meet the only child by karen edith millar Growing up sibling-less is often viewed as a negative thing. The phrase ‘only child’, for some at least, tends to conjure up less than complimentary images of self-centredness and a particularly easy upbringing, arguably resulting in over indulged individuals cursed with a crippling inability to share. “No, my fine man, you cannot have a Dorito; this family sized bag is for me and me alone.” Not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything…
At least you don’t have to share that pumpkin!
Now cue the saviour to all of us lonely kids - Connecticut native, Ricky Balmaseda and his trusty loop pedal. With an inventive brand of simple yet very personal indie rock (for want of, and deserving of a much better description, believe me) he is making music under the guise of Only Child that will have similar sounding bigger acts (in more ways than one) quaking in their dogeared Vans Original Classics… I’m looking at you, Beach Fossils, Twin Shadow et al. Balmaseda himself has stated how his debut EP, Taurus, is made up of very personal music. Personal it might be, yes, but this certainly does not mean it should be any less appreciated by the officious bystander; “Fear and Flaws,” an ode to the woes of life of the average under 30 –something, is a track I’m sure most of us can particularly relate to – “Sometimes I eat pounds of junk food to abuse myself.” The standard themes of struggling relationships and subsequent heartache are 2
obviously prevalent throughout the 21 minute long EP yet are approached in a much more raw, honest way than the majority of songwriters penning work as of late. “youfuckedmeup” not only showcases intricate technical skill in terms of looping and general musicianship but lyrically, will also leave anyone who has ever had their heart broken with an ache in their chest and distinct feelings of empathy. When speaking to Balsameda about what influences his writing many of our suspicions are confirmed. “People influence my music,” verifies the 21 year old. “Every song is either about someone, about how someone thinks, or about my thoughts or feelings towards a certain person. Some of them are more specifically just really honest and important things I just can’t seem to say face-to-face to a certain individual, so they end up in the songs.” The unassuming (yet no less wonderful) nature of his songs is also commented upon: “I guess another big influence is just simplicity. In the past I was making incomprehensible electric music but now I feel more confident in saying what I actually feel without forcing it to be obscured by fake weirdness like when I was younger just because I was pretty uncomfortable and totally insecure with who I was. I’ve grown up a lot as a songwriter. Now I find it pretty easy to just say whatever is on my mind.” The aptly named “Speak” is a spoken word testament to Balsameda’s ability to quite literally speak his mind. “I’m in denial about a lot of things, today was a bad day… I wrote out all my feelings and people read them.” The track progresses in a cathartic fashion confronting the listener with all the things we so often think but are never gutsy enough to actually say; the soliloquy is almost a synecdoche for this brutally honest record as a whole. So, kudos to you, Only Child, for verbalizing our inner thoughts so eloquently for us all; you can be my brother any day. Although you do make a pretty good case for all of us only children.
this issue is brought to you by safe travels.
Single of the
To prepare for the new record coming from this week’s featured band, we’re revisiting the Vanderbuilts’ first EP, Far From Here. Our favorite track is “On an Evening Such as This.” Listen and enjoy! 4
DIES IRAE AT CRAFT CHEMISTRY by dylan j suttles The cozy boutique/art space Craft Chemistry on Syracuse’s revitalized north side was filled with an excited and energetic crowd of all ages for the opening reception of DIES IRAE – a show featuring around fifty solo and collaborative works by local artists Thomas Ward III, Heidi Josephine, and Nik Moore. A variety of beer, wine, cheese and snacks were enjoyed as the friends, family, and art appreciators viewed the paintings. All three artists shared similar subject matter - other-worldly, surreal figures - yet brought their own strong, identifiable styles. Syracuse artist Tom Ward III Owego, NY native Thomas Ward III’s paintings feature sketchy, bird faced plague doctors and other shadowy, masked forms in dusky, deep hues, who seem to have stepped out of dark dreams onto a canvas, along with occult symbolism a la the free masons and cryptic messages. The Eyes Wide Shut as seen by Ralph Steadman style menace that’s hinted at hiding behind these masks provide mystery that make the visages stay with you and require further study. Keep an eye out around town for the line of t shirts called Third Ward, featuring Tom’s designs.
Nik Moore’s works sport the defined, more controlled lines of an illustrator and tattoo artist (Moore is a tattoo artist at the Armory Square shop Scarab Body Arts), which he uses to show grotesque, sullen and sallow ogres who seem, at times, to be confounded by their own confusing, complicated surroundings. They are ghostly and occasionally bionic and imply the feeling of being challenged by the modern world. You can find Nik’s work online at www.nikmoore.com. Josephine’s moody, soft focus images suggest a dark fairytale dimension, rich with implied story and drama supported by melancholy colors painted on a variety of materials. Her characters are bleak and sad and convey Sylvia Plath-esque innocence and sorrow with their down turned, vacant eyes. Follow Heidi’s work online at constantlull.tumblr.com. Craft Chemistry is located at 745 North Salina Street, open Tuesday – Friday 1pm to 7pm and Saturday 11am to 4pm, and can be reached at 315-424-1474 and www.craftchemistry.com. DIES IRAE is a free show running until December 24th. As described on Craft Chemistry’s Facebook page, the store, known also as C2, “provides an alternative shopping experience offering goods that are unique, original, inspired by contemporary trends, and can’t be found elsewhere in the city” including a variety of art prints, greeting cards, and vintage and handmade jewelry. C2 also sports “an informal gallery wall and window featuring a local artist on a 6 week rotation. We display work that is taking a chance, edgy, experimental, and that bends reality into something that wasn’t there before.”
moths, flames, etc. by andrew mcclain The Careful Ones may be similar to Bon Iver in that they channel a similar gentle energy that could perfectly soundtrack your decision to stay awake for the sunrise on a train or bus full of sleeping people. This peaceful melancholy is not the feature of “Moths, Flames, Etc” that will garner immediate comparisons to Bon Iver, but rather their use of Justin Vernon’s distinctive falsetto. After these two features, however, the comparisons break down, because what Joshua Michael Robinson and the Careful Ones have created couldn’t be more different from the rattling lo-fi world of untuned guitars on For Emma, Forever Ago. Central Florida native Joshua Michael Robinson has released music under his own name, solo, before, but this is his first project with a band. The Careful Ones’ Tumblr suggests that the band has “many members,” though they are not listed in any of the band’s literature. Their entire online presence is well-presented, but mysterious and a bit scarce on details. The Careful Ones have made an EP that is immaculately produced. It’s clean, and it goes down easy, with a very soft pop conscience which makes it double well for easy or active listening and sets it apart from other music that sounds similar. And indeed, the vague genre of “acoustic pop,” which The Careful Ones might be lazily branded has long suffered from overproduction – gratuitous synth-string arrangements and useless chimes – but The Careful Ones make... careful use of their instruments, producing something minimal, but not skimpy. Everything is distinguishable. As far as instrumentation goes, the album sticks to clean, melodic guitar picking, an occasional banjo or piano, a few delicate string arrangements, and no percussion that sounds like a full drum kit – just bass drums and a grab-bag of unobtrusive noisemakers. The opener, “Paper Knees” is my favorite because its upbeat and immediate-sounding guitar strumming and airy banjo picking keep it from slipping too deep into the ether. It has a striding, catchy melody that captures a unique mood of optimistic melancholy. The whole EP, however, is excellent, if slightly dreamy. It is tonally rich throughout, keeping percussion relegated to a single, thunderous drum for the low end, and brushes and bells for the high end (especially on “Lake Winona”) . The beautiful “For A Moment” is mournful and ethereal, conveying a very present sadness. “Alive” is the simplest track, containing only a lilting acoustic guitar line. Each track conveys a unique and richly potent tone. The excellent finisher, “Slow Dance on Broken Glass” is cinematic and exceptionally sad, with pizzicato strings that sound a bit like Andrew Bird. Robinson’s falsetto is perfectly suited for the entire project. Excellent work, Careful Ones. Respectfully, I think you’ve earned the right not to be so careful next time. I’m excited to hear the debut album that you’ve promised is “coming soon.” 6
DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL AND HOW IT’S ALRIGHT TO STILL LOVE THE MUSIC OF YOUR PAST by tori cote Everyone had that band in middle school that they were obsessed with. Depending on what you were into, maybe it was some Bruce Springsteen or maybe it was Kelly Clarkson. For me, it was Dashboard Confessional. I’m not really sure why I was obsessed with them, but it probably had something to do with the heartfelt crooning coming out of Chris Carabba’s lips, or the lyrics that obviously applied to my life in all aspects. Either way, I loved Dashboard Confessional with all of my thirteen year old heart. Even better, my best friend at the time (who still is one of my best friends) was a gothic princess (also still is) and actually enjoyed listening to Dashboard too. We both understood the emotional turmoil Chris Carabba was singing about. As we got older and went to high school, we still listened to Dashboard. Of course we both went in different directions musically, but Dashboard was always a band we could agree to put on. I have countless memories of being on the beach, laying in the front yard while the sun was setting, and driving late nights in the car, all while Dashboard was quietly humming in the background. As a Sophmore in college, I can’t say that I haven’t really fully matured past Dashboard’s lyrics. Sure, I understand that crying about a boy isn’t going to make him like me any more than he already does, and that my summer isn’t going to be as great as a Dashboard song considering things like a job and internships exists, but I can still appreciate the emotion that is put into the lyrics. The past few years I’ve definitely strayed from listening to the band as much as I did in middle school, but when I saw them over Thanksgiving break, it’s like nothing ever changed. My gothic princess and I saw Chris Carraba play an acoustic set in Boston at the Paradise on November 20, 2011. We cried. We screamed. We held hands. I didn’t care that the man behind me was basically rubbing my back and oddly pulling my hair. In any other circumstances, this would not be acceptable, but I was too involved with the music. Chris played old songs and asked for requests, which is exactly what we wanted him to do. Even though his hits are years old by now, he still played them with a force that brought us back to the old days. That’s why I loved this concert. For me, it was sort of like looking at an old photograph. For two hours, I was taken back to the points in my life where the songs applied. Not in a sad I-miss-my-old-boyfriend-cry-cry way but in a wow-I-have-done-a-lot-with-my-life kind of way. That’s the great thing about seeing old bands that you used to love, they really take you back in time. They show you who you used to be, who you are now, and how much you have grown. I think that change is inevitable for twenty something year olds, and as we grow older it only makes sense that we change with time. Dashboard Confessional has helped me grow into who I am, like all the bands that I have and do listen to. Dashboard didn’t necessarily give me any life altering advice, but they brought me from point A to B, emotionally. I don’t care what anyone says or thinks, if a band guides you emotionally or spiritually, then they are a good band that did their jobs as musicians. Dashboard Confessional did that for me. If Slipknot did that for you, that’s okay too. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that music is meant to make people feel something. 7
an interview by the miscreant
The Vanderbuilts have been very busy. Sam Kogon, Grennan Milliken, Max Newland, Dave Riddell, and Aya Yamamoto have been hard at work, in the studio and on the stage, preparing for their forthcoming album. Here the band talks about their favorite music, how the band all came together, and shoe-less recording sessions. The Miscreant: How did you all come together as a band? Sam Kogon: I had played gypsy and klezmer music with Dave and Aya freshman year in the dorms, just for fun. Dave was actually my neighbor in the dorms, so if either one of us was playing music, we could hear it easily and knock on each others door. Sometimes we’d even play in our separate rooms and jam through the walls! Grennan and I became close friends during this time, where both of our musical abilities became known to each other. Max was introduced to me by our mutual friend Frank Hegyi, who both Max and I played with in separate bands at different times. By the time sophomore year came around, I was itching to start a group. I had recorded a solo ep during freshman year and felt like something was lacking during the entire process. I missed playing with others in a band. So, I just sent the word out to Dave, Aya, Grennan, and Max. The rest was history. TM: Does going to ESF together affect your music or how you play together? SK: It certainly affects our music. It’s because of ESF that we all know each other. Besides that, going to ESF influenced our last release, Far From Here, a lot. After taking a class called “The Global Environment,” I was left in a strange state. Feeling hopeless for man kind, I stitched to together five songs that I felt expressed every different way I felt and still feel about our society. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beauty, it’s all there. Grennan Milliken: No, going to ESF doesn’t affect our playing any more than if we went to SU or lived in Timbuktu...although living in Timbuktu would probably affect our style of music. Aya Yamamoto: It does not really affect how we play together, but it probably affects the way I play. Having a thorough education in environmental issues affects the way I think and consequently the way I interact with the world. Playing music is one way I interact with the world. TM: Did you have an idea of what instruments you wanted in the band before starting it, or did it form itself, in a way?
