Category Archives: Contributing Writers

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

Glasses’ Top Albums of 2015

by Sam Robinson

 

Does anybody listen to music anymore? Or do we just kind of pretend to have listened to the latest high-concept journalism-bait records and quote bot-generated thinkpieces about them to impress our friends who have also only pretended to listen to the albums in question. Last year I tried listening to music, and only came up with ten items to fill my listicle’s distended sac. So I gave up on that. Below are six albums I heard about in passing from cool people in 2015 – I hope you get invited to some killer New Year’s parties to quote these reviews at.

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6. Black Wing…Is Doomed 

From the ashes of Dan Barrett’s (Have a Nice Life, Giles Corey, Married), failed Drive-inspired synthpop project, Dan Barrett and the Cruisers, comes a bombastic, pop tinged electronic romp through the mind of one of the most exciting musicians working in shoegaze today. The effects driven guitars may be gone from this record, but there is no absence of emotional soundscapes in their wake. Heavily processed synth drum kits scintillate across the soundstage and vocal tracks dip into hyper-compressed clipping collages that can best be described as aural car wrecks. This might not be a strictly shoegaze record, but Barrett’s pedigree still manages to shine through.

 

5. Jerusalem in My Heart – If He Dies, If, If, If, If, If 

Jerusalem in My Heart is the ongoing international performance project that consists of musician Radwan Ghazi Moumneh and visual artist Charles-André Coderre. All Jerusalem shows are site-specific installations and do not repeat. Themes of meditation and solidarity are dominant in the recorded music, which draws heavily from underground Syrian tape culture and the greater Middle Eastern musical canon. Moumneh’s ties to friends Godspeed You! Black Emperor are also apparent in the record’s willingness to explore intense, loose noodling over lo-fi field recordings, a stylistic choice that gives many tracks on the record defined spaces in which to reside. Between tracks there are claustrophobic corridors and vast oceans all serving as backdrops to be explored by Moumneh’s droning vocals and seemingly endless loop pedals. Check out a video of a live performance below:

 

4. Prurient Frozen Niagara Falls 

Yes, this is another Prurient record. No, it is not an all-out assault like Cocaine Death was. Frozen Niagara Falls may actually be Prurient’s most mature record to date, actually. The visceral, stream-of-consciousness shrieks and cacophonies are still present, but they are more tastefully framed than ever. Frozen deals with loss, but not in a traditional sense, on this record. Instead, the visual of a frozen Niagara Falls serves as an excellent reference point. A natural monument held paralyzed in memory, doomed to return to violence as soon as the thaw hits. Even if you are not inclined to listen to noise, there are plenty of approachable points of entry for the novice listener. Soft drone, soothing guitar interludes, even elements of dance-y industrial all reside comfortably in this so-called “noise” album.

 

3. Arca Mutant

 

 

 

2. Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell

Raise your right hand

Tell me you want me in your life

Or raise your red flag

Just when I want you in my life

 

1. Oneohtrix Point Never Garden of Delete

After years of being on the cutting edge of sound and constantly leading the wave of electronic music to “the next big thing,” it is only fitting for Brooklyn-based producer Daniel Lopatin, after finishing an arena-tour with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden, to release a record that sounds like his youth. Based on a fictional pubescent, alien teenager named Ezra who suffers from a skin condition that causes his face to constantly melt, Garden of Delete gives no ambiguity to the roots of its aggressive, thrashy sound. It is a delight to hear Lopatin indulge in such hyper-produced excess considering his roots are in the far less organized sound of noise music. It is a return to the past in more ways than one for Lopatin. Even the concept of ownership has a rebellious teenage attitude towards it. Over a month before the album’s release, Lopatin dumped the raw MIDI files on fans through an elaborate Geospaces-esque ARG involving a fictional “cyberthrash” band known as Kaoss Edge. Ahead of the record’s release, fans were already inundating Soundcloud and YouTube with their own interpretations of the album’s tracks through their own software and synthesizers. It is difficult to recommend this album alone, it really takes hearing the evolution of Lopatin’s sound to fully appreciate the intricacies and decision making behind Delete’s deceptively simple appearance- I recommend “Replica,” “R Plus Seven,” and “Eccojams” to start.

