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    

Classic Album Review

Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest

Gillian Welch is the fake cover persona of a 300-year-old ghost who makes music. Okay, that’s probably an exaggeration, but Welch’s music truly feels like it has existed for centuries. She writes Appalachian folk music, with every song amounting to one woman and a guitar, but what she does with these sparse tools is truly enchanting.

Welch, in her one words, is “possessed with a dark turn of mind.” Her music reflects the cultural and economic devastation of Appalachia in the present moment but does so without ever resorting to topical songs or sociopolitical statements. She rarely references modern items, technology, allowing her music to exist in a temporal dead zone.

The album in question today, “Harrow and the Harvest,” is without question Welch’s best album. The guitar work is courtesy of long-time collaborator David Rawlings, a man described as a “guitar god,” in multiple different reviews. However, it is the songwriting, extraordinary even by Welch’s standards, that make this album stand out above her back catalogue. The songs are desolate, wistful, and preoccupied with death. This is a common feature of Appalachian music, but Welch blends it with a narrative skill not usually found in traditional music. Songs like “The Way it Goes,” tells the story of an ill-fated group of friends as they meet various unfortunate fates. Other songs chip away at the temporal barrier by telling stories from Welch’s early performing days.

However, the centerpiece of the album is without a doubt “Tennessee,” a song about lust and temptation that depicts the internal struggle between remaining in a happy community and following your own desires. The album strikes the hard balance between emotional detail and minimalism. The chorus has no narrative function, consisting of little more than a few mumbled vocalizations and a single stanza “It’s beefsteak when I’m working/ Whiskey when I’m dry/ Sweet heaven when I die.” However, through Welch’s subtle performance, she fills the song with innuendo, making it unclear whether the song is entirely metaphorical, about a mysterious and forbidden man or simply about a woman.

I’m not quite sure what the target audience is for an album like this, but I encourage anyone and everyone to listen to it. Welch is a criminally underrated artist. Too rootsy and traditional for Pitchfork but to raw and unfiltered for the Grand Ole Opry. Gillian Welch is keeping the culture alive.

Classic Album Review

Retro Review: Funkadelic

As the British-blues-flower-child era came to a close, new sounds filled its place: heavy rock, funk, soul, metal. The music that arose in the early ’70s was filled with a raunchier sort of angst that left the doo-woppers of the ’60s to cower in their flower crowns. Psychedelia would still reign supreme, but it became twinged with a glamorous grit.

Funkadelic’s debut album encapsulates this transition perfectly.

Having been a part of the Parliaments, a Motown group, George Clinton found himself at a crossroads. His talent still lay in classic Motown, but psychedelics and hard rock were calling to his spirit. After breaking from the Parliaments, (which would later become Parliament, Funkadelic’s sister band) Clinton brought together a new group of musicians. Thus, Funkadelic was born.

Their first album is an incredible mishmash of soul, funk, classic country blues and acid trips. The opening track, “Mommy, What’s A Funkadelic?” is an ode to the sultry nature of funk itself. Clinton’s voice, as well as several other “funkadelics”, can be heard crooning over a slow, bluesy track, whispering sermons and shouting in a true Motown spirit. “I’ll Bet You” is more upbeat, a perfect example of the “true funk” that would come to be in the mid to late ’70s.

The entire album is both an ode to traditional Black country music and the changing, drug-fueled culture of the late ’60s. “Music for my Mother” demonstrates this exquisitely. Listening to Clinton murmur the words “Sit down by old beat-up railroad train/ And get me, get myself a little of that old funky thang/ Can you all feel what I mean?/ This is what you call way back younger funk” over harmonicas and steel string guitar shows how perfectly they infuse both psychedelia and soul.

It is truly one of the greatest albums to come out of the early ’70s. Gloriously unapologetic, terrifyingly experimental and filled with soul, “Funkadelic” is worth taking a listen to.

Classic Album Review

“Let Yourself Go” by Haley Blais Review

ALBUM: “Let Yourself Go” (EP) by Haley Blais


LABEL: No label / Independent

RATING: 9.5/10

BEST TRACKS: “Seventeen” and “Small Foreign Faction”

FCC: Explicit

Haley Blais is a force to be reckoned with in the indie music world, and  her 2018 release “Let Yourself Go” is definitive proof of that. This timeless five-song EP encapsulates young adulthood, with songs about growing out of adolescence and growing into yourself. 

