An Alum’s Unsolicited Review of the WKCO 2015 Compilation

by Frances Santagate Sutton ’13, WKCO alum

I want to begin this review with a personal anecdote: This morning I went to the Co-Op near my apartment to get a banana before work (I live in Seattle, Washington and shop at Co-Ops—whatofit?). I arrived just as they were stocking local, freshly baked, still-warm-in-their-brown-paper-packaging, demi-baguettes from a nearby French bakery. I’m not a dummy—I know a game-changer when I see one—so I grabbed one of those bad boys and a lil package of Nutella and the banana for posterity. I decided that my healthy lifestyle could begin promptly tomorrow morning. I make this decision nearly every morning and/or evening. Someday it’ll take.
On my way to work, I discovered the song “Only” by Nicki Minaj on Spotify by creepin’ on Kenyon alum Charlotte Woolf’s playlists (Hi Charlotte!). Another game-changer! On the bus, I played this song on repeat and thought about how my day was probably going to be spent listening to this song and wondering: a) why they didn’t make the whole song just Nicki, Drake, and Lil Wayne talking about each other because the Chris Brown hook of that song is kinda weak and those three easily could have churned out a few more sassy verses, b) whether or not Drake’s verse about being attracted to “thick girls” meant that I still had a chance at getting married and having dual-citizen babies with him, and c) how many people who follow me on Spotify were going to notice the amount of times I listened to this song and the Bayside cover of Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls.” I am really into Spotify voyeurism, and it can be consuming. You see someone listening to a song you like, and then all of sudden you’re peeking at their playlists, and next thing you know you’re listening to a playlist called, “Middle Ground: A Mix For Hipsters Who Like Their Coffee With a Side of Tears.” That’s just a hypothetical scenario—I’m not speaking from my real life experience. Anyway, I always wonder if people notice what music I listen to on Spotify and what they think about it. People seeing me listen to “Only” on repeat hopefully think, “Frances definitely has a shot with Drake.”
Neither of these events—the warm lil baguette or Nicki saying, “When I walk in, sit up straight, I don’t give a fuck if I was late”—are even in the same hemisphere as logging onto and seeing that WKCO put out their 2015 compilation today! When I saw that, I thought exactly what you’re thinking: IS THIS THE BEST DAY EVER OR WHAT? NUTELLA, NICKI, AND NOW THIS? WHAT’S THE CATCH?
(The catch, as it would turn out, is that Zayn Malik left 1D. I can’t even begin to discuss that here, so I will direct you to Twitter.)

I sense that you’re a little put off by my use of caps-lock up there and you might not even believe my excitement was genuinely that over-the-top. But I assure you, I am very sincere. I gave up a while ago on being cool/masking my love for WKCO. It’s one of those BIG LOVES, you know? Darcy and Elizabeth, Frida and Diego, Kanye and Kanye … you get it. I’m talkin’ bout REAL LOVE. So, when it comes to all things Kenyon music, I’m more than a little biased. In fact, my freshman and senior years of college, I did live music Kenyon compilation broadcasts on WKCO, featuring famous musicians like Luke Brandfon, Alex Murphy, Pinegrove, Mary Allen, Ryan Chapin Mach, French Club, and Addie Pray. So, this compilation is right up my alley, right up my driveway, right up to my front porch, wiping its feet on the welcome mat, opening my unlocked front door, taking off its sweater and pouring itself a glass of water from my kitchen sink. This mix is like that.

Now that you know about my bias, let’s move on to my completely objective review of this album:
1) “OH” – Rioghnach Robinson: This slow, soulful opener about Ohio is a perfect way to introduce this album.  Rioghnach’s voice is powerful and her lyrics stick with you as much as her gorgeous harmonizing does. This opener got me very excited for this listening experience.
2) “Eileen” – Park Strangers: I think this beautiful song is about a girl who has sex in the woods? That could be completely wrong. Whatever it’s about, I’m really into it. I don’t think it’s weird to like this song because the song is exquisite. It might be kinda weird how much I like the line, “But it seems to me you stink of pine, Eileen, just like you always dooooooo.” I like it A LOT.
3) “bad luvvr” – Doczilla: With Doczilla, this mix takes a welcomed little dip. An ideal third track, “bad luvvr” is as melodic as its predecessors but incorporates beats that set it apart. It is short, sweet, and surreal.
4) “Kirb Stomp” – Lewis Thompson: “bad luvvr” segues nicely into this track. It’s catchy and varied and keeps you engaged. I think the refrain is, “I’m just a bastard”—which I enjoyed immensely as I nodded to this track at work.
5) “Reintegration” – Fever Bliss: From the opening guitar, I knew I was gonna enjoy this track. I want to list all the cool bands it reminds me of, but I kinda hate when reviews do that because you sound like you, Fever Bliss! Which is to say, you sound like distortion and sweetness; you sound like those heartbreaking kids that moms always love.
6) “Bottle Kids” – The Flying Hounds: what a superb song to follow the last! This song stole my heart, Imma be honest. Lines like “Cause you know who you are and you know we all fucking hate you”/ “Wake up drunk and with someone awful” are so brutal but delivered in such a lovely way with such happy chords. I love that. My favorite part is the bridge: “You know we love you! I’m just fucking with you!” That line is familiar to anyone who’s ever been in a friend group (i.e. everyone). It’s perfect.
7) “Jail Dad” – Softbody: If this song and the last song were people, those people would be friends. I don’t know if the people in these bands are friends IRL, but the bottle kids might be the same guys calling their dad from jail asking not to be picked up. Also, I learned a lot about jail from this song. Not sure how much of it is true (“NOT ALLOWED TO READ FICTION BOOKS”). I thought this song ruled. It made me wanna hang out in jail with those guys and listen to more punk rock.
8) “You’re So Sorry” – SPORTS: The SPORTS album Sunchokes was the best album of 2014 in my opinion. It is a perfect 21 minutes. Among other things, I listened to Sunchokes, in full, six times while running a marathon this past October. This is the song I picked to play as I ran through the finish line. Speaking of finish lines, I never cease to be destroyed by the final line of this song: “My heart, my heart, my heart, my heart, your heart, your heart, your heart, your heart, hold back these words we mean to say, we’re both so sorry every day.”
9) “Provolone” – Jay Leung: I don’t know whether or not this song is actually about cheese. There are two reasons I say that: 1) The lyrics say things like, “Provolone, don’t say you love me if you don’t” and 2) Of all the cheeses to dedicate a song to, provolone doesn’t seem like a likely contender (No offense, provolone lovers). This jazzy, smooth number is so fun and enjoyable (especially the scatting) that I forgot how weird it might be if it was really about cheese.
10) “My Gravity” – Lily McBride: When Lily McBride started singing on this track, I was working on something in Microsoft Word and I stopped doing that thing to click back on the bandcamp page—I needed to see who on planet Earth possessed That Voice. It is still unreal to me that a college age person is singing this song. A lovely combination of funk and tragedy on one track.
11) “down” – Roger Rogers: To review this remix of “Lay It Down” by Lloyd, I had to listen to this version, then the original, then this version again. I’ve determined that I like this remix better. It’s less busy than the original, which makes it more sultry. I don’t know what the line “I ain’t Casanova, me and Romeo ain’t never been friends” means, but I like it a lot. I’m glad this song is on the mix.
12) “Flickered” – Rich After Taxes: Let me start by saying, what a great band name. This is a solid electronic track—it made me wish I was still at Kenyon so I could enjoy it in one of those odd Kenyon dance party situations. This song definitely captures the moment when everyone at a VI concert is finally drunk enough to dance and the vibe changes from two-thirds of the room sitting to 100 percent gleeful dancing in what seems like a minute.
13) “Twisted Funky” – Trix and the Kids: Speaking of dancing at the VI, this is the type of jam that would bring campus cliques of all shapes and sizes to groove together at the VI. I love a good funky Motown song with a surprise rock-rap verse and this is no exception. This song goes down smooth.
14) “Babylon Tower” – The 117s: I enjoyed the storytelling of this song so much. Poppy, melodious, and funny, this songs gets big ups. “Are you mocking me? You don’t respond at all to me.” Ooof that chorus tells an ageless tale.
15) “Witness” – Tom Loughney: This song is grand because it combines brooding, honest lyrics in a calm, beautiful way—ominous but captivating a la Sufjan Stevens (I said I wasn’t gonna name-drop like a douchebag and there I go…). I cannot imagine Tom Loughney as a volatile child but he sings about throwing bamboo shoots at people as a kid and I can’t decide if his calm voice makes that story hilarious or really spooky. The line that sticks with me from this song is, “Then I just switched out the bamboo for things that I shouldn’t say.” That’s a sign of a good song—when you hear a line and think, “Guh. I’ve been there.”
16) “Stranger’s Face” – Amanda Goodman: This song is so lovely. My heart swelled listening to the chorus, “Rinse your heart out in the stream, brush the gravel from your knees, because you know that love’s a tease.” Awwwwwww.
17) “What Will You Bring” – Zoe Tatarsky: Obviously, by this track I realized I had come to the beautiful, folky, heart-wrenching section of this compilation. I want to be articulate, but I gotta just say this first: ZOE TATARSKY’S VOICE THOOOOO. This song is gorgeous and I don’t know how to communicate how much I love it other than that I imagine this being a lullaby I sing to my babies someday and then they will love it so much that they will sing it to their babies and so on and so forth until the sun burns out.
18) “We Walked In” – Vince Fermia: You know when you’re listening to a song that is so melancholy, beautiful, and true that all of a sudden you feel like you’re in the movie of your life and everything feels very dramatic, like you’re in a “coming of age” moment in said movie? That’s what this song did to me.
19) “So Long” – Addie Pray: So, in case you’re reading this and you didn’t know, Carmen Perry is killin’ it in each and every direction in the Kenyon music scene. Her lyrics are witty and heartbreakingly real and when paired with her playing, she becomes a force not to be reckoned with. “So Long” is a great song. You should also check out all of her music at your earliest convenience.
20) “Fun” – Cry About It: I love that a band called “Cry About It” sings, “I don’t want to be no fun to you.” I also love this short, simple, clever song. It has some unbeatable lyrics, like the opening lines “It was too long, I didn’t read it, but I got the gist of it, and then I went to bed.” Truth.
21) “Adam Broil” – Seth LaCheese: Honestly, this song kinda freaks me out. But in a good way! It’s very mesmerizing and calming but at the same time it sounds like a song being sung as a sacrifice to someone named “Adam Broil.” What kind of sacrifice? I’ll let you imagine that on your own as you listen to this song.
22) “For You” – Noah Moraynnis: This is how this song came about in my mind: someone at WKCO was like, “Okay, we got a lot of soulful stuff on here, a lot of love songs, but we still need like a suuuuuuuuuuuuultry song. Like a song to immortalize this compilation as part of everyone’s mackin playlist, right between Marvin Gaye and John Legend. Where do we get one of those?” and Noah Moraynnis appeared. This song is the sexiest song on this compilation but it’s also just a really good song.
23) “bills” – doczilla x roger rogers: If you plan to remix a priceless song like “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child, you better be prepared to BRING IT. Thankfully, this remix does the song justice. This remix turns the pop R&B song into the chilling, sorta threatening song that its lyrics want it to be. If you owe Beyoncé money, you’re looking over your shoulder after hearing this version.  Also shout out to a time when DC had FOUR MEMBERS—WHUT?
24) “Doug and Larry Met the Day Humans Walked the Moon” – Count Lenny: Bless you, Count Lenny. This song is so fun and makes my ears wicked happy. “It doesn’t matter what they say, there’s a man on the moon today.” An ideal jam for the upcoming (hopefully) warmer times.
25) “I Know You Know” – Jon Loeb: As the penultimate track on the compilation, Jon Loeb’s instrumental song “I Know You Know” prepares us for the dramatic and sad conclusion of this incredible mix.
26) “Indie Boys” – Jack W x Lewis Turley x Carmen P: I like that Lewis Turley’s last name is the only one that makes the cut, I like this funny song, and I like that it was chosen as the closer for this compilation. It’s catchy and odd and stands alone, which seems like a really appropriate way to end a WKCO compilation.
I’d like to conclude this review with a personal anecdote: I didn’t know that Kenyon had an amazing music scene when I chose it as my college- I think it’s one of Kenyon’s unwittingly hip magical qualities. It’s kind of crazy to think about how some of my all-time favorite musicians are Kenyon musicians—people I got to go to school with, see in the dining hall, or invite to my radio show. It makes me so happy that the music scene is still bursting with awesomeness and that there are people on campus who recognize that awesomeness enough to put in the love/patience/time as well as the blood/sweat/tears that a compilation like this requires.
In closing—Take advantage of this crazysexycool music scene while it’s still in the palm of your hand: 
1) Go see your friends—hell, go see your acquaintances—open up for some random band at the Horn.
2) Listen to WKCO. When else in your life are you going to get to turn on the radio and hear someone from your Baby Drama class talking about the time they hand fed a llama and got bit right before they put on an OCMS song?
3) Buy this compilation because it’s amazing and it was made by your peers who are insanely talented and who you’ll be weird-bragging about for years to come (I promise).
This morning I had one new favorite song and it featured Chris Brown. Now I have 26 new favorite songs and they’re all by Kenyon kids. This really is the best day ever. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a baguette to finish.

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