Review Category : The Musings

OK Go’s Tim Nordwind talks optical illusions, new album, upcoming tour

If you’ve been on YouTube anytime in the last decade, you’ve probably experienced the artistic endeavors of alternative rock band OK Go. This Grammy-award winning group is known for their quirky-creative music videos, like the treadmill-choreographed “Here It Goes Again” and the puppy-dominated “White Knuckles”, as well as their innovative dance-inducing alt-rock sound. OK Go recently released their first single “The Writings on the Wall” from their highly-anticipated album, Hungry Ghosts, which is set to drop October 2014. The music video which was released with the song garnered more than one million views within the first day. The band is set to kick off their first tour in three years at Assembly Music Hall in Sacramento on July 15. MUSE spoke with OK Go co-founder and bassist Tim Nordwind about the upcoming tour, Hungry Ghosts and the band’s creative pursuits. MUSE: What kind of sound were you going for with “The Writings on the Wall” and can we expect the same feeling with the rest of the album? Tim: “The... ...

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Mac DeMarco’s “Salad Days” review

The first time I heard the name Mac DeMarco, I was listening to a friend rave about the Canadian musician’s show at Scala in London, last October. DeMarco’s wild enthusiasm and insane genius led to his losing shoes and screaming comedy covers on stage. Previously recording as Makeout Videotape, Salad Days is Mac DeMarco’s second full-length solo album under his own name. The album was released on April 1, 2014 through Captured Tracks and garnered a “Best New Music” accolade from Pitchfork. DeMarco plays and records all the instruments himself in his box room in Brooklyn. DeMarco’s cut and paste style gives him an irreverent appeal. It’s nice to see an artist who isn’t precious about imperfections in his process. DeMarco is the gap-toothed, laid back voice of reason we all need. The title track, “Salad Days,” allows DeMarco to acknowledge his youth from the off. The message lies somewhere between a love ballad and telling everyone to chill out. It’s hard to escape the fluid rhythm and guitar flicks... ...

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Review of Diana Krall’s Mondavi performance

I’m that obnoxious girl that knows every hit single on the radio, has contemplated life to every song by every obscure indie band too mainstream for Coachella and listens to Mozart while doing her homework. Though this is all true, my heart first and foremost belongs to jazz, which is why I am so grateful I got to attend Diana Krall’s performance at the Mondavi Center this past Sunday. Diana Krall is one of today’s most popular traditional jazz vocalists and pianists — a modern-day tribute to the likes of the brilliant Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Her current tour features covers from her new album Glad Rag Doll as well as old favorites from past collections. Krall opened her dynamic set with a sassy arrangement of “When the Curtain Comes Down” from her newest project. The song was accompanied by a video of actor Steve Buscemi providing old-timey theatrical asides and dance, setting the show up for a whirlwind of nostalgic repertoire. Krall was accompanied by a jazz combo... ...

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Review of The Wind Rises

Studio Ghibli’s most recent animated production, The Wind Rises, is now showing at Regal Cinemas on G Street in downtown Davis. The film is Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s final movie of his career and is perhaps one of his best pieces yet. Miyazaki, writer and director of the Academy Award-winning film Spirited Away, has brought forth themes of love, growing up, feminism, good vs. evil, environmentalism, flight and reality vs. fantasy over the years in all of his movies and The Wind Rises is no exception. The Wind Rises imagines the life of Jiro Horikoshi, a real life aeronautical engineer from the 1950s who designed aircrafts used by the Japanese army in WWII. The film, though based on historical events, is whimsical in quality and invites the viewer into a highly aesthetically appealing experience. The film beautifully intertwines the ideas of flight and love into one in the same for young Horikoshi. It explores the difference between Horikoshi’s ambitions to create beautiful aircrafts and the reality of how his designs... ...

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The Mondavi Center hosts Circa’s “S”

On March 30, The Mondavi Center will host the Australian circus group Circa. Circa will be performing their show “S,” a captivating and raw example of the modern circus. Drawing inspiration from the smooth contours and constantly changing directions of the letter “s,” the cast will explore their physical and emotional limits with organic and powerful acrobatics. The performance is influenced by the simplicity of the letter “S.” With no numbers, acts, props or even elaborate costumes, the ensemble is said to be able to capture a sense of purity and vulnerability with their movement. As a result, Circa’s acrobatics engage the audience’s emotions. According to Yaron Lifschitz, the CEO and Artistic Director of Circa, “S” is a different piece from what he has done in the past. Lifschitz said he was excited about “S” being regarded as something beyond explanation but still moving. “It [“S”] is a place where the body and the artist become a resonant, poetic, theatrical, medium that generates an authentic human connection between the performers... ...

