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Classic Album Review

Doing Our Thing with Pride: Long Lost SC Soul Act Finally Gets a Reissue

Bandcamp can be hit or miss, but boy do I have a hit for you today. As part of their ‘Album of the Day’ series, Bandcamp has released a long-since out of print record from the disco era. “Doing Our Thing with Pride,” is the 1977 sole studio album from Greenville SC soul outfit The Al-Dos Band. Until literally last week, you could not listen to any of these songs without dropping literally thousands of dollars on Discogs. You can check the Bandcamp page for more information on the reissue, but today, we’re just going to give this thing the straightforward review it deserved 45 years ago.

The Al-Dos band skirt the lines of many retro styles. This was very common the 70s, when black music hit the mainstream and interesting experiments were, at least briefly, rewarded. The sound is clearly influenced by the contemporary trends in dance like funk and disco, but the core sound is more traditional. The best term is probably ‘country soul’ as the Al-Dos band have the most southern of soul aesthetics, at times bordering on gospel influence. It’s a fusion that was surprisingly rare in the decade following Sly and the Family Stone. The music is clearly steeped in the tradition of the black church, while remaining light, danceable, and sensual.

The lyrical themes are probably easy to infer from the album title: “Doing Our Thing with Pride.” The songwriter clearly wanted to continue in the tradition of “Say it Loud I’m Black and Proud,” or “What’s Going On,” writing songs that aren’t so much pollical theses as they are statements of intent and empowerment. Accordingly, much of the album isn’t political at all, instead taking themes of heartbreak and loss that transcend the era. The result is an album that is about as quintessentially 1977 as it gets, without ever becoming dated.

Music nerds like to think the best music will always eventually rise to the top, but the long-term obscurity of small-label wonders like the Al-Dos, screwed over by industry, geography, and happenstance, challenge that narrative. So much wonderful music remains out of print in our modern era. So, if you’re tired of buying blockbuster albums on vinyl for extortionate prices, take this album as your lesson to buy something for $5 from a band no one remembers. You might just find the next big discovering in record collecting.

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Classic Album Review

“The Execution Of All Things” by Rilo Kiley (Album Review)

ALBUM: “The Execution Of All Things” by Rilo Kiley

RELEASE YEAR: 2002

LABEL: Saddle Creek

RATING: 10/10

BEST TRACKS: “The Execution Of All Things” “A Better Son/Daughter” “Spectacular Views”

FCC: None

I first heard “The Execution of All Things” at some time during the simultaneous infinite expanse and blip of time that was quarantine/lockdown in 2020. Instantaneously, it became one of my favorite albums of all time and solidified Rilo Kiley as one of my favorite bands ever, although this was the first project I ever listened to by them. 

Jenny Lewis’ voice was made for indie-rock. I’ve tried listening to other projects of hers, but Rilo Kiley will forever be my favorite. Blake Sennett and her made magic with Rilo Kiley, and not much will ever compare in my opinion.

“The Execution Of All Things” is one of those albums that makes me wish I was a teenager in the early 2000s, instead of being just a mere year old at the time this album was released. It makes me envy those who were able to be angsty and mad at the world at the turn of the millennium. 

“The Good That Won’t Come Out” is one of my favorite introductory album tracks, ever. It sets the gather-round-the-campfire nature that seems to float in and out of the record with grace. The album touches on themes like failed love, anger at the government, hopelessness, California, anxiety and friendship.

Perhaps the best (or at least my favorite) aspect of this project is that it is tied together with a song called “And That’s How I Choose To Remember It.” Fragments of the song punctuate the end of “So Long,” “My Slumbering Heart,” and “Spectacular Views.”  Fans have strung it together, but it was never released as an individual track. The lyrics focus on Lewis’ childhood, her parent’s divorce and how to process that all. With production sounds like a lullaby or a dream, it perfectly reflects what it’s like to remember childhood.

