Song of the Day

Song of the Day > All Episodes

April 26, 2023

Friends To The End: “Chinese Underground”

By: Jack Anderson

When art rock first emerged against the counterculture explosion of the late ’60s, its ability to slyly insert societal and political remarks into avant-garde arrangements and multi-sensory experiences (think Warhol’s relationship with The Velvet Underground) was a real piece of modern renaissance. As the ’70s transitioned into the ’80s, art rock’s prime offspring (punk rock and new wave) began to shed the subtle nuance of prior decades in favor of more blatant, less open-to-interpretation lyricism, albeit with a wider distribution network for the multi-media aspect, thanks to MTV. Now, thirty years post-Cold War, in an era where creative dissenters can directly confront public figures by tagging them on Twitter or re-appropriating their image on TikTok for the whole world to see, such explicit callouts have become the status quo in art rock.

And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that COVID-19’s created a lot of discourse worth responding to. Among the many supplying contemporary commentary is Austin songwriter Thom Kurtz, who, since 2016, has contributed his fair share of off-kilter cross-genre observations with his project Friends To The End. Although Friend To The End’s averaged at about two singles per year, we haven’t heard from Kurtz since last summer’s “ROBOT ODDiTY”.

Today Friends To The End tosses us back into the satirical trenches with “Chinese Underground”. When you watch its blunt lyrics flash over the cartoonishly-hyperbolic imagery of its music video, “Chinese Underground” seems like a straightforward mockery of Mao Zedong on a surface level. But try digging into “Chinese Underground” by recognizing the subtext of its oriental orchestration (akin to the implementation of African sounds underneath David Byrne’s blight-biting lyrics on Remain in Light) as a stylistic choice rather than a reinforcement of potentially harmful sonic stereotypes. Once you do, you’ll appreciate this infectious ’80s-style oddball tune through a whole new lens – as a reflection on the invincibility of an idea.


Episodes

April 12, 2024

Tagua Tagua: “4AM (Acústico)”

Feliz sexta! Today we’re talking about Tagua Tagua, the passion project of São Paulo songwriter-producer Felipe Puperi. Now, Brazil is an enormous country, full of fervent creators; it takes a ton of traction to get towards the top. But in the seven years since Puperi launched off, Tagua Tagua’s become one of the nation’s most […]

Listen

April 10, 2024

Faaris: “Taken Not Given”

As our ever-evolving hip-hop scene steadily expands, so does the representation of nations, cultures, and identities from its contributors. And for some truly refreshing cross-cultural flavors that have made their way into the ATX hip-hop melting pot, look no further than Faaris. Brought up in a Pakistani household right here in Austin, Faaris brings a […]

Listen

April 9, 2024

Adam Sultan: “The Great Divide”

They say, “write what you know”. And in music, if you know something well enough to perfect its performance, that usually means you’ve absorbed the material enough to build upon it and make it your own. So let’s talk about Austin’s Adam Sultan. Sultan started off a singer-guitarist in the ’90s with Poi Dog Pondering […]

Listen

April 5, 2024

Flicker Vertigo: “Midnight Fantasies Upon Prospect Hill”

As an unabashed Pink Floyd fan, I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to firing up the Atmos mix of Animals on my home theater setup when the BluRay drops next month. Sure, the full record’s been etched in my memory forever now, but through the lens of the latest mix an full […]

Listen

April 4, 2024

Mountains in Stars: “Hazards of Loving Creatures”

You’ve heard it a million times before: a picture is worth a thousand words. But go ahead and try it out if you dare. Pick a picture and start verbalizing. Yeah…you’ll give up far before you get anywhere close to a four-digit word count. Music on the other hand? Each chord carries various connotations, which […]

Listen

April 3, 2024

Nané: “Always On My Mind” (Live in Studio 1A)

As with any active artistic community, the Austin music scene has suffered its share of too-soon tragedies. And the passing of Daniel Sahad – the flamboyant frontman of Austin sextet Nané who left us in April ’22 – still feels especially fresh in our memory. Thankfully Daniel’s legacy still lives on through his music, Nané’s […]

Listen

April 2, 2024

The Watters: “Set to Cruise”

Prayers for rain resonate all throughout the Lone Star State year-round…even in April with a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse on the horizon. So without wanting to entice a cosmically inconvenient drench, let’s dip our toes into The Watters. This Americana soul love affair is teeing up to hit the two-decade mark, but the bond between husband […]

Listen

April 1, 2024

Reyna Tropical: “Sauvecito” (KUTX Live at Scholz Garten)

Don’t you love those unexpected brushes with old chums during South By South West? Sure, for us native Austinites they feel less like chance encounters and more like the inevitable kismet of living in a metropolitan area as small and dense as ours. But there’s still nothing quite like finding an old friend return to […]

Listen