by James Calvet
Welcome back students! It's cold outside but there are exciting things happening in the UMC. We have a slew of awesome new DJ's on the AM airwaves. Tune in to hear rad tunes from your next favorite DJ. For a full list of new DJ's log on to radio1190.org.
On January 10th 2016 legendary musician, songwriter, actor and artist David Bowie passed away due to cancer. Through his nearly fifty-year career, Bowie created an unmistakable style that is poised, charismatic, inventive and unabashedly strange. Like a musical chameleon, Bowie utilized genres such as glam rock, electronic, experimental music and beyond. Come 2016, the lead single and title for his 25th album was released titled Blackstar. The track is a 10-minute long epic with dark, broody droney chords over jittery jazzy drums. The album as a whole is a dark and mysterious listen but provides enough pop structure to please the masses of Bowie fans. Bowie reportedly was heavily inspired by artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Death Grips while writing this album, which really shine through, most notably on the title track of the album. Blackstar is an end-of-career album that stands just as interesting as his Berlin trilogy albums or even his glam rock classics of the 1970's. The instrumentation and execution is stronger and more experimental than Bowie has been in years and makes this album to be his best in well over twenty years. Strangely, this album seems very aware of his death that would follow its release. With the themes, execution and musicianship on this record, Blackstar reveals itself deeper and deeper with every listen and acts as the best way that Bowie could end his career and his beautiful, charismatic, influential life.
In the heyday of indie-pop, the Pacific Northwest was the incubator for some of the best acts. In the early 80's Calvin Johnson began releasing low fidelity pop recordings under the moniker Beat Happening while still in college. Over the course of a few years, the group evolved into a full band and gained a cult following for their eccentric personality, playful performance and simple pop melodies. Thirty five years after the formation of the group, Domino and K records decided to release an anthology release to celebrate the band's legacy titled Look Around. The album chronologically goes through their short discography with better mixing and mastering without compromising the lo-fi charm. Classic tracks such as "Indian Summer", "Tiger Trap" and "Bewitched" are all featured on this record showcasing the band's true genius. Though this compilation is full of fantastic tracks and masterful mixing, it doesn't really bring anything new to the forefront of Beat Happening's music. But with that being said, there really isn't much to uncover from the band other than that they were and are the greatest indie pop group of all.
Pop experimentalist Grimes has been exciting and frustrating fans throughout her whole short career. After she announced a follow up to her cult favorite debut Visions in 2014, she reported that she will not release her follow up because it didn't please her fans. But late 2015 brought another follow up record titled Art Angels. Unlike her first record, Art Angels is a much cleaner and poppier record minus the dark edge she once had. But the production on every song on this record is truly remarkable in that each song is incredibly textured, detailed and unconventional. Though some songs like "Flesh Without Blood" sound as if they could be played on Top 40 Radio, there are at least some elements of experimentalism deep within the track. Though this release doesn't please some of Grimes' die-hard fans, there are still enough saving graces on this album to make it very memorable.