Archive for December, 2007

Some thoughts on albums from 2007

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Thought I might join in with a few albums that I liked, that were generally overlooked.

Elvis Perkins – Ash Wednesday
What can I say about this album? I remember first listening to the opening track “While You Were Sleeping” and just being completely entrapped in the music. I now wake up everyday to “While You Were Sleeping” and it always provides a great start to the day. The album has a great flow of ups and downs throughout, and is perfect for any mood. I would definitely recommend this album to anyone who likes fuzz-folk, although this is more on the folk side then the fuzz. One sad fact about this album is that it was written after both of Perkins’ parents died. His father died of AIDS when Perkins was young, and his mother died in one of the September 11th planes. This definitely shows up on the album, but it’s more of a sad overtone then a sad direction that the album takes on. This is album definitely is one of my favorites of the year, and it’s a debut album to boot.

The Rakes – Ten New Messages
I can’t remember where I heard this, but I remember hearing someone call The Rakes “the real Arctic Monkeys.” Well this is their second album, and it’s a good one. As the title suggests, it’s ten new tracks in that post-punk/art-rock British style that The Rakes are good at. With a nice consistent sound throughout the whole album, it flows really well all the way from “The World Was a Mess But His Hair Was Perfect” to “Leave The City And Come Home.” Really a decent album. And when you have a track called “When Tom Cruise Cries” how can you go wrong?

Tullycraft – Every Scene Needs A Center


What more could you want from an album? With themes like punks, and goths and Dracula, UFOs all crushed up, put into a big old blender and then doused in pure essence of happiness, I don’t know what could go wrong. It’s not often that you find such an enjoyable 7+ min. pop song, but Tullycraft did it with Dracula Screams of Tiger Style (Parts One and Two). This is one of the only albums this year that I’ve listened to twice in a row. One of the happiest bands I know of, yes even happier then I’m From Barcelona, Tullycraft is also one of the funniest. The review at KWUR says something along the lines of “Great music, and witty lyrics that Pitchfork writers wish they could have written.” Reason enough to go and listen to Every Scene Needs A Center right away.

White Flight – White Flight

Most people haven’t heard of White Flight. What they’re missing is the solo project of Justin Roelofs, who you may know as a member of the now defunct ban The Anniversary. And let me tell you, it’s a terrific album. The album is a complete, beautiful work of art. The best way I can describe it is as a collage of poppy sounds and hooks. Sometimes it’s electronic, sometimes acoustic, but it all flows so well together. And over all of this you have some great lyrics and vocals. It really creates this complete experience that just sucks you in for the length of the album. I’ve heard a rumor that the album was inspired by Roelofs trip to South America where he experimented with a lot of local psychedelics. This would definitely explain quite a bit, as the album is really a strange album. And not everyone will like it because it’s so strange. But if you give it a listen, you might come it enjoy it as much as I have.

Subversive Cinema: Steal This Film II

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Just released (on the interweb), Steal This Film II.

The second part of this ongoing series, the film explores intellectual property and the struggles against p2p technology.

You are encouraged to download it (in several formats) here
or visit the film’s website at http://stealthisfilm.com/Part2/

Enjoy!

-Klax

My top 12 of 2007

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Just in time for the new year, my top 12 albums of 2007 (at KWUR, we give you more than the standard 10!):

1: Japanther – Skuffed Up My Huffy

Being a local band from New York isn’t exactly an excuse for not being a national sensation. But Skuffed Up My Huffy proves that the duo Japanther is worthy of the attention being paid to New York bands like Yeasayer and Vampire Weekend. The album is essentially a punk album, but it has plenty of samples and tape loops that would be more fitting for a hip hop group. Skuffed Up My Huffy is only 26 minutes long, but the songs are fast, lo-fi and irresistibly catchy, and with all the samples, doesn’t really sound like anything else out there. Skuffed Up My Huffy got stuck in my head after the first listen, and it hasn’t gotten out since.

2: The National – Boxer

There really isn’t much about Boxer that hasn’t already been said. I just remember at the beginning of the year, when I found out that Boxer and Voxtrot’s self-titled debut were coming out on the same day, it seemed like May 22 would be a huge day for indie music. At the time, Voxtrot were already huge, just based on the EPs, and seemed to have eclipsed the popularity of the National, who had been slowly gaining steam based on the strength of their previous albums. I haven’t really heard that much from Voxtrot recently, while it seems like the National is all over the place.

3: Menomena – Friend and Foe

When I first heard Friend and Foe, I didn’t really like it. But slowly and surely, it grew on me. Then I saw them over the summer, and they were great. And here they are. They have the experimental aspect, apparently requisite for any indie street cred, but they fuse it together with radio friendly hooks, pretty good lyrics, and a hell of a lot of energy, and the result is just a damn good album. The first six songs from the album have appeared on various iterations of year-end mix (look out for the final version of it on facebook, if I ever get around to it), and I can’t say that about anything else that was released this year.

This is the point where I’ve decided I’d rather listen to the albums than write about them, so enjoy this list.

4: Bishop Allen – The Broken String
5: Les Savy Fav – Let’s Stay Friends
6: 1990s – Cookies
7: Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare (where’s the love for this album, seriously?)
8: Grinderman – Grinderman
9: Mannequin Men – Fresh Rot
10: Art Brut – It’s A Bit Complicated
11: Kings of Leon – Because of the Times (I’ve been listening to them more and more in the past couple days since hearing a full concert of theirs on XM, which may have either clouded my judgment or just reminded me that this album needs to be on here, and maybe higher)
12: Yeasayer – All Hour Cymbals

5 other cool pop culture things from 2007:
The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta
30 Rock
Flight of the Conchords
Superbad
Mad Men

So Many Dynamos vs. Beatle Bob: battle of the millenium

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Ryan Wasoba of So Many Dynamos has a new post up on the o-fficial So Many Dynamos blog detailing his gripe with the infamous Beatle Bob. A quick synopsis (read the whole thing though): “[H]e always gets into shows free, always shows up late, and always pushes his way past everybody to get to the front right by the stage”, “At our show at Off Broadway last week, there was a coat on the stage right in front of where i was setting up my pedals. Beetle Bob picked it up from the stage, despite walking in without a coat. He left a few songs into our set and walked out, big puffy jacket in hand”, and “He also has claimed to work at KDHX (he doesn’t) and has talked bands into letting him have a promo copy of their CD for radio airplay.” Hopefully, that was just Pete Best Bob, but if that’s all true…damn, dude. If you’re reading this, Beatle Bob, we’d love to hear your side of the story.

Meanwhile, So Many Dynamos will be at the Billiken Club on January 25, and Beatle Bob will be at a show near you. Check ‘em both out.

KWUR technology report end of ’07

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Happy holidays from the kwur tech and Unicron! Say hello Mr. Robot Man!



Yikes! It just vomited crash output on us! What a hueg metal monster to fear indeed!

We would also like to emphasize Unicron’s fashionable custom rack mount that look so sexy, thanks to Pat Harkins in the mech shop:


2007 has been a big year for the technology of the station. Since Unicron’s rise the technology use in KWUR has continued to improve, as long as things weren’t breaking…


Uhh, where’s the air studio mainframe? (NOTE: we insist it should be called a “console,” but the clowns who make the thing call it a “mainframe”)

Okay, truth time: the air studio CONSOLE is currently with its manufacturer, since a Zylink chip on it fried right before winter break, which made the first six channels on the console *freak* out. We suspect this chip was the reason the console was shocking people – okay just kidding, but not really ;) . However, in spite of this, we quickly hacked together a temporary air studio in the listening room! The procedure got a little silly at points, but here’s basically what went down:

We realized we needed to plug in our sound card’s analog source adapter, since our replacement mixer did not have a digital in/out. However, the mixer can plug into our plethora of analog channels. But before that, we had the wonderful experience of learning that a recessed server chassis can block anything with a width greater than a serial plug from attaching to the PCI card closest to the wall of the box. Thus, we powered down the server, and swapped the monitor and sound cards. Ironically, even the VGA plug was too wide and so we did some hacking (literally) to make the VGA plug fit properly (below). But, even with the “adjustments”, the plug still didn’t fit right, and would disconnect the monitor if not fastened (d’oh!). However, we found a screw to hold in the VGA plug, but this partial connection makes the monitor produce images that “…I can only describe as the most extraordinary display of blue objects.” Kidding! It works fine ;) .


Actual monitor output is really imporant for us to have since we’re running the 2.6.24rc6 linux kernel and the RAID driver keeps crashing on us (see earlier crash output picture). Normally we wouldn’t care, but when the server locks up, we have to take those ever important screen shots (in this case, literally!) of the crash output to send to our esteemed Stex driver developer, Mr. Jens. For those of you also having issues with the Stex driver – if you’re using a two CPU machine, switching to one CPU may help to alleviate crashes, but since we were just advised to do this the other day, the improvement in stability has yet to be declared.

However, after rigging the analog out of the robot to a channel in on our temporary mixer and rigging the monitor out on the mixer back to the robot (for archival and web broadcasting), our listening room effectively became an air studio! Here are a couple pictures of Newsworthy Ghost Island doing what they do best in the hacked air studio:

The whole gang:

And here’s Alex with a vinyl copy of the Cool Runnings soundtrack, which apparently features Hans Zimmer.


We expect to get the air studio “mainframe” back at the end of break, and then KWUR will be back at 100% functionality, along with a newly trained Audio Service Director, right Tara?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The megatron project just had its first package release! Since KWUR is all about community, and Carl Sagan emphasizes the global community as ever important to our future, we are developing this project to enable quick radio station assembly as long as you have a computer and an internet connection. As advocates of free speech and global causes, we feel the megatron project assists in giving a voice to those around the world who have little means, but the most to say. So please, download, install and test our software! You may not need all the functionality it offers, but it is essentially a radio station in tarball :) . If you’re planning on building a system from scratch to test, we recommend Vector Linux as the OS of choice, since it’s stability and minimalistic nature can’t be beat!

One amazing aspect to Megatron is that you can have megatrons connect to each other over the internet to forward a broadcast and increase the scope of a currently running broadcast. Now that’s free speech! All powered by free software!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Getting things done. Lots of work is going into the megatrond project these days, and we’re excited to continually improve it. While the latter process mostly invovles code, as you saw earlier in this post, we sometimes have to do some handiwork to get things assembled the way we want. We did some welding tonight, but it was raining and we don’t have access to mechanical engineering facilities during break. Thus we improvised a little…

Here is our intrepid metalsmith, Kevin, who will be missed as he transitions from kicking ass on the internet, to kicking ass in Physics.


and here he is welding under a tarp we hung off a fence and a light…

Be careful! Or someone might call the cops on you!



The goals for the upcoming semester are on the feature request tracker of the megatrond project, but we will also be organizing a lot of the technology equipment around the station, from the tool cabinet to the schmeg room. We will also be using our mind bullets to fight Murphy’s law and “the curse of things breaking when we least want them to.” This spring, we’ll be kicking ass and chewing bubble gum, but we’re all outta gum.

Well, this concludes the tech report for the end of 2007. See you next year!