7 Reasons to Get Up and Go the New Alternative Music Festival

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The New Alternative Music Festival (NAMF) is September 16-18 in Asbury Park, NJ. Running by Don Giovanni Records, NAMF is a one-time event meant to be an alternative to the obstacles and backwards thinking presented the music industry. The result is a diverse lineup spread across three days, with no overlapping set times.  It’s one of the most significant musical events of the past several of years. Continue reading “7 Reasons to Get Up and Go the New Alternative Music Festival”

New Music Roundup

I’ve been listening to a lot of good new releases lately.  Some are by bands I’ve known, and some by bands I’ve never listened to before. There are some albums, and some singles to get you ready for the fall. In case you haven’t been able to listen to my show (Mondays 7-830AM), here’s a digest of my favorite tunes right now:

New Bellows (Brooklyn) single is very different than Blue Breath, with a lot more synth, auto tune, and chaos. It took me a listen or two to warm up to it, but after seeing them shred on the big state at UT last month, I’m ready for what’s next.

Debut SOMNIA record How the Moon Shines on the Shit. It features Spoonboy (DC) & Erica from RVIVR (WA). I saw RVIVR a few weeks ago and they blew me away. I like Somnia recording even more.

The Cowboys are a band from Bloomington that I saw last night in a West Philly basement with Purple 7. They shared a lot of members, and have some 60s and Western undertones.

New Outer Spaces (Baltimore) record sounds like the sequel to The Execution of All Things. They released an EP a couple years ago on Salinas, and push forward on Don Giovanni Records.

There’s a new Krill (Boston) EP that they recorded before they broke up. It warms my heart.

And a super hot LVL UP (Brooklyn) jam that manages to one-up the rest of their catalog.

The new Martha (Durham, UK) album is fantastic! I don’t know when they’re returning to Philly but I hope they do soon and maybe I’ll just follow them around the country.

I slept on the new The So So Glos (Brooklyn) album a little bit but Chris Gethard said it was his favorite album of the year, and it truly is great. It makes me want to throw blueberries at the wall.

Permanent Body is a new band based in West Philly. They’re led by the man behind Ghost Light, one of my favorite bands I never got to see play.

 

Toilet Radio – an UPDATED Manifesto

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By Esmail Hamidi

 

As FM radio began to advance technologically in the late 1960s, it was common for radio stations to invest in an FM license to augment their AM signal.

At the time, AM was the dominant force in commercial radio – FM was experimental, unproven and new. Its higher fidelity meant that it would be suitable for all kinds of music, not just loud wall-of-sound 45s. Also, at the time, it was really hard to fill a full 24/7 week of programming, because radio automation was limited to creepy, finicky electromechanical systems.

With the AM station serving as the primary revenue stream, programming on FM was often less of a concern for station management.  As a result, a lot of FM programming came out of the gate unencumbered by program directors, ratings, and other stifling nonsense. These new FM stations needed people to independently pick and play records, while tolerating late hours and little pay. With little oversight, these people had to be DJs, music historians, and entertainers. On the FM, they created freeform radio.

A radio format describes the typical “sound” of a station. Radio formats are defined inside the industry by radio station program directors to describe their audiences to prospective advertisers, not to describe genres or styles of music for the sake of art. When a station adopts a format, they take control away from the DJ, and formalize the process of picking music. It becomes less organic, less personal, and more commercial.

Freeform radio contrasts with the glossy inhumanity of commercial radio, and the fumbling ineptitude of some college radio. Freeform radio isn’t just the absence of a format: The idea of freeform radio rebels against any notion of what “should” be played, thumbs its nose at advertisers trying to quantify its audience, and places complete control in the hands of the DJ. He or she is your friend, playing records for you on your living room stereo. It’s a tasteful, intimate, trusting connection. They’re not barking at you about “today’s hottest music,” they’re not telling you about this Sweet New Product they just endorsed — they’re just hanging out and playing records. And that is…beautiful.

