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Music News and Interviews

Edward “Eddie” Lodewijk Van Halen

January 26, 1955 – October 6, 2020

The Colossus of Rhodes was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was a huge statue, measuring 108 feet tall, erected on the Greek island of Rhodes in 280 BC. The actual location of the original statue is disputed today, but one of the opinions on the matter is that the statue straddled the opening to the harbor of Rhodes, a foot on each side. 

I grew up listening to Van Halen with my parents. I have told the story, many times, of riding to kindergarten with my dad, and asking him to play “Little Dreamer,” my favorite at the time. Hearing Eddie play at that young age, helped bring a familiarity to all music that I would hear from then on. The sound of screaming solos and chugging riffs has always been an inviting and welcoming sound to me. In the era in which Eddie played, there were great guitarists. But he turned it up! And turned Rock on its head!

Eddie was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands. His family moved to California and in 1972, he and his brother Alex, founded Van Halen with original bassist Mark Stone and singer David Lee Roth. He may not have invented the “tap style” technique of guitar playing, but he sure did perfect it! More than that, though, he was the perfect expression of one’s instrument becoming an extension of one’s self. With a perpetual grin, Eddie did amazing things, both in the studio and on the stage. 

1974 – 1985: Eddie, Alex, David, and Michael Anthony (bass) delivered raw emotion and talent on Van Halen’s first 5 records, all of which have since been certified multi-platinum – Van Halen, Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning, and Diver Down. The sixth record, 1984, was far more commercial than the previous records, but Eddie kept on with the kick ass riffs. 

In 1985 Roth went solo and The Red Rocker, Sammy Hagar, stepped in to vocals and as a second guitarist. The band became even more successful, producing four U.S. number-one, multi-platinum records – 5150 in 1986, OU812 in 1988, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge in 1991, and Balance in 1995. Eddie introduced keyboards on the 1984 album, and carried that through this era as well. These records had a more pop-rock sound, but Eddie kept dealing out the killer guitars. 

1996, Hager leaves the band and Gary Cherone (Extreme) takes vocals for Van Halen III in 1998. He leaves the band in 1999. 

2003, Hagar rejoins for a worldwide tour in 2004, and leaves again in 2005. 

2006, Roth rejoins and Wolfgang Van Halen (Eddies son) takes over on bass. 

2012 sees the release of A Different Kind of Truth and, you guessed it, Eddie kept delivering the guitar mastery. 

The Colossus of Rhodes is the perfect imagery to me, when imagining Eddie within the larger guitar community. He stood like a Colossus with one foot in Rock-n-roll and the other in what would come to be known as Metal. He stood in welcome of travelers journeying to this new form of energy. He was the bridge between the old and the new. There are giants in the land of guitarists. There are metal-gods and titans that traverse here, too. But Eddie was a Colossus that changed the art of shredding forever. With a grin and a swagger, this Colossus stands forever. Rest In Rock, sir. 

Stay Metal,

THE SAW

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Music News and Interviews

The Tierra Whack Cinematic Universe

Tierra Whack’s 2018 album Whack World is something of a sample platter: that is, it gives you a taste of everything but leaves you hungry for more. The project is composed of 15 one-minute tracks, each with their own distinct flavor. Of course, the enjoyment of any dish relies on its visual presentation as well, which is why Whack World is best enjoyed while viewing the video that goes with it.

In just 15 minutes Tierra Whack invites the viewer into a bizarre world of cable repairmen (“Cable Guy”), puppet cemeteries (“Pet Cemetery”), 80s fitness trends (“Fruit Salad”) and so much more. Tierra Whack’s visual storytelling is on par with her lyrical storytelling: vibrant colors and set designs are paired with eccentric tales about relationships, loss, and self love. Songs like “Hungry Hippo”, and “Pretty Ugly” showcase her knack for catchy, off-the-wall vocal inflections, while “Sore Loser” reminds us that she is a capable emcee in her own right. My favorite song has got to be “F*ck Off”, which finds Miss Whack singing with a cartoonish affectation: “I hope your a– breaks out in a rash/You remind me of my deadbeat dad.”

