VINYL TAP A WCWM PRODUCTION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ALARIC POWELL LAYOUT/PHOTOGRAPHS SARAH HENRY & KRISTEN PROSSNER
(4-5) Kenny Revoredo- A Look Inside #SPF420 (6) Gaby Wildfeuer- Gab’s Declassified Study Abroad Survival Guide (6) Gaby Wildfeuer- In Europe… (6-8) Alex Cousins: “Sex, Music, and What Fucking People to Music Reveals About Each” (8-9) Alex Cousins: “Danny Brown @ The Jefferson” (10-13) Alaric Powell- Disco (Does Not) Suck: Why Americans Hated Disco and Why They Are Finally Wising Up (14-15) Neal Friedman- An Early Soundtrack: A-Side (16-19) Kieran Cleary The Bonnaroovian Code (20-21) Reid McBride- Waka Flocka Flame, Borgore, and Steve Aoki @ the Norva, Norfolk, VA (21) Molly Martien- Deerhunter @ 9:30 (23) Molly Martien- Black Girls @ The Camel (24-26) Assaad Lewis- Britpop in Review (27) Assaad Lewis- Best (Non-UK) Albums of AllTime (28-29) Reid McBride- Atmosphere – Kaskade 3
A LOOK INSIDE #SPF420 You heard about it from a friend. Or a friend of a friend. You’ve heard a couple of You heard about it from a friend. Or a friend of a friend. You’ve heard a couple of the tracks and you’re curious. So you grab your laptop, lay back on your bed and type in www.spf420. com. Suddenly you’re taken to a TinyChat window. You’re not too sure about what’s going on so you enter as a guest. All of a sudden a video feed pops up on your screen and sound kicks in. Are those high-pitched DMX vocals over a Taylor Swift sample? Wait they threw Style Council in there too? It sounds chaotic and bizarre but also sugary and danceable. Where are you?? The place you’ve found yourself in is the online music venue known as SPF420. SPF420 was founded in late 2012 by Chaz Allen and Liz, both as a means of making live music more accessible and to showcase the scatterbrained and exciting style winkingly known as vaporwave, generally produced by a collective of artists also known as SPF420. While vaporwave is not really a rigidly defined concept, the term is generally used to describe a type of chirpy sample based dance music made of everything from indie staples and trap beats, to samba and 80’s pop songs. A distant relative of DJ Screw’s Chopped and Screwed technique, it relies on warping the pitches of the songs sampled in it, although vaporwave’s end product is decidedly giddier. While the music performed at SPF420 doesn’t always fit into the vaporwave subgenre, it all tends to share the tendency towards cultural omnivorousness. This cultural omnivorousness leads me to the most striking aspect of SPF420: the audience. Since SPF420 events are hosted on TinyChat, the video and audio feeds are located above a chat space. Once a person has logged onto the chat room, they are free to post live comments about the show or anything else they can think of. The only way to describe the mood in the chatroom is #based. The comments reveal a group of people who when given access to an astounding variety of pop culture options, choose to take advantage of all of them. The zone is almost entirely non-judgmental and nearly every comment is met with a flurry of positive responses. The vibes are generally lighthearted and match the frothy tone of the music. For a short amount of time people are able to banish their troubles and join this celebration of the ephemeral pleasures that life has to offer. And it boasts an impressive roster as well. SPF420 can count the likes of Ryan Hemsworth, XXYYXX, and Saint Pepsi amongst its ranks. And if you attended WCWM Fest this year, you had the opportunity to see another SPF 420 artist, Mirror Kisses. Although his songs are among the most conventionally structured in the collective, his bubbly energetic brand of synthpop fits right into the euphoric wackiness of SPF420. And even if you didn’t get to see him IRL, you can still see him and lots of other great acts URL at www.spf420.com. Events
by kenny revoredo are scheduled fairly often, if not on a regular schedule and you can hear about them first by liking the SPF420 page on Facebook. And in case you wanted to learn a little more about the musicians featured in the shows, I’ve compiled a short playlist that serves as an introductory point to the scene. Although they are only scratching the surface of the talent plying its craft at SPF420, the songs listed here are the ones I believe best express the vibrancy that spf420.com is fast becoming known for.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
“SPF420” – Anamanaguchi “Welcome 2 Unknown Death” – Yung Lean (prod. by SPF420’s Yung Sherman) “Breeze” – XXYYXX “Friend” – bo en “Strawberry Lemonade” – Saint Pepsi “Candy Flavored Lips (feat. Skymarines)” – Spazzkid “Burn” – TV Nicks “Runaways” – Mirror Kisses “Ryan Must Be Destroyed” – Ryan Hemsworth “Post-Post-Vaporwave” – Metallic Ghosts (Chaz Allen)
In Europe... by gaby wildfeuer SSLYBY might dedicate a song to you and your first high school ‘boyfriend’ (Hey Camran) ((please don’t ever read this)). A Czech boy band might cover Oasis. You could get trapped in a time vortex; enter a venue at 9pm, check your phone (what feels like) an hour later and learn that it is actually 5:30 am. Two different Swedes might yell at you for dancing too much. Your friend might disappear for eight minutes and then casually return saying “I am on ecstasy now”. DJs might put you to sleep on the floor of a Budapest cafe while you’re surrounded by tents and red lights. Herbynator69 (aka your father) could be drunk and dancing to Joy Division in a basement with you. You could have a conversation with David Cerny as he couples a set of knives under his armpit below an upside-down Osama Bin Laden. You might meet four potential soulmates in the span of an hour. And the twin of your 12th grade statistics teacher George might be dancing two banana lengths away. Maybe.
Gab’s Declassified Study Abroad Survival Guide
by gaby wildfeuer
Everyone says you discover who you really are when you’re abroad. Unfortunately they’re right.
It only took a few weeks to learn that I have this problem where I get drunk and aggressively try to befriend every DJ within a 216 meter distance. I try and bond over the fact that “I, too, am a Disc Jockey” because the Green Leafe told me so once a month. Unsurprisingly that impresses literally no one in the world, but my desire for friendship continues to overpower their apathy. Things to not do when befriending a DJ: 1. Try to touch their equipment while they are using it 2. Try to touch them while they are using their bodies 3. Ask them to play R-Kelly 4. Ask if you can play something 5. Dance on them while they’re DJ’ing 6. Sit down with their friends in the booth 7. Assure them that ‘I totally know what I’m talking about’ 8. Ask them to double check if they’re suuure they don’t have R-Kelly Or you can follow all these rules, meet people, have a ton of fun, and make fragmented memories that will last a lifetime.
Sex, Music, and What Fucking People to Music Reveals About Each
by alex cousins
The first song I ever made love to was Dave Matthews Band’s “Captain.” ‘Made love’ is a conscious choice, as while I rarely find myself attracted to the sentimentality of the expression (or hokum, even), it best characterizes this encounter. I was lucky enough to be truly in love for the first time, that sort of love where, years later, one might look back and pretend to feel ashamed at their naïveté and unabashed sincerity. I don’t believe she’d remember this instance, even if pressed. It was my room, my music, and in all likelihood a moment in a series of moments thought of more fondly in my memory than in hers.
Listen to “Captain,” if only once. You don’t have to picture me in my passions. Listen to it on its own merit, because I can’t anymore. There is merit, in spite of whatever mimetic attitude is in vogue toward anything recorded in earnest on a major record label. Actually, don’t listen to it. Listen to the song that it makes you think of in your own experience. Try to remember it for what it was before you couldn’t hear it without thoughts of someone or someplace filling your mind, before those lyrics or notes meant something much different to you than any other person who had ever and will ever listen to it. There is, to be sure, loss associated with the change. The projection of meaning stemming from personal experience is inherently an egocentric act, and as such the internal resonance comes at the cost of the general appreciation and shared experience of listening to the song. While the bar breaks out in a rousing rendition of My Humps you’ll instead have to excuse yourself so that your tortured hundred-yard-stare has elbow room. On the flip side, you’ll have made memories that offer you some sort of comfort as you lie in a cold hospital bed moments away from an eternity of nothingness. For whatever reason, Nas’ Illmatic maintains its original integrity despite its role as a soundtrack with my next regular partner. I attribute the difference to a series of equally important but clearly discrete factors: 1) Grooveshark. iTunes isn’t sexy at all, especially when shuffling your library brings up the 36th chapter of Dune during a particularly passionate moment. Streaming is the future of sound, emphasized by the number of services that offer poor quality files, mislabeled tracks, covers, and albums missing certain songs. For all the times we tried to listen to Illmatic, we only ever realized a sort of Frankenstein’s monster of an album with post-Black Album Jay-Z thrown in for good measure. 2) Illmatic. It’s the greatest hip-hop album ever made. Even bomb-ass coitus and emotional passion can’t shake Nas’ testament to life as a budding musical genius. Inexplicably, a karaoke version of “Shook Ones Pt. II” stood the test as well. 3) The intent. Because my partner and I were at the time fly as hell (and remain so, if now in separate formations) we pre-planned our soundtrack in what I recollect as an exciting debate. Because irony is cool, we were dangerously close to having Kidz Bop on rotation. Because irony is only cool in public, we decided to stop being stupid and just lie about engaging in intimacy serenaded by atonal children. Nas-related hero worship aside, the final contributing factor to Illmatic maintaining its independence from my nostalgia suggests that ultimately the situational sincerity and earnestness with which one copulates to compositions affects the level at which one feels a connection to that music. If, in media res, Illmatic had happened to fall onto a turntable, and Large Professor step forward from the clutter of the closet to spin it himself, perhaps I would today hear “One Time for Your Mind” and wistfully smile in no particular direction. Instead, the artifice and affectation which spurred two young, painfully hip lovers to exercise their affections alongside an album they thought befit-
ting of their passions only rang hollow and left the album only what it had been. While chronologically dishonest, a few relevant experiences will get a short conflation, tucked neatly after you’ve already lost interest in more interesting and important reflections. These are the worst stories, and as such shall be touched upon as quickly and superficially as possible. Never have sex with someone while they play their own music. Egotism can be exhilarating for a short time. So too can sharing in the experience of one’s art in an intimate setting. Trying to maintain one’s focus while listening to a partner’s ukulele ballad about the death of her father is not in any fashion exhilarating, captivating, or even rewarding. It’s confusing, worrying, and generally a good reason to have a frank discussion about the unnecessary proliferation of the instrument. Be careful with the radio. With respect to the Lumineers and those that may find their oeuvre personally resonant, they by unhappy chance provided the soundtrack to a most ill-advised and awkward encounter. I don’t know a single thing about the band, but much like a turkey club sandwich, one disastrous incident effectively ruined it for me for the rest of my life. From what I recall of their song, it probably doesn’t amount to much of a loss, but I’m not brave enough to keep playing that game. No live accompaniment. Similar to the first precept, you may encounter a potential partner who finds it charming, funny, or even arousing to have a roommate serenade the two of you from an adjoining room. In all likelihood, it will be none of these things, and a sloppy “Wonderwall” or “No Woman, No Cry” won’t sound any better in even the best context! Kill me I don’t want a conclusion to this. Ugh. Don’t listen to music while you have sex. Music is a vibrant and wonderful contribution to any sexual encounter and is an essential part of any form of intimacy.
DANNY BROWN @ THE JEFFERSON
by alex cousins
You ain’t never sold no dope, NIGGA! You ain’t never held no block, NIGGA!
Deniro Farrar raps, and the crowd chants along with him. A sea of white, pubescent faces shows no sign of unease at belting out the final word of each line. They were, after all, invited by the artist. “You’re all niggas in here,” he enjoined, “and I want you to act like it.” Whatever that means to the Charlottesville faithful, they shower Farrar with adulation as he rips his way through his anthem against fake, soft MCs and how he’s different. He presents a
convincing argument, but it’s difficult to escape the humor of the situation. For every 16-yearold thug mugging as he pops his 5mg Adderall, there’s another in sunglasses indoors at 10:00. The closest anyone in the venue had come to selling dope was likely pawning off the extra Vicodin from a wisdom tooth removal that didn’t hurt as much as expected. It’s a Danny Brown show. Maybe it’s to be expected. The crowd chanting along to DJ Skywalker’s mix of “Hard in da Paint” is a nice moment, but its inability to pull it together for an interpolation of “Mass Appeal” reveals more about the flavor of the evening than the Urban Outfitters hip-hop t-shirts that dot the floor. “Hannah Montana” brought some of them back, but outside of a shouted line of “Hannah Montana,” it’s a dicey, mumble-filled affair. A lull, and a step out for air. A poem: No, you fucking idiot. Andre 3000 is an incredible MC. Big Boi did not make his name off of Gucci’s coattails. How can you be this Stupid. Oh! The West Coast belongs to Odd Future! It is indeed Odd Considering you just claimed Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City Was the best album to ever come from California. Never procreate. Danny Brown is fine. He’s weird, charming, and technically proficient, but most of the tracks from Old manage to sound spectacularly similar live. Those he decides to bring out from XXX are mostly call-and-response party songs, but he knows his crowd, and they eat it up. They melt for every repetitive ode to eating pussy and doing drugs, calming themselves briefly for a few Bruiser Brigade shoutouts. The star in the Mickey Mouse trench coat doesn’t touch the more lyrically interesting parts of his catalogue, which while disappointing from a musical standpoint is hardly surprising. There’s a greater depth to his music, but the contemplative, emotionally challenging, and even painful songs that made XXX (and to a lesser extent Old) such a complete work don’t motivate either Brown or his fans. It’s of course understandable that an artist would seek to put the pain of a difficult life behind him as he has his day in the sun. Further still, there’s likely little anyone in the audience could relate to in “Scrap or Die.” In his refusal to embrace and project that which sets him apart, though, Danny Brown runs the risk of limiting himself to the station of just another drugs and sex rapper. If that’s all he was, his performance wouldn’t have come across as so profoundly disappointing. Brown’s detailed through his art the pain and struggle that accompanied his growth into a mature, realized individual. By choosing to forego that aspect of his work at his live shows, he enables his hellscape of an audience, and that’s nigh unforgivable.
Disco (Does Not) Suck: Why Americans Hated Disco and Why They Are Finally Wising Up
July 12, 1979: a date that will live in infamy. On that day, one of the single-most idiotic and narrow-minded events in popular music history occurred when the Chicago White Sox held ‘Disco Demolition Night’, in promotion of a double-header game with the Detroit Tigers. Organized by Steve Dahl, a regional shock-jock who had an unrivaled hatred for disco, the event brought in at least 50,000 attendants to Comiskey Park. For the cost of 98 cents, a person could give Dahl a disco record to include in a box loaded with explosives, which would be placed on the field in between the two games and blown up. The subsequent blast tore a hole in the field and the spectators soon rushed over the stands, destroying, stealing, and setting fires there before the Detroit police arrived in riot gear to put an end to the chaos. The second game of the double-header was forfeited, resulting in one of the last two forfeited games in MLB history since 1978. The American public is not known for being the most responsive to different genres of music. I would argue that for the most part, American mainstream rock music (and its culture) has been trapped in a haze of generic dullness since around about the 1970s. At the turn of the 1970s, Americans began to operate on the fear that rock had just passed a ‘golden age’ that collapsed with the death of the hippie subculture and the death of such icons as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, and the dissolution of The Beatles. After 20 or so years of a gradual progression, American mainstream rock music stopped looking forward and began to look back. Emulation and stagnation became the names of the game. During this time, a few genres of music manage to emerge from the rubble. Progressive rock and art rock sought to take the genre to new heights, with complex musical arrangements derived from jazz and Western classical music (and, more often than not, a wicked pretentious streak). Jazz fusion combined the electric instrumentation and techniques of rock music to jazz. Glam rock also arose during this time (but was largely limited to the British audience, for reasons which will be detailed later on). But the basic styles of rock, hard rock, and blues rock remained firmly entrenched as the most popular genres in America, unwilling and unable to shift in any way. Disco, however, arose from a larger variety of sources than any of the other genres of music at the time. Taking influences from soul, psychedelia, Latin music, very early synth pop, and funk (itself a 1960s-based mixture of soul, R&B, and jazz), disco placed an emphasis on the groove rather than the melody, where music was specifically meant to be danced to rather than be simply enjoyed for being a tune to whistle to. Electronic music saw a seismic shift with the advent of disco. Synthesizers that had been previously left to the megastar musicians who could afford their price or those who had the thousands of hours to master it, but the instrument saw a rise in popularity in disco, where the precise nature of the instrument complimented the genre’s emphasis on a four-on-thefloor constant rhythm, allowing for sequenced synthesizer lines and drum machine patterns to help create a beat that people could dance to. Like funk was for the African-American community in the late 1960s and into the 1970s, disco was primarily a social event. The music was meant to be enjoyed with other people around you, on the dance floor. In another stark contrast to virtually any genre of
by alaric powell
