Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hey! WRMC has a new webpage/blog!!!

You should go to and check our awesome new website.

Much love.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Buy the new My Bloody Valentine album!!!!

It's been 22 years, aka longer than my entire life, for legendary Irish shoegazers My Bloody Valentine to release a follow-up to Loveless, one of the greatest LPs of the 1990s/all time. Seriously -- there are books about that album, probably thousands of bands directly inspired to start making music by that album, Sofia Coppola films whose sole purpose is to provide visual accompaniment to that album, and tearjerking essays all over the internet about its life-altering capabilities. It is sex and drugs and cotton candy and dreams and heavy rock music all at once. In 2012, reports surfaced -- including on this very site -- that the band was recording a new album, which they tantalizingly hinted could be finished "in two or three months."It took a bit longer, but given that nearly everyone assumed the reports were wishful thinking at best and a cruel prank by Kevin Shields & Co. at worst, that's just fine. Last night, the album went live on the My Bloody Valentine site. The site crashed within seconds due to high traffic, a testament to their rabid fan base (yours truly amongst the guilty parties, sadly pressing "refresh" for hours in the middle of the night). Now the site is up and running, and you can purchase the new album, entitled m b v (that's the cover art above) in three different packages: a digital download (FLAC, WAV, or MP3); a CD + digital download; or vinyl + CD + digital download. I am listening to it now; it's difficult to gauge quality from the first listen but while obviously not better than Loveless, it certainly holds its own. As dreamy and heavy as ever. Go forth and buy m b v! You've certainly been waiting long enough. Here's the tracklist below, and a Youtube of My Bloody Valentine's "Sometimes":

m b v:
1. She Found Now
2. Only Tomorrow
3. Who Sees You
4. Is This And Yes
5. If I Am
6. New You
7. In Another Way
8. Nothing Is
9. Wonder 2

Monday, January 28, 2013

UPDATE: The Knife just released a totally insane ten-minute video for their new single, "Full Of Fire"

Watch it here, courtesy of Pitchfork. See below for more details on the Knife's comeback! Enjoy not sleeping ever again.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hear "Full Of Fire," the new single by The Knife

If you're a fan of Swedish duo The Knife (Karin Andersson + her brother, Olaf Dreijer) -- and, let's face it, with 2004's steel-drum-brandishing dancefloor crossover smash "Heartbeats" and one of the best, most stylistically innovative LPs of the 2000s (2006's Silent Shout) to their name, who isn't? -- then you already know that it requires patience (and a strong stomach). Since the malevolent classic Silent Shout, Andersson released her haunting and brilliant solo debut as Fever Ray and Dreijer's dabbled in straightforward techno work, but the only thing the siblings have released together was a strange, inaccessible 2010 opera about Charles Darwin (???) called Tomorrow In A Year, a collaborative effort with Planningtorock and Mt. Sims. Then, a few weeks ago (UGH FINALLY), they cryptically announced a new album due in 2013, Shaking The Habitual. The nine-minute first single, "Full Of Fire," just leaked and holy shit is it awesome or is it awesome? Answer: it is awesome!!!! Thing bangs hard like it's Joy Division's "She's Lost Control" on MDMA. Stereogum has a Youtube of the track right now, click here. Listen quick, it'll probably get taken down soon, but never fear; if it does disappear, I will update this post as soon as it resurfaces! You won't want to miss this incredibly talented duo's big return.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Astronautalis Interview

I sat down with Jacksonville FL rapper, Astronautalis ("but for the love of God, call me Andy") before his set at High Ground last month. He spent September and October on tour with Flobots and he's now on tour in Russia. He crafts music that blends hip-hop, folk and indie rock into something really unique and engaging. His most recent album "This Is Our Science" was released last fall and has been his greatest success yet.  He talked to me about his recent success as well as his artistic progress and the journey he's had throughout his 15-year career.

Your album came out a year ago, how has it been since then?
It's been an insane surprise actually. I don't think anybody expected the album to do as well as it did.  We didn't have a marketing push or anything like that and it blew up. It was on a label called Fake Four, but there are only two employees. It outsold everything I've ever done in the first month and it was a great affirmation that people gave a shit.

You music spans across genres-how do you classify it?
I still consider myself a rapper because that's what I grew up doing, even though the music I make isn't always rap. The music that I make isn't really rap music anymore, but I still will approach a country song like a rap song. It's not really my job to classify it-that's everyone else's job.

How did you get started?
I started rapping when I was 12 or 13- I taught myself through freestyle but I didn't really write a song for about 8 years. From there I got invited to bigger battles around the country and to open for different artists.

And you went to school as well, right?
I went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas and studied theatre- I wanted to be a director and lighting designer for theatre, opera, and ballet.

How did that tie in to the rapping- you were doing at the time?
Battling isn't like an art form-it's a craft. So I was studying this craft in my free time and this art in the daytime. It took me a while to find a place where they fit together. I didn't grow up jamming in a band so my artistic process is the artistic process I got from theatre. - When I make my records I use that formula. I still use my theatre training every single day as a rapper now.

I'm really obsessed with melodrama and large scale- nothing that I do is subtle and I like broad strokes.

I've been going to Europe a lot in the pat few years- more into central and Eastern Europe. That's my favorite- it's an interesting time for that region. Once the USSR split up they became these little petri dishes of nationality. It's not a lucrative place to tour, by any means, but it's an interesting time to travel through there. I got there to learn- driving through Eastern Europe and bribing cops and shit? That's stuff I won't get to do anywhere else.