I think Tierra Whack’s decision to make each song one minute was very clever – just as you are drawn into the world of one track, it abruptly ends and you are thrust into the next. This is what keeps me coming back to this project time and time again, and why you should check it out for yourself!

Favorite tracks: Cable Guy, Hungry Hippo, Pet Cemetery, Fuck Off, Pretty Ugly

– DJ Mango 

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Music News and Interviews

Layers of the Earth Described by Albums

Recently my friends and I had a conversation about what layers of the earth we thought we would be. So, I thought it would be fun to pass on the idea, but with music. So here are five albums that I feel truly represent the layers of the earth. 

Kids by Mac Miller: Crust
First up we have K.I.D.S. by Mac Miller. This album is totally the crust. It’s light, upbeat and like the mountainous terrain of the crust has a wide range of melodies throughout the album. It’s god-tier Mac Miller music, of course, but it also talks a good deal about growing up and changing all while keep a light and upbeat tone throughout the album. 

Play With Fire by L.A. Witch: Asthenosphere 
The asthenosphere is the layer that rests right below the crust and is made basically of magma. It’s hot, but because the magma needs to reach the crust it flows a lot. Just like magma, Play With Fire is hot (I mean they even titled the first song Fire Starter) but it also has some great flow to the songs on the album. What I’m trying to say is, I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw L.A. Witch standing on a piece of cooled magma playing Play With Fire as they rode down the side of a volcano in a river of lava. It’d just be fitting. 

By and By by Caamp: Mantle
The mantle is the largest layer of the earth. It’s incredibly wide and I imagine travelling through it would be comparable to a mid-July day in North Carolina. Hot, humid, and nowhere to go. That’s why I think it’s so fitting that By and By by Caamp would be perfect for this layer. When I think of this album, it reminds me of hot summer nights with friends, sitting outside around a fire with nothing in particular to do but let the time pass by. 

Goosebumps by Boyscott: Outer Core
Honestly this might be my favorite album of all time. Every song on this album is a Certified Bop, and with its dreamlike guitar and echoey lyrics it’s able to have a deeper tone while somehow still staying rather upbeat. In fact, the whole album makes you feel like you’ve astrally projected right into the center up the outer core. 

French Exit by TV Girl: Inner Core 
This is another great album. There is hardly a bad song on here and it’s actually quite similar-sounding to Goosebumps by Boyscott. However, French Exit brings in an older feel for its musical style, with 80s-style synths and movie dialogue throughout the album. In my mind, it is undoubtedly the inner core. 

See you guys next time! <3

-DJ Chippypants 

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Music News and Interviews

Vince Staples and the Vicarious Life of the Hip-Hop Fan

With the proliferation of cameras, satellites and other technologies that collect biometric data, it is easier than ever to track the location and behavioral patterns of individuals. The internet has made it possible for millions of people to spy on each other at will through social media and applications like Google Earth. This is the premise for the music video by rapper Vince Staples.

This video was produced as though we are watching through Google Street view, with some shots being stills and others containing movement. It takes place in “Norfy”, California, which is Vince’s nickname for his hometown of northern Long Beach. The camera follows Vince as he passes by other residents who are seen doing a variety of activities. In the end of the video, it is revealed that a teenager identified as “Lucas” has been watching these events unfold from his computer screen – when his name is called, he quickly closes his laptop and leaves the frame.

There are some details about Lucas that shed some light on the intersection of race, class, and the vicarious life of the hip-hop fan. Lucas is portrayed as a teenage white male; based on his room we might assume he is somewhere in the upper-middle class, and based on the “Free Kodak” poster on his wall we can deduce he is a hip-hop fan. Vince Staples knows his audience quite well – though hip-hop is one of the most diverse genres of music, people like Lucas make up a considerable chunk of its demographic. When a genre of music that is rooted in the struggle of an oppressed people is consumed by those who have not experienced that struggle, it becomes commodified as entertainment.

