Our Favorite Records of 2019

The year is nearing its end. At WXNA we commemorate this occassion by asking our volunteer DJ army a simple question: what is your favorite record of the year? Then they answer that question, and we present the results here. Just as the prophecy foretold!

So have a look and check out some of these amazing recommendations. It’s an excellent way to kick-start the new year (after all, music is forever).

Presented for you in no particular order…

Fontaines D.C., Dogrel
DJ Ed, Eighties Schmeighties
Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster, Take Heart, Take Care
Chad, Dustbin Days
Bill Callahan, Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest
DJ Trev, Our Golden Tones
North Mississippi Allstars, Up and Rolling
Hound Dog Hoover, Goin’ Down South
Stray Cats, 40
Jammin’ James Riley, Rockabilly ‘n’ Blues Radio Hour
Orville Peck, Pony
Erin Mock, Wishful Thinking
Jenny Lewis, On the Line
Dave Brown, The Black Ark
The New Pornographers, In The Morse Code of Brake Lights
DJ Hot Car, Hot Fudge Tuesdays
Hot Chip, A Bath Full of Ecstasy
Grigsby, Set Records To Stun
Gauche, A People’s History of Gauche
Anna Lundy, Untune the Sky
Ruth Garbus, Kleinmeister
DJ LT, Shout, Sister, Shout!
Young Guv, GUV I & II
Alexis, Free Association
The Highwomen, The Highwomen
Laurel Creech, All About Nashville
Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains
Brady Brock, Fidelity High
Ioanna Gika, Thalassa
DJ Travis T, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
popGeezer, The English Breakfast
Guided By Voices, Zeppelin Over China
Mello-D (aka Doyle Davis), Groovy Potential
The Chemical Brothers, No Geography
DJ Rodge, Delicious Elixir
Brittany Howard, Jaime
JMar, Transmission
Jazz Funk Soul, Life and Times
Chris Nochowicz, The Future of Jazz
The Raconteurs, Help Us Stranger
DJ Cajun Mitch, Sounds of the Bayou
Blood Incantation, Hidden History Of The Human Race
DJAK, No Remorse
Frank LoCrasto, Lost Dispatch
DJ rhatfink, Bedazzled Paradigm Jukebox
Elkhorn, Sun Cycle
Mike Mannix, Psych Out!
Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains
Mike Hester, Flying Lesson
Amyl and the Sniffers, Amyl and the Sniffers
Laura Powers, Needles+Pins
Aldous Harding, Designer
DJ Charlotte Rollerskates, The Maiden Voyager
Sharon Van Etten, Remind Me Tomorrow
DJ Juan, International Echo
Nicholas Payton, Relaxin’ with Nick
DJ Big Chief Chaz, Gilded Splinters
Quelle Chris, Guns
BadN8, Coolin’
Anderson .Paak, Ventura
Jason Piffier
Carl Perkins, Discovering Carl Perkins – Eastview, Tennessee 1952-53
Randy, Hipbilly Jamboree Pick
The Muffs, No Holiday
Randy, Randy’s Record Shop
Brittany Howard, Jaime
R Reid, Holistic Revolution
Lingua Ignota, Caligula
Adam Ebb
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Ghosteen
Michael Roark, Slings & Arrows
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Bandana
Blackcircle, The Root
Temporary High, Nick Piunti
Tommy Womack’s Happiness Hour
Icejjfish, The Gospel
DJ Jonni Downer, The Unlistenable Hour
The Raconteurs, Help Us Stranger
Heather Lose, Aging Hipster
Dry Cleaning, Boundary Road Snacks And Drinks / Sweet Princess
Jay Millar, Plural of Vinyl
Sunn O))), Life Metal/Pyroclasts
Josh Mock, Sad Songs for Happy People
Green Ribbons, Green Ribbons
DJ Lauren, Different Every Time
Darrin Bradbury, Talking Dogs and Atom Bombs
Double-Shot with Joe & Sue

