Hayley Bupp News/Opinion Editor
rable chorus, but this does not mean the song is happy. “Lesser Things” is delightfully bitter and aggrieved. This is shown in the opening line, with the biting, “you look good, but you don’t look great.” The sarcasm can clearly be heard in the undertone of Fennell voice. The intro is paired with an almost jazzy drumbeat by Stonelake. This beat makes for a classy and just plain fun song. My personal favorite song of Barcelona’s is called “The Takers.” This song is amusing on the relationship between men
photo courtesy of discourseband.com
Barcelona is an indie-rock band from Seattle, made up of Brian Fennell; vocals and piano; Chris Bristol, guitar; and Rhett Stonelake, drums. Barcelona was accidentally created when Brian Fennell brought on the others as temporary additions to his solo-artist run on tour. But soon after, he realized that he and the band worked better together than just him alone. The underground band released their own album by creating their own record label, called NBD Music, so they could focus on writing their songs. The debut album, entitled Absolutes, was released in 2007, and is described by the band as piano-driven rock. Absolutes’ cover art features a foggy, yellow sepia city-scape. The single parking garage and the surreal feeling from the distorted color somehow resonates the actual tone of the album; a earthly and somber breakthrough, from an average boy band, Barcelona’s tracks are full of emotion and a genuine love for the music. To start off, the band immediately brings in the piano. The first track, “Falling Out Of Trees,” features a softly synthesized melody and the velvety and peaceful voice of Fennell. This track is a good example of Barcelona’s sound, with the calming singing and earnest piano, soon reinforced with swelling, and smoothly distorted guitar riffs. This song is only a simple example of the greatness of Barcelona’s lyrics; the song contains a metaphor of losing hope with falling out of trees. For example, Fennell sings, “fall out of trees into the street, all on my own,” and continues later with, “my legs are steady now, the angels warned me never to fall down.” One of the more upbeat songs, only in the rhythm, however, is “Lesser Things.” The song has a catchy beat, and a memo-
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and women, especially on that of boys who take advantage of girls. “What makes these boys fall hard, over all the girls they have fought and won?” Fennell begins. He continues accusingly, “these kings work hard and long, just to ensure that their girls don’t run.” The song is somewhat of a parody, bringing to light the seriousness of the trust too easily placed in men through the
Volume 8 Issue 5 Page 7
metaphors of kings, thieves and monsters. “What makes these monsters cry? You can see the gold reflecting in their eyes,” showcases one of the metaphors. “Oh no, nobody taught them to let go, they don’t know,” the song passionately continues, starting to reach a climax. “Why don’t you stay with me? I think you could save this beast.” The song specifically targets the notion that girls fall for “bad boys,” hoping to “save” them with the powerful vocals and lyrics of, “well, I think you can save this beast. But I’ll leave you with an empty room.” The most emotional song, by far, on the album is “Please Don’t Go.” Upon the first listen, the pure, devastatingly heart-broken mood and sound is overwhelming. A huge barrier and goal of musicians is to have their listeners experience the journey that the writers felt as they wrote the song. This song accomplishes that goal more than most ever could. The vocals are raw and intense, the piano is solemn and grave, and the strings are beautifully and heartbrokenly haunting. “If you want me to break down and give you the keys.” Brian Fennell’s voice is perfectly powerful and cracked with emotion. “I can do that but I can’t let you leave.” These lyrics are definitely the apex of the song, as the listener hears the tenderness and complex ability of the band. Barcelona has the talent to produce amusing to heart-rendering songs, somehow staying within a range of a familiar sound; all driven by piano, guitar, and strings. Barcelona has something different to offer from the indie competitors. Barcelona has a complete, well-rounded, and individual sound that should not be left unrecognized. Barcelona receives 4 out of 5 lightning bolts. Absolutes is available both on iTunes and Amazon for $7.99. You can also check out Brian Fennell’s solo album, Safety Songs for $9.90.
