Band/Artist Profile

Artist Highlight: Shinki Chen

Something I love about the counterculture movement is how far its influence could be felt around the world. Though it’s easy to have a very Eurocentric view when looking back at 1960s and ’70s rock, artists were experimenting with the blues, psychedelia and hard rock in every corner of the globe. Some of the most notable movements include Zamrock from Zambia (which you can read more about in DJ Chippypants’ recent blog) and Tropicália in Brazil. Japan also had an incredible psychedelic rock scene, featuring bands like The Mops and Flower Travelin’ Band. But one of the most iconic cult bands to emerge from the Japanese acid rock stages were Speed, Glue & Shinki.

Led by Shinki Chen on guitar, the trio only released two albums before they went their separate ways in 1972. Before their breakup, Shinki put out a fantastic self-titled solo album. Only being 21 at the time, his guitar skills gained him comparisons to Jimi Hendrix, and with good reason. “Shinki Chen” (also known as “Shinki Chen & His Friends”) is a revolutionary album. Though only seven songs long, each one is rich with fuzzy riffs and heavy basslines. Shinki’s powerful, raspy vocals flow across the entire record like smooth butter. After starting off with glittering, ambient strangeness in “The Dark Sea Dream,” Shinki quickly shifts between Sabbath-like force and sludgy blues throughout the album. It’s a great balance between the dreamy feeling of psychedelia and the intensity of old-school metal.

Oh, how I wish it were longer! The only downside to Shinki Chen’s solo work is that it was so short-lived, but I guess that’s part of what makes him such a special artist. Give him a listen!

– DJ Butter


Music Video Spotlight: Flunkie’s “Collapse // Rebuild”

Hailing from Copenhagen, Anna Degnbol is an illustrator whose work has appeared in projects both large and small. To be honest, I’d never heard of flunkie until I saw Degnbol’s animated music video for her song “Collapse // Rebuild.” Nonetheless, I was in complete awe as I sat through the short video, mesmerized by both the track and the animation. I’ve truly never seen anything like it.

Dengbol’s illustrations are colorful and surreal, focusing on themes of nature, dreams and identity. Though she mainly works with colored pencils, her work can be found in a variety of mediums. I’ve been following her on Instagram for a while now, but I only stumbled across the “Collapse Rebuild” video recently.

In an interview with creative blog “It’s Nice That,” Degnbol points out that her “lack of knowledge about animation [contributed] to some cool things.” She was given complete creative freedom by flunkie for the video, leading her to use her hand-drawn style to her advantage. The animation is done frame-by-frame, giving it a rudimentary yet organic impression. Even though there’s not much animation technically happening, watching the video makes you feel like everything is humming.

What’s so interesting to me about this video is how beautifully simple it is. It’s a short narrative, following a dreamlike sequence of different objects falling apart and reforming. Plants wilt and grow, candles melt and reshape. It all seems to be happening inside a girl’s dream, where she also meets a sun-like figure. It’s clear that her background in comic art shows through how the video is directed. She reflects the feeling of the song perfectly by balancing detailed closeups and airy landscapes.

It’s honestly so relaxing to watch and ridiculously beautiful. Degnbol’s animations really highlight how calm and lush “Collapse // Rebuild” is. Give it a watch!

– DJ Butter

New Album Review

New Album Review: The Battle at Garden’s Gate

ALBUM: “The Battle at Garden’s Gate” by Greta Van Fleet


LABEL: Republic Records

RATING: 7/10

BEST TRACKS: “Built By Nations”, “Age of Machine” and “The Weight of Dreams”

FCC: Clean

Bringing true rock ‘n roll into the 21st century can be tricky. Should we keep the sacredness of what was, mimicking the classic bands and their godliness? Or should we infuse it with modern styles and technology? Toeing the line between reinventing the wheel and being a nostalgia act is something Greta Van Fleet has dealt with since the release of their first album in 2017. Critics and fans alike endlessly compare them to Led Zeppelin, but “The Battle at Garden’s Gate” is an obvious attempt from the young band to create their own identity in the world of modern rock.

Part of the reason behind their meteoric rise to fame (and honestly the reason why I first started listening to them) is how well they’re able to echo the greatness of classic rock. On stage, they don’t lipsynch or use background tracks. Most of their first two albums were produced organically. It’s the powerful simplicity of their sound that has made Greta Van Fleet so refreshing for both new and old audiences.

“The Battle at Garden’s Gate” is a significant shift for the band. It’s cinematic and heavily produced, lacking both the grittiness of “From the Fires” and the twinge of blues in “Anthem of the Peaceful Army.” The running theme throughout the album is one of unity, peace and light. I love the sentiment, and I appreciate that they’re trying to go in a new direction, but it feels almost overdone. There’s a definite pop undertone in several of the songs which take away from the richness of the entire album.

Something else I noticed is how absent their guitarist seemed throughout the album. If you’ve ever seen their live performances, Jake Kiska is an absolute madman on the ax. He’s not afraid to spend some time on his screeching solos. Their first two albums were soaked in heavy riffs, which made their two hit songs “Safari Song” and “Highway Tune,” so fantastic. However, in “The Battle at Garden’s Gate,” his guitar work seemed like background noise at best. The few songs where he does have time to shine, such as in “Built By Nations” and “The Weight of Dreams,” are easily the best of the entire album. My question for them is why they opted for more of the lead singer’s wails instead of utilizing (in my opinion) their most powerful member.

Despite its flaws, “The Battle at Garden’s Gate” still has some beautiful tracks. “Age of Machine” is intense and atmospheric, while “Tears of Rain” whispers a heavenly acoustic ballad. Originally released as a single, “My Way Soon” is energetic and lively. However, if you’re a first-time listener, I’d head back to their earlier albums.


DJ Butter’s Playlist of the Week Part 5

This week, I’ll be pressing rewind and going back to some of my older favorites! I recently used my DJ skills at a photo shoot and had to dive into my archives to find music that fit the “vibe” of the set. It was super fun! It’s actually crazy how much my music taste has changed over the past year, especially since my current show focuses mostly on retro tunes. I ended up rediscovering some of my favorite songs from freshman year, high school and even some from middle school. Here are some of my choice picks that I’ve been listening to this week:

1. OKAGA, CA – Tyler, the Creator (feat. Alice Smith, Leon Ware and Clem Creevy)

This has to be one of the best Tyler songs ever released. His talent as a producer really shines on this relaxing, serene track. It’s somehow romantic, haunting and tranquil at the same time.

2. ttktv – Injury Reserve

This song off of Injury Reserve’s first album, “Live from the Dentist Office,” is slow yet electric. I absolutely love the texture it has and the drum sounds that underline the track.

3. Infatuation – Takeoff

I’m not much of a Takeoff fan, but this song has an almost Pharell-like quality to it that you can’t help but fall in love with. It’s a tender track that’s lyrically pretty different from the rest of his solo work.

4. Tribe Quest – Sirius Blvck (feat. Oreo Jones & DMA)

The flow on this song is absolutely insane. Oreo Jones, DMA and Sirius Blvck really pull out all the stops. This was one of my favorite rap songs in high school and it still is!

5. Soap – Deem Spencer

This song was one of Deem Spencer’s first releases. If you’re into sad emo rap, you’ll love it. It’s a melancholy tune with lyrics somber enough to make you cry.

6. Grown Up – Danny Brown

I know it’s mainstream, but this is my favorite Danny Brown song. It really reminds me of old-school rap songs from the ’90s.

7. Didn’t Cha Know – Erykah Badu

Can’t leave out Miss Badu! Her music is always so relaxing and lovely. The use of the bongos in this song is AMAZING and her voice flows over it all like pure honey.

8. Where U From – HUNCHO JACK (Quavo & Travis Scott)

I don’t really believe in guilty pleasures (just like what you like! no shame!) but if I had to name mine, it would be this album. It’s SO underrated. “Where U From,” my favorite song off “Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho,” has an catchy, almost Asain-inspired beat to it.

– DJ Butter

Classic Album Review

Album Review: Psychotropic by Los Tones

ALBUM: “Psychotropic” by Los Tones


LABEL: Groovie Records

RATING: 10/10

BEST TRACKS: “Psychotropic”, “Buchanan Hammer” and “Ordinary Man”

FCC: Clean

I am a firm believer that Los Tones are one of the most underrated psych-rock bands out there. Hailing from Syndey, Australia, the foursome specializes in fuzzy, heavy surf rock. If you’re a garage fan, you may have heard their hit song “Buchanan Hammer” off this very album. However, “Psychotropic” has so much more to offer than their most popular single. It’s stuffed to the brim with heavy, sludgy, spooky goodness. Think skeletons-surfing-at-Goo-Lagoon-type-beat.

