WVKR Goes to Pitchfork!

Hey Listeners, this is your Music Director Nick here! In a few weeks I’ll be heading back to Illinois to see two things:
  1. My mom
  2. Pitchfork Music Festival

You might have caught wind of our SXSW or CMJ coverage in the past, but this’ll be, as far as I know, the first official WVKR trip to the Chicago festival!

I’ll be resurrecting, or at least revitalizing the @wvkr Twitter while I’m there, and provide updates and critical insight as we’ve done at festivals in the past (shouts out to Jay and Thea for their glorious twitter coverage of SXSW this past Spring)

As Music Director, I update the new music shelves from which student DJs play tracks and broadcast them to the Hudson Valley (or the the world if you’re on the internet, which, if you’re reading this, you are), and a lot of the acts I’m really excited to see at Pitchfork are favorites of our student DJ’s here at WVKR.

I figured before I make my way out to Chicago (16 hour train ride, alright!) I’d do a blog post and highlight the music of some of my favorite artists I’m about to see. The summers at WVKR aren’t quite as active for new music shows while most students are away, so I thought this would be a cool way to keep listeners supplied with some of the best stuff that’s coming out right now!

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Mac Demarco

If you listened to student shows this past schoolyear, I’d wager you probably heard at least some of this guy’s music. His live shows are supposedly pretty wild, but his most recent album is really some wonderfully relaxing guitar-pop.

Mikal Cronin

This psych-rocker and Ty Segall collaborator softened up a bit and went all Tom Petty on his most recent release, which is one of my favorites since I’ve taken over as MD. I’m not sure if I’ll actually catch any of his set, because it’s at the same time as Wire, who’ve put out some of my favorite music ever, but even if I don’t see him, you should still check out his music because it’s great.

Wire

Way back in the 70’s, Wire put out some records that did away with conventional song structures and guitar playing in a way that made most punk music coming out at the time seem tame by comparison. Essentially, they were making post-punk while a lot of the world was still learning what punk was. I’ll admit that I’m mostly unfamiliar with their body of work past a few 70’s classics, but from what I’ve heard of their most recent effort, it doesn’t disappoint.

Björk

Well, this Icelandic experimental songstress probably needs no introduction, but I’m too excited about seeing her to not say something. Here’s a song off her most recent album.

White Lung

I nearly saw these girl-fronted Canadian punks play in an apartment in Brooklyn, but I got sick and had to leave before their set and then just the other weekend I barely missed their set at 4knots festival in Manhattan. I’m really looking forward to finally seeing them. If you like music quick, loud, and blistering, White Lung is for you.

Pissed Jeans

Speaking of fast and loud…

Parquet Courts

After I didn’t see White Lung at 4knots the other weekend, I caught these guys’ live set and fell in love immediately. If you’ve listened to and enjoyed an indie record between about 1980-1995 I can almost guarantee you’ll find something to like about their music.

Merchandise

Tampa punk veterans grew out of punk and started making sad New Wave music. Their most recent EP, Total Nite, was recorded by Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3-fame, and played with some psychedelic influence. Their music has clicked with just about every college-age kid I know who has been lucky enough to hear it.

Metz

If you’ve listened to my noise rock show (Collagen Rock, 10-11pm on Tuesdays during the summer!) you’ve probably heard a good amount of these guys. Their self-titled debut, which came out on Sub Pop last year, is a dense blast of scraping, scratching, distorted guitars, a pounding rhythm section, and vocals that sound like a caged animal set loose. I doubt I’ll be standing still during their set.

Swans

Swans were born out of the New York no-wave scene in the 80s, and made some of the ugliest, heaviest music you’re likely to ever hear. To cut a long story very short, throughout their very long career, they’ve filtered in some more melodic and pretty elements to their early formula, as well as more complex song structures, and now, 30 years into their career, they’ve come along way from the industrial stomp of their early work, but still stand as one of the most monolithic, pummeling names in music. I’ve seen them twice already, and both of those shows rank as some of the best I’ve ever seen (certainly the loudest). Here’s a song from last year’s The Seer, which most fans would agree ranks among their best work. Not too bad for a band that just hit its three decade mark.

Low

Like Swans, Low have been around a while now and don’t exactly make for easy listening either. But while Swans power often operates largely through blunt force and volume, Low’s music can seem incredibly fragile, built on minimal, quiet instrumentation and gorgeous harmonies. If that does sound like easy listening, let the music sink in and this fragile sound reveals itself to be startlingly powerful on an emotional level. Low got their start during the 90’s slowcore movement, but outlasted most of the peers and have made quite a few subtle but significant changes to their sound across their large body of work. Their most recent album, The Invisible Way, was produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and was released earlier this year.

Andy Stott

I probably don’t have quite the vocabulary to talk about this kind of thing at length, but I will say that it’s really good dub influenced techno that most fans of dark electronic music ought to enjoy it quite a bit.

Rustie

I’m probably gonna pass on seeing Rustie, as his set has the unfortunate competition of festival headliner and indie mainstays  Belle & Sebastian, but I imagine festival goers who are more about dance and less about twee won’t be disappointed.

DJ Rashad

Again, I’m hardly an expert on this stuff, but people who are tell me he’s a pretty important figure in the Chicago dance scene, pioneering the fields of juke and footwork. From what I’ve heard, he’s made some really cool, exciting stuff, so I’ll definitely be checking out his opening time slot on Sunday. Just don’t expect me to know all the dance moves.

Killer Mike/El-P

The Atlanta rap veteran and the former Def Jux head honcho put out two of 2012’s best hip-hop records (both were produced entirely by El-P), and their recent collaboration, Run the Jewels, has a lot of sources calling it one of this year’s best so far. I was fortunate enough to see Mike opening for the GZA this past fall, and it might have been just about the best hip-hop show I’ve ever seen. His performance, much like his music, found a a perfect balance of ferocity, politics, charm, and humor. I think a lot of the crowd was there to see the Wu Tang member perform his classic solo effort Liquid Swords, but I don’t think there was a soul in the venue that wasn’t won over by the end of Mike’s set. Their Pitchfork slots have for some reason been scheduled back to back on different stages, but I hope they can find a way to share the stage at least for a little while.

Yo La Tengo

These indie rock pioneers have put out more great records in their long career than I have the space to write about here, but if you haven’t taken the time to listen to them yet, the new record is, no surprise, great.

Lil B

Really better listened to/seen than described, the Basedgod is probably the most prolific and perplexing phenomenon in rap music today. Sensitive ears be warned.

Glass Candy

80’s synth worship has gotten to be a pretty crowded field in indie music these days, but no one really does it with quite the same level of conviction and skill as Johnny Jewel’s Italians Do It Better label. Glass Candy had some of the best cuts on the label’s surprise hit compilation (After Dark 2, released earlier this year) and their brand of stylish electro-pop ought to provide a great segue into TNGHT’s set of full-on dance bangers.

TNGHT

Two of dance music’s biggest names (Hudson Mohawke and Lunice) collaborate on this project and take trap music trends from hip-hop production and turn them into enormous dance tunes. Their name has been blowing up since the release of their debut EP last year, and shows no signs of slowing down after one of their beats just appeared on Kanye West’s Yeezus.

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So, that’s what I’m excited about! Are you going? Do you know of any acts that are going to be there that I’ve overlooked? Should I see R. Kelly? What’s the best breakfast place in Chicago?

Stay tuned to this blog and our Twitter @wvkr for more updates during the festival!

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