Classic Album Review

Retro Review: Freedom Flight by Shuggie Otis

ALBUM: “Freedom Flight” by Shuggie Otis


LABEL: BMG Music Entertainment

RATING: 10/10

BEST TRACKS: “Sweet Thang,” “Strawberry Letter 23” and “Purple”

FCC: Clean

Even though Shuggie Otis isn’t a name you probably know off the top of your head, his famous song “Strawberry Letter 23” sure is. After being covered by the Brothers Johnson in 1977, the song’s popularity skyrocketed. However, despite its success, many forget who the original artist was.

From an early age, Shuggie Otis showed incredible talent. His father, Johnny Otis, would let him perform with him at clubs when he was just a teenager. He released his first album, “Here Comes Shuggie Otis” at only 16 years old. His second album, “Freedom Flight,” which contains the original “Strawberry Letter 23,” came out only a year later.

I can’t even imagine being 17 years old and producing such a sophisticated album. If Jimi Hendrix and Prince had a lovechild, it would be Shuggie Otis. Not only did Otis have unreal chops on the guitar, but his songwriting, singing, and production skills were incredible too. “Freedom Flight” is a dream-infused journey through OG rhythm and blues.

Even though Shuggie’s claim to fame is “Strawberry Letter 23,” the rest of “Freedom Flight” is just as rich, if not more so. It starts off with the funk ballad “Ice Cold Daydream,” an upbeat, layered track with a hint of Otis’s young yet confident vocals. Where things really start to pick up is with the sultry song “Sweet Thang.” The way he layers the bluesy guitar with the piano is exquisite, creating a slow yet funky atmosphere. He twangs a similar mood in “Purple,” a fantastic instrumental. “Me and My Woman” and “One Room Country Shack” really drive home the liveliness of the blues. The second to last song, “Freedom Flight” is a jazzy, psychedelic epic that’s sure to send you into astral projection.

Though Shuggie Otis is far from being forgotten as one of the pioneers of classic R&B, he definitely deserves more recognition. “Freedom Flight” is an amazing album with unreal range.

Classic Album Review

Retro Review: Master of Reality

ALBUM: “Master of Reality” by Black Sabbath


LABEL: Vertigo Records

RATING: 10/10

BEST TRACKS: “Sweet Leaf,” “Solitude” and “Into The Void”

FCC: Clean

The year is 1971. The “flower child” era is coming to a close, the Vietnam War is raging on and the people’s distrust in their governments grows stronger by the day. The music that arose at the beginning of the 1970s was no doubt fueled by this cultural shift. Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin had already begun to pave the way for a new, heavier version of rock, and Black Sabbath took it to the next level.

Today, “Master of Reality” is heralded as one of the earliest, and most prolific, metal albums to ever have been released. Sabbath’s first two albums could be considered the true beginning of heavy metal, but “Master of Reality” was an obvious turning point for the band in terms of sophistication. Unlike their earlier releases, it was recorded over the span of a luxuriously long three months. This gave them time for experimentation and re-recording.

The range on this album is impeccable. Part of what made Black Sabbath’s sound so unique was guitarist Tony Iommi’s finger injury, which he got while working at a sheet metal factory. To make playing less painful, he created fake fingertips that made a rich, heavy sound on his instrument. In “Master of Reality,” he also down-tuned his guitar to make it easier on his injured fingers. The result was otherwordly. Filled with the sludgiest sounds you can imagine, the album proved to be a staple of stoner metal with its leaden riffs.

But Iommi wasn’t the only standout. Singer and frontman Ozzy Osbourne truly came into his voice in “Master of Reality.” Ranging from high-pitched screeches in the classic “Sweet Leaf” to a soft, melancholy croon in “Solitude,” he really pulls out all the stops.

“Into the Void” is a six-minute epic with so many rhythm changes it’s impossible to sit still while listening. Iommi’s guitar solo in the last minute of the song is absolutely insane. “Children of the Grave,” another classic, is a powerful ode to the needless tragedies of the Vietnam War.

“Masters of Reality” stays true to its name. Sabbath’s goal was not to keep the carefree and idealistic visions of the 1960’s alive, but instead reflect the harshness of a new era with power and force.


Miranda’s Must Reads

Written by Miranda

I never imagined my last day at WKNC would be working from my couch across the country from North Carolina. COVID-19 changed a lot about my senior year of undergraduate. Reflecting on all of this has me reminiscing about all the things I’ve created during my time and WKNC and what I’d most like for anyone who hasn’t seen my work to read. Hope you enjoy.

  1. Friday Favorites Series – I created the Friday Favorites series in order to openly share all the new music I’ve enjoyed each week. I love being able to listen to a years’ worth of music from the playlist I created while making these posts.
  2. Review of Scott Avett’s Exhibition at NCMA – This was my first post for WKNC and still one of my favorites. It was a great exhibit of a cool local artist and musician.
  3. Album Review: Which Way Is Forward? – A beautiful album that I only discovered through my job at WKNC. I still listen to this artist frequently even over a year later.
  4. COVID-19 and Musical Experiences – Something that really interested me was shared experiences in music when people are separated. Researching for this was fun and eye-opening.
  5. A Greater Understanding: Educational Resources Relating to #BlackLivesMatter – The ability to actively participate in important social movements is one of the best features of working at WKNC. These still-relevant resources helped me increase my understanding of the BLM movement and the systemic racism in our country that must be dismantled.
  6. Black Contributions to Music Series – Doing the research for these posts not only helped me appreciate how much the Black community has done for popular culture, but also how much of these accomplishments are glossed over by mainstream media.

Underground Discoveries: Four Songs to Add to Your Rotation Pt. 4

$200 Haircuts – Rio Da Yung Og (2020)

Flint, Michigan rapper Rio Da Yung Og gives fans a high energy and chest rocking track with “$200 Haircuts.” He is known for clever bars and sharp punch-ins that will make a listener stand out of their seat. The above track is great for a heavy workout playlist.

It’s A Scene – Joey Fatts (2020)

Joey Fatts gives fans a smooth and classy record with his song “It’s A Scene.” The song gives reminiscent feelings of coming from struggle to success. This track is good for a car ride on a warm day.

Quick – KMB Remix  – Duckwrth, KIAN, KMB (2021)

Duckwrth teams up with artists KIAN and KMB to deliver a groovy and bounce-filled remix to his song “Quick.” This track is full of joy and soul that makes you want to dance at your desk. This remix is perfect for both high energy and relaxed settings.

Rider – Mereba (2021)

Mereba gives fans a beautiful new single for the summer with the track “Rider.” With soft island-inspired elements, Mereba’s voice gently glides over the instrumentation in a perfect way. This track is perfect for a very relaxed day filled with peace and joy.

Weekly Charts

Afterhours Charts 5/4

1BELLA BOOOnce Upon A Passion RemixesStudio Barnhus
2KAREEM ALIBlack Power [EP]890243 DK
3DJ POOLBOIit’s good to hear your voiceMajestic Casual
4PARK HYE JINHow Can I [EP]Ninja Tune
6FAERIE2am [EP]Self-Released
7ARCAKiCk iXL/Beggars Group
8BLUE HAWAIIUnder 1 House [EP]Arbutus
9DANIEL AVERYLove + LightMute
10COM TRUISEIn Decay, TooGhostly International
Weekly Charts

Daytime Charts 5/4


1REMEMBER SPORTSLike A StoneFather/Daughter
2ELI SMARTBoonie Town [EP]Polydor
3SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVEEntertainment, DeathSaddle Creek
5FAT TONYExoticaCarpark
6DRY CLEANINGNew Long Leg4AD/Beggars Group
8MARKEE STEELEVet & A Rook [EP]Thee Marquee
9CRUMBIce MeltSelf-Released
10BLU AND EXILEMilesDirty Science
12REALLY FROMReally FromTopshelf
13BUTCHER BROWN#KingButchConcord Jazz
14TOBIElements Vol. 1Same Plate/RCA
16JAPANESE BREAKFASTJubillee [Advance Tracks]Dead Oceans
17GENESIS OWUSUSmiling With No TeethHouse Anxiety/Ourness
18RATBOYSHappy Birthday, RatboyTopshelf
19SPUD CANNON“Juno” [Single]Good Eye
20RICO NASTYNightmare Vacation [Advance Tracks]Sugar Trap
21JIMMY EDGARCheetah BendInnovative Leisure
22KXG“Tonka” [Single]Self-Released
23CHAD VANGAALENWorld’s Most Stressed Out GardenerSub Pop
24BABE RAINBOW, THEChanging Colours [Advance Tracks]Eureka/Kobalt
25EARLY EYESSunbathing [EP]Epitaph
26LAVA LA RUEButter-fly [EP]Marathon
27SMERZBelieverXL/Beggars Group
28FAKE FRUITFake FruitRocks In Your Head
29DEZRON DOUGLAS AND BRANDEE YOUNGERForce MajeureInternational Anthem
30JOESEFDoes It Make You Feel Good [EP]AWAL


1MAASHO“Sad Machine” [Single]Self-Released
2LUIS AGATONA Weekend Out, And the Weeks That Follow [EP]Self-Released
3FOREIGN AGE“La La La (It’s Okay)” [Single]Self-Released
4JULIANA HATFIELDBloodAmerican Laundromat
5CLAIRE RENEEWingsSelf-Released
6AUTOGRAMMNo RulesNevado
7MAJOR MURPHYAccessWinspear
Band/Artist Profile

Against Me! Artist Profile

I’ve got something a little different for you today, an old fashioned punk band with a storied career: from underground darlings to this week’s savior of rock and roll to pioneers of the gender dysphoria blues, there aren’t a whole lot of bands with a career quite like Against Me! (Yes, the “!” is mandatory, so get used to it).

