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Mare Berger: The Moon is Always Full (album review by Christa V.)

Mare Berger is a queer artist whose music focuses on interconnectedness through this album about the moon. They typically have sparseinstrumentation, primarily strings, piano, and sometimes guitar, under gorgeous vocal harmonies. The simplicity allows for the vocals to come throughclearly, without making it sound stuffy and classical. This is best highlighted in the opening track “Even When We Forget” where some incredible vocalharmonies take the song from a very peaceful lullabye to a more funky groove. This is also shown on “Stardust” where the voice sounds practically ethereal.“The Moon is Full” is another track that goes from a mournful piano into an amazing chorus that makes you want to move somehow. The range of moodspresent, and Berger’s ease with moving through them, is also shown on “Wondering” which starts with very calm backings, transitions to a chorus oversparse instrumentation, and goes into an instrumental section featuring an electric guitar over a string section. This album is quite unlike any other that Ihave heard, it manages to make you want to sway while also radiating peace. Definitely worth a listen! Favorite tracks: 1, 5, 7

Nikki and the Phantom Callers: Everybody’s Going to Hell (But You and Me) (album review by Christa V.)

At first listen Nikki and the Phantom Callers is your typical indie band. But there are some real gems in here, the lead vocalist has a beautiful voice that isperfectly complimented by the backup singers. This is highlighted on the song “They’ve Never Walked Through Shadows” which starts out a capella andsounds completely different from the rest of the album. It’s a neat way to feature the vocals. The rest of the songs definitely keep that indie feel with therough guitar parts, but they often straddle other genres as well. “Howl With Me” is spookier and more atmospheric, while “Love Me Tender” is clearly an Elvis reference and more classic rock, “Motor Run” starts punk but ends folk, and “New Year’s Day” has clear country influences. Definitely a band to payattention to with that range! Favorite tracks: 3, 5, 6, 8

Slow Pulp: Moveys (album review by Victoria A.)

This is a wildly biased review, because I'm friends with the boys in the band. They generously let me crash on their couch for way too long even though it was inconvenient, because they were recording a pre-Slow Pulp album in their closet lined with mattresses. They listened to nothing but Tame Impala on repeat which started to drive me insane. I tried very hard to get them to eat vegetables. They are nice, and you should listen to their band. 2020's Moveys is situated firmly in post-punk, with a lot in common with the wave of other female-led shoegazy bands right now: Soccer Mommy, Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, Big Thief, etc. I think I still hear those Tame Impala days in the rollicking riffs and funky flourishes on the more energetic tracks. There has never been a better time for thoughtful, bingeable, melancholy rock. It flirts with hopelessness in a way that reflects our current pandemic situation. Give it a listen!

Split Moon: Slow Satellite (album review by Christa V.)

Split Moon has a really unique instrumental sound with lots of atmospheric and almost droning synth, guitar, and vocals. It makes for great music to just vibeto. The lyrics aren’t audible for the most part, you can really only hear them on tracks 5 and 7, but they are pretty simplistic. Track 3, “Let’s Leave LA,” isprobably the best track, it has an almost melodic piano part and pretty cool oscillating distortions. The opening track is also very good with a mesmerizingdroning synth that meshes really well with the droning voice. It also has a really long fade out that leads down to a vibrato-like synth.
 Favorite tracks: 1, 3, 5

Yves Tumor: Heaven to a Tortured Mind (album review by Christa V.)

Yves Tumor is a queer experimental musician who utilizes unsettling percussive loops to create different moods. A lot of their songs feel as though you are loston a strange planet or in a new city, there’s plenty of dissonance and sometimes vaguely industrial noises in the background. This album is their fourth and it’s a masterpiece of shifting moods from harsher to softer. The opening track, “Gospel for a New Century,” is one of the best examples of this, the opening is dissonant and repetitive, but it has high energy and a really cool sound. Track 4, “Kerosene!,” is also incredible in that it creates contrast by being softer and more melodic. The repetitive loops on the word “kerosene” are very catchy and hypnotic. Finally “Strawberry Privilege” (track10) also has a very different sound with a cappella background noises setting up a chill groove. A very diverse and mesmerizing album!
 Favorite tracks: 1, 4, 10

Thank You Donors!!

Thank you to everyone who donated for our fundraiser this year. With your help we raised over $20,000! This will all go to improving the quality of our station and the product that we are able to put out. Thank you for helping preserve freeform radio, every year we are blown away with the loyalty and generosity of our listeners. For those who ordered premia along with their donation, you can expect it by fall of 2021. Thank you again, and keep it tuned in on WCBN! 

Slowthai - TYRON review

Hailing from Northampton, Britain, Tyron Frampton, better known as Slowthai, burst on the scene in 2019 with his politically charged debut album “Nothing Great About Britain”. To the delight of critics and (newfound) fans alike, “Nothing Great About Britain” was a brutally honest assessment of the political and social culture in Britain often coming to the grim conclusion that, well, there’s nothing great about it at all. Sonically, the record forced an impression on the listener. Slowthai was absolutely vicious throughout the entire record, attacking beats with unmitigated passion and intensity, the album featured little detours from this sound. As a result, it was an album chock full of grimy bangers backed with instrumentals driven by hard hitting snares and guitar chords reminiscent of the British punk scene in the 1980s. Tracks like “Doorman”, “Inglorious”, and “T N Biscuits” immediately gave Tyron a significant platform that typically demands a far larger catalog. After going on tour with BROCKHAMPTON, Slowthai effectively established himself as an artist that was here to stay, and forged heavy interest as to what he would do next. 

 

In the year following the release and subsequent tour of“Nothing Great About Britain”, Tyron struggled with his newfound fame and notoriety tremendously. Struggles with his mental health and temper, exacerbated by the spotlight, culminated during the NME awards in the United Kingdom. Frampton, clearly very inebriated, got into it with several fans and heckled the presenter, Katherine Ryan. Frampton openly shares the hardships and severe depression that he battled with during this time in his life. Being forced into a place of fame and notoriety commonly comes at the expense of one’s mental health, and Frampton’s quick ascension to immense popularity was clearly overwhelming. In the midst of this lowpoint, COVID hit, and Frampton was forced to isolate as were we all. Nothing forces one to do some pretty serious introspection quite like being locked in a house alone for months on end. Frampton took to pen and paper to help himself heal, and created a truly fantastic, personal, and mature body of work aptly titled “TYRON”.

 

While Slowthai’s brain, pen, and creativity all shined on his first record, his personality did not. Upon completion of that record, the listener really has no better idea as to who Tyron Frampton is as a person. Aside from “Toaster”, he avoids getting too personal throughout the record; on “TYRON”, he completely flips the script. This album is split into two discs, the first of which is far more energetic and boisterous than the second, much more in line with Slowthai’s previous work. The album starts on a chilling note with “45 SMOKE”, which transitions into “CANCELLED” which features British rapper Skepta and alludes to the NME incident directly. The first disc is remarkably consistent and keeps the high energy from the start. “MAZZA (feat. A$AP Rocky)”, “DEAD”, and “PLAY WITH FIRE”, are my favorites on the first side, they all showcase different instrumentals than he has ever rapped over and the sound really works to say the least. 

 

The second half of the album is what makes it for me. Starting with “i tried”, Slowthai pulls the blinds back and pours his heart out to beautiful and melodic sounds which sonically are a complete change from what we have come to expect. The last 7 tracks on the record discuss his struggles with personal relationships, his disdain of fame and longing for a simpler life, and his outlook on life in general having made it to the other side of some pretty dark times in his life. I was so impressed with his ability to be thoughtful and contemplative to the extent that he was on the second half of this album. Songs like the leading singles “nhs”, and “feel away”, along with “push” and “adhd” are some of my favorite songs that have come out all year, everytime I listen to these tracks I hear something new whether it be an instrumental change or a line I missed about something he’s trying to get off his chest; this back half is incredibly dense. “Nothing Great About Britain” was a painfully honest assessment of his environment, and the second half of this album is a painfully honest assessment of himself. Despite him picking himself apart for much of this back half, the overall feeling given off is one of hope and calmness. He seems to be in such a more stable head space than ever before in his music career. His ability to make such incredible lyrical and thematic songs reflects that he is much more centered and in tune with himself. If you are a fan of hip hop or new wave music in general you have to check this thing out. This album has so much to offer, not a second of the 35 minute run time is wasted; if your music taste is anything like mine this album will keep you crawling back for more.  

 

-Michael Barnes 

 

Rating: 8.5/10 

 

Favorite songs: 45 SMOKE, MAZZA, DEAD, PLAY WITH FIRE, i tried, push, nhs, feel away, adhd

 

THE WCBN FUNDRAISER IS UPON US (FEB 19-28)

Hello listeners of WCBN! 

Our fundraiser is live! To donate, click the "Donate" tab in the top right corner, browse some of our new merchandise, and make a donation! To make a custom donation, choose one of our pre-established donation amounts and change the quantity (If you want to make a $100 donation, choose the $10 option and change the quantity to 10, for example). Your merchandise will be shipped by fall of 2021. Thank you so much for your donations, your generosity does not go unnoticed. 

Scroll down to see some of the critical upgrades we have made to our station with fundraiser dollars! Help us keep freeform radio on the air in 2021, and as always, continue to free your mind with WCBN! 

We can't thank you enough!

 

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