Categories
Classic Album Review

Retro Review: Electric Mud – Muddy Waters

ALBUM: “Electric Mud” by Muddy Waters

RELEASE YEAR: 1968

LABEL: Chess Records

RATING: 9/10

BEST TRACKS: “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” “Mannish Boy” and “(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man”

FCC: Clean

“Electric Mud” is my all-time favorite album from Muddy Waters, probably because I’m such a sucker for the reverb of an electric guitar. Though it’s only eight songs long, “Electric Mud” is a fantastic example of how the blues and rock meshed in the 1960s. Most of the songs are remakes of his famous classics, such as “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Mannish Boy” and “The Same Thing,” only twinged with the sludgy feel of psychedelic rock.

The 50s and early 60s proved to be the heyday for Waters, but he saw a decline in popularity as his record label began to fail and the British blues scene took over in the late 60s (ironically, many of the hard rock artists from the UK took bits from Muddy Waters’ work to further their own.) In a last-ditch attempt to capture the hearts of younger audiences, Waters joined forces with band members of the Rotary Connection to create “Electric Mud.” Disappointed in its mixture of psychedelic rock and the blues, classic blues artists disapproved of the album. Muddy Waters himself wasn’t fond of the album because he felt he couldn’t perform it live.

Despite the somewhat negative history behind “Electric Mud,” it helped put him back on the map. After his label, Chess Records, fell, Waters was able to go on and produce some of his most influential work throughout the 70s.

This album holds a special place in my heart because it made me realize how impactful Muddy Waters was on the rock scene in the 60s and 70s. Jimi Hendrix openly covered Waters’ work in both his live and studio sessions. The track “You Need Love” was the bones of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” The Rolling Stones even got their name from Waters’ song “Rollin’ Stone.”

All in all, “Electric Mud” is a fantastic album for anyone interested in rock and blues history. Give it a listen!

– DJ Butter

Categories
DJ Highlights

A Peek at DJ Butter’s Spotify Wrapped

This is my favorite time of year. The weather is crisp, the smell of Christmas trees fills the air, and everyone exposes themselves on Instagram with their Spotify Wrapped.

You can tell a lot about a person by their Top 5 artists and songs (a lot more of my friends listen to Taylor Swift than I originally thought, no shame though). I know some are indifferent about the whole idea of it, but I could look at people’s Spotify Wrapped for hours. It’s so interesting to see what kind of music people are into! Whether it’s totally predictable or completely unexpected, I love to watch how people’s personalities match up with their music preferences.

Interested in getting a look at a WKNC DJ’s Spotify Wrapped? Well, look no further! Here’s what I’ve been listening to on repeat in 2020:

Top Genres:

Rock, Neo-Psychedelic, Chicago Blues, Psychedelic Hip Hop, Indie Garage Rock

I felt that my top genres were totally accurate, yet slightly surprising. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know that “Psychedelic Hip Hop” was even a genre in the first place. Despite this, I think that anyone who listens to my show would agree that these 5 genres are the basis of my sets every week!

Top Artists:

Led Zeppelin, Allah-Las, Jimi Hendrix, Greta Van Fleet, Muddy Waters

I can honestly not believe how predictable (and slightly embarrassing) this is. I knew that Zeppelin would, and probably forever will, be my #1. I was hoping that Greta Van Fleet wouldn’t make an appearance, but this summer I listened to “From the Fires” way too many times.

Top Songs:

Traveling Riverside Blues, Raspberry Jam, Just Like a Baby, What is and What Should Never Be, Living Loving Maid

Drum roll, please! My top songs are such an accurate reflection of my mindset all 2020: Too much Zeppelin, wishing I was at a surf concert, and crying to “Just Like a Baby.”

Thanks for indulging me, as always. Haven’t seen your Spotify Wrapped yet? Want to expose yourself on social media? Click here to see yours!

– DJ Butter

Categories
Music Education

Music and Our Brains

Ever listen to one of your favorite songs and get chills down your spine? Does hearing an old track ever bring you vividly back to the time when you were obsessed with it? Do you ever find yourself unconsciously tapping, moving, and shaking to music?

The ways that music affects our brains are incredible. We’ve all heard the famous saying “Mozart makes you smarter,” but what if other music could do the same and more? Apart from being a powerful emotional release, performing and listening to music has been proven to have numerous health benefits. After traveling through our eardrums, musical sound waves hit over a dozen different parts of our brains.

Something that fascinates me endlessly is the relationship between music and memory. Music passes through the cerebellum, which is responsible for storing memory and movement. According to neuroscientist Kiminobu Sugaya, an “Alzheimer patient, even if he doesn’t recognize his wife, could still play the piano if he learned it when he was young because playing has become muscle memory. Those memories in the cerebellum never fade out.”

The link between mind, body, and music is amazing. In a study mentioned by the Harvard Health Publishing, patients who listened to music before, during, and after surgery were found to have lower blood pressure and heart rate levels compared to those without music. Even patients that listened to music while unconscious during their surgeries had similar results. Pretty unreal, huh?

Music also has astounding emotional benefits. A study completed in 2006 showed that people who suffered from chronic pain were less likely to experience depression after undergoing music therapy. Due to its ability to activate dopamine production, music can also trigger shivers, pleasure, and your fight-or-flight response.

It’s incredible how much is happening in our brains when we pop on our headphones! If you’re interested in learning more about music and neuroscience, there are tons of books and online resources to look at. To get started, here’s an interactive tool from the University of Central Florida about our brains on music.

– DJ Butter

Categories
Miscellaneous

The Incredible Visions of 1960s Music Posters

I am absolutely obsessed with anything out of the 60s and 70s, especially the art. The colors, typography, and illustration styles are magnificent. In high school, I actually did a project on the origins of psychedelic art, and I thought I’d share some of my favorite facts with you today!

The signature psychedelic style of the 1960s can be attributed to the rising popularity of hallucinogens, anti-war sentiments, and Eastern philosophy. In stark contrast to the streamlined, modernist design trends of the 40s and 50s, psychedelia’s goal was completely different: Artists wanted viewers to stare at their work for long periods of time to mimic the effect of a “trip.” Some elements used to accomplish this effect were brightly contrasting colors, flowing typography, and collage. Wes Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Alton Kelley, and Stanley Mouse, also known as the “Big Five,” were some of the most influential poster designers of the time.

As new, experimental music exploded in the early 60s, psychedelic art was often paired with concert posters and album covers. San Francisco was a hot spot for the movement, seeing that many musicians lived there, including the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane.

Here are some of my absolute favorite posters that came out of the psychedelic movement:

John Myers, 1966

This poster, designed by John Myers, was printed for the Yardbirds’ concert in 1966.

Bonnie McLean, 1967

This print was designed by Bonnie McLean in 1967 for a concert starring Muddy Waters, Buffalo Springfield, and Richie Havens.

Lee Conklin, 1968

This poster for Canned Heat was designed by Lee Conklin in 1968 and intentionally printed out-of-register to create the layered, film-like look.

Bob Masse, 1966

Serving as one of the most iconic posters in rock history, this design for Pink Floyd was done by Bob Masse in 1966 for their show at the Marquee in London.

Wes Wilson & Herb Greene, 1966

Wes Wilson, one of the most well-known psychedelic artists of the time, designed this poster with Herb Greene for Jefferson Airplane in 1966.

Tune in!

– DJ Butter

Categories
Classic Album Review

Classic Review: Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced”

ALBUM: “Are You Experienced” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

RELEASE YEAR: 1967

LABEL: Experience Hendrix LLC, Sony Music Entertainment

RATING: 10/10

BEST TRACKS: “Love or Confusion,” “Purple Haze” and “Foxey Lady”

FCC: Clean

There exist few better guitarists than Jimi Hendrix, the god of heavy rock himself. Along with being a fantastic solo musician, Hendrix had a band of his own, comprised of Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. “Are You Experienced” was their debut album, filled with some of the most influential songs in rock history. This album really shows off Hendrix’s seemingly impossible talent on the electric guitar along with his signature bluesy howl. “Are You Experienced” is the perfect combination of heavy rock, psychedelic music, and the blues.