Blais, a Canadian YouTuber with over 170,000 subscribers, certainly knows how to relate to an audience. And while her lyrics and songs are relatable, they aren’t cheap. This EP walks the line of good lyricism and relatability while still managing to be authentic, a merit that many fail to achieve. Tracks “Seventeen” and “Remove Tag” are the only ones based on her real life experiences, which she stated in the description of the “Remove Tag” music video. The music video along with the lyrics tell a tale of her a friend tagging her in a really unflattering picture of herself on Instagram. “Seventeen,” my personal favorite on the EP, has lyrics about growing into adulthood when you feel like your teen years were somewhat unfulfilling.

Blais’ voice floats easily from track to track, making the EP a cohesive sounding unit, while the instrumentals make each song unique. The heavy use of ukulele makes the songs feel springy and bright, perfect for summer listening. Although it is somewhat a “feel good” EP, it still has substance and doesn’t feel kitschy or lacking at any point.

Blais released this EP and her previous work without the help of a label, but has since been signed to Tiny Kingdom Music Inc.

Classic Album Review

Paula Cole Lives Rent Free in my Head

I’m sorry, this is going to be way too long an article over way too niche a topic, but this song has latched into my brain, and I think the only way to get it out is to write entirely too many words explaining why I’m so fixated on it. Paula Cole is an artist who’s likely unfamiliar to you, and I’m not going to encourage you to check her out, but you might have heard exactly one of her songs, “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” It is a weird quasi-feminist attempt at…something, I’m not sure what. The song, despite its name, is not a country song. In fact, Cole’s music fits squarely into the Lilith Fair style. If you aren’t familiar with that term, I’m writing an article about the scene soon, so stay tuned, but for the moment, it’s effectively mid-90s feminist folk-rock. Think Ani DiFranco or Tori Amos, but most musicians under the heading were not as brilliant as those two. Case in point: Paula Cole.

“Where have all the Cowboys Gone?” is a song about a relationship, told from the woman’s point of view. It starts with sultry promises to do all of the cooking, cleaning, child-rearing, and feminine activities if her masculine John Wayne will do the same. The chorus “Where is my happy ending, where have all the cowboys gone,” begins as a lament of the loss of “real men” who press their wives into domesticity and control everything. As the song progresses and her husband becomes distant and unfeeling, it becomes a lament at a lost relationship, revealing her faithful cowboy to be an emotionally isolated bro only interested in drinking with his friends.

So, why does this song bug me? Well, it’s so almost good, it so nearly works, but Cole seems to intentionally steer the song away from any resolution or point. The song starts as a light satire of women who long for family stability and an indictment of men who tether themselves to toxic tropes without putting in the work. It’s a little preachy, but okay, there’s a way to make that work, you make something like “Cowboy Take Me Away,” by the Dixie Chicks. But then, the song takes a hard turn for the sad, which is a choice that, in isolation, is not an issue. Songs about men who do the bare minimum are common, and the second section owes a lot to “Did I Shave My Legs for This?” which was released just a year earlier.

The problem is that Cole leaves out the punchline to both jokes. In a standard ‘I miss the real men’ song you’d throw in some tongue-in-cheek wink to the camera at the end indicating that the song isn’t taking itself too seriously and that the singer does not actually want a return to the gender roles of another century. In your standard men-are-trash song, you’d end the song with the narrator having a come to Jesus moment and leaving the man for dead (Sometimes literally). Cole opts to do neither; what results is a song that is only resolved by association. I’ve heard a couple dozen Lana Del Rey songs, so I know how this old Hollywood glamour song is supposed to function and can assume that Cole does not actually long for a man-child to mother. Similarly, I’ve heard a couple dozen country songs about a failing marriage, so I know that the woman is supposed to walk out the door at the end and leave that no-good man behind. Leaving out these assumed details makes the song feel like all set up for a payoff that never comes.

