Category Archives: Contributing Writers

List of WKDU DJs who have contributed to the blog + links to their articles

Another 10 Songs that Make Us Cry

Happy first week of classes!

Happy first week of classes!

by Shannen Gaffney

As a last little hurrah as music director, before the reigns are handed off to DJ Glasses, I decided to follow DJ Esmail’s lead in listing ten songs that make me cry. It’s the perfect time to listen to this kind of playlist anyway, Back 2 School time!  I would also like to just clarify that there are many, many more than ten songs that could make me cry under the right circumstances. Here’s a fraction of those.

1. Built to Spill – “Carry the Zero” (1999)

I nearly failed Math 101. But carrying a zero is a simple enough concept, even for me, to compare to a relationship gone wrong – and BTS do it just right. Those opening chords alone just strike a nerve. This song comes from my favorite album of all time, Keep it Like a Secret. If you don’t know them and need an album to start with, listen to that one!

2. Elliott Smith – “Between the Bars” (1997)

We’re going there. There’s loads of reasons why this song makes me cry from the lyrical content, delicate vocal timbre, and Elliott Smith’s story in general. Though many of his songs are, this song in particular is clearly about the struggle of overcoming addiction, and it’s utterly heartbreaking, as is everything this man is associated with.
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3. Jose Gonzalez – “Heartbeats” (2006)

This song was originally by The Knife, which is a much livelier, synthtastic (yup) version, but the way Gonzalez reforms this song with nothin’ but guitar arpeggios fits perfectly with its solemn lyrics and theme of broken promises. (This song works great on a sleep playlist.)

4. Sinéad O’Connor – “Nothing Compares 2 U” (1990)

I couldn’t leave this classic song out. Sinéad is an artist and activist and a heroine despite any mental breakdowns or illnesses she’s experienced, and this song is indisputably heartbreaking. Even Miley Cyrus was inspired by this music video, and tried to pay homage to it with “Wrecking Ball,” which, was not as good.

5. Ben Kweller – “Old Hat” (2009)

I grew up listening to every Ben Kweller album. His older songs stick with me the most, but this one off 2009′s Changing Horses is a beautiful tune about avoiding the pitfalls of boredom in a long-term relationship featuring a giddy little piano line and heartstring-pulling lap steel guitar.

6. The Cure – “A Night Like This” (1985)

In 2014 there’s almost nothing more existential and sad than watching the Cure live. They aren’t the performers they once were, but in 1985 they were #sad for other reasons. Those perfectly timed and striking opening chords paired with in-your-face hollow drums open up the song with a void that rips through you, and just keeps pulling. Pure goth sadness.

7. Waxahatchee – “Catfish,” “Lively,” “Blue Pt. II” (2012-2014)
(Also P.S. Eliot’s “Diana”)

It’s scientifically impossible to pick just one Waxhatchee song that “makes you cry.” I had to include all of these, and even one from P.S. Eliot (Katie and Allison Crutchfield’s older band; you won’t be sorry). I’m assuming you’re having a horrible day since you clicked on this article, so wallow in these intimate tearjerker songs (and all of American Weekend) and you may feel a little better.

8. Kevin Devine – “Ballgame” (2003)

It only takes three chords to make a great song and Kevin Devine may just be the king of this rule. With three simple chords, “Ballgame” explores alcoholism, war, regret and growth in one of his most poignant songs ever written.

9. Drake – “From Time” ft. Jhene Aiko (2013)

I’m putting a Drake song on here. Sue me. Though I’ll admit a good portion of his lyrics are a bit elementary, tunes like “Furthest Thing,” and “Pound Cake” have that yearning, apologetic quality that we can all relate to – and an aural emptiness Drake cultivates extremely well. Aiko’s beautifully fragile voice carries this one, and Drake’s reflections on his relationship with his father add to the drama.

10. Bright Eyes – “Poison Oak” (2005)

Bright Eyes is up there with Waxahatchee in that the whole discography is emotional as hell. Oberst is a known existentialist, of course, his effective and assured recipe being a simple song structure, steady acoustic guitar and a philosophical debate, the piercing lyric in this one: “I’m glad you got away, but I’m still stuck out here, my clothes are soaking wet from your brother’s tears.”

CHARLIEBROWN

Listen to more cry-worthy jams on Shannen’s Rock Bottom Radio, Wednesdays at 2pm.

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10 Songs That Make Me Cry

By Esmail Hamidi

So there’s this thing going around on Facebook where people post about 10 albums that make them cry. In the post, they tag a bunch of their music nerd friends, who do the same thing. Participants bare their soul on social media, everyone discovers a lil’ more music, it’s a good time.