Anything else I say will be repetitive and I’ve written plenty about my adoration for this band, so instead I will leave you with a collection of my favorite lyrics from the album:

  • “You’re weak, but not giving in / And you’ll fight it, you’ll go out fighting all of them” — “A Better Son/Daughter” 
  • “And it’s become just like a chemical stress / Tracing the lines in my face for / Something more beautiful than is there” — “My Slumbering Heart”
  • “And I hope that you close your eyes / Block out the pain of a thousand lives /I hope that you die tonight / Just close your eyes, there goes the light / Smile, I’ll brave it while you wave your hand” — “Three Hopeful Thoughts”
  • “You never knew why you felt so good / In the strangest of places / Like in waiting rooms / Or long lines that made you late / Or mall parking lots on holidays” — “Spectacular Views”
  • “Then you ask / “What’s a palisade?” / And if we’re too late / For happiness” — “Spectacular Views”
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Classic Album Review

Hercules and Love Affair – Album Review

Some genres have a pretty short shelf life. Indie music has this problem, but far more forgettable is straightforward dance music. Barring Donna Summers, Skrillex, and a few others, straight up club-friendly dance music produces few household names, and the music tends to be buried after less than a decade. EDM is the first dance genre I can remember, and I don’t think I’ve heard a single thing from the breakout genres of the 2010s for 8 years.

So, today I’d like to introduce you to one of the most critically acclaimed and beloved dance albums of the 2000’s which I, and likely you, had never heard of, “Hercules and Love Affair.” The eponymous band, if you can’t tell from the name, works in some of the gayest styles of dance known to mankind, namely house and nu-disco, but they stand out for a heavy emphasis on songwriting. The beats are as immaculate as the words, and the singing is… well let’s talk about the singing.

Hercules and Love Affair, like many dance acts, is one guy, Andy Butler, with a rotating cast of supporting musicians. Butler is a talented songwriter, both in the musical sense of constructing melodies and structures, and in the lyrical sense. This talent means he was able to pull some of the best singers in indie, namely baroque pop singer Anhoni, another name that’s been slightly obscured. Anhoni started as a collaborator with Lou Reed and Bjork, before fronting her own band, Antony and the Johnson’s. She’s a solid songwriter as well, but her voice is untouchable, and combined with the music on “Hercules and Love Affair,” she has an emotional power that is near transcendent.

If you only have time to listen to one song off this album, the choice is clear. “Blind,” was a dance hit in multiple countries, and despite being virtually forgotten now, ranked in the top five songs of 2008 in the majority of publications that year. The song is a pure example of what Hercules and Love Affair are about, it’s the kind of desperate and soul-searching party music that has taken over queer music lately, and Hercules and Love Affair do it better than anyone.

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Classic Album Review

Album Review: Breath From Another

ALBUM: Breath From Another

RELEASE YEAR: 1998

LABEL: Sony

RATING: 9/10

BEST TRACKS: “That Girl,” “Superheroes,” “Country Livin’ (The World I Know)” and “Lounge”

FCC: Clean

“Breath From Another” by Esthero is an album that grew on me slowly but surely. It took me at least a month after discovering it to sit down and listen all the way through. However, even before I gave it a chance, it is an album I would visit at least once a day. My love for this record began with “That Girl,” then spread to “Superheroes,” then to “Country Livin’ (The World I Know),” and eventually the whole album.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post “All I Listen To Are Lady Voices,” I am captivated by the classically 90s sound of feminine voices layered over electronic tracks. I am not exactly sure what to call the genre but “Breath From Another” encapsulates the sound perfectly.

The album as a whole fits into the downtempo electronic category while still incorporating elements of jazz and pop making it enjoyable for a wide range of music enthusiasts. If you enjoy artists like Opus III and Morcheeba, then this album is for you.

Click HERE to check it out on Spotify.

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Classic Album Review

“Stranger in the Alps” Album Review

ALBUM: “Stranger in the Alps” by Phoebe Bridgers

RELEASE YEAR: 2017

LABEL: Dead Oceans

RATING: 8.5/10

BEST TRACKS: “Funeral” “Smoke Signals” “Scott Street”

FCC: Explicit

Released in 2017, “Stranger in the Alps” is Phoebe Bridgers’ debut album. This record was a remarkable launching point for Bridgers, and is everything a debut album should be. With themes ranging from loss, loneliness and depression, the album is sad, honest, but not overly cynical.  The album’s title is in reference to “The Big Lebowski,” and the way a line of the movie was edited for the TV (clean) version of the film; irony is clearly never lost on Bridgers and her humor peeks its way through her lyricism throughout the album.