There is an irony in us watching someone watch someone else. To this end, I think “FUN!” serves as a criticism of not only Lucas, but the viewers themselves. After all, are we not spying on Vince as well?

– DJ Mango

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Music News and Interviews

My Concert Experiences

Before COVID, one of my favorite activities was seeing bands live. Now that I’m quarantining at home, I’m reflecting on my previous concert experiences. I made this TikTok to rate my different show experiences. I’ve also included a little bit more detail below in case you’re curious.

Mitski: 7/10

I gave this concert a 7/10 because the concert was incredibly cool. Mitski had just put out her third album, “Bury Me At Makeout Creek.” The songs she performed were emotional and it was a great show.

Mac Demarco: 3/10

This show was pretty decent, but while crowd-surfing, Mac Demarco kicked my Dad in the face and knocked off his glasses, which was not great.

Wavves: 1/10

This show was definitely not my favorite, the sound was really off and the band sounded a lot different live. I still enjoy their music but probably wouldn’t see the band live again.

Neutral Milk Hotel: 9/10

This show was part of NMH’s last tour. I really love the band, and their album “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” is a quintessential indie favorite. A truly unforgettable experience.

Cults: 10/10

This was one of my first concerts and one of my best. It was at a venue in Charlotte during Halloween and I was lucky enough to be able to meet the band afterward.

Hope you enjoyed my video and description, let me know if you want to see a part two!

– Miranda

*Disclaimer: these are my own views and experiences, and don’t reflect the views of the WKNC station as a whole.*

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Music News and Interviews

DJ Mango’s Vinyl Collection

Hey everyone! Between quarantine keeping everyone at home and moving into a new apartment, I’ve quite a lot of time to arrange my personal space. With so many records gathering dust in the corner of my room, I figured I would put some of my favorites on display! 

Nonagon Infinity by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

Touted as the world’s first “infinitely looping” album, Nonagon Infinity consists of 9 tracks that seamlessly transition into each other, with the last looping into the first. On top of that it’s a fantastic, proggy psych-rock album with a metal twist. Plus, it’s got a really neat green and black pressing!

Plastic Beach by Gorillaz

This project finds the fictional members of Gorillaz on a tiny island made of plastic, the furthest point from any other landmass in the world, where Murdoc produced the album. It also features some of their best hits like “Stylo”, “On Melancholy Hill” and “Some Kind of Nature”.

Reign in Blood by Slayer

Celebrated as one of the most influential thrash metal albums of all time, Slayer laid the groundwork for generations to come with Reign in Blood. The first Slayer song I ever heard was “Raining Blood” when I played Guitar Hero 3 when I was 12.

What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye

A true classic in every sense of the word. In some ways, I think the times we live in are similar to the times Marvin lived through, such as the Vietnam War and the Watts Riots of 1965. The message of universal love in the face of injustice is just as important today as it was in 1971, when this album was released.

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

After hearing this album for the first time, I was shocked to find it was released in 1998. To my ears, its sound is indicative of the 2000’s indie scene, only it came out the decade before. The album’s surreal lyrics and unique aesthetics lead to the immense cult following it now has.

Madvillainy by Madvillain

2004’s Madvillainy found emcee MF DOOM and producer Madlib at the height of their both creativity and evil powers. The result was one of the most unique and influential alternative hip-hop albums of all time.

Back to Black by Amy Winehouse

This album marked a tonal shift for Amy Winehouse: she traded the jazz/neo-soul sensibilities of 2003’s Frank for the doo-wop and classic soul found on Back to Black. It received praise for its dark portrayal of heartbreak and it is always in my rotation.

An Awesome Wave by Alt-J

Alt-J’s 2012 debut is an album that has defined my life since it was released. It’s a project that I find myself coming back to time and time again. Favorites include “Tessellate”, “Breezeblocks” and “Taro”.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill

This album is considered one of the greatest albums of all time by some, and for good reason. It effortlessly blends hip-hop, neo-soul, reggae, R&B, and soul while exploring themes of love, loss and faith. If you haven’t heard it yet (you’ve had 22 years to do so), please do yourself a favor and put it on. Fans of any genre can find something to love in this album.

