Category Archives: Music

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

Fresh on the Shelf: Atlas Sound – Parallax

Once or twice a week, a member of pop workgroup will review an album that was recently selected to be put in WOBC’s vault. Today, Michael Stenovac writes about Atlas Sound’s Parallax.

atlas sound - parallax

I’m often wary of exploring solo projects from my favorite bands because they tend to be quite masturbatory. Thankfully, Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox’s band Atlas Sound does not fit into this category. Perhaps it’s his nature as a tenuous romantic that prevents him from falling into the trap of self-indulgence – at times, Cox seems too self-conscious to strut. But if Bradford ever feels the need to brag, he certainly could:  he possesses an incredible talent for fashioning misery into gorgeous and twisted 60s-influenced pop. Every reverb-soaked moment is immaculately constructed and his stream-of-consciousness lyrics are both unnerving and touching. While Cox is guilty of liberally borrowing sounds from his previous works alone and with Deerhunter, Parallax is so damn well-done that it doesn’t even matter.

Atlas Sound – Terra Incognita

Review: Squirrel Nut Zippers – Hot (1997)

Squirrel Nut Zippers’s album, Hot, which was released in 1997, brought about much success to the band that was not conceived to come true. Similar to their previous album, The Inevitable, the Zippers come back with a postmodern, big band sound. Unlike their contemporaries, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Royal Crown Avenue and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, they deliver a raw and humorous set of songs that reminisce of the jump blues and swing era of the 1930s and 1940s without over producing their music. The Zippers do not easily fall under the genre of Swing-Revival of the mid 1990s, which brings back the sounds that made Louis Prima popular. Hot showcases a mixture of various influences including Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Django Reinhardt, Tom Waits and Delta Blues music.

The album kicks off with “Got My Own Thing Now”, which sounds as if it was pulled out from a swing record collection from the 1940s. This fun, jumpy ditty hooks the listener and gives a reason why they should listen to this album and start swinging. The next track introduces Katharine Whalen on “Put A Lid On It”. This catchy tune creeps in with a call and response between Ms. Whalen and the rest of the band with its waling muted trumpet. The Zippers come back on their feet with the raunchy instrumental, “Memphis Exorcism”. Next up, Tom Maxwell and Ms. Whalen give a sweet, slow dance tune that floats above Ken Mosher’s soft, rhythmic saxophone and James Mathus’s jazzy guitar riffs in “Twilight”. “It Ain’t You” breaks into a dark disposition, which embodies elements of rockabilly. Continue reading Review: Squirrel Nut Zippers – Hot (1997)

Spoooooky Pop Picks!

Halloween Tiger with Pumpkin
Halloween Tiger with Pumpkin

It’s almost Halloween, so that means you need a tight playlist to bang at your Halloween party! But what to play? Don’t worry, pop group’s got you covered:

1. Any song backwards: Ever listened The White Album backwards? Stairway to Heaven? These have nothing on Pink Floyd in reverse. If you have not heard Brain Damage or In the Flesh the wrong way round, you have not heard scary music. Actually, just listen to anything in reverse, it’s all pretty whack.

2. Papillon by the Editors is pretty scary sounding. Don’t listen to it when you’re alone!–

3. Boris, the Spider by The Who: When I was little, my dad always used to play “Boris, the Spider” by the Who in the car, and I thought it was the most EXTREME song ever. Plus, what’s more Halloween-y than spiders?

4. Kissability by Sonic Youth: Despite its name, Kissability is perfect for Halloween. And what’s more dead than Thurston and Kim right now? (RIP)

5. Dreams Made Flesh by This Mortal Coil: This Mortal Coil is like the evil Cocteau Twin. Elisabeth Fraiser gets really freaky, and the echoes surrounding her seem to dissolve into whirling clouds that suck up the entire song. All that’s left is darkness.

6. The Doldrums by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: When you weren’t invited to egg cars with the cool kids, pump this one by yourself. Pouting, Ariel self-deprecates and falls into the deepest void there is — his mind.

7. Christine by Siouxsie and the Banshees: Get your groove on with the cute skeleton at your party to this goth-wave romp about a shape-shifting mistress.

-Aria Dean, Peter Fogg, Kailia Holt, Heidi Marsh, and Alison Kozol

Life After “1234” Feist’s Tale

Feist - Metals

It’s September 2007. The commercial for the new iPod nano is playing on the television (or your computer screen). Yeah, the new iPod is great, but what is that addictive song in the background?! That is the question that most people had, and soon “1234” by Feist had a cult following. Elmo was even singing a version with Leslie Feist on Sesame Street. Feist was everywhere.

Then most people forgot about her due to her self-imposed exile from the music industry.  She told Canadian Press in 2008 “I just need to rest for a minute.” She went back to her roots and played a few shows with Broken Social Scene, but for the better part of the past four years she was out of the public eye.

Feist was suddenly a conversation topic again when British artist James Blake released a cover version of her 2007 song “The Limit to Your Love” in late 2010. After months of quiet rumors of a new album, Feist released her fourth album Metals earlier this month. The differences between Metals and The Reminder are clear. Instead of a shadowed image of Feist with rainbow lasers coming out of her neck on the cover, we just have the letter “f” made of branches,with a tiny image of Feist on one of these branches. None of the twelve tracks on the studio album have a catchy “1234” hook. The songs are more subdued and focused on mood. They have intense instrumentals and chorus parts, especially on the ninth track, “Undiscovered First”. Dedicated Feist fans will have this album on repeat, but it is unlikely that the casual listener of “1234” will appreciate Metals. In fact, the casual listener probably dismissed Feist as a one-hit wonder years ago and has not thought about her since that iPod nano commercial in 2007.

-Anais Stewart

New Freeform Shelf MVPs: César Bolaños, Bee Mask, Borden/Ferraro/Godin/Halo/Lopatin

César Bolaños (b. 1931)Peruvian composer of experimental instrumental and electroacoustic music. This track, “Intensidad y Altura,“is a tape piece from 1964, voices surfacing and swirling, ghostly presences, funky grains.

“Intensidad y Altura,” Cesar Bolanos


Bee Mask– He played in Oberlin a few weeks ago. “How to Live in a Smashed State,” from the album Elegy for Beach Friday, has gongs and electronics.

“How To Live In A Smashed State,” Bee Mask


Borden/Ferraro/Godin/Halo/LopatinFive people playing synthesizers. Few surprises here, a typically spacey and deftly executed new-age jam. Ferraro’s been here the past two years, Laurel Halo was here a few weeks ago, Dan Lopatin is here tonight as Oneohtrix Point Never.

“People Of The Wind Pt. 2,” Borden/Ferraro/Halo/Godin/Lopatin



New Music: Ramallah Underground

Ramallah Underground

Ramallah Underground reside in their namesake, a city north of Jerusalem in the West Bank, melting styles into effortless, jazzy hip-hop that, more often that not, takes the form of brooding sample-based instrumentals. A music collective, they materialized sometime in the mid-‘oughts, and have been producing a dexterous slew of genre-balking stand-alone tracks out of Palestine ever since. A far cry from the Beastie Boy-esque politi-rap born proudly from more visible Arab hip-hop groups–like Israeli-Arab supergroup DAM–the music of Ramallah’s most inscrutably prolific (and generally mysterious) trip-hop-blending M.C.-aggregate is elusive and smooth, one moment a relaxing foray into stuttery laid-back ambience, the next a tense and immediate outbreak of muffled sonic irruption. The elegantly rendered, and yet barely-restrained, musical pathos of many of their tracks echoes the turmoil felt by a vocally-castrated generation of youths. They, by their own account, hope to create a brand of musical camaraderie that can appeal to and possibly speak for many of the concerns of modern Arabs and Palestinians.

Check out their website, myspace, facebook.

Ramallah Underground – Aswatt il Zaman

-Cole Evelev