A Spoonful of Backpacker Hip-Hop

 The ConorTV Playlist Vol. 11

 

Bitches. Bling. Ho’s. Guns. Drugs. Gangs.

Once upon a time, there was hip-hop that wasn’t about all those things.

Of course the beginnings of hip-hop in the late ‘70s were all about the trifecta of MC’ing / scratching, breakdancing and graffiti.

But in the early ‘90s, Dr. Dre, NWA and Snoop took over with their gangsta rap. Hip-hop had grown up to become a monster. Not to demonize Dre and the like, but the very heart and soul of hip-hop was lost in the early ‘90s.

But at the same time, a new hip-hop genre emerged – backpacker hip-hop. This strain of hip-hop was the kind of music that graffiti writers would listen to. It was cool. Fresh. Dope. Underground.

The name comes from the backpacks graffiti artists would carry around with their spray paint cans. It was a back-to-basics style characterized by artists like Wu-Tang Clan, The Pharcyde and A Tribe Called Quest.

There’s even a revival happening now with artists like Common, Lupe Fiasco and Aesop Rock. All with the conscientious lyrics that have defined the genre.

This playlist marries the old with the new. Wu-Tang Forever. Backpacker Forever.

If you don’t have Spotify, you can download and listen for free at spotify.com. 

Who did I miss? Leave a comment below.

 

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A Spoonful of ShamROCKS

 Unexpected Irish Tunes That Rock – The ConorTV Playlist Vol. 10

 

Imagine you’re sitting at a touristy pub on the Emerald Isle. You’re hearing cliché songs like “Danny Boy” and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” You’re annoyed as hell. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I could’ve gone that route for this playlist, but instead, I dug deep to find the best Irish songs that rock.

Early in this mix, you’ll find some unconventional Irish-style gems like Buck-O-Nine rocking out with a ska-punk tune called “Irish Drinking Song” and Metallica’s take on “Whiskey in the Jar.”

Later in the playlist are rock bands that hail from Ireland and some of their best songs that have no Irish vibe at all. So hoist a pint or two of Guinness and listen to this mix. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

If you don’t have Spotify, you can download and listen for free at Spotify.com.




A Spoonful of Valentines

Non-cheesy Dedication Ideas For Your Sweetheart – The ConorTV Playlist Vol. 9

 

 

Everyone knows love songs are a dime a dozen.

There are a zillion classics – “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra, “At Last” by Etta James and “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” by Elvis Presley. But these are cliché wedding songs.

There are cheesy songs galore – “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion and “I Would Do Anything For Love” by Meatloaf.

And some certifiably great love songs – “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson Five, “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green and “How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees.

This Valentine’s Day, Sonic Cereal brings you some deeper cuts, mostly in the indie rock genre.

From The Postal Service to Bloc Party to Death Cab for Cutie – you can make Valentine’s Day extra special by dedicating one of these songs to your sweetheart.

Just find the song on YouTube and paste it on your Valentine’s Facebook wall. And if you’d like to listen to the mix and don’t have Spotify – you can download and listen for free – ad-supported – at Spotify.com.

 




A Spoonful of Twee Pop

The ConorTV Playlist Vol. 8

 

twee
chiefly British
Affectedly or excessively dainty, delicate, cute or quaint
 

You’re either gonna love this music or you’re gonna hate it. There is no in-between. Twee Pop is reserved for that certain sensitive soul romantic type. With its jingle-jangle guitars and low-fi production, it has the feel and idealism of ‘60s pop.  It’s saccharine in a good way.

I don’t know if I would call it “dainty” or “quaint” but it is definitely “delicate” and “cute.” Loaded with la-la-las and deeply dreamy lyrics – it’s indie-pop music that’s sweet and precious.

With names like The Hit Parade, Bunnygrunt and The Field Mice, these bands ooze with blissful abandon and their songs seem like they would most likely sound better on 45″s.

