Courtenay’s Cuts: Session 15

January 27, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Elton John – Someone Saved my Life Tonight (1975)

So I’ve basically been on a huge Elton John kick lately. Let’s just say I’ve listened to this track way too much in the past week. I’m just itching to sing this the next time I go out to do karaoke (a favorite pastime). Talk about a catchy refrain. This song is just one of many other things that are leading me to discover how great the 1970s really were. So expect to see a lot from this decade these next few months on Courtenay’s Cuts.

Vampire Weekend – Horchata (2010)

I loves this song from the very first line, “In December, drinking horchata.” I’d like to mention now that horchata is one of the best things to result from humankind. I’m always down for some sweet, milky horchata. So I can personally identify with this song. I’m also impressed with the rhyming of ‘horchata’ with ‘balaclava’. Nerdy indie pop at its finest. As a side note, if you’re looking for horchata in Dallas, my personal recommendation is the Fiesta at Ross and Henderson. You won’t be sorry.

Yo La Tengo – Little Honda (1997)

Yes, I know it seems like I write about Yo La Tengo constantly. But they’re so good! And how could I resist writing about their Beach Boys cover just two days before they will be in Dallas to play a show? Upon first listen of I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (one of my FAVORITE Yo La Tengo albums), I didn’t even realize this was a cover. I was searching for the deep hidden metaphors in the lyrics, then I realized that it’s just a song about taking a girl out on your “motorbike”.

Dean Martin – Little Ole Wine Drinker Me (1967)

This is one of those songs that doesn’t necessarily sound sad because of the tempo and bouncy melody. But battling a broken heart with alcohol isn’t exactly lighthearted fare. When you’re crying in the corner of a bar over a lost love, it’s time to make a change. I love country music.

where you’ll find me
1/27: The Fiery Furnaces at The Lounge on Elm Street – I’m definitely taking advantage of seeing this band play in such a small venue! I can’t wait!
1/30: Yo La Tengo at Granada Theater – one of my favorite bands ever.

Courtenay’s Cuts: Session 14

January 20, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Welcome to a fresh semester of Courtenay’s Cuts! I have been listening to a lot of music that is completely new to me, and I like sharing. So expect to hear some great songs these next few months and I will try to deliver!


The Modern Lovers – I’m Straight (1976)

This song cracks me up. I always love a good and ridiculous narrative. Frontman Jonathan Richman (who will be playing a solo show this Sunday at Rubber Gloves in Denton) has the greatest voice. I guess what makes this so funny to me is the tone in which Richman proclaims he is “straight” and not “stoned like Hippie Johnny” sounds like he is anything but straight. That is, straight as in “straight-edge”. This song is completely outlandish, which is what gives it its charm. I’ve been listening to it all day. God bless the 1970s.

Beach House – Real Love (2010)

This is a track from Beach House’s third album, Teen Dream, which drops on January 26th. I have to give this duo credit: they may have moved to a larger label (Sub Pop) for this latest album, but they are still delivering the goods. As an album, I think Teen Dream is a lot more cohesive than sophomore effort Devotion (2008). The simple piano melody and good lyrics that aren’t trying too hard make “Real Love” a real winner.

Galaxie 500 – Listen the Snow is Falling (1990)

This is a track from a band that almost definitely is an influence of Beach House, my prior selection. “Listen the Snow is Falling” is a Yoko Ono cover. While I wouldn’t call myself Yoko’s biggest fan (and this has nothing to do with the Beatles, I’m not even going into that), Galaxie 500 certainly do this track justice. Forget Spin the Bottle, this song is the place for seven minutes of heaven. Recommendation: if you like this song, listen to the album it comes from, This is Our Music. I can’t turn it off. Also, 1990 was 20 years ago…crazy.

Neil Young – Birds (1970)

I am fairly new to Neil Young. As I have been familiarizing myself with his large catalogue, the album After the Gold Rush and in particular this song have stood out to me. Interpret the words however you choose, but I think everyone can identify with the way he sings “it’s over, it’s over.” This is definitely one of those songs that can be listened to 50 times in a row and still be great. If you get too blue after listening to this song, check out Jimmy Fallon’s recent homage to Neil Young and American Idol of all things. I haven’t seen an impersonation that was this spot on in a while.

where you’ll find me:
1/22: The Cribs and Adam Green at the Granada Theater
1/24: Jonathan Richman at Rubber Gloves

Courtenay’s Cuts: Session 10

November 3, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Centro-matic – Say Something/95 Frowns (2002)

I can’t believe it took me so long to listen to Centro-matic. People have been telling me to do this for forever, it seems. Will Johnson sounds so injured (and sexy!) in this one. I picked this one to share with you guys because my favorite songs always end up being the ones with the great lyrics that I can sing along to. This one is just so raw – gotta love it!

Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career (2009)

Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell just has a knack for writing lovely little songs with charmingly pessimistic lyrics. I had to grace you all with this song because I love the keyboard part. I don’t know what it is about Scotland that seems to produce such clever pop songs, but I can certainly appreciate it.

Vetiver – To Baby (2008)

Vetiver’s 2008 album, Thing of the Past is an entire album of folk covers from the late 60s and early 70s. This one is my personal favorite, and try as I might I cannot seem to find the original, by Biff Rose. I suppose I haven’t sifted through enough used vinyl racks in random places. This song is lazy summer days and nostalgia. And who doesn’t love that?

B.B. King – Sweet Little Angel (1956)

This song just never gets old! You know a song is great when you’re smiling within the first 4 seconds. And it just gets so much better after that. This one has everything – the blues guitar makes my ears melt (in a good way!). Not to mention his voice just sliding around everywhere. B.B. King is my anti-drug.

where you’ll find me
11/08: Snoop Dogg at House of Blues

by Courtenay Paris

Courtenay’s Cuts: Session 9

October 26, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

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Jackson 5 – Who’s Loving You? (1969)

If there is one thing that can be universally agreed upon about Michael Jackson, he was a great performer. Before I hear this, I would never have expected the voice of an 11 year old could particularly move me, but boy was I wrong. Recommended viewing: The Jackson 5 performing this during their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1969. My eyes are glued.

Bowerbirds – Northern Lights (2009)

I love the indie rock scene in North Carolina – give me Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill over Denton any day. This track was my initial favorite of their latest album, Upper Air, and I still find myself listening to it more than anything else on the record. Simple, charming lyrics (especially the refrain!) and melodies make this song what it is. I could sit in a rocking chair on a porch with my hypothetical beloved somewhere in North Carolina all day and this would be my soundtrack.

Dinosaur Jr. – Just Like Heaven (1990)

Let me preface this by stating that I am a fan of the Cure. I fully recognize and appreciate their contribution to the history of rock music. But Dinosaur Jr. absolutely slays them at their own song with this cover. J. Mascis brings out the earnesty in this song that is hidden in the vast overproduction of the original. I might also mention that Dinosaur Jr. completely rocked my world at the Granada Theater last week. If you weren’t there, you were most assuredly square.

TLC – Waterfalls (1995)

This is what mainstream hip hop used to be. I’m having difficulty expressing all the things that make this song great. This sad story is only accented by the amazing music video. I LOVE Lisa’s rap (“Dreams are hopeless aspirations in hopes of coming true”). This is one of those songs that never seems to lose its relevance or to become outdated. I miss the 90s.

where you’ll find me – Halloween edition!
10/26: Why? at Hailey’s in Denton
10/27: The Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka Halloween Party at Good Records
10/30: Butthole Surfers and Peaches at Granada Theater
10/31: John David Kent and the Dumb Angels at Bandera Bar (check back this week for my video interview with JDK!), Hormones and Cocky Americans at Meridian Room

by Courtenay Paris

Courtenay’s Cuts: Session 6

September 28, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – One Rainy Wish (1968)

The beauty of this song is how it perfectly evokes the imagery of the lyrics. As if Jimi’s lilting voice weren’t gorgeous enough, the guitar melodies just make everything even more lovely. If only the colors of all my dreams would sound like this.

Moby – Shot in the Back of the Head (2009) ? free download!

I love listening to instrumental music that makes my life suddenly seem more glamorous and meaningful. This is definitely one of those songs. If the guitar riff didn’t make this song cool enough, the video was directed by David Lynch! This whole album, titled Wait for Me, is really some of Moby’s best work since 1999’s Play. Maybe I’m just a Mobyhead, but I dig it.

Pattern is Movement – How Does it Feel? (2009)

These guys are one of my favorite bands right now. If you’ve never witnessed Chris Ward freak out on the drums and Andrew Thiboldeaux massage your ears with his crooning and keyboarding, your life is not yet complete. And they certainly do D’Angelo justice with this awesome cover. I’ll be honest; I’ve been crazy obsessed with this rendition lately. Checking this one out will not result in disappointment, pinky promise.

Eels - Climbing to the Moon (1998)

The album this track comes from, Electro-shock Blues, was written as a response to the deaths of lead singer Mark Oliver Everett’s sister and mother. For what could be a pretty depressing album, I feel surprisingly uplifted by it. I especially love this song – although we may not all have been in mental institutions before, I’m sure most can relate to some aspect of this song.

09/30: The Get Up Kids at Granada Theater
10/01: Eaton Lake Tonics and RTB2 at Dan’s Silver Leaf (Denton)
10/04: Moby at the Palladium

FREE download of the week!
Soren Anders does a cover of “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” by The Smiths

by Courtenay Paris

Courtenay’s Cuts: Session 3

September 8, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

I’m going to borrow a line from the Misfits this week and say “Texas is the reason!” All my selections for this week come to us courtesy of musicians from this very great state.

Janis Joplin – Cry Baby (1971)

Hailing from Port Arthur, Janis is not only one of the best in Texas but arguably one of the best American artists. You can hate her voice, but you can’t deny it is unique. As always, I’m a sucker for the blues, and this gem from her 1971 album Pearl is blues city. Check it out.

John David Kent and the Dumb Angels – My Girl (2009)

I can honestly say this song finally got me to dabble in the Texas country scene of today. And I’m glad I did! John David Kent comes from Celeste. Some trivia for you Ben Kweller fans out there (another Texan worth mentioning): JDK was the drummer in Radish, a band of which BK was also a member of. All I can say is listen to this song! You’ll love it. Then you can go check JDK and the Dumb Angels and Somebody’s Darling out at Granada this Saturday (9/12). It’s gonna be a fun time – those who buy tickets get the new Somebody’s Darling CD for free! Talk about recession fun.

Buddy Holly – I’m Looking for Someone to Love (1957)

Buddy Holly is in this category not for what he has borrowed, but for what his very influential place in the history of rock and roll. So he’s not the borrower, but the lender. I know it’s a stretch, but just go with it! A Texas list would not be complete without Lubbock-born Buddy Holly. This is a fun little ditty.

Blind Lemon Jefferson – See That My Grave is Kept Clean (1927)

Does it get anymore classic blues than Blind Lemon Jefferson? Listening to this song gives me chills – there’s nothing bluer than death. This one really hits home for me. I suppose his mysterious death only 2 years after the release of this song may something to do with that as well. This song has been covered by many different artist, including Bob Dylan, but my favorite is still the original.

by Courtenay Paris

Courtenay’s Cuts: Session 2

September 1, 2009 by · Comments Off 

I’m bringing the girl power to Courtenay’s Cuts this week. Ch-ch-check it out.

Bessie Smith – You’ve Got to Give me Some (1928)

Even though this song is 81 years old, don’t ever underestimate dear old Bessie. This song is delightfully filthy. Let’s just say this made even me raise my eyebrows the first time I heard it. That’s right – it’s that dirty. The queen of the blues reigns on.

Miley Cyrus – Party in the U.S.A. (2009)

OK, I admit it. I went and rented the Hannah Montana movie the morning it came out on DVD. It was AWESOME. Then she goes and comes out with this song. The haters just need to face it – Miley is adorable and is so here to stay.

Sonic Youth – Little Trouble Girl (1995)

Sonic Youth borrow bassist Kim Deal from bands Pixies and The Breeders for a chill little duet. I love wallowing in my nostalgic memories from high school, and Kim Gordon + Kim Deal does just that. I was, without a doubt, a little trouble girl back then. Check out the crazy video.

Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U (1990)

You can laugh if you want, but you can’t deny the passion in this song. You know how terrible it feels after a bad breakup to wake up each morning and be filled with excruciating feelings of regret and hopelessness? Not laughing now, eh? In fact, you might even be feeling kinda, I don’t know, blue?

by Courtenay Paris

Courtenay’s Cuts: Blog 4

April 6, 2009 by · Comments Off 

5. Why? – The Vowels, Pt. 2
This is the first song on Why?’s album Alopecia, which was my favorite album of 2008. The lyrics on this album blow my mind – thoughts on death, stalking an ex, and other things that make me uncomfortable but sound really cool when they come from Yoni Wolf, the primary songwriter. There’s just something about that indie rock/hip-hop mixture they’ve got going on. It doesn’t sound like anything else I have, and this is why it’s hot. As for this song, I’ll be honest: I haven’t a clue what he’s talking about. But the chorus (cheeri-a, cheeri-e, cheeri-i, cheeri-o, cheeri-u) is so catchy I don’t even notice.
Read more

Courtenay’s Cuts: Blog #2

March 24, 2009 by · Comments Off 

By Courtenay Paris

Daniel Hart and me at Hometapes's Friend Island. Gorgeous weather and glorious music. Pony up!

Daniel Hart and me at Hometapes's Friend Island. Gorgeous weather and glorious music. Pony up!

Does the Home Match the Tapes?

Fear not eager readers, for I bring good tidings of great joy: it is a special edition of Courtenay’s Cuts! I’m sure most of you are aware of a little music festival that took place last week in Austin, Texas. I was very aware of it this past week as I stayed in Dallas because SMU was so kind as to schedule our spring break for the week before the music portion of South by Southwest. So finally the jealousy that grew each time I checked my twitter overcame me. I made the trek down to Austin on Saturday to go to Hometapes’s Friend Island party. And Friend Island it certainly was! Free organic pancakes, amazing weather, and some incredible bands all made for a very enjoyable day.

So long story a bit shorter: when you combine Friend Island with the shows I also attended in Dallas this week, I have seen a lot of bands play this week. I take it as a general rule to live by that when you’ve done/seen/heard at least six of something, it’s time to narrow it down to a top five. And everyone knows a live performance gives you so much more than your iTunes could ever offer you, so the top five is going to have to wait a week.

The top five live performances I witnessed for the week of March 16, 2009:

5. Sam Amidon at Friend Island
Samamidon kicked off Friend Island bright and early. I’ve been digging this guy since his record “All is Well” came out early last year. He absolutely did not disappoint – I walked up to Friend Island to hear faint sounds of a banjo and was delighted to see Samamidon playing outside for a small crowd of people. Perfect way to start off a great day. Read more

KPNI Wants to be Heard

December 2, 2008 by · Comments Off 

By Christy Vutam

The last musical notes of The Avett Brothers’ “Murder in the City” fade down.

“Speaking of murder, I do believe we have a caller,” Sarah Nolen says into the microphone. “Caller, you’re on the air with ‘Serenades with Sarah.’ How can I help you?”

“I’m in love with the Cowboys,” a female-sounding caller says.

Nolen stares quizzically at the microphone before speaking into it. “Do you mean you’re in love with a cowboy or with the Cowboys?” And so begins another call requesting Nolen to dole out relationship advice in her Wednesday night radio show.

A few minutes later, KPNI’s radio DJ Alan Rose walks into the studio. “Was that you?” Courtenay Paris, KPNI’s radio station manager asks, grinningly. Rose smiles.

“That was so you!” Paris exclaims. “I knew it was you!”

As Nolen relays her initial confusion about the identity of the caller, Rose fist pumps. “Yes, you didn’t recognize my voice!” he says.

Nolen might not have identified a fellow DJ’s voice because of all the new DJs flooding KPNI’s airwaves. KPNI became a student chartered organization in Spring 2008. The change allowed the station recruiting outlets, an opportunity to ask for funding from Student Senate, and resources to be heard other than just online.

KPNI fans can listen to the station currently only over the Internet at the Web site.

