WESU Radio 200: Menahan Street Band on Top

Here’s our latest chart for CMJ:

1    MENAHAN STREET BAND    The Crossing    Dunham
2    TIM MAIA    World Psychedelic Classics 4: Nobody Can Live Forever: The Existential Soul Of Tim Maia    Luaka Bop
3    CHILD ACTOR    Victory    Fake Four
4    BEST COAST    The Only Place    Mexican Summer

Click through to see the rest of the chart, featuring The Evens, Brian Eno, NON/Boyd Rice & Main Attrakionz

5    EVENS    The Odds    Dischord
6    METRIC    Synthetica    Mom And Pop-MMI
7    GRIZZLY BEAR    Shields    Warp
8    FOUR TET    Pink    Text
9    METZ    Metz    SUB POP

10    BRIAN ENO    Lux    Warp
11    LUKID    Lonely At The Top    Werkdiscs
12    TOY LOVE    Live At The Gluepot 1980    Goner
13    SKY FERREIRA    Ghost    Capitol
14    OF MONTREAL    Daughter Of Cloud    Polyvinyl
15    THE XX    Coexist    XL
16    JOSEPHINE FOSTER    Blood Rushing    Fire

17    NON/BOYD RICE    Back To Mono    Mute
18    ANTIBALAS    Antibalas    Daptone
19    CONVERGE    All We Love We Leave Behind    Epitaph
20    DIRTY PROJECTORS    About To Die    Domino
21    BROTHER ALI    Mourning In America And Dreaming In Color    Rhymesayers
22    ROC MARCIANO    Reloaded    Decon
23    SIDEWALK DAVE    Hard On Romance    Telegraph

24    MAIN ATTRAKIONZ    Bossalinis And Fooliyones    young one
25    ALLAH-LAS    Allah-las    Innovative Leisure
26    CLINIC    Free Reign    Domino
27    PEOPLES TEMPLE    More For The Masses    Hozac
28    TAME IMPALA    Lonerism    Modular
29    TY SEGALL    Twins    Drag City
30    KENDRICK LAMAR    Good Kid In A M.A.A.d City    Aftermath-Top Dawg-Interscope

An Interview with Sidewalk Dave: Bee Mating, Abandoning Folk for Rock & Roll & Miya’s Sushi

I’ve been a Sidewalk Dave fan for a while now, and have already written about him in posts here and here. Today, I interviewed Dave on the phone. We talked about a wide range of topics from the inspiration of bee mating for his new record, to his recent shift in musical approach from folk to rock, to the importance of the great Miya’s Sushi in his life, and his new experimental side project, Sasquatch Fucker.

Click through to read the interview

JB: Let me start out with the “Honey Bee” video, which I just watched and thought was a cool concept. I was wondering actually, have you seen something called Green Porno?
SD: Green what?
JB: Green porno.
SD: You mean like pornography?
JB: Yeah.
SD: No.
JB: OK. Well I recommend you check it out because I think it’s sort of similar to the concept you had for that video. Do you know who Isabella Rossellini is?
SD: No.
JB: She’s an actress and she’s a pretty bizarre person. And she makes these videos where she dresses up as different animals—a lot of them are insects. And shows how they mate. (laughs) And she has one for bees which is really fantastic.
SD: Ah I wish I knew that.
JB: Yeah yeah so what happens in the video. The man bee mates with the woman bee and he loses his penis. The penis gets stuck in the woman bee. So she becomes the new queen. And then he bleeds to death. So would you say that that idea had anything to do with that song?
SD: Yeah that had everything to do with it. I was reading the Biology of the Honey Bee, a book, while I was traveling. I was reading through it and I was in the middle when I was about to start recording Hard On Romance. So I went to the section about mating and I read all that. And it’s the most fucked up mating process I’ve ever heard. (laughs). These bees, their only purpose is to mate with the queen and when they do they get killed and all their friends do the same thing and actually it’s like a big orgy.
JB: Yeah. And they also fight with each other and some of them die.
SD: Yeah totally. I was just thinking about Romeo and Juliette being one of the most tragic love stories and then I was like, that’s not fucking tragic (laughs). I like to go with extremes and that seems pretty extreme for me. That helped form the whole album. You’re totally right. “When I cum I bleed” [lyric from his song "Honey Bee"]. All that stuff.
JB: So I’ve been looking at your website and I saw you put in a couple articles about Ty Segalland Tame Impala, who I think both released fantastic albums this year—in Ty Segall’s case three really good albums. And both of them I think are on the forefront of this movement of going back to the basics, making old school garage psych albums that sort of sound like they were released 40 years ago. So would you consider yourself to be a part of that movement at all?
SD: I had the idea for the sound of the record last year. I was already demo-ing stuff that way. I’ve always been trying to keep lo fi and get hi fi as well. High fidelity lo fi recordings…There’s a difference between that and the other way around, you know? I didn’t think about any scene but when those albums came out I was really pumped because they’re in the vein of types of sounds I look for in the music that I make. It was just cool to feel not alone. Not that it’s that far out there. I knew that I was trying to get away from folk, which is something that Ty Segall has also seemed to do. Goodbye Bread had more acoustic guitar. It was rockin’ too, but it was lo-fi folky.
JB: Do you think that you’ve abandoned folk music for good, or do you think you might eventually go back to that?
SD: I haven’t burned my acoustic guitar or anything. I’m definitely not interested in it really right now. I think it’s more likely I’ll get further away from it than go back to it. But I think those songs are good. Those songs are always in me. I just don’t know of a new way to do it right now. Until I find a new and exciting way to make folk songs again I don’t really want to go back to my roots just for the sake of nostalgia.
JB: It seems like there have been a lot of changes in your life recently. Not only did you switch styles pretty drastically but you moved from New Haven to Brooklyn. I was just wondering what that’s been like? Do you foresee staying in Brooklyn for a while or ever coming back to New Haven?
SD: I’m in New Haven still a lot. I still work at Miya’s and my record label is in New London. So I still feel very connected to New Haven and Connecticut. But it’s a big scene in New York and there’s a lot of exciting stuff going on. I don’t think you can check that out quickly, you know? I’ve been coming to New York and falling in love with New York for years and I kind of always knew I’d end up here. But in New Haven, the scene is so promising and so potent for how small the population is. So I’m lucky in that way. I feel like society breeds you to go through phases. Ever since you’re a kid, you’re 4 years old and then you go to preschool and then four years later you’re in another school and four years later you’re in another school, and you do your undergrad and that takes four years. And then, since I graduated in 2008 or 9, it’s been at least four years with this band, and it was just time for a change.
JB: From your website’s bio, you say that you traveled around a lot when you were a teenager. So what were some of the better and worse experiences you had when you were doing that?
SD: I lived in Iowa when I was four to eight years old. All the memories from that time in my life are really beautiful. I lived in a trailer park. And then we made money and we built this big house and it was really contrast-y. I moved to Switzerland. All of a sudden my world changed. My memories are really vivid. It was a lot of adventures and staying out until sunset and then riding bikes down long roads with fields. That was one of my better memories. And then living in North Carolina was pretty awful. In contrast, it’s a really beautiful place. We lived in the mountains. But we were poor and I was picked on and the people were not that nice where we were.
JB: And what brought you to New Haven originally?
SD: I got a swimming scholarship to Southern Connecticut State University. It was the only school I got into and it was only because of swimming. My grades were really bad for the first two years. At that point I was already living on my own. My mom moved to Kansas when I was 16. I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I just figured I may as well live on some school loans and live in a dormitory for free basically. Well, not free. I had to pay it back. I knew about The Space. I knew the owner of The Space somehow through my mother.
JB: And then how did you start working at Miya’s?
SD: Our guitar player, who you saw play with us in New York, he worked there, and our drummer got in a motorcycle accident. So I couldn’t work for like a month and then I didn’t have money and I was living at the rehearsal space. And then our guitar player, who was already playing with us a little bit, said that he could get me a job there because he worked there. They saved my life. They really treat you like family.
JB: That’s my favorite restaurant in the world. I love that place. Do you think you’ll try to keep working there for a while, or do you eventually want to make your whole living off music? Do you think that’s feasible?
SD: I want to spend as much time playing and working on that stuff as I can. So I want to work as little as possible or not at all. It used to be a goal of mine to live off music, but I don’t know if I’m interested in spending my time trying to make that happen. I’d rather just spend my time trying to have the time. So right now Miya’s takes good care of me and I don’t have anything in New York that’s coming up right now that will allow me to be as flexible with my schedule as I am with them and make as much money quickly. I’m not actively trying to stop working at Miya’s. But, I don’t know if in a year I might want to stop commuting.
JB: So I saw on Facebook, you recently debuted a side project called Sasquatch Fucker. (laughs)
SD: Yeah, Sasquatch Fucker is kind of this art installment…a very crass art installment band. It’s just me and this guy I work with at Miya’s.
JB: Dave Corsack.
SD: Yep. So every once in a while, usually when he’s fighting with his girlfriend or breaking up with her, he all of a sudden has time, and then we go to his storage space rehearsal cube and we play blistering, loud music about really, really crass and tasteless things. And we speak in Southern accents and we have stage personas. But that was the first time we did it live and it was really spur of the moment and half the people really, really hated it. And half the people really, really loved it. So, I think that was a success.
JB: Yeah, you always want to have strong feelings as opposed to indifference.
SD: Right right. Because even the people who hate it are talking about it. They’re like, Sidewalk Dave is totally making a fool of himself or a fool of us or not taking it seriously anymore. At least they’re talking about it.
JB: You recently donated a song to a benefit compilation for Hurricane Sandy. I just wanted to know what your experience with the storm was, and how it affected people you knew in New York or elsewhere.
SD: A lot of the people I know personally weren’t in any sort of emergency state, and for me it was like a windy night. I didn’t know how bad it was until the next day when it was on the news. And then to better understand the effect it had, I went and volunteered in Rockaway in Queens that was hit really, really bad, and those people are still homeless and still screwed up, and I’m trying to go once a week if I can, even though I haven’t been in the city, to go and volunteer. It’s worse than people think in a lot of ways. So I was really excited and jumped at the chance to be on the compilation, and I hope it does well. I don’t know about the Red Cross, though. I don’t know how much help they were at the beginning. They might be doing better stuff now. But that’s where the money’s going. I don’t know if I agree with that completely, but it’s better than nothing I suppose.