Is there a large difference with the crowds there?
People in America go to shows to sing along with a band- they try to figure out when the headliner's going on and get there right before theat. Over there, it's a loyalty to a club and they'll see everything and to discover new music.
Are you working on any new music?
There are two new bands I'm working on- one with Justin Vernon and Ryan Olson and Sean Kerry. And I'm working on an album with P.O.S. that we've been working on for a long time. I'm all over his new album but we're working on a record together that we've finally had time to work on and hopefully put the nail in the coffin.

With "This is Our Science" was there a different theme from your other albums?
Each album I work on has a concept- I work better in limitations. What opens that for me is the language; I try to change the language of every record. The second record was really with prose and raw emoting- it was literary, like a collection of short stories circling around the myth of Persephone. The latest record was supposed to feel like having a glass of whiskey with the audience.

How do you create that connection with your audience and fan base?
I try to be really frank about my artistic arc. I try to make it so they can see the artistic line through my albums so that they have a context. But ultimately, it just becomes trust- letting it out into the ether and hoping that it lands on people's hearts.

Astronautalis- Dimitri Mendeleev

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Albums we can't wait to hear: Winter 2013 Edition

Dear DJs, readers, listeners, et. al.,

Welcome to J-Term! Whether you're living the Admissions-brochure dream (sledding on dining hall trays, partying every night, leaving the Snow Bowl only once a week to attend your workshop "The Lost Art of Italian Cupcake Decoration"), opting to "challenge yourself" by taking Orgo or a foreign language (, or putting your career first by taking an internship at Goldman-Sachs/an "internship" at your hometown's local cafe, you're gonna need some music to soundtrack those dreary, minus-10-degrees-Fahrenheit-and-that's-not-even-with-windchill days which, do not forget, are THE BEST OF OUR LIVES. Played good kid, MAAD city and Celebration Rock ad nauseam lately? Hoping for some new sounds on your winter playlist? Fortunately, unlike the film industry, January is as prime an album-release time as any other. Below, learn which albums due out in January, as well as February and March, you can anticipate brightening up your seasonal-affective-disorder-ified VT winter. Stream them online, pick 'em up on iTunes or at a record store (...), or just tune into WRMC 91.1 FM, where they'll likely be in Rotation. Happy J-Term!

A$AP Rocky, Long.Live.A$AP [1/15, RCA]
The second full-length from increasingly hip rapper A$AP Rocky has been in development hell for some time; here's hoping it actually gets released at all, let alone on time. RIYL: Danny Brown, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Danny Brown, SpaceGhostPurrp.

Atoms For Peace, Amok [2/26, XL]
Thom Yorke named his new supergroup, featuring legendary producer Nigel Godrich and members of R.E.M. and Red Hot Chili Peppers, after one of his own songs (from the Godrich-produced solo album The Eraser). Which, I think, tells you a fair amount about what this album will sound like, and even more about Thom Yorke. RIYL: Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich, Radiohead.

Autre Ne Veut, Anxiety [2/26, Software]
This Brooklyn R&B singer-songwriter's amazing 2010 effort went unregarded, but as that genres gained more traction in his home borough, anticipation is rightly building for his follow-up. If mind-blowing lead single "Counting" is anything to judge by, this one's gonna be a knockout. RIYL: AlunaGeorge, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Ford & Lopatin, Grimes, How To Dress Well, that one Usher song.

Beach Fossils, Clashing The Truth [2/19, Captured Tracks]
The Captured Tracks flagship is back with, we assume, more spindly guitars, wistful emotions, and lovely album artwork. RIYL: the Cure, Craft Spells, DIIV, Minks, the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Veronica Falls, Wild Nothing.

Blue Hawaii, Untogether  [1/22, Arbutus]
A side project for Raphaelle Standell-Preston, frontwoman of the Montreal band Braids -- who were responsible for this writer's favorite album of 2011, the stunning Native Speaker -- Blue Hawaii channels that band's eccentric vocals, spacey keyboards, aquatic found sounds, and bracingly intelligent lyrics about the ecstasies and, mostly, agonies of sexuality into shorter, more distilled pop form. RIYL: Bjork, Braids, Eleanor Friedberger, Grimes, Purity Ring, Twin Sister.

Broadcast, Berberian Sound Studio (Original Film Soundtrack) [1/4, Warp]
If your tastes run to the psychedelic, the spooky, and the sophisticated, this horror film soundtrack by legendary British duo Broadcast -- completed after the untimely death in 2011 of frontwoman Trish Keenan -- should fit the bill. RIYL: Animal Collective, Bell Orchestre, the Focus Group, Goblin, Nico, Stereolab, Twin Sister, the United States of America.

Christopher Owens, Lysandre [1/15, Fat Possum]
The Girls frontman is back following that band's recent breakup, with what we can expect to be another batch of instant-classic pop-rock gems. RIYL: The Beach Boys, Best Coast, Big Star, Elvis Costello, Girls, Mac DeMarco.

David Bowie, The Next Day [3/12, Columbia]
The glam-rock god's return from retirement is most definitely the biggest music-related event of the season. Do I need to qualify why? RIYL: David Bowie!!!!!!!!!

Destiny's Child, Lovesong [1/19, Columbia]
The only record that can challenge the claim I just made about David Bowie. RIYL: Destiny's Child!!!!!!

Devendra Banhart, Mala [3/12, Nonesuch]
Back when "freak-folk" was a thing, Devendra Banhart was its Christ figure (no, seriously, look at pictures). Since "freak-folk" ceased to be a thing, no one has mourned the loss of yet another dumb sub-genre tag, but many have mourned Banhart's lovely, lightly psychedelic, T. Rex-aping folk music, which took a turn for the worse around the same time. Mala presents a chance for Banhart to get back in the good graces of critics and fans alike. Alas, however, former lover and partner-in-peacoats Natalie Portman ( has moved on and gotten married to someone else. :( RIP Hip Couple Of The Millennium. RIYL: Bert Jansch, Fleet Foxes, Joanna Newsom, T. Rex, Vetiver.

Ducktails, The Flower Lane [1/29, Domino]
Matt Mondanile is better known as a member of Real Estate, but his fourth album as Ducktails is being released on high-profile indie label Domino suggests he poised for a big break as a solo artist. RIYL: Atlas Sound, Avey Tare, Julian Lynch, Mac DeMarco, Real Estate.

Eels, Wonderful Glorious [2/5, Vagrant]
I have no idea if this band is still any good, but man they used to be great so cross your fingers. RIYL: Badly Drawn Boy, Big Star, Elliott Smith, Sparklehorse.

Ellen Allien, LISm [3/12, BPitch Control]
The stone-cold maven of Berlin minimalist techno is back, so dig out your black leather pants. RIYL: Bjork, Daphni, Felix Da Housecat, Pantha Du Prince, Simian Mobile Disco.

Esben And The Witch, Wash The Sins Not Only The Face [1/22, Matador]
In 2011, British goth-rock trio Esben And The Witch released one of the least pleasant music videos in recent memory, for their track "Marching Song," in which the band members' faces became increasingly battered and bloody as the stark, forbidding, absolutely fearsome post-punk tune slowly built to an earsplitting climax. The track and the video both made for powerful art. The album that spawned them, Violet Cries, unfortunately did not live up to that standard, instead delivering "Marching Song" and ten derivatives of its elegant formula of minimalism and aggression. Especially given the cultural currency of goth rock in the pop scene since 2010 or so, the reviews were understandably lukewarm and audiences failed to latch on. However, hopefully the band have learned from their missteps and corrected them on their sophomore album; their live show, at any rate, is supposed to be phenomenal, terrifying, and cathartic, so even if this album isn't your cup of tea, see if you can't get a ticket. RIYL: Tamaryn, Zola Jesus.

FIDLAR, FIDLAR [1/22, Mom and Pop]
Really loud, scrappy, high-energy punk rock about drinking in basements? We'll take it. RIYL: Black Flag, Japandroids, Nirvana.

Foals, Holy Fire [2/12, Transgressive]
This band consistently puts out albums of mediocre post-punk revivalism touted as "experimental," "genre-bending," and, least explicably of all, "math-rock." But, ok, we'll hold out for Foals; maybe they'll make good this time. RIYL: allegedly, Battles; actually, Bloc Party.

Grouper, The Man Who Died In His Boat [2/4, Kranky]
Oregon-based Liz Harris, aka Grouper, makes haunting, reverb-soaked drone-folk about dragging dead deer up hills (among other things); it's more mesmerizing and lovely than that might make it sound to the uninitiated, I promise. RIYL: Belong, the Caretaker, Julianna Barwick, Mount Eerie, Sleep-Over.

How to destroy angels_, Welcome oblivion [3/5, Columbia]
The latest effort from Trent Reznor's post-Nine Inch Nails group will hopefully sound a little less like NIN with a different singer than their two EPs. RIYL: The idea of NIN with a female lead singer.

Iceage, You're Nothing [2/19, Matador]
Danish band continues to blend punk, post-punk, hardcore, goth, and doom metal into a bracing, at times grueling, but successfully accessible pop package. Meanwhile, presumably, noses (and guitars) will continue to be regularly broken at their shows. Allegedly, these barely-legal Danes incorporate piano into their new material and even wrote a "ballad"; I'll believe it when I read a report of a keyboard smashing someone in the face at an Iceage concert. RIYL: Ceremony, Cult of Youth, Holograms, Fucked Up, Joy Division, Wire.

Jamie Liddell, Jamie Liddell [2/19, Warp]
While critics were heaping praise on James Blake's elegant cut-and-pasted R&B aesthetic in 2010, longtime fans of Jamie Liddell everywhere sneered collectively, "Yeah, and...?" Now, they're wondering if this album from glitch-happy '70s/'80s soul devotee Liddell will put those upstarts in their place, or at least validate Liddell in the context of a trend he prefigured years ago. RIYL: Autre Ne Veut, James Blake, Junior Boys, Max Tundra, Moby.

Javelin, Hi Beams [3/5, Luaka Bop]
Javelin are the world's answer to the Avalanches after Avalanches went on indefinite hiatus. Javelin's sample-based grooves hew close to the earlier band's territory but are a little more relaxed and have a more pronounced hip-hop bent. RIYL: Air France, Avalanches, Delicate Steve, Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

Jim James, Regions Of Light And Sounds Of God [2/5, AMO]
This man, who you may know as the frontman of My Morning Jacket, has a voice like honey AND the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, at the same time! RIYL: Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Cat Power, Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes, My Morning Jacket, Phosphorescent.

Johnny Marr, The Messenger [2/26, RCA]
LEGENDARY SMITHS* GUITARIST RELASES SOLO ALBUM OMG. RIYL: The Smiths, except not Morrissey. *Also Modest Mouse, but I'm not about to all-caps that.

Lisa Germano, no elephants [2/12, Badman]
The high-art stalwart gives us what is, presumably, another collection of lovely orchestral pop. RIYL: Julia Holter, Kate Bush, Nico.

Local Natives, Hummingbird [1/29, Frenchkiss]
Well this'll be fun. RIYL: Born Ruffians, Fang Island, Male Bonding, Port O'Brien.

Major Lazer, Free The Universe [Mad Decent]
Destined for never-ending rotation at Brooker dance parties. RIYL: Diplo.

Mark Kozelek, Like Rats [2/19, Caldo Verde]
Mark Kozelek is maybe getting to prolific for his own good, since the late '00s/early '10s have seen each successive record diluting his once-devastating brand of sluggishly-paced angst into an unhealthy mixture of laid-back acoustic noodling and, like, Dashboard Confessional. RIYL: Cat Power, Red House Painters, Smog, Sun Kil Moon.

Marnie Stern, The Chronicles of Marnia [3/19, Kill Rock Stars]
It is bewildering that Marnie Stern is not a superstar. She certainly has the talent, the pedigree, the verve, and the singularity. She's like a cheerleader with anger issues who can, by the way, play the electric guitar more skillfully (and, perhaps, more strangely) than anyone else in existence -- if you're unfamiliar with her work, think power-metal meets high school pep rally meets Abstract Epxressionism. Or, if you prefer, Sleigh Bells with fewer amps and a LOT more technical ability. Prepare to be dazzled and confused (and also, maybe, emotionally wrecked). RIYL: Death Grips, Sleigh Bells.

MillionYoung, Variable [2/12, Old Flame]
Getting a head start on beach season, I see. RIYL: 2009.

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Push The Sky Away [2/19, Anti-]
After his time in the brash, crass side project Grinderman -- which found Cave recovering the swagger and snarl of his early records with backing band the Seeds as well as his early-1980s days fronting the Birthday Party -- fans everywhere are crossing their fingers for a new album that puts the "Bad" back in  "Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds" (and, yeah, the "Nick Cave," too). From the appropriately vicious sound of early singles, be careful what you wish for! RIYL: Pixies, Swans, Tom Waits.

Phosphorescent, Muchacho [3/19, Dead Oceans]
Sad, bearded man with acoustic guitar writes bleak, lushly arranged folk-rock. There's a lot of that in the world, but few of those bearded men are as sad as Phosphorescent, and few of their songs are as bleak or lushly arranged as his. RIYL: Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Mark Kozelek, Sigur Ros, Willie Nelson.

Pissed Jeans, Honeys [2/12, Sub Pop]
Sub Pop gets back to its original business of releasing wild, abrasive, and wildly, abrasively fun rock. RIYL: Black Flag, the Jesus Lizard, Nirvana, Pixies, Slint.

The Ruby Suns, Christopher [1/29, Sub Pop]
All I know about this is that it's more from the pleasant, '60s-worshipping, Afro-inflected group. RIYL: The Dodos, Here We Go Magic, the Morning Benders, Vampire Weekend, the Very Best.

Shout Out Louds, Optica [2/26, Merge]
This Swedish sextet has always had trouble finding an audience, and their critical reception has tended toward the lukewarm. However, they've got some absolute gems in their back catalog -- especially the 2010 anthem about overcoming depression, "Walls" -- and perhaps Optica is the release where their impeccable taste, rich arrangements, and knack for melody coalesce. RIYL: Jens Lekman, Peter Bjorn and John, The Shins.

Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob [1/29, Warner]
I can't talk about this band without insulting them or their target audience. But they have a new album out... RIYL: I can't. I'm sorry. I just can't. I don't want to be mean.

Toro Y Moi, Anything in Return [1/22, Carpark]
It's been interesting to see what the figureheads of the much-maligned "chillwave" trend c. summer 2009 have done with their careers since their signature sound became deeply unfashionable. Where Washed Out went Air, Neon Indian went M83, and Memory Tapes went to shit, Toro Y Moi has had by far the most interesting career arc. His last album, Underneath the Pines, naturally extended his original sound into a collection of digitally warped, New Age-y soul-funk; he claims that Anything in Return is his most full-on "pop"-oriented collection yet. RIYL: Gnarls Barkley, Jamie Liddell, Memory Tapes, Neon Indian, Washed Out.

Ulrich Schnauss, A Long Way To Fall [2/12, Domino]
The ever-dependable Schnauss can be expected to deliver another swoon-inducing batch of lush, shoegaze-indebted instrumental electronica expertly calibrated to make driving through the wintry VT landscape ten times more glacially epic. RIYL: Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Caribou, M83, Sigur Ros.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, II [2/5, Jagjaguwar]
These guys kicked 2011's butt and now they're back for more. Their second LP contains more of the weird melodies, psychedelic vibes, instant sing-along-ability, and fuzzed-out speaker-shredding beats as their first, so mind your eardrums and buckle up. RIYL: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Sleigh Bells.

Veronica Falls, Waiting For Something To Happen [2/12, Slumberland]
UK indie poppers blend studied/studious early-'90s twee mannerisms, white-hot shoegaze guitars, and a goth-y lyrical outlook; their 2011 debut was a non-starter due to lack of inspiration, but the band's singles are strong and suggest a more mature album awaits us in February. RIYL: Beach Fossils, Minks.

Widowspeak, Almanac [1/22, Captured Tracks]
Widowspeak made a splash in 2011 with their retro album art, menacing basslines, stark sense of distance and longing, and haunting Chris Isaak cover/uncanny Hope Sandoval impression, but their debut album failed to deliver. Perhaps they fare better (and copy Mazzy Star less) on their sophomore effort. RIYL: Beach Fossils, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Lower Dens, Mazzy Star, Tamaryn.

Yo La Tengo, Fade [1/15, Matador]
Yep, indie rock mainstays YLT are still at it, and given their near-perfect, multi-decade track record, their age shouldn't be much of an issue. RIYL: Deerhunter, the Fiery Furnaces, the Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Real Estate.

Youth Lagoon, Wondrous Bughouse [3/5, Fat Possum]
Even though this album title encapsulates everything that Youth Lagoon detractors such as yours truly find vomit-inducing about this band, there is of course the chance that it's a feint and Youth Lagoon's latest will leave the saccharine cliches behind while still deftly conveying both wonder and humility. RIYL: Beach Fossils, Perfume Genius, Wild Nothing.

That's a lot of albums! It's looking to be a great three months for music fans. And that's hardly all -- also be on the lookout for new work by Autechre, Deptford Goth, Foxygen, Girls' Names, Holopaw, Jessie Ware, Lil Wayne, Low, Mogwai, New Order, Nightlands, Nosaj Thing, Pantha du Prince & The Bell Laboratory, Parenthetical Girls, Psychic Ills, PVT, Ra Ra Riot, Raekwon, Rhye, Starfucker, Suuns, Ty Segall, Wavves, and many others!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

WRMC's Top 20 Albums of 2012

Welcome back! It's J-Term (yay-term, play-term, etc.), which means we all have plenty of free time to catch up on whatever music we might've missed in the hustle and bustle of fall semester! This year in music brought us an impressive slew of new releases from both old favorites and new starlets. Veteran rock-gods like Swans and Converge reimagined their genre with monolithic guitar rifts. Rising international sensations like Taylor Swift and fun. arguably saved pop music. For fans of hip-hop and rap, releases from Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus introduced a new standard of soulful sophistication. Indie-pop endured with dreamy, reverb-drenched records from Beach House, grand orchestrations from Grizzly Bear, and modernized folk ballads from Mumford & Sons. All in all, 2012 was a swell year for music of all genres, as artists challenged conventions and surpassed expectations. Check out our twenty favorite albums of the year... 

20. Mumford & Sons, Babel 

Riding high on the success of their 2010 debut Sigh No More, British indie-rock sensation Mumford & Sons once again took the charts by storm with a new set of rousing folk revival tunes. With electrifying guitar rifts and heartfelt lyrics that routinely reference Shakespeare and Steinbeck, frontman Marcus Mumford refuses to fall victim to the sophomore-album-slump. The record is nominated for four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. 

19. Dan Deacon, America

In an open letter to his fans prolific electronic musician Dan Deacon confesses, “I never felt American until I left the United States”. His latest release undoubtedly echoes this sentiment, drenched in a panoramic nostalgia for his homeland. The ambitious four-track orchestral movement that closes the album identifies Deacon as composer beyond jam-master, and is arguably the best thing he’s written to date. 

18. Jessie Ware, Devotion 

British singer-songwriter Jessie Ware first emerged singing vocals for SBTRKT and Joker, but soon made a strong name for herself with the standout single “Wildest Moments”. Ware’s smoky voice and modern R&B stylings have earned her a distinct spot in the indie-pop milieu. Devotion was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize, placing Ware among notable soul sensations like Adele, Amy Winehouse and PJ Harvey. 

17. Taylor Swift, Red 

Country starlet and mainstream-pop sensation Taylor Swift once again stole America’s hearts with her expansive genre-bending Red. From electro-pop breakup anthems (“I Knew You Were Trouble”) to classic country arrangements (“Stay Stay Stay”) to brooding British indie-rock ballads (“The Last Time”), Red has something for everyone. This is not to say the album is scattered or overproduced; rather, it is telling of Swift’s natural ability to cross boundaries and bridge wide musical gaps with her compelling narratives and unforgettable hooks. 

16. Bat for Lashes, The Haunted Man  

In an interview with the Quietus, Bat for Lashes’ leading lady Natasha Khan stated that her latest album was about “letting go of the things that haunt me”. While The Haunted Man does resonate with mourning and tragedy, it also rings with empowerment, empathy, and ambition. Khan’s new release reimagines and refines the progressive-folk dance numbers for which she is known, culminating in a sincere and soulful set of dark pop standout tracks. 

15. Cat Power, Sun

Chan Marshall’s confident, cool and undeniably dance-able Sun was the last thing we expected from the brooding blues-rock super-starlet. Nevertheless, the album channels 80s synth anthems and Joy Division to create a brilliant collection of off-beat party music. Emotional, risky, and rewarding, Sun proves that the once volatile Marshall has finally come into her own as an artist. 

14. Animal Collective, Centipede Hz 

Following their critical and commercial breakthrough with 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, cult superstars and veteran weirdos Animal Collective returned with the ambitious Centipede Hz. Both overwhelmingly busy and static at the same time, Centipede Hz seeks to embrace the 21st century sensory overload and digital drone. With this release, Animal Collective pushes their maximal aesthetic to the extreme, and the results are undeniably rewarding, however surprising. 

13. Fun., Some Nights 

Fun.’s lead vocalist Nate Ruess is no newcomer in the world of indie-pop; the singer-songwriter gained a notable cult following with his early-2000s outfit, The Format. It was until Fun.’s second studio release, however, that Ruess attracted a mainstream audience. Some Nights teems with energy and personality, earning the band 6 Grammy nominations, three for the single “We Are Young”, two for the album itself and one for Best New Artist. 

