Categories
Music Education

Eastern Religion in Rock Music (feat. The Indigo Girls)

Two women in casual clothing play guitar on a stage
“Indigo Girls,” Credit: Cornfusion [Flickr]

Many of our first introductions to the varied religious traditions of East Asia do not come from books or school, let alone Asian people themselves. While there are a variety of ways that people first meet Buddhism, Hinduism, or any of the number of religions thrown into the grab bag of ‘Eastern Religion,’ many of our cultural ideas about Asian and Indian spirituality come from the rock and roll. This association seems set in stone, but if you give it more than a passing thought it’s actually… really weird? Psychedelic rock was not always associated with Eastern spiritual movements and considering that the philosophical backing of the New Left was largely atheist, it’s fairly confusing that mainstream artists leaned so hard into other culture’s religious traditions.

The counterculture of the sixties has largely defined rock music in the traditional telling, and it co-opted many real religious traditions that actual people have practiced since the dawn of time, religions which Western people usually treated with at best indifference and more often with outright derision. Now the basic woke impulse for this is to simply write this phenomenon off as some indeterminate form of cultural appropriation, which I guess is what I did prior to hearing the song “Galileo,” but more on that later.

Research into New Age spirituality and Eastern religion in America is plentiful, and you must forgive me for barely even scratching the surface of scholarly literature on the topic (I am but a humble blog writer with other essays to write), but what research I could find for free with an NC State login on Jstor usually identifies the rise of new-age religion with the decline in doctrinal Christianity, which makes sense. Winston King has attributed this to a search for a more flexible undefined vocabulary for expressing spiritual concepts, a vocabulary supposedly worn down by years of biblical literalism, which is probably fair enough. This was an interesting idea on its own that I wanted to share with you, but if we take a textual reading to the music that introduced Americans to Eastern religious concepts, we can see evidence for King’s claim.

The first person most of us think of when it comes to Eastern spirituality in rock is probably George Harrison. He was one of the most prominent advocates for Buddhist and Hindu philosophies, and he was the only one of the Beatles for which, as one writer so tactfully put it, “The Hare Krishna stuff wasn’t a phase.” His music probably makes the best case for King’s analysis of Western people wanting to energize belief with new vocabulary. Harrison did not follow any discreet religion and often mixed Eastern and Western religious language to create an emotional through-line for his presumably Western listeners, most notably in the song My Sweet Lord. Additionally, if you wanted to make an argument for Harrison appropriating Eastern religion, there is a lot to work with. While Harrison had the money to visit India multiple times, he never really entered the religious tradition or converted so much as he took language and ideas to suit his purposes. I will leave further discussion of the permissibility of that practice to Twitter.

If we end our discussion in the 60s, we might make the mistake of assuming Americans either abandoned interest in Eastern religion or hold that interest in the same unevolved sense of romanticization that Harrison used. Even though counterculture spiritualism unambiguously exited the mainstream, and new age religion makes the news most often for anti-vax scandals, there has been at least some maturation in American’s approach to other culture’s religion. This is where the song Galileo by the Indigo Girls comes in. Unlike 60’s religious experimentation that equated Eastern religions with recreational drug use and did a poor job distinguishing between different religions, Galileo is unambiguously about the philosophical implications of Buddhism. The song takes the same level of spiritual uncertainty and angst people apply to Christian theology and applies it to Buddhism, asking questions like “How long till my soul gets it right, does any human being ever reach those kinds of heights except for Galileo?” The song is also distinctly positioned from an American perspective, referencing milestones in Western intellectual history to frame its spiritual questions instead of presuming knowledge about the East. The song isn’t predicated on the novelty of other belief systems, instead, it assumes the audience has at least a passing familiarity with concepts like reincarnation, and then uses that knowledge to ask other questions.

Your mileage may vary as to how much you can enjoy Europeans and Americans using Eastern vocabulary to frame distinctly Western arguments. However, regardless of how you come down on that issue, I think it is worth considering the progress made since the sixties. While George Harrison was generally respectful, I’m not sure you could say the same about Donovan or the number of better-off forgotten faux hippies of the era. And listen to the Indigo Girls if you get a chance.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Behind the Cover: Freetown Sound by Blood Orange

When Deana Lawson took this portrait, titled “Binky & Tony Forever,” she had no idea that it would become the cover of one of Dev Hynes’s most prolific albums. Lawson specializes in photography depicting identity, love and materiality, particularly in Black culture. Her work is beautiful and honest, showing levels of intimacy that are both soft and powerful.

In 2016, the year “Freetown Sound” was released, “Fader” magazine interviewed Lawson on the album cover’s creation. She described how “Binky & Tony Forever” was originally a personal project, and it would be seven years before Dev Hynes used it for his album artwork. Binky, the woman in the photo, was a makeup artist she met on a shoot. Anthony, the man, was a friend of Binky’s. Lawson went in knowing she wanted to capture the idea of “physical intimacy” with a young couple. Usually, she shoots her subjects in their own environments, but for this particular photo shoot, they were actually in Lawson’s bedroom. She chose to keep everything on the walls the same except the Michael Jackson poster, which she says invoked her “own memory of popular culture while [she] was growing up.”

Lawson chose them as subjects partially because of their heights. Though Binky was quite short and Anthony quite tall, their positions demonstrate a deep level of respect and closeness. The way he’s embracing her gives off the sense that they are equals, and there’s no toxic power dynamic in their relationship.

The striking tenderness of this visual is perhaps what drew Dev Hynes to the photograph. After seeing “Binky & Tony Forever”, he asked if he could use it for the cover to “Freetown Sound.” Though Lawson was hesitant to release one of her pieces into such heavy circulation, she came around after hearing Dev Hynes’ unreleased album. She felt “like his mission, his intention, and his aesthetic” fit hers perfectly.

– DJ Butter

Interview source can be found here.

Categories
Band/Artist Profile

Olivia Rodrigo and the Trajectory of Indie Pop

A young woman stands in front of a backdrop of Disney regalia
Used With Permission from The Walt Disney Corporation according to the following license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode

Alright, so if you have listened to either of Olivia Rodrigo’s newest singles you might already know where I’m going with this. The newest Disney-affiliated teen pop star Olivia Rodrigo sounds eerily like the current biggest name in indie, Phoebe Bridgers. This is maybe not the most startling observation, as they both make personal, emotional power ballads with a pop sheen, and Rodrigo has cited Bridgers as an influence. However, I think it’s worth taking a minute to ruminate on what this similarity might mean, and what we learn about the future of both pop and indie rock because the gap between pop and indie rock has traditionally been miles wide. What shifted in publishing trends in the last decade or so to make this possible?

Indie kids have a bit of a superiority complex when it comes to finding different music, and I include myself in that criticism. I mean, the entire function of this radio station is to play music that isn’t marketable enough to get on mainstream radio, this desire for unique sounds and genres is basically the definition of indie at this point. So, there’s a kind of knee-jerk reaction whenever any indie artist has a mainstream hit, or whenever an indie sound is adapted for pop radio, to instantly brand the crossover success as the most boilerplate reduction of both genres. This typified the treatment bands like Fun, Portugal. The Man, and most infamously Mumford and Sons got upon breaking the top 40. Even though some of these artists had genuine indie cred, their bands and sometimes the entire scenes they came from were instantly branded as everything wrong with indie music. The prejudice works the other way too, as traditionally indie outlets have maintained a serious skepticism towards Charli XCX until very recently, Lady Gaga’s Joanne, and basically any artist that comes from TikTok.

So, what shifted to make Rodrigo’s dabbling in Indie acceptable? Well, we probably have Lorde and (dare I say her name) Lana Del Rey to thank for that. Lana has been the only exception in terms of mainstream indie; she had a pretty big hit with Summertime Sadness and then continued to rake in critical acclaim straight through the present day. Lorde broke through in the other direction, as her debut was one of the biggest albums of the 2010s, and was immediately followed by one of the most acclaimed indie albums of the decade “Melodrama.” These two artists were massively successful, but they didn’t start a trend of mainstream alternative music in the way that Nirvana or The Strokes did. I don’t think Olivia Rodrigo is going to do that either, but between her, Billie Eilish, and whatever your favorite one-off Tik-Tok hit is, I think we might have a pattern on our hands. Predicting the future is a dangerous game, but I’ll take a crack at it and say we might see more indie-pop creep into the mainstream in the next couple of years.

Categories
Weekly Charts

Afterhours Charts 4/6

ArtistRecordLabel
1FAERIE2am [EP]Self-Released
2ROMYLifetime Remixes [EP]Young Turks/Beggars
3JESSIE WAREWhat’s Your Pleasure?Virgin EMI
4PLANET 1999Devotion (Deluxe) PC 
5OKLOUGaloreTrue Panther / TaP
6INTERPLANETARY CRIMINAL Nobody [EP]Shall Not Fade
7JAYDA GBoth Of Us/Are You Down [EP]Ninja Tune
8CHARLOTTE DOS SANTOSHarvest TimeBecause 
9ZOLA BLOODTwo Hearts [EP]Akira
10SOFIA KOURTESISFresia MagdalenaTechnicolour
Categories
Weekly Charts

Daytime Charts 4/6

ArtistRecordLabel
1JULIEN BAKERLittle OblivionsMatador/Beggars Group
2REALLY FROMReally FromTopshelf
3ADULT MOMDriverEpitaph
4ANTONIONIAntonioniLauren
5SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVEEntertainment, Death [Advance Tracks]Saddle Creek
6BUTCHER BROWN#KingButchConcord Jazz
7LAVA LA RUEButter-fly [EP]Marathon
8STEVE LACYThe Lo-FisL-M
9BLANKETMANNational Trust [EP]PIAS
10FREDDIE GIBBS AND MADLIBBandanaKeep Cool/RCA
11IAN SWEETShow Me How You DisappearPolyvinyl
12SMINOShe Already DecidedSelf-Released
13TOBIElements Vol. 1Same Plate/RCA
14ARLO PARKSCollapsed In SunbeamsTransgressive/PIAS
15BLACK MIDI“John L” b/w “Despair” [Single]Rough Trade/Beggars
16CITRUS CLOUDSColliderLolipop
17FAT TONYExoticaCarpark
18MANNEQUIN PUSSY“Control” [Single]Epitaph
19PINK SIIFU AND FLY ANAKINFlySiifu’sLex
20SHYGIRLALIAS [EP]Because
21WE ARE JOINERSClients [EP]Self-Released
22ZEBRA KATZLess Is MoorZFK
23BLU AND EXILEMilesDirty Science
24BRYONY JARMAN-PINTOFish Factory Sessions [EP]Tru Thoughts
25CHAD VANGAALENWorld’s Most Stressed Out GardenerSub Pop
26COOL GHOULSAt George’s ZooEmpty Cellar
27NATIVESON 91Come Back DownInner Tribe
28EARLY EYESSunbathing [EP]Epitaph
29BRENT FAIYAZ“Gravity” feat. Tyler, The Creator [Single]Lost Kids
30GRIMESMiss Anthropocene (Rave Edition)4AD

TOP ADDS

ArtistRecordLabel
1DRY CLEANINGNew Long Leg4AD/Beggars Group
2FAKE FRUITFake FruitRocks In Your Head
3REAL ESTATEHalf A Human [EP]Domino
4RATBOYSHappy Birthday, RatboyTopshelf
5ORIELLES, THELa Vita OlisticaHeavenly/PIAS
6FISHBOYWaitsgivingLauren
7MOONTYPEBodies Of WaterBorn Yesterday
8SPUD CANNON“Juno” [Single]Good Eye
9FLOCK OF DIMESHead Of RosesSub Pop
10WOMBO“Dreamsickle” [Single]Fire Talk
Categories
Weekly Charts

Underground Charts 4/6

ArtistRecordLabel
1DISCLOSUREENERGYCapitol
2GENESIS OWUSUSmiling With No TeethHouse Anxiety/Ourness
3KAMAIYAHBefore I WakeSelf-Released
4DANIELA ANDRADE“Puddles” [Single]Crooked Lid
5SK, THE NOVELIST“Happy Belated // I’m Not Lonely Freestyle” [Single]AVL Goat
6PINK SIIFU AND FLY ANAKINFlySiifu’sLex
7ZEBRA KATZLess Is MoorZFK
8BABYXSOSA“Everywhereigo” [Single]1602599
9JORDAN WARDValley HopefulsLive Help Live / Artium
10PLANET GIZADon’t Throw Rocks At The Moon [EP]Self-Released
Categories
Weekly Charts

Chainsaw Charts 4/6

ArtistRecordLabel
1CANNIBAL CORPSE “Murderous Rampage” [Single]Metal Blade 
2BORN OF OSIRIS “White Nile” [Single]Sumerian 
3ABOMINABLE PUTRIDITY Parasitic Metamorphosis Manifestation Inherited Suffering 
4SUFFERING HOURThe Cyclic ReckoningProfound Lore
5ROB ZOMBIEThe Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse ConspiracyNuclear Blast
6BEARTOOTH “Devastation” [Single]Red Bull
7CYTOTOXINNuklearthUnique Leader
8WARDRUNAKvitravnAISA
9THERIONLeviathanNuclear Blast
10BOUNDARIES Your Receding WarmthUnbeaten 
Categories
Band/Artist Profile Classic Album Review Local Music Miscellaneous New Album Review

New Music Alert: Rehearsal

One of my long-time favorite bands, Skegss, has finally released another album. Skegss is a group of three guys from Byron Bay, Australia. The group formed in 2013 when childhood friends Johny Lani and Ben Reed started playing together as a duo around local venues. They soon paired up with Noa Deane and Tony Cregan and released their the singles “LSD” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio.” However Noa left the following year in pursuit of a surfing career, leaving Johny, Ben, and Tony to run the show. 

Since then they have released three EP’s and three albums. My personal favorite is their self-titled debut EP, however their two most recent albums are close contenders. Rehearsal is their most recent one to date and includes 13 surf-punk-garage styled rock songs on the album. It starts off with “Down to Ride” and “Valhalla,” which are both upbeat, fast paced songs that set a good tone for the album. However, my two favorites of the 13 are “Bush TV” and “Savor The Flavour.” They perfectly incorporate the iconic Skegss style and listening to them makes me feel like an angsty teenager again. Another honorable mention off the album is “Wake Up,” which is a bit of a slower song. That being said, I feel like this band doesn’t make slow, sentimental songs like this all that much, which makes it all the more meaningful. 

Fun fact about this band, they actually had their cover art for the EP “50 Push Ups for a Dollar” stolen by Lil Yachty and Reese for their single “Do It.” Go ahead and look it up, the comparison is laughably similar. 

That’s all for this week, hope you guys enjoy the music. 
-The DJ Formerly Known As Chippypants

Categories
Miscellaneous

Why WKNC?

As a senior at NC State in my final months before graduation, I have been reflecting on everything I’ve done the past few years and the times that have been most special to me. WKNC has been a huge part of my life as a student. I hope that I can help encourage any student who’s looking to become a part of a group on campus to consider joining WKNC as a DJ or student worker.

Community

Joining WKNC is a great way to make friends on campus. Especially if you are a younger or transfer student, being new on campus can be difficult. I have made many friends during my time at WKNC that I continue to keep up with and will still even after I graduate. Making connections at WKNC is easy and is a perfect way to broaden your community at NC State.

Experience

Whether you’re working as a DJ or a student worker, WKNC provides valuable working experience and important skills. As a content creator, I have honed my writing and graphic design skills, become better with deadlines, and have broadened my music tastes. If you love music, working at WKNC is perfect for you.

Flexibility

Being a DJ or worker at WKNC is perfect for students with busy schedules. DJs have flexible hours to choose from and WKNC workers can typically choose their schedules. The management at WKNC is extremely nice and flexible. Jamie and Laura have been so helpful for me from the start and are amazing to work with, and generally allow flexibility in scheduling and let students choose their hours.

Whether you’d like to work for WKNC, become a WKNC DJ, or simply enjoy WKNC’s radio channel and online content, you will not regret being a part of this great environment.

Categories
Playlists

Underground Discoveries: 4 Songs to Add to Your Rotation Pt. 2

Zoom – Leikeli47 (2020)

If you need a pump-up song that is also catchy, this is the track for you. Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Leikeli demonstrates her ability to create bounce and deliver hard-hitting bars on “Zoom.” Great for an energy boost throughout the day.

PITFALL – Bino Rideaux (2020)

A smooth track for another windows-down car ride on a sunny day. The outro track to LA rapper, Bino Rideaux’s, album “Outside” provides a mood booster for the day and is one of my personal favorites this year.

Nothin 2 Me  – Jazz Cartier ft. Cousin Stizz (2021)

Canadian rapper Jazz Cartier and Boston rapper Cousin Stizz team up to provide us a gritty and bounce-filled song. The flow that both artists carry on this track is especially note-worthy and worth listening to.

Lineman – 10kdunkin, Atl Smook (2020)

10kdunkin is part of a set of artists pioneering a powerful sound out of Atlanta, GA. The track “Lineman” is a song a great song for new listeners to hear his style and ease into his discography.