Interpol @ Open Air Theater

People thought rock was dead; Interpol showed us otherwise.

Legendary post-punk band Interpol came to shred underneath the disco ball at the CalCoast Credit Union Open Air Theater, just one of many stops on their North American tour promoting their sixth studio album, Marauder. Completing the night’s bill were indie-rock trio Sunflower Bean and punk duo The Kills – a lineup which had several of my friends drooling with envy when I told them I’d be in attendance. Which, if I’m being honest, left me more than a little confused. Who listens to rock anymore? Punk hasn’t been cool since the Arctic Monkeys abandoned ship and indie-rock is teetering on the edge of irrelevance post-Mac Demarco. Although these claims may border on outrageous, it cannot be denied that the rock genre has been eclipsed in recent years by pop, EDM, and hip-hop.

Clearly none of the groups on stage got that memo.

Kicking off the night in outfits that would make any art hoe scream “yassss queen,” Sunflower Bean came to rock n roll. Straying from the Fleetwood Mac-influenced sound of their studio recordings, the trio amped up the energy with ripping solos from guitarist Nick Kivlen and raw, throaty vocals from singer/bassist Julia Cumming. With their blonde heads a-banging and trousers a-sparkling, Sunflower Bean’s entire existence pays homage to the genre which birthed them. Unfortunately, the band did suffer from the Indifferent Crowd Syndrome (ICS) that commonly plagues opening acts. Despite seemingly fazing the band, they still left the stage with this bold statement: “We’re Sunflower Bean and don’t you forget it!” Don’t worry, girl, I won’t.

Tunes to scope out: I Was Home, Twentytwo, I Was a Fool

Up next came the skinny-jean clad duo The Kills. The most notable aspect of their performance was the “the strut;” considering it’s been 15 years since their first LP, singer Allison Mosshart’s ability to own whatever stage her leather boots find themselves is downright impressive. Limbs rolling, long blond hair flowing, her control and ease over the environment is almost enough to compensate for the incomplete sound produced by the two guitars and drum kit. With moody, analog interludes, experimental guitar synths, the Kills are looking to take the genre somewhere. Where exactly, they have no definitive answer.

Tunes to scope out: Doing It to Death, Baby Says

At this point in the show, I was still inclined to believe that rock n roll is dead. Sunflower Bean and the Kills were both great bands, but neither seem to have the potential to revive the ailing genre. But as I furiously typed notes into my phone, I heard it. Life. The audience roars and rises to their feet as Interpol arrived to save us all.

Photo credited to the San Diego Union Tribune

Let me paint the scene for ya. A dark stage. Simple white spotlights cast light from behind the band, creating an eerie shadow of a band already dressed black. Then a single white light behind center stage rises to meet the disco ball, splaying light out to the crowd. It’s a simple set-up, but effective; Interpol’s music can speak for itself. You get the feeling they are at the service of the music. The band has mastered a suave rock sound that seduces you with every melancholy lyric singer Paul Banks wails with his haunting twang, and I am hit by a wall of sound, filled with textures and colors I’ve seen before, but perhaps not in this combination. Every song “bangs” and I can’t help but move my body to the beat, swaying my head back and forth so that I could hear every note. You can listen to Interpol’s entire set with your eyes closed, the music is a show in and of itself. And then it’s over, and I feel as if I’ve been abruptly woken from a sweet dream. The band humbly exits, it’s duty to the music completed: “We are Interpol, and that’s what we got.”

So, much to my chagrin, rock does live! It has bands like Interpol to keep its heart beating, and an audience desperate to consume it. The problem is that we’ve heard all these sounds before. Interpol’s music is superb, but the band has done little experimenting in their long career. I guess it’s true, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, but sticking with a sound that just works isn’t enough to compete with pop and hip-hop artists who cater to fans with an incessant appetite for new content. Interpol’s Marauder is enough to keep rock alive, if only just alive.