On tracks “Georgia” and “Motion Sickness” she lets her vocals shine, although they stand out on every track. As I said on my “Best of Phoebe Bridgers” blog post, Bridgers’ “diary-like storytelling, sorrowful disposition, smooth vocals, and folky melodies combine to make top-tier indie music.” 

Bridgers, no stranger to collaboration, worked with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes on this album. Track 9, titled “Would You Rather,” contains vocals from Oberst, whom she later would collaborate with on Better Oblivion Community Center. She keeps her inspirations and predecessors tangible in her work, with references to the deaths of David Bowie and Lemmy Kilmister in the record’s first track, “Smoke Signals.”  The penultimate track of the album “You Missed My Heart” is a cover of a song by the same title originally by Mark Kozelek, released in 2013 on “Live at Phoenix Public House Melbourne.”  

“Stranger in the Alps” is sonically and thematically cohesive, although sometimes it does fall victim to repetitiveness. Totaling 11 tracks and clocking in at 44 minutes, the album feels like a good length and tends to be more refreshing than it is redundant. The final track of the album, “Smoke Signals (Reprise)” ties the album together with a callback to the first track.

Although I definitely prefer her sophomore album “Punisher,” which was released in 2020 (be sure to check out Lise Nox’s review of it), “Stranger in the Alps” certainly gives that album a run for its money.

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Classic Album Review

My Favorite Albums, 3 Years Ago

Long ago, my main interest in music heavily focused on pop music. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, (stuff is usually popular for a reason) my music taste has really strayed away from that as I’ve gotten older. I recently found a picture of an old journal entry from when I was 16 that chronicled my favorite albums from the time, and I wanted to reminisce on them and share how I feel about them nowadays.

My journal entry from June of 2018.

“Gone Now” – Bleachers

I still deeply love this album, and revisit it annually, but it’s no longer in constant rotation like it used to be. Bleachers was a gateway into more of the “indie” music that I am into nowadays. This album will forever be my favorite thing that Jack Antonoff has put his magic touch on.

“Shawn Mendes” – Shawn Mendes

This journal entry is from June of 2018, and that album came out in late May 2018. I most likely last listened to that album in August of 2018. It was definitely a temporary love, but I remember it being good pop music.

“The Human Condition” – Jon Bellion

This album definitely is a product of its time. It just feels very 2016. It was one of the first albums I ever deeply fell in love with, and eventually even went on to see Jon Bellion in concert. It’s definitely not something I would still listen to nowadays, but it meant a lot to me back then.

“What Do You Think About The Car?” – Declan McKenna

This is still one of my favorite albums of all time. If you like “Brazil,” the most popular song off of this album, then you should definitely give the rest a listen.

“Death of a Bachelor” – Panic At the Disco

This isn’t even their best album (in my opinion their first album takes the cake). Again, definitely not something I currently listen to, but it was important to me back then.

“Oh Wonder” – Oh Wonder

This is an extremely underrated pop album. While I rarely ever revisit nowadays, I still love it dearly. Maybe the nostalgia I have associated with this album makes me see it through rose-colored glasses, but it was the first album I properly listened to from beginning to end all on my own. 

“Conscious” – Broods

This is another underrated pop album, and I don’t think nostalgia is fueling my views this time. Broods’ 2019 release “Don’t Feed The Pop Monster” is an album I revisit more often than this one, but both are amazing and in my opinion, stand the test of time.

“Melodrama” – Lorde

This is the best pop album of the 2010s. I felt that way then, and I still feel that way now.

“+” – Ed Sheeran

I remember wanting to make both sides of the list even, so I kind of added this one as a last-ditch effort. I loved this album in 2013, but I seldom revisited it when I wrote this entry 3 years ago and don’t now.

“Dream Your Life Away” – Vance Joy

What I said about “+” applies here, except I do revisit this one nowadays.


There isn’t anything wrong with the albums I don’t listen to anymore, they just belong in that period of my life. I can’t help but wonder what I’ll think of my current favorite albums three years from now. Only time will tell.