12. Purity Ring, Shrines 

With futuristic pop melodies and dark dub beats, Canadian duo Purity Ring has made a name for themselves amongst the slew of electro-pop artists that took 2012 by storm. Vocalist Megan James draws in her audience with affecting narratives of unrequited love, debilitating addictions, and supernatural phenomena. As the duo’s debut album, Shrines leaves listeners pining for more of James’ reverb-drenched melodies crooned over dark and haunting dance beats. 

11. Japandroids, Celebration Rock 

With rousing, call-and-response hooks and offbeat arena anthems, Japandroids are 2012’s most ambitious new artistand they aren’t new! The Vancouver duo has been making music since 2006, but their most recent release, Celebration Rock, identified the group as indie rock superstars. The album, riddled with demanding melodies and powerful lyrics, is entirely the product of two hardworking musicians pushing themselves to unbelievable lengths. And by god, does it work. 

10. Grizzly Bear, Shields 

With their fourth album, Brooklyn avant-garde pop sensation Grizzly Bear bulk up their standard orchestral harmonies with thundering rhythms, overwhelming ambient drones and passionate lyrics. Shields is both the band’s most collaborative and cohesive to date, full of baroque compositions and polished with meticulous production, earning its place on international charts and countless year-end lists. 

9. Converge, All We Love We Leave Behind 

Even as veteran hardcore rock gods, Converge still manage to deliver an intensely manic, aggressive and raw energy for all thirty-eight minutes of All We Love We Leave Behind. But with a second listen, you’ll hear the thoughtful compositions and technical mastery which first positioned the band among metal’s biggest and best. The album reimagines the punk standards of vocalist Jacob Bannon’s youth into something both fresh and familiar, making it an irrefutable success. 

8. Flying Lotus, Until the Quiet Comes 

Throughout his last five years as Flying Lotus, Steve Ellison has lead the way in electronic music construction and production, crafting smooth and atmospheric beats. On his latest album, Ellison moves effortlessly from futuristic jazz to heavy synth dance rhythms to. Until the Quiet Comes is undeniably elegant in both conception and execution, securing Ellison’s status as one of the greatest sound engineers in contemporary music. 

7. Grimes, Visions

In 2012, Canadian avant-garde princess Claire Boucher rocked the music world with her weirdly danceable bizarro synth-pop. The wildly ambitious Visions successfully bridges all sorts of gaps—between R&B and EDM, human and computer, commercial and cutting-edge. The album earned Grimes universal critical acclaim and a cult internet following. Whether hollering a medieval chant or crooning a sugary-sweet melody, Boucher manages to amaze and astonish listeners with every track. 

6. Swans, The Seer

When Michael Gira’s band of post-punk pioneers reunited in 2010 after more than ten years on hiatus, listeners expected great things. As their second release since the resurrection, The Seer does not disappoint: the album is cinematically extravagant. Mostly acoustic, the album relies on these musicians’ raw aggression to provide a grueling eleven-track adventure. The Seer showcases exactly what Swans does best: not just challenge the boundaries between violence and beauty, music and noise, but ultimately transcend them. 

5. Dirty Projectors, Swing Low Magellan 

David Longstreth is famed for delivering demanding arrangements, jammed packed with complex harmonies, flashy dissonances, and surprising meter shifts. But Swing Low Magellan proves that Longstreth’s formula for the fantastic isn’t all show. Nominally stripped down, the album highlights Dirty Projector’s technical skill, lyrical genius, and undeniable sincerity. With Swing Low, Longstreth seems to be saying that, even after a decade-long run, his thirst for musical exploration is far from quenched. 

4. Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d. City 

Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album was arguably the most talked about major-label rap record of the year, and with good reason. The Compton rapper delivers vidid narratives with gripping lyrical technique, spewing stories that cover everything from the pure excitement of young romance to the harsh realities of gang violence. Selling over half a million copies within its first two month on shelves, good kid secured its status as not only a hit record, but easily one of the most important rap releases in nearly a decade. 

3. Beach House, Bloom 

With their latest release, Baltimore duo Beach House has managed to win over everyone from college radio stations to Jay-Z and Beyonce to Billboard 200. The duo’s undeniably knack for blending brooding lyrics with blissful melodies has earned them universal acclaim and a cult following. Drenched in Victoria Legrand’s eerie contralto and Alex Scally’s hypnotizing guitar licks, Bloom presents itself as arguably the best dream-pop album to date. 

2. Frank Ocean, Channel Orange 

2012 met 25-year old singer Frank Ocean with a whirlwind of headlines and hype, and the Odd-Future member handled it with undeniable cool. Ocean’s Channel Orange feels both timeless and incredibly now, spinning tales of West Coast decadence, strip clubs and unrequited love. The record not only marks one of the most exciting R&B breakthroughs of the decade, but promises budding genius from a young artist on the rise. 

1. Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel...

Fiona Apple refused to settle for ‘one-hit-wonder’ and her picture on the front of Rolling Stone’s 1998 “Year of the Woman” issue. The 35-year-old has spent the last fifteen years as something of an emblem for self-empowered female musicians, but her latest release makes clear that Apple is more empowered than ever, shedding the shackles of her past. The Idler Wheel... is raw, unfamiliar, and strikingly beautiful in all of its simplicity. Apple has refined her lyrics, her voice, and her performance, resulting in an indisputable success. For Apple, 2012 is not “The Year of the Woman”, but simply her year. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Vacationer Interview

Last month, WRMC introduced the first annual Grooveyard- a new tradition for the radio to host a concert on Halloween weekend. I sat down with Kenny Vasoli, the singer of Vacationer, the show's headliner. An old-timer in the music scene, Vacationer is Vasoli’s new project hailing from Philly, with a shoe-gaze, Beach House-inspired vibe. The band's album "Gone" was released in March. We talked about everything from the band's conception to "pumpkin pie almonds"..Here you have it. Many thanks to Kenny for sitting down to chat.

What do you do musically in the band?
I'm the singer and I'm the bassist and writing wise I wrote the bass lines and the guitar lines and the vocals. And I have two writing partners— Matt, who's playing vibraphone with us, and his partner Grant. They’re in a band called Body Language and I started writing with them in the summer of 2010 and that's how this came about.

That's really cool. Where are you stationed?
Well, all of us, besides Matt, we live in Philadelphia.

So how do you fit into the music scene there? Philly isn't really what I think of when I think of the music from vacationer.
No, no [laughs] yeah, we've pretty much cut our teeth playing in new york and Brooklyn so we've only played Philly three times so we're trying to, y’know, trying to build up a scene there and um trying to throw some parties and get the word out and sort of cut our own little notch in Philadelphia but it's still a work in progress

With this type of music– you said you wanted to do electronic– were there any certain influences that drove you to that point or is it just sort of wanting to do something new?
Well I'd always really liked electronic music, since like 2005. I think it was around then that I started discovering, y'know, Four Tet and Aphex Twins, even Venetian Snares and all sorts of stuff like that, and I was always a huge radiohead fan . I always loved the way they integrated electronic music in with rock 'n' roll. And then once 2009-2010 rolled around, then I started getting heavy into bands like Beach House and Radio Department– the shoe gaze side of electronic music.

The idea of "vacationer"- you guys have songs called "Trip" and "Gone"- do you see this band as a concept project or is it just a result of writing low key music?
It definitely- the concept is pretty apparent almost feels like concept is kind of a dirty word.But, I think it's more just the "vibe", y'know?
When we set out to do this it was really something just so I could get away from the usual music that I was playing and sort of give my ears a vacation from, like, such loud banging symbols and distorted guitars and stuff like that, and having to not yell at the top of my lungs, y'know?

What is it like having the anonyminity of a new band-If you try to look you guys up online there is zero!
Yeah and there's way more now that there used to be. When we released "Trip" there was nothing. And I was so thrilled that people started listening to it and started blogging about it not knowing that it was me.  Like, certain people had hints because they knew my voice well enough. But that made me really excited that I could still write music that people would be excited about just by hearing it- not like, having to ride the coattails of things that I'd done before.

As far as the songwriting goes, how does it work? You said you do the lyrics and the bass- do you guys all just sit down, do you come with different pieces and try to piece it all together?
We have. Yeah, it kind of spans everything as far as that goes.  More times than not, Matt and Grant will be up at their studio and they'll just kind of be in the box on their computer just messing around and then they'll send me one minute loops, 30 second loops. And then I'll take the loops and I'll put them into my computer and cut them and paste them in a little bit of a different way, or just extend them and then put my guitar, bass, and vocals on top of that and send them a rough idea of what I have. And then they'll be like "Alright, this is good" or "maybe not this" or something like that- just throw me a bit of direction. And usually, by that trade and correspondence, we will get together and lay down the final version.

Are you on a label or is it self-released?
We're on downtown records.

And how did that come to be?
Once we released "Trip" then we were reached out to by a few labels and Downtown was one of the first ones. And by that point we were like "wow". We were like "what could really be a more ideal label for us than them.” And they don't really sign many bands, so they were very excited about having us on the label. And very quickly— once we realized we were one the same page as them and that they had the same vision for the band that we did— we pretty much just made that our home.

What can we expect from a live show? What's the- well, I don't want to say "vibe" because the vibe is pretty apparent from the music but...How does it switch up from the recordings?
I'd say that the danceabiity is a little more apparent live once you see us kind of grooving to it.  And with all the live instruments it's slightly more hyped up than the record.  Like the record is pretty minimal as far as instrumentation goes.  We expand on that. We try not to crowd the sound but we just try to have it a little more dynamic live and have it pop a bit more.  We also have some visuals too.

Yeah, I saw the big screen set up for the show!
Yeah, we have like old archive, basically vacation footage that we tripped out with some after effects. It's like psychedelic vacations.

Did you just find the footage?
Yeah, most of it is found. Some of it is from movies- just from like public domain servers.

Ok I'm going to do a quick round of "Halloween Favorites" because this is our Grooveyard concert. 

Favorite scary movie?
"The Shining" is really great... Kubrick is great. Anything Kubrick.  I don't know if you'd consider it a scary movie— I like creepy movies like "Blue Velvet,” any Lynch films. Yeah, stuff like that. And we just saw one of Kronenberg's first movies called "The Brood"; we took our projector into a hotel room and Mike had "The Brood" on his computer and we were watching it on the hotel wall and it was so freaky. I definitely recommend it around Halloween time.

Favorite Halloween costume?
Uh, I've been a Frenchman the past two years- we didn't realize that it was a costume party! So we dropped the ball on that. But the French man, if you have a striped shirt and a beret an eyebrow pencil then it's a pretty cheap and easy costume.

Favorite Fall Food?
Oh man... Oh, you know at my supermarket they have like these pumpkin- covered almonds?

