SONG REVIEW: Roky Erickson’s Cryptic “I Think of Demons”

Roky Erickson is considered an undeniable pioneer of psychedelic rock. He’s mostly known for fronting The 13thFloor Elevators, a group out of Texas that many argue to be the first psychedelic band. More than ever, The Elevators’ sound can be heard in modern psychedelic garage rock like Oh Sees, The Black Angels, and Ty Segall. “I Think of Demons,” however, is less psychedelic sonically than it is psychedelic in its strange, surreal lyrics. Put out in 1980 under Roky’s solo project, the song is more similar to a stereotypical hard rock song; the melody itself isn’t that innovative and it’s more so a feel-good, familiar classic rock groove. The simple melody lets Roky’s lyrics shine.

I, I, I think of demons
They never kill
I, I, I think of demons
They never will

They don’t need to
They’ll scare it’s true
I think of demons for you

Roky describes a demon he “reads,” a demon with fangs in dazed moonlight and “blood that never touches [his] lips.” I always feel emotionally hit by this song, the idea of being able to “read” demons and thinking of demons for someone else. Maybe it’s because I know Roky’s difficult history with drugs and mental health that I read into “I think of demons for you” as a declaration of the forced martyrdom he endures psychically. His personal context aside,  this sentiment serves as a perverse love song and an acknowledgment of monstrosity and inferno. “I Think of Demons” is one of the less cartoonish songs in the context of The Evil One, an album rife with vampires, zombies, two-headed dogs, and other monsters. While this could very well just be a goofy rock song about demons with my own projections running wild, I think there’s something mystic about the lyrics of this song. It continues to be something I keep with me and turn over and over.

Here’s the song below, and here’s a link to the full lyrics:

Jungle Concert Review

Photo credit: Bristol PA Hire

After seeing Jungle live in Singapore back in 2015, I never imagined I would watch them perform on stage again in Colorado Springs. I remember standing beneath the midday sun, on the grass lawn at the Gardens by the Bay Venue in Singapore, waiting to watch the band I had listened to on repeat, perform live for the tiny, but incredibly enthused city. Jungle wasn’t terribly well known at the time, at least in Singapore, and I remember watching a speckled crowd thicken instantly as the music began. I watched the collective of talented, and enthused musicians gain energy with the crowd, and the experience truly began to feel somewhat symbiotic. Although started by just two talented musicians, Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson, only two years prior to their visit to Singapore, Jungle is a music collective that now embodies community, inclusivity, and shared energy. I remember looking on stage with the impression of witnessing an orchestra perform, except I’d never danced like that to the sound of an orchestra.

Three years later I find myself patiently waiting within the dark, intimate setting of The Black Sheep in Colorado Springs, comparing the crisp chill outside to the humidity I remembered from Singapore. Three years and their songs “Busy Earnin’” and “Heat” still remained on my dance playlist; I anticipated the surge of energy I experienced in 2013, and watched other members of the audience as they waited excitedly. After two funky openers, who left the crowd animated, but full of energy still, a longer interlude from the DJ informed let the audience know Jungle was next. As the music died down slightely, deep red lights filled the room, and the crowd began screaming with excitement as the members of the band rolled out on stage.

I stood from a raised ledge that stretched down the side of the venue, and watched as the audience members fed off of the energy exhibited by the band, and the band absorbed the vigor from the crowd. The small venue space seemed to fill completely, and not a single person in the room remained still. The sound feels like a modernized combination of soul and funk, and it feels impossible not to move to in one way or another.

When Jungle plays through bluetooth speakers in the living room of my home, all I can think about is the experience of watching their live performance; the spirit of performance makes Jungle about being there, more than anything else. Not only does Jungle make their music about participating in it, but they make themselves accessible too, travelling halfway across the world to share their sound with the Colorado Springs community!

Concert Review: Courtney Barnett at The Ogden Theater on 9/28

Taken by Eric de Redelijkheid on Flikr

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to see the first night of Courtney Barnett’s North American tour promoting her most recent album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, released this May. My sister and I navigated our way through a crowd of IPA-drinking and Blundstone-wearing 30-something-year-old fans and eventually made our way to the front of Denver’s Ogden Theater. I’ve been lucky enough to see Courtney twice before – once with Kurt Vile promoting their joint album Lotta Sea Lice at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, and another time at Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta – but this was the most intimate venue I’d seen her play.

From the moment she stepped on the stage, no one could take their eyes off of her. I don’t play guitar myself, so I’m not typically apt at telling a guitar virtuoso apart from a player who’s just okay, but after watching Courtney’s intricate fretting all over the guitar neck, I realized what exceptional talent she had. She’s been praised countless times for her lyricism, but her abilities on the guitar are seriously underrated.

If you’re already familiar with Courtney Barnett, you’d know that she’s been lauded for her witty attention to detail and ability to create memorable songs out of mundane events ever since she started making music in 2014. For instance, some of her best-known songs are about an asthma attack, house hunting, and eating ramen noodles. However, some of her songs are a much more personal and vulnerable account of life through her eyes. The audience lost it when she sung one of her most well-known songs, “Pedestrian at Best,” and everyone yelled with her as she screamed “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you! / Tell me I’m exceptional, I promise to exploit you!” Her self-deprecating remark is an ironic statement about not wanting to be fame that inevitably comes along with being a musical phenomenon.

Similarly, one of the songs on her new album is titled “Crippling Self-Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence” and here she is also especially critical about herself (“I never feel as stupid as when I’m around you / And indecision rots / Like a bag of last week’s meat”). However, she still comes across as uninhibited – never caring how her audience will receive her perceived self-consciousness. Even though that songs ends with her claiming “I don’t know, I don’t know anything,” and repeats it literally twelve times, it’s obvious that one thing she does know is herself.

At one point during the show, she introduced one of her older songs “Are You Looking After Yourself?” by telling us she wrote it after a long phone call with her parents. The song begins with a line that was spoken by her parents: “Are you working / hard my darling? / We’re so worried,” but she counters their criticism with: “I don’t want to no 9 to 5 / Telling me that I’m alive.” Later in the song, her parents suggest “You should start some / sort of trust fund / just in case you fail.” I imagine that being a musician, especially one who writes so personally like Courtney does, can be terrifying since she has to constantly rely on others’ validation and positive reception in order to keep going. However, Courtney replies with a sarcastic response and sings “I don’t know what I was thinking / I should get a job… / should get married / have some babies / watch the evening news.” The thought that Courtney, a woman of such obvious talent, would quit making art and instead get a job is ridiculous.

Her humble attitude helps explain why 1,600 of us in the sold-out Ogden Theater were so entranced by Courtney for her entire two-hour long set; she’s so devoted to her work and in love with what she is doing that we couldn’t help but marvel at all of the energy she put in to every note and every word. Thanks, Courtney, for blowing us all away once again, and I hope this won’t be the last time I see you!

Plugged In Collaboration with 91.5 KRCC

We’ve recently started a new limited-run collaboration with KRCC about music we’re listening to. The posts will be shared on both the SoCC and KRCC websites; check out the first post below.

Plugged In is a limited-run web series for 91.5 KRCC Music in which contributors from Colorado College’s student radio station, The SOCC, tip us off to great new releases, under-the-radar favorites, and other music they can’t live without. 

Hey 91.5 KRCC listeners & readers. I’m Paulina Ukrainets, the online content manager for The Sounds of Colorado College, CC’s radio station and music blog. I’m also an intern with 91.5 KRCC’s Air Check. Below are some songs I’ve been listening to lately (though they’re not necessarily new), and a little bit about why I like them.

Saba ft. Chance the Rapper –– LOGOUT

Usually I’m not a big fan of the currently super-prevalent “trap” style of hip-hop production, but this song is different in its beautiful amalgamation of piano, sax, synth and the standard trap percussion beat. When I listen to most music (but especially to hip-hop) my attention instantly gravitates to the lyrics, and here they don’t disappoint: “look at how much fun I’m havin’/ain’t no beauty in the absence of broadcastin’ to your followers” are just two of Saba’s lines from the ridiculously catchy chorus. This is a hip-hop anthem for the age of Instagram––the age in which young, up-and-coming artists like Saba can get the recognition they clearly deserve, but at the price of the complete destruction of their privacy in the name of online presence/promotion. As my professor Idris Goodwin would say, LOGOUT is pure bars.