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Sun Kil Moon’s ‘Benji’ Album Review

In the opening track of Sun Kil Moon’s Benji, singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek makes it clear that he is confused and intrigued about — yet ultimately fixated upon — death. Describing the titular “Carissa,” Kozelek explains the “senseless tragedy” of her death (an aerosol can explosion, just like the way his uncle died, nonetheless). His paced revelations of his second cousin Carissa conclude with his homecoming to Ohio and decision to honor Carissa by making “sure her name is known across every city.” In this statement, a reflective, often introspective journey into the life of Mark Kozelek begins, and in the undeniably powerful directness of Benji, Kozelek’s sense of gratitude for all those who have formed him triumphs over the morbid subject matter. The sixth album of Sun Kil Moon, Kozelek, now the only current member of the project, recruited the likes of Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, Owen Ashworth, Will Oldham and Jen Wood to heighten the universality of the album’s deeply personal songs. This technique is apparent in the second... ...

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Stories on Stage presents author Anthony Marra

Guess what crazy thing I did Saturday night? I went to a book reading at the Pence Gallery! I know, pretty badass, am I right? Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the ideal “wild Saturday night out,” but it was actually quite enjoyable. Every month the Pence Gallery on D Street hosts “Stories on Stage.” During the event local actors read aloud excerpts from books or short works by a successful author and a promising young writer. I dragged a few friends with me to the show to find there was only standing room in the excessively small gallery area and that everyone seemed to be perspiring. Pence Gallery was set to showcase New York Times Bestseller Anthony Marra, so everyone and their mothers were in attendance. The show started with a reading from Maria Kuznetsova’s (a rising author) story “The Foreigner.” Actress Gia Battista, artistic director of the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble, read an excerpt from the book about a young Russian girl attempting to live normally during wartime. Kuznetsova’s written... ...

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Young Wanderlust: A book review

The back of Evan Kenward’s self-published debut novel Young Wanderlust asks the questions: What do you do when you graduate college? Do you get a job? Start your career? Begin your young adult life? If you’re Evan Kenward, a recent University of Massachusetts Amherst graduate, you answer these questions by dropping everything and commencing on a cross-country road trip with two of your two best friends in an unreliable rusted out old Subaru. What happens on the way is up to fate. Young Wanderlust is a 28-day account of Kenward’s cross-country road trip he took during the early summer months of 2008. Determined to experience everything that the American west and has to offer on a small backpacking budget, Kenward tells his story with optimism and wonderment and engrains in the minds of his readers that spontaneous travel is the true road to complete and total freedom. Beginning in Massachusetts, Kenward sets off west traversing highways and taking in the sights of middle America. The car holds up for the cross-country drive... ...

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Review of Jeff Tweedy’s solo concert

On Dec. 10, Jeff Tweedy of the bands Wilco and Uncle Tupelo presented his solo concert at the Mondavi Center with Scott McCaughey of the band The Young Fresh Fellows as his opener. I’d like to inform you that I attended this concert knowing almost nothing about Tweedy’s music besides a few of his popular songs from Wilco. All I had at hand was my love for all genres of music and low expectations to avoid possible disappointment (I’m a bundle of sunshine). I got there a few minutes into the show and found myself watching McCaughey in a furry silver top-hat and sunglasses sipping whiskey and trying not to spill on the piano. He comically stumbled around stage between his guitar, banjo and piano, singing about The Walking Dead comics and Babe Ruth. Though I couldn’t tell if he was comedian or a musician, I definitely enjoyed the oddity of it all. The audience was mostly middle-aged to senior citizens hooting at McCaughey’s absurd gag reel of simplistic chords... ...

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Frances Ha now available on Netflix Instant Play

If you’re like me, someone who spends copious amounts of time hunched over a computer screen streaming Netflix movies instead of starting that term paper, there is good news. Alas, I have been forcing myself to watch B movie after B movie in hopes that someday Netflix might actually add a film that I know I will enjoy for the next 120 minutes or so of my life. So, when I opened a new tab and scrolled through the recently added movies on Netflix, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that one of my favorite summer movies was now streaming on Netflix, Frances Ha. The Film is co-written by its lead actress, Greta Gerwig, and its director, Noah Baumbach. Gerwig, known for her roles in movies such as Hannah Takes the Stairs and Nights and Weekends, has developed a cult following as one of the leading figures in mumblecore cinema, a sub-genre of independent film that is characterized by low production costs and naturalistic dialogue. Her previous experience rubs... ...

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Pop, but not quite Art: A review of “ARTPOP” by Lady Gaga

It’s been over five years since Lady Gaga dropped “Just Dance,” and since then she’s become arguably the biggest English language pop star in the world. Her new album, ARTPOP, is proof of Gaga’s pop genius, but it lacks a feel of genuine greatness. I have a bit of bias for this record because Gaga’s rise coincided with my rising interest in pop music. In fact, The Fame Monster, which is one of the best albums released in the last five years, cemented my love for the Billboard Top 40. The first thing that struck me about ARTPOP is that it is very sexual. It sounds ridiculous to say that about an artist who first came to my attention with a song that includes the line “bluffin’ with my muffin,” but there’s a song called “Sexxx Dreams” that is pretty much about just that. Prince would blush at some of the lyrical content. (As a brief feminist aside: the closest ARTPOP gets to being art is through how Gaga challenges... ...

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Q&A with Rick Elice, writer of Peter and the Starcatcher, Jersey Boys

Rick Elice is a writer, a former stage actor and a charter member of the American Repertory Theatre. In his past, he’s been a former copywriter, producer, creative director and executive vice president of an advertising company as well as a creative consultant to Walt Disney Studios. Elice co-wrote the book for the four-time Tony award-winning musical Jersey Boys as well as Peter and the Starcatcher, a five-time Tony award-winning play that is coming to San Francisco. MUSE had the opportunity to interview Elice about everything from his academic experiences to what’s coming next. You earned a BA from Cornell University, an MFA from Yale Drama School and were a teaching fellow at Harvard. What was your academic experience like? I joined the College Scholar Program at Cornell the middle of my freshman year, where you have an independent major. Once I got accepted, I didn’t have to follow the syllabus — I could take any course of any level at any of the eight colleges, and I could take as many... ...

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An album review of Best Coast’s Fade Away

Kaleidoscopic melodies. Candid lyrics. Glorious reverb. Best Coast has done it again with its latest release, Fade Away, which hit stores on October 22. Through its seven songs, the mini-album recounts all too familiar feelings, but not without evoking the need to dance first. The duo, composed of vocalist/guitarist Bethany Cosentino and multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno, evidently experiments with different musical styles in the EP. In comparison to previous works, Fade Away strays a bit from the band’s signature lo-fi sound. The EP tracks do not reminisce summer days, beach trips and 60s bliss. Instead, they seem nostalgic for the 90s in the way that they draw stylistic elements from post-punk, shoegaze and garage-rock in a produced manner. Fade Away feels like the city: dense and fast-paced. Listening to each track is like passing through a crowded sidewalk and taking in every face, every voice and every sense of life. In retrospect, all is vivid; but you come to realize that every figure is a complex being. Similarly, each track is... ...

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“WHAT art thou, Romeo?”: Review of recent Romeo and Juliet adaptation

2013 has been a big year for remakes of the classics for Hollywood. With Baz Luhrman’s long-awaited version of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Joss Whedon’s modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, it would feel incomplete without a fourth attempt at an adaption of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. After so many recreations of one of the most epic and heart-wrenching stories of all time, with hundreds of modern adaptations of plays, books and movies, one would expect something more exciting and riveting than what Italian director Carlo Carlei produced in his recent version. While it is conceivable to the viewer that Carlei was trying to maintain the original romantic beauty of the epic play without “hollywoodizing” or modernizing any of its aspects, he also ends up producing a relatively unemotional and entirely cliché version of what should be a tear-wrenching experience. Even though it is set in breathtaking Verona, Italy, makes use of magnificent period-piece costumes and sticks avidly to Shakespeare’s original prose with only some original scenes... ...

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Mommy-daughter night at the Mondavi Center: Review of Carly Rae Jepsen concert

It’s a bad idea to go stag to a female pop star’s concert and sit in the front row. It’s an objectively bad idea when the audience consists of tween girls and their mothers. On September 18th, the Mondavi Center hosted Canadian Idol runner-up Carly Rae Jepsen with Nashville pop rock band Hot Chelle Rae (a band that confirms my childhood fear that we are running out of names for things) as the opening act. Unlike the Morrissey concert I gushed about, I knew very little about the performers when I went through the doors. All I knew was that Hot Chelle Rae have a hit song (“Tonight Tonight”) that I don’t like and that Carly Rae Jepsen has a hit song that I like. Obviously, I’m not in the target demographic for this concert. I’m a childless, younger-sibling-less 23 year old male who spent all day listening to Swans and Japanese guitar pop. I went to this concert wearing a Joy Division shirt without a hint of irony. I’m... ...

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