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by Claence Ewing
With over 100 years of recorded music available to our ears, sometimes it can be tough to know where to begin exploring the art form’s many genres and styles. This series provides ideas for those interested in exploring unfamiliar genres and styles of music.
What Is It: Take a four-on-the-floor beat (or something awfully close to it), and sweeping guitars, strings, and horns as needed, keep it playing all night to sing songs about love (both physical and spiritual), happiness, and ecstacy (the mental state and/or the drug).
America has always had a fraught relationship with dance music. This was especially true with Disco, a dance craze that emerged from underground New York clubs and took over a post-Vietnam, post-Watergate USA looking for a little escapism during the mid to late 1970s. For a brief time, Everyone from the ultra-glamorous patrons of Studio 54 to grandparents in retirement homes were learning new steps and having a party that didn’t involve staring at screens all night.
by Clarence Ewing
With over 100 years of recorded music available to us, it can be hard to know where to begin listening to the art form’s many variations. This series provides ideas for those interested in exploring unfamiliar genres and styles of music.
What Is It: Popular music whose instrumentation is made up mostly or entirely of electronic synthesizers.
The use of electronic instruments to make music can be traced back as far as the mid-1700s. Synthesizers, the electronic analogue of keyed instruments like pianos, have existed in one form or another since the mid-1950s.
Until the late 1970s, these instruments were on the fringes of music styles like Disco and progressive Rock, played by people who had enough money to buy them.
The 1980s saw the widespread use of synths in pop music, especially by bands inspired by the Punk and New Wave sounds emerging from cities. The inherently bright, chirpy sounds from a keyboard could be used to make happy music, but also deliver lyrics that weren’t so perky. Electronica, experimental pop, and “bedroom pop” (where one person could create their own masterworks using electronic tools) would emerge from the synth taking its place as a common tool in music-making.
For listeners interested in 1980s Synth-Pop but unsure where to begin exploring, these three albums would be good places to start…
Depeche Mode is the most successful band in history that used synths as their primary instruments. Their fourth album contains the international hit “People Are People,” which directly addressed racism and war, along with more risque topics like S&M (“Master and Servant)” suicide (“Blasphemous Rumours”) and the general ennui that comes with working in a capitalist society (“Lie to Me”). It’s a dark album made up of uplifting melodies that could get minimal exposure on the public airwaves.
This September, the Chicago Pubic Library selected Moshsin Hamid's novel, Exit West, as its "One Book, One Chicago" selection for 2020, describing is as "..an astonishingly visionary love story that imagines the forces that drive ordinary people from their homes into the uncertain embrace of new lands."
And for another year, the Library invited us here at CHIRP to create]https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3oA1fNLQs5VjtxQlAefgiB?si=bk2fXwoxQ_K30JTONEGSbw">create[/url] a playlist to accompany the reading.
CHIRP Radio volunteer and DJ Moizza Khan reflects on the novel and presents a playlist]https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3oA1fNLQs5VjtxQlAefgiB?si=bk2fXwoxQ_K30JTONEGSbw">playlist[/url] of music that captures the themes and spirit of this work.
“We are all migrants through time.”
In 1968, my dad came to Chicago as an international student from India, working multiple jobs and living with multiple roommates as he studied engineering at the UIC Circle campus. Shortly after his arrival, he got word that his father back in Hyderabad had passed away. He never got to say goodbye and, over time and migration, he would lose nearly all direct family ties to India.
Life in the Midwest has never been particularly welcoming to foreigners, and though my childhood was in many ways typical, I never fit in or felt the same nostalgia for the suburbs as the kids I grew up with.
My goal was to spend at least half of my 20s outside the U.S. and the only thing that kept me from achieving this was my father’s health problems after he became a widower. My greatest fear was that, like him, I would get word of his passing from thousands of miles away and never get to say goodbye.
Every month since March 2017, I've been putting together a playlist covering songs discovered in different and unique ways over the course of said month. The ways I hear the songs put on the playlist always vary! Maybe CHIRP was playing a new favorite band, maybe I was catching a show and actually got there in time to see the opener, maybe I was watching TV and a cool song came on during a pivotal character moment!
After giving it some thought, CHIRP has graciously provided me the opportunity to bring you "Crash Revere's Monthly Mash-Up," a blog providing you the track list for every monthly playlist as well as an explanation (possibly a defense) to how and why each of the songs found their ways onto the playlist and into my heart.
DFA decided to release a post-punk synth-pop album in-between their electronic dance mixes and LCD Soundsystem live recordings and I am all over it. The title track brings us such hits as a fade in, reverb on everything, catchy drums, and straightforward lyrics. I thought this album was fun, easy to listen to, and not the least bit pretentious. This is my lo-fi '80s synth track of the month!
March 2020 was the first month of the Shelter taking place in Illinois, so this song ended up being more fitting than I expected. Truthfully though, I found this song off a web-cartoonist's "AA" playlist and I put it on this playlist because after getting back home from Germany after six weeks, I decided to cool it with the drinking. The New Pornographers could be considered a super-band at this point if you look at the different artists that have been a part of it, and this song really shows off their skills when they collaborate. Somehow haunting and uplifting at the same time, the only thing I can say is that I should've learned a German word that means both those things so I could describe the song better.
written by DJ moimoi
New year, new resolutions to get our sh*t together – whether that’s improving our eating, sleeping, and exercise (all good things) or just clearing out our watchlists while we’re stuck inside over the cold winter months.
One resolution that checks both boxes for self-improvement and entertainment is to read more, and here are some tips to ensure success:
First, figure out when you have time to read: On your commute to work? On the treadmill? Waiting in the allergist’s lobby or in line for a chicken sandwich? All of these and more can be opportunities to get some reading in, if you consider your selections wisely. For example, you don’t want to carry a Tolstoy novel around on your daily commute – that might make better bedside reading or work better on an e-reader. Poetry and graphic novels are great to pick up and put down when you’re multi-tasking. And paperbacks can be thrown around, consumed, and traded in with zero guilt (especially if you shop local and/or used).
Then, figure out what to read: Perhaps you have a tantalizing stack of unread books cluttering up your apartment or a really long spreadsheet of titles you’ve been updating for years. This is what happens when you decide to read something before figuring out when it will be read. Resolve yourself to clearing the clutter and crossing off the list using the method above.
There are also tons of celebrity reading lists, reading challenges, and book clubs to incentivize a new or renewed commitment to reading. As music-lovers, we at CHIRP particularly recommend the following: