Our Favorite Records of 2021

We have completed yet another trip around the sun. While there were certainly some patches of optimism (remember how great the early summer felt, pre-Delta?), 2021, like 2020 before it, was a tough one. Thankfully, the music helped get us across the finish line. There seemed to be a ton of new releases this past year, likely a byproduct of artists being home-bound for so much of 2020. We asked our DJs to recommend some of their favorites. The list below not only provides an excellent time-capsule for year, but also illustrates the wide variety of musical styles and genres played on WXNA.

Presented for you in alphabetical order by DJ, our favorite records of 2021:

DJ Cajun Mitch – Sounds of the Bayou, Mondays 7pm-8pm

Dumpstaphunk, Where Do We Go from Here? – The funkiest release of 2021!
Sean Ardoin & Kreole Rock & Soul, Live in New Orleans! – Live zydeco from one of today’s best zydeco acts!
Also! Revisited a lot of great music from 1991, inspired in part by The Metallica Blacklist. Also revisited Live Aid 1985.

Laurel Creech – All About Nashville, Fridays Noon-1pm

LadyCouch, The Future Looks Fine – some of Nashville’s most talented musicians performing live like they’re throwing a party!!
Melissa Carper, Daddy’s Country Gold – She has an amazing voice & lovely personality.
Also! Anything by the Eels. Love them- quirky, eccentric & everything that makes you ponder life.

DJubilee – Greetings From Nashville, Thursdays 6am-7am, Ear to the Ground, Tuesdays 6am-7am

Darrin Bradbury, Artvertisement – Very original. At times punk, clever, poignant. Sometimes all at once.
Favorite non-Nashville: Ritual Cloak & Autumn Juvenile, A Human Being is the Best Disguise. Electronic band from Wales collaborating with a spoken word artist.

DJ Ed – Eighties/Schmeighties, Fridays 10am-noon

Late Night Tales, Version Excursion – Selected By Don Letts
Guided by Voices, It’s Not Them. It Couldn’t Be Them. It Is Them!
The Upsetters, Return of the Super Ape

DJ Erica – Soul of the City, Thursdays 4pm-6pm

Zo! & Tall Black Guy, Abstractions – Zo!, band leader for the group The Foreign Exchange, and producer Tall Black Guy put out an amazing album featuring an array of neo-soul singers such as Black Milk, Sy Smith, and Omar. Laid back and innovative, it’s a great album that explores ranges of neo-soul and r&b.
Kindred the Family Soul, Auntie and Unc – Auntie & Unc Atlanta musicians and husband/wife duo Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon brought their love and observations of blackness in this album. Not heavy, mellow, and celebratory. Favorites from the album include “Break it Down” and “Rejoice, Renew, and Repair”

Leslie Hermsdorfer – Sound Decisions, Mondays 5pm-7pm

Jane Weaver, Flock – This record is a perfect reflection of a multi-instrumentalist expressing her entire artistic capabilities with influences at the prime of her life.
Pearl & The Oysters, Flowerland – Their music is always interesting, cheerful, and fun!

“Hound Dog” Hoover – Goin Down South, Mondays Noon-3pm

Jason Isbell, Georgia Blue – Cool covers, great guests, and a campaign promise kept!

DJ Juan – International Echo, Thursdays 3pm-4pm

Xenia Rubinos, Una Rosa – The New York-based singer returns with a bang with a poignant album about loss and doubt amidst the pandemic.
Also! Bob Dylan’s Street Legal

Dawn Kote – Yum Yum Eat Em Up, Wednesdays 1pm-1:30pm

Maggie Rose, Have A Seat – Love the soulful sound of her voice & the songs she wrote reflect the year we have all had!

Nick Lindeman

black midi, Cavalcade
Also! Low, HEY WHAT, Matt Sweeney & Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Superwolves, Mogwai, As The Love Continues, and Ty Seagall, Harmonizer

Mike Mannix – Psych Out!, Wednesdays 7pm-9pm

Jantar, Sempronia – This album offers nods in a variety of musical directions, most notably the UK’s Canterbury scene of the late 60s / early 70s. This is not to say that Jantar sounds like Gong or Soft Machine, for they don’t. Instead, they take the progressive sensibilities of folks like Daevid Allen and Robert Wyatt and set them in modern context and project them outwards and into the future. A unique approach to say the least. It’s a marvelous journey of mystical folk meanderings, heady forays, and astral inspired diversions.
Styrofoam Winows, STYROFOAM WINOS “S​/​T”
Also! Demola Adepoju, Olufe-Mi. Adepoju played steel guitar for Nigerian legend King Sunny Ade in the 1980s. This is his solo album from 1985. It’s wild and wonderful. I’m trying to track him down (apparently, he is living in Washington DC), so let me know if you run into him!

Anne McCue Songs on the Wire, Tuesdays 10am-11:30am; Nashville Express, Tuesdays 11:30am-Noon

Chris Wilson, Live at the Continental – Australian legend Chris Wilson passed away in 2019. This recording is a re-release of a live concert in Melbourne in the 90s at The Continental. He was one of the most powerful performers I have ever seen. I just wish he would have played in America and Europe. He would have blown the socks off Americanafest etc.

Adam McDole – Body to Body, Fridays 7pm-9pm

Deafheaven, Infinite Granite – A change in style for Deafheaven but still retains what makes them great. Beautiful, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful.
Lingua Ignota, Sinner Get Ready

Leanne Merritt – X-Posure, Wednesdays 1:30pm-4pm

Yasmin Williams, Urban Driftwood – I enjoyed so many incredible records throughout 2021 that it’s tough to choose a favorite one. There were many releases that I loved, but Yasmin’s second album of unique and unusual instrumental guitar music really came to be a special one for me during such an intense year. She creates the perfect music to zone out to, and just a few weeks after losing my Dad to CoVid, I was lucky enough to be in tiny group of only about 15 people who showed up to see Yasmin perform a sublime set during Americanafest. It was exactly what I needed. I felt as if it there were rainbows and kittens coming out of her guitar.
Liam Kazar, Due North – The multi-instrumentalist and sideman to Jeff Tweedy and Steve Gunn released his debut solo album that has the kind of quirky vintage vibes I adore ala 60’s and 70’s. It’s got synth and steel and always puts me in a great mood. It was a great surprise of 2021.
Also! The Blaze Velluto Collection We Are Sunshine on Dare to Care Records. I missed this album in 2020, but luckily stumbled on the band’s second full length release in 2021. The band, led by singer Blaze Velluto, is based in Quebec and includes 15 different musicians. Their sound is sunny psych folk and retro pop that will take you for a ride on a magic bus. You can’t listen to them and not turn up the volume to sing along.

Josh Mock – Sad Songs for Happy People, Sundays 10pm-11pm

Arooj Aftab, Vulture Prince
Walt McClements, A Hole In the Fence
Also! Chamber, Cost of Sacrifice

Nexus – Musical Mysticism, Wednesdays 4pm-5pm

Valerie June, The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers
Also! TOKiMONSTA, Oasis Nocturno; Ben Chasny {a.k.a. Six Organs of Admittance}, The Intimate Landscape; Matt Sweeney and Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Superwolves; Nightmares On Wax, Shout Out! To Freedom…; King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Butterfly 3000; Sons of Kemet, Black to the Future; Curtis Harding, If Words Were Flowers; Adrian Younge, The American Negro (Jazz Is Dead); John Tejada, Year of the Living Dead

Chris Nochowicz – Future of Jazz, Saturdays 8am-10am, The Indie Hangover, Wednesdays 6am-7am

Richard Elliot, Authentic Life
Dan Siegel, Faraway Place
From the rock side of things: Deafheaven, Infinite Granite; Nation of Language, A Way Forward

Rick Pecoraro

Cheekface, Emphatically No. – A record that sounds like the idle thoughts of 2021, but y’know, with hooks!

Laura Pochodylo – Runout Numbers, Sundays 8am-10am

Connie Smith, The Cry of the Heart – Fantastic album of new material from a legacy artist who sounds as great as she ever has, not every day you get that!
The Weather Station, Ignorance – cool and groovy pop rock from Canada.
Also! I discovered the 2019 reissue of Jim Sullivan’s 1972 self-titled album this year and was hooked on it, great introspective singer-songwriter folk rock.

DJ rhatfink – The Continental, Thursdays 7am-9am, Bedazzled Paradigm Jukebox, Sundays 7am-8am

Tommy Guerrero, Sunshine Radio – Mix equal parts reverb guitar, pulsing organ and exotica rhythms and pour into an all instrumental glass. Chill and serve.
Goat Girl, On All Fours – Post punk group that uses sci-fi synthesizers, off-beat chord progressions, diverse vocal styles, and distinct, gritty guitars to explore global, humanitarian, environmental, and mindful wellbeing.
Also! Melenas, Dias Raros (Trouble In Mind); Spanish garage rock crossed with arty post-punk by way of Stereolab. Groovy!

Michael Scatter – Scattershot, Wednesdays 10am-Noon

Sgt. Papers, SGTP – It’s catchy, it’s psychedelic, it’s rockin’, and it bear repeat listening.
The other 20 from 2021: Sprints, Manifesto EP; Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek, DOST 1; Contento, En Lancha Pal Futuro; Juleah, Stoked On Planet Summer; Psychic Graveyard, Veins Feel Strange; IDLES CRAWLER; María en Drogas, El Malviaje de José; Lunar Funeral, Sex on a Grave; It Thing, Syrup; Meridian Brothers / Conjunto Media Luna, Paz En La Tierra; Son de Huesos, Occult Cumbia; Wine Lips, Mushroom Death Sex Bummer Party; Alien Nosejob, Paint It Clear; Mdou Moctar, Afrique Victime; The Llamps, The Llamps; The Mardi Kings, The Mardi Kings Season 2; Communicant Sun Goes Out; Cosey Mueller, Interior Escapes; Dry Cleaning, New Long Leg; Combo Lulo, Neotropic Dream
Also! Tülay Nedret Baran, Zühtü and Baligh Hamdi, Instrumental Modal Pop of 1970’s Egypt

Drew Wilson – LOUD LOVE, Sunday Nights Midnight-1am

Turnstyle, Glow On
Silicone Prairie, My Life on the Silicone Prairie
Also! Finally got our hands on a vinyl box set of Velvet Underground, The Complete Matrix Tapes. Rivals the Quine Tapes for our top Velvets recording. Quines have the perfect take of Heroin, Matrix has the perfect take of Pale Blue Eyes.
For a more recent pick, Jeff Rosenstock, Thanks, Sorry! live album has been everything we’ve wanted to listen to while slowly getting back into the pits at live punk shows.

Zach Worm – t a p e w o r m s, Wednesday Mornings Midnight-2am

Home Is Where, I Became Birds
Turnstyle, Glow On
Also! Spirit of the Beehive, Entertainment, Death; Japanese Breakfast, Jubilee; Foxing, Draw Down the Moon

Our Favorite Records of 2020

It used to be that the end of a year was a time to look back, to reminisce, to think fondly of days gone. But not this year! So long 2020! You were the worst. Please don’t come back. But with that said, time is amorphous and doesn’t like to be pigeon-holed. Just because those 365 days felt like an endless hangover (and not the good kind!), doesn’t mean that there were no sources of joy. In fact, it was a good year for music — which makes sense, because music is how many of us weather tough times. Below is a list of the best music as picked by the WXNA DJs. This is music they played, listened to and got them through a truly rough year. Luckily we can look ahead to 2021. I’m sorry, what’s that? Oh, 2021 is also a total mess? Ah, so it is. Well, we still have the music.

Presented for you in alphabetical order by DJ, our favorite records of 2020:

All Skate, Saturdays 9p-10p

So many great albums in 2020. My list is getting out of hand so I think I’ll go with my favorite musical moment of 2020:

DJ Questlove presents Radiohead: Chopped & Screwed

It was the morning RBG passed away and it seemed like covid was getting worse and everything was upside down. I had been watching Questlove’s streams for a while before, but this night was special. He is an encyclopedia of musical knowledge so when he announced a 3-hour Radiohead set I was a little surprised, but I knew I was in good hands. Quest started his usual intro and told his viewers that he was deep in his feelings and wanted to play Radiohead to release some tension. The next 3 hours was such a weird mix of healing and amazement I did not see coming. He “chopped & screwed” 3 entire hours of Radiohead tracks lol. On paper this would not have excited me too much, but with everything leading up to that moment – it was the perfect remedy, even if for a night. For that moment it felt like everything was going to be OK.

BadN8, Coolin’, Sundays midnight-2am

Hip Hop Award: Marlowe, Marlowe 2
Marlowe’s sophomore release picks up where their debut left off just two years ago. It feels like at least two lifetimes since then, so for a duo to breathe new breath into a genre that is ever-changing is a feat. Every time I play Marlowe for someone, a hip-hop head is either born, or born again. Beyond that, this album hits even harder than Marlowe 1, so turn it up and make sure you have some icyhot for your neck tomorrow.

Jazz Award: Christian Scott aTundé Adjuah, AXION
This live album encapsulates the last concert Scott’s group performed before COVID-19 shut things down last year. Consisting of songs from 2019’s Ancestral Recall, along with some new material, AXIOM is mostly long cuts of improvisational music grappling with spiritual and existential themes alike. Corey Fonville’s drumming with Weedie Braimah’s percussion churn and circle like a time machine. Scott’s horn is a beacon of truth blasting through generations, and the rest of the band weave the fabric of space and time back together. AXIOM is as moving as it is entrancing, and its replay value makes it my top jazz release of 2020.

Roger Blanton, Delicious Elixir with DJ Rodge, Thursdays 6-8p

Luke Schneider – Altar of Harmony
Tycho – Simulcast
Neil Young – Vacancy
Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass – Vol. 2 (Cowboy Arms Sessions)
Charley Crockett – Welcome To Hard Times
Colter Wall – Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Prunchy Songs

Brady Brock, Fidelity High, Thursdays 9am-10am

Cindy Lee, What’s Tonight To Eternity
Jeff Parker, Suite for Max Brown
Josephine, Music is Easy
Sweeping Promises, Hunger for a Way Out
Osees, Metamorphosed
Rob Mazurek & Exploding Star Orchestra, Dimensional Stardust
Gia Margaret, Mia Gargaret
Exhalants, Atonement
Damaged Bug, Bug On Yonkers
Luke Schneider, Altar of Harmony
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Sideways to New Italy
Lewsberg, In This House
Alabaster Deplume, To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals Vol. 1
Disheveled Cuss, Disheveled Cuss
Jerskin Fendrix, Wintereisse
Elvis Perkins, Creation Myths
Datenight, Is This Also It?
M. Ward, Think of Spring
Jim O’Rourke, Shutting Down Here
Wendy Eisenberg, Auto
Idles, Ultra Mono
Guided By Voices, Styles We Paid For
Savoy Motel, Love Your Face
Public Eye, Music for Leisure
Teenage Halloween, Teenage Halloween

Laurel Creech, All About Nashville, Fridays Noon-1pm

Though my show on Fridays is typically interviews with local guests, my January 1st show featured some of my favs from all local Nashville artists. I have so much respect and gratitude to all our musicians here who persevered through such challenging time to continue to create some amazing music. I couldn’t fit it all into an hour but here’s a few:
Ashley Ray
India Ramey
Kelsey Waldon
Marcus King
Steve Earle
Will Hoge
Lilly Hiatt

DJubilee, Greetings From Nashville, Thursdays 6am-7am

John Dennis, Moral Flames
India Ramey, Shallow Grave
Brian Wright & the Sneak-Ups

X, Alphabetland
John Calvin Abney, Familiar Ground
Leron Thomas, More Elevator Music
Psychic Temple, Houses of the Holy

DJ Ed Eighties/Schmeighties, Fridays 10am-Noon

Favorite Album of 2020 for me is Mirrored Aztec by Guided by Voices. Robert Pollard has had a stable line up now since 2017. This includes Doug Gillard, Mark Shue, Kevin March and Nashville’s own Bobby Bare Jr. This has been the longest stable and most productive line up in GbV history and probably the most talented crew. That’s saying something. Pollard and his revolving crew of music wizards have been making records since the mid 80s. I read a review the other day that said Guided by Voices keep on putting out great records for the hell of it. That about sums it up. If you can’t get enough of the four Ps (pop, punk, psych and prog) then Mirrored Aztec (as well as the other 2 releases this year, Surrender your Poppy Field and Styles We Paid For) will satiate your craving for the time being.

Pylon, Pylon Box
Paul Burch and the WPA, Light Sensitive
Cartalk, Pass like Pollen
Bob Mould, Blue Hearts
Lilly Hiatt, Royal Blue
Josh Halper, Alrightnik
Rainsticks, October Onwards
Black Bra, Black Bra
A Love Supreme Electric: A Salvo Inspired by John Coltrane Vinny Giola, Henry Kaiser, John Hanrahan, Wayne Peet & Mike Watt

Nexus, Musical Mysticism, Wednesdays 4pm-5pm

Isobel Campbell, There is No Other; brilliant, insightful songwriting with hazy, mystical indie-folk music
Grimes, Miss Anthropocene; brilliant, insightful songwriting with brilliant electronic production
Julianna Barwick, Healing Is A Miracle; heavenly, vocal-laden ambient music
Sign Libra, Sea To Sea; epic instrumental electronic music with lunar maria song titles
Shabaka & The Ancestors, We Are Sent Here By History; spiritual jazz with deep roots and rhythms

