Trapper Creek

Growing up in Alaska I’ve heard constant whisperings about the Trapper Creek Bluegrass festival. For me the first time I learned about Trapper Creek was four years ago, my friend Michael who had just gotten back from the festival grabbed my shoulders and shook me while saying “you gotta go, you gotta go.”

It wasn’t until this year, when I finally had the chance to experience Trapper Creek, did I realize that Michael was right. Trapper Creek is an amazing and unique experience, a bastion of good spirits and a revitalizing escape from the monotony of a typical week. I ask myself, “How can I stay away from such a good time? Such a fine time?” When I think forward to the next festival there’s a small voice in the back of my mind that repeats  “you gotta go, you gotta go.”

Trapper Creek is five exhausting days of delectable music and camping. There is no limit to the shenanigans that the attendees can and will cook up. The lineup of bands consist of groups from all over Alaska, as well as several talented out of state performers. The genres aren’t limited to just bluegrass, and you can expect there to be a little bit of everything at Trapper Creek, like rock n roll, rockabilly, blues, metal, and even some fine hip-hop. Among those that performed were Anchorage’s The Jephries (a personal favorite), SunDog (if you have time read Joe Ransdell-Greens blog about SunDog on KSUA), Cunto from Austin, Texas, Ayla Ray which consists of several Alaskan transplants now residing in Portland, and the man on whose property Trapper Creek takes place, Boot.

The festival grounds lie at the end of a long dirt, pothole riddled road, and consist of several acres enclosed by a dirt road loop. All around the loop are areas for camping. When the early birds arrived on Thursday camps were sparsely scattered around the grounds. Aside from the music that played on the backstage it was quiet. But it didn’t stay quiet.

Soon more cars started to file in around the festival grounds, finding spots around the loop to claim. What were just small campsites evolved into mini villages, and soon almost the entire loop had tents around its entire perimeter. Overnight Trapper Creek had turned into one of the biggest parties I’ve ever seen.

And it may have been an exhausting weekend, but at no point did this exhaustion feel like stress. It took no effort to enjoy myself, and not even the heavy rain that beat the ground into slippery mud the whole weekend mattered. Trapper Creek has the unique ability to turn “dreary” weather into something else entirely; no doubt it was the most fun I’ve ever had during any weekend of rain. In fact the rain is something we all took advantage of. During the downpour the enigmatic Phil jumped into a swamp and spent an evening without his shirt on with mud smeared all across his body, transforming his form and temperament into the mischievous cryptid named “Goblin Phil.”

Trapper Creek is one of those places where everyone is your friend and you are everyone’s friend, even if you’ve never met someone, even if they’ve never seen you in their life. There’s this genuine feeling of good will towards each other. As a solid example, this year there was a wedding in the middle of a field. Everyone was invited, costumes were encouraged, and clothing, as the invitation read, was optional. Love is in the air. It’s a place to be silly, and it’s a place to be free. But most importantly it’s a place to be kind, to take care of each other and enjoy what Trapper Creek has to offer, which is a lot. Do yourself a favor, if you think you’re bold. Go to Trapper Creek. Visit the spanking booth. Eat some biscuits and gravy from the coffee truck. Lose yourself in the music and the unbridled Alaskan atmosphere. Puke and rally. You gotta go, you gotta go.

Big shoutout to everyone who helps makes Trapper Creek happen you all are amazing.

-garrett monroe, ksua program director

A view of the main stage

A view of the main stage

Mono - Nowhere Now Here Review

Longtime fans of the show will know that I make no attempts to hide my love of this band. Mono has consistently impressed me with their work. There will be no impartiality in this review. Mono continues their insane release schedule with this being the 4th album released in 5 years.

Right away the album establishes the sound for this album with “After You Comes the Flood”. The amount of raw emotion displayed on this album is something that lends itself very well to the bands habit of recording their tracks live in studio. “Breathe” begins with a call back to their original sound with minimalist instrumentation while slowly adding more instruments to the mix until there is a full 28 piece orchestra accompaniment. Mono is one of the few bands that can have a track with a run-time longer than 10 minutes and it feels like they actually needed it. The title track of the album “Nowhere, Now Here” is one of the best uses of their unique style I have ever heard. It has everything that you want to hear from the band: slow builds, repeated motifs, dynamic soundscapes, and emotional payoff.  

