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Photo of the Week

by Caitlin Duncan | January 28, 2015

Photo of the week frame

By Caitlin Duncan, Sophomore

Taken in San Salavador, Bahamas
Jan. 2015

“Snail crawls across Fossil Reef on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas,”
- Duncan

Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | January 28, 2015

Matt Gold’s Truth on Tape

Matt Gold (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Matt Gold (Photo obtained via Facebook)

It’s about time we were introduced to an artist with the lyrical ability and uncanny melodic resemblance of Elton John. The similarity between Matt Gold, Indiana born singer-songwriter, and staple musicians such as Elton John and Billy Joel is incomprehensible.

Gold melds poetic verses with simplistic piano-based instrumentals, bringing forth a certain emotion with the first telling line of each song. His latest EP, Let It Out, is now available on iTunes and provides listeners with a more upbeat and optimistic version of his characteristic “truth on tape.” Baring his soul to his dedicated audience, Gold unveils the truth in the unseen behind his own life experiences, relatable to so many others. The Indiana artist has constructed a safe-place for his listeners to go when their problems become too much; a place where they realize they aren’t alone.

“When the video for ‘Void’ came out, the responses started,” Gold explained as he discussed the moment he realized the impact that his music had on the fans. “I had never realized the impact and emotional core music was capable of, or the way my music in particular would affect people. It’s very humbling yet satisfying to know you have reached a persons soul. It reminded me to keep being authentic and true as an artist. No gimmicks are needed.”

Let It Out is an extremely cathartic title, symbolizing a release of an emotion. That release is what Gold provides for his fans and critics alike, leaving a listener in a meditative state after they hear his work.

Let It Out was all about letting go of my failures and disappointments as a human being. Realizing you can’t change your past, but learning to accept it and be thankful it brought you to where you are today. Musically I thought the album showed my maturity and growth as an artist, hinting at what lies ahead.”

The maturity and growth are subtle nuances easy to pick up on after listening to some of his earlier tracks. Gold’s music, it seems, has taken a passenger seat ride throughout his life, taking snapshots along the way and turning them into Polaroid songs that depict a story with a listen.

“Music is my therapy,” he confessed. “Playing piano is a great stress reliever for me. My career has taught me what my strengths and weaknesses are as a person. Where to push more and where to pull back.” This is a valuable life lesson I think we all could try and learn from.

With music like Gold’s that is delivered with such a distinctive purpose, it’s hard to depict one that has the most meaning, when they were all written from experiences that shaped him as an artist. He does admit however, that “Everything” holds a special place with him.

“It is probably one of the most special to me. I have never so blatantly written about my disappointments with my family relationships. It was time to release that anger I had. To finally say, ‘here is the cold truth. You may not like it, but it’s how I feel and should be acknowledged.’”

Once again, the bravery to speak of things most leave unspoken is the distinct quality that Gold sets forth with his music. Growing up as an adopted only child to two religious parents, he openly came out as being gay. While he accredits the ability to many other artists who paved the way for the LGBT community for success in his career, Gold has taken part in enhancing this welcoming environment for fellow artists to join.

“Tori Amos would be the most impressionable on me musically. She opened the door for pianists and said, ‘here I am. Naked. Bare. Respect and understand.’ And I did. Personally though, I have had many influences that change as I change. It is never just based on one person or thing.”

Gold spoke about the type of venues he enjoys performing in the most, and what that space and moment he shares with the audience means to him.

“Smaller, listening room-type venues are my personal favorite. There is an intimacy that can’t be captured, in my opinion, on a huge stage. I like being accessible to the audience. I want you to feel like part of the experience, not just a spectator.”

This notion of incorporating the audience into the entirety of the experience verses simply allowing them to watch the magic come to life through a store front window is what Matt Gold does best on and off the stage. Even when you have his song playing through your Bluetooth speaker while you’re vacuuming your living room, you feel as though the events he portrays are happening around you. And that’s the true essence of music, isn’t it? Telling stories through words and melodies that speak to the soul of someone else.

