A founding member of the legendary hip-hop group the Wu-Tang Clan, GZA — also known as the Genius and famous for his laid-back drawl; his complex, multi-layered lyrics rife with metaphor and literary illusions; and his now seminal 1995 hip-hop album Liquid Swords, which features samples from classic Samurai films — dropped us a line this week to chat about his creative process, kung fu films and his absolutely favorite past-time: chess.
The Sun: What do you expect from Cornell? In terms of the student body, are you excited?
GZA: Yeah, I’m looking forward to the show.
Sun: What do you think of Girl Talk?
GZA: I don’t really know much about him. I just started learning. He’s the DJ, correct?
The Apples in Stereo — an indie-rock band associated with other bands that also emerged in the early ’90s, like the Neutral Milk Hotel and others in the Elephant 6 collective — will be the first to open the show at this year’s Slope Day, according to Mandy Hjellming ’09, chair of the Slope Day Planning Board. The Apples in Stereo will be accompanying Asher Roth and the Pussycat Dolls on the Slope on Friday, May 1.
Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Apples in Stereo plays melodic low-fi pop-rock music with psychedelic undertones, often garnering comparisons to the sounds of the 1960s. Singer and songwriter Robert Schneider remains the only original member in the group, one that has spanned many sounds and genres throughout its decade-long career.
The fulcrum is a handshake. It’s an exchange of power, a link between bodies, the passing of traditions and a tight squeeze for love.
“It all rests in the hands,” Noah Robbins ’10 said about the two statues he has constructed for his untitled exhibit that explores these themes and is currently open in Tjaden gallery.
Two heavy, white-plaster casts of individual male torsos perch atop wood crate-like pedestals. The two bodies unite by extended arms — they hold hands out between the two wooden columns on which they rest. One body is from a smaller man, presumably a younger man, and both bodies seem immensely unyielding and weighty. The two arms that extend over the gap between the pedestals seem uncommonly fragile.
Whether you know it as the theme song to The Wonder Years, or as an iconic performance at Woodstock, Joe Cocker’s rendition of “With A Little Help From Friends,” a song originally by the Beatles, gleams as one of the greatest covers of all time.
Footage of Cocker singing at Woodstock shows a man completely possessed — a man channeling a swarm of unknowable rock-and-roll deities through that magical scepter known as the electric guitar. Or, loads of LSD. Nonetheless, what makes Cocker’s rendition of this song superb is the artist’s ability to channel the excellence — and somehow transcend the status — of the original. In a weird way, Cocker understands that song better than any Beatle does. Or so it would seem by his inspired performance.
It’s totally unsurprising that Ryan Adams crescendos into a chorus, singing, “I’d always win / I’d always win / I always win in the end.” With his latest record, Cardinology, Adams reaches the peak of typically introspective, singer/songwriter glory. And, at times, he even raises this self-obsession to new heights.
Adams constantly swims in self-reflection, rejoices about solitude, and otherwise reflects a solipsistic vision of a world where images of Manhattan drenched “in patches of pink clouds” meld together with those from the “basement of a church.”
Dear Ryan Adams,
I’m writing you, sir, to request that you send me a signed headshot, preferably from 2005 when your hair was grown out and you wore little black glasses. I have an appointment to be tattooed and am going to get my tattoo of the materials you send me — most likely on my right breast. I hope that’s alright with you.
You see, my enduring love peaked this week after you released Cardinology, which I consider to be not only the best record of the year, but perhaps the crowning musical achievement of the past century.
* * *
Let me explain my praise and accolades.
With the impending itch of a sun rash upon me, I retreated from lying on the sandy beach in the heavy rays of the Florida sun to the upscale town circle of Sarasota, where I was staying for Fall Break with my three roommates.
There, in this humdrum little town circle — a development lined with beige stucco walls and Mediterranean roof tiles — the weather suddenly flipped from sunshine to rain. Hurriedly, I sought refuge behind a neon sign, and found myself in a place with marble floors and cluttered with high-gloss pictures, paintings and sculptures, mostly of frolicking dolphins and Herculean whales and the like.
On Friday night at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, New York, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals ripped through a slew of musical styles, from rock to folk to ballads to country swing. Adams and his band roared through genres as quickly as Will Ferrell rips through mostly-shoddy Hollywood comedies (Step Brothers, Semi-Pro, Blades of Glory, Stranger Than Fiction, Talladega Nights — all of these post-Wedding Crashers, just to name a few).
Caleb Followill begins Only by the Night, Kings of Leon’s haunting and expansive new record, by singing, “Stranded in this spooky town. / Stoplights are swaying and the phone lines are down. / Snow is crackling cold.” More confident and relaxed than ever, Kings evoke the shadows of this ghost town with a drum pattern that can only be described as a slow, southern drawl. This, matched with Caleb’s crackling voice and thick atmospheric guitars, makes “Closer” a dynamic, contrasty song and also a perfect pick to summarize the record. In total, the band manages to slice craggy chunks of noise from a moody and generally subdued palette. For Kings, this is a good thing. The grooves are comfortable but never sleepy, and Caleb’s howling feels authentic.