Categories
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.

Categories
Band/Artist Profile

An Ode to Mallrat

Mallrat (in her personal life known as Gracie Shaw) is a 22-year-old Australian pop singer and songwriter that has been releasing music since 2016, with the debut of her first EP “Uninvited.” I mentioned Mallrat on my “Australia Favorites” blog back in April. Her discography includes three EPs and a handful of singles. With earnest and angsty lyrics, she brings a refreshing perspective to the world of pop. She has collaborated with artists such as Cub Sport, Allday, and producers like Konstantin Kersting and BJ Burton. 

My favorite of her projects is her 2018 release, “In The Sky.” This five-song EP intertwines the familiarity of streamlined-sounding pop with teenage uncertainty, hope and despair. However, if you’re not a fan of vocal chops, I would stay away from this EP (it’s covered in them). “In The Sky” also has killer cover-art, one of my favorites of all time. 

“In The Sky” – Mallrat (cover art)

My favorite (and in my opinion the best) track by Mallrat thus far is “Charlie” off of her 2019 EP “Driving Music.” She has said that “Charlie is about a lot of different things, but mostly just loving people so much, regardless of whether it’s reciprocated or not.” This song was at the top of my 2020 Spotify Wrapped, and is overall an amazing song about the beauty of the human ability to love. 

I’ve been listening to Mallrat since 2016, and I hope to one day see a full-length album from her. I also think she has a voice suited for soft rock, and would love to hear her experiment in that realm as well.

Sources for this blog include:

Categories
Miscellaneous

Sitting On My Shelf: Album Reviews

My record collection has been gathering a lot of dust recently, I’ve been neglecting them in favor of new releases on streaming platforms. Today I decided to revisit my albums and spin my favorites again. I inherited most of my vinyl from my mom so there are a lot of 80’s new wave artists on my shelf. 

My Top 3 80’s Records 

Kate Bush – Hounds of Love

Kate Bush’s album Hounds of Love taken by author

This album is so special to me. Kate Bush’s vocals are ethereal and blend perfectly with the textured synths. Everyone should listen to this album all the way through. My favorites songs from the album are “The Big Sky” and “Waking the Witch”.  

The Sugarcubes – Life’s Too Good

The Sugarcubes’ album Life’s Too Good taken by author

The Sugarcubes might be best known for their lead singer Björk. Their debut album “Life’s Too Good” explores experimental, post-punk, indie rock and electronica. My favorites of the album are “Motorcrash” and “Delicious Demon”. 

The Clash – Combat Rock

The Clash’s album Combat Rock taken by author

This classic album is full of fight songs. A mix of rock and post-punk, “Combat Rock” remains The Clash’s most critically acclaimed album. My favorite tracks are “Know Your Rights” and “Straight To Hell”.  

My Top Recent Record

Ohioan – Empty / Every Mt

Ohioan’s album EMPTY / EVERY MT taken by author

Visually and sonically one of the prettiest albums I have. The twangy folk-rock inspired tracks have experimental elements that draw the listener in. The lyrics paint a picture of Appalachia. My favorite song on the album is “BAD ALTITUDE”.  

Hope this inspires you to dust off your vinyl and rediscover old gems. 

-DJ lil witch

Categories
Music Education

From Classical to Expirimental – Going Mainstream

This is the last part of a four-part series on the birth of avant-garde music. You can read this article alone or view part one here.

When we last left off, the modern experimental ethos had developed in classical spaces. But there’s still a missing connection. How do we go from this academic music to the experimental musicians of today? Well, the answer has to do with a few musicians who made the jump from one genre to another, but first, we need to talk about money.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Tips and Tricks for Moving

I have lived in the same house my entire life, so when it came time for me to go to college in the late summer of 2019, I had never moved before. Granted, I have an older sibling who also went to college, and my parents have moved a countless number of times in their lives, so they were able to help me with that process. However, because of the pandemic, I had to transfer all of my belongings six (soon to be seven) times within the span of two years– and although the process never gets any less stressful, I have learned some tips and tricks along the way.

1. 30 Gallon Trash Bags are your best friend.

Especially if you’re not spatially aware (like me) it’s nice to have giant bags you can just throw random stuff in. They are especially useful for bedding (even when it’s folded, it takes up so much space) or clothing. I would advise against putting anything fragile in one of these but for fabric items, they work just fine.

