A Top 10 Albums of 2013 by Andrew

December 10th, 2013 by andrw

In the first of what could be anywhere from a few to several 2013 wrap-up posts on the blog by DJs, here is a top 10 list by me (Andrew). If your favorite album isn't on it and/or you think I'm terrible, that's ok because this is the first list and first is the worst.

10) Omar-S – Thank You For Letting Me Be MyselfOmar makes irresistible Detroit house that's funky, soulful, and refuses to bend to anyone else's ideas about what Omar, Detroit, or house music should be. Closing track "Its Money in the D" caps it all off beautifully.

09) Jai Paul – Jai PaulPaul pretty much refuses to talk to the press. Upon the leak of this demo tape, he denied it was an official release, called it "illegal" and returned to complete silence. No comment on what happened, when we'd hear something official, nothing. Which sucks because if these songs, full of future funk and dub and soul and world music inflection, are unfinished demos, a "complete" Jai Paul release has the potential to be momentous. "Str8 Outta Mumbai"

08) Darkside – Psychic: Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington combine dusty blues guitar with layered electronic production. The result is heavy, almost to the point of being unmanageable. But (as Jaar's done in the past) Darkside hooks you in with downtempo minimalism set against obtuse sounds all within a structure that rewards patience. "Golden Arrow"

07) Raspberry Bulbs – Deformed Worship: Marco del Rio (known as He Who Crushes Teeth in Bone Awl) brought on a full band for this project's second album. With so much more muscle, his tumultuous post-punk/lofi black metal turns truly fearless. Filthy and dark and doesn't let go. "When A Lie Becomes The Truth"

06) Mutual Benefit – Love's Crushing Diamond: A sort of collective project spearheaded by singer-songwriter Jordan Lee, who spent some time in St. Louis while recording this album. Lee's been recording under the pseudonym for years, but this feels like his first grand statement. Love's Crushing Diamond combines cozy baroque-folk and experimental touches of field recording to create something sincere, optimistic and quietly strong. The album is so calm in the face of alarm that it becomes bold in its hopefulness. Stream "'Let's Play' / Statue of a Man".

05) King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath the Moon: Archy Marshall's long-awaited full-length debut is naturally more refined than his raw recordings years ago as Zoo Kid, but it retains the urban concrete cool that made him worth paying attention to in the first place. Marshall is young enough to want to try anything and old enough to have heard a wide range of music, which shows in the way he blends jazz and hip-hop and lo-fi rock into something smooth and nocturnal and fascinating. Even if this is just a new starting point, it's a damn good one. "Neptune Estate"

04) Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold: Something of a cheat, being that this was originally released in 2012, but I don't think I'm alone in having first heard it upon the reissue on What's Your Rupture? and if this were disqualified I'd just replace it with Parquet Courts' Tally All the Things That You Broke EP. Spectacular and hilarious slacker rock, both bursting with focused energy and too lazy and distracted to choose a snack. Their brand of disheveled post-punk/indie rock is noisy in fits and starts, heads off into rambling manifestos at a moment's notice, and contains equal parts burnt southern gregariousness and smart-ass NYC incisiveness. "Stoned and Starving"

03) Dirty Beaches – Drifters / Love is the DevilWhile it may not seem like it at first, it's perfectly logical for Alex Zhang Hungtai to break so drastically from 2011's breakthrough Badlands. He put it best himself to a disgruntled fan on Youtube: "i don’t care about pleasing your expectations. i just do what I want to write. you can judge it all you want. modulated synth chords. I was crying my fucking eyes out when i wrote this and punching myself in the face. I don’t give a shit about what peoples expectations are. This is why I’m doing this record. ? its for myself and my life." Hungtai has always been about clarifying his thoughts and emotions through experimental compositions and ghostly lo-fi minimalism, and this double LP feels like the apex of that expression. The more experimental rock-oriented Drifters is jagged and even catchy without sacrificing any raw energy. As much as I enjoy it, I've come to prefer the second album. Love is the Devil is a story told in minimalist synths and eerie foggy blues and found sounds, a bare and brave personal work. Click to stream Drifters and Love is the Devil in full.

02) Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels: El-P and Killer Mike rap about being underground kings, about being in a position of cultural power that allows them to take on a spontaneous team-up project so thoroughly and then release it for free just because. But you don't even need that context to comprehend why Run the Jewels is such a phenomenal album. It's 30 minutes of dense wall-to-wall rap with impeccable production. As always, Producto brings grimy, industrially bent beats. They're gripping, fierce, and ecstatic. Mike and El don't slack on the words side either. You can practically hear their villainous grins as they spit. The duo play with vocabulary and cadence in such a joyful way, words spill and stutter and flow. It's true that RTJ isn't as politically motivated or rigorously personal as either of their 2012 albums (Mike's R.A.P. Music or El's Cancer 4 Cure), sure. But the intricacy of the language and music remains, as does the fiercely competitive never-back-down stance. The album is, then, the ideal musical representation of style as substance. Run the Jewels is a formidable spectacle, unrelentingly and unstoppably fun. Get the entire album for free here, or try "Get It".

01) Julia Brown – to be close to you: Anyone can toss their home recordings on bandcamp, but it takes immense talent to make a home recording this good and purposeful. Julia Brown is a Maryland indie pop band consisting of Caroline White, Alec Simke, John Toohey, Dan Collins and Sam Ray (whose upcoming ambient electronic album as Ricky Eat Acid, Three Love Songs, will be a must-listen in January). Their debut tape refuses to be categorized easily, though. From the bursts of punk energy on "library" to the mini-waltz of "virginia" to the ambient outro to "i was my own favorite tv show the summer my tv broke" to the shout-along self-referential pop of "'im falling in love'" all draped in tape hiss and beautifully written, Julia Brown's album is determined, complex, inviting and sweet all at once. Since its release in February I've come back to to be close to you again and again and found more and more to love. If this is Julia Brown's vision for the future of indie pop, count me in. Try "how i spent my summer" then download the entire album for free here.

A ranked list of songs would be even harder than an albums list, so here are a handful of 2013 songs I've really liked in the last part of the year as a capper:

  • Joanna Gruesome – "Sugarcrush": Awesomely fuzzed-out twee off Weird Sister, one of the better indie pop/indie rock records of the year.
  • Charli XCX – "SuperLove": 2013 saw the release of anticipated debut albums from several electronic/dance pop artists that fell short of expectations to varying degrees: AlunaGeorge, Sky Ferreira, Disclosure, CHVRCHES. Even when I liked those records a decent amount, there was something missing. That was especially (and unfortunately) true of Charli XCX's True Romance, which felt like it was merely an obligation and had glaring flaws like a stomach-turning feature from "Internet personality" Brooke Candy. This song along with her early discussion of her follow-up has completely restored my faith. "SuperLove" is the antithesis of True Romance's moments of strained tumblrpop: immediately infectious pop music aiming for as many ears as possible. At the same time, tonal shifts and an off-kilter nu-disco feel make the song completely unique.
  • Drake – "Too Much": Yup. Sampha's the greatest and Drake is at his best here. Introspective piano explodes into a beat that's bass-heavy with soulful chopped vocals. If you hate Drake this probably isn't going to change your mind, but it should. (As an aside, I'd argue Nothing Was The Same is the most Canadian album released in 2013, between Drizzy pronouncing "sorry" sore-y and spelling words with u's like "behaviour.")
  • Coma Cinema – "Marie (No Sleep)": Mathew Lee Cothran's albums as Coma Cinema usually grab me right away. Posthumous Release took me longer to grasp. As I've come around on the album (it nearly made my top 10) I've been playing this song a ton. Assured indie pop and another amazing release from Cothran. (You can get the full album for free at the link.)
  • Angel Olsen – "Forgiven/Forgotten": On her previous two albums Olsen demonstrated an ability to cut to the core with just her perfect voice and acoustic guitar and some reverb. "Forgiven/Forgotten" seems to promise that upcoming album Burn Your Fire For No Witness will turn all that inside-out and make her strengths as a singer-songwriter even more pronounced. This song's grungy pop feels like Olsen's music has suddenly sprung awake, and I can't wait to see what else the record holds.

FIVE SOUTH AMERICAN RAPERAS

November 20th, 2013 by Arrrrrv
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  • KWUR all-star Music Director and world music aficionado Henry Osman has compiled a list of 5 South American female rappers that everyone should hear! Check it out below:

     

     

    5. Miss Bolivia – Alta yama – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=_II-AG9gEBA

     

    Miss Bolivia, Buenos Aires’ premier underground cumbia-rap superstar (I know that’s an oxymoron), goes on what looks like a super-awesome road trip and dances on traintracks (safety first!). I’m jealous.

     

    4. Leidi Li- Mate a mi novio – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qG-4ZMyz8YI

     

    This may sound like low quality beroom-rap, but Leidi Li is actually Li Saumet, Bomba Estéreo, one of the biggest bands to come out Colombia in the last few years. “Mate a mi novio” (I killed my boyfriend) lets Saumet shed her pop veneer and embrace the song’s hazy, almost intergalactic beat.

     

    3. Alika – Jengibre 0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Lh25OQpd1k

     

    Gorgeously shot, Alika elevates the sparsely populated Argentine Northwest to a new level of cool; she breakdances on ancient ruins, salt flats, and mountain sides, wears some really cool sunglasses (1:24).

     

    2. Ana Tijoux – Shock – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=177-s44MSVQ

     

    Tijoux’s had the most crossover success of all the raperas here, but she’s also the most overtly political. “Shock” highlights protesters and activists from around Chile, directly attacks both Pinochet’s legacy and the conservatism of the Catholic Church, and weaves in references to Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine,” which is the song’s namesake.

    1. Princesa- Más fuego – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej8s1wgGMIQ

    She is a princess, has a fucking face tattoo and “Más fuego” looks like the best block party ever. What else do I have to say?

FIVE SONGS TO LISTEN TO, CURATED BY THE BODY

November 19th, 2013 by Arrrrrv

A couple of weeks ago, we talked with avant-garde genrebenders The Body (consisting of guitarist/noisemaker Chip King and drummer Lee Buford) after their incredible show at Apop Records. We were able to wrangle a list of songs out of them, ranging from gloomy post-punk to poppy folk. Check em out!

FIVE SONGS TO LISTEN TO, curated by THE BODY:

1. The Cure – 100 Years

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSr0aeHYMSc

2. Electric Light Orchestra – Mr. Blue Sky

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjPqsDU0j2I

3. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VerK4zwMRQw

4. Big Star – Daisy Glaze

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MS6M80aY2KE

5. Fleetwood Mac – Planets of the Universe (demo version)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcyIs2E7sp8

 

Huge thanks to Chip and Lee for their time. The Body's excellent new record "Christs, Redeemers", is available via Thrill Jockey Records (!!) and can be purchased here. Stay tuned to Thought Forge Sundae to hear a full interview with The Body soon!

KWUR DJ’s performing with the St. Louis Chamber Chorus last Sunday

November 16th, 2013 by George Y.

Besides having shows at KWUR, it's not always known that several KWUR DJ's each year participate in the larger musical life of the Wash. U. and St. Louis community, through performing with various groups.  This past Sunday was one of those cases, with the concert by the St. Louis Chamber Chorus at United Hebrew Congregation in Creve Coeur, West County.  The Washington University Concert Choir and their director, Nicole Aldrich, were guest artists with the Chamber Chorus.  The WUCC sang one selection on its own, and joined the Chamber Chorus for 4 works.  The KWUR folks involved in this concert were Aine O'Connor, Charles Herrera, and past KWUR DJ Alex Luke in the choir, and guest violinist Jonathan Karp.  The review of the concert from the St. Louis Post Dispatch is here.  Well done to all.

 

The Wash. U. Concert Choir is giving a concert at Graham Chapel on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 3 PM.  The program includes the one work that they sang on their own at the Chamber Chorus concert, "Barechu" by Salamone Rossi.  Please show your support for fellow KWUR DJ's, the Concert Choir, and classical music at Wash. U. by attending this concert.

ITS HUSTLE WEEK!!!

November 12th, 2013 by laurelmo

This week is KWUR Hustle Week, our annual fund-raising drive!  Radio isn’t cheap so we have to ask you, our listeners, to please donate so we can continue providing the quality programming you enjoy. KWUR is one of the last remaining independent and fully student managed stations in the country.  Our freeform format allows students to Boldy Go Where No Station Has Gone Before. If you care about KWUR and enjoy the programming we provide everyday, please consider donating!

To donate any amount to the station, you can call the station to pledge at (314) 935-5952. DJs will be manning the phones most hours from 9:00 AM to midnight through Saturday to take your pledges.You can also now donate online, check out the "Get Involved" section on our website for instructions.

Here are the gifts available in exchange for your donations this year:

$10: A special acrostic CD, personalized to your name

$25: KWUR T-shirt

 

$50:  Custom KWUR Sweatshirt

$100: name part of station after you for an entire year

$150: custom station ID

$300: We will dedicate a day of programming of your choosing to you

Also, we will have our annual All Night Broadcast this Thursday. Tune in between 8 PM on Thursday and 8 AM on Friday to hear special programming throughout the evening from KWUR DJs.

Support college radio! We are thankful for any and all contributions that you decide to make.