Archive for November, 2010


Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Hustle Week

Hey there boys and girls in radioland, it's that time of year again – HUSTLE WEEK.  That is to say, we're conducting our third annual fund drive/awareness week from November 29th through December 3rd.  We've got a whole lot of exciting things lined up for you during that week, as evidenced by the schedule below.  First, though, the basics:

From November 29th to December 3rd KWUR is conducting its fundraising drive, Hustle Week. KWUR is run on a shoestring budget that has been dramatically cut twice in recent years and there is no guarantee that the budget will not be cut again in the future. In the past, fundraising dollars have been spent on essentials like shelves for the 45s and promotional schedule posters. If enough money is raised, it can be used to help pay for an improved KWUR Week, better equipment in the station or even music acquisitions. If you care about KWUR and appreciate the quality programming KWUR provides every day and you've got five or ten dollars to spare, we'd really appreciate any help you can give us.

If you'd like to donate, you can:
1) Stop by the station whenever there's a show and donate directly to a DJ.
2) Call in a pledge at (314) 935-5952 and mail a check made out to KWUR and your gift preference to:

KWUR 90.3 FM
Campus Box 1205
One Brookings Dr.
St. Louis, MO 63130

We at KWUR would like to thank you for your donation and support through various gifts such as stack samplers, silk screened t-shirts, custom station IDs and even having a part of the station named after you.  Gift-price list forthcoming, stay tuned.

And the schedule:

Monday, 11/29:

  • Tabling at the DUC from noon – 2pm, with DIY stenciling.  Bring something that you'd like stenciled, we'll provide the paint and neat-o KWUR stencils. 

Tuesday, 11/30:

  • Tabling at the DUC from noon – 2pm, tabling at the South Forty House from 6-8.  We'll be doing a live broadcast at the South Forty House, so stop by and get yrself on air. 

Wednesday, 12/1:

  • More tabling, same as above.  There will be a live band banging out some tunes at the South Forty House, and if you make a nominal contribution, they'll write a song about YOU.

Thursday, 12/2:

  • All night broadcast, 8pm – 8am.  Join us on air or at the station while be play the best, weirdest, most fun stuff we can find in the stacks and our personal collections.  There will be plenty of late night ramblings, live in studio performances from Pretty Little Empire and other local bands, and some super secret call-in guests.

Friday, 12/3:

  • KWUR and The Gargoyle Committee present: Monotonix with Heavy Cream, 8:30pm at the Gargoyle on campus.  It's going to be absolutely nuts (understatement).  Free for students, $10 for the public.  More info here.

We'll be selling t-shirts, CD bundles and tickets to the show on Friday when we table, as well as handing out copies of the Stack Sessions Sampler vol. 1.  And, let's be honest, we'll be making a lot of noise, because that's what we do best.

Them's the basics, but stay tuned for more announcements on our twitter feed in the coming days.  Tell all your friends, tune in all week long for St. Louis' best underground radio, and throw us a little bit of cash if you can.  Thanks to everyone at the station who has worked to make this happen.  Remember, if you can't deliver it like a garage band, fuck it.




Local Artists of the Week Nov 14 – 20

Monday, November 22nd, 2010
To all those interested in the local scene, here our our top 5 local artists of the week. Also, take a look at some new album reviews from local bands.
  1. 1. Troubadour Dali
  2. 2. The Bottoms Up Blues Gang
  3. 3. Popular Mechanics
  4. 4. Jon Hardy & the Public
  5. 5. Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three

New Releases

Jon Hardy & the Public – A Hard Year
I am consistently astounded by Jon Hardy & the Public. On their newest EP "A Hard Year" they continue the great successes of their prevous releases. The band plays tight, dynamic pop and soul tunes led by the charismatic singer Jon Hardy. I am pleased to see the band release only original material where they have previously relied on some cover songs. This shows growth and confidence in a band that most certainly has the chops to back it up. As with all their recordings, the fidelity is fantastic, with every guitar lick and drum beat mixed perfectly. The band also succeeds in concert, as shown by their packed release show at Off Broadway. Check these guys out!
Favorite Track: "Silver Moon"
Beth Bombara – Wish I Were You
Beth Bombara has made some great strides forward since her last EP a year ago. Her new album "Wish I Were You" is a mature effort that highlights her honest voice, earnest songwriting, and intimate performance. This full-length shows Beth to be an extemely versatile artist who can ably handle blues, country, rock, and folk songs. She weaves all these different genres into one disc that flows seamlessly from one track to the next. Tracks are expertly embellished by slide steel guitar, fiddle, keys, and banjo. 
Favorite Track: The slide steel glissando of "Rainbow"
Britches – Britches Demo
Britches plays downtempo, dissonent rock tunes featuring distant vocals and reverb soaked guitars. Although they are clearly indebted to Animal Collective, these guys are not scared to bare their teeth, scream a lot, and tear the shit out of their guitars and vocal chords. Fans of droney and noisy experimental music will dig this band. 
Favorite Track: "White Noise" where they may or may not be screaming about Evil Dead II. 
The Disapeared – Nothing Someone Something
I would not want to get in the Disappeared's way. They sound like a tractor trailer coming down the highway playing fast, furious, and heavy rock n roll. Punks and metal dudes will probably appreciate this album. The band could benefit from grittier production and a warmer sound. 
Favorite Track: balls to the wall rock on "Baby Brother"


If you are in a St. Louis band and would like your cd considered for airplay and a review, email

Revisiting Adès, Rediscovering Rimsky-Korsakov

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

When I first glanced over the schedule for the SLSO’s 2010-2011 season, sometime this past summer I think, I found myself with plenty to be excited about, and two things in particular.  First, the symphony was devoting its entire season to the celebration of Russian music.  Yes!  Given that my classical (used throughout in the very broadest sense of the word; forgive me) passion is strongest for music either Russian or new, the second thrill was that Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and Thomas Adès’s violin concerto Concentric Paths were to be on the same bill.


Unlike the majority of my KWUR comrades, I grew up here in St. Louis (…fine, St. Charles), so I admit I’m no stranger to Powell Hall and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, or as my dad likes to call it, “the best band in town.”  As soon as it became clear that music was my “thing,” my parents began tacking me onto their Sunday concert series and toting me along to Opera Theater every June.  Still, my familiarity hasn’t led me to take for granted sharing my town with one of the greatest orchestras in the nation, and when I received the invitation to take the all-important Bloggers’ Night helm this time, and for this ticket, I readily accepted.


First on the program was Sergey Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1, commonly known as his “Classical” Symphony.  Written in 1917, the piece contains no trace of reference to the political turmoil that was rocking Russia that year, instead bouncing and laughing in a spritely neoclassical homage to Haydn and Mozart.  It’s a quick one, clocking in at just around 15 minutes, and does sound like it could be of another era if not for its decidedly modern harmonic style.


Next up was Concentric PathsThe music of Adès came to my attention in May of 2009 with the SLSO’s performance of Asyla, a work that retained notoriety in my mind for its orchestral interpretation of a drug-addled rave in its aptly named “Ecstasio” movement.  That memory clued me in that I was in for something good with the concerto, as did the knowledge that the orchestra’s taking this one to Carnegie Hall in March.


Ever since David Robertson took over directorship in 2005, the SLSO has been forging a reputation for championing new music, and it’s clear that the maestro wants to make sure that contemporary pieces are not only heard, but also understood and appreciated by their likely more traditional audiences.  After the customary shift of seats and players that followed the Prokofiev, Robertson took several moments to explain some of the circular motifs we would hear, pointing out the work’s remarkable symmetry and patterns of oscillation.  He insisted that hummable tunes could be picked out, especially from the third movement, and went even so far as to have soloist Leila Josefowicz demonstrate a few passages as a bit of an amuse-bouche before teaming up with the orchestra.  The performance was stellar.  Josefowicz floated elegantly to her place at the front of the stage, then transformed as the band started up, grounding herself for the grueling demands of the composition and meeting them with sensitive virtuosity.  And, as promised, I was able to hum my way out to the hallway for intermission.


Finally, Scheherezade.


I have to admit, with no small amount of sheepishness, that it was the prospect of Scheherezade, Rimsky-Korsakov’s much beloved suite based upon The Book of a Thousand and One Nights, that really revved my excitement for the night.


During his pre-concert talk, characteristically excellent, the maestro articulated my feelings about the work almost exactly.  Just like him, I came upon the work at about the age of 11 or 12, and now I feel the need to reconcile my love for this work I’ve known so long with some pressure to stick up my nose at what’s surely the definition of classical mainstream.  Anyone with even a passing interest in symphonic music is likely to know it.  A show of hands by the pre-concert-talk audience, though probably not an unbiased sample, indicated that just about everyone present was familiar with it.  So should I be ashamed of my love?  Am I betraying my mediocrity of taste?  I know I’ve played it on KWUR before, but I distinctly remember feeling itchingly guilty about it. 


(*plug* Although no classical work can be too mainstream now for KWUR, St. Louis’s only remaining source for locally programmed classical music! *plug*)


Let me relay a little bit about my personal history with this work.  It was a recording of the Israeli Philharmonic under the direction of Zubin Mehta, dated 1989 (older than me!) that I found in my dad’s CD collection way back when.  I latched onto it in that indulgent way we’re prone to do with out favorites, genre regardless.  These days, the tracks I find myself setting on repeat tend to be three or four minutes, maybe pushing six every now and then.  Usually not forty-five.  But so it was, and over the years I’ve internalized every note, every passage.  My strangest memory associated with Scheherazade is of whiling away hours one summer spinning that old, weathered disc in my boom box stereo while reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and now the two works have a strange, inextricable association in my mind.  The subconscious pairing of Mark Twain’s token Americana and R-K’s orientalism through intensely Russian-colored glasses is pretty bizarre, but in hindsight it seems to make some sense.  Don’t the common threads of adventure, romance, and intrigue bind the episodic narratives of St. Petersburg, Russia, to those of St. Petersburg, Missouri?


But I digress.  The fact is that Scheherazade has been a staple of my listening repertoire for a comparably long time, yet something about Friday night’s performance made me to feel as though I were hearing it for the very first time.  Perhaps my intimate familiarity with just one recording heightens my attention to any variation, but I heard it performed by the SLSO as recently as 2007.  Something felt different this time.  Again I feel the need to cite Robertson’s pre-concert remarks, in which he drew attention to the expansive, sea-like space of Rimsky-Korsakov’s composition.  Subverting Western expectations that music shall be in fours, fours, fours, fours, the sweeping first movement is organized in a pattern of five, rocking gently out onto Sinbad’s ship on the open sea.  The maestro’s approach seemed much concerned with opening up that space in the music even further.  Each soloist, not least of all concertmaster David Halen, milked the limelight for all its worth, taking on the role of the immortal storyteller in sensuous, languorous cadenzas as the orchestra paused to accommodate.


Whatever the reason, my go-to background music of years and years held my undivided attention with unexpected nuances on Friday evening, and the orchestra’s commitment to freshening it up have made me finally ready to reaffirm my love unabashed.


Many, many thanks to Eddie Silva and the SLSO for the opportunity.



Ceci is a DJ at Washington University’s student radio station, KWUR 90.3 FM.  Catch her show “Theology and Geometry” on Thursday evenings from 7 to 8 pm.


Local Artists of the Week Nov 7 – 13

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Hey Folks,

Our top played local artists last week are these awesome bands!

  1. 1. Flaming Death Trap


Local New Releases
The Red Letter – Let There Be Here

The Red Letter feels like it was made by a kid in a candy store, and that's not too far from the truth. After graduating from Washington University the gentleman known as the Red Letter bought a bunch of recording equipment and locked himself in his garage to create his first album. He operates somewhere in the middle of the fun of the Flaming Lips, the DIY aesthetic of Neutral Milk Hotel, and the raw emotion of Bright Eyes. It combines really creative and dynamic drumming with weird song structures and a seriously wacked out energy.

Favorite track: "21"

Grace Basement – Gunmetal Gray

Grace Basement's 2nd album is a very solid overall pop record. Many songs feature interesting instrumentation ranging from the banjo and steel guitar to the viola and fiddle. The band also excels at creating the pristine harmonies that leaves one with a great appreciation for their songwriting abilities.

Favorite track: "There He Goes"


If you are in a St. Louis band and would like your cd considered for airplay and a review, email


Classical New Releases at KWUR, Oct. and Nov. 2010 Edition

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Apologies for missing a month in posting new classical CD releases at KWUR last month (not that anyone noticed), which makes this list a little longer than planned. Recent classical arrivals at KWUR for this October and November include these issues:

(1) WarnerNuzova Duo (Wendy Warner, cello; Irina Nuzova, piano): "Russian Music for Cello & Piano" (Cedille Records CDR 90000 120)

(2) Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble: "Officium Novum" (ECM New Series 2125)

(3) Pergolesi: Stabat Mater, with instrumental works of Vivaldi, Pergolesi and Locatell; Anna Prohaska, soprano; Bernarda Fink, alto; Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin (Bernhard Forck, concertmaster) (harmonia mundi HMC 902072)

(4) Imani Winds: "Terra Incognita" (E1 Entertainment)

(5) Ensemble Caprice: "Salsa Baroque" (Music of Latin America and Spain of the 17th and 18th Century) (Analekta AN 2 9957)

(6) "Pax" (Gregorian chants on the theme of peace); Chorus of the Monks of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Benoit-du-Lac (Analekta AN 2 9776)

(7) "Ikon II" (Russian sacred choral music); Holst Singers, Stephen Layton, conductor (Hyperion CDA67756)

(8) "The Romantic Vioiin Concerto – 9", Ferdinand David: Violin Concerto No. 4, Violin Concerto No. 5, Andante and Scherzo capriccioso: Hagai Shaham, violin; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Martyn Brabbins, conductor (Hyperion CDA67804)

(9) Franz Liszt: "The Complete Songs, Vol. 1"; Matthew Polenzani, tenor; Julius Drake, piano (Hyperion CDA67782)

As always, comments and feedback are welcome, either by e-mail (, an IM, or a call to the station during my show (Saturdays 11 AM to 2 PM, 314-935-5987).  Thanks for reading,