Mood Music for Today

If you’re like me, today’s political and social climates may have made you feel angry, resigned, or wishing to rise above and become better. You’ve gone to protests. You tried to find truth and reason in the news as to why U.S. citizens have done what they have, and instead come back with more questions. You’ve looked inside and found that because these feelings are so new, you need to develop new ways to cope. Music can be a great help here. In discovering new music, we can find new perspectives on old thoughts or find inspiration and encouragement when we need it most. Through my friends and my own curiosity I’ve found these bands whose music does for me all of these things. I present to you Stay Wild, Wicked Bears, and Uvluv.

Stay Wild

Art by Stay Wild

Stay Wild is a hardcore/punk band with a strong, progressive message. Their most recent single, “Stay Pissed“, embodies the need to continue to fight for change in our world. The song reminds us why we fight, what makes us mad and why we are justified in this feeling. Stay Wild also actively promotes social causes, including advocating for a feminist viewpoint through their lyrics on other E.P.s, and offering charitable merchandise to give profits to the Rainbow Railroad to grant relief to LGBTQ+ people persecuted in Chechnya.

Wicked Bears

Photo by John Barkiple

Wicked Bears is maybe the most existential music I’ve heard. Lyrics from their songs present a sort of optimistic nihilism. Their song “2049” offers the view that, while in the large scale of things our problems are insignificant, they matter to us. It offers a nice solution to the chaos and seeming lack of reason or morality we see so blatantly today: nothing actually means anything, so we just have ourselves and what entertains us (like death metal).

Uvluv

Photo by Uvluv

Uvluv, a local progressive rock band with soulful elements, presents instrumentals that keep your attention in their variance while the lyrics offer encouragement and paths of thought for reflection and self-improvement. “Rise In Love“, for example, tells you that pain from heartbreak can be turned into ultimately finding yourself. The vocals are wonderful purely in how they sound and the comforting lyrics are a bonus. They recently released a new album, Afterglow, which capitalizes on their progressive sound, and focuses on the difficult emotions that come from the passing of a loved one. It’s a fantastic representation of emotional intelligence, shattering the notion that we should ever repress emotion.

 

Music can provide outlets for a wide range of emotions, and it’s good to keep a variety stocked in your listening libraries. Hopefully you find this new music as cathartic as I have. Enjoy!

Is “Bohemian Rhapsody” Actually Bad or Just Gay?

Reactions to Bohemian Rhapsody

In early October, first reactions from critics to Bohemian Rhapsody began to surface on social media. Rami Malek’s performance as iconic Queen frontman Freddie Mercury received nearly universal praise, while the film itself was described by one such early viewer as a “glorified Wikipedia entry“.

Upon wide release and a strong box office performance, Rhapsody straddled the line between a 59% “rotten” and 60% “fresh” score (which it currently holds) on Rotten Tomatoes.  It also holds a mixed-to-negative score of 49 out of 100 on Metacritic, another popular review aggregator. Meanwhile, the film has a 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, an 8.2/10 user score on Metacritic, an average 5/5 star fan review on Fandango, an 8.4/10 on IMDb, and a 3.7/5 average from the notoriously discerning Letterboxd community.

The main issue that many seem to take is that Rhapsody fits into many common tropes associated with musical biopics. However, the same can be said for more well-regarded films, such as 2015’s Love & Mercy (90% on Rotten Tomatoes, 80/100 on Metacritic). This is also to suggest that tropes are not present in all consumed media, as they serve as nothing more than tools within the plot and visuals to more easily convey the story or message to an audience. And it’s not like we didn’t just see a fourth iteration of A Star is Born either.

AIDS on the Silver Screen

Another review from The Economist criticizes Rhapsody’s portrayal of Mercury’s struggle and inevitable death due to AIDS-related complications. “[The film] robs Mr. Malek of the chance to portray his subject’s most poignant years,”  writes ‘J.T.’, “it might prevent an excellent performance from being a prize-winning one, of the sort that earned Oscars for Tom Hanks in Philadelphia (1993) and Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club (2013).”

