The staff here at KJHK could not bring themselves to let you wander out into this chilly winter break without some hot fire to warm you up.
Name: Olivia Schmidt
Position: Content Team
Winter Break Recommendation:Emily D+Evolution by Esperanza Spalding
This winter break can leave us all a little home bound in a pent-up, cozy, and sometimes stir-crazy mood. An extra way to add a little spice to your winter vaca isolation is by throwing on Esperanza Spalding’s latest album titled, “Emily D+Evolution. This album is a perfect display of Spalding’s adventurous and creative spirit interlaced with her love of theater and jazz. She introduces the album with the tune “Good Lava” which intuitively sounds like a circus tent expanding up and down. The fierceness of her vocals combined with the backlash of her willful bass is intrinsic to the theme. “Unconditional Love”, the second song on the album and one of my personal favorite’s leaves one longing for a trip down nostalgic lover’s lane. The entirety of the album tells a story of perseverance, strength, and longing. The most wonderful melodic sounds overflow into your lap from the composition on this album. Emily D. (Spalding’s alter ego) has completed some national tours performing this album with theatrical production provided by her backup singers. She leaves us feeling warm and uplifted in her poetic lyrics and also indicates a sense of punished soul with the darker notes of her storytelling. Enlightenment and enrichment are what you’ll experience after a full scope hearken to this album. You’ll journey from heaven to hell with Esperanza all while laying in the middle of your bedroom floor next to your space heater.
Winter Break Recommendation: Don’t Let The Kids Win – Julia Jacklin
The slightly melancholic feel of alt-folk artist Julia Jacklin’s Don’t Let The Kids Win fits perfectly alongside the odd feeling of returning to your home town. Childhood friends have moved away or become increasingly distant, your old room has become storage for your mom’s workout equipment, and a Jack in the Box has opened up down the street, seemingly out of nowhere. It feels f****** weird. But at the end of the day, the family dog still recognizes you, your spot on the couch remains open and warm, and mom’s cooking is still d-d-d-dank. Jacklin’s soft voice assures you that, even as you question your dad’s choice to incorporate a 33 gallon fish tank into the aesthetic of the living room, coming home is going to keep feeling strange, and that’s OK.
Winter Break Recommendation: “Awaken, My Love!” by Childish Gambino
Throw out everything you think you know about Childish Gambino and wintertime music. This is what you should be listening to right now. This album will not put you in the mood for sledding and hot chocolate; rather, some tracks will make you picture yourself on a beach, bongos to your left and a Pina Colada occupying your right hand, which is the feel we get from “California.” And yet, tropical vibes are not nearly all this album has to offer. It takes on an echoey early 80’s air with the electric guitar, synthesized sounds, and funky baselines on tracks like “Redbone,” which personally makes me feel like I’m sitting in the passenger seat of an 80’s mustang convertible at a drive-in movie, the flashes of the movie projector casting the only light in the darkness. “Me and Your Mama” is an intense, soulful trip of a song that truly reveals Gambino’s scope as a vocalist (which, despite speculation, is not thanks to pitching, but is actually just raw talent). I recommend bumping this one in a car with the volume maxed out to really appreciate the car-shaking deep bass this song boasts. We knew something different was coming when Gambino released “Me and Your Mama” as the first single from the album, but we weren’t ready for the wildly unique, powerfully emotional, and soulful piece of art we got from “Awaken, My Love!”. I very much encourage you to let go of any preconceived expectations you have about Childish Gambino as a rapper, and give it a listen.
Winter Break Recommendation: “Snowstorm in the Valley” by Christian Zucconi and Rich Berta
Snowstorm in the Valley was written and recorded during an insane snowstorm out East in ‘09. With it’s being written authentically during the cold days in a time of torrential snow flakes and slightly darkened days, this song perfectly captures the most solemn moments of winter itself. This song naturally adds in an even deeper level of human connection using spoken word to reach deep within the personal and real life experience of winter. Through the delicate strumming of the strings and playing of the most willfully dreamy instruments, the lullaby-like vocals and chilling harmonies between Christian and Rich, one of the most captivating reflections of winters truth is created.
Winter Break Recommendation: “I morgen” by Anja Elena Viken
Nobody knows winter like those from Scandinavia. This song by Norwegian singer/songwriter, Anja Elena Viken, will help you embrace the frosty feel of the holiday season. Lytte og nyte! That’s “listen and enjoy” in Norwegian for those unfamiliar with this wintry tongue.
Name: Paul Kline
Position: Street Team and Rotation DJ
Year: Grad School
Winter Break Recommendation: “Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You” — Billy Squier
This is my favorite Christmas Song. I recommend this song because it is good. Anyone who says it is not good is wrong. Opinions are absolute–not relative. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong, but that’s just my opinion. I remember the first time I heard this song on the radio and thought, “Hey, this Christmas song is actually pretty good!” I like it enough to listen outside of November/December.
Winter Break Recommendation: “Polish Girl” by Neon Indian
I recently came across this while listening to an electronic Pandora radio station and I was instantly hooked. What can I say, I’m a sucker for bouncy electronic beats. But this song is more than a simple dance track. The sweeping rhythms and synthetic flourishes give it the perfect atmospheric feel for snowfall or winter in general. Now seeing as this song is instrumental, it’s not associated with any holiday but I feel as though that’s part of the beauty. It describes a feeling more than a date. I’m not sure what it exactly is about this track, but for some reason it always reminds me of snow covered winters and that nostalgia-filled Christmas-time feel. Whatever it is, I feel very confident in calling it a weird mix of seasonal chiptune and catchy dance music. Great for walking through the snow to a coffee shop or watching the fireplace wishing it was sunny and 81 degrees.
First of all, I HATE Christmas music. So, rather than indulge in the pseudo-holiday cheer of the season, my music selections tend to drift towards the bleak and/or the wistful in the fall and winter months – lots of black and doom metal, shoegaze, Red House Painters, Appleseed Cast, Chelsea Wolfe, Raime, and things of that nature. I discovered ANAMAI and their album Sallows last winter, and it was one of my favorite albums of 2015. It’s slow, haunting, minimal and meditative experimental folk music. The music plods along while drenched in reverb and and atmospheric noise. Vocalist Anna Mayberry’s ghostlike voice elongates words in a way that’s practically like a chant or incantation. It’s a perfect reflection of the dark, bleak Kansas winters.
Name: Rachel Benefiel
Position: Alternative Flashback DJ/Production Staff
Winter Break Recommendation: “The Night Before Christmas” by Eek-A-Mouse
Tired of the same old Christmas songs? Of course you are; they’ve been playing on certain radio stations for at least two months now. To cure the holiday blues, check out Jamaican reggae artist Eek-A-Mouse’s take on the classic “The Night Before Christmas.” Upbeat and fun, it’ll make you forget how stressful the holidays are (seriously–make sure to take care of yourselves).