The only catch is that this is a song with a really strong setup. The spoken-word monologue at the beginning is great, the melody is extremely catchy, and her performance is so good that it took me like five listens to figure out that I didn’t like this song as a whole. Even the shifting meaning of the chorus would be brilliant if it weren’t in service of a song that never starts. This is to say, if we have any aspiring musicians in the audience who really want to fix a 25-year-old song for some reason, take a crack at this one, because you have a lot to work with (Also hit me up because I really want to hear a version of this song that works).

Okay, that’s 900 words in my word document, maybe now I’ve infected you all with whatever bug I caught by obsessing over Paula Cole, hopefully, I can sleep in peace tonight.

Classic Album Review


ALBUM: COWBOY BEBOP (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)



RATING: 8/10

BEST TRACKS: “Tank!,” “Rain” and “Space Lion”

FCC: Clean

*Spoilers Ahead*

“Cowboy Bebop” by Shinichirō Watanabe is one of the most well-known and respected anime of all time. The story follows Spike Spiegel, an intergalactic bounty hunter, through various adventures alongside his teammates. While at first, the series seems lighthearted and action-packed, it quickly takes a darker tone. Throughout the anime, topics such as death, drug addiction, and struggle with gender identity are explored making “Cowboy Bebop” far more than just an action series.

While the plot is unlike any other, it is only a small part of what draws people to this series. Fans of “Cowboy Bebop” are often captivated by the complexities of the characters, its visually stunning art style and most importantly, the soundtrack.

The soundtrack was composed by Yoko Kanno and performed by SEATBELTS, a group Kanno created for the purpose of the series. Overall, it is jazzy, free and chaotic, creating the perfect atmosphere for the story of Spike Spiegel to unfold.

“Tank!” is hands down the most iconic song on the soundtrack as it is the opening track for the series. It is upbeat, jazzy and sets the tone for the fast-paced, action-packed plot of “Cowboy Bebop.” Its sound is almost reminiscent of early James Bond films.

“Rain” is a much more somber tune as it is played during Spike’s reunion with Vicious, a former comrade turned enemy. The vocals on this track are truly haunting which fit perfectly in with the eerie setting during this reunion.

“Space Lion” is my personal favorite track on the album. The way the song builds over its seven-minute runtime is truly captivating. When listening, it feels like the song is telling a story as it layers drums over saxophone over keyboard. It plays at the end of Episode 13: Jupiter Jazz, Part II which is one of the most complex and loved arcs in the series.

In a word, “COWBOY BEBOP (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” lives up to the hype. Even if you are not a fan of the anime, this album is absolutely worth the listen. All that’s left for me to say is “3, 2, 1… Let’s Jam!”

Band/Artist Profile Classic Album Review

Is Sheryl Crow Actually Cool?

Most people our age remember Sheryl Crow from when we were kids. She was pretty popular in the early 2000s, I was born in 2001, so that means her last hits were around five years old when I first started hearing the radio. This is the perfect interval for music to feel nostalgic, new enough that we remember it, but old enough that we had absolutely no critical eye to determine who a song was by or whether it was good. When I was old enough to think about music critically, I personally filed Sheryl Crow away in a category I now describe as “Mom Rock.” Yes, we have dad rock, and if no one else has come up with this joke yet, I know claim inventorship of mom rock. This category entails bluesy, spiritual rock music by middle aged white women that was all the rage from around 1996 to 2004, and artists like Crow, Kelly Clarkson, Nelly Furtado’s folky output, Liz Phair’s self-titled album, songs like “Bubly,” “Unwritten” and that one song about feeling the rain I can never remember because it came out when I was like two.

Now, I have personally been reevaluating a lot of mom rock. Partially because a lot of this music was dismissed specifically for appealing to middle-aged women, and I want to give it a fair chance, and partially because it’s a warm wave of nostalgia for me (and most other people our age). So, imagine my surprise when I find that Sheryl Crow was uh… actually really good? Okay, obviously Sheryl Crow was a good artist, she has plenty of classic hits, but Crow’s ’90s discography is good an entirely different dimension than I expected.

As it turns out, all of the songs I remember were from her 2002 album “C’mon C’mon,” which was something of a change in direction. That was a pop-rock album, I might call it a sell-out if it weren’t filled with front-to-back bangers. We aren’t here to discuss that today because you probably already know “Soak up the Sun,” “Picture” and maybe “Steve McQueen.” We’re here to talk about her first two albums, which were, to my eternal shock, alt-rock.