Tom Hanks in “Philadelphia”, 1993

While Mercury’s experiences living with the AIDS virus are addressed, shown, and portrayed as “no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise” as he croons in “We Are The Champions”, the film ends on a celebratory note with Queen’s legendary Live Aid performance. Some pre-credit onscreen text addresses Mercury’s cause of death and the efforts of the Mercury Phoenix Trust, a charity organized by the remaining members of Queen to assist in the worldwide fight against HIV and AIDS. Philadelphia famously ends with Hanks’ Beckett lying in his hospital bed, telling his partner that he is ready to greet death. In Dallas Buyer’s Club, Leto’s Rayon–a trans woman portrayed by a cis male actor, no less–dies tragically in the hospital as well.

LGBTQ Cinema

This is not the first time that we have seen critics respond negatively to more upbeat fair with a queer voice. In fact, beloved pieces of LGBTQ cinema have often been disregarded or torn apart by the film community.

Take the films of John Waters, for instance. Waters is one of the most prominent figures in the world of gay filmmakers, known for his creative partnership with beloved drag queen Divine. One of the most iconic Waters-Divine collaborations is Pink Flamingos, a gleefully offensive black comedy about the filthiest woman alive, and an essential cult classic in its own right. Roger Ebert famously refused to give Flamingos a star rating, and wrote of its 25th anniversary restoration that “with any luck at all […] I won’t have to see it again for another 25 years.” The original trailer for the film itself is a compilation of audience and critical reactions, several of which are negative.

Indie darlings featuring queer voices have also met initial critical resistance. But I’m a Cheerleader, a teen romantic comedy set inside of a conversion therapy camp, screened at Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival during the 1999-2000 festival season. It was also panned before finding a cult following.

Support for Marginalized Communities

Even acclaimed films following characters with queer identities are often overlooked for recognition during awards season unless they are tinged with sorrow. Todd Haynes’ 2015 film Carol was famously passed over for a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards. Despite six nominations in other major categories including Best Actress for Cate Blanchett, Best Supporting Actress for Rooney Mara, Best Cinematography, and Best Adapted Screenplay, many were left to speculate if the Academy (whose panel was 77% men at the time) was not willing to embrace a lesbian love story with a predominantly-women cast to match. 2017’s ceremony saw a historic win for Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight. Compared to the preceding and following award seasons, this seems to be an exception to the rule.

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in “Carol”, 2015

Now more than ever, it is important to support films that give voices to marginalized communities that have been underrepresented on the big screen. While films with negative reviews can and do bring in audiences (I’m looking at you, Suicide Squad), critical reviews can make or break pretty much anything that isn’t backed by a major comic book franchise. I felt a deep connection to Mercury’s story, and was refreshed by the film’s portrayal of both his bisexuality and his Parsi heritage. If we aren’t seeing the same reception from critics, the least we can do is give these important films word of mouth.

Rapaversary: Take Care by Drake

Picture this; it’s November 2011, another chilly fall day and you just got out of class.  Plugged in your earbuds into your iPod Touch and press play on Drake’s new album Take Care. You haven’t listened to much of his music. You thought you’d give this new album a chance because everyone has been talking about it and want to see why.

On your first listen through the album you are surprised at how good it is, and the songs that you’ve been hearing everywhere but haven’t really cared for (“Headlines”, “Take Care”, “Make Me Proud”) are suddenly the ones that you keep going back to and can’t get enough of. You realize that Drake isn’t just the guy from Degrassi anymore, he’s becoming a hip hop superstar.

When I first listened to Take Care, this was exactly how I felt. I didn’t take Drake seriously at first until I listened to this project. I didn’t care much for Thank Me Later because I thought it was pretty one dimensional with only a few standout songs. But Take Care opened my eyes to the relatively new-at-the-time blend of hip hop and R&B that Drake would help put on the map and become known for.

Artistic direction

One of the things that makes Take Care so special is that Drake has said that he was unsatisfied with the cohesion and musical content on Thank Me Later. He became determined to make his next project something that he could be forever proud of. Some of the differences between Take Care and Thank Me Later are the inclusion of some full R&B tracks, more fleshed out subject matter, and a general sense of direction.

Influence and career furthering

In addition to Drake’s vocals being spectacular on every track (especially his singing), the featured artists on the album added so much to it as a complete project. Despite him releasing a few songs and projects in 2010 and 2011, Take Care was mainstream listeners first real introduction to The Weeknd. He played a huge part in the creation of Take Care, contributing to five tracks as a writer and featured artist.

This helps showcase some of the influence that Take Care had in both Drake and The Weeknd’s careers. Because without working on this project together, it is possible that neither would have become as huge and well-known as they are now.

Another artist that benefited greatly from his work on Take Care is Kendrick Lamar. Before working with Drake on this project K Dot had industry connections, but his inclusion on Take Care allowed him to reach new audiences that he hadn’t before. Lamar was featured on “Buried Alive Interlude” on which he details his rise to fame and meeting Drake and 40 for the first time in Toronto. “Buried Alive Interlude” is a hidden track at the end of “Marvin’s Room”, which only makes it that much more powerful.   

      

Lasting impact

Looking back on this album seven years after its release, Take Care really helped pave the way for rappers to include R&B-esque tracks on their albums without catching a huge amount of flack for it. At this point in time, it is almost frowned upon if rappers don’t at least attempt to create  a few slower tracks such as those included on Take Care.

The project also helped Drake further his career as a multi-talented artist and show that he can rap and create beautiful R&B tracks that touch all sorts of emotions. The creation of the album helped develop a new sound for a region that would become huge in hip hop. The careers of future stars went skyrocketing towards mainstream and the influence and lasting effects exist to this day.

Conclusion

If Drake had never went in the direction he did for Take Care, I believe that a lot of the modern Toronto sound would not be what it is right now. Take Care is Drake’s best album at this point in his career and one of the best of 2011 if not the 2010s decade as a whole. The album’s influence still exists in the present. Take Care is sure going to be listened to for more years to come.  

K-UTE Radio or the University of Utah does not own the pictures.     

Music On The Brain

Music has a powerful effect that can change the world. As humans, we use music for many different purposes. We seek entertainment by going to concerts. Find joy in listening to a song or album that we particularly like. Music can also help us in ways we need. Who hasn’t cried to a good break-up song when you feel as if your heart has been ripped out of your chest?

Music helps get us through all of our problems and helps make life a little more tolerable.

Studying With Music

As a college student I find myself constantly listening to softer music when I am studying. It helps me put away the distractions. All over campus you will see students with headphones on, listening to music, trying their best to concentrate.

Have you ever noticed listening to music will help you relax and reduce stress? This can be a big plus when studying for a test, or finishing some big project that’s coming up.

The Mozart Effect

The Mozart Effect is a popular theory, that suggests that music can enhance your cognitive abilities. The effects can change depending on the person and type of music they are listening to. For many people listening to heavy metal won’t be ideal when studying but others enjoy loud and noisy music to help them concentrate.

I suggest more indie or classical musical. It relaxes you and can really get you in the zone for some studying.

The Brain and Music

In your brain you have your cerebellum. This is considered the mini brain because it breaks down the initial sensory stimulus. The stimuli then goes to the thalamus which interrogates the signals for any signs of danger. It does this by communicating with the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, for stored historical sound/danger associations. The thalamus links to the amygdala to initiate an emotional response, e.g. fear if a danger signal is detected or tranquility if the signal is familiar. The amygdala works out how one feels about the sight of someone brandishing a knife compared to the sight of puppies. It is through this same interaction between the low-level and high-level processing units that the brain categorizes sound into music. 

Playlists for Studying

Here are some tunes on Spotify that might help you get that A.

https://open.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/0PRs1Xaui4zCv9LdIIt20X

https://open.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/37i9dQZF1DX8Uebhn9wzrS

https://open.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/37i9dQZF1DWXLeA8Omikj7

 

Utah Alumna Writes a Suspenseful Thriller Set in Utah

Discern is a fictional novella about the kidnapping of a wealthy teenager from Salt Lake City, Utah.  This suspenseful thriller is the first book written by Utah native, Emily Sneddon.  Sneddon graduated from the University of Utah in 2014 and currently lives in Nova Scotia with her family.

From the Author
Writing a book is hard work, but finding inspiration in Utah is not.  The culture alone is incredibly unique, but the diverse landscape throughout the state is incomparable. After growing up near Salt Lake City and attending the University of Utah, I felt like part of the tapestry that makes up the terrain. I considered myself born from the red dirt and raised by the mountains. Imagine my surprise when I met a man capable of convincing me to leave such a beautiful place. And while I’m grateful for the beauty and adventure that I’ve experienced since leaving, I will always be a Utahn at heart.
When I decided to write a book, I knew it was going to be set in Utah. I came up with the idea for this story during the summer before my wedding/relocation. So, this was my last chance to really immerse myself in thought about my home state. I also wanted to write a thriller because I’ve been fascinated by scary stories since childhood, but Utah has always felt like a safe place. So what would happen if something (or someone) sinister was lurking around the corner?
About the Book
 
The Avenues is an upscale neighborhood in the north-east part of Salt Lake City. Savannah Blake attends a prestigious, private high school nearby and is royalty among her wealthy friends.
One day, Savannah’s biggest concerns include which parties to attend and which boys to date. The next, she must fight for her own life.
Taken from her home. Taken from her friends and family. The last thing on her mind is which dress to wear to formal.
Discern was published on October 25th by Olympia Publishers and is currently available for purchase on their website: https://olympiapublishers.com/books/discern

New music wrap up: week of 10/29-11/2

This week has been crazy with all the releases that we’ve received. Some weeks are fuller than others, and this is definitely a full week. I’ve listened to quite a few of this new music already, so check below to see what I recommend you listen to from this week’s new drops!

Albums/Mixtapes/EPs

Chief Keef – Back From The Dead 3

Chief Keef is one of the more consistent artists in the rap game in terms of the amount of projects he releases. He’s back again with the newest installment in the fan-favorite Back From The Dead series. This project has 13 tracks with features from Tray Savage and Soulja Boy. Check this one out for your fix of that Chicago drill sound.  

TakeoffThe Last Rocket

After the release of Culture II earlier this year, Migos said that each of the three members would be releasing their own solo album. Takeoff’s project is the second of these to come out following Quavo’s Quavo Huncho last month. Takeoff is probably the least well-known member of the group, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t talented. Give this project a listen if you’re curious about his rapping abilities.

Vince Staples – FM!

Long Beach’s own Vince Staples returns with his latest project FM!, after releasing Big Fish Theory in 2017. This new project is heavy on the conceptual side of things, with radio skits running rampant throughout. It clocks in at 22 minutes in length over its 11 songs. Features on this project include Jay Rock, E-40, Kamaiyah, and others. This is a west coast project in the truest sense, so check it out if you love west coast rap.   

Metro Boomin – Not All Heroes Wear Capes

A few years ago, Metro Boomin was everywhere. He released numerous tracks with artists including Drake, Future, Young Thug, Kanye West, and many more. He took a bit of a break in 2018, but is back with his new project that features Travis Scott, Swae Lee, 21 Savage, Young Thug, and more. If you enjoy tracks with darker vibes, check this project out because it is full of them.  

 

Singles/Loose tracks

Nav – “Know Me”

Canadian rapper/producer Nav is back after a short break following the release of his debut album “Reckless” earlier this year. This is your typical Nav track on which he talks about his money, jewelry, and success. Check it out if you’re a fan of Nav and his unique voice and ear for beats.    

Tyga – “Dip” ft. Nicki Minaj

It’s 2018 and surprisingly, Tyga is relevant for something other than dating someone famous. He has had a strong 2018 thus far, with the super popular single “Taste” racking up over 400 million views on YouTube. This new track features his former Young Money labelmate Nicki Minaj.

Trey Songz – “Shootin’ Shots” ft. Ty Dolla Sign & Tory Lanez

Trey Songz is back with a brand new track after taking a short break following the release of his 2017 project Tremaine The Album. Take a listen to this track if you enjoy smooth crooning, because there’s plenty of it right here.

More new music

This isn’t a comprehensive list of everything that was released today simply because there is so much new music. If you want one check this link. Happy listening and check back for more of these posts in the future!

Hidden Gems of SLC: Crosswalk To Nowhere

Crosswalks are not a destination

After all, the chicken is simply trying to get to the other side of the road. Maybe you’ve got an “aesthetic” photo you really want to take, but as it stands, the middle of a road doesn’t have a lot to offer. It’s not terribly safe either. Anyone who’s used a crosswalk at the intersection below President’s Circle can attest to this.

Despite the danger, most people will brave crosswalks. Whether it’s to get to the brand new Publik by the University or the pizzeria four doors down, we use them to get to where we want to be. But what about when there is no destination on the other side? What if, for some absurd reason, a crosswalk you found lead you to nowhere? It seems as unhelpful and meanspirited as manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency to favor one political party over another.

The “Crosswalk to Nowhere”

To find it, drive up I Street until you reach 13th Avenue. Once you’re there, you’ll be greeted by a five-way intersection. On the right, there are two possible routes, 13th Avenue, which goes directly east, and Northcrest Drive, which veers uphill. Take Northcrest Drive, and almost immediately you will find the crosswalk, marked by a standard crosswalk sign and another sign with its “official” title.