Until next time,

Caitlin

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Classic Album Review

Classic Album Review: Hello Sir by Lung Leg

ALBUM: “Hello Sir” by Lung Leg

RELEASE YEAR: 1997

LABEL: Kill Rock Stars

RATING: 8/10

BEST TRACKS: “Pop Punk Travesty,” “Kung Fu on the Internet” and “Butt Sister”

FCC: None

“This ain’t pop, it’s punk rock!”

The main vocalist of the 1994 riot grrrl band, Lung Leg, screams this lyric during the first track, “Pop Punk Travesty”. Jane McKeown (“Jane Egypt”) on bass and vocals, Annie Spandex and Maureen Quinn (“Mo Mo”) on guitar and vocals, and Amanda Doorbar (“Jade Green”) on drums, make up this punk powerhouse. The quartet formed in Glasgow, Scotland and took influence from dance rock, art punk, new wave and other riot grrrl bands.

Although they never reached the levels of fame most bands aspire to, Lung Leg was a feature of the 90s Scottish punk scene. They toured and made their mark on a male-dominated industry. To this day, they are revered for the punk spirit they embodied in their music and stage presence. They disbanded in 1999 with the members finding or creating new musical projects.

“Hello Sir” is a compilation of two of Lung Leg’s underground EP’s. The album is 12 songs, each of which is less than 2 minutes long. All of the tracks are witty, fast-paced, and will have you scouring the internet for more.   

My favorite tracks on the album are “Pop Punk Travesty”, “Kung Fu on the Internet” and “Butt Sister”. However, every song has its quirks and is endlessly listenable. I don’t think I will ever get tired of this album. Throw this on the queue and blast it through your car’s speakers. “Hello Sir” is the perfect album to pair with road rage. 

-DJ lil witch

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Classic Album Review

Album Review: Twilight by bôa

ALBUM: Twilight

RELEASE YEAR: 2001

LABEL: Boa Recordings

RATING: 9/10

BEST TRACKS: “Duvet,” “Twilight,” “Fool” and “Deeply”

FCC: Clean

“Twilight” by bôa first entered my music realm after watching Serial Experiments Lain, a psychological mystery anime. Within the first few seconds of starting the anime, “Duvet” came on as the opening track and I was instantly hooked. Jasmine Rogers mesmerized me with her haunting vocals and ever since then, I have been bôa’s biggest fan.

The album itself is melodic, emotional, and perfectly captures the human struggles of identity and belongingness. The lyrics of every song are as deep as they are beautiful and each track makes for a meaningful listen.

“Duvet,” the first track on the album and also the most popular, has gained most of its attention from the anime, “Serial Experiments Lain.” It is about falling out of love with someone you once trusted. The lyrics are raw and the melody is entrancing. This song is hands down what made me fall in love with not only the album but the band.

“Twilight,” their second most popular song has an overall more upbeat sound to it. However, the lyrics are about unrequited love which makes for an interesting contrast. The vocals on this track are truly captivating and will have you coming back for more.

“Fool,” unlike the two tracks listed above, has a more aggressive sound to it. The lyrics are about feeling like you don’t belong which is an experience many people can relate to. This is one of my go-to songs for an evening drive.

“Deeply” was a track I didn’t give much attention to until about my third listen through. However, it has slowly but surely become one of my favorites. It has a more abrasive “rock” sound to it like “Fool” but it is equally as sensitive as “Duvet” and “Twilight.”

To summarize, this is an epic album that everyone should listen to at least once in their life.

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Classic Album Review

The Timeless Magic of “The Parent Trap” (1998) Soundtrack

“The Parent Trap” (1998) is unequivocally my favorite movie of all time, and I don’t see that ever changing. With iconic casting ranging from Dennis Quaid to Lindsay Lohan, there are a lot of factors that contribute to unending my love for this movie, but one of my favorite aspects of the movie is the soundtrack. 

First, if you haven’t seen either iteration of the movie, let me catch you up on the plot. A Californian vineyard owner, Nicholas Parker (portrayed by Dennis Quaid) and a British wedding-dress designer, Elizabeth James (portrayed by Natasha Richardson) meet on a transatlantic boat trip and spontaneously elope. A picture of them is taken the night of their wedding, and when they separate, they rip the photo in half and both keep a half of the photo that contains the other. Fast forward twelve years later, two girls (portrayed by Lindsay Lohan) meet at a summer camp and eventually discover that they’re identical twins separated during infancy (with the help of that photo that was ripped in half). In their pre-teen naivety, they embark on a mission to get their parents back together, with a series of obstacles and shenanigans along the way. The core tenet of their plan involves them switching places once leaving the summer camp, going back to the other’s respective home, knowing their parents would eventually have to switch them back. (Spoiler Alert: it has a happy ending). 

A lot of the songs are older classics, appealing to the nostalgia of the Gen-X and Boomer generations, while simultaneously introducing them to the Millennial and Gen-Z generations. Would I have been familiar with “L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole if it hadn’t been for watching “The Parent Trap” hundreds of times growing up? Probably not. The same goes for most of the soundtrack which includes jazz and swing tracks ranging from “In The Mood” by Glen Miller to “I Love You For Sentimental Reasons” performed by Linda Ronstadt

It also does this with older pop and rock songs: including a cover of “Here Comes the Sun” performed by Bronx Style Bob, “Do You Believe in Magic?” by The Lovin’ Spoonful and even “Bad To The Bone” by George Thorogood & The Destroyers.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the soundtrack is the start and end of it. The very first scene where the parents are eloping on the boat is a montage of them dancing, signing paperwork, drinking wine and having a good time. This montage is backed with the ever-so-romantic “L-O-V-E”. The ending scene, where Nicholas Parker and Hallie fly to England to surprise Elizabeth James and Annie, and ultimately confess that he does want a future with her, is immediately followed by the end-credits song: “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” by Natalie Cole (who, if you didn’t know, is Nat King Cole’s daughter). The film starting with a love song by a father and ending with a love song by a daughter encapsulates the core themes of romantic and familial love in a beautiful and unforgettable way.

Some soundtrack honorable mentions that I have yet to mention: “There She Goes” by The La’s which plays during the montage of Hallie entering England for the first time, and “Soulful Strut” by Young-Holt Unlimited which plays whenever Martin (Elizabeth James’ butler who is portrayed by Simon Kunz) does his iconic handshake with Annie (or Hallie acting as Annie). 

The movie also has a wonderful score done by Alan Silvestri, which I have memorized like the back of my hand.

Overall, “The Parent Trap” (1998) has a timeless and unforgettable soundtrack that appeals to multiple generations and will simply never get tiring.

Sources for this article include: I, II, III

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Classic Album Review

MixMag Presents Peggy Gou Review

Peggy Gou is a legendary house DJ and producer. Her music was one of my first forays into electronica. Her new single “Nabi” came out on June 7. While listening and grooving along, I remembered the mix she made in collaboration with MixMag. This hour-long set is available in album form on Apple Music and Spotify. 

Gou is a master of mixing, revamping all the songs she comes into contact with. This set showcases her DJ abilities. The mix starts out with a sample from Charles Bukowski’s “Style” layered over a mesmerizing beat. From there Gou seamlessly transitions to Henrik Bergqvist & Abdulla Rashim “Tales Of Ordinary Madness (Trouble In Paradise)”. This dark dance track blends in well with Gou’s other picks. 

Favorites from the Mix

“Shero” by Peggy Gou 

This unreleased treasure is a part of the U.N’s #heforshe campaign, this track was on a limited edition vinyl for charity. The repetitive beat and quick melodies make this song one of the most danceable on the compilation. 

“Moving” by Suzanne Kraft        

The sizzling percussion and hardhat beat of this track works perfectly with the melodic synths. This lush deep house track flows well, with faster upbeat portions and calm interludes. I would love to hear this song in the middle of a club.  

“Aqua Warrior” by Aubrey

This techno tune by British artist Allen Saei, also known as Aubrey, is another favorite of mine. The basic looping piano synths and wavy baseline land the track somewhat in the acid house genre. This song is amazing for running, dancing or even studying.

“Han Jan” by Peggy Gou

This track is one of the only mixes with vocals. Gou raps in Korean, referencing 90’s electro and club/drinking culture. “Han Jan” means one shot (of alcohol) but Jan is also the name of Gou’s friend who she dedicated the song to. This sweet jam is bubbly and a perfect dance track. 

Hope you all check out this special mix and dance along.

-DJ lil witch