HITS Daily Double

By Karen Glauber

Last month, after receiving an advance stream of the latest Arcade Fire album Everything Now, on the tenth listen through, I felt compelled to send Win Butler an email to convey my feelings. I’ve worked on the band’s behalf since the release of Funeral, their 2004 debut, so sending him an email wasn’t that unexpected:

“Dear Win, I love it so. ‘We Don't Deserve Love’ kills me. Like I said when you first played it for me at Scott’s house, it reminds me of NYC in 1981, when the arrival of Ed Koch as mayor made housing for artists unaffordable and it all went underground. Disco was strictly ‘bridge and tunnel,’ but hip-hop had caught our attention—knowing all the words to ‘Rapper’s Delight’ was a college party trick, plus there was this incredible dance music coming out—Tom Tom Club, ESG, Bush Tetras, Material, Liquid Liquid, League of Gentleman (once a prog nerd…), etc. Protest songs with a killer beat. We’d go to Danceteria and the Peppermint Lounge to see our friends’ bands—R.E.M., Pylon, Mission of Burma, etc., always for free, and dance for hours after. We weren't cool by any definable standard. I went to Oberlin and spent my days at the college radio station. We took road trips to DC for college radio conventions and discovered the Go-Go/Thrash scene, where Trouble Funk and Minor Threat would share a stage. When The Clash played 17 shows at the Bond international Casino, we pushed our way to the front of the stage for the two shows we were able to wrangle our way into. We would’ve never been allowed to enter Studio 54 or the Palladium or Area. Nor would we have wanted to. Your record captures what it felt like to be broke in NYC, before Koch had completely transformed Times Square into Disneyland. It was such a formative time in my life. Kids need an escape even more today than we did then—the music you’re making now evokes that tension and heartfelt release. Here’s to its success! I hope to see you soon—my love to all. xxkg”

Win’s response was brief and very kind, which added fuel to my ongoing thesis that dance music, played on real instruments, with culturally aware lyrics, has an important place in current music. LCD Soundsystem’s “Call the Police” harkens back to the “Fuck Art, Let’s Dance” sentiment we felt at the onset of the Reagan administration. KROQ adding “Nobody Speak” by DJ Shadow f/Run the Jewels this week, which Lazlo at KRBZ has already played 800 times, is an important step toward giving a musical voice to how fucked things are right now. This song has been out for a while, with early support from KCMP, Alt Nation and KQGO, among others, and hearing it on the radio is a welcome antidote… Beck’s new single, “Dear Life,” which arrived yesterday, has the chorus, “Dear life, I’m holding on”—a highly relatable sentiment…

As long as there’s a faction of people self-ordained as the “Alt Right,” I refuse to refer to our radio format as Alternative.  As long as I am reading articles like “Why the Far Right Wants to Be the New ‘Alternative’ Culture” in The New York Times, I will refer to the format as Modern Rock. Thank you…

Rarely, timed around a solar eclipse, perhaps, a song comes out that is PURE MAGIC. All of the “metrics” we pray for are immediate: Shazams, streams, calls, sales, etc. If we’re lucky, we bear witness to one or two of those in our career. Alice Merton’s “No Roots,” released by our friends at Mom + Pop, is that record. Mark Hamilton at KNRK is the spin leader thus far, with nearly equal emphatic support from KGSR in Austin, Alt Nation and WFUZ in Wilkes-Barre. The ordered rollout of stations reminds me of Bishop Briggs’ “River” (which has already sold gold/nearing platinum), except I think the chart success for “No Roots” will be even faster. David Jacobs is leading the charge on this—such an exciting project!...

Arkells’ “Knocking at the Door” has been #1 on the Canadian Modern Rock chart for the past 12 weeks. As they say up north, every record has a shot at going #1 in Canada, but it’s unheard of for a song to stay there for as long as this one has! “Knocking at the Door” is an unmitigated smash.

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