2. Your belongings are probably not going to be organized the way you want them to be, and that is okay.

Once you come to accept that the whole process is going to be extremely stressful no matter what you do, it takes a lot of the pressure off. Obviously there are things that you can do to make the process easier (as that is the goal of this blogpost) but chances are, logistics will get in the way of perfect organization, and that’s alright.

3. Collect cardboard boxes in the few weeks/months before you’re about to move out.

If you don’t have room for boxes or don’t want them cluttering your space, collapse them and then reconstruct them when it’s time to start packing. 

4. Storage units are also your best friend.

If you’re going back and forth between two places (as is common for college students), the ability to not have to lug non-essentials back and forth is amazing. They can be somewhat pricey, but if they’re within your budget they are 100% worth it. 

5. Distract yourself with podcasts, television and music.

The process will not be fun, so you may as well make it bearable with media of your choice. Just be sure it’s not something you want to pay too close attention to, because you will be packing/unpacking your belongings and thus won’t be able to watch the screen the whole time.

6. Ask for help.

Along the same vein as the last tip, having help from family, friends, and/or roommates is indispensable. They can serve as a distraction, help or even just companionship along the way.


I hope these tips are helpful, and if you’re in the process of moving right now just know that you’re not alone. Hopefully one day we’ll finally invent teleportation and that’ll make everything 100% easier. 

Until then,

Caitlin

Categories
Short Stories

Concert Rats at the Coffee Shop Show

My good friend, Doris (a.k.a. DJ Babycakez on WKNC 88.1), told me a story the other week that I’ve thought about every day since. As I remember, when Doris was in high school, she’d go to a local coffee shop to see her friend’s band, among others, perform in a weekly show. The crowd was apparently quite the mixed bag. It really comes down to the rats. 

Among the crowd was a small community of rat owners that would bring their pets to the show each week and allow them to crawl up and down their bodies as they walked around the main floor. As Doris recalls, the owners would sometimes approach groups of people and introduce their rats as if they were people. My favorite rat name that Doris relayed was Stargirl. What a name for a rat. 

This story is a prime example of the generally intriguing nature of a concert crowd. In my experience, and clearly Doris’, concerts tend to draw out some fascinating people with equally fascinating stories. Even among a niche music genre or band, there’s usually a jarring combination of people compared to other sorts of gatherings. 

It is with Doris’ story in mind, I call upon everyone to remember their favorite concert crowd encounters and to savor the fact that you’re likely to meet someone outside your average realm at nearly any concert you attend. 

Here’s to concert rats, unique individuals and Stargirl, of course,

Silya Bennai

Categories
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.

Categories
New Album Review

Scout by Samia EP Review

“Making it look easy is the hardest thing in the world to do” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

One of the best ways an album can be enjoyable to listen to is by sounding effortless. This works for any genre; being able to settle into a groove and make the listener think the carefully planned lyrics are just coming out in a stream of consciousness. Samia’s last album, 2020’s “The Baby,” thrived off this concept. Lines didn’t sound forced but like they flowed out under their own steam, taking center stage over minimal and light instrumentals. This wasn’t an album that clicked with me right away, but a year later, it’s stayed in my music rotation and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. It managed to walk that very thin line between trying too hard and sounding lazy. This is a very difficult balancing act, and it’s one that at times hurt “Scout” but kept its true potential in check.

One thing it got perfectly right was its choice of the lead single. “Show Up” has been one of my favorite songs of the year and one that perfectly captures this spirit of effortlessness. It tells a vaguely defined story, name-dropping characters we don’t hear from again, to draw the listener into its world before hitting us with its understated and inspirational chorus. The ability for Samia to pull narratives from conventional song structures and not feel like it was forced in is a highlight of the EP and Show Up was the best example of that.

Ironically, the other highlight was the song that ditched the understated feel the most and went big with hard-hitting drums and a strong vocal feature, “The Promise.” This made no effort to hide its best qualities and was some of the most immediate fun I’ve had with a Samia song.

The other two tracks weren’t bad by any means, but they had some issues that require a separate category to mention. “As You Are” had a vocal sample at the beginning that lasted for far too long and got in the way of the actual singing. These kinds of choices jump out to me. I really don’t know why that was played as long as it did, and consistency is a big part of why I like any song, so having something irksome like that is when I tend to look at a song less favorably. It, along with the other track “Elephant,” also ran into the issue of trying to mimic a style rather than go for something different. It’s not too egregious, as it is her style, but both of those songs to me felt like the weakest off “Scoutm” or maybe B-sides. Elephant” did come alive at the end with some neat wordplay and a well-executed chorus but it just didn’t grab my attention that way I’ve come to expect from Samia’s discography.

I was probably a little too hyped coming into this EP. While of course EPs aren’t a bad art form, in my experience I tend to prefer an artists’ album output. “The Baby” was intimate, gripping and meditative, but most of all it was surprising, a debut album that absolutely blew me away. “Scout” was a strong EP and follow-up, but it just couldn’t surprise me like her previous release. Now her next album though…

– Erie Mitchell

Categories
Weekly Charts

Daytime Charts 7/27

TOP CHARTS

ArtistRecordLabel
1SPELLLINGThe Turning WheelSacred Bones
2JAPANESE BREAKFASTJubileeDead Oceans/Secretly Group
3SHYGIRLALIAS [EP]Because
4A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERSHologram [EP]Self-Released
5BLACK MIDICavalcadeRough Trade/Beggars
6ENUMCLAWJimbo Demo [EP]Youth Riot
7SOFIA KOURTESISFresia Magdalena [EP]Technicolour
8TOBIElements Vol. 1Same Plate/RCA
9EVIDENCEUnlearning Vol. 1Rhymesayers
10ILLUMINATI HOTTIES“Pool Hopping” [Single]Snack Shack Tracks/Hopeless
11FLYING LOTUSYasukeWarp
12POM POM SQUADDeath Of A CheerleaderCity Slang
13TASHAKI MIYAKICastawayMetropolis
14WHISPERING SONS“Heat” [Single]PIAS
15SERENA ISIOMASensitive [EP]AWAL
16LOUNGE SOCIETY, THESilk For The Starving [EP]Speedy Wunderground/PIAS
17LUNAR VACATION“Shrug” [Single]Keeled Scales
18DAWN RICHARDSecond LineMerge
19LAVA LA RUEButter-fly [EP]Marathon
20SNAPPED ANKLESForest Of Your ProblemsLeaf
21JOESEFDoes It Make You Feel Good [EP]AWAL
22BILLY DEAN THOMASFor Better Or WorseSelf-Released
23SUPERBLOOMPollenSelf-Released
24HIATUS KAIYOTEMood ValiantBrainfeeder/Ninja Tune
25MINAXISialia [EP]Self-Released
26SQUIDBright Green FieldWarp
27KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARDButterfly 3000KGLW
28BACHELORDoomin’ SunPolyvinyl
29L’RAINFatigueMexican Summer
30MARKEE STEELEVet & A Rook [EP]Thee Marquee

TOP ADDS

ArtistRecordLabel
1SPELLLINGThe Turning WheelSacred Bones
2SNAPPED ANKLESForest Of Your ProblemsLeaf
3TASHAKI MIYAKICastawayMetropolis
4PEARLYMellon [EP]Eto Ano
5SEND MEDICINEBy Telepathy And ReputationVery Possible
6BABEHOVENNastavi, Calliope [EP]Self-Released
7TURNSTILETURNSTILE LOVE CONNECTION [EP]Roadrunner
8COMA CULTURECamouflageRepost Network/Gourmet
9DEUCEDEUCEDinosaur City
10SLEEPMAKESWAVESThese Are Not Your DreamsBird’s Robe
Categories
Weekly Charts

Chainsaw Charts 7/27

ArtistRecordLabel
1ABSENCE, THECoffinizedM-Theory
2CANNIBAL CORPSEViolence UnimaginedMetal Blade
3SIEGE COLUMNDarkside LegionsNuclear War Now
4IRON MAIDEN“The Writing On The Wall” [Single]BMG
5REBEL PRIESTLost in Tokyo [EP]Batcave
6COGNITIVEMalevolent Thoughts Of A Hastened ExtinctionUnique Leader
7POWERWOLFCall Of The WildNapalm
8NANOWAR OF STEELItalian Folk MetalNapalm
9AT THE GATESThe Nightmare Of BeingCentury Media
10LORD OF THE LOSTJudasNapalm