Category Archives: A&E

Anchored in Quality

Art by Sam Haney

Story By Daniel Anderson

As stated in the previously published review, progressive metal has been taking over independent labels recently due to the intricate and pristinely-made sound that bands of the genre typically produce. Bands such as Meshuggah and Periphery set a bar for the genre, known as djent, that many bands have since tried to copycat.

But as is for many genres, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Take Baroness for instance.

While still labeled as a progressive metal and rock act, this Savannah, Georgia based band has taken an opposite approach to the genre than most current prog acts. Instead of attempting to make their sound as clean and precise as possible, Baroness (as well as other contemporaries like Mastodon and Torche) combine the genres of sludge metal, alternative rock, and heavy psych into their sound.

It would seem that they have reaped the benefits from this. Since 2007, every new Baroness release (all color-coded, by the way) has been celebrated by the hard rock and metal communities. Their first two outings, The Red Album and Blue Record, were highly praised for their combination of heavy and compressed production of sludge with the technicality and finesse of prog rock.

In 2012, their double-album Yellow and Green, saw the band going in a more accessible direction. Despite still being well-received, these two remain a bit divisive among fans for going on that route. One could release the single “Take My Bones Away” in the mid-to-late 90s and it would be seen as another Foo Fighters-esque radio rock tune.

With their next release in late 2015, Purple, Baroness almost had a return to form. It served as a middle ground between their first two hard-hitting releases and the accessibility of Yellow and Green. The album was a tremendous success for the band, earning great sales, the adoration of fans and critics, and even a Grammy nod for the lead single, “Shock Me.” 

Because of this, it was no surprise that many, such as myself, were anticipating their newest release, Gold and Grey. And, unfortunately, opinions on the results have been split once again.

Like with Purple, it would seem Baroness is once again attempting to meld heaviness and accessibility. However, the accessibility has been slightly turned up a notch, perhaps not to the same level as Yellow and Green, but it is still a bit noticeable.

Should their approach be slightly tweaked, tracks such as “I’m Already Gone” and “I’d Do Anything” could probably released as pop rock ballads in the early 2000’s. 

Not to mention, there is also the tenth track, “Emmett – Radiating Light,” which comes across a Baroness’ attempt at an acoustic singer-songwriter track (like the poor man’s Mount Eerie or Sufjan Stevens). Yet the boring, deadpan vocals, and its inconsistency compared to the rest of the tracklist could make the listener question as to why the band would include this in the album at all. 

Speaking of which, one of the most irritating detractors of this record are the absurd amount of short, mostly-instrumental interludes it contains. Not only do most of them sound lazily composed, but they contribute nothing to this record in terms of pacing. If anything, these tracks all but kill the flow of the album.

Be not mistaken, this record may be laced with flaws in its tracklist, but that does not mean that Baroness went into this project without bringing some quality to the table.

Tracks such as “Tourniquet” and “Borderlines” demonstrate the fantastic songwriting, soaring vocals and tight instrumental composition that most people associate with this band. The thirteenth track, “Broken Halo,” which is a typical song by Baroness standards, is executed well enough to where it could be placed on the tracklist of Purple.

The eleventh track, “Cold-Blooded Angels,” particularly stands out among the other tracks by showcasing the band at their most dynamic. The track goes through numerous passages and transitions while still keeping up a top-notch vocal performance from frontman John Baizley.

Despite this, the most major misstep on this record prevented me from enjoying this album any further: the production.

For most, if not the complete duration, this album is absolutely plagued with a jarring amount of technical flaws. On the opening track, “Front Toward Enemy,” the guitars and the bass are mixed together in such a way that they sound as if they are falling over one another. Also, the drums get so lost in the mix that the cymbals are really the only parts that are noticeable.

Even worse, the vast majority of these tracks suffer from the same or similar issues in production. Perhaps the worst case of these drums comes about with the final track, “Pale Sun.” Not only is it unfulfilling for an album closer, but the cymbals near the end of the track border on being white noise.

On some tracks, the opposite issue is also present. With the third track, “Seasons,” the drums finally become noticable, but that comes at the cost of the guitars and bass, which are consequently buried beneath them. The latter is also drowned out significantly on “Borderlines.”

Issues with this album’s production could potentially continue for another few paragraphs, but underlying all of this is the most frustrating aspect to me: 

Baroness has never been known for being the best-produced band out there. The difference here is that the muddy and compressed mixing of previous efforts was a part of their charm. Purple, for instance, has a level of production that is almost as messy as what can be heard on Gold and Grey. But unlike this new release, Purple at least had a slightly gruffer approach in overall composition, so the mix compliments the album well enough.

Sadly, this is not the case for Gold and Grey. To have decidedly grimy production is one thing, but to dial it to a higher degree for a selection of songs that simply do not fit well with it is completely unnecessary.

This album could have been good, maybe even great when accounting for its highlights. What a shame that its greatest fault is something that could have been so easily prevented.

Standout Tracks:Tourniquet,” “Cold-Blooded Angels,” “Borderlines”

Score: 6/10   

Tracklist:

  1. Front Toward Enemy
  2. I’m Already Gone
  3. Seasons
  4. Sevens
  5. Tourniquet
  6. Anchor’s Lament
  7. Throw Me an Anchor
  8. I’d Do Anything
  9. Blankets of Ash
  10.  Emmet – Radiating Light
  11.  Cold-Blooded Angels
  12.  Crooked Mile
  13.  Broken Halo
  14.  Can Oscura
  15.  Borderlines
  16.  Assault on East Falls
  17.  Pale Sun

Listen: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kqi3ECPn2xHvZh4_pKWD-DxvdQAKcT3QQ

 

Just because Twitter said it does not mean it is true

Art by Sam Haney

Story by Gracie Vanover

Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. However, for some male Marvel fans, it appears to be the latter. With the new movie Captain Marvel being released on March 8, many have something to say about the male opinion of this movie. Feminists across platforms like Twitter seem to have the strongest say in what they think about their male peers who dislike the new female lead superhero movie.

After the new movie was in theater for a few days, talk around our school and social media grew with likes and dislikes of the movie. The issue of “men being sexist” against the movie came to my attention one day at my lunch table as it was the discussion topic. One of my peers said he did not entirely care for the movie, as it just was not as good as others to him. His real issue with sharing his opinion, however, was the fact that many female friends took what he was trying to say the wrong way. They felt as if he was saying what he said due to the lack of “sexualizing” a woman hero. In his defense, that was not the cause for dislike, but many insisted on that as the base of his dislike.

With many women in the Marvel fandom adoring the movie and female lead Brie Larson, it is somewhat reasonable to see how they incorrectly interpreted what these men are saying. In the movie, Captain Marvel does not appear as the average woman hero, as her costume is more “bland” compared to others. I think with the change of her costume many assume the dislike is solely due to “non-sexualisation” of  Larson. Although many men have clearly stated this is not the case for their dislike, some women keep pushing to say it is when it truly is not.

When it comes down to the actual costuming of the women, Marvel is actually very respectful in making them feel comfortable. But in doing this they also are decently consistent with the comics and their design. To bring the original example back, Larson and her producers agreed on how the original comic book suit would not fit for the movie style but they did not completely obliterate any connection to the comics. When it boils down to the fans as well, no one is angry because she was not shown in sexy spandex. In specifics, not just male fans but many fans were displeased with mainly the plot, according to reviews from metacritic.com.

It seems like many are quick to attack male viewers when it comes to female superheroes and their opinions on them. However, as mentioned beforehand, the dislike is never due to the lack of sexualization. With the world we live in now, many ads in media are meant to sell as sex appeal. Of course with brands like Marvel, DC, or other productions, that is not the intended case. These brands are dedicated to the viewers and bringing them quality content over the basic and easy sex appeal that most everything is branded with.

The fanbase has no right to be mad at the lack of sex appeal because that style of branding is never the focus of the Marvel brand of movies. The idea of male viewers being angry at the lack of sexualization is a false accusation on other viewers’ parts. For other fans or outsiders to accuse the fanbase of that is unjust and a false accusation. Not only is it making that part of the fanbase look bad, but it makes the entire fanbase as a whole look worse as well.

Overall, people use media to claim statements that a lot of time are not true. Even though in this society sex appeal sells content, this is not always the case. Marvel fans were the most recent target of the “only care about sexualized content” facade but it will not be the last. So before people accuse others of this, they need to take a step back and look at the whole picture.

 

Fans rain praise on The Umbrella Academy

Art By Sam Haney

Story By Eleni Pappas

A day beginning like every other ends with the world forever changed when something strange occurs to women all over the globe.

