Behind the Mic: Arvin Domier, Andrew Kaitcer, Gautham Dixit and Trevor Mass

Known to keep fans on the edge of their seats, sporting events are high energy, competitive and passionate environments that bring all types of people together. KCR’s Arvin Domier, Andrew Kaitcer, Gautham Dixit and Trevor Maas successfully translate these epic moments onto the airwaves through their sports radio show, “Undefeated.”

Every Friday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., this quartet cover topics such as football, basketball and, most recently, baseball. At first, Arvin had no idea KCR existed until his guest interview on Weston Lowe and Ruairi McCann’s show. Following his appearance, he fell in love and proposed creating their own show to his current cohosts/roommates. Soon after, “Undefeated” was born.

In Fall 2017, Arvin, Andrew and Gautham took a more casual approach to their show format during their first semester as DJs. “Thirty minutes before we went on air, we would jot down notes and figure out what we would talk about from there. An example would be discussing our top five players in the NFL. We were still trying to figure everything out so it was very relaxed,” says Arvin. Now, since they’ve gained more listeners and added Trevor Maas as a cohost, more preparation is put into their content.

Each week, this group tackles huge topics covered on big name sources such as ESPN as well as events from SDSU’s intramural teams. In fifteen minute segments, the cohosts share their take on anything and everything sports related. Arvin focuses on football, baseball and basketball, and has even taken a keen interest on hockey. Andrew and Gautham concentrate on basketball and football whereas Trevor is the main man for baseball. Trevor, an economics major, admits, “The only professional sport I follow is baseball so KCR helps me to stay up to date with all of the players.”

One of their favorite segments was their Superbowl preview. Each cohost gave a break down of the coaching side and player side of both teams. In-depth predictions and analyses on team advantages were also brought up. By creating good sports dialogue, it keeps listeners engaged in open-minded opinions and perspectives. Their inspirations include Skip Bayless who is known for his raw and controversial viewpoints. Computer science major Gautham adds that shows like “Undisputed” and “First Take” with Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman are other influences.

In addition, changes in the show include a live-stream on their Facebook page and, according to Arvin, an unwavering hope to interview beloved former men’s basketball coach Steve Fisher. These four have big plans for improvement in order to create awesome content.

What sets them a part from other sports broadcasting shows? “Undefeated” is real and passionate.”My roommates and I decided to follow our love for sports and open up our daily living room talks to an audience,” says marketing major Andrew. One thing is clear: sports hold this dynamic team together.

Besides being DJs, Arvin, Andrew, Gautham and Trevor are third years who play on intramural teams like basketball, bowling, football, volleyball, softball and dodgeball. With their loaded course work, KCR has become a creative escape to unwind and speak their mind on a topic they all love.

Don’t forget to tune in to “Undefeated” every Friday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m on KCR college radio. You can also watch their live-streams on their Facebook page.

Featured image by Arvin Domier

5 on Friday: Top 5 Albums of the Year

In a defining year of political corruption, social upheaval and arbitrary violence, music drowned out the negativity and created positivity. Five albums, however, stood out and deserve recognition for their lyricism, instrumentation and raw ingenuity.

 5. “Ti Amo” – Phoenix
Amidst France’s political unrest, French synth-pop band Phoenix forged an album that combated the antagonism ravaging the country. Despite its lack of mega radio hits such as “1901” and “Lisztomania,” this album brings about an ’80s vibrancy unheard of in the group’s previous works. The record meets the perfect balance of overproduced dance pop and head-bopping New Order inspired brilliance. The song “Ti Amo” incorporates sampled drum beats and brightly toned guitars that blend well with the simplistic but funky bass line. “Fior Di Latte” is another standout for its crescendoing hook and sexually charged lyrics that reference a velvety Italian cheese; it’s a fitting acknowledgment for a luscious and sensual song. Thomas Mars, an experienced and masterful vocalist, handles his talent with unsurprising grace. His falsettos and playful vocal melodies shine through. The real star, however, is the New Wave synth based elements that emphasize the band’s musical aesthetic. The quirky effects and lighthearted instrumentation add to the album’s bubbly theme of love, lust and romantic desire. It’s ear-wormy, and portrays Phoenix in a new light.
4. “As You Please” – Citizen
Citizen’s “Youth” is a nostalgic effort beloved by many. With tracks such as “The Summer” and “How Do You Feel?”, Citizen’s sound is a mixture of pop punk with grunge undertones that has been perfected in their most recent release. “As You Please” is a product of the band’s development instrumentally, vocally and lyrically. Songs such as “Fever Days” and “World” are aggressive in terms of Mat Kerkes’ vocal performance, as well as the heavy bass drawn throughout. Maturity is shown in Citizen’s writing, producing an expressive and quite distinctive album that is the best they’ve ever put out. The atmospheric layering paired with heavy instrumentation is a fitting interpretation of the band’s shoegaze sound. They have truly found their niche in the scene.
3. “DAMN.” – Kendrick Lamar
During a time in our country where social instability rocked our lives, “DAMN.” provided us with a solid foundation. Lamar’s lead single, “HUMBLE.”, was a teaser to the ferocity and aggression found in every aspect of the album. The beats, rhymes and unparalleled tales of strength and struggles overwhelm this 14 song track list. Songs such as “DNA” and “ELEMENT” show off Lamar’s hyped vibrancy and unrelenting lyricism that packs a powerful punch. Kendrick’s versatility, however, allows him to slow some tracks down while maintaining his storytelling prowess. “PRIDE.” and “FEAR” are honest and vulnerable, yet precise and compelling. His eloquence is what makes this album shine. Combine that with clean beats and features by Rihanna, Zacari and the surprising U2, and you have one of the best rap albums of this generation.
2. “Melodrama” – Lorde
Similar to Kendrick’s punctual lyricism, Lorde’s writing talent is also honest and true to herself. Heartbreak and pain resonates in the heart’s of her listeners in ballads such as “Liability” and “Sober II (Melodrama).” Her wisdom is defining and unheard of in young women her age. Against the simplistic piano chord progressions and a subtle string section, Lorde’s whisper-y vocals sound like a roaring clap of lightning. Her bona fide talent as a singer songwriter sounds mastered at her age and is quite unbelievable. In tracks like “Supercut” and “Homemade Dynamite” the bright yet melancholic melodies are pleasurable to the ears and to the soul. Lorde’s passivity to her sadness allows beautiful lyrics that contrast bright musicality: an ode to the album’s message. Despite her young age, “Melodrama” is an astounding release that not only conveys feminine strength in times of trials, but the realization that being alone is important. Lorde is an old soul who had an epiphany and is not understood by many. This album is a masterpiece, telling a story of sadness, fear, denial and acceptance. Not to mention, the production does not follow the predictable formula found in pop songs. This is an album dedicated to the broken, providing an aid of advice and honesty.
1 “SATURATION II” – BROCKHAMPTON
Rap “boyband” BROCKHAMPTON have quickly risen to stardom after the release of “SATURATION.” Since then, their fanbase has grown and the group has made a name for themselves solely based on bedroom recordings and DIY production. This group radiates a chemistry that is admiring and charming. Their sound, however, is far from the cookie-cutter hip hop formula or the incoherent mumbling of Soundcloud rappers. Instead, they have created their own BROCKHAMPTON sound that is unique and genuine. “SATURATION II” is the second installment to the trilogy laden with perfectly balanced voice modifications, aggressive beats and pleasurable hooks that grab one’s attention immediately. Through just the opening song, listeners can already foresee the direction of the album. The track is packed with unorthodox, layered beats that shouldn’t go well together, but do. Mix that with insightful lyricism and one of the catchiest hooks on the album, and you have “GUMMY.” This album definitely has a focused cohesiveness to it. From the transitions, melodies, themes and overall production, “SATURATION II” is the best material this rap collective has released to date. Tracks such as “TEETH” and “JUNKY” show each members’ skills as writers. Ameer Vann’s solo verse on “TEETH” is angry and hard-hitting as he raps about his struggles during childhood. Anger resonates with listeners and can also be felt in “JUNKY.” Here, the band takes no breaks, spitting verses that reference to the members’ dark and deadly inner demons. With a haunting and eerie vibe, this song is one of my favorites. The career defining moments this album holds will make a lasting mark on this rap boyband. Their goals are clear and their methods work, and I hope this dynamism is still strong in their following projects.
Featured image taken by Constanza Hormazábal 

A Day with The Front Bottoms

In a music scene where indie credibility is everything, New Jersey based band The Front Bottoms went against the conventional. With simplistic chord progressions, erratic drumming, blaring trumpeting and angsty yet obscure lyrics, The Front Bottoms have made a name for themselves on their own terms.

Last month they dropped their sixth album, “Going Grey” with their new record label Fueled by Ramen. This album takes a different but pleasing approach to their classic sound. In songs like “Vacation Town,” “Raining” and “Grand Finale,” the band embraces synthesizers and other production elements previously unheard in their sound. These subtle incorporations, however, are fitting and show the band’s matured musicianship.

Three days before their concert at the House of Blues on Nov. 10, The Front Bottoms announced an in-store performance at M-Theory Music. I had the opportunity to watch them perform acoustic versions of new tunes and fan favorites. Manned with his acoustic guitar, Brian Sella sang about middle fingers, steroids and bong rips as the crowd enthusiastically sang back. The two necked electric guitar was also a nice touch. The music store’s crowd was intimate and laid back, but it was a whole different story for the audience in the House of Blues.

The concert was packed and the crowd was insane. BadBadHats first performed and they rocked their set. Afterwards, Basement took the stage and that’s when all hell broke lose. Stuck in the middle of the pit, I pushed and shoved concertgoers like my life depended on it. Nevertheless, I still sang/yelled along to bangers like “Aquasun,” “Pine” and “Bad Apple.” Apparently, some people got so hyped and aggressive that a fight broke out. Finishing their set with their lead single “Promise Everything,” Basement thanked the audience and we were left waiting in restless agony for the main act.

Soon, The Front Bottoms walked onto stage. They opened with “You Used to Say (Holy F*ck)” and then lead into “Skeleton.” And the crowd went wild. The atmosphere, however, was different. It wasn’t aggressive, and was instead full of good vibes and happy moshing. From start to finish, I belted the words to every song like I had my heartbroken by a non-existent lover. In contrast to the crowd’s energy, the band was laid back as ever. Kicking off their shoes and making the venue their home, they put on a spectacular show. Matt Uychich (drums) set the pace for the band with his unorthodox rhythm. Brian Sella’s booming voice in songs like “The Beers” and “Tattooed Tears” sent the crowd into an angsty frenzy. The night was blur.

Despite the sweaty mess I was, the concert had its fill of special moments. When Jen the trumpet player had her solo in “2YL” (one of my favorite TFB songs), the pit opened up and the crowd moshed. I had never seen a crowd go crazy to a trumpet solo until that night; it was definitely a sight to see. “West Virginia” and “Vacation Town” were other fan favorites and the audience was equally as wild. The band closed the show with “Lonely Eyes,” a very old song from their 2008 self release “I Hate My Friends,” as well as “Flashlight” and “Ocean.”

Thank you The Front Bottoms for the best and craziest concert of my life. Despite getting pushed, shoved and punched the entire night, I had so much fun. I highly recommend seeing The Front Bottoms live. Their acoustic driven music is energetic and unique, and deserving of more recognition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured image taken by Dane Burns

Back from the Dead: Citizen’s ‘As You Please’

Citizen has been an ever-evolving band since the release of their 2013 album, “Youth.” The dark themes paired with heavy instrumentation and lyricism made it a fan favorite. Songs such as “Sleep” and “The Summer” set the tone early for a band still craving experimentation.

In their second album, “Everybody is Going to Heaven,” Citizen took an even heavier approach. Mat Kerkes’s vocals were much more morbid with heavy bass instrumentation. The album was almost haunting. “As You Please,” however, is the perfect mixture of the pop punk and post-grunge sound Citizen has been dabbling in.

The album opens up with their lead single “Jet” which has to be one of the best songs on the track list. Fuzz-toned guitars manned by Ryland Oehlers and Nick Hamm steadily start the song off as the drums and bass create the full sound. The shoegaze-esque instrumentation is accompanied by Mat Kerkes’ well-developed voice. He shows off his pipes and even a falsetto in the chorus, proving he has matured as a vocalist. Tracks like “In the Middle of it All,” “World” and “Flowerchild” also show off his vocal talent.

Many fans love the nostalgic sound of “Youth,” but those who say it’s better than their most recent release are completely wrong. Here’s why. “As You Please” is a post-grunge effort with heavy yet atmospheric instruments that are crisp and well-defined. For example, “Fever Days” starts with ethereal plucking that was previously unheard in Citizen’s discography. A heavy bass-driven riff then cuts off the entrancing guitar as it subtly rings throughout the song. It fills up the empty sound accompanied only by sustained guitar notes and drums. Kerkes’ aggressive vocals is the last, satisfying touch to this perfect Citizen song.

“World” is another passionate song that is well written both musically and lyrically. With its bright guitars, crisp drums, rich bass and ambient backing vocals, the song is finalized with some of my favorite thought-provoking lyrics. In the post-chorus, Kerkes sings “Split me open/Let the air out/I’m your old friend,” with so much gut wrenching grit and emotion that I can’t help but shed a few tears. His songwriting is some of the most profound and eloquent out there and, for once, it forces me to pay attention to the words, not just the instruments.

“Fever Days” and “World” are definitely favorites for their unique musicality – which was missing from the band’s previous albums. I appreciate bands that aren’t afraid to experiment in different genres, but still maintain their established sound, like Citizen. “As You Please” shows fans that change is necessary. In a scene that tends to always sound the same, this album is step forward in musical experimentation and progress.

Favorites: “Jet,” “In the Middle of it All,” “Fever Days” and “World”

Least Favorites: “I Forgive No One” and “You are a Star”

Featured Image by Chloe Muro.