Monday, September 1, 2008

Closing Time

The station's internet connection was down during my last show, so it's been a bit since I posted. I'll just have to make this one extra good, I guess. I'm doing a four hour show tonight and since I'm starting to hit a wall in my music burning project, this might be one of my last shows for the summer. I have no special attachment to waking up at 3 AM to doing this without recompenses, so this blog might end up just being about music in general rather than doing college radio in particular.

But that's the future. Let's talk about the now.

I've started raiding the station's jazz and world sections, which are kept in a large file cabinet. Not much in there of interest, though my knowledge of reggae is slim and I'm probably skipping over any number of classics without even knowing it. Did find some Jimmy Cliff, so I'm happy enough.

Time for some plugs:

Of Montreal, "Satanic Panic in the Attic."

One of the best pop albums of the last decade. It reminds me of nothing so much as a fractured version of "Pet Sounds," the same baroque rock style with a few more rough edges. It caught my attention immediately and I've only come to appreciate it more with each listen.

Fugazi, "Red Medicine."

Not the album as a whole (as much as I love the group, their albums tend to all blend together rather indistinctly), but rather the second track, "Bed for the Scraping." The song is an adrenal rush to the heart with its propulsive beat and the classic stuttering guitar line.

Elvis Costello, "North."

Not his best album by a long shot, but taken as a whole it's a fine piece of work. The songs are more pieces of a pastiche than individual songwriting moments and I find that listening to the album as a whole better than to individual tracks. A rain-soaked mood piece.

The Black Keys, "Rubber Factory."

How did I go so long without know about this duo? In my heart of hearts, I know that this is the kind of music I was meant to listen to. Grungy blues rock with stripped down rhythms and lyrics about broken relationships, pounded home with distorted, brilliant guitar riffs. I want to buy an old Chevy Nova and listen to this while driving through suburbia, hand out the window, keeping rhythm by taping on the roof of the car.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Wind Down Session

Working an odd show tonight, at least for me. Groovin' from 4-8 AM. This means I'll be falling out of "safe harbor," which is the point at which the FCC takes an interest in whether or not bad words are spoken on the air. At 6 AM, I officially cannot play anything with curse words in it unless I bleep them out. I usually only do shows in the safe harbor hours (10-6) so I don't have to worry about it. But I wanted a show a couple of my friends could show up for and chill with me in the station. They said they'll be here at 6. We'll see if that happens.

Found a new album to tout the merits of: The self-titled debut from The Black Ghosts. It's an album from a pair of London dance floor freaks with a serious ear for R&B soul and electro-beats. Think LCD Soundsystem with John Legend writing the melodies. Damon Albarn even lends vocals to a track, which gives it the indie-rock seal of approval. Great stuff and not a bad track on the album.

I've reeled in my CD burning obsession for the week. I didn't do a show last week (which meant no new albums) but I still didn't get through all the albums from the week before. Since I'll probably take next week off as well, I might actually manage to get caught up. I finished off the last few blanks in a ream I had (picked up three Fugazi albums and a couple of jazz albums) but that's it.

Playing a little Yes for the drunken, insomniac masses right now, "Sound Chaser." Old school prog doesn't get enough respect. Keeps my mind alive, at least.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Canon is Growing

I think it's time to discuss some of the interesting music I've found during my following month at the station. I always seem to come across great music here, whether I mean to or not. These bands and albums aren't anything obscure that I've uncovered (some are outright classics, in fact) but they're new to me.

DJ Shadow, "Endtroducing"

A classic piece of electronic music cobbled together out of samples from so many genres it's mind-boggling. Snatches of familiar music will appear occasionally, but these are rare and though there is no "organic" music on the record it is still a completely original composition. Pure genius.

Kings of Leon, "Because of the Times"

I first heard this band a few years back, while still in college. I don't remember being impressed by their first album. However, the opening track of their second one ("Knocked Up") was enough to convert me. Spooky, disjointed and beautiful. Their first album makes sense to me now with this as an entry point. One of my new favorite bands.

Guided By Voices, "Under the Bushes, Under the Stars"

This band has long been a favorite, with "Bee Thousand" in pretty regular rotation within the disco of my mind. However, their catalog has always been a tad daunting for me and I've been picking up their albums slowly. This album is a little slicker than their earlier stuff. It's a mixed blessing. On one hand, the songs stretch out and songwriting is given a chance to shine. One the other had the album lacks the sloppy charm of "Bee Thousand" or "Alien Lanes" and it all starts to sound the same after awhile. Still, a solid album by a solid band and a good entry point for neophytes.

Thievery Corporation, "The Cosmic Game"

I've never been much into any of the variations of electronica, but I've always had an interest. Every now and then I find an entry point that gets me a little closer to understanding it. This is one of those points. A near-perfect synthesis of world beats, horns, politics and house techno, the album is the duo at their peak. Not their best album, and it has a few weak points, but they're working at a level far above the majority of their field.

That's enough for tonight. I'm sure I'll have more next time.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Burnin' the Midnight Oil

I'm required to play a certain amount of "rotation" during the show. These are the newish albums that the station gets as promos. Playing them insures that we keep getting more of them, so every two-hour show plays eight rotation tracks. Generally takes half an hour. I plow through them first thing, since I hate trying to sequence them into the rest of the show. It's a good way to listen to new music and see if you like something or not by inflicting it on anyone listening.

This evening my rotation included the new My Morning Jacket (decent enough album, but certainly a drop off from their last few), a track off the new Colin Meloy live album, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes covering "The Boxer" and a few other oddities. The station doesn't get everything, but they certainly have enough to keep me interested.

Been burning through the electronica section, grabbed up a bunch of out-of-print Meat Beat Manifesto. Free music is a powerful addiction. It's all that really has me up at 3 AM doing this. Starting to feel burnt out already though, and it's only been a few weeks.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What the Hell Was I Thinking?

Why did I sign up for this shift? 2-4 AM on a Sunday morning after doing 12-4 AM Saturday morning. I'm fucking exhausted and I have no one to blame but my own fool self.

Blasting out some Spoon ("All the Pretty Girls Go to the City" is the track, one of their best), burning a few CDs and just trying to plug through. Not doing another show for two weeks, which is fine by me right now. You never appreciate your bed so much as when you slip into it just before dawn.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Runnin' 'n' Shit

Eugene OR, the little burg I call home, is currently celebrating its accidental relationship to track and field competitions with a massive civic orgy, all aimed to suck at the fat teat of the Olympics. The track and field tryouts for the summer Olympics are taking place here at the UO, where the humble little campus station I'm currently broadcasting from at 1 AM is located. I honestly couldn't care less about the whole affair, though the entire town seems caught up in it. Even the local alt paper, the Eugene Weekly, commemorated it in their own jackass way by giving a guide to Eugene for the out-of-towners highlighting the various places around the city where the police have committed human rights abuses. The guide was as self-serving as it was snide, which is in keeping with the EW's style. You know, I'll agree that the Whittaker neighborhood is the center of Eugene's activist community, but it's also the place where you're most likely to get your car peed on by a meth addict. Let's try to have some balance here.

To me, all the trials mean is that the town will be a little crowded for a week or so, during part of which I'll be on vacation (going to San Fransisco to visit friends for the July 4th weekend). I'm planning on avoiding that edge of campus and staying indoors. Not that I don't respect the athletes. I know I can't do that shit. It's just that I don't care if they do it. So you can see the conflict.

My CD burning project hit a good stride last week. 28 albums was the final count, made off with plenty of good stuff. This week is going about as well. I noticed the station's collection of out-of-print Captain Beefheart albums and dubbed copies as soon as I could. Music-wise, it's going to be a good summer. Sleep-wise, not so much. I'm filling in until 4 AM today and will be on from 2-4 AM tomorrow morning. No rest for the wicked.

Beat that shit, track-rats.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Back in the Groove Space

What the hell am I doing sitting in this cramped, smelly-ass space at 4 AM?

When I was in college I got it into my head that it would be cool to be a college radio DJ. I applied for a spot at the local station and landed the coveted 4-6 AM Friday morning slot, which I obstinately held onto until I graduated and moved to colder, less economically prosperous pastures. It was a pretty cool job (if two hours of unpaid work a week could be called a job) while it lasted. I could keep up on modern indie rock, as well as keep tabs on the music put out by local bands. And even though few people listened in, it was nice to have two hours of time to transmit anything I felt like playing.

That ended three years ago. I moved away from Oregon and the University of Oregon, not planning to return for ages, if ever. A speedy divorce from the woman I had moved for rearranged those plans and now I'm back in town. And somehow I got it into my head again to start working at the station, at least on a temporary basis. The idea that I may in someway be trying to relive my college "glory days" by filling in shows over the summer, possibly in response to a shattered sense of self-confidence, has occurred to me. However, the fact that the station has two CD burners and a large library of music, much of it obscure, also occurred to me. So now, armed with a ream of CD-R's and a bold determination to own everything, I'm sitting in the station, playing some Italian lounge music I found on the rotation shelf, occasionally hopping up to change out CDs from the burners while my collection grows.

Not much has changed here. The station is small, smells like electronics and humanity (sort of a sweaty cyborg feeling) and is covered in stickers promoting things mostly long since dead. I'm exhausted, my head feel like it's full of static and I'm still drinking coffee despite the fact that it's now been nearly 24 hours since I woke up. Just like old times.

I'll be writing in this blog during my shows, so this project probably won't last the summer. Then again, I've already burned close the 30 albums my first night. So who knows? Might become a hobby.