Anatomy of a Playlist (Noteworthy 05-14-2018

Ivan from Noteworthy here again (Mondays 6PM-8PM) to break down a recent edition of the show. This is just a small peek into what my thought process is to make sure that you’re entertained for two hours every week.

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The previous week, I dealt with how to cope when your favorite artists are problematic people outside of their music. It was a conversation mostly centered on Kanye West, and this week provided another opportunity to delve into it with Spotify enforcing their new hateful conduct policy. This resulted in artists such as R. Kelly and XXXTentacion being removed from their playlists and opened up a bigger discussion about who else should receive the same treatment. I appreciated the sentiment of what Spotify did, but it was a flawed process, as they are even starting to admit now.

I talked about how the perception of these artists would be if they were even one bit remorseful of their transgressions, which led me to opening the show with Al Green’s “Take Me To The River.” It’s one of his greatest songs and was also a hit for Talking Heads, but ultimately, the song is about an affair with an underage girl and the guilt that Green deals with it.

Continue reading “Anatomy of a Playlist (Noteworthy 05-14-2018”

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Noteworthy 1st Quarter Check-In (Jan. – Mar. 2018)

Ivan from Noteworthy here again (Mondays 6PM-8PM).  I refuse to believe it, but the calendar doesn’t lie: we’re already 1/4 of the way in to 2018. My internal musical clock is usually stuck on trying to discover stuff that slipped through the cracks from the previous year for the first few months and it really isn’t until spring that I turn my mind on for the current year. While past 1st quarters might have been the dead zone between the holiday rush to get music to consumers and the spring, where the seeds for summer dominance are planted, we’re now in a year-round culture our need for quality content never goes on hiatus.

As we leave March, I feel great about what 2018 has offered us so far, so I’ve decided to count down my ten favorite singles from the 1st quarter. If you’ve been listening to Noteworthy, some of these songs here won’t surprise you. Side note: I included some December 2017 tracks here since songs and albums released that late in the year can only have so much impact if they’re limited to a time frame of just a few weeks.

#10. N*E*R*D feat. Kendrick Lamar – “Don’t Don’t Do It”

The melody here is one of those classic, gliding Neptunes chord progressions that have made me a stan for nearly two decades. Not sure if it’s because it feels so familiar, the topicality of it, the addition of Kendrick Lamar or a combo of all three that’s kept me coming back.

Continue reading “Noteworthy 1st Quarter Check-In (Jan. – Mar. 2018)”

Anatomy Of A Playlist (Noteworthy 02-05-2018)

Ivan from Noteworthy here again (Mondays 6PM-8PM). I’m back with another edition of Anatomy Of A Playlist, which is a great way to pull back the curtain and show you the thought process of putting together a 2-hour show.

Things stay pretty eclectic on a weekly basis, so in order to keep things smooth while varied, I take special care into making sure the playlist feels cohesive while also hitting on some topics and themes that caught my attention from the previous week. Just look at how I began things for this show.

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If you recall, the day of the Super Bowl LII was deemed #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay on social media as a response to Justin Timberlake being chosen as the halftime show performer, despite his involvement with the “wardrobe malfunction”  seen ’round the world. Count me in as one of those who felt that his inclusion at this year’s Super Bowl was problematic. Janet Jackson, one of the great pop icons of our time, was demonized to the point of practical invisibility as Timberlake managed to keep his career and image intact while absolving himself of any culpability in the incident until the damage had already been done.

I carried on with #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay at the beginning of my show since I strongly feel that her window of impact would have been extended a few more years without the controversy and her discography is among the most influential of the past three decades.

Continue reading “Anatomy Of A Playlist (Noteworthy 02-05-2018)”

Noteworthy’s Best Albums of 2017 Show

Ivan of Noteworthy back here again. If you haven’t already heard the news, I’ll be counting down my top albums of 2017 on tonight’s show (6PM-8PM at uicradio.org  and on the Radio FX app). Assuming that you’ve been a steady listener of the show, you should be able to guess a few of the albums that’ll make an appearance, but there will be some surprises in there as well. This is usually one of the best shows of the year, and even if you haven’t been following Noteworthy, this is the perfect time to jump in.

While I won’t reveal what my picks are until tonight’s show, here’s what placed at #1 for me over the previous five years: Continue reading “Noteworthy’s Best Albums of 2017 Show”

Anatomy of a Playlist : 10-30-2017

Ivan from Noteworthy here again (Mondays, 6PM-8PM) to break down another recent edition of the show. Since I cover a lot of genres, I try to make sure that each song flows well into the next one so that the switch from sound to sound doesn’t come as a shock to the system for the listener. Here’s another look at how I go about it.