DJ Erica, Soul of the City, Thursdays 4pm-6pm

Run the Jewels, RTJ4
Deborah Jordan, See in the Dark
Kyshona, Listen
Brian Brown, Journey
Little Dragon, New Me, Same Us
Little Brother, May the Lord Watch
Thundercat, It is What It Is
Chris Stapleton, Starting Over

Leslie Hermsdorfer Just Chill, Mondays 1am-2am & Tuesdays Midnight-1am, Sound Decisions, on Hiatus

Ana Roxanne, Because of a Flower
Becca Mancari, The Greatest Part

DJ Hot Car, Hot Fudge Tuesday, Saturdays 2pm-4pm

Tim Heidecker, Fear of Death
Destroyer, Have We Met
Jack Name, Magic Touch
Lake, Roundelay
Lake, Practice Space
Spencer Cullum, Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection
Dougie Poole, The Freelancer’s Blues
Woods, Strange To Explain
The Magnetic Fields, Quickies
Fools, Fools Harp Vol. 1
Channelers, Isles Beyond
Josh Halper, Alrightnik
Tommy Mandel, Music For Insomniacs
Wisebuck, Flyworld

Hound Dog Hoover Goin’ Down South, Mondays 1pm-3pm

Sturgil Simpson, Cuttin’ Grass (Vols 1 & 2); Nice surprise releases! Sturgill’s a natural for bluegrass.

J-Mar Transmission, Mondays 8pm-10pm

Sault, Untitled (Black Is) and Untitled (Rise)
DJ Python, Mas Amable
KeiyaA, Forever, Ya Girl
Elysia Crampton, ORCORARA 2010
Pantayo, Pantayo
HAAi, Put Your Head Above the Parakeets EP
Kaê Guajajara, Waramiri EP
MoMa Ready; pretty much everything he put out this year

Jonni Downer Punks Not Punks, Fridays 10pm-11pm

RMR, Drug Dealing Is a Lost Art; Just before lockdown, RMR released “RASCAL,” and for a brief moment everyone lost their damn minds. The song is an anti-cop rewrite of Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road” and places RMR in the long line of folk singers who “borrowed” classic tunes and added lyrics that subverted the original meaning.
John Prine, Live; This is John Prine at his rawest, showcasing his hilarious stage banter, contrasting that with his heartbreaking storytelling, and delivering it all in his signature grating voice. Reissued for the first time since 1988. Absolutely essential.
Bob Vylan, We LIve Here; The English grime punk duo finally released their devastating album this year, and it’s a harsh chronicle of being black, poor, or both in England. Punkest thing I’ve heard in a long time.
Lee “Scratch” Perry & Aquarium, Аквариум In Dub; The Upsetter teams up with legendary Russian psych band Aquarium to make a colorful–sometimes joyful–dub album. A teamup of two of my longtime favorites.
The Last Shall Be First, The JCR Records Story, Volume One; I LOVE gospel, and this Memphis gospel compilation covers everything good about the genre.

DJ Juan International Echo, Thursdays 3pm-4pm

Favorite New Record:
Lido Pimienta, Miss Colombia; Innovative, thought-provoking and hopeful – just a few reasons why this album was the perfect antidote for 2020.

Favorite Old Record:
Kitty Wells, Forever Young; the Queen of Country Music’s Southern Rock album. She famously hated it but it’s got some gems.

DJ Karl Dizzy Spell, Tuesdays 10pm-Midnight

Altar of Harmony, Luke Schneider
Nothing as the Ideal, All Them Witches
Stray, Bambara
Dislocation, Nest Egg
Find the Sun, Deradoorian
All Things Being Equal, Sonic Boom
Azure, Vinyl Williams
Luca, Alex Maas
S/T, Riki
Interloper, Holy Wave
The House of Stone, Ancient River
What’s Tonight for Eternity, Cindy Lee
Monument, Molchat Doma
Mestarin kynsi, Oranssi Pazuzu
S/T, Spiral Galaxy
Viscount Suites, Glimmering
…As Your Wanderer Taps at the Invisible Gate, Elonmusk

DJ Lauren Different Every Time, Mondays 3:30pm-5:30pm

Sun Ra Arkestra, Swirling; first record in 20 years, y’allm Marshall Allen is 96! Spirit sounds for a world that is desperately in need of good vibrations.
Burd Ellen, Says the Never Beyond; the second album from Debbie Armour and Gail Brogan. Seasonal (Christmas) album of perfect harmonies, birdsong, drones and strings. A perfect snow-globe of winter song.

Loud Love Loud Love Show, Mondays Midnigth-1am and Walk It Off, Sundays 11pm-Midnight

Raging Nathans, Oppositional Defiance
The Chats, High Risk Behaviour
Western Addiction, Frail Bray
Spanish Love Songs, Brave Faces Everyone
Personality Cults, New Arrows

DJ LT The Crack In Everything, Sundays 1pm-2pm

David Nance, Staunch Honey
Wendy Eisenberg, Auto
Irreversible Entanglements, Who Sent You?
Magik Markers, 2020
Bill Callahan, Gold Record
Sally Ann Morgan, Thread
Beverly Glenn-Copeland, Transmissions
Anne Malin, Waiting Song
Josh Halper, Alrightnik
Glimmering, Viscount Suites

Mike Mannix Psych Out!, Wednesdays 7pm-9pm and Hymns for the Universe, Sundays 6am-7am

