ALUR | 30 Songs Until Election Day

My mind has been beyond preoccupied with the upcoming election. Maybe it’s because this is the first presidential election that I’m eligible to vote in, or perhaps it’s because we’re essentially deciding between an experienced politician and a xenophobic businessman. Either way, I’ve been grasping at every last news story, praying to the universe that the fateful day in November will be okay. In browsing Facebook for the latest, I came across a trending hashtag about Death Cab for Cutie. As any reasonable person would, I clicked, but what I discovered surprised me.


PEGAN | Views From the Mosh Pit Two: The Dabbler

In her Sept. 14 piece “Views from The Edge of the Mosh Pit: Making Peace with Periphery,” Sun columnist Jael Goldfine ’17 approached the topic of moshing from the perspective of an observer, and ended up tackling a more general subject: what it’s like to be at a punk or hardcore show, and how the experience is different for everyone.  “I’ll leave the space of a column about moshing,” wrote Goldfine, “to someone/anyone who a.) semi-regularly inhabits mosh pits and b.) engages a perspective somewhere in the vast space between the belief that moshing is the salvation from the crippling boredom of the postmodern condition…and [the belief] that it’s a feminist nightmare …” I match these two criteria, and like Goldfine, believe moshing to be a subject fraught with multiple levels of socio-politics, and well worth writing a column about. To call myself even a “semi-regular” inhabitant of mosh pits would perhaps be a stretch, but I’ve moshed a handful of times in my life, and as recently as last month at the Pig Destroyer concert at The Haunt. Of all of my moshing experience, however, the only one that was truly significant was my first at the age of 14: an all-day, body-ravaging bender at, of all things, a Christian music festival in New Jersey.


JONES | Venison and Numerology: The Stories of Bon Iver

Sometimes, the story behind an album eats up the album itself. The legend is that 25-year-old Justin Vernon, graduate of the University of Wisconsin — Eau Claire with a degree in religious studies, had hit a rough patch. Tortured by the unfulfilled yearning of his hungry, wild heart, he retreated to a cabin in Wisconsin to commune with the gods of young white male pain. Alone in the snow, he crafted out of the forge of his soul a collection of songs of such tender, fragile beauty that they didn’t even need discernible lyrics to make you cry. The resulting album, For Emma, Forever Ago, quickly helped define a growing scene of bearded, flannel-wearing, woodsy/folksy/strumming singer-songwriter hipsters, a movement that vaguely championed a return to nature and natural instruments.


GOULDTHORPE | Stayin’ Alive (and Terrible)

In 1951, Walt Disney Pictures released Alice in Wonderland, a tale of absurdity and surrealism that wonderfully demonstrated the unlimited realities that animation can create. In 2010, Walt Disney Pictures released Alice in Wonderland, a live-action film that is kind of a sequel even though it doesn’t follow Through the Looking Glass. It transformed the Mad Hatter into an emotionally tortured Johnny Depp, crammed Alice into a cliched “chosen one” journey and tried to insert politics, war and worst of all real life into a world where fantasy is supposed to dominate. Needless to say, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the 2010 remake, and it currently sits at 5.7/10 on Rotten Tomatoes. Nevertheless, it made enough money to warrant the remake of several Disney animated classics into live-action films. In the past six years, these remakes have included Cinderella, Maleficent and The Jungle Book (note that the 2016 Tarzan movie is not a Disney film, but a Warner Bros.


SWAN | Trying to Be Relevant

I was at a party one time and I was introduced to someone through a mutual friend. “This is Nick,” my friend said. “He’s really into music and he plays the piano.”

“Cool, that’s sort of interesting! What do you like to play on the piano?”

“Well, I’m classically trained, and my favorite composers are Bach and Chopin.”

“Wow, you must be really sensitive and have an exquisite taste for the nuances of creating art, like Bach’s subtle suspensions and dissonances in ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’ and other works!”

Or, some derivative of that story occurred, sans the closing remark. Being introduced as a musician of the western classical tradition often garners a vague, uninspired response of awe and not much further dialogue.


GOLDFINE | Alpha Art Bros, Clitoral Bangers and The Chainsmokers

I love The Chainsmokers and I’m fucking bitter about it. I love them the way I love reality television: deeply and wretchedly, gluttonously and gloriously. I love them the way you love a boy who doesn’t know you exist. I’m bitter because The Chainsmokers bought their fame with aural scourge, “#SELFIE,” a laughable gesture at cultural critique (about like, image culture or millennial lifestyle or whatever) that did it’s real work as a femininity-bashing reduction of women to jealousy, narcissism and mirror-primping chatter. I’m bitter because Drew Taggart and Alex Pall are spokesboys of a thriving subculture of Alpha art bros, aka standard edition frat bros disguised in a deceptive costume of floral button-ups and Nike Frees, dripping with entrepreneurial smugness; the EDM analogue to the nerdboys with god complexes who start a successful business exploiting a market trend, care a little bit about their product (they refer to their music as “topline” or “deliverables”) but a lot about making stupid amounts money and being very famous; and now want to spit in everyone’s faces saying, “fuck all y’all who said we wouldn’t.”

I’m bitter because “Even before success, pussy was number one,” “It’s always work hard, play hard,” “You’ll never see us getting carried out of a club.


ALUR | When Did Vinyl Become Cool Again?

Records, like books, offer a subtle sentimentality that many of us seek in the modern era. I grew up listening to my dad’s records, albums he had carefully collected over the course of his adolescent and adult life. He filled our house with Steely Dan on Saturday mornings and Bob Dylan on Sundays. As I got older, he would routinely take my brother and I into Boston to look at used records. We’d accompany him to old shops that smelled of musk and mildew, watching as he carefully sorted through boxes and shelves until he found a record that intrigued him.


STANTON | Just Let Him Be Great: Jay Z’s Art of Success

There’s an old adage that says that images matter much more than facts. It’s one that the 24-hour news cycle has exploited to no end, conflating entire political movements with visuals of a burning car or convincing the American public that Ohio Governor John Kasich — at any given time of day — is stuffing his face with a cheeseburger. The Internet, too, possesses this nefarious power. In one fell swoop, an iconic figure like Michael Jordan may find himself reduced to a teary-eyed meme, just as a tragically slain gorilla may become an overnight martyr. It’s a high-stakes game that mocks the entire field of Public Relations, effectively tying a figure’s reputation to a few unfortunate stills.


MEISEL | How to Play Christian Rock

From about age 15-17 I played bass for my high school’s in-house Christian worship band. Each Thursday once a week we would gather our gear in the chapel for a run-through of the classic standards our audiences had come to know with every Sunday of every month of every year. We jammed around. We sang pristine 21st century Christian music, which often sounded as if some type of cliché folk-indie band had encountered divine inspiration. It was usually fun, not to mention the shows.


VAN ZILE | Stay Awake For Fun

Today I have a challenge for you. A simple one, yes, and maybe a pointless one too, but a challenge. For no immediate reason, try and stay up for as long as you possibly can. Most people, in my experience, do not want to do this. I like asking casual acquaintances how long they’ve ever stayed awake at a time, and after people tell me, they almost always say something like, “Ugh, it was awful.