Interview with Muscle and Marrow

by Megan Lent

Muscle and Marrow are a great, fairly new band based in Portland, Oregon. I spoke with musician Kira Alexandra Clark about Muscle and Marrow, her influences, and how she makes music.

UCLA Radio: How did Muscle and Marrow form? Where did you get the name?

Kira: Muscle and Marrow went through two formations before this one. I knew that I desperately wanted to play my music, and I also knew I needed other people to do that, as the songs certainly call for additional instrumentation.  I had a couple of bad experiences with the wrong people and finally talked Keith, who is my partner, into playing drums on some recordings. He was playing piano in another band at the time and considered himself a retired drummer, but ultimately I’m pretty persuasive and a year later, here we are. I can’t imagine doing this with anyone else. It’s the most intimate, tedious, and frightening thing I’ve shared with anyone.

The name is a line from a poem I wrote. It references both fragility and strength which I have a lot of, and so does the music.

What are your main musical influences? What kind of genre would you consider yourself a part of, if you consider yourself a part of a genre at all?

Swans, Chelsea Wolfe, The Body, PJ Harvey, Shannon Wright, Fiona Apple. I am drawn to anything completely insane and dark and guttural and to anyone, especially if they’re female, who comes completely unhinged when they perform as though it cannot be avoided. I’ve always felt an otherness and to see anyone, especially a woman, who is utterly mad and commanding and undone is very moving for me.

We have no idea what genre we are in. We know that we like to play with dark bands. We also like to play with heavy bands. Sometimes we refer to our sound as atmospheric doom. Sometimes people refer to it as gothic. We don’t know what anything means.

Are you excited about Portland’s music scene? Or any other cities’? What bands are you really into supporting?

We are just starting to become excited about Portland’s scene. When we first started, we couldn’t find our people. The bands in the Portland scene who get a lot of attention are incredibly talented, but we really had to dig around here to feel any sort of personal community. We think we’re starting to find our people however. It turns out there’s a huge heavy music scene here. You just have to do more than read The Portland Mercury.

Our top two bands right now are Haunted Horses from Seattle and A Volcano from Portland. A Volcano is truly weird and their live show is something close to terrifying and spiritual. 

What are other influences, not musical ones? What inspires you?

Poetry. Artists in general. Women writers. Feminist artists. Experimental performance art. Experimental film. People who devote themselves to art and are not scared of that. My friend Lindsay inspires me. Emily Dickinson inspires me. That sheer desire to create, to make things. I am influenced by any sort of art that unsettles me. Going on walks alone at night inspires me.

What were your favorite albums when you were a teenager? Any “guilty pleasures?”

Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, though I think I was a bit younger than a teenager. Nirvana. Neutral Milk Hotel. Bright Eyes. Cursive. Currently I’ve been listening to a lot of Tupac which I also enjoyed as a teenager, though the listening experience this time around has been a much more serious and political one. As far as guilty pleasures go I love, love top 40 rap.

All of your merch and photos have a really great style! Where does it all come from?

Thank you! It became clear that we had to start thinking about “branding.” We had and still have some conflicting emotions about it because it doesn’t seem very pure or organic, but honestly, I am not above vanity and it’s beneficial for us and the music to present ourselves in a certain way. I’m vaguely comfortable with exploring the idea of fashion as an art form or at least a creative expression. The branding is the visual aspect of the music that has to somehow communicate something about the music, so I guess we look at it as fun and necessary, but we’re also unsure ultimately how we feel about ego and image. Anyhow we definitely knew the photos had to be ethereal in nature, feminine but also gritty, like the music. We collaborate with who we’re working with in that regard, but so much of this is DIY at this point, that we’ve definitely had to develop a strong sense of vision for ourselves, and then find the right people to help implement that vision. Maybe one day I will be someone’s artistic prop and they will take my body and do wonderful things with it, and I’ll get to stop worrying about branding. Anyhow we’ve been lucky to have really talented photographers, artists and graphic designers working with us.

What is your songwriting and recording process like?

I write totally alone in my room on a guitar. I write simple, repetitive, droning songs that I wail over. When I’m ready I show little pieces to Keith who then usually starts singing it with me as I play it. Then we take it to the practice space and work on it again and again. Things about the song change in that process. We work on tone, tempo, structure etc. Then he will take the song and create samples to fill it in. That’s when the world is really completed. Once Keith gets a hold of the song it grows flesh over its skeleton.