popular music up to that point, public disco performances primarily focused on previously recorded music, rather than live concerts. The disc jockey at the local discothèque was now as integral to the audience as the musicians who recorded the music, representing the most major shift in the profession of the DJ since its inception. Disco was a genre of music that was specifically made for people to get together and enjoy themselves to, and further streamlined the process of this by freeing these social gatherings from the shackles of live performances (such as being forced to wait for their preferred performer to come around to their town (if they ever did), play a gig subject to human error or equipment problems, etc.). It was a radical shift in popular music that European audiences accepted with open arms. They would go on to put their own twists to the genre, pioneering the electro-disco subgenre and creating a whole host of uniquely European subgenres, such as space disco, italo-disco, and euro-disco. European disco-pop groups such as Sweden’s ABBA and England’s Bee Gees became some of the largest international musical stars of the 20th century. However in America, the birthplace of disco, the love affair only lasted a few short years. American disco groups such as KC and the Sunshine Band, The Village People, Chic, and Earth, Wind, & Fire (along with many that were more of the one-hit-wonder or disco-pop crossover variety) saw great success, but for only a limited amount of time. So why was the genre’s success so firmly crushed in the late 1970s? The answer comes in two parts. The blame can go partly to the mainstream music culture that I previously noted, which was firmly entrenched in rock. This attitude of putting the genre of rock before all others has been often referred to in music criticism as ‘rockism’, a derogatory term coined in the early 1980s by music critics who sought to defend pop (and other genres of music) from those individuals. Critics of the rockists believed that these people had a narrow musical mindset, which led those people to dismiss all other genres of music in favor of their preferred genre of rock. Around 1979, the American public felt that the airwaves were increasingly sliding towards disco music, versus the more ‘traditional’ rock. Critiques made against disco were vague, saying that the music was not ‘real’ as rock and felt dissatisfaction with a new musical culture that did not meet the expectations which rock had created in popular culture for the previous 25 years. Elements of the punk rock music subculture also saw an extreme dislike of disco, with critics from those circles accusing disco of being an anesthetic to the masses. The second reason for the decline of disco is less publicized than the mainstream’s rockism and the alleged exhaustion from the ‘hedonism’ behind the disco culture that are often attributed as the primary causes for America’s backlash against disco. The accepted cultural practices of homophobia and racism in America during the 1970s played a key role in the demise of disco in this country. A majority of the genre’s musical influences came from American ‘black music’, styles that were effectively segregated on both the airwaves and the cultures of the time. The emergence of disco as its own entity served as another stark contrast to the white-dominated culture behind 1970s rock. But the minority-based culture that was both behind and supporting disco was what truly drove the fans of rock music away from (and eventually against) disco. Many racial minorities were key early supporters of disco, particularly the African-American and Latino-American communities that originally served as musical influences to disco. The LGBTQ community (particularly in New York City) quickly adopted disco and soon their culture became interlinked with disco’s own.
 Isn’t it absurd how rapidly music culture can delve into entrenched conservatism, after being an allegedly rebellious form of popular music just a couple decades beforehand? See the hardcore punk scene and the initial responses to jazz fusion for more distrust of progress.
The reason for these minorities flocking to the dance floor was very simple: it was a safe place to be yourself. At the discothèque, no one cared what race you were or how you sexually identified yourself; everyone was there to listen to the music and enjoy themselves. And the disco subculture did not hide this fact. It was proud of it. Mainstream America was not as accepting of these minority groups, especially the LGBTQ community, and made this fact known through its distaste and mistrust for disco once its subculture and the mainstream culture began to fuse as one in 1979. It doesn’t take much effort to read into the then-popular phrase ‘disco sucks’ that adorned the t-shirts of pseudo-macho Led Zeppelin fans in the late 70s. Common retrospectives on the disco subculture often confuse or outright distort the feeling of freedom that LGBTQ individuals found on the dance floor, dismissing their lack of fear amongst their peers with extremely moralistic terms such as ‘hedonism’. The rampant homophobia in America in comparison to the more-tolerant Europe is largely to blame for why the glam rock movement of the early 1970s also never gained much popularity in the United States as it did across the ocean, where England saw a whole host of androgynous glam rockers strike the top of the charts. Through the power of rockists and bigots, disco and its culture quickly left the public spotlight in 1979. But the genre was far from dead, even in America. Disco had already left its mark in American popular music, particularly with the dance-pop genre that came after disco’s public demise, a genre that continues to thrive to this day, perhaps more so than ever before. The discothèques themselves did not die out either, particularly in major urban centers like New York City. There, discothèques and nightclubs continued to thrive, as disco continued to succeed and post-punk bands from around America and Europe began to adapt elements of the genre into their own sound to create the subgenre of dance-punk. Perhaps most importantly, African-Americans in New York City began to recite poetry rhythmically over disco-based beats, evolving into what we today know as hiphop. Across the United States and Europe, artists began to take disco (specifically its synthesized elements and emphasis on dancing) and form it into their own scenes and genres, creating house music and establishing electronic dance music as a wide-reaching genre with a virtually untold number of subgenres beneath it. Overtime, the disco subculture saw itself change and mold to meet the new subgenres of electronic dance music, but has retained its core essence. The DJ culture that we have today has its roots in disco, as the DJ continues to rule supreme; their discothèques evolved into the modern-day nightclubs, where they still spin their records. Electronic dance music has continued to emphasize the idea of a communal experience of dancing together as one, even as the fields of performance move outside the dance floor and into outdoor festival platforms, where the DJ stands front-and-center on the stage. While disco music evolved to the changing times and musical environment, ‘pure’ disco music largely disappeared after the backlash began in 1979. Around the turn of the century however, this began to change as artists began to explore the genre once again. Acts from across the world, such as Metro Area, Azari & III, Prins Thomas, and Lindstrøm, among many other (more obscure) groups began to create music in a style similar to that of early, more electronically-tinged disco of the late 1970s, in a revival genre known as nu-disco. It has had little commercial success, but one artist in particular that has found considerable popular and critical acclaim with nu-disco this year is Daft Punk. The duo had performed under the disco-influenced French house genre up until their latest album, Random Access Memories, which saw them move into a total nu-disco direction. They even went as far as to feature many famous disco musicians, such as Chic guitarist/noted disco producer Nile Rodgers and electro-disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder, along with the usage of vintage recordTo be clear, this is not to say Europe had a perfectly ideal relationship with their LGBTQ populations, but arguably, it was at least 12  slightly better than in America.
ing technology and modular analog synthesizers. Upon its release, Random Access Memories went to the top of the charts in the United States and nineteen other countries, and its lead single, “Get Lucky,” hit number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and the top ten in thirty-one other countries. Since 2013, Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, and Robin Thicke have adopted the disco aesthetic in their hit songs, along with albums such as It’s Album Time (the debut LP of Scandinavian nu-disco producer Todd Terje) and Arcade Fire’s Reflektor receiving critical acclaim within the past year. It appears that we are in the middle of a full-fledged disco revival within the mainstream music culture. So what brought us here, with dance-pop dominating the Top 40 and a nu-disco track just a hair’s length away from being the number one song in America? It’s been nearly 35 years since ‘Disco Demolition Night’, arguably the single-largest resounding rejection of a popular musical style in America during the 20th century. What changed? Well, for one, the generation gap between those who went through the disco backlash and the prime pop demographic is fairly massive. Those who were just barely teenagers in 1979 are now pushing 50, hardly the prime age group that pop musicians are looking to appeal to. The current members of the primary pop demographic were not even close to being alive during the disco backlash and do not hold that grudge their parents (or even their grandparents) previously held. Secondly, rockism is a waning belief. An entire essay could be written just to justify this point, but the numbers back up the claim that rock has been on the decline in music charts and pop culture since the start of the 2000s. Ever since then, we get a new ‘savor of rock and roll’ every few years (a never-ending quest that is further bolstered by the hype-centric music media of the Internet Age) that fail thoroughly to follow up on that hype. The mainstream is now dominated by hip-hop, dance-pop, contemporary R&B, and electronic music. There will always be rockists who continue to believe that rock is the be-all-end-all of popular music, but based on the music charts, this is no longer a belief held as strongly as it was in 1979 (and to those who worry for the present/future of rock, I offer a slightly modified quote from Frank Zappa when he jokingly addressed the state of jazz in 1974: rock “is not dead, it just smells funny”). Lastly, our cultural acceptance of minorities has changed in the past 35 years. While the mainstream American culture is far from perfect in its treatment of racial minorities and the LGBTQ community, the overall acceptance and treatment of these groups has improved significantly from then. Dance music and its subculture has since penetrated nearly every single conceivable demographic in America, removing stigmatisms that were once attached to the genre due to its association with minorities that were severely persecuted in the past. As the hipster stereotype makes its way into the awareness of the mainstream culture, I have begun to wonder if the concept of ‘post-irony’ is a true one. Nowadays, I hardly ever hear the term ‘guilty pleasure’ used by my friends and fellow music lovers to describe a particular artist or type of music that they enjoy but fear others would deride them for liking. People are unabashingly liking the music they like purely because they like it, without any worry of what others would think. It’s becoming totally ok for someone to love the most obscure niche of a genre while still totally falling in love with a Top 40 pop song. Not because it is ‘ironic’ to like a song that the masses like, but because they like it for what it is. And you cannot get much less ironic about music than disco. It’s overblown, going for the max in every hook and groove it goes into, and all for the rather humble purpose of getting the listener to dance and have fun. There’s no artistic pretension to the music, no subtle jabs at the audience for liking to get out onto the floor, it is music made for the people to go enjoy themselves. And I cannot think of anything more pure than that.  It should be noted that while the music of “Blurred Lines” resembles classic disco, his lyrics are absolutely appalling and have no place within disco’s culture of safety and acceptance.
AN EARLY SOUNDTRACK: A-SIDE by neil friedman Time changes course through history like a slow moving, southern river, bending past different towns along its banks. Somewhere, a Mark Twain character floats by on a raft, holding a piece of grass in his mouth, looking up at white figures in the sky painted by the breeze. Down river, the stream is dammed, the pulse tapped, caught and called meter: 6/8 for summer road trips (we’ll come back to those), 4/4 for the standard hum of the everyday, 2/2, cut time, to run up stairs, late for class, and ¾, the meter of waltz, for those moments late at night when the moon comes out and eyes are gazed into long and deep. The score rolls on. Memory is just one long dusty 8-track. Treat it as a tape and press rewind . Tapes roll as far back as I can remember, past goodbyes to newfound freshman hall mates on orientation, hot summers that turned into cool springs, of graduation caps floating softly from the ceiling into outstretched hands, of handing first paychecks back to first bosses, of riding school busses in reverse the back row leading the charge headed home, of vanishing snow days where snowflakes drifted upwards to the sky, from little league to middle school dances where sweaty hands lose perspiration and empty punch bowls fill up red, of healed bones breaking, and braces crooking teeth and widening gaps, even farther, pedaling backwards over first bike rides and Christmas mornings, placing presents back in boxes and running upstairs- after that it gets a little fuzzy- my life has always had a soundtrack. As with the chicken and the egg, what came first? The vinyl or the needle? I know my dad initially pressed play, basking my earliest years in the sunny pop of the Beatles and the warm soul of Motown. The Temptations have been with me since I have the luxury of remembering. So it was in a moment when the sun sat high, and the road stretched out a thousand miles both ways, from a blue wave rising off the endless sands of Virginia Beach, to a slope of evergreens coating rising ground, soaring up to a rocky peak in the Blue Ridge. A black Jeep Cherokee cut across crisscrossing fields of tobacco, then cotton, then corn, cruising through the Piedmont in the in between space of the state, a slow, gentle ramp up towards ancient Appalachia. It wasn’t a race; not at all. My brother Cole slept, probably snored, to the left. My dad rested his eyes on the road, his foot off the gas pedal, the engine on cruise-control. In the front seat, my mom read a book club novel, silently navigating west. Time passes slow on summer road trips. We crept up on mile markers, and I sat in the back. The back seat has a tendency to tease. Traveling at a constant speed of 60 miles an hour, speed played tricks of velocity with my rising fifth-grade-four-eyed vision, slowly pushing landmarks into view to send them flying violently backwards in the distance. The golden arches of a McDonald’s swiftly retreated out of sight in the rearview mirror, disappearing altogether then reappearing in plain view ten miles down the road. Magic! Oh the wonders of the modern world! Abandoned gas stations, aged too many summer seasons, sat like dried up oases on the edge of the road, offering, to whoever may feel so inclined, the adventurous, youthful, nostalgic, or simply bored, a glimpse back in time. I took another route back, to a time when many of those dried up gas stations likely overflowed with people, good people who overflowed with good stories, overflowing turn of the century convertibles with gasoline. I ran through time by running over the songs of The Temptations in my head, silently drowning out my brother’s snoring with smooth bass lines and soulful saxophone solos. I was the DJ. I spun “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “My Girl,” followed by a quick commercial break (“Don’t you go anywhere now. We’ll be right back after a few messages from Cole’s snoring.”), and rounded out the set with “Just My Imagination.” Motown, like peanuts, root beer, and Jack Kerouac, is a great highway companion. The Temptations were not alone. I varied my sets. Smokey Robinson received regular airplay. The Supremes, Sam Cooke, the Rascals, and the Four Tops joined the mix. Later, I would be introduced to bands hailing from across that great ocean in which sea monsters and giant squids used to prowl. I colored in the map, bridged the unknown and found The Rolling Stones, The Who, and The Kinks, bands that, after listing
Allow me to put forth a disclaimer: For the next couple of pages I am going to talk about myself. Sometimes I may elaborate a little. What’s a Christmas tree without ornaments? If you do not wish to hear about me or my elaborations, then you can put down this essay right now. But I think you may find some music in it.
attentively, took rhythm and blues, the two pillars supporting the foundations of Motown, translated, and ran around the world with them. The Rolling Stones amplified high speed bike chases through the neighborhood. Tumbleweeds flew across the carpool line after school as I waited for The Last Train to Clarksville. The sitting dust of detention was whirled into motion by the Rascal’s “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long.” It was an early soundtrack. Norfolk, Virginia has always had a soundtrack. Pioneered by the tall, tall figures of Gary U.S. Bonds and Gene Vincent, the Norfolk Sound provided a soundtrack in the early days of rock n’ roll for the nation. Norfolk is a small city with a lot of heart. It’s a city that would get in fights with other bigger cities and probably lose. But not in this ring. Not in the ring roped by the rounded edges of a spinning 45, the ring immortalized by Elvis and Chuck Berry. I was born in the cradle of rock n’ roll. But all this was foreign to me in the old black Cherokee classic. In the time of summer road trips and daily pilgrimages to the beach, my knowledge of Norfolk’s cultural history was as shallow as a baby pool. My scope was narrow. Deep focus had not yet begun to set in. Still, a richening soundtrack played on. My head was filled with music. Grand symphonies boiled up inside me and manifested in a thud, sometimes a nice thump. Instruments remained a mystery; the piano, a checkerboard of confusion. All I could do was bang. All of this was especially noticeable in Mrs. Morris’ 5th grade class at Norfolk Collegiate School, where Mrs. Morris, our southern-twanged teacher, played Enya to her students during exams and grammar exercises. Mrs. Morris was another recreational DJ. I respected the trade, but had trouble with her methods. Every day, Mrs. Morris interrupted her sets with a variety of commercials in mathematics, English, and science, occasionally advertising the history of Virginia to uninterested students. She needed a new marketing plan. The DJ was out of touch with her audience: 20 fifth graders unconcerned with simple algebra, state capitals, and the placement of pronouns. I would patiently wait for the show to start. I had never been introduced to world music before. A small radio spilled out the sounds of a desert oasis. Time slowed as the lights dimmed and the room hushed. I wondered what Mrs. Morris envisioned, probably Enya standing triumphantly on a small sailboat, against a burning sun, drifting out to sea, a Viking princess laid to rest; her young students righteously inspired by a Grammy award-winning middle aged Irish woman. It really was magnificent. Tests suddenly became much more important, epic, as contemporary adult global music backed up our ability to remember the space between a lot. When Enya’s singing conceded to Mrs. Morris’ lengthy, didactic commercial breaks, I provided my own soundtrack. I tapped rhythm’s pulse, the tick-tock of the clock a metronome, a steady stream of quarter notes, straight 4/4 time. The hum of the row of computers in the back of the room, a section of PC’s, rounded out a steady E flat in an orchestra of low sound. I clapped. I banged. I kicked, tapped, and snapped all day long. By winter break, I had been forbid by decree to use any clicker style pen. So I brought pencils to school. At home, much of the same went on. Forks, knives, pots and pans became essential features of a poor man’s drum kit. Banging was prohibited at the dinner table. Soon, what was obvious to Mrs. Morris became obvious to my parents: “Mr. and Mrs. Friedman,” she probably said to my parents, shuffling papers above the low hush of Enya’s second and critically acclaimed album, “the boy needs to play drums.” When magnolias bloomed and trumpets announced the arrival of spring, I was signed up, by decree, to take my first drum lesson with the city of Norfolk. My dad and I would later go on to pick out the kit that would make neighbors on Pennsylvania Avenue call late at night in hopes of silence and sleep. I no longer banged on the desk in Mrs. Morris’ class. I drummed. I banged with technique. My life has always had a soundtrack. And to rewind back through memories is to rewind through that soundtrack as well. But now, with a bass drum, snare, high hat, and two drumsticks, I created a soundtrack myself. It had humble beginnings, a little rough: the kick of a bass drum and the sharp hit of a snare. It was a backbeat. A song is part of a soundtrack, and songs are made, in the studio, from the ground up beginning with the kick of a bass drum. You build up. And that is exactly what I did. I built a backbeat and blindly waited for ambition, inspiration and curiosity to take me farther. You’ll have to press fast forward for that. But then you might miss all the good parts. You could just let it play.
The Bonnaroovian Code by kieran cleary
Chilly February during semester eight at William and Mary swept me an old friend into a bar. We planned to go see a William and Mary Basketball game. She was unable to use her ID to get into the game, because she graduated one semester early. We blew off the game, preferring not to buy the tickets. She looked at me and said, “So, do you just want to go get a beer instead?” We laughed, because we always intended to go to the games, and now, after four years of neglected intentions, a fleeting drink was a more enticing use of our dollars. I was thrilled! It was a Monday night, and I hadn’t seen her in months. We are both finally twenty one. We met and counted the four years, and now, we can enjoy the perks together. I so enjoyed having a warm and comfortable place to meet for a drink and a chat. Yet I found myself reaching for something to talk about. I think the waiter overheard me make a limp suggestion that we reminisce over “dressing up for dance parties,” which, given our maturity, experience, and fabulous educations, fell down, irrelevant. We of course settled into and enjoyed each other’s’ stories from the past we shared as freshman hall-mates, and the more recent present. Regrettably, I haven’t come out of college being able to express myself openly to such a trustworthy and kind friend. Our reminiscing did enter the more spirited territory of stupid things we did together, and we had some fun. However, for me, the memories were tinged with a bit of pain and regret. Some of the decisions I made around her cause me to cringe in my skin today. The reflecting we did together makes me appreciate the leniency of our friendship. On the one hand, I recall imperfections in my treatment of her, and wonder whether she let things pass, though she was disappointed. On the other hand, we saw each other infrequently at college, and despite our enthusiastic friendship, didn’t demand constancy of attention. The important thing, I suppose, was that we were both fulfilling our unorthodox paths to graduation. When we walked from the bar, back to her living room, the housemates (all girls from the freshman hall) began to reminisce on a common love of being so near to the Marketplace Cafe. We walked home from class, through the marketplace building as a shortcut to our dorm, and grabbed sandwiches on our way to flopping down on our beds and watching TV shows. Then, we lazed with laptops and sandwiches in bed with us. The girls declared that our solitary resting time was amazing because we all had the same habit in the same building. Now look, the girls indicated, at the comfort of their current situation: having a living room TV to share. Although they criticize an apathetic start to their friendship, well I know some stories, now the girls are fast friends and do make a point to see each other every day. I still live behind the Marketplace, and today, when I got out of class at noon, I cut through the building, grabbed a sandwich on my way, and brought it to my dorm. My dad had called to tell me that the Bonnaroo lineup was being announced. Delighted, I remembered that the news was being delivered first on video. Weird Al Yankovic hosted an eighties-themed telethon fund drive and for two hours, entertained and delivered the band names alongside mild, pleasant skits
involving a talking piñata, web-cam guests, a “Roo” bro, and a telethon team. I went to Bonnaroo last summer. It was the first music festival to which I went. Then, I was impressed by the presentation of the festival, which was unified and bold. This odd program was another manifestation of the theatrical voice of the festival, inviting festival-goers to come, and come for fun! To me, the abstruse humor of Weird Al, and the inexplicable appearance of a talking, paper-pooping piñata emerged from an irrational space: the eighties TV show. The festival is a vacation from nonsense to an oasis of nonsense! Last year, the paper information packet that came with my ticket, and the organization of the tent village and festival park were composed by a distinct voice that advocated the fun of all aspects of the festival. The music stages were named “This” “That” and “The Other.” For me, map reading, shuffling around the festival park, chatting about must-see shows, and commiserating about long walks across the tent village to site # “Jabba the Hutt” were permeated with the delightful nonsense of the map. “Which tent?...That one,” was a novel exchange and one that embraced the challenge-in-flux of navigating through such a crowd that is ameliorated by the common primary interests of attendees. Well really just one: music. The programming of the festival gave me a tool for getting around the festival of people and destinations. It was a good feeling to always have a destination on the map, a favorite musician on the lineup, because being exposed to so many people can increase the uncertainty of one’s day-to-day agenda. The festival was encouraging me that everyone gets that way! Of course, a festival has ground rules. After all, the flat piece of farmland in Tennessee becomes a gathering place for eighty- thousand people every June. The rules are presented in the form of a “Bonnaroovian Code,” which delivers the essential information of the festival in such a way that I felt chummy with the festival coordinators, who remind Bonnaroovians to do essential things like bring food and stay hydrated. For example, “Bonnaroo is closer to Survivorman than your favorite resort (Sandals). Bring what you need (and some extra to share).” While I watched the 80’s sitcom, I saw some continuity of a joke, when the “Roo” bro was vociferously celebrating all things “Roo,” including the mundane hydration. To me, the bro was imitating the voice of the festival coordinators, by keeping to the code, even to the point of being somewhat tiresome, like the repetitive telethon host who is always asking for callers. According to the Bonnaroo website, the code has been pulled from the air and put down on paper- it is a social contract of the festival. The bro fit right in! This year, I have been paying attention early, because I had such a good time last year. While my sister and I were home for Christmas break, we were skimming the Bonnaroo website with her friend and found a new campaign of pre-line-up release interactive activity. The festival coordinators had released a series of haikus, and in the discussion board beneath each “Roo Cloo,” festival enthusiasts exchanged suspicions and interpretations as to which artist the clue represented. We spent some time skimming the comments, and reading about peoples favorite artists. I was so surprised that the festival was reaching out to fans, and encouraging them to use the material and facilities of the site to spark a conversation. Not only that, but the bold and humorous, playful campaign of the event staff was so unique and special for such a commercial event. A campaign probably shouldn’t be exclusive, but this campaign is vocally inclusive- it makes me feel like I can sit down and talk to someone about what the festival should be about, what the ideal world of Bonnaroo is. The haiku and puzzle solving so suited my interests, it
makes me feel like the festival is for me! That day, my sister and I also saw a video posted on the website news feed that was perplexing, and polar opposite to the propaganda for the festival that I had seen so far. The site had posted a music video by the band Prodigy, called “Smack My Bi*** Up”. The video was released two years ago, and though it is somewhat popular, the band isn’t on a set list for the festival. The website only posts video of bands that play the festival, and furthermore, live performances by those bands from the festival. This post was slipped in between recent haiku releases, so it seemed like it would draw many hits. When we watched it, we were confused and the site didn’t offer any explanation, because the video wasn’t posted with a caption. The festival is diverse, but this music video definitely would be part of the fringe of music culture at the festival. Last year, Ludacris drew a huge crowd, and all the fans in my area, stage right, found common love for Bob Marley. Alice Cooper had a Goth show at night. The world music of Roderigo y Gabriela drew a big crowd. Old classic Sam Busch had fans, and then there were Top 50 performers, like the Beach Boys and the Avett Brothers. Anyway, artistic expression is everywhere, and it occurs in negative, positive and apathetic tones with respect to numerous subjects. However, the attitude of all of these artists toward the festival, in my experience, matched with the campaign of the website. All of the performers expressed positivity and approval of the festival environment and the audience. This perplexing video did not represent the kind of environment that I experienced at Bonnaroo, or the kind of attitude that is expressed by the rules campaign and literature of the festival. The Prodigy video was a day in the life sequence, of urban nightlife, shot from the jerky shoulder of the scum-bag protagonist. My sister and I watched from the camera perched on his shoulder, as he stumbled unsteadily from his bed as the sun went down, and hurdled to a variety of eating and drinking scenes. The video is unsettling, because the protagonist is guzzling liquor, violently demanding a bottle from the bartender, and puking food. He fails to make eye contact with anyone until he drags a girl from a pulsing flashing club and beats and rapes her. Hers is the only tragic face we see, and soon after committing this cruel act, the protagonist falls over in bed, and the video ends. I am someone who is vulnerable to the weirdness and improbability of circumstances of the festival. To me, the “Roo” bro is protected from scorn by the overarching message of the festival: spread positive vibes. While the bro often shouts “Roo” or “Hydration!” instead of completely responding to the quip of Weird Al, the telethon host, his positivity and adherence to the fes-
tival code are positive. By contrast, the protagonist of the Prodigy video could not negotiate with a bartender and ignored and overpowered the emotional reaction of his female dance partner. To me, the incoherence of this video was equal to the nonsense of the propaganda of the festival. Both are provocative. This video was so very different because it was isolated and internalized, where the festival encourages a shared experience, fostered by a group of positive individuals. Perhaps I was a little bit humiliated about trying to discuss a mundane and timid topic with an old friend in the bar, but I was calm then, knowing that a positive attitude would bring the conversation around again. And yet, my discomfort during the situation, due to humiliation and regret if felt because of the content of some of our memories, may have kept either of us from being at ease. To what extent is my expression of a negative feeling a negative vibe? I overcame my own discomfort, and I don’t think that any real harm was done to Karen’s mood. After all, we were just in for a quick beer, and both comfortable hopping around subjects until one delighted both of us. The complete day sequence of this video offered me no moment of sympathy for the male protagonist. This man’s tunnel vision hurdle from food to drink to brute sex to bed again presented no moment of reconciliation with the people around him. In my opinion, the man clearly diverged from the Bonnaroovian Code. The unified and thorough presence of the festival organization in every corner of the experience, the posters, art, and maps everywhere seem to reach out to the wandering festival-goer, striking up a conversation about the place, that can be passed on to neighbors, like the good vibes of the Bonnaroovian Way. My strong feelings about the presence of the festival caused me to grasp for an explanation for the prominence that was given to a mildly popular, very alternative music video. For me and my sister and her friend, watching the video together, our response was quiet. We did express some disgust and sympathy for the woman, when we shared looks. And I am confident that we all felt surprised by the graphic, repulsive experience that had popped up in our queue of entertainment on the Bonnaroo website. We let it fall, and so it went without caption in our room, as well as on the site. (Note from the editor: The protagonist of the “Smack My Bitch Up” video was in fact a woman, but regardless, the points raised here regarding the sexual assault elements of the video are still valid and are left here in an unedited form. –A.P.)
Waka Flocka Flame, Borgore, and Steve Aoki @ the Norva, Norfolk, VA
by reid mcbride
I’ve attended a decent amount of electronic dance shows within the past year. I’ve seen numerous DJs, some more than once, and I’ve learned from these shows that sometimes, the show’s opener can really add a lot of fun to your night. Most often the openers for the DJ headlining that night fall into a similar genre or style of electronic music (usually more tame and less popular than the headliner), so you can imagine my surprise and excitement when I found out the openers for the Steve Aoki show at the Norva would be Borgore and, even stranger, Waka Flocka Flame. Just weeks before, I had an opportunity to see Steve Aoki at the electronic dance festival Tomorrowworld. hosted at The Chatahoochee Hills outside of Atlanta, but I missed Borgore’s show and I’ve never really even thought about seeing Waka Flocka Flame so I was sold on the idea when I heard they’d all be so close at the Norva. Fast forward to the night of the show. Five minutes after walking into the Norva, Waka Flocka Flame emerges on stage, the crowd erupting simultaneously. Now, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know a lot about rap and hip hop, nor am I an expert in Waka Flocka Flame’s musical background, but now I absolutely understand the appeal of seeing Waka Flocka live— he’s insane. Waka’s skill may not be in his rapping or his musical talent, but he knows how to put on a show. Of all the shows I’ve seen, I’ve never seen a DJ, band, or rapper do what Waka Flocka did about 15 minutes into his show. At some point in the craze of dancing and shoving myself towards the center of the masses in the pit, I lost sight of Waka on stage, and also noticed his loud yelling had disappeared. Only when the chaos around me erupted did I realize that Waka Flocka had in fact run off the stage towards the center of the crowd (towards me), and he was only about 8 feet in front of me doing his best to rap but in reality barely surviving from being physically torn apart by fans. Now back in the day (middle school into high school) I went to a lot of those emo punk festivals like Warped Tour and Taste of Chaos so I have some experience what you could call a mosh pit (circle of aggressive chaos dancing that sometimes forms for crazy music) but let me make this perfectly clear, the chaos that was Waka Flocka Flame in the middle of the pit at the Norva was SO MUCH crazier and aggressive than any crowd I’ve ever been in. Being able to dance with Waka Flocka (by with I mean moving around while trying not to get trampled) within 20 minutes of arriving was a very fun and exciting way to start the night. After Waka Flocka somehow made it back onto the stage and performed some of his better-known hits, he introduced Borgore to the stage. Borgore has become incredibly popular this past year, with successful hit “Decisions” jumpstarting his career. Borgore’s show itself was a lot of fun but he clearly had less energy and enthusiasm as a performer than both Waka and Steve Aoki. There were periods of the show that seemed stale, and one section in particular where four distinct drops varied very little in style (which caused the audience to essentially listen and wait for the next crazy drop every time, rather than enjoy the music). However, Borgore did manage to successfully prepare the crowd for the insanity that was to come: Steve Aoki. To be completely honest, since I just saw Aoki a few weeks earlier, I expected most of the music played to be the same as what I heard at my festival. I was happily surprised to find most
of the show was entirely new, with some exceptions, including some of his greats (“Warped 1.9,” “Ladi Dadi,” “Pursuit of Happiness,” “Phat Brahms,” “Boneless,” and his new collaboration with Linkin Park, “A Light That Never Comes”). Yet, the real difference between the Aoki I saw at Tomorrowworld versus the Steve Aoki at the Norva was that at the Norva, the talented DJ had freedom to do his show exactly as he pleased. So what does Aoki like to do at shows? He apparently likes throwing 6 massive birthday cakes at audience members throughout the show, climbing up onto the balcony of the Norva and then jumping off of it onto a blowup-mattress that was being held up by the audience, and having giant robot men shoot smoke cannons as Aoki throws down like a maniac behind the boards. If this scene is too difficult to imagine, check out the photos on Aoki’s Facebook page under the Norva show. Theatrics aside, Steve Aoki had the Norva moving and the audience could not have been more enthralled or amped up from the spectacular night that was Waka Flocka Flame, Borgore, and Steve Aoki at the Norva in Norfolk, VA.
DEERHUNTER @ 9:30 CLUB, WASHINGTON DC by molly martien After waiting in line an extra hour for the doors of the infamous 9:30 Club to open, I would say Deerhunter was well worth the wait. The venue is located in Washington DC, 2.5 miles from the Capital. The 9:30 Club is renowned for having acts such as Radiohead, Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, etc. That being said of course, the show was pretty packed, as to be expected of a metropolitan city on a Saturday night. Having previously seen Bradford Cox two years prior at the Black Cat in DC with his solo project Atlas Sound (where he was somber and very melancholic onstage), it was great to see him much more lively with Deerhunter. Bradford was pretty theatrical in his performance onstage and used his genetic disorder Marfan syndrome (which makes him appear to be anorexic) to his advantage. Aside from Bradford’s theatric performance onstage the music was even more transient and ambient live than on their actual four recorded albums. The songs they played, ranging from Helicopter to Monomania and The Missing, seemed to go on and on for minutes on end but in a smooth melodic fashion of ambience. Instead of just performing their new album Monomania that was released this past May, they played a mix of all four of their albums, which was refreshing. It was nice to be in a venue where the sound wasn’t distorted and relatively little feedback. One thing that was really spot-on during the show was the sound and the instrumentals, especially the vocals of Lockett Pundt. As Bradford mentioned during the show he had enlisted his distant cousin to play the guitar and join the band. And while it seems that his cousin was an apt musician he seemed nervous and stood stagnant the duration of the show, not contributing much to the band. When Bradford started screaming during the show, it seemed to somewhat ruin the overall atmosphere, but all in all the crowd was pretty appreciative of the good music being played. Despite this minor disappointment, the two opening bands Geologist, and Crystal Stilts were fantastic.
BLACK GIRLS @ THE CAMEL, RICHMOND by molly martien The atmosphere was almost too good to be true inside The Camel. Not only was it filled with the youth of RVA, but also with a lot of middle aged and older people from the Richmond Folk Festival. The Camel, which is located on W. Broad Street, has a bar and a separate room for small, yet intimate concerts. This low-lit, intimate atmosphere provides people with tables and booths, which almost feels like a jazz lounge. The opening acts Paperhaus and New Madrid felt rather comfortable within this setting. And it was pretty apparent Black Girls felt the same way, as they were at ease in their hometown of RVA. Everyone in the crowd was pretty lively and got into the music, no matter if it was Paperhaus, New Madrid, or Black Girls. At 12:00 Black Girls set up there mics, amps, etc. and started a late, but fantastic show. The five musically talented white boys in the band are pretty suave and well dressed. In my opinion, they resembled more of a jam band than anything else, although they also had slight hints of Wavves, Best Coast, and soul music (they have self-proclaimed themselves as ‘Snuff Rock’). During their entire show the bass player roamed around the small stage and seemed to somewhat resemble Gerry Garcia (perhaps this band feels at home anywhere they roam). The well dressed and adorned vocalist Gillihan also began to move about the small stage but at times his voice only sounded like a whisper; perhaps it was because of the poor acoustics within such a small space. Near the end of the show they started playing their song “South Carolina,” which was extremely soulful and melodic. The entire crowd started to singing along with Gillihan, whose vocals were superb. About seventy or so people attended, and the concert still managed to feel like an extremely intimate house show. For a band which originally formed during their years at VCU and has been in the RVA area for a while now, I would say that they are starting to gain a more reputable following. They are most certainly an up and coming band, and had a very engaging stage presence about them. Having been named “the best band of 2011” from Style Weekly a few years ago, I think they have evolved and developed even more talent since. Who knows what we will see of them in the future.
BRITPOP: IN REVIEW 1. Parklife Essential Tracks: “Girls & Boys,” “Tracy Jacks,” “End of a Century,” “Parklife,” “To the End” Hidden Gems: “This is A Low,” “Badhead,” “Clover over Dover,” “London Loves” How do I begin? This is definitely my favorite Blur album. This album, along with Suede’s debut album and Blur’s previous album Modern Life is Rubbish, help kickstart the Britpop movement. Britpop itself was a reaction against the domination of American grunge acts such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam, as well as the grunge-lite by bands in the UK such as Bush and early Radiohead. Parklife can be seen as both as a celebration of British working and middle classes as well as social commentary against the invasion of American culture in the UK (see “Magic America”). Damon Albarn and company are able to mix upbeat rhythms, irony, and stinging commentary throughout Parklife. “Girls and Boys,” for example, is able to mix both the New Wave of Duran Duran and the disco of the 70s with biting social commentary of early 90s club culture. Damon is able to perfectly express the juxtaposition one feels when observing with absolute disgust with the use of drugs, the orgies and the promiscuity associated with club culture, while still feeling drawn to its atmosphere and feelings of freedom, unity and uninhibited hedonism. It is no surprise this album swept the 1995 Brit Awards winning Best British Group, Best Album, Best Single and Best Video. 10/10 2. The Great Escape Essential Tracks: “Country House,” “Charmless Man,” “The Universal,” “Best Days,” “Top Man” Hidden Gems: “He Thought of Cars,” “Yuko & Hiro” As Noel Gallagher might say “[before] the whole Church of England comes slamming” The Great Escape is an unfairly maligned album. Though some might say overexposure due to the infamous Battle of Britpop didn’t help, I think the reason why this album is so maligned is the fact that this album was the follow up the flawless Parklife album, like how Oasis’ Be Here Now was expected to be the album to cement Britpop’s place in musical history after their paramount release, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory. That, and Damon Albarn was kind of an arrogant twat back then (but then again who can really blame him when you are able to be a good songwriter and are able to get all the ladies with his then-flawless looks). Anyways movin’ back to the music…The Great Escape is essentially
by asaad lewis the flip side of Parklife; the focus is on the upper classes and life in the suburbs. Damon Albarn characters become far more deranged in this album; whether its the disgruntled millionaire in “Country House,” the clueless coke-snorting posh found in “Charmless Man,” or the pervert in “Mr. Robinson’s Quango.” Damon Albarn is able to hide these characters in an upbeat, polished, and complex tempos. I think all of this illuminates Damon Albarn’s hidden depression, despite being a darling of both the British press and essentially the King of Camden. With songs like “The Universal Damon,” Albarn is able to reflect how the UK felt during the summer of ‘95. With British guitar music back in the charts, the cool vibes of Tony Blair and New Labour looking to put a damper in 20 years of dreary conservative rule, and Euro Cup ‘96 just around the corner, London appeared to swing again as if it had done back in the early to mid-1960s. “The Universal,” with its orchestrated and backing vocals appear to capture the good vibes. But with a deeper inspection into to the lyrics things are not as they seem. Damon proclaims “The future is sold” and the sarcastic “it really, really, really can happen.” This pessimism and hidden melancholy perhaps could be a bold prediction on the electioneering and poor premiership of Tony Blair or the demise of Britpop itself as a genre. Who knows? 9.5/ 10 3. Modern Life is Rubbish Essential Tracks: “For Tomorrow,” “Chemical World,” “Sunday Sunday,” “Villa Rosie” Hidden Gems: “Popscene (U.S version),” “Starshaped,” “Miss America,” “Blue Jeans” More so than Suede’s debut album, I attribute this album to starting Britpop. With the rise of Suede back in their native UK, their dismal 1992 American tour, and their critically panned album Leisure, Damon Albarn and company knew it was time for a change. In addition to this the *cough* love triangle between Justine Frischmann, Brett Anderson, and Damon Albarn, the frontman of Blur became especially furious of Suede’s success. Taking notes from Ray Davies and the Kinks, Damon looked to make a classic British pop album. As Damon stated in the documentary Live Forever, frustration with their 1992 American tour and disdain of grunge music, started to make Albarn miss the simple things of British life. He almost went as far to call the album England vs. America (but luckily he didn’t commit such a horrid mistake). 9/10 continued on the next page...
4. Blur Essential tracks: “Beetlebum,” “Song 2,” “M.O.R,” “On Your Own” Hidden Gems: “You’re So Great,” “Death of a Party,” “Movin’ On,” “Country Sad Ballad Man,” “Look Inside America” It’s quite fitting after years of slagging off America Damon Albarn finally gets his head out of his arse and discovers us Yanks actually have some good music. Astonishing, I know! That of course isn’t without the help of our good mate and the always sharply yet eclectically dressed Graham Coxon. While Damon Albarn was busy obsessing studying The Beatles, The Jam, The Kinks and The Who, Coxon was listening to the likes of Guided by Voices and Pavement. It is no wonder why he became “Mr. Lo-fi.” Damon finally came to his senses due to the overwhelming success of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory as opposed to their album and the backlash against Blur in general. As Damon put it, he knew it was time to move on when the 999th person shouted “Oasis is better than Blur.” This is one of the first Blur albums that Damon makes personal and is able to reflect on his own feelings and emotions. Whether it be the hopelessness of “Beetlebum” or the disillusionment found in “Country Sad Ballad Man.” But make no mistake, this is Graham Coxon’s album. His guitar work, especially in “Beetlebum” and that “M.O.R” especially shiiiiiiiiine. As a side note, the new found love found of America in “Look Inside America” is much appreciated. It’s nice to know that we are indeed alright… 9/10 5. 13 Essential Tracks: “Tender,” “Coffee and TV,” “No Distance Left to Run” Hidden Gems: “Bugman,” “Swamp Song,” “Battle,” “Caramel” What can I say? Blur finally is able to match a sound to their name. This has to be their most experimental album to-date. While Damon starts to experiment with electronic sounds and atmospheric tones. Graham Coxon uses his trademark anti-heroic guitar sound. This is no doubt a messy album as Damon still copes with the breakup of his longterm girlfriend Justine Frischmann and the effects of his heroin use. I think this album almost reminds of The Beatles’ White Album in its messy yet eclectic creativity. 8/10 6. Leisure Essential tracks: “She’s So High,” “Bang,” “There’s No Other Way” Hidden Gems: “Sing,” “Wear Me Down” Stone Roses meets Ride. Very hit or miss on the tracks. Need I say more? Didn’t think so…
THE BEST (NON-UK) ALBUMS by asaad lewis OF ALL TIME. 1. The Velvet Underground- The Velvet Underground & Nico 2. Nas- Illmatic 3. The Strokes- Is this It 4. My Bloody Valentine- Loveless 5. Miles Davis- On the Corner 6. Aimee Mann- Bachelor No. 2 7. Pixies- Doolitle 8. Neutral Milk Hotel- In the Aeroplane Over the Sea 9. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Dark Fantasy 10. Miles Davis- Kind of Blue 11. Haim- Days are Gone 12 Weezer- Pinkerton 13. A Tribe Called Quest- Low End Theory 14. Alanis Morrissete- Jagged Little Pill 15. Nico- Chelsea Girls 16. Elliot Smith- Either/Or 17. The Magnetic Fields- 69 Love Songs 18. Courtney Barnett- A Sea of Peas 19. Beach House- Bloom 20. Joni Mitchell- The Hissing of Summer Lawns 21. Marvin Gaye- What’s Going On 22. Waxahatchee- Cerulean Salt 23. Neil Young- After the Gold Rush 24. Foxygen- We are the 21st century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic 25. The Flaming Lips- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots 26. Violent Femmes- Violent Femmes 27. The Beach Boys- Pet Sounds 28. Fiona Apple- The Idler Wheel… 29. Animal Collective- Merriweather Post Pavilion 30. Blouse- Imperium 31. Dum Dum Girls- Too True
32. The Knife- Shaking the Habitual 33. Air- Moon Safari 34. Hospitality- Hospitality 35. Kanye West- Late Registration 36. Notorious B.I.G- Ready to Die 37. 2pac- All Eyes on Me 38. Arcade Fire- Reflektor 39. Chvrches- The Bones of What You Believe 40. Nico- Desertshore 41. Liz Phair- Exile in Guyville 42. Bjork- Post 43. Wilco- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot 44. The Doors- The Doors 45. Beck- Odelay 46. The Shins- Chutes Too Narrow 47. The White Stripes- White Blood Cells 48. Vampire Weekend- Vampire Weekend 49. The Jimi Hendrix Experience- Are You Experienced? 50. Hole- Live Through This 51. Pavement- Slanted and Enchanted 52. Mos Def- Black on Both Sides 53. Blondie- Parallel Lines 54. Architecture in Helenski- In Case We Die 55. Jessy Lanza- Pull My Hair Back 56. Laurel Halo- Chance of Rain 57. Kanye West- Yeezus 58. Sonic Youth- Daydream Nation 59. Camera Obscura- Desire Lines 60. Otis Redding- Otis Redding Sings Soul 61. R.E.M- Murmur 62. The Vines- Highly Evolved 63. Emiliana Torrini- Love in the Time of Science 65. Speedy Ortiz- Major Arcana 64.Julia Holter- Ekstastis 66. Promise Ring- Nothing Feels Good 67. Third Eye Blind- Third Eye Blind 68. Aimee Mann- I’m With Stupid
atmosphere // KASKADE 1. “Last Chance” – Project 46, Kaskade Kaskade chooses out to start the album off with a classic progressive house anthem. This song is currently the most popular according to its Spotify ranking, and most definitely has potential to become a mainstream radio hit. Packed with organ-like synths balanced with beautiful vocals, Kaskade opens the album with a very beautiful song. 2. “Why Ask Why” – Kaskade, Late Night Alumni Arguably one of the greatest songs on the album, Kaskade collaborates with his own side project US house group, Late Night Alumni, to create a beautiful and melodic track. Kaskade has been a member of Late Night Alumni since its formation in 2004, alongside Finn Bjarnson, John Hancock, and vocalist Becky Jean Williams. Despite Kaskade achieving the most success in the electronic dance scene, the star of this group is the angelic vocalist Becky Jean Williams. Late Night Alumni’s soft and at times trance-like melodies are constructed around the beautiful and unique voice of Becky Jean Williams. The same is true for this song and it does not disappoint. 3. “MIA to LAS”- Kaskade You have to give credit to Kaskade for including this old school house throwback track in the album. Clearly this is not the typical EDM banger that seems to be overproduced today nor does it fit into the progressive house genre that dominates mainstream EDM, and stays true to the general atmospheric sound this album conveys throughout. 4. “No One Knows Who We Are”- Kaskade If you were expecting to hear the frequently played incredibly popular banger “No One Knows Who We Are” released right before last summer, then you’d be wrong. For the album only, Kaskade releases an acoustic version of his recent progressive single “No One Knows Who We Are.” Although not the same massive electro anthem, this harmonic acoustic take displays Kaskade’s appreciation for the classical music. With less and less classically trained DJ’s in the industry and electronic music being produced at an exorbitant rate, it is nice to see a DJ who can do just as much with a piano and an orchestra as what he can put together in fifteen minutes with his laptop. This song serves as another reminder that not all EDM albums need every song to be club-worthy. 5. “Feeling the Night”- Kaskade, Becky Jean Williams The astute listener may realize that the vocals on this lovely song sound very familiar to those on “Why Ask Why” and this is of course due to both being sung by Becky Jean Williams of Late Night Alumni. Perhaps a more intimate collaboration, this song is simply Kaskade and Williams, a pair that have seemed to master making amazing progressive house music. With arguably the greatest vocals available in electronic music today, Kaskade produces an up-tempo dance song that stays true to the positive melodic vibe of the album. 6. “Take Your Mind Off ”- Kaskade This is another throwback deep house song that is riddled with a minimalist use of xylophone, snare drum, and potentially Kaskade’s vocals. I say this with caution because I am not certain, but it is reasonable considering he is known to sing on the title track of the album, Atmosphere, and because no other singer is credited. Either way, this song is very relaxed and mellow, certainly unique from most electronic music being produced today.
by reid mcbride 7. “LAX to JFK”- Kaskade Seeing the title of this track confirms that cleverly titled three separate tracks as airport flights: the first being Miami to Las Vegas (track 3), Los Angeles to New York City (track 7), and later in the album San Francisco to Orlando (track 11). These flights are all most likely related to Kaskade’s very busy schedule, which includes having residencies (when DJs are contracted to play at a specific club regularly, often once a week) in clubs all over the country, from Las Vegas to Miami. All three of these tracks are similar in style, all possessing an old school deep house club sound that goes against the grain in contemporary progressive house music. 8. “Atmosphere”- Kaskade In the hugely popular title track, Atmosphere shows another one of his many talents adding his own vocals to the track. This progressive house anthem is incredibly catchy and complex with piano mingling with synths in a stunning song. I would recommend this song to all without hesitation. 9. Missing You”- Kaskade, School of Seven Bells Kaskade collaborates with School of Seven Bells for this slow tempo mellow electronic pop crossover. School of Seven Bells was started in 2007 and includes Ben Curtis and twin sister vocalists Claudia and Alejandra Deheza, who come together to create an electronic enhanced dream pop group. This style is clearly prevalent in this airy and whimsical track. 10. “Something Something”- Kaskade, Zip Zip Through the Night As if Late Night Alumni didn’t have enough of a presence on this album already, another member appears again in the form of Zip Zip Through the Night. Finn Bjarnson returns to the album collaborating with Kaskade on this track, even adding his vocals to Kaskade’s to create what sounds more like a contemporary indie rock song than a dance hit. However, don’t count it out, this track is one of my favorites on the entire album despite not resembling the typical work of Kaskade. This song has poignant lyrics, great male vocal harmony, and a wonderful combination of traditional instruments with subtle use of computer generated synths. 11. “SFO to ORD”- Kaskade The final airport-to-airport track on the album, SFO to ORD embodies the old school deep house style Kaskade seeks to emulate in this collection of three tracks. Simple and collected this track could be described as the greatest elevator music ever made or could serve as a mellow tune to start your pregame mix with. 12. “Floating”- Kaskade, Haley Kaskade has a great talent at finding the greatest vocalists available in EDM today proving so once again with another collaboration with Haley (another member of Late Night Alumni) in the form of “Floating.” In truth, that is exactly what this track is – an ode to the beautiful vocals of Haley whose voice truly floats throughout the trance like synths framework Kaskade has constructed. 13. “How It Is”- Kaskade, Debra Fotheringham Kaskade works with another beautiful vocalist, Debra Fotheringham, on this track to create a beautiful acoustic dance song. In this song, Kaskade places a greater emphasis on the piano and vocals than the bass or any computer generated synthesizers. Slow and melodic, the listener will find it difficult not to get lost in Fotheringham’s beautiful voice.