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MGMT ventures deep into ‘Little Dark Age’

Now ten years since releasing chart-topping songs including “Time to Pretend” and “Electric Feel,” MGMT, well removed from popular music, emerges from its experimental rabbit hole with a nostalgically vintage sound in Little Dark Age, its fourth studio album.

MGMT, composed of the dynamic indie-rock duo of Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, rose to fame in 2008 with the tracks “Time to Pretend,” “Kids,” and “Electric Feel,” all of which were satirically composed—“Time to Pretend,” in particular, mocks the band’s potential meteoric rise to fame with them buying islands, having more women than necessary and overdosing just because, for rockstars, its par for the course.

Following Oracular Spectacular, MGMT left the soundscape of popular music and moved to the more fringe indie realm with their sophomore record Congratulations, which was more introspective in nature with a narrative dissecting the pressures and emotions the band faced while ascending to the heights of pop culture. This album was then followed by their self-titled album, composed entirely of unusual and often improvised melodies as the band played around with their sound.

However, with their move to making music in untested waters, both Congratulations and MGMT did not reach the critical acclaim of their debut record. In fact, MGMT experienced a critical descent following their strong debut despite the fact that both Congratulations and MGMT are great albums in their own right, particularly Congratulations, which many critics retrospectively view as the pair’s best record to date. Now, with Little Dark Age, MGMT applies the same awareness they did with Congratulations to the cultural paradigm of what is defined, for lack of a better term, as the Trump Era.

Leading to the release of Little Dark Age were four singles, the first being the title track which rides heavily the gothic aesthetic inherent to the dark ages. As the title track, “Little Dark Age” serves as a thematic guide to the rest of the album, but not necessarily restricted to the sound of the record. While “Little Dark Age” is a haunted synth-pop tune with motifs of fear and uncertainty, the first track on the album, “She Works Out Too Much,” is an ironic homage to ‘80s pop with the feel of Olivia Newton-John if her sound was influenced by psilocybin.

The second single accompanying the album was “When You Die,” a song that’s lyrically aggressive but melodically tender. “When You Die” displays an annexation between themes from Congratulations and the ideas which Little Dark Age attempts to convey all through the guise of ego. While Congratulations felt more personalized in the sense that the album focused more on the struggles of the “artist” (to put it pretentiously), “When You Die” is able to universalize similar themes in a somewhat symbolic way—death, as a great equalizer, serves as an unambiguous messenger of a message regarding the volatility of ego.

The fourth single released was “Me And Michael,” a cover of a song of the same name by True Faith, a rock band from the Philippines. It’s the closest the band will ever get to writing a pop song of the same caliber as their previous chart toppers, and the band is so aware of this that they mock stardom in the process. In the music video, VanWyngarden and Goldwasser are in different parts of the country (as they were before working on Little Dark Age since the band was on hiatus since 2013) and they share the song with each other, both falling in love with the innocent and compassionate sound of the song. VanWyngarden then says “It’s beautiful. We should steal this song” and the music begins. The rest of the video is a rapid dramatization of achieving fame, falling under scrutiny for stealing a song, then landing destitute before apologizing to True Faith for stealing “Michael.” Basically, it’s the themes of “Time to Pretend” rehashed and matured.

Finally, the third single, and the last song on the album, is “Hand It Over,” which is a spacey elegy to MGMT’s stardom. Like “Congratulations,” which comments on the band’s contributions to culture not mattering so long as “the tickets sell,” “Hand It Over” is the band exiting its little dark age by coming to terms with their place in the musical universe. The band’s denouement comes at the hands of record companies not rewarding experimentation but profit instead. However, the general theme of the song is the conflict of authority (a “king”) milking his constituents, who are responsible for his power as they grant it to him.

While it may not be the last record for MGMT, Little Dark Age could serve as a manic finale to the duo’s career together. It is holistic to the motifs the band has played with from day one and is, as such, a climax and resolution to the artistic arc of MGMT. After entering their own dark age following critical panning of their work, the band has created a beacon and encapsulated the inner-most conflicts of the infantile 21st century with Little Dark Age, all while the band grabs hold of the light at the end of their tunnel and resurfaces both anew and accomplished.

Second Half Struggles Lead to Loss at Home for Women’s Lacrosse

Image taken during the second half of the game.

By Tommy Kulikowski

February 28, 2018

ELIZABETHTOWN, PA– Kate Ziegler scored back-to-back goals, tying the game at 11-11 before the Marymount Saints went on a late six-goal scoring streak, holding women’s lacrosse to an 18-13 non-conference loss at Wolf Field on Wednesday evening. Ziegler scored the first four goals of her career in the loss and Blue Jay senior Carly Thompson recorded the 100th goal of her career.

