Categories
Miscellaneous

Album Art Gems: Part Four

Here we are again! Get ready for this week’s installment of Album Art Gems. If you haven’t been keeping up, here are the links to the first, second, and third parts.

1. Presence – Led Zeppelin

Quite a different energy than their other album covers, “Presence” is often ignored in comparison to their more popular LPs (but “Tea for One” is actually my favorite song currently). However, I find this cover really endearing, especially when I researched the meaning behind it. The cover shows a suburban family observing a strange, unidentifiable object in the middle of the table. On the inside of their vinyl covers, there are even more images of happy suburban people holding, staring at, or touching the same object. According to the band, the object was supposed to represent the Led Zeppelin’s place in society, and how they had a powerful yet mysterious presence in the world.

2. IGOR – Tyler, the Creator

This series would be incomplete without mentioning Tyler, the Creator’s most recent album. It is such an amazing visualization for the content of the album. Tyler looks rough, lost, and almost scary his collage-like portrait, but is contrasted by a bright pink background. To me, this is a great representation of the broken-hearted lyrics of “IGOR” and how they’re juxtaposed with happy, upbeat rhythms.

3. Copulating Rhythm, Volume One – Blues Compilation

This is a tad bit NSFW, but it was recommended by our lovely supervisor, Jamie. “Copulating Rhythm” is a blues and jazz compilation featuring artists like Lil Johnson, Rosetta Howard, Bo Carter, and many more with a rare collection of huggin’ and lovin’ songs (for adult listeners is right). Nevertheless, the colors and design of this cover are exquisite. (Apologies for the very small picture)

4. Horses – Patti Smith

If you haven’t read “Just Kids” by Patti Smith, go to the bookstore and pick it up right now. It is a beautiful, poetic autobiography by Smith and the amazing connection she had with Robert Mapplethorpe, one of the most influential photographers of our time. The book describes the exact moment when this photo was taken as Smith was entering the world of rock and Mapplethorpe was blossoming in his creative work.

5. Are You Experienced – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

I know, I know, it’s bad to give Jimi two features in this series, but I just can’t help myself. This album was the trio’s first, and my personal favorite. “Foxy Lady,” “Love or Confusion,” AND “Third Stone From the Sun”?? It’s amazing how so much genius can be in one album. The typography on this cover alone represented an entire cultural movement and is recognized even today as a masterpiece of letterform art. The colors, the fisheye, WOW. I could geek out about this album forever.

– DJ butter

Categories
Playlists

What if We Made Eye Contact Across the Parlour Like in Pride and Prejudice (2005)?

(Image: Hugh Thomson (1860-1920) / Public domain)

“Pride and Prejudice” is perhaps my favorite novel ever written. It is the perfect mixture of humor and elegance, and it’s my go-to reread book. It would be embarrassing to say how many times I’ve read it, especially since I’ve lost track at this point. If you haven’t had the opportunity to pick it up, it’s a lovely, satirical story written by Jane Austen about the expectations and pitfalls of upper-class women when it came to marriage in the 18th century. The Bennet’s, a family on the fringes of the English gentry, have five young daughters who their mother is desperate to marry off before money runs out. Elizabeth Bennet, our main character, forms a spiteful (yet enticing) relationship with Mr. Darcy, a member of the most elite family in England. It is a delightfully witty and heartwarming novel and I 10/10 recommend.

Listening to this playlist makes me feel like I’m living a life of luxury on the English countryside in the late 1700s. Now I know this time is crazy romanticized, especially since the vast majority of people were not a part of this elite class, but a girl can dream. I’m normally not a big listener of classical music, but these tracks are just too beautiful.

1. Liz on Top of the World – Jean Yves Thibaudet (Pride and Prejudice 2005 Soundtrack)

2. Yes! – Dario Marianelli [feat. Jack Liebeck] (Jane Eyre 2011 Soundtrack)

3. Suite Bergamasque, L. 75: III. Clair de lune – Claude Debussy

4. Awaken – Dario Marianelli [feat. Jack Liebeck] (Jane Eyre 2011 Soundtrack)

5. Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974: II. Adagio – Johann Sebastian Bach

6. Moonlight Sonata – Beethoven

7. Moceaux de Fantasie, op. 3: no.1, elégie – Sergei Rachmaninoff

8. The Secret Life of Daydreams – Jean Yves Thibaudet (Pride and Prejudice 2005 Soundtrack)

– DJ butter

Categories
Miscellaneous

Album Art Gems Pt. 3

Without further ado, here is this week’s installment of my favorite album covers of all time:

1.     Midnight Snack – HOMESHAKE

I think I’ve talked about this before in another blog post, but I love how this album art looks like the “Goodnight Moon” book cover, which was one of my favorite books growing up (fun fact: I would cry every time my mom read it to me because it made me so happy). It really fits in with the whole LP’s vibe, which feels very woozy and dreamy. The hand painted look in this piece feels delightfully playful and cozy.

2.     Pregnant With Success – Junglepussy

Junglepussy is honestly such a goddess, and this cover really captures her power. This portrait of her is composed so nicely, and I love how she simultaneously blends in with the elevator yet contrasts it with her gorgeous hair. The way the florescent lighting makes her face glow is exquisite. 

3.     BUSH – Snoop Dogg

This is another mm *chef’s kiss* cover. Produced by Pharrell, “BUSH” has a retro funk feel to it that complements Snoop’s smoothness perfectly. The simple surrealist-like feel this album cover gives off with the perfectly shaped bushes and bright bluedog is so great.

4.     Steve Lacy’s Demo – Steve Lacy

Steve Lacy consistently gives us amazing album covers, but this one is my personal favorite. The colors are fantastic and I love how the photo of him is juxtaposed on top of this bright pink mystery material. The way he stands between his bass and guitar is so casual yet speaks so powerfully to his talent on both.

5.     blkswn – Smino

Wow! Smino really overdid himself on “blkswn.” Not only is the actual content exquisite, but the cover art is too. The colors are divine and so is the composition. I love the way the album title is written on his comb, and the hands doing his hair seem to have personality and an air of movement to them. Keep it comin’ Smino.

– DJ butter

Categories
New Album Review

Album Review: Here Comes the Cowboy – Mac DeMarco

Cowboys are back in style. Lil Nas X is just one example of the cowboy aesthetic gaining recognition in pop culture, but what about on the indie scene?

Mac DeMarco’s most recent LP, “Here Comes the Cowboy,” is a playful homage to the simplicity of Western living. The album is slow and swoony, filled with the classic DeMarco strums, love songs, and odd humor. You can really just imagine him sitting in a rocking chair in front of a prairie, wearing a flannel shirt and cowboy hat, plucking along to this album as he stares longingly at the blue sky. Maybe even a cigarette between his front teeth gap, who knows.

This has actually been one of my favorite Mac DeMarco albums so far. It’s really nice to play while relaxing or in the background, but it has its own merits for more focused listening as well. The first five songs definitely follow a definitive mellow Western sound, but things start to pick up and diversify with “Choo Choo,” which is a bit more upbeat, and “Heart to Heart,” which includes more synth-bass vibes. “On the Square” also has a bit more of a jazzy feel with the light piano notes. “Skyless Moon” is honestly heavenly with his characteristic crooning. “Hey Cowgirl” holds a very special place in my heart because yours truly is living on a farm right now. The album ends on another cowboy note in “Baby Bye Bye,” a strong finish for one of Mac’s most relaxing collections.

Overall, I really just love how Mac combines Western acoustic, synth-like strums, and prominent bass to make a really unique tone on “Here Comes the Cowboy.”

– DJ butter

Categories
Miscellaneous

Album Art Gems: Part 2

This is a continuation of a series on my all-time favorite album art!

There’s so much really bad cover design out there, so when I find one that catches my eye it’s a great feeling. It’s hard to make a good album cover; to be able to capture the feel of an album and an artist through visuals is a real talent. There’s no doubt that music and design fit well together, but to find the sweet spot that encapsulates an artist’s vision while staying tasteful is difficult.

Here are this week’s albums that do just that:

1.     JACKBOYS – JACKBOYS & Travis Scott

The everlasting king Travis Scott has done it again. He is honestly one of my biggest guilty pleasures, but his stuff is always so fire, including the JACKBOYS cover. This short album, with Don Toliver, Sheck Wes, and other guests came out around Christmas in 2019 and has to be one of my favorites from Travis. The grainy film texture and colors on this cover are amazing.

2.     Still Striving – A$AP Ferg

I really adore the simplicity of this cover art. To me, the best covers are the ones that completely leave out all the information about the album and opt to provide a visual that speaks for the music itself. A$AP Ferg accomplished this beautifully with “Still Striving,” his 2017 release.

3.     Chinese Fountain – The Growlers

Not the biggest fan of the Growlers right now if I’m being honest with myself, but the “Chinese Fountain” cover is a really stand out piece. The colors of the neon sign, the fog, and how it all mimics a restaurant you’d find in China Town really complements the album nicely. 

