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New Music Discovery: Getting Back in Shape

By Esmail Hamidi

All the CDs in my car skip now.

I bought earbuds so I could listen to music on my walks home, but I maxed out the data on my phone. Dead hard drive in my old iPod Photo, dead batteries on my old iPod Nano, dead batteries on my cassette Walkman. YouTube blocked at work. Mouse chewed through the cable on my kitchen speaker. No time. Obligations. Bad radio. Wack DJs. The rat race.

All these forces seek to destroy my relationship with new music. I’m feeling closer to 33 every day. Especially deep in the dusty record bins on Toilet Radio.

But no! At WKDU, I am still capable of falling in love with new music of all kinds.  This list is proof. Enjoy.

  1. Girlpool – Ideal World

This cut off of Girlpool’s debut really impresses me. Minimal production, rock-solid guitar tone, and their growing aptitude for harmonies make this song an ear-perking jam. Heroin, anyone?

  1. Blacksage – Basement Vows

Soulful triplet feel on Baltimore’s Friends Records. Cool.

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5 Riffs That Humans Wrote

Good day, readers. Inspired by fellow DJ Nick Myers’ late-night accusation that “all the good riffs have been written,” I give to you 5 examples of perfect riffage that will hopefully inspire the guitarists in all of us to turn up the ol’ Peavey and make something beautiful.

While this list is far from comprehensive (and totally ignores guitar solos, a totally different concept that I hope to address in a future post), I hope that it provides a good sampling of riffs for your heads to bang to.

A note: Two of these groups are playing shows in Philadelphia tonight, and if you have Facebook and a nose for guitars and basements, I bet you can find them.

 1. Sleep – Holy Mountain 

The lonely, droopy guitar line at the 4 minute mark is my jam. Last heard on John Sinclair’s show “Cosmic Debris.”

 2. Painted Ship – And She Said Yes 

Painted Ship were a legendary garage punk band from Vancouver. Active from 1965-68, they put out several dynamite 45s. 1966’s “And She Said Yes” was a ripping B-side. No bassist and a hollering lead singer is clearly the way to do things.

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6 Shots of Black Friday Angst

By Esmail Hamidi
This mini-playlist comes from a particularly grumpy November afternoon – not necessarily Black Friday, but you get the idea. Songs that go through your head while you’re getting trampled trying to buy something you don’t need. Or something. Consumerism normally inspires positive emotions. In this playlist, this is not true.

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Electronic Music Marathon Part 3: Rounding 3rd and coming home

A month after WKDU brought back the annual Electronic Music Marathon, I think I’m finally ready to get back into the swing of things, radio wise. I held off of posting this because I wanted to give myself some time to decompress and reconcile the INSANE 75 hours of DJing, dancing, and fun over Columbus Day weekend. We are working on posting the sets, so stay tuned to our Soundcloud page for those. In the meantime, feel free to read the play by play I wrote during the final day of the marathon.

Jersey Dan kicked us off at 11 AM, playing stuff like Crystal Castles and Nenah Cherry. It was dark, it was moody, it was exactly what I needed. Highlights of the set were the “Open (Jeff Samuel faded mix)” by Rhye and the DFA cover of “D.A.R.E.” by Gorillaz, where I got a chance to turn introspective more a moment and think for a bit. If I had to pick one word to describe his set, it would be contemplative. His set really gave a chance to look inwards at my own soul for an hour. Fun fact: Dan uses a free version of Virtual DJ to mix. True the college radio ethos he chooses free when possible, making the most out of what he can. Bonus fun fact: Dan used to be a professor here at Drexel back in 2008, great to have old faculty on board!

Maxwell Knubee from Brewerytown Beats, one of our proud sponsors of the event, stepped up to the decks next, spinning all wax. I spoke with him before he got on and he told me about the evolution of his set. Originally he wanted to spin psych-funk and go into 80s electro funk, but decided eventually to go with positive hip-hop. We talked about how the best songs are the ones that talk about how good music is, or how a specific brand of shoes is just super cool (when he told me that, I was hoping he would play “My Adidas” by Run DMC, and he did not disappoint!). His set definitely lived up to the expectations, and brought the funk and hip hop beats for all to enjoy, leading nicely into King Britt’s set.