Jenny Lewis, On The Line
DJ Nexus, Musical Mysticism
Juleah, Desert Skies
Michael, The Scatter Shot
Gene Clark, No Other
Ashley, Set Records to Stun
Crumb, Jinx
DJ TJ, Static Wall
Steve Gunn, The Unseen In Between
DJ Susan, The Inconsiderate Mixtape
Kali Malone, The Sacrificial Code
popcorn brain, Dreambeat
Robyn Hitchcock/Andy Partridge, Planet England
Anne McCue, Songs On The Wire

A WXNA Holiday EP

Here at WXNA we would be remiss if we let the season pass by without suggesting a few seasonal tunes to play while baking cookies or wrapping packages or fretting about the future of democracy decorating the tree. But let’s be honest, there is no shortage of holiday playlists to be found around this-here internet. That’s why this year, we’re focusing on a holiday EP. Leave them wanting more, that’s what we always say. Also, life is chaotic. Who has time to compile the top 15,000 holiday songs of all time? Not us!

You can listen to this playlist on Spotify by clicking on these words.


“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

DJ Sue of Double Shot with Joe and Sue
This 1947 Frank Loesser-penned song was a favorite of my parents, when Mom was pregnant with me for New Year’s Eve that year. She played it every year for the holidays, and now, so do I. My parents loved music and would have been thrilled to know that I am part of WXNA.


“I Believe in Father Christmas” by Greg Lake

DJ Joe of Double Shot with Joe and Sue
When that came on MTV for the first time every year, I knew it was Christmas.


“River” by Joni Mitchell

DJ LT of Shout, Sister, Shout!
Not a real crate-diggin’ choice, but I can’t imagine a holiday season without this song in it, providing a respite from the expectations of joyfulness and jingling.


“Christmas At the Airport” by Nick Lowe

Rick Pecoraro, WXNA Contributor
A relatively new entry to the Christmas canon (2013), and one of the few songs that really get to the nut of holiday travel: that it can all fall into chaos at a moments notice. When I hear this song I’m usually reminded of Christmas 2005 when my flight from Newark to Omaha was cancelled. I ended up flying to Chicago and then in a hail mary attempt at forward progression rented the last available car and drove the remaining 8 hours to Nebraska. I hadn’t slept the night before, was exhausted and falling asleep behind the wheel. When I hit the Quad Cities I pulled off, and went into a Best Buy in an attempt to stay awake. I bought a copy of Pavement’s “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain” and Gwen Steffani’s first solo record. Anyway, this Nick Lowe song takes me back to that Christmas. To its credit I look back fondly.


“I Wish I Had More” by Andrew Bryant

DJ Chad Pelton, Dustbin Days
Andrew Bryant (formerly of the band Water Liars, and now a solo artist) has released singles around the holidays for the past few years (my count is at 5 on Bandcamp). This one should appeal to those that love the sadder side of things around the holidays, or maybe I shouldn’t say sad, but honest. It’s a reminder of those folks dealing with tough relationships, which the holidays have a way of amplifying, and although it’s a fairly brutal tale of a family amidst breakup, I find it uplifting, sincere, and quite heartfelt.


“Patti Smith for Xmas” by Kyle Hamlett Uno

DJ Trev of Our Golden Tones


“Merry Christmas From The Family” by Robert Earl Keen

DJ Houndog Hoover of Goin’ Down South
Funny, and gets all the details right!

WXNA Gives Thanks

This Thanksgiving, WXNA has so much to be grateful for. Last week was our Fall Pledge Drive, and thanks to YOU, we exceeded our goal of $30k! Because of your generous support, we’re keeping the home fires burning and the tunes spinning into the colder months. Here’s what we’ll be playing over the airwaves and in our homes tomorrow to celebrate the season (you can also listen along via Spotify)!

DJ Picks:

WXNA at Southern Festival of Books!

Editor’s Note: We asked WXNA DJ Leslie to report back from this year’s Southern Festival of Books, and DJ Laura Powers  provided some photos and videos below of our WXNA stage featuring some of our favorite local artists as well as a tribute to beloved late songwriter, David Berman. Check it out, and join us next year!