Scottish indie-poppers Belle & Sebastian are the most popular example of the genre. They’ve transcended the tiny twee-pop scene, emerging as a bona fide force in indie rock. B&S are included on this mix among more obscure bands like Cub and Ballboy.

This playlist also includes The Vaselines  “Molly’s Lips,” famously covered by Nirvana.  Kurt Cobain had described The Vaselines as his “most favorite songwriters in the world.”

If you don’t have Spotify, you can download it and listen for free – ad-supported.

 

 

If you want to subscribe to this playlist, search “A Spoonful of Twee Pop” on Spotify.

What subgenre would you like to see for the next playlist? Leave a comment below. 




A Spoonful of Nu Gaze

The ConorTV Playlist Vol. 6 

 

 

Nu Gaze emerged in the early 2000s as a horde of bands started playing music influenced by the Shoegazers that came before them – see yesterday’s post  on Shoegaze. Deerhunter, A Place To Bury Strangers and Beach House are semi-popular examples.

There is also a prevalence of somewhat mainstream acts like Silversun Pickups – a band whose fuzzbox guitar effects echo the early Shoegaze scene.

 

 

M83 isn’t entirely Nu Gaze, but songs like “New Map” and “Reunion” fit the bill nicely. The ethereal nature of their music is definitely shoegaze inspired.

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A Spoonful Of Shoegaze

The ConorTV Playlist Vol. 5  

 

 

Shoegaze is a genre widely known by aging hipsters and audiophiles. It’s mostly foreign to the masses. Well the masses are missing out.

There are two playlists I have crafted: one on Shoegaze and one on Nu Gaze – new bands inspired by the initial shoegazers.

The term “Shoegaze” was coined by British rock critics who noticed that a crop of artists in the late ‘80s / early ‘90s were so intensely focused on their instruments they appeared to be staring at their shoes.

Some joked that they were not proficient enough on their guitars to play without looking down. But I disagree. Their music was complex.

 

 

Songs by bands like Ride, Chapterhouse, Slowdive and the Jesus and Mary Chain echo with blissful melodies and jingle-jangle guitars.

These bands were popular on college radio, especially My Bloody Valentine and Lush. Shoegaze never reached the mainstream except for a few videos by MBV and Lush. These enjoyed some late-night airplay on MTV’s “120 Minutes”

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The Mountain Goats Greatest Hits

The ConorTV Playlist Vol. 4

 

 

Since 1994, John Darnielle has recorded a total of 14 full-length albums under the moniker The Mountain Goats. An indie-rock legend, Darnielle has won the hearts of hipsters and critics and performed on a main stage at Lollapalooza.

Today, to celebrate the release of his 14th album Transcendental Youth, I bring you this Spotify playlist that I crafted – a greatest hits of the man who reinvented indie folk. 

 

 

In 2000, I was a lowly college radio DJ at Iowa State University. I was absolutely obsessed with The Mountain Goats and then suddenly my fellow DJs and I discovered that Darnielle was living in our college town. His wife was in grad school and playing for the Iowa State women’s hockey team.

When I realized Darnielle’s home base was Ames, IA, I immediately sought an interview with the Mountain man himself. He obliged, inviting me over to his West Ames house.

Darnielle used to record his music on a boombox and was still doing that at the time. He showed me a big box of cassette tapes, all filled with original songs he wrote and recorded solo acoustic. We drank red wine, ate chocolate and chatted about Norwegian death metal and quilt making. Yes, quilt making. Here is the article I wrote 12 years ago for the Iowa State Daily. 

 

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Riot Fest 2012 Preview

The ConorTV Playlist Vol. 3

There was Pitchfork. There was Lollapalooza. Now, Chicago strikes again. Yet another unique festival. 

Riot Fest leans punk with bands like NOFX, The Descendents and Rise Against among the highlights. Legendary acts like Iggy & The Stooges, Elvis Costello and The Jesus And Mary Chain also perform, along with indie rock favorites Built to Spill and The Promise Ring and ska bands like Less Than Jake, Fishbone and Slapstick.

Check back here on Monday for a recap of the entire festival. Meanwhile, enjoy this Riot Fest Spotify playlist.

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The Golden Age of Emo

The ConorTV Playlist Vol. 2

In the late ‘90s, bands like Milwaukee’s The Promise Ring, Kansas City’s The Get Up Kids and D.C.’s Dismemberment Plan churned out albums filled with confessional lyrics that resonated with the college radio crowd.

I was a DJ at KURE at Iowa State University from 1997 – 2001, the golden age of emo. The genre became a cornerstone of my show and this Spotify playlist features the best songs from the era. They are new classics… 

The emo explosion of the ‘90s came about – some joked – because the punk kids started smoking pot. Whether or not this is true is up for debate.

In the case of Fugazi – the post-hardcore band that is often credited as being one of the founders or biggest influences of the genre – lead singer Ian MacKaye is famously straight edge, meaning he doesn’t drink or do drugs. I interviewed the Fugazi frontman in 1998 for the Iowa State Daily. He called me at 8AM on a Saturday morning for our phone interview. I was in bed when the phone rang.

The origin of the term “emo” dates back to the mid-‘80s when the DC band Rites of Spring were playing a show and someone was moved by the music, shouting out “You guys are so emo!” The term was applied to describe the intensely emotional nature of the band’s music.

The style had its big break in 2001 when emo posterboy Chris Carrabba released his album “The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most” under the moniker Dashboard Confessional. The album arrived with a single and music video for “Screaming Infidelities,” a clip that enjoyed play on MTV. That video is not online so here is “Saints and Sailors,” a better song anyway. 

Weezer’s flop of a second album “Pinkerton” was initially panned by critics. But it emerged as a touchstone for the emo movement as the emo kids latched onto its deeply personal lyrics. It would later find its place in rock ‘n’ roll history as the favorite Weezer album of many.

Emo would later be heard in the 2000s with bands like My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy releasing multiplatinum music dubbed emo-punk.

 

My Chem and FOB are included at the end of this mix not because they were particularly emblematic of the genre, but because they were inspired by all this music. Yes, please tell me in the comments that including these tracks is blasphemy.

What are your favorite emo bands? Comment below. 

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The ’90s Punk Renaissance

The ConorTV Playlist Vol. 1

 

 

I used to make punk rock mixtapes and trade them with my friends in high school. We listened to all the bands in the image above. Plus local Chicago stuff like Apocalypse Hoboken, Oblivion and No Empathy. We would drive around the city with the windows rolled down blasting NOFX or Operation Ivy. We also listened to a hell of a lot of ska.

This Spotify playlist – which you can listen to after the jump – contains some of those punk rock songs we used to play.

Bands you have surely forgotten about like Guttermouth and Total Chaos are plentiful on this playlist. There are anthemic jams from artists like Rancid and Pennywise. Political tracks from Propagandhi and Anti-Flag. Weird covers from Good Riddance and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. And goofy songs from bands like Diesel Boy and Boris The Sprinkler.

At the time, it was blasphemy for punks to like Green Day and the Offspring. They were considered “corporate sell-outs” because they were multi-platinum rock stars who were popular on alternative radio. I’ve included them here because in retrospect their music was just as good and obviously more memorable than any of these bands…


This year marks the 35th anniversary of punk’s inaugural glory year of 1977. At the end of this mix, check out some punk from previous decades beginning with the Sex Pistols’ ‘77 trailblazing track “Anarchy in the UK” to hear where all this music came from.

There are some obscure tracks not on this playlist that I have on 7” vinyl and were never released on CD or online.

If you ever went to Warped Tour back in the day, brace yourself for a blast from the past.

What are your favorite punk albums? Leave a comment below.  

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