Against Me! has an early career that makes most punk bands seem like posers. A set of high school dropouts with felony convictions since the age of 14, brutalization by the police, anarchist leanings, and strictly independent promotion, you could hardly ask for a more nailed to rights punk story. However, their initial sound wasn’t quite as hardcore as you’d assume given these stories, they were really more like The Clash than Black Flag, and their debut album “Reinventing Axl Rose” is filled with drinking songs, dad rock, and political anthems that betray a surprising amicability with the mainstream. As a result, their albums sold shockingly well for a punk band in the mid-2000s with absolutely no label support, industry connections or nepotistic advantages. The biggest rock bands of this era were children of the industry (The Strokes, The Calling), holdovers from the 90s (Modest Mouse, Foo Fighters), or just straight up industry plants (Simple Plan, Limp Biskit). So expectations were high.

Then, Against Me! did the thing that no self-respecting punk band should ever do, they signed to a major label. Surprisingly, it went pretty well. Their style was already mainstream-friendly, so besides a clean production job and marginally less swearing, the album was authentically them, and it had the benefit of major label support. Granted, it was 2007, and rock and roll was truly dead, so their new album didn’t chart that well, but they had a few rock radio hits, and all the old school magazines like The Rolling Stone gave them absolutely rave reviews. Things were looking up, there was only one problem.

In the early 2010s, Against Me! was tired of major label bureaucracy, tired of touring, and their lead singer was tired of playing “the angry white man in a punk band.” Now, this is hardly unusual, as punk kids grow up and put their lives in a wider context, the freedom of a punk lifestyle starts to feel like its own restriction. The difference for Against Me! lead singer Laura Grace was that she was transgender, and tired of playing any kind of man in any band. The reasonable thing to do here would be brake up the band and move on to a new career in business or computer science or something like that, but you don’t get mainstream play as a punk band without having an excess of balls and a deficit of brains, so Grace tried something that to my knowledge no successful band has ever done in punk rock before: She transitioned while staying in the scene.

The machismo of traditionalist punk can at times make it an unfriendly place for any woman, much less a trans woman who until now had made music explicitly employing hyper-masculine imagery and attracting the kind of audience that connects with these symbols. In 2014, Against Me! released “Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” where Grace, like many trans singers, continued singing in her original vocal range while unashamedly singing about her experiences and inner struggle. The album retains every bit of the fighting spirit of their early releases, with a new sense of vigor and direction. Their most recent album from 2017 is even better. I can recommend every album they’ve released without reservation. Whether listening to a 20-year-old punk kid reinvent Axl Rose, or a woman in her 40s fighting an entirely different kind of battle, it’s punk at its best: raw, real and ready to burn it all down to make way for something new.


Miranda’s Must Listens

Written by Miranda

Today is my last day of college and my last day working at WKNC. Writing that is intense. I’ve made so many great memories throughout the past few years and enjoyed almost every second of it. I’ve learned a lot about myself and changed in many ways. My music taste has evolved and grown especially during my time at WKNC. I decided to compile a playlist of the songs I probably could not have survived college without and the ones I think any person should hear at least once. If you’re not into reading lists, check out the Spotify playlist here. Hope you enjoy.

  1. Hello by Erykah Badu
  2. lovers’ carvings by Bibio
  3. Harold’s by Freddie Gibbs
  4. Dark & Handsome by Blood Orange
  5. Savannah by Flipturn
  6. Chicago (acoustic version) by Sufjan Stevens
  7. Golden Girls by Devendra Banhart
  8. Getting It On by SALES
  9. Cut Your Bangs by Radiator Hospital
  10. Fake I.D. by Joyce Manor
  11. East Harlem by Beirut
  12. Tessellate by alt-J
  13. Compromise. by Phony Ppl
  14. We Don’t Care by Kanye West
  15. Dry Bones by Alvin Band
  16. let’s relate by of Montreal
  17. Francis Forever by Mitski
  18. When Doves Cry by Sarah Jarosz
  19. Good Friday by CocoRosie
  20. Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second by STRFKR
  21. Easy Easy by King Krule
  22. Not In Love by Crystal Castles
  23. LEAVE ME ALONE by Amaarae


Local Coffeeshop Soundtrack: Heirloom Coffeeshop

If there’s one thing I love doing around Raleigh, NC, it’s going to coffeeshops alone to drink good tea or coffee. Even if I usually wear my earphones to focus on what I’m reading or working on, if good music is playing, there’s a great chance my drink is going to taste better. I can’t help it. I’m just sensitive to the music playing around me. Since I’m that sensitive, I thought it’d be fun to make playlists inspired by the music I hear at every coffeeshop I go to just to recreate their atmosphere — starting with Heirloom.