The only song stuck in my head

by Andrew Lagambina | January 28, 2015
You can purchase “Only One” on iTunes for $1.29 (AP Photo)

You can purchase “Only One” on iTunes for $1.29 (AP Photo)

Top 40 radio can often be a barren wasteland of uninspired music. While the melodies are infinitely catchy, much of that music is far too repetitive and meaningless for many people to give the time of day. Hip Hop, specifically Top 40 Hip Hop, produces some of the worst offenders. So, imagine my surprise when arguably the biggest Hip Hop artist, and undoubtedly one of the biggest mainstream music artists of the 2000s and 2010s, starts 2015 by releasing a song so emotive and heartfelt, that I immediately go to iTunes and give him my hard-earned money.

Kanye West has a bit of a stigma surrounding him. Some people think the fame has gone to his head while some swear that his antics are all for publicity and that he is a decent human being. Either way, nary a week goes by without the tabloids, the TV, or the radio, much less the forums of AP.net, talking about this guy. I’ve never been a big fan of Kanye. I appreciate his work as a producer, though. He’s extremely good at what he does and has a fantastic musical mind. As he is a Hip Hop / Rap artist, I never truly got into his music.

So how did Kanye become a new favorite for me overnight? He did the exact opposite of what anyone thought he would do. After the darkness of his last record, Yeezus, no one expected Kanye to release one of the most kind and gentle songs the mainstream music scene has ever heard. Maybe it’s fatherhood, or maybe it’s his realization that change keeps people interested, or maybe it’s both. Regardless, the song is awesome.

The song, called “Only One,” is written from the perspective of West’s late mother. Paul McCartney’s added vocals are subtle, truly restrained to just harmonies, but they contrast Kanye’s pitch-corrected melodies fantastically. Usually the auto-tune effect is associated with a person’s lack of ability to sing, which isn’t necessarily true. The effect requires some portion of talent from the artist using it (So, yes. Kanye West can carry a melody, apparently pretty well). Simple synth work punctuates West’s lines, the minimalism allowing you to focus on the lyrical content of the song.

Not only is “Only One” a heartwarming tribute to both West’s daughter and mother, it’s also a perfect anticipation track to drop before his new album gets released sometime this year. The Paul McCartney feature is sure to create a buzz in the Grammy community, especially after his presence on the “Nirvana” track, Cut Me Some Slack from Dave Grohl’s sound city documentary was nominated last year. “Only One” has certainly lived up to the hype surrounding it, and is certainly worth the $1.29 on iTunes.

Turn Life Lunar interview

by Elyse Von Der Fecht | January 28, 2015

Turn Life Lunar is a pop-electro band based out of Connecticut. They describe their sound as “intense” and “evolving.” Their achievements include a nine-song album “Worth The Wait” and national recognition from USA Today College.

I recently had the chance to interview Scott Ogilvy and Amanda Lewis. Here are the questions I asked them.

Scott Ogilvy and Amanda Lewis from Turn Life Lunar (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Scott Ogilvy and Amanda Lewis from Turn Life Lunar (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Elyse: How did you come up with the band name “Turn Life Lunar?”

Turn Life Lunar: We were looking for a new name and Turn Life Lunar was an option we discussed. Ultimately we decided it fit our sound and our goals for this project the most.

 

Elyse: How did you guys get involved with music?

Turn Life Lunar: From an early age, both of us really enjoyed playing and writing music. The more we got into it, the more we liked what music was about. It’s why we get out of bed in the morning. We honestly live to play music, it’s done so much for us. I think we’re obsessed with trying to reciprocate that.

 

Elyse: Off your debut album, Worth the Wait, which song was your favorite to record?

Turn Life Lunar: “Change Your Mind,” definitely. We had a blast writing that so we had a fantastic time recording it as well. When it was recorded both of us were wired. We were just super pumped about what the message in that track was.

 

Elyse:  How was the title of the album Worth the Wait picked?

Amanda: Two months before the album was released, I came into the studio, sat down and I asked Scott what he thought about calling the album Worth the Wait. We both agreed that it was a really good fit for how far we had come. To both of us, this record was so much more then a piece of music; it was a serious turning point for not only how others viewed us, but also how we viewed ourselves. To our families and friends who have seen us work at this for so long both individually and together, it was truly Worth the Wait for the recognition we’ve all waited for.

 

Elyse: What is your message behind the album?

Turn Life Lunar: We feel like our entire lives, we’ve worked up to this point. I felt like musically, I was running around in circles and trying to figure out who I was. This was it, I had finally found it. The message behind this record is establishing who we are and basically telling all of doubters and cynics that we can do this. Regardless of the rules generally placed on college students we’re making our own life on our own terms.

 

Elyse: Who are your musical influences you would like to work with?

Amanda: Where to begin…for me I’d love to feature a rapper or two. I’m super into Rae Sremmurd’s new EP. Also Bebe Rexha is my new obsession. I love how massive her hooks are, I’d love to do a track with her. Other people I’d love to work with would be Charli XCX and Drake too, that would be amazing. I love anybody who can cross genres.

Scott: It would be a dream to work with Owl City, the 1975, Nilo, Lights and Jhene Aiko.

 

Elyse:  If you headlined a tour, what would the tour be called? Who would you tour with?

Turn Life Lunar: Charli XCX would be really cool. We’d both love to even just open for Ke$ha or someone cool like that.  Breathe Carolina would be awesome too; we’re really inspired by their sound. Our tour would have to be called the “We Dropped out of College for This” tour.

 

Elyse: What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?

Turn Life Lunar: We’re hoping to get signed, play some shows and just experience this amazing life we’ve got going on. We’ve got new music coming out soon that’s even better then the tracks on Worth the Wait. We’re excited to get more people to listen and for what life has in store for us.

Keep an eye out for their new singles, “Utopia,” available Feb. 3 and “Imagine,” Feb. 17.

Local Gigs of the Week

by Ashley Winward | January 28, 2015

local gigs of the week

Toads Place
Jan. 29: Lotus with Moon Hooch
Jan. 30: Opus’ B-Day Blizzard Bash feat Jasta, Dead by Wednesday and more
Feb. 4: The Woah Tour feat Round2Crew, Dylan Holland and Alyssa Shouse
Feb. 5: Marky Ramone Book Signing

The Oakdale
Jan. 30: Dasik with KennedyJones, Trolley Snatcha and Barely Alive
Jan. 31: Get the Led Out
Feb. 3 – Feb. 6: Jersey Boys Touring Cast

The Space
Jan. 30: Community Center with Sage King, Down with Rent and Whats Left

BAR (21+)
Jan. 28: Frontier Ruckus with The Proud Flesh and Arcay
Feb. 4: Semicircle (Members of Reptar) with White Violet, and Spectral Fangs

Cafe Nine (21+)
Jan. 28: The Density Twins
Jan. 29: Creamery Station with Felicia March
Jan. 30: The Louds
Jan. 30: Johnny Carevale & The Rolling Pins with Sean Coleman & The Quasars, and Jeff Deware & The Bop Thrills

MLK’s Dream comes true with Selma

by Ben Atwater | January 28, 2015

History sure does repeat itself. This past fall, the media has been exclusively focused on cases of supposed police brutality towards blacks in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island. While I have no problem with cops doing their jobs, as they did in these cases, and like to think that modern day police officers have the rationality to only use force when they find it necessary, these incidents have brought into light that racially routed tensions still exist in contemporary America.

Selma depicts the United States as it was during the Civil Rights Movement (AP photo)

Selma depicts the United States as it was during the Civil Rights Movement (AP photo)

The recent art house film Selma is a very relevant film that depicts history yet is allegorical of the contemporary condition of racial tensions. Set in the 1960s, Selma tells the true story of the effort of Martin Luther King Jr. and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference fighting to give blacks the right to vote in the Deep South.

Selma has an ensemble cast yet is led by mostly unknowns, with David Oyelowo playing Martin Luther King Junior. Oyelowo plays an excellent Dr. King, portraying an ambitious spiritual leader who captivates everyone on screen and in the audience when he gives his many speeches.

Selma really hammers in the point that King truly wanted to achieve his goals through nonviolent and rationally thought out efforts. King’s education and morality are what led him to inspire a nation, not violent acts of retaliation against law enforcers as has been seen in recent cases of racial tensions.  While portraying a respectable leader, Selma also shows King’s own inner demons and self-doubts while he is dealing with the weight of the Black community’s turmoil on his shoulders.

Aside from Oyelowo, the supporting cast is fantastic. Tom Wilkinson plays Lyndon B. Johnson, the president at this time of national crisis who has to balance the will of King’s plight for black equality while having to work with extremist Southern politicians who are set minded to never grant the vote. Wilkinson really shows the stresses presidents have of having to answer to dozens of different interest groups and make everyone happy. Oprah portrays Annie Lee Cooper, a civil rights activist who really shows the meaning of courage when all the odds are against you. Not a formally trained actor, Oprah does a wonderful job, despite having only gotten the role as she is a producer of this film.

Aside from the performances, the screenplay is incredibly well written, making these characters pop out of the movie and seem like the real people they were. The cinematography of the freedom marches truly convey how intimidating it was to stand up to the police and do the right thing. This movie could easily have condescended to a sappy and romanticized depiction of the civil rights movement. Yet in remaining subtle and keeping the characters grounded, Selma truly is a moving film.

As the economist Victor Rosansky said, less is more, and by leaving more unsaid, one can make their own judgments and inferences which leads to a deeper and more personal understanding of matters. While watching police beating and shooting peaceful protestors, I was reminded of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, where a dystopian police state executes citizens on sight for acts as little as stepping out of line at a ceremony. It is scary to think that parts of the United States were like this only fifty years ago, when my parents were kids.

Selma boasts amazing performances, particularly Oyelowo, and why he was not nominated for an Oscar I’ll never know. I do not believe it has any to do with race, as the Academy has often honored blacks with awards, such as 12 Years a Slave earning blacks awards in acting, writing, and producing. Yet a great performance is a great performance, and does not have to be validated by a one foot piece of metal.

Selma remains relevant by keeping in mind that racial tensions can be solved by peaceful means, not by ignorant protests, vandalizing property or cop killings, as has happened in these past few months. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Council had a very classy way of achieving their goals, and if more were like them, the world would be a better place. Selma is a very important film in that it captures one of the most iconic chapters in American history far better than any other film has portrayed the Civil Rights Movement. The only hesitation I can think of is that Selma would not lose too much away from the big screen, yet as good films are sparsely released in January, Selma is an excellent choice of film for this time of year. After all, MLK weekend was just a week ago.

Album of the Week

by Ashley Winward | January 28, 2015

Exodus: Let My Boredom Go

by Ben Atwater | January 28, 2015

Hollywood whitewashing has been a constant issue of controversy in the media. Liberal interest groups have historically complained that when a film adapted from source material with non-white characters casts white actors to play these non-white roles.

Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings (AP photo)

Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings (AP photo)

Recently, The Last Airbender and The Lone Ranger have received media backlash for casting white actors in non-white roles. So, the notion would be that the media prefers when actors of the same race as the characters in the source material play the respective role. This begs the question as to why the new film Annie is being described as progressive for casting black actors in traditionally white roles, yet that aside, Exodus: Gods and Kings is being ridiculed for casting white actors in Egyptian roles. To me, this seems to be a double standard in the media. Exodus: Gods and Kings should not be ridiculed for whitewashing its cast; it should be ridiculed for it is a horrible film.

Ridley Scott’s career has hit an absolute low point with his latest film Exodus: Gods and Kings. Depicting the plight of the Jewish people from slavery in Ancient Egypt, Scott has taken rich source material and turned it into two and a half hours of intense boredom. The biblical story centers on Moses, a Jew who is adopted by the Egyptian pharaoh Seti and his family, his Jewish identity concealed to the Pharaoh as well as himself while the rest of the Jewish people are enslaved to build pyramids. When Moses learns of his true ethnicity, he leads the Jewish people against the new pharaoh out of slavery, with the help of God who casts ten plagues upon the Egyptians to entice the Pharaoh to let the Jews go. The new pharaoh is Ramses, Seti’s son who was raised with Moses, which adds a level of personal drama between the two leaders as Moses and Ramses are practically brothers.

Exodus: Gods and Kings depicts this story in a relatively faithful manner to the source material, with all of the biblical details taught in religious school carrying through to the big screen. The movie has a reputable cast, with Christian Bale playing Moses and Joel Edgerton playing the pharaoh Ramses. As Moses leads his people in revolt, the plagues unfold in beautifully rendered CGI. The sets of Egyptian temples and desserts throughout the film look vast and lived in, with attention paid to detail in the costume and weapons department.

Exodus is made very well on a technical level. With a cast of the likes of Christian Bale, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, and Aaron Paul, Exodus: Gods and Kings should have been a masterpiece.

Yet when Christian Bale seems to be phoning it in, something is wrong. Moses’ lines are often unintelligible as he puts on some odd British-Middle Eastern accent. Ben Kingsley seems to just be reading off a script in the few scenes he is in, with no real purpose to his character. Sigourney Weaver is the same case. Joel Edgerton is decent as pharaoh, yet the horrible screenplay makes his efforts null and void.

Throughout the film, Moses’s confrontations with God depicts God as a child, for a reason that is neither artistic nor logical. The only entertaining part of the film is the segment when the Ten Plagues unfold. Thousands of frogs and locusts blend in seamlessly with live action actors. Yet Exodus returns to dry and weak character centered plot soon enough.

The failure of Exodus: Gods and Kings can really be attributed to Ridley Scott. In any film, the director’s main job is to make sure everyone else involved, from the actors to the screenwriters and cameramen, is doing the best they can do to make a good film. A director has to have the vision of what he or she wants their film to be. Furthermore, a director has to use the actors as tools to get the most effective performances. Scott has utterly failed with Exodus, as he clearly has not inspired any of the cast to deliver a convincing or even adequate performance.  Perhaps Ridley Scott is getting too old to direct. It’s been a long time since he brought renowned films such as Alien and Gladiator to life. Then again, Prometheus was only two years ago and I personally thought it was a very good film. Perhaps Scott is not completely out of steam when it comes to film making. Yet with Exodus, Scott has just failed at making an engaging story. In the back of my head, I kept thinking that if the Red Sea part in the beautiful CGI the rest of the film had, I could walk out satisfied. Yet instead of a grandiose display of might evoked in Charlton Heston’s parting of the sea in The Ten Commandments, the film sloppily skips to the Jews walking through the dry sea, not giving everyone what they came in for in showing the massive sea part.

I felt cheated, and cheated is what I was. Exodus is one of the most disappointing films of 2014, up there with The Amazing Spiderman 2. What should have been a return to classic biblical epics along the lines of Noah was one of the worst films I have ever seen in the movie theater. While the Ten Plagues look great, the screenplay and performances are just too offsetting to justify anyone wasting time on Exodus: Gods and Kings. The Prince of Egypt and The Ten Commandments are far better Exodus films. Heck, even The Rugrats Passover special is more entertaining than Exodus: Gods and Kings. 

Winter Roundup

by Ben Atwater | January 28, 2015

Well, it’s been one big winter for movies. First off, The Interview was pulled from theaters. After theaters received threats from cyber terrorists that any screen showing it would suffer casualties in the audiences, most major theater chains in the country pulled the film from showings. It was subsequently released on home media and has been added on Netflix for all those still curious to see it.

Paul Rudd will play Ant-Man in 2015 (AP photo)

Paul Rudd will play Ant-Man in 2015 (AP photo)

Asides from that, the much anticipated Avatar sequels have been pushed back a year so that Avatar 2 will be released in 2017, as opposed to the previous announced date of Christmas, 2016. However, new Avatar sequels will come annually, with Avatar 3 and 4 following in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Also moved back was the sequel to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, now coming out in 2017 rather than previously announced 2016. The delay is to focus on the visual effects, which were undoubtedly one of the best parts of Dawn. Michael Keaton, who recently starred in Birdman, is set to star in 2017’s King Kong film Skull Island, alongside JK Simmons and Tom Hiddleston.

In the X-Men universe, a Gambit film has been announced to premiere Oct. 7, 2016. This will be the third X-Men film of 2016, after Deadpool and Apocalypse are released earlier. While in the news of comic book movies, the first Ant-Man trailer was released. Not showing much, the trailer did show Paul Rudd, playing the titular character, shrink down to insect size as he rides wasps. Ant-Man will come out July 17, 2015.

Most upsetting to me is the upcoming Ron Howard film In the Heart of the Sea being pushed from a March 13 release to Dec. 10. A huge fan of seafaring epics like Mutiny on the Bounty, Master and Commander, and Kon Tiki, I was immensely excited for this movie, especially for it to come out in March which is usually a bland time for movies. The main reason for the push back is that the studio likely thinks it to be Oscar worthy, hence the December release. Yet I have always felt that a good movie is a good movie, no matter when it comes out.

And of course, the big news was the announcement of the 87th Academy Award nominees, which will air on ABC Feb. 22. The nominees can be found at www.oscars.org for a full list of the nominees and the awards are sure to be covered by the Charger Bulletin in coming weeks.

Classics Worth Watching

by Ben Atwater | January 28, 2015
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