SK: Going into it, we all knew what instrument that each of us could play best. From there, we began experimenting with trading off instruments; Dave adding the banjo and squeeze box; etc. GM: I don’t think we ever really thought about any other instruments besides the ones we knew each of us played already, but after getting together and working with different sounds we started throwing some other stuff in there. Thanks in large part to Dave’s wide range of instruments. AY: It’s hard to say because we each have distinctly different influences. Much of the music we play together is retro-poppy, but my own influences include middle eastern, eastern european, americana, classical, avant-garde, and jewish spiritual music. TM: Who/what are your main influences collectively as a band? SK: If it isn’t apparent enough, 1960’s pop really shines through, especially on the up coming LP. We all share a profound love for The Beatles, The Kinks, and The Zombies. We all have our own eclectic tastes and time periods. Newer bands that we like include Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Foo Fighters, Wilco, and The Smashing Pumpkins. GM: As a band I think some of our first couple of songs were most influenced by 60s pop type stuff, but I think we have really gone into another direction in terms of influence with every individual’s personal influences coming out more in the newer music. TM: How would you describe the music you play? Is how you categorize yourself changing as you prepare for the upcoming release? SK: I describe our music as music that I would want to listen to. While our sound changes songto-song, I’d say you can always tell that it’s The Vanderbuilts playing on the record, which is something we are all very proud of. I think that how others categorize us will certainly change. Comparing our last EP and the new album is like comparing night and day. We are constantly changing, which is not only refreshing for our listeners, but for us as well. GM: Hmm. I really can’t ever find words to describe what music we play. When I think folk...we have folk elements but aren’t a folk band. When I think pop...same thing...along with everything else. I guess we’re just the Vanderbuilts. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way. I just can’t think of a specific type of music that we totally fall into. Alternative? That’s a safe guess. AY: I would describe the music that the band plays as retro-poppy. Again, this is quite different from the music I play myself. I do not really categorize myself, personally. I don’t think the band has ever really categorized itself either. Max Newland: The Vanderbuilts (guilty as charged!)
TM: What is the concept behind the new album? SK: The concept behind this album was really to try and capture all of our songs in an almost live approach. It’s really just us, playing the music as true and un-procesed as we can. It’s already just a moment in time now though, as we already have nine new songs for the next-next album. TM: Do you all have a specific process you undergo when recording? Where are you recording the new album? SK: We recorded most of the album, as well as the previous ep in The Newhouse recording studios. For the new album, we tried to track as much as we could at the same time, and then added on the vocals, the violin, banjo, and anything else acoustic. Coffee and snacks always help. I love having a cup of tea while we record, even if it’s just sitting on my amp or something, it’s the little things that can give a sterile studio a home-studiofeel. Oh yea, Dave and Aya have gotten most of us into taking off our shoes whenever we play/record. It’s really relaxing. GM: Well we try to do as much of the instruments together as we can and then based on our limitations of inputs or other things we add other instruments in later. Mainly we spend long hours in the studio with frequent DD and Jimmy John’s trips. MN: Lot’s of coffee and compromise! TM: How does the album differ from your previous release? SK: This album is a song-to-song approach. Far From Here was basically 15 minutes of nonstop music, about the end of the world.... Just listen to them both and you won’t really need an explanation. GM: I think the new album gives a better representation of Vanderbuilts music, really. It really shows the wide range of styles that we play. AY: It is very different in that it is a collection of songs rather than a conceptual scheme. It is more of a conventional album than a musical sketch. MN: A true taste of the musicality, varying tastes, and feel of the band. TM: What has been your best experience at a live show? 10
SK: The best experience is always playing to an intimate crowd of people that have never seen or heard of The Vanderbuilts. MN: Having people that I have never, ever, seen before come up to me and tell me that they enjoyed the show. Dave Riddell: Weekend college parties are the most fun, least stressful, and most rewarding shows we play in my opinion. TM: If you could open for one band, who would it be? SK: It would probably have to be Paul McCartney. He’s a god though, so maybe Arcade Fire or Wilco? You can’t really go wrong with any of those acts... GM: Kings of Leon or Arcade Fire MN: Foo Fighters TM: How do you feel about the current state of the Syracuse music scene? SK: The Syracuse music scene, is constantly changing, evolving, much like our band itself. I really dig it though. All of the musicians/bands really owe it all to Sam Mason for kickstarting the scene back into gear. Although he’s graduated, he gave the scene the energy it