Photo Source:

Photo Source:

Nowhere, Now Here is an incredible journey that travels from the bands roots to their more modern styling. The album cycles through musical phrasing, and styling that fans of the band have come to know and love. The back half of the album manages to stay as fresh as the first half If there was any doubt in critics minds that they deserve a spot alongside legendary post-rock bands such as Mogwai, Sigur Ros, and Tortoise this album lays them to rest.

Bandcamp - Facebook - Official Band website - Label

SunDog: Alaskan Psychedelic Funk

SunDog is a funk-infused psychedelic garage rock band from Chugiak, Alaska. The band formed in 2015 after band members, Abi Sparkman (Guitar/Vocals), Deven Lind (Bass/Vocals) and Philip Giannulis (Drums) decided to compete in a battle of the bands at their high-school. SunDog won the competition and has continued to create psychedelic rock and entertain audiences around Alaska.

In late 2016, SunDog released a four-track ep on Bandcamp, titled ‘Not Your Grandpa’s Devil Music’. In 2017, the band released the singles Tiny Bugs and Scooby Doo’d, before dropping their 2018 debut album, ‘Fungus Among Us’. The album features a funky garage rock sound, evoking psychedelic bands of the 1960s and 70s. Certain tracks are reminiscent of bands such as Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd and Nektar. Sometimes their music is euphoric and melodic. Other times it shifts into heavy psych instrumentals that energize the audience. When there are lyrics, they are often personal and speak of a spiritual connection to nature and the landscape; however, half the songs on their debut album are purely instrumental, several of which show progressive rock and funk influences (e.g. Funky One, Too Close (To the Sun) and Numb Thumb). SunDog rocks a variety of psychedelic sounds, from uplifting, ethereal songs such as Tiny Bugs and Dollhouses, to the dark and hypnotic riffs of Shaman Song. At some live performances, their trippy music is enhanced by a psychedelic liquid light show.

Photo credits: Joe Ransdell-Green

Photo credits: Joe Ransdell-Green

In late 2018, SunDog released their second ep, titled ‘Light Speed Parade’, recorded live at the University of Alaska Anchorage Planetarium. This year SunDog has played a number of venues in the Anchorage area, from Van’s Dive Bar and the 49th State Brewing Company to the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska Zoo. I recently caught a SunDog performance at the Trapper Creek Bluegrass Festival, their second year to play there. They were the headliner for the night and began their hour-long set at 2 am, playing to an enthusiastic audience. SunDog performed many of their classics, but also jammed on several songs I had not heard before, including an epic prog-rock style instrumental. They ended the show with a version of Burning Down the House by the Talking Heads, with musical guest, Wash Your Hands. Sparkman said they were in the process of recording new material. If we're lucky, this Alaska-grown band will continue to produce exciting rock n roll for our ears. This month you can catch SunDog performing in Fairbanks on June 8th at the Marlin and in Anchorage on June 15th at the Arctic Valley Summer Jam 2019.  

Check out their BandCamp to hear some of their music. Their Facebook can be found here. Title thumbnail photo credits: Shipe Shot Photography , from the Anchorage Press

Joe Ransdell-Green

The Joe Show

Khemmis Desolation Review

Khemmis continues to impress with their 3rd album in 4 years. Their blend of traditional heavy metal with darker elements from doom metal leads to a style all their own. Fans of traditional heavy metal will love the incredible range of singing and arpeggio lead guitar riffs, while doom fans will bang their head to the chugging of the guitar and the echoing war drums in the rhythm section. This album continues their run of great albums, retaining their heavy sound while bringing more more hard rocking solos. This is immediately apparent in the album single, “Isolation”, which starts off fast with a descending solo and never lets up. The final and longest track on the album, “From Ruin”, showcases more of their doom roots. “Bloodletting” and “Flesh to Nothing” are also standout tracks. Best listened to while gazing out the arrowslits at the enemy below.

Khan's Top Tracks and Albums of 2018

Khan Overcast, our station engineer and host of Subject to Change on Monday’s list of top tracks for 2018. Playlist at the bottom of the list.

Top Tracks of 2018

  1. Rank & File - Moses Sumney

  2. Slash Million - Omniboi & Ehiorobo

  3. Kings Dead (with Kendrick Lamar, Future, & James Blake)

  4. Regal - Noname

  5. Good Circuit - Jaala

  6. If The Car Beside You Moves Ahead - James Blake

  7. Ghouls - Tsar of Gamble

  8. Funeral Singers (Cover) - Sylvan Esso

  9. deposition regarding the green horse for rap - Milo

  10. Bloodless - Andrew Bird

  11. Heaven - Yazmin Lacey

  12. OKRA - Tyler, The Creator

  13. Dum Surfer - King Krule

  14. Minata Waraba - Sampha Remix - Oumou Sangare

  15. Self - Noname

  16. Ricochet - Tsar of Gamble

  17. Deadcrush (feat. Danny Brown ) - Alchemist x Trooko Version - alt-J

  18. Mono - Zero 7

  19. The Bug Collector - Haley Heynderickx

  20. You Can’t Help It - zach villere

  21. 왜? (Why?) - 공중도둑 (Mid-Air Thief)

  22. Cold Dirt - Gardenss

  23. Stand Off - MEMBA

  24. 101 FM - Little Simz

  25. Gameboy - Masakiio

  26. Acquaintances - Medium Build

  27. Ponyboy - SOPHIE

  28. Feeling Lonely - boy pablo

  29. After The Storm (feat. Tyler, The Creator & Bootsy Collins) - Kali Uchis

  30. Little Chubby Boy - Medium Build


  32. The light is coming - Ariana Grande

  33. Sunflower - Post Malone

  34. Work For You (feat. Kaz Moon) - Medasin

  35. Symbol - Adrianne Lenker

  36. Slacker With a Death Wish - Granddad

  37. Humility (feat. George Benson) - Gorillaz

  38. Somebody Else - Medium Build

  39. Ace - Noname, smino, & Saba

  40. When You Die - MGMT

  41. FUN! - Vince Staples

  42. Excited - Saba

  43. Don’t Miss It - James Blake

  44. Hiding - IAN SWEET

  45. This Is America - Childish Gambino

  46. CALLIGRAPHY - Saba

  47. Common Sense - Lophiile

  48. Turn The Other Cheek - Jay Som

  49. Wasted - Ivy Sole

  50. Wala Cam - Chance the Rapper

  51. No Winners - Demon Days

  52. Backwoods - Ivy Sole

  53. GHOST - Jaden Smith

  54. King of the Hill - Thundercat

  55. Come Over - The Internet

  56. Tints (feat. Kendrick Lamar) - Anderson .Paak

  57. Disco Baby - Demon Days

  58. Start a Riot - Duckwrth

  59. Bad Bad News - Leon Bridges

  60. Elegance - Kilo Kish

  61. I Love it (& Lil Pump) - Kanye West

  62. Boss - Little Simz

  63. QYURRYUS - The Voidz

  64. Tests - Kaye Bollinger

  65. Question - Fat Night

  66. Vibrant - Brasstracks

  67. Acres - Sam Gellaitry

  68. GOKU - Jaden Smith

  69. Ottolenghi - Loyle Carner & Jordan Rakei

  70. Romance - Ex:Re

Top Albums of 2018

  1. Room 25 - Noname

  2. budding ornithologists are weary of tired analogies - Milo

  3. A Furnace in the Coin Fountain - Tsar of Gamble

  4. The OOZ - King Krule

  5. CARE FOR ME - Saba

  6. 3 Scribbles - zack villere

  7. When The Sun Dips 90 Degrees - Yazmin Lacey

  8. 무너지기 (Crumbling) - 공중도둑 (Mid-Air Thief)

  9. softboy - Medium Build

  10. Joonya Spirit - Jaala

The Heavy Hymnals Metal Albums of 2018

I don’t care to do countdown lists, so here is my list of albums of 2018 in no particular order. At the bottom of the list there is a playlist with my a track I think best represents the album.

Behemoth - I Loved You at Your Darkest

This album marks the biggest departure from the tried and true Behemoth formula that we’ve seen yet. Since 2007 (year The Apostasy was released) the band has stuck with shorter names  for their albums and a modern black metal style. I Loved You at Your Darkest marks the first time the band has named an album after a Bible verse (Romans 5:8) as well as a return to their roots with a longer album name. It’s also a surprisingly experimental album from such an established band. The album features slower more blues inspired tracks on it like Bartzabel and God = Dog along with tracks with a more traditional sound from the band such as Wolves ov Siberia. Even with the fairly noticeable changes in style that the band has put into this album it still feels like a Behemoth album. Enough of the bands voicing comes through that you never forget who you are listening to. Infero unleashes some of his best drum work yet with Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica. Nergal keeps his distinct vocal work well presented in this album. Orion laid down solid bass work on the tracks.

Rivers of Nihil - Where Owls Know My Name

This album was released pretty early in the year and managed to find regular play on The Heavy Hymnal and my home all year. I honestly can’t praise this album enough. The mixing and master is top notch, the riffs are heavy, drums are aggressive and technical, and there is a god damn saxophone. Sign me the fuck up. As a recently convert to being a jazz music fan I really appreciated what this band was able to do with their tracks by adding a sax to the lineup. We’ve heard a lot of things from technical death metal bands, but this is one of the best gimmicks I’ve heard in a long time. While the band doesn’t want to be known as “the sax band” I hope they continue their innovative streak in a genre that all too often fails to push boundaries. This is an album that will continue to see heavy rotation in my playlists for a long time to come, and an excellent junior album to a band that has been on a streak of good releases the last 5 years. I can’t wait to hear what these folks have in store for us on their next album.

Toundra - Vortex

While not the heaviest band on this list they are certainly one of the best stylistically. Their albums are meant to be played in full and this album offers one of the best audio journeys they’ve ever produced. The band has been incredibly busy since their last release touring and decided to name this album after one of the venues they have fallen in love with during their life on the road. Tounda has been very outspoken that the believe this is their best album because of the special connection they feel with this venue. I have a hard time expressing why I like this album so much, but this has been one of my favorite albums released this year. The guitar work, drums, and melodies all flow together in such a way that you can’t help but tap your feet and bob your head with the music.

Long Distance Calling - Boundless

Long Distance Calling has been described as the best instrumental metal band that you’ve never heard of, and they often seem to be overshadowed by titans such as Mogwai, If These Trees Could Talk, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. This album, much like the Toundra album that I reviewed earlier creates an incredible complex and beautiful sonic soundscape for you to explore. Unlike other post-metal bands they don’t repeat a riff until it’s seared into your mind so much as they let the track evolve seemingly on it’s own as it plays (similar to a jazz band). The band has gone through several style changes throughout the years, but this album is a nice return to their roots. The album takes the simple stylings of Avoid the Light, and the production wizardry of Long Distance Calling and fuses it wonderful blend that highlights everything that makes post-metal such a special genre. This album features some of the best drum work and guitar effect usage the band has employed.

Skeletal Remains - Devouring Mortality

This album was a bit of a sleeper hit with me. It popped up in a similar artists list and I had never heard of the band but thought their name was awesome and decided to give it a listen. It has since then become one of my favorite albums this year. While the riff work is a bit on the safe side the aggressive sound of Devouring Mortality manages to stay incredibly catchy. I constantly find myself head bobbing and air drumming while listening to this album. The album does everything right and makes no serious missteps.

TesseracT - Sonder

It’s always impressive what these guys can produce. This is one of the best sounding albums I’ve heard all year. All the instruments are clearly presented, and the technicality that the band is known for is pushed further than their previous works. It always impresses me that bands like TesseracT can continue to push themselves further and further down that road and find new ways to develop their sound. As metal continues to push itself technically these guys will continue to find new avenues to explore. This alum is a must listen if you are a fan of djent or anything on the technical side of the spectrum.

Sulphur Aeon - The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos

This album barely made the cut for 2018. It was a super late release around the holiday season, which proved to work in it’s favor for me as I was spending more time in the car driving to and from holiday events so that gave me time to listen to this one. The only thing about this album that was a drawback for me was the tracks start to sound the same after the first 3 so the back half of the album seemed to get less play from me on subsequent listening than the first half.

Slugdge - Esoteric Malacology

By far one of the heaviest albums of the year. I can’t say enough positive things about this album. It saw constant play on the show, and at home. The chugging heavy riffs, the reverb vocals, shredding solos all come together to produce an epic album. If you are a metal fan, please listen to this album. I promise it will not disappoint.

Amorphis - Queen of Time

Another album that featured real guest instruments instead of keyboards or programming. If the metal world keeps up this trend of better production, and having guest collabs the genre might finally shake off it’s shackles of brick walled sound. Not only does this album sound beautiful, but the tracks feature some of the best work from Amorphis, who after a string of mediocre releases finally managed to capture some of the magic that they had during Skyforger. This album saw heavier play at home than it did on the show, but this is an album that is best listened to straight through versus picking individual tracks. I can not strongly recommend this album enough.

Obscura - Diluvium

This album hits all the technical beats you want in a tech death album. The guitar and bass work on this album is some of the best I’ve ever heard. The tracks all managed to be catchy while featuring ear burning levels of shred mastery. The drumming keeps pace with the rest of the band. The album run length is long enough that you don’t get tired of listening before it ends. I am really enjoying the trend of shorter albums this year.

Parius - The Eldritch Realm

This is the 2nd full length album from these folks, and they really crushed it with this album. Easily one of the best sounding metal albums of the year that I listened to. The album manages to feature some awesome tech death work while incorporating humor and homage to Lovecraftian horror and Twilight Zone. Again, it’s an album that falls on the extreme end of short with a 29 minute runtime, but I would rather have the album be shorter than what many of us are used to than be loaded with filler content. This is a band that seems to be getting better and better with each release, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store when they drop their junior album.

Haken - Vector

I think that I am a little biased when it comes to reviewing Haken albums because everything this band has produced is gold. Tracks like The Good Doctor, Puzzle Box, and A Cell Divides show off the band’s ability to incorporate synths and programming into their songs, and the acoustic bridges help the songs land. The catchy riff work, soaring synths, and tight drumming all lead in to the sound that can only be described as Haken. They do a great job incorporating sonic callbacks to previous works and riffing them into a new form. The album manages to be long enough to take you on a journey, but not so long that the band runs out of tricks before the end of it. Something else the band did that I wish was more common was release the instrumentals for the album.

Skeletonwitch - Devouring Radiant Light

This album making the list shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. I’ve regularly played tracks off it on the show and spent a solid month after it’s release detailing how it’s going to end up on my year end list. The fast paced guitar work, simple drumming, and upfront vocals work well to create a cohesive, fantastically produced album full of awesome moments. They band went with quality over quantity on the album and it really shows. All of the tracks feel like they belong on the album, and all have their memorable moments. Whether it be the pans and fills on Fen of Shadows, or the group chorus on Temple of the Sun.

Kevin Swenson
Indigenous Peoples' Day

This year October 8th KSUA will be hosting a special all day event for Indigenous Peoples' Day. Gov. Bill Walker signed Indigenous Peoples’ Day into law 2017. UAF officially started to recognize the holiday on campus the same year, and we are proud to begin to host the radio broadcast of the event this year. This year our broadcast on October 8th will feature stories from Inupiaq Elders, traditional drumming, the history of Traditional Native tattooing, and much more. We are inviting all members of Alaska’s indigenous community to share their stories, history, and culture with KSUA listeners. If you’d like to reach out to someone about Indigenous Peoples' Day please contact Jack Ewers (907)-347-6943 or, or Kellie at (503)-828-4909 KSUA’s studio can be found on UAF Campus 3rd floor of the Constitution Hall building.

For a list of the day’s scheduled broadcast check out the spreadsheet. Please keep in mind that the schedule might change during the broadcast.

Kevin Swenson
College Radio Day

As we celebrate College Radio Day with stations accross the US the staff and volunteers of KSUA wanted to share their opinions on why college radio matters.

Kevin: Growing up in the interior of Alaska made finding new music a challenge. Having a local station to turn to that had such a great variety of music is initially what pulled me into to being a KSUA fan when I was a teen, and now that I work at KSUA it gives me a sense of pride in where I work. Being a station where all the programming is run by members of our community lets me see how varied our small community really is. Every semester I’m blown away at how many new volunteers are excited to work alongside station veterans. Anytime I see a KSUA bumper sticker in the wild I get excited to see how much pride members of the community have in our station.

Philip: College radio matters to me because it an underlying backbone of the Fairbanks music and art scene. When I think of the most inspiring and influential people that I knew or knew of in the last few decades I am inevitably led back to KSUA. For me, college radio was one of the the ways into a community of open-minded artistic people who made me feel like I had a place in this town. The appreciation for music here transcends all categories. For me, KSUA will always be the embodiment of the iconoclastic Fairbanks spirit, and I believe it will live on forever!

Tara: In a world filled with corporate radio stations with no consideration for local taste, interests, or issues, college radio remains an independent source of expression that really matters. College Radio gives students a place to learn, express themselves, find confidence, and grow with a community. I am so thankful for my time at KSUA radio and the friends I have met along the way.

Khan: The fun and spontaneity of College Radio was exposed to me by my high school music teacher. I was helping to run our school's radio program at KCAW and having a blast. He must have noticed, because he invited to check me out of our boarding school dorms to come onto his own late night show on KCAW, simply titled "College Radio" hosted by him and another local DJ. Every show began by blasting "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell", which set the free-form goofy improv precedent for the next two hours. I've strived to take that energy to KSUA and onto my own show "Subject to Change" with myself and bff. College Radio is a medium that we can't afford to lose!

College radio matters to me as it’s been an important way for me to express myself through literature, and involvement with the community.” Austyn, host of Literally Literal Fridays 11am to 12pm. He is a new volunteer here at KSUA and already his show has been a big hit. He reads short stories live on air, and this month he’s been doing horror themed stories.

Kevin Swenson
Oneohtrix Point Never - Age Of “Age Of” Review

Oneohtrix Point Never - “Age Of” review

And so begins Philip Glowa’s Music Blog for KSUA 91.5 FM.

So this came out on June 1st I believe. It is probably something like his 20th full-length record? Daniel Lopatin a.k.a. Oneohtrix Point Never (OPN) has a lot of singles & EPs too. Discogs says 51 in total, and also this guy invented vaporwave back in 2010 with his “eccojams” which were just endless loops of chopped & screwed pop song hooks with lots of delay and reverb (check out END OF LIFE ENTERTAINMENT SCENARIO #1). Basically, D-Lo has released a lot of music in the last ten years and he has been quite influential.

That kind of taking apart and re-molding of cultural miscellany has continued to inform OPN’s music ever since, but with every album he’s gotten a bit more hyper. Anyhow let us get to this album. “Age Of” is a bit of a mixed bag, as they say. Like Gorp or something, unless you love chompin down on a bunch of weird shit all at once, you might not like every moment of this album. I’d say it is OPN’s take on a prog album or something. The album starts out with the title track “Age Of”, which is kind of grandiose with harpsichords n’ such boppin around with static yelps and screams ripping it apart. It has a bit of a free jazz sound, which is promptly negated by the following track.

There are several attempts at what one might consider “pop” songs on this record. There’s “Babylon” which sounds like a Bon Iver outtake, “The Station” which actually started as an instrumental commissioned by Usher but was rejected. This tune is pretty deece. It has this grunge/90’s rnb hybrid thing going on and then it fades into space ambience over a general midi guitar loop. Feels a bit like a cop-out. Then there is “Black Snow” which has this beat poet / country singer / android vibe going on. A leisurely paced tune that dips into the uncanny valley as it goes on with strange inhaling noises and groaning sounds. Those are really the three tunes that border on being “pop”.

Peppered between those 3 tunes are “Manifold”, which is a contemplative interlude that is a good aural synecdoche for the rest of the album. It fuses a pleasantly sombre piano ostinato with wailing synths and distorted and reversed rhythmic screaming. There is “Toys 2” which apparently was OPN making a hypothetical main theme for a sequel to the 1992 bizzaro fantasy movie starring Robin Williams. It’s a slightly bombastic and positive sounding piece that is very melodic, yet doesn’t forget to add some creepy distorted bits. It almost settles into a loopy new age loop that was one of the defining features of his 2013 album, “R Plus Seven”. However, it doesn’t capture the feeling of awe that I got from that album.

Anyhow, after “Black Snow” it gets into the good stuff (for me, at least). “” serves as a minute-long bridge into the second half of the album, which I find to be the more compelling half. The interude features aquatic knocking, crows squawking, more glitchy harpsichord noodling, and a creepy Ligeti choir outro. Then we get “Warning” which is a tense and cinematic thing that has this ominous voice repeating “WARNING, WARNING, WARNING, WARNING”, etc. It has sounds of glass breaking and seamlessly transitions into something like a trap beat with kind of paint-by-numbers OPNisms carrying it out.

