Horn Spotlight: Alex G / All Dogs

by Jack Washburn ’16

Philly’s Alex G has been quietly uploading home-recorded gems onto Bandcamp since 2010, but only recently – with his brand new record, DSU – has he begun to receive the attention he deserves. His deeply unique sound occupies a space somewhere between the gentle abstraction of a dream and that ensuing sharp twinge of complete and sober lucidity. He records on his own but tours with a full band, lending these songs a satisfying punch.

All Dogs is a killer power pop / pop punk band out of our very own Columbus, Ohio. The members have a couple of EPs up on Bandcamp and some really great new stuff in the works. Musically, they hit that sweet spot between the crunchy, guitar-driven energy of Swearin’ and melodies that truly soar and ache in the vein of 90’s power pop bands like the Lemonheads.

Below are some of my favorite tracks from each artist, but you really can’t go wrong with either. I picked a few more from Alex G because he has a much larger body of work. These two bands make for a slightly odd pairing, to be sure, but I’m really happy they were able to come out for the same date. Be sure to stop by the show on Friday night! Kenyon’s own SPORTS is kickin’ things off.

ALL DOGS

 

 

ALEX G

 

 

 

 

DJ Spotlight: Meera White ’18

by Carolyn Ten-Eyck ’18

Name: Meera White ’18

Show: “The Stranger the Better” on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Major: Undecided

Where did the show title come from?

“Well Hozier just came out with a new album titled Hozier and it’s great. You can stream the whole thing on iTunes for free. I’ve listened to the whole album like 10 times, maybe, in three days. There’s this one song called ‘Someone New’ [and] it’s amazing. It had [a] cello in it and I admire cello. There’s this part at the end that gets more intense and he keeps repeating this line … ‘the stranger the better.’ In the song he’s talking about how he falls in love with people all the time, so when he says ‘stranger’ he means both people he doesn’t know but also weird and unique people. I thought that fit my show because, you know, new people listen to the songs but the songs are also pretty weird.”

How did you get involved with WKCO?

“Well I saw the signs about being a radio DJ and it sort of became a joke among my friends, like ‘Oh, Meera will be a DJ, she likes to talk a lot, she’s really annoying, let’s put her on the air!’ I sort of didn’t want to do it, but I had a friend who kept pushing me to go to the meeting [for becoming a DJ]. On the day of the meeting, she made me get dressed and walked me there. I really didn’t want to go [laughs]. But as things went on, I was like ‘This was a good decision.’ And it’s really thanks to my friends. If it weren’t for them, I’d never do stuff.”

You play a lot of alternative and indie music on your show. Have you always listened to those genres?

“I guess you could [say] my musical coming of age was in middle school. There’s this artist Mika who makes weird pop and I started listening to him. That was the first time I realized that I liked indie pop, [that] I liked alternative music. And then the Ting Tings came out with an album and I was like ‘Whoa, this is what I’m about.’ In high school, it [went] kind of downhill from there [with] Vampire Weekend [and] Ed Sheeran, and then it went back up because I wanted to find artists that everyone doesn’t know. I’ve been really invested in artists who started on YouTube and are making it big now.”

Do you have a favorite playlist so far? Any particular songs?

“The one I did this past Saturday was pretty great. Sometimes you make a playlist and then you get to the studio and not want to play any of the songs, but this Saturday was really good. I played some songs that are sort of staples of my music taste: some Two Door Cinema Club, Lorde, The Front Bottoms – I love them so much. Ben Howard released a new album so I played some of his stuff. I’ve been rediscovering Grizzly Bear, [and] I played one of their songs.”

Do your playlists have specific themes or structures?

“It’s just whatever I’m currently listening to. The way I make my playlists is I just think of artists randomly and write them down on sticky notes everywhere. Then on Friday I collect my sticky notes and make a playlist on iTunes. Really it’s a combination of whatever’s on my Facebook dash, honestly. Because Facebook is the best way to connect with artists, and whenever they post new songs or albums, it’s on my radar. I rely on that a lot to wake up to music I haven’t been listening to for a while. I also bookmark so many songs on YouTube, so sometimes I go through those. I also get suggestions from friends. My friend suggested a Fleet Foxes song, which is a band I don’t normally listen to, but I ended up playing it and liking it a lot.”

What is your favorite favor of doughnut?

“My favorite is Krispy Kreme apple-filled doughnuts. It’s like a holiday thing, so it has apple pieces and cinnamon flavor on the inside, and apple drizzle on the outside. It’s like limited edition. They stopped selling them in Atlanta a year ago. [It was the] worst day of my life when I found out. It’s so good!”

Note: White brought doughnuts to the interview and it was amazing. 

Playlist: Road Trippin’

by Maddie Farr ’18

I’m obsessed with the feelings of a road trip. I think there is something so freeing and also somehow lonely about driving for hours through the heart of nowhere, about never seeing a sidewalk, about empty gas stations and winding conversation. As the winter approaches we’ll burrow into Gambier, I’m sure, but for now this playlist can remind you what it’s like to be on the road.

1. Drivin’ on 9 – The Breeders

This is my favorite Breeders song, partly because it’s so different from everything else on Last Splash. I love the silence behind Kim Deal’s voice in the beginning — I feel like I should be holding my breath.

 

2. All I Want – Joni Mitchell

This Joni song just feels like a rambling road; with each dip and soar of her voice we turn another quiet corner. I like to think of Joni writing this song while actually “on a lonely road … traveling, traveling, traveling,” guitar out and wind in her hair in the backseat of some car, on some road.

 

3. Till’ The Road Runs Out – The Honeybuckets

The Honeybuckets is a sweet Cleveland-based band that you should totally check out. I have a lot of memories of driving through Ohio listening to this album, especially this song.

 

4. Never Going Back Again – Fleetwood Mac

This is just a very solid Fleetwood Mac song. I truly believe that this playlist (read: any playlist) would be incomplete without a Fleetwood Mac song.

 

5. Coast to Coast – Waxahatchee

It has been almost a year since I was first introduced to Waxahatchee and I still play her on loop. Everything she does is golden, and “Coast to Coast” is no exception. This is ideal listening material if you are driving from one coast to another.

 

6. Dreams – The Cranberries

Never has there been a song more exciting than “Dreams.” It is the perfect musical translation of what it means to be beginning; it is both grand and small, like the world and our part in it, like the highway and a car. Also, trying to yodel like Dolores O’Riordan is a great way to pass the time on a road trip.

 

7. Montezuma – Fleet Foxes

This song is like a mountain. It’s very sprawling and yet specific and tragic, which are the feelings I associate with being on an open road.

 

8. When I’m With You – Best Coast

I adore Crazy For You by Best Coast, because I love albums that tell stories. This is a song about being alone in the middle of the vast world with one person, and about feeling isolated in a really wonderful way.

At the Movies: Trainspotting (1996)

by Meg Sklut ’18

Trainspotting, directed by Danny Boyle, is an incredible film featuring an eclectic, remarkable soundtrack. According to Peter Travers from Rolling Stone, it is “a singular sensation, a visionary knockout spiked with insight, wild invention and outrageous wit.” The film follows Scottish heroin junkies living lives of dirt, spontaneity, and sex in the late 80s. The characters have an intense desire for pleasure, which they receive through a spike of a needle. The soundtrack, which mirrors both the ecstasy of drugs and the withdrawal and pain of drugs, is rich with 80s techno and synthpop, in addition to oldies tunes and less contemporary punk music. Here are some songs that truly represent Trainspotting’s glory as a film:

Lust for Life – Iggy Pop

Right from the start, Trainspotting examines how much one can truly experience life while under the influence of heroin. “Lust for Life,” the very first song of the film, relates to this message and opens the film with a bang. The opening drumbeat especially creates an exciting intensity. While this relentless drumbeat plays, the main character Renton (played by Ewan McGregor in one of his first major film roles) runs from the police, and his voiceover explains all the things he should have chosen instead of heroin. “Lust for Life” both agrees with Renton and contradicts the choices Renton makes.

Atomic – Blondie

As Renton looks for love at a club, Blondie’s hit “Atomic” plays. The song combines different genres, including disco and new wave rock. It exudes lust and temptation and echoes the grimy club scene of the late 80s.

Perfect Day – Lou Reed

Lou Reed’s romantic “Perfect Day” is allegedly about his relationship with heroin, a claim furthered in Trainspotting. The film takes many songs and inverts the meaning, so as “Perfect Day” plays, a character overdoses. This contradiction exposes the irony of pairing happy terms with drug usage and explores how drug usage can be inverted.

Born Slippy – Underworld

By British electronica group Underworld, “Born Slippy” finishes the film in a similar way to how it started. The song starts off a little slowly, but soon the rhythm increases, and it ends the film in an upbeat way. Renton narrates over the quick beat of the song and the audience becomes aware of the cyclical nature of the film.

Playlist: Songs That Made Me

by Tess Dugan-Knight ’18

Over reading days I joined the Outdoors Club on a hiking trip in Virginia. The seven-hour drive flew by due to the stunning scenery and some great burned CDs. Those CDs, containing classic, influential songs for our generation (and other generations), inspired this playlist. I tried to get a little bit of everything in here: hip hop, rock, reggae, blues, and soul.

Reptilia – The Stokes

I might be an absolute failure at playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band but I still love attempting to keep up with this indie rock classic. Also Nick Valenski preforms an incredible guitar solo in this song.

(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding

Otis Redding is one of the most famous soul and blue artists, and “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” can be considered his most iconic song. But if you’re in the mood for something more upbeat check out “Happy Song.”

I Shot the Sheriff – Bob Marley

I think a little reggae is entirely necessary to this playlist. While Eric Clapton may have helped make this song huge, no one can do it quite like Bob Marley.

Juicy – The Notorious B.I.G.

This song opened my eyes to the world of hip-hop and allowed Biggie to become the legend he is today. In the track, Biggie uses his quintessential wit and rhythm to explain the transformation fame brought to his life.

Blackbird – The Beatles

The Beatles need a place on here somewhere. While the options of which song to choose were almost unlimited, I chose Blackbird because of its beautiful simplicity; the only elements are Paul McCartney’s vocals and a guitar.

California Love – Tupac

Dr. Dre and Tupac rap praises of Cali in this upbeat classic. It might not be one of Tupac’s most insightful songs, but who can blame him for using a catchy tune to celebrate his release from jail?

DJ Spotlight: Sam Larson ’17

by Inês Forjaz de Lacerda ’17

Name: Samuel Joseph Larson ’17

Show: “Airspeed Velocity of a Swallow” on Sundays from 10 to 11 a.m.

Hometown: Parker, Colorado

Majors: Music and Psychology

How did you and your co-host [Henry Quillian '17] meet?

“I think part of it was when we bonded over a-Capella group auditions. I think we formally met in Chamber Singers at the beginning of last year. I don’t really know. At ‘Airspeed Velocity of a Swallow’ we don’t really look into the past. We look into the future.”

How did you come up with your show title?

“We spent a couple of weeks thinking of what it could be, throwing out a couple of
lines. I think we were quoting Monty Python.”

What kind of music do you guys usually play?

“People ask us that a lot and we never seem to have a straight answer because it
changes constantly within the show. Henry plays a lot of Chicago and The Beatles. I play
a lot of indie alternative, but we also play Russian techno pop, show tunes, and weird stuff
in general.”

Out of all the shows you’ve done so far, which has been the most fun to put
together?

“There was one show leading up to Easter last year [that] was really great. My
grandmother called in and requested the Hallelujah chorus and not five minutes later
Henry’s grandmother called in and requested the H chorus. So I think our fanbase is what
makes it fun. My family in Sweden tunes in every week, actually, and they call in every
once in a while.”

You’re really involved in the music scene on campus: you’re in Chamber Singers,
you sing in Take Five, and you’ve just started Männerchor. Were you always this
involved in music?

“I wasn’t involved in music at all until my junior year of high school. I used to be in theater a lot, but I never sung. Then I got into my head that if I was in theater I should participate in musicals, so I joined choir and it all went from there.”

Speaking of Männerchor, how did the idea come up to start this all-male group?

“It’s been a wish of certain individuals for a long time. It was an idea before we got
here, even. Some guys tried to start it before but it didn’t really work. But last Spring,
Colla Voce asked Connor Dugan ‘15 to form a male group to open for their concert. We
enjoyed it so much that we decided it should be a thing. Two of the originals graduated
[Will Quam '14 and Michael Harris '14] and then four of us stayed. We held auditions
earlier this year and now it’s a full group!”

Out of all the songs you’ve sung so far at Kenyon, which one was your favorite?

“It’s a tie between two. Last Spring in Take Five we did a guys’ group song, which was
“I Wanna be Like You,” which was just a lot of fun. Also, last year in Chambers we did a
song called “Lux Aeterna,” which was composed by a Kenyon student while he was still
here (he did it for a music theory project) and that was super cool.”

If you could spend an hour with any musician (living or dead) who would it be and
why?

“My favorite musician is Colin Meloy, the lead singer/songwriter for The
Decembrists, but I feel obligated to say somebody elegant … But you know what, no; I’m
going to go with Colin.”

Finally, what’s one fun fact about you?

“I firmly believe that everybody should have a dog. The world would be a much
better place.”

Everything Will Be Alright In The End – Weezer

by Mihika Kohli ’17

Upon the release of its first album in four years, Weezer is back and better than ever. On Everything Will Be Alright In The End, Rivers Cuomo, Patrick Wilson, Brian Bell, and Scott Shriner employ a variety of different tactics that contribute to the album’s success. Each strong track transitions seamlessly to the next, making the album flow smoothly and 42 minutes fly by.

EWBAITE appeals to those who prefer the band’s 90s sound as well as those who enjoy its more modern sound. Each track encompasses the band’s incredible harmonies, familiar resolutions, and playful lyrics. The album blends upbeat and relaxed songs with a variety of tempos that work in tandem with each other.

Certain songs are exceptional. The opening track, “Ain’t Got Nobody,” sets the tone for the rest of the album. Beginning with strong, driving guitar and bass lines, this song basically screams “WEEZER’S BACK, BITCHES!” (even though Cuomo would put it more eloquently). Both “Lonely Girl” and “Da Vinci” show off Weezer’s classic style through driving chord progressions and quirky wordplay and references.

The album’s most original track is “Go Away,” which features Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino, who helped write the song. Weezer and Best Coast’s sounds mesh perfectly, and both bands’ styles show when each singer takes the mic. Weezer’s very powerful guitar accompanies Cuomo’s verses, while Cosentino’s ultra-beachy and embedded guitar runs accompany hers, emphasizing the differences between the two artists’ techniques and between the couple in the song’s narrative. Rather than simply feature an artist thrown into a song to change things up, this duet is truly a powerful joining of forces. But listen for yourself!

Music on the Hill

by Carolyn Ten-Eyck ’18

 

This week I asked some Kenyon people about their current favorite songs. Here are the findings:

Linnea Bergman ’16

Mando Diao – Mr. Moon

“I’ve been listening to mostly Swedish music lately. I really like the rusty voices in this song.”

SZA – Babylon

“The video for this song is really cool. It’s full of symbolism. Yeah, this is a really chill song.”

April Ginther, Data Entry Specialist in the Office of Admissions

Bang Bang – Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Jessie J

“I listen to a lot of Top 40 stuff because of my kids. I like all the women singing together in this. It’s pretty good.”

 

Stay with Me – Sam Smith

“I like this one a lot. He was on the Today Show this morning.”

 

Check in next week for more recommendations!

Horn Gallery Spotlight: Krill

by Jack Washburn ’16

“Slacker rock” – or some other variation of that implication – is a term I see often applied to Boston-based trio Krill, but frankly, I don’t buy it. The group has been steadily cranking out remarkably consistent releases over the past several years, has a new album on the horizon, and tours all the time. In fact, Krill’s upcoming show at the Horn on Friday will mark the band’s second appearance at Kenyon this year alone since performing last February with Ava Luna. I’ve never doubted the sincerity of singer Jonah Furman’s yelped style and hard-hitting lyrics, both of which evoke the manic energy of bands like the Pixies and Kickball more so than Pavement or Sebadoh. And with angular guitars and fairly complicated, slightly math-y tendencies, the band is simply too precise and tight live to be bothered with any “slacker” accusations. Krill rules, and you’d be doing yourself a favor by heading down to the trio’s tasty show on Friday.

I saw Krill a few times this summer in Boston and each time, the band stuck largely to brand new, unreleased material from its upcoming album. This can be disappointing when expecting to hear familiar songs, but Krill’s new goods are so satisfying that the trio’s decision seemed like the right choice. The hooks in the new songs are still there, but it’s clear that the band is going for something a lot more expansive that stands a little taller in stature and tells more of a complete narrative. Expect a good amount of new material at the show, but if you aren’t familiar with Krill’s back catalog, please, by all means, read on. I tried my best to compile my seven favorite Krill songs as a sort of primer, but picking seven favorite Krill tracks is like picking seven of your 30 children.

1. Theme From Krill

I’ve searched high and low and have failed to find a song that better introduces a band than this track. Krill’s self-proclaimed thesis deftly introduces and constructs Krill’s musical and lyrical philosophy. It offsets the band’s intrinsic off-kilter goofiness and wit with Furman’s knack for grappling with questions about depression and anxiety in a relatable manner. “Theme from Krill” introduces the charming and charismatic but pesky bug that imbues every spirited and amusing track with a twinge of despondency.

2. Oppressor

Lots of songs discuss big dramatic concepts we all face, like life and death and heartbreak, but not so many touch on “tiny funks” – little deceptively powerful spells that hit us just about every day. Musically, “Oppressor” finds its ground just as it seems like everything is going to fall apart. It teeters on the edge of control right up until at that triumphant, definitive end.

 

3. Infinite Power

The end of this rocks so hard and lends additional power to that unknowable, terrifying capacity we all have to make ourselves feel either good or bad. The track’s commanding repeated refrain – “If you wanna feel like a failure, that’s your right” – navigates a dense cloud of discordant guitar noise. It proves that we can never really make sense of our own stupid “infinite power” – it’s always so obscured by our own laziness and dumb constructions of self-doubt and self-pity.

 

4. Peanut Butter

This is a brand new single, hot off the press, from a totally stacked four-way split via Double Double Whammy. Its crisp, sliding guitar lines and stop-start tendencies encapsulate and refine everything we already dig about Krill in a nice, concise package. The second verse (essentially about breaking and entering) is really funny and points to the awkwardness of everyday social interactions by elevating them to a level of ridiculousness. This track also has a siq video wherein Krill fools around with PB.

5. Fresh Pond

You don’t have to be from the Boston area to dig Krill, but hey, it definitely helps. Lyrical references to Boston locations and bands and the subway Green Line abound in the songs. But musically, the city’s influence is even more apparent. This track – with a title that refers to an area of Cambridge – is Krill’s longest to date, with a gloriously stretched out, nearly four-minute outro that strongly evokes the sort of grungy, murky take on folk music unique to Boston and perfected by linchpins like Fat History Month, Kal Marks, and Pile.

 

6. Steve Hears Pile in Malden and Bursts into Tears

Speaking of Pile, here’s the title track from Krill’s concept EP about two fictional characters who aspire and ultimately fail to shred alongside the Boston heavyweights. It’s one of Krill’s more brief and urgent tracks. Furman’s appropriately frantic delivery lends the nutty concept an unexpectedly dramatic heft, imploring us to consider the inherently narcissistic nature of producing art for all the world to see and how our work isn’t always going to resonate with everybody or even make sense to ourselves.

 

7. Solitaire

I first heard this Krill deep cut when covered beautifully by Frankie Cosmos. She totally did her thing on it, but Krill’s version rips, too. It’s from the band’s self-produced first album and while I’m glad Krill’s since upped its production value, the recording’s lo-fi nature lends this particularly sentimental and shambling track a nice intimacy. It provides a rare glimpse of some early Krill motifs and some of Furman’s best lyrics. The track has similar themes to those in “Infinite Power” and explores the vast, intimidating, and all-too-frequently inaccessible power we have deep within to grapple with and control pervasive feelings of general uneasiness.

 

Playlist: Deb Ball Trax

By C. F. Collison ’15

A few weekends ago I DJed at Deb Ball. It was pretty fun! These are a few selections from what I played and what I think about those tracks.

Gesloten Cirkel – Vader

“Vader” is one of two tracks I played from the (presumably) Russian producer Gesloten Cirkel (I would post a link to the equally banging “Fairness”, but it seems as though he has taken it off Soundcloud immediately after posting it). His debut album Submit X, which came out earlier this year, is definitely worth checking out if you love this kind of gurgling electro and cast iron techno.

Tielsie – Palette

The PC Music cadre really enjoy playing with EDM semiotics, which they use to recontextualize UK dance genres like hardcore or garage and generate new steps in the American pop – K/J-pop dialectic. Tielsie crushes the appropriation game on “Palette” – a big room banger booted up on so much high fructose corn syrup it might have become an immanent critique. The gasp at 1:57!

Rustie – Velcro

Rustie’s second LP Green Language probably came out of left-field for a lot of fans – I certainly wasn’t expecting him to release what is ostensibly an M83 album after his explosive 2011 debut on Glass Swords. However, “Velcro” delivers on the promise of his 2012 BBC Essential Mix, which besides from being a epoch-defining mix featured a generous handful of unreleased Rustie material that soared and crunched just like “Velcro”. Green Hill Zone music for the trap generation.

DJ Rashad – CCP

I’m trying to write only about tracks that have come out this year, but I’m going to talk about CCP because DJ Rashad passed away earlier this year and because this tune gets it LIT. Rashad’s vision was fully articulated inside the entropic bursts he created in his sampling choices, which turned anything, really anything, into an absolute tune. So when he decided to flip this old garage track (thanks WhoSampled!) and bump it up to a whirring 160 BPM, of course it was going to be one of his classics. Sheer ecstasy – rest in peace, Rashad.

Cheif Keef – Fool Ya

Keef’s Bang 3 may never see the light of day, but even if it doesn’t, I’ll always have this YouTube rip of “Fool Ya”. Fans of Cozart’s work will attest that he is somehow getting even weirder, with no small help from his recent streak of self-produced tracks. However, this joint comes courtesy of DP Beats, with a particularly animated Sosa delivering unbelievable lines like “I don’t need nobody, girl, I got my body”. Not only is “Fool Ya” a great turn up, but it is grounds to believe that Keef is truly coming into his own as an artist. Okay, maybe Bang 3 is coming out. Beemer color soowoo ravioli.

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