As I’m writing this, I’m surrounded by King Britt’s crew, including members of The Village and Playback Radio. Many of these guys and gals have been here in the past for previous marathons and it’s an honor to have them back. For the newcomers, let me just say this if I haven’t already: welcome to WKDU and enjoy your stay!

King got on the mic at 1:00 PM to talk about his time in high school (Central High reppin’!), coming up in music, and some of his major influences. Look for the full interview online soon. About half an hour later he stepped onto our decks and started laying down the beats. If you ask Es, he’s a beat wizard. If you ask me, he’s a beatsmyth. Whatever your preferred nomenclature, he’s really something to watch perform. He combines magic on the deck with music in the air, forging tunes, sounds, and rhythms out of nothing. I’m writing this during his set, which is conjuring some deep images in my head, floating me along a soundscape of immense proportions. I’m envisioning vast rolling hills of dark earth colors, pulsating along with the beat. The second half of his mix got a lot funkier, throwing some soul vibes out there. I was busy doing my homework during this set and it made for some great jams for concentrating.

King Britt's gear

King Britt’s gear

Matpat popped up after King, to take us into the final 5 hours of the marathon. Bringing the club beats back into the building, he got me moving once more. Funky piano, soulful saxaphone, and sexy synthesizer. Matpat brought the funk and didn’t just warm up the decks: he got them blazing hot, closing his set with “Deep Inside (Shadow Child remix)” by Hardrive.

Matpat hits center stage

Matpat hits center stage

Risky Disko hit the decks at 5 PM for 2 hours, throwing down the low BPMs with some trip hop vibes. Despite their name, I didn’t think they had that disco of a sound, though I enjoyed the set nonetheless. As with Jersey Dan’s set, it was much more contemplative and I got some nice thinking done. I really enjoy the sets that take me on a musical journey, as opposed to the straight dance stuff. Peter remarked that the whole set had a Todd Terje vibe to it, which I’m inclined to agree with. They sounded very disco influenced, but with a very clean production and modern twist.

Risky Disko

Risky Disko getting up close and personal with Roberta Flack

And now I’m faced with the monstrous task of doing justice to Dave P’s set with words. I’ll try my best, but honestly your best bet is to listen to the set and check it out for yourself. He started out slow, and I kind of just sat with my thoughts for awhile. Bringing the energy up slow, all of us at the station started to jam with some really swampy sounding songs, getting some retro-futuristic synths (my favorite synths!) going. His mixing technique is really good, too: he handles CDJs like he was born clutching a pair in his hands. His slogan of “futuristic sounds” is pretty damn accurate, the songs he spun sound like they came from a club in a cyperpunk movie. House jams through and through, solid 4-to-the-floor beats to groove to. He wasn’t laying down just future sounds though, some of his tracks sounded like classic disco house jams, with some beautiful piano and synth pads for added spice.

Dave P

Dave P deep in the mix

His set just kept amping up over the last hour. There was a certain charge in the air- everyone there knew we were reaching the end of something huge and the excitement was palpable. The room we have in the studio where all the DJs performed over the weekend isn’t that large- we were able to tightly fit our equipment table, speakers, and a few people hanging out listening to the DJs perform, but at this point we had over a dozen people crammed inside, all dancing. Dave kept the energy rising, too- by the end of it, I was sweating (almost) as much as him, just from dancing around the room. When he finally closed out at 9:00, he said some wonderful words over the air and, surrounded by applauding DJs, finished off both his set and the 11th annual electronic music marathon.

I’d like to thank everyone who tuned in, everyone who performed, and everyone who donated their time, effort, and money to our cause. With your help we resurrected a long-dormant WKDU tradition. Not only did we get the chance to party in the station for 75 hours straight, but we had a chance to connect with the community and raise money and awareness for some fantastic local non-profits. The work Musicopia and The Village of Arts and Humanities do is truly noble and we are honored to have helped play a part in their dedication to arts education and empowerment. Having pulled this off in approximately 5 weeks (90% of the work on this marathon was begun on Labor Day), we learned an incredible amount and are already looking forward to next year, where we hope to make the 12th annual electronic music marathon even better. Thanks for stopping by, and of course, keep those radio dials locked!

