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Track Review: “Menace” by Rezz

The context that a song is first heard in, where the melody imprints itself on your brain, is critical to what the listener takes away from it. YouTuber Nathan Zed has an excellent video on this, and I’ve definitely noticed this effect when revisiting songs I would listen to a lot at a specific point in time. “White Roses” by Charli XCX will teleport me back to my freshman year dorm with its blend of introspection adventure, and songs I don’t even really listen to can be fun just by how they work in the context you heard them. “My Wife & 2 Dogs” by Quinn XCII isn’t a song I particularly enjoy but what I did enjoy was the trip to the lake with my friends when I first heard it and it’s a fun, bouncy pop song, perfect for that experience.

“Menace”, a bonus track off Rezz’s excellent album “Spiral” that was dropped several months after its release date, needs the right context to really be appreciated. I follow Rezz on Instagram and her feed is filled with pictures of her strobe-filled arena performances, and I don’t see this hitting as hard as some of her other songs in that context. There’s no specific part I can point to as “the one”, a perfect hook that meets the crowd’s energy at its summit with a catchy riff or a resounding stomp. The drop doesn’t really distinguish itself from the rest of the song, it adds a kick on every beat but it doesn’t do a lot to really heighten the intensity.

But if you’re not at an arena or a club, but rather trying to grind out a paper at some outrageously late hour, definitely give this a shot for your study playlist. The metronomic synths and squelchy soundscapes are both fun and invigorating, a steady march that makes you want to be productive. It’s not just good for study playlists either, there’s a subtle 80s influence in the bridge that toes the line of cheesy power ballads but stays true to its dubstep roots. 

This is all to say that I can’t recommend “Menace” for every situation. It’s not the perfect club banger or if you’re looking for something with a strong hook. But if you like a danceable slow burn or something to vibe to alone, well have I got a song for you.


Music News and Interviews

New Mitski Single, “The Only Heartbreaker” Review

“The Only Heartbreaker,” Mitski’s brand new single, released on November 9, is definitely the most commercial-sounding work that Mitski has released to date, and probably the least “Mistki” song in her repertoire. The production lends itself to 80s dance music, and the lyrics sound detached and impersonal compared to the deeply detailed and personal style of lyricism we are used to hearing from her. 

It’s not a bad song per se, but definitely not what I’d expect to hear coming from Mitski, especially after “Working For The Knife”  (which I also wrote a review about) seemed like a natural progression for her music.

The music video definitely felt more authentic, however, and seemed to be a reference to her song “A Burning Hill” off of her album “Puberty 2” where she laments “And I’ve been a forest fire / I am a forest fire / And I am the fire, and I am the forest / And I am a witness watching it / I stand in a valley watching it / And you are not there at all.”

With all of this being said, I am excited to see where this fits in the context of the album (her sixth) she just announced, “Laurel Hell,” which is coming out February 4, 2022.

Music News and Interviews

Mitski’s Return to Music

On October 1, Mistki fans rejoiced as they noticed that she had made a return to Twitter and Instagram, which had both been deactivated by the artist since July of 2019. On October 4, she (or rather, her management, as the bios on both of these accounts read “Account run by Management”) posted a cryptic image indicating that music would be coming the next morning.

New music came indeed. At 10 a.m. ET on October 5, Mitski released a brand new single, “Working for the Knife.” I have been consistently disappointed by my favorite artist’s comebacks this year, but Mitski is an exception to that rule; she never disappoints. 

“Working for the Knife” Music Video

From the lyricism to the production to the nihilistic subject matter, this single is Mitski through and through. My favorite lyric comes in the very first verse: “I cry at the start of every movie / I guess ’cause I wish I was making things, too.”

Along with the single, she announced tour dates, and she begins her tour with two North Carolina stops, and I’m excited to say the least. She’ll be performing at The Orange Peel in Asheville on Feb 17, 2022 and at The Ritz in Raleigh on Feb 18, 2022. I was able to snag tickets to her Raleigh show, and am tentatively going to attend.