Drake featuring Jorja Smith and Black Coffee- Get It Together
Amber Mark – Lose My Cool
Deee-Lite – Smile On

I started off the show talking about Drake not submitting More Life for Grammy consideration, which is why I went with “Get It Together” in the leadoff spot. There were a few other tracks I had in mind to follow it up with that had a similar ’90s house feel to it, but they were songs I’d played on the show before and I wanted to go with something newer. That brought me to including Amber Mark’s “Lose My Cool” to help me keep things contemporary while still adhering to a throwback sound.

 

Ryan Leslie – Diamond Girl
Aminé – Blinds
Kendrick Lamar – good kid
Joey Bada$$ featuring ScHoolboy Q – Rockabye Baby

For the past month or so, Aminé’s “Blinds” has been one of my most played tracks. I had a few special themed shows where I played 2007 songs and live recordings that delayed the inevitable, but I’m glad (and relieved) that it finally made it to air for this edition. Part of why I’m drawn to it so much is because the keyboards remind me a lot of early 2000s Neptunes, which I’m a huge mark for. I put it in between Ryan Leslie’s “Diamond Girl”, a song that’s always reminded of the Neptunes, and an actual Pharrell production by way of Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid.”

Leikeli47 – Braids Tuh’da Flo(w)
Erykah Badu – Turn Me Away (Get MuNNy)
Nai Palm – Crossfire/So Into You
Kehlani – Honey
Bobbie Gentry – Courtyard

I also debuted a new segment on Noteworthy called Flowers, which takes its inspiration from the phrase “give me my flowers while I’m still living.” It’s simply just another way of saying honor those that are still alive instead of waiting until they pass away. It’s a powerful sentiment that’s been following me around all this year and I naturally thought it would make a good segment. I knew that I wanted to put the spotlight on country music legend Bobbie Gentry, but I had to slow things down significantly in order to get there and make it feel natural. I had been struggling with this for a few weeks, but luckily, one of my current favorite songs, “Honey” by Kehlani, features a simple acoustic guitar, which fit perfectly before a segment focused on Gentry.

Continue reading “Anatomy of a Playlist : 10-30-2017”

Fast Romantics Interview with Noteworthy

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Photo credit: Jen Squires

Ivan of Noteworthy here again (Mondays, 6PM-8PM at uicradio.org). Make sure to mark your calendar for this Wednesday, June 28. Fast Romantics, an indie rock band out of Toronto with a flair for big Springsteen-style hooks, will be performing at Township (2200 N. California Ave.) in support of their latest album, American Love. I spoke with lead singer/guitarist Matthew Angus through e-mail (pictured 3rd from right) about love in times of political turmoil and rebuilding the band.

Noteworthy: For folks who may be hearing about you for the first time, tell us the origin of the name Fast Romantics.

The name Fast Romantics precedes this band.  It was the result of a brainstorming session we had in the very first version of the [group] many years ago. We just locked ourselves in a room and came out with those words. There’s no meaning behind it really. But when we reformed Fast Romantics a couple of years ago with all these new members, we decided to keep the moniker, and now it’s just one of those meaningless names you give to anybody. Like “The Beatles” or … “Fred.”

NW: The band got its start in Calgary and you recently filmed the video for “Alberta” there during a tour off day spent visiting family and friends. What is one surprising thing about the town that most people wouldn’t know about it?

Calgary is known for the Calgary Stampede and most people in America picture it as full of cowboy hats and boots and rodeos and farms but really it’s nothing like that at all. It’s become a pretty cosmopolitan town with a lot of amazing subcultures and a thriving music scene.

NW: Another American Love track, “Why We Fight” was recently played during a broadcast of this year’s NHL playoffs. What was that moment like and do you have any all-time favorite players from the Calgary Flames?

It did, that was a trip. As Canadians, having your song open up a hockey playoff game is kinda like playing the Grammys, it’s a big deal y’know. You’re talking to a band of mostly Toronto Maple Leafs fans, believe it or not, but Jeff’s still holding out for the Flames. Me personally, even though I’m a Leafs fan, you gotta love former Flame Lanny McDonald. Not only was he a badass hockey player but I went to school with his daughter and met him a bunch, and he’s just a super nice guy. Continue reading “Fast Romantics Interview with Noteworthy”

Anatomy of a Playlist (Noteworthy 2-27-2017)

 

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Ivan here from Noteworthy (Mondays, 6PM-8PM). I’m back again to give you some insight into how the show gets made and what goes into some of the decision making.

Juggling multiple genres is an essential part of Noteworthy, but in order to make the leap from one sound to the next, I try to make sure that it feels seamless when you’re listening. Think of it in the same way you would a mix CD from back in the day. It’s a key part of what makes the show fun to do and a challenge every week. This dissection will show you how my brain works.