Abby Wescott scored 1:43 into the game to put Marymount up early, but Carly Thompson took control of the next draw, scoring roughly 13 seconds later to make it 1-1. Marymount responded quickly, taking back the lead and adding two more to go up 4-1 with 22:03 left in the game.

A shot clock violation on Marymount seemed to cause a momentum shift in favor of the Blue Jays shortly after. Emily Garvin, a freshman forward, blew defensive coverage immediately after the violation, sparking a bit of hope for the Blue Jays, who soon went on a two-goal run to make the game 3-4. Under a minute later, Carly Thompson received a pass from Blue Jay senior Madelyn Baker and put it in the back of the net to score her second of the game and 100th of her career.

“It was a great accomplishment, but I knew the work hadn’t been done yet and I had to forget about it in the moment,” Thompson said. Thompson’s goal was followed by two back-to-back goals scored by Baker, putting Elizabethtown up by two, 6-4, with ten minutes to go in the half.

The Saint’s broke their scoreless drought soon after, tying the game 6-6 with two goals in under a minute. Both teams went back and forth for the rest of the half, but not before a lone goal by Katie Thompson and two last-minute goals for Marymount gave the visitors an 8-7 lead going into halftime.

Marymount came into the second half fired up, making an early 3-1 run and putting themselves up 11-8 with 11:48 left to play. Kate Thompson scored another unassisted goal to bring the Blue Jays to within two, and Kate Ziegler added two more goals to tie up the game.

“It was a crazy feeling scoring my first hat trick ever to tie up the game,” Ziegler said.

The momentum shift forced Marymount to take a timeout and allowed them to take control of the game late on. Soon after, the Saints netted six straight goals to take a 17-11 lead with eight minutes left in the game. The Blue Jays fought hard to close the gap, but late goals by Carly Thompson and Kate Ziegler were not enough, leading to an 18-13 loss at home.

“Luckily this wasn’t a conference game,” Garvin said. “Losing is never fun, but a lot of the girls played really well tonight and I think it’s a good sign going forward.”

The Deciding Shot

The Christian Youth Organization game at the Nook athletic facility always seemed to have an interesting ending. The teams consisted of a solid mix of skill, often leading to a close game ending. The teams, were made up of younger and older players. Will Riva, Richard Riva Jr. and Chris Carl were the top scores of the game, all on the blue jersey team. Although recently deciding to start playing for the CYO catholic team, they were an unstoppable group. Will Riva, the team’s main point guard, said “ The CYO events give me the opportunity to show my skill. Being at a collegiate level at Villanova, I can’t play unless I make the team. With my major being in accounting, I just don’t have the time.”

The game would be the blue jersey team against the white jersey team. Although the white uniform dressed team didn’t look like much, they were fast. They would start off the game with two three point shot bringing the game to a 6-0 lead within 30 seconds. Though this lead would be lost within the next minute. Riva Jr. would go on to knock down three two-pointers with two rebounds in the process. Though, this would only be the beginning for the white team. Will, Richard, and Chris would go on 22 point drive. Six rebounds, two steals and a plethora of points, the white dressed team appeared to have control of the rest of the game.

The white’s lead drive couldn’t go on forever. With sinking a clean three-point shot through the net, Richard celebrated. The distaste could be seen in the face of the competitors in blue. They were motivated for some revenge. They would return with a 8-2 run, attempting to at least get close to even the score. The board read 24-14 white. Chris Carl, a 14 year-old player, showed little emotion “We were going to beat them, it doesn’t matter by how much, I just know I am walking home another victory heavier.”

Going into the second half of the game, there was intense defense. The game went on in favor of the blue team due to the large amount of players they had on the bench. The score tied going into the last 20 seconds of the game. With the white team heading up the floor, Chris Carl would complete the unusual strategy. With Riva heading up the court, the chance of winning fell upon his shoulders. Chris charged towards Will, in an attempt to try and confuse the opposing team’s player. It worked perfectly, the defender started to rush towards Chris’s open corner, only to turn and see that Chris was the one yelling “I got point!”

Will Riva drained the deciding three. When asked if there was any doubt, Will responded “When I play golf I don’t think about my swing, and it goes in with my skill. It’s no different when it comes to shooting in basketball.” That was that, the white team was walking away a winner, a win heavier. There was no cheering or celebration. The team simply said their thanks and quietly walked out as a band of brothers. They knew they were good, there was just the want to be humble.

The Baby and the Bird

Kenneth Berkenstock

Dr.Poniatowski

Introduction to Writing Across the Media

02/08/2018

The Baby and Bird

The onlookers eyes lay glazed in the vision of the speaker. A 7 P.M. class was less than ideal for most of the students attending. Although the speaker and the presentation was quite interesting. The speaker, Dr. David Downing, gave a presentation detailing the accounts of WW1 and the effect the war had on some of the greatest literature ever written. Narnia and Lord of the Rings are considered some of the most cherished literature, but how much is know of the authors.