While the sign in question looks professional, it’s made out of corrugated plastic, and one has to wonder if someone took it into their own hands to give the crosswalk a name. After all, why would the city name such a crosswalk? It connects one sidewalk of insignificance to a gutter and a bunch of bushes.

In all sense of the word, the “Crosswalk to Nowhere” is frivolous. It is because of this quality, however, that I find it appealing. In a world that seems to have stopped making sense (or never made sense to begin with), it’s oddly refreshing to find a place that so eloquently conveys the absurdity. In his time with the Talking Heads, David Bryne was the master of not making sense. I cannot think of a better song to compliment the “Crosswalk to Nowhere” then the band’s similarly titled “Road to Nowhere”.

 

 

 

Album review: Sincerely, Tokyo by Madeintyo

I first discovered Madeintyo a few years ago. You may be familiar with his track “Uber Everywhere”, which was released in 2016. The track got an official remix with Travis Scott. Even though that is currently his most popular song, Madeintyo brings much more to the table than just his slick-but-lazy sounding flow.

He’s released several projects so far during his short career, including Thank You, Mr. Tokyo and True’s World. These projects show off his tremendous flow, but I’m looking for more than that on this project. Seeing that it’s his debut album and he’s been working on it for more than two years, expectations are understandably high.

Enough talk, it’s time to get into Madeintyo’s debut album Sincerely, Tokyo.

First impressions

During my first couple listens through this project, the songs are all quality. There are 14 tracks, but they don’t drag on as the majority are between 2-3 minutes. The beats are fresh and experimental, which is always a plus.

Something that immediately sticks out about this project is the lack of different flows. This is something I really hoped Tokyo would experiment with on this project. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it makes the album a bit repetitive after a few listens.

Lyrics/Flow

Madeintyo is known more for his slick flow than his lyrics. He once again proves that on most of these tracks. He brings dope vibes to each project and all of the songs are ones that would be perfect for party playlists.  

While I’ll admit that his flow is dope on this album, it just gets a bit grating with the amount of times we hear the same thing. Tokyo has so much potential to make different sounding tracks due to the beats that he chooses, but he brings the same flow in most of these songs. That’s a no from me dawg.

  • Score: 6/10

Beats

If there is anything that is a clear-cute standout to me, it’s the beats contained on this album. Each song has a very distinct beat. It keeps the album fresh in that aspect, which I really enjoy for replayability reasons. Some of the producers on this album include Dwn2Earth, Ronny J, K Swisha, Hit-Boy, Wheezy, TM88, and many more. 

The only negative that I can say about this album’s beats is that they are too short on a lot of tracks. For example, the beat on “Moshi Moshi” is absolutely amazing but it only lasts about 1:15. The same problem is present throughout the project. While I respect shorter songs, I wish some of them were a bit longer.

  • Score: 8.3/10

Replayability

Not all albums are easily replayable, but this one definitely is. Sincerely, Tokyo clocks in at only 39 minutes. It is a quick listen that you can knock out and hopefully enjoy. I for one will be listening to this one for quite a while because most of the songs are enjoyable.

Even though the album is short and the beats are outstanding, Tokyo’s flows do get a bit repetitive. Not all of the tracks sound exactly the same, but a lot of the tracks near the beginning of the project sound kind of similar. But don’t let that turn you off the album as a whole, because you can shuffle through it and find something you like instead of listening in order.   

  • Score: 7.5/10

Standouts

Final thoughts

I expected a lot from Madeintyo on Sincerely, Tokyo. The album isn’t perfect, but he mostly met my expectations. Yes, he has proved that he isn’t only the guy who made “Uber Everywhere”, but did he prove anything else on this release?

Let’s be clear, the best things about this album are the beats. They are absolutely amazing and carry the project for me. Tokyo flows over them all so effortlessly, but that’s about it. His lyrical content is nothing to be amazed at.

Honestly, Sincerely, Tokyo is an album to listen to if you enjoy an artist that brings solely vibes to their music. I urge Tokyo to explore new flows and subject matter on his next project, simply because it’ll get people interested again. Madeintyo has released a fine project here, but not one that will go down as a classic by any means. The beats will remain fresh and the vibes dope, but otherwise most hip hop fans won’t remember this project.

Final Score: 7.3/10

Artwork owned by Madeintyo/The Private Club