 

Glasses is a former radio DJ currently plotting a quiet return to WKDU.

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PWR BTTM IS “OVER GENDER”

Photo by Andrew Piccone

Photo by Andrew Piccone

by Shannen Gaffney + Kirsten Becker

Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce, New York’s dynamic garage glam duo of PWR BTTM chatted with us about the things that matter: gender fluidity, their recent discovery of Bethany Cosentino, and their favorite carbs. If you’re lucky enough to have gotten a ticket in time, we’ll see you at their PhilaMOCA show tonight (they open for the very talented <3 MITSKI <3 )


So congrats on your first album, Ugly Cherries, we love it so much!
LIV: Thank you! We had a really good time making it.

Where did you record it?
BEN: We recorded in in New Paltz, New York, which is near Hudson, New York, which is where I was living, with a guy named Chris Daly who made a bunch of great records. He made a record with our friends in Diet Cig and we met him upstate. We didn’t really know if he was a good engineer or not but he was a cool guy that wanted to do our record and he’s like a genius, he’s amazing, he makes like all our merch and stuff, he fixes my guitar, he’s just this incredible, great friend.
LIV: He holds me when I cry. Just kidding, I’ve never cried.
BEN: Liv never cries, he can’t really spare the moisture. But yeah, his wife and I did the album art together.
LIV: PWR BTTM would be dead in the water without him.

So you both went to Bard, did you find a supportive scene there?
LIV: Absolutely, I started playing in the Bard scene in another band. The Bard scene is amazing because there’s two venues that are pretty much entirely run by students and they have the power to book bands outside of the school. So your favorite bands will be coming through the area and they’ll play Bard and you can start a band with your friends and have your first show be opening for a huge band.
BEN: Yeah our second show we opened for Upset and Potty Mouth.
LIV: There was just always people starting bands and doing incredible things. I really miss it actually. Obviously I love the scene here, but sometimes I’ll be on Facebook and see friends who are still there at Bard and seeing what bands they are starting every week and being like, “Ugh I wish I was still able to see those shows!”

What did you study at Bard?
LIV: I, for most of my time at Bard, was a double major in Computer Science and Dance. And then in my last semester after my Computer Science thesis, I had one more class to take and I just didn’t have the room in my schedule, partially because of PWR BTTM, so I ended up dropping the major after finishing my thesis and graduating with a degree just in the Dance Department. Which, it feels weird to say just the dance department because Bard’s dance department is like incredible. I learned so many things just about everything being there.
BEN: (In between bites of blueberry scone) I studied Theater, it was awesome.

We had another question relating to scones: What is your favorite carb?
BEN: Oh my God, the question we love to answer. I’m really, really feeling chocolate croissants right now. I work at a coffee shop and I have to come in to work at 6 AM and the first thing I do is kick that door open and fuck up one of the deliveries.
LIV: I’m really feeling my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. I saw her yesterday and I was thinking about the stuff that she makes. I like everything she makes, but spaghetti and meatballs specifically.
BEN: Liv’s mom throws down.


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Telekinesis plays Philly tonight, chases 80’s vibes on new album

by Shannen Gaffney

Photo from With Guitars

Photo from With Guitars

Telekinesis, the moniker used by Michael Benjamin Lerner, (also the superpower which allows superheroes to move objects with their minds) has released a new album this September on Merge Records called Ad Infinitum. On tour with Say Hi, he plays Johnny Brenda’s tonight and spoke to us about finding new influences and staying inspired on the road.

On facing writer’s block while working on the new record Lerner said, “I tried to play the guitar but just didn’t want to do it, it was very uninspiring to me at the time. So I just put the guitar away and then tried to learn a bunch of other instruments. I didn’t really understand how drum machines and synthesizers worked before… it sort of came out of boredom in a way.” Continue reading

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King Gizzard on the Melbourne scene, their upcoming albums + the perfect vegemite sandwich

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Cook + Eric enjoying cheesesteaks in Philly 

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King Gizzard at Johnny Brenda’s 9/13/2015 

Photos from Pooneh Ghana (@poonehghana)

Before their show at Johnny Brenda’s, DJs Kirsten and Shannen caught up with Lucas Skinner (bass) and Eric Moore (drums/manager) of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard to talk about everything from poisonous spiders and the Melbourne DIY scene to their new album, Paper Maché Dream Balloon (out November 13th).


First question, cup of blood or shot of shit? 

Lucas: What?

If you had to drink one.

Eric: Is it my own or someone else’s?

Someone else’s.

E: I think definitely blood.

L: I think you’d get more sick if you eat shit.

E: If it was my own, I’d go with blood. I always just drink my own blood anyway, like when I get a cut.

Right, delicious. What are some of your favorite hair products?

E: I used to use Surf Paste in high school. That was a long time ago.

L: I use oils on my beard.

This is the second to last date of your US tour, which city has been your favorite?

L: We’ve done a few places we haven’t been before, New Orleans was one.

E: All the ones up the west coast were cool. Portland was my favorite place. The scenery is so beautiful and the drives are amazing up the coast.

Did you guys do any traveling before KGATLW?

L: We did a tour about three months ago in the states and Europe and most of us went home for a month but Stu and Ambrose and their girlfriends went traveling through Europe and Eric went to LA for a month.

E: Yeah I’ve been away for ages.

L: But before the band we did a US road trip up the east coast starting in Austin and going up to New York. That gave us a good idea of the landscape and how to get around.

What is your favorite thing to do on a date?

L: My girlfriend and I for our first date we went walking our dogs on the beach.

E: Luke is the sweetheart. Mine would just be something lame like going to a bar or a movie. But I haven’t been on a date in a very long time.

L: Eric’s the only one without a girlfriend in the band. Everyone else is kind of settled down. He’s the wild card.

 So you work a lot with artist Jason Galea and your shows have such a strong visual component, is he going to be involved in music videos in the future? 

E: Yeah Jason’s here on tour with us. He does the visuals and is working on heaps of stuff.

L: He’s the creative director, does all our visual stuff, artwork, t-shirts, videos. We’re actually making a video with another friend at the moment because Jason’s a bit busy, that’ll be the first one we’ve done without him. Continue reading

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LEVITATION (AUSTIN PSYCH FEST): A REVIEW

by Kirsten Becker

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This past weekend I had an incredibly awesome time at Austin Psych Fest (now called Levitation) on Carson Creek Ranch in Austin, TX. This particular festival has been one I have tried to go to for a while, but funds/time/commitments have gotten in the way. Fortunately, this year worked out perfectly and I hopped on a plane by myself to Texas for this unforgettable festival experience.

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Natalia Zamilska: “All or Nothing”

by Maxwell Stetson

In this National Geographic article, neuroscientist Valorie Salimpoor looks for answers about her personal, euphoric reaction to the Johannes Brhams’s song, “Hungarian Dance No. 5”. She wondered how and why this music moved her and the processes it took within her brain. These questions led her to Thalia Wheatley, a Dartmouth psychologist, who offered an explanation.

Thalia found “[that] every time you listen to music, you constantly activate [musical] templates that you’ve [created] that predict the reward you’ll feel from a given piece.”

In her opinion, “new music is presumably rewarding, not only because it fits implicitly learned patterns, but because it deviates from those patterns, however slightly.” I believe this constant template reformation and pattern shifting is an aspect to be loved, especially when it occurs organically. When this occurs, it can progress your tastes and emotions into a new and unknown fields, allowing you to think and feel differently.

I begin with this to highlight a similar joy I felt when listening to the pioneering artist we’re featuring today.