Our recording process was done entirely analogue. We fought a little bit and I cried a little bit, but mostly it was okay. I’ve learned a lot and I already have ideas concerning the next album. I want to be more meticulous, subtler, patient.

Will you be performing in California any time soon?

Yes! We’re playing San Jose 8/20 at The Rock Shop, Oakland 8/21 at Eli’s Mile High Club, Fresno 8/22, and possibly LA 8/23. All of the details and up to date tour dates can be found at muscleandmarrow.com. 

Comedy Show Review: Not Too Shabby

by Sara Karim

When you’re a broke college student, a free comedy show is never a bad idea. At midnight on Fridays, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre opens its doors to present Not Too Shabby. Hosted by Harris Wittels (Parks and Recreation, Eastbound and Down) and Armen Weitzman (Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous, Burning Love), Not Too Shabby is a sketch show wherein comedians of the UCB sketch community test out skits with reckless abandon.

From an exotic dancer who confronts her “stalker” (an unsuspecting audience member) to an improv group (how meta…) dealing with a heckling frat boy, the sketches are refreshing and hilarious. At the very end, the hosts do a small improv scene with two of the writers and stars of The Birthday Boys on IFC that was without question the most enjoyable part of the show.

If you don’t want to go home but you can’t stay wherever you may be, go to UCB and see some of the best and weirdest in comedy. It’s truly well worth your time.

Tim Minchin @ the Wilshire Ebell Theatre 5/29

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of seeing the fantastic musical comedian Tim Minchin, at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre.  As I approached the historical venue that blends very well into a quiet area near Koreatown, the first thing I noticed was the crowd gathered outside: a collection of middle aged pony-tailed men, punky teenagers, nerdy college students, and classy old people. An interesting bunch for an oddball artist.  There was also $1 coffee, tea, and hot cocoa, so the Ebell immediately won my love.

After the full house was seated, the show began.  His entrance onto the stage immediately sent red flags to the audience that “yes, this show is going to make you laugh extremely hard so I hoped you all used the little spectator’s room.”  Mr. Minchin, holding his glass of red wine, strode out onto the stage, wearing his usual all black attire, heavy eyeliner, and sporting mad scientist-like red hair.  He announced that it was his first live show in 2 years, and gave a disclaimer that he didn’t know what was going to happen that night.  Although he stumbled with lyrics a few times, he was always met with laughter and applause, which he responded to with “Fuck You!” in his twangy Australian accent.  
His subjects ranged from the struggles of being ginger (“Prejudice”), to atheism (“Thank You God”) to love (“If I Didn’t Have You”).  At some concerts, I tend to daze of for a bit, listening to the music but zoning out and not being truly present.  However throughout his set I clung to every word, because everything he said and sang was pure gold.  One of his last songs was “Dark Side,” a lengthy ballad which discusses how he responds when a girl tells him he’s lacking emotional depth because of his consistently happy manner.  During the song he hardcore solo’d all over the grand, improvising for about 5 minutes and even sneaking in a quick “Fur Elise” reference.  By the climax he already had us in stitches, but nearly killed everyone at the last chorus by turning on a wind machine to majestically blow his hair.
Three encores later, he bid us goodnight, and everyone filed out of the theatre with a smile on their face. 
Meet the DJs: Winter 2014 Interns

Kareem. 2nd year. Psychology major, English minor. 

Why did you decide to join UCLARadio?
I am a big fan of sharing stories and/or information over different forms of media and radio was definitely one of them. Also, I’ve interned before and really love the people here. Big fan of wearing those headphones too. 

What’s been your favorite album released in the past year?
Sixth Street EP by Yuna. I love the soulful, jazzy type music she creates with killer lyrics to beat. I think she brings a very unique form of personality to the indie music scene, adding a little bit diversity and originality to an already convoluted genre: a very difficult thing to do. But maybe I’m bias because she is from Malaysia, and so am I.


Brenda. 2nd year. Music History major.

Why did you decide to join UCLARadio?
I joined Radio because I thought it was a cool way to show people music because I get really joyous when I do. I also joined because I always thought the people in Radio were cool (which they are).

What’s been your favorite album released in the past year?
My favorite album of this past year would have to be Matangi by M.I.A. because she’s just super duper awesome. She’s such a big inspiration to me and her music is on point. The beats and powerful lyrics bring it hard

Recommended tracks:
"MATANGI"
"Come Walk With Me"
"Bad Girls"
"Double Bubble Trouble"
"Y.A.L.A."
"Bring the Noize".