Lou Turner, Songs for John Venn; our very own DJ LT. This album has everything I look for in a release: wit, wordplay, storytelling, musicianship, hooks, and subtle oddities. It’s all there. It was the soundtrack to my spring gardening, late summer nights camping, autumn road trips, and winter afternoons. I can’t say enough about this album.
Gordon Koang, Unity; Bandcamp Fridays were gold for discovering new music. And this one stands out. Koang is originally from South Sudan but fled to (and received asylum in) Australia. This is full of funk and grooves and pulls from a variety of African musical traditions.
Powers / Rolin Duo, Self Titled; Jen Powers (hammered dulcimer) and Matthew Rolin (guitar) had a number of releases this year. This is their second best one. Mesmerizing and beautiful instrumentals that carry me away. I get the privilege of putting another one of their (best) 2020 releases out on vinyl in a few weeks.
Planet on a Chain, This Won’t Get Any Fucking Better; Oakland (CA) crusty punk. A wonderfully bitter and dystopian reminder that shit is fucked.
Sarah Louise, Sally Ann Morgan, and Kryssi B, Earth Cult; Sarah and Sally (House and Land) are steeped in the traditions of Appalachian music. Kryssi B (Headroom/ Mountain Movers) is an incredibly innovative guitarist who traverses the realms of experimental and Japanese psychedelic music. And they meet perfectly on this album. I’ve been waiting years for someone to marry these genres. And now I want more.
Asik Emrah, Almanya’dan Gitmez Bu Hasret; Emrah is a guitarist who, on this album at least, takes the 70s Turkish guitar approach that Erkin Koray made so popular and combines it with an 80s funk sensibility.
Rustem Quliyev, Azerbaijani Gitara; Quliyev recorded a bunch of wild and catchy guitar albums in the 70s that drew from a variety of Eastern and Western influences. It’s all here in its lo-fi and magical glory.

Matt Worm Tape Worms, Wednesdays midnight-2am

Yaeji, WHAT WE DREW 우리가 그려왔던
Marlowe, Marlowe 2
Helenda Deland, Someone New
Beatrice Dillon, Workaround
R.A.P. Ferreira, Purple Moonlight Pages
Ulla, Tumbling Towards a Wall
Serengeti, With Greg from Deerhoof
Ka, Descendants of Cain
Andras, Joyful
Dijon, How Do You Feel About Getting Married?

Anne McCue Songs on the Wire, Tuesdays 9:30am-11:30am and Nashville Express, Tuesdays 11:30am-Noon

Imbocl, Joe Pisapia
Myopia, Agnes Obel
Songs For John Venn, Lou Turner
Ane Brun, How Beauty Holds The Hand of Sorrow
Someday, Falu & Karyshma
The Acoustic Storm Sessions, Elkhorn
Sara’s Half Finished Love Affair, Ellen Starski
Stuff Happens, Stuffy Shmitt
Blonde On The Tracks, Emma Swift
Shallow Graves, India Ramey
Kyshona, Listen

Mello-D Groovy Potential, Tuesdays 5pm-7pm

Comfort food dominates. and to be honest, Grateful Dead would be way top of the list as far as legit listening time, but there’s nothing new there so here are the new records (and reissues) that spent the most time on my turntable in 2020.

Katie Pruitt, Expectations
Sturgill Simpson, Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1; (and Vol. 2 but there’s no physical yet for that so it doesn’t count in my world)
Guided By Voices, Mirrored Aztec & Styles We Paid For
Lilly Hiatt, Walking Proof
Emma Swift, Blonde On The Tracks
Lianne La Havas, Lianne La Havas
Margo Price, That’s How Rumours Get Started
Becca Mancari, The Greatest Part
Nubya Garcia, Source
Tom Petty, Wildflowers & All The Rest; super deluxe edish
Prince, Sign O’ The Times; super deluxe edish
Pylon box

Leanne Merritt X-Posure, Wednesdays 1:30pm–4:00pm

My favorite music that soothed my soul and helped me make it through 2020, in no particular order:
Spencer Cullum, Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection
David Bowie, The Next Day
Neil Casal, Fade Away Diamond Time
Leonard Cohen, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)
Brigid Dawson and The Mother’s Network, Ballet of Apes
Paul Defiglia, In Daylight (releasing in 2021)
Deradoorian, Find The Sun
El Búho, Ramas
Aoife Nessa Frances, Land of No Junction
Dana Gavanski, Wind Songs EP
Dana Gavanski, Yesterday is Gone
Beth Gibbons and Rustinman, Out of Season
The Greek Theatre, When Seasons Change
Lilly Hiatt, Walking Proof
Dalai Lama, Inner World
Fantastic Negrito, Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?
Gigi Masin, Calypso
Melody Fields, Broken Horse EP
Midnight Cassette, Castle Of My Heart
Modern Nature, “Cycles” Project
Modern Nature, Annual
Hania Rani, Home
Daniel Romano’s Outfit, How Ill Thy World Is Ordered
Daniel Romano, Visions Of The Higher Dream
Sault, (UNTITLED) Black Is
Luke Schneider, Altar of Harmony
Skyway Man, The World Only Ends When You Die
Snowgoose, The Making of You
Emma Swift, Blonde On The Tracks
Samantha Whates, Waiting Rooms
Woods, Strange to Explain
Yin Yin, The Rabbit That Hunts Tigers
Joyce Elaine Yuille, Welcome To My World

DJ Mike New Music Friday, Fridays 9pm-10pm

Adrianne Lenker, Songs; a beautiful quarantine album. Another incredible year for music.

Jay Millar The Plural of Vinyl, Tuesdays 7am-9am

Top Albums:
Irreversible Entanglements, Who Sent You? (International Anthem)
Vintage Crop, Serve To Serve Again (Upset The Rhythm)
Public Eye, Music For Leisure (Pop Wig)
The Chats, High Risk Behavior (Bargain Bin)
All Hits, Men And Their Work (Iron Lung)
Lewsberg, In This House (self released)
Tôle Froide, La Redoute (Le Turc Mechanique)
Sweeping Promises, Hunger For A Way Out (Feel It)
Datenight, Is This Also It? (Drop Medium) (local)
Healing Gems, Fiesta Pack (Mock Records)

Top EPs:
Brain Bent, Obligatory Icebreaker (self released)
Fun Time Objects, C20/20 Go-Go! (Fuzzy Warbles)
Love Tan, self titled (self released)
Snooper, Music For Spies (Computer Human) (local)
All Ashore, Stayin’ Afloat (Daytrip)

Candace Mills The Bright Side, Tuesdays 3pm-4pm

Weak Signal, Bianca

Josh Mock Sad Songs for Happy People, Sundays 10pm-11pm

Run the Jewels, RTJ4

Older album new to me:
Viagra Boys, Consistency of Energy

Chris Nocowicz The Other Show, Wednesdays 11am-Noon, The Future of Jazz, Saturdays 8am-10am, The Indie Hangover, Saturdays 7am-8am

David Boswell, The Story Behind the Story
Fontains D.C., A Hero’s Death

Rick Pecoraro Rick Pecoraro Talks to Himself, Currently on Hiatus

Jeff Rosenstock, No Dream

Popcorn Brain Dreambeat, Sundays 8pm-9pm

Charli XCX, how i’m feeling now
Fiona Apple, Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Arca, KiCK i
Austra, HiRUDiN
Julianna Barwick, Healing is a Miracle
Lauren Bousfield, Palimpsest
Braids, Shadow Offering
Buscabulla, Regresa
Wendy Eisenberg, Auto
Empress Of, I’m Your Empress Of
Katie Gately, Loom
Hazel English, Wake UP!
Brandon Juhans, Essential Dread
KLLO, Maybe We Could
James Krivchenia, A New Found Relaxation
Adrianne Lenker, songs & instrumentals
Grischa Lichtenberger, Kamilhan; il y a péril en la demeure
Meitei, Kofū
Jake Muir, the hum of your veiled voice
No Joy, Motherhood
Frances Quinlan, Likewise
Ana Roxanne, Because of a Flower
Carl Stone, Stolen Car
Yaeji, WHAT WE DREW 우리가 그려왔던
Yumi Zouma, Truth or Consequences

popGeezer The English Breakfast, Saturdays Noon-2pm

Taylor Swift, Folklore; this is the sound of an artist coming into their own as a songwriter, assisted by the influence of a new collaborator, Aaron Dessner of The National.

Laura Powers Needles + Pins, Wednesdays 7am-9am

CB Radio Gorgeous, EP
Dicklord, It’s Soooo Boring
Cable Ties, Far Enough
All Hits, Men And Their Work
Sniffany and the Nits, The Greatest Nits EP
Brandy, The Gift of Repetition
Bully, Sugaregg
Cold Meat, Hot and Flustered
NOBRO, Sick Hustle EP
Smalltown Tigers, Five Things EP
Sweeping Promises, Hunger For A Way Out
Dick Move, Chop!
Shadow Show, Silhouettes

Tom Priesmeyer Swing Shift, Thursdays Noon-2pm

Maria Schneider Orchestra, Data Lords
Sun Ra Arkestra, Swirling
Lee Konitz Nonet, Old Songs New
Luciana Souza & the WDR Big Band with Vince Mendoza, Storytellers
Mark Masters Ensemble, Night Talk: The Alec Wilder Songbook
Arturo O’Farrell and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Four Questions
Big Band of Brothers, A Jazz Celebration of the Allman Brothers Band
Brian Landrus, For Now
John Beasley & Monk’stra, Monk’stra Plays John Beasley
Orrin Evans & the Captain Black Big Band, The Intangible Between
Jeremy Levy Jazz Orchestra, The Planets Reimagined
Christian McBride Big Band, For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver
Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wayne Shorter, Music of Wayne Shorter
Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, The Ever Fonky Lowdown
Hans Anselm Big Band, Liquid Circle
Dave Stryker & the WDR Big Band with Bob Mintzer, Blue Soul
Andy Jaffe Nonet +3, Chorinhoso
Lenora Zenzalai Helm and the Tribe Jazz Orchestra, For The Love of Big Band

DJ Rhatfink The Continental, Thursdays 7am-9am, Bedazzled Paradigm Jukebox, Sundays 7am-8am

Lily Chao, Chinese Folk Songs; Best Album
Carne Cruda, I Love You More Than Tacos; Best 7″
Babasonicos; Best Band Discovered While getting tacos
The Sorcerers, In Search Of The Lost City Of The Monkey God; Best Album Discovered By Listening To WXNA
Candi Staton, His Hands; #1 Song Played By DJ rhatfink In 2020

Michael Roark Slings and Arrows, Tuesdays Noon-2pm, The Friday Afternoon Club, Fridays 1pm-3pm

Bill Callahan, Gold Record
Nick Cave, Idiot Prayer (Alone at Alexandra Palace)
Rose City Band, Summerlong
Ilhan Ersahin’s Istanbul Sessions, Bir Samaniar Simdi
M. Ward, Think of Spring
Death Valley Girls, Under The Spell of Joy
Deradoorian, Find The Sun
Jennifer Castle, Monarch Season
Lucinda Williams, Good Souls Better Angels
As well as, Lu’s Jukebox series:

  • Runnin’ Down A Dream: A Tribute To Tom Petty
  • Southern Soul: From Memphis to Muscle Shoals and More
  • Bob’s Back Pages: A Night Of Bob Dylan Songs
  • Funny How The Time Slips Away: A Night of 60s Country Classics
  • It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll: A Tribute to The Rolling Stones

DJ Scattershot The Scattershot, Wednesdays 10am-11am

Julián Mayorga, Cuando tengo fiebre veo la cabeza de un leopardo magnífico
Cold Meat, Hot and Flustered
Contento, Lo Bueno Está Aquí
Torbán Folk Band, Стріла/Thunder
Bab L’ Bluz, Nayda!
IDLES, Ultra Mono
Rachel Brooke, The Loneliness In Me
Meridian Brothers, Cumbia Siglo XXI
Rüstəm Quliyev, Azerbaijani Gitara