WESU Radio 200: Jens Lekman topping our charts

Here’s our second installment of the Radio 200 chart we send out to the College Music Journal each week:

1    JENS LEKMAN    I Know What Love Isn’t    Secretly Canadian
2    TNGHT    TNGHT [EP]    Warp
3    BIG WALKER    Root Walking
4    MAGIC SLIM AND THE TEARDROPS    Chicago Blues Session, Vol. 10    Blind Pig
5    CONVERGE    All We Love We Leave Behind    Epitaph
6    DIRTY PROJECTORS    About To Die    Domino

 

Click through for the rest of the chart, featuring Earl Sweatshirt, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Holy Ghost! & Josephine Foster

7    EARL SWEATSHIRT    “Chum” [Single]    Tan Cressida
8    METZ    Metz    SUB POP
9    SKY FERREIRA    Ghost    Capitol
10    BOLDY JAMES    “For The Birds” [Single]
11    SHINY TOY GUNS    III    10th Street
12    JONI MITCHELL    CLouds
13    TAME IMPALA    Lonerism    Modular

14    MELODY’S ECHO CHAMBER    Melody’s Echo Chamber    Fat Possum
15    FLETCHER C. JOHNSON    Salutations    Burger
16    CAT POWER    Sun    Matador
17    BAT FOR LASHES    The Haunted Man    EMI
18    THE ORB    The Orbserver In The Star House    The End
19    RAVEONETTES    Observator    Vice

20    HOLY GHOST!    “It Gets Dark” [Single]
21    NINA SKY    “Day Dreaming” [Single]
22    IHSAHN    Eremita    Candlelight
23    OMBRE    Believe You Me    Asthmatic Kitty

24    JOSEPHINE FOSTER    Blood Rushing    Fire
25    CALVERTRON    Deconstruction [EP]    Jack Knife
26    SOUL SUGAR    Hands On [EP]
27    ADDISON GROOVE    Adventures In Rainbow Country [EP]    50 Weapons
28    HOT CHIP    In Our Heads    Domino
29    BRIAN ENO    Lux    Warp
30    HUMONGOUS    Miniature Pinscher

MD Picks: Psychedelic Robots & Sweet 60s Sounds

Clinic- Free Reign

Liverpool is known primarily as the city that produced the Beatles. Clinic is another good reason to say Liverpudlian again, and lord knows we could use one. This is an album that demands your attention from the second you press play. The opening song, “Misty” is trance-enducing. It sounds like something that psychedelic robots would produce. This band is known for wearing scrubs and masks on stage and pretty much most of the time they are photographed. Rock music in the 21st century sometimes seems to lack that mystique and other-planetness of the likes of David Bowie. If you want your alien-rock fix, this is it.
Try #s 1, 3, 4, 5 (“Misty”, “Seamless Boogie Woogie, BBC2 10PM”, “Cosmic Radiation”, “Miss You”)

Click through to see more from Dirty Projectors, Toy Love, Peoples Temple & Allah-Las

 

Dirty Projectors- About to Die

I feel similarly about Dirty Projectors and Wes Anderson movies. I love both. I will watch every Wes Anderson movie that comes out, likely multiple times, and I have yet to be disappointed or swear off seeing the next one. And I would say the same about DP. Both are admittedly sappy, but in a wonderful way that I will defend to the death. Both Wes Anderson and Dirty Projectors make art that is instantly recognizable, unique, and far superior to any imitators of their styles (and there are many). Yes, both can at time be accused of being cutesy or affected, but that is part of their charm, and it never overwhelms the brilliance of their work. The title track of this EP is recycled from their fantastic new album, Swing Lo Magellan. I would complain about that if the track wasn’t so goddamned good that I’m glad to have another excuse to listen to it. The second track, “While You’re Here,”was written for the recently deceased TV On the Radio bass player Gerard Smith, and contains some beautiful orchestral arrangements.  The rest of the EP is stellar, especially “Buckle Up,” their most punk song since their Black Flag cover album Rise Above.
Try #s 1, 3, 5 (“About to Die”, “Simple Request”, “Desire to Love”)

Toy Love- Live at the Gluepot 1980

Toy Love were a terrific post-punk group out of Dunedin, New Zealand. The band originated in the legendary early NZ punk group The Enemy, and wound up turning into the equally legendary band Tall Dwarfs. They played some raw, raucous, rude music, as is well evidenced on this live album. Just check the cover for an idea of the weird and great stuff you’ll find here. The stage banter is also funny (“Unscrewed Up” is dedicated to virgins).
Try #s 1, 2 (“Fifteen”, “Unscrewed Up”)

