Friday, October 24, 2014  
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Superhero News

by Ben Atwater | October 23, 2014

A ton of superhero movie news came out this week. After the well-received Lego Movie made $468 million dollars, a sequel seemed inevitable. Not only are we getting a sequel, but a spinoff film featuring Batman is going to be released before The Lego Movie 2 on May 26, 2017. Lego Movie 2 has been pushed back a year to 2018. This new Batman film will star Will Arnett from the original film, and will be directed by Chris McKay, a cowriter of The Lego Movie. This is not the only DC character that will be given a film.

The Lego Movie 2 will feature a Lego version of Batman (AP photo)

The Lego Movie 2 will feature a Lego version of Batman (AP photo)

On Oct. 14, Warner Brothers announced their new slate for the future DC Cinematic Universe. After the much anticipated Man of Steel sequel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, comes out on March 26, 2016 and a Suicide Squad movie will also come out later in 2016. This will be the second villain team up movie in 2016, as the Spiderman spinoff Sinister Six is scheduled for November 2016.

Next up, a Wonder Woman movie will hit theaters in 2017, with the titular character being played by Gal Gadot. Gadot will debut the character in Dawn of Justice.

Then, later in 2017, the much anticipated Justice League will premiere, presumably featuring the ensemble cast of superheroes assembled so far. Justice League will be split into two parts, meaning the 2017 film is Part 1, and will be directed by Man of Steel director Zac Snyder.

The two 2018 films are The Flash, staring Ezra Miller, and Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa. This Flash will presumably be a separate character than the Flash depicted on the CW TV show.

2019 will bring a Shazam movie, staring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Black Adam, Sham’s twin brother. Also in 2019 will be the follow up to Justice League Part 1 with part 2 coming out, also directed by Zach Snyder.

Finally, in 2020, a Cyborg movie starring Ray Fisher will hit theaters as well as a new Green Lantern movie, after the 2011 film Green Lantern disappointed fans, critics and the box office alike.

So, DC is certainly starting to catch up to Marvel. Yet Marvel might have one upped them again. Captain America 3 has been slated for a May 6, 2016 release date for quite some time. Yet a report from Variety magazine indicates that Robert Downey Jr. has signed on to reprise his role as Iron Man, which leads to speculation that this film will be based off the Civil War comic book arc. This story arc involves a mandatory superhero registration act, similar to The Incredibles. Captain America is against this, and Tony Stark is for it. They each gain a following of fellow superheroes, and there is an all-out war.

Of course, in the cinematic universe, the Sony and Fox own the rights to X Men and Spiderman, so Captain America 3 will have to change the story quite a bit, but that is fine as Captain America 2 strayed from the Winter Soldier story line and yielded awesome results. So, the superhero film genre is certainly not in decline.

Yellowcard goes classical

by Katerina Sperl | October 22, 2014

I felt like I was enjoying- enjoying for the first time- classical music when I heard the opening of “Convocation.”

Yellowcard recently released their ninth studio album, Lift a Sail (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Yellowcard recently released their ninth studio album, Lift a Sail (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Nope, this isn’t a Mozart masterpiece. Yellowcard surprisingly decided to start off their latest album, Lift a Sail¸ with a short classical instrumental piece. They took a chance and it seems to have paid off.

The result is actually beautiful.

The mellow piece somehow seamlessly transformed into a stereotypical Yellowcard sound. “Transmission Home” brings the band back to their punk roots. This latter punk part is equal in greatness to the classical beginnings, showcasing just how much the band has the potential to offer.

“One Bedroom” is an absolutely wonderful beat. The steadiness of the song breaks up the complication of the other songs a bit. The lyrics are a bit like a stereotypical love song, but I am somehow okay with this. The repetition got me so caught up in the song that I ended up feeling instead of listening with precision.

“The Deepest Well” (feat. Matty Mullins of Memphis May Fire) is actually the only track on the album that sounded like the Yellowcard I remember. While the purpose of the album was to try something different, it was nice to see something that sounded like their earlier music. It is always good to come back home.

