Monday, March 31
Alrighty, so here are the happening shows this week:
Some happening happenings this week:
WPRB has just gotten word that we’re cleared to reoccupy our building. No dangerous radioactive gases! We’ll start broadcasting again at 6:40 p.m. tonight (Sunday) with a special Princeton hockey game broadcast, and regular programming will return immediately thereafter. Thanks so much for your patience.
The latest news we’ve heard from our building contractors is that they’ve completed the radon remediation work. All we have to do now is wait for the test results to make sure it’s safe for us to return to our broadcast headquarters. If everything goes as planned, expect to hear from WPRB in the next couple of hours. Thanks for your patience!
At 11:59 pm EDT Friday night (tonight), WPRB will be signing off for emergency maintenance due to elevated radon levels in our building. We will be off air tomorrow but should be back on the air at some point on Sunday afternoon. We will keep posting updates on our web site and blog throughout the weekend. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail Station Manager Will Sullivan, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Okay so Kelseytron has been having a computer overload with this thing called a senior “thesis”. But have no fear, is back for two reviews this week of albums that just dropped and you should certainly check out…. Before I begin I just have to gush about how good Akron/Family was live this weekend. A lot of PRBers got to see them play for a bazillion hours until 5:30 in the morning. And all of a sudden they can ROCK. A few years ago I recorded them in a much more low-key hippie chanting session that was really down to earth and intense in that mellow kind of freak-folky way here at PRB. But now, I was blindsighted by epic and prolific guitar playing. If the song Phenomena isn’t enough to convince you to try and see them, their newest member who is huge and immensely hug-friendly from Megafun should with his guitar rock outs. The night wound down with a sing along about love and community (along with the to-be-expected communal circular swaying) in a banjo and unplugged atmosphere. Mmmm mm.
So back to the album reviews, this week I was thinking about the idea of genre after a silly and already fought debate about the idea of electro taking over rock. More importantly, there were two really interesting albums that came out that really had me thinking about the idea of genre. Beyond the omnipresence of electro… Is it healthy for our listening habits to classify things? Is it good for bands to think about those things? Part of an artist like Girl Talk’s brilliance is the idea that genres can be crossed so easily on a computer. But he is sampling from a genre and re appropriating it for his own. So what is defying genre? What is being in a genre? Can it be done in one song? Or does an album define that? I have no answers for these questions specifically, but I do have two albums to review that bring up a lot of genre-issues. One album that defies it from song to song, and an album that brought a more free-formed artist into a more standardized sound. More after the jump!
Why? – Alopecia [Anticon]
While a lot of albums flirt with other genres to make their sound more eclectic, Why? presents an album that actually fits the bill for a genre-defying album. While different tracks seem to mimic more popular sounds we know and love, the fact that it is all pulled together so effortlessly is impressive. A lot of times people doing too much will end up doing a lot of things mediocre. But from drum machine rock to hip hop, Why? delivers an album that is beautiful to listen to and impressively thoughtful (if not overbearingly serious). His stream of consciousness lyrics lose me at points; for this certainly is not hip hop to rhyme to or rock music to scream out. The content represents a process in musical creation that is foreign to me, but then again I enjoy something a little more raw and less poetic in its lyrical content. The band really glows behind it though, showing that no matter what direction the genre goes in, they can follow in an interesting way. Which makes it intriguing they came to the Anticon label… because they are a “band.” And their connection with Anticon came stemmed mainly from Bay-area friendship. Beyond novelty, it is nice to see a hiphop label that is more and more understanding hip hops role as the 21st century musical form that is affecting everything out there. And Why? shows it all off in what is truly a contemporary genre-defying creation. I can’t say it is an album I will be blasting all of the time, but it is certainly a music project I have real respect for and enjoy my unique experience with. [7.8/10]
Panther- 14kt God [Kill Rock Stars]
Okay, so I will try to branch out record label wise next week. But two new good KRS records in two weeks?! That’s nothing to be ashamed of. And KRS is certainly branching out from its semi-focused femme Pacific Northwest rock thing into the more general hip Northwest scene. Then again I guess the musical scene there is just exploding these days with all kinds of genres. I had the unique and strange pleasure of seeing the strange pop-spaz man in action opening for Ratatat back at the Khyber in Philly a year and a half or so ago. And a year and a tour can do a lot for someone’s definition of their own music. WPRB sponsored that show, and it was pretty freakin’ rad. Ratatat had just gotten huge and hyped enough that the venue was packed from the beginning; being a fairly intimate poorly laid out bar. But despite the overcrowding and overheating Panther had everyone hooked and convinced. His live show became more beat driven and electro-sampled for the Ratatat-seeking crowd. But his falsetto certainly was not to be confused with anything they were expecting. I couldn’t get close enough to the stage to see all of the madness, but Charlie Salas-Humara came over and sweatily sat next to me to sell his CDRs and awesomely hip t-shirts after the show. And then gave me one of the grossest smelliest hugs ever. The live show was wild and abstract, and while his music is certainly pop somehow deep down under all of his ideas and non-compositions, something about that was lost on the way to this album. Maybe it was that he figured out what kind of music he wanted to make. Joe Kelly (the other half, an addition from 31knots) has become not a backup part of the show but a live kick-ass drummer focusing the compositions and leading the songs. The noisey beats and layered abstraction has been lost for funky familiar beats and punk rock riffs. (I don’t know if I would go so far as to call it “punk-funk” as a few internet sites would claim…) And there is so many instruments! Instead of a lot of unidentified ruckus, we have strings and accompaniments that become part of a much more planned path for these songs to take. I don’t know if I am disappointed in the change. If anything for a sophomoric effort it is crucial to prove you are not a one note, and in the case of spazziness- prove you can play instruments and write songs. And so, here, Panther has proved they are talented song writers and not one-notes. I’m still asking though if they are groundbreaking? After their live show, I was fairly sure he was onto something new and completely mind boggling. So after listening to this album I wish some sort of give and take could have happened. The album eases you into the new noise with a jammier more familiar track (“Puerto Rican Jukebox”). After listening to the album all the way through and then returning to it, however, it becomes clear that it really is just a greater structural element of the album, and not a great older-sounding track. (Which is almost becoming a specific album structure unto itself. Think: the epic 10 minute intro jam on Yo La Tengo’s I’m Not Afraid of You and I Am Going to Kick Your Ass) Some of the better more abstract groups out there now keep their listeners hooked with the more straight forward genre-specific parts, and that then becomes a launching point within the song to help them dive deeper into a less familiar sound.(I’m thinking about Parts and Labor, Battles, new Akron/Family, HEALTH) Panther however has made a real album, a real sound, and real songs with other flirtations. Though each song is enjoyable, interesting, and actually quite good, I am surprised to see a man lose his well-loved falsetto and get a drummer that makes these real rockish songs with structure. Honing in on familiar genre and listening habbits is certainly good for his career. Hell, it got him signed to KRS and a whole new fan base of hip kids who I don’t think would have ever dug on them before. But there was something about the sweaty magic and screaming indecipherable madness that just barely held onto a beat that made my Khyber experie
nce so defined by seeing Panther perform. It was raw. And then we saw Ratatat, that played the same stuctured song like 500 times it seemed. Luckily one of them had a lion sample in it. [6.5/10]
Hey everybody! Here are some shows to check out this week.
Monday, March 10
Hey all- it is that magical time of week again where I will post a series of (mostly) music related links. This week we delve into my Sleater Kinney obsession, Blenders, the Bush family and more! (Oh boy!) Our website is tragically still down, but have no fear- you can check out our MP3 stream through iTunes radio (click on radio, then alternative) and the blog will still be up with a whole link page of distractions. Links after the jump….
Broadcasting some radio love your way! Stay tuned next week for more links (and if there is anything of serious note/serious distraction material that I missed, do post it in the comments!!) -Kelsey Flapjacks Johnson
this: “You know, my hesitation to fully embrace Vampire Weekend might stem from the fact that if you take preppy yacht rock too far, you end up back at Jimmy Buffet” who can go wrong?? This week she responded to the Maxim review scandal (in my post last week) with her own “educated guesses.” [Rating: $800]
Stay tuned next week for more links (and if there is anything of serious note/serious distraction material that I missed, do post it in the comments!!)
-Kelsey Flapjacks Johnson