The SoCC DJs’ Best Albums of 2020

Here are some of the SoCC DJs’ favorite albums of 2020 year in no particular order:

Dump YOD: Krutoy Edition- Your Old Droog

I was introduced to Your Old Droog by a close friend of mine that often shares with me notable Jewish artists. YOD excels when it comes to storytelling, lyricism (especially in freestyle), and samples. Remaining completely independent, Your Old Droog tells his own story as a Soviet Ukrainian born Jew growing up in Brooklyn, which is undoubtedly unique. The samples on this album give a real soviet feel, utilizing staticky classical Russian samples and featuring instruments like the oboe or the accordion. He even raps some whole verses in Russian which is just so exciting to hear. This album was recorded starting in isolation back in March, and serves as another monument to YOD’s storytelling of his unorthodox and marginalized upbringing. Any fans of New York classics like NAS or MF DOOM could easily get down with a record like this. My favorite tracks on the album would be “Malchishka Krutoy” and “Babushka III”. – Nic Santucci (Tucci)

Bonny Light Horseman- Bonny Light Horseman

Practically every song on the album is a cover/ reworking/ uses a motif from folk songs ( mostly Celtic, Appalachian, and Gospels ). BLH is a trio- Anaïs Mitchell, Eric Johnson(Fruit Bats), and Josh Kaufman. I really only listened to them for Anaïs though… she performs most of the vocals for the album and sounds HEAVENLY n COOL. Fave song: “The Roving”. Anaïs takes this Celtic folk song and changes the lyrics a little and then suddenly it’s my queer anthem of the year?? 2nd place: “Bonny Light Horseman” bc of Napoleon. Basically this album is some good folk music. P.S. Anaïs wrote a FOLK OPERA, “Hadestown”. 👀👀👀 -Lauren

Punisher- Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher reminds me of a large, old, and most-likely haunted mansion perched on the edge of a cliff. Each room in the house is complete with its own ancient, hand-painted peeling wallpaper and skeletons in the closet to match. These rooms are the songs on Punisher— songs with hauntingly specific, but relatable, lyrics and mesmerizing, almost apocalyptic music. Bridgers blends musical and lyrical motifs alike together to paint a picture of an escapist and welcoming wasteland. The album and its journey through Bridgers’ psyche left me disoriented in a way I kind of enjoyed. It made me want to cozy up, light a fire, and stay with Phoebe in her haunted house for a little longer. – Jane Harris (DJ Harris Bueller)

Galore- Oklou

it’s just soooOo delicious -Augie Voss

Miss Anthropocene- Grimes

Miss Anthropocene – a double entendre on “misanthropy” and our ecological Anthropocene – is a self-produced concept album about a malevolent goddess who personifies climate change; each song is a different embodiment of human extinction. Picture a dark fairy with augmentations, and you have the Grimes vibe. Bubblegum princess meets Cyberpunk 2077. It’s pop, rock, and techno, in one sound; bold, brash, and reaaaaally gay. This album followed me everywhere. In March, staying up late at night swaddled in my high school sweats, 4ÆM teleported me back to rave nights in crowded queer spaces. September had me reflecting on revolutionaries. When it comes down to it, Grimes fits a handful of artists, by my criteria, who carry substantial enough weight in pop-culture by their wildly eccentric and otherworldly projects while actively rejecting conformist notions. These rebels have never asked for a space in influence; they make some for themselves. Miss Anthropocene’s concept cemented enough ideas, including pop music’s inevitable evolution into today’s “experimental,” to write an actual essay expanding on tomorrow’s role in art. Jonathan Lee, if you’re reading this, thanks for responding to eight pages on cyborgian feminist futurism. For all these reasons and more, Grimes completely captured my 2020. Her self-published Spotify biography states 2020 is the year of “her final earth album.” This might be a dramatized retirement announcement of quitting music to raise her and Elon’s child. I think the phrase is meant as a bold foreshadowing of her next level. As the reigning queen of the SpaceX – Tesla empire, Grimes very well could pioneer music in the cosmos. And I hope she does. Honorable Mention to Arca’s “KiCk i.”