How do they even do that?
It's just like pumpkin pie flavored almonds. This is like chocolate covered almonds but take the chocolate and make it pumpkin flavored.

Ooh that sounds so good.
Oh yeah, it's really good.  I've been annihilating them.

 Well on that note, I guess I'll let you get dinner. But thank you for the interview.; it was awesome. Talking to you. Thank you.
Yeah, great talking to you too. Thank you very much!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Mr|Tots New Original Series

The Middlebury Radio Theater of Thrills and Suspense (Mr|Tots) produces live audio drama every Saturday from 6:00pm-8:00pm on WRMC.

This week will feature Part Two of the original series The Wild You, written and directed by David Seamans, scored by Dustin Lowman. Listen to Part One here.

A description of the show:

For two years Jay has forgotten his self and his past, hitching across the country. But when an ill-tempered train conductor breaks his leg, he's forced to recuperate in a desert trailer park named Starport. While he struggles to hold his wild self at bay, Jay rediscovers music, friendship, and love. But is it enough to stop him from destroying himself and Starport with him? Written and directed by David Seamans. Music by Dustin Lowman. Recorded live with the Middlebury Radio Theater of Thrills and Suspense.


Monday, November 12, 2012

The La’s – The La’s. Get listening. People should give a brit about these Liverpudlians.

The past few weeks have seen the ‘Don’t Give a Brit’ boys cover the 90s in three short slots. So, in true ‘Don’t Give a Brit’ style,  I am completing this lack of an overall and thorough assessment in writing this week’s blog on an album released in the 1990 which fails to actually adhere to many of the iconic musical sounds that defined the remainder of the decade. I do not wish to eclipse the great music acts of Oasis, Blur and the like who came after this band, but I do wish to suggest that they owe a big debt to the Liverpudlian four-piece.
                When you think of a Liverpudlian four-piece, it is not The La’s that immediately spring to mind. The band embodies this distinct Merseybeat ( sound and as a result could not avoid comparisons with The Beatles. This genuine, rootsy and authentic sound is achieved through The La’s unadorned acoustic arrangement. However, the friendly rhythm guitars mask the less pleasant inner-meaning of songs such as “There She Goes” – the song that forms the basis of the band’s identity. The song’s lyrics, such as “pulsing through my veins,” have immersed it in a reference to Mavers’s previous heroin addiction. Nonetheless, the implicitness of these references mean that each song’s lyrics could easily be emulated by an adolescent boy with a draw-string guitar standing on the lawn of the girl he’s trying to win the admiration of at 3am as you regularly see in films. Yes, it would be correct to presume that these guys are a hit at soppy wedding functions. The La’s sound is relatively simplistic, but its in-sync guitar work and catchy looped riffs are just made to seem effortless by the quartet. For example, in “Looking Glass” the tempo is slowly raised throughout the song to give it a momentous ending.

                However, the relative ease in constructing and playing each song did not save the group’s dynamic from turmoil. The core duos tumultuous persona of Lee Mavers (guitar, vocals) and John Bower (bass backing vocals) made for a frequently changing line-up, with this lack of stability eventually causing the band to enter into hiatus after the debut album, with only haphazard reformings since. This instability was manifested in the numerous debut album recordings. Mavers’s personality made working with producer Steve Lillywhite extremely problematic. Mavers’s obsessive, particular and perfectionist mentality was the root cause of this. Mavers, for instance, scrapped multiple recordings of the band’s debut album. He also became aware of Lillywhite’s decreasing patience and told the rest of the band not to play to their full potential whilst recording. However, the entire next LP recording was ironically the LP that eventually got released after relations declined with Lillywhite to the point of collapse. This is why, for example, at the beginning of “Freedom Song” the guitar work sounds fairly disjointed.
                Mavers’s trajectory was much the same as the band he fronted. Mavers was originally witty, playful and driven but quickly grew into dropping out of the limelight completely, becoming a social recluse. The short lived success of the band is also due to their inability to find a place in the 90s musical lineage. They seemed to just float on the periphery through being distinctly different to the late 80s/early 90s British bands such as The Stone Roses. However, they evidently influenced the Britpop influx that was to come from bands such as Oasis, Travis, Stereophonics and The Charlatans and other future Liverpudlian bands such as The Coral and The Zutons. The La’s were in fact a “Timeless Melody” – indebted to the past yet not encompassing futuristic traits. This self-made void is created through the band calling upon hooks and harmonies of the mid-sixties whilst also maintain the friendly classiness of the Britpop 90s. However, it would be wrong to say that the band were nostalgic; they were not hindered by tradition; they were liberated by it. They used simple elements to construct their own identity; an extremely alluring the identity, as bar staff at British weddings are far too familiar with I’m sure.
                There we have it guys, a blog and show that sets out to portray the British 90s as a whole in a short space of time, yet not achieving its purpose. The La’s do not fit the general category for 90s sound, embodying timeless elements which could place them in any decade that we have covered in ‘Don’t Give a Brit.’ Odd choice then for the iconic 90s, but I picked them to stay in line with the general vibe of the show – unpredictability. This unpredictability is like a successful blind-date, which is why you should tune in every Thursday from 1-2pm on WRMC 91.1FM Radio. We do not believe in order, which is why there is no playlist to accompany the show, we live for the moment. However, we cannot keep this bureaucratic anarchism up forever which is why you should listen to “Timeless Melody”, “Doledrum” and “Feelin’” by The La’s. I would suggest “There She Goes” but you’ve probably heard it copious amounts of times at family weddings.