Angel’s Pulse – Blood Orange

This is one of the first LPs I ever bought for my old record player, a silly little Crosley Cruiser. Dev Hynes really puts it all out there on this one. It’s a deeply soulful album and the cover art is to die for.

Jimi Hendrix at his Best Volume 1 – Jimi Hendrix & Saga Studios

Another great steal from the Cheshire Cat at a whopping $5, this Jimi Hendrix record only has five songs on it from his days before forming the Jimi Hendrix Experience. None of them are available on Apple Music or Spotify!

IGOR – Tyler, the Creator

“IGOR” is obviously a must-have, especially since the vinyl version contains “Boyfriend,” an unreleased song that wasn’t included in the digital soundtrack. Unfortunately, a lot of “IGOR” records were poorly pressed so they have some warping and surface noise (including mine).

Jimmy Page Special Early Works – Jimmy Page & Sonny Boy Williamson

I think I gasped audibly when I saw this, once again, in the Cheshire Cat. Jimmy Page is my favorite musician from the 60s/70s era so you can imagine my excitement. This little collection is back from his days before Zeppelin when he was a studio guitarist.

Con Todo El Mundo – Khruangbin

“Con Todo El Mundo” was gifted to me as a birthday present last year! It’s one of the most relaxing records I own and some of Khruangbin’s best work.

Stan Getz With Guest Laurindo Almeida – Stan Getz & Laurindo Almeida

This is another great Bossa Nova album that I picked up at Father and Son in Downtown Raleigh. It’s a bit more upbeat than the rest of Stan Getz’s usual work, but I adore it all the same.

Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin

This has to be the record I play the most out of my collection, being my favorite Zeppelin album. I think my next-door neighbors probably hate me because I blast it every Sunday when I clean my room.

4 Your Eyez Only – J. Cole

You can’t deny how powerful “4 Your Eyez Only” is as an album. I got this one at Nice Price my senior year of high school because it was my favorite at the time. I love the inside and cover art on this one too!

Fresh Air – HOMESHAKE

“Fresh Air” was the first vinyl I bought and I must’ve listened to it a thousand times the day I got it, reveling in the coolness of owning my own record player. Fantastic album, fantastic artist.

Hendrix in the West – Jimi Hendrix

Last but not least, I present to you the crème de la crème of my collection: “Hendrix in the West.” Not only does it include two LPs filled with live versions of some of Jimi’s best work, it also comes with a photobook containing pictures of bassist Noel Redding, drummer Mitch Mitchell and Jimi Hendrix himself.

I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse into what a WKNC DJ listens to when they’re not in the studio!

– DJ Butter

Categories
Miscellaneous

Book Review: Daisy Jones and The Six

What better way to spend one’s winter break than reading? It’s been a relatively uneventful vacation for me, considering most of it was spent at home doing absolutely nothing, but reading helped make life a bit more interesting.

“Daisy Jones and The Six” was the first book I picked up over break, and I couldn’t put it down. Written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, it tells the story of a fictional band from the 1970s called The Six. What’s fascinating is that it’s written like an interview, so the entire novel has a distinctive twinge of reality. In fact, I was actually under the impression that The Six was a real band up until halfway through the book when I googled them because I wanted to see what they looked like (needless to say I felt very silly).

Though the book is told just from the surviving band members’ personal recollections and quotes, Reid does an incredible job building the plot through the unique format. The story revolves around Daisy Jones, a troubled groupie-turned-songwriter, who begins her music career by joining forces with The Six, led by singer Billy Dunne. With a wife and kid at home, Billy struggles to balance the rock n’ roll lifestyle with fatherhood. Daisy, though talented beyond belief, can’t write a complete song and is hardly ever sober. Meanwhile, the other members of The Six have their own drama and exuberant personalities. But amidst the insanity, Daisy and Billy’s passion for songwriting, music, and each other drives the band towards fame.

At first glance, “Daisy Jones and The Six” appears to follow the classic rock band narrative: Band starts off good. Band goes on tour. Band goes crazy. Band starts fighting. Band breaks up. In fact, Daisy Jones and The Six are actually loosely based on Fleetwood Mac. However, what makes this story so interesting is the complexity of the characters and their relationships with one another. There is no perfect love story or fantasy ending. It shows the messiness of human connection on full display without any apology. It’s captivating and real.

If you’re a geek for the 1970s rock era like I am, I cannot give you a better book recommendation. Apart from having a rich plot, it’s also a gratifying read for music lovers everywhere. The details Reid includes about the sound, depth, and meaning of each song Daisy and The Six write make you feel like you can actually hear them. The full lyrics for each one are even in the back of the book!

Seeking a cure for the wintertime blues? Look no further. “Daisy Jones and The Six” will for sure be the antidote you need.

– DJ Butter

Categories
New Album Review

Album Review: The Lo-Fis – Steve Lacy

ALBUM: “The Lo-Fis” by Steve Lacy

RELEASE YEAR: 2020

LABEL: L-M Records

RATING: 8/10

BEST TRACKS: “Infunami,” “When I,” “I Think I Should” and “Uuuu”

FCC: Explicit

Steve Lacy has returned! “The Lo-Fis” is his second full studio album, excluding his first EP “Steve Lacy’s Demo.” If you’re a die-hard Steve Lacy fan, it’s likely that you’ve heard most of “The Lo-Fis” already. Similar to his other releases, it’s filled with the indie-funk vibe that Steve is best known for. However, unlike his previous work, it is comprised solely of beats and songs he wrote in high school and released on SoundCloud.

The album is heavy with his signature falsetto, funky bass lines, and borderline mournful guitar strums. While Steve definitely showed off his hopeless romantic side in “The Lo-Fis,” he pursued other themes in his lyrics as well, such as personal growth in “That’s No Fun.”

To me, what stands out most about this album is how Steve explores instrumentals. In contrast to his previous work, these tracks feel almost like bits and pieces of songs rather than complete works; there are only a handful that have full bridges, choruses, and verses. Each song, though they’re all under three minutes, is completely different from the one before. I love how Steve flips back and forth between raw instrumentals, like in “I Think I Should,” to heavily processed and layered tracks like “Hummer.” It’s a quick album, full of surprises and beat switches, but it works as a whole unit very nicely despite its general lack of traditional songs. I know that all of this can be attributed to the fact that “The Lo-Fis” is more of a compilation rather than an intentional studio album, but I enjoy that it fits together so well.

Give it a listen!

– DJ Butter