Out of Obscurity

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EHhB1: Vocal Harmony & A Cappella from Jacob Collier & Hyperpotamus

Stream our picks here (but do also buy them if you can afford it):   https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lYasLPwrQ7z0-pepR1n43ZT-Fdl3QSWnc 



Listen to songs by Hannah Backward:  https://soundcloud.com/hannah-backward 


This episode is the longest one yet, so no worries if you want to skip to parts that interest you.

Structure:  Background, JC’s YouTube videos, Tiny Desk concerts (up to 8:30); Instrumental & vocal virtuosity and technical skill, guests in the studio, parental appreciation of JC (8:29-12:05); Popularity with musicians but not yet the general public, the relevance of Grammy Awards, can jazz musicians be superstars?, Hannah’s listening habits & favorites (12:05-17:20); Close listening as opposed to background music, situations when she listens to music or podcasts, complexity/quality/desire to listen to something, impressiveness versus what music she could have done herself (17:20-22:40); Music as “a coloring book” with rules and whether or not it’s art, which prominent artists “can’t sing”?  (22:40-30:55); A tasty dish according to J.Gold is likelier w/ a smaller number of ingredients?  Not so for music?  (30:55-33:00); the album “Djesse Vol.2” and shifting preferences in its songs, African cultural appropriation, Gospel & Kanye (33:00-38:06); Is JC “obscure enough” for OoO? (38:06-39:10); “Here Comes the Sun” & cover songs generally, can a young person cover standards and classics with gravitas and sufficient emotion? An instrument versus a voice conveying emotions with words, vocal affectation and experimentation, subtle variations in harmony (39:10-49:26); More music education in public schools to understand JC’s music?  Musical talent versus academic study.  Musicals and being outed as a non-fan of Randy Rainbow (49:26-56:58); The album as a whole, Hannah cares not for genre or DJ Poseur’s activism, vocal loops by JC and Sparks, workout music & repetition  (56:58-1:03:19); Do we like music music that we want to make ourselves? More “amp you up” workout music, Hannah rejects more categories and dichotomies but is an album listener, what do we skip and why? (1:03:19-1:07:18); R&B on the radio & DJ Poseur’s Beijing roommate revenge for Mariah Carey, R&B and JC’s commercial success, videos of the musicians playing the song, JC’s discography (1:07:18-1:14:22); Hannah’s rating system will not be forthcoming (1:14:22-1:18:17); Could DJ Poseur like an album by an artist he doesn’t like?  His rating of “Djesse Vol.2” in a roundabout way through middle school music class (1:18:17-1:24:05); Transition between picks, skinny dark-haired white dudes who sing a lot, Hyperpotamus covering The Beatles and other familiar pop songs versus JC’s ways, cringeworthy comparisons of awe and musical skillz (1:24:05-1:35:30); pop music versus opera in vocal virtuosity, obscure/hidden talents versus being “world best” at something everyone (thinks they) can do, how to go viral with a music video or not (1:35:30-1:41:57); Specs for “Delta” and general thoughts on a cappella’s fit with “pop” or “experimental” music (1:41:57-1:46:14); “Delta” versus “Largo Bailón” and “taking drums literally” , novelty albums and formulaic songwriting, unexpected bassline placement, love-themed lyrics, a cappella & psychic powers (1:46:14-1:55:15); Noisier elements and when do his loops come together and sound like a song?, RIYLS with vocal loops or pedal board composition (1:55:15-1:59:14); Attempts at rating and comparison between album picks, revisiting whether the possibility of one being able to make a particular kind of music oneself as a musician influences liking it, Hannah’s a cappella history and ambition (1:59:14-2:02:56); DJ Poseur’s rating of “Delta”, what’s annoying enough to turn off or skip?  For Hannah, it’s autotune. (2:02:56 to end)


Disclaimer article for JC being too popular/well known for OoO:  https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/nov/28/jacob-collier-grammy-nomination-best-album


JC’s cover of “Here Comes the Sun”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXf1nUVdVuM 

Hyperpotamus’ cover of “Strawberry Fields Forever”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zr9syen5Lw 

Hyperpotamus’ most-viewed music video (91k views, not 40k as DJ Poseur misspeaks) “In the Time”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK_bkWreCdo  


RIYL for JC:  Nickel Creek, old musicals (for Djesse v.2)  more generally...Stevie Wonder, Jamiroquai, funky/soulful 1970s jazz/R&B, The Manhattan Transfer, PM Dawn, Sonik Boom of Love

RIYL Hyperpotamus:  A Cappella music, Emily Wells, Pentatonix, Chanticlear, Rag Fair, Björk's "Medúlla"


For reference, DJ Poseur gets the scale wrong when comparing the number of views for YouTube videos.  As of late Feb. 2021, “Gangnam Style” and “Baby Shark” are in the billions, not hundreds of millions like Pentatonix.  Jacob Collier’s “Djesse Vol. 2” has about 25 thousand views.  Hyperpotamus’ “Delta” album has a little over a dozen views.    

Obscurity Quiz HhB1: A Cappella (Mostly)

Welcome a new cohost, HannahBackward, to give her thoughts on AMG, a cappella music, and whether megasites like Amazon and YouTube are too evil for OoO.  An addendum cross-references AMG user ratings with YouTube views for extra empirical excitement!

EKR3: Gabby’s World & акульи слёзы (Sharks Tears) w/ DJ Keep Roomie & DJ Karev

Buy our album picks here:  https://gabbysworld.bandcamp.com/album/o-k




GW RIYL:  Epoch Collective (Bellows, Florist, etc.), Frankie Cosmos, Mitski, Beach Bunny, Mus, K Records 

ST RIYL:  Slowdive, 4AD Label, Projekt Label, Beach House?, Lush


Structure:  Where DJs Keep Roomie & Karev heard of Gabby’s World/Eskimeaux (up to 3:50); review of “OK” (3:50-14:45); Gabby’s voice (14:45-17ish); Her future & discography & possibly offensive language on “Year of the Rabbit” (17ish-20:59); the hipster elephant in the room & the collaborative spirit, friendship, name changes (20:59-26ish); Will DJ Karev be a solo artist or form a band? (26:15-28); An explicit hipster accusation on cassettes https://varioussmallflames.co.uk/2015/06/15/eskimeaux-o-k/. (28ish-35:09) & the quantitative social science methodology of measuring “how hipster” any particular artist/band is https://news.avclub.com/here-are-the-mathematically-determined-most-hipster-b-1798266690?utm_campaign  ; Ratings for “OK” (35:09-36:45); Transitional plug for buying our picks on Bandcamp & eMusic cheaply (36:45-37:20); Female-fronted and all-girl bands, DJ Karev’s preferences for all but solo male artists (37:20-43:00); Films of Lukas Moodysson w/ young female protagonists, especially “We Are the Best!” (43:00-45:28); Review of “Experience the Charm” (45:28-49:27); Shoegaze Vs. Dream Pop (49:27-52ish); Live versus studio work, lyrics in a foreign language, & heavy rotation (52ish-53); More on dream pop & synth-pop of greater distinction, the 80s, extreme obscurity (53-56:27); Choosing tracks to highlight (or play on college radio) on an album that blends together, no handicaps or “grading on a curve” (56:27-1:00:30); Beach House’s dream pop superiority according to DJs Karev & Keep Roomie and Trans Am as a more synthetic voice (1:00:30-1:04:40); Ratings of “Experience the Charm” (1:04:40-1:06:40); What does it mean to rate something a 5 or below?  Is anything above a 5 (or 3/5) positive?


Obscurity Quiz Lo-fi Bedroom Pop with DJ Karev & DJ Keep Roomie

Our voice of the youth returns to share her views on lo-fi music, hipster bedroom pop, and what she thinks counts as obscure, with another ranking of five albums from famous to largely unknown.

Scheduled Digression 3: NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts with DJ Keep Roomie & DJ Karev

NPR’s Tiny Desk official page:  https://www.npr.org/series/tiny-desk-concerts/ 

Wikipedia lists all the Tiny Desk concerts:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiny_Desk_Concerts 


Structure:  Introducing DJ Karev & comparing her listening habits to teenage cousins recorded previously (up to 5:06); Background on “Tiny Desk” concerts on National Public Radio (NPR) (up to 12:57); DJ Karev’s concert-going experiences & which ones we’ve actually seen live in person (up to 15:30); DJ Karev’s Top 5 Tiny Desk picks (15:30-29:47); Transitioning from a boy band to a “serious artist” (27:24-29:47); DJ Keep Roomie’s Top 5 Tiny Desk picks (29:47-1:00); Is DJ Karev allowed to explore music on her own, or does DJ Keep Roomie assign it all to her professorially? (46:05-49:00); Authenticity versus performance in pop, and notably excluded hip-hop in our picks (as well as early Tiny Desks) (50:10-55:35); DJ Poseur’s other four picks (1:00-1:12); Other “freak-out jams” (1:12-1:14); When will concerts return?  (1:14-1:17); Criteria for a good or bad Tiny Desk concert and whether we’ve liked any artists/bands/musicians less after seeing them in concert (whether on a Tiny Desk or in person) (1:17-conclusion)


DJ Karev’s Top 5 (in order discussed):  Phoebe Bridgers, Ben Folds, Eskimeaux, Adele, Harry Styles


DJ Keep Roomie’s Top 5 (in order discussed):  Billy Corgan, Courtney Barnett, Julia Jacklin, Aldous Harding, Cate Le Bon


DJ Poseur’s Top 5 (in order of preference): 1. Cornelius, 2. Gogol Bordello, 3. OK Go, 4. Y La Bamba, 5. Cate Le Bon

Scheduled Digression: Asian Edition 1 - Supermarket 超级市场 with Chiara & 小刘 (Xiao Liu)

For anyone who want to practice listening to Mandarin, the raw audio is also available.  This version edits it out for brevity.

Supermarket may be the most prolific, if not the most famous, Chinese band making genre-defying experimental electronic music.  They can sound like synth-pop, post-rock, and dystopian soundscapes, all in a way that could only come from the PRC.

Structure:  Favorite songs & albums (up to 8:40); Evolving sound, comparable bands, & hardships (up to 18:18); The concert in Fangshan, Beijing (18:18); Activities while listening (29:00); Lyrical themes (35:00);  Use of samples —> industrial, post-punk, goth (39:47); Lyrics in foreign languages & bands with clearer roots (47:35); New Pants, Miserable Faith Big Band TV show winners & more commercial bands (54:38); Political control of music in China (59:51) and  Quitting (昨天) film.

EKR2: Grand Drive “True Love & High Adventure” & T.W. Walsh “Songs of Pain & Leisure”

Purchase our picks here:  https://www.discogs.com/sell/release/1502455?ev=rb 





Or, if you must, stream them:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lH4lL-zgluCwIrg-9nWkQ2sANlbyYibuM   https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_k8vCZXorL1l8UYwX-mrAx1v4jyZc5uqDw


GD RIYL:  Jayhawks, Golden Smog, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub, Radar Bros., Calexico, Devendra Banhart, Mercury Rev

TWW RIYL:  Pedro the Lion, M.Ward, Built to Spill, Radar Bros., Neil Young, Dinosaur Jr.?

D&tCotW RIYL:  Dylan, Springsteen

Episode structure:  “True Love & High Adventure” until (27:00).  Consideration of Alt. Country & genre until (31:29), then switching to “Americana” and Danny & the Champions of the World until (38:10).  Nick Lowe as an Americana musician until (41:10).  Former bands (i.e. Pedro the Lion) & solo work until (41:40).  “Songs of Pain & Leisure” & “Blue Laws” quoting Scaruffi.com at (42:45) DJ Keep Roomie’s tastes (51:08)  RIYLS take big swings & misses (52:10) Austin City Limits, M. Ward, Dan Bern (from 55:20)

Obscurity Quiz Alt. Country with DJ Keep Roomie

Midterm exams have slowed our production schedule, but we're gearing up for an episode on two fine albums approaching alt. country from different angles.  Consider this Obscurity Quiz a quick background on some fixtures of the subgenre and a teaser for the upcoming alternative hootenanny of opinions.  

EKR1: Kacey Johansing - “Grand Ghosts” & Shilpa Ray “Door Girl”

Purchase our picks here:  https://kaceyjohansing.bandcamp.com/album/grand-ghosts



KJ RIYL:  Cate Le Bon, Aimee Mann, Julia Holter, Anna Calvi, Elanors, Liz Durrett

SR RIYL:  Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Holly Golightly, Patti Smith, The Gossip, Blondie, musical storytelling/autobiography generally


Episode structure:  “Grand Ghosts” until (24:50), “Door Girl” until (1:04:20) when we bring up a topic for a future “Scheduled Digression” about best albums of every year we’ve been alive.

Obscurity Quiz Female Vocalists in the 2010s with DJ Keep Roomie

An old friend from college steps up to the challenge and the world of user ratings on AMG to rank six of his favorite albums of the 2010s from obscure to famous.  A preview for a coming episode on Shilpa Ray’s “Door Girl” and “Grand Ghosts” by Kacey Johansing, as well as lists of your favorite albums for every year you’ve been alive.

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