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I wanted to start the show off talking about the BRITs and how it’s always more fun than the Grammys. Skepta’s performance of “Shutdown” gave me the perfect excuse to play a track from one of my favorite 2016 albums and provided plenty for me talk about at the top of the show. The Grammys are afraid of any kind of aggression in hip hop and here is Skepta, lording over England’s biggest music stage in a hoodie with a song that partially mocks those uncomfortable with seeing aggression from hip hop (re: Kanye’s 2015 BRIT performance). Score one for the BRITs. From there, I went to another grime song in the Lady Leshurr track and an old Neptunes track, which has sort of bouncy grime feel if you pair it with the right song.

 

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I knew at this point I wanted to make the transition to mellowing things down (you’ll see why soon enough), so the new Jidenna single was a way to make that bridge since it has enough bottom to it to not be too jarring of a switch-up. Honestly, my main priority was to finally play Gallant’s  “Skipping Stones.” Adrian Younge, Jhene Aiko and a falsetto with classic flair? I do this for the people.

Continue reading “Anatomy of a Playlist (Noteworthy 2-27-2017)”

Kandace Springs on Noteworthy

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Ivan of Noteworthy here again (Mondays, 6PM-8PM at uicradio.org). I’m back to share an interview with Kandace Springs that I aired on this week’s show. She’s a jazz singer/pianist from Nashville who just released her debut album, Soul Eyes on Blue Note Records and has even shared the stage with Prince. The album features production work from Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers (the guys who discovered Rihanna) and Grammy-winner Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock). We talked about why she decided to go in the direction of jazz for her first album after working mostly in R&B and hip hop before and watching movies with Prince. Listen to the interview below and keep up with Kandace at kandacesprings.com and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Open Mike Eagle, Saba & Air Credits at Double Door – 7/7/2016

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Open Mike Eagle (Photo credit: Red Bull Sound Select)

Tune in to Noteworthy with Ivan every Monday night from 6:00-8:00 at uicradio.org. Also, like the Facebook page and check out past interviews and segments on Soundcloud

It’s no longer a secret that Chicago boasts a very vibrant hip hop scene, with top quality projects getting national attention seemingly every year. The latest Red Bull Sound Select show curated by Consequence of Sound at Double Door only further cemented what a good thing we’ve got going on here. With performances by Air Credits (a collaboration between ShowYouSuck and The Hood Internet), Saba, fresh off an appearance on Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book and headliner Open Mike Eagle, who has his roots here in the city, the night served as a reminder of how spoiled with riches we’ve become in recent years.

Although Open Mike Eagle might have seemed an odd fit with the other acts on the bill who still call Chicago their home and embrace the city’s sound in a more traditional manner, there were still a loyal number of fans who found a kinship in his quirky demeanor. The eclectic set found him rapping over an array of samples such as Lenny Kravitz’s “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over” and Sterolab’s “…Sudden Stars” in truncated bursts that suited his status as an outsider. By programming and queuing up the music himself through drum machines, pedals and a laptop, OME’s performance was more intimate than the artists who took the stage before him and was a natural fit for songs like “Qualifiers” and “Very Much Money (Ice King Dream)” that double down on being social outcasts.   Continue reading “Open Mike Eagle, Saba & Air Credits at Double Door – 7/7/2016”

METZ at Empty Bottle – 06/23/2016

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METZ (Photo credit: Red Bull Sound Select)

Tune in to Noteworthy with Ivan every Monday night from 6:00-8:00 at uicradio.org. Also, like the Facebook page and check out past interviews and segments on Soundcloud

Ever since Curbside Publishing released an oral history of the Empty Bottle a few weeks ago, I’ve been itching to catch a show at the legendary venue. Sure, I’ve been there countless times before, but reading about the experiences of so many others had me anticipating the next time I would be there.

With its intimate size and low frills decor, there’s always a high probability of a concert there having a communal experience if the energy is right. Thanks to Red Bull Sound Select, catching METZ, a ferocious Canadian trio signed to Sub Pop, at the Empty Bottle satisfied my itch as they blasted through songs from their first two albums in blistering and abrasive fashion.

“Who’s here to f****** party with us?” lead vocalist and guitarist Alex Edkins questioned a receptive audience near the top of their set before they went full throttle into one of their signature tunes, “Get Off.” The crowd enthusiastically answered the call as they had to be reminded only a few songs later about Empty Bottle’s no crowd-surfing policy, to which the band pleaded for someone to be let back in as they were escorted out for violating the rules. While there were no more incidents or pauses during the rest of the set, there were plenty more opportunities to bounce around with moments like the pounding riff of “Knife In The Water,” the noisy intensity of “Wet Blanket” and the wildly whipping hair of drummer Hayden Menzies sending the crowd into a frenzy.  Continue reading “METZ at Empty Bottle – 06/23/2016”