E m e r s on â€™ s F i r st Mu s i c m ag a z i n e / / m ay 2 01 3
H ello D ear R eaders , As the school year draws to a close, everyone begins looking back on what they created, what they did, and who they impressed. This year I organized and helped start this magazine, the staff spent the year working tirelessly to make it the best it could be. We’ve had three issues so far, each better than the last, and I think four knocks it out of the park. Our writers take on the pains of road-tripping with only the radio for music, the return of Daft Punk, and the ending of My Chemical Romance. As a Boston based magazine, with students who frequent the downtown area, we were shaken by the events of Marathon Monday. In honor of those who were affected by the tragedy, we present a Boston Strong playlist in this issue. You’ll find music by
Bostonians about Boston, showing how strong and resilient this city and all its many residents are. Looking at the future of 5 Cent Sound, the horizon is broad and full of opportunities. Soon you will hold a physical copy of 5 Cent Sound— you’ll be able to flip through the pages and doodle in the margins if you like. We plan to continue learning from our previous issues, and bring the world this beautiful project you can read through now. Over the summer a name change became necessary. This is the magazine formerly known as Chaos, and currently known as 5 Cent Sound.
t h e b est ,
M ar ia S pi r i dig l ioz z i E ditor -I n -C hief
Editor-In-Chief & Founder Maria Sp iridigl ioz z i Assistant Editor Ash l e y Alongi Managing Editor Marissa H e rman Creative director me l an ie c oh e n
L ive & Lo cal
Victor ia Me n s on An na Ci es l i k , H e at h e r Mulg an non , Di llon R i le y, Vi rg i n ia Wr ig h t
Ent ertai nme nt & Cult ure
L aur e n Mo q ui n Ch r i stop h e r G avi n , mat t k an e , J o s hua Par k , Dan ny Tave r n e r
Our F ive Cen ts
D ome n ica P e r ron e Al e x an de r “ Z ” Hayes , J u st i n Ro g e r s , Alli s on “ T ruj ” T ruji l lo
Around t he World
car r i e cab r al Cyn t h ia Ayal a , G e n e me ye r , De van Nor man , P e t e r S ol ar es
R e vi e ws
S han non Horowi t z T haddeu s B o u s k a , Mack e n z i e “ z ” k uest e r , jas mi n n e yo ung
D es i g n
Meg an S e abau g h Cai t i e B ol an d, t homas g iar di n i , Ch e ls e y Mo ody, R e b e k ah S kop i l
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L ive an d Lo cal Boston’s calling anna cieslik 6 Paws skate their way through allston dillon riley 9 welch & penn: an unlikely duo heather mulgannon 11 persona virginia wright 14
En te rtai nm ent an d cultur e Strike the rock with the staff josh park 16 the problem with azealia banks matt kane 18 the art of t-shirts christopher gavin 20
O ur Five Cents Road trip radio allison “truj” trujillo 23 all together now alexander “z” hayes 25 preach the blues justin rogers 26 my chemical romance maria spiridigliozzi 28
photo s pr ead 31 this issue: musical movie covers
Aro un d t he Wor ld mali’s musical historians devan norman 34 return of da funk? cynthia ayala 36
Re vi e ws Jim James: regions of light and sound of god thaddeus bouska 38 The virgins: Strike gently jasminne young 40
pl ayl i st 42
this issue: boston strong
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Live a n d
Move Over, California and Tennessee
Boston’s Calling by Anna Cieslik
With music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza reporting staggering increases in ticket sales over the past few years, it’s no surprise cities across the country are cashing in on the lucrative music festival business. With a plethora of young adults in Boston, it only makes sense for the city to have its own festival. Enter Boston Calling: the city’s first two-day, two-stage music festival right in the middle of City Hall Plaza. Although the lineup is smaller than a lot of the big-name festivals out there, it’s clear the people behind it are going for quality over quantity the first time around. Happening over Memorial Day weekend (that’s May 25th and 26th, in case you didn’t know), Boston Calling tickets have been on sale since early March. While weekend passes for $130 sound like a lot, it’s still more affordable than many other music festivals out there. And considering acts like fun., The Shins, Of Monsters and Men, and Matt and Kim are all on the bill, the festival is definitely worth the money. If
$130 is still too steep for you, single-day tickets are also available for $75 each. Named after The Clash’s iconic “London Calling” album, Boston Calling stands apart from many fests out there because of its location in the middle of Boston. In Boston Globe interview, the minds behind Boston Calling, Brian Appel and Mike Snow admitted that some people might be apprehensive about a festival in the city. However, they are working hard to make sure it is a unique experience for positive reasons, and not negative ones. Although much of the planning is highly secretive at this point,
Appel and Snow are both willing to admit a few vague details. Appel promises that they are working hard to make City Hall Plaza a comfortable outdoor venue for the 20,000 expected festivalgoers. That said, they are also embracing the city landscape and not trying to ignore the fact that they have a wonderfully distinctive urban location. Another quality that sets Boston Calling apart from other festivals: it’s organized by people invested in music, not just businessmen hoping to make a quick buck. Appel and Snow both helped put on free events through the Boston rock station WFNX-FM before
the station went off the FM airwaves last year. And if that isn’t impressive enough, the two men also got Aaron Dessner, the guitarist for The National, to help put on the fest. Dessner has ample experience with curating music festivals (he’s also working on the Crossing Brooklyn Ferry festival) and he has high hopes for Boston Calling. If all goes well, the festival will put Boston on the map of great music festivals. Want to know more about which bands to check out at Boston Calling? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a rundown of a few of the best acts at the festival’s inaugural show.
Dirty Projectors With six members in the band, the Dirty Projectors could very easily become a jumbled, unorganized mess on stage. However, they do a phenomenal job of avoiding this and instead, their sets are uplifting and mellow. A nice reprieve from more high-energy acts, the Dirty Projectors are perfect for that 6 o’clock timeslot when you want to chill out for a bit before rallying for the headliner at 8:00. Sit back, relax, and enjoy this band. You won’t be disappointed.
Marina and the Diamonds Marina and the Diamonds’s set is bound to be a crazy dance party. The sassy Welsh singer’s discography is packed full of indie pop songs that are instant crowd pleasers. One of the more unique artists on Boston Calling’s lineup, Marina and the Diamonds are the perfect act to check out for something fun and uplifting in between the festival’s more classic indie rock sets.
The Shins Some bands might have called it quits after losing the majority of their members, but James Mercer of The Shins didn’t let that happen. Instead, he did a near complete overhaul of The Shins before coming out with Port of Morrow back in 2012. Now, it’s as though the band has been reborn as a tight knit group that puts on simple yet pleasing shows. The Shins are a band that invests all of their energy into the music and leaves the rest of the set understated, meaning that you’re guaranteed a good show and chill vibes.
Matt & Kim There’s nothing quite like a Matt and Kim show. The duo’s joyful indie pop songs are the perfect match for any outdoor music festival. Although there are only two of them, they still manage to get the crowd going in the most impressive way possible. Count on Matt and Kim to be running around on stage, jumping off of equipment, and diving into the crowd. In the end, it’s nearly impossible to walk away from their set without a smile on your face.
If you ever wondered what it feels like to have your mind blown, make sure to check out Andrew Bird’s set. The eclectic musician is like no other act out there. His shows feature everything from the violin, to the glockenspiel, and even whistling. Watching Bird dash around between his various instruments on stage is entertaining as it is, but when you add seriously good songs into the mix, the show becomes downright mesmerizing. As long as you go in with an open mind, you are sure to be impressed.
Skate Their Way Through Allston by Dil lon Ri l e y Scottish indie rock trio PAWS hit Boston on March 15 as a part of their first ever US tour in support of their 2012 debut CokeFloat!. The band took their jagged, slacked-out rock sound to Allston’s bar Great Scott before touching down in Austin, TX for the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. The band played to an overwhelmingly receptive audience and an overall friendly vibe during their 45 minute set. Front-
man Philip Taylor expressed his love for the city of Boston several times over in his thick Scottish accent, after having cruised through Allston earlier on his skateboard.
