State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Author - Henry Englert

The Indie Radio Playlist #2

Sick of the Billboard Top 100? Find yourself craving, I dunno, 3 hours worth of unique tunes? The Lion 90.7fm’s Gabe & Henry in the Evening has you covered.

Playlist below—

Every Wednesday from 7-9 PM, your hosts Gabe Silverman and I come on air. We do this so that we can bring you the latest and/or greatest indie music, discuss the happenings in the industry, and share with you stories of our best concert experiences. Tune in for a good time! That’s Gabe & Henry in the Evening on The Lion 90.7fm. 7-9 on Wednesdays.

Now, let’s get right down to it. On this fine early February day, a few hours before we go on air again, I have brought with me our show’s finely crafted master playlist from the last month and a half or so. For you this month we have 51 songs – that is 3 hours and 5 minutes of music – all set out and ready to go. This is the second time we are doing something this, so if you like this playlist you should definitely check out the post from September.

We hope that you will listen to them, maybe twice or even thrice if you should so choose, enjoy every song, and let us know what you think. Thanks everyone!

Gabe & Henry in the Evening on Facebook

#Disscography – Fall Out Boy, Conspiracy Theories, and Stockholm Syndrome

I’ve been asked to produce the first in a series of articles called Disscography, in which our writers will be asked to pick a song they can’t stand, conduct a very scientifically and journalistically respectable study of why they feel that way, and post it on here so that you all can either agree with them or rip them to shreds.

As the self-proclaimed Resident Cynic of SITR, I will begin us on this process that will inevitably lead to a good deal of hurt feelings and quickly typed, syntax-error-ridden comments. Enjoy.

A quick disclaimer: These articles will not always reflect the exact opinions of our writers. Though they are based in fact and measured discontent, these views will sometimes be exaggerated. 

Now, my choice for the first ever installment of Disscography:

 “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” by Fall Out Boy

LIGHT A MUP MUP MUP

LIGHT A MUP MUP MUP

LIGHT A MUP MUP MUP

    EMMUFIYA!!!

                                            – Fall Out Boy

If you have seen any sporting event on TV in the last year (yea, it has been a year now), then you have heard this stadium-poprock piece of garbage playing at least three times a game. Rest assured that no matter what ball your boys throw or kick, whether they are pro or college level, their sport’s airtime has already been invaded by Nickleback apologist Patrick Stump and the rest of his dumb band’s comeback single. Unfortunately, this ear-numbingly bland song – chock full of wailing and horrible lyrics – is just everywhere, and after almost a year it shows no signs of going away.

After vehemently denying rumors about any new music being made, Fall Out Boy basically lied and gave birth to a song so overplayed in everyday life that it echoes into my head a night. It also comes on an album FOB named Save Rock and Roll, which is one of the most self-congratulating things I’ve ever heard anyone do.

Through 2013 and 2014, “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” has become the “epic” anthem it was designed to be – a goal horn song, the backing track to every highlight reel, an MLB playoffs commercial, and a piece of garbage so poppy that it only appeals to people through pure repetition. I can only assume that this song’s 58.1 million plays on Spotify at the time of writing can be accredited to the Stockholm syndrome-like qualities it instills in its captive audience. These people, trapped by the overblown, melodramatic mediastorm Fall Out Boy forced on all of us last year, have been made to reconcile their tastes with that of their captors – Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, and the rest. The only excuse really for such an extensive and waterboardingesque rollout of such a bland tune is that we are being conditioned not to care about how bad this song actually is. I swear to Jeebus it’s a half-step above brainwashing.

Open your eyes people! Something larger is at hand. If you ask me, I think FOB wants us to vote for Jeb Bush, but more on that later.

"Bush/Voldemort 2016 EMMUFIYA!" - Jeb Bush

Moving on.

To me, even saying the name of this stupid track is a chore. It’s long in the incredibly antagonistic way Fall Out Boy track titles tend to be, and though I guess Fall Out Boy may have thought they were doing something clever with wordplay here, any significant meaning in the title is lost on most of us. The faux anti-estab dbaggery that goes into naming a song “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” is viscerally offensive to me. Though, granted, this is not as bad as 2005’s “I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy And All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me,” a song title that typing out just now sent me into depression. So thanks for that Fall Out Boy, I’m a depressed person now.

I just found another: “Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued”. Ugh. That one wins. I hate you so much.

Also, I’m just going to go ahead and include a discussion of the equally horrible track “Centuries” in here as well.  After minimal research I realized that this was actually not the same song we’ve been hearing for a year, but a remarkably similar one that has just continued the trend of shit corporate-emo-rock-pop that will inevitably be drilled into your head once again for another whole year until Fall Out Boy releases another song called “This is the Song That They Play When They Score and Need Something in the Background (F**k Mainstream Media) [feat. Nickleback] [prod. Creed]” Also, the “Centuries” music video is just the worst thing on Earth (I assume purposefully, but In my opinion you need to be good before you pretend to be horrible): crappy CGI of ancient Rome and stupid sets of gladiator fights. You know – stuff from a few “Centuries” ago. Anyway, that’s about all I have to say on that for now.

You and your songs suck Fall Out Boy. I wouldn’t care so much they weren’t everywhere, but they are. So stop making us listen to them.

To the rest of you, thank you for letting me get that off my chest. Do you agree or disagree? Either way, happy f**king holidays!

Vince Staples Is Awesome on 'Hell Can Wait"

 

I am loving on the new Vince Staples seven-track EP. It’s angry. It’s clever. It’s topical, and it is fun as all hell to listen to. The Long Beach rapper’s Hell Can Wait marks for me a return to the type of dark narrative Kendrick popularized with good kid, m.A.A.d city, as Staples talks about his own life without sugar-coating the happenings in Cali. The great feat here is that both Lamar and Vince Staples can make radio ready hits with this type of personal subject matter, previously regarded as sorta off-limits.

Right off the bat I would listen to the two singles Staples released prior to the EP- “Hands Up” and “Blue Suede.” Both are dark, creepy, and angry in the best way possible- welcoming you to be angry along with them. Though Staples maintains that “Hands Up” is not a reference to the happenings in Ferguson, the song does a good job of evoking similar imagery, openly declaring that “LBPD, no they ain’t ‘bout shit/ LAPD, no they ain’t ‘bout shit,” and citing the recent killings of residents, in Compton and Long Beach respectively, by local police.

“Blue Suede” remains my favorite song on the EP, partially because it doesn’t sound much like anything I’ve heard from any rapper. Released with a very visually engaging music video featuring good-looking girls drinking malt liquor, “Blue Suede” puts a deep droning bass under a high-pitched synth that my ears greatly appreciate. The dark overtone to this song comes in the hook, where Vince raps “Hope I outlive them red roses” repeatedly. This is a reference to the bouquets of roses that are laid on the graves of young gangsters, left to pay respect. See, “Blue Suede” – and all of Hell Can Wait for that matter – is full of the exact stuff I like: relevant quips, creative production, dark and realistic subject matter.

Give it a listen and tell me what you think. Peace.

Album Review: Foxygen's …And Star Power

I think what I’m going to try to do here is save some listeners a little time. I listened to this whole album all the way through twice, and honestly, afterwards, felt violated in some way. Getting right down to it, …And Star Power is 82 minutes of disjointed, mind-boggling clips of noise that can piss you off at times. But please don’t get me wrong, there are some great songs hidden in there. The problem is that the good ones are surrounded by all-too-avant-garde, demo-like bits of music that amount to very little.

Listen, I’m all for some experimentation, some surprises, but I can’t help but hate the better part of this album- full of its noise bytes of glass breaking and orange juice pouring and weird chants that gave me a headache and made me need a nap. I laughed a little when Foxygen used the recording of a kid saying “hold onto your butts!” but otherwise, I was left wanting something more substantial. It seemed at times that the only function of these uneven clips of music were to make the actual songs sound better by comparison. If you listened to We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, think if every song was a far more extreme version of “Shuggie” where the parts matched up even less. There, now you have the better part of …And Star Power. For examples of this bullcrap filler sound- I would listen to songs like “Wally’s Farm” or “Can’t Contextualize my Mind.” And for the record, I loved We Are the 21st Century…  and “Shuggie.” I’m just not a huge fan of seeing a certain schtick blown way out of proportion.

That being said, there are some great parts to this album if you trim the fat. My highlights are “How Can You Really”, the single that came attached with a pretty cool music video, “Coulda Been My Love”, a nice little sad song for a rainy day, and “Flowers” , a tune with just the right amount of simple weirdness to it. “Star Power III: What Are We Good For” is also nice after a few listens. See, these songs are fine, but if you listen to them along with the album in full, they kinda just blend in with the rest of the noise. But what do I know? Maybe a few more listens will make awaken something else in me. You, dear reader, may like the rest of the stuff …And Star Power has to offer, but if you are like me and believe there aren’t enough hours in the day as there is- save yourself the 82 minutes of indulgence and cut to the good stuff.

…And Star Power is expected be for sale on iTunes October 14.

Indie Radio: The September Master Playlist

Spotify playlist below

The beginning of September noted the debut of my radio show on The Lion 90.7fm- a Wednesday night 7-9 PM slot that my friend/co-host/co-DJ Gabe Silverman and I took over. Gabe and I try our best to get the most out of the two hours, bringing listeners what we consider to be fresh, inventive, and just purely likeable music. Betwixt songs, we discuss concert experiences, upcoming music news, or anything else in the music realm we find interesting at the moment. It’s so dang fun. Tune in Wednesday evenings on 90.7fm or online at http://thelion.fm/ and we’d be happy to have you!

What I have brought with me is our master playlist from last month- a good 55 songs that we played on air. If you heard them already, feel free to give them another listen. If you missed us, check ‘em out and tell us what you think on the various social media tools you have been granted in this glorious modern age. Here’s the playlist:

Wednesday, September 10th – Show #1

Salad Days – Mac DeMarco

Archie, Marry Me – Alvvays

Had It All – Allah-Las

Butterfly – Delicate Steve

Life Round Here (feat. Chance The Rapper) – James Blake

Oblivion – Grimes

Flavor – Twin Peaks

Happy Idiot – TV on the Radio

Every Other Freckle – alt-J

Screws Get Loose- Those Darlins

How Can You Really – Foxygen

Turning The Century – Dr. Dog

High School Lover – Cayucas

High Ball Stepper – Jack White

Master of My Craft – Parquet Courts

Borrowed Time – Parquet Courts

Feels Like We Only Go Backwards – Tame Impala

Call Me – St. Paul & The Broken Bones

Easy Easy – King Krule

Hannah Hunt – Vampire Weekend

 

September 17 – Show #2

Rent I Pay – Spoon

Archie, Marry Me – Alvvays

Red Light Love – Those Darlins

Goodbye Weekend – Mac DeMarco

Holland, 1945 – Neutral Milk Hotel

Left Hand Free – alt-J

Auburn Epitaphs – Mutual Benefit

Freeway – Kurt Vile

Sea of Air – Portugal. The Man

I Need A Life – Born Ruffians

Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings – Father John Misty

Limit To Your Love – James Blake

Best of Friends – Palma Violets

Gravity Rides Everything – Modest Mouse

Happy Idiot – TV on the Radio

My Old Ways – Dr. Dog

Friends of Friends – Hospitality

How Can You Really – Foxygen

Screws Get Loose – Those Darlins

Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of…) – Lou Bega  -still the best song ever written in 2014-

 

September 24 – Show #3

The Abandoned Hospital Ship- The Flaming Lips

Unbelievers- Vampire Weekend

Caught Me Thinking – Bahamas

Freaking Out the Neighborhood – Mac DeMarco

Lack of Fight – Pree

That Black Bat Licorice – Jack White

Hold On – Alabama Shakes

Skin – Andrew Bird

Whiskey Saga – The Fratellis

To the Dogs or Whoever – Josh Ritter

Walcott – Vampire Weekend

Retrograde – James Blake

Wally Wilder – Delicate Steve

Pusher – alt-J

Swimsuit – Cayucas

Young Love (feat. Laura Marling) – Mystery Jets

Friends of Friends – Hospitality

Hummingbird – Born Ruffians

Lazaretto – Jack White

Waiting Room – Fugazi

 

Review: Those Darlins

Last Thursday night, Nashville-based rock group Those Darlins performed at Chronic Town- that little hookah bar and hangout on West College Ave. They played an energetic, fast-paced concert with a sense of intimacy that is hard to come across in the Penn State music scene, and quite honestly, I can not think of a better way to have spent my weeknight.

Video: Those Darlins – “Screws Get Loose”

The Build-up

Before the show, while taking a quick look at a set list on stage, I feel a looming presence close behind me. Sure enough said presence is Jessi Darlin, lead vocalist and guitarist of the Darlins, reading her set list along with me. As I turn she looks up at me for a sec- she is not tall- and gives me a quick smile. I, being a person incapable of spotting comedy in a situation until it is long over, retreat slowly back to my friends. I take solace in the fact that the exchange was probably more awkward for me than it was for her.

I also messed up with one of the other Darlins in case you are interested. Nikki Darlin (guitar, vocals) was in the midst of conversation when she made a quick motion with her hand, in turn giving me – just passing by – a nice jab in the gut. Again, probably not a big deal to her, but I’m a headcase so I’ll probably remember it and laugh for a while. So there is all that.

But my uncomfortable life aside, lemme tell you: Those Darlins were pure fun. They had the crowd going, they made us all laugh, and they jammed with the heart and adeptness that is so characteristic of Nashville-based rock groups.

The Show

Those Darlins take the Chronic Town stage

Those Darlins come out of the gate with “Screws Get Loose”, a nice garagey tune about pills and doctors and all that good stuff. It’s is a great opener for many reasons- it is the title track and first song of their sophomore album- but it’s also simply a jam, one that has gotten lots of play on campus radio in the past few weeks.

As the show continues and Jessi gets the feel of things- this only takes her like two songs- she begins making prolonged eye contact with members of her audience, her gaze moving slowly across the entire arc of the stage. With eyes bugging out, she strums while looking directly into your soul with focus and determination the likes of which you have never seen. She then moves to the next person and repeats the process. The effect is hilarious: the victims of Jessi’s stare chuckle uncomfortably as all of his/her friends laugh and make fun.

Jessi and Nikki also join the audience at multiple times during the night. In one instance, Jessi Darlin steps from the stage to the crowd and sings lyrics directly to her fans, employing the same bulging stare described previously. Further into the show, Nikki and Jessi jump into the crowd and dance with us as they take turns soloing. This interaction gives the production a rare sense of intimacy- especially so when it comes to State College shows. Those Darlins are using Chronic Town’s small setting to turn the show into something very special- and the crowd greatly appreciates them doing so.

The highlight of the night is hearing “That Man” performed live. The sad, alt-country, anthem comes from the 2013 album Blur the Line, and features tragicomic lines like “I got my share of men / I don’t want none of them.” These words come between bluesy solos that could bring the post-breakup feels out of anybody, recently single or not. Jessi also takes this song as an opportunity to show her theatric range, adopting a high-pitched psycho-cutesy voice and treating the whole song like a conversation between her and the crowd. We all love it, and are even more delighted when Jessi comes off the stage for the last time to play an extended solo. She brushes up against the backs of us strangers as her guitar wails- somehow transmitting the loving message: I know life sucks most of the time, but hey, I’m right there with you.  

After “That Man”, the crowd demands an encore. Those Darlins oblige with “Red Light Love”- that fun, hooky, song that was featured in a Kia Sorento commercial awhile back. Of course, as is the case with rock and roll bands of this caliber, the song is three times as good live. The Darlins leave behind them a very pleased crowd, to say the least.

Video: Those Darlins- “Red Light Love”

In closing,  Those Darlins knocked their show out of the park and I bought their vinyl. It was an awesome night to be a part of.  I’m already itchin’ for another Chronic Town concert.

-Henry Englert