needed to rebuild and grow. That’s what Sam does, he’s a fantastic organizer, and great with stage lighting, so I hear. GM: I think the Syracuse music scene is really going through a lot of change right now. The last wave of bands that have really defined the university music scene for the last couple years are about to graduate, and a ton of new bands are popping up. It’s a really great period I think. MN: It is in a phase of reinvention, but in a good way. There are new bands popping up all over the place, some with new faces and some with old, and even some other ESF bands! It’s not just a SU thing anymore which is the best part of this current scene in my mind. DR: I’ve seen some neat stuff coming out of the college since I’ve been here, but I haven’t experienced what music is coming from real people in and around Syracuse. TM: What will we see from the Vanderbuilts after the new album is released? Tour dates? What does the future hold? SK: After the new album is released, another one will follow. We are already 9 songs deep in to that at this point. This next one will be longer, and have a present theme throughout the album that will flow in and out of context as the songs unfold. I don’t want to give too much away... it’s just very exciting to think about. It will feature songs by every other member in the group, which is nice, as it takes the loud off of me for a bit and allows other songwriters voices to be known. We are playing a lot of one-off shows but are currently in the stages of lining up a “mini-tour”, so to speak. I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see, ourselves included. 11
NOAH & THE WHALE IN CHICAGO 11/11/11 poetry by quinn donnell On Friday, November 11, I made the one-hour journey from Valparaiso, Indiana to Chicago, Illinois to see a band called Noah & the Whale. This band from London, England, whose five members struggled to squeeze into the venue’s diminutive stage, presented an excellent act that I am sure to remember for some time. The opening artist for Noah & the Whale could be described as Zooey Deschanel with Norah Jones’ voice, if Norah Jones had grown up in a small southern town in South Carolina, and her name was Nikki Lane. Before the show, I had never heard Nikki Lane’s music, nor had I heard of Nikki Lane, but my first experience with this artist left me rather impressed. As she played her electric guitar, accompanied by an acoustic guitar and a drum set, she sang ballads in a southern drawl that somehow inspired intrigue and attraction all at once. Since the concert, I have listened to Nikki Lane to ensure that my music appreciation senses did not deceive me the night of the concert, and I am pleased to say that they did not. When Noah & the Whale first came on stage, one aspect of the band that quickly became apparent was the collective magnificence of the group’s hair. Charlie Fink, the lead singer of Noah & the Whale, had hair that seemed to be stacked on top of itself; it was tall hair, but not quite Marge Simpson tall. Fiddle player, Tom Hobden, sported a similar look, while guitarist, Fred Abbott, and bass player, Matt Owens, had disheveled, shoulder -length hair that compelled reactions of, “Dude, get a haircut.” Drummer, Michael Petulla, while expressing a smirk of pure enjoyment during the entire performance, was described at one point by Fink as “The man who puts afro in aphrodisiac.” Charlie Fink, along with his tall hair, amusingly displayed the qualities of an exciting performer. His mannerisms reflected those of a pop musician rather than a member of an indie-folk band, as he apologized to the audience for being unable to properly dance in such cramped quarters. To compensate for this, he would often make sudden jives, and demonstrate different tricks with the microphone stand, all while moving in the space of a telephone booth.
Toward the middle of the show, Fink informed the audience of several hundred that the band was currently in the “romantic part of the set.” He then took a sip from a venue-provided water bottle and noted that during the romantic
sets in life, it is always important to keep hydrated. This transitioned into the “good times part of the set,” which was justified by the rationale that even if the 11th, of the 11th, of the 11th, etc. was not a reason to have a party, the fact that it was Friday was good enough. In the “good times part of the set,” Fink acknowledged a fan who had been requesting the track, “2 Atoms in a Molecule” throughout the entire show. The singer explained that Noah & the Whale hadn’t played this song in years, and at one time, they had pledged to never play the song again. Whatever the circumstances of this pledge had been, apparently the persistence of the fan was a good enough reason to give it a shot. Fink began the guitar intro, and guitarist, Fred Abbot, wrote the invisible chord progression in the air with his finger for the rest of the band. After they had successfully played the long-forgotten tune, the band laughed at the humor of their accomplishment. “Say something about how easy our songs are to play,” concluded Fink. On the one-hour journey home, I considered my evaluation of the show. I came to the conclusion that Noah & the Whale provided good times throughout the entire concert, regardless of what part of the set was being played. And this is all I can ask for in a band, the ability to create enjoyable experiences through music. Noah & the Whale is one band that certainly has this capability, and in the future, I would encourage the opportunity to take part in their good times.
photo by doris gutierrez
Start the Music, Light the Lights You’ve Got to Meet The Muppets Tonight by sir lance st. laurent It’s nearly impossible to make a bad Muppets movie. There’s an inherent joy in watching Jim Henson’s most famous creations on screen that can’t be hampered even by the lamest scripts or the dumbest gags. Since Jim Henson’s death in 1990, though, the output from the Muppets has been spotty to say the least. Outside out a couple of diverting, mildly entertaining literary adaptions (A Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island) and a woefully bad film centered on Gonzo (Muppets from Space), the Muppets have spent their time on the periphery of the public consciousness. To a past generation, though, a generation that was alive when The Muppet Show was on the air, the Muppets were a cultural touchstone. Actor and writer Jason Segal was a member of this generation. Any that saw Segal’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall could see Segal’s love for everything that made The Muppets great, humor, heart, and absurd puppets. Lucky for him, and for all of us, he was given the chance to write his dream project, a brand new Muppet movie. The Muppets is so clearly a labor of love for all involved that it’s a joy to behold from start to finish. Thanks to unbridled enthusiasm of Jason Segal and the entire crew of The Muppets, the film succeeds as a jumpstart to a flailing franchise, a deeply personal passion project, and a stirring, hilarious tribute to Jim Henson’s legacy. What makes The Muppets so successful is not that it’s hilariously funny (though it is very much that) or that its songs are catchy and clever (written by Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords). What elevates The Muppets to heights unseen since Jim Henson’s day is its heart. Between the jokes and the songs, there are real emotions on display in the film. The story, cleverly, is almost a direct sequel to The Muppet Movie from 1979. Gary (Jason Segal) and Walter (who is a puppet) are brothers from Smalltown, USA. Walter is the world’s biggest Muppet fan, so when Gary and his longtime girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) decide to go to Los Angeles, they bring Walter along to see the Muppet Studio. Finding it in disarray and on the verge of being torn down by oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), the trio embark on a mission to reunite the Muppets and save the theatre. It’s simple stuff and familiar territory for the Muppets, but the narrative of The Muppets to become self-referential. Within the framework of the narrative is a tacit admission that there is an entire generation who, while probably familiar with the Muppets themselves, were never exposed to the group in its heyday. The Muppets attempts to reclaim everything that used to be great about The Muppet Show and the first few Muppet movies, not through cheap nostalgia, but through genuinely clever jokes in service of a fun, meaningful story. The puppeteers behind the dozens of puppets that occupy the world of the Muppets are the true stars of the show, but the human cast also deserves kudos. Jason Segal and Amy Adams both shine in roles that could have come off as annoyingly sweet. Chris Cooper steals every scene he’s in with his hammy villain performance. And like many Muppet movies before it, The Muppets features a cavalcade of cameos from dozens of celebrities including Rashida Jones, Jack Black, Donald Glover, and Mickey Rooney. Every single moment in The Muppets has something to enjoy. Where the film surprised me, though, was the film’s ability to pull at my heartstrings. Jason Segal reminded me that beneath all of the felt and puppetry these characters were imbued with hearts and souls by their creator. I found myself choked up multiple times throughout the film. The film’s not perfect, and anybody could complain that their favorite Muppet was shortchanged for time, but Jason Segal has accomplished something amazing with The Muppets. Through nothing but love, dedication, and enthusiasm, he’s not only made one of his own dreams come true, but showed an entirely new generation the magic of the Muppets without changing the benevolence, sweetness, and pure joy that made them great in the first place. Nobody will ever be able to replace the genius of Jim Henson, but The Muppets shows that those who were touched by his creativity and warmth can keep his legacy alive for generations.
THE RENEGADES #2 by Ibet Inyang and Jasmine Holloway
***More content from The Renegades comin’ atcha! Be on the lookout for our new blog coming very soon!***
November 4th’s concert put on the Hong Kong Cultural Organization featured stepping, dancing, and music all wrapped in a big dumpling of entertainment! Anyways, student acts included The Black Reign Step Team, Jonathan Shih and The Shift Dance Crew, while the main attraction was Tim Be Told, our new best friends, as you can see from the picture above.
BLACK REIGN They don’t exactly hail from Hong Kong, but Black Reign’s performance fit right in with the exciting acts of the night. Their high energy stepping definitely had the crowd’s attention as they executed their routines with precision. So as an excited member of the audience, I was enjoying it all; I was snapping pictures, and shouting out the occasional “ayyyyye!” when all of a sudden the lights went out and it really got interesting. With each member stomping and clapping with tiny lights in their hands, the team created a light show that touched all the senses and personally got me hyped up, ayyyyye!
JONATHAN SHIH I’m not crazy about artists doing covers. I tend to have high expectations. I mean, if I’m going to listen to “Purple Rain,” I want to hear Prince’s androgynous voice and in the process be able to actually picture one of his puffy shirts. However, I’m pretty sure Jonathan Shih’s mad piano playing skills won everyone over. There was no denying that the kid has talent, which he showed when gracing the Eastman Kodak Theatre’s stage. However, he showed mainstream appeal with a medley that featured mainstream hits such as Kanye West’s “All of the Lights” and Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” I’d be on the lookout for Jonathan Shih!
THE SHIFT DANCE CREW You know, sometimes dance crews don’t have to be in synch or hit all or their dance moves. Some say that precision is overrated nowadays. Shift Dance Crew knows what I’m talking about. Okay, seriously, I’ll cut them some slack, the group has only been around as a relatively underground crew for a couple years now and the tutting portion of the performance was impressive. But overall, their show was a bit lacking. They need more precision, more skill, and above all, more swag….it fixes everything.
TIM BE TOLD I <3 Tim Be Told! Their intimate performance made me feel like I was in the audience at MTV unplugged. (not just because only about a fourth of Grant Auditorium was filled) Living up to their name, the lead singer, Tim Ouyang, told the audience of his and the band’s personal journey as he battled an illness, began to lose faith and the band almost broke up. There was an undeniable, relatable appeal as they sang songs such as “Rejected” and “Scared to be Alone” and Tim talked about almost losing his voice to a respiratory disease. But don’t let him fool you, he can sang! The band had soulful and bluesy sounds which they mixed with pop and mainstream ones to create their unique tunes. My only wish is that ‘Tim’ would have ‘told’ a little more about the rest of the band (yes, I’m doing that). We learned a lot about Tim and even that the band only now had two of its original five members, but there was a lot of talking, and not much about Andrew and Caleb, the band’s guitarist and new drummer respectively. However, I do know that it was evident that the band’s message was to spread ideas of hope and faith to its audience; each tune from the band’s latest album, “Humanity,” although catchy, had a powerful message. So go out and buy it, it so good that even I did.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!! JUST A LITTLE MAINSTREAM FOOD FOR THOUGHT FROM IBET! As we all know, Drake’s much anticipated sophomore album “Take Care” was just released November 15th, and being the impatient, music pirates that so many of us are, we’ve been listening to it since November 6th. I think most would agree that on the surface, the album is bomb; there was a nice balance of singing and rapping and we even got to hear a sample of Juvenile’s “Back that Thang up” and a Stevie Wonder harmonica solo! But as I listened closely to the album as a whole, I got to thinking, “Drake, what are you doing with your life?” On one hand he’s acts a little cocky. At first, he talks about how great he is in songs like “Underground Kings” and “I’m on One.” The next thing you know, he’s flaunting his Bill Cosby sweaters in “Headlines” and featuring songs like “The Crew” where he doesn’t even come in for 3 ½ minutes! But then there’s the emotional/depressing side of the album, (like Jimmy in the wheelchair depressing) There’s his sad drunk dialing episode in “Marvin’s Room,” and then he talks about crying in “Doing it Wrong;” does someone need a hug? Well cheer up Aubrey, throw on one of those sweaters and celebrate, your album’s still on top of the charts!
MARCHING ON MINT by jeff simimith
Jeff Simimith recounts the history of one of America’s most underrated rock bands of the last thirty years, and dreams of a future smothered with Mint Parade. American Rock Music: cue the inevitable death knells, naysayers and backtalkers, each one scrambling on the shoulders of the next to hurl down insults and scoffs while clambering for prime felatio position on whatever taste of the week pretty boys we’re handed down from the on-high bloggers of today. Few remember the golden days, the days of “get in the van,” when you were measured by the stink of your van, not by the number of friends you had on some social networking site. Mint Parade seems like one of the last great bands to chunk out a few slabs of impassioned rock glory before the onslaught of the CD and the bowling ball that was Lou Perlmanism ran ragged over the American music scene, regardless of where you sat within it, and forever changed the aesthetics of being musicians into how well you could clutch a guitar and wink at the “babes” in the front row. Their story is, of course, legendary. New Jersey boys who grew up at the feet of punk’s founding fathers, and who slashed their way into American rock mythology with the long out of print “Wet Bath” and “Dry Heat” split A-side 7” in 1986, what some said single-handedly made up for most of Bon Jovi’s guitar riffs (and all of their hair cuts). Then came the undeniably classic eponymous full-length debut, ridden into the ground by 5 years of harsh touring that saw 49 states, 4 different drummers, 2 bassists, and at one point a jaunt experimenting with dueling vibraphone players, which was the stuff of legend until the notorious “Mallet Melee” of 93. The band had cemented themselves as stolid road warriors, denim vests flaring and home-brew hair cuts wildly flying across the stage every night, leaving a stream of hushed tones and road-recorded cassettes following them into cult obscurity as they refused to release new studio material until the time was right. And soon it came, the 1998 major label debut, Horsehoney, by all conventional standards an utter disaster. The evil was everywhere on that album. . A grotesque album cover, even worse song titles (who can forget lead-off track “I Got A Mom”) and the overproduced, overly slick sound of up-to-date recording equipment successfully grounded what many dedicated fans (ironically the only ones left by this point) had long waited for. There were the overtly vulgar synth stabs in any at least three separate tracks, and of course, the barbershop quartet ending to “Belly Up (To The Bar).” But for sheer pain and misery, I only need to point to the clearly tacked on acoustic ballad “We’re All Seagulls” that shows how hard the band had fallen, particularly when lead singer Jerz McKormack starts trying his best to imitate a Seagull’s searing call on the fadeout. One recalls the infamous SPIN review, in which the term “aurally sodomized While the writer was fired, few could disagree.” was thrown out in the first paragraph. Mint Parade long sat in repose, most likely either trying to shrug off or drink away the brutal critical firestorm that followed Horsehoney’s release. But it’s hard to keep a band with music in their blood from stopping their climb back out of the ash-pit. After a serious of secret shows billed as “The Wood Legs” and one as “Asstro Grass,“ Mint Parade come storming back this year with the undeniably redemptive Miracle Gro Mile. It’s a farely knock-down, drag-out collection of tunes, with McKormack’s signature 3-finger guitar technique slicing through some of the most propulsive rhythms the band has ever cooked up. Particularly the second single, “Arms For Breaking,” a steel-toed boot in the ass if ever there was one in American Rock Music, with trumpet fanfares careening through searing guitars in overdrive and nothing but sex in their stride. Other songs, like “Fuck That One About The Seagull,” seem intent on rectifying the past errors of their ways, and when the song stops halfway to unload a two-barrelled blast of guitar squall and feedback, it’s clear that the band has every intent of burying their past under their sheer heaviness. And of course, there’s the penchant for audio destruction and avant-garde. At one point, a song ends with what the sound of an entire shelf of master tapes being toppled onto the floor and set ablaze. Reports of studio –trashing, hotel-trashing, and even the occasionally home-trashing (bassist Wilbur Orver was arrested last January for flipping a car at his son’s 14th birthday party) have followed the band for the past several months. As result, their music seems to have recaptured some of it’s youthful desperation. It’s a daring album, made by a bunch of musicians mostly over 50, who just plain got sick of playing the same bullshit nostalgia games that bands are pulling now, touring casinos and bandshells rehashing the same tired toe-tappers. No one saw it coming, that a group of guys this old, this seemingly self-satisfied, this crusty could be on pace for one of the greatest and messiest comebacks of the new century. I certainly didn’t’ Now, Dead Legends is seizing the opportunity to release all of their back albums on online, on CD and on vinyl. Personally, I for one couldn’t ever get behind the idea of these guys on anything but record, and the idea of “Surly Surf” ever pumping out of a set of laptop speakers is next to blasphemy, but the chance for the younger generations to pick up a copy from their local shops (like Best Buy would even carry this stuff) still warms my heart to think about. The days are coming soon where maybe my kids will stop swearing at me to “turn that crap off in the car,” and instead say, “YEAH DAD, THIS BAND FUCKING ROCKS!” One day…one day.
Summer Cult at the Lost Hoizon on nov 11th (photo by Bridget Maloney)
congrats to the clarendon collective for a successful show featuring the summer switch, galleries, and john wells. check their facebook for more upcoming collective events! photos by dave faes
WANT MORE MISCREANT?
My miscreants, thank you as always for reading the issue and submitting your work. There would be no Miscreant if it weren’t for you. Believe you me, I am thankful for each and every one of you (and not just because yesterday was Thanksgiving)! I hope you’ll continue to read and send in your pieces. I have some exciting news to share with you all! Among many other things that are in the works for the Miscreant, you can now pick up physical copies of issue 9 at Luna Music in Indianapolis. We are very happy to have their support and I’m honored to have a presence in my homeland. At any rate, visit Luna and you won’t have any trouble finding whatever tunes tickle your fancy. I was just there and picked up some mighty fine gems. Additionally, I would love for you all to get more connected to the Miscreant. Add the Miscreant page on Facebook for updates and each issue and hear what music we’ve got on the chopping block. We also want all of you to tell us what you’ve got oozing out your speakers! Now, my miscreants, send your holiday playlists, your reviews of your favorite thrash metal albums, your thoughts on the Daytrotter subscription fee, etc to: firstname.lastname@example.org. all my love,
new goodies coming from good health soon! the miscreant
keep checking the webstore for organic pocket tees. the pockets will be hand stitched and sport a great beach camo pattern. ~*~*~dr34m1ng of 5umm3r~*~*~