I was browsing the wikipedia artist page for Yo La Tengo and came across this gem about how the band chose their name and how it relates to the 1962 New York Mets.
Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley formed the band as a husband/wife duo in 1984. They chose the name “Yo La Tengo” (Spanish for “I have it”; or referring to a female-gender object or person, also “I’ve Got Her”) in an effort to avoid any connotations in English. The name came from a baseball anecdote. During the 1962 season, New York Mets Center Fielder Richie Ashburn and VenezuelanshortstopElio Chacón found themselves colliding in the outfield. When Ashburn went for a catch, he would scream, “I got it! I got it!” only to run into Chacón, who spoke only Spanish. Ashburn learned to yell, “¡Yo la tengo! ¡Yo la tengo!” instead. In a later game, Ashburn happily saw Chacón backing off. He relaxed, positioned himself to catch the ball, and was instead run over by left fielder Frank Thomas, who understood no Spanish and had missed a team meeting that proposed using the words “¡Yo la tengo!” as a way to avoid outfield collisions. After getting up, Thomas asked Ashburn, “What the hell is a Yellow Tango?”. –Wikipedia page for Yo La Tengo
I love when I learn things like this about bands, any other awesome band name stories you know of? Tell in the comments
I’ve been spending a lot of my recent ‘free-thinking’ time on the subject of music scenes, specifically about how they form and what effect they end up having on music as a whole. When a music scene has developed it means that there’s suddenly a new type of sound which is starting to get more attention and exposure for artists playing it, with that sound also occasionally being tracked to a specific location or region as well. For some examples, there was the Grunge movement in the Northwest in the late 1980s, a new definition of Alternative Rock emerged in the mid-90’s with bands such as Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Archers of Loaf, Guided By Voices and The Pixies gaining popularity, and recently there was a defined new-wave rock scene in New York City which spawned artists like The Strokes and Interpol. So how do these scenes actually start? Theoretically I can think of a few ways, but they all share some common points.
A new artist emerges and plays a sound which sounds so different from anything else that is currently being played, and so it inspires imitation and new methods of thinking. (Example: Bob Dylan)
An artist with an already established following and influence has a sudden drastic sound shift which worked incredibly well for them. (Example: Radiohead)
Multiple artists get inspired from the same source, bringing extra attention to an artist who’s music left a significant impact and is just now being remembered. (Example: The Velvet Underground)
An awesome local music scene emerges to draw a crowd, and somebody from that local scene emerges into the national spotlight. (Example: Neutral Milk Hotel)
There have to be other scenarios as well, but you’re probably starting to understand what I believe has to be present for a successful music scene to form. The sound has to be new and unique to the other options out there, and somebody within the scene has to grow in popularity enough so that they can spread the word around about it. It’s an interesting dynamic to think about, but that theorization is only the beginning point to this article.
Smaller music scenes get defined constantly and the study of these is basically what it means today to be current with modern music, and the people who get to define what these smaller scenes are work for the music media. Their job is to try and define these different music scenes and report what’s happening within them from a specific mindset, and this effects their opinion on who deserves to be recognized and how releases should be rated. This approach makes some sense from their perspective because if you’re covering music on a day-to-day basis then I imagine you wouldn’t be very keen on viewing every new release as a blank slate, but it’s a flawed approach towards rating music.
That’s because while music scenes are real and potentially valuable, they can also be a mirage which only displays the sounds which share common qualities with each other. Where’s the space for creativity and new ideas within this mindset, and what solutions get missed if you’re stuck looking for the answer in the same place repeatedly?
When it comes to new music, I think it’s best to just compare it to the total product rather than how it fits into the modern music scenes because of this. How well does the band or release stand alongside the successful sounds which have come before it, and how likely is it to inspire the sounds which will follow? That’s the ultimate question right there, and with all of the different genres and stylistic differences which have made an impact in music history I would think it’s safe to say that there’s never going to be a sure-fire answers to those questions. It’s just something that time decides, but keeping an open mind towards what could leave an imprint is an important step.
Beards. This is the post you never knew you wanted, dedicated to beards. Here are twenty of our favorite bearded bands you should be listening to, in order from ‘that’s some nice facial hair’ to ‘can I marry your beard.’
The above quote was brought up over the past weekend about a friend of one of my housemates from back home, and we all laughed at the concept of it for perhaps different reasons. The people in the room that knew him better than myself laughed because they knew examples of artists who the quoted person claimed to love which seemed to contradict the statement, but I laughed because it seemed like such an odd point to define your music interests. ‘Sad songs’ are going to find their way into every genre of music because a vast majority of artists will have something pushing them which inspires some form of sadness, it’s the nature of the beast.
