Category Archives: Features

Any and all content created by WKDU DJ’s (includes album reviews, show reviews, personal lists, opinion pieces, etc)

Electronic Music Marathon Part 2: Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning

Day 2 of the Electronic Music Marathon kicked off with a heartwarming start from the Musicopia crew. Musicopia is one of our nonprofit partners who focus on arts education in schools. I wasn’t there but heard they were absolutely adorable and amazing overall. Stay tuned for the full write up.

I woke up late and unfortunately couldn’t come in for Musicopia’s set. Scandalous, I know, but I need some sleep otherwise I might never be useful to the station again. I woke up instead to multiple texts from my brother and sister both informing me that the DJ who got on afterwards was super dope. I found out that was Billy (M//R) from Great Circles, who once I threw on the radio got me motivated to take the quickest shower and make the fastest eggs just so I could get down to the station and see him during the performance. As I sit here writing this, I’m enjoying the hell out of the set, even though I missed most of the live performance. It’s a lot more progressive than the sets from last night, which I like because I feel like I’m being taken on a musical journey down in the station as opposed to just “untz-untz-untz”. Justin closed off the Great Circles set, keeping it abstract and weird. Much more mood music and less danceable stuff. Honestly I thought it was great, took me on a whole new level.

Nigel Richards from 611 Records came by next and once again I had a great chance to chat with him before he got on. He discussed his time spent on college radio at University of Rochester WRUR, how he learned the technical side of DJing, and more (I was a big fan of how he didn’t crap over me for relying on the sync button on modern DJ controllers: “Hey, no one can blame you for using technology. If they’d had that when I was coming up I probably would have used it too”). His set started in funky with some acid sounds, much more “hands in the air” than before. Brought the energy in the place back up real nice.

Nigel Richards going wild on the decks

Nigel Richards going wild on the decks

I spoke with James and Thom from Broadzilla and learned all about the difference between club DJ-ing and radio DJ-ing, how they came up, and what drives their current style. They also brought a guitar pedal with them, so they were able to get some really cool effects with the microphone (it’s the little things in life). They recorded some super whacky station IDs for us, full of pitch shifting, echo/reverb, and all around weirdness. Keep your ears tuned to the airwaves to hear them again. Their set had lots of synthesizers and some great 80s sounds. Sounding super cool Broadzilla took us on a musical journey until 7:00 PM.

Matthew Law, aka DJ Phsh (from Illvibe Collective) popped in next, and while he was really fun to talk to, everyone at the station went a little nuts over his shoes. He dropped the hip hop (trip hop?) beats, with a groovy (I keep saying that word but I really can’t help it all the DJs really have been) low BPM set. Matt pumped up the energy in the second hour of his set, going in a whole new direction. Not club style but definitely more danceable than his earlier set. The whole set overall was really good jamming music- I was manning the phones most of the time during that set, just nodding my head along. Best part though: Matt’s grandmom called in during the set, and let us know she was jamming along!

Passion of the shoes

Passion of the shoes

Jay, aka Telequanta came by to lay down his tracks in a special live set on the air. His stuff is supremely chill, reminds me of a trip-hoppier version of Gold Panda (and then he even played Gold Panda after his own stuff, too!) I now totally see why he was always tuning into my show last summer. After his live stuff, he just played some of his favorite songs, which were the ultimate chill out tunes to lead us into the beginning of the late night sets.

Telequanta rocking his own stuff live

Telequanta rocking his own stuff live

As I write this sometime after Telequanta finished, I’m starting to fade fast so I’ll keep it short and sweet. Patrick Richards stepped up to the decks at 11 PM (holy hell how is someone so young so freaking talented?) and rocked us until midnight. Tight transitions and a choice song selection, my favorite being when he played “Walking With Elephants” by Ten Walls and Tchami’sPushing On” remix.

Jansen and Sylo popped in for the midnight to 2 AM slot. They took it to a new level, with some dark tech house. I didn’t recognize any of their stuff but damn was it cool. I finally tapped out some time after 1 AM, struggled my ass to Wawa, and thankfully was able to nab a cab just before I stepped onto the subway platform #luxurious. I was still listening to the marathon the entire ride home until I finally passed out to the sounds of Enrique Villacis’s guest mix around 3 AM, ready to get refreshed for the next big day.

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SPREAD LOVE: My first exhale after the 2014 Electronic Music Marathon

WOW.         JUST, WOW.

We received the most amazing support from the Philadelphia DJ and local business community. Still can't believe how truly awesome this lineup is....

We received the most amazing support from the Philadelphia DJ and local business community. Still can’t believe how truly awesome this lineup is….

The 2014 Electronic Music Marathon was a SMASHING SUCCESS.

This was our 11th year of the EMM after 7 years on hiatus, and my first year involved in the event.

Before I get into this post, I want to give a big shout out to one of my radio inspirations – Jenn Louie. For many years, Jenn had an amazing house and electronic show on KDU called Foundation, and organized many of the previous EMM’s. Some of my first beat matching and set building lessons were from watching her mix using our cruddy CUE speaker and CD players with rudimentary pitch controls.

I’m so honored that I got to pick up the history of a 10 year event, and continue the tradition of connecting Philly DJs of all kinds through electronic music.

King Britt IN THE MIX

King Britt is an EMM alumni, and came to our studio on Monday for the final day of the marathon. He ended up doing 2 completely different DJ sets, and also gave us the WORLD PREMIER of his project with The Village of Arts & Humanities: Plackback Musik.

Part of me wants to just dive in and rave about how RAD everyone’s sets were, but I’ll have to do that later when we get all the audio sorted to go with.

I want to tell a story.

We have one caller who ALWAYS calls our station to say hello. I’ll be in the mix on my show, see his name come up on the caller ID, and then get a little grin on my face.

I know that he’s going to suggest some rave track for me to check out, or talk about how I should check out this particular Kung Fu movie (not even kidding), or mention how another DJ earlier in the day was killing it.

He damn well knows his house music – but when I talk to other KDU DJs, they also tell me about how he knows his jazz, his psych-rock, and so on.

His support of the entire KDU DJ roster is really amazing, but his main message is even more awesome.

Whenever I ask him his name, he simply says, “SPREAD LOVE!”

We refer to this caller as SPREAD LOVE, and have taken his message to heart.

I TRULY believe that the Electronic Music Marathon SPREAD LOVE through ALL kinds of electronic music this past Columbus Day Weekend, as we rocked the airwaves for 75 hours of CONTINUOUS  ELECTRONIC JAMS.

From electro to disco, boogie to gritty, Italo to techno HOLY MOLY the 2014 EMM DJ lineup absolutely KILLED their sets.

From talking with King Britt about Sun Ra, to chatting with Billy Werner about how he went to high school with Ron Morelli, to hearing about how Dave P spun at KDU to promote his first ever Making Time – our studio was BLESSED with the energy of some truly amazing DJs who donated their time and resources to make this a SMASH.

We received the kindest words from Dave P, who is definitely one of the RADDEST DJs around.

He posted this photo from his closing set of the EMM on his Instagram and really blew me away with his words….

The raddest man on the RADio: Dave P closing out the 2014 EMM.

