All posts by Lucas

Concert Review: Adam Torres

DJ Tim Rueda wrote a lovely review of Adam Torres' concert on February 11. This is his first article for KXUA, and hopefully there will be more to come. -Ed. 

When I walked into Stage 18, I was greeted by the white walls covered with hanging art and the powerful purple backdrop being used for the upcoming concert that I had shown up for. The display called back to this month’s first Thursday and the venue’s grand opening. The purple lights splashed across the walls and acoustic guitar strumming echoed. Adam Torres was in the middle of his sound check, and after a moment he resolved to lower the guitar’s mic. He decided that it sounded more even. I told the bouncer who I was and sat down in the back row with my notepad, biding my time for the show.

The room was characterized by the near clinical arrangement of a gallery, which was tempered by the casual element of its bar. Apparently I had shown up very, very early. I lamented this fact, but used the time to take notes. About an hour later the show started with Adam’s song, “High Lonesome”. Most of the set consisted of songs off his most recent full length album, Pearls to Swine. In many ways the album felt like a concept album to me. Musically there is a consistent American west feel to the songs. Much of the album hovers in the realm of being hauntingly soothing; a trait that is enhanced by Adam’s ghost-like vocal delivery throughout this album in particular. It’s not something he’s always done. Many songs by Adam Torres paint intimate and personal pictures lyrically, but the signature feature of Pearls to Swine is definitely the consistency of all its elements.

“High Lonesome” was a great opener for the set. I consider it to be at the intersection of all the elements listed above, a good representation of the set as a whole, and easy to follow in whichever direction Adam would want to go. As Torres sang about being laid to rest in a shallow grave the white walls gained an air of coldness and the purple lights complimented the music, like a comfortable bruise.

The second song of the set caused me to shout out an enthusiastic cheer. I had told Adam that my favorite song was “Outlands” before he stepped on stage. Its picking and thumping rhythm is unmistakable and I was really happy with the direction he decided to go for the evening. The hypnotic pacing of the song cemented the atmosphere he started with “High Lonesome”. Further exploring the lonely imagery of quietly moving in the dead of night and the intimacy of shedding no tears upon being discovered; it elicited a sense of vulnerability with other people that made it a sensible follow up song.

The third song of the night was actually the first of the album, “Juniper Arms”; a sweetly reflective song full of symbolism using trees and protective distance. Many songs on Pearls to Swine consist of acoustic guitar, violin, drums, and vocals. “Juniper Arms” is one of the songs that benefit the most from violin which was sadly absent during the live performance; however Torres was able to throw in what can best be described as xylophone tones, present toward the latter part of the song. He accomplished it with a stretched out stomp to trigger the effect. It playfully offset the statuesque stillness of Adam on his stool.

Torres wasted no time slipping into “Some Beast Will Find You by Name”. The song starts with the powerful opening lines, “I want to live before I die. Free the skies thunder inside my chest. Now and again I wonder why. Can I escape from under the weight of my regret”. The sequence of choices Adam Torres made for his set struck me for their interesting flow. I appreciated the way that each song so far had supported the one before and after. As a D.J., I consider it a skill and an art form in its own right to arrange songs well. I knew this was true of both the Pearls to Swine album itself, but I was impressed he could do it so well playing songs out of order.

Once “Beast” was over, Adam brought the audience a sense of life and Spring with a light spirited song from Pearls called “Rain Song”. Again the violin was sorely missed, but the song maintained a rejuvenating effect. I noticed others tapping and swaying along. The floor space of Stage 18 had filled up to the door and I took a moment to look around smiling at the people standing next to me. Apparently I’m easily influenced by cheery music.

From there Adam continued with the upbeat musical (not lyrical) vibe with the song “Hatchet” from the, I came to sing the song EP. With it his voice relaxed from the higher registers as he sang about his heart being cut. I think the song also serves as a good explanation for Torres’ generally somber music as he confesses “I go to places in my head that I can’t explain” in the song.

Adam Torres spoke up after the song with a soft voice consistent with his gentle demeanor. He spoke about his partly Hispanic heritage and disappointment for current times in which people are compelled to push others away by building actual and metaphorical walls between us. After saying “Keeping people apart with walls is one of the dumbest things I can think of”, he nudged the soapbox his foot rested on and chuckled as he said he would get off of it.

This led into the song “Dreamers in America” that Torres wrote as part of collaborative album project Our First Hundred Days. This was a song I hadn’t heard before, but it was easy to follow. Torres said that he wrote it as a form of peaceful protest. Rather than anger, it centered on hope and cooperation for people looking to take care of their families.

Adam returned to Pearls to Swine’s “City Limits” for his final song. It complimented everything up to that point. It’s a song that highlights themes of being pushed away, the coldness of contemporary life, and the desire for change that are most easily evident in the line “watch them tear the city limits down so we could live in this town”.

Thanks to the venue the show had the intimacy of a living room concert, but the energy of the room had so much focus, too, that I was personally left in awe. Adam Torres carries himself in such a gentle mild-mannered way, but the power of his voice is undeniable when he sings. He will be returning to Fayetteville on April 11th.

 

 

 

 

KXUA 2017 Vision Update: Changes Subtle And Not So Subtle

In case you haven't seen our last post about it, we've been in the process of making some improvements here at the station. We've completed our first goal by joining Spinitron.com, which greatly improves both the listener experience and makes our work behind the scenes easier. But there's some other things we've tweaked that we'd like to share.

To begin, we've made it to where you can see the current Spinitron playlist immediately under the web players on the KXUA website. It's a little simple, but we're proud of it. More excitingly, we've made it to where if you're listening with the TuneIn app on your mobile or its website, you can see what song is playing live. This is thanks to Spinitron as well!

For our Shoutcast stream, which last year began to see less wide browser support due to its reliance on Flash for the web player, will be updated in the hopefully near future. If all goes to plan, that stream should be working better across the board and also have the music data that TuneIn is already carrying. This had been a previously overlooked part of our modernization efforts, but we thankfully now know how to approach it. We'll keep you posted.

We're also making some behind-the-scenes changes. With our automation system, we've reworked it to focus more on our new and best music from our rotation rather than being more heavily from the catalog. We've done this with care to ensure to have a good balance between our rotation and having a large variety from our whole catalog. Additionally, we've changed our rotation to have 25 discs rather than 30 from our heavy and medium rotations so that albums don't linger for too long. We'll continue to tweak rotation in the future, including some genre-specific additions.

 

As always, if you have any feedback, cat photos, complaints, praise, etc, you can reach us at kxua@uark.edu.

KXUA’s Vision For 2017

A new year is here, and KXUA is fully embracing the opportunity to change and grow for the better. While we are still heavily focused on bringing you the best in music, we’ve done a bit of thinking and have decided to expand beyond your car radio.

You’ve likely already seen some of the results of our experimentation: We’ve introduced more journalistic programming like Newswave and Minority Report to our schedule, our latest selections are shared on Spotify, and there’s more tweeting than before. We’re pleased with the feedback that we’ve gotten, so now we’re going even further to better serve the University of Arkansas and the community at large.

Our first big change for the year is an exciting one: We’re joining Spinitron. This means that you can see on our website what’s playing live on the radio and stream and also have the ability to look back at previous shows and see the playlists. This has been a major request and we often get emails and calls asking what songs were playing, so we’re very excited to be bringing this to you. Our Spinitron playlists and live playlist will become publicly available in the coming weeks while we train our DJs to use it and fine tune a few things.

Second, we’re diving deeper into podcasting and news programs to help students and others learn and be active in the community. This means we’ll be working on producing more shows like Minority Report and Newswave to share with you, and we’ll also be looking to make these programs accessible on more services to make them easier than ever to listen to. You’ll see a progress report on these efforts here later on this semester.

 

Lastly, we’re opening up KXUA to people who would like to be involved with our station but aren’t keen on being on the air. If you want to do blogging, reviews, interviews, photography, whatever have you, we’re welcoming you on board. KXUA is here to be a creative outlet to help those at the University of Arkansas learn, share and experiment, no matter what you do. We’ll be putting out applications for this new creative team soon.
As always, we welcome your feedback. If you have something to share with us, you can email us at kxua@uark.edu, call our office at 479-575-4273, tweet/message us at KXUA on Twitter and Facebook, or just drop by our office in person. We look forward to hearing from you.

KXUA’s Top 5 Of 2016: Station Manager Lucas Coberly

It looks like it's finally my turn! But we're still not done yet. We'll have at least one more top music article soon enough. -Ed. 

2016 marked my first anniversary with KXUA in October and my first semester as the station manager. It's been nothing short of exciting, and music has been even more present in my life than ever before. With that in mind, I'm glad to present my first albums of the year list.

  1. Mitski - Puberty 2

Mitski created the best album of 2016 without a doubt. Puberty 2 feels incredibly raw but carefully honed to perfection simultaneously. My favorite tracks from the album, "My Body's Made of Crushed Little Stars" and "Your Best American Girl," have some of the absolute best lyrics  I've ever heard, and I don't think I could adequately do them justice in this review. I eagerly look forward more from Mitski in the future, and to catching up on her previous albums that I've missed.

2. case/lang/veirs - case/lang/veirs

This album passed mostly under my radar when it was originally released this past summer, admittedly eclipsed by Mitski's album released around the same time. Looking back, it was me that decided to put this album into rotation, describing it as "like smoking a Marlboro light." I'm not sure that I agree with my own previous assessment, but I can say that this album's sound and lyrics make me nostalgic for when I used to only listen to country music.

3. Michael Mayer - &

I think I speak for a lot of us at KXUA when I say that there's a great appeal to a clean electronic music album that's mostly instrumental. Michael Mayer's contribution this year with just that sort of album is greatly appreciated, especially so in a year where no other such album has lived up to expectations. "&," however it is pronounced (ampersand? or just and?) has become one of my go-to albums when I'm not sure what to listen to.

4. clipping. - Wriggle

I used to think of clipping. as "discount Death Grips" before this EP landed in our office this summer and proved me dead wrong. The title song, "Wriggle," was one of my favorites this year. The percussion sounds like it's punching your ears in the best way possible. Another favorite from this EP, "Shooter," features some of my favorite wordplay I've heard in 2016.

5. Animal Collective - Painting With

While I missed Animal Collective's show in Fayetteville at George's this past year, I'm glad I got into Animal Collective with this year's album "Painting With." When this album came out, our station manager at the time became frustrated that the first track, "Floridada," was being played so often, but I was partially responsible for that. Of the Animal Collective albums that I've listened to repeatedly so far, this is among my favorites.