4.     Thickfreakness – The Black Keys

love how the all the album info is worked into this cover. This is from one of the Black Keys’ older albums, but it continues to be one of my favorites now. All around, I just love the colors and composition.

5.     Mint – Orions Belte

Recently, Orions Belte has been at the top of my listening cue. If you’re into any sort of psychedelic surf rock, you’d be into them too. The way the lines and figures all blend together is so fantastic and trippy.

Stay tuned for next week’s rendition of Album Art Gems!

– DJ butter

Categories
Non-Music News

How To Vote in North Carolina: Step by Step

November 3rd is right around the corner, so you know what that means: It’s voting season! No matter what your political beliefs are, voting is an incredibly essential part of sustaining our democracy. It is one of the only ways that we can have a direct say in who gets to be our political leaders.

This year, voting may look a bit different because of the current circumstances surrounding the virus. More people than ever are turning to absentee voting to avoid crowds at the polls. There has been a lot of turmoil and misinformation spread around voting by mail, so let’s break down the process and terms:

Absentee Ballot/Voting: This refers to a mail-in ballot that can be requested by an individual who cannot make it to their polling place for whatever reason. To request an absentee ballot in NC, you DO NOT have to be out of your state, county, or polling area. You can request an absentee ballot for any circumstance and you do not have to provide a reason.

Mail-In Ballot/Voting: This is a BROAD TERM that refers to all forms of sending in ballots by mail. In some states (not NC), voters are automatically sent a ballot through mail and they can send this back or drop it off at their local election office. In those states, absentee voting means a person is out of the state or country. However, in most circumstances absentee voting and mail-in voting are interchangeable terms.

How to Vote in NC:

Step 1: Register to Vote (First-Time Voters)

You can register to vote online! There are several ways to do this and many websites that assist with this. You must submit these applications 25 days before an election, or October 9.

1. Method One: Fill out this application and mail it to your local election office. All the addresses are on the last page of the application.

2. Method Two: You may already be registered to vote if you have a NC Driver’s License. You can also fill out an online application through the DMV’s website as well.

3. Method Three: Lots of third-party websites have voter registration tools as well. Vote.org is a great place to register to vote online the same way you would through the NC voting website. Using reliable websites like these creates the same outcome as using the first two methods.

4. Method Four: If you decide to do in-person early voting, you can register on site. You must have an ID or a document that shows your full name and current address to register to vote in person early.

Step 2: Update Your Registration (Experienced Voters)

1. If you are unsure if you are registered to vote or if your address is updated, you can look up your registration using this tool.

2. If you need to update your address, you can use the DMV’s registration tool or the mail-in application tool (both mentioned above).

3. You can also update your address on site if you decide to do early voting in-person.

Step 3: Voting

If you decide to vote IN PERSON, there are two way to do so:

1. Early Voting: Begins 19 days before the election (October 15) and ends 3 days before the election (October 31)

2. Election Day Voting: This is November 3!

(Note that you DO NOT need any sort of ID if you vote in person, unless you are registering to vote on-site. You can only register to vote on site during early voting.)

If you decide to vote ABSENTEE, here is the process for that:

1. This year, you can fill out an absentee ballot request form online here. You can also fill out a paper copy here and return it by mail, email, or fax to your local election office OR drop it off in person. Whichever you choose, they must be received seven days before November 3, or October 27 at 5pm.

2. Starting September 4, absentee ballots will be mailed to voters who requested them. Fill out your ballot.

3. You can return the ballot to your county board of elections office through the mail, in person, or at an early voting site. These must be received by 5pm on November 3.

All information from this blog was found from these sources. For additional information, you can visit these links!

NCSBOE FAQs: Voting By Mail

NCSBOE Home Website

Vote.org NC Election Tools

I know that voting may seem like a trifling thing to do when there is so much systematic injustice in America, but our country is at a crucial turning point. 

Vote like it.

– DJ butter

(Image: Tom Arthur from Orange, CA, United States / CC BY-SA link)

Categories
Miscellaneous

Album Art Gems: Part One

One of my greatest loves, that I really could talk about forever, is album cover designs. Get ready. This is going to be a weekly series of my favorite album covers of all time, simply because there’s too many to fit into only one blog post.

I am a graphic design major and designer for WKNC, so you can imagine that aesthetics is very important to me. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but I think this foolish. Who wants to read a book that’s title is in Comic Sans? Not I.

Album covers help to communicate a lot about an artist and the message behind their music. There is something so beautiful to me about having one type of art inform another, and album art does just that. One of my favorite things to do is peruse Nice Price Records on Hillsborough St. and find a record with the coolest cover I can find. Even if it’s in completely random genre section that I would normally never listen to, this has been a great way to find design inspiration and new music.

Both a mixture of classics and newbies, here’s my top five for this week’s installment of Album Art Gems:

1.     Freetown Sound – Blood Orange

If you’ve read any of my blogs, you know that I am a big Dev Hynes fan. His album covers are always so beautiful, but “Freetown Sound” is the most standout to me. The colors are divine, and it pairs wonderfully with his album’s message to highlight Black relationships and love.

2.     Axis: Bold as Love – Jimi Hendrix

I LOVE JIMI HENDRIX. He was a musical god and his genius on the guitar and as a poet is timeless. I had the “Axis” cover as a poster in my freshman dorm for an entire year. With Eastern philosophy and psychedelics gaining popularity in America right around the time “Axis” was released, the Jimi Hendrix Experience reflected this cultural revolution in this insane album art.

3.     DHL (Single) – Frank Ocean

Frank is known for his simplicity and anonymity. To be entirely honest, I have no idea what’s going on in this cover, but I like it a lot. The type design for DHL is really fun and interesting, along with the colors overall.

4.     Vacation in Hell – Flatbush Zombies

This album cover is mm *chef’s kiss*. FBZ are the dark, expressive rap group we all need right now, yet this cover really contrasts their normal undead vibes. During an interview, they said that this shoot was scheduled on a day when it was completely overcast and rainy. Just when they were about to call it quits as the day was ending, the sun burst through the clouds and they were able to take the perfect shot.

5.     Let it Bleed – The Rolling Stones

Finally, we have a great classic from the Rolling Stones. Like the “DHL” single, I really have no idea what’s happening, but whatever it is, it’s working. If you look closely, the bottom layers of the “cake” seem to be made up of a bike tire, a pancake, a clock, and a film reel canister. The colors and strange simplicity of this cover will always make it one of my favorites. 

Hope you guys enjoyed this as much as I did.

Tune in!

– DJ butter

Categories
Playlists

Trekkin’ Tunes

Hiking is really the only type of exercise I actually enjoy doing. Middle school gym class conditioned me to dislike (fear) any sport that involves a ball, lots of running, or really anything remotely competitive. So, here we are left with long nature walks.

In Raleigh, my favorite place to hike is on the Sal’s Branch trail at Umstead Park. It’s a beautiful wooded loop that I find really relaxing to walk on. Sometimes I prefer to hike without music just to hear nature, but I find that if I’m feeling especially overwhelmed, music and walking is the perfect combo to get me out of my head.

Here is a sneak peek into my hiking playlist. At first glance, it may look like a completely random and weird mixture of artists, which it absolutely is. However, if you take a listen, all these songs combine gentleness and beauty that allow for reflection, along with a steady or upbeat tempo that keeps you walking at a consistent pace. Don’t be fooled by the Jimi and Zeppelin appearance.

Go outside. Start walking. Take a listen. I hope it’s as meditative for you as it is for me.

1. Cherokee Mist – Jimi Hendrix
2. Orange Peel – Sopwith Camel
3. Heart to Heart – Mac Demarco
4. Benzo – Blood Orange
5. Nikes – Frank Ocean
6. Give It to Me – HOMESHAKE
7. Purity – A$AP Rocky (feat. Frank Ocean)
8. The Rain Song (Live) – Led Zeppelin
9. Stormy – The Meters
10. Lost My Mind – Will Van Horn
11. Mango (Freestyle/Process) – Orion Sun & Mulch
12. You Don’t Have to Change – Kool & The Gang
13. Hit Me Like That Snare – alt-J (feat. Rejjie Snow)
14. T.M. – Jack Kilmer
15. Too Late to Turn Back Now – Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose

– DJ butter

Categories
Playlists

Wholesome Lyrics

Why is it so hard to find songs, especially in rap, hip-hop, and r&b that don’t oversexualize womxn or refer to them in derogatory terms? Of course, female artists objectify men in their music as well, but the overarching pattern is male artists dominating these genres with those type of degrading lyrics. I have found that over the years I’ve become desensitized to it all and instead have chosen to focus on the sound of certain songs rather than the lyrics themselves. Though this works at times, I’m tired of hearing my sisters be called names that I would get in trouble for writing in this blog.

I started a playlist a couple of years ago called “songs that respect women and I can listen to without cringing.” I thought I’d share some of these wholesome songs that both sound AND feel good.

