Hey everyone, the paper wishes you a happy summer! Be sure to pick up our last issue around campus.
by Gibson Merrick
Co-Editor in Chief
Hey, shock rocker Rob Zombie took a break from the break he took from music to put out a new album! And in case the title didn’t tip you off, it’s full of crazily titled horror-themed songs meant to ..shock you, I guess?
I’m not a huge fan of Zombie’s music, but I do share his enthusiasm and appreciation for the horror genre, especially the samples of horror movie dialogue that sprinkle the album. Plus, listening to a Zombie record is kind of funny in its own right. The man wrote and sang a song called “Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga” with no hint of irony or shame, somehow managing not to sound stupid. I also have a particular fondness for the song about a hoard of Satan she-fans crying out in ecstasy just because he shows up (“Lucifer Rising”). Maybe his straight-faced takes are what make it all work, I’m not really sure, but despite its ludicrous and nonsensical lyrics, the album is fun to listen to.
The only track that kills the fun is the uninspired cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re an American Band,” which feels like a failed attempt to recreate the same double-entendre awesomeness of his KC and The Sunshine Band’s “I’m Your Boogieman” cover. Still, one boring track out of twelve ain’t bad.
by Connor O’Brien
One of the times that I was most confused listening to music was when I heard the jazz freakouts on Iron & Wine’s 2011 record Kiss Each Other Clean. Not that I didn’t like them, but Sam Beam, the same guy who had been touring with singer-songwriter heavyweights like “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” and “Naked As We Came,” seemed the least likely guy to adopt a jazz-tinged backing band.
His latest effort with the still-evolving sound is Ghost on Ghost, which unfortunately does not live up to the already lowered expectations. While no artist should be blamed for trying to evolve their sound to better fit their moods or influences in pursuit of more interesting work, Beam has learned all the tricks to fusing his early and late sounds and unfortunately, his songwriting suffers. There are definite highlights, such as the album opener “Caught in the Briars” and the country-twanged “Baby Center Stage,” but most of the songs in the middle tend to blend together into a sea of mush. You’ll pick out a “by the fruit tree” and a “naked running” here and there, and that’s because Beam has elected to dole out his usual lyrical tropes and festoon them with new musical tricks.
What was novel on Kiss Each Other Clean has only become a predictable set of ornamentations and accompaniments. While the sound is definitely different, it’s undercut with a feeling of laziness. Of course, many Iron & Wine songs are supposed to sound laid back and lazy, in a way. Many of these songs are good for zoning out or studying, but there isn’t much below surface level that you haven’t heard before.
2 1/2 Q-Tips
by Zoe Sakas
Features and Lists Editor
Like the phoenix from one of the album’s catchiest tracks, Fall Out Boy has come back from the ashes. Their new album, Save Rock and Roll, does an unbeatable job at reviving the rock genre from FOB’s past and blending it with the pop music that consumes our generation. However, unlike the ridiculous bass drop in Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble,” FOB slowly eases in hints of pop music without losing the essential rock undertones that they were born from.
The juxtaposed genres of rock and pop are highlighted by the two guest rappers (Big Season and 2 Chainz), rock legends (Elton John and Courtney Love), and British singer Foxes that all make appearances throughout the album. Each song of the album is unbelievably catchy and the lyrics only help to keep the listener captivated. By incorporating the piano and vocals of Sir Elton’s golden days, undertones of Britney Spears’ “Gimme More” in “Rat a Tat,” and Adele’s “Rollin’ in the Deep” in “Just Yesterday,” FOB touches base with many different music lovers and captures everyone’s attention right away. They introduce a new style of rock that holds on to their past, while embracing the chart-topping appeal of pop.
Everyone has been anticipating the day that FOB would come back from their hiatus, so much so that the tickets to their first show sold out within 30 seconds. They were not expecting the reaction to their new album to be so enthusiastic: Save Rock and Roll has been the second best selling album on iTunes for the past two weeks, and one of their hit singles “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” has been in the Top 30 of the Hot 100 since it was released two months ago.
Fall Out Boy has not disappointed, and all their old fans have risen from the ashes with them, along with a new wave of fans from the newer generation. Maybe rock will soon dominate this pop phase we’re in, who knows? If it were to happen, FOB would definitely be first in line to take over.
by Monica Cruz
British goth/pop princess Charli XCX fuses electro pop with synth-heavy rhythms and Darkwave inspired beats in her debut album True Romance. The 20-year-old singer/songwriter and producer first achieved fame by penning “I Love It,” the huge hit performed by the Swedish duo Icona Pop. Now fast forward through an EP and a handful of great singles, Charli XCX, aka Charlotte Aitchison, has released a truly innovative album, that’s not afraid to take risks. True Romance begins with “Nuclear Seasons,” which manages to give a nod to the glamour of 80s pop yet conjure up the mystery of some post-apocalyptic vision. It’s followed by “You (Ha Ha Ha),” a smooth and melodic ode to an asshole ex interrupted by reverberating laughter, “You, you lied / HA HA HA HA / I was right / All along / good job, good job / You fucked it up.”
Charli XCX solidifies her position as one of the most unique sounding female pop artists with “Cloud Aura,” featuring the manic rapper/stripper Brooke Candy. The futuristic track includes some classic hip-pop inspired beats and a music video that perfectly displays her wannabe teen rebel, Tumblr-inspired aesthetic. My favorite song on True Romance is “What I Like,” a love song that describes that kind of awesomely chill relationship everyone hopes for, matched by the equally groovy rhythms. “And when the clouds part open/ When the last word is spoken/ When the last heart been broken/ We’ll be sitting in your bedroom still smoking.” True Romance ends with the trippy 80s high school dance of “Lock You Up,” the perfect ending to an album that feels like a synth-fueled dream.
Some may say it’s “better safe than sorry,” but Charli XCX doesn’t play it safe. In the end her creativity and talent shine through to produce an album that raises a middle finger to traditional pop and paves the way for a much more experimental genre.
by Ali Glembocki
Desperate Ground is dashboard punk at its finest, something to scream to when you’re not sure what to scream about.
The Thermals are following a similar path as the one taken by New Jersey punk legends Titus Andronicus, who went from a sonically and thematically complex masterpiece to a “back to basics” garage punk approach.
Titus Andronicus found a masterpiece in their 2010 sophomore effort The Monitor, an album that sampled verses from Abraham Lincoln speeches and had titles like “Four Score and Seven” and “The Battle of Hampton Roads,” and still somehow became an album’s worth of anthems for angsty New Jersey suburbanites. Andronicus veered away from experimentation and proclaimed that “PUNK IS BACK” with their latest, 2012’s Local Business. While the jams are delicious, they’re lacking an intoxicating bravado.
The Thermals’ respective chef d’oeuvre was 2006’s The Body, The Blood, The Machine, an album taking on everything from an impending Orwellian future “Returning to the Fold”) to biblical allusions (“A Pillar of Salt”). Such a highly political and lyrically kickass album (the guitar riffs, particularly on “A Pillar Of Salt,” are like candy) makes truly solid albums like Desperate Ground pale in comparison. The most infectious track is the opener “Born To Kill,” a vague but rallying battle cry with sincere vocals from Hutch Harris.
After coming down from the high of “Born to Kill,” you slowly come to realize that Desperate Ground is chock full of similarly flavored inspirational tracks. With the one-note theme of “kick ass, take names” and thrashing guitars, you can’t help but feel like Brick in Anchorman when he bursts, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE YELLING ABOUT!” The music lacks lyrical and sonic variation.
With a plentiful amount of calls to action, a reason to kill is finally defined on the closing track, “Our Love Survives” when Hutch sings: “Our love is true, that’s why we fight.” Love may be the noblest of causes, Thermals, but it’s always better to show than to tell.
by Stephanie Colombini
I was all set and ready to love “Sacrilege,” the opening track off Yeah Yeah Yeah’s fourth album in the past decade, Mosquito — then the gospel choir came in. It reminded me of Muse’s headache-inducing rock-opera that plagued the London Olympics last year, “Survival.” When will bands understand that only Queen can do Queen? The second track, “Subway,” pulls it way back, and would’ve been less boring had it not dragged on for five minutes. Yeah Yeah Yeahs is at its best short and sweet, yet several of the album’s songs run on for far too long.
When I heard the third track, I couldn’t figure out why they opened the album the way they did. As one of the album’s strongest tracks, “Mosquito” would have done a way better job at roping me in. Its groovy bass compliments Karen O’s wacky vocals as she wails and moans a la “Date with the Night.” And at three minutes, it’s a perfect slice of garage band heaven. The same goes for “Area 52,” my other favorite track. Karen echoes, “I want to be an alien,” a reflection of the album’s sci-fi spirit; but it’s the raw, organic sounds of the live band that make this song so successful. No synths necessary.
The band dabbles in hip hop, which could have been cool if they didn’t screw it up. “Buried Alive” features one verse by Dr. Octagon–just one! The rap sounds strange and out of place when it could’ve made for an awesome song with more incorporation. That seems to be the overall problem with Yeah Yeah Yeah’s on Mosquito: they’re either trying too hard or not hard enough.
Featuring: Bright Red Cardinal, The Keating Steps, Tall & Flightless
By Kate Delaney
As a student musician who constantly attends concerts on campus, I’m often astounded by the sheer amount of talent my fellow musicians possess. My area of expertise lies in the University Choir, however, so I’ve never gotten to get too into what some call the Fordham music scene. The Battle of the Bands last weekend inspired me, though, and I decided to take advantage of my friends in Bright Red Cardinal, The Keating Steps, and Tall & Flightless, to ask them about their experiences as newly formed bands at Fordham.