This year’s Southern Festival of Books did not disappoint, as it kept it’s visitors bound together downtown at the plaza and library for three cheery days with live music, good food, prolific authors, and a ton of books, eliciting many meaningful discussions. Highlights for me included author Ottessa Moshfegh (My Year of Rest and Relaxation) and, of course,  Friday afternoon when WXNA hosted the Music Stage on Legislative Plaza.

Karina Daza kicked things off at the Music Stage on Friday afternoon with a mesmerizing set of Latin-influenced soul. Kyle Hamlett Uno followed with a set of beautifully poetic acoustic tunes, and WXNA’s own Anne McCue had us spellbound with her set of songs that blended the personal and the political. The day ended with a tribute to the dearly missed musician and poet David Berman that reminded us of the power that words and art have to create community.

– Leslie Hermsdorfer

Daniel Pujol reading the poem titled “Interregnum Strange” that he wrote for the David Berman tribute.

DJ Juanny Cash spinning records

Anne McCue Performs

Karina Daza

Kyle Hamlett

Southern Festival of Books

What DJs Are Reading: Southern Festival of Books Edition

Southern Festival of Books is just around the corner, and we’re excited that we’ll be a part again this year! In celebration, we’ve polled our DJs about what they’re reading. Look below for all kinds of recs, ranging from musical to comic!

DJ: popGeezer

Show: The English Breakfast

What I’m Reading: Any DC Comic from Tom King or Brian Michael Bendis.

Still in the middle of Lincoln In the Bardo by George Sanders.

Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns documentary accompanying “Country Music” tome is waiting to move into the rotation.

But Flannery O’Connor’s The Complete Stories always stands at the ready for quick consumption at any time.


DJ: Chad Pelton

Show: Dustbin Days

What I’m Reading:

Karl Ove Knausgaard- My Struggle Book 6

I am one of the many that got entangled in the minutiae of the daily life of Knausgaard, as he takes us through the sometimes cringeworthy growing pains of his life. And being one that likes to finish what I start, here I am lugging the 1200 page final tome of the series on my vacation with me. Good for the 8 hour flights. 

Val Wilmer- As Serious As Your Life (Black Music and Free Jazz Revolution, 1957-1977):

Not only a great photographer, Val Wilmer is also an engaging storyteller, and this book is a great read for someone who, like me, is diving headlong into the world of free jazz with very little knowledge on the subject. My radio show focuses in the folk/country world, so it is refreshing to switch gears and hear about the achievements of the likes of Milford Graves, Albert Aylor, John Coltrane, and Cecil Taylor. 

Jesse Graves & William Wright – Specter Mountain (poems):

Jesse is an old pal from Knoxville, and his latest volume of poetry is a team effort with fellow poet William Wright. Together they have created a book-length poetry collaboration rooted in the hills and valleys of the southeastern mountains. Praised by Robert Morgan, and weighing in at 67 pages, it is a delight to see what two differing voices combined together in a single, lengthy poetry cycle can evoke.


DJ: Michael Roark   

Show: Slings & Arrows

What I’m Reading: You Can Say You Knew Me When by K. M. Soehnlein

This is the third book that I’ve read by Soehnlein. It’s the second he wrote of three. Together they make a kind of trilogy (though written out of order). He’s a gay author who deals with awakening sexuality in the late 1970s in suburban New Jersey and onward. This novel is what happens at the start of the new century in San Francisco, when it blew up with dot-coms and mass gentrification. It delves into homophobic self-destruction, pot smoking, and deep dark closets being opened by the death of a father. It’s about inheritance, financial and genetic. And one of the reasons I may be enjoying it is that it provides a grand tour of a San Francisco—a San Francisco at a crossroads, one that I visited several times during that period in the late 1990s and early twenty-first century.


DJ: LT

Show: Shout, Sister, Shout!