1. Blind Man – Xavier Ömar

Best Lyric: “I can love you with my eyes closed/ I don’t lose sight of your beauty/ ‘Cause your heart is fine gold, baby”

2. Spicy 103 FM – Junglepussy

Best Lyric: “Acting up caught you slipping tripping on banana peels/ Now your heart is at the f—— bottom of my six-inch heels.”

3. Consensual Seduction – Mick Jenkins

Best Lyric: “Your instruction is important, just (say it out loud)/ We can do the wait if you can’t more than whisper”

4. Philosopher – Iris Temple

Best Lyric: “Would you sit a while with me?/ We can sit in conversation and create the constellations/ Teach me something, can’t just leave me here alone”

5. Hope – Blood Orange (feat. Puff Daddy & Tei Shi)

Best Lyric: “Sometimes I ask myself, like/ You know, what is it going to take for me not to be afraid/ To be loved the way, like, I really wanna be loved?”

6. An Idea – IAMNOBODY (feat. Emmavie, Zacari, & Josh J)

Best Lyric: “While I’m right here, baby, for you/ I just thought I should let you know/ While this feeling’s so fresh and so smooth/ I never wanna let you go”

7. Girl – The Internet (feat, KAYTRANDA)

Best Lyric: “If I told you that you rock my world, I want you around me/ Would you let me call you my girl?”

8. Unrequited Love – Thundercat

Best Lyric: “I’ve been searching high and love, wondering where my feelings go/ Nothing fees the same, ‘cause there’s no one like you”

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

Best Lyric: “Let’s just run away from here, ‘cause it’s not/ Workin’ out on Earth, my dear/ What you really want girl?/ My heart stops pumpin’ blood when I see you/ But I try to play it cool because I like you (I really like you)”

10. Prototype – Outkast
Best Lyric: “I wanna say stank you, very much/ For picking me up and bringing me back to this world/ I think I’m in love again”

Take a listen!

– DJ butter

Categories
Band/Artist Profile

Artist Spotlight: Greta Van Fleet

Jake Kiska by Nicolas Padovani / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

I was introduced to Greta Van Fleet by a close friend right before Christmas of 2019. We were both in awe of the (gorgeous) boys and their power on stage. Strangely enough, their music was what brought me to love classic rock as much as I do now.

Since their debut album, “From the Fires,” was released in 2017, they have captured the hearts of young and old audiences alike by reviving the spirit of 60’s rock. Originally from Frankenmuth, Michigan, the band is comprised of three brothers; Jake, Josh, and Samuel Kiska, as well as their childhood friend Daniel Wagner.

One of the most common things you’ll hear when listening to interviews with the group of four is how they deal with being compared to Led Zeppelin, one of the greatest rock bands of all time. It is impossible not to see the similarities. Josh, their lead singer, has the same powerful screech as Robert Plant. Jimmy Page’s prowess on guitar is reborn through Jake Kiska. Even their fringe vests, tight pants, and feathers mirror the Zeppelin era. However, Greta Van Fleet definitely injects a more contemporary feel in their music. Taking inspiration from both classic and modern rock, the blues, and soul, their sound is a mixture of upbeat tones and heavy rock.

Their on-stage performances are fantastic to watch. Instead of definitive breaks between songs like most bands, their set usually just comprises of one incredibly long ballad, made up of bits of their own songs and pieces of covers. A true standout is their 30-minute-long performance of “Lover, Leaver” that can be found on YouTube and Apple Music. Though it begins and ends like the original “Lover, Leaver,” in between you can also hear some of their other songs like “Safari Song” and “Brave New World,” as well as a cover of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” by Muddy Waters. A great part about their live performances is how you can really see how intuitively connected and synced they are. Maybe it’s because three out of the four are brothers, but I’ve never seen a stronger bond between bandmates. Their guitarist, Jake Kiska, is especially a force to be reckon with when he commands the stage with his insane riffs.

Above all, Greta Van Fleet has made clear that their mission is to promote peace, love, and unity through their music. Their newest album, “Anthem of the Peaceful Army,” is a testimony to these ideals.

Discography:

  • From the Fires (2017)
  • Anthem of the Peaceful Army (2018)

Members:

  • Josh Kiska (Vocals)
  • Jake Kiska (Guitar)
  • Samuel Kiska (Bass & Organ)
  • Daniel Wagner (Drums)

My Favorite Songs:

  • Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer) [Live]
  • Brave New World
  • A Change is Gonna Come
  • Mountain of the Sun
  • Edge of Darkness

-DJ butter