“Psychotropic” is both fast-paced and rich, keeping you enraptured at all times. I know we like to think of The Growlers or Allah-Las as the modern kings of “beach goth,” but I’d argue that Los Tones could easily snatch that crown away. Though they very obviously draw inspiration from old-school garage bands like The Sonics and The Seeds, they add a modern spin with their high energy and intense ferocity. Many acid rock bands mimic that signature growling vocal style, but their lead singer adds a sneering provocativeness that is truly unmatched. It’s easy for that style to sound abrasive or even apathetic, but Los Tones master it perfectly.

The best part about “Psychotropic” by far is their guitar work. Their axeman is obviously a guru when it comes to the reverb pedal. Though each song is extremely lively in its own way, the way they switch speeds and intensities is relishable. Tracks like “One Horse Race” and “Waste of Space” especially show off this artistry, especially the latter. Right at 1:33, there’s an amazing solo transition that’s absolutely to die for. “Speed Boat” is a spine-chilling tune, reminiscent of The Cramps’ horror-core punk.

If you’re a fan of any type of garage, surf, or early punk, you’ve just got to give “Psychotropic” a listen. You won’t regret it!

– DJ Butter

Music Education

What Your Music Taste Says About You

For some of us (*cough* WKNC DJs), music is heavily intertwined with our identities. But how did we develop our taste in music? Where did it come from, and what does it mean? Of course, there’s no perfect way to measure personality, but we’ve come pretty close to pinning down what exactly our unique music tastes say about us as individuals.

In 2003, researchers Peter Rentfrow and Samuel Gosling were curious as to how our personalities correlate with our music taste. After conducting a test with over 3,500 people, they were able to identify four major personality categories based on music preferences: reflective and complex, intense and rebellious, upbeat and conventional, and energetic and rhythmic. Since this study, other researchers have refined these categories even further:

1. Refined Observer

Favorite Genres: jazz, blues, folk, classical

Personality Traits: Refined Observers are introspective, analytical and creative. They appreciate music for its complexity, structure and “genius factor.” They also prefer abstract, emotionally rich topics.

2. Heated Defiant

Favorite Genres: heavy rock, metal, grunge, punk

Personality Traits: As you could probably deduce from their title, Heated Defiants tend to be rebellious and explosive, though they may not show those traits outwardly. They also value the spontaneity of new experiences and unconventionality.

3. Easy-Going Conventional

Favorite Genres: pop, country, religious music

Personality Traits: This is for all those G105 listeners out there (no shade). Easy-Going Conventionals tend to be light, warm and optimistic. Rather than looking for the complexity in music, they prefer simplicity and catchy tunes.

4. Outgoing Mingler

Favorite Genres: hip-hop, rap, funk

Personality Traits: Energetic, sociable and friendly, Outgoing Minglers appreciate music with a strong rhythmic and lyrical feel. They’re natural extroverts, enjoying the company of others in all types of gatherings.

5. Serene Enjoyer

Favorite Genres: world music, electronica, soft indie

Personality Traits: Last but not least, the Serene Enjoyer loves music that is unconventional yet chill. They tend to be laid back and unafraid to venture into unknown musical territory. Though they’re very creative, they prefer music that airs on the lighter side of things.

Of course, this is not an extensive measure of personality by any means. Many of us like tons of different genres! Either way, it’s fun to see how your taste might correlate to certain personality traits. What’s your personality type? Do you have more than one? Let us know!

– DJ Butter

Source for the information in this blog.


Behind the Cover: Led Zeppelin IV

Welcome back to the “Behind the Cover” series! This week, I’ll be diving into the story behind one of the most iconic album covers in the history of classic rock: “Led Zeppelin IV.” I first heard about the cover’s origin in rock journalist Brad Tolinski’s book, “Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page.” Filled with interviews and stories about the guitarist’s life, one of the points Toliksni touches on in the sixth chapter is the making of “Led Zeppelin IV.”