I was recently nominated to do this by WKDU DJ Maren Larsen. In her post, she listed songs instead of albums. By doing this, she brought up a good point, and maybe I’m projecting here, but who wants to sit through an entire album, let alone sit through an entire album crying? Is any album consistently cry-worthy?

Like any good book or fine meal, an album is traditionally sequenced with introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion in mind. Musical intensity that may or may not provoke crying can occur during any of these parts of an album, but not all. A song that is cry-worthy may be on an album that is very much not. It is for this reason that I’ve opted to choose 10 songs, not albums, that make me cry.

These songs are in the order they occurred to me. I definitely wouldn’t play all of them on KDU, but they are all significant. Hold on to your hankies, fair readers.

1. Fuck Buttons – Sweet Love For Planet Earth (2008)

It’s hard to nail down why, but this is the first song that I thought of. I guess it might be attached to some old memories. Over this ten minute track, Fuck Buttons uses swampy electronics to build a hulking groove.

2. The Rolling Stones – Shine A Light (1972)

The penultimate track from the Stones’ drugged out, ambling, classic album: Exile on Main St.

Mick Jagger delivers a great vocal performance. True fact: Shine a Light was written about ex-Stones guitarist and 27 Club member Brian Jones’ worsening drug addictions in the late 60s. Cut with the Rolling Stones Mobile truck, a legendary thing among studio nerds and musicians alike.

3. Weekends – Camp Nowhere (2008)

The final track off Weekends’ first, self titled album. The coda features an oscillating snippet of the drummer yelling “Hey!” in a way that some may find annoying, but I interpret as exploding with emotion. It’s the musical equivalent of a thought loop, emerging from the background while life continues in the form of the duo bashing away on their gear.


4. The White Stripes – The Air Near My Fingers (2003)

“Life is so boring/it’s really got me snoring/wearing out the flooring in a cheap hotel”.

Jack White said that the album, 2003′s Elephant, was a commentary on “the death of the sweetheart” in American culture. In a New York Times interview, White elaborated, saying that “The sweetheart, the gentleman — it’s the same thing. These ideas seem to be in decline, and I hate it. You look at your average teenager with the body piercings and the tattoos. You have white kids going around talking in ghetto accents because they think that makes them hard. It’s so cool to be hard. We’re against that.”

I take this to mean that with this album, the Stripes rally against the lack of emotion in early-oughts American culture. Emotion can be good or bad, but is always powerful. This song is sniffle-enducingly powerful.

5. Jimi Hendrix – Bold As Love (1967)

The final track on Jimi’s sophomore effort Axis: Bold As Love.

The final “underwater” section guitar solo, featuring the first example of flanging on a studio recording, is incredible.

“My red is so confident that he flashes trophies of war, and ribbons of euphoria/Orange is young, full of daring, But very unsteady for the first go round”

6. Mumblr – Sober (2014)

The first time I saw Mumblr was under the Greys Ferry bridge, with my friend Nick. We talked to some Temple freshmen girls, drank out of red Solo cups, climbed on the abandoned rail bridge, and got really hurt in the dusty, dirty moshpit. With broken glass underfoot, surrounded by skateboard-swinging punks, huffing generator fumes, my mind went to a really beautiful place.

This song is on their upcoming album Full of Snakes, which comes out September 16th.

7. The Plugz – Reel Ten (1984)

This is off the soundtrack to Repo Man (not Repo Men), the 1984 film about Otto, a young Cali punk played by Emilio Estevez. There’s space travel, secret agents, and great music, often all in the same scene. The lesson to be learned here: when punks grab synthesizers, good things happen.

This track is surfy, spacey, eerie, and jubilant. Many chills to be had.

8. PILE – The Jones (2012) 

“tried to keep up by running in place/tried to keep my cool but all that blood went in my face/now i’m cold”. 

I could go on about PILE forever. They’re my favorite band you can bum a cigarette off of. Their KDU live session was awesome. Rick’s lyrics are about as abstract as you can get. That means they have a wide appeal, but are still cutting-edge intellectual.

My thoughts are racing as my body is transformed into a sweaty mosh alien, feeling the air of the Golden Tea House thicken with the essence of fifty other people having the same exact experience.

9. The Front Bottoms – Skeleton (2013)

“Who was I kidding? I can’t get past you/ You are the cops, you are my student loans”

It’s desperate and ragged, but chugs on and on, like a drunk kid making his way home. Drug abuse, feelin’ loose.

