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.
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?
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.
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.
So there’s this thing going around on Facebook where people post about 10 albums that make them cry. In the post, they tag a bunch of their music nerd friends, who do the same thing. Participants bare their soul on social media, everyone discovers a lil’ more music, it’s a good time.
I was recently nominated to do this by WKDU DJ Maren Larsen. In her post, she listed songs instead of albums. By doing this, she brought up a good point, and maybe I’m projecting here, but who wants to sit through an entire album, let alone sit through an entire album crying? Is any album consistently cry-worthy?
Like any good book or fine meal, an album is traditionally sequenced with introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion in mind. Musical intensity that may or may not provoke crying can occur during any of these parts of an album, but not all. A song that is cry-worthy may be on an album that is very much not. It is for this reason that I’ve opted to choose 10 songs, not albums, that make me cry.
These songs are in the order they occurred to me. I definitely wouldn’t play all of them on KDU, but they are all significant. Hold on to your hankies, fair readers.
1. Fuck Buttons – Sweet Love For Planet Earth (2008)
It’s hard to nail down why, but this is the first song that I thought of. I guess it might be attached to some old memories. Over this ten minute track, Fuck Buttons uses swampy electronics to build a hulking groove.
2. The Rolling Stones – Shine A Light (1972)
The penultimate track from the Stones’ drugged out, ambling, classic album: Exile on Main St.
Mick Jagger delivers a great vocal performance. True fact: Shine a Light was written about ex-Stones guitarist and 27 Club member Brian Jones’ worsening drug addictions in the late 60s. Cut with the Rolling Stones Mobile truck, a legendary thing among studio nerds and musicians alike.
3. Weekends – Camp Nowhere (2008)
The final track off Weekends’ first, self titled album. The coda features an oscillating snippet of the drummer yelling “Hey!” in a way that some may find annoying, but I interpret as exploding with emotion. It’s the musical equivalent of a thought loop, emerging from the background while life continues in the form of the duo bashing away on their gear.
[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=549624242 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small track=3226164341] 4. The White Stripes – The Air Near My Fingers (2003)
“Life is so boring/it’s really got me snoring/wearing out the flooring in a cheap hotel”.
Jack White said that the album, 2003’s Elephant, was a commentary on “the death of the sweetheart” in American culture. In a New York Times interview, White elaborated, saying that “The sweetheart, the gentleman — it’s the same thing. These ideas seem to be in decline, and I hate it. You look at your average teenager with the body piercings and the tattoos. You have white kids going around talking in ghetto accents because they think that makes them hard. It’s so cool to be hard. We’re against that.”
I take this to mean that with this album, the Stripes rally against the lack of emotion in early-oughts American culture. Emotion can be good or bad, but is always powerful. This song is sniffle-enducingly powerful.
5. Jimi Hendrix – Bold As Love (1967)
The final track on Jimi’s sophomore effort Axis: Bold As Love.
The final “underwater” section guitar solo, featuring the first example of flanging on a studio recording, is incredible.
“My red is so confident that he flashes trophies of war, and ribbons of euphoria/Orange is young, full of daring, But very unsteady for the first go round”
6. Mumblr – Sober (2014)
The first time I saw Mumblr was under the Greys Ferry bridge, with my friend Nick. We talked to some Temple freshmen girls, drank out of red Solo cups, climbed on the abandoned rail bridge, and got really hurt in the dusty, dirty moshpit. With broken glass underfoot, surrounded by skateboard-swinging punks, huffing generator fumes, my mind went to a really beautiful place.
This song is on their upcoming album Full of Snakes, which comes out September 16th.
7. The Plugz – Reel Ten (1984)
This is off the soundtrack to Repo Man (not Repo Men), the 1984 film about Otto, a young Cali punk played by Emilio Estevez. There’s space travel, secret agents, and great music, often all in the same scene. The lesson to be learned here: when punks grab synthesizers, good things happen.
This track is surfy, spacey, eerie, and jubilant. Many chills to be had.
8. PILE – The Jones (2012)
“tried to keep up by running in place/tried to keep my cool but all that blood went in my face/now i’m cold”.
I could go on about PILE forever. They’re my favorite band you can bum a cigarette off of. Their KDU live session was awesome. Rick’s lyrics are about as abstract as you can get. That means they have a wide appeal, but are still cutting-edge intellectual.
My thoughts are racing as my body is transformed into a sweaty mosh alien, feeling the air of the Golden Tea House thicken with the essence of fifty other people having the same exact experience.
9. The Front Bottoms – Skeleton (2013)
“Who was I kidding? I can’t get past you/ You are the cops, you are my student loans”
It’s desperate and ragged, but chugs on and on, like a drunk kid making his way home. Drug abuse, feelin’ loose.
10. Double Dagger – Rearranging Digital Deck Chairs (2007)
Double Dagger is special to me because they were more or less my introduction to basement music, waay back in 2009. Yeah. While this song was never one of their live favorites, it still holds significance because it was pretty much the first Double Dagger song with introspective, philosophical lyrics that are more thoughtful than pissed off. This song is the moment where Double Dagger ceases to be a joke band about graphic design (see also: this song), and becomes the most dangerous band in the land.