Bright Red Cardinal was formed out of the Fordham Experimental Theater musical, Take Your Base, and consists of cast members Elle Crane (vocals), Connor McCausland (vocals, guitar), Michael McCarville (guitar), and pit band members AJ Golio (banjo), Devon Sheridan (bass), and James Murtagh (mandolin, guitar, vocals).
The vibe that really stuck out to me after talking to Bright Red Cardinal was an appreciation for performance and genuinely connection with the audience, as well as each other. “We all have comedic or stage performing experience,” Golio told me. “We have backgrounds in stand-up and improv comedy, and that just adds a whole other level to the live show,” added Murtagh, referring to the band’s heavy involvement in FET, as well as Take Your Base.
This familiarity with an audience is made clear through the banter that the guys have developed during their live shows. And the back and forth doesn’t stop after the show: “Collaborative, I guess, would be the right word,” said bassist Sheridan, when comparing his experience with Bright Red Cardinal to his high school band. Crane, the group’s female vocalist, had a similar experience: “I was the leader singer and only girl in band before in high school, but I had no say, at all. Where as with our band, everyone’s on the same level, collaborative. We love each other.”
Does the band have any future plans? “We don’t think too huge,” replied Murtagh, “other than the amount of members. We’re pretty small scale.” When pressed, he admitted that being signed to Cold Creek Records or a similar label could be a far-off goal. In the near future, however, we can look forward to the band’s first EP, Kuckaine Hands, in a couple weeks.
When asked about collaborating with other bands, Bright Red Cardinal immediately affirmed my question, stating their plans to work with The Keating Steps, another folk band on campus. The Keating Steps evolved not from the Blackbox, but right next door at the University Church. The band’s original members, Dan Stracquadanio (mandolin), Mike Sansevere (banjo), Mike Prate (drums, vocals), and TJ Acala (guitar) are all active in Campus Ministry’s weekly Praise & Worship sessions, and invited some friends to form a band with them after playing in the Praise & Worship band. The current lineup includes Greg Stelzer (guitar), Ian Grotton (upright bass), Delia Grizzard (cello), and Ava Gagliardi (vocals), but, according to the band, is susceptible to change at any time.
The Keating Steps, known for practicing on their namesake steps in nice weather, have already responded positively to Bright Red Cardinal’s offer. “We see them as a friendly face in the crowd of the bands at Fordham, they’re very similar to us, and a very good group of guys (and girl),” said Stracquadanio.
At the forefront of the band’s collective consciousness is the impending graduation of two members, so future plans are somewhat in limbo. The Steps don’t seem too concerned, though. “We’re obviously going to stay together. We do covers, anyways, so we’re probably going to keep jamming, and then whatever happens, happens,” said Sansevere. Along with covers, the band is working on a couple original songs, mostly written by guitarist Stelzer.
But in the end, the Steps are just enjoying playing great music with their closest friends, with incredible results. As Stracquadanio put it: “At the core of it, we’re just friends that play songs we like, and then we started playing them in front of other people, so that’s never going to change. We’re always going to be on the steps.”
Or as Sansevere succinctly put it, “I live the step life.”
The Keating Steps’ cellist, Delia Grizzard, is also a member of Tall & Flightless, along with Ben Kopon (guitar, keyboard, vocals), Matt Hurley (bass, vocals), Oliver Beardsley (drums), and Quinn McGovern (vocals, guitar, keyboard, synth). The band emerged from Rodrigue’s as a total accident: “Ben kept asking me to jam, and I kept saying no, and one day I buckled and said ‘Alright,’ and it was really, really fun,” said McGovern. So much fun, in fact, that the band has played multiple shows both on and off campus, and will be releasing some new tracks on their bandcamp in upcoming weeks.
Having Rodrigue’s to practice in has been relatively convenient for Tall & Flightless, but its primary function as a public place has posed problems. “The biggest priority for us is always going to practicing, and because we have so much equipment, there’s always an issue of where we can practice,” McGovern told me, a problem which all the bands I interviewed expressed to me. There have been talks of turning the Blackbox into an on-campus venue when it’s not occupied by FET or affiliated umbrella groups, but nothing is concrete yet, nor does the Blackbox provide a practice space – merely a venue for performance.
The common thread between the three bands is a desire to increase the music community at Fordham. “Just to get more people involved with the Fordham music scene is definitely a goal of our band, and a couple other bands on campus. It makes a good community feel,” said Sheridan of Bright Red Cardinal. McGovern, of Tall & Flightless, was of a similar mind: “I love playing every kind of music. Whenever I collaborate with other people, it’s a one or two time thing, which is disappointing, because I always want to do more of that.” With such willingness to collaborate, we should be hearing many more great things from these Fordham bands in the future.