Jimmy. 2nd year. Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular Genetics major.

Why did you decide to join UCLARadio?
Being stuck in south campus most of the time, I don’t get much social interaction outside of a few ‘Hi’s.’ Classes are competitive and seldom do people want to make friends, and if they do, most interaction revolves around schoolwork. Radio seemed like a great opportunity to get together with people who have similar interests and diversify my social circle at UCLA. 

What’s been your favorite album released in the past year?
Oneohtrix Point Never - ‘R Plus Seven.’ R Plus Seven is an absolutely lucid listening experience. Much of the album consists of eerie minimalist synth compositions that sound reminiscent of the music that backed early 90’s television bumpers or instructional videos. OPN’s use of bright, yet cold textures provides a fresh new perspective on the beginning of the digital age of consumer electronics , one that that is equally nostalgic and haunting. 

Recommended tracks:
"Inside World"
"Cryo"
"Zebra"


Alexandra. 4th year. Geography major.

Why did you decide to join UCLARadio?
I used to be OBSESSED with Frasier. I thought it was the coolest thing ever that he went to work and got on the radio and talked to people all day and gave them advice on air. This was my happy place! And I listen to the radio all the time and often find myself wishing I was there to give my input. When I saw that there was UCLARadio I really hopped on board because I wanted to get involved and wanted to explore this field since I can never make up my mind about what career I might want. 

What’s been your favorite album released in the past year?
Avicii: True. It is a super feel good album, not only good for getting pumped up but good for just driving around. 

Recommended tracks:
"Wake Me Up"
"Hey Brother"


Desiree. 1st year. Global Studies major.

Why did you decide to join UCLARadio?
I joined radio because I like sharing my music with other people and other people sharing their music with me.Plus, who doesn’t want to be a DJ at some point in their life? 

What’s been your favorite album released in the past year?
Favorite albums of the past year would have to be Love is the law by The Memories and Ride your heart by Bleached.

Recommended tracks:
"En Espanol" by The Memories
"Dead Boy" by Bleached


Bryce. 1st year. Undecided.

Why did you decide to join UCLARadio?
I joined radio because I wanted to get involved with some of the media groups on campus and radio had such a funky vibe to it. Plus, also, I knew some people already in radio and they’re real whackos so that could only bode good things.

What’s been your favorite album released in the past year?
My current favorite album from this past year would be The Hands That Thieve from Streetlight Manifesto. I’ve been a fan of them for so long and they don’t put out a lot of albums. I think they’ve also stopped touring…anyway it was just nice to hear something from them again. They’re ska punk but I like to think of them as really long epics with a hornline. Darker than Reel Big Fish, less spastic than Bomb the Music Industry!, and bit more punk than The Toasters. They’ve got a lot of energy and really solid ideas. 

Recommended tracks:
"Oh Me, Oh My"
"With Any Sort of Certainty"
"They Broke Him Down"


Megan. 3rd year. Comparative Literature major.

Why did you decide to join UCLARadio?
I decided to join radio because I’m obsessed with making mixes and love sharing my weird songs-of-the-moment with people.

What’s been your favorite album released in the past year?
Face album is a tie between Modern Vampires of the City and Yeezus.

Recommended tracks:
"Hannah Hunt" by Vampire Weekend
"Unbelievers" by Vampire Weekend
"Bound 2" by Kanye West
"Blood on the Leaves" by Kanye West


Eva. 1st year. History major.

Why did you decide to join UCLARadio?
I joined radio so I could play music I love and learn about how a station works!

What’s been your favorite album released in the past year?
One of my favorite albums from this past year would have to be whysowhite by whysowhite. The album is fresh funk out of Chicago and in this debut album of theirs, really blends strong instrumentation with upbeat and quickly lyricism. I adore them!

Colin. 3rd year. History major.

Why did you decide to join UCLARadio?
Joined radio because I dig music and it seemed like a great way to get involved!

What’s been your favorite album released in the past year?
B-Room by Dr.Dog. Catchy melodies, vocal harmonies, guitar solos. It’s got everything!

Issa. First year. Political Science major.

Why did you decide to join UCLARadio?
I joined radio because I love music and making playlists and the idea of independent radio in general.

What’s been your favorite album released in the past year?
Time by Alex Calder. It was released almost a full year ago but I can’t stop listening to it. It’s got an odd, dreamy, disjointed feel to it that fits right into the malaise that fills me during my morning walk to class, as well as melodies that have me humming about it even after the morning grog is worn-off.

