My Summer’s Highlight


The biggest highlight of my summer was going to a Jazz and Blues club in San Francisco called Biscuits & Blues. I was invited to join my sister for my birthday weekend. I am interested in live performances, and this was the first time I was able to see someone perform the Blues music genre live.

The performer was a nineteen year old male from Mississippi named Christone Ingram, better known by his stage name Kingfish. He is a Blues guitarist and a singer and he caught my attention on a few television shows I have been watching on Netflix over the summer. My sister informed me that he was touring this summer and was performing the weekend of my birthday so I was thrilled to see him perform live.

The night of the show, my sister and I went inside the Blues club which was filled with a lot of middle aged couples. The food was amazing and so was the service. Kingfish finally entered the stage with his pianist and drummer and the first few songs they played were his original songs which were heartwarming. I did not realize how much I enjoyed listening to live Blues music until I witnessed his performance. His voice had a mellow tone, and his lyrics were relatable. He went to the crowd to play his last written song,= and when he returned to the stage, he played the guitar with his mouth. I was very amazed with this young man.

The next few songs were from artists I knew such as BB King, James Brown, and more. The music had me reminisce about my childhood because my family would play those artists when I was younger during the holidays.

Towards the end of his show, he asked the audience what the last song should be. Someone said the belated singer Prince which made Kingfish smile. The lights on the stage were different colors, but then they all turned purple. Prince was known for the color purple because he used to wear the color often and even made a song called Purple Rain. Kingfish began to play the song with his guitar and it sent shivers in my body because I am a Prince fan.

When Kingfish’s performance was over, I left the club satisfied. I will definitely enjoy seeing him perform again. For anyone who is interested in listening to blues music, I would recommend visiting Biscuits and Blues in San Francisco. Also yes, they do serve biscuits in case you were wondering. The club has different performers every week so if you’re interested, check out their website. As for Kingfish, I plan on playing his music throughout the semester to bring a new sound to my show. Feel free to check out his music online as well.

I did not expect my birthday weekend to have such a satisfying jazz club experience. I hope all of you enjoyed your summer as much as I did and if not, enjoy this semester by attending events on campus and listening to KSSU. Make every day awesome!

My Portal Into Yesteryear


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If you have listened to my show on KSSU or have taken the time to get to know me, there is one thing that you’ll probably discover, and that is that I love  jazz music from the 1930s and 40s. I get several questions about my strange taste in music. Why do you like such old music? How did you get into this music?  Well, that’s what I plan to tell you guys about, my portal into yesteryear.

It must have been 2007 or so and I was in visiting Disneyland down in Anaheim with my family. Our next destination was the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. As we approached the giant, art deco themed building, ghostly sounding music started fading into my ears. For me, it was as if I was entering a different time. It started with this wonderful trumpet solo that wasn’t like anything I have heard before. As we moved deeper into the line, the louder the music got and the more I was mesmerized by the music. As the trumpet solo ended and the orchestra joined the trumpeter and created an even more mesmerizing melody. It was a new, pure sound that I never thought I would enjoy and it became more sentimental as a ghostly vocalists filled the halls of the Tower of Terror. I knew at that second that I enjoyed this music and had to find out the name of that song.

After weeks of searching (smartphones weren’t  around yet so I couldn’t just open Shazam to identify the song), I found the song on iTunes and got to enjoy the performance once again. It was titled, “I Can’t Get Started,”by Bunny Berigan & His Orchestra. Bunny Berigan, the talented vocalist and trumpeter, masterfully used his talents to bring me to in a new world. From there, I found other songs like “Moonlight Serenade” and “Lets Dance”and artists like Frank Sinatra and Doris Day. As I listened to more music, I then realized that jazz was my kind of music.

When people ask me why I like jazz, I give them a variety of answers, but the answer I use the most is that it is different. Jazz is relatively simple, yet elegant. I liked the elements of jazz from the trumpets, to the saxophones, and the occasional crooner. Sure, a lot of the music is old and can be considered “elevator music” by many, but the material is fantastic. I enjoy the sentimental lyrics and the sound of each instrument. Sure many of my favorite songs are 70+ years old, but recorded music is made to last forever.

For anyone who wants to get into jazz or anyone interested in the 1930s, 40s, or 50s, I would suggest to just find a few songs and give them a careful listen. Listen to the sounds of each instrument, the lyrics, and ( if you’re listening to a 78rpm record or an old recording) the scratches and old radio sound. In fact, here are songs I recommend. Some of these songs have lyrics and some are instrumental:

 

  1. “Moonlight Serenade” by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra
  2. “I Can’t Get Started” by Bunny Berigan & His Orchestra
  3. “Long Ago (And Far Away)” by Glenn Miller & The Army Air Force Band
  4. “Ciribiribin” By Harry James & His Orchestra
  5. “Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of The Week” by Frank Sinatra
  6. “Let’s Dance” By Benny Goodman

Enjoy and let me know what you think.

Griffin does music on KSSU

Deerhunter Album Review


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If you are wondering where the hell popular music is going these days, it is actually right back to where we started. This phenomenon is clearly stated in the theory of “Regression to the Mean.” That means, everything has a tendency to drift back to the average. That’s why your favorite team performs a little worse the next season after a great run. It is normal, and it even applies to Deerhunter’s new release Fading Frontier. The band, beginning with their debut release Cryptograms, explored some pretty out there sounds relative to the world of indie-pop.

But Fading Frontier is the most cut and dry Deerhunter drop to date. Its format is pretty standard: vocals, guitar, bass, drums, and some electronic effects interspersed here and there. The record is relatively short, weighing in at 9 tracks just under 37 minutes. Unlike previous releases, this record’s sound is clean and crisp departing from the super washy, yet somehow gritty sound they have achieved in the past.

Overall, this record lacks energy for the type of pop they are going for here. In prior records they’ve captured the chill vibe perfectly. Fading Frontier leaves you wanting more: a longer record and a skosh more rock ‘n’ roll.

However, that’s not to say there are some awesome cuts of this record. “Take Care” is a dreamy ¾ time jam. Following “Take Care” is “Leather and Wood,” an empty, mellow, and tormented addition to the record that is the sonic outlier of the record that sets up the next cut, “Snakeskin,” with surprising contrast. “Snakeskin” is funky and bombastic with a super interesting harmonic structure, minor to major, that catches the ear. It is certainly my favorite track with a vibe similar to a band called White Denim that you should definitely check out if you dig Deerhunter.

Devan plays music on KSSU usually Jazz.

Flying Lotus Album Review: But Mostly a Rant Round 2!


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A couple of weeks ago you may recall my review of Spoon’s new record, but also my scathing opinion of the use of electronic techniques in popular music. You may have thought, “Man, why did they let this old guy write for KSSU?” But I have returned, and unlike any college student I know, I’ve done my homework. This includes the brand-new record from Flying Lotus entitled, You’re Dead. I’ve always liked FlyLo, but have thought his music is a little hard to access; and his latest is no exception. A lot of the tracks resemble a free-jazz-like sound scape meant for the more seasoned listener. In fact, a lot of the samples are of jazz solos. Very cool for a jazz snob like me. However, there are several tracks that will groove your socks off like Never Catch Me featuring the ever-effervescent Kendrick Lamar. Not only does this track evoke head bobbing, but it catches the ear with a dazzling harmony. The other groovy tune that caught my ear was Coronus, The Terminator for its cool gospel-like feel.

My point of reviewing this album (albeit not a complete review) is that I found electronic music with actual musical integrity. And what I mean by that is the musician or musicians have a respect for the craft of the actual music rather than based on an algorithm derived from song downloads. Also music that has feeling and emotion in it. You can tell by the way the groove is set and where the notes are placed. In that, music is mathematical at heart, but humans can defy that and move beyond it, creating something new. This is what we call swing or groove. It is why our ear is drawn to hip-hop when the snare hits just a little late. And a program cannot reliably produce sound like this. But there are artists who use electronic music for good.

A popular artist on the scene, Flume, much of the caliber of Flying Lotus, crafts crunchy, danceable beats paired with excellent harmonic choices that make music snobs like me happy. However, much of Flume’s music sounds the same. On his self-titled album in 2012, the songs were good but the whole thing seemed to blend together. His strong suit is remixes. I recommend his remix of Disclosure’s “You & Me.” Max crunch.

Another couple artists I found were off of Sound Cloud, an excellent resource for music streaming and discovery. What I especially like about the site is that it’s a public forum for sharing original music. So people can comment, follow, share, and post, in a way that can snowball into significant popularity for many artists. The first of my discoveries is a Canadian DJ by the name KAYTRANADA. His most popular mix “Leave Me Alone” features smooth vocals and a drop that I can only describe as subtle. The only texture that changes is a bass synth that is so bouncy you can help but move along with it. The track has over a million plays. My second and final discovery that I will discuss is the DJ KOAN Sound and their new release, Dynasty EP. It features four tracks of brilliantly crafted, fully electronic music. My favorite two tracks “7th Dimension” and “Infinite Funk” are full of musical integrity. “7th Dimension” has a feel that pulses and “Infinite Funk” has a drop that is disjointed but still perfectly defines the time.

So I have had a change of heart, but I still hold my ground that a majority of electronic techniques are used for the evil American pop machine, but everything’s a bell curve and not everything fits into my opinion. How I can admit that and simultaneously hold my opinion is beyond me. But for now,

Love,

Your ever grumpy jazz guy,

Devan

The Ghost Inside/ Attila/ Volumes Album Reviews.


I want to take a moment and talk about some news albums that came out recently, and by recently I mean within the last six months. The Ghost Inside, Attila, and Volumes all dropped some heavy stuff and I checked out all their new albums. Holy snap crackle and pop, they were extravagant. The Ghost Inside with some hardcore melodies, Attila with their IDGAF in-your-face attitude, ad Volumes with a melodic change for the better.

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Once again, the Ghost Inside have proven themselves to be one of the leading bands in the hardcore scene. To all those who say they went “mainstream” and are not underground anymore, I say to you, screw that. If a band can make it big and get paid more so they can actually afford nice things instead of sticking to the underground and getting paid diddly squat for a run down apartment, I say go for it and get big. The first song “Avalanche” straight up pumps up the mood for everybody with a nice build up in the beginning and gang vocals to breakdown as a finisher. The debut song “Dear Youth” covers all aspects of a great song; powerful riffs, relatable lyrics, empowering breakdowns, and a harmony that is off the chain. Well done The Ghost Inside.

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First off, Attila is not a band meant to be taken as “meaningful” or important to your life goals. They are a party hard, DGAF kind of band with a new album called “Guilty Pleasure”. With a mix between brutal exhales and rapping, Fronz (vocalist) has multiple virtuoso moments throughout the song. Some tracks make me shake my head and say “what the heck is this” but tracks like “Guilty Pleasure” and “Horse Pig” get me throwing chairs and flipping tables. Again, they are not very deep and philosophical, but they kill it live. I speak from past experiences when i say they put on a fantastic show with lights, and 8O8 drops. This new album will take their concerts to the next level. I saw an Instagram video of a huge wall of death to one of their new songs and that is enough to convince me that this new album is worth purchasing.

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Last but certainly not least, Volumes. Volumes is a Djent band well-known for their breakdowns, but their album “No Sleep” was not what fans expected this album had a lot of lighter, more melodic tracks on it. Don’t get me wrong, the tracks are amazing and I am happy to hear that Volume’s use of music theory and desire to do less heavy music in their future, but Volumes received a lot of fire. In their song “The Mixture”, the lyrics say “you can have metal back” and in an interview, the vocalists said they are dropping from their label to pursue music on their own path. The album “No Sleep” is the first step in Volumes new style and wave of music, and I love every bit of it.

Thanks for reading, I am DJGingerbeard and to hear music from The Ghost Inside and Volumes (Attila is too vulgar) tune into my show “Shred the Gnar” every Thursday at 9am on http://www.kssu.com.

Now You Has Jazz!


Hello! I’m delighted to have been accepted into the KSSU family. My name is Devan Kortan, and I will be your resident Jazz fanatic as long as the station will have me around. I am a freshman and avid Jazz musician. The reason I introduce myself is to tell you this: Jazz isn’t scary. It is my understanding that most people don’t like Jazz because they don’t have a clear idea of what Jazz is.

Let’s start on the surface. Jazz is and always will be an American art form. It, in fact, was America’s original dance music. Swing dancing was all the rage from the 1920’s to the early 1950’s when rock ‘n’ roll took over. Even today swing dancing is wildly popular with millennials; Sacramento’s Midtown Stomp is packed every Friday night.

Ok, let’s go a little deeper. Jazz, like any other art form, is a way to express oneself. Every musician has their own sound and different ideas as to how they want to play, but at the same time, Jazz is about working together and collaborating to create a harmonious outcome. What really irks me is when somebody says, “The musicians are all doing their own thing.” It could not be more the opposite. Each musician is listening very intently to one another, searching in the music some way they can respond and communicate to make the music sound more cohesive.

In the same vain as collaboration, because of its history, Jazz is all about breaking barriers. It is about coming together, no matter your race, religion, gender, sexual orientation etc. It is about all people creating something fun. Jazz should always, whether it be for the listener or player, and I repeat always be fun. Let me put it this way, no one pursues a life in Jazz because it is a lucrative career option. So Jazz should be played and listened by people who want to.

So I hope that clears a few things up. I don’t expect you to like jazz or listen to it, but I do expect you to acknowledge it for what it really is. Jazz is awesome and has real potential to create world peace.

In the immortal words of Louis Armstrong, “Jazz is played from the heart. You can even live by it. Always love it.”

Jazzy

Devan Kortan is a DJ with KSSU the station you should be listening to right now.

Album Review: “Ethnotronica” by Ireesh Lal


EthnotronicaThe turn of the millennium introduced the rise and eventual dominance of electronica in the U.S.  Sure it has existed before and there was a niche who followed it.  But its mass consumability was born post 2000.  Ethnotronica by Ireesh Lal is an interesting addition in the electronica world that may go sadly unnoticed because it isn’t “main stage”-esque, or dubstep, trap, deep house, etc.  What is it?  It is art.  It is music that paints a picture.  It is music that sets various tones, moods, and feelings depending on the track you hear.

The lead off track for the album is “ElectroLounge”.   [Read more…]

Go With The Fro


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Hello, this is new member and DJ to the KSSU family. My name is Briana and I’ll be your the latest addition to your musical repertoire.

I know it’s late, but I wanted to formally introduce myself anyway.

[Read more…]

Local Sacramento musician Xochitl heads to the East Coast


 

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Xochitl is leaving Sacramento for good, or better.

With a one-way ticket to the East Coast next month, 21-year-old singer-songwriter, Xochitl (pronounced “so-chee”) Hermosillo is making a decision that will impact her life forever, regardless of the outcome.

[Read more…]

DJ AndyG’s Dream Concert


My dream concert would be at the Crest Theater.  Why the Crest?  Well for one, just look at the place!  The Crest just yells out art deco inside and out. Besides its architectural beauty, the Crest has much more comfortable seating than the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium. The Crest is also full of Sacramento history since its grand opening October 6, 1949 with the MGM movie That Midnight Kiss.

[Read more…]