Our Favorite Albums of 2019

Check out what some of our DJs consider their favorite albums of 2019.

 

You Deserve LoveWhite Reaper

Review by Jane Harris

No one did it quite like White Reaper this year. 2019 was a bountiful year for the Louisville, Kentucky natives. With the release of their third studio album, You Deserve Love, White Reaper signed with Elektra Records, joining the ranks of rock n’ roll greats. However, the group isn’t too daunted by sharing a label with The Doors or The Cars, they are quite content blazing their own path and ‘reaping’ its benefits. One of their singles, “Might Be Right,” off You Deserve Love, has racked up over 3 million streams (and counting) since its release at the end of May, dethroning their staple “Judy French” as the band’s most-streamed single. White Reaper’s new album provides a perfect soundtrack for the turn of the year into a new decade— featuring  impressive battling guitar solos reminiscent of classic rock with contrasting high-energy synth sections that deepen the record’s sound. Though the new album isn’t quite as party-next-door sounding as their last two records, the natural progression of their sound as more sleek and tuned can’t be denied or ignored. This album shows that progress is valuable and important. You Deserve Love proves White Reaper succeeds in making intentional music for constantly evolving times and listeners. And that music fucking rocks.

Along with the success of their newest album, 2019 brought White Reaper their debut on national television— they rounded out the year with an electrifying performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Make no mistake, White Reaper is a force to be reckoned with. So sit back and kick off 2020 with some good tunes and some good love— you deserve it!

 

Come In, Weatherday

Review by August Caldwell

If you listen to any album I ever try to peddle into your earholes, please let it be the emo-punk masterpiece, Come In by Swedish artist Weatherday. I hesitated to suggest this album out of fear that every hip CC student would start listening to it and it would cease to be my own, personal album. But, in light of the season of giving, I decided to do a selfless act and give you, reader, the gift of this perfect album. You can thank me by listening to it.

Come In, Weatherday’s debut album, is a mystical grunge piece, both light and dark, soft and heavy all at the same time. Perhaps what I love most about this album is the lack of production on it. The album is self produced and according to the artist, Sputnik, was recorded mostly in their bedroom. The album possesses the simplicity of a Bandcamp gem and the elevation of raw musical talent. Listening to Come In is like being submerged in a complex dream, it is mysterious, but it resonates. It has a fantastic flow; the music moves you from unabashedly head-banging in public to weeping on your dorm room floor in one fluid motion. The album is absolutely delectable in its entirety, each song blends beautifully into the next, coming together to build a story whose contents seem to evolve with every listen. Come In is balanced; each track transitions seamlessly, and yet the album does not let the listener tune out, like many other albums of its genre. Weatherday injects chaotic and explosive energy throughout, but they make it sympathetic. There is not a dull moment in the entire album. The punk coarseness on tracks like Older Than Before and Cut Lips do not dominate and are balanced with softer, melodramatic tracks like Embarrassing Paintings and the opening moments of Mio, Min, Mio. The fifth track, My Sputnik Sweetheart, is especially noteworthy. The thirteen minute song is both long and crafted enough to subsist as an album in itself. My Sputnik Sweetheart is an emotional rollercoaster, carrying the listener from sunken ballad through a hardcore rage into a goose bump-raising gothic chord progression.

Come In is an important addition to the lo-fi emo-punk genre as one of the most creative albums to emerge from 2019. The album gives magic and a certain child-like thought process back to the genre. Weatherday has proved themselves to be an inspired lo-fi artist in their debut album and I look forward to their future productions in 2020.

 

Over It, Summer Walker

Review by August Caldwell

Atlanta native Summer Walker’s studio debut album, Over It, immediately stood out to me as one of the best albums of 2019. I am not the only one who holds this opinion, its debut week marked the largest streaming week for an R&B album by a female artist. Walker’s second album reveals a large professional leap from her first. She paired up with producer and boyfriend London on Da Track to create a well produced and star studded album sporting hit singles featuring other R&B stars, such as Come Thru with Usher and Playing Games with Bryson Tiller. In between these catchy, breakout tracks, there are gems tucked away that are as soulful as they are sexual, making the entire album an absolute pleasure to listen to, and a personal favorite of mine.

Over It has a slow, sultry flow filled with emotional complexity. Walker’s soft, crooning and at times, mumbly voice gives the album a very sexual feel. I often catch myself gently humping the air when I listen, no matter where I am. I have been trying to control myself, but the melodies are powerful. At the same time, the lyrics invite the listener to share Walker’s most inner thoughts of frustration, anger, desire and heartbreak. It is naughty at some points, Walker tenderly describes scenes of lovemaking on tracks like Stretch You Out and Body that unabashedly draw the listener into the bedroom and let them watch. No matter the content, Walker’s style never fails to be deeply introspective and moody. Walker, the introverted queen of R&B, presents herself as a sexually empowered and dominant woman across her songs, like Just Might with lyrics “I just might be a hoe.” The shy girl-sex kitten combination that Walker introduces is not only inviting but incredibly powerful.

Over It masterfully accentuates Walker’s talent and unique voice. Listening to the album is a deliciously spiritual experience; the sound is so soft and intimate it feels as if the album is wrapped in silk. The album is a great contribution the R&B genre and I am eager to follow Walker’s success in the upcoming decade.

 

Diaspora,Goldlink

Review by Emily Faulks

After listening to Goldlink’s second album At What Cost, I had been anticipating his new album for almost two years. When it finally came out, I was not disappointed. Although the album, entitled “Diaspora,” does not have the same 90’s inspired beats as songs like “Summatime” and “Crew” in his last album, Goldink beautifully creates a time capsule of the present that is scattered across a spatial plane. The songs in Diaspora feel like a musical representation of youth and vitality, the beats pulsating to Goldlink’s relaxed voice and airy choruses. The album opens with the brief introduction of a man sprinting outside on a summer night; then abruptly jumps to a mellow beat and buoyant hook from Ari PenSmith in “Joke Ting.” The album reflects the diaspora of black music through reggae inspired beats and D.C. slang that expose inequality beyond the D.C. area to other gentrifying cities in America and colonized countries in Latin America and Africa. This is my favorite rap album of the year because of Goldlink’s effortless flow paired with hip-swaying beats. It makes me feel like I’m right there with him: running alongside him on a summer night.

Patience, Mannequin Pussy

Review by Mimi Norton

I first heard of Mannequin Pussy when I saw them open for Japanese Breakfast on tour in 2017. I was captivated by their show because they performed at a breakneck pace, flying through a series of loud, high-energy songs; each of the band members’ bodies tensing and releasing according to the pulse of the drums. This punk record is driven by tight guitars and explosive drumming, but it’s exceptional because the album really features lead singer, Marisa Dabice, and lets her voice cut through the noise to share hard truths about trauma, toxic relationships, and self-love. This album is so fun to listen to, and will give anyone listening a new appreciation for patience in this crazy life we all live.

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.

Catch Up On WORM Radio Playlists

4th Week Rage

For all the pent up angst, stress, and frustration that fourth weeks may bring. Scream, sing, and let it all out with these high-energy songs. This doubles as a great playlist for working out, or any other activity where you need some more aggressive tunes. 

Collaging

So you have finally invited that cute girl over to your room to collage and make some art. Now what? Don’t worry, WORM radio has the playlist for you. This mellow collection features artists such as Crumb, HOMESHAKE, and Steve Lacy. So however your night goes Collaging is the perfect mood setter. 

Putting Glitter on Your Face and Feeling Invincible

This playlist was inspired by our shared love for Tierra Whack and Little Simz. We wanted to create a playlist of music by inspiring femme artists for femmes. The playlist builds into what we deemed “stomping songs,” or songs you could stomp across campus in your favorite platform boots to. We hope that this playlist makes you feel like you could eat the whole world. 

It’s Getting Dark at 5 PM Now 

Here is the soundtrack to encaptures how much winter sucks. Warning: these songs will not pep you up, rather they are for when you want to really feel your feels. This playlist includes Elliot Smith (not surprising), Florence + The Machine, and Big Star. So crawl into your bed, turn on these tunes, and wallow. 

Blooming Out

Blooming Out is a collection of songs that make you feel like your chest is exploding when you listen to them. For us these songs capture that moment when music possesses your body and makes you feel like you are spreading into infinity. The playlists includes Maggie Rogers, Fleetwood Mac, and a lot of Florence + The Machine. You can dance, jam, and scream along to these songs but mostly just Bloom out. 

Tune in every Tuesday at 8:00 pm to catch our playlists live. Happy listening from Carol and Mia!

NEW PLAYLIST: LIL MAMA Radio

In her last two shows, DJ Lily Roth created distinct playlists that offer opposing tones. Her first playlist titled “experiencing ego death” includes some staple rock tunes by artists like The Strokes and The Black Keys. The second playlist titled “toe taps and tenderness” introduces soft and sweet melodies about love and focuses on artists such as Otis Redding and The Weeknd.  Make sure you listen in every Thursday night at 10 pm!

 

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.

Concert Review: Gus Dapperton w/ Spencer.

Spencer., photo by Auguste Voss

DENVER – Bedroom-pop sensation Gus Dapperton made a stop at the Gothic Theater earlier this month, accompanied by Spencer., and blew us away with soaring, emphatic vocals and dancing so spicy that it should have been a fire hazard.

Starting the night off with groovy neo-soul and hip-hop-infused jamming, up-and-coming R&B artist Spencer. had our hips swaying in no time. Spencer. hails from Rochester, New York and – at only 19 – is far beyond his years. His rich, deep voice takes center stage in much of his music, and – paired with lively guitar riffs and nifty basslines – Spencer. cooks up a delicious lo-fi aesthetic that feels intentional without trying too hard. As the band jammed and Spencer. sang from behind pink, retro shields, I couldn’t help but dance along.

Gus Dapperton, photo by Auguste Voss

After a set break that felt like forever (as they always do), Gus Dapperton sauntered onstage with a big grin and his own pair of tinted sunglasses. Donning his trademark baggy pants and a (presumably thrifted) sweater, he wasted no time, jumping right into “Verdigris” – the first on his most recent album Where Polly People Go to Read. 

Gus Dapperton, steadily picking up steam since the success of his 2017 single “I’m Only Snacking” and its endearing music video, has created an eccentric and captivating character. His music provides an intimate and emotional catharsis, with raw, seductive melodies and bouncy synth grooves that practically make you get up and dance along.

Gus Dapperton, photo by Auguste Voss

He kept the room dancing all night, occasionally pausing his songs to give the crowd an ear-to-ear smile, playfully tease his guitarist Yendawg, and chat with the audience in a sly, puckish tone that was the cherry on top of an already masterful persona. 

Where Polly People Go to Read is a chronological, revolving account of love and heartbreak, and the intensity was evident onstage as Dapperton belted out ballads like “My Favorite Fish” and “Coax & Botany.” 

Gus Dapperton, photo by Auguste Voss

Dapperton’s performance was a perfect mix of the raw, heartwrenching bellows characteristic of his most recent album and the goofy, endearing antics that populate his music videos.

His performance was engaging, energetic, and chaotic in the most satisfying of ways, leaving the audience clapping for more – and myself with sore calves from so much dancing.

NEW PLAYLIST: LIL MAMA Radio

In search of a new hangover fix? Check out DJ Lily Roth’s new playlist from this Thursday’s feature of LIL MAMA Radio. Her playlist includes a mix of jazzy, smooth, and funky instrumentals that she claims can cure any hangover. Be sure to give this playlist a listen to hear artists like Knxwledge, Khruangbin, and Swell do what they do best.

Tune in to LIL MAMA Radio every Thursday night at 10:00 pm !

Mediocre Kids: Review of Black Lips Concert at Globe Hall

Black-Lips.jpg
Image courtesy of Black Lips. Cover art for their most recent single, Odelia.

20 years after their formation, the Atlanta flower punk band Black Lips are back on tour for their most recent album, Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art?, released in 2017. On Monday, October 21st, the group performed the second night of their Denver shows in Globe Hall, a self proclaimed “unpretentious saloon” for live music and Texas-style barbecue.

Denver based girl pop-punk trio, The Corner Girls, took the stage first. The trio delivered catchy, but ordinary tunes, most comparable to Cherry Glazerr, except much less original. Most noteworthy was The Corner Girls’ last song, in which front woman Breanna Ahlgren encouraged the small audience to chant the lines: “Who’s a better kisser? Me or my sister?” Howled in ironic beach grunge fashion, the lyrics came off especially ghoul-y. Just in time for Halloween!

Next up was The Blue Rose Rounders, a traditional country outfit from Los Angeles, California, who have been touring across the United States with Black Lips. The four piece group performed traditional country ballads in impeccably styled retro cowboy looks. Singer and songwriter, Emily Rose Epstein, fiercely crooned sad songs and traditional waltzes, pausing only to take swigs of her bourbon. The band performed several of their own songs, such as desperately love sick “December” as well as some covers, like an even more sarcastic version of Ernest Tubb’s “Thanks a Lot.” The group was also joined for a song by Black Lips drummer, Oakley Munson. The ballads were both sweet and gothic and they set the tone for the headliners.

Dressed in costumes ranging from puffer coat to leather bikini, five piece set Black Lips traipsed onto stage and opened without an introduction to a dazed audience. Although early on in their career, Black Lips made a name for themselves as an in-concert “performance art” piece, with live shows often including acts ranging from vomiting to making out, their Globe Hall performance was very muted. They alternated songs from 2017 record Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? and more popular melodies from their earlier days, such as “Raw Meat,” “Family Tree” and “Drive By Buddy.” Songs from their newest album were less known and received with little enthusiasm. Even during their hit songs from their more hardcore days, the mosh pit was minimal and unemotional.

While the front-line of the audience repeatedly called out for Black Lips’ most popular track, “Bad Kids,” the group delivered a performance that veered off the flower punk path many seemed to anticipate. Instead of the grungy tunes they are known for, Black Lips continued the traditional country theme introduced by The Blue Rose Rounders with emphatically twangy versions of most of their songs, especially those off of the Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? album. The band highlighted guitarist Jeff Clarke and Saxophonist Zumi Roscow in their slower, country songs. In these songs, the performances were exceptionally stellar.

At their Globe Hall concert, Black Lips’ younger and more chaotic punk energy seemed shifted to a mellower and more sorrowful country sound, signaling the band’s evolution. In interviews, group members have spoken about an upcoming country album. Black Lips’ Globe Hall performance was not thrilling and yet it was not disappointing. It was exciting to witness the group as they move on to a new genre.

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!