To be clear, Sheryl Crow was not making grunge. She fit in more with the rootsy acoustic side of alt-rock, with her auditory aesthetic being more akin to a pumped-up Hootie and the Blowfish or a less dense REM. Crow’s take on the genre is still recognizably her own though, mixing in her country fusion, eccentric songwriting, and an eye towards pop hits with the typical REM formula. Her first two albums had a combined 4 hits, none of which I have ever heard. Maybe I’m alone in never hearing Crow’s ’90s output, but I suspect that a number of you haven’t either, so check out her self-titled album. The music isn’t just good, as a lot of her music is, but was, as the title suggests, actually kind of edgy and out of the ordinary. She went way too hard for even the alt-iest of alt-country, but too grounded and feminine for alt-rock, so I do not know how much credibility she had at the time, but to me, it sounds pretty awesome.

Classic Album Review

Album Review: D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L by Panchiko



LABEL: Independent

RATING: 10/10

BEST TRACKS: “D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L,” “Laputa” and “Stabilisers For Big Boys”

FCC: Clean

Panchiko’s story began, or should I say resumed, during the Summer of 2016 when an anonymous 4chan user uploaded a couple of tracks from their demo “D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L” to the internet. The tracks uploaded were heavily wracked with disc rot but that did not stop listeners from realizing their potential. As the number of listeners grew, so did their curiosity, which eventually lead to an internet-wide wild-goose chase for the demo’s creators.

It didn’t take long for Panchiko’s listeners to track down one of the original band members, Owain (he chooses to keep his last name private), via Facebook. According to an interview with the band published on Bandcamp, they were extremely surprised when they were contacted, as only 30 copies were ever pressed.

Since the band’s re-discovery, the four original members, Owain, Andy, Shaun and John, have come together to re-record “D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L” which they did in 2020. In addition to this, the band published around twenty of their unreleased tracks.

The first track on the album shares its name with the album title: “D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L.” It is Panchiko’s most listened to song on Spotify which it is absolutely deserving of. The track is lush, dreamy and slightly electronic, making it heavenly to listen to.

“Laputa,” my personal favorite song on the album, comes in as their second most listened to track. Its lyrics and overall sound were heavily inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s 1986 film “Castle in the Sky.” In the film, the main characters are on a mission to reach Laputa, a far-off forgotten land in the sky that can only be accessed by someone with native blood. The lyrics “Laputa was all we knew, and/ How we got there, how we flew up/ Heaven’s doors are miles away/ ‘Cause you’re stuck to the ground, you have to stay” describe the characters’ struggles throughout the film.

“Stabilisers For Big Boys” is probably their most abrasive track on the album. However, it’s still fits in with the overall shoegaze dreamscape that the album fabricates. It’s energetic and upbeat unlike the rest of the album, which tends to be more somber.

Overall, “D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L” by Panchiko is a perfect encapsulation of the late ’90s/early 2000s shoegaze sound and every second of it is worth the listen.

Classic Album Review

John Prine – In Spite of Ourselves

John Prine died last year, and since then his star has risen dramatically. He was already a legend in alt-country circles, but his wider legacy hadn’t been secured until the honestly surprising wave of attention given to him after his death. He’s rapidly joined the ranks of Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash as one of the handful of country stars it’s cool for indie kids to say they like. I’ve seen him tributed by country legends, indie critics, and even the Viagra Boys (can’t believe that happened), which spurred me to check out more of his back catalog. Long story short, he deserves the hype, and I strongly encourage you to give both his first and final albums a listen.

But today, we have an album from the dead center of his career, 1999’s “In Spite of Ourselves.” The album has neither the sarcastic wit of his early career nor the darker ambiance of his later career. In fact, this album is probably one of the corniest things I’ve ever heard. It’s is a full duets album with several women of various levels of fame, and almost to a one, every song is a pun-laden and silly as possible.

This isn’t really an indictment, the album is not going for high art. In fact, it works as a neat refutation of some of Prine’s more self-serious folk revival work. This is not aimed a bougie college students from Brooklyn who want to listen to protest folk singers, this is shameless middle-aged country music for people who want to listen for fun, not to feel smart. The title track, In Spite of Ourselves, has the structure and style of a straightforward Dylan love song, it could almost be mistaken for “Love Minus Zero” or “It Aint Me” if you ignore the words. If you pay attention, you’ll be treated to such lyrical miracles as “He ain’t got laid in a month a Sundays, caught him once and he was sniffin’ my undies,” and “She thinks all my jokes are corny, convict movies make her horny.” This is where I would like to inform you that Dylan himself called John Prine and his writing “Pure Proustian Existentialism.”

Sure Bob.

The utter lack of dignity on the record has a direct function though. The album opener “We’re not the Jet Set,” draws the explicit connection between the self-serious pretension folkies like to shroud themselves in and class. Prine is writing to working people, which sometimes means he uses complex metaphors for serious topics, but just as often it means saying that your wife is hotter than the Easter Bunny (the highest bar one could possibly set). The point of this isn’t to discredit the invariably northern liberals who have somehow come to be the dominant tastemakers in Southern folk music, Prine himself made no secret about being anti-war and he was originally championed by Yankee critic Roger Ebert. The point here is to uplift elements of country music that usually get a bad name, its corniness, its sincerity, its preoccupation with small-town pride.

Criticism of country music is very often valid, especially in a modern context, it can be horribly jingoistic, misogynist, and often painfully lame at the same time. But when these criticisms take a more general turn, we can sometimes fall into a kind of rank elitism, often classist snobbery, at the music of ‘white trash’ for not being “serious” enough. I’m guilty of this at times too, so let me tell you nothing will break you of that sense of self-impressed judginess quicker than listening to John Prine sing about putting ketchup on scrambled eggs.

This is not Prine’s best album, but it is the one that has changed the way I look at country music the most. A lot of young people South try to distance themselves from rural America as much as possible, but on “In Spite of Ourselves,” Prine hints that maybe we reveal more about ourselves by hating country than by just admitting this is who we are.

Classic Album Review

Album Review: Let the Sun Talk by MAVI

By Silya Bennai

ALBUM: “Let the Sun Talk” by MAVI 


LABEL: New York Lab / UnitedMasters 

RATING: 8.5/10 

BEST TRACKS: “Eye/I and I/Nation,” “Self Love” and “Sense” 

FCC: Explicit

“Let the Sun Talk” leaves no room for personal thoughts during its thirty-two-minute runtime, but it seems as if MAVI may have already read our minds through the exploration of his own. Human truths presented as personal ruminations, MAVI’s debut album is a bright light of pro-Black, anti-capitalistic poetry wrapped in smooth, flowing instrumentals. 

Born Omavi Minder, MAVI spent much of his childhood and adolescence locally; Charlotte, North Carolina, to be exact. The 21-year-old neuroscience student showcases a clear influence from American rapper Earl Sweatshirt, but brings a fresh and introspective taste of youthfulness to the ever-altering subgenre of alternative hip-hop. 

“Eye/I and I/Nation”, the second track of the thirteen-track album, captures the struggle of loving and being loved while simultaneously figuring out who you are as an individual and community member. This track was my personal introduction to MAVI and I still find myself coming back to this line: “I got puddled pride and troubled eyes ’cause I’m an artist.” MAVI is able to both highlight the truth behind the “tortured artist” stereotype while casting a shadow of irony on the inherent narcissism of the self-identified creative. 

The fourth track, “Self Love”, boasts the most listens of any of MAVI’s solo songs and for good reason. The warm and full beat is accompanied by MAVI’s breathy and constant flow of self-doubt and reflections on familial love. Perhaps no one worries like a mother does for her child, and the resulting comfort and guilt of this fact is present on this track as MAVI explores it from the child’s perspective. 

“Sense”, which includes production from the aforementioned Earl Sweatshirt, is one of the shorter tracks from the album, but proves impressive upon every listen. MAVI’s dexterous lyrical flow is especially evident on this tightly crafted, and of course, introspective track. If anyone ever asks you what kind of songs MAVI makes, look no further than “Sense”. He says it best himself on this track: “I make the kind you gotta read, baby.” 

Here’s to reading songs, 

Silya Bennai