Though many know Jimi solely for his guitar skills, he was also a fantastic poet and songwriter. Filled with lyrics that are simultaneously hallucinogenic, dreamy, and wanton, the instrumentals pair perfectly with the poetry that Hendrix so beautifully wrote.

The range on this album is incredible. From the classic hard rock anthem “Purple Haze,” to the upbeat “51st Anniversary,” to the sludgy psychedelia of “Third Stone from the Sun,” to the dreamy ballad “May This Be Love,” Jimi showcases his talent for performing music of all feelings.

My two personal favorites off the album are “Foxey Lady” and “Love or Confusion,” simply because the riffs are unmatched. You can really feel the passion behind his playing and singing, which I think the latter of the two people don’t give him enough credit for. The album was, and still remains to this day, an amazing feat of psychedelic, experimental rock.

Tune in!

– DJ Butter

Categories
Band/Artist Profile Music News and Interviews

An Interview with Dropping Plates

Dropping Plates (from left to right): Ben Burrows, Forest Britt, Aaron Huntley, and Jake Fain.

Dropping Plates is one of the newest local bands on the scene in Boone, NC. I had the opportunity to have a delightful interview with them this week! Made up of bassist Aaron Huntley, drummer Forest Britt, lead singer/guitarist Jake Fain, and guitarist Ben Burrows, they bring a unique funk-rock sound to the table. Here’s what they have to say:

Q: Tell me about how Dropping Plates started.

Aaron: Me and Forest were roommates last year at App State. I was on Facebook, and I saw that Ben had posted this ad for a drummer and bass player to create a band. I’ve known Ben because I met him through a mutual friend, and we’d jammed in the past before. I recognized him and so I just hit him up and then we jammed. It was perfect.

Q: How would you describe the music you make?

Jake: A mix between Grateful Dead and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Aaron: I know that we like to vibe, we like to jam.

Forest: We like to jam a lot. There’s a lot of instrumental influence, especially guitar solos in all of our music. A lot of our music is from different fields. We’ll have a more rock-like niche feel that’s heavier, but then we’ll also have a lighter poppy feel. We also have songs that are slow and like, just chill. So it kind of depends, but I think ultimately each song does have our individual instrumental influences which ultimately make the band Dropping Plates.

Q: What’s the story behind the name “Dropping Plates?”

Jake: So basically we were all in a group chat and we were just throwing out names, like we probably had 150 names. I was going through and I picked my top three out or whatever and I sent them to my mom. She’s like a very good outside judge of those things to see, you know, what would draw other people’s attention the most. One of them was Dropping Plates and she picked that one.

Forest: And with the name Dropping Plates, when you hear the sound of a plate dropping and crashing you know what that sound is, right? We feel like that compares to our music. We’re hoping that when you hear our band you know it’s Dropping Plates.

Ben: We were also going to be Dino Trip at first, Dino Trip or Dinosaur Party. And then we were like…”No, Dropping Plates.”

Q: Tell me a little bit about your creative process. How do you guys make music? Where do you draw inspiration from?

Forest: Really, it’s different for every song. They write music on their instruments, and then bring it to the band. Then, when we come together after we work on the songs. Everyone kind of puts their own touch into that song. It just builds until it’s a complete piece. But there’s a lot of times when it’s already a complete thing, but we’re just adding our influences into it and our sounds. For the song “Spun”, I felt like Jake kind of had that song already finished for his guitar part. We all came together and Jake started playing the song, Aaron starts coming up with a baseline, and I’m listening to Aaron play his baseline and I’ll do my drum part. Then we’ll come up with melodic lines over Jake’s guitar part. Jake will just sing, and then we’ll be like, f*** yeah. Maybe we’ll tweak it a little bit for a few songs. There’s a song on our upcoming album called “Wave” and it used to be actually a really fast song that Ben wrote but then we decided to just pull it back and play it slow. Now it’s this really beautiful, slow piece that’s closing the album.

Ben: Yeah, I think all of us have different influences for music, which I think is really cool because then it adds to a melting pot of sorts. Aaron is a lot more into jazz and methodical playing and I’m a lot more feel and rustic type of deal. Jake is like the nice mixture of the two and more Grateful Dead oriented on that point as well. And then Forest, he’s just the feel master of it all. The idea that he has what he has just in his mind I think is very cool. We’re all able to bring our own identities to our music, which is so sick.

