Off the Shelf–WIDE AWAKE! by Parquet Courts

A quick preface from the editor:

At WKDU we receive new music every week from a huge variety of labels. We keep all of our new releases in our main control room (the room out of which our DJs do their thing) on our “New Music Shelf”.  Our DJs pull from this shelf quite often, because our goal is to serve you the freshest underground cuts–FDA certified 100% organic, grass-fed, farm to table, FRESH. With “Off the Shelf”, our goal is to dive deeper than ever into our “New Music Shelf” favorites, and to share our thoughts with our community. Here’s hoping we inspire you to check out something NEW.

Wide Awake

By Matt Squires

Parquet Courts’ new album, Wide Awake!, is a diverse collection of raw rock and rolls sounds, familiar to the American ear, yet unique and refreshing. The production is minimalistic, to focus the listener on the melodic and rhythmic aspects of the songs, which are undeniably catchy. The vocals are raw with minor imperfections as if performed in a live setting.

“Total Football” kicks off the album with a classic rock style sharp slow chord progression. Soon the beat speeds up and the bass riff kicks, forcing the listener to bounce back and forth, a feeling used many times on this album including, “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience” and “Extinction”. Growly vocals are introduced, seemingly untrained and raw, their voices fit the aesthetic perfectly. This riveting intro song ends like the streets of Philadelphia after the 2018 super bowl, “F___ Tom Brady!!”.

“Violence” shows the more serious side of this album. Smooth groovy rhythms and catchy riffs over a yelling monologue until coming in with the chorus “violence is daily life.” Parquet Courts makes their way around the genre spectrum while maintaining the same production aesthetic with the slowed jam, “before the water gets too high”.  The repeating riff is memorizing and the organ-sounding synth chords hold the song together.

Next stop on this journey is a flashback to 90s alternative rock. Sounding like Pavements “Range Life”, “Mardi Gras Beads” takes the album to very familiar place. The smooth lush reverb-filled verse contrasts with the rigid power chords that come in the chorus creating a rich texture. “Almost had to start a fight” channels the bands Proto-Punk aesthetic with riffs sounding like MC5, the vocals match the rhythm to create a concrete, energetic jam. Merging into “In and out of Patience” with the phrase “If it stops i’m having a bad dream”, the pattern changes, putting another involuntary step in the foot of the listener.

The aptly named, “Freebird 2”, lives up to its name talking about drugs and getting older with pentatonic blues scales. The title song, “Wide Awake” combines a groovy bass riff with a dance party vibe. The use of Auxiliary percussion on this track makes it stand out from the others. A straight rhythm blues jam ends the album out with a piano melody doubling the vocals, making for an upbeat vibe. The chord progression is a mixture of simple chords and unusually dissonant chords that give an excellent texture to this familiar groove.

Parquet Courts have maintained their progressive classic rock style. Innovative yet so familiar and easy to latch on to, this album is an instant classic filled with songs that capture the last 50 years of rock music. 

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Week in Review–August 13-17

The week of August 13th was overwhelmingly busy from a music lover’s perspective. While every week contains a multitude of new releases and announcements of new music, this week was a dream for any fan in the indie and underground music world. In case you happened to miss anything, we’ve compiled a review of last […]

13th

 

The week of August 13th was overwhelmingly busy from a music lover’s perspective. While every week contains a multitude of new releases and announcements of new music, this week was a dream for any fan in the indie and underground music world. In case you happened to miss anything, we’ve compiled a review of last week’s most relevant announcements and drops. Our review spans multiple genres and scenes, so chances are, you’ll find something new that you can bop to. Check it out below.

Album Releases

mewithoutYou – Untitled EP
Mitski – Be The Cowboy
Trevor Powers – Mulberry Violence

Album Announcements

Cloud Nothings – Last Building Burning (October 19, 2018)
Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want (October 26, 2018)
Ian Sweet – Crush Crusher (October 26, 2018)
It Looks Sad – Sky Lake (November 2, 2018)
Justus Proffit and Jay Som – Nobody’s Changed EP (September 28, 2018)
mewithoutYou – Untitled LP (October 5, 2018)
Saves The Day – 9 (October 26, 2018)
Say Anything – Oliver Appropriate (October 12, 2018)
Young Jesus – The Whole Thing Is Just There (October 12, 2018)

Song Premiers

Bosse De Nage – “My Shroud”
Cloud Nothings – “The Echo Of The World”
Daughters – “The Reason They Hate Me” 
The Field – “Who Goes There”
Fucked Up – “Normal People”
It Looks Sad – “Light”
Ian Sweet – “Hiding”
Joyce Manor – “Think I’m Still In Love With You”
Lonely Parade – “Olive Green”
Low – “Disarray” 
Madeline Kenney – “Overhead”
mewithoutYou – “Julia (or ‘Holy To The Lord’ On The Bells Of Horses)”
Saintseneca – “Beast In The Garden”
Saves The Day – “Rendezvous”
Say Anything – “Daze”
Swearin’ – “Untitled (LA)”
The Spirit Of The Beehive – “D.O.U.B.I.E.U.R.O.N.G”
Young Jesus – “Deterritory”

Pitchfork Music Festival 2018: Review

by Abby Wagner and Matt Coakley

Pitchfork Music Festival can only be described as a musical wonderland — where psychedelia, dad rock and R&B join forces for a weekend of joy. Featuring headliners Courtney Barnett, Tame Impala, The War on Drugs, Fleet Foxes, Chaka Khan and Ms. Lauryn Hill — festival-goers knew they were in for a treat! The festival was held in Chicago’s Union Park July 20–22. With rain and thunderstorms in the weekend’s forecast, no one was really sure how things would play out.

The festival had three stages — two main stages (Red Stage and Green Stage) and one smaller stage (Blue Stage). The park was crawling with families, hipsters, and all around music lovers the entire weekend. When festival-goers weren’t entranced by a performer, they were typically found crowded around the park’s sole water fountain or checking out some of the great food and merchandise. The main street was lined with local food vendors and funky screen printers selling various prints. The churro ice cream sundae was particularly to die for. There was also a huge tent where records could be purchased and a few others with clothes and jewelry. Rumors of Bai Brands founder, Ben Weiss, making an appearance never seemed to come to fruition, although there were representatives in their decadent sponsor tent offering a photo booth while giving out free Bai beverages and swag.

Friday had a pretty stacked afternoon: Saba, Sid, Lucy Dacus, Tierra Whack and Julien Baker all gave great performances. Indie rock group, Big Thief, kicked off the evening at the Blue Stage. Songwriters and soulmates, Adrianne Lenker and Buck Meek (aided by touring bassist Max Oleartchik and drummer James Krivcheniaput) put on a stunning performance. Charming and vulnerable as always, they modestly walked onstage and launched into the most rockin’ mom-appreciation song in the whole world, “Masterpiece.” Fans knew they weren’t pulling any stops when they immediately went into the dark banger “Shark Smile” off their 2017 album “Capacity.” Almost as if we were living out some dramatic music video fantasy, it began to rain during the first chorus. It rained a bit periodically through their set, but never too much for the entranced audience to do anything about it. They played another song about Lenker’s mom off “Masterpiece,” a faster arrangement of the brooding “Mary” off “Capacity” and FIVE new, unreleased songs. “Shoulders” and “Not” stood out as potential highlights to look for on their next release.

Like cattle, festival-goers moseyed around the park, still in a trance over Big Thief’s performance, and made their way over to the main stages where Courtney Barnett was performing. The incredible crowd that amassed in front of her proves that straight up rock will never die! Barnett’s new album, “Tell Me How You Really Feel,” is getting a lot of love from critics and fans alike. She played a healthy variety of old and new songs, playing all the hits (and closing, of course, with “Pedestrian at Best”). With a slight shift in direction moving from one stage to the next, Tame Impala wrapped up the night with an other-worldly performance, as always. Multi-instrumentalist, producer, and songwriter Kevin Parker is simply on another level. Everything his band played sounded totally on point (save for a couple songs at the start of the show plagued by technical difficulties) and he even threw in a couple deep cuts (“Sundown Syndrome,” “Alter Ego”) for the #realfans. Their captivating light show and psychedelic LED screens mesmerized and entertained concert-goers near and around the stage, regardless of whether or not they could see the band. All around, it was a great way to conclude the first day of the festival.

Saturday started off on the right tone, with Chicago native Paul Cherry delivering a groovy set at the early hour of 1:00 p.m. There were some really cool acts throughout the afternoon, but the highlight was Nilüfer Yanya, who played the Red Stage at 3:20 p.m. She bills herself as “soulful indie” and that’s truly the best way to describe it. Heavy on the soul! She and her band gave an engaging and energetic live performance that was hard to forget. They even played Pixies’ classic “Hey,” which was awesome. She may be under the radar right now but that won’t last for long. As Twitter user @PTrewn puts it: “Nilüfer Yanya is a full length album away from being everyone’s favorite artist.”

As great as Yanya’s performance was, Moses Sumney was the set to beat that afternoon. He and his accompanists performed lush arrangements of songs from his debut studio album “Aromanticism” — all without the use of a prerecorded track! They used loopers and other effects pedals to give the performance a certain etherealness and otherworldliness. The violist even used a pitch shifter to make his violin sound like a bass instrument at times. Sumney stood magnificently at the front of the stage, brandishing his gold nose ring and gold rimmed sunglasses, and donning flowy black clothes and black boots. His appearance matched his music wonderfully; as Morrissey once put it, “I wear black on the outside, ‘cause black is how I feel on the inside.” Sumney stood in front of a black and gold podium which looked straight out of a sci-fi movie. Highlights from his set included “Quarrel,” “Lonely World,” “Make Out In My Car,” and he even did a beautiful Björk cover from her 1993 “Debut.”

Blood Orange played a great set full of groovy, dreamy original music. Their LED screens showed their music videos as well as strange clips from YouTube, including but not limited to, Lil Wayne shredding on guitar and people drag racing. If anyone came to Pitchfork to smooch with their lover, this was probably when they were doing it. Blood Orange is some real deal baby making music with nothing but good vibes. Everyone in the park was feeling the grooves on jams such as “Best To You” and “It Is What It Is.”

After a day full of R&B and indie, everyone was ready for some good-old-fashioned dad rock. Oh, yes! Hailing from Philadelphia (Go Birds!), indie rock legends, The War On Drugs, played a headlining set at the Red Stage. If you’ve never been to a War On Drugs show, let’s just say there are loud guitar sounds and lots of indiscernible singing, punctuated by lead singer Adam Granduciel’s impassioned “Woo!’s” and “Yeah!’s,” followed by long guitar solos. It’s awesome. How often do you see typically ordinary dads go all out with arms and legs flying? Not that often, right? This band really ignites something in these men that is not often sparked. It speaks to them. We need more bands with this magic formula to get dads moving and grooving again!

Fleet Foxes closed the second night with a wonderful performance, featuring their sweet, winter-time classic, “White Winter Hymnal.”

Sunday also featured a variety of great acts throughout the day. Earlier performances from acts such as Kelly Lee Owens and Ravyn Lenae got everyone amped up for another night of killer acts. Lenae, a Chicago native, put on quite a show, performing soulful tracks off her recent Steve Lacy-produced EP “Crush.” She spread positive vibes left and right as she lit up the stage with her words and her shiny metallic outfit.

At 4:00 p.m., the Blue Stage was the place to be. Philadelphia bedroom pop kween Michelle Zauner, better known by her stage name Japanese Breakfast (or her Twitter handle, @Jbrekkie, to the #realfans) gave a truly swell and upbeat performance. Playing songs off her 2016 debut “Psychopomp” as well as last year’s “Soft Songs from Another Planet,” Jbrekkie entertained the masses with her erratic dance moves and beautiful washed-out vocals. She and her band also pulled out a really fun and spot-on rendition of the Cranberries’ 1992 hit song “Dreams.” with her drummer singing backup vocals.

Chicago rapper, Noname, had one of the most energetic sets of the evening. Despite a couple lyrical flubs chalked up to “smoking before the set,” she was totally on point and delivered bar after bar with eloquence and fervor. That being said, she got increasingly frustrated with the crowd as the show went on because of their participation (or lack thereof). She voiced this frustration mid-way through her set, addressing the audience as “you lazy white privileged people.” Her backing band was entertaining, supporting Noname with smooth, jazzy arrangements. However, the band was perhaps a tad overzealous; there were times when the busy bass lines would poke out over Noname’s vocals. Several other musicians from the weekend’s lineup joined her onstage for various features, such as Smino and Ravyn Lenae. Overall, she glowed and rapped with the smoothest of flows.

D.R.A.M. probably would have been a fine choice for almost any other music festival lineup — such as Chicago’s other popular festival, Lollapalooza. D.R.A.M.’s music and performance featured many misogynistic undertones which have sadly become normalized in popular music. Many concert-goers were unamused when he announced his “exciting” new song, “Best Hugs,” whose chorus sings “Your girlfriend gives the best hugs” (a euphemism that didn’t go over anyone’s head). There was also another song about a girl being all alone in a sundress (as if that begs for him to approach her). His questionable lyrics were accentuated by his choice of LED visuals, flashing breasts and pole dancers in bright neon. Also, just as a side note, he said “goddamn” way way too much. Alex Cameron and (Sandy) Alex G both gave solid indie rock performances at the Blue Stage, entertaining the exodus of hipsters as they made their way from D.R.A.M.’s stage to literally anywhere else.

Veteran R&B and disco singer, Chaka Khan, got people moving their feet as the sun began to inch its way out of the sky. Chaka Khan busted out all the classics and crowd favorites, including her 1974 smash hit with Rufus, “Tell Me Something Good” (written by the one and only Stevie Wonder!) and her 1978 hit “I’m Every Woman.” Even though her vocal performance was slightly weaker in her old age, she came through with enough energy and catchy hooks to get everyone singing and dancing along. Her band picked up any slack in her performance; her backup vocalists were on point with their dance moves and harmonies, and the lead guitarist shredded away with each extended jam. He eventually played behind his head and even used his face and head to play the final chords.

Ms. Lauryn Hill, the headliner everyone was waiting for, only made us wait about 20 minutes this time, as she took the stage around 8:50 p.m. after her DJ got the crowd warmed up. Her set celebrated the 20th anniversary of her 1998 album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” The ex-Fugees singer really brought the heat, delivering each of her classic songs with passion and grace, even as she faced monitoring difficulties throughout her set. She conducted her band and backup singers on the spot and made each song special and powerful. Most of the songs were played in a new arrangement, featuring remixed verses and choruses as well as extended jams at the end. This may have gotten in the way of singing along for some fans, but there was never a dull moment so everyone was captivated the entire time. The people truly needed Lauryn Hill to reemerge now more than ever. Her words of justice and empowerment from 20 years ago still ring true today with her songs like “Forgive Them Father” — during which she showed clips of police brutality and racial injustice throughout the years. Her set was a perfect bookend to a perfect weekend at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival.

Boiler Room announces new film platform, 4:3

On May 24th, Boiler Room announced their release of a new film platform, 4:3. Coined a “Netflix for the Underground”, the techno moguls will curate visual media that focuses on documenting club & dance music culture. The pieces on the site are sure to be entertaining, but more importantly, the collection will trace music history and likely inform its future.

Since their first broadcast in 2010, Boiler Room has become become a keystone production company in the growth and international migration of dance music. According to their website, what began as a webcam taped to a wall in a basement has now become a collection of over 4,000 performances by over 5,000 artists.

4:3 refers to the aspect ratio commonly known as “full screen”. In this new era where screen-based media is accessible to a resounding number of people in the first world, Boiler Room hopes that this platform will fill the gaps between those 5 million actively involved in their social community and the 157 million that they connect with monthly through various media campaigns and networks.

But this visual platform won’t just exist online. Tackling themes like “performance, identity, youth culture and anti-establishment”, the company plans to facilitate a body of live events, making 4:3 “rooted in physical experience”. This will include “parties, smoked out film screenings and exhibitions around the world”.

May 29th was the official launch of the site, though there was a soft launch on the 24th, with artists Elijah Wood, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Peaches, and Jenn Nkiru featured as curators.

With the official launch, the site is holding a week long tribute to cult icon Arthur Russell, complete with unseen pieces from the artist’s personal archives and a sound installation by renowned techno artist Andy Stott. Boiler Room will also host a live screening of “Wild Combination (A Portrait of Arthur Russell)” featuring Optimo’s JD Twitch. The event will take place within a church.

As per the company’s website, “Everything [they] do is rooted in the energy of club culture and its ability to bring people together. Open dance floors; where music, ideas and people meet.” In an interview with Campaign, Stephen Mai, chief content officer at Boiler Room, touched on the impact that 4:3 could have on the influential members of Gen Z and Y. This type of foresight seems to speak to the importance of curation in the digital age.

When Google ranks the order in which websites appear in a search, its algorithm determines the likelihood of which the searcher will visit a particular website. Coined “filter bubbles”, these rankings can have a huge impact on our own individual beliefs, behaviors and understanding of the world, from our political affiliation, to what media we consume, and more.

This same concept can greatly impact music listeners and culture consumers depending on which platforms they use. If a listener relies heavily on Spotify in order to find new music, their discoveries can be limited based on what Spotify’s ranking algorithm puts in their suggested playlists or in the “related artists” section. (Maybe this type of thing something to do with the explosion in popularity of repetitive SoundCloud rappers in the past year or so….)

The many curators of 4:3 could bring together content which even the most savvy culture connoisseurs might otherwise have to scour the internet to find. From futuristic Audio Visual pieces to cross-cultural documentaries, providing audiences with films that are culturally rich, even educational, and artistically diverse has the potential to be highly impactful. 4:3 seems less like a musical Netflix, and more like a musical FilmStruck.

According to Mai, the website will “champion underground art movements across music, art, fashion, film and culture by curating and commissioning relevant content that brands can integrate with.”

Though this is worded to sound almost noble, the use of the term brand gives me pause. Market dominance is implicit in the extension of any company. While 4:3 appears largely beneficial to audiences, the idea of pushing the agendas of various brands seems to dilute the innocence of its mission. At the end of the day, Boiler Room is a private company. If plans for 4:3 include privileging content that promotes brand initiatives over that which is artistically significant, might this platform become bias to the point of disingenuousness?

What do you think about 4:3? Do you think other companies might follow in Boiler Room’s footsteps? Or that maybe Boiler Room will use 4:3 to create VR concert experience one day? Is 4:3 just a scam for Boiler Room to monopolize “underground” music?

PREVIEW: Remember Sports & Shamir @ PhilaMOCA on May 17

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people sitting, table and outdoor

Remember Sports celebrate the release of their excellent new record, Slow Buzz, this Thursday at PhilaMOCA, with Shamir, Comfy, and Friendship.

The Philadelphia based band, formerly known as Sports, S P O R T S, or Sports (the one with girls), release their third album this Friday, May 18th, on the Bay Area label Father Daughter.

After forming in a college town in Ohio, the band has integrated themselves into Philadelphia, playing their brand of pop punk at houses, batting cages, and venues alike.

Shamir shares the bill. Since Ratchet, Shamir has continued to create upbeat music, but with an indie rock influence, as he also now releases music on Father Daughter. He’ll likely play music from his most recent albums. Check out his 2015 WKDU performance.

Locals Comfy and Friendship round out the all Philadelphia bill.

Tickets are available to purchase here.

REVIEW: Turnover w/ Mannequin Pussy, Summer Salt & Pronoun 5/01

IMG_0447On April 1st, Turnover finished their 2018 US tour at Union Transfer, here in Philly. This was their second show in Philly since the release of their new album Good Nature that was put out at the end of last summer (August 27, 2017). They played at the TLA in October.

This show’s line up was an oddly pleasant mix of bands spread across the “rock” genre spectrum.

Pronoun is a one-woman band from Boston. Supported by a second guitar, a bass, and drums, Pronoun played a set that bordered between rock and pop. The music was very upbeat with catchy melodies. Pronoun was a great opener to get the crowd excited.

The second band, Summer Salt, shared some ~beachy vibes~ to get the crowd in the zone for Turnover. Their slow surf rock style mixed with the vocalist’s impressive range was reflective of bossa nova and The Beach Boys all in one. The crowd definitely enjoyed their set.

With another change of pace, Mannequin Pussy brought their high energy to the stage. Popular in the Philly scene, Mannequin Pussy is a four piece band that combines elements of shoegaze, punk-rock, and bursts of hardcore. Personally, I was very excited to hear that Mannequin Pussy would be joining this line-up. Vocalist, Marisa Dabise, has an incredible ability to transition from soft hushed singing to loud, fast, yelling, and her performance surpassed expectations. The pit opened and the crowd was ready.

Though earlier in their career, Turnover was considerably more “pop-punk”, Peripheral Vision, their second album, and Good Nature, their third album, enter a softer realm of indie/dream rock. Their set was filled with summery guitar sounds and Austin Getz’s soothing vocal melodies. Though their sound has transformed, Turnover’s fanbase is strong and does not cease to dance and crowd surf at their shows. Their stage was set with old TVs stacked on top of one another with whimsical imagery playing at different paces with no other lighting (poorly shown in the picture above), which fit their set perfectly. They opened their set with the newest albums first song, Super Natural, and ended with one of their many hits from Peripheral Vision, Dizzy on the Comedown. After the show, people were walking out of Union Transfer happy and carrying old TVs on their shoulders.

WKDU Presents: Vundabar @ Philamoca

Words and photos by WKDU guest writer Madison Kierod

Vundabar brought Philly out of hibernation on Tuesday, March 6th with their sold-out show at PhilaMOCA. Devoted fans had been awaiting their return to the City of Brotherly Love since their show at the First Unitarian Church with The Frights and Hockey dad this past November. This time, the Boston punk/surf/math rockers headlined the show with support from Chicago-natives Ratboys, and D.C. indie rock duo, The Obsessives. The intimate venue was decorated with paintings and prints from local artists, allowing the performance to become tailored and personal for Philly fans.

The band jumped right in with their upbeat new single, “Acetone” off of their 2017 record Smell Smoke, and, after some dramatic pauses and heckling from the audience, continued the show with fan-favorite “Chop” from their second studio album Gawk. This single particularly showcases the band’s ability merge catchy vocal melodies with crunchy guitar tones, and incorporate tempo changes from Grayson Kirtland’s groovy bass lines to Drew McDonald’s quick, almost frantic drum solos. The progression was inherently entertaining to watch and the urge to dance was hard to resist.

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Consistent with the name of their first studio album, their show was certainly filled with Antics. Their fun, high-energy tunes kept the audience jumping, and lead singer Brandon Hagan’s commentary between sets kept them laughing with cheeky rants promoting their band, asking for food, and asking silly, rhetorical questions such as “what do you sound like when you sweat?”. His witty sense of humor even kept the audience entertained while dealing with some noise interference mid-show, as the band had to overcome what Brandon described as “the crickly-crackly.”

Part of Vundabar’s charm is in their unpredictability, their improvisational dance moves, facial expressions, and vocal runs while jamming and soloing mid-song. No track shows this better than “$$$”, where the band took a 2-minute detour to exchange solos just to build up to a clean and abrupt end to the song.

The songs off of their newest album Smell Smoke such as “Diver” have a slower vibe, and were aptly placed in the middle of their set This left room for extra-long, extra-loud, extra-crunchy renditions of one of their more mosh-able tunes “Alien Blues” and “Voodoo” for last.

Overall, Vundabar’s set was tight and precise, yet natural and energetic–a difficult balance that their fan base acknowledges and appreciates. The band’s animated stage presence emanated into the audience, and kept the whole crowd moving (and laughing) for their entire hour-long set. The fun-loving band was exactly what the audience needed to get out of our houses on that cold and soggy Tuesday. Without a doubt, Vundabar fans will be anxiously awaiting their return to the east coast.