What I’m Reading: How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell, who seamlessly weaves a tapestry of interdisciplinary ideas into a cohesive book that encourages us to resist the attention economy without hiding from it. Pauline Oliveros’ theory of Deep Listening is explored alongside Buber’s I and Thou, Thomas Merton’s writings, birdwatching + bioregionalism, and more. 


DJ: Laura Powers

Show: Needles+Pins

What I’m Reading: The Children by David Halberstam

The Children is former Tennessean reporter David Halberstam’s account of the Nashville Student Movement in the late 50s and early 60s. The Nashville Student Movement was responsible for ending racial segregation at downtown lunch counters and led the famous Freedom Riders who challenged segregation on public buses in the Deep South. At a time when Nashville is changing so much I feel it’s important to know our history. And it’s inspiring to read about young people who saw wrongs that needed to be made right and were brave enough to make it happen.


DJ: Trevor

Show: Our Golden Tones

What I’m Reading: Nate Chinen’s Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century. Many wild and wonderful worlds are illuminated in this. It’s excitingly relevant. I’ve been hooked on its analysis of the various ways “traditional” and “free” jazz communities and practitioners have splintered in certain contexts, but also worked together in others. It’s as interesting of a cultural study as a musical one. It’s also like if Jacques Ranciere’s Aisthesis was a history of jazz. Wowee!!


DJ: DJ Karl

Show: Dizzy Spell

What I’m Reading: Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons by J R L Carter – A fascinating exploration of the life and fiery death of Thelemic magician and rocket scientist Marvel “Jack” Parsons.


DJ: Anne McCue

Show: Songs On The Wire

What I’m Reading: If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino. I’m re-reading this wonderful book after many years. Calvino has a limitless imagination and comes up with many ‘novels’ within this post-modern creation/novel. It is a love story for and about readers and reading.


DJ: Alexis Stevens

Show: Free Association

What I’m Reading: Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh. I loved My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Moshfegh, so I wanted to go back and read her earlier work. Her books are great for anyone going through Fleabag withdrawals. And she’s coming to the Southern Festival of Books! 


DJ: Sirena 

Show: Music for Grownups

What I’m Reading: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Besser van der Kolk, M.D. This book outlines mind-body therapeutic practices being integrated into bio-medicine which I believe to be a promising approach to healthcare. Before that I read, Hearthmath Solutions by Doc Childre and Howard Martin. Both books support current research in neurofeedback methods to promote self-regulation as a means to address dis-ease. I just bought my book club selection for this month, Eva Luna: A Novel by Isabel Allende . I look forward to transitioning to some well written fiction!


DJ:Adam Ebb 

Show: Body to Body

What I’m Reading: Soft Fruit In The Sun written by Oliver Zarandi. It’s a collection of short stories that explore doomed familial, romantic and sexual relationships through the lens of “body horror.” It’s a great debut thats funny, disgusting, and very relatable.


Photo Credit: Humanities Tennessee on Flickr

Top Four Randy Newman Albums (Excluding “Good Old Boys”)

Hi, I’m Josh Halper! I’m a guitarist born and raised here in Music City. I’m one of two hosts of WXNA’s “Hot Fudge Tuesdays” which airs every Saturday, from 2 to 4 p.m. We are the self-proclaimed “Randy Boys” on the WXNA lineup, so as a statement of my love for Mr. Newman, I’ve decided to make a list of my favorite Randy albums.

4. “Darkmatter” – Randy’s 2017 album serves as a Cliff’s Notes for the types of work you might find when digging through the songwriter’s expansive career. Songs such as “The Great Debate”, “Putin”, and “It’s a Jungle Out There (V2)” represent the scathing critiques of both governmental and societal hypocrisy that we, as Randy fanatics, have come to anticipate with a nervous reluctance. These songs ride the line of hilarious and cringeworthy, satisfying the listener’s appetite by the third or fourth listen. The rest of the album contains delicious historical vignettes (“Brothers” & “Sonny Boy”), heart-wrenching narrative, and seemingly autobiographical poetry (“Lost Without You, “She Chose Me”, “On the Beach”, and “Wandering Boy”). This is with a solid collection of songs that any Randy lover can be beyond pleased with.

