by: Vivian Lee
Each month we ask one of our beloved KUCI DJs to put their iPod on shuffle, hand it over, and ‘splain themselves. Today our lucky (first!) DJ is none other than Kyle Olson, who’s been putting out some seriously sweet jams every Thursday night on the “Things That Are Square” show since 2002.
From talking about bookish librarians, also known as soul mates, to the importance of lyrics and evaluating hip-hop at its most academic core, Kyle explains why each one of these artists is so important. Hipster cred be damned:
Les Savy Fav - The Year Before the Year 2000
Kyle Olson : I love the sh*t out of Les Savy Fav.
Vivian Lee: What differentiates this band from other bands you listen to?
K.O.: It's upbeat, dance-y rock that borders on being out of control. When your lead singer is a huge bearded dude in sweat pants who will fellate bananas handed to him on-stage, you're in for a good time.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Anenome
K.O.: I'm not sure how it came about, but I really dig stoney, psychedelic guitar rock. Basically, this song should only be played while I am lying on a couch, belt still wrapped around my arm, staring into the middle distance
V.L.: Is music your heroin, Kyle?
K.O. In the sense that I spend all my money on it, yeah. I probably won't get AIDS from sharing it with someone, though.
The Lucksmiths - Danielle Steel
K.O.: Yay Lucksmiths!
V.L.: Every time I hear a Lucksmiths song I tend to go "yay!" as well. It’s just something about them.
K.O.: No joke. This band basically sounds like the best summer afternoon ever. All of their songs are either completely upbeat and catchy. Or slow, beautiful, and romantic. And they always have genius lyrics.
V.L.: For real. The lyrics are insanely clever.
K.O.: This song has the lyrics: “Spends hours in front of the bookcase / A beast with two paperbacks in bed.” The "beast with two paperbacks" is such an amazing turn of phrase. What other band is writing anything half that clever?
[30 seconds later, a line about a lonely librarian comes up]
K.O.: [Hey, Lucksmiths] You're attracted to bookish girls in glasses, too? Oh, man. Let's high five forever.
K.O.: Can we wait the 50 seconds for this song to end?
Kid 606 - mp3 Killed the CD Star
K.O.: This is off the Kid 606 album where he makes f*cked-up electronic mash-ups of pop hits. Which is funny because it came out the first year Girl Talk put out his first album [“Secret Diary” –Ed.], which was kind of the same thing. The first Girl Talk album is un-listenable electronic glitch. This one is at least danceable.
Aesop Rock – Daylight
K.O.: I think this guy is pretty important in my "getting into hip-hop." I always like songs that had tons of words. Like, if I was reading a lyric sheet, and the lyrics ran out halfway through the song, and they just repeated, it bummed me out. And Aesop Rock lyrics are almost too dense for their own good. I read that he was called the "David Foster Wallace of hip-hop" or something. Not only does he spit metric tons of lyrics, his rhyme scheme is really intricate with plenty of inner-line rhymes, use of consonance, plenty of vocal cadences.
V.L.: This whole explanation of Aesop Rock is getting academic!
K.O.: It just comes down to my liking his voice, the poetry of what he's saying, the rhythms and rhymes in how he's saying it, and the beats he's saying it over.
Woody Guthrie - What Are We Waiting On?
V.L.: THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS.
K.O.: Holy crap, yes. That picture of Woody Guthrie with that written on his guitar is basically the punkest thing there has ever been. I honestly can't think of anything more punk than that.
V.L. We should name him Grandpa Punk as he passed 10 years before punk even exploded.
K.O.: Sure enough. I think this song was actually written before our involvement in World War II, which is why the song has this title. It’s a "America, horrible things are happening to our fellow man and what the hell are you waiting on to do something about it?" More important than the whole social commentary, though, I just love old-timey twang music. It just feels so honest with me.
The Mountain Goats - Going to Jamaica
V.L.: I was scared that the Mountain Goats weren’t going to pop up. No playlist by Kyle Olson is complete without this band.
K.O.: I honestly own everything this man has ever laid to tape. And if I can't obtain it through honest financial means because it is out of print, unavailable on eBay, etc, I have it as mp3. I have over 400 songs by this guy on my computer at home.
V.L.: What about him makes you go, "Yeah, I want to own everything by him?"
K.O.: I will always appreciate a simple guy and his guitar, who has written a set of great lyrics with excellent melody. The Mountain Goats are basically writing the best lyrics out there right now. He has a eerily accurate ability to distill human relationships into beautiful or crushing short stories. And if you can write a song that perfectly summarizes the happiest moment of a relationship, or the most desperate point of a breakup, and then turn around and cover R. Kelly's "Ignition" and have it make complete sense....you, sir are a musical god.
V.L.: Holy crap, I totally forgot he did that. That was seriously a win right there.
K.O.: He doesn't like pop music ironically. He likes pop music. He listens to death metal and R. Kelly and writes simple songs on an acoustic guitar that he used to record directly into a boom box so you can hear the cassette tape whirring. He's funny and smart and I am totally gushing.
V.L.: In an asexual world, if you had to choose between marrying a bookish cute librarian or Mr. Darnielle, who would you marry?
K.O.: Well, knowing nothing else than she is a librarian it's a little unfair, and knowing that Mr. John Darnielle is humorous, well-read, and charming, I’ll marry John Darnielle.
V.L. What if this librarian is well read and makes Battlestar references?
K.O.: Can it be Buffy and Big Lebowski references? Does she make me laugh? Cute well read librarian who makes charming movie references sort of gets the win. I’ve met that girl, but she moved away. [Laughs] And I nursed my broken heart with Mountain Goats. He’s always there for me. Such a caring gentleman lover
V.L.: Wow. Just…wow.