Recommended tracks:
"Suki and Me"

-by Sara Haenny and Ashley Helm

South China Sea Conflict: Vietnam vs. China

by Justin Duong

In the South China Sea, tensions between China and Vietnam have increased with recent developments over disputed territories called the Xisha Islands in China and Hoang Sa Islands in Vietnam. The conflict began in May when China’s state-owned oil company, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, installed an oil-rig in territories that both Vietnam and China claim rights to. The Vietnamese consider the offending rig’s installation to be a violation of international law because it believes the territory to be theirs, while China claims the territory as part of its “continental shelf” and sees the installation of the rig as an avenue to advance its geopolitical agenda. China’s escort and installation of the rig, which was escorted by naval ships, has provoked Vietnam to move several of its own boats as buffers, creating a tense situation that has been exacerbated by the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing ship by a Chinese equivalent. On the domestic front, angry Vietnamese protestors attacked Chinese businesses in Vietnam, “smashing down gates and setting fire to businesses, attacking anything deemed to be of Chinese origin…” These developments have strained the relationship between the two countries; however, the result may very well end in China’s benefit because an armed conflict is unlikely – it is irrational for both to engage in violence – leaving the bargaining range to consist of economic affairs. China’s economy is vastly superior to that of Vietnam’s and since Vietnam relies heavily on foreign investment, Vietnam will eventually have to yield to a less-than-favorable agreement.

Further reading: CNN International

Bilderberg’s Birthday

By Sheehan Parker

No, Bilderberg is not a friend of yours that you need to rush onto facebook and congratulate after realising it’s their birthday.  Rather, Bilderberg is a top secret conference, held every year in Europe, and attended by the most powerful Western players in the fields of finance, industry, and, of course, politics.  The meeting, which convened a week ago in Copenhagen and finished on Sunday, is celebrating its sixtieth anniversary.  The corpus of attendees is comprised of influential and powerful westerners, with a total of 21 western nations being represented.  According to the BBC, roughly two thirds of the 140 or so attendees hail from European powers, the other third from the North American power(s).  What’s more, roughly a third of the attendees are from policy and political fields, while the rest represent their positions in finance and industry.

The topics up for discussion this year, as released by the Bilderberg group, include questions naturally of the upmost importance to the wealthy western industrialists: issues regarding the Ukraine, big shifts in technologies and jobs, and “Is the economic recovery sustainable?”.  It also includes loftier questions, questions ostensibly being determined by the very attendees themselves: “The future of democracy,” “Does privacy really exist?” and “How special is the relationship in intelligence sharing?”.  Perhaps most telling, is the topics of discussion which are geographically removed from the western conference.  Though there are no representatives at the conference from middle eastern nations, and China is the only represented western nation, and only marginally represented at that, the topics include “The new architecture of the Middle East,” and “China’s political and economic outlook.”  Who are the people in these discussions? And do they have the power to change the world based on the revelations the could be made at this secretive conference?

Yes, they do have the power.  The chairman of the conference, French industrialist Henri de la Croix de Castries, is himself the CEO of the largest insurance company in France.  Perhaps more telling is the presence of former director of the NSA Alexander Keith, Swedish and Spanish ministers of foreign affairs, and of course the Supreme Commander of Allied Troops in Europe Phillip Breedlove; all of whom are nestled cozily amongst representatives such as Benoit Coeure, a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, and George Zanias, chairman of the National Bank of Greece, among others.

I realise all this name dropping can be dizzying, and I wish I could get on to what was actually said at the conference- unfortunately, that is all secret.  The conference is closed to the press, and while members are free to discuss what was said, they are not to disclose the names or affiliations of the speakers.  When Al Jeezera asked a spokesman for the conference if it would have any tangible effects on current events, he responded that while the conference has no desired outcome, “we cannot comment on this issue.”  Well, when a room of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world discuss current events, I don’t see how it could not have an impact on the world.  Ultimately, the Bilderberg Conference is a tangible example of the intersection between money and power which the people of the world feel every day; and it is exclusively the advice and considerations of western financiers and industrialists that the leaders of Europe and North America listened to for the past week.

 

Check out the latest adds in the station!