When I first heard the culturally shattering sounds of Natalia Zamilska, my musical template was completely rearranged in wonder. Her creation of raw and heavy techno, noise, electronica and modern world music was new, artistic and incredibly exciting to me.

“Duel 35” was the first track of Zamilska’s that made me a huge fan. It consists of the toughest booming techno sound, both danceable and sexy. The tribal chants and noisy pops later in the song add to its power. The sound, combined with an incredibly artistic and creative video, made me feel like Zamilska was creating art, not just music.

Natalia admitted she didn’t expect much to happen after releasing “Quarrel,” a 2014 single,  yet the feedback was so affirmative that she felt like she had to finish an album as soon as possible. “Untune” was then created during live shows, as she used the audience members as her collaborators, testing various musical creations on them. Since then, her recognition has been accumulating worldwide. The Quietus, an art/culture online magazine out of London, rated “Untune” as one of the best tracks of 2014, while Vevo ranked “Duel 35” as #15 out of the top 100 songs from their “Other Side of Music” for 2014. She’s since accumulated 7,200 Facebook likes and 1,700 Soundcloud followers and was featured on Dior’s Toyko Fashion Show, 2015.

It’s an honor and a pleasure to share this amazing interview with you! Here’s Booty Shakers’ exclusive interview with the incredible talent that is Natalia Zamilska! Continue reading

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Dan Savage talks sex-positivity, his love of musical theater, and round two of his HUMP! tour (coming to Philly 2/21)

By Victoria Powell

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Dan Savage, courtesy of TIME

I had the chance to speak with Dan Savage: activist, love & sex columnist extraordinaire, and host of America’s “best and dirtiest” amateur porn film festival, Hump! Dan will be bringing the film festival to Philly on Saturday, February 21st, with the first showing starting at 6:00 pm, followed by showings at 8:15 pm and 10:30 pm. It is an 18+ event and tickets are still available. We’ll also be giving away tickets on air during Raha World and The Stardust Revue.

Victoria: What was your college major?
Savage: I went to University of Illinois in Champagne Urbana and I majored in Theater.

Victoria: How did you realize you wanted to be a love advice columnist? And how did you come up with the idea for Hump!?
Savage: Well, I sort of accidentally became a sex advice columnist. I met someone who was starting a newspaper and he was telling me about it, and I said oh you should have an advice column because everybody reads those. You see that Q & A format – you can’t not read it. And he said “that’s good advice… why don’t you write the advice column?”

Even when I started writing the advice column I wasn’t really an advice columnist yet, at first the whole thing was just a joke. I was a gay guy writing an advice column for straight people about straight sex – the idea was I would jokingly treat straight sex and straight relationships with the same contempt and revulsion that straight advice columnists had always treated gay sex and gay relationships. And so for the first six months to a year I was just horsing around and I started getting so many letters and it kind of, without my ever really asking, turned into a real advice column against my will! That’s how I got to be a relationship columnist, by accident.

Hump! was an idea of a friend of mine who started The Stranger where my column originated; a friend of mine and I – we just started joking that we should put an ad in the paper that we’re doing a call for submissions for an amateur porn festival, to see what we’d get in the mail, or whether we’d get anything. It took a long time to convince the publisher to let us do this because he didn’t think it would work. And we got tons of really great and funny and weird submissions and really humane submissions, like really good, humanizing porn. And then we had to go through with it and have the festival so we announced we were having a porn film festival. The question then became: would people come and sit in a dark movie theater next to strangers and watch porn the way their grandparents did? The answer was yes! Tons of people came to the theaters. Hump! has never been people masturbating in their seats sort of a porn screening. More of a celebratory, diversity sex, “we’re all in this together” festival. People came and loved it and a lot of people who were out there this year made films for the next year and Hump! just kept growing and getting bigger. We took it to Portland and started doing it simultaneously in Portland and Seattle and people in other cities kept saying they wanted it to come to them. And so for the first time last year we took Hump! out on the road and this year will be the second time.

hump

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