These great tales begin in the dark, barren lands of Europe and its trenches. Both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis would see these unimaginable terrors up front. “Having both been at Oxford, the demand to fight for their country was there” Dr.Downing stated in the presentation.

“ Though neither were actually from the British mainland,” Downing chuckled at this statement. With being transferred to the front lines, the foundation of both books would be laid. When asking a fellow student James Vernon about how he viewed the presentation his response was simple “Downing brings life into a simple presentation, what may be perceived as a simple lecture has a greater means with him speaking.”

Downing touched upon the importance Oxford would play for both these writers. When they returned from the war, each learned of their own intentions of writing about these “fantasies”. The writers would eventually come together and meet at their favorite bar, The Baby and Bird. Their group would eventually expand and included others to look upon the writings and have their own input. Dr. Downing would go on to explain the importance that this would play in shaping each chapter, for the better or the worse. Caleb Clements also a fellow student felt that “What may seem like an uninteresting topic for a bio major still grabbed my attention with great interest.”

One of the key aspects of both stories would be how Christianity was tied into each of the writers stories. Multiple aspects for each writer’s life is deeply entwined with the writings. WW1 would be the push that opened up each authors ideas and truest feelings. With J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing, the characters are also perceived as being a band of brothers, just as him and his fellows in the unit were considered. Each character has strengths and weaknesses that were key to making the group complete. With C.S. Lewis the same could be seen with his writings, though there would be an aspect that would be seen with darker emotions. Battles would carry the same erie strategies of WW1, large mass charges towards the enemy lines would be seen in particular battle scenes. The groups would be mercilessly mowed down with no success, just as in WW1.

Ultimately, these findings played a big part in allowing students to have a deeper understanding of what these great stories stored. Often it is thought that key events give true depth to what the author is writing of. The events that are felt or seen are redistributed through the words of an author. This attempt at giving fuller meaning may not always be transferred exactly as wanted. Overall emotions can only be shared so much, it is the skill of the author that is able to capture this moment and pass it.

 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Review

 

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and adapted for the screen from Best-Selling author Jesse Andrews, is about three highschoolers in rural Pittsburgh, one of which is recently diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. As an admirer of indie films, this one really impressed me. This small and touching movie had the best of cinematography, music, and acting. All of which surpassed expectations and turned out to be a work of art. In addition, the music is quirky and kooky, fitting for “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”.

Thomas Mann portrays Greg, the lanky, socially awkward teenager who only has one “friend”. His physique and way of words is almost an exact replica of one may think of when they try picturing Greg Gaines from the novel. His lifelong best friend is Earl, who Greg often refers to as his “coworker” due to his inability to trust people enough to consider them friends. Earl and Greg make films, though not good ones, but still short and creative films using Greg’s parent’s camera. Completing the trio is Rachel, the dying girl. Olivia Cooke is another excellent casting choice, and her snappy and witty comebacks are hilarious, and will make even the friend with the worst sense of humor giggle like a Japanese schoolgirl.

The cinematography definitely had indie written all over it. Written may be an understatement, as every aspect of the movie is indie-esque in its own unique ways. Moments such as when Greg reluctantly begins to show Rachel his movie collection, and the seasons passing by in different shots are great examples of top-notch camera work. It’s truly a classic of our time and but should only be shown to anyone worthy enough of gazing upon this glorious film.

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“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” in pristine, paperback format.

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is a uniquely sympathetic dive into the struggles of high school, and taking care of a sick (really sick) friend. The music choice is excellent, and one can truly feel the emotions and sense the ambiguous future of Greg Gaines and his sick partner in crime, Rachel Kushner.

What’s similar about “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” and other teenager cancer movies are that people walk in expecting a sort of cliché movie. Two teenagers find out they have cancer, and fall madly in love with each other, and spend the rest of their lives together (which isn’t very long really). But what people wouldn’t expect is the laughter that ensues.

Unfortunately, a few people may find “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” appalling, but a few scenes will be bound to sneak past their defenses.

In conclusion, I won’t try to beg you or convince anyone to watch this movie. Everyone has a decision in whether or not they want to spend 1 hour and 45 minutes of their life on a movie, but all I can say is this: This was my first glimpse into indie movies. It’s a wonderful and happy experience when you watch it and when you see your friend’s reactions to the funny scenes when they first view it. It’s a quirky movie that you can call your favorite, and still be different. It’s a movie that you can tell people, “This is me. This movie is LITERALLY me and values and hopes and dreams and everything I’ve ever lived for.” Maybe not… but you understand, right?

This utterly irresistible comedy-drama featuring a lovable group of misfits definitely gets a 10/10 from me.