Dozens of mostly-single women conceive, carry, and give birth within a matter of minutes on the same day, at the exact same time. The children of these women are special in more ways than the circumstances of their instant birth and conception. Not only do they grow up to display miraculous abilities, but these children are destined to save the world.

It was a day beginning like every other — that is, until Netflix premiered “The Umbrella Academy” on Feb. 15. Based on the comic written by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, who also serve as executive producers for the show, the series centers on the seven adopted super children of eccentric billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves. The show stars more than a few notable names, including Robert Sheehan (Misfits), Mary J. Blige (Mudbound), and Ellen Page (Juno).

The story opens up in the year 1989, with an anonymous narrator describing the inexplicable births of 43 children all over the world. Sir Hargreeves make it his mission to adopt as many of these children as possible and manages to find and adopt seven of them. He raises them in the Academy to train as heroes rather than live as kids, and only when he builds them a robotic mother are they given real names.

Number One is Luther (Tom Hopper), Two is Diego (David Castañeda), Three is Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Four is Klaus (Sheehan), and Seven is Vanya (Page). In the present the unnamed Number Five (Aidan Gallagher), has been missing for many years after he used his time travel ability to disappear into the future. Number Six, Ben (Justin H. Min), is stated to be deceased, presumably murdered on a childhood mission.

In the present, all the siblings are now 30, estranged from each other and the team long disbanded. Each of them are messed up in their own unique ways due to the strange nature of their upbringing. The sudden death of Sir Hargreeves brings them back together for the funeral, but things remain highly tense between the siblings. However, they are reunited in a common purpose when Number Five returns from the future, still a boy, and informs the team that the world ends in eight days. At first they think he might be crazy, but it soon becomes clear the fate of the world lies in their less-than capable hands.

“The Umbrella Academy” is a smash hit, complete with deep and complex characters, dark humor, tear jerking moments, great acting, and an incredible soundtrack. The shows continuing plot mixes those from the first few volumes, but still honors the source material while standing on its own. Gallagher, who is only 15, has been picked out as one of the most impressive actors on the series. Sheehan is another fan favorite, with arguably the most compelling character exploration as the show draws on. Sheehan as Klaus made fans both laugh and cry, being a source of much comedy in the show while also playing an addict who uses to numb his ability to speak with the dead.

On the negative side, some fans are disgusted with the perceived incest within the show. Throughout the show it becomes obvious two of the Hargreeves children have romantic feelings towards each other, which have made certain viewers uncomfortable. Other fans have defended this by saying they are not real siblings, as they are adopted, and were not raised as such. Instead, fans say they were raised simply to fight alongside each other, but not as regular siblings. Either way, for some, the romance felt unnecessary and did not fit with the rest of the show.

Do they end up saving the world and stopping the apocalypse? To find out watch all ten episodes of “The Umbrella Academy” on Netflix.

 

FC Theatre Students Shine on Community Stages

By Hannah Tarr

In the coming weeks, four FC theatre students will be taking the stage and doing what they love.

Actually, these performers will be taking to four different stages across the community. Sophomore Annie Bulleit, junior Ryland Sparkman, sophomore Caroline Siegrist, and junior Taylor Lockhart are involved in productions outside of FC. For each of them, the chance to perform outside of school is a great opportunity to learn and gain experience in the art they love.

Annie Bulleit- The Diary of Anne Frank at Shelby Community Theatre this weekend

Bulleit stars as Anne Frank in the play based on her diary, playing at Shelby Community Theatre in Shelbyville, Kentucky this weekend and last. Bulleit found out about this show, her first at Shelby Community Theatre, through the director, who she knew through working on a previous show. Rehearsals started about two months before the show opened last Friday. For Bulleit, this role is a dream come true.

“Anne Frank is one of my dream roles. I’ve always wanted to play her,” said Bulleit. “It’s an amazing role.”

Of course, this role is not just any role. It is the true story of a young girl who died during the Holocaust, which is no trivial matter. Bulleit, a self-proclaimed history nerd, has great interest in this topic, and she has enjoyed getting to learn about the history through this process.

“I’ve learned a lot about the Holocaust and that it affected more than just the Jews but also the brave Germans who were willing to help them,” said Bulleit.

Bulleit hopes audiences will come to the show and learn the story and history for themselves. She thinks the story of Anne Frank and the Holocaust is very important for all people to know, and the show is a great way to learn about them.

“It’s important that this show doesn’t die in history,” she said. “People need to know about it so we don’t end up repeating our mistakes.”

A show with such grave subject matter is obviously challenging, and playing the lead makes it even more so. But Bulleit is facing the challenge head-on.

“I’m excited to play the lead in such a demanding and dramatic show,” said Bulleit.

This weekend is the final weekend she gets the opportunity to be the lead in a show such as this. Tickets to come see her are available at shelbytheatre.org. Student tickets are $11. As the show closes this weekend, Bulleit is thankful for her time getting to portray Anne Frank.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to get to do what I love,” said Bulleit.

Caroline Siegrist- Newsies at Derby Dinner Playhouse now through May 19

As a freshman, Siegrist made waves when she starred in Newsies at FC as Katherine Plumber. This month, she is doing the show again, which opened last night at Derby Dinner Playhouse. Her role this time around is one of the Bowery Beauties, the vaudeville performers Katherine reviews for a newspaper. But Siegrist has not given up Katherine entirely. She understudies the role, meaning if the actress who plays Katherine is ever unable to come to a performance, Siegrist will go on for the part. And in addition to being a Bowery Beauty and understudying Katherine, she operates a spotlight during the scenes she is not onstage.

“I’ve never gotten to [operate the spotlight] before and that was a really fun thing to learn,” said Siegrist.

Derby Dinner frequently enlists its actors with a less busy track to do things like operate spotlight. Siegrist is well familiar with the way Derby Dinner operates: Newsies is her twelfth show at the theatre.

“I absolutely love having the opportunity to do shows there,” she said. “I love this show, and I learn so much when I’m in shows at Derby Dinner.”

It makes sense that, after piloting it in November of 2017 and taking it to the International Thespian Festival in June, Newsies holds a special place in her heart. But her love for the show is not built only on her past experiences with it, or the fact that she loves the music. She thinks that it teaches audiences a valuable lesson.

“It is so important because it reminds people, especially younger people, that they have a voice and it’s so important that they speak their minds,” said Siegrist.

In the show, the newsies realize that their voices are so much stronger when they bond together as a family. In rehearsal, Siegrist has found that the same is true of her and her castmates, and they have formed a family of sorts, too.

“I just love the people in it, and it’s so much fun to perform with them,” she said.

It is sure to also be a fun show to watch. Tickets are available at derbydinner.com. Prices range from $39 to $49 depending on the day of the week, and admission includes Derby Dinner’s buffet. With shows multiple times a week from April 4 to May 19, there are plenty of opportunities to see the family of Newsies in action.

Ryland Sparkman- Macbeth at Washington County Community Theatre this weekend

Sparkman has been doing theatre for most of his life. His first ever show was at Washington County Community Theatre in Salem, Indiana, when he was just four years old and he played a lost boy in Peter Pan. This weekend, he is in something a little different: he is featured as Malcolm, the prince of Cumberland, in Macbeth. Rehearsals started in February, and when Sparkman chose to audition, he knew he would be challenging himself.

“I’ve learned that acting isn’t easy. It’s very hard and when done right, can be incredible,” said Sparkman.

One of the most challenging things about a Shakespeare play is always its language. His words twist and turn, and can take focused analysis in order to discover the meaning.  Rehearsal is exactly the time to analyze the words, and the actors discovered not just the meaning of the play but its beauty as well.

“Learning Shakespeare is so hard but so worth it,” said Sparkman. “The story is gorgeous, even with the old words.”

Old words do not necessarily mean Macbeth has old subject matter, however. Sparkman’s cast have been discussing how the plot and theme are relevant, even four centuries after the show was written.

“The story is very important in today’s age. The idea of ‘fake news’ was examined thoroughly and it shows what happens if people show their true selves,” he said.

Another heavy theme of the show is death. With all of the killing that Macbeth and his men do, Macbeth is considered one of Shakespeare’s most bloody shows. The show leads to an important conversation about death, and, luckily, Sparkman has some great people to have that conversation with, and to tell the story with onstage.

“What excites me is being able to perform alongside some of my best friends in the world,” said Sparkman.

To see Sparkman and his friends perform, go to Washington County Community Theatre at 7:30 tonight and tomorrow or 2 on April 7. Tickets will be available at the door. The address is 402 N Harrison Street, Salem, Indiana.

Taylor Lockhart- The Secret Garden at TheatreWorks of Southern Indiana May 8-19

While Bulleit, Siegrist, and Sparkman all had connections to their theatres or shows, Lockhart has no previous experience with TheatreWorks, located in New Albany. He knew TheatreWorks had The Secret Garden in its season, and as a fan of the show this piqued his interest; but, assuming there would be no high school roles, he never thought to audition for it. That is, until he saw The 21st Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at TheatreWorks and talked to the actors after the show. One of them encouraged him to audition for The Secret Garden, and he jumped at the opportunity.

“As I practiced my audition song and listened to the cast recording, I realized I was falling in love with a show I wasn’t even sure I was apart of yet and that I needed to be in this cast,” said Lockhart.

The audition worked out for Lockhart. He was cast as Dickon, a boy who befriends the main character, Mary, and helps her. This is one of Lockhart’s first experiences getting to play someone near his own age– at FC, since the whole cast is high schoolers, teenagers must play the show’s entire range of ages. Lockhart says he usually gets stuck playing a grumpy old man. But at TheatreWorks, people from all walks of life can audition and be cast, so grumpy old men can play grumpy old men while high schoolers like Lockhart can be cast as someone their own age. This, of course, is not the only difference between FC shows and community theatre, and he has enjoyed exploring the many differences.

“I learned how much fun it is to work in different spaces,” said Lockhart. “I’m simply having a blast and getting new perspectives from people that I’ve never got before. It’s important to work with different people and I’ve really begun to learn what exists outside of high school theatre.”

Playing someone his own age is not the only advantage Lockhart is getting from his involvement in community theatre. This is also one of his first times playing what might be considered a bigger character, and although rehearsals have only been happening since the end of March, he has already become familiar with the added responsibilities and challenges presented. For instance, in his experience singing in the ensemble, there were always people to back him up if he messed up. But when singing a solo, there is no room for error.

“When you are playing a bigger character you have a responsibility to know songs before you practice them and make sure you are doing tons of outside work,” said Sparkman. “I’ve had to work much harder at this show and I’ve grown much more in how I rehearse for shows. It’s a very new experience but one I’m working hard at and becoming a better singer and actor as I do.”

It is not all hard work, though. Lockhart finds many moments during rehearsal in which to have fun– take, for example, the fact that Dickon gets to carry a conjuring stick.

“I love getting to work with props, especially props that move and are used by the character in massive ways,” he said. “I can throw the stick in the air and then catch it at a high point in a song, I can lean on the stick as it gets to a calmer point in the song, I can point with the stick to something I’m talking about, you see there is a hundred things I can do with just a simple stick and molding it with my character and figuring out all those choices to how I use that prop alone excites me.”

There is more to the show that excites him than just a stick, of course. The whole experience has been a great time for Lockhart.

“I get to work with such incredible singers and actors. I get to work with challenging but incredibly rewarding music and accents, and I’m pretty sure I get to wear a newsboy cap. It’s simply fun. I’m having a blast every second of the way and as you can see I’m excited by every dumb little thing that I get to work with or play with. I feel like a child and this character is really breathing life into me just as much as I am with it,” said Lockhart.

One of the elements he especially enjoys about the show is its challenging and beautiful music. He says the show is incredible, and the music is the key highlight of it.

“The music is very operatic and nothing like pop rock musicals of today but still really engaging. I never found myself getting bored listening to it and I think that’s because The Secret Garden is never dull and never drags on,” he said. “The music weaves itself like a quilt as it helps bring the story to life. [Composer] Lucy Simon is a genius and it’s one of the only shows in history I can recall that I’ve have had tears well up in my eyes because of how beautiful it was.”

Lockhart says The Secret Garden is not sad, but it still pulls you emotionally. It is a story about grief, and moving on from the past, and the musical faces this theme more directly than the novel it was based off of did.

“Mary and Archibald have both lost people around them and seem to wander around Misselthwaite Manor as if they themselves have been lost. The story is how they find themselves and learn to live with their losses,” he said. “Characters from Archibald and Mary’s past haunt them until they find their new lives. It’s beautiful and something that is far from a simple children’s story. “

This beautiful show is still a while away from performances: it performs May 8-11 at 7:30, May 12 at 2, May 15-18 at 7:30, and May 19 at 2. Tickets are available at theatreworksofsoin.com/tickets. Student tickets are $16. If you happen to miss this show, keep an eye out for Lockhart performing more at TheatreWorks in the future: he says he would love to be involved with more shows there.