Plus who’s to say what a sad song is when depressing topics such as “We Will Become Silhouettes” by The Postal Service and “Dying Is Fine” by Ra Ra Riot can be presented in such pretty and poppy ways? Listening is more of an empathetic process than anything else, and the listener by no means has to copy the feeling of the music. You don’t have to be happy to enjoy a happy song, and you don’t have to be sad when you hear a sad song, it’s just about trying to identify and understand why the artist is feeling that emotion and displaying it in this manner. To prove this point, I’ve compiled a playlist of ten songs I would say are sad but make me happy when I listen to them, and I hope that other people share this feeling with me.
I hope that everybody had an excellent holiday season and received gifts which caused them joy, and I would like to remind you that these gifts don’t stop coming once the holidays are over. We receive gifts in the form of hope for the future constantly, and these less tangible items help us to make it through our daily lives because something beautiful may be on the horizon. Being as this is a music blog and I am a man who love speculating on future music releases, here are some artists who are probably due to release their new album at some point in 2014.
I wasn’t a fan of his when I saw him play live at our Birthday show back in 2011, but Avi Zahner-Isenberg’s ability to put together a terrific studio album shouldn’t be doubted. His self-titled debut album from 2010 holds some fantastic songs on it, such as “Summer Cum” and “What’s In It For?“. I can’t find an official page on the promise of an album from him in 2014, but his wikipedia article does suggest that the sophomore album was being constructed in 2013 and therefore can be hoped for in the upcoming year.
Purely speculation on my part, but the band has last released an album in 2011 and have only released the EP Undersea since then in 2012. For a band that’s still actively touring and writing music, I have to speculate that 2014 could reveal the fifth studio album for this talented band to display their version of soft and experimental folk-rock.
Consistently interesting and well established to the point that he’ll be able to do basically whatever he’d like, Beck is at an ideal place for a musician to be. His last studio album was done back in 2008 and was widely praised in Modern Guilt but that won’t be true for much longer as we are about to hear Beck’s twelfth studio album in February of upcoming year named Morning Phase, supposedly with a ‘Sea Change’ vibe to it.
Bombay Bicycle Club
A much anticipated album by me because A Different Kind of Fix was such a stellar release by the group. How will they follow it up and how much will the sound change? I guess we’ll find out on February 3rd
Honestly I don’t care to much about the release of the next Brand New album because I think I’m out of the age range where they should be relevant to me. I would agree that they are a legitimate band though, and they’re loved by a lot of my friends who know their stuff about music so it’s worth covering here that they’ve been touring a lot recently and supposedly said at a show that they have been recording new material.
Attack on Memory was one of the finest releases out there in 2012, but it seems promising that they’re hinted 2014 release will be a different sound from the Cleveland noise-rockers. They’ve promised a sound which is more true to their playing style and thus the upcoming album should be expected to be more similar to the track “Wasted Days” and not-so-much like “Fall In“. Either way I’m interested in seeing how quality of a release it is and how close they come to crossing over to punk or grunge in the process.
Death Cab For Cutie
We’re definitely out of the golden-age for this band, but I’m hard pressed to say that I won’t give a listen to anything that Gibbard releases out of respect for his voice and past writing experience. The group posted a photo on Instagram three months ago to announce the beginning the band’s work on their eighth studio album.
Death From Above 1979
It’s hard to not imagine the ‘what if’ for this band and their potential re-emergence into the music scene, filled with energy packed guitar rock hopefully. The album could be coming out in 2014 and I’m hopeful for it being awesome as this could make Canada the place to be for modern noise-rock as it could claim Japandroids and Death From Above 1979 (and Metz too if you want to throw them in that category).
The fact that this album is coming three years after Portamento is actually a blessing because it will say a lot about how good the band actually is. Their music is incredibly fun to listen to, catchy and funny, but I’m of the opinion that a lot of artists can write about their failed past relationships in a pop song. I’m interested in hearing the band’s third studio album because I believe it will be a defining point for what kind of band The Drums will be in the future.
I really hope that Jonathan Tillman’s departure from the band is as insignificant as the phrase ‘The Drummer from Fleet Foxes left the band’ suggests, but I don’t think that’s a fair viewpoint because Tillman went on to release a fine solo album in Fear Fun under the moniker of Father John Misty. Still, you should be excited for the future of this band because the last time they released an album it was 2011 and they out-shined Bon Iver’s Bon Iver ,Bon Iver that year in my eyes with Helplessness Blues. The band has indicated via photos on their Facebook page that they are currently working on album number three.
Guided By Voices
A safe bet in any year to release an album or two so long as they’re active, Robert Pollard must be writing constantly.
The Hold Steady
I love Craig Finn as a lead singer, and I’m very much so anticipating hearing what lines he gets on the upcoming album (can it be much better than “She said the theme of this party’s the Industrial Age/ And you came in dressed like a train-wreck”?). Hopefully they do a national tour in support of the release because this is a band who I would absolutely love to see play live.
Haven’t seen any news that this one’s being worked on but the band has never taken more than three years to release an album, even for their most recent double album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming back in 2011. Their next release will say a lot about how much of a premiere alternative electronic artist the band is because their last two albums have been spectacular in the aforementioned Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming as well as Saturdays=Youth in 2008.
I don’t know to much about the band, but I do know that their last album release in 2011 was The English Riviera and that one is viewed as a classic by WCDB DJ Luuk. The follow-up to that album is going to be named Love Letters and is scheduled to come out on March 10 according to their website.
Isaac Brock did decide to name his label Glacial Pace for a reason, though even with that in mind it’s difficult to imagine 2014 passing without hearing the new Modest Mouse album. They’ve been testing out new songs at their live shows for about the past year now, including songs being played at major festival shows, and it was well reported that they went into the studio with Big Boi of all people back in 2011 to work on new songs. I’m excited obviously as this is my favorite band, but it’s also going to be really interesting to see what a Modest Mouse album sounds like when Brock takes five years to actually put the thing together. It’s hard to imagine a potential product that has a lot of holes in it.
The Mountain Goats
‘Due’ is a funny word to use hear because we just heard from this album in 2012 with Transcendental Youth, but John Darnielle’s history shows that this band has never had a three year gap between albums. They’re one of those bands who excel by working and writing constantly, and because of this we may very well be treated to their next album in the upcoming year.
The New Pornographers
This Canadian super-group is the most consistent modern pop group out there in my opinion, and they’ve been in the studio to record new material in the middle of last year. That article seems to suggest that the album may already be done, and I’m not sure about the validity of that statement, but I would place a monetary bet on the fact that there will be a new New Pornographers LP out within the next year.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
It’s not speculation to say that they plan on releasing an album in 2014, but it is speculation to say that I think it will end up being one of the defining albums of the year. The band has had an absolutely stellar first two albums in S/T and Belong, and the timing seems right for this band to step into the spotlight.
No news on a new album by this group, but ‘an album every two years’ seems to be a relevant statement with this band’s discography, and their last release was in 2012 with Observator.
The band announced via Youtube videos (#1 and #2) that their third studio album will be released in 2014. I’m excited for it because I enjoyed Days a lot in 2011 and find their music to be relaxing, but this album should mean something significant about how legitimate of an artist the group is. Third releases mean a lot, and we’ll see if the band has progressed the sound for their third release or not rather soon it appears.
See: Guided By Voices
His Wikipedia page states that he did a live show in 2013 where the venue stated he was playing new songs from his forthcoming album, so that’s what we have to work with here. It makes sense since his last album release came out in 2011, and it’s the better alternative to just drifting out of music which it seemed like he may have been heading towards before I heard this news, so this is a good thing.
You talk about ‘cool’ bands in the music scene, I will contend that Britt Daniel is the coolest man in the music scene, and I can not freaking wait to hear the next album by this band which will supposedly get released in 2014. The band has been very consistent with their quality so I’m liking the chances of Spoon putting out one of the better albums of the year once it does actually get released.
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
Wig Out at Jagbags is set to be released on January 7 2014, thus making it the earliest release to be excited about that I’m aware of. Malkmus is a terrific front-man, and if they consistently give hysterical social commentary like they did on “Senator” off of Mirror Traffic in 2011 then I will be one happy man.
The time seems right to start hoping for a new release from Sufjan. He did release his second Christmas Songs box set in 2012 with Silver & Gold: Vols. 6-10 but the last true album which we’ve received from him was the widely experimental and interesting Age of Adz back in 2010. It should be very interesting to hear what direction Stevens chooses to take for his next album as the last one was so unprecedented that it’s difficult to know if it is a permanent sound shift or an artistic experiment in the same way that Arcade Fire’s Reflektor is making me ask the same question about that band. Guess we’ll just have to wait to find out in both cases.
The band’s got a lot of attention on it after the success of Lonerism in 2012, so if 2014 does hold the follow-up to that album then there will be a lot of coverage on Tame Impala in the upcoming year. For most band’s that rise to national recognition is a wonderful thing and justification for the effort, but I’ve got to speculate on how well they would handle the actual role considering the recurring song themes, and even the actual album name of their last release. A band that has the talent to be a premiere group, but a band who likely don’t feel comfortable with the modern social demand that fans give to their favorite artists, and the truth is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that if that’s how they prefer to work.
A motivated Patrick Stickles is a wonderful thing to hear as The Monitor has shown us, and the upcoming release is getting billed as a 30-track modern rock opera with the theme of Manic Depression. In other words, this release is probably going to be mind-blowingly good while also being completely different from anything else that they’ve released before. There’s a lot of reason for excitement about this release.
No announcement of studio work for the group, but that doesn’t seem all that strange since Tweedy does all of that stuff internally now anyways. The last time we got a Wilco album was the solid The Whole Love back in 2011 so it would make sense to hope that 2014 will be the landing point for studio album number nine from the group.
Anybody else? Likely. Realize that while it’s incredibly fun to speculate on what albums are going to define the upcoming year, it’s a difficult thing to be completely accurate on because years will often get best represented by albums which nobody saw coming. Still, these are all releases which are going to demand a listen from me and carry the hope that 2014 could be an excellent year for music where many talented artists are due for their latest release.
This year has been the first time that I’ve actually had a job during the holiday season, and alongside the valuable set of skills I’ve acquired through the experience it has opened my eyes to a very large problem with our society today: the issue of all-day christmas music radio stations and the nature of their intentional ignorance and laziness. For the past two weeks I’ve heard just about every Christmas song out there get played twice a day, five days a week in a seemingly fixed rotation where the on-air personality is only present to remind you of what station is providing this oddly specific brand of torture. The good news is that it’s not that difficult for me to make it through the day there because I love listening to Christmas music.
Something special happens in Christmas songs where everybody is hoping for the circumstantially wonderful thing to happen, and that communal feeling of safety and joy is a beautiful thing to experience in song. The bad part is that not every Christmas song actually accomplishes this today despite the fact that they are all still played equally and frequently. This list features both songs which have become overly-offensive and songs which had only succeeded in the first place because of their shock value, and argues that there comes a point in time where the tradition or novelty of a song needs to be overlooked. Here are five Christmas songs which should be retired.
Regardless of where music is being played, there’s usually a good amount of people prepared to suggest which song should be played next. This can be a fun communal process where everyone gets to learn a little bit about the other music tastes in the room and possibly get introduced to great new artists, but in my experience that’s a pretty rare happening unfortunately. That’s not to say that everybody has bad tastes in music, because most people I end up hanging out with have awesome music tastes, but whenever somebody takes over the next track it’s usually because a song’s been stuck in there head and they need the relief of it being played. I’ve been there too, this weekend I played STRFKR’s “Pop Song” at a friend’s house, not because it fit in with the set list or mood of the party but just because I wanted to change the music to a sound that I thought was more fitting for the environment.
I stand by the fact that it was a good song choice for people hanging out to listen to, but the fact of the matter is that it’s not a fair mentality to carry to attempt to change the sound of the room to whatever you want to hear. For one it’s a selfish act since not everybody there is going to like what you will, and it leads to the problem of everybody trying to get priority on the next track choice so that they can change the sound of the room yet again. What this leads to is a playlist full of awkwardly arranged songs that don’t really go together but were selected for individualized purposes, or a sound that’s disjointed and therefore not pleasant.
This is actually not that big of a problem at parties because the music should be primarily in the background anyway and no one really ends up minding to much if the music isn’t fantastic (though I love gatherings where it is), but the problem actually can carry over into radio shows too. Sometimes we’ll get awesome requests of what to play, for example: I was playing a ton of 90’s rock on my show one day and as I was playing an early Modest Mouse track I got a request to play Built To Spill. Two artists that have very comparable sounds and can segue into each other pretty damn easily, and a song request to help me because I’m still not nearly as familiar with Built to Spill as I should be (which sucks because I know that I am going to love them some day). If there’s a request which lets me know a track that fits into my set really well, especially for an artist which I don’t play to often, then that is extremely appreciated and one of my favorite parts about making radio shows. That’s not usually the case though, as most song requests I’ve seen are closer to the previous mindset where somebody just had a song stuck in their head and wanted that song to get played on the radio. It doesn’t matter what was playing, and that mindset drives me nuts as someone who always pre-plans what I’m going to play on the radio.
If I still do decide to play the song then it becomes a challenge of how to actually work my way back to what I was doing before, usually solved by an awkwardly placed PSA (thanks FCC) and a quick re-introduction to what was going on before. I think most people actually feel the same way about this, but the mindset is a bit funny because there’s a mentality out there that DJs love receiving song requests. That’s not really true though, I only like them if they fit.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that the internet and mobile technology is changing the media industry as we know it. The ease of broadcasting anything on the internet without having to deal with problems like buying high-tech broadcasting equipment, a limited signal, and FCC regulations makes an actual radio station, comparatively speaking, a hassle to operate. In addition, the mere fact that streaming can be done through smartphones only increases the ability to listen to the station anywhere where there’s a cell tower, without the worry of hearing static and leaving the station’s transmission range.
So given these two realities, why do we continue to broadcast the old fashioned way on the frequency 90.9 FM?
As a news personality at the radio station for little more than two years, and as an avid radio listener for much of my young life, this question in one form or another has pondered me. WCDB for instance has a website in which practically anyone with an internet connection can listen to broadcasts online that are of better quality than over the air through an analog radio. In fact many college radio stations, including the one at the College of St. Rose, do all their broadcasts over the internet.
It seems given the massive technological advances I’ve seen at least during the past decade (not to mention many of the regulations governing over-the-air broadcasts) that radio ought to be as dead as a Dodo. But, practicality and efficiency doesn’t always make right (at least in this blogger’s eyes). Here are some reasons why I think WCDB 90.9FM – still serves a useful purpose.
1) Not everybody has access to the internet:
Although it seems implausible, the reality is that there are a significant chunk of households without internet (about 1 in 5 to be exact). For those people without access to the internet, it wouldn’t be fair for WCDB to abandon those people. Especially considering the fact that we’re one of the few non-commercial entertainment outlets in this area, and part of even fewer number of non-commercial alternative outlets.
2) Many people still listen to the radio in their cars:
While cars are just now beginning to add outlets for portable devices such as MP3s, I-Pods, and other streaming devices; the vast majority of cars have radios as the sole means of entertainment. So for the out-of-tower that might be passing through the Capital District, they might be able to tune into our station and get a taste of what some of the creative minds here at WCDB have to offer.
3) Real-World Training in Radio
WCDB, just like any other commercial radio station, has to deal with malfunctions, regulations, financial managements, etc. Therefore, probably the most important contribution this station has to offer is the training in the many aspects of running a radio station to the students and community members that work here. Despite the quality alternative entertainment that WCDB might offer to the Capital District, we provide the training ground for the DJs and broadcasters of tomorrow. And in order to provide real-world, quality training (in my opinion of course) a functioning, over-the-air radio station is crucial.
But, what do I know? I’m just a blogger here. Do you guys have any thoughts on this? Share them in this poll.
When you join our radio station, after you go through the process of shadowing shows, working the board, and passing the written test you come up to the final test: on-air clearance. This is about a fifteen minute long period of time where you are going to be left on your own, and you have to show that you’re capable of doing everything that will be required of you on your show. It’s a simple process to look back on because all that it truly tests is whether or not you feel comfortable being on the air yet, but it also provides you with a bit of a defining point. This is the first chance that you have ever gotten to choose a song to play over the radio.
This ‘defining first song’ theory admittedly doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of what your show will be, but I would bet that 90% of our DJs they would say that the first song that they played over the air meant something to them. For me I didn’t choose to go with a classic or something trendy at the time to define myself, I went with a message: “Most People Are DJs” by the Hold Steady.
This was a comforting notion in my mind. There was a bit of doubt about whether or not I was actually qualified to be a DJ, to be the guy who decides for other people what music they are going to listen to next. In reality it takes a lot of confidence in your music taste to be able to take this step, and while I knew I had a good taste in music I wasn’t sure if it was going to be good enough for me to feel deserving. I knew it was something that I wanted to do badly though, and I entered the station despite my fears with the mentality that most people in this world are DJs, and I was going to find my way at the station in time.
Most of us are DJs in some way. We all have found songs that worked really well back to back while we walked with headphones on from class to class. We’ve all been at a party and thought about what track would be perfect to hear right now. What more is a radio show than organizing a set-list, a mix tape, and letting that play itself out. If the masses like it, than great, if not, who cares? The wisest advice I’ve heard since joining the station came from DJ Show at a meeting when he stated to just play what you like, and other people out there will like it to. You don’t need to know what the public is hoping to hear because for the most part they don’t know what they’re hoping to hear, all that they want is good song selection and good transitions. If they want to hear a song, they can use the request line. Continue reading Revisiting a Viewpoint: Are Most People DJs?→
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