What are they listening to at Duke this week? It’s our weekly college radio Top 10 countdown, with a visit to WXDU, a station that embodies the classic ’80s spirit of campus broadcasting, keeps up with the latest hard rock and electronic sounds, and incorporates welcome strains of North Carolina music culture in the form of offbeat country and vintage soul.
In addition to R&B legend Bobby Patterson, old school college radio heroes J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr), David Kilgour (The Clean), and Stuart Argabright (Ike Yard) have all scored new hits; psychedelic garage guru Ty Segall, stoner rock blazers White Hills, and electric soundscape makers Wildest Dreams provide contemporary blasts of sonic adventure; while alt-country, in a true sense, is represented by contemporary Brooklyn twangers Karen & the Sorrows and a compilation of off-kilter deep cuts from some of Nashville’s mightiest titans.
So let’s dive in to WXDU’s top ten for a snazzy snapshot of College Radio 2014, and be sure to check out the station online to groove to what they’ve got going on wherever you are…
David Kilgour and the Heavy 8s: End Times Undone (Merge)
New Zealand’s supreme indie pop master David Kilgour followed up assembling and issuing this year’s 46-track Anthology collection by his signature band The Clean with this lilting, beguiling, long-in-the-works solo effort. Dive in and jangle away.
Ty Segall: Manipulator (Drag City)
Sunbaked California multi-instrumentalist Ty Segall’s grandly ambitious double-LP Manipulator launches listeners higher than ever with a 17-song onslaught of raucous grooves, helium vocals, and scorched earth rave-ups.
Various Artists: Country Funk, Volume II: 1967-1974 (Light in the Attic)
The follow-up to the 2012 compilation Country Funk 1969-1975, Light in the Attic ‘s Volume II adjusts the time span a bit and delivers 17 more rare, rollicking dollops of punchy C&W infused with hard-edged R&B swagger. Megastars Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers all deliver tracks, along with Townes Van Zandt, Hoyt Axton, Jackie DeShannon, Bobby Darin, and Jim Ford–who Sly Stone once anointed, “the baddest white man on the planet.”
J Mascis: Tied to a Star (Sub Pop)
Dinosaur Jr’s shy lightning wizard takes a moment between his concurrent power pop outfit Sweet Apple and thundering psych jam squad Heavy Blanket to unleash a lush, invigorating solo album that tilts largely toward the acoustic, but never skimps on lacerating and heartfelt emotion.
White Hills: Glitter Glamour Atrocity (Thrill Jockey)
NYC space rock cadets White Hills initially self-released Glitter Glamour Atrocity in 2007. Newly remastered by Heba Kadry and hot off the inclusion of the song “Under Skin or by Name” in the Jim Jarmusch vampire flick Only Lovers Left Alive, GGA is out now from Thrill Jockey with fresh artwork in both CD and LP form.
Black Rain: Dark Pool (Blackest Ever Black)
Stuart Argabright has been inspiring and terrorizing electronic music fans since the late ’70s, when his seminal Ike Yard ensemble helped establish the sounds that came to define post-punk, industrial, hip hop, and unhinged techno—only more evil. Black Rain, Arabight’s latest incarnation, provides new levels of blight and bleakness to toss yourself into, plus it’s got a beat that somebody, somewhere is going to dance to…
Wildest Dreams: Wildest Dreams (Smalltown Supersound)
DJ Harvey, the disc-spinning British impresario credited with importing disco and house beats to Europe, assembled an anonymous band likened to legendary ’70s session players the Wrecking Crew to create a sonic conjuring of Los Angeles and the jagged, gleaming, gloriously perilous environs that surround it. Take the trip.
Bobby Patterson: I Got More Soul! (Omnivore)
Louder than life Texas R&B great Bobby Patterson turned 70 earlier this year, but this new studio album showcases his voice and energy coming off with the identical vibrant vitality that rules his classic recordings.
Karen & the Sorrows: The Names of Things (self-released)
The official Queer-Country combo of Karen & the Sorrows ride out of Brooklyn with effectively weepy tunes of toe-tapping heartbreak–often set to mournfully lovely steel pedal guitar, plus powerfully sad ‘n sweet vocals.