(Source: Spotify)

Album Review: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Days of Abandon

By: Sergio Garcia

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart began as a four-piece New York indie pop group, causing a stir in 2009 with their deliciously fun self-titled debut. Two of the original four left after their second album Belong, causing vocalist and songwriter Kip Berman to regroup and retreat a bit from the ambitious sound of their previous effort. Known for their inspired sound similar to indie favorites like My Bloody Valentine, Belle and Sebastian, and The Smiths, The Pains continue blending classic pop structures with their own contemporary indie-ness on Days of Abandon. The result is a distinctly pleasant album. From start to finish, the Pains croon and jangle to sweet melodies and pop textures. Though never challenging, the album nonetheless presents catchy tunes sure to elicit foot taps and hums from anyone who can dig bright (but never blinding) indie pop. Berman’s lyrics are lively and personal, some noticeably heartfelt, others rather cliché, but all match the tone of the songs. A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s Jen Goma sings backing vocals and also takes the lead on two tracks, complementing Berman with her pure, clear voice.

The Pains may have retreated a little too far into their pop haven, however, as numerous tracks lack musical substance. The sound is safer and more predictable than their previous two albums, which some listeners may appreciate. I was most impressed by the album on the first listen, but each subsequent spin left me searching for more. Like those sugary heart candies on Valentine’s day, Days of Abandon goes down easy and makes you smile, but does little more than fizzle once ingested. The Pains certainly don’t lack talent or energy, so the absence of flair is likely attributed to the struggles of lineup changes and finding that spark again. A sucker for jangly guitars myself, I hope they return with the ambition that makes them so pure and enjoyable to listen to. Still, there are a few gems that makes this album worth checking out for fans of The Pains and light, sprightly indie pop.

Recommended Tracks: Art Smock, Masokissed, Life After Life

GRADE: 7/10

Album Review: Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden - The Shape the Color the Feel

By: Jin Choi

Despite their name, Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden are in fact an indie band from Seattle. A cursory glance at their Wikipedia page shows that their top single was on heavy rotation on Starbucks playlists around the world. And honestly, that is the best way to describe their music. It is exactly what one would expect to listen to in a coffee shop or other relaxing public atmosphere. Nothing in the album is hectic or chaotic. Everything resembles the calm, yet bustling nature of a coffee shop. The sounds themselves are relatively vanilla with a traditional format of female singer plus drums, bass, and guitar. Nothing here will surprise or deviate from the norm of indie rock.

Not to say that that’s a bad thing however. Indie rock can still be good indie rock if it is executed well, and in this case it is. The structure may be lacking in inspiration, but the melodies and songs themselves are quite good. It’s just that the band itself sounds so similar to anything else one would find in a Barnes and Nobles, Starbucks, American Eagle, or other public shopping area. It’s not the type of music that would perk your ears and make you wonder who this is. It’s just background music for another activity that’s probably taking up more of your mental space, which is a shame because the songwriting talent is clearly there. It’s just that it’s going to take a little more creativity and inspiration to grab the full attention of listeners.

This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if the album had at least more than one outstanding track (Looking Around) or some kind of variance to it. The album does not make any missteps or bad songs, but maybe that was part of its failing. By playing it too safe, the Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden have created another album that just sounds like every other indie album released in the past five years.

Recommended tracks: Hangover, Looking Around

GRADE: 7/10

Album Review: The Trouble with Templeton - Rookie

By: Jin Choi

The Trouble with Templeton open with the quiet and somber “Whimpering Child” on their new album Rookie. As the leading track, it gives the impression that the album will be based around a melancholic atmosphere with hushed vocals and moody guitar work. The next several tracks confirm this paradigm, but with their fourth song “Like a Kid”, the band suddenly transitions into an anthem-like track where the tone changes drastically to one of supreme confidence and loudness. It is this flexibility that is both The Trouble with Templeton’s strength and downfall.

Despite this variety and the transitions, The Trouble with Templeton are still able to sound like themselves. They retain their identity throughout each of the songs and are able to carve out a unique sense of who they are with each of their songs. However, while they are able to write songs of varying styles, how well each of the songs is written is a different matter. It is clear that The Trouble with Templeton prefer to stick with the hazy tone of their earlier songs as these songs make up the majority of the album. And with good reason: while the attempt to mix things up once in a while is admirable, it becomes increasingly evident that The Trouble with Templeton are better suited to this slower style, especially with their fondness of using guitar and vocal effects.

The problem with Rookie as an album is that it feels like the band is still trying to find their own sound (which is slightly fitting with their album name). The album might still be worth listening to, but it would probably be worth waiting until the band matures more.

Recommended Tracks: Whimpering Child, Flowers in Bloom

GRADE: 6.5/10