10. Double Dagger – Rearranging Digital Deck Chairs (2007) 

Double Dagger is special to me because they were more or less my introduction to basement music, waay back in 2009. Yeah. While this song was never one of their live favorites, it still holds significance because it was pretty much the first Double Dagger song with introspective, philosophical lyrics that are more thoughtful than pissed off. This song is the moment where Double Dagger ceases to be a joke band about graphic design (see also: this song), and becomes the most dangerous band in the land.

“It’s always a problem/when the weight of the world/it’s always a problem/is outweighed by the girl”

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Some observations about this list: 7 out of 10 bands on this list are post-2000. 2 are from Baltimore. 1 hails from Philadelphia. 5 are bands that I’ve seen live. 4 are bands that cease to exist. Take from this what you may.

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5 More Quick Hits from Ultrasound Radio USA

Last time I did this, I picked out five songs that were informing the beats and beeps you hear on Ultrasound Radio. This time? A few quick words about new and recent albums. Music that moves me becomes music that moves you:

  1. Cocksure, TVMALSV—Chris Connelly’s new Wax Trax!/Metropolis outfit picks right up where Revolting Cocks’ brand of intense, irreverent industrial music left off.
  2. Cabaret Voltaire, #7885 (Electropunk to Technopop 1978-1985)—Richard H. Kirk continues reissuing his electro group’s work, and this serves as a very good greatest-hits primer.
  3. clipping., CLPPNG—As sad as Death Grips’ disappearance was, this laptop-rap trio’s new album is a fine replacement. Dare I say they stole the recent Shabazz Palaces show?
  4. deadmau5, While (1<2)—Don’t let the name scare you. This deep double album is a restrained take on EDM’s bombast, embracing tinkling techno and dark ambient swooshes.
  5. The Bug, Angels & Devils—This British bass-music dude finally (for me) finds the right formula to back up aggressive, sinister dancehall rap.
 (Adam B and Ultrasound Radio USA are currently on hiatus through the summer term break.)

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Concert Review: Perfect Pussy + more at First Unitarian Church

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Perfect Pussy @ First Unitarian Church, August 28

by Carolyn Haynes

On Thursday August 28, The Love of Everything, Potty Mouth, Perfect Pussy, and Joanna Gruesome played a show full of raw, dominating sound. The four bands from Western Massachusetts, Brooklyn, Chicago, Cardiff, and England played their third night of tour at the First Unitarian Church. The opener, Joan of Arc’s Bobby Burg began his set as The Love of Everything with a mix of catchy, lo-fi punk, dream pop. A solo act, Burg presented an interesting and inviting segue between the slow crawl of show goers filtering in and the high energy acts that were to follow. With a technical malfunction quickly overcome in the beginning of their set and a few minor timing issues, Potty Mouth played their way through fan classics (from Bad Bad, to Sun Damage, to Hell Bent) and a few new, well received songs.

With a new split coming out this fall on Slumberland/Captured Tracks/Fortuna Pop, Perfect Pussy and Joanna Gruesome made a great closing duo. Both bands had the audience screaming and thrashing along. In good taste, Alanna McArdle made an announcement before their set to have fun but don’t get out of hand. From the cheers that followed, the crowd happily obliged. As a swarm of sweaty, overheated show-goers heaved themselves up the stairs of the basement, the overall atmosphere was one of a Thursday night well spent.

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Metronomy at Union Transfer

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Image courtesy of Noisey

by Victoria Powell

Last week I had the chance to see Metronomy perform at Union Transfer. I had played them on my radio show the day before, but what I played was a heavily electronic instrumental piece from their album Nights Out which came out in 2008. I listened briefly to their newest album Love Letters online before going to the show, picking up that it had more of an indie rock sound. Not knowing what to expect from the show, I was already pleased when I arrived and saw the stage set up with a background design that looked like pink bubblegum and cotton candy. It is always exciting to see a foreign band perform in Philadelphia; there is a certain excitement about it that helps take me to another place for a few moments. Adding to the fact that they are from London, it almost seems as if their style and stage mannerisms come straight out of 60s and 70s mod fashion influences. And of course, this is very appealing to my taste. Metronomy should win an award for having the most fun on stage. I really liked that each member of the band was able to get a chance to sing solo at one point or another during the set. This made the whole experience very entertaining and enjoyable. I could not stop dancing for most of the songs and I am so pleased with my decision to go check out this show! Check below for the groovy music video for “The Look”.

 

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Contributing Writers

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