Last nite I had the honor of playing the closing set on @wkdu‘s Electronic Music Marathon and….it truly was an honor. It was also one of the most positive and inspiring musical experiences I’ve had in years. I have not seen such genuine positivity, true love of music and excitement about music and being involved in music from a group of people like I did last nite in the WKDU studios in a very long time. They really are a MAGICAL group of people who are doing great things for the right reasons. It makes me think that the music “industry” should be learning from these kids and gaining inspiration from them and people like them as opposed to them learning and gaining inspiration from the music “industry”. One of the staff members was talking to me about some of the DJs they wanted to have play who didn’t ended up playing for them. One DJ’s manager, who will remain nameless, told him he would need a minimum of $10,000 to have him play. C’MON…..REALLY ??? The music “industry” and the people involved in it….artists, managers, agents, labels etc should be doing everything they can to support these kids and others like them and like I said….probably learning from them and gaining some inspiration from them too. (Hey….look how much DAVIDE taught and inspired me while I was in Positano and…..he was younger than me.) Anyways….They’re doing this for the right reasons and so should all of us !!! This IS supposed to be FUN….remember ??? Here’s to a group of college kids who put together what was basically a 4 day DJ festival on their RADio station with no budget while, in the words of one of the staff, “hopped up on falafel and red bull” !!! Congratulations WKDU and thank you for allowing me to have such a MAGICAL and inspiring experience last nite !!! I can’t wait to do it again next year and…..hopefully DAVIDE can join me next time. He has some really rad olde ITALIO-DISCO records.

We can’t thank Dave and everyone else who helped us out enough!!!! DAVIDE, come back with those Italo records ANYTIME!!

****************************************************************************************************************

Support WKDU and college radio

Support Musicopia and arts education in Philadelphia area schools

Support The Village of Arts & Humanities and community empowerment in North Philadelphia

Go to wkdu.org/emm to find out how you can donate and support three amazing causes.

THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Electronic Music Marathon Part 1: Friday night to Saturday morning

As I sit here recovering from my wisdom tooth surgery, doped up on oxycodone, I can’t really do much more in the running of things for our electronic music marathon and figured it would be a good time to do some write ups. Rob Paine and Will Putney from Worship Recordings kicked us off from 6-9 PM, with our favorite listener Spread Love calling in for the first time of hopefully many times.

Rob and Will from Worship Recordings

Rob and Will from Worship Recordings

Noah Beresin (Noah Breakfast) walked in at quarter to 9, for his triumphant return to the WKDU airwaves: the first time he’s been in the station since 2009. We talked a bit about what he’s listening to right now and he told me his favorite beat maker right now is Mr. Carmack- who I’ll be sure to check out ASAP. He gave us the low down on what it was like for him coming up making beats as a student and a bit of history of WKDU from before I even came to Drexel. He’s a pretty chill dude, and I really enjoyed the behind the scenes rundown he gave us before the show. And holy damn did he bring the noise!

Noah Breakfast bringing dancehall vibes

Noah Breakfast brings the dancehall vibes

Brad Henley AKA B-Rilla came next, for his first (but hopefully not last!) appearance on the WKDU decks. He played a set of drum n bass, a genre I know nearly nothing about. What I expected was something sounding like 90s Prodigy- what I got instead was fast paced, breakbeat goodness.

Next up, a name we’re all familiar with stepped up to bat: Chris B from The Hot Mix took the first all wax spin of the night. A few minor technical difficulties aside (hey this is college radio after all- it wouldn’t be any fun if it all worked the first time!) he threw one funk of a set. Slowing the grooves back down was the perfect lead up to Fich from Young Robots.

Michael Fichman, DJ Apt One from Young Robots, actually got here about 40 minutes early, which gave Sam and I some great one on one (on one) time with him. We talked shop about breakfast and fast food: who makes the best fries (the consensus seemed to be Shake Shack, though I still think Five Guys and their massive sized portions offer the most bang for your buck), and where you can get decent Mexican food in the north (apparently Norristown is quite good for that). Fich and I also swapped some painkiller stories. I won’t spoil the surprise or befoul his good name, but he definitely got into more trouble when he got his wisdom teeth removed than I did.

DJ Apt One gives us an education in classic italo-disco

DJ Apt One gives us an education in classic italo-disco

Did I say Chris threw down one funk of set? That’s totally true, but Fitch freaking KILLED IT on the funk and grooves. Going back to the roots of electro and synth pop he hit all the buttons to keep me dancing, painkillers and all. His set of italo-disco was the coolest thing I’d heard all night, taking the cake for my favorite set so far. Even more impressive was that he had come from a 4 hour set earlier in the night and still had that kind of energy until 2 AM.

Sam from Blueshift gave me a tour of his Vestax board, showing me all the cool shit he’s programmed into it. Really gave me a new motivation to get a controller of my own and start experimenting. His set was much deeper than Apt One’s, a lot more chill, but no less awesome. Really good jams for 2-4 AM (the best time for jams).

For the last few hours of night the pain in my jaw had been getting steadily worse (basically from B-Rilla’s set until Blueshift’s began), but I had been holding off more painkillers (I’m afraid of addiction/constipation). Eventually I just said screw it and took another pill, lay down for a few minutes, and arose feeling refreshed and ready to enjoy Blueshift’s set.

Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation or maybe it’s the drugs but I’m feeling pretty good about the state of WKDU’s Electronic Music Marathon. With the first night behind us, I’m ready to face the rest of the weekend. I’ll be back on the blogz daily over the next few days, and be sure to follow us on Twitter @wkdu for updates, giveaways, and more.

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Get Stoked for the Electronic Music Marathon!

The first round of DJs have been announced:

See here to donate/enter.

wiig

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ANOTHER 10 Songs That Make Us Cry

hospiceball

By: Glasses

A fellow DJ here on WKDU called me cold and emotionless recently, so I decided to jump on the “10 songs” bandwagon to prove to myself in a meaningless way that I was still doing okay. Written at 4AM against harsh fluorescent light.

1. Spiritualized—Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space

This one goes way back for me. The gentle swinging in the background, the layering of the vocals, the juxtaposition between hope and despair. Whether or not this track was written about heroin is irrelevant. Spaceman taps in to a universal feeling of confusion between hope and biased preconception, and the result is something special. I ended up listening to this album a lot when experimenting with my first relationship. I was in no way ready emotionally, and by the time I realized that there was nothing real beneath my expectations and illusions, I found that this album was the only thing that was really left after the full ordeal. Great record, great live show, too.

2. Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Sleep

“They don’t sleep on the beach anymore.”

3. Fuck Buttons—Olympians

Fuck Buttons takes me back to careless summers in high school playing now-dead video games with close friends and feeling a general acceptance of the world. These days are gone. Things change, and experience is flitting. There is no use in harboring desires informed entirely by past experience as they hinder any chance for real progress to be made going forward, but every time I hear this track, if only for a moment, I feel that a nostalgic lifestyle might not be too awful.

4. Daniel Johnston—True Love Will Find You in the End

5. Jeffrey Lewis—The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song

My friend Max sent me this song one of those early mornings in which you go to bed to the sounds of birds chirping outside. I took it as a personal attack. Never before had I felt more spiritually connected with a song. If anything sums up my most successful social experiences with others, this songs does it. Re-listening to the track for this article made me cry again. The universe is absurd, and no regrets are logical because the sheer amount of factors pulling us in all directions are limitless.  At least that is what I tell myself to when I find myself in these places. There is a line in the song about writing love songs without every really having love to write about, but what is more important is the final vignette about the universality of all of these feelings.

6. The Antlers—Wake

“The hardest thing is never to repent for someone else, it’s letting people in.” In a particularly difficult summer, I found myself on the roof of a building in Las Vegas in 114 degree heat crying to this album.

7. Strand of Oaks—Pope Killdragon

8. Mount Eerie—Moon Sequel

“What gives? I yell and there’s no answering sound. And there is nobody around, and there my answer was found.”

9. Leonard Cohen—Suzanne

Please, just leave me alone, Leonard Cohen warned me about this and I’m not about to fall for it again.

10. The Microphones—Instrumental

Goodbye my friends, I am gone.


About the author: Glasses is doing much better now, thank you for asking. He is one Top 10 list away from making the Buzzfeed shortlist of list writers for 2014.

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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.
=/

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”

______________________________________________

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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