Princess Nokia’s “A Girl Cried Red” was, to many, a surprise of a mixtape in its emo nostalgia. “Your Eyes Are Bleeding” seamlessly blends hip-hop elements with a teenage pop-punk aesthetic. While this mixtape is a very drastic shift from Nokia’s brujería feminist, rap heavy debut album 1992, Nokia has long been a cultivator and advocate for people of color’s involvement in punk, anime, video game and emo culture through her social media presence. The aesthetic of the video for “Your Eyes Are Bleeding” takes me back to my middle school days of fingerless gloves and knee-high converse. Despite emo culture being predominately thought of as a white subculture, most of the emo kids in my middle- and high-schools were people of color, queer or considered “other” to society in a larger context.
After watching Nokia’s “A Girl Cried Red” music video, I asked my best friend at the time, Kim Lopez, about her thoughts on the connection she had as a Latinx woman in a largely white public school system to the emo/hardcore scene she was a part of. I met Kim in the 6th grade, where we both bonded over our love of emo staples such as Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas and the anime Soul Eater. As brown tweens, she said both of us accessing this scene “was like us telling the world that we knew we were different and it was us willingly separating ourselves.” We both went to middle- and high-schools that were predominately dominated by white students from wealthy socioeconomic backgrounds. Without acknowledging these implications, we bonded as emo kids. However, after a couple years we left this scene and delved more into hip-hop. Kim decided to leave the scene because “in screamo/post-hardcore I didn’t see any representation and I didn’t see the lyrics talk about anything that I felt was specifically just for me, which is why I gravitated towards hip hop afterwards. I think we just got tired of trying to force ourselves into this space that is supposedly for people who are misunderstood.”
Princess Nokia’s mixtape is a perfect marriage of our sentiments on the way in which we accessed emo culture as brown women, and the importance hip-hop held in our later teenage years. It has the elements of the overt emotional rampage of “other-ness” that exists within emo culture, which sound even louder through Nokia’s position as someone from the afro-Latinx community. While 2008-era emo culture is relatively dead, Nokia’s nostalgic throwback dredges up a reclamation of a scene largely represented by white guys in skinny jeans.
We’ve recently started a new limited-run collaboration with KRCC about music we’re listening to. The posts will be shared on both the SoCC and KRCC websites; check out the first post below.
Plugged In is a limited-run web series for 91.5 KRCC Music in which contributors from Colorado College’s student radio station, The SOCC, tip us off to great new releases, under-the-radar favorites, and other music they can’t live without.
Hey 91.5 KRCC listeners & readers. I’m Paulina Ukrainets, the online content manager for The Sounds of Colorado College, CC’s radio station and music blog. I’m also an intern with 91.5 KRCC’s Air Check. Below are some songs I’ve been listening to lately (though they’re not necessarily new), and a little bit about why I like them.
Usually I’m not a big fan of the currently super-prevalent “trap” style of hip-hop production, but this song is different in its beautiful amalgamation of piano, sax, synth and the standard trap percussion beat. When I listen to most music (but especially to hip-hop) my attention instantly gravitates to the lyrics, and here they don’t disappoint: “look at how much fun I’m havin’/ain’t no beauty in the absence of broadcastin’ to your followers” are just two of Saba’s lines from the ridiculously catchy chorus. This is a hip-hop anthem for the age of Instagram––the age in which young, up-and-coming artists like Saba can get the recognition they clearly deserve, but at the price of the complete destruction of their privacy in the name of online presence/promotion. As my professor Idris Goodwin would say, LOGOUT is pure bars.
This song is only 36 seconds long, so I kinda feel like I’m cheating with this one, but it’s full to the brim with the kind of sincerity Frankie Cosmos fans (myself included) adore her for. The lyrics and title of this song refer to a meme-esque phrase that gets used by teenagers as a sort of shorthand booty call… or so I’m told. Here, Greta (FC’s lyricist/frontwoman) mirrors the shorthand/meme-culture form of the phrase in the song’s brevity, but totally inverts the concept the phrase refers to. It rings honest and sweet, especially in the studio outtake at the beginning. I’m super grateful for this little Frankie Cosmos-shaped window into their creative process.
Honour Council are a Colorado Springs band that I’ve been a fan of since their formation, but this is the first recorded song they’ve shared with the world; I’m so excited to expose people to them! I find it hard to pin their sound down to a single word or genre––some people say they fit into the shoegaze realm, but I say you should just listen. If you like what you hear, come see them play a donation-based Cloud Factory show on May 5that local house venue, The Bump! They’re supporting Dead Sullivan, a really awesome indie band from Texas. Find more details of the event here.
If this artist’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the son of Bobby McFerrin (if you’re bad with names, he’s the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” guy). Taylor’s music couldn’t be more different from his father’s––this song is totally instrumental, relying heavily on synths and electronic percussion that take you on a journey through what does feel like thousands of different degrees of light. Listen to this song, and you’ll hear how the sounds shimmer and reflect off each other. It’s the most multi-sensory listening experience I’ve had in a while.
Recently I did an interview with Gwen Wolfenbarger, more commonly known in the music community under her alias, Seal Eggs. She is incredible and the interview helped me learn a lot about her process; if you think you might want to do so too, listen to it here: http://krcc.org/post/exploring-disembodiment-and-human-voice-experimental-musician-seal-eggs
I first saw Porches at a Pitchfork after-show in 2016 at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. I had never heard of them, but my friend had an extra ticket, so I decided to go. In a darkly-lit dive-bar filled with Dickies, jean jackets, and dirty-baseball-cap-cladden patrons, I stood stage left for a band soon to be one of my favorites to see live. Their sound is melancholy synth pop backed by house style drums, and fronted by a strong, high falsetto and sometimes auto-tuned voice from lead Aaron Maine. Though I had never seen Porches before, their sound no doubt gave me a nostalgic vibe for a time or musical space I still can’t quite place my finger on.
Upon my two year hiatus of seeing them live, their sound this time brought me nostalgia for my first time seeing them. They played a sold out show at Larimer Lounge on February 26th and featured tracks not only from their new album, “The House,” which came out this year, but also from previous records––“Pool” and “Slow Dance in the Cosmos”. Between 2016 and 2018, the ambiance of their shows has stayed roughly consistent. Larimer Lounge is a small bar with a stage in the back that was lit like a middle school dance. The soft greens and pinks matched well with the many high-school and college-aged attendees that wore their share of early 2000’s clothing.
Listening to their recorded music, for the most part, gives me the night time bedroom bump headspace. This translates to a live performance that is very calmly presented, but emotional. There isn’t a whole lot of dancing or motion from anyone on stage, but the unifying soft vocals and strong chord progressions are where the emotion really comes from. Most of the crowd seemed to love every bit of the show, as call out requests were semi-frequent and sing-a-longs were plenty, especially to the chorus’ of tracks like “Car” and “Be Apart”. Most songs were accompanied by head bobs and mellow sways from the crowd, but more house-inspired tracks like “Pool” got most people, especially myself, dancing with a large grin on their face.
A personal favorite moment of mine was during the encore. At the beginning of the show, Aaron mentioned that two people had flown into Denver to see this show, and someone had gifted a pair of cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat to match, to the band. During the encore, the rhythm guitarist came out donning the white hat, which looked extra goofy on him as it was clearly too small for his head. The hat made its way around to most of the members, fitting some better than others, all giving the crowd a memorable ending to the show.
Though Porches’ overall aesthetic and fanbase are rooted in the sad, lo-fi realm, their emotion, cohesion, and crowd interactions make for consistently pleasing shows that give plenty of good energy.
The Staves have a talent in their live recordings of simple and sweet harmonies. I love this version of “In The Long Run” (in support of the online project Taschenkonzerte.com) which is filled with bittersweet lyrics. I want to be the fourth Stave but probably will never get that chance, so instead I’ll listen to their lovely voices to lift me from my fourth week blues.
Brockhampton proves that in 2018, you don’t need a record deal to become a household name. Formed in 2015 in San Marcos, Texas, the rap collective is essentially a crew of fifteen friends who work together to write and record music, shoot videos, and promote their brand. The first members actually met in the comments of a Kanye West fan forum. Now, Brockhampton lives together in Los Angeles and churns out albums faster than you can squeak an ad-lib.
Over the course of 2017, Brockhampton produced three LPs to comprise the SATURATION trilogy, each release more dialed than the last. Their sound is fresh but familiar, like a sonic lovechild of Missy Elliot and Dr. Dre. The group’s six rapping members cover a great deal of lyrical ground, touching on themes like faith, drug use and homosexuality. Their latest tour wrapped up last night with a show in Phoenix, AZ.
When I first saw the title of Brockhampton’s latest tour – Love Your Parents: A Live Experience by BROCKHAMPTON – I assumed it was some kind of inside joke. Almost everything the group had put out to date had been tinged with mockery, like the fishy announcement that Saturation III was “Brockhampton’s final studio album.” Loving one’s parents is by no means an offensive practice to promote, but the lyrics of songs like “JUNKY” suggest a bit of tongue-in-cheek there. Calling it “A Live Experience” seemed like a similar stunt to the announcement that the group’s “last studio album” announcement: an act of facetious grandeur.
Brockhampton’s visit to Denver’s Ogden Theater on February 22nd was no gimmick. The show was sold out weeks in advance, with scalpers peddling their wares in the triple digits. The “live experience” had no opener, and so by showtime the venue as packed with anxious fans. The atmosphere before the show was not unlike that of other boybands – anxious fans rushing to get past the security metal detectors, people standing on their tiptoes to see any Brockhampton members lurking in the wings. Every time a sound guy crossed the stage, the crowd erupted into cheers. Some enthusiastic fans in the front tried to summon the boyband three separate times with a “BROCK-HAMP-TON!” chant.
Suddenly, the house went dark. A pedestrian crossing light shone brightly on one end of the stage, and a stoplight illuminated the other. There was a moment of tense silence and anticipation; the calm before the storm. No music just yet. Then, the main lights came up to reveal the makings of a living room – sofa, some chairs, and an ambiguously vintage television set – inhabited by America’s Favorite Boyband, all in matching orange jumpsuits.
Unsurprisingly, Brockhampton opened with “BOOGIE”, a track that marked a sharp upturn in their popularity. Each verse brought a new member downstage, until all but one were in full formation. By the end of the song, each member was downstage and fully vertical – except for Bearface, who spent the entirety of the show lounging in various positions on the furniture.
Kevin Abstract, the group’s leader, did not give the audience much time to breathe after their raucous introduction. For the next hour and a half, Brockhampton blasted through what seemed like all of the Saturation trilogy. The kept small talk between songs to a minimum, but that’s not to say Brockhampton shirked the crowd. Kevin was the primary voice of the group between songs, and he thanked and taunted the crowd. There was even a point in which Kevin engaged the audience in a call-and-response cheer of “I’m gay!”
At one notable moment, they played Star. After Kevin’s verse, he stopped and had the entire crowd rap the lyrics back to him. A bold decision, yet somehow everyone knew all the words. The show maintained its energy on the audience’s knowledge alone. This wasn’t just a hit-song phenomenon, either. Audience members were consistently rapping along to every word. Hilariously, everyone screamed the loudest during the parts with lyrics referencing Kevin’s gayness. Hearing the audience of a sold-out venue shout about giving men oral sex was a special experience indeed.
About an hour into the show, Kevin shut down the party to host a brief Q&A. This lead to a divine moment in which a girl in the crowd held the mic and earnestly asked Matt Champion if he would like to hit her JUUL–he politely declined. Another audience member asked about a certain synth line, which briefly brought DJ Romil into the spotlight. An intergral part of Brockhampton’s music, Romil was the silent hero of the night. He nailed the live autotuning, and made sure there wasn’t a moment of dead air to spoil the energy.
The show came to a close with a soulful solo performance of Waste by Bearface, who had remained draped across the living room set up until that point. Naturally, the performance wasn’t really the end of the show, and it was obvious that the boyband was simply baiting the audience for an encore. Upon Bearface’s exit, the stage went dark. For about ten hopeful minutes the crowd chanted and churned. Kevin took a mic from backstage and teased the crowd with lines from various songs, taunting his fans with a vast portfolio of potential reprises. Finally, the lights came up and Brockhampton came out to perform the pleasant pop track “HOTTIE”.
Brockhampton’s show at The Ogden proves that there is strength in numbers. With six spitters to cover every dropped syllable, the group enjoyed a large margin for error. The group dynamic is forgiving. It doesn’t matter that no single member could carry a performance like that on their own – that’s just part of the deal. They wear the same orange jumpsuits and often paint their faces blue, a cheeky nod to the fact that Brockhampton is totally a team effort.
Brockhampton’s achievements over the last six months could be enough to satisfy a young rap group’s ambitions, but America’s Favorite Boyband is nowhere near slowing down. Now that the “Love Your Parents” tour has come to a close, Brockhampton will return home to Los Angeles for a few months, before playing major festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and Reading & Leeds. I tremble for any act who has to follow them.
Soloq is a go-getter. This 17-year-old chillwave producer sells beats for money in addition to working on his own stuff, and while he’s not exactly widely established yet, he’s already got some dank collaborations on lock . Soloq’s latest project features a track with vocals by Clairo, the bedroom pop internet darling that everyone seems to love. The lovely tune is full of satisfying pops and guitar strums, the perfect soundtrack to an early spring day. Listen below.
I JUST WANT TO SMOKE CRACK WITH MY FRIENDS! Ok… that’s definitely not what I want to do but that is one of the quality lyrics from Natural Child’s song, Crack Mountain. Crack Mountain is a crisp blend of garage rock with a southern twist. Like most Natural Child songs, it has refreshingly straightforward lyrics. Its upbeat tempo is nearly irresistible and as the weather gets warmer, Natural Child will make you feel like it is already mid-summer. You should definitely listen to Natural Child this weekend and you should certainly avoid their advice.
We sat down with psych-pop dream-trap group Easy, baby after their SOCC performance in December to chat about new music, old friends and the pitfalls of Rocket League. Based in Montreal, the band was started by CC alumni Gabe & Eli Sashihara and their childhood friend Lucas Hamren. Listen to the conversation below:
Starved in metropolis… Hooked on necropolis… Addict of metropolis… Do the worm on the acropolis Slamdance the cosmopolis Enlighten the populace….
“Ghetto Defendant” is one of those songs that will never tire me. I’ve listened to it religiously for months, always finding something new in the lyrics and the way in which the different speakers’ words interact with one another. That pleasing, old poet voice rhythmically purring is none other than Allen Ginsberg reciting lyrics he wrote for the song, communicating “the voice of God.” Take a listen: