Jerica: “So my major is english and I have a concentration in professional writing and my minor is in communications.”
Miranda: “And what is a memorable memory you have had at Etown?”
Jerica: “There are a lot. I’m in Mad Cow, the campus improve group, and last year I got to experience the senior show and be a part of it. And that’s essentially whenever all of the seniors in the group get to plan, and place all of us in whatever games they want to play. And on our last game last year, last year, I like did my thing and then went off to the side of the stage and joined all of the other members of the group and I got to watch as all of the seniors did like their last scenes and it was really, really emotional. It was like the first time I’ve ever cried in front of an audience that big or in front of like a lot of people generally. Just looking at them as their like finishing their scenes kind of makes me think that’s going to be me this year too, but also how thankful I am that I could be a part of that experience for them.”
Dragon Ball couldn’t be a bigger hit today. With the success of Dragon Ball Super, the newest series in the Dragon Ball saga, the Dragon Ball Legacy has been a storm since the last two movies came out.
Dragon Ball is about the adventures of a kid named Goku on the hunt to find the mystic dragon balls and when all seven are collected the person who summons the dragon from them is granted one wish. This series ran for five seasons, but then it’s brother series Dragon Ball Z took over. Dragon Ball Z(DBZ) was still about Goku who was now grown up with a family and a son. DBZ focused more on action scenes then mystical adventures like the original series did. DBZ ran for nine seasons with 15 movies to its name. The latest two movies are what I’ll be taking a look at.
Battle of Gods was released during the month of august with a limited run. It takes place right after the defeat of Majin Buu. Goku is busy training on King Kai’s planet when he’s told about Beerus the god of destruction waking up from his 39 year nap. Beerus had a vision when sleeping about a rival for himself, something called a super saiyan god. He learns of Goku being on King Kai’s planet and decides to pay him a visit to learn more about the saiyan race and this so called super saiyan god. When they arrive Goku has to hide so he doesn’t try and fight with Beerus, but after getting called out of hiding and introducing himself Goku asks and Beerus accepts the challenge. Goku goes straight into his strongest form Super Saiyan 3 and tries to land a punch on Beerus, but Beerus clearly shows why he’s the god of destruction. He takes Goku out in two hits leaving him in a status of pain till Beerus leaves to go towards earth and find out more information from the other saiyans still alive.
That was a lot to talk about and that was only the first third of the movie. I won’t go into anymore details because it’s a must watch for anime fans and DBZ fans. It respects the material it spawns from and gives it new life to a series once thought dead. I give DBZ movie 14 Battle of Gods an eight and a half out of ten. Now let’s continue this show by looking at the next DBZ movie Resurrection ‘F’.
Resurrection ‘F’ was released on April 11th, but only released around the nation during the month of August. This movies takes place a few months after Battle of Gods making these two movies a pair. Two aliens from outer space are having trouble running their operations to take planets and sell them. They have to resort to resurrecting their boss Lord Frieza to help them with this task. When the pair do revive him, Frieza wants nothing to do with their plans and wants to get revenge on the saiyan who killed him: Goku. During this time Goku and his rival Vegeta have been training on Beerus’s planet with his attendant Whis. While training Whis tells the two they need to start moving without thought and their fighting will improve, while all this is going on a new character in introduced to the audience. Jaco the galactic patrolman comes to earth to warn Bulma, a friend of Goku and wife of Vegeta, about Frieza’s arrival on earth in a few days. Trying to get their attention on Beerus’s planet Bulma tries to call them with a strawberry sundae to give to them, but it doesn’t work and the rest of the Z-Warriors(earth defenders) to try and hold of Frieza and his army before Goku and Vegeta arrive to help.
Again this is only around one-third of the movie. If I go on and try to tell the rest people won’t go and watch the movie. This was a very excellent follow-up to Battle of Gods, but some of the fight scenes use a lot of computer animations and looks like a video game from 2015. Aside from that it’s still a good movie for the DBZ fans. I give this movie a eight out of ten with my own personal recommendation to go and watch these two movies.
The name alone carries a feeling of something massive and hulking, trudging its way through the unknown slowly, yet methodically, much like the extinct creature of eons ago. That exact feeling encapsulates the existence of the heavy metal band Mastodon. The Atlanta-based quartet released their newest album “Emperor of Sand” on March 31 via Reprise Records, with the album charting at #7 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums, with 43,000 units initially sold.
“Emperor of Sand” mainly continues with the more straightforward stoner metal/hard rock approach Mastodon started experimenting with on 2011’s “The Hunter” and really embraced on 2014’s “Once More ‘Round the Sun.” However, there is also another side of Mastodon; their harsher, heavier sludge/progressive metal days starting with their 2002 debut “Remission.” I personally prefer the more hard rock Mastodon that has evolved within the past several years. While their earlier, sludgier discography is certainly good, they seemed to have found their niche rooted within stoner metal-tinged hard rock. However, whereas “Once More ‘Round the Sun” was completely rooted in slower, more melodic hard rock, “Emperor of Sand” shows glimmers of that sludge metal sound from what some consider Mastodon’s glory era starting with “Remission” and peaking at 2009’s “Crack the Skye.”
I adored “Once More ‘Round the Sun” so much I consider it one of my favorite albums of all time, so upon hearing the opening track, “Sultan’s Curse,” it was very nice to hear that it could have come right off the previous album. Opening with some ominous chimes, the song then blasts the listener with a pounding, yet melodic, riff complemented by the soaring vocals, the duty shared among drummer Brann Dailor, bassist Troy Sanders and lead guitarist Brent Hinds. The chorus then evolves into an atmospheric, dreamy riff courtesy of Hinds and rhythm guitarist (and mustache extraordinaire) Bill Kelliher. Overall, it was a solid track that was hopefully indicative of things to come.
The next track, “Show Yourself,” caught me completely off-guard, as the instrumentals were noticeably more upbeat than “Sultan’s Curse,” to the point where I felt like I could even get up and dance to the track; at least, until the guitar solos kicked in with their own flurry of notes. This sort of dichotomy is a theme among the tracks on the album. On one hand, there are more atmospheric and slower tracks such as “Andromeda” and “Word to the Wise”; ones I expected after hearing the opening two tracks, not to mention the previous album. However, I was also pleasantly surprised to hear the heavier, classic end of Mastodon’s sound, with songs such as “Roots Remain” and especially “Jaguar God” being pounding and relentless, with rapid-fire riffs and a clockwork-tight rhythm section reminiscent of their earlier albums. For as much as I enjoyed “Once More ‘Round the Sun,” it definitely lacked in tracks with balls, if you will. While I wasn’t disappointed with the lighter overall feeling of that album, I myself was raised in thrash and death metal, so I’ve a bit of a bias towards the heavier end of the metal spectrum. With tracks such as those, the itch I had since “Once More” was scratched with “Emperor of Sand.”
In the end, “Emperor of Sand” may just be the quintessential Mastodon album. While an argument over the best Mastodon album has no definitive answer, “Emperor of Sand” is certainly the best at showcasing the evolution of their sound, combining the stoner metal-tinged hard rock of modern Mastodon with the sharp, progressive-sludge metal of early Mastodon through a variety of tracks. It’s definitely a must-listen, even for Mastodon fans who were disappointed with the band’s lighter, more mainstream direction in recent years. While I do believe “Once More ‘Round the Sun” is still the band’s best record as a whole, “Emperor of Sand” has a variety not found in the former, and may even signal a return to form long-time Mastodon fans have been craving if the band decides to return to their roots even more for the next album.
“Who teaches us to be normal when we’re one of a kind?”
Those words, spoken by Rachel Keller’s Syd Barrett (yes, named after that Syd Barrett), define one of the many incredibly grounded, human themes playing in the background of FX’s Legion, a new television series based on one of Marvel Entertainment’s many successful X-Men comics of the same name.
In this new superhuman endeavor, created by Noah Hawley (known for his work on FX’s “Fargo” series), Dan Stevens (of “Downton Abbey” and “Beauty and the Beast” fame) plays David Haller, a man who is believed to suffer from paranoid schizophrenic delusions, but may be much more than anyone thinks.
In the comics, David Haller is Legion, the antihero son of Gabrielle Haller and Charles Xavier, the telepathic mutant famously played on film by Sir Patrick Stewart. While Dan Stevens lacks Legion’s infamous high-top hairstyle, his spirit remains the same – a manic, uncertain man coming into an incredible amount of power and not being sure what to do with it. At its core, “Legion” is about a man going through a cycle of acceptance, and the reality of that shows very clearly on Stevens’s face. As extreme as David’s situation is, he’s someone people can connect with on a very deep, very human level, despite the fact that he can hear others’ thoughts and send kitchenware flying with his mind.
Aside from Dan Stevens, the rest of the cast is incredibly smart and well-cast, filled with televisions veterans and newbies alike. Amber Midthunder and Bill Irwin make a fantastic team as Kerry Loudermilk and Cary Loudermilk (yes, you read that right), and Aubrey Plaza makes a wonderfully bizarre Lenny Busker – a role originally written for a middle-aged man.
Jean Smart dominates as Melanie Bird, the stoic leader of “Legion”’s band of mutants. She carries herself with the style of Miranda Priestly and the biting wit of Rizzo from “Grease”, shutting down antagonists with unforgettable one-liners like, “You’d better learn to fly like a bird, because the age of the dinosaur is over.”
Jemaine Clement, known for his comedic work in HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords” and 2014’s “What We Do in the Shadows”, brings well-placed laughs as Oliver Bird, the eccentric and long-suffering (or so everyone thinks) husband of Melanie with a fondness for beat poetry and jazz music.
Each character is a scene-stealer in their own right, but the real gem of the show is Noah Hawley’s ability to create an atmosphere that feels foreign and dangerous, getting audiences inside David Haller’s head and projecting his frenzied emotions onto viewers. Prime-time television has seen some other well-received superhero television shows – like the CW’s DC properties and ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” – but nothing quite like the acid trip that “Legion” delivers. The show shifts from reality to imagination (and maybe even further) seamlessly, often blurring the line between the two so strongly that viewers have difficulty distinguishing them. In one moment, everything seems normal, and in the next, soldiers are piled together in a floating heap, or a character is literally dancing through the fabric of reality to Bassnectar’s remix of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good”. And that’s just how Hawley likes it.
The series reads like one long Kubrick film, and isn’t afraid to push the envelope when it comes to production value. Subtle hints to the show’s origins are worked into the set or the camera work – like the circular windows with the x-shaped frames that look eerily similar to the famous X-Men logo (also seen in the show’s title cards) – but they also aren’t shy about using cinematography to drive the story.
Hawley and his team aren’t afraid to play with color and color symbolism, often surrounding their actors with bright hues in the setting or washing them in pure colored lighting to signify something important. Whether it be the bright blue of innocence and safety that shows up in places like the “astral plane” inside the characters’ psyches, the orange that connects David back to his time in Clockworks Mental Hospital, or the dark, sinister stoplight-red that colors a frame every time an antagonist has the upper hand, Hawley colors his show like a child with a set of neon markers, and it works out wonderfully.
Some may call it strange, but most would call it a masterpiece. Noah Hawley and his cast of mutants have succeeded in telling a story that few would be able to translate to the screen, pulling viewers into what David would call a “romance of the mind”.
I’ll admit it. I was a late bloomer to my “emo phase.” I don’t think I’m entirely over it yet.
Bands like Manchester Orchestra and Brand New still haunt my Spotify playlists. A notable band from my emo-childhood is Balance & Composure. Having all of a band’s records on vinyl keeps me listening to them. Recently, their second album, “The Things We Think We’re Missing,” has been spinning nonstop. This rekindled relationship led me to check out their newest effort, “Light We Made,” which was released in 2016.
Forming in 2007, Balance & Composure started to garner success in 2013 when “The Things We Think We’re Missing” reached 51 on the Billboard 200 and 10 on the Independent Albums chart. The band, who hail from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, have had a consistent alternative rock sound since their conception. It only makes sense that the band would branch out on their newest release. I would liken “Light We Made’s” sound to shoegaze… now I just wish I liked it.
The first song “Midnight Zone” sets the tone for the whole album. Starting off with a lilting fuzz loop, I was immediately turned off by the mixing of the vocals. Throughout the rest of the album, the vocalist will go on these incomprehensible rants. (I would’ve missed half the lyrics if I didn’t have them open in another tab while reviewing this.) When the vocalist’s voice was brought back to the center of the song, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him trying falsetto.
“Midnight Zone” features repetitive lyrics of a confusing relationship. This was new to me. Their older songs moved through well-crafted scenes of remorse and selfishness, rarely following the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure. With that in mind, there seems to be a new lyrical theme of looking beyond oneself and allusions to “Separation” with lyrics about flowers in songs like “Mediocre Love” and “Loam.”
“Spinning” continued to push me away from the computer with the distant vocal effect, but had remnants of their old music buried within it. I liked the sonar effect that can be first heard on this track and is used on other songs like “For A Walk.”
“Afterparty” is the standard Balance & Composure song. If I was introducing a friend to this artist, I would share this song with them. It featured loud guitars, though I felt like I’ve heard four songs of theirs with the same guitar part. This song also marked the first time I could hear the bass in the album. It was not nearly as interesting or as prominent as old tracks like “Stonehands” and “Quake.” On the next track, “For a Walk,” the bass suddenly becomes too loud after only being subtly introduced in the previous. I audibly exclaimed, “Hell that’s a fuzz bass!” when the song began. It scared me a bit to be honest.
There are consistent lyrical themes of sex and death juxtaposed. Death is used only as analogy for ending the problems within a relationship or ending the relationship itself. For example, “For a Walk” features lines like “Undress me, the lights low. I’m dying in your bedroom.” “Mediocre Love” does the same: “Underneath your linen fabric, lay yourself to rest.”
“Postcard” was the only single I listened to before I fully-immersed myself in this album. I first heard it when they posted a music video for the song. While the music video is a good combination of sound and visuals, the music alone has little to offer. The beat is impossible not to dance to, but I feel as though this song (as well as the whole album) was made with the intention of being background noise. Something you would only put on against the backdrop of a noisy house-party or ignore as you write a research paper.
I adore listening to music and up until “Light We Made,” Balance & Composure used to make that kind of music. I’m nostalgic for the stories of regret and self-pity and how well they used to display raw human emotions in their lyrics. I miss the loud instruments and grunge vocals of years past. If Balance & Composure doesn’t want to make alt rock music anymore and move forward with their sound, I’ll respect it. I just can’t guarantee that I’ll enjoy it as much.
All in all, I would say I didn’t mind checking out “Light We Made,” it just might be a while before I check it out again. Songs that I enjoyed the most are “Afterparty” and “Fame.” On a scale of one to 10, this album gets a strong 3/10, maybe leaning towards a low four. If this review in any way encouraged you to check out “Light We Made” or any of Balance & Composure’s other music, you can find them on iTunes or streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify.