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Band/Artist Profile

Band Profile: CHAI

CHAI is one of the best Japanese girl groups. Two of the members, Mana and Kana, are twin sisters; the other members met the sisters during high school and became friends through their school’s light music performance club. After the girls graduated and went to college, they began performing throughout Nagoya and Aichi Prefecture and eventually moved to Tokyo to pursue the band. Since their formation they have released two albums, most recently “Punk.” They’ve also gained a more global following in recent years, and have toured the UK and US and signed onto labels in both the UK and US.

As Japanese musicians, the band has strived to go beyond the J-Pop genre and beyond the geographic boundaries of Japan. CHAI creates music that doesn’t perfectly fit within the pop mold. The women also focus a lot of their music towards empowering themselves and all women. They also take a new approach to “kawaii”, or “cute” culture: promoting that everyone is cute in their own way. CHAI is a wonderfully expressive and dynamic band that everyone should listen to. I recommend their most recent album, “Punk”, especially.

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Band/Artist Profile Classic Album Review

The Making of Led Zeppelin’s Final Album – In Through the Out

Days Before “In Through the Out Door”

By 1979, Led Zeppelin seemed to be at the tail end of an 11-year reign over rock music. After the release of their seventh studio album, “Presence”, in 1976, the band decided not to tour due to a number of personal issues, beginning a long period of silence for Zeppelin. The cancellation of the tour was due in part to a serious car accident involving Robert Plant and in part to Jimmy Page’s alleged drug abuse. The band did end up touring very briefly in 1977, although the tour was cut short due to the death of Plant’s five-year-old son, Karac. Prior to the release of the band’s final LP, “In Through the Out Door”, the future of Led Zeppelin was all but determined and it was unclear whether any new music would be released again. It seemed as if the greatest rock band of the 1970’s was finally expiring. 

Inner-Zeppelin Turmoil

The making of “In Through the Out Door” defined a clear separation among the members of the band. The majority of the album was written by multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones and vocalist Robert Plant; a surprising deviation from the usual Page and Plant songwriting dynamic. Prior to the release of “In Through the Out Door”, guitarist Jimmy Page had been credited with taking a hand in writing every Led Zeppelin song released, aside from covers. On the final album, Page was noticeably absent from writing credits on “All My Love” and “South Bound Suarez”. Both Jones and Plant have suggested to multiple sources that they took the primary hand in creating “In Through the Out Door” and that the separation among the band members was clear in its production. In discussing the absence of Page in a 1991 interview, John Paul Jones stated, “We were left alone quite a lot of the time, along with [drummer John Bonham], and so we tended to get on with it, I think. I suppose you could say that “In Through the Out Door” is my album, the way “Presence” was Jimmy’s album.” Although it seems that Jimmy Page had very little to do with the album, he was still given the producer’s credit. He has been recorded in several interviews stating that he actually had more involvement in the album than it seemed. In an interview with “Mojo”Page stated, “‘In Through the Out Door’ was done in a little over three weeks, so I couldn’t have been in that bad a shape,” alluding to his rumored drug abuse in the years following “Presence” and preceding “In Through the Out Door”No matter the exact details of the delegation of the album’s production, it was clear that there was definitely some separation among the band members that was not present in previous albums. 

The Release

“In Through the Out Door” was released in August of 1979 as Led Zeppelin’s eighth studio album. Overall, the album was well-regarded by the public and was most definitely comparable to earlier successful Zeppelin works. The album debuted at No. 1 on both American and European charts and it was clear that fans had been made to wait far too long for new music. The album is yet another example of Led Zeppelin’s incredible range and fearlessness towards musical experimentation. Songs such as “Fool in the Rain” show John Bonham’s impressive drum work, as well as an incredible solo and multiple creative run by Page on guitar. The integration of Latin music and samba beat influences in the song further exhibit the recurring creative risks present on every Zeppelin album. The most notable creative liberties taken on “In Through the Out Door” undoubtedly come from John Paul Jones, with his use of multiple instruments, such as a synthesizer. This was possibly John Paul Jones’ most significant work. Without the regular influence of Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin was in serious need of an instrumental frontman, and Jonesy stepped right in. His growing role in the band was apparent and he subsequently received much more praise and recognition than he previously had. Although the album is quite different from the more rock-heavy albums that Zeppelin had previously released, “In Through the Out Door” was an important addition to the band’s repertoire and lives on as an important album in rock history. 

“All My Love”

Possibly the most notable track on the LP is “All My Love”, one of only two Led Zeppelin songs that Jimmy Page did not have a hand in writing. Although it may be one of Led Zeppelin’s most widely known songs, the band considers it to be something entirely different from their usual releases. It is clear that Page’s absence took a bit of Zeppelin’s hard rock element out of the equation, as “All My Love” is often credited as being one of their ‘softest’ songs released. Both Jimmy Page and John Bonham can be found expressing their disapproval of “All My Love” to multiple sources. In an interview with “Light and Shade”, Page stated, “I could just imagine people doing the wave and all of that. And I thought ‘That is not us. That is not us’,” alluding to the  more soft and intimate feel that accompanied “All My Love”. Another quote by Page in the same interview states, “In its place it was fine, but I would not have wanted to pursue that direction in the future.” Of course, the song did end up on the final version of “In Through the Out Door”, even after the artistic disapproval of Page and Bonham. Despite their concern with the softness of the song, “All My Love” was ultimately included on the album because of Plant’s undeniably beautiful vocal performance and pure passion. “All My Love” is not a song of Plant’s declaration of romantic love, as many listeners may assume. Robert Plant wrote the lyrics of “All My Love” as a tribute to his late son, Karac, who passed away in 1977 at the age of 5. The death of Plant’s son was a devastating loss for him, as well as the band. “All My Love” is a timeless classic rock ballad that shows a more intimate side of Led Zeppelin, furthering proving their mastery of range. 

Sources: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/217029/light-and-shade-by-brad-tolinski/

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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.

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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

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Band/Artist Profile

Controlled Bleeding: The Band That’s Done It All

What’s your standard for a versatile Artist? David Bowie, Mister Bungle, Madonna, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Chumbawumba? Well, I’ve got a band for you that puts every one of these artists to shame, and they go by the delightful name of Controlled Bleeding. They’ve done it all: reggae, harsh noise, classical music, electropop, ambient, gothic dance music, stuff that no one can begin to categorize. They’ve done everything, and I mean EVERYTHING.

Now, if I was to give you some bad, but fun advice, I would tell you to go to your streaming service of choice and just grab an album of their’s at random to see what you get. This is my preferred listening method for Controlled Bleeding, but I feel obligated to give a content warning for some deeply upsetting sounds and occasionally gross topics. That out of the way, when you open up a controlled bleeding album, what do you get?  Well, if you are unlucky, you will be subjected to some of the most disturbing harsh noise on this side of the Japanese Border. Power Electronics was independently invented by numerous artists in the late 80s and Controlled Bleeding was one of them. But this music? This is the easy stuff; this is just what you sign up for when you listen to a band with a name like Controlled Bleeding. We haven’t even gotten to the weird music yet.

Most people allude to Controlled Bleeding’s versatility by pointing out their most unlikely musical experiment: Dub Reggae. It’s certainly a good clickbait tagline, a harsh noise band making reggae music. When you hear the actual music, it makes a bit more sense. I’m not an expert on this by any means, but from my limited knowledge, I know dub is the most experimental side of the genre, and many artists in that style would cross over into Western avant-garde communities to make electronic music. After listening to Controlled Bleeding’s “Dub Songs From a Shallow Grave,” I can tell you that darkwave and dub work surprisingly well together. It’s certainly not their strangest genre crossover. That honor goes to their classical album.

“Music For Gilded Chambers,” is pretty much just a modern classical album. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it’s honestly just goth-tinted orchestral music. The band refers to this as “Arguably the best Controlled Bleeding album,” on their Bandcamp page, which says a lot about their priorities. Many noise and metal musicians try desperately to be heavy and disturbing, but Controlled Bleeding is in it for the craft. This is ironic, considering that they are way edgier and more disturbing than any myriad of tryhard bands, but from all available interviews, it seems to be the truth. Controlled Bleeding tried to make the best of whatever style interested them, and there’s something refreshing about a band that is untethered from the expectations of a scene or movement.

And trust me, there’s more, so much. There’s dancefloor-ready electro-industrial; Lady Gaga style pop; ambient works; on and on and on. The band made so many albums that I can’t even give you a good estimate, and every time they pushed themselves to do something new. Try it for yourself, even if you don’t like what you hear, you will be thoroughly entertained by the experience.

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Band/Artist Profile

Band of the Week: Cytotoxin

Y’all… I am so mad at myself that I am JUST NOW listening to this band!!! WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME THAT CYTOTOXIN GOES SO HARD???? My dad texted me a few months ago and was telling me to listen to their most recent album, “Nuklearth,” that was released in 2020. I am so happy that I listened to my dad and gave this band a shot because I absolutely love them. They have the perfect blend of chunky riffs, blasts beats, double bass, and growls that create a brutal sound. 