-Joseph Raiti (DJ LuvIt)

Flower of Devotion- Dehd

I thought that the overall mood of the album captured my 2020 experience, where at surface level, the upbeat guitar and twang of Emily Kempf’s voice felt jovial- maybe to the point of mania. But the lyrics that are mainly centered on lonliness and disconnect is something that I definitely related to. I also appreciated the bands development towards a very unique sound that I hope we hear more of in 2021. -Emily Faulks

NEW PLAYLIST: reflections on deflections, avoidance, navigating the shitstorm

By Maeve Goodrich

Is this playlist a direct manifestation of my Covid consciousness? YES. Warmest of welcomes.

If you’re in the market for some delightful tunes with which to harmonize whilst screaming into the void, I’ve got some great news: this playlist. This playlist is the news. Woooo. A fun little compilation reflecting (and deflecting) the feelings of undistilled rage and melancholy that have so kindly accompanied this shitstorm of a year. Attempts at peace, laughter, and comfort are also documented here, mostly because they say a diverse diet is a healthy one. There’s a song all about hummus, for f–k’s sake. Existential dread is best served with snacks. Cheers. VOTE AND STUFF

NEW RELEASE: Still Woozy shares single “BS” and music video

by Augie Voss

Photo by Sergiy Barchuk.

We caught up with Sven Gamsky—known to fans by the moniker Still Woozy—during a virtual press conference earlier this week. After an exclusive early listen to his new track ”BS,” he joined Universal Music’s °1824 creative team for an intimate Q&A. 

Gamsky has been redefining the bedroom-pop scene without even dropping an album. His single “Goodie Bag” has been a staple on indie- and alt-pop playlists since it was released in 2017, and the 2019 Lately EP saw collaboration with Omar Apollo and Elujay, amassing over a hundred million streams on Spotify alone.

“BS” is quintessential Still Woozy, bouncy and dynamic. It features everything that makes his music so irresistible and instantly recognizable—rich and spacey vocals, playful drums, and deep, zesty bass.

The lyrics are introspective and relatable, providing listeners a window into Gamsky’s mind as he wonders if his thoughts are working for him or against him. In the end, he says, it’s about striving to be the best version of himself.

The music video for “BS” is every bit as fun and whimsical as the soundtrack. Gamsky, donned in his signature bold colors, has a heart-to-heart with a floating brain and befriends a horse in the woods. 

Still Woozy in the “BS” music video, via Still Woozy Productions/Interscope Records.

Since quarantine forced him to cancel his tour this year, Gamsky has had more time to relax, work on new music, and think about what’s next.

“I’ve been listening to the Dominic Fike album a lot… makes me excited to put out an album too because I have, like, a lot of different stuff.”

Gamsky’s knack for feel-good, beachy vibes has led to a massive fanbase across the globe. While he plans to keep creating music that makes him happy and piques his interest, he doesn’t want us to get too comfortable with any specific sound. 

“I don’t want to be limited to just one thing… I have too many ideas to be stuck in one place,” he said. “I want to have space enough to explore and express all of myself.”

Cover for “BS”  by Kahn-Tietz.

One of his greatest artistic influences, Gamsky shared, is his fiancé Ami Kahn-Tietz. She is the artist behind the vibrant, distinctive paintings and illustrations that comprise all of Still Woozy’s cover art.

“She puts art into every little thing she does,” he said. “Kind of makes her whole life into the art and I feel like that… has just inspired me.”

Despite the resources that come with fame (and a record deal with Interscope), Gamsky still produces all of his music himself—and he plans to keep it that way.

“I just love like playing with sounds and textures,” he said, leaning back into a pillow. “It’s so much fun to make beats… and just, like, create something from nothing.”

“Building from the skeleton outward and building the muscles… blows my mind a little bit.”

Gamsky doesn’t think there’s a right or wrong way to listen to his music, but he had a couple of recommendations for the ultimate Still Woozy experience.

“It kind of is a headphone experience,” he said, adding that he’s meticulous about mixing in little sounds and musical accents here and there to make each song its own little universe.

When you step into Still Woozy’s world of bright colors, flirtatious melodies, and luscious soundscapes, you just can’t help but stay a while.

Watch the “BS” music video here.

NEW PLAYLIST: Cardiac Passages

Last weekend I took a road trip to Nebraska through Colorado and Kansas. All the states blended together with white rolling hills and the occasional windmill cluster, perfect for a naturally-induced ego death. My mind cleared into nothingness as the song “Sensitive” by Mr. Twin Sister came through my headphones. The ambient instrumentals and Andrea Estella’s eerie voice washed over me as I drifted into a trance. The chorus repeats the lines “Is this romantic dreaming?/ Is this just an illusion?” and then concludes the song with “A memory?” 

The theme for this playlist is romantic dreaming, where you feel out of touch with reality because you are entranced by a memory or by a creation of a future memory. The lucid instrumental passages in the songs take you out of time; through romantic dreamings, illusions, and memories that leave you with all the fuzzy side effects of brooding for for an hour. Enjoy.

Playlist cover art courtesy of Kate Planting.

 

CONCERT REVIEW: Wilco at The Mission Ballroom in Denver

Wilco won’t let you down. Over the course of twenty-five years and eleven albums, they’ve established a fervent fanbase. Their live performances have a solid reputation; they’re known to play at least two-hour sets at every show, and they always include some fan favorites along with the songs from whatever album they’re promoting. In fact, they even have a spot on their website to enter song requests for different shows.

Jeff Tweedy. Photo credit: Mimi Norton

When I saw them on Nov. 19, frontman Jeff Tweedy announced that it had been twenty-five years and two days, to be exact, since their first show. When he said this, I was applauding just like everyone else, but I found myself regretting that it was only my first time seeing them. I went to the show on my own, and the two hours I spent alone in the front of the crowd were some of the most stunning and exciting in recent memory. I hope I’ll see them again and again.

Even though I’d read a lot about Wilco’s live shows previously, their performance at the Mission Ballroom blew all of my expectations away. After a decade of rotating through various members, their current lineup has been consistent since 2007’s Sky Blue Sky. Each member was highlighted various times during the show, and most of them had incredible solos throughout the set.

Jeff Tweedy. Photo credit: Mimi Norton

In addition to the most iconic member of the band, Jeff Tweedy, I was especially excited to see guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Glen Kotche. Cline was named “a true guitar polymath” by Rolling Stone magazine on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists, and it watching his iconic solo from “Impossible Germany” was a highlight of the show. Kotche was also named to Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Drummers, as they named him “a Jim Keltner-John Cage hybrid” for his talent and originality. Around the half-way point of the show, Kotche was dripping in sweat as his drumming drove one song after the next. Although Tweedy, Cline, and Kotche usually get most of the attention, each member put so much energy into the performance; it seemed like they were having just as good of a time as the audience.

Nels Cline. Photo credit: Mimi Norton

Most of the songs they played in Denver came either from their latest album, Ode to Joy, or 2004’s A Ghost is Born. Beyond those two albums, they threw in plenty of crowd favorites, such as “War on War,” “Hummingbird,” “Random Name Generator,” “Forget the Flowers,” and of course, “California Stars.”

Wilco’s sound and lyrics speak to various emotions around living, loving and so much more. As evidenced by the increasing size of venues they play on each subsequent tour, they manage to keep attracting more fans because of their consistently impressive shows and versatile music. They care so deeply about their craft, and it shows. For me, Wilco will always reign supreme.

Concert Review: Twin Peaks with Post Animal and Ohmme

Cadien and Clay of Twin Peaks go at the guitar back-to-back. Photo by Jane M. Harris.

On the brisk and clear night of Saturday, November 2nd Chicago indie rock took Colorado by storm. Twin Peaks headlined Englewood’s The Gothic Theatre, supported by Post Animal and Ohmme. All three groups hail from Chicago, a city well-known for some of the nation’s best early blues and jazz, as well as its current thriving and exciting alternative scene. There is no doubt that the groups that took the stage in Englewood this November are following in the footsteps of the Chicago greats.

Macie Stewart of Ohmme. Photo by Jane M. Harris.

Ohmme, composed of the power duo Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham and supported on the drums by NNAMDÏ, took the stage first, with an attentive crowd waiting to hear some fresh sounds. They jumped right in with heavy, purposeful guitar riffs and alternating harmonies that were left hanging in the air above the audience long after their songs had ended. Ohmme’s music and onstage energy showcased an interesting juxtaposition between relaxation and erraticism. The tracks “Fingerprints” and “Water” left the crowd especially mesmerized with their unique and earnest pockets of a cappella harmonies book-ended by intense guitar strumming. The orange and blue lights bouncing off the walls of The Gothic Theatre only aided in amplifying the surrealist quality of Ohmme’s music. They made my Saturday night feel like a dream.

Dalton and Jake of Post Animal. Photo by Jane M. Harris.

Next up was Post Animal, and while they set the stage for their set, Clay Frankel of Twin Peaks performed an impassioned reading of an excerpt from Milton’s Paradise Lost to the excited and anxious crowd. It was an interesting artistic decision, but one I could get behind. With the opening chord of Post Animal’s popular track “Ralphie” the audience has no choice but to lose it a little bit—the energy exuded from the band was contagious. With Dalton Allison on bass, Javi Reyes and Matt Williams on guitar, Jake Hirshland on guitar and keys, Wesley Toledo on drums, and all members singing, the band looked more like a brotherhood than just a group. During the fan favorite “Dirtpicker” they were assisted by Twin Peak’s Cadien Lake James’ guitar playing, catalyzing some intense moshing from the audience. Throughout their set Post Animal mixed neo-psychedelic sounds with heavy guitars and lulling vocals, tremendously succeeding in exciting and entertaining the audience.

After an impatient set break that I spent anxious to get back into the photo pit, the members of Twin Peaks sauntered on stage, beers in hand and smiles radiating. Twin Peaks is the collaborative effort of Clay Frankel and Cadien Lake James on vocals and guitar, Jack Dolan on vocals and bass, Colin Croom on vocals, keys, and guitar (oh my!), and Connor Brodner on drums. Their large following in the indie and alternative rock community was clearly visible in the excitement and energy in the audience at The Gothic Theatre—I saw multiple fans scramble to put their new “Twin Peaks 2019 North American Tour” t-shirts on over their outfits right before the set.

Colin of Twin Peaks. Photo by Jane M. Harris.

With their current tour Twin Peaks are celebrating the release of their latest album, Lookout Low, featuring “Dance Through It,” “Better Than Stoned,” and “Unfamiliar Sun.” Their new music highlights new horn and keys arrangements while recalling the well-loved garage rock-tendencies of their earlier work. At the Englewood show the new tracks were received with excitement and enthusiasm from the audience, but the older tracks were truly beloved. When Twin Peaks launched into their older hit “Wanted You” the crowd took to impassioned moshing under the pink, red, and blue lights that spilled from the venue ceiling to the floor. After the set and the encore everyone screamed for more.

From left: Twin Peak’s Cadien, Clay, and Jack. Photo by Jane M. Harris.

Watching the way Twin Peaks performs their music— with fervor and determination—and how they interact with their openers and audience, it is clearly visible that music, for them, is a labor of love. Though it was a cold fall night, everyone in the theater was an endearing kind of sweaty from all the singing and dancing. All three acts of the night put everything they had out onto the stage. I left the concert feeling warm and euphoric, excited to blast Twin Peaks, Post Animal, and Ohmme in the car the whole drive home.


Twin Peaks recently released a new single, “Our World.” Post Animal also released a new single, “Safe or Not: Extended Mix.” After listening to those, be sure to check out the collaborative effort of members of Twin Peaks and Post Animal: Column.

Upcoming tour dates for Twin Peaks can be found here.

New Playlists from WORM Radio

DJs Mia Zuckerberg and Carol Holan have been busy curating playlists for their show, WORM Radio, every Tuesday at 8:00. Their first playlist focuses on songs for when you have a gay crush, but don’t want to ruin the friendship. Listen to hear some great songs by Mothers, Fiona Apple, and Mazzy Star.

If you’re not feeling that, check out the playlist from their second show about driving alone for the first time. This playlist features an amazing range of artists that include Nina Simone, Perfume Genius, and Franz Ferdinand!

Make sure to tune in to WORM Radio every Tuesday from 8-9 for more good tunes!

CONCERT REVIEW: Noname at the Ogden Theatre 3/6

In his long printed cardigan and sweats, Noname’s opener Elton Aura emanated a calm confidence that set the tone for a night of powerful lyricism. He knew exactly how to excite the young audience as he lit a joint on stage and passed it down (to be immediately intercepted by the stage security) after taking a few puffs himself. Elton concluded his set how he began it, having us repeat after him “Elton! How it do!” and then exited the stage to loud cheers. The audience hummed with energy as we began the wait for the person who had brought us all to the Ogden Theatre this Wednesday night.

As Noname’s band slowly set up their instruments I was struck with how vulnerable they were in that moment. Only feet of distance between us at the front of the crowd and the band members shuffling equipment around the stage, the lights were too bright and the room too quiet to create the invisible barrier of power that usually separates an audience and the performers.

The crowd screamed as the band finally began to play, slipping easily behind their instruments. The lights lowered and the neon sign that emblazoned the back wall lit up pink to read “ROOM 25” (the name of Noname’s new album.) Noname then entered rapping,

Maybe this the album you listen to in your car when you driving home late at night / Really questioning every god, religion, Kanye, bitches

The crowd jumped around singing along. Waiting for the line we all knew was coming and then screaming it in unison with her as she reached it:

“YOU REALLY THOUGHT A BITCH COULDN’T RAP, HUH?”

Noname calmly danced across the stage as she rapped in a loose white dress with a black flower print, black leggings, and red converse. Her long curls were stretched and tucked behind her ears, showing off her round youthful face. She seemed much younger than her 27 years. When she finished “Self” she greeted the cheering audience with smiles and warmth. She made her way through a set of hit after hit from both Room 25 and her 2016 mixtape Telefone. Everyone in the house danced and struggled to keep up with her quick voice. The night was punctuated by a few moments of quickly-relieved tension. Frustrated with a perceived lack of enthusiasm, Noname halted the show early on to teach the audience how to show that we appreciated her performance.

“If I spit a bar that you think is especially hot, give me an “ooooh.”

 

She started to rap again, her first line was met by a loud “ooooh” from the audience.

She stopped again.

“No, that was nothing,” she said, “that line was nothing. Let’s try again.”

She went back into the song, now seemingly satisfied with the crowd’s responses and continued with the concert with a smile on her face.

There was no lack of enthusiasm when we heard the opening bars of “Diddy Bop.” This song was my favorite part of the concert. That’s not a very revolutionary thing to say—it is her most popular song by far. But for good reason! Besides the catchy beat, the lyrics are beautifully sweet and nostalgic—a love letter to the Chicago of her youth. The crowd of majority high school and college students couldn’t relate to growing up listening to B2K, wearing FUBU, and hitting the diddy bop but it didn’t matter. The song creates a warm feeling of happy wistfulness and reminds me of my childhood despite my memories being so far away from that of Noname’s. I love that Noname doesn’t shy away from the specifics of her experience in an attempt to make her song more relatable. The essence of her song, of being young and being intent on taking advantage of the fleeting chance to be irresponsible, resonated with all of us.

Noname kept her performance short and sweet, exiting the stage after less than an hour. The band packed up their instruments and walked off stage, but the lights stayed down and the audience stayed in place, eyes glued to the stage expectantly. Then, Noname returned to the stage and gave us one last song, sans music. Her roots in slam poetry were especially evident with just her words filling the room. That final encore left the audience reminded of the poetry that exists in hip-hop, especially in Noname’s music.

On April 5th Noname is releasing “Song 32”, a follow up to her track “Song 31” and she is currently finishing her international Room 25 tour.

Photos by Kenneth Hamblin III

CONCERT PREVIEW: Noname At The Ogden Theatre 3/6

Nonames powerful first music video: “Blaxploitation – A Film by Noname.”

Lauded for her lyricism and unique voice, Noname is one of the most promising new artists in hip hop. The Chicago rapper released her debut album Room 25 this past September. This release was highly anticipated due to the wide commercial and critical success of her 2016 debut mixtape Telefone which featured hits such as “Diddy Bop” and “Shadow Man.” On Wednesday, March 6th she will be playing at the Ogden Theatre in Denver.

Photo by Mark Horton/Getty Images.