He also added that Vancouver punk duo, and former PAWS tourmates, Japandroids were particularly fond of the venue, guaranteeing the band it would be the best gig on their tour. PAWS opened the show with “Tulip,” a highlight off Cokefloat!. A clear showcase of the band’s strengths, the verses’ loud, roaring guitars rode along a stuttering, cymbalheavy beat until Taylor held back on the distortion pedal for a brief respite during its
The band amp[ed] up the tempos even further while brushing off perfect technique in favor of more physical, emotional playing.
bridge. The song then careened headfirst into a wordless chorus, punctuated by Taylor’s indecipherable screams and fuzzed-out guitar. The band filled in the set with a few more numbers from Cokefloat!, including recent single “Sore Tummy,” before delving into some fresh material off their new tour-only Tiger Lilly EP. The title track falls well within their established sound, adding a sugary pop melody in the chorus alongside their typically crunchy guitars. The second new track, entitled “The Bubble Boy,” which Taylor noted as a thinly veiled Seinfeld reference, turned up the tempo and added busy rhythms to its pop-punk sound. The most striking aspect of the band’s live show is the disparity between the band’s sound onstage and their studio takes. Faster
tracks like “Bloodline” and “The Hospital Song” off their Misled Youth EP found the band amping up the tempos even further while brushing off perfect technique in favor of more physical, emotional playing. The sloppiness, however, seemed to play in the band’s favor, adding a weird sort of indie authenticity to their overall vibe. About midway throughout their set, Taylor made a few references to some of the headier lyrics off their debut. He first asked the crowd before “Catherine 1956,” a tribute to his deceased mother’s battle with cancer, to always love their mums and then started a “FUCK CANCER” chant as they tore into “Bloodline.” PAWS ended their set fittingly enough with the final track off Cokefloat!, “Poor Old Christopher Robin.” Rife with lyrical references to sickness and “sore tummies,” the
song added Pixies-esque loud-quiet dynamics to punctuate each run through the chorus. They then quickly jumped back on stage to dole out two covers of former tourmates, Big Deal and fellow Scots Meursault, before bidding Boston a good night and heading straight to the bar. Despite playing just a handful of shows in America previously, the band turned in a tight, engaging set at one of the best clubs in Boston. If anything, they proved poised to make some serious moves at SXSW. The recent successes from fellow FatCat labelmates and Scottish men We Were Promised Jetpacks, Frightened Rabbit, and The Twilight Sad have certainly paved the way for PAWS’ future successes. Here’s to seeing some of them together in Boston sometime soon.
Welch & Penn An Unlikely Duo
by Heather Mulgannon
Imagine locking yourself in a tiny garage apartment, sitting silently across the room from your friend, only looking up occasionally to ask their opinion on the song/poem you’re currently writing. That is exactly how duo Welch & Penn spent this past winter break writing every song on their first EP Green Sundresses. Welch & Penn is made up of Emerson College junior Donnie Welch and 20-year-old, North Carolina native Freddie Wilson (whose stage
name is Fountain Penn). The pair spent an entire day in that apartment writing their five song EP, which is a unique mix of Welch’s spoken word poetry and Wilson’s acoustic, folk/ indie inspired music. Not having any similar collaborations to seek inspiration from meant writing together was an interesting learning experience for the pair. “If there has ever been another performance poet/acoustic singer songwriter duo out there, I’ve honestly never heard of them,” says Wilson.
Welch and Wilson started out performing in the Lake Norman area of North Carolina. Being performers in such a small suburban area, they were bound to cross paths eventually. Welch says he remembers seeing Wilson a few times but they didn’t officially meet until early 2011. That January, when Welch was home for winter break, he and fellow performer Tyler Bryant set up a charity event called Freedom Fest. Wilson was invited to perform along with other performers from around 11
North Carolina. The event was supposed to be fairly big and bring together a lot of local acts. There was a storm the night of the show, resulting in a lower than expected turnout. The show, which was supposed to raise a lot of money for charity, ended up only raising about $10. After the show, the performers had to decide what to do with the little bit of money they did raise. “Although we both thought the earnings belonged to the owner of the venue, our creative way of articulating ideas and beliefs caused both of us to think the owner was a greedy bastard,” says Wilson jokingly. When the pair realized they were fighting for the same side, they laughed over their shared stubbornness. That seemingly unimportant argument is what would eventually lead to the two realizing how similar they were and becoming friends. Welch started writing poetry as a junior in high school. He wanted to write songs but realized, when he tried to put his words to music, it didn’t quite work out. That was when he decided to try his hand at poetry. He classifies his poetry under the large umbrella of performance poetry. Welch believes that in such a digital era, performing his poetry just seems like the next logical step. “People don’t really want to take the time to read poetry but if it’s presented to them, I think it’s something they’ll still engage in,” he says. C.J. Nadeau, a senior Writing, Literature, and Publishing major at Emerson College, met Welch when he visited Emerson as a lacrosse recruit. Nadeau didn’t know what to make of this big, scruffy, lacrosse-playing poet at first but they ended up becoming friends. 12
Being writers, Nadeau and Welch value each other’s opinions and often go to each other for advice when they’re brainstorming ideas. Nadeau says that Welch & Penn sounds like a feel good version of one of his favorite bands, Why? “It’s got just the right amount of cheesy to be wonderfully endearing, it’s awesome summer music,” says Nadeau. When Welch is writing his poetry, he’s using it as a way to explore things he doesn’t necessarily understand or to get a sense of closure. His poem, “Hawaiian Shirts” was written about his uncle’s disability and his perception of it versus society’s perception. “I realized that I had spent most of life being too embarrassed to be around him/ And now I would never have the opportunity to do or say anything differently/ He suffered from Schizophrenia and mental retardation/ And he happened to wear Hawaiian shirts all the time.” Wilson, whose lanky stature and glasses only add to his sentimental acoustic musician persona, shares Welch’s feelings on using his writing as a tool to understand experiences and the world around him. “His songs are super personal and that
sort of vulnerability is courageous; I think it’s brave and it’s brave because it’s true,” says Welch. As a middle child, Wilson never wanted to follow in the footsteps of his older, athletic brother. He was forced into playing sports despite his protests. However, when he first picked up a guitar at age 10, he never looked back. “After I strummed my first chord the search was over,” says Wilson. Wilson, like many other musicians, went through an angsty punk phase as a teenager. “Punk is a movement for the outsiders and losers. I couldn’t relate to rap or pop music that was all about feeling great, getting the girl or anything like that,” says Wilson. Wilson idolized bands such as Mest, Sum 41, Blink 182 and Rancid. He says that the lyrics gave him a sense of identity and purpose. At age 13, Wilson recorded his first EP with an older friend from his high school who has since gone on to being the sound engineer for fun. The EP ended up being terrible, according to Wilson. Despite this bad experience, it led him to meeting a network of older songwriters that
It’s the raw emotion of two performers, pouring everything into a unique poetry/music hybrid.
Despite all the emotion, the image that comes to mind when listening to this EP is purely summer.
to this day still encourage and inspire him. Their Americana and folk sound became a huge influence on the sound that Wilson has developed for himself. “I enjoyed the portability of acoustic music and the liberty that accompanied being able to do it all yourself as a solo act, a freedom punk often did not offer,” says Wilson. After their first meeting (and argument), Welch and Wilson ended up being asked to perform at another show by Bryant and finally became
friends. Since then, they have played many shows together and even went on a small tour last summer, The Mountain to Sea Tour. After realizing how well their personalities work together, they decided to book a tour for this summer, and what better way to promote a tour then by creating an EP? That was when the pair first decided to write the material for Green Sundresses. Green Sundresses has a sound hard to put into words because there
is honestly nothing to compare it to. It’s the raw emotion of two performers, pouring everything into a unique poetry/music hybrid. Welch draws you in with his honest verses while Wilson sets the tone with a folky, indie rhythm on his acoustic guitar. Despite all the emotion, the image that comes to mind when listening to this EP is purely summer. “Although we’re both lyrically expressing the same emotions, the two different voices and our different perspectives are pronounced, which is a great dynamic I really enjoy,” says Wilson about the EP. We should expect a lot to come from this unique pair in the future.
Get Their album: www.FountainPenn.BandCamp.com/album/green-sundresses
Persona by virginia wright
Persona is a four-piece indie, poprock band from Haverhill, Mass. I had the pleasure of meeting with Adrian Sympson, Anthony Vitukevich and Neal Goldman after their show at the All Asia Bar & Lounge. Unfortunately Joe Raffa couldn’t make the show (or interview) because his car broke down, but to twist the words of show business, the show went on anyway. (I got to see them again in Allston the following weekend and chatted with Raffa a bit then). Having never been to All Asia before, I was surprised at the dingy, yet welcoming atmosphere. For those who’ve never been there, it’s your a-typical dive bar with a pool table, glow in the dark stars on the ceiling and adorned with “oriental” décor – basically the perfect scene for our interview. The band recently released a four song EP titled Houses and just because it’s under seven minutes long does not make it a forgettable, quick listen. The EP hardly does the band justice, but one thing it does is give listeners a speck of insight into what the band sounds like. In order to get the full effect, you have to see them live – you will instantly like what you hear, I guarantee it. Let’s first start off with band introductions. Adrian plays drums, Neal plays rhythm guitar, Anthony plays bass and vocals and Joe plays lead guitar and sings as well. 14
How long have you been playing instruments? Adrian Sympson: I’ve been playing for my whole life. Neal Goldman: …about 8 months? Anthony Vitukevich: Since my freshman year in high school, so about six years. How did you become a band? AS: We started practicing in September of 2012, but actually started becoming serious in the beginning of this year, so let’s go with January. We all met each other by playing in other bands, we’re sort of like a Brady bunch. I actually moved from Vermont so that I could be closer and get serious about the band. How did you come up with the band name? AS: I’m not entirely sure, it just made sense.
NG: There is a story behind it though, Joe was working on music for a video game app and the name “Persona” was part of the game’s interface. Then Persona came up in a conversation and it just felt right. So I’ve heard rumors that you’re changing your name? Joe Raffa: It was brought up. AS: Because there are so many bands named Persona! JR: but we like it, so we’re going to keep the name. AS: If we were to change the name, it would be Persona 182. JR: Persona 182 +44! Where do you draw musical inspiration from? AS: Moving Mountains, Blink 182, Paramore, and bands like Balance & Composure and Transit.
AV: Hip-hop. [laughter] Not all influences are present in our music, but we do actually listen to hip-hop. What was it like recording your four-song EP “Houses”? AS: We recorded it entirely by ourselves in a basement, one instrument at a time. We’re used to and comfortable with recording ourselves, not to shit on studios, but really all you need right now is decent microphones and a recording program. The recording was done fairly quickly, in a couple of days. We wanted to release the EP as soon as possible so we could have something to show people. What’s your favorite venue you’ve been to? AS: Royale or the Sinclair. JR: I went to some theater in Maine to see Taking Back Sunday, I wish I could remember the name of it, but it was rad. NG: I saw Explosions In The Sky at the Orpheum Theater and really liked it there. Favorite place you’ve played? NG: We really liked playing at Theives Grotto, it’s some basement in Allston or Mission Hill. But our new favorite is the Audio Jungle. Everyone here is so hospitable, friendly and down to chill. We love it. AS: I think the crowd at a venue
says more about the venue than the space does. If someone in the crowd is being a jerk, the venue sucks. We love the Audio Jungle ’cause nobody has been a jerk to me and it’s really easy to do that. [laughs] Any current band you’re dying to see? AS: Moving Mountains (again) and Paramore because they’re dying to have me as their drummer. Green Day… JR: Dude, they’re so good live! NG: Led Zeppelin circa 1969 / 1970. AV: New Found Glory. JR: We were listening to them on the way to the show tonight (in Allston). AS: Yeah, it was “My Friends Over You.” Joe, how’s your car? JR: It’s fine now, we actually drove it to the show tonight. If you could compile a dream tour who would be on it? NG, AS, AV: Late 90s / early 2000s Blink 182, Balance & Composure, Paramore, Nirvana, Linkin Park, & Jay Z [laughs] What’s one song you wish you’d written? AS: I Want It That Way, Justin Timberlake was so cool… NG and AV: …no? AS: NSYNC, Backstreet Boys… same thing.
NG: Tik Tok by Ke$ha. AV: Big Poppa by Biggie. Where do you see the band within the next couple of years? AS: We want to do as much as possible, like tour and put out more music. NG: I want people to want to illegally download our music. That’s when you know you’ve made it. All: We want to play shows where fans would sing our songs back to us and connect with our emotions through the lyrics. Are there any shows you’re looking forward to seeing in the next couple of months? AS: I’m probably seeing Paramore in May! NG: The Front Bottoms are playing at the Sinclair over the summer, Laura Stevenson is also playing at TT the Bear’s in May. Anything else to add? AS: Yes! Persona is featured on a compilation album through Heads Up records released on March 26th. Also expect a full length sometime in the future because we have enough material written. During the first interview, Sympson jokingly said, “we’re kinda really good.” But, I’ve seen them twice now and they held up their end of the bargain.
I want people to want to illegally download our music. That’s when you know you’ve made it. -Neal Goldman
Entertainment A N D
culture Strike the
Rock with the Staff by J os h Par k
Perhaps whatâ€™s best about music, or any particular art form, is that the creator is producing something essentially out of nothing. There is no tangible item that is digested through an artist to yield a piece of art. There is no deliberate plan or reason, but rather just an exerting of emotion. When an artist creates something, that artist goes through a big bang: a starry explosion without cause. At least thatâ€™s what music is like to me, but what if there is a deliberate, formulaic creation of music? Is that art or is that Metallica selling out? Is it truly art, when the artist tries to invoke ideas that are not about independence but rather about the accepted submission to others? This is what the genre of Christian
rock suffers in a certain respect, as it seeks legitimacy in mixing a naturally rebellious genre and culture with an unpopular institution. Now, when I talk about Christian rock, I do mean the praise bands that actually talk about Jesus. Not The Devil Wears Prada wearing cross necklaces, not Charlie from Lost spilling out Psalms 23 in front of the smoke monster, and certainly not Mike Shinoda praying with Linkin Park hoping for any shot that the audience out that night is anywhere over the age 15. What I find interesting straight off the bat is that all of these bands look like a regular band: anywhere from indie to soul could be found here. Guitar, rhythm, drums, keyboards, maybe some backup sing-
ers. Everyone wears cardigans and button ups, at least one person is noticeably cooler than the others, and some person might have a beard that should not belong. Along with the look, there is a clear aesthetic to some of these Christian rock songs. Almost all of them, or at least the classic ones, always have a long verse that rolls off the tongue. Almost all of them have a great chorus that can be sung in any manner, as well as a bridge that nicely ties it all up. It’s pretty incredible, especially when you realize that some of these bands have very clinical musicians backing them up. It’s almost like a product designed for you to break down at any moment, but again that is the problem. Christian rock music is not always the sporadic, chaotic mess that secular music seems to provide. This is what ultimately alienates a genre that strives to do anything but alienate anyone. What’s challenging to me is this mask of reverse psychology that Christian rock seems to put on itself to appeal to its non-religious listeners. In any genre, an artist’s goal is to essentially make its audience emote or think in a different way. Christian rock is no different: it wants to provoke the same different feelings and euphoria brought on by listening to Rush or Hardcore Punk. Like other genres it is looking for its audience’s heart to slop all over the floor. However, Christian rock actively seeks that emotional release. It doesn’t just want you to emote, it needs you to emote. Just by the pure fact that they are deliberately looking for a reaction to a divine figure, it makes it look like a farce. For some reason, though, secular music makes
that same emotional call suave. Mainly because secular music acts in the same manner as James Franco: pretentious towards everyone, but in the end just too cool for anyone to refuse. This distinction between Christian rock culture and secular rock culture is something that I want to call into question. Is Christian rock something that should be split from secular culture? The answer is probably yes. Just by listening to a Christian rock song, it already gives your listening experience a different atmosphere. It doesn’t really sound like anything that anyone’s heard before. If anything it sounds like everything that anyone has already heard before. Christian rock does not offer any advancement of music in a secular view. Again, the aesthetic of Christian rock exploits certain formulas of songs so that one can easily emote. It doesn’t offer up anything groundbreaking. I’ve never really heard a Christian rock band reshaping the formula of modern rock. Rationally, it can also be said that Christian rock is not necessary its own art, but rather just a strong appendage that supports the ideas and emotions brought on by serving a particular institution. Despite these reasons, I can’t accept that Christian rock should be frowned upon or have its legitimacy questioned, because I found something extremely quaint observing these bands: at the local level, Christian rock bands are fundamentally the most DIY people performing music. These people loosely gather in a certain space, practice on the side at the most optimal time, and carry their own instruments. These local bands al-
ways create time and devotion to play, basically, a live show every week for other people. Shockingly, church bands could be quite punk rock, as punk rock might not stray far off from reflecting the most ideal view of the ancient Christians: a small community trying to change public thought and teach true acceptance for all people. I guess I could offer up something to end upon. I go to a certain church every Sunday. I’m not really a Christian by any means, I merely go just to tell my mom that I went without feeling guilty. The odd thing is, though, while I doze off to the droning sermons and I barely have anything to give for the collection plate, I truly get excited for the music. When their band plays it just feels so bare and raw. I don’t necessarily agree with the lyrics as an agnostic myself, but the delivery of these lyrics makes you feel something. I do release myself with songs about Jesus, not truly, but with a layer of emotional saran wrap around it. Yet to many others, they feel something even more than what I already do. Every Sunday there are people out there raising their arms up in the sky and putting their hands on their hearts, and living. Living the celebration of now. Celebrating with full hearts that they feel renewed because of an action of a deity that might not exist. So when the bass slides up and the drums hit hard, what I want to know is this: If people feel cathartic at any point in their lives, does it really matter if it’s Christian or not?
The Problem with
Azealia Banks (And Society in General)
by Mat t K an e
I used to believe that Azealia Banks was going to be a superstar on the level of Beyoncé or Lady Gaga. I’m not so sure of that anymore. The 21-year-old rapper from Harlem had a lot of potential from the start of her career, when she released “212” in May 2011. The song’s mixture of hip hop and dance music made it an immediate online hit. Pitchfork called it “jaw-slackening”, and its music video has racked up almost 50 million views on Youtube. She’s put out more music since then, including her highly acclaimed mixtape, “Fantasea”. She even signed with Interscope Records last year and joined the roster of icons such as Lady Gaga, Eminem, Madonna, etc. It’s not hard to tell that she had everything going for her, and I still believe that she can be incredibly successful and turn the music industry on its head… …if she doesn’t alienate everyone with her Twitter page, that is.
Take a look at her Twitter feed sometime and you’ll notice that the majority of her tweets are criticizing someone one else, whether they’re an up and coming artist or an established act. In her defense, the majority of her Twitter feuds are instigated by another person. When The Stone Roses tried to sabotage her set at a music festival in Australia by soundchecking when she was on stage, Banks responded on Twitter by calling them “A bunch of old white men trying to bully a young black girl. She later continued “F**k those old
saggy white n****s stone roses. I wish them nothing but excrement and death.” Crude as her tweets might be, the woman has a point. Many men have criticized her for being so outspoken and playing into this angry black girl stereotype. Fellow Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky even suggested she “cool it with the beefing”. The thing is, as a young black woman trying to break into an incredibly sexist industry, she has no choice but to stand up for herself when faced with misogyny and/or racism. “That’s b***h sh**. I’m a man. You ain’t got no business addressing me. Get your man to address me. You got a man, get him
to address me, and he and I can speak on it,” said rapper T.I. T.I.’s suggestion that Banks should not argue with him because she is a woman is appalling, quite frankly. It’s an issue that is slowly being addressed. Take a look at the Emerson Confessionals page, for instance, and you’ll see that more and more women are coming forward to talk about problems related to misogyny, whether it is cat-calling or sexual assault. Society needs more artists like Banks
who are outspoken enough and will talk about these kinds of issues and call out misogyny and racism when they see it. That’s what makes her artistry refreshing. Unlike other cookie-cutter pop stars in the music industry, she addresses her experiences of being both a woman and being black in her music, such as when she talks about interracial dating in her song “Liquorice”. The problem with Banks is that many of her tweets tell a story that is completely separate from her work.
On January 5th, 2013, Banks caused controversy when she tweeted to Perez Hilton that he was a “messy faggot” after he had previously called her “pathetic” and “attention-seeking”. She was right to call him out on his hypocrisy, but it’s her word choice that concerns me. While I have been somewhat desensitized to hearing the word “faggot”, I still don’t think it’s okay to use that word given its context. It bothers me that she appropriates gay culture and imagery in her work, then turns around and insults the same community that helped make her famous. What bothered me more than that, however, was her attempt to redefine the word. She explained on Twitter that in her mind, the word “faggot” does not mean a homosexual man, but rather a man who is acting like a woman. To me, this explanation was even more offensive because she is still using the word in a negative context by saying that it’s not okay for a man to act like a woman. Not only is she reinforcing traditional gender roles, but she is saying that the cattiness of Hilton’s behavior is something only women have, which isn’t the case. I believe that Azealia has an incredible amount of talent and skill, and I believe in her work as a rapper and musician. I believe that she has to potential to change society for the better. The more I look at her Twitter, however, the more I can’t stand her as a person. I can’t tell if she’s just inarticulate or if she really believes in the opinions she expresses on Twitter. Regardless of the answer, she’s been burning a lot of bridges. I fear for what happens to her career if she burns too many. 19
T-shirts by Chri stop he r G avi n
M usic is evolutionary. It changes to reflect the times, different people, opinions and thoughts yet, at the same time, it doesn’t. Music has been and always will be the voice of our dreams and the soundtrack to our despair. Take an iconic album like Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, a personal favorite. The Boss’ surging, adolescent spirit rips through his poetry, documenting the life of a beach bum who has nothing more than a guitar, a car, a girl and a bit of hope in his back pocket. Someone once wrote in Rolling Stone that Springsteen’s moaning, groaning and screaming in “Jungleland,” the album’s epic finale, is the true spirit and the very definition of rock and roll itself. The album cover for the 1975 LP-prominently displaying Springsteen leaning on his late 20
friend and band mate, Clarence Clemons, has been plastered across fans’ t-shirts for decades now. The image has become as iconic as Springsteen’s melodies and stirs up a feeling of solidarity, friendship and confidence. The small hint of rebellion against the world hidden within the album’s tracks is perhaps reminiscent of early rock like Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis and is also consistent with bands like Nirvana and the punk rock genre and even in the modern counter-culture shift to independent and alternative music. The point here is that rock and roll is full of tradition. The genre has always managed to boil up
the rebel within our bones to the very surface every time we put those headphones on. Besides the music though, tradition lies in album artwork and even t-shirt designs. For example, take the classic tongue image The Rolling Stones have been using since 1971. T-shirts with the iconic mouth have been on sale in mall kiosks for years. You know what it means when you see it. You know it is an advertisement for The Stones. The same goes for Led Zeppelin’s 1977’s North American Tour t-shirt with what appears to be an angel of some sort on the front or Nirvana’s smiley face or The
Ramones’ mock presidential seal. The list goes on. Looking at more modern acts, one might not be able to get the same reaction. The Black Keys have t-shirts that range from simply displaying their name and their hometown to designs with images that don’t have any relation to the group’s music or concept; these shirts are puns. Maybe in time these kinds of shirts will come to be as famous as the classics. Of course there are also the traditional tour shirts that state the band’s name and list the show dates and locations on their backs, like Mumford and Sons’ design that was used last summer for their United States “stop over” events. Everyone from Springsteen to Brad Paisley has one of these kinds of t-shirts. It might be hard to accurately express what the messages of these shirts are though. T-shirts are a symbol of pop culture across the board from TV shows to random sarcastic phrases and bad puns. In the music spectrum, t-shirts are conceptual. The angel that has his arms thrown up in the air on the Led Zeppelin tour shirt seems to have found new freedom. He is rejoicing, maybe because of the heavy blues Zeppelin was banging out. The band also used a picture of
the Hindenburg explosion on the cover of its first album, Led Zeppelin I, and on a different tour shirt, perhaps suggesting the explosiveness of the music; the hard-hitting, revamped old blues riffs and John Bonham’s muscles pounding away at the drum kit while Robert Plant looses himself in a chorus of feminine-like shrills. It’s brilliant. The Ramones made an anti-political statement with their personalized presidential seal. The white lettering set on the black shirt continues to make a symbol in the punk scene as a classic image. It’s hard to say the same about newer shirts. Mumford and Sons utilizes warm, tan and glowing colors-parallel to their acoustic sound. The Black Keys use vintage-style lettering that somehow encompasses the mojo their records put out. Jackson Birnbaum, a senior who has bought band t-shirts in the past, said there needs to be more time for newer bands’ designs to become classic. “One of the interesting things is that I don’t think those images were as instantly iconic as we think. I think it took at a lot of time,” the film production major said. “If you look old Stones shirts they all were not just that design; that just happened to be
the one that became iconic. So I think it’s too early right now to say if anything from our generation will reach that level of [being iconic].” Tyler Catanella, a senior theater education major, also said that time and the amount of material an artist has are key factors in determining how recognizable a design or band symbol is to music lovers. “I don’t think like Nikki Minaj has been around long enough to be like ‘Oh that’s the Nikki Minaj symbol,’” he said. “I think because of [classic rock bands having] so much material and [being] known for their tours; there’s a huge following on that so when people see those logos it’s like, ‘Oh that’s from [that band].’” The past meets the present however in the sense that t-shirts are still a medium for messages musicians are trying to get across about their own art or the world as a whole. This is besides the point that most acts have those tour t-shirts with all the shows listed on the back. In general, things are not that different and maybe the fleeting years of the classic rock days are not as far away as we think. So, what role do t-shirts play today? Well, in a digital, iTunes age, album artwork is on the way out
unfortunately. The concept album is under attack. Albums are under attack. Records used to be an experience visually and audibly. Artwork would be a companion to the music. T-shirts are the only aspect that still fully carries out this idea of a collective art effort; that is, music paralleling conceptual designs. Catanella said he thinks iTunes and the digital world play a large role in what designs are used by artists. “I think a lot of the design now has to do with what will look good on the web; like what will look good on iTunes or what will look good on Bandcamp,” Catanella said.
Birnbaum also said the shirts’ designs are not entirely similar to album artwork. “I think that unlike album art, you have a great amount of versatility,” he said. “In general, I’m thinking of the last show I went to, each band had like seven or eight different t-shirt designs. So I think in some ways, it can replace [album artwork].” Unfortunately, t-shirts are not cheap, nor is merchandise in general. It seems like most shirts go for at least $20 on average; most likely more towards $25. Again, we can probably blame the digital age since artists are making less with $1 singles and the option for the public to pick out what songs
it wants from each album instead of having to splurge on the complete record for a whopping $15. It seems like this is here to stay at this point too. Once again, the music industry has evolved. Tshirts are a part of rock and roll tradition. Their designs advance the music while also giving fans something they can take home after the best show of their lives. However, modern t-shirts seem to not hit that same iconic mark that was once the standard for bands decades ago. But, that is to be expected. What really matters is the music, the ideology that lyrics preach to us and the rhythms that stir our souls.
cents Road Trip Radio Allison “Truj” Trujillo
The first thing my suitemates and I asked when we planned our spring break road trip to South Carolina was, “Will there be a place to plug in an iPod in the car?” When there wasn’t, it seemed the next 2,000 miles would be grim and music-less unless we resorted to the terrors of multiregional, ever-changing radio. I will be the first person to admit, even with the huge and thriving radio scene at Emerson, I’m not a regular radio listener. I occasionally listen to WECB or WERS, but, for the most part when I want to listen to music, I have an artist, album, or song in mind. For that, I will go to Spotify or iTunes and listen to exactly what I want, rather than listen to the radio, where somebody else chooses for me. But that’s the problem for most of us, right? The vast majority of us—people in our 20’s—did not grow up listening to the radio like
our parents did. Where their only options were radio or vinyl, modern listeners have immediate access to any song imaginable with a few clicks or touches. We have Grooveshark, iTunes, YouTube, and countless other vehicles for listening to exactly what song we want, whenever we want. I’ll also admit, however, there’s something cathartic about listening to the radio. You’re never sure what you’re going to hear next, unlike listening to an iPod on shuffle. And all of the songs are picked by real humans, unlike Pandora or Slacker, where your musical taste is analyzed formulaically by a program to decide what you want to listen to (admission: I am afraid of total robot takeover). When I learned that there was no iPod cable, I got a small amount of pleasure thinking I would be able to listen to new music on the 1,015mile stretch between Boston and
South Carolina. I looked forward to widening my musical horizons past my own iTunes library. The reality was pretty depressing. Do you know that feeling where you’ve heard T Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” so many times that you can recite the lyrics backwards while also cleaning your own self-hatred-induced vomit from the car floor? Yeah, I couldn’t say that either until spring break. But inevitably, it happened. As we went down I-95, it seemed that every radio station we turned to was playing that song at alarming intervals. Like, at least once every hour. Usually more. Why is this? A quick internet search shows, from Boston to Georgia, there are exactly 512 radio stations we could have tuned into over the course of our trip. Is it even possible that there are so many stations with exactly the same playlists? 23
The answer is yes. On I-95’s website (yes, this is a thing) they list all of the radio stations available near major cities, and in each of these places, at least one station was dedicated solely to Top 40 hits. Even more depressing, there were several cities where there were three or four stations devoted to Top 40 hits. This means that if one station is done playing the top chart for the hour and you still want to hear “I Knew You Were Trouble” a second or third time, you’ve got a fighting chance on any of the three other stations! It was downright frightening to see the lack of stations playing other music. It’s not even a question of being picky—just glancing at the list of available radio stations down I-95 shows there is a total deficit in the number of stations dedicated to even broad genres like rock or classic rock. Most stations are labeled “Adult Contemporary,” a guise for “Another Station That Plays The Same Garbage You’ve Been Listening To For The Past Four Hours.” What are you to do if you want something more nuanced? “People play Top 40 music, and they can make a lot of money off it,” Steve Cameron, Radio ’15 and host of the WERS show “The Left End” and WECB show “In Trash We Trust,” says. “Straight-up commercial radio, you have a lot of record company lobbies telling them what to play, or offering them things to play. If that’s your business model, it works out really well—the record companies are happy, and your business does really well.” Cameron will be the first to admit, however, that a profit margin isn’t 24
what he finds valuable in radio. It’s not even just about playing cool, fresh music. “Ideally, good radio fosters a sense of community as well,” he says. While anyone can just look up songs or turn on Pandora, one can’t fake the sense of community that comes from independent radio stations. “It’s not economically sound to have an independent radio station anymore,” he says. “Especially because radio is struggling as an industry. Even if a station is more alternative to begin with, they’ll start to cut more corners to keep their business afloat. It’s hard for radio stations right now.” That’s why many stations now take up Top 40 hits—if staying afloat is a station’s objective, there’s really not much else they can do than play music that appeals to the lowest common denominator to increase ratings and stay in business. However, Cameron also stresses that all hope is not lost. “As desolate as the overall market looks, there are people doing really cool things on a small scale,” he says. “They’re the ones scrambling to keep their stations up and running. It sucks, but they’re still plugging away.” Cameron says that the best thing to do, even if you’re simply driving through a place, is to keep searching. “You have to dig for them, but they’re there,” he says. If you’ve got an interstate in front of you and want to jam out to
some good radio, the only advice one can possibly give is to keep looking for the good stuff. The solution is not an iPod cable; there are hardworking artists out there doing really meaningful work, and all you have to do is look for it. Hit the freaking “search” button as much as you can and see what comes up. If you’re open to other genres of music, you’ll probably end up finding a station that’s good (especially compared to mass-marketed pop music). Hang in there. You’ve got many miles to go, and you really shouldn’t kill the people you’re traveling with to the sound of Adele in the background if you can help it. As Cameron says, stay optimistic even if it all looks bleak. “If you’re looking on any major news outlet, and they’re talking about the state of media, they’re looking at it from a wide angle, so of course it’s going to be depressing,” Cameron says. “But if you go outside your door and meet people and go do new things, there’s a lot to be pretty stoked about [regarding] independent artistic movements. There’s a lot of good stuff out there. Go out and look.”
All Together Now How Music Unites Us in More Ways than One by alexander “z” hayes
Music’s ability to bring people together is almost unparalleled. Few things in the world are as transcendent of cultural barriers as music and what it expresses. For that matter, what is more ubiquitous in the knowable universe than matter being transformed by energy? On one level at least, that’s exactly what music is. But as I’ve implied in past articles, I believe that music manifests its power in realms that are unintelligible even to us. In addition to being one of the most human humans I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting, my friend Ryan is one of my all-time favorite people to talk to about all things musical and metaphysical. He believes in the power of music as not only a tool for expression, but for communication. He believes in music as a mover for social change, and a movement of physical and transcendental forces in the universe. As he puts it: [Music is] like the moment energetic rippling starts to happen. There are bound to be forms attracted to it like you see in the ocean, or even the earth itself. A concentration, or pulse, or harmony, is what we’re all involved in.
He goes on to explain: To exist, to be, is to be in a vibrational state… Like if you’ve been hearing a drone your whole life… so a tree has a tone as I have a tone, just being. Likewise, the summation of the planet has a drone and the light of the stars through space has a pulse. So when we make [this] more apparent, and have, say, a festival where a mass of people join to be subjected to the same vibrations, this is just a more overt and literal way of addressing the totality of the transcendence that is ongoing.”
In somewhat of a variance-agreement with Ryan’s thinking, I see music’s transcendental significance and physical presence as two sides of the same coin. The matter moved by the physical waves compresses when the wave passes through it, bringing things temporarily together before expanding back to equilibrium. Similarly, it seems apparent based on music’s noted social, mental, and emotional affects, that beautiful yet unseen tonal tapestries weave us closer together in both being and essence for as long as the vibrations run through us. After they pass, however, we
often—like the air molecules—return to equilibrium. Some people believe that we could prolong (or even indefinitely sustain) this musicosmic relationship we have with each other and the earth itself. Some Native American cultures believe in chanting as a literal form of harmonizing with nature. This makes sense to me, in theory at least. I think that the potential of the human mind and soul to know itself, and the universe it functions as part of, is substantial. If each of us could devote the time and energy to learn how to listen for, or otherwise experience the sensations of these vibrations, it seems reasonable to me that we could literally become more in tune inner-personally, interpersonally, and universally. Despite the fact of this potentiality, in actuality only a small portion of people will probably be fortunate enough to attain such inner/outer knowledge. For the vast majority of us who may never hear all the colors and textures of the world’s orchestra, we can still take comfort in the fact that we play a part in it. Also, simply appreciating, listening to, and experiencing music on a regular basis in a pretty good start to finding our strongest resonating harmony. 25
Preach the Blues By Justin Rogers
Birth, school, work, death: that old mantra. You’ve heard it as “life’s a bitch, and then you die.” It’s a load of bull, of course, since you get out of life what you put into it, but there’s always a part of you that believes it. When you start reflecting on mortality, if you’re a glass-half-empty kind of person, you’ll end up narrowing it down like that fairly frequently. It’s not a pleasant thought process. But hey, it happens. Some days you wake up, you feel awful, you don’t want to move. Why do you feel that way? Maybe you’ve been overworked. Maybe you’ve got an awful hangover. Maybe your girlfriend dumped you. Maybe you just didn’t get laid last night, despite flirting with this one chick for two hours (in which case, stop being petty, guy). I know I think it at least twice a week, and so does anyone who has ever played the blues. So, you say? They’re common themes. Aren’t pretty much all songs about sex, when you take them down to their bare bones? You’re not entirely wrong, but there’s something about the blues that transcends those universal themes. The blues is more pure. It took me a while to realize this, but after a certain point in time, you hit an age where all those lyr-
ics about heartbreak, about days at work that are hours too long, about women walking out and never returning, hit you a little harder than before. The blues is direct: there’s complete honesty in the lines being delivered, and nothing extraneous to complicate it. It’s also musically direct. The blues is a very limited format: by definition, there are only really two or three different chord progressions for a blues song. Repetition is usually a huge component, and songs don’t really have verses or choruses. There are hooks, sometimes lyrically, but most often musically; other than these hooks, there really isn’t much to the blues. If you’ve heard one song, you’ve heard them all. So what’s the appeal? What has kept blues music alive, and why do people still listen today? Because of the honesty. There’s no messing around. It’s music that means something deeper; it comes from a place of truth that everyone can identify with. Blues musicians are able to tap into this primal feeling, and it keeps the genre enduringly popular. It doesn’t hurt that some are virtuoso players. There’s a popular story that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil for his guitar-slinging abilities, and through
listening to his small but classic volume of work, I’ve decided it’s not entirely out of the question. Not because he’s the greatest guitarist of all time; he isn’t. It’s the tortured soul that comes through in his music. When he sings “Hellhound On My Trail,” his conviction makes it sound not-at-all metaphorical. Johnson isn’t the only big name in blues, but he’s probably the biggest. Johnson was one of the preeminent delta blues musicians, the genre that essentially created the blues. Of course, delta blues didn’t come out of nowhere: it was strongly influenced by spirituals and work songs. There’s a deep cultural identity of oppression that the blues spring from. Blues takes that history and transposes it to worries about women and having enough money to get by. There were many other delta blues musicians, but none ever achieved the prominence or gathered the legacy that Johnson acquired after his death. Son House was one of them, and is easily my favorite blues artist. Son House was an incredibly proficient guitar player (I think he’s better at it than Johnson, but I seem to be the only one with that opinion), but his voice, as with most blues musicians, is instrumental to his
music. It’s deep and resonant, and his words are often difficult to decipher through the accent, but I’ve rarely heard a voice so powerful on a sonic level. Delta blues is characterized by its simplicity and its instrumentation. Delta blues musicians stick to their beaten up acoustic guitars and some harmonicas, if they’re really fancy. Sometimes not even that: they might echo their work song roots and rely solely on the singer’s voice. It’s sparse and often hauntingly beautiful. Chicago blues is different. It features full bands—guitarists, drummers, bassists, frequently pianists—and often electric instruments. This is the style of blues that is probably most commonly thought of when the blues is mentioned. All the standard blues progressions originated from Chicago blues. Chicago blues took the soul of delta blues and the lyric schemes common among the delta blues, and smoothed them out, combined it with the influence of jazz. The importance of the singer’s passion remained the same, though: Chicago blues is just as reliant on vocal power as the delta blues. B.B. King, perhaps the most famous blues musician of all time, plays Chicago blues. Blues has evolved greatly since then, and its influence on countless other genres is inarguable. Why does it resonate so much with us? Is it simply because of its universality? I think that’s to be a big component of it, but that can’t be all of it. No, blues endures be-
cause it gets to the heart of something deep within us, something natural and inescapable. We all have our off days, and blues shows us that you can transfer that pain and ugliness into something positive: art. It’s comforting, and sometimes we need that reminder.
Robert Johnson, studio portrait circa 1935.