Afghan Star: The New American Idol Amara Thomas Staff Writer
“We are late to watch Afghan Star,” says a little boy, who is covered in dust. Thrown over his shoulder is a sack nearly as big as him. Together, he and another little boy run through the dusty plains of Afghanistan, on a race to get home to watch one of the most popular shows in Afghanistan, Afghan Star. As they run, their oversized sacks slam against their backs, slowing them down. “We’re running late,” he repeats, trying to run faster only to get tired and slow down. This is a scene from the documentary, Afghan Star. From beginnin to end, Afghan Star is amazingly filmed and directed. The documentary travels through the streets of Afghanistan and listens to what the Afghan people think about the television show. Through this documentary you are shown how one television show can have an impact on a whole country, as well as the current politics and culture in Afghanistan. Director Havana Marking follows four contestants, two men and two women, as they compete to win Afghan Star. With the same name as this documentary, the show is a spinoff of “American Idol” and the English pop culture show, “Pop Idol”. The pop culture show may seem the same as Pop Idol and American
Idol, but it is really a revolution. When under the rule of the Taliban (an Islamic political group overran in 2001), music was forbidden by law in Afghanistan. No one was allowed to play music, have musical instruments, or sing unless it was religious. If you were caught breaking these laws you received a harsh punishment. Even though the Taliban has been overrun, many political figures have the same views due to the Taliban reamaining presence and influnce on the government and political decision. They disapprove of the show and feel as if it is corrupting the minds of the Afghan people and goes against the teachings of Islam. The channel producing the show, Tolo TV, and the contestants have received threats. Even though they’re putting their lives on the line, they are having a positive impact on society by encouraging the people of Afghanistan to participate in music. The show also brings unity among the 34 provinces that were once war torn. After watching Afghan Star, I felt as If I had a better understanding of the Afghan people. We’re so alike, but at the same time very different and the documentary gave me insight on how the Afghan people are living under a strict government. It encouraged me to find out more about the current situations in Afghanistan.
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Volume 8 Issue 5 Page 6
Rick Astley Contributing writer
Film: “The Thin Red Line” directed by Terrence Malick, 1998 In lieu of “The Tree of Life,” Malicks newest film set to be released this May, I decided to review one of his classics, “The Thin Red Line,” a three-hour epic about the conflict at Guadacanal during the second World War. The story follows a group of young and inexperienced soldiers attempting to seize a key-positioned airfield that is controlled by the Japanese. Although the film features some grizzly and violent scenes, Malick manages to stay faithful to his style in capturing the beauty of the Japanese island and the life of its natives. Much like the new recruits that the film centers on, the cast features many fresh and young actors that hadn’t met the fame that they’re known for today, like Adrien Brody, John C. Reily, Jared Leto and
Miranda Otto. The film also boasts a fair amount of stars, including George Clooney, Sean Penn, John Cusack and Nick Nolte. This film is truly one of Malicks masterpieces, and it makes the hype for “The Tree of Life” all the more extravagant. Music: “The ArchAndroid” by Janelle Monae, 2010 The buzz floating around this album is all over the place: Afro-futurism, bebop jazz, female Outkast and R&B funktress. Needless to say, her range is freaking impressive. Janelle Monae approaches genres of music like a kid who can’t pick what kind of candy he wants: “I want them all!” This is evident in “The ArchAndroid;” each and every track can truly stand on its own. The songs on this album sound so wonderfully different: “Locked Inside” sounds like Lauren Hill and Santana made love while listening to Earth, Wind and Fire; “Tightrope” is a mix of ‘50s big band and The Supremes. Janelle Monae was mentored by greats like Big Boi and P Diddy, who are both obviously present in tracks like “Dance or Die” due to its bassy, mischievous and dirty sound, and “Come Alive” which sounds like The Ramones made a swing jazz track. In todays world of pseudo-talented performers like
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Lady Gaga, Rhianna and Katy Perry, who all use identical gimmicks to try to sound and look good, it’s refreshing to know that there are still kickass females that can dish out fantastic music. Literature: “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde, 1890 If you’re an angsty little teenager dealing with self-image issues and you’re starting to believe that looks are everything, this book will teach you a lesson. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” follows the story of a man who is so enamored by his own beauty that he decides to sell his soul in order to retain his good looks, but in doing so, abandons all morals and concerns for any other life than his own. The book is one huge visceral experience that continually pleases and horrifies the sense. This is the first book I’ve read in a long time that I became truly submerged in. The way that Wilde manages to completely capture the essence of all five senses is awesome and it makes for an exciting and enthralling read.
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