The Backstory

By 1971, Led Zeppelin was quickly reaching international success. Fans around the world worshipped them and their hard-hitting, experimental rock, but critics weren’t as adoring. They chalked the band’s fame up to “hype, not talent.” Their first three albums, especially “II” and “III”, had the band’s faces plastered all over the record sleeves, leading harsh music journalists to believe that Led Zeppelin was nothing more than a fad.

The band and Atlantic Records had a steady, gracious relationship up until “IV’s” release. They gave the foursome full creative control over every aspect of their music, including the album covers. The band took a “retreat” to Headley Grange, a two-hundred-year-old mansion in the English countryside, to record the majority of their upcoming album. Free from distractions at the remote, crumbling house, the band used the natural acoustics at Headley to experiment with new sounds in their creative seclusion. It was rumored that their fourth album would be otherworldly.

Needless to say, Atlantic Records was devastated when they found out the album would have no name, no cover title, and no artist credits. It is now known as “Led Zeppelin IV,” but it was originally meant to have no title at all. The record label tried to convince the band that they were “committing professional suicide,” but their choice was final. They wanted to show the world that Led Zeppelin was more than a trend.

The Cover Art

The final cover design shows an antique painting of an old man with a bundle of sticks on his back, hanging on a peeling wall. This painting was found by lead singer Robert Plant in an antique shop. It spoke to the band because of its reference to the “destruction of the old,” which they contrasted with the photographs of skyscrapers on the back cover. The entirety of “IV” and its cover is very much an ode to balancing traditionality with the new.

The inside is just as fascinating and mysterious as the outside. Depicting the Hermit, an ancient figure used in Tarot, it is meant to represent “a seeker aspiring to the light of truth.” The record sleeve has a gorgeous Arts and Crafts style typography, spelling out the lyrics to “Stairway to Heaven.” (Jimmy Page, the producer and guitarist, actually found a clipping of the typeface in a vintage magazine and hired a designer to remake the entire alphabet.)

Led Zeppelin IV inside cover (taken by me)
Led Zeppelin IV record sleeve (taken by me)
Led Zeppelin IV front and back album art (taken by me)

This is truly one of my favorite album cover stories. I think it’s so interesting how the band used it as both a representation of the music and as a reaction to their critics. They wanted to let the music speak for itself, and by god it did.

– DJ Butter

Classic Album Review

Soundtrack Highlight: BlacKkKlansman

Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” was my favorite movie of 2018 by far. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a true story set in the early 1970s about the first Black cop at the Colorado Springs Police Department, a man named Ron Stallworth. The movie focuses on how he, with the help of his partner, infiltrate the Klu Klux Klan. It is a powerful, striking movie, with important references to today’s racial inequality. Commanding, telling, and surprisingly comedic, it’s a must-see.

Something I loved about this movie right from the beginning was the soundtrack. Terence Blanchard, who’s worked with Spike Lee on several other films, served as the composer for “BlacKkKlansman.” Though the film includes a variety of old-school funk and R&B tracks, Blanchard’s original composition is fantastic. He meshes the classical sounds of violin with a crooning electric guitar, mimicking a Hendrix-esc sound. According to Blanchard, he wanted to imbibe this sound because it reminded him of when Jimi Hendrix performed the national anthem at Woodstock:

I kept thinking that was one of the most patriotic things I’d ever heard. It seemed like me that he was screaming that we were all Americans.

Terence Blanchard (Source)

Most of the songs play off the same riff, which can be heard best in “Main Theme – Ron.” However, some stray into intense, sometimes frightening tones. For example, the last scenes in the movie tie the plot to real-life footage of modern events. Underlined with Blanchard’s “Photo Opps,” it creates a sinister tone that really drives home the film’s message.

It’s a dramatic and dynamic soundtrack, truly reflecting the intensity of the movie. As the scenes switch quickly from light-hearted to fierce, the music follows suit. One of my favorite moments is when Ron and his girlfriend, Patrice, are dancing to “Too Late To Turn Back Now” by The Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose at the club. The music is perfectly picked to match the mood of the scene.

“BlacKkKlansman’s” soundtrack is truly one of the best I’ve ever heard. It reflects the feeling of the movie perfectly. Now, go watch the movie and give it a listen!