D.L. SHerrard Born in a Barn, Thursdays 9pm-11pm

Public Enemy, What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?
Tyler Childers, Long Violent History
Otis Gibbs, Hoosier National

Brandon Spencer Nashville Mixtapes, Saturdays 11am-Noon

Sven Wunder, Wabi Sabi
Spencer Cullum, Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection
Caribou, Suddenly
The Clientele, It’s Art Dad
Lambchop, TRIP

DJ Sweet Baby, Hot Fudge Tuesday, Saturdays 2pm-4pm

Joan Kelsey, House of Mercy
Bill Frisell, Valentine
Johnny, Lawn
Spencer Collum, Spencer Collum’s Coin Collection
Rainsticks, October Onwards
Josephine Foster, No Harm Done
Will Ringwalt, Canaanland

Zach Worm Tape Worms, Wednesdays Midnight-2am

Public’s Eye, Music for Leisure
Smarts, Who Needs Smarts, Anyways?
US Girls, Heavy Light
Powerplant, A Spine/Evidence
Grimes, Miss Anthropocene
Fiona Apple, Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Nnamdi, Brat
Spice, First Feeling
Sweeping Promises, Hunger for a Way Out
Special Interest, The Passion Of

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!

It’s Halloween! An Introduction To The Surreal World of The Shaggs

It’s Halloween, and I know for a fact that I’m not the only WXNA DJ with The Shaggs’ 1969 Philosophy of the World album as their seasonal soundtrack. The band of sisters from Fremont, NH may not have looked as witchy as Stevie Nicks or sounded as ghoulish as Sunn O)))– but Helen, Betty, Dot, and (sometimes) Rachel Wiggin possessed something much deeper beneath the surface. And isn’t that, after all, the spookiest place imaginable?

The Wiggin sisters were managed by their father, Austin Wiggin, who organized their concerts in Fremont and depleted his savings on their studio sessions. It can be said that perhaps their cult following began with him, who may have bordered on obsessive in his attempt to make his daughters rock stars. Since Philosophy of the World was released in 1969, record collectors and music heads across the world have fulfilled his dream by becoming similarly obsessed with and possessed by this record and this band. The Shaggs’ sound demands a response in this way– you can’t listen to their angular, artless rock n’roll without feeling something. There’s a declarative kind of joy that emanates from their sing-song melodies. The obtuse jangle of it all is beautiful, like the broad strokes of a de stijl painting.

It’s time for games
It’s time for fun
Not for just one
But for everyone
The jack-o-lanterns are all lit up
All the dummies are made and stuffed
By just looking you will see
It’s this time of year again
It’s Halloween!

I’m not sure who made these dummies and what they’re stuffed with, but they sure sound terrifying! Even more terrifying to some might be the evidence of a recurring Shaggs theme– that something might be for everyone. In the title track of Philosophy of the World, they outline their worldview with a disarming simplicity:

Oh, the rich people want what the poor people’s got
And the poor people want what the rich people’s got
And the skinny people want what the fat people’s got
And the fat people want what the skinny people’s got
You can never please anybody in this world
It doesn’t matter what you do
It doesn’t matter what you say
There will always be
One who wants things the opposite way

In form and content, The Shaggs were champions of the everyday person– they didn’t have expensive equipment, glitzy outfits, or beautiful harmonies. They were sisters that sang about the universal struggle of obeying your parents, losing your cat, heartbreak, and God— but did so with an unnerving singularity. Sometimes they’d sing the melody, all at once, but each with different phrasing. What could be more witchy than that? These weren’t seances, perhaps, but spellbinding all the same in their dissonant, wide-eyed wonder.

Further reading/listening:


Shout, Sister, Shout!
Sundays 1-2 pm


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


Listen And It All Begins To Fit: On Dory Previn

Let’s be clear: I’m not here to discuss Father John Misty. However, I owe it to him to begin this piece by mentioning a playlist he began curating via Spotify a couple years back (in true Father John Misty form, it’s titled Father John Misty’s Father John Misty Playlist). I remember cueing it up with my boyfriend on a road trip one weekend in college, skipping the tracks we already knew and loved from folks like Harry Nilsson or John Fahey, hungry for new sounds to sink into. At some point in the shuffling, Dory Previn’s “Atlantis” began to play:

I lie in bed
beside him
and I know him
outside in
I’ve learned his body’s
line and length
and memorized his grin
I’ve counted
every crease
at the edges
of his eyes
I know his soul’s
complete circumference
I know
his lies

She unfurls these lyrics by way of a sensuous melody, yet her voice remains a bit withheld and guarded; there is no glimmer of a “come hither” sexiness. There’s a show tune-ish-ness to the melody, but no “All That Jazz” cuteness. She sounds kind of in awe, a little bit afraid, maybe wounded. She sounds wild, too.

Hearing “Atlantis” was all I needed. I immediately researched all that I could on Dory Previn née Dorothy Lanagan and learned that she’d passed away on Valentine’s Day in 2012. I found that her life was as complex and winding as her songwriting. She’d been both a writing partner and a life partner to the famous Hollywood composer André Previn before he had an affair and child with actress Mia Farrow in 1969. Dory’s already fragile mental state reached a breaking point when the couple divorced. And when André Previn married Farrow, Dory was hospitalized for her psychosis. Eventually, she began writing her own singer-songwriter tunes as a part of her healing process. One of the first was a song outlining her ex-husband’s affair called “Beware of Young Girls”:

Beware of young girls
Who come to the door
Wistful and pale of twenty and four
Delivering daisies with delicate hands

This track, among others exploring other vulnerable themes such as her childhood trauma (“With My Daddy in the Attic”), fear (“Scared To Be Alone”), and psychosis (“Mister Whisper”) appeared on her debut solo album On My Way To Where (1970). She went on to record five more solo albums in the ‘70s, and one live album at Carnegie Hall.

