Note: The reviewer arrived too late to see the opening act, What Nerve. The Chanticleer’s top floor is the perfect setting for shows that bridge the divide between performer and audience. The room has no stage and is too small for there to be much distance between the two, making it feel more like a space of shared experience than a performance with separate performers and viewers. Both Sammus and Show Me the Body made excellent use of the room’s potential; both, although in remarkably different ways, managed to make the audience feel like part of the act. Sammus, a rapper and Ithaca native who is also a graduate student at Cornell, is without a doubt one of the most exciting acts that can be seen in Ithaca.
I bought Skyrim for PC in the summer of 2013. The first thing I remember doing in the game, after the opening-scene dragon attack, is trying to kill a blacksmith who was hosting me in his home, and then frantically running away from the town, across a huge plain and into snowy mountains as the sun set. Many fans of “open-world” games probably have similar experiences the first time they play. Open-world games purport to give the player total freedom; the premise is that any decision that the player makes can be supported by the game, and make sense within its world. You can play as a hero, an anti-hero, a villain or simply commit random acts of violence and kindness as you see fit, and in a perfectly-executed game any of these decisions would have ramifications on the progress of the narrative.
PWR BTTM is a pretty unilateral band. A great and unashamedly unilateral band, but one-sided all the same. Frankly, there are only so many types of sounds a guitar-drum rock duo can concoct, and it’s not like PWR BTTM, even at their best, have been bounding through any boundaries, sonically. Ugly Cherries was remarkable more for what it was (a thrashing, vulnerable paean to queerness and what it can mean in all its iterations) than for how it sounded (pwr chords and pwr vocals that both, in turn, skidded from blared to whimpered with the click of a distortion pedal). As I heard it, their last album’s noises were auxiliary, secondary to and supporting the inescapable choruses, bleeding confessionals and brash, almost gaudy humor that stood at the top of the soundpile.
“This is Jack Jones. He’s one of our Arts writers and he only writes about Bob Dylan and Kanye.”
This is how a certain previous Arts editor and close friend generally introduces me to new people. Before I go ahead and give support to this claim, I’d like to point out that I’ve only written one review of each artist’s work: my first piece for the Daily Sun was a review of Bob Dylan’s mediocre album of Sinatra covers Shadows in the Night, and my longest piece ever was a review of Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. I’ve never used my column to focus on either of these figures, their music or what they mean to me. Doesn’t matter.
I’m going to do my best here to avoid a Macklemore “White Privilege II” situation in which, while attempting to address a complex issue of race and privilege, I end up positioning myself as a 100-percent enlightened and understanding communicator, one who can “translate” the concerns of African Americans to white audiences. I really like rap. This wasn’t always the case. During junior high, I liked classic rock and indie rock that sounded like classic rock. I actually remember worrying back then about how I listened to an overwhelming majority of white artists.
I remember when Wavves’s King of the Beach came out in the summer of 2010. Wavves was the perfect band for me at the time: they had all the melody and fun of bratty pop-punk, but balanced snotty singalongs with trippier, psychedelic haze. They were somewhere between the critically-lauded experimental indie rock that I wanted to love, and the three-chord power-pop bands that I really did love. I thought they were the peak of careless cool. Based on their performance at Bailey Hall on April 8, they’ve lost this quality.
The most awe-inspiring site on the Internet is one of the least glamorous. “https://libraryofbabel.info/” doesn’t boast images of staggering beauty, or even any audio or video. What it does contain is one of the closest approximations of infinity ever created by humans. The site is the creation of Jonathan Basile, and is inspired by the Jorge Luis Borges short story “The Library of Babel.” Borges’s story describes a “universe” that is an endless library. Each room is shaped like a hexagon, and opens onto two more identical rooms, repeating endlessly.
Titus Andronicus play their own music to warm up the crowd. This is fitting; Titus Andronicus don’t seem scared of over-indulgence. Their breakthrough album was 2010’s The Monitor, an hour-long kitchen-sink explosion of punk riffs, honky-tonk piano, a bagpipe solo and lyrics that used the American Civil War as a metaphor for personal strife and alienation. Their latest album manages to surpass The Monitor in grandiosity; 2015’s The Most Lamentable Tragedy runs an hour and a half long with several intermission tracks and two tracks titled “No Future Part IV: No Future Triumphant” and “No Future Part V: In Endless Dreaming.”
Luckily, Titus Andronicus balance the pretension of their album formats with unpretentiously great songs. At their best, they meld arena-rock riffs with a ferocious punk attack.
To many, animated movies seem like a medium for children: pretty, colorful and reassuring, with straight edges and corners, gaudy colors that fit just inside the lines, and a lack of the moral ambiguity that cannot help but enter a film when the characters are played by actual humans. The work of Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation studio best known for Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, has proved again and again that animated films can be complex, provocative and even disturbing, and remain enthralling for children. However, the intrigue of Studio Ghibli’s films hardly expires at a young age. I’ve only recently come to them (I haven’t even seen the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away yet), but I have been captivated by the few I’ve seen so far. The 1991 Studio Ghibli film Only Yesterday, directed by Isao Takahata, has only just been given a United States release with an English dub, 24 years later.
I have a friend named Evan whose rapper name is Dough Boi and he makes music and you should check it out on SoundCloud. I realize how unappealing that sounds. My reaction to people on social media or YouTube hawking their “fire mixtapes” and begging “please just give me a chance” always inspires a mix of disdain and embarrassment in me. The only music I ever listen to is either critically lauded or at least signed to a record label. Evan is the only exception.