“It’s always a problem/when the weight of the world/it’s always a problem/is outweighed by the girl”
Some observations about this list: 7 out of 10 bands on this list are post-2000. 2 are from Baltimore. 1 hails from Philadelphia. 5 are bands that I’ve seen live. 4 are bands that cease to exist. Take from this what you may.
So I’m sitting here on Monday morning and struggling to recap the last 72 (ish?) hours. It’s a lot to sum up in a blog post, and I’m beat.
I wasn’t in shape before, and three nights of sleeping on hard ground at Winston Farm after hours of dancing my ass off have taken their toll. A lot has been and will be said about The Hudson Project, but it was definitely an experience felt nowhere else.
Thursday: Midnight Drive
Peter (of Hear Hear Mix), Kirsten (of The Cat’s Pajamas), and I all drove up from Philadelphia Thursday evening. The drive was mostly uneventful, other than being in a huge hurry because our press contact told us that we wouldn’t be able to get access after midnight.
Direct quote from PR person: “If it was a more reasonable time, we would have been able to make arrangements.”
Midnight!? Really? As if anyone in Saugerties was going to sleep all weekend. Their petulant inability to “make arrangements” really freaked us out, but we ended up getting access just fine.
This miscommunication would not be the last. Security didn’t let anyone into the festival grounds until 4AM, and it wasn’t clear why. We set up camp and crashed, hard.
Friday: Waiting For The Drop
Highlights of Friday’s sets: Lindsay Lowend was great. Moon Hooch laid down a whole lotta echo on their funky dueling sax setup, making their live show a lot more dubby than I expected. I briefly caught up with the power trio of Wenzl McGowen, Mike Wilbur, and James Muschler backstage. The interview was short – here’s the 30-second version:
WKDU: Your instrumentation features drums and dueling saxophones. If you were to have another band featuring dueling instruments, what would they be? WM: Dueling rottweilers. MW: Probably not the most [PETA]-friendly answer, but yeah. Rottweilers. JM: More drums. WKDU: Awesome.
Dr. Dog played a perfect set. Later, Emancipator, Bro Safari, and the Flaming Lips closed out my night of diverse tunes. I missed Flying Lotus, but apparently his set was foggy and spaced-out; a propos for his midnight to 2am slot.
Saturday: Bass Cave
We didn’t make it in the venue until 4, to see Flatbush Zombies. After that, Peter and I hunkered down with some chicken wings at the Catskill Cave tent for Bit Funk, Jacques Green, and Tokimonsta. Afterwards, we met back up with Shannen (of Rock Bottom), Kirsten, and some others for Big Gigantic.
The rain came first in the middle of Big Gigantic’s set. A truly euphoric moment. The rain poured as Big G tore into drops with saxophonic ferocity. It really was a sight to see.
Kendrick Lamar played all his usual hits, but there was something missing from his set. It didn’t help that he ended twenty minutes early, but his attempts at audience participation didn’t seem well received. I dunno, it might have just been me. Gold Panda was chillen’ as usual. I closed out the night with a healthy portion of Four Tet.
Sunday: The Floodson Project
The majority of Sunday was spent doing two things: waking up, and packing up. After that was all done, we managed to catch most of Chrome Sparks, which was awesome. They played a significant amount of new material, and returned for a surprise encore. “We’ve never played this song before” is definitely one of the most exciting things a performing artist can say.
Peter and I were throwing it down in Catskill Cave to Issac Tichauer. We decided to go for a food break, when all acts stopped playing and a voice came over the soundsystem announcing an evacuation and delay. Holy crap! We met up with Shannen and Kirsten, and made friends with the crew who set up one of the stage tents. Security kicked everyone out of the campgrounds, and we waited out the storm in the tent crew’s box truck.
These guys were awesome. I’m reminded of the Henry Rollins quote – “They were there hours before you building the stage, and they will be there hours after you leave tearing it down.” Super down to earth.
What followed was total anarchy. Nobody, even staff, was sure if the festival was still on. On hills between campgrounds, mudslides started to break out. Generators and portable soundsystems brought by campers, vendors, and whoever else ensured the party would go on. Security lines were broken. Fences were getting torn down. It was clear that nobody was gonna turn down for Mother Nature.
We were getting ready to leave when we stumbled upon an impromptu dance party in the middle of the RV camping area. The occupants of a purple school bus (The Quetzal Bus, @thequetzalbus on twitter) were burnin’ it down with fat beats. In particular, I was able to track down this remix that made it into the set. Butts were shakin’. The party was not over.
We headed home once it started raining again. Our car didn’t get stuck in the muddy parking lot, but many, many others did. Reports came back on Monday of local farmers pulling out cars with tractors. As of Tuesday morning, there were still people stuck on Winston Farm. Damn.
The Hudson Project’s inaugural year was a rough one, but nearly everyone I talked to had fun. With a stacked lineup, decent amenities, and a beautiful venue, The Hudson Project had a lot to offer. Cancelling the last day was probably a smart move, considering the safety implications. It was also just announced that ticket holders will be getting refunded for the last day. Very appropriate, considering the huge amount of artists who were cancelled.
How was your time at the Hudson Project? Let us know.