3. “Little Criminals” – In terms of production, this album is a launching point for Randy Newman’s middle era, when he sometimes used distorted electric guitars and synthesizers instead of strings. Bringing in the Eagles as his backing band bridged the gap between crooner Randy and rocker Randy, giving his discography a nice dip into rock’s evil depths. The songwriting is just as whimsical as before, but something about the way the pieces are tracked makes them feel less silly and fun, even though the subject matter is relatively consistent with the rest of his work. His high energy songs see these changes, but the ballads remain pure and simple, creating a wonderful balance.

2. “Sail Away” – I consider this album to be the sister to “Good Old Boys”, which is a crowd favorite. A solid chunk of the cuts (“Sail Away”, “He Gives Us All His Love”, “Old Man”, “Dayton Ohio”, and “Burn On”) feel like they would fit right in with the following release. The string motion is in the same style, the instrumentation is almost identical, and the subject matter is just as romantic and somber. Thematically, the lyrics are geographically broader, outlining both critique and praise of the U.S. and the world, rather than focusing just on the South. Though this makes for an interesting trip around the globe, “Good Old Boys” reigns supreme in my ears. Something about a concept album…

1. “Randy Newman/Live” – This is my favorite Randy Newman Record (yes, over “Good Old Boys”). The record, which was originally released as a treat for Reprise’s fan club, feels like the most intimate and spontaneous thing ever put on tape. The image of Mr. Newman performing in a tiny club by himself, taking requests from and joking with the audience, makes it the most charming album of all. Songs like “Tickle Me”, “Mama Told Me Not to Come”, and “Lover’s Prayer” that are totally absurd (and almost creepy) become as cute as a shaved lamb in the solo setting. The solo performances of some of his heavier songs (“I’ll Be Home”, “So Long Dad”, and ”Living Without You”) are undeniably brutal. You can hear the audience’s awestruck silence as Newman spills his guts in song after song. This romance is immediately tossed aside when he jumps gracefully from “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” into “Lover’s Prayer” proving that he is an incomparable writer and performer who both recognizes the weight of his work and does not take himself too seriously. This is a combination that I have yet to see elsewhere.

Josh Halper(DJ Sweetbaby)
Hot Fudge Tuesdays
Sundays 2-4 pm

Back to School Bangers by the WXNA Fam!

School has started and we’ve got the ideal soundtrack for you!
Whether it’s you, your children, or your nostalgia looking forward to sharpening those #2 pencils, we’ve curated a playlist just for the occasion!


Thirteen by Big Star

It perfectly captures and brings me back to that time and age and all the conflicting emotions and hormones.

Joe Wolfe-Mazeres, Double Shot with Joe and Sue


Sacré Charlemagne by France Gall’s

DJ Natasha, The French Connection


Punk Rock Girl AND Bitchin’ Camaro by The Dead Milkmen

For me, this is SO high school!

DJ Sirena, Music for Grownups


Sister, Do You Know My Name? by The White Stripes

Everyone knows The White Stripes’ “We Are Going to Be Friends” (which I believe can now be found in childrens’ book form): a sweet, schoolish song. But “Sister, Do You Know My Name?” is my pick from their catalog, and not just because of the word sister. It can be found simmering in the middle of the tracklisting on their second album, De Stijl (2000), which was a huge back-to-school album for me circa junior year of high school. It was one of the first vinyl records I bought and then recorded with a vinyl-recording software that came with my record player (all very early-2000s). I remember listening to the crackly, too-quiet mp3 of “Sister” on repeat while biking around my neighborhood in autumn, crunching dry leaves under my tires. Yes, it’s a bit silly, but so is going back-to-school when you’d rather be listening to records. 16-year-old DJ LT was all about this dreamy, autumnal blues and its simultaneous indebtedness/reverence to Blind Willie McTell, whom the record was dedicated to. 

Meg White’s drumming is usually simple yet relentless, but here we find it almost sleepy, behind itself, like a lounging cat batting at the rug on the verge of slumber. The slide guitar fills in the blanks and overflows, coloring outside the lines and warming up the atmosphere perfectly for some sweet, boyish lyrics about longing: 

 

I didn’t see you at summer school

But I saw you at the corner store

And I don’t want to break the rules

Cause I’ve broken them all before

But every time I see you

I wonder why

I don’t break a couple rules

So that you’ll notice me

 

DJ LT, Shout, Sister, Shout!


Schoolhouse Rock by Billy Harlan

Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, rockabilly!

Fuck School by The Replacements

A classic from the Great American Songbook!

Drugstore Rock & Roll by Janis Martin

And one from the Female Elvis her ownself!

 

Randy Fox, Randy’s Record Shop and Hipbilly Jamboree


I Need a Teacher by Hiss Golden Messenger

This is more generally pro-education (countering the Replacements? ha) and brand new from NC’s Hiss Golden Messenger, which is coming to Basement East in November. Big ups to all our educators gracing classrooms AND the airwaves each week!

DJ Celia, What Moves You


Late for School by Ponytail

This one is mostly included here for the title, as the song itself doesn’t have lyrics — unless you count the odd whoops, hollers and general sonic craziness. So, y’know, just like being late for school.

Rick Pecoraro, contributor


A Summer Song by Chad & Jeremy

DJ Alexis, Free Association


Waitin in School by Ricky Nelson

DJ Blackcircle, The Root


(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party) by the Beastie Boys

High school would not have been bearable without the parties . . . believe it or not we listened to the Beasties on our way to the Science Bowl at TTU with our super school science teacher!

DJ Leanne, X-Posure and Double X-Posure


Another School Day by Hollywood Brats

DJ Michael, The Scattershot


Sunday Morning by No Doubt

DJ Caro


What Did You Learn In School Today? by Tom Paxton

Tom Paxton’s “What Did You Learn In School Today?” is not the cheeriest of back-to-school bangers, but it’s a banger nonetheless. Its call-and-response folk form displays a conversation between a little boy in school and his parents, who ask in each verse: “What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?” The boy responds with all kinds of plaintive answers, delivered with a touch of self-awareness to make it clear that Tom has an opinion on the matters at hand. Here’s an example:

What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?

I learned that policemen are my friends

I learned that justice never ends

I learned that murderers die for their crimes

Even if we make a mistake sometimes

And that’s what I learned in school today

That’s what I learned in school

 

DJ LT, Shout, Sister, Shout!


Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana

Jason Waterfalls


Smokin’ in the Boys Room by Brownsville Station

Because it’s so punk!

DJ Houndog Hoover, Goin’ Down South


School’s Out for the Summer by Alice Cooper

Because I’d already be looking forward for this shit to be over.

DJ Ed, Eighties Schmeighties


 

Is This America?

In observance of the upcoming July 4 holiday, this week’s WXNA blog post features a list of some of our DJs’ favorite songs about the U.S. of A.

Read as you listen with our Spotify playlist!


DJ ED
Eighties/Schmeighties
Fridays from 10 to Noon

“Little America”- REM

Songs that hit the sweet spot of celebrating America without dipping into cheap sentimentality, jingoism, or out and out nationalism are hard to come by IMHO. Little America hits it both in its particulars of recounting the band traveling around the south on tour—”Another Greenville, another Magic Mart”—and in general showing the pure pleasure of the road trip free and easy. I saw REM many times and for me this was their best live song. An exhilarating celebration of freedom. 


DJ Cranky Pants (Ashley)
Set Records to Stun
Fridays from 6-8 a.m.

“America”- Simon & Garfunkel

Ever since Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross plopped down on the back seat of that bus at the end of The Graduate (1967), disaffected middle-classers have questioned the American Dream. In “America” (1968), Paul Simon seems convinced that while the search may be eternal, the promised land remains an illusion.


The popGeezer
The English Breakfast
Saturday, Noon to 2 PM

“American Tune” (1973) by Paul Simon, from the album “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon”

Paul Simon wrote this song, using the music of Renaissance era composer Hans Leo Hassler, after Richard Nixon’s re-election.

My emotional attachment to it is two-fold.

It’s the first Simon album I ever bought. Even though I wasn’t old enough to “get” any of it then, I really loved it. Now, over the passing decades, I return to the album, and this song, again and again.

“America Tune” is succinct, emotional, and very direct. And these lyrics especially stir a hard-won, but not cynical, patriotism in me:

“Oh, we come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
And sing an American tune”


DJ Lauren
Different Every Time
Mondays 3-5pm

This is Not America” is a song by David Bowie, Lyle Mays and Pat Metheny used in a soundtrack to the 1985 film The Falcon and the Snowman. But the reggae-fueled, Carla Bley arranged instrumental that I am thinking of is from Charlie Haden’s “Not in Our Name”, the Liberation Orchestra’s 2005 response to the Iraq War on Verve . In this context, surrounded by an ironic, dissonant Battle Hymn of the Republic and a stately version of Lift Every Voice, the tune takes on a new meaning. Haden believed that you could capture people with beauty and that the politics would follow. “This is Not America” reminds me that even with its set-backs, the journey to democracy is one worth taking, that politicians don’t always speak for me, and that dissent is patriotic.


Dave Brown
The Black Ark
Thursdays 11:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

“American Music”- Violent Femmes

You were born too late
I was born too soon
But every time I look at that ugly moon
It reminds me of you


Mike Mannix
Psych Out!
Wednesdays from 7-9 p.m.

“America the Myth”- Christ on Parade
The corporatization of our political system is destroying our country. No amount of empty rhetoric, fireworks, or flag waving is going to stop that. We are flying too close to the sun on wings of soft wax.


Hound Dog Hoover
Goin’ Down South
Monday 1-3 pm

“America”- Willie King
Sweet plea for togetherness from a late bluesman and community organizer from rural Alabama. Great soul blues groove and call-and-response vocals.


DJ LT
Shout, Sister, Shout!
Sundays 1-2pm

“Fireworks” by Irreversible Entanglements

Last thing we saw was fireworks symbolizing somethin’
Can’t tell the difference between America and the unknown
The forever-expanding and reshaping the landscape

Poet Camae Ayewa (a.k.a. Moor Mother) uses her words as an instrument in free jazz collective Irreversible Entanglements. I can’t think of a better song to listen to on this day! It explores the symbol of fireworks, yes, but also Black trauma and liberation– all rendered by the lively collaboration of improvisation. In both form and content, this song is a true embodiment of American values such as democracy and freedom.


Drew Wilson
Loud Love
Sundays at Midnight

These are on my setlist every year:

“America Rules” by Murphys Law

“American Heavy Metal Weekend” by Circle Jerks

“Rock N America” by Catholic Girls


Chad Pelton
Dustbin Days
Wednesdays from 11pm-1am

“4th Of July” by Dave Alvin

Dave Alvin’s “4th of July”, particularly the version on King of California, expertly captures the desperation of a relationship quietly breaking apart, while simultaneously describing the sound of every small town backyard 4th of July celebration, ending with kids shooting off bags of fireworks into the night air. America in 6 stanzas.


DJ Michael Roark
Tuesdays from 12-2 p.m.
“Now That the Buffalo’s Gone” by Buffy Saint-Marie
Lest we forget the freeways we travel were built on Manifest Destiny, i.e. genocide, here’s a song to remind you of our ugly past, and our greedy not-so-pretty present.

The Singular of Vinyl: Kiwi Jr.

Jay Millar from the Plural of Vinyl highlights his favorite album of the moment.

Kiwi Jr., Football Money (Mint Records)

Despite the plethora of current Aussie bands that find their way onto the playlists of the Plural Of Vinyl, it somehow figures that Kiwi Jr. are a Canadian band. And oddly enough, at times they remind me of turn-of-the-century canucks The Flashing Lights, especially on the emotive jangly “Comeback Baby.” The Flashing Lights led by Matt Murphy of Super Friendz, were a favorite of mine so mixing that with some Pavement-ish sounds gets me into a full blown nostalgia love fest. If I’m merely dropping one lazy comparison it would be later era Pavement.

Produced by Alec O’Hanley, guitar player from Alvvays, and released in March of 2019 via Mint Records out of Toronto, it’s an effervescent jangly ball of indie-pop fun with smirk inducing lyrics delivered with a slightly snotty deadpan tone. Largely guitar, bass, drums, & keys but it’s lightly sprinkled with some other fun sounds.

A couple lines I feel like pointing out because they make me smile:

“I’m a salary man, I want cigarettes from Japan… that taste like oranges.” – from “Salary Man”

“Gimme more Star Wars, gimme open bar chords, gimme more, gimme more more more!” – from “Gimme More”

“Last night your dreams were broadcast, but no one you know owns a television” – from “Comeback Baby”

If I had a complaint about this record it would only be that it’s too damn short. Gimme more!

Jay Millar
The Plural of Vinyl
Tuesdays, 7-9 a.m.

Guilty Pleasures

When I think of Guilty Pleasures, my first thought is, “Why should I let somebody tell me what music I’m allowed to enjoy?” Then I think, “Whatever. I know they aren’t cool, but damn, I like The Carpenters.”

For the uninitiated, The Carpenters were a sister-brother duo that formed in the 1960’s and gained notoriety in the 1970’s for making inoffensive elevator-ready music. Tastemakers will tell you this is banal, Up With People-level grandparent music, but I’m here to tell you to quit paying attention to tastemakers. Why were you ever listening to those people in the first place? How on earth could they possibly know what kind of music you like? Let’s look at the facts:

  1. Singer Karen Carpenter had an objectively beautiful voice. If you don’t agree with me on this, just listen to it when all the instrumentation is stripped away and then apologize for trying to troll me.
  2. She also played drums. Are you trying to tell me that’s not worthy of consideration? WRONG.
  3. Ok, so maybe Karen wasn’t the best drummer in the world. Do you like musicianship? Because if you do, The Wrecking Crew is all over the place on many of The Carpenters’ albums.
  4. Sonic Youth liked The Carpenters. They covered “Superstar” wayyy back in 1994… without irony in the decade of irony! Even though Richard Carpenter absolutely hated Sonic Youth’s version of the song, who cares? Richard Carpenter always seemed like a completely humorless person to me anyway. Incidentally, I know The Capenters didn’t write “Superstar”, but the Sonic Youth version is on a Carpenters tribute album, so take it up with Thurston Moore.
  5. Speaking of cover songs, The Carpenters recorded their rendition of Klaatu’s “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” in 1977, so if you think they were just some creepy suburban pie-eyed schmaltzball of a band, you’re wrong. You see, they also had some creepy interplanetary telepathic thing going on. That may or may not be cool, but it’s unquestionably interesting.
  6. Richard Carpenter was clearly a control freak and that means he was perfectly suited to compose intricate musical arrangements, which I always appreciate. The guy seemed like he was created in a lab for the sole purpose of sitting in front of a piano and cranking out hits that my parents would play while balancing the checkbook.
  7. Speaking of parents, The Carpenters may be the only band I like as much as my folks do. One of my earliest memories is riding around downtown Nashville in my mom’s VW Golf while listening to “There’s a Kind of Hush” on the easy listening station. Hell, we still listen to The Carpenters’ Christmas album every year and I hate Christmas music. THIS BAND KEEPS FAMILIES TOGETHER!
  8. Come to think of it, The Carpenters probably helped make a lot of babies in the 70’s. Yay for me, but eww.

Now that you’ve been fully convinced that this is the best band ever, I must warn you to slow your roll. Not everything they did was that wonderful, but the good stuff is very good. Where do you start? This is one of the rare instances where I recommend starting with the greatest hits compilations. Give those a shot first and if you’re still into it, start exploring their catalogue.

Brandon Spencer
Nashville Mixtapes