“M&K” is an interesting mesh of classical and punk rock. The background instrumentals are absolutely beautiful. The light fluttering somehow complements the words perfectly. Warning: this song will consume you.

“California” lays just a bit boring. While it is relatable to college students, about long distance relationships, the relatability irks me. With this song, Yellowcard brings nothing new to the scene.
Overall, this album has some stand out tracks. However, the majority of the album is a little lackluster.

Local Gigs of the Week

by Ashley Winward | October 22, 2014

local gigs of the week

Toads Place
October 22: Shwayze with Cam Meekins, Carlton, Nikko Gray and DJ set by BVillain.

October 23: Flag Party

October 24: Shakedown: The Dead and Beyond with Deep and The Remnants

October 27: RAC with The Knocks and SPEAK

October 28: Jeezy

The Space
October 23: The Felix Culpa with Rescuer, Aviator, Foreign Tongues and Setsuna

October 24: Transit with Such Gold, Driver Friendly, Anchors Away and Belweather

October 25: The World is A Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die with The Hotelier, Sorority Noise, Rozwell Kid, Posture & The Grizzly

The Oakdale
October 26: Jason Derulo with Becky G and Walpaper

Cafe nine (21+)
October 23: Dan Bern with Seth Adams

Bringing Back The Sunshine

by Elyse Von Der Fecht | October 22, 2014

Blake Shelton is an American country music singer and a television personality. In 2001, he debuted with his single “Austin” off his self-titled album.

Blake Shelton (AP photo)

Blake Shelton (AP photo)

In 2003, he released his second album, The Dreamer, as well as in 2004 he released his third album, Blake Shelton’s Barn & Grill. A few years later his fourth album Pure BS was re-released in 2008. That same year, his fifth album Startin’ Fires, which featured his then-girlfriend Miranda Lambert, was released.

Three years later, in 2011, he became the husband of country singer Miranda Lambert and released his sixth album, Red River Blue. His eighth album, Based on a True Story, premiered in 2013 and became an instant hit. The following year he made his ninth album, Bringing Back the Sunshine, which features Ashley Monroe and Raelynn.

Overall, Blake Shelton accomplished 24 country singles, including 11 number ones, and is a five-time Grammy Award nominee.

Here were my thoughts on the songs of his newest album.

“Bringing Back the Sunshine:” I do like the fact that Shelton started his album off with a faster moving song. I felt like he wanted to leave you with that sense of the whole album in one.

“Neon Light:” I really enjoyed the instrumental parts throughout the song. It goes well with the rhythm of the song as well as the lyrics.

“Lonely Tonight:” Having this song feature Ashley Monroe added that perfect touch of the song because it’s about two people not being alone. I think by having this song feature Monroe really added that extra power to the lyrics.

“Gonna:” As I listened to the song, I liked the part where he had the harmonies of the other voices in certain parts.

“A Girl:” This song had a slower tempo and mood. I was able to just focus on the lyrics and what Shelton was trying to say about that special person.

“Sangria:” I liked the fact that he had a song on the album titled “Sangria;” it really made me giggle, but listening to the lyrics was something I didn’t expect to hear. It was very interesting, but still incredible.

“Buzzin’:” This song has that country vibe and swing affect as I listened to the song. Raelynn has an incredible voice, which gave the song that extra lift in the lyrics.

“Just South of Heaven:” Listening to this song was a different feeling when I heard his lyrics and what he had to say, but it was really inspirational and kept me listening to the whole song.

“I Need My Girl:” I would have to say that this is my favorite song on this album. I really like his emotion and passion expressing what he really is feeling. It was very touching.

“Good Country Song:” This song gave the overall album that vibe it needed about having a song pertaining to having a country song. Everyone has to have that one song just talking about country.

“Anyone Else:” This is another slow song and as I was listening to it I wanted to grab my friends and sway back and forth. To have the special moment with your friends who are there for you.

“Just Gettin’ Started:” Shelton knows how to pick a great song to end an album with. This song has a fast tempo and gives you that vibe to dance and have fun.
Shelton is also a judge on the singing competition The Voice along with Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams. He has been on The Voice since its premiere and his teams on seasons two through four had won the title of The Voice. Who will win this season? Make sure you tune in and watch.

Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | October 22, 2014

Paul J. Phillips Brings Magic to the Music Industry

Paul J.Phillips recently moved to Nashville, Tenn. (Photo provided by The Press House)

Paul J.Phillips recently moved to Nashville, Tenn. (Photo provided by The Press House)

Paul J. Phillips was born into a family where following a path in pursuit of music was a destined staple in his future. Son of a Baptist choir director and classically trained soprano, Phillips grew up in Kentucky, knowing that he was meant to chase the notes of a melody that would make up the soundtrack to his future.

Thanks to the lovely people at the Press House in Nashville, Tenn. where Phillips has recently moved to from the Big Apple, I was able to sit down with him and discuss the passion behind the music, and the ideas that make Paul’s songs come to life.

They say music can be taught, but passion for it is intuitive. After speaking with Phillips, it seems his intuition and love for the arts stretches further than the distance he’s traveled to pursue his musical dreams.

When I spoke to Phillips, I was under the impression that Magic was his first solo E.P, but I stood corrected.

“Magic is actually my third solo recording; my first two records, Shooting Cars, Building Stars and Every Time I Leave are pretty straight-forward Americana. This new EP is a bit of a departure from that,” he explained, “and is more straight-forward rock and roll. With Magic, we were just trying to have a little fun with the music and also push the envelope artistically—do something different from what we’ve done in the past.”

When listening to the album’s title track, “Magic,” it is clear that “pushing the envelope” is exactly what Phillips had set out to do. With a 311 meets Jimmy Buffett at a local cafe on a dollar beer night sound, Phillips’ newly developed and strangely unique approach to his latest album release has listeners questioning his motives, while never demanding answers; the music speaks for itself.

When there is a title track on an album it’s almost like, “which came first? The chicken or the egg?” So I asked Phillips which “Magic” came first (the song or the album concept & name).

“The song came first. Then the chicken,” he joked. “I’m part of a group with some songwriter friends in which we try to write a song a day for the month of May. About a week or two in, when the fresh ideas slow down a bit, the really interesting songs start surfacing. One of the other writers and my good friend, Rollyn, wrote a little ditty about needing and enjoying an adult beverage at the end of a crazy days and Magic was basically a fun response to that.”

Basing an entire album off a fun response song is, from what I could tell during my time speaking with him, a very “Paul” thing to do. Did you ever see that episode of Friends? The one where Monica is trying to realize her dreams of being a chef while catering one of her mom’s dinner parties? (The One With the ‘Cuffs Episode 4.03) Her mom says that both of her parents made a bet that she would pull a “Monica” before the night was over. While in her moment of distress, Phoebe points out to her that pulling a “Monica” may actually be the best thing someone could do; that they could make pulling a “Monica” the best thing since sliced bread.

By Phillips, well, pulling a “Paul” I think you get the long-winded analogy that it’s actually the best thing he could’ve done. Basing an album off of chance, fun, experimentation; all of these things make for unique and inspirational songs that complete the entirety of an album that is more of a collection of art then a representation of sound.

“Funny enough,” Phillips said. “It originally started out as a reggae tune and when we started working on these new rock tracks, we took a new approach to the music. Magic is fun, lighthearted, rocking and bluesy and to me instantly felt like the single of the bunch, as well as the musical compass for the direction of the EP. For those same reasons we decided to use Magic as the title of the EP.”

And magic it is.

“I love to meet and hear stories about people that live life on the edge – those who push their own boundaries as artists, athletes, poets, adventurers, painters, musicians, etc.,” he offered when I inquired about his inspirations in life. “To me, it seems that when people are really pursuing what they’re passionate about, that’s when true beauty arrives and the world actually changes and evolves in a positive way. So to answer your question, both musically and personally, I’m continually inspired and drawn to people who pursue their life and art in that way. Luckily, I have many friends that inspire me in this way and I’m grateful for that.”

“The real challenge is not to survive. Hell, anyone can do that. It’s to survive as yourself, undiminished.”

Phillips quoted the above excerpt from Elia Kazan before speaking about the song that means the most to him off of the E.P.

“I think the one that means the most to me is “Fly Boy.” It is a biography of the life and adventures of Colton Harris Moore, the infamous ‘Barefoot Bandit’ and chronicles the story of his hardscrabble upbringing, and what he did to overcome so many obstacles. His story and character are so fascinating to me, and I love the way the music floats along with the story on this song.”

Phillips is all about the journey of the music. Where the song picks up the listener, the sites it shows them along the way, and the final destination. This is clear not only his individual tracks, such as ‘Fly Boy,’ but also with the conceptual idea of the E.P. When the listener finishes the journey, they feel complete. There are no unanswered questions, or unvisited territories. There is just music and the adventure it brought them on.

“A lot of my music has a sense of longing to it. With that is also a sense that there’s something on the other side of this or that experience or belief that can give us hope and something to fight for,” he expressed. “Most of anything worth fighting for can be reduced to love; it’s the most important thing we can feel, do, or be and I hope anyone who spends time with my music can get a sense of that sprinkled somewhere in the lyrics and melody.”

The hope is that you too, will experience the love that Paul Phillips captures in his ever-evolving music, and enjoy the journey that you embark upon from listening to Magic all the way through.

Fall Out Boy drops new single for Disney

by The Charger Bulletin | October 22, 2014

By Andrew LaGambina
Contributing Writer

Fall Out Boy’s new single “Immortals” serves as the band’s contribution to Disney’s upcoming animated superhero epic, Big Hero 6, and boy, does it have “Movie Single” written all over it. It’s clear that the days of creating heavy-hitting punk-influenced material is in the past as far as this band is concerned.

Fall Out Boy released their new single, “Immortals,” earlier in October (AP photo)

Fall Out Boy released their new single, “Immortals,” earlier in October (AP photo)

“Immortals” suffers from a lack of any real lyrics in its chorus, going instead for the often tried, and still boring, method of repeating a word over and over. And although the song features actual guitar tracks, it’s hard to keep track of them due to an onslaught of sampled percussion and some weird oriental-meets-crappy-techno sample that serves as the song’s main instrumental theme.

All that being said, this isn’t a bad song. Sure, it doesn’t hold up against anything the band released pre-2009, but that’s just one so-called hipster’s opinion. I’m only stating a fact when I say I liked them before they were cool, and I realize that the Fall Out Boy I knew is pretty much dead.

However, from their ashes has risen a new iteration of the band that knows how to survive in the pop world, and to their credit, I think they’re doing more than just surviving: they’re thriving. By focusing Patrick Stump’s ability to both write and sing insane hooks, and Pete Wentz’s quick-witted lyricism, and applying these things to pop music, Fall Out Boy has figured out a way to stay relevant without relying on the supersaturated pop-punk scene that they came up through.

It’s no secret that Stump’s voice is the main attraction, so it only makes sense that he seems to be the driving force in the band now. I’m perfectly okay trading in the guitar driven, drum smashing instrumentals of FOB’s previous material if I get to continue hearing Stump’s voice sing Wentz’s lyrics.

With the music business being a risky place to make a living, I don’t blame Fall Out Boy for going the Pop route. Considering they were a pop band playing punk music for three-fourths of their career, it’s not like this was ever a surprise, either. I’m not naïve enough to call them sell-outs, because they aren’t. They’re excelling at writing pop songs that, even while bordering on boring sometimes, are still better than 99 percent of what “pop” artists these days are pumping out. If they’re making much-needed money doing that, who am I to complain?

The point is, while “Immortals” is probably anything but immortal, this band, if they stay true to who they are, just might be.

Far from Gone 75 Years Later

by Ben Atwater | October 22, 2014

For 75 years, the film Gone with the Wind has been a constant standard to which most films do not come close.

A crowd gathers outside the Astor Theater on Broadway during New York City’s Gone with the Wind premiere in December 1939 (AP photo)

A crowd gathers outside the Astor Theater on Broadway during New York City’s Gone with the Wind premiere in December 1939 (AP photo)

In the 75 years since its release, few other films have captured storytelling on such a large scale.

The film tells the story of a Southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara, who is hardened by the effects of the Civil War, as her society of elegant galas collapses around her.

In this film, Southerners are seen as the protagonists, which is a surprising and bold move, as history class has always taught us to view the Union as the good guys.

The O’Hara plantation is ravaged by battle and Scarlett no longer enjoys the easy life of attending weekly balls and having everything provided for her. A subplot involves Scarlett’s love for aristocrat Ashley Wilkes.

However, Ashley marries Scarlett’s friend Melanie Hamilton, and Scarlett is constantly chasing Ashley’s love which, inevitably, she cannot receive, as Ashley is far too in love with Melanie.

So, throughout her life, Scarlett settles for other men so she can survive in a world where women needed to be married to be financially secure. However, in her first two marriages, Scarlett is the one running everything, and she manipulates her husbands more than the other way around. It is not until Scarlett’s third marriage to Rhett Butler that Scarlett’s histrionic personality is challenged.

Rhett Butler (played by Clark Gable), is very much of the same stock as Scarlett. Both characters reject typical Southern norms, yet are forced to conform to them in order to survive. Yet all in all, the film chronicles the life of Scarlett through ups and downs and everything in between. The highlight of the movie is undoubtedly the siege of Atlanta, in which Scarlett has to deliver Melanie Hamilton’s baby on a promise to Ashley as he is off fighting in the Confederate army. As if delivering a child is not stressful enough, Scarlett delivers the baby as the Union army is shelling the city.

Rhett Butler then comes to the rescue in a carriage, and the four of them, Rhett, Scarlett, Melanie, and the baby, make a riveting chase to escape Atlanta as the city burns around them.

This sequence is perhaps one of the most riveting sequences in the film, as the stakes are high, and the scenery of the burning city is surprisingly convincing, given the fact that it was filmed 75 years ago.

Gone with the Wind is aesthetically appealing in the sense that it was, technically, a well-made film, between the striking visuals as well as the innovative use of color. Gone with the Wind was one of the first major films to use color. The color is very well applied, as all of the scenery and costumes are incredibly vibrant.

Aside from the technical aspect, Gone with the Wind is very well acted, and the movie won Oscars for Best Lead Actress and Best Supporting Actress, which was won by Hattie McDaniel, who became the first African American to win an Academy Award.

McDaniel plays the character of Mammy, who is basically Scarlett’s mother figure, despite being a slave to the O’Hara family.

Mammy is often more sensible than the rest of the characters, who act on passion alone rather than rational thought.

On a note about the slaves, they are not treated as property, but rather as servants. There is no brutality like in the recent 12 Years a Slave, but rather subtle signs of inhumanity like Mammy not accompanying Scarlett into a store and having to wait outside.

After the war is over and the slaves are emancipated, Mammy and the rest of the O’Hara slaves become servants and serve Scarlett in all of her marriages. Yet she is kind to them, and treats them like family.

The screenplay is perhaps one of the best ever written. I have not read Margaret Mitchell’s novel, but the narrative flows at a very good pace, despite the film’s nearly four hour length.

So, frankly, I do give a damn about this movie, and while enhanced by the big screen, it is worth a watch regardless, for it is undoubtedly one of the best films ever made.

I had the privilege to see Gone with the Wind on a the big screen as part of the 75th anniversary, and it is clear that seeing it on the big screen is the way it is meant to be seen.

I know it might not be possible for others to see this classic on the big screen, but for me, it was worth full ticket price.

If you’re happy and you know it

by Dylan Rupptrecht | October 22, 2014

Don’t let this cheesy title fool you; Hector and the Search for Happiness uses art and originality to transform a cliché’ narrative perspective into a fresh and inspiring one. Simon Pegg stars as Hector, a psychiatrist living an extremely ordinary life, who, after having a breadown with a patient, realizes how unfamiliar he is to the concept of living and being happy. Hector embarks on an escapade around the globe to interview people and research what is “happiness.”

