Blog

Welcome to the WUSC blog!
  • Album Review: Porches – The House

    Aaron Maine, the New York synth pop musician known as “Porches”, released his third full length album in January. “The House” features many music collaborations such  as Dev Hynes (Blood Orange),  Brydon Cook (Starchild), Okay Kaya, Sandy (Alex G), and even Aaron’s own father, Peter Maine.

    However, Porches, a staple in the “sadboy” music genre, wasn’t always recognized for his depressing music that makes you want to dance. Maine began making music under that name in 2010, after his first band “Space Ghosts Cowboys”, disbanded after doing a regional tour. Like most artists, he began making music from his home, located in Pleasantville, NY, after buying a Casio CA-110 keyboard. After a year of making songs with his keyboard from four track recordings, he released 3 EPs in 2011. The following year, he was able to release a full-length record, “Slow Dance in The Cosmos”,  on the label Exploding in Sound in 2012. After playing shows in the NYC area for a few years, he signed to Domino Records in 2015, with a sophomore album, “Pool” following in 2016. This album began as a home project for Maine, but was developed into a well produced album with mixing done by Chris Coady (Beach House), and featured guest vocals from Greta Kline (Frankie Cosmos).

    The House starts off on an upbeat note which is the beginning of the misleading mood that this album sets. “Leave The House” and “Find Me” are great intros to the album. They tell us a little about Maine’s uncertainty in life through a combination of synthy melodies and ambiguous lyrics. In “Find me” the lyrics are “Think I’ll go /Somewhere else /Where I can sink/  Into myself” along with “I can’t let it find me” repeated throughout the song, and are rumored to be about anxiety attacks that Maine have experienced. The imagery in the music video for “Find Me” shows Maine exploring what seems to be his hometown, surrounded by children playing outside in old clothes with skinned knees. The video seems to be an introspective lens into his life growing up  in Pleasantville NY.

     “Understanding” a song written and recorded by the father of Porches, Peter Maine, acts as a interlude. Essentially a stripped down poem, Aaron took a recording of his father singing and arranged chords to compliment his voice. It’s a great juxtaposition to the synth heavy tracks that precede and follow it.

    “Country”, is the first single, and the last song Maine wrote for the album. He says he felt extreme amounts of optimism when writing this song, and in the context of the album, it’s a song about rebirth while he thinks of the other songs  as concluding chapters of a book. The song is pretty short and the lyrics are hard to make sense of. The music video was filmed in the lush Upstate NY, where the bombastic aerial shots display Maine in the “country” where he secluded himself before moving into the big city.

    “By My Side” is a pretty R&B song that serves as a pleasant shift in sound, and also as a halfway point in the album. With pretty straightforward lyrics, and more bass than synths, this track manages to stand out on this indie electronic album.  Åkeren” is  a  poem sang  over a shimmery electronic backing accompanied by obscure background vocals. It’s recited in Norwegian by Okay Kaya. One of the stronger tracks on the album is “Anymore”. We don’t get much from its vague lyrics, but this song is about letting things go. This is one of my favorite Porches songs, and the instrumentation of it is reminiscent of Tears for Fears and other New Wave artists.

    Sadly, it seems the album takes a downward spiral in the final few tracks. Please take note of the image below, –a disgruntled Aaron Maine in jury duty. This photo from 2015 accurately sums up how I feel about the rest of the album. Many of the songs aren’t memorable and can, in fact, become a nuisance.  “Wobble” is a sad song about someone that is missing. When I hear the song “Goodbye” I imagine myself crying In a club dancing alone, surrounded by strangers.  “Swimmer” is another song on the album with overly auto tuned vocals that don’t quite harmonize well with the instrumentation. “W Longing” seems to be a song about nearly drowning. “Ono” sounds like 3 minutes and 40 seconds of whining because the chorus is just Maine saying “oh no” over and over again, hence the title. The final track “Anything U want” mentions the characters from the Norwegian poem, Julie and Ricky, but they seem to be separated for some reason. As a narrative I appreciate this song, and in a cinematic way, they say “I love you” to each other, but then the album just ends.

    The House is definitely an album worth giving a listen to. It’s not my favorite Porches album, but it’s an artistic follow up to his last album, and I think  the collaborations on this album add a personal touch to the electronic music that we’re used to. I will say that I’m sad that mundane songs like “Car”, a poppy single from his previous album, are what attracted me to Porches’ music,  however personal growth in art is always a good thing, and I support his creative decisions in that regard wholeheartedly.

    By Maquel Parks // DJ Corduroy

     

  • Top Add 2/13: Shopping – The Official Body

          Shopping is all about dancing out their frustrations. Catchy and direct, they make punk music that’s never heavy-handed or overly political. Exploring themes of consumerism, queer relationships and body image over bright riffs and visuals of pool parties and pink flamingos, the London trio has always favored subtlety over didacticism.

    Their third full-length album, The Official Body, is no different. Ten danceable tracks feature angular bass lines and surf-rock-like guitar riffs, daring the listener not to dance along. For 31 minutes, they can be free from trivial stress and just have fun listening to the confident, buoyant dance-punk. The first track, “The Hype,” features primitive drums and restless guitars behind the energetic chanting “Last chance! / Don’t believe! / Ask questions!” Songs like “Discover” and “Wild Child” dip into newer territory for the band, incorporating synth and drum pad. Across sounds new and old, Shopping maintains a humorous ethos, refusing to take themselves too seriously.

    Refraining from politics may not seem characteristic of a punk or post-punk band – in fact it’s pretty unusual. Underneath shadows of particularly turbulent politics both in the US and the UK, bands like IDLES and Protomartyr have steered into it instead of distancing themselves from it. In a press release, vocalist and guitarist Rachel Aggs said “It just felt like making ‘political’ music was a bit like putting a tiny band aid on an enormous wound.” Instead of trying to fix the world’s problems in a 30-minute album, Shopping focuses on making fun, danceable music, and The Official Body does exactly that.

    By Jordan Smith

  • Album Review: Ty Segall – Freedom’s Goblin

    Excess is the first word that comes to mind when thinking about Ty Segall’s Freedom’s Goblin. Backed by the Freedom Band, that formed while recording his last release, Segall has produced an ambitious double album with a sprawling track-list of 19 songs recorded at five different recording studios over six sessions. Threads of psychedelic, punk, garage, surf, glam, and classic rock can be found throughout Segall’s discography. This is no different in his tenth solo studio album.

     

    The album kicks off with “Fanny Dog,” an ode to Segall’s pet with rowdy riffs and burly brass section that could bring the dogs home all night. While continuing to navigate the track-list there are exploratory pockets from the fuzzy cover of Hot Chocolate’s disco-funk single “Every 1’s a Winner” to cowbell laden “Meaning” featuring howling vocals from Denée Segall, Ty’s frequent collaborator and wife. The album continues to delve into Segall’s past genre explorations with the murmuring vocals of laid back folk song “You Say All The Nice Things” to the 6 minute hyperbolic metal track “She.” Though the tracks on Freedom’s Goblin may not have a cohesive sound, they are distinctly linked by freedom – the freedom Segall has to create an album due to the years he has put in as a musician with an expansive discography, and the trust he has of his listeners who eagerly wobble through the album. Those listeners are rewarded, ending with what appears on the surface as a 12-minute jam in homage of the band Crazy Horse. A quarter of the way into “And, Goodnight,” Segall’s vocals pierce through the jam, becoming an expanded version of the title track off his 2013 album Sleeper.

     

    Freedom’s Goblin is out now on Drag Records and is streaming on Apple Music.

     

    By Leslie Leonard

  • Top Add 2/6: Bekon – Get With The Times

    When Kendrick Lamar released the credits for his 2017 album DAMN., there was one name amongst the long roster of producers and features that stood out. Amid the star-studded list of U2, Rihanna, James Blake, BADBADNOTGOOD and more, the anonymous “Bekon” credited on eight different tracks left everybody guessing. A google search for his name lead to a myriad of results questioning the identity of the “mysterious DAMN. producer.” Some speculated he was Thundercat, some said it was another alias for Kendrick himself. Shortly after the credits were released, Pitchfork confirmed that the mysterious Bekon was Daniel Tannenbaum, a producer who had worked with many other artists under the name Danny Keyz. Ten months after the release of DAMN., Bekon has released his debut album, Get with The Times, and it’s as brilliant as it is unexpected.

    There’s a wide range of sounds on Get with The Times, from cinematic to psychedelic pop/rock. It begins with the familiar line “America / God bless you if it’s good to ya,” on the track “America”, with deepened vocals over an array of strings and wiggly guitar riffs. Then there’s tracks like “17,” a less political reflection on the many hardships of being 17, sounding more like a Simon and Garfunkel song than a Kendrick feature. The title track opens with a guitar riff evocative of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” moving into a rap verse, and then a chorus sounding like a pop ballad. 
    Throughout the 16-song album there are repeating motifs of “I just wanna be famous,” and “God bless America,” hinting at some overarching political undertones. However, these themes fail to develop fully. They have the potential to be explored further, making for a really wonderful concept album, instead they recur intermittently throughout the album after 3-4 song digressions. Concept aside, Get with The Times is a successful venture, demonstrating a mastery of genre and just how talented of a producer Bekon really is.
    After accruing a long list of top-notch producer credits, Bekon is finally able to share with us his own voice – and we can’t wait to see what he does next.

    By Jordan Smith

  • Album Review: Joji – In Tongues EP

    George Miller, a.k.a. YouTube’s notorious Filthy Frank, is making more music. But this time not as Pink Guy, he has adopted a new alias by the name of Joji that introduces us to a side of him we’ve never seen before. As Pink Guy, he made rap music with an immature humor that originally appealed to fans of his YouTube channel. Now, Joji has taken the music scene by storm with his first EP, In Tongues. And after hearing it, all we can say is that we can’t wait to see what Joji does next.

    In Tongues is a 6 track neo-soul/lo-fi R&B masterpiece, fully produced and written by Miller himself. Every song on the EP captures a certain sadness, with tracks like “Pills” about depression and heartache and “Demons” about self-loathing. The tone is set by piano and guitar riffs layered over lo-fi beats to form a mellow atmosphere to go with Joji’s vocals. The use of reverb with this creates a feeling as if you’re floating in water. This somber vibe has coined the phrase that many music platforms are referring to as “sadboy music”, in recognition of its relatability. In Tongues has been well recognized, reaching #58 on the US Billboard Top 20, and single from the album “Will He” reaching over 23 million plays on Spotify.  

    Joji currently has 344,000 followers on SoundCloud and around 2 million monthly listeners on Spotify. He has also released amazing music videos for “Will He”, “Demons”, and “Window”, that portray the emotions of his music both graphically and beautifully. The meaning of the music video for “Window” is lost due to the overwhelming use of visuals and editing. However, the fast pace of the video works surprisingly well with Joji’s low energy music, creating a unique contrast of styles. Since In Tongues, Joji has appeared on hip-hop/rap mega-collab, “18”, which also had a music video released recently. This song marked the return of “Harlem Shake” producer, Baauer, who appears alongside Rich Brian, Kris Wu, and Trippie Redd on the same track. In addition, Joji is featured on the song “Introvert”, off Rich Brian’s new album Amen.

     

    Check out the music video for “Window,” as well as Joji’s SoundCloud and Spotify.

    Written by Nick Gerace

  • Album Review: Protomartyr – Relatives in Descent

    Protomartyr –
    Relatives in Descent

    “Not by my own hand…” Casey opens up. The frontman for this Detroit Post-Punk band is dismissive and lamenting, but never understates the importance of what he’s talking about as he goes over the current state of our world. His world. But, Casey immediately denies any ownership of both what has happened in the world and what he says about it. Like brackets around the album, his opening phrase both separates himself from it and opens the following 45 minutes for analysis. Whether you like it or not, the words are not him. They’re just the way things are.

    On their fourth album, Protomartyr is fascinated with the unknown. Singer Joe Casey sings with a passionate indifference and lyrics always more concerned with exposition than action. He paints unfamiliar, complicated scenes whether it’s the bittersweet blooming cacti or the view across the river from their harrowed hometown of Detroit. It’s an emphasis of what we simply can’t know, and the instability everything is built upon, with emphasis pointed towards the US cultural and political climate.

    Protomartyr is at their best when playing to these themes, with full control over what they’re giving and withholding from listeners, conveyed even further through Casey’s dread filled voice. Pounding, droning bass drums and guitar drive his lyrics and lead songs to sweep and withdraw and weave each track into the next.

    Some of the strongest tracks in their discography appear consistently throughout. “Up the Tower” builds a soft rhythm with Casey vocally contemplative stating “What a lovely view” switching without warning into a cantankerous chant of “Throw him out” attacking the rulers that withhold something so lovely. “Night-Blooming Cereus” is as sorrowful as it is introspective, recounting the Ghost Ship tragedy from the DIY scene in late 2016. Casey’s emotions come out strongest here as he pleads to understand why the situation for these events are so undeniably American, and how easily it could have befallen the band themselves just a few years ago. Whether these opportunities for expression exist as expression or delusion he’s no longer sure. At this point, there’s little he is sure of.

    Protomartyr is as strong as they’ve ever been. The fact that even after The Agent Intellect they continue to break their molds with such upward projection is as exciting as it is impressive. Relatives in Descent is a poignant commentary for large issues told through smaller, yet somehow more painful memories. Detroit as an epicenter of United States and capitalistic disparage is the star of this album, even when it isn’t the focus. Allusions and memories are woven throughout all pointing towards an unfortunate reality that Protomartyr offers no solace to because again, this is just the way things are.

    Watch the music video for A Private Understanding, the album’s opening track below.

    Review by Jackson Tucker