Peoples Temple- More for the Masses

We are living in a heyday for great throwback garage music. It may be easy to dismiss groups like this for simply recreating the Nuggets comps that they seemingly have studied like yeshiva students. But, my opinion is, who cares if it’s derivative? It’s still good. And interesting. Though People’s Temple share a kindred spirit with the likes of Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, groups who love old school garage music, they do their own thing. Check out the badass harmonica on “Texas Revisited” and the psychedelic tape loops on “The River (Donovan’s Song).” They take their name from Jim Jones’ Kool Aid-drinking cult. So you could accuse them of drinking the garage-rock Kool Aid, but that seems to me like a much cooler kind of Kool Aid than what a lot of other acts are drinking.
Try #s 4, 5, 13 (“Texas Revisited”, “Looters Game”, “The River (Donovan’s Song)”

Allah-Las- Allah-Las

Allah-Las is another record that sounds like it was recorded about 45 years ago, likely two lifetimes ago for the band members of this young band out of Los Angeles. Their music is far prettier than that of Peoples Temple, but they probably both spent a lot of time listening to Nuggets comps and Love albums. Allah-Las also has a surf-y vibe to them, which makes sense given their proximity to the ocean (a lot closer than Peoples Temple’s native Lansing, Michigan). The album as a whole sounds like a Southern California album in the best possible way– dreamy, relaxed, with the beach and good times in close sight. Thanks goes to Innovative Leisure for sending us this beautiful record by request.
Try #s 1, 5, 7 (“Catamaran”, “No Voodoo”, “Ela Navega”)

WESU Radio 200

Each week, WESU reports a chart of new music played by our DJs to CMJ, which publishes an overall College chart. Here is our last reported chart:

1    MUMFORD AND SONS    Babel    Glassnote
2    BARBARAS    2006-2008    Goner
3    TY SEGALL    Twins    Drag City
4    RAPSODY    The Idea Of Beautiful    Jamla-Culture Over Everything
5    BAT FOR LASHES    The Haunted Man    EMI

Click through to see rest of chart

6    MENAHAN STREET BAND    The Crossing    Dunham
7    TORO Y MOI    So Many Details [7-inch]    Carpark
8    CASKET GIRLS    Sleepwalking    Graveface
9    SIC ALPS    Sic Alps    Drag City
10    GRIZZLY BEAR    Shields    Warp
11    FREDDIE GIBBS AND MADLIB    Shame [EP]    Stones Throw

12    KANE MAYFIELD    Rhymes By Kane: Thievery Corporation Edition
13    ROC MARCIANO    Reloaded    Decon
14    AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD    Lost Songs    Century Media
15    UNNATURAL HELPERS    Land Grab    Hardly Art
16    KING TUFF    “Screaming Skull” [Single]    Sub Pop
17    LIANNE LA HAVAS    Is Your Love Big Enough?    Nonesuch

18    KENDRICK LAMAR    Good Kid In A M.A.A.d City    Aftermath-Top Dawg-Interscope
19    KAKI KING    Glow    Velour
20    GREGORY PEPPER AND HIS PROBLEMS    Escape From Crystal Skull Mountain    Fake Four
21    MARTHA WAINWRIGHT    Come Home To Mama    coop
22    THE XX    Coexist    XL
23    BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW    Cobra Juicy    Rad Cult

24    FRANK OCEAN    Channel Orange    Def Jam
25    ANDREW BIRD    Hands Of Glory    Mom And Pop
26    MURDER BY DEATH    Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon    Bloodshot
27    LULU JAMES    “Be Safe” [Single]
28    ALVARIUS B    Alvarius B    Abduction

29    GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR    Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!    Constellation
30    CALEXICO    Algiers    Anti

MD Picks #4: CMJ Follow-Up, Burger Records, Garage-Pop!

Sidewalk Dave- Hard On Romance
Sidewalk Dave is a good guy. I’ve known him for a while through a mutual friend who works with Dave at Miya’s Sushi, a sushi restaurant so good I will not try to do it justice in such a small amount of space. I have seen Dave perform a few times now, and, as I documented in my first CMJ post, he’s switched his style up from folk to rock & roll in the time I’ve known him, which I consider to be quite a good move. According to his website’s bio, Dave was kicked out of his 7th-grade band for improvising during shows for their parents, and broke up his college “pretentious prog-rock band” after he was arrested for possession of LSD. Now he’s doing what he wants, making music that expresses who he is, rather than trying to please anyone. From talking to Dave, I’ve gotten a sense that he’s in this for the love of the music. And he’s making some excellent music here.
Try #s 2 + 8 (“Something About Me”, “Soft Portal”)

Sky Ferreira- Ghost
We also got to see Sky Ferreira at CMJ, though in her case, I just barely got to catch a glimmer of her piercing blonde hair, as her set at Piano’s was packed to capacity. Soon after CMJ, Pitchfork said of Ferreira: It’s official: she’s the year’s next big latent potential. ” Also in that Pitchfork article: mention of her childhood friendship with Michael Jackson and of a tweet by Katy Perry of the then-17 Ferreira holding a bottle of vodka, along with the quote:”I like em right before they’re famous… Fresh meeeat.” For a girl with that kind of backstory, Ferreira, now 20, seems surprisingly grounded and poised to blow up on her own terms, not as some pre-fabricated pop star. Her outstanding single off this EP, “Everything Is Embarrassing” sounds like the assured work of a veteran singer/songwriter who knows how to make a great pop song. In fact, if I were to compare her to anyone, it would be veteran Swedish pop goddess, Robyn, or my new favorite Swedish pop combo Niki and the Dove. This is catchy pop with soul, far from the corporate garbage you might hear on the right side of your dial.
Try #s 1 + 5 (“Sad Dream” + “Everything Is Embarrassing”)