A final jump for joy before we all promptly fell asleep

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Costume Contest Ends Tonight!

It’s not too late to enter our ‪#‎hallowkdu‬ costume contest! All you have to do (on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook) is tag us in your costume photos and use the above hashtag. Here’s an entry from our Personnel Director Maren!

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Prizes will include a WKDU T-shirt and comp cassette, this Cloud Nothings slip mat sticker & pin, and this Twin Peaks tour poster!

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Winners will be announced tonight so get on it!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

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POND at Johnny Brenda’s 10.16.2014

by Kirsten Becker


Spearheading the neo-psychedelic rock movement, Australia’s Tame Impala has brought a fresh and exciting new sound to indie rock within the past five or so years. Their lesser-known, wild-partying young brother, Pond, has been doing just the same while staying just below the radar. With five albums already under their belt, the Perth-born and bred band is something of a cult favorite. Featuring both former and present members of Tame Impala, including at one point mastermind Kevin Parker, it’s no wonder Pond has garnered an incredibly loyal fanbase.

The October 16th performance at Johnny Brenda’s was their first time back in Philly in two years, having played at the same venue back in March 2012. Lead singer Nick Allbrook had fond thoughts about the city, pausing many times between songs to say he loves Philly because the city knows “how to let loose.” And let loose the crowd did that night. Leading the charge,Pond, visibly intoxicated the moment they arrived, brought a feverish energy that was reciprocated through the venue. Each song was played with a flawlessly rough vibe, with jarring solos and descents into musical madness interspersed in each epic track. Allbrook at one point went on about how he is terrified of America and his lack of knowledge of the Pumpkin Spice craze. The band also continued their love for Philly saying that most of their knowledge of the city comes from repeated watchings of Always Sunny.

The set included a composite of songs throughout their career, featuring newer songs from Hobo Rocket like “Xanman” to those of my personal favorite, Beard, Wives, Denim like “Fantastic Explosion of Time” and “You Broke My Cool.” They even reached into the archives and played some of their first songs recorded from Psychadelic Mango, including “Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind.”

The rousing finale of “Frond” was filled with rocking anthems and wild crowd surfing and energy. Pond’s performance was one of the most energy-filled shows I have seen in quite some time and one of incredible creative and nutty genius. Pond is slated to release a new album, Man, It Feels Like Space in January 2015.

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Introducting ExCITeCast

By: Maren Larsen

ExCITeCast, the official podcast of Drexel University’s Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies Center (ExCITe), is coming to WKDU!

The ExCITe Center houses a unique piano which has been retrofitted with an array of sensors and electromagnets. This allows it to produce music with the timbre of a piano and the creative capabilities of other stringed instruments, like vibrato and pitch bending. On it, you can play music that ExCITe’s beat-sensing robots can dance or play along with. Those robots are outfitted in sleek protective armor created on the digital knitting machines housed in the center’s Shima Seiki Haute Technology Lab. All of this is located at 3401 Market Street–right on Drexel’s campus.

The ExCITe Center also houses the Drexel App Lab, the Entrepreneurial Game Studio (known for its involvement in the Cira Center’s giant Tetris and Pong games), a digital inclusion lab, and space for various other multi-disciplinary, highly-collaborative projects.

Pretty ExCITing, right? (ed note: groan.)

ExCITeCast airs the first Tuesday of each month at 9 a.m. on WKDU. I, Maren Larsen, Civic Innovation Co-op at the ExCITe Center and DJ of “What The Folk?” on WKDU, am the host of the program.

Each episode focuses on one of the center’s many projects. The first ExCITeCast, at the beginning of October 2014, highlighted the collaboration between the Shima Seiki Lab and our Hubo robotics researchers to create a technologically-advanced protective armor for the robots, allowing them greater mobility and durability. In case you missed it, it can be found on ExCITe’s SoundCloud.

November’s ExCITeCast will feature an interview with the Digital On-Ramps team, part of the Digital Inclusion Group based at ExCITe. Digital On-Ramps is in the process of developing an ePortfolio for jobseekers to store their resumes, work samples, and digital badges. They are also building career pathway maps for Philadelphia’s biggest industries so that those looking for jobs can see the next steps in their careers.

Join us on Tuesday by tuning in at 91.7 FM or!

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