This band is literally the definition of brutal death metal. The technicality that this band performs at is insane! Especially the drums, I always hear something new on the drums each time I listen to their album “Nuklearth.” I honestly have no idea how they make this seem so easy when they play live. Speaking of live shows, they have never been to the U.S., they only play shows in Europe and I am so jealous! One of the things that stood out to me when I first listened to Ctyotoxin was their vocalists. To me, the vocals sound a lot like Phil Bozeman from Whitechapel. Grimo is Cytotoxin’s vocalists and him and Phil Bozeman have similar vocal ranges within their songs, which I love! 

Cytotoxin is a technical/brutal death metal band from Chemnitz, Germany, that formed in 2010. There’s not a lot of information on the band but I did come along some cool facts on their record label, Unique Leader’s, website. The band name, Cytotoxin, was influenced by the Chernobyl disaster which was a catastrophic nuclear accident that happened in April of 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. 

Discography: 

  • Radiophobia (2012) 
  • Gammageddon (2017)
  • Nuklearth (2020) 

Favorite Songs:

  • Radiatus Generis 
  • Atomb
  • Soul Harvester 
  • Abysm Nucleus

Stay Metal, 

THE SAW 

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Band/Artist Profile

Hippie Hippie Hourrah

In a dirty, crowded basement, there is a moment of silence. As the song playing pauses for a brief interlude, you can look around and faintly make out the drops of sweat rolling down the band members’ faces, dimly lit by red LED’s and subtle string lights that line the ceiling. The pause only lasts for a moment, and the song picks back up with a roaring guitar riff. The camera pans to the crowd, jumping and pushing each other in a frenzy as they roll with the music. This is how I was first introduced to The Wisconaut. 

I saw this in a video from last year before covid had hit and it reminded me just how much I missed basement shows. They allowed so many artists to shine in such a niche venue. When it comes down to it, those who will succeed off of house shows will be those who can be unique, get the crowd moving, and create a memory. And from what it seems, The Wisconaut were on a pretty straight path to this success. 

Their music is somewhat of a mix between modern punk and surf rock. Their beats flow with ease and fit perfectly with their songs’ sparse lyrics. Right now The Wisconaut only has one album out called “F**k The Wisconaut.” It is easily something that I could listen to all the way through, however my two favorites are “Fox Point Cove” and “M.I.A.” Besides those two, my number one song from this band is a single called “Hippie Hippie Hourrah.” It was originally recorded by Jacques Dutronc, then translated into English by The Black Lips, then covered by The Wisconaut, who definitely made a version that lives up to the name of the song. 

I hope you guys enjoy the tunes, 
-DJ Chippypants 

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Band/Artist Profile

The Saw’s Choice Cuts: Whitechapel

What’s going on Butcher Crew?! It’s your Master Butcher, The Saw, and I have the next band up on the slab in The Saw’s Choice Cuts! And you all will not be surprised by the band that we are talking about today. We will be talking about a band that has been one of my favorites for years now, a band that I have seen countless times, and the band that influenced my DJ name. If you guessed Whitechapel, then you guessed right!  
 
Today, I will be highlighting some of my favorite songs by my boys in Whitechapel. This was really difficult for me because I love so many of Whitechapel’s songs! But I had to narrow down my songs because if I didn’t this blog would just be a list of every single Whitechapel song. I think my favorite thing about this band is their evolution. Throughout each of their albums, you can hear the progression of the band throughout the years. If you were to listen to Whitechapel’s first album, “The Somatic Defilement,” and then listen to their most recent album, “The Valley,” the band sounds very different. Although they can still be picked out by Phil Bozeman’s powerful vocals and their chunky black metal/deathcore riffs, the overall structure and theme of their albums change. Although all of the albums are brutal and heavy in their own way, each album incorporates different musical components that help the sound of the band evolve. I think that is why I enjoy Whitechapel so much; not one album sounds the same, there is always something different going on. I think this evolution is important and beneficial not only for the listeners to hear the cabler of the musician’s musical talent, but also for the band. They are able to try things and fully embrace themselves into the music so it can continue to be fun and enjoyable for them. 
 
And without further ado, here is the list of my favorite Whitechapel songs! 
 