Heirloom is a cute Taiwanese and Laotian café in Downtown Raleigh that serves amazing tea and vegan mochi donuts. Their playlist mostly revolves around new electronic music and indie stuff. I don’t really listen to electronic music anymore, though I used to dig this genre a lot on Soundcloud a few years ago. The thing is, every time I go to Heirloom, the music mesmerizes my brain and I can’t help Shazaming every song that comes on. The music always plays louder in the bathroom, so in case you want to Shazam a song while you’re there, you know where to go. Here are five songs that illustrate their playlist most accurately. You can listen to the full Heirloom playlist I made here.

“All In Me” by Jerry Folk

This is one of the first songs I ever Shazamed when I went to Heirloom. Jerry Folk is known for his hypnotizing and chill electronic songs, often accompanied by a female voice. The intro takes some time to build up the general atmosphere of the song, and once you get to the “chorus”, it gets addictive. I’m always so impressed by electronic music producers that can make you feel so many things with so little lyrics.

“No More Love Songs” by Harrison Brome and Pomo (FCC: explicit language)

I would describe this song as sweet, slow and electronic R&B. It’s the perfect balance between the amazing work of producer Pomo and Harrison Brome’s soothing voice. Just add to that romantic lyrics and you get your perfect indie-electronic love song (quite ironic, given the title).

“Winter In Tokyo” by Kazam

Speaking of artists who make you feel things without lyrics, Kazam is one of them. Each song by this young French lo-fi producer makes me feel like I’m floating on a cloud. The instruments he uses closely resemble traditional Japanese music. The mix between traditional Japanese instruments and his own is what makes his music so unique and I’m obsessed.

“Tied Up” by LEISURE

Another song I’ve Shazamed at Heirloom before. It’s indie, alternative, pop, a little R&B, a little electronic — genres are too confusing for me to put a label on LEISURE, because they truly do it all. All you need to know is that this song is both sensual and uplifting, and its enchanting aura is addictive.

“All Yours” by APRE

Soapy cheesy romantic lyrics are the best lyrics, but they’re even better when they’re written for good alternative indie songs. “All Yours” is one of them. The repetitive notes played on the synthesizer are in perfect harmony with the bass and the drums, and it really makes for a catchy 90’s inspired love song.

— Lise Nox

DJ Highlights

Thank You For Everything, WKNC

The Saw’s first DJ shift at WKNC.

As we approach May, final exams are beginning and seniors are excitedly waiting for graduation. Very exciting times! I am a senior here at NC State, and I have a bittersweet feeling about leaving the Wolfpack. On one hand, I am excited to start my next journey in adulthood and see where that leads me. But on the other hand, I will miss NC State, specifically, WKNC – the place that I have called home for 4 years. 

I first heard about WKNC from my dad. He was telling me that NC State has a radio station that plays metal and it automatically caught my interest. Once I was on campus, I went to the WKNC interest meeting and from there I applied to become a Chainsaw Rock DJ. From there, I became the Chainsaw Rock Music Director and later the Content Manager. It is crazy to see how much I have grown during my time at WKNC. I went from having a show from midnight to 1AM, to being on during prime time on Friday’s from 5pm-7pm. 

I’ve gotten to see my show grow and transform into something that I want to do for the rest of my life. I went from being “DJ Saw” to The Saw, host of The Saw’s Butcher Shop where I play the heaviest metal on the planet. I then got to showcase my Local Butchers when I created the Bone Cruncher – an hour set where I played local NC bands. The sense of community that derived from this was so inspiring. I love playing music and seeing band’s reactions when they hear themselves on the radio. It’s such a surreal feeling. 

While at WKNC I had the honor of emceeing the North Carolina State Fair and introducing Between the Buried and Me, emceed the first ever Chainsaw Presents show, attended and spoke at two CBI conventions, and had the honor of interviewing Myke Terry from Volumes, Dee Snider from Twister Sister, Trevor Peres from Obituary, and Andreas Kisser from Sepultura.  

WKNC is what made my NC State experience. I am so thankful for the people I have gotten to meet and for the opportunities and experiences I created.

 I want to thank my parents for always being my number one supporter and for always tuning into my set to jam with me. You have helped me way more than you both know. 

I want to personally thank Jamie Gilbert for everything she has done for me. Thank you for believing in me and in The Saw’s Butcher Shop. None of this could have happened without you.

And finally, I want to thank YOU, the listener. It has been my honor to hand out beatings, and you kept coming back for more! Thank you. 

If you want to stay up to date with The Saw, all of my information can be found at

This isn’t goodbye, but a see you later. The Saw’s work is never complete. 

Stay Metal, 


The Saw’s last DJ shift at WKNC. Photo by Courtney Breen on Instagram.