A Boost in Man Power and Money

This semester, KPNI has seen the number of its DJs more than double in number from at least the last five semesters. About 40 DJs are now hosting 33 shows, which air seven days a week.

When Nolen, KPNI’s assistant station manager, started at KPNI in the Fall of 2005, the staff consisted of four people. Currently, there are nine staff members.

“Once we got chartered, we really decided, ‘OK, we’re going to get more DJs,’” Paris said. “We went to the organizations fair at the beginning of the school, and we had people filling out DJ applications and e-mailed everybody [who signed up]. That’s how we got all the freshmen.”

In September, KPNI received about $1,500 from Student Senate – enough to buy two laptops and to cover installation fees at the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.

One of the main goals for KPNI’s staff’s is to air in SMU buildings. Students passing through Hughes-Trigg Student Center in October might have heard SMU’s radio station emitting from the ceiling speaker for about two weeks. However, various issues arose with the volume levels and with the e-mac that’s being used as a receiver shutting down.

Along with broadcasting in Hughes-Trigg, Ben Koopferstock, KPNI’s systems engineer, says the station will broadcast in Umphrey Lee and Dedman in early Spring 2009.

Paris, however, said it’s almost good that the connection isn’t working.

“We’ve never had this many DJs, not for awhile,” Paris said. “We really need to get some kind of control and make sure we know what’s going on because we’ve had problems with that.”

Anyone who knows the combination to the key safe can access the radio studios in Umphrey Lee. While the station’s rules are plastered in front of the microphones and each DJ goes through multiple training sessions before doing a show, a few DJs have ignored these rules, doing shows at unscheduled hours, bringing in guests without permission and leaving the doors to the studio wide open.

When these incidents happen, Nolen and Paris play a variation of good cop/bad cop. Paris deals out the stern talking tos, while Nolen lets the DJs know they’ll be re-trained before hosting their own shows again. If KPNI airs in SMU buildings, Nolen and Paris know any on-air incidents could be grounds for SMU officials to silence the station on-campus.

Struggling to be Heard

Struggling to be heard is nothing new to KPNI. According to KPNI’s Web site’s history page, the station was launched as KSMU in 1947. Periods of inactivity and rebuilding would follow until the 1970s. The FCC dealt with KPNI at least four times; all the encounters affected the station’s ability to broadcast off-campus.

Between 1987 through 2003, the station and its management attempted to have the station broadcast in the dormitories, but they ultimately failed. KPNI used to be heard in the Umphrey Lee cafeteria, but students spoke up against the station’s broadcast after a DJ ranted about the SMU football team.

At the encouragement of Michele Houston, KPNI’s Division of Journalism advisor, KPNI begin broadcasting over the Internet on Oct. 18, 2003.

Tony Pederson, the Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism, whose division oversees KPNI, said he likes having a radio medium available, noting its attraction to non-journalism majors. Nolen is a CTV major; Paris is an accounting major; and Koopferstock is a computer engineering and math major.

“It’s a terrific asset for students to have access to,” Pederson said. “I like very much the idea of them having the access and being able to do programming and to experiment a little bit with it and to have a little fun.”

Nolen’s show “Serenades with Sarah” is a prime example of students having a little fun. The show makes fun of radio shows that play sappy love songs while dishing out relationship advice. Nolen said she styles her soothing voice after that of nationally syndicated radio host Delilah.

“When [Delilah] talks, she has this very calming, smiling voice,” Nolen said. “You can hear the smile. That’s the key. That’s very hard to accomplish, but I think I do OK.”

Expanding Awareness

Paris and her staff have attempted to expand awareness of KPNI by holding campus-wide events. In September, KPNI brought the musical group Hanson to campus and sponsored “Take a Walk with Hanson.” About 700 people attended.

In October, KPNI hosted a fundraiser, “Jamba Jams.” The station had a band play live at the flagpole while Jamba Juice sold smoothies. Twenty percent of the proceeds went to KPNI.

“A lot of people still think we’re really small and that we’re just not cool, but I guess people really don’t understand how many people have worked so hard to come to where we’ve gone,” Paris said.