MJC’s Records of the Week: 3/15

Every week at WSUM, our Music Director, Izzi, chooses her favorite new releases to add to our music library. In turn, WSUM’s Music Journalism Club shares what records they’ve had on repeat. From new releases to classic albums, here’s what the members of MJC have been listening to.

Bedroom, Grow

(2014, Self-released)

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Nothing Lasts,” “We All Need Something,” “Drift Away”

GENRE: Indie

RIYL: Twin Peaks, Bon Iver, Bane’s World

I won’t lie to you, I’ve been feeling pretty angsty lately. On Friday I found out (during Live@WSUM) that the annual festival in Austin, Texas, South by Southwest, was cancelled due to COVID-19. Obviously this is not that big of a deal, it doesn’t really impact me that much aside from it being a major bummer, but I was really upset about it. I had worked hard and was pretty proud of myself for getting credentials for WSUM. 

Finding out was…….dramatic. I hadn’t eaten all day and I was stressed about almost everything else in my life. So when my dad called to see how I was doing, I kind of just exploded. I was trudging down University Avenue with tears on my face shouting into my headphones about all the wrongs in my life: I had no friends, I was a failure and (you guessed it) everything sucked. After eating my weight in tortilla chips and scrambled eggs, I was feeling better. Now the only thing that sucked was that my spring break plans were up in the air. 

Sitting alone in my room watching the sunset, I put on this album, Grow by Bedroom, the project of Nashville’s Noah Kittinger. It’s a mix of bedroom pop with classic indie influences. The album makes you want to curl up in your bed and just sit and think. It’s great music for rainy days and sunny afternoons. It embodies what it feels like to be overwhelmed without overwhelming you more. It’s sad without making you cry, and it’s upbeat enough to make you want to walk around. If any of these activities sound like something you do or if you like moody music, take a listen. —  Izzi Bavis

ヒッキーP (HikkieP) and 鏡音リン (Kagamine Rin), Eutopia 

(2012, Self-released)

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Sound of an Air Raid,” “The Hybrid Little Girl (The Second Form),” “Free Time Blank 1 & 2,” “mtzv,” “Medication mouth” 

GENRE: Glitch pop, flashcore, experimental, noise, digital hardcore, sound collage, matt music

RIYL: Hakushi Hasegawa, death’s dynamic shroud, Xanopticon, Sweet Trip

For those unaware, a vocaloid is a piece of synthesized voice software which can be used musically. Vocaloid software is also unprecedentedly popular within Japan.This type of synthetic approach to vocals often comes with personas attached to the vocal sets within the software itself. Why bring this up? Well, in the case of Eutopia, the synthesized vocals are credited to a vocaloid by the name of Kagamine Rin. Eutopia was constructed HikkieP, who has less than a handful of releases tagged to them outside of this album.  

This sounds mostly normal, right? I mean, even Domino’s Pizza in Japan tried to cash in on this trend. Eutopia is here to prove that you can do literally anything your heart desires with vocaloids, for instance, make a frightening, scrambled and often atonal sound collage and noise record. Eutopia is a long haul of a record, clocking in at 61 minutes and 27 tracks, and it might be one of the most difficult listens I have had in a long time.

If you are not bewildered or disoriented at some point when listening to this record, I give massive props to your poise and endurance. I could point out multiple individual tracks to give credit to this statement, but I think just the opener, “Sound of an Air Raid,” should suffice, with its incessant perturbed jerking and glitching throughout its entire duration. If you enjoyed this track, it should fill your heart with joy that the remaining 59 minutes of the record sound very similar, and I say this as a benefit to the album and not as a slight.

Truly, I should be giving you more information about this album, but this is some brain scrambling music. I could hear my own telophase being interrupted by the act of listening to this thing. The fact I was able to write this much about the project is an achievement in and of itself. 

At the end of the day, Eutopia is beyond description. Nothing I could say could truly reflect the insanity that is this record. So if you’re looking for something visceral and confrontational that’s also malignant and challenging to listen to in the best possible way, turn your eyes to Eutopia, a true anomaly of the digital era.  —  Matt Jarosinski

Deftones, White Pony 

(2000, Maverick )

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Digital Bath,” “Street Carp,” “Knife Prty,” “Passenger,” “Pink Maggit”

GENRE: Alternative metal, nu metal, shoegaze, post-hardcore

RIYL: Hum, Helmet, Failure, Hopesfall, Oceansize, Loathe, Vein 

It could be said that Deftones’ 2000 album, White Pony, marks their first true departure, at least in part, from the nu metal sound the band established on albums such as 1997’s Around the Fur and their 1995 debut, Adrenaline. While touches of nu metal are still present on the platinum certified and Grammy winning White Pony, the band also builds upon their atmospheric and dense take on shoegaze blended alt metal. Influenced by the likes of Hum, Failure and Helmet, White Pony often lies somewhere between urgent and muscular attacks, like on the track “Street Carp,” and cosmic and heady walls of sound such as “Knife Prty” and “Pink Maggit,” the album’s melancholic and potent closing track. 

Upon reflection, what’s most admirable about White Pony is both how Deftones were able to create a truly accessible interpolation of groove filled alt metal and heavy shoegaze. This album has influenced a generation of metallic shoegaze bands to add profuse amounts of reverb on top of their already heavily distorted drop C# tuned guitars. For examples of this kind of influence, look to acts such as Loathe, Vein, and Fleshwater, all evidence that White Pony’s effect on the shape of atmospheric alt metal is undeniable. —  Matt Jarosinski

of Montreal, UR FUN

(2020, Polyvinyl)

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Polyaneurism,” “Peace To All Freaks,” “Don’t Let Me Die In America,” “Deliberate Self-harm Ha Ha”

GENRE: Indie pop, psychedelic pop, synth pop, bubblegum pop

RIYL: Charli XCX, Kero Kero Bonito, The Olivia Tremor Control

I’m not going to lie to you, when the first singles from UR FUN started to come out and showed a clear departure from the electropop sound of Montreal, I was not hyped at all for of Montreal’s 20th studio album. After a couple of full listens to prepare for their concert last Tuesday and the increasingly chaotic news, this album grew on me… hard. 

The catchy psychedelic pop of UR FUN serves as an antithesis to of Montreal’s traditional tragic breakup albums. The lyrics discuss modern relationship problems such as navigating polyamorous relationships, dealing with racist parents and love in a far-right America. These lyrics are accompanied by earworm synth riffs that feel like they could have been ripped off of a Cindy Lauper song.

Without losing the lyrical complexity and obscure cultural references known to fans of of Montreal’s previous albums, UR FUN is an album that reflects the reality of love in Trump’s America, contrasted with cheery synthesizer harmonies and extremely catchy choruses. If you’re looking for a little bit of hope and light hearted fun amidst this time of chaos I strongly recommend you take a listen. —  Arthur Machado

Check out our playlist for this week’s picks on Spotify below.