Above the Static October Newsletter


Our October newsletter is out! Within is news about sports broadcasts, info about our new journalism show The J Word, the new Living Writers website, and more. Read it here



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WCBN x Audiotree: Charly Bliss


It’s ninety-two degrees in the beating sun at Kalamazoo’s Audiotree Music Festival, and yet Eva Hendricks of the band Charly Bliss is energetically jumping and screaming as if conditions are perfect. By watching her and the rest of the band, the audience forgets about their sweat-drenched shirts and begins to jump along. In a battle against the sun, Charly Bliss decidedly wins.

The explosive New York based band played a selection of songs from their critically-acclaimed record Guppy before closing with a rendition of 2014’s “Love Me.” The band also played two new songs from their forthcoming record, which the band hinted was coming soon.

After the set, I sat down with Eva (vocals/guitar), Sam (drums), Dan (bass), and Spencer (guitar) to talk about the new record, Guppy, Weezer, and super powers. You can listen to the full interview below.

WCBN takes on Audiotree

   Last week, WCBN was at the Audiotree Music Festival in Kalamazoo, MI! The two-day festival was held at Arcadia Creek Festival Place in the midst of an intense heat wave (temperatures hitting 94°). Thanks to the Audiotree team, all the artists and fans stayed well-hydrated under the blistering heat. People were shooting water guns at the crowd, passing out water bottles and handing out fans.

Despite the heat, the festival provided a great experience for crowds of diverse musical tastes. The lineup featured a variety of talented up-and-coming and big name electronic, hip-hop, and indie rock artists that filled the vicinity with good energy. Transitions between all the sets were smooth, and every band had fantastic sound engineering. In addition, in case you couldn't make it, all the performances were live-streamed for all the fans back home. All around, Audiotree put up a great festival and we look forward to Audiotree Music Festival 2018!


While we were there, we had the chance to meet with some of our favorite artists who get some great airplay on WCBN. We are excited to have some exclusive interviews and content for you, our beloved listener! Check out our homepage for WCBN's coverage of #ATMF17. (More interviews to come)




Recap of Friday from WCBN's Aarthi:

Audiotree music festival was one of the most surreal, unique, and sweltering music events I’ve ever been to.  Our Friday began with SALES, whose soft, guitar-based pop enchanted the audience.  “Getting it On”, a fan favorite, was met with cheers and a swaying crowd.  After the set, we met with SALES (Lauren Morgan and Jordan Shih) to talk about their music and inspiration.

From there, I photographed Smino, whose commanding stage presence and futuristic funk rap excited the crowd.  Smino truly gave a stellar performance, and his crisp, boldly accessorized look against the Audiotree stage made for some pretty great visuals.  Noname, one of my favorite artists of the day, also gave a captivating performance.  Her songs “Bye Bye Baby” and “Diddy Bop” are full of sadness and emotion, and contrasted by her positive and playful rap.  She is smiling and laughing in between verses, clearly enjoying herself, and the audience feels it too.  The crowd was taken away by her, and so was I.  

Next up was the iconic Lizzo.  With her colorful, skin-tight bodysuit and her striking dancer duo, she gave quite a show.  Her newest release “Truth Hurts” was the highlight of the set.  The final show was SuperDuperKyle.  At this point, the heat and excitement of the day had gotten to me, so I was unable to photograph him firsthand.  However, listening to his music backstage was still breathtaking.  He covered his favorite song “Pursuit of Happiness” beautifully— the Audiotree audience agreed and held up their phone flashlights and swayed to his voice.  

Audiotree Music Festival was an experience I’ll never forget.  The heat, the sounds, and the stage stunned me and created a distinctly captivating show that will be difficult to recreate.


Fall 2017 Program Guide

The fall 2017 program guide is HERE!!! And it's jam-packed with our current schedule, as well as show information and other goodies.

You can read it online or drop by the station to pick up a hard copy.

This semester's program guide was lovingly (and awesomely) designed by Dives, Campbell, Charlotte, Kara, Jeremiah, Lilli, Maggie, and Victoria.


World Tour 2nd Stop: Japan

By Tarek Tiba

This week’s musical world tour takes us to the country of Japan. Japan is like a big melting pot when it comes to music. All genres of music seem to flourish and crossover between one another, creating music that is very unique.

Classical and contemporary music are very popular in Japan, and the country is one of the biggest markets for preserving and keeping this music alive. Japan has produced many famous composers, such as Ryuichi Sakamoto, who has gained worldwide recognition for his film scoring, and Joe Hisaishi, who has also gained popularity for his soundtrack work, composing scores for every Studio Ghibli film except one, The Castle Of Cagliostro. To hear compositions from these artists, listen to Forbidden Colours by Ryuichi Sakamoto or The Legend of Ashitaka by Joe Hisaishi.

Another very popular genre of music in Japan is jazz, which was first introduced to the island sometime in the 1930’s. Like classical music, Japan provides a huge market for jazz music with many recordings by jazz artists are sometimes released exclusively in Japan. Like jazz from other parts of the world, jazz music from Japan can be very diverse in sound and style, sometimes sounding more straightforward, like the bebop or hard bop jazz of the 50’s and 60’s, or more avant garde or experimental sounding. To hear an example of the more straight ahead jazz of Japan, listen to "Edge" by Takuya Kuroda, and to hear an example of more experimental jazz, listen to "Taiko" by Uyama Hiroto.

Also on the playlist are some examples of traditional Japanese music, specifically taiko drum music. Taiko drumming involves the use of huge drums, and was traditionally in the past played mainly at religious ceremonies or during battles to communicate commands across a battlefield. In the 20th century, taiko drum music witnessed a revival in Japan, becoming very popular; with the help of the Japanese government allocating funds for the preservation of Japanese culture, many taiko drum groups were formed. This style of music did not remain exclusive to Japan, and has since become popular in many other parts of the world, such as North America and Europe. To hear the immense sound of the taiko drummers, listen to "The Hunted" by Kodo.

This week's playlist will feature many of the artists above and more. Just like the last playlist, this playlist should be seen as a glimpse into the music of Japan, and a guide for further exploration. Playlists can be found on our WCBN Spotify or Soundcloud account.





Above the Static 8 September

Our september newsletter is out! Read it here: Above the Static | 8 September 2017

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Under the Influence: Kendrick Lamar


This week, our music review intern Oscar Anderson brings you a playlist built on the music of Kendrick Lamar and the music that foreshadowed and inspired his work.

Every artist on this playlist influenced the next. The last artist on the playlist is under the spotlight. This time, it’s Kendrick Lamar. Ever since the release of his second studio album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, it seems like everybody’s talking about Kendrick Lamar. His next two albums, To Pimp A Butterfly and DAMN were both met with critical acclaim. Kendrick is at the forefront of “conscious” rap; making social commentary that you can still blast at a party. In his own words: “I'm not the next pop star, I'm not the next socially aware rapper/I am a human mothaf***in' being, over dope ass instrumentation/Kendrick Lamar.”

Kendrick cites Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay Z, Nas, and Eminem as artists who have influenced him. It’s a winning formula, as they are often considered some of the greatest rappers of all time. Tracking Kendrick’s influences is a good example of the evolution of hip-hop, from the very beginning to today. It all started with early blues; like delta blues artist Son House, and his progeny, blues icon Muddy Waters; and then rock and roll’s beginnings with pioneer Chuck Berry. Chuck Berry’s rock and roll led to the the innovative funk of James Brown and Rick James.

Early rappers were essentially funk artists with rhythmic, spoken lyrics. Monosyllabic rhyme schemes like the ones used by Kurtis Blow paved the way for later rap’s more complex poetic structures, exhibited by Kool Moe Dee and Rakim. Rakim greatly impacted the new wave of rappers emerging in the ‘90s—including those that Kendrick Lamar cites as his greatest influences—and revolutionized the concept of ‘flow’ in hip-hop. Rappers from the ‘90s, like Nas and Tupac, spoke openly about issues surrounding drugs, violence, and poverty that affected them, in contrast to earlier rap’s relatively tame lyrics. Nas’s lyrical imagery of Queens is vivid, and comparable to Kendrick’s descriptions of Compton. Kendrick is often compared to Tupac Shakur, even likening himself to Tupac on occasion. Kendrick’s unique brand of introspective hip-hop feels like a logical progression from Nas and Tupac’s street poetry, and his beats incorporate funk inflected bass riffs that call back to hip hop’s origins.


Stay up to Speed with "Above the Static," WCBN's Bi-weekly Newsletter

Suffering from FOMO? Never fear, WCBN is here with our new bi-weekly e-newsletter! We'll let you know all the cool stuff that's been going on down at the studio, plus upcoming events at WCBN and our community. We'll also bring you reviews on new music, baller playlists, and hand-picked song recommendations from the DJs. 

Check out the link to this week's newsletter to learn what our summer interns have been up to, read Tarek's review of the Malian band Tamikrest and listen along to his playlist, and find out what music our DJs really want you to be jamming to this week. 

And don't forget to jump on that mailing list! If you sign up and don't see a confirmation email, check your spam folder. 


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