So where’s Toilet Radio come into this, you ask? My previous Toilet Radio Manifesto outlined the finer points of rediscovering the crappiest, cheesiest parts of the 1970s. As Nick and I have done more radio shows under this nom de guerre, they have led me to more revelations on what Toilet Radio is, and what I want Toilet Radio to be:

  1. An updated version of the classic freeform/progressive radio programs of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Think Joseph “Butterball” Tam­burro and Jocko Henderson on WDAS, Michael Tearson on WXPN and WMMR, or Alison “The Nightbird” Steele on WNEW. What would they play if they were my age in 2016? What would they find notable in today’s indie music slushpile, and in WKDU’s hulking vinyl library?
  2. Where Nick and I discover music new to us live on air, in real time. Sometimes we’ll play something only having heard a few seconds of it. Sometimes our guesses and risks pay off; sometimes they don’t. This is okay. We’re not just DJs – we’re music fans too, and discovering music is just plain fun. We’re also both just really busy guys, and it’s hard to find the time to bounce music off of each other. This is that time.
  3. A weekly, radio-based teleportation to an imaginary living room. This living room is outfitted with thick shag carpet, wood paneling, two turntables, a 10,000 watt soundsystem, and an assortment of ugly but comfortable chairs. On the walls, there are amateur oil paintings of Hall & Oates next to ratty, screen-printed posters from punk shows. You take a seat and sip whatever you’re drinking on a muggy Monday night.At 8 PM sharp, your friends Nick and Es drop the needle on a record. You haven’t heard it before, you may never hear it again, but damn, those 1970s studio musicians could play…. 

After a 9 month hiatus, Toilet Radio is back on WKDU tonight, June 27th, 2016, at 8 PM EST.

Extreme Heaviness: Gojira Slays the E-Factory This Thursday

Hailing from Bayonne, France, Gojira have been busy laying waste to Japanese cities and casual listeners the world over for the past 16 years and will do the same to the E-Factory Sept 22nd.

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— By Jon Galuchie

Hailing from Bayonne, France, Gojira have been busy laying waste to Japanese cities and casual listeners of the world over for the past 16 years (check out crowd-favorite “The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe”).   Their trademark blend of metal is captivating, fierce, and ultimately comes out head and shoulders above the other bands in the pit with a sound all their own.  When it comes to the live show, the energy is felt through the crowd and each song has undeniable heft.  I had the pleasure of catching them when they toured in support of the mighty Mastodon and (if I’m being honest) they stole the show.  The audience and the band were on the same page and there was all the headbanging and moshpits that a metalhead could ask for.

 

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They recently released their new album Magma on back in June on Roadrunner Records.  Check out the newest single “Silvera” and get back to me.  It showcases the band honing in on their unique songwriting and masterful song structure and development–all in less than four minutes.

 Gojira will be stopping by to slay the Electric Factory with support from Tesseract on September 22.  Highly recommended show.

WKDU’s Patrick Magee Releases Massive “Absolve U” Compilation

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One of Drexel’s own students has united the biggest names in vaporwave and electronic netlabels for a limited edition cassette compilation. Patrick Magee, of WKDU’s “The Stardust Revue”, created this compilation with the intention of giving well known artists in the community an outlet to make music without the pressure of scene politics. Following recent tensions between “hardvapour” and “traditional” vaporwave fans, “Absolve U” brings together artists known for funky sample based jams like Luxury Elite, as well as drum ‘n bass paced tunes from DJ Alina and Blank Body.

“I’m glad that people like what I’ve put out. After working for so long, though, I want people to know I can do more than just samples,” says James Webster, a Philadelphia based artist who contributed two tracks to the tape. After a monstrously successful 2015 that saw death’s dynamic shroud.wmv gain attention from press and fans alike for moving vaporwave in a new direction, James says he wants to keep making music he enjoys, independent of scene politics.  “I’m glad that project was successful, and we did what we came to do, but I’m not sure any of us are going to be chopping up k-pop samples again in the near future.”

Patrick Magee also curated “Absolve U” with emerging talents in mind, and two of the most impressive tracks on the compilation come from newcomers PowerPCME and Location Services (a side project of Magic Fades). “It was impressive, because everyone had their own unique sound but the sum of their parts came together like puzzle pieces,” Patrick said of the curatorial process.

“Absolve U” is available now on Bandcamp as a limited edition, handmade cassette as well as a digital download.

