Category Archives: Music

Music Reviews from WOBC staff. Includes Best New Music and From the WOBC Vault.

Pop Workgroup’s Favorite Songs from the Year We Were Born

4 Non Blondes – so 90s!

Creep” by Radiohead
Released on Pablo Honey February 22 1993
Serena Creary

I grew up a strange child and had never really heard a song by Radiohead until high school. One day, as my father was driving me home from school, he asked me “Do you have the song ‘Creep’ by Radiohead?” Being a hip young child who supposedly listened to such wonder, I nodded, even though I’d never even heard or heard of the song, nor owned it. “Great,” he said “‘cause I’d love a copy!” So as soon as we arrived back at the house, I turned on the computer and downloaded the track, like a good little daughter. What I heard was absolutely wonderful. I’d gone through a tough time with a guy I was interested in at the time, and the lyrics really echoed what I was feeling. These lyrics also echoed the feelings I’d always felt as a child going through my prime awkward stage. Eight years later, and I’m dealing with the same situation; a different guy but the same pain; “I want you to notice when I’m not around. You’re so f**king special, I wish I was special.” I recently got into the habit of creating playlists for how I’m feeling; this song is listed among the favorites that I’ve chosen to describe the feelings that I have for this guy. This song is universal, and is loved by so many. I feel that it describes something we’ve all been through; pain, invisibility, heartbreak, etc. The song is 22 years old, and still speaks wisdom to us today.

“Always” by Erasure
Released April 26th, 1994
Alex Wilder

When it comes to ‘90s music, it’s fair to say I’m out of the loop. In fact, when tasked with finding a song from my birth year, I had to do a quick google search. Imagine my surprise and utter glee when I discovered that this glorious mound of cheese is just a handful of months older than I am. If you love fantasy, bazaar sound effects, and the subtle feeling that you’re being creeped upon, you will love this track. Also contains lyrical gems such as “Open your eyes, I see / Your eyes are open” and the chorus, from whence the song draws its name: “Always, I want to be with you / And make believe with you / And live in harmony, harmony oh love”. This ecstatic orgasm of embarrassing fantasies, vomited into the vessel of a weirdly produced song, is sure to put a smile on your face (or at least make you feel slightly queasy). Bonus: Featured in Adult Swim’s legendary game you may have played incessantly in high school: Robot Unicorn Attack.

Not a Pretty Girl” by Ani DiFranco
Released July 18, 1995
Rachel Maclean
Ani DiFranco’s album Not a Pretty Girl came out on July 18 1995, only 10 days before I was born. I really dig this album, and it was actually an album I listened to a lot during high school. This album talks a lot about being comfortable with yourself and your own complexity, and it also talks about being queer and angry and independent. These are all things I really clicked with in high school (and some I really click with now), so I’m glad that me and this album ‘came out’ around the same time. One song that I like in particular is the title track “Not a Pretty Girl.” It’s a soft, acoustic song with lyrics that hammer down at the patriarchy and traditional gender roles. DiFranco lays out the patriarchal idea that men need to save women and that women are perceived as irrational because of their anger in lyrics that tell a story and tell men off.

“Long View” by Green Day
Released February 1, 1994
Willa Rubin

Oh, Green Day—classic Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong-eyeliner-wearing-coke-inhaling-bleached-hair-quintessential Green Day—“Long View” is iconic for so many reasons. Firstly, it was on Dookie, Green Day’s third album, which enabled their rise to stardom. Green Day (at least in their early days) is known for showing that they have good taste in music, and many of said traits are embodied in “Long View.” For example, a steady, walking-ish and yet declarative baseline drives the melody, kind of like those found in many songs by the Clash or the Jam; but while those mod/early punk groups might have written about politics and social inequalities, the lyrics in “Long View” aren’t so deep. They’re still angry, sure, but the lyrics are simple, and full of adolescent restlessness and general angst. These attitudes are also replicated in the few power cords repeated throughout, something found in basically every Ramones song ever. Also, the music video—featuring the violent destruction of a couch—always makes for an exciting watch (to say the least, I was terrified and intrigued when I saw this at age 11). In all seriousness though: think what you want about Green Day as a whole, but Mike Dirnt’s bass line here made me want to learn the instrument.

“What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes
Released June 23rd, 1993
Jackie Milestone

It’s always great to see a rockin’ all-lady band, even if 4 Non Blondes wasn’t destined for fame and greatness. They were only together 5 short years (1989-94), but they gave the world “What’s Up” in the year of my birth, and for that I am eternally grateful. Not a fast jam, maybe not even a “catchy” jam, but somehow “What’s Up” will stick in your spine like the residues of LSD, and send your world kicking every now and then. You won’t even know why, but suddenly you’ll find yourself singing: “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah, Yeah, yeah, yeah… I said hey! What’s goin’ on?!”

The song holds a certain nostalgia for me, because of it’s random emergence in the halls of Dascomb throughout the 2012-3 school year. As a wee freshman, I would be sitting on my bed, doing homework, wondering why everything was dumb (in classic freshman-style), and out of nowhere I would faintly hear some boys in my hall singing, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah…” It must have happened four or five times throughout the school year, but at 1-2 month long intervals apart. Strange how “What’s Up” comes to haunt or comfort us in the best of times and the worst of times.

DJ Review: La Dispute in Philadelphia

La Dispute
La Dispute

Danny Rosenberg Daneri, a.k.a. DJ Slam Punk, recently saw La Dispute play a show in Philadelphia. This is his account of that fateful day:

On March 28th, the post-hardcore band La Dispute played a “seated show” to a sold out crowd in the chapel of the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. Not dissimilar to an “MTV Unplugged” event, the group performed semi-acoustic arrangements of their songs while a crowd of mostly teenagers practically fainted at the sight of their favorite band being so sweet and vulnerable. While I certainly consider myself a fan of La Dispute, this was the kind of show where you realize how much more into the band other people are.

The setlist was mostly comprised of songs from Rooms of the House (their latest, pretty boring) and Wildlife (they opened with a weak, tinny version of the album’s first track, “A Departure”). As someone who gets into bands like La Dispute primarily for their punk rock elements, the show was mostly a disappointment. For the more devoted fans who come to the band by way of Say Anything and Taking Back Sunday, however, this event was a dream come true. In between songs, vocalist Jordan Dreyer would make the teenagers giggly, and people like me uncomfortable, with his nervous and mostly uninteresting banter. In any case, once I was able to switch gears and begin to think of it more as an indie/emo show, the band at least commanded my attention.

They broke up the set with a Q and A with the audience that mostly consisted of predictable questions like, “What’s your favorite song of yours?” and “What’s your favorite album of all time?” For favorite album, Jordan Dreyer chose All Hail West Texas by the Mountain Goats, bassist Adam Vass chose a Saves the Day album, drummer Brad Vander Lugt chose an album called Time by an obscure new German composer, and guitarist Chad Sterenberg copped out with an album that he recently discovered in a box full of old funk records. It turns out that none of them are into punk/hardcore. My general frustration was calmed slightly when someone asked how their approach to composition has changed since their first (really shitty) EP, Vancouver, and Jordan Dreyer laughed and said, “When’s the last time anyone listened to Vancouver?

Just two days before the event, I was at a high-point in terms of my La Dispute fandom when I walked out of their (more traditional/standing/moshing/swarming) show at Union Transfer near Philly’s Center City neighborhood. While the venue was too large for my taste, the band played a solid set beginning with “King Park,” a fan favorite from Wildlife. The rest of the set was dominated by songs from Rooms of the House and Wildlife, but they showed signs of self-awareness when they ended with a flawless, gripping performance of perhaps my favorite song, “The Last Lost Continent” from their first studio album, Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair.

Ultimately, I’m glad I got to see the band from such different angles. It helped confirm some opinions that I suspect many La Dispute fans share—Somewhere… is their best album, they’re on the emo end of the post-hardcore scene, and jumping around and shouting at the top of your lungs is a lot more fun than sitting quietly in church.

Dispatches from Classical Workgroup

Gian Carlo Menotti
Gian Carlo Menotti

Classical workgroup presents two dispatches from what some people might call the front but what we think is not at all a bloody battle field but the friendly confines of the WOBC station with all the great music housed within it.

This is what Franklin Sussman has been checkin’ out:

  • Ravel – Violin Sonata No. 2
    This piece is super chill to listen to in the morning right after waking up. There’s not much to say about it but it is a quaint and intimate sonata with melodies that will definitely get stuck in your head.
  • Dvorak – The Golden Spinning Wheel
    I first learned about this piece, and the existence of Dvorak’s tone poems in general, when I was going to see Cleveland Orchestra for the first time and Bill Preucil was supposed to play Dvorak Violin Concerto, which is one of my favorites. I was so disappointed to hear a few hours before the concert that he had a pinched nerve and wouldn’t be playing that night, but I was happily surprised when they replaced it with this piece. The story, as I remember it from the program notes is like some sort of gruesome and twisted rumpelstiltskin situation, but even without all of the details this wonderfully programmatic piece keeps your attention and has a great beginning and end.
  • Sibelius – En Saga
    This is one of his best tone poems and also one of his earliest works. It combines Finnish inspirations as well as influences from Swedish, his mother tongue, and apparently Iceland as well. I enjoy that it does not really have a specific story, as opposed to many of his other mythology inspired works, but instead just gives the general impression of a saga.
  • Shostakovich – Symphony No. 5
    This is one of my all time favorites, although I had not listened to it for a while until recently. It is a timeless classic and a piece that always has more to offer the more you listen to it.
  • Prokofiev – Quintet in G Minor
    This unusual quintet for violin, viola, bass, oboe, and clarinet is a perfect example of Prokofiev’s unique chamber music skill, and it is even adapted from a chamber ballet. If you like this, check out both of his string quartets as well.
  • Menotti – Violin Concerto
    This seemingly obscure violin concerto is similar in structure to that of Barber, which makes sense because Menotti and Barber were partners while working on their violin concerti. Although Menotti eventually left Barber for a younger man, and never reached the level of fame Barber did, this piece shows his unique style and skill. Unfortunately, not many recordings exist, the best being by Jennifer Koh (Oberlin ’97!), though even that one has some flaws due to the piece simply being awkward to play in many sections.
Cataclysm, by workgroup member Yu Victor Zheng

“A flute and piccolo, a guitar, a snare drum, and a bass drum. Not the most conventional quartet you’d expect to see.I called upon the mighty, deep resonance of the bass drum, the sharp, crisp attack of the snare drum, the hollow wooden knock and the snap of the guitar wood and strings, and the wavering, rich tone of the flute enhanced by the shrill, piercing cutting edge of the piccolo.

What happened then was a fascinating puzzle in which I was presented with a battle that emerged between the four voices. Lacking the type of timbral coherency one would hear in something like a string quartet, the four voices would fight another for dominance. It became obvious to me that I could not compose this like I had my previous ensembles; each instrument was timbrally distinct and I had to think of not only how they would enhance each other but where they would disrupt each other. After a few attempts to write so that the quiet instruments would only play when they could be heard, I had a different idea. What if I were to depict their battle in the music? Embrace their conflict rather than work around it?

This is the story that then emerged from the piece. The counterpoint between the bass drum and snare mesh together well and project powerfully while the flute’s entrance, playing tongue pizzicato tones a minute or two in, is the entrance of an outsider, struggling feebly to imitate, but being beat back by, the tide of the mighty bass and snare. But the flute finds an ally in the guitar, which initially attempts to blend in with its own percussive attacks on damped strings, and they switch tactics: the flute switches to the piercing piccolo and instead of imitating the percussion, they go fully tonal and the piece dissolves into a cheery folk-like duet between the guitar and piccolo while the drums play quietly in the background. This is not to last, however, as the two percussion instruments decide to fight back, setting the stage for a furious finale. Unable to combat the power of the drums head-on, the piccolo and guitar attempt a variety of tactics in the form of diverse sounds ranging from piccolo glissandos to scratching the guitar strings with a pick. But eventually they are overpowered and they bow out of the piece, leaving the two percussion instruments alone. The piece ends with several mighty crashes on the bass drum, evoking cataclysmic explosions.”

Victor also recommends this piece:
The Yellow River Cantata (黄河大合唱), set for combined orchestra and choir, was written by Xian Xinghai, depicting the Chinese struggle against the Japanese invasion during World War II. The Yellow River Piano Concerto (黄河协奏曲) is an adaptation by Yin Chengzong of the most important melodies of the Cantata into a piano concerto, but being written after the Communist takeover, also includes quotations from Communist-endorsed melodies such as The East is Red and The Internationale. Both pieces are popular as patriotic Chinese pieces and represent a fusion of Chinese melodies and instruments with Western orchestration and structure.

From the Vault: Greetings from the WOBC Library Workgroup!

Map of the WOBC Library designed by the wondrous Claire Kotarski
Map of the WOBC Library designed by the wondrous Claire Kotarski

Library workgroup specializes in maintaining and exploring the immense and diverse WOBC Music Library on Saturdays from 4-5pm. Check out some of these gems that our librarians were able to find among the thousands of CDs, LPs, cassettes, and 45s that the station has to offer! Wanna learn more about the WOBC library or explore it for yourself? Come hang out with library workgroup or email WOBC Librarian Becca Winer at!


Danny: Mogwai – Happy Songs for Happy People
Happy Songs for Happy People displays a mid-period Mogwai at their finest. It boasts the rousing buildups of Young Team, but also offers electronic-tinged moments that suggest the krauty weirdness of later records. Super deep cut – I don’t know why more people don’t love this album.

Sabina: Hole – Celebrity Skin
Hole helped me get through my freshman year. In Celebrity Skin, their raw sound  is more polished and upbeat than in their earlier work, but the angst is ever-present.
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Julia S:
Joy Division – Closer
I used to listen to this with my dad while he taught me how to drive. He’d tell me about being a DJ and booking bands at Carnegie Mellon, and I’d run a red light or forget to use my turn signal because his stories were too distracting.
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Matt: Mountain Goats – Why You All So Thief?
“Deep cut.”
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Julia B: Talking Heads – This Must Be The Place

I chose a 45 of “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads.  It’s one my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands and just the other day, my dad was telling me about when he saw them live at Finney Chapel when he was at Oberlin in 1979.

Becca: Talking Heads – Fear of Music

I also chose Talking Heads because if there’s anything I love more than workgroup snacks, it’s workgroup jams to Tina Weymouth bass riffs. This was the first album that made me feel like the coolest kid in school when I listened to it while romping around my middle school hallways – a very, very special connection. Finding it in the WOBC Library (in many different formats) made me want to bop and flop my way over to Social Studies just like the good ol’ days. Wow this album is the best ever.

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Owen: Gong- Radio Gnome Invisible Pt. 2: Angel’s Egg

Cool record, from a very eccentric British Canterbury-Scene prog-rock band.  Not the best of the Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy, but it was the only one in the vault. It’s still pretty cool nonetheless.  The band’s founder, Daevid Allen, passed away recently at age 77.
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The Flying Burrito Brothers – The Gilded Palace of Sin and Burrito Deluxe
“I think it was in pop.”
-special guest librarian Julia S’s twin sister
Lya: Tim Buckley – The Dream Belongs To Me

NSFW: Tim Buckley’s voice makes all of my internal organs melt into a puddle of orgasmic liquid wonder. I only recently got into him when I started looking into artists to play on my psych/prog folk radio show this semester. I think “Sing a Song For You” off this album is really beautiful. If you’re into beautiful wonderful passionate things, you should check out the better Buckley. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

DJ album reviews: “Black Messiah” and “First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate”

We proudly present two album reviews by WOBC DJ Joseph Peek. Catch his show, “Underground Railroad,” Mondays from 6-7 pm!

