Everyone has their guilty pleasures. I have to admit, Pirates of the Caribbean is one of mine. How can you not love the soundtrack from At World’s End? Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is just around the corner, and I’m wondering what they’re going to do with it. After internet pirates ironically “pirated” the movie, which is about pirates, I wondered what would possess them to do that.
West End China Shop is a shabby rock outfit comprised of four self described “basement dads.” They play garage rock tunes with plenty of keyboard, for the kids and no one else. Drums: Jonny Collazo, Arts and Sciences, Comparative Literature, Class of 2018
Bass: Stephen Meisel, Arts and Sciences, Comparative Literature, Class of 2018
Keys: Franklin Ellis, CALS, Development Sociology/ IARD, Class of 2019
Vox/ Guitar: J. Benjamin Montaño, Arts and Sciences, Gov’t /Comparative Literature, Class of 2019
Videographers: LeeAnn Marcello
Video Editor: LeeAnn Marcello
Audio Engineer: TJ Hurd
In collaboration with Electric Buffalo Records and Fanclub Collective
Just last week, singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens unexpectedly dropped a live version of his seventh album, Carrie & Lowell. After having relentlessly poured over the contents of that haunting, minimalistic tour-de-force all of two years ago – has it really been that long? – the sudden reincarnation of what is arguably Stevens’ greatest album invites loyal fans to re-examine the differences in cadence, nuance and theme that inevitably arise from hearing recorded familiarities performed live. But as much as I’d like to provide an exhaustive critique of the entire live album, one song in particular stands out for being both more potent than its studio counterpart, yet confidently similar in style. “Should Have Known Better,” Carrie & Lowell’s third track, was never my favorite of the original release, but when performed live, its thematic density becomes astoundingly apparent.
I find myself undergoing a mid-college existential crisis as I finish what has proven to be a rather formative sophomore year here at Cornell. It is not so much a cerebral catastrophe, one marked by some bleak, emotional indifference, but rather the overwhelming curiosity one experiences when discovering the utter vastness and complexity of the world, or less loftily, our own university’s community — less L’Étranger and more the end of Boyhood. I recall a moment that occurred in one of my first lectures at Cornell, ECON 1120: Introductory Macroeconomics back in the fall of 2015, when our professor offered us a bit of sage guidance: “During your freshmen year of college, you do not know anything, but you do not know that you do not know anything. In your sophomore year of college, you realize that you do not know anything. At the end of your junior year you definitely know some things, but you do not know that you do know something.
“Usually, when I tell people that I make music, I don’t reference Primary Colors,” says the polite, affable sophomore. “Instead I say, ‘Check me out on Soundcloud.’” Sitting in front of me with his work neatly put aside to accommodate this impromptu interview is Paul Russell, who is an opinion columnist for The Sun and is otherwise known by the name ‘Paulitics’ under which he raps, sings and writes music. We’re sitting at a table in Temple of Zeus on Friday afternoon, the last day of class before Spring Break. Over the course of this winter break, I grew familiar with Paul’s work, after he granted me permission to use some of his songs in a feature-length film I was co-directing. Naturally, this level of familiarity with his work made me want to learn more about the artist behind the music I was so generously given access to; Hence this interview.
There are few things more complex and engaging than a virtual band in the era of technology and the internet. British virtual band Gorillaz, created by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, has been around since 1998. Since then, the band and technology have been pushing forward rapidly. The four members — 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russel — are not meant to be a normal band. They have an unusual dynamic, and as Russel described in a recent Skype interview, their “history is a dirty, shallow lake, clogged up with grievances, grudges, decomposing bodies.” Indeed, for 2010 album Plastic Beach, Murdoc kidnapped 2D and forced him to make the album with him.
I started writing this column two years ago, and then again a year ago. No, really it’s in my iPhone notes. I’m a preemptively nostalgic sort of person, it’s not cute. At those times, my own personal zeitgeist must have seemed clear to me. Self-satisfied and obnoxious as these shriveled up column introductions read to me now — written bathed in the smug, warm glow of a coherent sense of self — their existence indicates to me that even within them, I knew these moments wouldn’t last.
The Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies played at Ithaca’s State Theatre Sunday night and delivered an incredibly upbeat and engaging performance. The group is known best for singles like “One Week,” “It’s All Been Done” and “If I Had $1000000,” but every song they played was filled with passion. Alan Doyle and his band, who blend folk and rock, opened for the group. Doyle was an excellent frontman who engaged the audience, even though most did not know the lyrics to his songs. Singer and fiddler Kendel Carson was an especially impressive member of the band, dancing around the stage while playing flawlessly.
Race has long been a salient topic in the United States, but the production of Baltimore by the Department of Performing and Media Arts and the Ithaca Civic Ensemble demonstrates why it is so important to talk about right now. The play touches on crucial concepts such as police brutality, the black-white binary, intersectionality and jokes that go too far, all on a college campus. An African-American student and RA named Shelby (Edem Dzodzomenyo ’20) goes to interview her university’s new dean, Dean Hernandez (Irving Torres ’18) for the newspaper, and they argue about his convocation speech and the issue of race on campus, which Shelby prefers to ignore. She leaves frustrated about his views on race and goes to vent about the encounter with her best friend, Grace (Sabrina Liu ’20). During their conversation, Grace receives a message and informs Shelby that someone has drawn a caricature of a black woman on the door of Shelby’s resident, Alyssa, who is black.
This is my last column. It’s the last time I’ll spill out a series of opinions about musicians that I’m unjustifiably obsessed with, the last time I’ll claim any sort of authority on the arts. When I stumbled into the Arts and Entertainment section, I was a struggling sophomore, trying to find a space to write outside of my courses. My dad was eager for me to join The Cornell Daily Sun, having heard of the many successful alumni that started their writing careers at The Sun. I took his word for it, and started writing test spins and single reviews, enjoying my newfound freedom to spell out my opinions on quarter-page sections of the paper.
Hari Kunzru’s new novel White Tears takes the reader on a historical rollercoaster that weaves between the real and the surreal. A novel that comments on various dimensions of the race problem in America, White Tears transports both the novel’s protagonist, Seth, and its audience between contemporary New York City and Southern states under the oppression of Jim Crow. Kunzru skillfully navigates a complex novel with a plot that is not simply entertaining, but one that also carries an important message about the notions of culture and “post-racial America.”
The Wall Street Journal claims that “Kunzru can rival…any current novelist with the strength of his prose and imaginative blondness,” and indeed his latest novel proves this statement true. A Brooklyn native, Kunzru does an incredible job of painting the city in vivid shades of grit and romance. The first half of the novel, carried by the New York City setting, portrays a tangible realism that depicts the protagonists’ specious “struggling artist” identities.