Check out Fletcher C. Johnson, Natural Child, King Tuff, and The Barbaras after the jump…


Fletcher C. Johnson- Salutations
This is one of 25 cassettes that Burger Records sent to our station. Burger is a very cool record label that releases garage, psych, punk, and generally weird albums, many of which are cassette-only. I have yet to be disappointed by anything I’ve heard from the label, and Salutations is no exception. Johnson is a member of King Tuff‘s group, and, as much as I like this year’s King Tuff,  this one might actually be better. Like Tuff, Johnson has a great ear for catchy pop melodies, but will also speed things up on garage-y tunes like “Wasted Boys.”
Try #s 2,3,8,10 (“Wasted Boys”, “Send Me Your Love”, “Happy Birthday”, “Radio High”)

Natural Child- For the Love of the Game
Natural Child is my favorite of the Burger bands. Burger provides some often-hilarious genre descriptions on their cassettes. The best is For the Love of the Game‘s: “Whiskey-soaked Doobie-smoked Boogie rock.” That’s right on the money. Natural Child are a band from Nashville who play the hell out of 70s-style rock & roll and don’t give a damn about doing nothing else. This is the sound of a great band having a great time.
Try #s 2 + 3 (“She Got a Mind” + “Baby”)

King Tuff- “Screaming Skull” b/w “Love Potion”
As mentioned above, King Tuff knows how to make some catchy, catchy garage-pop. He sent this one in on vinyl, along with a note that says “WESU Rocks!” Well, just check out the album art for  visual proof that King Tuff, too, rocks. “Screaming Skull” is also a very fun song.
Try #1 (“Screaming Skull”)

The Barbaras- 2006-2008
If you, like me, are a sucker for exuberant, fun, catchy garage-pop, then this has been a good couple of weeks. Here’s a series of long-rumored-to-be-lost recordings by members of Jay Reatard‘s old backing band. If you’ve listened to that man’s (RIP) oeuvre, you know that his band made some astoundingly awesome, undeniably foot-stomping rock & roll. This compilation matches that quality. Reatard produced these songs, but after two of the band members quit his band, he claimed to have destroyed their songs in retaliation. Thankfully for us, he was bluffing.
Try #s 1 + 5 (“Day At The Shrine” + “Superball”)

Picks of the Week #3

Dethklok- Dethalbum III

Dethklok is the fictional band in the animated Adult Swim show, Metalocalypse, one of the funniest and most metal shows on TV. It also makes death metal accessible to a vast audience, most of whom would likely anticipate finding the genre frightening and unappealing. The album has already become the highest charting death metal album of all time (overtaking Dethalbum II). Though I honestly have never given the genre a decent shot, I would probably not actively seek out death metal to listen to. It’s rather intense music, and I don’t often feel like I’m in a “death metal mindset,” whatever that would be. This album, though not as laugh-out-loud funny as the show it comes from, is far from the frightening, Satan-worshipping image that death metal is often, fairly or unfairly, associated with. Though fictionalized in Metalocalypse, Dethklok is also a real band made up of some very talented musicians, including Mike Keneally, the “stunt guitarist” in Frank Zappa‘s touring band. The songs are highly melodic and quite catchy, if you don’t mind screaming. It also doesn’t hurt that songs have titles like “I Ejaculate Fire” and “Impeach God.” Though it can get a little repetitive, this album presents an excellent opportunity to check out a genre you might have otherwise ignored.
Try #1 (“I Ejaculate Fire”)

Titus Andronicus- Local Business

Titus Andronicus’ last album, 2010′s epic The Monitor is almost impossible to top. It was a concept album about the Civil War with some of the greatest punk (or for that matter, regardless of genre) songs of the past decade on it. After witnessing their outstanding live show at Eclectic (which was unfortunately marred by an incident detailed here) two years back, they solidified their position as one of my favorite bands around. On first listen, this does seem like a slight let-up from The Monitor, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t an excellent album in its own right. Titus has abandoned the lofty, conceptual thematics of that album, but they can still make some killer music.
Try #s1 & 5 (“Ecce Homo” & “My Eating Disorder”)

ZZ Ward- Til The Casket Drops

ZZ Ward (birth name, Zsuzsanna Eva Ward) is a young singer from Oregon, who grew up loving the blues, discovered hip-hop, and decided to combine the two. The approach works well, since she has a great soulful, bluesy voice, and good ear for arrangements and collaborators. Two of the best rappers around, Kendrick Lamar and Freddie Gibbs, appear on this record, giving it credibility and making her one of the few young, female blues/soul singers to collaborate with the cream of the new hip-hop generation. She has also gotten production from hip-hop legends Pete Rock, DJ Premier and Ali Shaheed MuhammadTil The Casket Drops is distributed by Hollywood Records, a subsidiary of Disney, and the title track has been featured in a promo for ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars. So she’s riding a line between mainstream accessibility and underground cred, but there is nothing exploitative or overtly commercial about this album. It is simply a well-made, classy blues/soul album with some well-placed hip-hop influences.
Try #s 5, 6 & 10 (“Cryin’ Wolf (ft. Kendrick Lamar)”, “Save My Life” & “Criminal (ft. Freddie Gibbs)”)


Ultraísta- Ultraísta

Ultraísta is a new project for Radiohead-producer Nigel Godrich and Beck drummer Joey Waronker, along with vocals by the young, sweet-voiced Laura Bettinson (AKA Femme). These are some smart, talented people, and they have created a dreamy, beautiful record. The band took its name from the Ultraists, a group of minimalist Spanish writers of the early 20th century (including Jorge Luis Borges).
Try #s 1 & 8 (“Bad Insect” & “Party Line”)

Black Moth Super Rainbow- Cobra Juicy

Black Moth Super Rainbow is a mysterious psychedelic synthpop group from Pittsburgh, who have now released their fifth album since 2003. They raised money for this one of Kickstarter and it sounds like they put it to good use, as the sound here is very detailed and immaculately produced. I’m a newcomer to the group, but I dig this one a lot. The sound reminds me of Daft Punk and Justice at their best, i.e. very fun dance music that isn’t obnoxious or abrasive.
Try #s 1 & 3 (“Windshield Smasher” & “Hairspray Heart”)

CMJ Dispatches, Pt. II

After three years toiling in anonymity, sifting the hidden gems from the, at times, overwhelming pile of mediocre CDs constantly being sent into our station, and holding painful conversations with promoters about how that White Boy Wasted record is doing, being a Music Director has finally paid off in a big way. In these five days of CMJ, I’ve seen some of the best concerts of my life, met some awe-inspiring musicians, and overall, had a ball. After spending a day and a half at Wesleyan, I trekked back to New York on Friday through 3 1/2 hours of some of the worst traffic I’ve ever had to deal with (it involved bewildering drives through Greenwich and the Bronx). Again, this was all worth it because of CMJ.

Day IV: Friday

My first stop on Friday was a non-CMJ event, the Third Man Record Truck at the Ace Hotel. Third Man Records is Jack White‘s music label, which puts out a ton of strange, awesome releases by the likes of Tom Jones, Conan O’Brien and, most bizarrely awesome, a cover of Mozart‘s scatology-themed piece “Leck Mich Im Arsch” by Insane Clown Posse (In case you weren’t familiar with Mozart’s poop-obsession, there is, quite helpfully, a rather long and detailed Wikipedia article on “Mozart and Scatology”). Third Man’s Record Truck operates much like a food truck, except that it sells records out its window. There I picked up a vinyl copy of The White Stripes‘ classic early single “The Big Three Killed My Baby.”

Next up, I met up with Adam and my friend Timmy at the Gramercy Theater for the Mass Appeal CMJ Take Over. The line for the event stretched around two sides of the block. While waiting in line, we met a Russian chainsmoker named Vlad, who told us we could buy a tank in Russia for 60 grand. This showcase was a hip-hop show, which reflected to some extent the current diversity of styles and content in the genre. Since the show was free, a large portion of the crowd seemed to be there just to see something free without any prior knowledge of the acts. Also, Asher Roth was the headliner, despite there being at least 6-7 more talented/respected acts on the bill. So while this show displayed plenty of what makes hip-hop, in my opinion, the most exciting, interesting genre around these days, this was far from a perfect concert, and there was plenty of bland, mediocre, and down-right terrible rap on display.

Starting things off was Alexander Spit, about whom there is little to be said, except that he wore pre-torn jeans and raps over obnoxious beats. Following him came Bodega Bamz, a rapper from Spanish Harlem, who has put out tracks with the likes of A$AP Ferg, Joell Ortiz and Flatbush Zombies, who came out for his last song on stage. His set was a definite breath of fresh air after Spit’s, but while his rhymes were serviceable and his beat-selection decent, he appeared to be merely a mid-level talent in the grand scheme of today’s rapidly expanding rap game.

Next up came Angel Haze, who released an excellent debut EP, Reservation this summer. Obvious comparisons have and will be made between her and the two biggest female rappers of the day, Azealia Banks and Nikki Minaj. Haze, however seems more interested in simply spitting fire than in the more schtick-y aspects of both Banks and Minaj. She had great stage presence, finally managing to get the lethargic crowd somewhat interested in what was going on on-stage. And she rocked a tube-top/crucifix outfit. I came out a big fan. Following Haze came Troy Ave, a street rapper who took his name from the street he grew up on in Crown Heights. Vice informs us that he “owns a grey Jeep and at least one gun.” Like Bodega, Troy Ave is another mid-level talent, who can rock a mic without embarrassing himself, but lacks any defining characteristic to push him to the next level. The most memorable part of his set was him leading the crowd in several chants of “Powder!” The next act, Ninjasonik made me almost nostalgic for Alexander Spit. When you look up the word “wack” in the dictionary, there should be a recording of this band performing their terrible pop-rap over that Matt and Kim song that your annoying co-worker has as her ringtone. Following their set, a fight broke out between a rather inebriated girl, who took offense with the young man next to her for not even being from Brooklyn. It was far classier than Ninjasonik.

There could hardly be a starker contrast than there was between Ninjasonik’s embarassing soft-as-a-lamb-rap and the sinister, coolheaded, wildly inventive Boldy James, about whom I can only gush as an unabashed fanboy. Boldy James is the kind of talent who should be spoken of in hushed tones by anyone who cares about rap as an artform. At this point, he is still relatively unknown, though well respected among true hip-hop fanatics, having collaborated on many tracks with Chuck Inglish and Sir Michael Rocks of The Cool Kids, as well as appearing on this summer’s posthumously-released J. Dilla comp, and working on a soon-to-be-released album with The Alchemist. I first became a massive Boldy fan when I heard the track “Life Time” off his debut 2011 mixtape, Trapper’s Alley – Pros and Cons: The Quikcrete Ready Mixtape. The song samples the hauntingly beautiful “Here’s to Life” by Shirley Horn and is perhaps the most vivid description of what it’s like to be in prison I’ve ever heard. It also features a virtuosic section in which Boldy recites a seemingly endless list of friends in jail, with names like “Slick Rick, Stank Mo, Marley and Blaylock.” Though it might not be out of the usual for a rapper to talk about serving time, Boldy has a way with words and a use of alliteration that is pretty unparalleled. I found an interview with Boldy on the blog Nothing Can Save You, in which he replies to the question, “Are you eating strictly off music now or is music a side hustle?” by saying, “In between the tic tocs of door knocks, rain drops, & gun shot’s, 3 hot’s & a cott, while runnin from the cops. Rap don’t feed me, so I eat from doin other things. It’s not a hustle yet it’s just something that I love to do whether I get paid for it or not. I look at it as therapy & I’m my own personal psychiatrist.” From that point on, I couldn’t get enough of the man. His set did not disappoint, featuring some of my personal favorites, “Home Invasion” and “I Sold Dope All My Life,” as well as his recent Inglish-collab “For the Birds.”

Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire showed up next, putting on a crowd-pleasing high-energy show. It was my third time seeing eXquire and I don’t think I’ll be getting tired of seeing him any time soon. After the show I met his masked DJ, who told me that their show at Wesleyan last year was the moment when they knew they had made it. He also let me in on plans to jump on stage during an indie rock show at NYU.

Last up for us was Roc Marciano, a veteran MC from Long Island, who was once a member of Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad and collaborated with Gangrene (Oh No & The Alchemist) on last year’s excellent Greneberg EP. He had good stage presence despite his low-key, icy delivery. As seen in the photo above, a large man in a Long Island hat carried Roc’s drink for him during the set, and another mysterious white guy wearing a cross, beret, leather jacket, sunglasses, and one black glove rocked out next to him. This is a good example of why you can safely say that rock is generally a less interesting genre than rap these days. Action Bronson, the big bearded man in the red hat next to Roc, came out for the last song, “Pouches of Tuna” off Bronson’s Blue Chips mixtape. He received, by far, the biggest crowd reaction of the night and threw several blunts into the audience. Again, when’s the last time you went to an indie rock concert like this? We headed out before Large Professor, The Alchemist, Prodigy and Asher Roth played their sets, having already taken in 4 1/2 hours of hip-hop.

Day V: Saturday

Saturday started with a return to Piano’s where Adam and I checked out Foxygen, a group who is quickly becoming my favorite new band. They released a great debut EP, Take The Kids Off Broadway this summer and seem poised for very big things. They look and sound like they were transported by a time machine from the ’70s and their lead singer even yelled out some endearingly bemused comments about the Internet. Pitchfork ran a snarky, meanspirited article about the band’s earlier performance at CMJ, written by Carrie Battan, who also managed to call Lil B‘s recent excellent, hilarious mixtape Obama Basedgod “downright boring, joyless, and indistinguishable from hours upon hours of the rapper’s throwaway material.” Seriously, “United States of Thuggin’” is boring and joyless?! I must experience joy and boredom in a very different way from this lady. Here’s what she wrote about Foxygen: “These kids are nothing if not serious students of their parents’ record collections, and their live show read like a mid-aughts Battle of the Bands at a small liberal arts college in the Midwest. Luckily for them, there’s no shortage of nostalgics hungry for their brand of sturdy, boilerplate psych and glam-rock tunes.” Ouch. While it’s true that Foxygen clearly are serious students of music history, I see this less as something to make fun of than to celebrate. Shouldn’t we want our young musicians to care about what came before them? And I must disagree with her characterization of their music as “boilerplate.” While the band comes from a lineage of fuzzy, exuberant psych/glam/garage rock, they have crafted their own distinctive sound. Additionally, the hilarious stage banter of their lead singer Sam France, and the clear fact that they’re having the most goddamn fun when they’re on stage sets them apart from any band I’ve ever seen live.

After Foxygen’s set at Piano’s, Adam went off to Brooklyn to watch his sister in a play. I met up with Mara of Lyons Den at DROM where we saw Boldy James for my second time. Outside the venue, I overheard one concertgoer tell his friend, “I go, ‘Is it CMJ down here?’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, but it’s hip hop.’” Boldy put on another excellent show to a sparse crowd, and won over Mara as a fan, who dubbed him “the hipster Jay-Z.” After the show, I got to say hi to Boldy and was, far and away, the most star-struck I had been during CMJ. We agreed that he seemed like a genuinely good guy, whom we’d love to hang out with.

We capped off our CMJ experience with the most fun show of the week, another set by Foxygen, this time at Fuzz NYC, an unmarked venue in Chinatown, which reminded me of the exclusive day spa in Zoolander, so exclusive no one knows about it. Bizarre karaoke videos for Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston, Madonna and some Japanese singers played on projectors behind the band. Foxygen rocked out and the audience was very receptive. All the band members are about 5’5,” but they make a hell of a lot of racket for some little people. They also slowed things down for a Suede cover. Sam Franceyelled out things like “This song goes out to the Teletubbies!” “Who here’s on mushrooms?” “I’m in love… with a milk cow!” In short, a perfect way to end a terrific week in New York.

Dispatches from CMJ

This year, for the first time in recent memory, WESU sent three delegates to CMJ, the conference and music festival held annually throughout New York City. I’m lucky enough to be one of those delegates, along with my fellow Music Director, Adam Isaacson and our Dear Leader Who Rules With An Iron Fist, Avery Trüfelman.

Day 1: Tuesday

Our first stop Tuesday was Pete’s Candy Shop in Williamsburg, where we saw a Wesleyan group, Lyons Den, led by the lovely and talented singer/songwriter/guitarist, Mara Connor, along with Zain Alam, Neo Sora and Sam Lyons. Mara sang several of her own compositions, along with covers of The Boss’ “I’m on Fire” and the Neil Young classic “Heart of Gold.” It was an intimate show, but the whole audience was enraptured by the group. Expect to hear more from them.
Here’s a video for their song “Strangers”.

Next up, we tried to catch The Mountain Goats at the Bowery Ballroom, but as we quickly learned, nothing really goes according to plan at CMJ. For example, we also planned to check out Teen Daze, who were playing two different sets on Tuesday, but we wound up missing both. Flying Lotus was also originally scheduled to play Tuesday, but that was rescheduled for a super-secret show Wednesday night. Finally and most disappointingly, Mystikal‘s set with opener Earl Sweatshirt was cancelled for some reason. Does this have anything to do with ‘kal’s budding porn career? We may never know. We were a couple minutes late for the Mountain Goats show, and badges were no longer accepted at the door, so we moved on to Piano’s where we caught a set from the Louisville group Murals.

Day 2: Wednesday

 Avery left Adam and me to our own devices Wednesday and we checked out the Terrorbird party at the Cake Shop where we met up with our favorite promoter, Karen Moran-Thomas. Also at Cake Shop, we saw a set by transsexual rapper and collaborator with Wes-alum Le1f, Mykki Blanco (pictured above). Mykki kicked serious ass.

We then headed back to Brooklyn to the Grand Victory where we checked out Sidewalk Dave, a group that has recently relocated to Brooklyn from New Haven. I had previously seen them twice back in the Have when they were primarily a folk group. In a conversation after the show, Sidewalk told me that his move to more of a rock sound was in part a reaction against the commercialization of folk by groups like Mumford & Son. I was greatly impressed by his move to rock & roll. As you can see from the photo above, it was a really cool show.

Stay tuned for more…

–Jesse “DJ JBrent” Brent

Music Director Picks of the Week #2

Each week, the music directors of WESU, Jesse Brent and Adam Isaacson will be picking out our favorite new releases from the big pile we sort through at the station. Here are four recent records that jumped out at us:

Mountain Goats - Transcendental Youth

The new Mountain Goats album made quite a splash on the blogosphere. Here’s what the Wesleyan Argus had to say: a testament and tribute to the strife of the depressed, the destructive, the addicted, the hopeless and an unflinching and triumphantly empathetic paean that ranks among John Darnielle and company’s best work.” We recommend track #3 (“Cry for Judas”).

Stereo Total - Cactus versus Brezel


Kudos to Forced Exposure for sending this irresistibly fun album from established Franco-German electro pop duo Stereo Total. Their 11th studio album delivers cheesy English lyrics and basic French vocab on top of playful melodies. We recommend the first two tracks (“Jaloux de mon succès”, “Pixelize me”) and more.

Jack of HeartIn Yer Mouth


Where did this band come from? And who did the album art? We know that Jack of Heart hail from somewhere in the south of France, which is surprising enough considering their psych-rock tendencies that hearken back to its heyday – with a little Serge Gainsbourg thrown in for good measure. They sing about Oscar Wilde: awesome. Check out #1, 3 and 4 (“Baby B****”, “Lady Wilde”, “Joh Jett III”). 

Night Moves - Colored Emotions

JB calls Night Moves a more psychedelic My Morning Jacket. The Minneapolis Star Tribune called this album “slow-grooving, neo-twangy, cosmically baked.” Whatever you liken these guys to, be sure to give Colored Emotions a listen. Here’s another great band out of the Twin Cities. Song #1, “Headlights”, could have been on the Drive soundtrack if the movie had been more trippy than brutal. Play the whole dang thing.