The World Around You Episode 18: PR Blunders

Today, we talk about the biggest PR blunder of the month. However, this is saying something, given that this month has been full of massive PR blunders! Of course, we’re referring to United Airlines and their treatment of Dr. Dao, a customer of theirs. Because of fellow passengers videoing the incident, the incident spread worldwide. How badly did United Airlines screw up? Find out here as we inform you of the facts.

Listen to it below, or download it here!

Wavves – You’re Welcome

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I think a lot of us are still getting over the hangover King of the Beach left us back in 2010. Nothing from the group has been quite as fun, even with the bittersweet “Dog” off 2012’s Afraid of Heights and the solid effort of V in 2015. There just hasn’t been anything to top “Post-Acid” or “Green Eyes” or most of the tracks really. So with every release I think it’s only been natural that we’ve compared each album to these tracks. But it’s been a minute since then and I think it’s fair that we start judging Wavves’ Nathan Williams himself as a man of 2017. You’re Welcome is the album that defines that man. It’s industrious in his attempt to appeal to the new year, summoning new tones and turns, but also, adheres to all the years and releases that have come to make what is Wavves.

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“Hollowed Out” is the perfect schism of the past & future. Recycling the Beach Boys induces “ooohhhhs” Williams has worn so well over the years and incorporating the new challenging structures of this new record, it establishes where the band currently is in the evolution: not forgetting what makes their sound great but knowing the needed risks to make their sound great. The title track “You’re Welcome” leans more into these risks as it relies less the common and beloved harmonies produced by the band and more on nasally riffs and a thick bass melody. “Million Enemies” might be the most newfangled track as it embraces thick distortion pedals and a transition of verse that sounds almost like they are switching the key of the song entirely. It, definitely at first, is the most challenging track on the record, but after a handful of listens, I start finding it to be one of my favorites. It’s something completely new and its obscurity is easily overcome once you realize the almost abrupt change in verse sounds great. The much less obscure “Animal” is probably the poppiest track out of Wavves since “Dog.” The lyrics “The whole world covered in gasoline/And burning alive/I feel taken advantage of/And empty inside” bring the “man against the word” stature we’ve come to expect from Williams, but it’s the chorus that follows that we can actually see his guard going down, not only letting in these new tones, but also, a new hope within the world: “… A million stars light up my face/When you look at it.” It’s definitely of the more optimistic words we’ve heard come out of the singer, and tied in with a guitar riff of a tenacity not created by the group before, it manifests itself, not only into the best track off of the album, but also, from the group in a long time. “Animal” brings me those good vibes I found in King of the Beach years ago while still unleashing a new cadence that seems to me to agree with the new year.

You’re Welcome is one of the better albums I’ve heard so far this year too. With a lot of psychedelic bands coming from the ether lately it’s nice to know that punk still works and can still sound new. Wavves fans might not be in love with every track on the record because of the challenge, but if you’re open to the new sound and give it a few rotations, I’m sure you can find a few of your own gems and appreciate what Williams is doing. And if not, “Animal” should hopefully keep satiated until you can complain about how the next Wavves album doesn’t sound like Wavves.

Frontiers of Science Podcast Hour Episode 3

This week we have Dr. Daniel G. Nocera, a Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University. In this lecture entitled, “The Global Energy Challenge: A Moral Imperative for the University” DR. Nocera discusses how the earth must provide energy to 6 billion new energy consumers in the coming decades while combating the existential threat of climate change.

Music: http://www.bensound.com

Joey Bada$$- ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$

On We got it from here… Thank you 4 your Service, Q-tip raps, “Talk to Joey, Earl, Kendrick, and Cole/ The gatekeepers of flow”. The last three MC’s he mentions made sense to me: Kendrick being the greatest alive, Earl Sweatshirt is the best lyricist of the progressive movement in hip-hop (sorry Danny Brown and Vince Staples), and J. Cole went platinum without any features. Twice. I had listened to Joey Bada$$ a little bit before I’d heard that line and from what I’d seen, his name wasn’t worth mentioning in this list. At that point, A$AP Rocky had done a much better job of representing the beast coast and Brooklyn’s Own was only 21; I needed a larger sample size to put him on such a pedestal. On April 7th, I got what I asked for and then some.

ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ is the album Joey Bada$$ needed to launch himself into the rap stratosphere. He’s given himself an identity with this project and personally, I think he has surpassed J. Cole as the penultimate voice in conscious rap. But before I get into that argument, I’ll quickly talk about the beat selection, production, and features: All fantastic. There isn’t a a song on here that I would scrap and I think each track shows a different side of Joey thanks to Kirk Knight and Statik Selektah, among the other producers on this project. As for features, Chronixx and Meechy Darko were amazing. While I think everyone on the project did an awesome job, those two were the only artists on the same level as Joey. Now that’s not to say no one went above and beyond Mr. Bada$$ because there was one artist who absolutely destroyed his feature. Like threw it in a body bag and dumped it in the Hudson. Of course I’m talking about Schoolboy Q on ROCKABYE BABY because that was some vintage, Oxymoron-style Q. The quality of this project was an absolute 10 out of 10 for me but there is one area that I think could use a little work: The substance.