Here’s to good comebacks,


Music News and Interviews

New Music Floodgates: Fall Mainstream Edition

            In the Spring, we saw a brief burst of new releases that were delayed until after the pandemic. Most of these were independent releases trying to prepare for summer and fall touring. While the machinations of the music industry are beyond me, I’d wager a guess that new music in the indie scene takes a bit longer to get going, while mainstream releases can be released pretty much concurrently with a tour and still sell tickets. This is pure speculation, but it would explain the rash of new music by established indie bands and mainstream pop artists in the last month or two.

            So today, as a part 2 to my spring edition, we’re just going to briefly recap as many event releases as possible so that you don’t miss out on a new album by an artist you like, or so you can find something new to listen to. Without further ado, here are some summaries:

Music News and Interviews

Kim Petras is Back

Kim Petras isn’t the first person you think of when you think musical victims of the pandemic but she’s definitely on the list. The singer was scheduled for an event release in 2020 on a major label, but her touring-centric business model put those plans on hold. Well, with the pandemic as over as it’s ever going to be, Petras has seen fit to release her major label debut, a single with the rather on the nose title “Future Starts Now.”

            If you’ve literally any Kim Petras song before, you have an idea of what to expect. She’s a indie pop artist with mainstream ambitions, making her contemporaries with a whole host of women including Rina Sawayama, Jessie Ware, Charli XCX, and Carly Rae Jepsen. It’s a hard market to break into as electropop fans (translated: teenage gay boys on Instagram) are spoiled for choice in the genre.

            What makes Petras stand out is curiously absent on her newest single, which while good, lacks the songwriting chops that made her independent pop. She’s certainly no stranger to dance oriented tracks with little lyrical substance, but her songwriting ability has always been what’s set her apart from her more beat driven contemporaries. Her most popular and best tracks “I Don’t Want It All,” and “Heart to Break,” were driven by her forceful and jaw dropping vocal ability combined with unusually smart lyrics. Her newest single, while danceable and pleasant to listen to, is just another nu-disco house fusion with an eight word chorus. It’s not bad, but it is unambiguously the safe choice.

            I don’t know if Kim Petras has Top 40 potential. She has a lot going for her, but there are some serious marketability roadblocks. She would be the only trans musician in the mainstream at the moment, making notoriously risk-averse record companies nervous about promoting her. Her music is also unapologetically campy and unserious, a far cry from the ‘respectable’ and social issue oriented pop mainstream of Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and Olivia Rodrigo. If Petras does make it through to the top 40 charts, it be from sheer force of personality and talent, things she definitely has, but aren’t on display in “Future Starts Now.” Here’s hoping to a riskeir second single.

Band/Artist Profile Music News and Interviews

Maude Latour Releases Dazzling New Single, “Clean”

Maude Latour is a New York City based indie-pop artist who has had a semi-recent rise to popularity through TikTok. However, she has been releasing music since May of 2017. With her signature Maude Latour logo on all of her cover art, catchy usernames on social media (@maudelstatus) and polished sound, it seems like she was destined for this.

Recently, she came out with a single titled, “Clean,” a song detailing the difficulty of maintaining the simple mundanities of life after someone important leaves you. The hook of the chorus, laments “I’m even tryna keep my room clean / Every day, I make my bed just to get you out my head.” She explores the aftermath of a relationship, and focusing on yourself after it ends, by keeping yourself occupied and healthy. It’s everything a pop song should be: catchy, relatable, memorable and energetic. 

The music video, directed by Tess Lafia and produced by Eric Barrett, is a great step forward from her other music videos. Coming from someone who doesn’t like watching music videos, “Clean” was fun, quippy, and has great visuals.

Official Music Video for “Clean” by Maude Latour

Latour also released an acoustic version of “Clean” on YouTube, which pales in comparison to the studio version, but is a more intimate experience.

You can find “Clean” on any streaming service, and you can also find Maude on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.

Concert Preview Music News and Interviews

Phoebe Bridgers’ “Reunion Tour” Makes Some Changes

On September 3, 2021, Phoebe Bridgers’ “Reunion Tour” is scheduled to kick off. The name of the tour is a joke/followup after her first tour was titled “Farewell Tour.” She announced the tour on July 12 of this year, not exactly a last minute announcement but certainly cutting it close. Bridgers is doing some of the shows with openers MUNA, an indie-pop band signed to her record label “Dead Oceans,” and Bartees Strange, an alternative musician from England. The tour has recently undergone some changes in light of COVID-19, including some indoor venues being changed to outdoor venues. On August 23, Bridgers posted on Instagram with updated information regarding the alterations.

The caption reads: “Let’s try this again… In the interest of safety, I’ve decided to only play outdoors for the upcoming tour. We are moving all previously scheduled indoor shows to outdoor venues and we’ve needed to postpone shows in a couple cities so please check the updated schedule. At my request, there are updated health and safety requirements. Entry will require proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Where that’s not permissible by law, we’ll agree to proof of vaccination OR proof of negative test result (PCR preferred/Antigen accepted) within 48 hours prior to entering those venues. And please wear a mask. I love you. See you soon.”

She stated, on “Comedy Bang Bang: The Podcast” that “I am slightly terrified [for tour], to be real, because I did it for three years straight really before the pandemic, and I got really good at it.”

Phoebe Bridgers is making her way to the Carolinas about halfway through her stops, coming to Charlotte and Raleigh, on September 19 and 21 respectively. Both of the venues were changed: the Charlotte concert was once going to be at The Fillmore and will now be held at Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater, and the Raleigh show was going to be at The Ritz and will now be held at Red Hat Amphitheater. Both shows will have MUNA as an opener.

She is not the only artist to advocate for similar policies on their tour. John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats, Jack Antonoff of Bleachers and Lucy Dacus have also instated alike guidelines on their tours or have stated the intention to.

The tour is scheduled to wrap up on October 24, in Atlanta.

I have tickets to the Raleigh show, and am tentatively going to attend.

Until next time,

Music News and Interviews

Has Kanye Finally Lost the Public?

Kanye’s career has been living on borrowed time for more than a decade now. He’s one of the most famous, and least sympathetic musicians on earth, so much so that many critics have assumed no number of scandals, public gaffes, or bad press could ever tank the man’s career. There was a time I would have agreed with that statement but looking at the release of his 10th studio album Donda, I might have to walk back that assessment.

Kanye West probably needs no introduction at this point. His music has captured the public consciousness for two decades, and his public persona has done much the same, just in a more negative light. Each public disaster has been met with equally rapturous critical and public praise. For all the Grammy rants, political forays, and questionable public statements, his albums “My beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” “Yeezus,” and “Kids See Ghosts,” each earned glowing reviews from at least one major indie outlet, be it Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, or The Needle Drop respectively.

However, in recent years Kanye’s public antics and private fame have started to eclipse his actual musical success. His endorsement of Donald Trump, disparaging comments towards black women, and divorce from wife Kim Kardashian have all cost him public support. His 2019 religious album “Jesus Is King,” garnered confused reactions from secular critics, and little to no interest from a religious audience, and while his 2018 series of short projects and production jobs were well received as whole, no one project was universally acclaimed according to Allmusic and Metacritic aggregates.

However, with the release of his most recent album “Donda,” a switch seems to have been flipped both within his fanbase and within the wider world. For the first time in a long time, Kanye seems to have entirely lost the public’s interest. The extensive delays garnered backlash on his subreddit, critics that once adored him like Pitchfork and the Independent have given reviews that range from lukewarm to outright panning. But most damning is that just a day after the release, at a time where Kanye alleges the label released his album without consent, and plagiarism allegations over the album cover are riding high in the headlines, and a feud with Drake looms large, Kanye is nowhere to be found in the top 15 trending topics on Twitter. For such a famous artist to have a release so mired in drama, with more than 5 unresolved news stories around him, to not be the #1 trending topic is a failure, much less to not even make this list.

