All posts by Lauren Lustgarten

American Football Album Review

By Matt Balogh

At first glance, this particular band’s name would lead you to believe you are accidently reading the sports section. American Football is an Indie Rock/Emo band from Champaign, Illinois that started in 1997, back when emo was a genre and not a falsely labeled fashion trend. Created as a studio project of Steve Holmes and Mike Kinsella (previously of emo bands Joan of Arc and Cap’n Jazz), American Football experimented with elements of indie and math rock.

While initiating the process of “just jamming,” Mike Kinsella invited his college roommate Steve Holmes to join in. The trio subsequently put out two self-titled releases: A 3-song EP in 1998, and their debut studio album in 1999. At first, the album showed to little response, considering it only being viewed as a side-project to Kinsella. Later on, through popularity on college radio, the album gained a much larger following, claiming it as a new classic in the emo genre.

After three years of American Football, the band ultimately came to an end. More recently, in 2014, the band announced they had gotten back together to perform a limited amount of shows in the U.S, to coincide with the re-release of their debut album. This release charted the band on the Billboard 200, landing a spot on number 68, a benchmark rarely obtained for many underground bands. This rapidly spreading audience motivated the band to get back together full time, with the inclusion of Mike’s brother Nate Kinsella on bass, and to release a new album.

On Oct. 21, 2016, 17 years after their first album, they released their second self-titled album on Polyvinyl Records. The album is a modern masterpiece of both indie rock and emo. The band brings back their familiar charm of pristine guitar licks, songs varying in both tunings and time signatures, and of course the unique sounds of the trumpet: an instrument seldom used in emo music. Along with their signature guitar work, they infuse technical back melodies with jazz-influenced drumming style, keeping the band together through time and speed changes.

The opening track, “Where Are We Now?” works as the seamless transition to cover 17 years of absence. Right away, the listener is returned to the sounds of the former record, with a new refresh on the band’s intricate song formation. Track number two, “My Instincts Are The Enemy,” features a classic melancholic melody that drives throughout, and cuts time signatures half way through, creating a sound similar to combining two songs into one.

The first single, “I’ve Been So Lost For So Long” immediately hinted at the environment of the record. Once released, the song fits perfectly as a transition and to introduce Side B of the record. Track number eight, “Desire Gets In The Way,” has a very original sound, and is very different from previous work. The song not only features Mike Kinsella singing higher on his vocal register, it is a lot more upbeat, and stands out among the tracks on the album.

Lyrically, the album explores usual topics of loneliness, but also strays off to more intimate features. Splicing together feelings through metaphor and vivid imagery, the band never fails to create an ambience of isolation, and the perfect “rainy-day” album that the world of emo had needed in this day and age.

Rating: 10/10

 

CCSU Art Show

By Kayla Murphy 

Popular works from artists Emily Berger, Zhang Hong, Rick Lewis and Claire Seidi were shown on Tuesday Oct. 20 at 3 p.m. in the Maloney Art Gallery. The Central Connecticut State University Art Department hosted the Abstraction 2016: Surface and Color Art Show. Abstract art is non-objective art that uses shape, form, color and line to create a composition. Around 50 students and staff came to listen to each of the artists talk about their paintings. Berger, Lewis and Seidi were in attendance at this art show, but on Nov. 10, Zhang Hong will be traveling all the way from Shanghai to CCSU to talk to students about his pieces.

Senior art education student, Angela Cipriano, said that she found the art show very interesting. “Abstract art isn’t my thing,” she laughed, “but I really like the color choices on Claire’s pieces and I really admire her brush strokes.”

Claire Seidi, an abstract painter of 4o years, said that she gathers most of her inspiration from nature. Using lots of blues and greens and browns, Seidi says she tries to create gestured images that resemble whirlpools, whirlwinds and tornados.

“After spending time in Maine,” said Seidi, “I was inspired by the spaces in between trees, especially at night. I’ve created some really spooky paintings from these concepts.”

Sara McLaughlin, a junior art education student, thought the art show was very dynamic. “There was a lot more movement than I expected to see for an art show,” said McLaughlin. “I really enjoyed Emily’s print making pieces because her style reminds me of my own.”

“I really like horizontal lines and repetition,” said abstract painter Emily Berger.  Inspired by elements of grain and wood, Berger tries to create a visual conversation between the painting and the audience.

“I always have an idea of what I want to paint, but I always plan color first,” said Berger. “It might change as I go along, but the relationship with color is very important to me. I stop working on a painting until it stops driving me crazy,” she laughed.

Rick Lewis, another abstract painter at the event, also undergoes the same challenges as Berger.

“I’m constantly working on and improving my artwork,” he said, “I will stop at a place that’s interesting enough for me to stop and look at it for awhile.”

Raised in Texas, Lewis’ abstract pieces were inspired by the landscapes. Observing the raw beauty from the environment his paintings try to evoke emotion.

Lewis said, “I find sadness in rotting trees and calmness in the repetitive patterns of cobblestones.”

From Oct. 20 to Nov. 17, guests are welcomed to come to the free gallery showing Monday through Friday, 1-4 p.m.

CCSU Choirs Concert

By Kayla Murphy

Timely enough, The Central Connecticut State University Choirs performed on Tuesday Oct. 18, in front of hundreds at 3 p.m. in Founder’s Hall, but this time, the concert’s theme focused on a political statement. Dr. Drew Collins conducted each of the choirs, the Chorale, the University Singers, and the Blue Notes, always selecting chorale from the past five centuries.
“Nationalization and economic recession in most cases is the result of oppression, and these are some of the situations that our country is in today,” Dr. Collins said.
Each of the songs in the Chorale’s performance touched upon certain moments in history where music was oppressed.
“My favorite part of the concert was the Irish folk song,” said Eddy Sevilla, a freshman mechanical engineer student. “I really liked how the lyrics were about Irish history.”
In one of Dr. Collin’s examples of oppression, he chose the song “The Wearin’ of the Green,” which was about the Irish Rebellion of 1798. It was an uprising against British rule, where the rules were so strict that Irish men and women were prosecuted for wearing the color green. Making the song interactive, Dr. Collins asked the audience to recite the refrain; “for the wearin’ of the green, for the wearin’ of the green, they’re hanging men and women for the wearin’ of the green.”
Chorale bass singer Mercurio Evangelista said that the concert went very well. “We have all been working very hard to learn the music and make it as beautiful as it was intended to be,” Evangelista said.
Spencer Sonnenberg, a freshman student in both the Chorale and the University Singers, also agreed that the concert went perfectly. “Everything in the program was very well. I thought we, as performers, did a good job taking the audience on a journey” Sonnenberg said. Enjoying the unique pieces that Dr. Collins picked, Sonnenberg’s favorite choice was “Abendlied,” a German song.
“I’m half German,” said Sonnenberg. “I speak it fluently and this song really speaks to me. The text behind the text is far beyond what the English translation says.”
“They sang their hearts out,” said Dr. Collins. As proud as he was of his students and their performance, Dr. Collins’s next plans are preparing for the Holiday Concert in December.
The next concert hosted by the Music Department will be the Faculty Recital: The Connecticut Trio on Thursday Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. in Founders Hall.

 

CCSU Campus- A Previous Host for Independent Horror Films

By Kaitlin Lyle

With the full arrival of the fall season on campus, both the university buildings and attending students of Central Connecticut State University have been occupied with preparations for celebrating Halloween. As of this past Tuesday, a pumpkin carving competition was held in Semesters and the Elihu Burritt Library hosted its annual Trick-or-Treat e-resource fair.

In closing the week with the last Devil’s Den of October, the Society of Paranormal Research will be hosting a “Haunted Carnival” themed event in Semesters on Oct. 27. Yet even as the CCSU community makes arrangements for the popular fall holiday, many of its residents may be surprised in learning that, in the past, the campus has been used for the filming of two independent horror films, “The House of the Devil” in 2009 and “Laundry Night” in 2011.