Tunes to scope out: If You Really Love Nothing, Evil, Pioneer to the Falls

Review by: Michaela Alejandra

Politically Driven Radio

There is no doubt that we are currently in the midst of a Presidential race that our children will ask us about and that will be written into history books. It’s an interesting time in our country to say the least. I’m not one to put my two cents in about political matters online, but many musical artists use their music as a platform to do so. This week’s mini playlist is what I like to call Politically Driven Radio. Here are a few songs driven by politics or some sort of political issue that may just get you thinking

1.God Save The Queen- The Sex Pistols

sex pistols

According to Stephen Thomas Erlewine of allmusic.com, the BBC banned this song because of its anti-royalty language. Although the Queen doesn’t actually run England (I’m laughing at you if you thought she did.), she is still a notable and respected figure. This song was released in 1977, when rock and roll was still relatively new, making the added political element extra scandalous. With a name like The Sex Pistols, there’s bound to be controversy, even if they only lasted a couple of years.

2. Two Weeks From Twenty- Yellowcard

yellowcard

This song touches on more recent issues concerning the United States involvement in foreign war. Perhaps the most provocative line of the song is, “There’s still no shame from the man to blame”. Released in 2006, during the George W. Bush presidency, we are only left to assume who the man to blame is intended to be.

3. Hero of War- Rise Against

rise againstAnother account of the United States involvement in foreign wars, “Hero of War” tells the story of a young military member, presumably fighting in foreign conflict around the time of the 2008 album release. The graphic detail of this song can make it tough to listen to, but it may get you thinking about some issues that have never crossed through your brain before.

4. Buffalo Soldier- Bob Marley & The Wailers

bob

One unfortunate part of our country’s history that many don’t like to talk about or remember, slavery, is touched on in many forms of art. Although slavery has been abolished, racism is still an ever present political and social issue in America. Bob Marley tells this tale of the slave trade through music, singing   “Stolen from Africa, brought to America” “Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival”

5. April 29, 1992 (Miami)- Sublime

watts

The image above is of the Watts towers in Los Angeles, an important area in the 1992 riots. You may or may not have been alive in 1992. Even so, you’ve probably heard about the Los Angeles riots that occurred after the police brutality instilled upon Rodney King (If this doesn’t ring a bell, google it). This song gives an account of riots that occurred all over the United States as an outcry against racially motivated police brutality. Has much changed surrounding this issue in the last 24 years? I’ll let you be the judge.

 

Listen to and follow the playlist here! 

For more information on voting and a non-partisan view on the candidates take a look at the KPBS Voter Guide.

 

Classic Rock for Dummies

Need a beginning lesson in classic rock and roll? Look no further.

Just as classic books such as Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice are important to the history of literature and therefore shoved down innocent fifteen year olds throats, there are several artists that are essential to the history of rock and roll and should be shoved down your throat. Before we get to the playlist, here are a few *trigger warnings* for those who may consider themselves enthusiasts of rock:

  • I am anti- Beatles. I don’t really care how much you like Yellow Submarine, I’d prefer to be above ground. There is no denying that the Beatles definitely made an impact on music history, but in my blunt opinion, they suck.
  • The fact that you sang all the words to “Don’t Stop Believing” at a frat party does not make Journey a good rock band.

There are several other artists that could be included in a more extensive playlist (If your curious check out The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Blue Oyster Cult etc.). This playlist was made assuming that the listener has little to no knowledge of classic rock and does not have hours and hours at their disposal for listening.

  1. Back In Black- AC/DC

I’m 99.99999% sure that you have heard this song in some way, shape, or form over the course of your lifetime. AC/DC is the definition of sex, drugs, and good ‘ol rock ‘n roll. They are definitely a great artist to dive right into when beginning to listen to classic rock.

  1. Tom Sawyer- Rush

Rush is that nerdy guy from your high school that has no friends, but eventually becomes your boss. Their innovative sounds were considered weird at first, but then they skyrocketed into rock stardom.

  1. Surrender- Cheap Trick

Surrender is another song that you’ve probably heard before, but may not have known the artist. Remember that early 2000’s Eddie Murphey movie, Daddy Day Care? Surrender was actually played “live” in the movie by Cheap Trick. Cheap Trick has several other rock classics including “I Want You to Want Me” and, in my very important opinion, is one of the most underrated classic rock bands.

  1. Show Me The Way- Peter Frampton

I’ve inserted a photo of the one and only Peter Frampton as the title image, to show you what a 1970’s sex god looked like. Just a little bit different than Zac Efron or Ryan Gosling. No matter what your taste in romantic partner, Peter Frampton is no doubt a rock god. His use of talk box, which is defined by Wikipedia as a “unit that allows musicians to modify the sound of a musical instrument by shaping the frequency content of the sound and to apply speech sounds (in the same way as singing) onto the sounds of the instrument”, is incredibly satisfying.

  1. Life In The Fast Lane- Eagles

Eagles are an American classic if there ever was one. The recent passing of Glen Frey has brought the Eagles old tracks up a bit more. This particular song choice is a good listen if you are feeling rebellious.

  1. Panama- Van Halen

Van Halen underwent lots of changes during their run as a rock band; still they remain a staple to this list.

  1. Achilles Last Stand- Led Zeppelin

One of the longest Led Zeppelin songs (just over 10 minutes), “Achilles Last Stand” includes the one critical element of a truly perfect rock and roll track, an infinitely long guitar sequence.

  1. Mary Jane’s Last Dance- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

While many will credit Free Fallin’ as Tom Petty’s greatest song, it’s me, so I’ve got to veer off from the typical choice a little bit. That’s where Mary Jane’s Last Dance comes in. This song inspired me to learn how to play harmonica because of the sick (excuse my out dated so cal terminology) use of harmonica. Other than violin, harmonica is my favorite supplemental rock instrument.

  1. Purple Haze- Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix is absolutely one of the most gifted guitarists that ever lived. I gave you a beginner track, but if you catch feelings for Jimi check out his rendition of the star spangled banner live from Woodstock.

  1. More Than a Feeling- Boston

This is by far one of the most well-known classic American rock songs of all time and is most definitely Boston’s most popular track. I have more than a feeling about Boston, if you know what I mean.

 

Whether or not you agree with my choices, there’s no doubt that if you are a rock and roll beginner, these are some pretty solid training wheels.

Follow me on Spotify @kelseydonahue14 to check out this playlist here: https://open.spotify.com/user/kelseydonahue14/playlist/2U3eHujXAQuHUQFHbglnFG

I’m live Mondays from 10-11pm on KCR with The Road Less Traveled!

The Underrated Top 40

Welcome back Aztecs! I’m back to the daily school grind and that means I’m back to cranking out some sweet playlists for all of you. For the sake of your precious time, I’ll keep this one short and sweet.

For those of you that don’t already know, I like to listen to music that not exactly on the straight and narrow. So I’ve compiled a short list of songs that were on the Top 40 (and/or were relatively popular) and should have stayed there.

  1. Wonderwall- Oasis

In my personal opinion, Wonderwall is one of the most beautifully ambiguous songs ever created. It is truly one of those songs that can be whatever you want it to be. It is very user centric.

  1. Smells Like Teen Spirit- Nirvana

Everyone needs a little teen spirit and Nirvana caters to the grungy teens from the 90’s that were desperately lost, high, and confused (teens these days haven’t changed that much…). The ultimate demise of Kurt Cobain catapulted Nevermind into the stratosphere, solidifying its place in rock history.

  1. Lips Of An Angel- Hinder

This is one of the more “recent” songs on my mini playlist. Less rock elements and a slower pace brought this song onto the top 40 in the mid 2000’s, no questions asked.

  1. Ocean Avenue- Yellowcard

My all-time favorite band, not my all-time favorite song. That being said, it seems to be one of the general populations top rock choices.  I still can’t get over the use of violin by Yellowcard. Violin and rock music are a perfect mix. If you don’t believe me, give it a listen.

  1. Gives Me Hell- The All American Rejects

The best humorous break-up song that ever appeared on hits radio. Although The All American Rejects are sub-par at best, its quality fruit on the rather fruitless top 40 tree.

No matter your music taste, everyone needs a few new songs to play on repeat once in a while. Have at it folks.

You can find my Spotify playlist here: https://open.spotify.com/user/kelseydonahue14/playlist/6f9inwnDed1fUqR1CyrVrq

I’m also on air Monday’s from 10-11pm playing rock, indie, punk and whatever else fits my mood.