 

Frankie Cosmos –– Ur Up

This song is only 36 seconds long, so I kinda feel like I’m cheating with this one, but it’s full to the brim with the kind of sincerity Frankie Cosmos fans (myself included) adore her for. The lyrics and title of this song refer to a meme-esque phrase that gets used by teenagers as a sort of shorthand booty call… or so I’m told. Here, Greta (FC’s lyricist/frontwoman) mirrors the shorthand/meme-culture form of the phrase in the song’s brevity, but totally inverts the concept the phrase refers to. It rings honest and sweet, especially in the studio outtake at the beginning. I’m super grateful for this little Frankie Cosmos-shaped window into their creative process.

 

Honour Council –– Olingo

Honour Council are a Colorado Springs band that I’ve been a fan of since their formation, but this is the first recorded song they’ve shared with the world; I’m so excited to expose people to them! I find it hard to pin their sound down to a single word or genre––some people say they fit into the shoegaze realm, but I say you should just listen. If you like what you hear, come see them play a donation-based Cloud Factory show on May 5that local house venue, The Bump! They’re supporting Dead Sullivan, a really awesome indie band from Texas. Find more details of the event here.

Taylor McFerrin –– Degrees of Light

If this artist’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the son of Bobby McFerrin (if you’re bad with names, he’s the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” guy). Taylor’s music couldn’t be more different from his father’s––this song is totally instrumental, relying heavily on synths and electronic percussion that take you on a journey through what does feel like thousands of different degrees of light. Listen to this song, and you’ll hear how the sounds shimmer and reflect off each other. It’s the most multi-sensory listening experience I’ve had in a while.

Porches at Larimer Lounge 2/26

  I first saw Porches at a Pitchfork after-show in 2016 at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. I had never heard of them, but my friend had an extra ticket, so I decided to go. In a darkly-lit dive-bar filled with Dickies, jean jackets, and dirty-baseball-cap-cladden patrons, I stood stage left for a band soon to be one of my favorites to see live. Their sound is melancholy synth pop backed by house style drums, and fronted by a strong, high falsetto and sometimes auto-tuned voice from lead Aaron Maine. Though I had never seen Porches before, their sound no doubt gave me a nostalgic vibe for a time or musical space I still can’t quite place my finger on.
        Upon my two year hiatus of seeing them live, their sound this time brought me nostalgia for my first time seeing them. They played a sold out show at Larimer Lounge on February 26th and featured tracks not only from their new album, “The House,” which came out this year, but also from previous records––“Pool” and “Slow Dance in the Cosmos”. Between 2016 and 2018, the ambiance of their shows has stayed roughly consistent. Larimer Lounge is a small bar with a stage in the back that was lit like a middle school dance. The soft greens and pinks matched well with the many high-school and college-aged attendees that wore their share of early 2000’s clothing.
        Listening to their recorded music, for the most part, gives me the night time bedroom bump headspace. This translates to a live performance that is very calmly presented, but emotional. There isn’t a whole lot of dancing or motion from anyone on stage, but the unifying soft vocals and strong chord progressions are where the emotion really comes from. Most of the crowd seemed to love every bit of the show, as call out requests were semi-frequent and sing-a-longs were plenty, especially to the chorus’ of tracks like “Car” and “Be Apart”. Most songs were accompanied by head bobs and mellow sways from the crowd, but more house-inspired tracks like “Pool” got most people, especially myself, dancing with a large grin on their face.
        A personal favorite moment of mine was during the encore. At the beginning of the show, Aaron mentioned that two people had flown into Denver to see this show, and someone had gifted a pair of cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat to match, to the band. During the encore, the rhythm guitarist came out donning the white hat, which looked extra goofy on him as it was clearly too small for his head. The hat made its way around to most of the members, fitting some better than others, all giving the crowd a memorable ending to the show.
        Though Porches’ overall aesthetic and fanbase are rooted in the sad, lo-fi realm, their emotion, cohesion, and crowd interactions make for consistently pleasing shows that give plenty of good energy.

SONG OF THE WEEK: THE STAVES – “IN THE LONG RUN”

The Staves have a talent in their live recordings of simple and sweet harmonies. I love this version of “In The Long Run” (in support of the online project Taschenkonzerte.com) which is filled with bittersweet lyrics. I want to be the fourth Stave but probably will never get that chance, so instead I’ll listen to their lovely voices to lift me from my fourth week blues.

Song of the Weekend: Crack Mountain – Natural Child

I JUST WANT TO SMOKE CRACK WITH MY FRIENDS! Ok… that’s definitely not what I want to do but that is one of the quality lyrics from Natural Child’s song, Crack Mountain. Crack Mountain is a crisp blend of garage rock with a southern twist. Like most Natural Child songs, it has refreshingly straightforward lyrics. Its upbeat tempo is nearly irresistible and as the weather gets warmer, Natural Child will make you feel like it is already mid-summer. You should definitely listen to Natural Child this weekend and you should certainly avoid their advice.

CONCERT PREVIEW: Keys N Krates @ Boulder Theater, February 9

Welcome back to school and reality, everyone! With the new year comes a host of dope concerts. The SOCC will be posting previews of shows we think are worth checking out. If you’re looking to enjoy a good night off campus, you can catch Keys N Krates with NYC’s DJ Jubilee at the Boulder Theater on Friday, February 9th.

Toronto’s Keys N Krates have established themselves as one of the biggest names in electronic music, with their song “Dum Dee Dum” achieving RIAA gold status without radio airplay. Party-makers in their own right, KNK also throw an annual festival in their hometown Toronto booking acts like Virgil Abloh, River Tiber, AraabMuzik, and Lunice. More recently, they released “Glitter” ft. Ambré which saw them break the conventions of the dance world and explore R&B. On their forthcoming album Cura they continue to explore sounds outside of the electronic world, a genre that they have led for several years.

One of the inconvenient realities of living in Colorado Springs is that most big names tend to pass us by. While it’s not too hard to get up to Denver or Boulder for a show, most tend to fall on weeknights. Luckily, the Keys N Krates show is on a Friday night, so you don’t even have to worry about making it to class the next morning.

You can buy tickets online here. Check out their single “Glitter” below!

Song of the Week: Daddy issues – “Dog Years”

 

Dog Years is a “heart-shaped box”-esque slowburner. Its lyrics steam with hate. Dog Years reveals the vitriolic aftermath of a relationship. In its soul-crushing relentlessness, the song captures how the subject of the song meticulously ruined life’s simple joys. Jenna Moynihan begins by singing, “If you could do anything / You would ruin the best things / You would spoil the ending / You’d dissolve cotton candy.” Later on she seems to find sadistic pleasure from imagining the death of whomever she is singing about. The pain and disgust are palpable.

Concert Review: Thoughts on Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza’s experiment as a four day festival needs to end. Aside from the obvious burden the festival puts on Grant Park and the residents of Chicago, the addition of a fourth day compounds the issue that all festival-goers know very well… the bands we want to see are now spread out even more than they were before. Fuck you Perry Farrell. I don’t know if you are responsible for this but as the creator of Lollapalooza, you deserve the blame. Do you think I want to drag myself through hordes of drunken teenagers in 90 degree heat for another day just to see one good band at 3pm and another at 8pm? No. There is only so much of that any sane human can handle.

This issue is trivial compared to the affliction that “rock festivals” everywhere are suffering from. Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza. All of their rock lineups are garbage. Rock music is not dead but festivals like these are accomplices in murdering it. Lollapalooza’s 2017 lineup has marginally improved from last year’s disgrace but all three festivals are trending in the wrong direction. I have attended Lollapalooza five out of the last six years but I have little intention of going this year. Sure, I like Arcade Fire and the Shins and even Cage the Elephant (even though they’ve sold out) but they are not worth spending roughly $400 to see. I’ll preserve what hope I have for Lollapalooza and wait for another year.