Simon Pegg in Hector and the Search for Happiness (AP photo)

Simon Pegg in Hector and the Search for Happiness (AP photo)

The tone for the movie is set right away in a dream of Hector flying an old fashioned yellow airplane, reminiscent of the toy models from the 1970s. Eventually, he is awoken by his equally ordinary wife and they start what is implied to be the familiar routine of their everyday life. After having his wife dress and feed him (much like a child), we get a clear sense of Hector’s problem, and, in a way, we have trouble sympathizing with him. Eventually, however, we see that Hector has a more complicated situation in his head, as he finally feels compelled to leave his comfortable life in hopes of finding even more.

Normally, I’m not a fan of movies that outline the specific message; I enjoy room for interpretation in open-endedness. Whereas this movie follows a template I typically try to avoid, it does well to show the meaning of the movie as more of a suggestion, as opposed to shoving a belief down our throats; instead of saying arrogantly, “this is what makes you happy,” the film proposes, “well this could be something – after much consideration and thoughtfulness – that seems to be scratching the plastic sealing of a box that may contain a clue as to what may be a tiny aspect of happiness.”

As we see Hector speculate what causes people to be happy, we ultimately witness him going over what makes people unhappy. We sympathize with him in a wide array of emotions as he experiences beautiful human kindness and conversely human ugliness that at some points even threaten his life.
Ultimately, this movie inspires you to consider “what makes you happy?”

Classics Worth Watching

by Ben Atwater | October 22, 2014

Balance and Composure blows away audiences

by The Charger Bulletin | October 9, 2014

Aj LaGambina
Contributing Writer

It finally happened. After buying my tickets in June, I saw my favorite band, Balance and Composure, play a headlining set at the Heirloom Arts Theatre in Danbury.

Balance and Composure (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Balance and Composure (Photo obtained via Facebook)

I first saw the band open for Title Fight in October of last year and I thought that their live show was incredible, so hearing that they were doing a full US headliner, I lost it. My girlfriend and I snagged tickets as soon as possible and (not so) patiently waited for Oct. 3 to see our favorite band play without the half hour constraint of being an opener.

After driving for an hour or so out to Danbury, we arrived shortly before the show opened with Philadelphia’s Creepoid. Armed with some very odd instruments—I’ve never seen a bass like the one vocalist Anna Troxell wields—they showcased their unique brand of Psychadelc-shoegazey-grunge-pop to a generally positive response.

I found myself really enjoying their stage presence, especially considering the technical difficulties that plagued the beginning of their set. After replacing one of the vocalist’s microphones, the band finished their set without a problem. The band has been on the road nonstop for three tours—the equivalent of almost 80 shows—and they dealt with the issue like champs.

Seahaven played next, and though I’ve never really been a big fan of them, they blew me away with their live set. They played with a vigor that is too often given up by openers who just seem to be going through the motions, especially in cases like Friday, when it’s the second to last show of a tour. Vocalist Kyle Soto’s voice, which I have previously found annoying, was gloriously worn in, to the point where his voice had a Cobain-esque rasp to it. As a result of seeing them live, I’m in the process of revisiting Seahaven’s catalog and finding myself really, really liking it. That right there is the power of live music.

Finally, Balance and Composure took the stage, with a giant backdrop based on the ghost theme of their latest album, The Things We Think We’re Missing, and an oil lamp projection providing a cool lighting effect, the band ripped through a 15 song set (plus an encore) with the energy and finesse they’re now known for.

Vocalist Jon Simmons was on point the entire night, showing off his chops as frontman. Being a three-guitar band, Balance brought an absolute wall of sound which, I think, can only be rivaled by fellow PA rockers, Superheaven, whom I saw this summer opening for UK band Basement. Bailey Van Ellis, Balance and Composure’s drummer, kept the energy rolling through the entire set, never faltering or losing time, contributing to a stellar performance by the group as a whole. There was a fair amount of fan interaction, with a handful of stagedivers, a lot of finger-pointing and a very loud crowd.

While the band mostly skipped fan favorites such as “I Tore You Apart in my Head” off of 2011’s Separation, their set was a fantastic balance of old and new, and proved that this band is beyond worthy of headlining their own tours.


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