The Black Experience on WKDU, Part 3: The John Minnis Big Bone Band

By Esmail Hamidi

Well, a lot of times things happen to you, and the only thing you can say about it is, “what can you do?”

So this blog entry is a big one for me. This blog entry covers the tape that started this whole project.

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The John Minnis Big Bone Band was a 21-piece ensemble headquartered in North Philadelphia. They were headed up by its namesake, John Minnis, the trombone player and vocalist. Among their ranks were some of the finest studio and touring musicians of Philadelphia, many still active today. And guess what radio station interviewed them in 1977?

Back in the winter, I found this tape in a dusty box with many, many others. Some of my findings on the Black Experience programs in the ’70s have been covered in Part 1 and Part 2. But this one is definitely among the crown jewels of KDU. The music they play from the band’s then-newly-released album, Classic-I Live, is top-notch. The tape’s in perfect shape. The interview…is pretty funny, to be honest. The hostess and musicians cover lots of info, with plenty of the goofy awkwardness endemic to college radio. Based on the remark that John Minnis’ birthday, May 22nd, was a Sunday coming up, I can (pretty confidently?) date the interview to Spring 1977. We might be dealing with some unreliable narrators here:  given that the record is supposed to have been released in 1979 (and how everyone on the tape seems to be feelin’ some kind of way), this date seems unlikely, but who knows.

I’ve probably listened to this interview fifty times. There was a period in the winter where I would listen to it on the way to class every morning. And while its 35 minutes are jam-packed with, well, jams, I knew I needed to track the full record down. According to the interview, if I was around in 1977, I could have picked it up at any of ten record stores – the long-defunct 3rd St. Jazz and King James Record Shop among them.

Trying to find the record: I put out feelers to all my record-collecting friends, with no luck. Apparently it was reissued in Japan in the mid-1990s, but a friend’s travels in Japan failed to yield anything other than directions to the “big band” sections of numerous record stores. Blast.  I ended up finding a copy online, and paying a stupid amount of money. But I got it. Score.

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The record itself has some great rough edges. The decidedly mid-fi production value of the live cuts leaves some flubbed notes out to dry. But – after all – this is a big band! The idea of 21 musicians (count ’em – 21!) churning out grooves like this live on stage is positively electrifying. I cite the extended percussion workout of “What Can You Do” (evident at the 11:30 mark in the interview) as a prime example. They just keep going. And the studio cuts are genuine rare classics. There are covers of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye tunes in there  (WHAT?!?) – someone’s bound to sample this one of these days. If you ever see this record while digging, grab it….

PS: This record was also mastered by Frank Virtue – a mentor of Gamble & Huff, and a prolific human fountain of Philadelphia independent music. And, as it weregarage rock…..

PPS: This May 22nd, 2016 is also a Sunday, as it were. If you’re reading this – happy birthday, John.

 

 

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard play Underground Arts this Sunday

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Still from “The River” music video

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard shows are sacred experiences. And if you’ve yet to attend one, now’s your chance. The seven of them will play Underground Arts on Sunday night (5/15/16) in support of their new album Nonagon Infinity– an album intended to be played in a continuous loop. Probably one of the most unpredictable bands out there right now, King Gizzard treats each album as its own conceptual piece. On Nonagon Infinity, each song flows into the next, including the last track back into the first, creating a never-ending circle of psych.

Accompanying them will be Philly’s own Mercury Girls and Melbourne’s The Murlocs.

While consisting of members of King Gizz, The Murlocs have a bit more of a melodic, folk-rock grounding. Stu Mackenzie (lead guitar/vocals of King Gizz) produced their latest album and second full length LP, released this March on Flightless Records and titled Young Blindness.

Mercury Girls (members of Literature and Little Big League) perfect a jangly pop-meets-shoe gaze sound, and are touring in support of their new 7″ and a split EP with Spook School, Tigercats and Wildhoney.

WKDU will present the show on Sunday (after the Punk Rock Flea Market), so come say hello, check out our merch and pick up one of our free zines!**

Watch videos for King Gizzard’s “Gamma Knife” and The Murlocs’ “Unknown Disease,” and stream Mercury Girls’ new single, “Ariana,” below.

 

**While supplies last Continue reading “King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard play Underground Arts this Sunday”