DIATRIBE AGAINST COLLEGE by kenzie weeks
Whenever I used to tell anybody my declared major, I made sure to follow it up with the punch line, “…in other words, I’m going to be living with my parents until I’m forty.” This tired self-deprecation, thinly veiled as humor, is a castoff remark for the lame and disinterested. It’s the kind of zinger that just sags once it’s let loose, meaning little but a change in topic for both asker and answerer. It’s a half-ass attempt to outwardly justify the minted diploma I’d become convinced at some point was so necessary as to not even be worth justifying inwardly. See, I’m an English major, and more cruelly a Literature major, so I’m more than used to being on the receiving end of side-eye glances and smirk-wreathed scoffs at my career prospects. “You plan to, uh, teach?” “So… what exactly do you want to do with that? Become a professor or something?” If I don’t respond with (only slightly) joking comments on future homelessness, I usually mumble some sort of vague affirmation, maybe slipping in a shrug to suggest the possibility of even more superfluous graduate schooling. I guess at one point I meant it—thought that logically, necessarily after doing my time as an undergrad, I’d head on to the rich, intellectual Shangri-La of law school, eventually even warming to the idea of just pursuing a graduate degree in some sort of literature. As a kid we learn the rules from TV shows, movies, and the game of Life: high school doesn’t count; we’re lucky enough to party through college; then for those truly destined for greatness, the set-in-stone path is professionalism—doctorates, Masters degrees, certifications upon examinations upon framed pieces of toilet paper hung above mahogany desks. Once you make it to a private, liberal arts college, nearly everyone around you is aiming for the big leagues of business or grad school of some sort. It’s almost implied. In the 21st century, more people than ever are pursuing and obtaining bachelor’s degrees, rendering them, in the eyes of the privileged intelligentsia, as little more than glorified high school diplomas. Everyone’s getting one now—the poor kids, the black kids, the women, the immigrants, the idiots—so what, you’ve got a college degree? Really fuckin’ special, cowboy. That sort of mentality, paired with my Gen Y, suburban competitiveness led me to always assume that if I wanted any sort of fulfillment or distinction out of this messy thing called life that college and graduate school were absolute necessities. But the American university experience has transfigured over the years from the fever dream of motivated idealists to the sacred cow of the entitled bourgeoisie. The other day as I sat, for the sixth hour, in a library cubicle skimming over a poem with little art or relevance to any part of me, I realized that after three years of college, I was absolutely miserable. I thought about all of the things I had always wanted to do with my life, all the things I could be doing with my life at this very moment, and wanted to vomit when 2
I could sum up the biggest chunk of my existence with three uninspired, uninspiring words: going to school. Were all those years, and more importantly, are all these years passing so quickly now worth to me only as much as the three words that they were and are producing? It may sound morbid, but start reading obituaries. Start thinking about your own. If, at the end of your long, medium, short, what-have-you life, you want the whole realm of your tangled, varied, nuanced human experience to fit into a 100 word blurb whose most striking line reads, “had several doctorates, as well as a spotless 40 year career in law”…. well, then, I’m glad you’ve got it so figured out—the whole of life, the multiplicity of adventures and misadventures and failures and absurdities that accompany the crowning of each singular day. I’m glad you understand them. Society needs you and your decisiveness, your set path, your professional accomplishments, and what will I’m sure be your freely flowing capital. But for those of us who wake up each morning in mutual awe and fear of both life’s absurd potential and its stunning brevity; for the artists; the revolutionaries; the miscreants; the dancers and poets and the tightrope walkers; those who live for the music that never ceases but ebbs and flows in selfish tides: I say fuck the diplomas. Fuck the placards and letters of acceptance and hearty handshakes of congratulations. Make your own. I feel that we, the restless and raving of this increasingly lethargic and recycled generation need a reminder of what we’re living for and why. You can drop out of college. You can write off going to grad school. You can quit your job, pick up all of your belongings, and leave. You can do that. Things will change, for fucking sure, but you still have the power of action. Not power of your own destiny or any of that bullshit, because I guarantee you don’t have that. But you have the power to move, to shake, to write, to dance—right now, right this very moment. Tomorrow, you might not. When I die, I want my obituary to try and fit in the words “tattoo artist,” “poet,” “filmmaker,” “farmer,” “restless traveler,” “barbecue waitress,” “spelunker,” and hell if I know what else. I don’t want to know what my obituary will say. I shouldn’t yet, at 21 years old. So why pigeonhole myself into writing it now in this prisonlike trajectory of college, grad school, and professional career? Fuck college. Fuck grad school. I may be poor, I may be undistinguished, but I will be free. I’ll have tattoos and piercings and lovers and losses and scars from bizarre fishing accidents and maybe society will scorn me. But I’ll have a life—an indescribable, overwhelming, messy, multitudinous life—one that can’t be written on a degree, or a name tag, or on the crisp, pulpy lines of the half-page Obituary section. 3
this issue is brought to you by the dad collective.
Single of the
We were fortunate enough to have Dumb Talk come hang out with us last week. We had a great time, and they put on an amazing show. “Airplane” is this issue’s single of the week! 4
good neighbors an interview by the miscreant
The Jug Band has a new name, a new sound and a new release coming soon. Now called Good Neighbors, the boys are back from their trip to London to bring rock ‘n roll back to Syracuse. Here they talk about what they’ve changed, what they’ve been listening to lately, and what what the future holds. TM: So, why the new name? How did you come up with it? Aaron Gittleman: We’ve been talking about a name change since we came up the original one...it was something that just stuck and we got used to it. But when we leave Syracuse, nobody will know NTMJB, so we have a good opportunity to change the name. Good Neighbors was another rather spontaneous creation from Atom. He has a knack for band names. Dan DiPasquale: We felt like our old name didn’t truly portray the band in the best way. We were never a jug band. It was also too long. Long names stink. TM: Will any other changes come with the new name? AG: New sound, new philosophy, new chapter...we’re challenging ourselves with a new songwriting process and trying finding a truly unique, original sound. It’s been largely straightforward blues and folk music that we’ve been playing, and the direction now is to find a sound that’s less ubiquitous. Adam “Atom” Cohen: We are going to move away from the general style we have been doing. There will be a different approach to writing the music-more sing a long stuff, and much less of a jam band/classic rock/funk influence. We’ve all been listening to a lot of different music since we started playing, and we want to do something that sounds more unique. Lucas Sacks: Everyone we’ve talked to seem to really like it and agree it was worth having a shorter name that was easier to remember. DD: Nothing too drastic, but we are writing new music. We are trying to think a little more unconventionally. Trying to stray away from what we’ve done in the past. You probably won’t hear us play another blues progression. TM: How have your fans been reacting to the changes in the band?
AC: People seem to like it. We’ve tried to change the name before (to worse names) and we would retract it right away because people would get upset. But now that we’ve got a name that people seem to like, it’s welcomed. DD: It seems people are responding positively to the name change. As far as the music, we haven’t unleashed new material in a recorded/live setting yet. I’d be curious to see that reaction when it happens. Should be soon. TM: How was being in London together as a band? AG: Jolly-effing-great. Saw a lot of new music over there... it was inspiring to live in a city with so much of the world’s up and coming artists passing through every weekend. There’s a lot out there. AC: It was great! We all lived together with two other great friends, Jon Groffman and Matt “The W” Robin, so it was 6 people who are crazy about music packed together. We messed around with acoustic instruments and brainstormed about the new direction, but we didn’t play any shows. No electric instruments or drums, and we had no transportation to really do anything worthwhile. It was an incredible time and something I’m always going to remember as one of the best experiences of my life. LS: We didn’t have a full arsenal of instruments so it was difficult to write full songs, but we came up with lots of great ideas and were able to talk a lot more about what the band means TM: Talk about the EP you recently recorded. Was that the last release from Northbound? LS: The EP, called Ackerman was recorded over Winter 2011 at Belfer Studio oncampus and we put it out in May 2011. That was our last formal release, with some live tracks from our New Jersey shows and an instrumental we’ve been using to open shows, from this past summer. TM: Have you guys been writing any differently to fit the name? AG: Not so much to fit the name. But the writing will certainly be different moving forward. We’re starting to write together more as a band rather than individually. We’ll see. What we’ve written thus far is sounding very new and very different from what we’ve been doing. It’s fun, totally breaking out of your comfort zone.
AC: That’s the great thing about the name change-we don’t have to write anything to “fit’ the name like we did with a name like Northbound. We are just writing stuff that sounds good to us and reflects our personalities and what we like about music. TM: What’s the next release you have in store for us? AG: Probably a 5-7 song EP/demo from Belfer studios. We’re going to completely finish the new bod of work before stepping foot in the studio...for our last release (Ackerman), too much time was spent in the studio re-working parts and tracks, resulting in an extremely polished yet extremely short demo. Sam Sherman: We have a five-song EP coming out in May, which will be recorded at Belfer. Even though I’m in DC most of the year, this will be my third time recording with the guys after some live stuff at SubCat and Ackerman at Belfer. I’ll be up twice this semester to play shows, play a more active role in writing and lay down piano, organ, and keyboard on the new songs. TM: Talk about the shows you’ve played as the Good Neighbors so far. AG: WERW PARTY AT SPARK. IT WAS OFF DA HOOK. Our next show is at Funk this Friday (Feb. 24th), where some new things are to be tried out. DD: We played one show, the WERW launch party. it was fun.
We covered a Talking Heads song,
TM: What are your favorite songs to cover as the Good Neighbors? AC: So far, as the Jug Band, we’ve covered a lot of random stuff-a good mix of classic songs, 80’s, 90’s stuff-party songs. We’ll probably do some more Talking Heads, but generally we like doing big party songs that everyone knows. LS: We have an affinity for 80s pop-rock songs that are danceable and catchy. Since we enjoy house-shows so much, we consider what will be the most fun. Songs like David Bowie’s “Fame,” Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True,” CCR’s “Born on the Bayou,” and Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” are always favorites. DD: That is a tough question. I’d say “Dreams,” by The Cranberries. It would be cool if we covered a Clash song. If we did, that would be my new favorite.
TM: Any upcoming shows we should know about? AC: Friday, Feb 24th (today) at Funk N Waffles!!! We’ll be playing new songs, doing some acoustic stuff, maybe pulling out some old songs we haven’t played in a really long time. LS: Be on the lookout for a Westcott Theater show late in the semester, and constantly check out our Facebook page for house-show and other various announcements. DD: Friday at Funk N Waffles. party at your house.
Your basement, have us play a
TM: As you guys come closer to graduation and moving away, what would you say was your favorite part of the Syracuse music scene? AG: We broke through the ceiling at the first Sunrise/Sunset party. Says it all. About the people, the enthusiasm, the bands in this scene...it’s truly a tight-knit community of music lovers and it’s expanded so much over the past three years. I think a lot of it can be attributed to O’ Morning and those epic house show parties. LS: Because its not the biggest market, there really is a sense of community among all of the bands, whether they’re from SU or the local CNY areas. We have played with so many great bands at festivals, venues, bars, and basements and really enjoyed every minute of it over the past four years. DD: THE FANS. TM: What else does the future hold for the band? AG: If the new music sucks, we’d like to go on tour as T-Swift’s backing band. AC: Seeing as we are all graduating, it’s a pretty hard time for us to be certain about anything. You can bet we will try our hardest to keep playing, but location changes and finances may make things really hard. We are gonna play hard this semester and over the summer, and hopefully we’ll be able to keep playing and keep growing together. LS: While its hard to be specific at this point in time, we are all best friends and enjoy playing music together greatly. Also, as music business students, we all plan on working and living in New York and being part of the music industry and culture there in the near future. DD: It’s all up in the air really. We are all looking to get jobs in the music business hopefully. If we’re all around, if we still like each other, then maybe we’ll keep playing.
DIRTY DISHES by kyle kuchta
New England doesn’t get a lot of attention musically, probably due to the fact that New York City is an epicenter, and no one really likes to look further east. But, being a Connecticut native/proud New Englander, I love hearing some kickass bands NOT from New York City. Dirty Dishes is one of those bands. They dropped their first single “Hush” off of their upcoming album The Most Tarnished Birds the other week and, I can honestly say, that this is the first album of 2012 I’m looking forward to. Their self-titled EP, released back in late 2009, got them a decent amount of attention around the Boston area where they spawned. In a smaller scene filled with a lot of “college rock,” Dirty Dishes stood, and continues to stand out. Their first single off that EP, “Deer in the Headlights,” was up there on the Hype Machine Charts, and managed to catch the ear of Passion Pit when they included it on their Myspace playlist (back when Myspace was more influential). They even got to open for Passion Pit when they played a homecoming show, of sorts, at the House of Blues in Boston. They ended up going down to play SXSW in 2010, and then on to play with artists like Autolux, Bear Hands and Mike Watt. Now, a ton of shows, magazine and blog articles, and a handful of festivals later, their new single “Hush” is buzzing in a similar fashion. No, not on Myspace music, but “Hush,” the track I tend to describe as “gritty-shoegaze,” has been getting people pretty excited for Dirty Dishes’ upcoming release. Jenny Tuite’s first line “All the leaves are falling” over a single guitar preps you for a typical dreamy head-bobber. But after the first verse, uptempo drums and bass roll in, and that head-bob spreads through your body. It blindsides you in a way; probably in the best way. And if this is any indication of what their upcoming album will be, then I’m all for it. Anyway, along with the release of The Most Tarnished Birds on March 4, Dirty Dishes will also be opening for Cloud Nothings and Magic Magic on March 25 at Brighton Music Hall. I was lucky enough to see these folks at B.O.M.B. Fest last summer, and I recommend keeping an eye and an ear out for them this year.
In Defense of Nic Cage by lance st. laurenent
The career of Nicolas Cage (né Coppola) defies all Hollywood logic. Despite being an Oscar winning leading man and a member of one of most well-respected families in the business, he stars in a half-dozen films every year that barely qualify as direct to DVD quality. In the past two years alone, he’s starred in Season of the Witch, Drive Angry, Seeking Justice, Trespass, and the film that inspired me to write this, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Naturally, that kind of output has led people to write off or even hate Nic Cage. I was once among them, but then I saw the light of day. One day that I realized that Nicolas Cage is nothing short of the most fascinating actor of his generation. Don’t misunderstand me; he’s not the best actor of his generation (though he can be when he picks the right project). Nicolas Cage is simply fascinating to watch. He has a magnetic presence that can only be described as anti-charisma. He’s never had anything that approached chemistry with another actor. In most of his films it’s unclear if he’s even from the same planet as his costars. Yet despite this, he’s never even once phoned in a performance. He’s been bad, terrible even, but always clearly committed to being terrible. Even the worst Nicolas Cage performance could be described at worst as megaphoning it in. For all of his terrible films, though, Nicolas Cage has worked with some of the best directors in the world. Martin Scorsese, Spike Jonze, The Coen Brothers, and Werner Herzog have all cast him as a leading man. Why? They, like I, have realized that Nic Cage is not so much an actor as he is an unhinged force of nature. He Klaus Kinski with hair plugs and a leather jacket. With the wrong director or the wrong script, he’s a human meme machine, a loon of unparalleled proportions, drunk on his own power/vodka and sleeping pills. With proper guidance, though, his specific brand of peculiarity suggests a kind of alienation and otherworldliness that no other actor can quite match. Raising Arizona’s H.I. McDunnough, his best role, is possibly the best comedic creation of the past 20 years (yes, even better than The Dude). In films like Leaving Las Vegas, Bringing Out the Dead, and Adaptation, he even manages to be sympathetic. His genius (don’t laugh), though, doesn’t really lie in his great roles, but in his awful ones. No single actor can rescue a movie from the jaws of boring mediocrity like Cage. I watched Nic Cage spend two movies trying to find treasure buried by the Founding Fathers for Christ’s sake. He’s singlehandedly elevated bad acting to a level not seen since Christopher Walken, and it makes him perhaps the most consistently watchable actor in film today. Even the most cliched and trite dialogue is made nearly Shakespearian when alternately whispered and screamed through a clenched jaw. With a new Charlie Kaufman on the horizon, Nicolas Cage may or may not have another great performance left in him. Until then, I can take solace in the fact that Cage will release a half dozen crime thrillers/action thrillers that will force him to squint and scream and twitch and possibly cry, and I will be there. 11
The Paradox of the Tortured Artist poetry by lamar stephens
Three years after releasing his fourth studio album entitled Yes!, internationally renowned artist k-os prepares to release his next studio project, BLack on BLonde. The Canadian emcee has been consistently leaking snippets of his latest work on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, although fans have to be quick in order to hear, as the leaks are strategically posted and pulled off the net without warning. The name k-os, spelled in lower case, is an acronym for “Knowledge of Self,” though he has also has stated that the acronym originally stood for “Kheaven’s Original sound.” Born Kheaven Brereton, to Trinidadian Jahovah’s Witness parents and raised in Toronto, k-os grew up with an eclectic taste in music. In his music alone, he has claimed influence from artists and groups as vast as New Order, Cat Power, Depeche Mode, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, A Tribe Called Quest, Boogie Down Productions, and many more. His diverse interests can be heard through his unique, commingled musical style that is almost incomparable and cannot be placed into one single genre. k-os’s music incorporates elements of Hip-Hop, Funk, Rock, Ska, Folk, Classical, and Reggae. k-os is known as a “conscious rapper,” as his lyrics frequently focus on a positive message, while often criticizing mainstream culture, especially the mainstream Hip-Hop culture of today. “Zombie rappers release your albums now...for in 2012 the light will be blinding!” He tweeted in late 2011, warning his fellow rappers about his upcoming release. He began making music while attending York University, when he released the single “Musical Essence” with a music video funded by a MuchFACT grant. He then gained his first recognition and soon dropped out of the university to pursue music. After winning a MuchMusic Video Award for the single, k-os was noticed by artists like Raphael Saadiq, who began working with k-os on his planned debut album titled Missing Links, and eventually released his second single “Rise Like the Sun.” After his debut album, k-os suddenly withdrew from the music industry, even after receiving offers from several record labels. k-os said that during this time he had recorded a considerable amount of music, but was dissatisfied. He described his music 12
as “pretentious and derivative,” and said at the time that he was “still trying to figure out who he was.” He later returned as a solo artist in 2000, when he signed a deal with EMI. He described his new musical focus on “doing stuff really obscure and making music for myself.” k-os released three ablums under EMI: Exit (2002), Joyful Rebellion (2004), and Atlantis: Hymns for Disco (2006). Now signed to Universal Music Canada, the artist prepares his sixth album. His last studio release was in the year 2009, but k-os has been no stranger to the music industry since then. In 2010 he released The Anchorman Mixtape, an experimental project of his which features leftover tracks from Yes!, as well as unreleased tracks. The mixtape also features a collaboration with fellow Canadian artist, Drake. k-os performed as one of the openers for Drake’s U.S. campus tour. In late 2011, Much Music released k-os’s MTV Unplugged Concert recordings, which includes a DVD and CD of the live performances. BLack on BLonde, the next k-os project, is scheduled for release this coming summer. “After much internal debate I have decided to make BLack on BLonde a double album,” he explained to fans via his blog. “…the sheer volume of songs written over the last year is forcing me to put them all together for a deluxe experience…There will be a ‘BLack’ album and a bLonde or gold album. The BLack album I am calling hip-hop, rhythm and blues, while the blonde (gold) album will feature more live guitar based rock n’ roll music. It’s Interesting to separate the forms and fashions of these musical styles… cause for the last (three) albums I have just mashed then together!” k-os provided details on his upcoming album in a blog entry, including a tentative tracklist. He continues to update regularly through blog posts and tweets. The leaked snippets grant promise to fans, as k-os maintains his original, trail-blazing sound. According the musician’s leaked snippets, blog entries, and tweets, the concepts BLack on BLonde will cover include astrel traveling, history, spiritual energy, and philosophy. In addition, k-os has not shaken his mainstream-criticizing ways. He will, as always, voice his opinion on other rappers and pop culture. In one of his more recent blog posts, k-os expressed his stance on the current “cycle” of the music business. “The music industry is a game because it is played by (two) basic rules. 1. Whoever sells the most records wins 2. Whoever garners the most respect wins. Usually one of those aforementioned desired outcomes is sacrificed when the other one is achieved, thus the paradox of the tortured artist.” The bold comment received reactions from numerous fans and other readers. It seems that k-os will perpetuate his reputation, and deliver music like no one has heard before. BLack on BLonde is set to be released summer 2012. For updates on the new release, follow k-os on twitter @kosinception.
photos by doris gutierrez
ALBUM REVIEW: TRASH TALKS’S AWAKE by matt boswell
Trash Talk is a punk/hardcore band out of Sacramento California. Awake is their most recent release. They have been popular in the hardcore scene for a while, but have recently begun making waves in the more “hipster” music scene due to a large amount of exposure through Pitchfork, as well as releasing a split 7” with fellow Californians Wavves. Awake is a blistering and furious EP that clocks in at a total of 9 minutes and 2 seconds after its five tracks. A benefit to this is that, if you do not enjoy it, it will be over soon enough. However, this is a very enjoyable release, especially for people who are already fans of this style of punk rock. It opens up with a driving drumbeat on the title track, which translates into feedback, and then the guitars and vocals come in. If “screaming” vocals generally turns people away, they may be able to get into the vocals of Lee Spielman a little easier, as they are a sort of more accessible yell, and his lyrics are certainly clever and well written. The next track was the initial single for this EP, “Slander”. The music video that accompanies it is a funny little animated video that involves drugs, hardcore shows, and plenty of crowd surfing and stage dives. While this track is the shortest overall (0:57) it may be my favorite off of Awake. It’s the makeup of a classic hardcore song. Fast, blast-beats from the drums, a heavy chord progression, and fast vocals pushing out over the top. It’s a real fun track that, just as the video would suggest, simply begs for a multitude of stage dives from fans. The next track would more than likely be appreciated by the older fans of the band, as “Blind Evolution” has the almost bluesy guitar riffs that this band is so well as incorporating. The breakdown near the end of the track is sure to get the crowd moving. After this is “Burn Alive”, which is probably my favorite track lyrically. The line “only the good die young, so burn alive” is certainly not going to put smiles on people’s faces, but this is an angry album and these lyrics do a good job of portraying the feel. “Gimme Death” concludes the album just as pissed-off as it began. I suppose that’s my biggest gripe of the album. It doesn’t really change it’s feel throughout the whole thing, and is just a fast and angry album. Trust me, I understand “that’s punk rock”, but there are plenty of punk and/or hardcore bands that are able to give you a pissed off album while having plenty of variation, (listen to Fractures by Killing The Dream sometime). This album doesn’t necessarily break any new ground for this band or for this genre, but it’s still something simple for people who don’t really listen to hardcore to pick up and get into. With all the recent attention this band has been getting, I’m sure that many people will be checking out Awake in the next few months. 7/10
why the rest of us hate skrillex poetry by andrew mcclain
Especially in light of the Grammys, there have been a slew of recent thinkpieces in the music criticism community trying to figure out what exactly the hell is the deal with Skrillex. They have titles like Nitsuh Abebe’s “Why Does America Love Skrillex?” and my favorite Slate headline ever, “Skrillex Doesn’t Make Good Music, But It’s Awesome In Certain Ways.” Pitchfork won’t even bother reviewing his music (but Abebe and Mark Richardson have both mentioned him in thoughtful columns). I’ll admit that I was pretty outraged when SPIN put him on the cover of their magazine. I love that magazine and I have high expectations from them. I made a face when he got that Grammy nomination, even though I’m not all that invested in the Grammys. I hated dubstep from day one. It’s soulless party music that sounds cool when you’re messed up – I get it. But I got curious about what was making Skrillex such a big deal. So I may (or may not) have accidentally (or on purpose) downloaded most of the music he has released in the past year and a half. And the question that came up for me was actually “Why do the rest of us hate Skrillex so much?” Abebe mentioned that the signature bass drops “activate the same part of the brain that makes a 10-year-old get excited about explosions.” I think this is why the rest of us hate Skrillex so much. I think that a lot of intelligent people are really uncomfortable with that part of their brain that gets excited about explosions, loves fast cars, heavy 16
metal riffs and cheeseburgers. This music is a pure synthesis of everything unsophisticated. Abebe also offered the best description of Skrillex’s music I’ve ever heard. He said it’s as if he “picked all the most obviously, superficially cool and high-impact parts of a dozen different genres, dredged them in stimulants, and started mashing them against one another... all together into one clanging, high-octane stew.” This is everything to love or hate about Skrillex in one sentence. My first like it without part of
observation about the dubstep boom was that people generally better when they’re in an altered state, because when you’re inhibition, you’re better connected to that uncivilized yourself. Isn’t music supposed to be uncivilized sometimes?
This is definitely music for desensitized people. (There is an entirely different dialogue to be had about what that means about our culture, but that’s essentially a game of morality/ cultural Mad Libs and I’m not really interested) There is no nuance. Nothing deeper in the music to absorb upon multiple listens. Nothing to think about, except the three possible questions: “Why do I love this? Why do I hate this? Why does it feel like a bizarre mixture of the two?” I think it’s completely valid to hate Skrillex, by the way. His music represents something totally toxic about our culture and our destructive need to “skip all the boring parts.” But take a look at why exactly you hate it so much. It could be that you just need to lighten up a little bit and let go of a little snobbery. Just consider for a second that what you hate about Skrillex might be something that you hate about yourself - your own desensitization, the unsophisticated things that make you happy on a really basic level. 17
Tiny Furniture is One Chair Short of a Table by alex jabre
Lena Dunham may be the luckiest 25 year-old in America. She’s got a Judd Apatow-produced HBO series titled Girls premiering in April. Not only that, her second feature Tiny Furniture has garnered heaps of praise by critics, won an Independent Spirit Award, and is already being inducted into The Criterion Collection – a DVD company for “contemporary and classic films.” Keep in mind: she’s barely older than us. So it’s too bad that Tiny Furniture is yet another annoying example of the “low-budget-and-lost-in-your twenties” genre. Dunham stars as Aura, a recent Ohio college grad that moves back in with her mother to figure out what she wants to do with herself. In this case, it means finding a crummy hostess job and embarking on a series of unusual friendships, including one with a YouTube star known as “The Nietzschian Cowboy.” We even see a clip of the Cowboy in action, and it more or less defines the film’s vague humor. It isn’t really funny or clever; it’s just bizarre, like a punchline without any punch. The film is beautifully photographed (even if it uses too many static long-shots) and Dunham – an Anna Paquin lookalike – is an engaging actress who exhibits an awkward charm. I also like how it ends on a hopeful note that could be summed up as: “She’s still figuring stuff out.” But Tiny Furniture essentially plays like a low-rent hipster version of the Ben Stiller comedy Greenberg without any of the wit and is whiny and self-pitying rather than quirky or lovable. “I’m having a very hard time!” Aura exclaims at one point. But why should we feel sorry for her? She lives in a nice loft, has a college education, and a generally supportive family. Only someone with as relatively little life experience as a twentysomething year-old would think that post-collegiate life is such a big deal. Dunham wants us to believe her world is spiraling out of control when it’s just merely shifting. The Criterion DVD is loaded with extras, including a bunch of in-depth interviews and even Dunham’s first effort Creative Nonfiction. But I saw the film for free on the Sundance Channel, and that’s probably the best way to watch it. I wish Dunham luck with her new series, but I think it’ll soon become obvious that she’s not the prodigious talent critics make her out to be. Although I can see why Apatow likes her; she has a kind of boldness and isn’t afraid to humiliate herself in every frame. But to what end? Maybe you, reader, may find something in Dunham that I don’t. But until then, I’m praying for a film about a self-aware college graduate in a loving relationship and knows what they want out of life. One can dream, can’t they? 18
10 Exciting New TV Shows And Their Plots poetry by sam sodomsky 1. Speechless – Unassuming people are put in situations where they have to speak publicly but then all of a sudden the topic and the occasion are changed. Ex: A man thinks he is speaking at his son’s Bar Mitzvah but is instead taken to his dentist’s funeral. 2. Fart Tank – A literal tank of farts. Mainly, celebrities get thrown in the tank. Adam Levine hosts, on his knees. 3. My Big Fat Wallet – Who’s got the fattest wallet, this show wants to know. 4. Scrotum Officer – Not sure what this one is about yet but I’ve already sold nearly 600 T-Shirts that just say the title. Merchandising jackpot. 5. Rob That Bank, Rob Redford! – Robert Redford, in increasingly unconvincing drag, robs banks across America in this wildly unsuccessful new dramady. 6. Vampire Kindergarten – The breathtaking combination of two untapped goldmines for TV: vampires and kindergarten. These 5-6 year-old vampires present a tantalizing world of sexy, scandalous drama, with danger always lurking around the corner. Innovative, shocking, and unfiltered, this show is, quite frankly, going to pay for itself. 7. Oh Yeah! – C-list celebrities eat from a never-ending tray of pigs-in-ablanket while refusing to compete to host the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards. Filmed on a CGI desert island whose only inhabitants include giant rats, floating cabbages, and a spider with a woman’s body. 8. Horse Swap – Horses get swapped. 9. Are You Smarter Than Ben Stiller? – Self-explanatory. 10. I Don’t Care – Uninteresting but attractive people get bored while having conversations with interesting but unattractive people. Shot ironically in black and white, each episode can be viewed exclusively on white iPhones. 19
ALBUM REVIEW: ANDREW BIRD’S BREAK IT YOURSELF by jen littman
After hearing Break It Yourself, I was struck with an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. Upon further investigation, I discovered the source. It’s really very simple, I have heard this album before. We all have. For you see Break It Yourself goes by a different name. Armchair Apocrypha. The plucking guitar, the neofolk whistling, the soaring falsetto, where have I heard this? Needless to say, I expected something a bit more groundbreaking and versatile from the multitalented Andrew Bird. It pains me to even think it, but the most appropriate word for this record is just… nice. Not to say there aren’t a few serene moments worth pointing out. But it’s much like a thrift store in that it takes some digging to find something that just doesn’t plain smell like stale sweat and mothballs. “Orpheo Looks Back” is one of the shining moments on this album where Bird really reveals his instrumentalism past the typical rhythmic guitar and violin. The track features instrumental backing that is reminiscent of the highlands. The same playfulness presents itself on track “Danse Carribe.” However, the most interesting track is “Eyeoneye.” The song enters with a whirring chaos that soon dissipates into an indie-pop foot-stomper. It is one of the few tracks I didn’t feel dragged on for about a minute too long. “Lusitania” is also a really nice duet, where the female vocals are more satisfying than much of the album. All in all, the best tune, if you’re going to take my word for it, is “Lazy Projector.” This wistful ballad dwells on the sweet simplicity that brought us all to love and admire this Midwesterner. Bird has admitted before that his lyrics often come organically and later reveal their meaning. On Break It Yourself his lyricism seems to have regressed since Noble Beast. Many of the phrases, though they may sound fitting, lack the depth and metaphorical nature of his great songs like “Imitosis.” Although, come to think of it, “Near Death Experience Experience” is eerily reminiscent of “Imotisis.” So that counts for something, right? Unfortunately, Break It Yourself sails by without really leaving any mark where it has passed. The tracks have done little to expand on his sound and the lack of versatility is rather mind numbing. The record leaves much to be desired and lends itself to the idea that Andrew Bird may have reached his peak. I certainly hope not. 20
WORKS CITED poetry by ricky balmaseda
I feel it all. Everything all of the time... ever wonder if its all for you? No. I don’t know about my dreams. We used to dream, we used to vacation… now we worry about dying because you’re empty and I’m empty and I want to walk around with you from my window to yours. I’ll run away with you, but you don’t trust yourself for at least one minute each day. You take the fun out of me and nobody gives a damn… Now they are through with me. All of this will disappear as quickly as it came... awful sick and tired of the game. I didn’t think I’d be the last one standing now, and I wanna be forgotten ... cause well I believe them all. You’re mostly what I think about, and we’ll dazzle them all before we crash into the ground. 21
Meet JESSIE WARE by queen karen edith millar
Do we really need another husky voiced, too-cool-for-school female artists on the music scene? No, I didn’t think so either, but this sassy young thing from the big smoke is almost making me question my otherwise amazing judgement on everything and everyone. Almost. Jessie Ware’s career progression is not one of your average big city songstress. Having previously worked as a reporter with The Jewish Chronicle it may seem odd that she’s now taken to crafting music that wouldn’t be out of line with the work of Katy B, if albeit harbouring a more chilled out and mature sound. The diversity of her music shows she’s no stranger to a variety of genres; she’s made guest appearances on various records by Sampha and SBTRKT and a host of others; it’s just taken a while it seems to carve out her own, personal sound and subsequently a single. ‘Running’ is released at the end of next month. I don’t know if I’ll be running to get it however; personally, I find the sound is just too generic, alas there’s a definite chart topping subtext from her music somehow feeding itself into my subconscious. All I’ll say is -
BRITS 2013. Watch this space.
From Across the Pond: ∆ ALT-J
by victoria “slicvic” ferguson WHO: A quartet with a penchant for triangles. Their name is literally ∆ which you get from typing alt + j on a mac keyboard. Hence them being referred to as Alt-J.. Ooft how quirky. The boys are currently on tour with the Mercury-nominated Ghost Poet and are already confirmed to play at this year’s Great Escape Festival in Brighton. Good times. WHAT: Triangles aside, they make bloody good music mixing their musical influences of Metronomy and Radiohead to create their own, unique beat-infested sound. WHERE: Being a Northern lass myself, it pleases me to tell you that they are from Leeds and NO they sound nothing like The Kaiser Chiefs. Phew. WHEN: With their recent signing to Infectious Records the band will be releasing two tracks; the mesmerizing ‘Matilda’ and more innovative ‘Fitzpleasure’ on February the 27th. If you love a good remix then check out the BretonLABS Ghost version of ‘Fitzpleasure’. Dreamy. WHY: Because I have never heard anything like them before, which is a fairly rare occurrence in this day and age. Also they have a crazy website where you can mould and personalise your very own triangle. Careful though as option 4 uses strobe lighting and can cause seizures. Rock and Roll.
Songs to: Cruise 20 mph to... preferably with Hoes and Hydros by giulia aliverti Apparently hip-hop is all the rage these days and, as I have a sore throat and been sounding like T-Boz for the past few days, I have been inspired to find a couple of songs I think would sound really ‘coo’ for cruising around town in slowmo to. I don’t have a car. Most of you probably don’t have a car; if you live in London at least. Or any hot ‘bitches’ to hang out with...so you can always use the vehicle of your imagination or download this playlist on the iPod and watch the world go by on the No.55 bus instead. Sassy. 1) Eazy E - Real Muthafuckin G’s 2) Action Bronson & Riff Raff SODMG - Bird on A Wire 3) David Banner & Lil’ Flip - Like a Pimp 4) Compton’s Most Wanted - Hood Took Me Under 5) Tha Eastsidaz - Now We Lay ‘Em Down
WANT MORE MISCREANT? Thank you all for reading and submitting to issue 17! We’ve been getting more submissions now than ever, I’m glad to report. The readership and the support has been so incredible; thank you all, again, so much. Also, thank you to Good Neighbors for being a part of this issue. The boys are, in fact, my actual neighbors. They live two doors down from me, and, honestly, they are great neighbors. It’s not just a clever name. Anyways, my miscreants, we have more issues on the way! Be sure to send your album reviews, your artist profiles and your interviews to: firstname.lastname@example.org! Love, the miscreant PS - Be sure to check out what’s going on with Miscreant Records. There’s a Facebook and stuff. :)