I don’t want to belabor the point any further, because frankly I feel confident in saying that, for once, nobody cares. However, I do want to speculate that perhaps this bodes poorly for the future of other rappers mired in baggage. The likes of Drake, 6×9, Eminem, and Chris Brown have all claimed a niche in the rap game despite (or in some cases because of) public scandal and attempted cancellation. But perhaps, with Donda, Twitter has finally found the most lethal weapon for an artist’s career: to simply ignore.

Music News and Interviews

Courtney Love Is Plotting a Comeback

Okay, this topic is a little bit of a landmine, but you may have noticed that Courtney Love has been floating around in the news lately. We here at WKNC aren’t usually much for covering straight-up celebrity gossip, but the history of Love’s public image is personally fascinating to me, and the topic seems to be floating back into relevance for the first time in decades. We’ll try to keep things mostly above board.

Let’s start with the story that got this article rolling. Olivia Rodrigo, pop princess extraordinaire, has a concert film coming up, and for the promotional image, she recreated Love’s classic “Live Through This,” album art. That is a pretty cool callback, Rodrigo’s music is a teeny-bopper version of Love’s in a lot of ways, especially “Good 4 U,” and it’s nice to see her promoting a classic album by a pioneer of female-led rock.

Courtney Love did not agree with that assessment.

Yes, Love took to Instagram, remarking that it was rude for her and the photographer to not be consulted, and despite Rodrigo vocally stanning her, was generally dismissive and unhappy with her. This is, at least arguably, defensible, at least in the abstract, but reading what Love actually wrote left me confused. In fact, everything on Love’s social media left me kinda confused and put off. So, let’s talk about Courtney Love, and the past, present and future of her public image.

Music News and Interviews

Big Red Machine is Back

Big Red Machine, a duo composed of Aaron Dessner of The National and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, has announced an album coming at the end of this summer. The album is named “How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?” and will contain features from Fleet Foxes, Taylor Swift, Anaïs Mitchell, Sharon Van Etten and more. In fact, nine tracks on this 15 track project will contain features. This will be the indie-folk-rock duo’s sophomore album and will be released under the labels Jagjaguwar and 37d03d.

Upon teasing the release of this album, Swift fans almost immediately recognized that she would be involved with the project due to her particular handwriting. This was also suspected due to her past work with both Dessner and Vernon on her two most recent albums, “folklore” and “evermore.” Dessner also assisted in the production of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” Swift has two features on the album, on tracks “Birch” and “Renegade.”

Two singles off of the album have already been released, “Latter Days (feat. Anaïs Mitchell)” and “The Ghost of Cincinnati.”

Dessner says that themes of the album include “childhood, family dynamics and mental health.”

Big Red Machine circa May 29th 2019. Image used under the Creative Commons License, taken by Ralph_PH on Flickr.

The tracklist is as follows:

  1. “Latter Days” (feat. Anaïs Mitchell)
  2. “Reese”
  3. “Phoenix” (feat. Fleet Foxes and Anaïs Mitchell)
  4. “Birch” (feat. Taylor Swift)
  5. “Renegade” (feat. Taylor Swift)
  6. “The Ghost of Cincinnati”
  7. “Hoping Then”
  8. “Mimi” (feat. Ilsey)
  9. “Easy To Sabotage” (feat. Naeem)
  10. “Hutch” (feat. Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Hannigan and Shara Nova My Brightest Diamond)
  11. “8:22am” (feat. La Force)
  12. “Magnolia”
  13. “June’s a River” (feat. Ben Howard and This Is The Kit)
  14. “Brycie”
  15. “New Auburn” (feat. Anaïs Mitchell)

The sources for this article include: