On December 5th, WRBB’s Annika Eske set up a table at Campus Crossroads and asked anyone who stopped by to tell us about the most “surprising” music they’ve been listening to lately. As one might expect, we got some unconventional answers – it was news to us that the Philadelphia Eagles released a Christmas album for charity this year. On the other hand, some artists seem to come up at every Community Connections session (*cough cough* Taylor Swift). Regardless, we’d vouch for all of this month’s music recommendations. Maybe you’re in need of some particularly unusual songs to listen to, or maybe you just need a break amidst the holiday chaos and the doom of finals (we’ll be fine, don’t worry). Whatever your motive, check out some of the neat answers featured below as well as the full compilation of recommendations in this playlist.
Lara told us to include a picture of a Chloe Moriondo album, as this is the music that recently introduced her to indie rock.
Lara came by and told us that she used to be more of a “Top 40 person” when it comes to music. Anything she listened to was music you might hear on a more mainstream radio station. This changed when she was first introduced to music artist Chloe Moriondo through Mic the Snare, a music reviewer on YouTube. She told us she had never been one to go looking for music, so Chloe Moriondo was a surprising find to her. However, Lara can now safely say that she enjoys the indie rock genre. Props to Lara for stepping outside of her comfort zone – it almost always pays off!
Graduate student Arslan stopped by next, wearing a fitting shirt for a music-themed conversation.
Arslan told us that his most surprising music choice of late has been Cibo Matto, a quirky and fun duo that was founded in NYC by two Japanese expats. How did Cibo Matto earn the “quirky” descriptor, you ask? The duo writes music influenced by 90s-style hip hop, but most of the lyrics revolve around food. Interestingly, Miho Hatori, the vocalist who founded Cibo Matto, was also the voice of Noodle from the Gorillaz for a period of time. Arslan told us that he discovered Cibo Matto through the video game Jet Set Radio Future. He recalled that he wrote a paper in undergrad about how history and culture have a strong presence in video games; Cibo Matto serves as a perfect example of this.
Mark told us to take our pick for which album cover to include with his answer. We went with Rattlesnakes, by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions.
Mark, who works at Northeastern, covered some old school artists and some relatively new artists, as well. He and his friend first agreed that Elvis Presley is a must. Mark joked that Elvis is “surprising to you guys probably, because you’re younger than us.” He went on to recommend the Smiths, Morrissey, and New Order. Mark then dug a little deeper for us and said to check out the lesser-known group Lloyd Cole and the Commotions – “another English band,” he remarked (and a good one at that!). Mark’s recommendations sent us down an 80s, British-pop rabbit hole – if you don’t love those, it may be time to reassess your priorities. Still, Mark also listens to more current music. He told us, “You know RÜFÜS [DU SOL]? I’m 60 years old and I know that guy – they’re good!”
Lauren recommended some hockey stadium anthems to us.
“Maybe it’s not surprising if you know me – I really like hockey,” Lauren told WRBB. Her surprising music recommendation was hockey stadium anthems. She told us there are a lot of great hype-up sports songs like “Kernkraft 400” by Zombie Nation and “Narco” by Blasterjaxx and Timmy Trumpet, both of which are well-loved by sports fans. “Those songs really energize everyone,” she explained. Nonetheless, Lauren told us that one of her top artists is Indigo de Souza, and these hockey anthems are not at all similar to her usual music taste.
Yet another Lauren stopped by with an unexpected sports-related music recommendation.
“I don’t know if you’re a football fan,” Lauren began, and then proceeded to tell us about A Philly Special Christmas. As an enthusiastic football fan from Philly, Lauren told us that this Christmas album released by the Philadelphia Eagles has been a cornerstone of her music rotation lately. In fact, she told us the songs released so far are actually astonishingly good. “It’s so funny because they’re massive 350-pound men who have these gorgeous voices no one knows about,” she explained. “My boyfriend and I have been listening to it nonstop – which is so not-normal,” she joked. “I’m not even…I’m Jewish,” Lauren concluded with a laugh.
Will told us about some great punk music he discovered through a documentary.