My Chemical Romance
A Dozen Years of Passion by maria spiridigliozzi
We all had our own reactions to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Adults wanted answers and demanded justice. Children sat around confused, hoping they wouldn’t be in the next building that could go down. But, one person, one confused, depressed person had a different reaction. On September 11, 2001 Gerard Way stood on a ferry from New Jersey to his job in Manhattan, and watched the bodies fall. He was then stuck in a passionless job, clutching his art school degree, and fighting his depression. After work that day Way went home and wrote “Skylines and Turnstiles” the first My Chemical Romance song. September 11th lit the fuse that eventually lit the bomb that would blow the band (which was still just a concept after the first song) sky high. At the same time the other band members were floating around the New Jersey punk and hardcore scene waiting to be pulled into Way’s web. His plan was simple, make a band to save his life. The beginning wasn’t about a group 28
of bullied youths, who wanted to shout in anger. From the start My Chemical Romance were meant to save lives, as corny as it sounds. The band was always the core four members, Gerard Way vocalist, lyricist, leader of the band; Mikey Way, bassist, younger brother of Gerard; Frank Lero, rhythm guitarist, resident punk; and Ray Toro, lead guitarist, described by others as the “quiet genius.” Upon first hearing My Chemical
Romance there are many possible reactions someone could have. However, for a small percentage of the population, that first listen opened up a new world, which was the point of the band. These fans, (dubbed the MCRmy) found something more than music in these lyrics and chord progressions. They found something to
relate to, something to grab onto, something to keep them afloat. This is what My Chemical Romance was about from 20012013. The members didn’t always vocalize that they were a band that would save your life, toward the end that siren call fell silent, but that’s what they were. Through the first and second albums, Gerard drank heavily and dabbled in cocaine until his bandmates held an intervention. My Chemical Romance: 2, Gerard Way: 0. The band released The Black Parade their third— extremely high concept— album in 2006. Gerard and his brother both struggled during the creative process. The band did it again though, pulling both Way’s out of a downward spiral toward renewed addiction. However it came at a cost, cracking the structure of the entire group in the process. With their fourth album, Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys, the band came back with a pop heavy album in bright colors and every original member married. The tone had
shifted away from angry, vengeful, and aggressive; and picked up some electronic undertones, and bright costumes. Now Gerard was writing songs dedicated to his wife (“My Way Home Is Through You” a b-side from The Black Parade) and dyed his hair bright red. But through the many incarnations of the band from Bullets to Danger Days, they managed to stayed true to their main mission as a band— helping people. They never forgot the fans, and the fans will certainly never forget them. Andy Greenwald, writer for Grantland.com, said in a blog post “I’ve never witnessed such intense fandom, before or since.” It goes back to that feeling associated with the first listen of the band. Those few listeners, who hear the band, not the lyrics, the band, are the MCRmy. The band brought out more than just excitement in people, it brought out their passion. Over the last 12 years My Chemical Romance has sacrificed their personal happiness, physical health, and possibly sanity, to bring the people what they needed. But who are they saving now? Their main fanbase has grown up from angsty 12 year olds, now they’re in their 20s, struggling with life in this chaotic real world. Most people out grow bands, they liked them at a young age, but now they’ve moved on. Perhaps that’s what happened to My Chemical Romance, a band focused on saving lives, who realized it’s time to let someone else take over. Gerard Way posted a twitlonger (a website allowing users to post 29
messages longer than 140 characters to Twitter), explaining to some degree the end of the band. Way told fans this was a conscious self destruct, that this plan had been in place from the beginning. While most bands separate because of “artistic differences,” or “addiction” My Chemical Romance chose their break up. It’s not surprising that Way had this built in “abort” button, he wore a shirt that said “Thank you for the venom” to his first show, with the saying later becoming a song on Revenge. In their tour documentary Life On The Murder Scene Way plays a song from The Black Parade which, at the time of filming, was still years away. So maybe they’re gone for now, they’ve hung up the parade jackets and ray guns. But that doesn’t mean their message, everyone deserves to be happy being themselves, and how they affected people is any less important. My Chemical Romance were musicians on their own terms, their own way, and with almost no regard for the mainstream world. So, maybe they will make a comeback some day, but you can be damn sure it won’t be on some record label, or festival, or awards show’s terms. My Chemical Romance spent 12 years playing by their own rules, they’re not about to stop just because they’ve broken up.
World Mali’s Musical Historians by Devan Nor man Despite the political strife Mali is facing as a country, the nation has one of the longest and richest musical traditions in the world. However, the recent uprising and dissent have cast this long-standing cultural pillar in an urgent light. After gaining independence from France in 1960, musical traditions sampled from colonial presences have melded with Malian music to create a genre that’s becoming increasingly politicized because of the present conflict. A coup d’état was initiated by mutinying Malian soldiers in 2012. Now, the once-peaceful democratic structure is overrun by a combination of general crime, military uprising, and even 34
attempted secession by the arid North. Islamist and French forces are in constant conflict, especially in the mostly empty northern areas. Amidst unpopulated desert and mountains, the battle is far from over and no satisfying resolution graces the horizon. Mali’s literary tradition is largely oral, setting the stage for music to become an integral part of the country’s cultural narrative. In fact, certain people have been designated musical historians since birth to keep the country’s history alive. According to the BBC World Service page on Mali, these individuals are called djeli. Mali still has a caste system of sorts and djeli are always of lower
castes, a trend that was broken by beloved pop singer Salif Keita. Keita was born with albinism and blood ties to the founder of the Malian Empire. Although his albinism made him a bit of an anomaly, his ancestry still ranked him highly in the social order. However, he dissented and went on to have a successful career touring the world and performing afro-pop music. His sound is a soothing mix of traditional African chords and Western pop sensibility. Most of his lyrics deal with the search for a racial identity. Keita is still popular and producing beautiful music, though the days of pop delivering messages have arguably past. More
recently, there’s 33-year-old rapper Amkoullel who, according to an NPR article by Tamansin Ford, “sings about self-image, immigration, and respect.” He’s one of the most promising individuals on the Malian rap scene, a surprisingly burgeoning subculture. Unable to observe his country’s turmoil and censorship anymore (any lyrics other than Quranic verses were banned in the North in 2012), Amkoullel helped form a group called Plus Jamais Ça. Plus jamais ça means “never again,” an apt declaration. His song “S.O.S” contains verses claiming a state of complete emergency in Mali. As stated in the Baltimore City Paper, “Perhaps because it was isolated by poverty, the desert, and its landlocked geography, Mali has retained more of the pre-slave-trade character of West African music than any of its neighbors.” In another state of oppression, Amkoullel channels his cultural history and frustration through his music. The track has been banned in the country’s capital, which indicates the scale
of waves he is making through the social exchange of music. Amkoullel is still performing toward the South, but militants in the North immediately exercised their power by banning music. Their first target was the Festival in the Desert, an annual event held near Timbuktu since 2001. The festival highlights local traditional Tuareg music along with international artists from around
the world. Postponed for 2013, plans are already in motion to hold the festival next year provided the conflict resolves. The population of Mali is defined by more than any current political strife. Those who do not wish to lose ties to the land continue a culturally and musically rich tradition (with a new, hip hop twist), looking toward a better future.
Return of Da Funk? by Cynthia Ayala
Is Daft Punk coming back harder, better, faster and stronger? Well, let’s hope so. Daft Punk entered the house in 1994 with their first album The New Wave. The group was formed by Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, two French nationals who met at Lycée Carnot, a secondary school in Paris. Together they discovered their passion for mixing and designing music, and entered into the industry under the name ‘Darlin.’ Their music was largely influenced by the Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones. Upon the group disbandment, i. e. their comrade leaving, the pair stuck together to form Daft Punk, and begun experimenting with drum machines and synthesizers.
Drum machines are electronic musical instrument designed to imitate the sound of drums or other percussion instruments. More modern drum machines are sequencers with a sample playback or synthesizer component, specializing in the reproduction of drum timbres. Depending on the model, the synthesizer includes many features with the capabilities to produce unique sounds and drum beats. Synthesizers are electronic instruments, capable of producing a wide range of sounds. Synthesizers may imitate other instruments (“imitative synthesis”) or generate new timbres. Both machines are prominent in the music style of Daft Punk. Daft Punk officially deputed in 1997, with their album Home-
work. It was highly regarded by critics as an innovative combination of techno, house, acid house (a sub-genre of house music that emphasizes a repetitive, hypnotic, and trance-like style, often with samples or spoken lines instead of lyrics) and electro styles. “Around the World,” their most famous song off this album, exhibits the repetition of the song title throughout the piece with the beat of drums and various timbres in the 7 minute track. Discovery, their next album, was finally released in 2001 after 2 years of production. The core style of the album took a different approach than the previous. Discovery took on a distinctly “synthpop” style, a genre of music where the synthesizer is the dom-
inant instrument. This album carries three of Daft Punk’s more famous songs, “One More Time,” “Digital Love,” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”. The album rose on the charts around the world, hitting number 2 in the UK and generated a new generation of fans. In later years, 2009, the album itself became one of Zane Lowe’s Masterpieces on BBC Radio 1. Three years later, Human After All¸ their third and last full album was released in 2005. Unlike the previous two albums, this album generated mixed reviews due to the rushed 6-week recording. The tracks incorporated minimalism and rock music to their native French House music. It was a long while, 4 sad years, before they bounced back from a lack of sales. In 2010, they were given a chance to do a soundtrack for Tron: Legacy. For the soundtrack they collaborated with Joseph Trapanese (a composer, arranger, and producer of music for films,
television, theater and concerts) for two-years, working on the score. The tracks break out of the mix of most house music, mixing it with orchestral works that many of their fans already recognize. Their change in style highlights many of their talents. The delve into their robotic alter-ego, featured in the masks and light shows they have at their performances. They stray from what most people consider “typical” house, or the simple repetition of beats. Throughout the years, they experiment with what their talents and breach the walls of typical house to incorporate other genres into their music (i.e. orchestral, punk rock, etc.). It’s been a long wait for Daft Punk fans, 8 long years since Human After All, and 3 years since Tron: Legacy to see if Daft Punk would return to the world of music. For months, there were many sneaking suspicions online by fans and critics that they would return, but the wait is over.
On February 26, 2013 Daft Punk announced that they would indeed be returning. There is deliberation of the music style they will be incorporating into their music. Through the years, each soundtrack is distinct and different, making each album unique to the fans, bringing something new and inventive to the table. That’s a lot to live up to; but for this album, which has yet to be given a title, the rumor is that they are going to bring back disco. These speculation are mainly due to the 15 second TV commercial released on March 4th 2013. The music in the clip features the types of timbres that were common in the 70’s during the disco era, incorporating Daft Punk’s distinctive vocoder. Daft Punk has reported that they will be releasing their new album, Random Access Memories, on May 20th 2013, and it is available for pre-order now on Amazon.com. Are you excited yet?
Reviews Jim James
Regions of light and sound of god
By Thaddeus Bouska Regions of Light and Sound of God, released February 2013, is Jim James’s first solo album – well at least technically it is. Jim James is the frontman for psychedelic rock band, My Morning Jacket as well as a member of folk super-group, Monsters of Folk. I say that it is only technically his first solo album, as James has previously released two albums, one consisting of covers and the other a tribute album played with other musicians – but neither of these have any of James’s original music. So where it really counts, this is the first set of original songs that James has put out. This is a really, really, really fucking good album. Jim James, who also goes by Yim Yames, was
inspired during this album’s creation by Lynd Ward’s 1929 woodcut novel God’s Man – in fact the title was derived from the book. Excitingly enough, a picture from the novel should be below this sentence! The album is superbly made – layers of well crafted instrumentation build the aforementioned sound landscape. We hear our way through Jim James’s weird world filled with distrust, discovery, love, honesty, and rebirth. The album plays like a funky sonic landscape, the scene being set up by the song, “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.).” This song takes a minute to warm up, but when it gets there it is hauntingly beautiful. I love every song, but I love
“State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)” the most. Something in the breakdown or something in James’s chanting, takes me deep into this song. Jim James is famous for his angelic voice (and beard) and here he deploys it well. He sings in a high register, and while at first it seems a bit weird, it becomes a beautiful thing to behold. The bass in the song anchors his voice well and by the time the song is over you’re in the perfect place for what comes next. I’m also in love with the song “A New Life” and for a real treat check out its music video. It involves buffalo heads and is grounded firmly in the absurdist world that this album lives in. “A New Life” is also probably the
song on the album most likely to become a single, as it has a bit in common with the folk rocky wave that is rocking pop music these days. “Know ‘Til Now” and “All is Forgiven” are tied for number three on my list of favorites on the album. There’s a haunting element to both of these songs. “Know ‘Til Now” is somewhat happy on the outside, existing in a majorish key, but there’s deeper darkness to it. “All is Forgiven” opens with a creepy saxophone hook that is reminiscent of music from a spy movie set in the Middle East. It’s a song about the Lord and forgiveness, an inherently haunting topic. These two songs showcase the side of Jim James’s voice that is more sinister than the joy of “A New Life” and the funkyness of the album’s beginning. The later we get into the album, the more I am reminded of psychedelic folky music from the late 1960’s and the 1970’s. The song
“God’s Love to Deliver” is the best example of this. It sounds like the Beatles, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young sat down with the Eric Judy (the bassist and double-bass player for Modest Mouse) and played a series of songs for a majestic bearded angel.
the universe, and the smallness of our hearts. He does this really well, and every time I listen to this album I become more convinced it may be a new favorite of mine. If you like My Morning Jacket or Monsters of Folk at all, you’ll love this album. If you like Mumford and Sons and are thirsting for less banjo and more weird, you’ll love this album. If you want a slightly more absurd and much less angry version of Modest Mouse sung with a high voice, you’ll love this album. If you want to go on a sonic adventure, you’ll love this album. If you like the Beatles post-LSD, you’ll love this album. If you listen to WERS, guess what? You’ll love this album.
This album, at least to me, is all about struggling to make sense and find a place in modern society. Others may disagree, but that seems to be the common line in my opinion. Jim James is grappling with God, prayer, the vastness of
by jasminne young
It’s been five years, but on March 12th, The Virgins finally released their second full-length album. Following their self-titled début, The Virgins, their new album, Strike Gently has a more romantic tone to it. Full of soft power chords and passionate croons from lead vocalist, Donald Cummings, Strike Gently is definitely taking The Virgins in a new direction. What distinctly separates this album from the first is its difference in delivery. Appropriately named, Strike Gently is considerably more down-tempo than The Virgins, but it still delivers the same ballad-style vocals while including grungy, yet clean guitar riffs. As opposed to the pop-punk style that we’re used to hearing, many songs from Strike Gently take a more relaxed, almost somber tone. Themes of loneliness and bittersweet love become evident in songs like “Impressions of You” as Cummings’ lyrics of “If I never see you again/ At least we have that summer” can be heard over the melodies.
Something that really makes Strike Gently stand out from other indie-rock albums is The Virgins’ signature reverbed, slightly static sound and simplistic choruses. Channeling post-punk 80’s bands like The Smiths, Strike
Gently takes on a nostalgic, longing feeling. “Flashbacks, Memories & Dreams,” the previously released single off the album, is a wonderful combination of music and lyrics that relays what the album has in store. Although it may not be life changing or extremely original, the album is definitely a memorable indie-rock session. The one
room recording process can make you feel like you’re in the studio as the band is recording. The choruses are likely to get stuck in your head, and Cummings’ voice is haunting. Overall, Strike Gently is the perfect album for your next road trip or next concert experience. Since the first album, this quartet of New York City natives has been sporadically touring the globe, performing songs from their first album while writing for the next. They went back into the studio three years ago to begin the slow process of completing Strike Gently. After its release on March 12th, the band is finally ready to tour and played at TT the Bears here in Boston on April 4th.
m ay calendar of events
The Breeders Royale Boston 8:00
The Airborne Toxic Event House of Blues 7:00
Vampire Weekend Agganis Arena 7:30
!!! Sinclair 7:00
Iron and Wine Berklee Performance Center 7:00
Of Montreal Paradise 8:00
Above & Beyond feat. DJ Melee Royale
Little Boots The Sinclair 7:00
Rihanna and A$AP Rocky TD Garden 7:30
Reliant K Royale 7:00
Yeah Yeah Yeahs House of Blues 7:00
Crystal Castles House of Blues 7:00
Fall Out Boy House of Blues 7:00
18 Alkaline Trio House of Blues 5:30
Ghostface Killah Wilbur Theatre 8:30
P l ay l i s t Boston Strong Boston is our home away from home. We get on the screeching and packed T in the morning to get to school. We push through brittle winters because one day we’ll be able to spend nice days in the Common or walk along the Esplanade. On the weekends we flood to Allston for basement shows and ratty parties. This is the birthplace of American history and it’s not a big deal to see a man dressed like it’s the Revolutionary War chowing down on Boloco. And even at Emerson we understand that sports are a big deal. We love Boston. And nothing is going to change that. — Ashley Alongi and Maria Spiridigliozzi
Song: shipping up to boston Artist: dropkick murphys Album: The warrior’s code
Song: i want my city back Artist: the mighty mighty bosstones Album: A Jackknife to a swan
Song: boston Artist: augustana Album: All the Stars and Boulevards
Song: the state of massachusetts Artist: dropkick murphys Album: The Meanest of Times
Song: dirty water Artist: the standells Album: -------
Song: this is boston, not l.a. Artist: the freeze Album: This Is Boston, Not L.A.
Song: charlie on the mta Artist: the kingston trio Album: At Large Song: shot heard round the world Artist: schoolhouse rock Album: -------
Song: sweet caroline Artist: neil diamond Album: Hot August Night
Song: i’m yours boston Artist: Big d & the kids table Album: Beijing to Boston
Song: wicked little critta Artist: they might be giants Album: Mink Car
Song: For Boston Artist: Dropkick Murphys Album: Sing Loud, Sing Proud
Song: bridges, squares Artist: ted leo & the pharmacists Album: Hearts of oak
Song: more than words Artist: extreme Album: Extreme II: Pornograffiti
Song: Ladies of cambridge Artist: vampire weekend Album: Mansard Roof – Single
Five Cent Sound is a student run music magazine based out of Emerson College. It aims to give it’s readers a comprehensive guide on all thin...
Published on Sep 21, 2013
Five Cent Sound is a student run music magazine based out of Emerson College. It aims to give it’s readers a comprehensive guide on all thin...