I believe that this album is Joey’s good kid, m.A.A.d city or Born Sinner. For Kendrick and Cole, respectively, these projects cemented these artists as top tier spitters. They were able to communicate their observations of the world in a commercially and artistically successful way that people could relate to. They were bringing up real issues and were story-telling but they weren’t problem solving. As young MC’s, they weren’t going deeper just yet, giving us a look into why they deserved to be voices of a generation. We waited for 2014 Forest Hills Drive/4 Your Eyez Only and To Pimp a Butterfly/Untitled Unmastered to see how the newest, most prominent voices in hip-hop wanted to use their recently acquired fame. I think Joey did a better job than Cole in this first phase of rap stardom. He is starting to see the world as a 22 year old but can he start to lead his fans to the promised land, to a better AMERIKKKA? I don’t know but I’m damn excited to find out.

Score: 9.1

What’s The Deal With Jam Rock? (Or, What Happened to the Tuesday Rock Show?)

As one or two of you may have noticed, the Tuesday Rock & Roll show has gotten a little weird over the past couple of weeks.  Gone are any semblance of verse-chorus structured songs, or even any song structures at all.  Instead, long, meandering jams, seemingly devoid of any purpose, often lasting well over ten minutes, seem to have taken their place.  So what’s going on with this spaced-out music and why is it a part of the Rock Show?

Vermont-based jam band Phish (http://phishthoughts.com/tag/new-years/)

Jam rock has deep roots in rock music; there is no genre that describes it more closely, hence its name.  But listen a little more closely, and you may hear the country-blues-rock-jazz fusion of the Grateful Dead, the Zappa-esque funk grooves of Phish, the “jamtronica” of Lotus (peep Jessica’s recent review of Lotus at Park City Live: http://kuteradio.org/tag/lotus/), or the progressive influences in the music of Umphrey’s McGee.  This is an eclectic genre that truly shines in its most unrestrained form, live performance.  Jam bands, in a practice that is not widespread around the live music scene, never perform two shows with the same setlist.  More importantly, though, no two songs are ever performed exactly the same.  Jam bands perform their shows “without a net”, that is to say, they have no set plan for how any single song will be played. Instead, their extended musical explorations, which often branch out of rehearsed song sections, are reflections of a single moment in time which will never be replicated.  Such is the beauty of jam rock: it is an endless supply of new music due to the fact that no two performances will contain the same music.  Though it may be a hard concept to explain, there is no greater musical gift than to be able to constantly hear totally new versions of your favorite song, with familiar parts where they should be, and totally new pieces elsewhere.  Thus, live recordings (apart from going to concerts!) represent the best way to consume jam rock, which each unique performance captured as a musical snapshot of a particular moment.

Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead (https://www.pinterest.com/farrelltimlake/homegrown-dead/)

So you might be thinking, “Just because they jam doesn’t mean that it is good!”. You would be absolutely right.  With such unplanned, improvisational music, flubs and truly aimless jams are bound to happen.  But when all elements come together and bands are firing on all cylinders, amazing moments occur.  At their best, for example, the legendary guitarist Jerry Garcia can be heard weaving flowing melodies throughout the rhythmic tidal wave of the Grateful Dead, and Phish’s legendary ability to turn jams on a dime gives them an ability to bring frenzied musical-freak outs to soaring, totally focused peaks.  Often, audience reactions can be heard slightly on recordings, and there is a clear sense of mutual exchange of energy between the bands and their audience as each push each other to continue exploring musically.

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Before you dismiss jam music as only for spaced-out hippies and freaks, give it a listen.  It works equally well in the background or for focused listening.  Let the bands take your ear with them wherever they decide to go, and recognize the depth of musical theory, knowledge, and experience that allows these bands to step onstage without a set plan.  You may begin to notice clear signs of totally unspoken musical communication between band members, and you may be surprised to hear the return of familiar chords and lyrics after particularly meandering or intense jams.  Should you enjoy the music and continuing listening, you may begin to get the sense that there is a huge community around this music, but that topic is for another day.  In the meantime, you might be able to start to understand how a little Vermont band like Phish can sell out four nights in a row at Madison Square Garden nearly every New Years weekend, or how a bunch of hippies from late-60s San Francisco, called the Grateful Dead, were able to fill football stadiums well into the 1990s.  There is truly more to this music than first meets the ear.