Will told us that he first discovered the punk band X through a documentary called The Decline of Western Civilization. He told us the documentary consists primarily of live footage of punk groups from before they made it big, though Will pointed out that making it big for these bands was not quite equivalent to becoming famous. He said that he listens to punk music regularly, but was surprised by how good the band X sounded in the documentary. Will elaborated that two members of the band were a couple, and had a great dynamic in which they would switch back and forth on vocals. Will recommends “Nausea” and “I’m Coming Over” from X’s discography.
Dioneilys gave us an unexpected rap recommendation and told us the surprising reason she likes to wear headphones.
Dioneilys told us that she has been listening to the Christian rapper Lecrae. She explained “…I’m Catholic, and I want to listen to music that’s holy,” and yet most of the Christian music out there doesn’t really appeal to her. Hence, she was pleasantly surprised when she found Lecrae’s Christian take on hip hop music. Nonetheless, Dioneilys told us that this music pick is even more unusual for her because she doesn’t listen to much music in general. In fact, she normally wears her Beats headphones for the silence they provide rather than for music. We agreed with Dioneilys’ observation that, though some people move through life with music ever-present in the background, others prefer a higher silence-to-music ratio – to each their own.
Obviously, Emelyn had to take her picture with Kermit. They are matching, after all.
“What counts as surprising?” Emelyn first asked us. After we assured her that anything goes, she asked, “…does Christian rap sound unusual?” Emelyn told WRBB that although this music is not surprising in that she is Christian, rap is not her go-to genre. In her words, “There are some [songs] that I like, but I’m not really into rap.” However, her friend had sent her a Spotify link that led her to some related autoplay songs. These ultimately helped her to discover Christian rap music. Emelyn told WRBB that she would definitely recommend the niche music genre and that she particularly likes “3am” by Gabby Callwood.
Chaidanya has found himself most surprised by the music he’s been hearing in the Indian hip hop scene.
Chaidanya told us about a relatively new Indian rap/hip hop competition called Hustle 3.0. He told us that he started listening to the music from the contest after seeing it was trending on Instagram. In particular, Chaidanya liked what he heard during Paradox’s raps. He liked everything about the artist’s music from lyrics to flow. Chaidanya thinks that the music Paradox makes is surprising in that it addresses unique topics and situations that are not normally covered in hip hop music.
Lux is inspired by the producer Preservation and the way he changes the meaning of rhythm.
“The artist who’s been really surprising to me lately is this producer named Preservation,” Lux told WRBB. Lux explained that the producer is currently part of the underground New York rap scene, but that he has also lived in Hong Kong and samples old records from there. Still, the most surprising aspect of Preservation’s production is its lack of a clear percussion track. Although the producer creates much of his music for rappers, it is often completely ambient music with no drums whatsoever. Lux said this actually ends up “spotlighting [the rapper] as the giver of rhythm” – the rappers themselves become the percussion. Lux said they discovered Preservation since he is the producer on an album by Billy Woods, who recently performed at Northeastern’s Common Cents as part of the Armand Hammer duo. Ultimately, Lux expressed admiration for Preservation’s innovativeness and said they have used it as inspiration while creating their own music (check out LLVX on Spotify).
Prathap gave us some great music recommendations and documentary recommendations to go along with them.
Prathap first recommended the rock band Porcupine Tree, saying that he loves their instrumentation and of their lyrics, “It’s all about life.” Prathap also recommended Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi. To Prathap, every one of the composer’s songs is somehow relatable. He told us that Einaudi’s music helped him get through a period of depression, and he would especially recommend “Seven Days Walking / Day 1: Golden Butterflies,” from the Nomadland soundtrack. Apart from Nomadland, Einaudi’s music shows up in many other cinematic works. Prathap is a big fan of documentaries, and pointed out that Einaudi’s “Experience” is the backdrop of the documentary short film “Watchtower of Turkey,” directed by Leonardo Dalessandri. In Prathap’s opinion, this documentary of less than 5 minutes is one of the most “amazing documentaries of the 21st century.” After seeing Dalessandri’s beautiful transitions and textured shots capturing his travels through Turkey, we can’t say there’s much room for argument. With Ludovico Einaudi’s dramatic orchestral sounds behind it all, the short film is certainly worth a watch if you haven’t already seen it.