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Music Education Playlists

A Brief Guide to the Y2K Trance Revival

At the risk of making some readers of this article feel old: Gen Z has nostalgia for the early 2000s now. People are posting images of clunky technology and tagging it #aesthetic. Artists are selling CDs and cassettes as physical merchandise again. And, yes, this includes music genres too: Trance is back.

Many of these new releases are mostly confined to small corners of the internet, so to start on this journey into geometric fonts and really wishing they still made transparent video game consoles, I’ve selected a few landmarks in the development of the scene.

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Playlists

My End-of-Summmer Playlist

I like school, I really do; and I’m glad to be back at it.

But there’s something about the loss that’s involved — the loss of free time, the loss of beachside hang-outs, the loss of schematic summer-ness — that’s always painful to swallow.

Not only is it always an adjustment starting a new semester, but this fall sees a particularly vexatious surge of extra freshmen. The resulting collapse of the sanctity of college common areas weighs heavily on the psyche.

As a self-identified Person Who Listens to Too Much Music, music was a vital tool for me this week.

Below is a compilation of tracks I, as well as others, have used to soften the proverbial blow of our returning academic responsibilities.

Good luck out there!

The Playlist

If you’re anything like me (combination hyperactive-inattentive), then you tend not to stick with one particular flavor of auditory stimulus whilst weathering the tribulations of back-to-school season.

While I primarily market myself as a goth, I’ve got a real soft spot for Carhartt-Marlboro-septum ring-type garage/art/post-punk rock.

Weird songs that sound like the way cigarette smoke smells and mansplaining feels touch me in the most deepest recesses of my calcified English major heart.

It really takes the edge off.

Here are some highlights:

  • “Troglodyte” – Viagra Boys

The third track on their 2022 album “Cave World,” “Troglodyte” tickles my brain with its silly, borderline-industrial beats. The melody reminds me of “Frogstrap,” another beloved track from their 2018 album “Street Worms.”

What I like about Viagra Boys is how vocalist Sebastian Murphy always seems to be just on the cusp of madness. I think you can extrapolate the overarching relevance of that concept.

Not a new song by any means, but a similarly brain-tickly one that I find I can easily get lost in. The beats are rhythmic but unobstrusive, fading into the background or punctuating the present at the listener’s behest. It’s pleasant, easy listening for someone who so desperately needs to distance themselves from the half-dozen new syllabi they just acquired.

IDLES is like Viagra Boys but from an alternate universe. This cover of a Gang of Four classic also sounds like it’s from an alternate universe, which is great when you yourself wish you were from an alternate universe where you were already finished with college.

These are Black Midi’s two top songs for a reason. Pulled from their 2022 album “Hellfire,” these tracks occupy a strange dimension between the 1940s and the 2020s. I can still remember seeing this band live and witnessing throngs of hipsters emphatically mosh to a quirky jilting guitar.

I was Jockstrappilled by the former GM of WKNC, DJ Cow Ball. She caught me at a particularly weak moment in which my ADHD was unmedicated and I was in an introductory film class. As one can expect, I quickly amassed over 100 streams.

I never know how to describe Jockstrap to people. Deeply experimental, enigmatic and hauntingly sweet, every Jockstrap song is a multilayered amalgam of sounds and sensations that will surely take your mind off the terror of The Future.

Closing Thoughts

When writing blog post playlists, I tend to keep them short. This is because I prefer to offer little morsels of stimuli rather than formidable hours-long chunks of obscure tracks.

By Rodrigo Curi on Unsplash

It’s also because I tend to listen to songs like people chew gum, mashing them obsessively between my teeth and squeezing out every last modicum of flavor. I’ll listen to a single song for hours until I’ve fully exhausted its capacity to generate dopamine.

I’m sure, in some broad and abstract way, this theme applies to the college experience.

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Playlists

Shells and Studs: A Surf Punk Playlist

When I was eighteen, I lived near the beach.

Living in a coastal town was certainly interesting, especially at the end of tourist season. Watching well-off middle class families fill the beaches with garbage and watching long-time residents struggle under the brunt of property damage incurred by hurricane season definitely helped radicalize me.

Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash

It was a strange period. I spent most of it alone, and thus listened to an exorbitant volume of music. The following playlist is a compilation of some of my favorite tracks from my time by the beach.

Not all of these bands are actually surf punk, but they share a similar energy and style that embodies the experience of summers by the coast.

The Playlist

  • “Stay Close to Me” – Bad Brains
  • “I Luv I Jah” – Bad Brains
  • “I And I Survive” – Bad Brains

These three tracks certainly play on Bad Brains’ reggae influences, with softer vocals from lead singer H.R. and a slower, twanging melody. I personally recommend the “Omega Sessions” version of “I Luv I Jah” for its cleaner vocals and smoother audio quality.

  • “A.M.” – Beach Goons
  • “Choker” – Beach Goons
  • “Anirak” – Beach Goons

Based in San Diego, Beach Goons delivers surf punk music with strong Latin influences. Their music captures the often melancholic liminality of living by the coast, with a sound that reminds me of summer humidity and fogged-up windows.

  • “Pheromones” – Meth Wax
  • “Invocation” – Meth Wax
  • “Arachnophobia” – Meth Wax

With a distorted lo-fi style, Meth Wax’s songs are consistently dazed, lustful and unusual. Though based in Athens, Georgia, Meth Wax maintains an ebullient sound that leads many fans to consider them surf punk (at least in spirit).

  • “Smoko” – The Chats
  • “Pub Feed” – The Chats
  • “The Clap” – The Chats

The Chats are a pub-punk band from Queensland, Australia. Their chaotic, disaffected attitude and rocking melodies make them a fun and youthful band with a sound that pairs excellently with summer drives through congested tourist districts.

  • “Spanish” – Jurassic Shark
  • “Pacing Tigers” – Jurassic Shark
  • “Order” – Jurassic Shark

With soft, indie-adjacent punk music, Jurassic Shark captures sensations of yearning, ephemerality and youthful excitement. Smoky lo-fi vocals contrast with clear, artsy strains of guitar.

Standalone Tracks

  • “We’re Gonna Get You High” – The Soaks
  • “Drowning” – SadGirl
  • “Wasteland” – Hooded Fang
  • “Too Drunk to Come” – Together Pangea
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Playlists

New Radio: A Riot Grrrl Starter Pack

This week, we explored a (very brief) history of the riot grrrl subculture and the efforts that fueled its progression.

As a quick recap, riot grrrl is a subculture that started in the 90s out of Olympia, Washington in response to the pervading sexism of the punk scene.

Photo by Marc Newberry on Unsplash

Branching off from the punk subculture, riot grrrl built its culture through the dissemination of fanzines, original art and music.

This playlist aims to capture some of the sounds that built the riot grrrl movement and continue to change the lives of girls and women in the scene.

The Playlist

  • “New Radio” – Bikini Kill
  • “Alien She” – Bikini Kill
  • “Suck My Left One” – Bikini Kill

Bikini Kill changed me.

I don’t even mean that as an exaggeration. Vocalist Kathleen Hanna’s particular brand of unrestrained rage truly speaks to me, and what it says is that I need to get a new facial piercing.

  • “Eating Toothpaste” – Bratmobile
  • “Bitch Theme” – Bratmobile
  • “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” – Bratmobile

Bratmobile is a classic riot grrrl band. With their hit song “Cool Schmool,” they give off a disaffected “cool girl” style that I really love.

  • “Jenny” – Sleater-Kinney
  • “Words and Guitar” – Sleater-Kinney
  • “Don’t Think You Wanna” – Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney presents a rolling, twangy rock sound that evokes orange-tinged skies and flannel shirts.

  • “Bluebell” – Babes in Toyland
  • “Hello” – Babes in Toyland
  • “Pain in My Heart” – Babes in Toyland

Babes in Toyland presents a similarly unrestrained sound as Bikini Kill, with moaning vocals giving way to full-on screams. Though it also has a grungy slant, as though the music were being diffused through smoke.

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Playlists

Playlist: Queer Goth Songs for Queer Goths

The goth subculture is, for many, inherently queer. In fact, a running joke between me and several of my goth friends is that gayness in the goth community is considered “boring” due to the sheer volume of bi and pansexuals populating the subculture.

There are many different reasons as to why goths are so queer, and I doubt I’m wholly qualified to speculate. I will do so anyways.

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

Perhaps the marriage of the anti-establishment ethos from which goth was born and its darkly Victorian aesthetics gave way to the dissolution of contemporary markers of gender and sexuality.

Below is a short compilation of some of my favorite tracks by queer goth artists. Some of these songs focus on themes related to queerness while others simply intersect with the artist’s identity.

The Playlist

  • “Deathwish” – Christian Death
  • “Spiritual Cramp” – Christian Death

Christian Death is one of my all-time favorite goth bands. To me, they represent what I would consider to be the archetypal goth sound: doomy guitar, moody vocals and flippantly dark lyrics. Original frontman Rozz Williams was known for dressing in drag in opposition to the hypermasculinity of the punk scene, an act which solified him as something of a queer icon.

Cover for “The Iron Mask” by Christian Death
  • “Burial Ground” – Sopor Aeternus and the Ensemble of Shadows
  • “Deathhouse” – Sopor Aeternus and the Ensemble of Shadows

Sopor Aeternus and the Ensemble of Shadows is a largely underrated pioneer of the goth scene. I adore her work so much that I’ll probably dedicate an entire blog article to her in the future. The mastermind behind Sopor Aeternus (meaning Eternal Sleep or Sleep of Death) is Anna Varney, a trans woman whose experiences largely fuel her music. Varney’s 2020 album, “Island of the Dead” captures the despair of being in a relationship with someone who cannot accept their partner’s transness and is based on real-life experiences.

Cover for “Island of the Dead” by Sopor Aeternus and the Ensemble of Shadows
  • “Inked in Red” – Vision Video
  • “Death in a Hallway” – Vision Video

Vision Video is a band based in Athens, Georgia that is quickly mobilizing to change the goth subculture for the better. In my article about the band, I touched on the rich political commentary the band touches on in their songs as well as the work of frontman Dusty Gannon in cultivating a safer, more accessible goth scene.

Cover for “Death in a Hallway” by Vision Video
  • “Dark” – Secret Shame
  • “Who Died in Our Backyard” – Secret Shame

Based in Asheville, Secret Shame brings an interesting contemporary sound to the traditional goth style. With a slant bordering on alternative rock and a vocalist who sounds like a centuries-old ghost, Secret Shame produces songs right on the cusp of the goth scene.

Cover for “Dark Synthetics” by Secret Shame
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Band/Artist Profile Music Education Playlists

Hot and Heavy: A Queercore Field Guide

Last week, we learned about the proliferation of queercore within the hardcore punk scene.

To briefly recap, queercore emerged as a subculture in the mid-1980s. It started from punk’s DIY scene, with purveyors of handmade magazines and other forms of media serving as the movement’s basis.

Queercore, also known as homocore, reflected the experiences of LGBT individuals in a society that was often hostile towards open displays of queerness.

“homocore block in 1994 chicago pride parade.” Image published to Wikimedia Commons by QZAP.org, licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

While I primarily focused on Limp Wrist’s influence on the scene, there are numerous other bands that defined the genre.

As we move farther into pride month, I encourage both members of the LGBT community and allies to reflect on the convictions outlined by the queercore scene.

To help with this, I’ve composed a short “field guide” of various tracks and artists — some punk, some not — classified under the “queercore” umbrella.

Pansy Division

This band has a classic summertime driving-down-the-road-with-the-windows-down style.

Closer to the sound of blink-182 than Limp Wrist, Pansy Division is edgy but light enough for casual listening. With upbeat guitar riffs and a sardonic lead vocalist, the band produces tracks to be enjoyed both ironically and in earnest.

Album cover for “More Lovin’ From Our Oven” by Pansy Divison

Based out of San Francisco, the band formed in 1991 and solidified itself as one of the only openly gay rock bands in the contemporary scene.

Touring with Green Day in 1994, Pansy Divison was one of the most commercially successful queercore bands to exist. The band’s pop-punk style and often-comical songs about queerness garnered significant acclaim.

Recommended Tracks

“Smells Like Queer Spirit” (Nirvana cover)

A flagrantly ironic cover of a Nirvana classic, this track cleverly queers one of the most well-known songs by one of the most gatekept bands. Play this track for your favorite straight white man and watch his blood pressure surge.

Against all odds, we appear
Grew up brainwashed,
But turned out queer
Bunsplitters, rugmunchers too
We screw just how we want to screw
Hello, hello, hello, homo

Pansy Division, “Smells Like Queer Spirit” (Nirvana cover)

“Fem in a Black Leather Jacket”

He looks as good in a skirt as he does in jeans
He is a most notorious queen
His personality, I’m not impressed
But I can’t wait to get him undressed

Pansy Division, “Fem in a Black Leather Jacket”

G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society’s S–)

Based in Olympia, Washington, G.L.O.S.S was an openly trans-feminist hardcore punk band.

Formed in 2014 and dissolved in 2016, the band’s existence was tragically brief. While G.L.O.S.S. had the opportunity to “make it big” with a $50,000 deal by Epitaph Records, the band ultimately decided to remain unaligned with a large corporation.

Shortly after turning down Epitaph’s deal, G.L.O.S.S. announced its breakup in an issue of the punk zine Maximum Rocknroll.

Cover for G.L.O.S.S. album “Trans Day of Revenge”

The band members explained that the growing “cult of personality” surrounding the group, as well as the obligations of touring and performing, were taking a toll on their mental and emotional health.

The band’s sound blended classic hardcore with trans-affirming themes to create raucous, angsty riffs striking back against heterosexual hegemony and anti-transness. Their songs are undeniably iconic.

Recommended Tracks

“G.L.O.S.S. (We’re From the Future)”

They told us we were girls
How we talk, dress, look, and cry
They told us we were girls
So we claimed our female lives
Now they tell us we aren’t girls
Our femininity doesn’t fit
We’re f– future girls living outside
Society’s s–!

G.L.O.S.S., “G.L.O.S.S. (We’re From the Future)”

“Lined Lips and Spiked Bats”

They told us to die, we chose to live
They told us to die, we chose to live
Straight America, you won’t ruin me
Sick American dream

G.L.O.S.S., “Lined Lips and Spiked Bats”

Los Crudos

As I mentioned in last week’s post, Limp Wrist’s predecessor was a Chicago-based band called Los Crudos.

Active from 1991 to 1998 and comprised of all Latin American members, Los Crudos helped to make a place for Latine punks in a predominately white subculture.

Album cover for “Doble LP Discografia” by Los Crudos

The band tackled themes related to imperialism, xenophobia and immigration. All songs were sung completely in Spanish.

In addition, they openly called out homophobia — the band’s lead vocalist, Martin Sorrondeguy, was openly gay — and thus Los Crudos solidified themselves as adjacent to the queercore movement.

Recommended Tracks

“Me Lo Paso Por El Culo”

“Hardcoregoismo”

“Asesinos”

The Butchies

With a career spanning between 1998 and 2005, The Butchies started in Durham, North Carolina as an all-female punk band.

Though their style was far from hardcore, they were a distinct force within the queercore movement.

Their songs were imbued with staunch political messages, focusing on themes relating to lesbianism, gay romance and misogyny.

Album cover for “Are We Not Femme?” by The Butchies

In a 1999 issue of The Advocate, singer-guitarist Kaia Wilson said of the band’s reputation for its leftist politics:

“I say, maybe it’s because we’re so openly hated every day, maybe because one in three teens who commits suicide is gay. I say that the people who come to our shows are glad that we are [political].

Recommended Tracks

“Trouble”

Well it’s not supposed to bring you madness
And it’s not too far too cold forgiveness
When we hold to truths so false like bibles
Won’t you come and meet me here

The Butchies, “Trouble”

“The Galaxy is Gay”

Who are you anyway and how did you get inside
II heard you’re from the gay galaxy and now you’ve got to hide
Sure wish you would have gone here
Wish just the same you’d stay next year

The Butchies, “The Galaxy is Gay”
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Playlists

Playlist: New Synth-Pop, Glitchcore & Hyperpop

The past few years have shown a huge spike in the popularity of music that could be described as “techno” and “synth-pop.” Even new genres have formed, such as “hyperpop” or “glitchcore.” 100 gecs brought hyperpop to a semi-national spotlight, but the genre expands far beyond 100 gecs.

Artists are using samples from popular video games and clips of internet-culture media, as well as creating irresistible beats that are sure to be ear worms.

It’s an interesting genre, because it contains music that can be produced pretty independently, given the increase in production technology artists can get their hands on today. It’s cool to see pop thriving in a way this isn’t commerical, factory-produced cookie-cutter fluff.

My playlist is as follows:

  • “HI 5” – Frost Children

This song is off Frost Children’s new album, “SPEED RUN,” which I can’t get enough of. I wrote a bit about this release in an upcoming blog post of mine, so keep an eye out for that.

  • “back2me *°:⋆ₓₒ” – Yameii Online
  • “bag!” – Malldate, mark drizzle

Mark drizzle is an artist I’ve written about before, and this collab with artist Malldate is super fun and catchy. I’ve got another one of mark’s songs later in the list, which is a single for an upcoming release.

  • “if god didnt want us to snort worms he wouldnt have made them cylindrical” – MIMDEATH

This MIMIDEATH album, “effective. Power” was released in 2020, but I’ve noticed it getting a lot more attention in the past few months, and it’s warranted– it’s really experimental and exploratory hyperpop/glitchcore with a ton of really cool samples, including samples from other artists in the genre.

  • “sweet dreams” – 8485, blackwinterwells
  • “any%” – mark drizzle, dynastic
  • “seeker missile” – dynastic
  • “movies for guys” – Jane Remover

Jane Remover blows me away with every song, and this song off their 2021 album “Frailty” is fantastic– every time I listen to it, I feel like I’ve listened to three different songs in a six-minute span.

  • “Dumbest Girl Alive” – 100 gecs
  • “hello?” – TURQUOISEDEATH

These songs aren’t ranked nor are they a list of the top songs I’ve enjoyed in the hyperpop and synth-pop genres, but they’re a good start for those wanting to dive deeper into the genre.

— bel$

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Blog Playlists

An Underground Summer

As the sun starts shining and heating up NC, why not turn up the heat just a little more with some new tracks in your rotation? These tracks cover various genres that you would find in WKNC’s Underground rotation like rap, hip-hop and R&B. Listed below are some of my favorite tracks of the bunch.

Snake” by Shaboozey

This track was my first introduction to Shaboozey. Their constantly moving beat in “Snake” combined with Shaboozey’s unapologetic lyrics have made a lasting impression on me. Coming off of their recent 2022 album “Cowboys Live Forever, Outlaws Never Die”, Shaboozey makes this unique Americana and hip-hop blend that works so well together. A great track to start the summer off with.

Where Ya Get Ya Coke From?” by JPEGMAFIA, Danny Brown

Going into this, I was already a massive fan of Peggy but the production on this track brought my love for them to another level. The track starts off with massive walls of sounds that make you want to go just a little too fast on the highway, and once you’re in that mindset, you’re already strapped in for the ride.

The track later goes into a bossa nova feel in the middle to balance out the madness from the beginning. With all of this combined, both Peggy and Danny Brown rapping over transitional clave parts, the bossa nova and to the great walls of sounds, this track has solidified itself as one of my favorite tracks of the year.

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Playlists

Your Music Forecast: Playlists for Spring

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy priming the perfect playlist to soundtrack your walk to class. The only problem is, spring in North Carolina is unpredictable. Some days it’s freezing and the next you’re pretty sure it’s already summer. Luckily, I’ve got a couple playlist starters for any weather the spring can throw at you. Temperatures are in Fahrenheit.

60 Degrees

“Paws” – Adult Mom

This song from Adult Mom, the mostly-solo project of Stevie Knipe, off their 2014 EP “Sometimes Bad Happens.” It’s upbeat and feels like a good song to be played when it’s a bit cooler– early fall or early spring, especially.

“Polly” – Whitney

This Whitney track is chill while still being emotive, making it perfect for the days of spring where you’re wishing the breeze would make up its mind on whether or not it’s going to be cold out today.

70 Degrees

“Daibutsu” – Sunbeam Sound Machine

This track is groovy and catchy without any attention-grabbing lyrics– it’s like if someone made a shoegaze and pop crossover. It’s a great tempo for matching your steps to the beat on the walk across the brickyard.

“Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect” – The Decemberists

I will admit that this song is good for almost any season, given its instantly-nostalgic nature. Still, it’s got a lot of potential for spring, particularly weather that encourages you to stick a hand out of the car window while driving.

80 Degrees

“Six AM” – Inner Wave

This song makes me want to dance. At the very least, it will get me bopping my head. The low-pitched, catchy vocals paired with the catchy beat allow it to check all of my 80-degree boxes. There are a few samples from older American media in the song that are now permanently etched into my memory.

“I Came As a Rat” – Modest Mouse

Easily one of my favorite tracks off my favorite Modest Mouse album, “The Moon & Antartica,” this song is super fun and catchy while also maintaining an air of seriousness and the weird, almost discomforting instrumental atmosphere of this album.

Stormy Weather

“I Hate Everything” – Greet Death

If I could give a song the Rainy Day award, it would be this one. I saw Greet Death open for The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die at the back room of the Cat’s Cradle in 2021 and totally fell in love with their stuff. This song, off their recent EP “New Low” definitely takes the cake for my favorite track of theirs.

Blinding Sun

“Murderers” – John Frusciante

Although this song has a generally ‘chill’ vibe to it, it’s somehow super exciting to listen to it. Pretty simple guitar riffs without a whole lot of instrumentals layered over them, but still compelling.

Dull Overcast Sky

“Midtown” – Josh Augustin, Eva Alexis

This song from the frontman of Vansire is always one of my favorite semi-ambient songs to put on during a grey day– it matches my low energy without producing a low mood. Good daydreaming soundtrack.

– bel$

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Playlists

Exploring Study Music: A Playlist

I’ve said this before, but I could not imagine a world in which I didn’t have music to get me through things. Of interest here is how it can be used to actually be productive during the day and through long nights. I mean, I’m listening to some newly released singles while writing this.

Not all music is created equal in this regard, but there’s so many more possibilities for what study music can be than lo-fi beats streams or long jazz albums. Really, any music can help you grind through an essay or chem homework. There’s a couple rules of thumb to keep in mind, though.

Rules of Thumb

1. No intelligible lyrics

Whatever music you study with, make sure it doesn’t have lyrics you can understand. Instrumentals obviously fill this role, but any music sung in a language you don’t know, or whose vocals are too drowned out by other noise to make out are both great here.

2. Match pace of music with pace of work

Depending on the type of work you want to get done, you’ll find some music matches the intensity and tempo that you need to hone in. Completing a project last minute may call for some metal while an essay that needs steady progress may benefit more from techno.

3. Enjoy the music too

You’re not very likely to be getting much done while sitting through a “chill vibes” playlist that isn’t fitting your vibe. Making your own playlist can keep you from having to hit skip constantly to find “the right song”.

And Now, the Playlist

Music for Awkward Dates – strxwberrymilk

“Music for Awkward Dates” full album by strxwberrymilk

Genre: Breakcore

Speed: High

Intensity: Medium

Emotional Shift – COMPUTER DATA

“Fog” by COMPUTER DATA

Genre: Techno

Speed: Medium

Intensity: Low

ITEKOMA HITS – Otoboke Beaver

“ITEKOMA HITS” full album by Otoboke Beaver

Genre: Japanese Noise Rock

Speed: High

Intensity: High

11•11•11 – MGMT

“Whistling Through the Graveyard” by MGMT

Genre: Electronic Indie Rock

Speed: Low

Intensity: Low

Mysterious Pony – Emperor Penguin

“Burnt Sienna And Avocado” by Emperor Penguin

Genre: Psychedelic

Speed: Low

Intensity: Low

–DJ Cashew