Behind the Cover: Freetown Sound by Blood Orange

When Deana Lawson took this portrait, titled “Binky & Tony Forever,” she had no idea that it would become the cover of one of Dev Hynes’s most prolific albums. Lawson specializes in photography depicting identity, love and materiality, particularly in Black culture. Her work is beautiful and honest, showing levels of intimacy that are both soft and powerful.

In 2016, the year “Freetown Sound” was released, “Fader” magazine interviewed Lawson on the album cover’s creation. She described how “Binky & Tony Forever” was originally a personal project, and it would be seven years before Dev Hynes used it for his album artwork. Binky, the woman in the photo, was a makeup artist she met on a shoot. Anthony, the man, was a friend of Binky’s. Lawson went in knowing she wanted to capture the idea of “physical intimacy” with a young couple. Usually, she shoots her subjects in their own environments, but for this particular photo shoot, they were actually in Lawson’s bedroom. She chose to keep everything on the walls the same except the Michael Jackson poster, which she says invoked her “own memory of popular culture while [she] was growing up.”

Lawson chose them as subjects partially because of their heights. Though Binky was quite short and Anthony quite tall, their positions demonstrate a deep level of respect and closeness. The way he’s embracing her gives off the sense that they are equals, and there’s no toxic power dynamic in their relationship.

The striking tenderness of this visual is perhaps what drew Dev Hynes to the photograph. After seeing “Binky & Tony Forever”, he asked if he could use it for the cover to “Freetown Sound.” Though Lawson was hesitant to release one of her pieces into such heavy circulation, she came around after hearing Dev Hynes’ unreleased album. She felt “like his mission, his intention, and his aesthetic” fit hers perfectly.

– DJ Butter

Interview source can be found here.


DJ Butter’s Playlist of the Week

It’s that time again! I have tons of new music to share with you guys this week. Most of it is going to be on my setlists, but I thought I’d feature some choice picks from my recent discoveries. If you’re into ’80s jams, heavy rock and funk, look no further. You’ve found your new favorite playlist!

1. Driving South – The Stone Roses

This song is an absolute experience. The Stone Roses are masters of combining two very unlikely music styles: classic rock and dance music. “Driving South” uses an amazing riff combined with that signature ’80s drum sound to create a truly magical song.

2. A Tear for Eddie – Ween

Ween is the weirdest, most amazing band ever. This song is a more lowkey instrumental, but it’s fantastic. With relaxing and atmospheric synth-like strumming, it’s sure to be one of your favorites.

3. I Wanna Be Your Dog – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Joan Jett’s cover of the famous Stooges song is totally underrated. Included in her fifth album, “Up Your Alley,” it has to be my top choice from the 1988 release. Her take on “I Wanna Be Your Dog” is less fuzzy than the original, but amazing nonetheless.

4. Ice Pick – Albert Collins

“Ice Pickin'”, the album “Ice Pick” came from, is one of the best blues albums ever released. This particular track blends blues and funk exquisitely.

5. Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love Inn) – The Chocolate Watchband

The Chocolate Watchband is one of those groups that (unfortunately) slipped through the cracks during the 1960s. This song, a great garage rock ballad, is one of my favorites from them.

6. Groove Grease – Jimmy McGriff

The title of this song really says it all. When “Groove Grease” was released, Jimmy McGriff was just starting to experiment with electric instruments and synth. He does an amazing job transitioning his classic soulful sound into a groovy number with this song.

7. Lay With Me – The Flying Eyes

The Flying Eyes are an awesome psychedelic rock band from Baltimore. “Lay With Me” is interesting in that it’s acoustic, but still manages to have a sludgy, heavy feel to it. First-rate band, first-rate song!

8. Just For Kicks – Salem’s Pot

I randomly stumbled upon Salem’s Pot on my Spotify Discover Weekly and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since. “Just For Kicks” is probably their most popular song, but their entire discography is honestly amazing.

9. Just A Little Heat – The Black Keys

If you couldn’t tell from one of my recent blogs, I’ve been on a Black Keys kick for the past couple of weeks. This song from my favorite album, “Magic Potion,” a hard, bluesy-rock masterpiece.

Tune in!

– DJ Butter