All posts by jmclaffx

DJ Pinetree at WCDB 90.9fm

Stream Hovvdy’s new single “Late”

Hovvdy, a two-part duo from Texas, have released “Late”, a new single from their upcoming album Cranberry, set to be released February 9th, 2018. The release of “Late” follows their earlier release of “Petal”, which debuted back in October. Both tracks are melodic and slow, with introspective lyrics, reflecting on past situations.

In addition to their two releases, they are currently finishing up a fall West Coast Tour, leaving fans excited in anticipation for Cranberry‘s full release. You can preorder the album here.

Stream “Late” below:

 

Sam Smith Enthralls on The Thrill of It All

Written by: Kitty Modell-Rosen

Last week, 2014’s breakout singer/songwriter Sam Smith released his long awaited sophomore album The Thrill of It All. Smith has certainly outdone himself, stripping much of this release’s songs down to just his powerful vocals, a simple piano and when necessary, a gospel choir to add layers of strength and spirituality to his already angelic voice.

The album’s first track, “Too Good At Goodbyes” served as the album’s lead single and ushered in this new era of music for Smith and his patient fanbase. The first half of the song finds Smith accompanied by just a subtle piano playing the simplest chords, joined by finger-snapping. As emotions build and tensions rise, a beat kicks in and eventually Smith is flanked by a gospel choir, echoing his verses to the heavens.

On “HIM”, Smith tells the beautiful story of a young boy coming out to the most important men in his life – his father, and the “Holy Father”, God. Outlined within the song’s lyrics is a boy standing up for the love he holds for another boy, as well as the love he insists he deserves from God and his father despite this supposed religious transgression in the form of engaging in a homosexual relationship. The track is empowering, and brings chills to the spine when the gospel choir joins Smith, adding another layer to the religious battle the boy is fighting.

“Midnight Train” takes a somber note and flips the perspective to Smith making the painful decision to break a lover’s heart this time, as opposed to allowing his heart to be broken as he usually does. The track takes on a Doo-Wop-esque feeling and sound at the chorus, as Smith contemplates whether he is a “monster” for making the selfish decision to put himself before his now ex-boyfriend, what his lover’s family will think of him for leaving and how to put into words why he must depart for good.

The Timbaland-produced “Pray” served as an additional promotional release for the album, and was inspired by the time Smith spent in Iraq with the charity War Child. The song’s opening fools the listener into thinking the song will be upbeat, when in reality, it openly and emotionally details Smith’s naiveté regarding the state of the world – citing a lack of completed education, his young age, his ignoring of the news and having turned away from religion. By the end of the track, Smith concludes that despite all of this, we all end up praying, at one point or another, for a “glimmer of hope” in the darkness of our current world.

Additionally of note is “Scars”, exclusively available as one of the album’s special edition bonus tracks. Serving as a kind of dual letter to his mother and father in response to their divorce, “Scars” is poetic, heartwarming and heartbreaking, all in the span of three minutes. Smith sings that his parents’ newfound happiness without each other as husband and wife, as well as their assistance and guidance to their children through that tough time, has healed his metaphorical scars.

Smith’s debut release In the Lonely Hour is nothing when in the shadow of this powerful and emotional sophomore release. As a whole, The Thrill of It All is hauntingly raw and real, as Smith reveals to his listeners – layer by layer, track by track – how heartbreak of all kinds has affected him and culminated in this painfully honest collection of ballads.

Listen below:

Boy Pablo’s Roy Pablo

At just 18, Norwegian-native Boy Pablo has already released 3 singles and a 6 track EP. He is joined on stage by his best friends and is currently touring around Europe. His latest release, Roy Pablo, was released this past May and quickly gained attention among the dreampop community, being compared to acts like Mild High Club and Banes World.

Check out the EP below:

(recommended tracks: everytime, ur phone, ready / problems)

10 Years Ago Today: Radiohead’s In Rainbows

Ten years ago today, on Oct. 10th 2007, Radiohead self-released their seventh studio album In Rainbows, after breaking from their former label. In Rainbows was announced and released on Radiohead’s blog, with pay-what-you-want download link. They were the first major band to do this, and it sparked international debate about revolutionizing the role of the music industry, garnering mostly positive reactions. The album received critical acclaim, won 2 Grammys, and was named one of the top albums of 2007. In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked In Rainbows as #336 on the updated list of Greatest 500 Albums of All Time.

Take a look back and give it a spin:

 

Strange Ranger In-Studio

Stranger Ranger joined WCDB for an in-studio and interview a few weeks back. DJ Ronnie had the pleasure of hosting them and below is her take on the event:

I’ve been a huge fan of Strange Ranger since their last year’s release “Rot Forever”. It was such a pleasure to host them at our station. As they walked in, they immediately noticed the massive Bruce Springsteen record on the wall they made note of how all college radio stations are pretty similar but in the end, unique in their own ways. They enjoy playing DIY shows and having them at WCDB felt like a real “do it for the culture” moment. They could have ignored our request to stop by but they went out of their way because supporting the scene is what they love. When they began to set up I recognized two familiar faces in the band and 3 new ones. They got a new drummer named Asher and had Fiona on the keyboard. Isaac and Fred were the 2 members apart of the original line up. The last was Nathan, a member that had played drums for them on Rot Forever but just began touring with them as the second guitarist this Summer/Fall. As they set up the equipment, a casual jam session broke out. These guys love to jam, there are intense jam breakdowns all over Rot Forever. It was something that obviously came very naturally to them. Isaac fumbled around with headphones and snapped one of the earpieces off, and as the band collectively roasted him for being a klutz, we began to jump into some questions about their upcoming album. I’m sure they get asked about the name change a lot but they wanted us to know not only did the name Strange Ranger come out of respect and accountability of Sioux falls but what also joined it was a shift in their sound. They played a couple songs off their upcoming album and recently released singles. It was a nice mixed bag of old and new stuff from their older EPs, Rot Forever and Daymoon. I begged them to play Dom as they tried to decide what to play next. It must have been a song that wasn’t rehearsed in a while, and as they laughed through the small sloppy mistakes and rocky start, debris from the ceiling began to fall. Dom shook the entire station in a great way. As we got into more questions about their influence everything began to make sense as to why I loved these guys so much. Songs: Ohia, The Microphones, Elliott Smith and Alex G were all listed as influences of their upcoming album being released October 6th on Tiny Engines. After the show, we chatted about the Albany DIY scene and our local bands. They knew quite a few people involved in it and seemed excited to return back to Albany.

A live recording of the performance can be heard below:

Stay tuned for more planned in-studios, including a performance by Jouska and Hate Club on Oct. 6th as they join us for College Radio Day!

Peach Pit- Being So Normal

Peach Pit, a four-piece act from Vancouver, released their sophomore album Being So Normal on September 15th. In February 2017, a YouTube channel sent their self-titled track, “Peach Pit” viral after discovering it on their Bandcamp. The group quickly started to amass a following, and are now on a worldwide tour (stopping in NY at Baby’s All Right Oct. 8th!). Self-described as ‘chewed bubblegum pop’, their latest album flows along with melodic guitar riffs and dreamy vocals. Each track sounds a bit different than the last, a clear experimentation with sound while progressing in their music-making.

Listen to a track off the new album below:

Song of the Day: Soft Sounds From Another Planet -Japanese Breakfast

Today’s song of the day is hand-picked from Japanese Breakfast’s sophomore album Soft Sounds From Another Planet, released this past July. Melodic and dreamy, this title track encapsulates the feeling of closing your eyes and laying in the warm sun. Paired with layers of masterfully crafted cosmic arrangements, the depth of the lyrics hit hard as Michelle Zauner paints a tale of an abusive ex-lover. While seemingly melancholic, the theme of this album centers on healing and release, in contrast to her 2016 debut album Psychopomp, which journeyed her mother’s emotional battle with cancer. A lap steel guitar solo and floaty vocals package this track up into a perfect cozy nighttime listen.

You can listen below, along with the rest of the album:

 

Vinyl On The Rise?

Written by: Audra Colliton

As a collector of vinyl for 8 years, I can easily say it’s on the rise. However, I can also attest to the fact that I am biased. I have seen an increase in people my age shopping at my record store, younger people at events like the Record Riot, and the release of cheap turntables everywhere in every color can defend that opinion.

Vinyl is on trend right now, but as a musical format, I find it to be the most tactile. As a music enthusiast, I have collected my fair share of CDs, tapes and digital downloads. CDs are often too small to fully appreciate the small booklets in the covers, tapes are even smaller, and digital is subtracted from the physical environment entirely. Vinyl is different; it’s tactile and large enough to fully appreciate. For that reason, covers are more elaborate, the inner sleeve may contain more things like posters, calendars, and even large booklets or paper stands. Zeppelin had pop up effects on Led Zeppelin III, the Rolling Stones incorporated an actual, zippable zipper on Sticky Fingers, Alice Cooper’s Love it To Death came with a calendar from 1971 with a picture of Alice being hung with a noose. There are so many additional things to vinyl in comparison to CDs it’s impressive.

Vinyl also has a different sound quality and lasts longer when cared for properly. I cannot fully describe the sound it has, but it feels more real. That might just be my bias shining through, but I’ve heard similar statements from other collectors. They also last longer in comparison to tapes, which, after several uses, will expel their tape and get worn out. CDs, after a number of years, literally rot, which is another thing to take into consideration. It’s true that vinyl can be severely damaged and can skip, but proper care is crucial.

Besides that, we have to consider how we take in music day to day in the digital, divided era that we live in. We take everything segmented, taking out the terrible and only focusing on the “good” music, or the singles of an album. CDs and tapes you can easily skip through. Skipping songs on vinyl takes some skill and when I first started I never did it in fear of damaging my albums. So, as time went by, I listened to my albums fully, taking the good with the bad. And I realized that albums are merely storytelling devices, some stories are good, some stories are bad. Sometimes the story is not linked up, sometimes the stories intertwine perfectly.

An example of an album that does this is Arthur by the Kinks. Sure, you probably know “Victoria”, however, the tracks that follow are vital to the story, and the discontent felt in the story doesn’t fully echo through “Victoria”. Discontent is felt through songs like “Some Mother’s Son” and “Shangri La” due to the sad and sarcastic nature the Kinks instill into the lyrics. Albums are a composite piece of work, and to fully grasp the art, it must be taken whole before zeroing into songs. I’ve come to find some of my favorite songs are my least favorite in comparison to the album as a whole.

Some stories are terrible, like Their Satanic Majesties Request, that tried to rival Sargent Pepper’s and horribly failed, however the album is still sought after by collectors that value the art, and can actually be worth money just because of the art.

In general, vinyl is an experience that cannot be replicated on a digital platform.

Looking Back

As the semester draws to a close, we look back at what made this year special.

Starting off the year with a daunting challenge, WCDB took its first-ever stab at helping plan the 35th annual Larkfest celebration, accompanied by Lark Street BID. WCDB’S choice headliner Lower Dens rocked the Madison Avenue stage, while local smaller-name acts dominated our own Trinity Lot stage. The 8 hour festival featured live music, vendors, and art for all. The Times Union estimated that nearly 80,000 guests were in attendance this year, the highest recorded numbers so far.

LarkFest2016Schedule

Some exciting news from one of our own made us proud this last month. Alumni DJ and Jazz Host Bill McCann celebrated his 32nd year with us this April, fittingly during Jazz Appreciation Month. His story was featured on Time Warner Cable Spectrum News, and can be viewed in the link below. His contributions to the station are innumerable, and we’re flattered to have him with us. You can hear his show Saturday mornings 8am-12pm, featuring a soothing mix of both classic and new mainstream jazz. (Bill McCann)

Earlier in April, we celebrated our 39th anniversary as a station with a commemorative show at The Low Beat (for traditions sake). Openers included Hospital Corners, Another Michael, and The Parlor, followed by headliner Palehound. A great turn out and awesome show has us all itching for next year’s 40th anniversary show, which is bound to pack out the house with fans and alumni DJs alike.

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Headliner Palehound, via @SuperVintageParty

As many of us head home for the summer and others head out to start the next stage of their lives, we look back fondly on the past year. We also look ahead, excited for what’s to come next semester and beyond. Stay tuned for more updates on music news, album reviews, and input from our fellow DJs.