D’Angelo – Black Messiah

black messiahThis is an album for any fan of D’Angelo NOT to miss, buy it a sight unseen! You won’t be disappointed. I continue to be impressed with D’Angelo’s growth, I can’t say production, because D’Angelo only puts out a major release every decade or so, so far, but his musical compilations are worth waiting for. His albums only seem to get better and this is rare as artists usually burst onto the scene with their initial hit release only to fall into their “sophomore slump syndrome” aided and abetted as much by their record co. constantly wavering search for the next pop king. In fact, some never regain their debut level of success. D’Angelo’s third release, Black Messiah, should be an exception to this rule. Although I don’t hear the one clear cut 3min 45sec. cookie cutter commercial radio hit, the entire album did not disappoint. D’Angelo’s soulful, blues & jazz influenced musicality intertwined with his patently complex yet sensuous harmonies and gospel inspired vocals, coming straight out of the African-American church and experience, what’s NOT to like!

This Album is funky and catchy yet as bright and positive as D’Angelo’s compared to Voodoo which was dark and depressing. Some people might say there is an undeniable Prince derivative to his music but Prince, in MY humble opinion, never quite gets this consistently funky and locked in the pocket over the course of an entire album. Black Messiah by D’Angelo is consistently appealing, with a song for everyone’s fancy and an album uniquely funky, as only a few in the present diaspora of African American musical performers can do (save George Clinton, Stevie Wonder and a precious few others).

Key Trax:

1. Ain’t That Easy
4. Sugar Daddy
5. Really Love:
6. Back to the Future

Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate

FirstYaGottaChackTheGateThis is a real Funkadelic album, not a P-funk All-Stars or George and Friends, but a genuine Funkadelic musical sighting in the 21st century. It is hot off the press with original sounds, songs, and artwork; a three CD release with a song for every year since funkadelic dropped their last album… are you kidding me!?

Any “almost fan” should get this album, and anyone looking to get a late pass on the Funkadelic soultrain, this is as good a time as any with the release of “First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate.” Though much of the live rhythm section has been replaced by sequenced bass-n-drums, the album still manages to have that trademark Ole School Funkadelic feel.

George Clinton, one of my all time favorite musicians, incorporates the modern sound of rappers, experiments with electronics and everything from hip hop to dubstep and back again to his purest origins, an all live band “rocking out” with the best of them in hard edged classic 70’s rock forms. George STILL manages to deliver the funk as only he can, with zany lyrics, infectious hooks, and the most soulful vocals of Mount Zion Baptist Church. The gospel and blues origination of the harmonies and melodies is why even old folks will groove to this one….”Who da hell knows or cares what he’s sayin, right?!” The hits are too many to mention, as is often the case with sophisticated musicianship but some songs require a few reviews to fully peruse their genius.

*Funkadelic will also be touring this Spring and in Cleveland at the House of Blues on Friday, May 8th

-Joseph Peek

Metal Workgroup Presents: From The Vault

While reorganizing the Metal Vault over the course of the last few years, Metal Workgroup got to chance to pick through a lot of forgotten favorites and new discoveries. The workgroup plans to continue featuring albums found in the vault over the course of the semester. Here are a few of the releases we’ve found noteworthy, written by the members of the workgroup:
Redemption – Snowfall on Judgment Day

Redemption are a power/prog metal band with no pretension. Let that sink in a second. Man’o’war: totally earnest power metal band with music about the pictures from DnD manuals. Dream Theater: so earnest about technicality that their name is a shorthand Guitar Center hell.