“We’ll Take It” follows, with spacious metallic reverb surrounding a beat that sounds like someone harshly pulling on packing tape. There are deep and militaristic pads that remind me of the game MDK (check it out sometime). It of course, abruptly ends, like most things on this album. “Same” is one of the cooler moments on this album, with collaborator ANOHNI’s highly processed vocals providing some kind of cultish refrain while the space around the track flitters around in glitched out chaos and screaming while ironically falling into religious sounding choir and organ.

“RayCats” is where the album takes the best turn, IMO. It hones in on an energy and aesthetic that I wish this album would’ve focused on. Basically this tune, “Still Stuff That Doesn’t Happen” and “Last Known Image Of A Song” feel a bit like a suite. They have a similar kind of sombre, noir-ish jazzy sound comprised of verb’d out pads, melodic dulcimer passages, acoustic bass, brushed snares, culminating in an enjoyable melancholy. I’d love to hear an entire album of this kind of posthuman jazz…(hint: there are plenty of albums out there that achieved just that, like, 30 years ago).

All that said, I would recommend anyone watch the music video for “Black Snow” if they want to see some real surrealist shit.

Phil Glowa

“Culture II” Is An Unfocused, Unworthy Sequel To The Original


Never will there be a socially accepted pity party to pacify the plight of a superstar. Still, all the riches and success often ignore the effort it takes to maintain that notoriety at the top of the food chain. Eminem recently showed a legend’s vulnerability on his quest to please varying audiences through his latest LP, resulting in his lowest received album of his career. And despite having a legacy that single-handedly altered the DNA of both Hip Hop and R&B, Drake will forever be blemished by the moment he had to admit he uses individuals “to spark” ideas, a sugar-coated phrase for ghostwriting.

And now it’s Migos — who’ve enjoyed the past 365 days and some change — eclipsing career milestones. Thanks to their Billboard-topping Culture album + “Bad and Boujee” package deal that brought forth mainstream crossover ubiquity and more paid appearances than a former U.S. president — who are feeling the pressure to stay scorching. Culture II arrives a full year after its predecessor in obvious efforts to duplicate the massive status bump but the tight-knit trio of Quavo, Offset and Takeoff instead pull a 180° and drop off a thumb drive of songs that completely undermines their self-proclaimed “biggest group ever” title.

That’s not to say the first Culture installment was the trap genre’s answer to The Police’s Synchronicity; an impenetrable hit-laden classic that simply calls for a curtain call. Yet, between the aforementioned “Bad and Boujee” and other all-inclusive catchiness like “T-Shirt” and “Slippery,” the group easily joined the ranks of rap’s upper echelon. But Migos appear to have overlooked the time and dedication it takes to create a sound body of work. The past year has seen Quavo rise as a leading guest feature, event host and budding TV star while Offset has given Instagram followers real deal Love & Hip Hop episodes through his relationship with Cardi B. The cousins also extended their rapping talents into adjacent 2017 projects (with Travis Scott and 21 Savage, respectively) and their stretched dedication sets the stage for the generally unassuming Takeoff to easily outshine his Migos brethren all throughout Culture II.

The sheer incredulity alone of trying to pass off 24 new records as “quality control” is insulting as virtually every song title serves as the chorus with the assembly treatment. On the failed buzz single, “Supastars,” Quavo croons “Supastars, supastars, supastars out” atop a smattering of whizzing 8-bit Nintendo sound effects, and the anticipated Drake feature, “Walk It Talk It” is deflated by the Migos’ leader’s stilted delivery of “Walk it like I talk it (walk it)/Walk it like I talk it,” thrown on the blender’s highest setting. This coming from someone who’s been responsible for some of rap’s biggest sing-a-long moments in the past couple of years.


In fact, Quavo’s lack of highlights throughout the album’s 100+ minute duration isn’t limited to wack hooks. His bars this time around are ripe with Bill Walton-level sports commentary (“Shoot like I play for the Duke”; “Catch a Babe Ruth/The bat I batted the bat”; “Look at my muscles/MVP the whole game/Quavo Russell.”)

The creativity scrapes the bottom of the barrel on “Too Much Jewelry,” which, as the song title indicates, finds Zaytoven’s space-age production being wasted with four minutes explaining the afflicted lifestyle of owning more ice than the polar caps.

While the bulk of the songs can’t disguise their rush-job origins, tinges of Trap Boy Magic do spring up from time to time. Wedged near the end of the elongated tracklist, surprisingly pure “Made Men” officially marks the ATLiens’ venture into traditional Hip Hop territory. Although it was billed as a precursor for greater things to come, “Motorsport” — a Hemi engine of trap powered by both unleaded testosterone and estrogen (the latter delivered by Nicki Minaj and Cardi B) is the project’s most sturdy pillar and indicates Migos didn’t exactly lose their talent as much as their focus.

A close second arrives in the form of “Stir Fry,” an energetic rocker that finds Pharrell continuing with the buoyancy displayed all through N.E.R.D.’s last album. All three Migos deliver enthusiastic commercial-ready performances — as in perfect for any streaming service or home studio TV spot. Regardless, the few bright moments still alleviate the task of having to comb through radio reaches like the sugary “Gang Gang,” the boring “Bad + Boujee” clone “Beast,” or “White Sand,” where Travis Scott, Big Sean and Ty Dolla Sign hit the beach to simply squander studio time.

It should probably matter more that Culture II is a dud, but in today’s feeding frenzy musical climate, its lack of cohesion won’t prevent concertgoers enduring the forgettable records just to see “Bad and Boujee” performed live; nor will it quell any future “Migos Nights” at Atlanta Hawks games; nor will it stop the bag.

But when one considers how often star artists are able to completely command the anticipation, it becomes clear that Culture II will go down as a missed opportunity to obtain immortality. An opportunity that may never come again.

Review by Trent Clark via


Diet Cig and Ian Sweet Concert @ UAF

Photos by Connor Grasso

Connor Grasso




Latest release by Sharp Cheddar, a new label by Perris Dietrich (Shisa) that seems to be replacing his previous label, Hopesick Cola. The opening track is heavy, distorted, with sludge guitars, horns and oboe toms. It rises into a crescendo and turns into an epic rock ballad. “pillow fight + tokyo race” is completely different sounding. It starts out with a slowed down vocal with brevity and piano, then a house melody cuts in and out. Eventually the song rides and bass claps tweak in. There is a moment of silence before everything takes a turn in a whole ‘nother direction. “LOVE [remix]” is a chopped and screwed Korean rapper. Its really well done.

genre: devotional hardcore



Ill Goth is another new label started by Ann Drew Lou from Vancouver, BC. The label’s mission statement is posted in their bandcamp description as: “began from the resonance of intersecting points // forced identity.” “Absolute Destruction of Control II” is a compilation including 8 separate artists.

The first track is by Max Renn titled “STAMINA.” The track has glowing synths and retro drum machines. While Renn’s song is more minimal techno, Neon Annex follows up with a synthwave techno hybrid. Its hits really hard and is quick to infect. Its like hard 80s with an instant 90s afterwards. “Introjection” is the name of that song.

RiDylan return to the minimal wave sounds in “Backlit”, a very cyberpunk song. Usd. creates the song “SORM-3” with very abrasive textures in an industrial manner. It’s easily one of the most experimental tracks on this compilation. “subterfuge 2” by Matt Tecson and Tom Prilesky is a mixture of ambient noise and techno.

NAP’s “MC03” uses very contrasting elements to bring out a very spiritual experience. There are deep pummeling drums, soft wind, cutting arps and heavy breaths. “Guzen” by thegn is very straightforward and would fit well with any fighting game or inner city stroll.

genre: ebm


Yeule – Pathos

Yeule is an electronic artist based out of London, UK. I had first heard of her through her self titled release with Zoom Lens. At the time of that release, I believe she was based out of Singapore, Malaysia. “pathos” is a less pop-oriented than her self-titled with Zoom Lens and it definitely feels like a more personal album.

“Desire” is very drifting and longing. It reminds me of a My Bloody Valentine song without all the guitars and Kevin Shields. “Tint” carries a mood-intensive rhythm and yet everything sounds perfectly placed. It maximizes with only a drum track, keyboard, vocal and percussion.

“Soul Catcher” is another downtempo ambient track. It is happy but melancholy at the same time. Everything sounds bare and cold, but the melody is happy.

genre: bedroom landscapes

Connor Grasso