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Music News and Interviews

Harry Styles “As It Was” Song Review

Harry Styles is most definitely not a name that commonly shows up on WKNC blogs.

However with this newest lead single from his third and upcoming album “Harry’s Home” perhaps Harry is entering his Indie Pop Era?

I am a casual consumer of Harry Styles’s music and one thing I find fresh about his music is that it’s always a unique and different experience each time. You might be picturing the highly popular pop song “Watermelon Sugar” or  “Adore You” when you think of the name, however, many people have said that his single “As It Was” evokes a certain familiarity with songs you might see by popular Indie Pop bands such as The Strokes or Dayglow. 

Essentially, if you are a listener of the Indie Pop or Bedroom Indie Pop genre, this song will induce similar feelings of wanting to dance around in your room.

This song is far from the radio pop music that has been produced by this artist recently and this is the result of the prominent instruments heard throughout this song. The electric guitar and the drums. The fast tempo and 80s synth-pop melody combined with heavily deep and melancholy lyrics put the audience in a whole new world of its own. Styles plays an instrument called the tubular bells towards the end of the song in beat with a sound of steel dreams, while his poignant lyrics almost feel like the listener is hearing his inner monologue from a diary entry.

A few lines that hit deep most specifically are from the second verse, “Answer the phone| Harry, you’re no good alone| Why are you sitting on the floor?| What kind of pills are you on?| Ringin’ the bell and nobody is coming to help| Your daddy lives by himself| He just wants to know that you’re well”

Like most traditionally popular songs, Styles commonly writes about relationships and romance, yet something about these introspective lyrics changed my perspective on him. The depth seen in these lyrics is quite personal and is one of the first times we’ve seen Harry Styles in this light since his debut as a soloist.

I know what you must be saying, no way is Harry Styles, a member of a former boy band making Indie music. Especially for you out there that regularly listen to Indie Rock and Alternative Underground music – this must be an unusual thing to read about. 

But take my word for it. 

Once you listen to “As It Was” you’ll feel like skipping down a sidewalk or frolicking around a field in the Spring.

Check out the “As It Was” music video here.

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Music News and Interviews

Three Releases to Check Out This New Music Friday

A lot of new music has come out this week, and in case it’s hard for you to keep up, here’s a list of some of the new releases to listen to in the wide world of indie music. The three releases I’m highlighting this week are folky, but all in vastly different ways.

“That’s Where I Am” by Maggie Rogers

Maggie Rogers made a sweeping return with her single “That’s Where I Am.” It’s the lead single for her new album “Surrender” that she announced is coming out July 29. Produced by Rogers and Kid Harpoon, this single is simultaneously Rogers branching out into new realms whilst staying true to her folk-pop roots. I will definitely have this single on repeat all summer

“Chloë and the Next 20th Century” by Father John Misty

Speaking of folk, “Chloë and the Next 20th Century” is Father John Misty’s brand new album. It’s jazzy, lovely, folky and definitely a contender for my personal album of the year. He announced that he’s going on tour in support of this album (and will be stopping in Asheville and Durham this fall). Father John Misty is insanely talented and did not disappoint with this release.

“five seconds flat” by Lizzy McAlpine

Lizzy McAlpine also released a brand new album, titled “five seconds flat.” This former Berklee student is a talented lyricist and knows how to craft beautiful melodies. The album features collaborations with Jacob Collier, Ben Kessler, Laura Elliott and FINNEAS. It touches on themes of love and loss, and is perfect for those who are big fans of Phoebe Bridgers.

What are your favorite releases so far this year?

– Caitlin

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Music News and Interviews

Spotify Armageddon

Over the past few years, streaming music has become as necessary as breathing to a lot of people. The constant consumption of melodious audio has led streaming platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify to skyrocket in popularity.

Unfortunately, on the dreaded day of Tuesday, March 8, 2022, at 1:08 p.m. the ‘Spotify Armageddon’ struck. The streaming service, Spotify, crashed and users were locked out of their accounts getting errors such as “The firewall is preventing you from gaining access” or “Invalid Username or Password”. 

Accounts that people had from the young age of twelve and the playlists created over the years for various occasions such as post-test anger or a road trip were all out of reach, and people rushed to Twitter to cope. Users joked, “now I have to listen to the sound of my engine on the car ride home” and “me joining my family for dinner for the first time in 8 years because Spotify is down”

Avid users of the platform were left in shock and heartbreak after being locked out of their accounts, but for our beloved radio station, WKNC 88.1, this was a serendipitous occasion. NC State students and Raleigh locals immediately sought out ways to continue their music streaming and WKNC 88.1 was the safe haven in this ‘Spotify Armageddon’. Regular listeners of WKNC 88.1 HD-1 and HD-2 got their moment of glory.

Those who tuned in to HD-1 were able to indulge in some Daytime Rock with DJ AV and listen to a few classics such as “We Go Back” by Animal Collective and “I Wanna Feel Love” by Julia Bardo. Meanwhile, those who tuned in to HD-2 were gifted with the Underground playlist hosted by DJ AV, featuring some hidden gems like “First Breath” by Daylyt.

Though this brief Spotify Armageddon influenced melophiles, music lovers, from all walks of life, those who happened to pop onto WKNC 88.1 didn’t have a reason to fret.

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Music News and Interviews

Wallows “At the End of the Day” Song Review

Wallows are an up-and-coming indie-rock band that have grown in popularity in the past three years. Their band consists of three members: Dylan Minnette, Braeden Lemasters, Cole Preston. The song “At The End of the Day” was released this Friday, March 4 and is a single that is part of their sophomore album titled “Tell Me That It’s Over”, which will be released on March 25. 

From my initial impression, the song was a lot different than the songs we have seen from Wallows recently and had a much more mellow rhythm compared to their more upbeat single “I Don’t Want to Talk”. While “I Don’t Want to Talk” featured a more energetic tempo, “At The End of the Day” had a slower more steady tempo, matching the nostalgic feelings of the lyrics. What was teased as an acoustic song was released as a masterpiece.

Another refreshing aspect of this song was that the audience was able to hear a lot more of Braeden’s voice throughout and he was the main vocalist. Oftentimes, Dylan is the lead singer and his voice is accompanied by Braeden’s, though in this song Braeden was able to take center stage. 

A few lines that stood out to me in the song were “Please just see | That you are not alone, you are not alone| I’ll never let you go| Unless you want me to” There is something just so sentimental about being afraid to end a relationship or let go of someone you love because you are afraid you’ll hurt them. This song encompasses this feeling all too well.

The meaning behind this song is as resonating as most Wallows songs are. This song describes the intensity of being in a relationship and feeling that the end might be nearing, though at the end of the day (no pun intended) you just want your significant other to be happy.

The aesthetics of the music video serve this immense nostalgia of summer nights and this is a song that you’ll be rushing to add to your late night driving playlist.

Check out the music video here.

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Blog Music News and Interviews

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.

-Erie

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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.

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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,

Caitlin

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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:

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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.

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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.