Even by the standard of sincerity for those groups, Redemption is honest. They have lyrics like “And in the solitude I’ve crafted for myself/I cry a single tear for beauty left unfelt.” Every song has keyboard solos that sound like a Final Fantasy game (Redemption are really a key player’s band). And it’s cool! It’s neat to listen to music that sounds like the people making it enjoyed it. Bonus, the drum performances are great! The technicality is there, but it avoids sounding like someone worshipped too long at the House of Peart.
The crispness of the production will be divisive. Snowfall has no dirt, and sometimes feels like it was engineered by a drum sequencer. If you need raw production, it’s not for you. Most of the songs drag a little; the median track length is about 6 and half minutes. The bloat comes from parts being repeated a few dozen times too many, so pace yourself. But the pearl is worth the price. Unironically liking earnest stuff is hard nowadays. Just give a track or two an honest shot.
-Kevin Gilfether
Soilent Green – A String of Lies

Clocking in at 11 minutes and 26 seconds, this 1998 EP from grindcore mainstay Soilent Green packs a fierce punch. The band sounds tight as hell, and they have no trouble making split-second transitions from brutal, straight grind sections to slow, sludgey riffs that you can’t help but bang your head to. The vocals, split between high pitched shrieks and deep growls, are unrelenting, and their consistency ties the various changes in tempo/energy within each song together. A String of Lies sums up pretty well what I love about good grindcore: concise, no-frills songwriting, excellent musicianship and a fearless intensity which makes it a lot of fun to listen to. Favorite track: Cat With Nine Claws.
-Gil Young
Ana Kefr – Volume One
2009 was a time of transition for new NWOAHM bands. Artists found themselves unsure how to present themselves, caught between the fading remnants of groove and metalcore, the derivative but ever-popular crush of deathcore, and the pretension of the burgenoning djent movement. The lack of a clear direction led bands to develop previously unheard-of genre-bending, for better and for worse LINK. LA’s Ana Kefr were one such band that successfully managed to cobble together seemingly disparate elements. Volume One, their 2009 debut, is technical but not ostentatious, melodic but not pandering, heavy but not contrived. Don’t let that make you think that the album is an easy pill to swallow: it’s all over the place, sliding back and forth between gritty Animosity-esque breakdowns, baroque riffs & vocals that reek of Nekrogoblikon, and keyboards that wouldn’t be out of place on an Ovid’s Withering album. Unconventional and underproduced, Volume One might not appeal to all, but its unique blend of stylistic elements will undoubtedly resonate with those who do take the time to delve into the album.
-Mark M-R

Samael – Solar Soul

Samael are a Swiss black/industrial metal group. While on our dangerous excavation into the vault we stumbled across their album Solar Soul. As the genre would suggest, Samael combine elements of black and industrial metal. The instrumentals are slow but heavy, combining guitars and drums with elements of middle eastern music (such as the oud). The vocals are smooth and honeyed with just a few bees left in to pack a sting.
Recommended tracks:
Quasar Waves
Suspended Time
-Anna Rose Greenberg

Staff Picks!™, Part 2

Cleveland's own Pleasure Leftists are featured in this edition of Staff Picks.
Cleveland’s own Pleasure Leftists are featured in this edition of Staff Picks.

Nandita, talk: Asha Bhosle – Dum Maro Dum

Just chill enough to make you wanna be a dirty hippie, just shrill enough to remind you that hippie culture destroys everything.

Becca, library: Tonstartssbandht – Shot To La Parc

The album Overseas by Tonstartssbandht has a crazy variety of wavey psych soothy sounds and knee-dropping rock N roll jams that are sure to please a wide range of list’ners for just zer0 bandcamp $bucks$. Also sure to please – library workgroup! Saturdays at 4! come help us redecorize the station’s immensely impressive music library, explore the vaults, eat snacks, and relish in the camaraderie of librarians who shall never be “shh!” ‘ed.

Chuck, freeform: Amon Duul 11: Archangel Thunderbird

Madeleine, promo: My Bloody Valentine – Thorn

Arcadia, news: Pleasure Leftists – Not Over

Isaac, electronic: Marc Ribot + Kazu – I Cover the Waterfront

this is a beautiful rendition of the Green/Heyman jazz standard by marc ribot and kazu, inspired performance w strong visual sensibilities as well

Savannah, talk: Ibeyi – River

These are two really cool French-Cuban sisters who play Afro-Cuban influenced soul music.