On her 1974 self-titled album on the Warner Bros label, her voice seems to have reached a new peak of gumption and ease. Tracks such as “Coldwater Canyon” and “Brando” present as a direct commentary on Previn’s zeitgeist in ’70s L.A., both lyrically and musically. Her observations and descriptions are as sharp (and often funny) as ever, but shadowed with a sinuous, poignant longing and self-awareness. Folky instrumentation like steel guitar and Latin-style drums are punctuated with a show-tune-ish urgency that Previn reappropriated from her past to support sophisticated and catchy melodies that effortlessly wield an emotional narrative.

These songs are at once self-deprecating, profound, feminist, dark, funny, sweeping, strange, unique to their time, and ahead of their time. One of my personal favorites is the last track on Dory Previn, “Did Jesus Have a Baby Sister?”:

Did she long to be the saviour
Saving everyone
She met?
And in private to her mirror
Did she whisper:
Save your breath!

The background vocals are searing on this track and the chord changes sound intuitive but are quite complex. There is a less groovy but equally probing song called “Woman Soul” off of 1976’s We Are Children Of Coincidence that brings wonderful nuances to the love song form. I think it speaks to what we might today call “toxic masculinity” with great empathy:

I love him ‘cause he questions all the roles he’s forced to play
‘Grown men don’t cry’: he sees the lie, and cannot change his way
Oh, but he does the best he can; that’s why I love that man
But I also love the woman in his soul

In addition to her records, Dory Previn also published a trio of autobiographies in her lifetime: “On My Way to Where”, “Midnight Baby”, and “Bogtrotter”. They feel like extended liner notes, her lyrics interwoven with stream-of-consciousness narratives and an occasional poem. Her books overlap non-linearly and further explore her troubled childhood and her rise to songwriting in L.A. after several odd jobs including salesgirl, secretary, and chorus girl. She details her inner world and psychosis with a disarming vulnerability. One of my favorite poems included in any of her books is titled “Listen”. I was thrilled when I came across a clip of her on Irish television reading this poem in her inimitably playful yet serene tone:

The feeling in my blood-flow
Is a simple thing you see
I am it
I am it
We are everything and nothing
But that’s how to play the game
In these weatherbeaten bodies
With these godforsaken brains
We can listen
Listen to the universe resounding
In the pulsing and the pounding
Of our infant ancient veins
Listen and it all begins to fit
You are it

Dory’s records have become an anchor for me when I yearn for music to be a space for making meaning beyond sounds and words alone. I find myself enchanted by her snarky honesty, her wistfulness, her admissions of uncertainty and her occasional turns toward nurturing. I am simultaneously shocked and comforted by her voice. And when I’m feeling weatherbeaten I will watch that funny little video, sometimes on repeat. Listen, and it all begins to fit. You are it.

Lauren Turner
Shout, Sister, Shout!
Sundays 1-2 pm

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!

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.

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.

Music Feels Pride

Being a gay man and deejay on WXNA (Slings & Arrows, Tuesdays noon to 2), and it being the month of June, I was asked by the station manager if I would consider writing a blog for Pride. My first thought was, Why not? I like to think I might have something to say on the matter. But then my mind went blank. So, it was suggested I might want to discuss music that affected me as a closeted youth and the powerful pull music can have to open hearts and minds, to be a solace or a catalyst.

Well, after wracking my brain, I couldn’t think of any music that spoke to me as a youth on that level. Of course, music enters the soul in ways unknowing, and surely the inner self hiding within was listening to the music that passed my ears in a way differently from the outer self. Dancing queens like ABBA and Donna Summer, or the witchy swirl of Stevie Nicks, were scratching an inner itch, and music my brothers brought into the house—The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Pretenders—scratching an outer.

The PretendersI remember my 12-year-old self hearing Pretenders I for the first time in my brother’s room. He brought it home, excited to listen, as a friend of his had suggested he get it. When that first song came on with its driving drums and thrashing guitars, I was hooked. But it was Chrissie Hynde’s vocal attitude that sealed the deal. Her incisive intensity scared the bejesus out of me, and I loved it. 

When she sang, “but not me baby, I’m too precious, fuck off,” I was (1) blown away by the fact that such language could be said on a record, and (2) excited that it was a woman who would say it. It was my first “fuck” in music. The lacey frills of Stevie Nicks twirled away. I wanted the staunch leather of this badass woman to reach into places I didn’t yet know existed.  On that album I discovered the essence of the preciousness within (a resource not to be wasted) and the rowdy and lawless swagger without. Selves coalesced. 

Of course, time moves on, and Tom Petty’s drawl prevails over Hynde’s as I get older. One can’t change the vicissitudes of time. Just like one can’t change the crucial way music makes you feel when you’re young and alone and scared and hiding within yourself. When you feel that the world rejects you. 

The music on the jukebox at the Stonewall Inn must have had that kind of powerful effect. It was stacked with the songs of its time, 1969, a year of revolution. (In 1969 it was illegal for gay people to congregate and drink—let alone dance—together. The Stonewall Inn was a place where they could do all three.) Witnesses claim that shortly before that historical raid, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was played. It has also been noted that one of the favorite songs to dance and sing along with on the Stonewall Inn jukebox was “Aquarius (Let The Sunshine In)’ by The 5th Dimension. Clearly, it is a song about transcendence: 

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation

The word “liberation” must have struck a chord and reverberated in the hearts of the young queer men and women and transgender individuals who frequented there. Along with “This Is My Life (La Vita)” by Shirley Bassey, with its refrain of “let me live, let me live,” and others, these songs must have forged feelings of rebellion, independence, and hope. 

So, when the cops came (with little backup at first, it must be noted) in the post-midnight hours on that hot New York City night, something burst. Liberation enflamed the dark. Love steered the stars. And here we are, a people on a road to vindication. Pride.

Michael Roark
Slings and Arrows
Tuesdays, noon-2pm