Q: Who are your biggest musical role models?

Ben: John Mayer and the Grateful Dead for me are my top two most influential artists.

Forest: For me Hiatus Kaiyote, and specifically the drummer. His drum stuff really influences what I’m doing.

Jake: I’d definitely say just a combination of Jerry Garcia and Trey Anastasio. So, Dead and Phish, just the combination of the two is my biggest inspiration for sure.

Aaron: I listen to a lot of jazz. This guy, Christian Scott, he just has this, like blaring music and it’s really cool. And Flea, obviously, from Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Q: What’s the most useless talent you have?

Forest: I do parkour. Throughout middle school I was really into it and throughout high school I taught parkour classes at a gym. I would say it taught me a lot about working with kids working on yourself physically, but like, ultimately, I can do a backflip. I don’t know how useful that is.

Ben: I work for a conservation group. That’s pretty useful though. I have a really fancy tool that helps me measure water quality and dissolved oxygen and all this stuff. So I basically just put it in the water and I take the data. I can also do a really mean Scooby-Doo impression.

Jake: Oh yeah, we’re also really good at Catan.

Aaron: Super Smash Brothers too, we’re also really good at that. I know a lot of random stuff about animals too. I can play bass and drums at the same time. I use my feet on the drums and I use my hands on the bass.

Jake: I know a dumb amount of random Grateful Dead and Phish facts that I can just impose upon people.

Ben: It’s the most useless skill ever. He’ll just say some s*** that’ll blow your mind and you’re just like, why do you even know that?

Q: Have you guys played any live shows?

Jake: We’ve played four actual shows and then we played a bunch of times for an open mic.

Ben: Our favorite gig was a State though. I actually went to State my first two years. I was in a band, they’re called Friendly Reminder, they’re pretty sick. Check them out. My friends asked me if we wanted to come down and play at some philanthropy thing for their fraternity. We got to do it and it was really, really, really sick. We just played really well. It was a big crowd, but that wasn’t even what made it great. We all felt just felt connected and it was really cool. Which is why we’re sad. We had 15 shows lined up for the last month and a half before COVID, like one to three a week.

Jake: Ultimately, I’d say that we’re like gearing towards trying to become a live band. We still want to do studio stuff, because I actually really enjoyed that more than I thought I would.

Ben: We want to play. This is what we want to do with our lives. We’ll go to any means necessary to do that and get a really cool following. The goal would be to have a cult following that’s super religious to us. I’d like to see the same 50 people at our shows every time.

Q: What are you working on right now? What does the future look like for the band?

Aaron: We got a single coming out soon. We also just dropped our second music video today, “Padlock.”

Forest: And then our album, which has these singles we’ve dropped like “Spun,’ “Padlock,” and this next single, they’re all going to be a part of an album, which I think we’re gonna drop in February. We’re actually also in the process of recording another album too that’ll be released in the summer.

Q: Anything else you want to world to know about Dropping Plates?

Ben: Follow us on Facebook. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Check out our Spotify. And just come hang. Whenever all the social distancing stuff is over, we’re happy to hang out. We want to meet people and do cool things with music. We already have a community. We’re talking to a lot of other bands right now about playing shows together, and these are bands that are way better than us. It’s cool to recognize that people see our music as a promising thing and that they like our sound. It’s cool to finally realize that all of our hard work is being noticed.

Below is a link to their new music video to “Padlock,” along with their Spotify, Instagram, and Youtube channel. Check ’em out!

Tune in!

– DJ Butter

Categories
Non-Music News

We, the Pack Project: Community Building at NC State

I’ve recently been granted the opportunity to be a part of We, the Pack, a campus project at NC State that aims to bring a sense of unity to our school through conducting interviews with members of our community! If you’re having a hard time picturing what We, the Pack is all about, imagine Humans of New York but only on NC State’s campus.

These interviews typically consist of questions related to personal goals, interests, and experiences. After the interviews are completed, our team shares them over social media, along with portraits of the interviewee. Our goal with this initiative is to help encourage more empathy and understanding through sharing the diverse experiences that weave together the fabric of our community.

The project originally came into being in the fall of 2019 as an extension of the Caldwell Fellows, a scholarship program at NC State dedicated to service leadership. I’ve have had the privilege of being a member of the Fellows this year, so I was able to continue the project this semester, along with several of my peers.

In 2019, when the project originally started, it looked a lot different than it does now. Before, the team members went up to random people around campus and asked them if they had 15 minutes to spare for an interview. Now, of course, we are unable to do that because of COVID and the limited number of people actually on campus, but the project is still meaningful nonetheless! We are able to conduct both Zoom and socially distanced in-person interviews.

Now, because reaching out to people has been more difficult, the We, the Pack team needs more people to interview! If you’re interested in getting involved and promoting kindness in our campus community, email the team at wethepackcf@ncsu.edu.

Follow the We, the Pack Instagram, and stay tuned for interviews!

– DJ Butter

Categories
Playlists

Playlist of the Week

The semester’s almost over, so what better way to celebrate than with a sick playlist from the WKNC blog! It’s pretty upbeat, filled with surf rock favorites, indie jams, and a few fall 70s ballads slipped in. Without further ado, here are this week’s favorites!

  1. Look So Good, Be So Good – The Shivas: This song popped up on my Spotify Discover Weekly and I immediately fell in love. The Shivas have only been around since 2006, but their garage rock feels like it’s straight from the 60s.
  2. Witchy Woman – The Hollies: My friend, who actually works at WVCW 102.9 at Virginia Commonwealth University, and I always call each other “witchy women” but for some reason, I had never heard this song until last week. This definitely should’ve made my Halloween playlist, but I think it’s never too late for some spooky tunes.
  3. Bullwinkle Part II – The Centurions: If you’ve seen “Pulp Fiction,” you’ve heard this song in all its glory. The Centurions only released one album, “Bullwinkle Part II,” in 1963, but their hit single is heralded today as an anthem from the classic Quentin Tarantino film.
  4. Western Playland – Holy Wave: This song is just a fantastic example of how laid back psychedelic rock can be. I love how relaxed “Western Playland” is and how it just makes you want to sway back and forth.
  5. Blackberry Jam – Allah-Las: Allah-Las, one of the more popular surf rock bands out there right now, has an entire “jam” series off of the soundtrack of “Self Discovery for Social Survival,” a documentary about surf culture and music. The song “Blackberry Jam” is joined by “Raspberry Jam,” “Boysenberry Jam,” “Blueberry Jam,” and “Mulberry Jam.” All are tinged with the sunny rock Allah-Las is known for.
  6. No Other – Gene Clark: I cannot stop listening to this song. For me, it was one of those tracks that was subpar at first but then morphed into one of my favorites after a few more listens. Gene Clark, most recognized for his role as lead singer for The Byrds, also had a successful solo career. This song is off his most well-known solo album, “No Other.”
  7. Pipeline – Stevie Ray Vaughn & Dick Dale: During my set, a very enthusiastic man called the station phone and requested anything Dick Dale and I couldn’t be happier to oblige. This song has to be one of my favorites from the OG king of surf rock.
  8. Surf De L’amour – Messer Chups: Messer Chups is a super interesting band. Originally from Russia, they somehow combine horror punk, surf music, and rockabilly. This song is definitely a testimony to their ability to infuse spooky vibes into their music.
  9. Docweiler – Mystic Braves: I feel like I have a Mystic Braves song in almost every single playlist I make for the blog, but I just can’t help myself. I truly have never heard a song I don’t like from them.
  10. Catfish Blues (BBC Session) – Jimi Hendrix: I could GUSH about my love for BBC Radio Sessions from the 60s and 70s, but I’ll save that for another blog. The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s BBC Session album is one of my personal favorites because of how playful and authentic they are. In this version of “Catfish Blues” (originally written by Robert Petway in 1941), Jimi seamlessly infuses the classic “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” into the blues ballad. Mitch Mitchell has an incredible drum solo at 3:28.
  11. T.M. – Jack Kilmer: This short little guitar piece, performed by actor Jack Kilmer in the movie “Palo Alto,” is so soft and nostalgic. It’s one of those songs that makes you want to look out the window in the backseat of a car and pretend like you’re in a movie.
  12. Moonlight on the River – Mac DeMarco: As we reach the end of the playlist, I wanted to throw in a familiar classic for all of our Mac DeMarco lovers out there. This song is one of the most comforting and soft I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear.

Tune in!

– DJ Butter

Categories
Miscellaneous Playlists

30 Ways to Practice Self-Care During Finals

I am a true believer that self-care is one of the most important things to incorporate into our daily routines. Now that the stress of final exams is piled on top of election panic, COVID anxiety, social upheaval, taking care of ourselves emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally is crucial. I try to do one thing every day that brings me joy and comfort. Self-care looks different for everyone, but here are some ways I like to wind down to make sure I don’t get too burned out. Some might work for you, some might not. Some take more time than others, and may only be accessible to you after finals are over. The important thing is to recognize what you love to do and make a little bit of time for it every day!

  1. Re-read your favorite book.
  2. Go on a long walk in nature. Even if it’s a short one, walking every day has been found to be very beneficial for our mental wellbeing.
  3. Buy a plant and watch it grow.
  4. Watch your comfort show.
  5. Call a friend.
  6. Make a collage.
  7. Take a really really really long shower.
  8. Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it.
  9. Go to bed early.
  10. LISTEN TO WKNC!
  11. Buy yourself something you’ve been wanting for a long time.
  12. Bake something sweet and share it with people you love.
  13. Clean your room.
  14. Organize your closet and donate your old clothes.
  15. Paint or draw, even if you’re bad at it.
  16. Dance around your room.
  17. Dress up for no reason.
  18. Journal, journal, journal! Writing out all the things I’m stressed about helps clear my head.
  19. Redecorate your room/home.
  20. Watch concerts of your favorite artists.
  21. GET. OFF. SOCIAL. MEDIA.
  22. Find new music and update your playlists.
  23. Buy some new skin/hair products.
  24. Light a candle.
  25. Make some tea, hot chocolate, or any warm beverage.
  26. Take a bubble bath.
  27. Exercise in your preferred way.
  28. Breathe deeply.
  29. Remember this too shall pass.
  30. Listen to this playlist I made you!
Categories
Non-Music News

WRAL & Artsplosure Present: “Nights of Lights”

Now that Halloween is over, the holiday season is officially underway. What better way to celebrate than supporting local Raleigh artists, listening to Christmas music, and never leaving the comfort of your car?

This year, the City of Raleigh is teaming up with WRAL and Artsplosure to create a COVID-safe holiday light show at Dorothea Dix Park. Attendees will be able to circle the 1.3-mile-long loop that surrounds the park in their cars to view art installations and light displays created by local artists. The beautiful oak trees that make Dix Park so special will also be adorned with holiday cheer.

Vortex Pro Wash, a local Raleigh business, will be responsible for the majority of the light displays. Their designers, Nick and Melissa Rhodes, will be putting up over 400 light arrangements around the park, totaling over 500 strands of lights!

As apart of the experience, the creators of First Night Raleigh will have a special edition installation available to view on December 30 and 31 to commemorate the beginning of 2021. The iconic Raleigh Acorn statue, which is traditionally dropped on New Year’s Eve, will take on a new role this year as it’s combined with the holiday light displays at Dix Park. Mix 101.5, another local radio station, will be putting together a Christmas-themed set to play at the Nights of Lights as well!

Artsplosure Director, Michael Lowder said about the holiday experience, “The board and staff of Artsplosure are grateful to WRAL and the City of Raleigh for the opportunity to enhance the inaugural Nights of Lights festival with elements of First Night Raleigh. The primary focus of First Night has always been to gather our community together in celebration of the arts and a common purpose. In the age of COVID, this platform gives us a unique setting to continue this tradition.”

If you’re interested in attending, here’s some more information:

Where: Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh, NC

When: Wednesday, December 16 – Thursday, December 31

Tickets: $10 per person, online purchases only

For ticket purchases, route maps, and other information, visit this link!

– DJ Butter