That’s all! Do you collect vinyl? If so, what are some favorites from your collection?

– DJ Mango

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Music News and Interviews

JPEGMAFIA, Abdu Ali and Gender Nonconformity in Hip-Hop

JPEGMAFIA on the cover of his 2019 release All My Heroes Are Cornballs
Abdu Ali on the cover of their album Fiyah!!!

It is no secret that hip-hop values masculinity. The most popular rappers – even those who are not men – display traditionally masculine traits such as self-reliance, power, and aggressiveness (note I am not saying these traits are necessarily masculine, however, in a historical sense they have been presented as such). However, where there is an established norm there will undoubtedly be resistance to that norm. In this post, I will be exploring two artists who challenge the established norms of gender within the hip-hop genre.

Since his rise to popularity after the release of Veteran in 2018, JPEGMAFIA has become a favorite for hip-hop bloggers (whom he has no shortage of choice words for). People like to praise his experimental production choices and confrontational lyrics, but I don’t see many talking about the defiance of gender norms within his music. Nowhere is this more apparent than his 2019 release All My Heroes Are Cornballs. Though he makes some of the most aggressive music I’ve ever heard, Peggy appears notably vulnerable on this album. From wearing flowy silk clothing on the album’s cover to adopting a feminine persona in songs like “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot” and “Thot Tactics”, JPEGMAFIA has shown he is unconcerned with traditional constructions of masculinity.

JPEGMAFIA collaborator Abdu Ali is similarly unconcerned with gender conventions. As an unapologetically black and queer artist, they embody the masculine and feminine in a way that is both captivating and memorable. I had the privilege of seeing them live when they opened for Peggy at his 2019 A Tribute to Buttermilk Jesus show in New York. Their stage presence was unmatched – at one point, I remember they entered the crowd and had us all sit down before screaming at the top of our lungs. It was a truly visceral experience.

There you have it. This was by no means an exhaustive list of artists defying gender norms in hip-hop, only a few that I find the most exciting. The fact that even mainstream artists – such as Tyler, the Creator, Young Thug, Princess Nokia, and Lil Uzi Vert – are exploring these themes seems indicative of a shift in the culture, and who knows? Maybe one day we will see the dismantling of gender norms in hip-hop once and for all.

– DJ Mango

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Music News and Interviews

Chip’s Guide to Surf Music

King of the Surf Guitar

Quarantine crazies got you down? Do you need a break? A getaway from the humdrum of everyday, normal life? Well here at WKNC we can’t offer you that, but we can offer some great music for when you finally do.

Surf music has always had a special place in my heart. It first arose in California in the early 60s, pioneered by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones. Their music was mostly instrumental with heavily reverbed guitar riffs, made to mimic the sounds of waves crashing on the beach. It is truly a visually descriptive style of music, perfect for transporting your mind to memories of summer. No matter where I am or what time of year it is, those upbeat melodies take me back to visions of cruising down a beach road. Top down, sun in my eyes, the wind rolls through my hair as I hear the waves crash onto white sand beaches. This is a feeling that comes with only a few artists, and I would like to share them here in an attempt to give you the same feeling that I hold so dear.

Miserlou, King of the Surf Guitar, Let’s Go Trippin’ by Dick Dale
Starting off the list hot and heavy, we have the three best songs ever made by Dick Dale. The fast paced intro to Miserlou emulates the chaos felt when a wave takes control of your surfboard as you first drop down. However, the next two songs are much more lighthearted. The female background chorus in King of the Surf Guitar chimes in perfectly with the strong riffs of guitar made throughout the song. Finally, the bouncy melody of Let’s Go Trippin’ is a perfect representative of the fun, upbeat style of Dick Dale’s music style.

Catamaran, Sandy, Ferus Gallery, Don’t You Forget It by Allah-Las
Allah-Las is a fairly old band that’s been producing pretty solid beach music for a while now. Theirs is much more relaxing and laid back than that of the early 60s style while still bringing that same summer feeling. Ferus Gallery is completely instrumental and probably the most reflective of their style of music, however the background harmonies on Catamaran and Sandy are unmatched.

 
Sol Del Sur (EP) by Surf Room
This EP by the band Surf Room represents a good transition of the surf music genre to surf rock, which is a little heavier but still captures the same energy given off by surf music. Sol Del Sur has a great rhythm and is by far my favorite song on the EP, however Summer’s Here is another great representation of the lighthearted, fun kind of music that makes up surf rock. 

Other great honorable mentions: Surf Rider (LP Version) by The Lively Ones, California Sun by The Rivieras, He’s a Doll by The Honey’s, Golden Earrings by The Hunters, and Bustin’ Surfboards by The Tornadoes.

-Chip 

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Music News and Interviews

Let’s Find Something New!

I have a horrible habit of listening to the same songs over and over again. I find some songs I like, I put them on a playlist, and I don’t look for new music for weeks. Working as a DJ for WKNC has helped to break me out of this habit a bit more, but with the help of the 2020 quarantine summer, I fell back into the same pattern of repetition. As March, April, May, June, and July all seemed to blend together into one insanely long month, I found that my playlist, which was very fittingly titled “doing nothing,” was not helping me feel productive or creative.

I was slowly growing out of my taste for rap and R&B after finding more of an interest in classic rock and the blues, but the comfort of my old music kept me from venturing into the depths of Spotify to find something new. You know when you watch the same episodes of a TV show or movie, even though you’ve seen them a thousand times, just to decompress? A similar phenomenon was happening to me and my music.

It’s easy to stay with the same music we listened to as teenagers, for these sounds have helped build our identities. We all have (hopefully) grown and changed since high school, but sometimes our music taste stays stuck in the past. Though this is not necessarily a bad thing, I think it’s important to keep discovering music and other new things we like as we get older. I love revisiting “AM” by the Arctic Monkeys every once in a while to get a rush of middle school nostalgia just as much as the next person, but I’m glad that I’ve moved onto new horizons.

It can be overwhelming and time-consuming to dive into Spotify blindly in search of new tunes, but the feeling of emerging victorious with a few new songs that bring you joy is a lovely feeling. Another strategy I like to use is going to the thrift store and finding a vinyl with the coolest record sleeve I can find. Asking a friend to make you a playlist is also a great way of finding new music, as well as listening to WKNC!

– DJ butter

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Music News and Interviews

Some of WKNC’s Top Adds recently!

Hello everyone who browses our blog,

I’m Buzz, and when I’m not DJing my own personal sets, I’m working as the Daytime Music Director. What this means is that I choose songs that play on-air at WKNC when a live DJ isn’t in to play their own music. I specifically choose songs to play during our Daytime segments, which are indie/alternative rock.

Here’s some artists and tracks I’ve added recently.

The Beths- If you don’t listen to The Beths, what are you doing? They’re so good. This song has been stuck in my head a lot recently. RIYL Charly Bliss, illuminati hotties, eating ice cream outside during summer, the like.

Madeline Kinney- For those of you that like the more chill, slow indie stuff in the vein of Big Thief and Phoebe Bridgers. Check out this song.

Fontaines D.C.- I only recently jumped on the hype train for these guys, and dang I was missing out so much. This is the coolest song I’ve heard recently. RIYL Ought’s song “Beautiful Blue Sky,” which is also a super cool song.

IDLES- Grounds. Definitely my favorite of the three singles they’ve released so far from their upcoming album, Ultra Mono, out late September. Y’all know I’ll be adding a ton of stuff from that new album. RIYL the song above (I have gotten so obsessed with all this new (post?-)post-punk stuff recently), pretending your a British person in the 1980s fighting against inequality or something like that.

Dream Nails- Vagina Police. I actually hadn’t ever heard of this group until like, a day ago, when I was getting a ton of emails about it. Good stuff. RIYL if you like punk songs that are under two minutes long, and local Triangle punk legends The Muslims and BANGZZZ. 

I hope you found your next favorite band on this list!

-Buzz