·      The Saw Is The Law
·      The Somatic Defilement
·      Ear to Ear
·      Vicer Exciser
·      This Is Exile 
·      Possession 
·      Breeding Violence 
·      Reprogrammed to Hate 
·      Make It Bleed
·      I, Dementia 
·      Let Me Burn 
·      Mark of the Blade
·      Elitist Ones 
·      Forgiveness is Weakness 
·      Brimstone 
·      When a Demon Defiles a Witch 
·      Hickory Creek (the original, and the acoustic version) 
 
 
Stay Metal, 
 
THE SAW 

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Band/Artist Profile

Comparing Boygenius

The three members of Boygenius sit posed for a publicity image
(Left to Right) Lucy Dacus, Pheobe Bridgers, Julien Baker

Boygenius is probably the biggest thing in indie right now. Not the actual band, who only released one ep in 2018, but the members. Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers, and Julien Baker; these three 25-year-old queer white women from L.A. via the upper south have come to dominate indie rock in the waning days of the genre’s relevance. Thanks to the release of Baker’s “Little Oblivions,” in February, we now have one full studio album released by each of the band members after their collective breakthrough with Boygenius. The cultural influence of these women is only widening (a friend of a friend at UNC Ashville just got a Phoebe Bridgers tattoo…) so it’s worth looking at their music, how they are similar, and why they’re different.

Baker

Julien Baker was the most established of the group by far coming into the release of Boygenius. Having released two albums and been signed to Matador, she had several accolades under her belt. Her sophomore album “Turn Out the Lights” charted well, and received good reviews from most major publications. Her musical style has also seen the most change following her association with the other two artists. Initially, Baker’s music was strictly one woman and a guitar, but her latest work sees her working with a full studio baking band similar to her contemporaries. This was a great relief to me personally, as I found the stripped-back style of her early albums a little tiresome. In a probable effort to shed the persona of “Sober, queer, Christian,” her latest album has been characterized as a concept album about her struggles with faith. This conflicted spirituality and struggle with tradition is a consistent through-line to Baker’s work. She’s also the most, for lack of a better word, literate of her peers. She has been published in academic journals, literary magazines, and her backup career was becoming an English teacher. This background helps Baker’s more restrained and refined lyrics shine through with a kind of classical appeal. Her poetry aspires to the heights of the Bronte sisters, rather than rock stardom.

Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers is, in many ways, Baker’s opposite. Where Baker was well established and restrained, Bridgers had just debuted the year prior and saw a meteoric rise in popularity after joining the group. Her 2020 album “Punisher” has racked up three Grammy nominations and ranked among the best albums of the year in many listings. Her lyrical style has been characterized as emo folk, both as a compliment and as an insult. The music is passionate, straightforward, and unapologetically personal, discussing her relationship with her family, friends, and romantic partners. This makes Bridgers’ music the most accessible, and she has a devoted fanbase of young women and queer people who look up to her. In cultivating this fanbase, Bridger’s has created a more public life than the other members, sharing deeply personal stories of family conflicts, sexual assault, and mental health struggles. If any one of these women is likely to make a break for mainstream stardom, it’s Bridgers.

Dacus

Lucy Dacus is somewhat more versatile than her peers. Unlike the contemporary indie-folk of Bridgers and Baker, she styles herself something of a rock star, and the aesthetic suits her well. Her voice is by far the most powerful of the three, capable of hitting meteoric highs and contralto lows with ease. She also plays electric guitar as her native instrument. Her lyrical range is large as well, hitting styles like badass dad rock, straightforward love songs, and even flirting with country music. This makes Dacus something of a wild card, as she’s capable of changing her entire energy mid-album or even mid-song. She’s also my personal favorite of Boygenius, so I may be a little biased, and yes, I have screamed “Night Shift” at the top of my lungs at the three in the morning… multiple times.

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Band/Artist Profile

Band Highlight: Satan’s Pilgrims

Satan’s Pilgrims is one of those bands that you can’t forget about. They first got their start in 1992, playing at house parties in Portland and destroying living rooms in their wake. The group of five quickly realized that their unique surf-doom style was in high demand. They were bringing something new to the table. At the height of grunge, they offered a playful yet dark take on surf rock.

Made up of Ted Miller, Scott Fox, Bobby McAnulty, Dave Busacke, and John Cox, Satan’s Pilgrims is a force to behold. Donned in cheap Halloween vampire costumes, they made a name for themselves fairly quickly. Inspired by classic surf rock artists like Dick Dale, The Ventures, and horror B-movies, they were one of the first bands to master the “beach goth” style.

Since their founding, Satan’s Pilgrims have released five albums, each as wicked as the next. My personal favorite is “Psychsploitation” (2009), which was their last album before they took a brief intermission until 2015. Filled with sludgy instrumentals and tight riffs, it’s the epitome of a great psych, modern rockabilly album. Their most recent LP, “Siniestro” (2017), explores the hellish side of surf rock, filled with song titles like “Creep Beat” and “Graveyard Stomp.”

Best Songs: “Dilation,” “Tomorrow Night’s Mourning,” “Haunted House of Rock”

Discography: “Satan’s Pilgrims” (1999), “Plymouth Rock” (2004), “Psychsploitation” (2009), “Frankenstomp” (2015), “Siniestro” (2017).

Give it a listen!

– DJ Butter