According to Mark McLaughlin, the Associate Vice President of News and Media Relations at CCSU, the university is generally flexible in accommodating requests to utilize locations on campus for the purpose of filming. “It’s a good, prudent, and safe use of state property to help the entertainment industry and others recognize Connecticut as a rich resource for the arts,” said McLaughlin, who mentioned his involvement in accompanying both the film’s advance team and director in scoping out locations on campus.

Though the News and Media Relations does not require that the film company provide a certificate of insurance, precautions are established in order to notify university officials – such as the CCSU Police and Facilities Management – that campus facilities are being used for filming. As a result, Facilities Management ensures that the designated settings on campus are made available for those involved with the production, particularly in making sure that the campus buildings are accessible and that filming is scheduled when there are no events or classes taking place.

In addition, McLaughlin stated that, in the past, he has successfully lobbied for CCSU students to be a part of the filming process in order for them to attain professional exposure, whether they participate onscreen or behind the scenes. “Although the university does get a credit at the end of the movie, it’s almost always not identified as Central during the actual film,” said McLaughlin in closing.

Directed by Ti West, “The House of the Devil” is a 2009 homage to horror films of the 80’s as its protagonist, student Samantha Hughes, decides to accept a mysterious babysitting job that she finds posted outside of her dorm. Coinciding with a full lunar eclipse, the plot soon takes a terrifying turn as Samantha learns that the job’s elusive circumstances are meant to conceal her client’s ghastly secret. The horror film stars Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, and Greta Gerwig, and is rated “R” for bloody violence. Throughout the opening credits of the film, director West establishes the storys atmosphere by tracking Samantha’s movements as she walks around her college campus. In doing so, viewers are then able to briefly observe various sections of CCSU, including the outdoor walkway of Vance Academic Center, Davidson Hall, the path alongside Marcus White Annex and Marcus White Hall, which is depicted in the film as the protagonist’s residence hall.

Presented by Lumonox Films, the short film “Laundry Night” displays the story of how a college student’s routine laundry trip takes an eerie supernatural turn, going from average to alarming within a short span of time. The film was directed by Peter Bradley and written by Erik Bloomquist, who also starred in the film. In utilizing the basement and laundry room of Barrows Hall for the purpose of creating a six-minute thriller, “Laundry Night” casts a frightening outlook over an otherwise comfortable lounging area for students.

For those interested in observing the CCSU campus as portrayed in a horror film, both “The House of the Devil” and “Laundry Night” are available for viewing via YouTube.

 

Graeme Simsion’s ‘The Rosie Project’

 

by Kaitlin Lyle

In a newfound genre where unexpected love tends to unveil itself under circumstances of personal tragedy or nationwide catastrophe, it is difficult nowadays to come across a love story that maintains the quirks of modern romance while remaining entirely realistic. Luckily, Graeme Simsion’s 2013 novel “The Rosie Project” satisfies the need for a reasonable, if not charming, romance in today’s literature. For readers who have felt – at one point or another – overwhelmed by the logic of modern relationships, “The Rosie Project” will provide amusing, if not slightly offbeat, reading material.

When it comes to relationships, 39-year-old Don Tillman believes that he is simply not wired for romance. In spite of his achievements in aikido and his career as an associate professor of genetics at the University of Melbourne, Don is the type of idiosyncratic character who can count his friends on one hand and debate a woman out of a second date. From the Standardized Meal System to scheduling a weekly bathroom cleaning, his life revolves around a series of regimented routines that discipline his every action as to not waste a moment of precious time. Even when giving a lecture on Asperger’s Syndrome, Don cannot pinpoint the exact deficiency of what separates him from everyone else (despite the fact that several symptoms of Asperger’s align with his personality).

After a series of innovative dating mishaps – one of which is referred to as the Apricot Ice Cream Disaster – Don has decided to take on the quest of finding a compatible partner using the methods he knows best. Thus the Wife Project is born: a sixteen-page scientifically-based survey comprised of multiple choice questions that are designed to the candidates’ compatibility to Don’s specific preferences. Narrowing out the time wasters, the smokers, the scientifically-illiterate, and the vegans, Don believes that his newfound project will help him to choose the “perfect woman”. Like any competent scientist, Don carries out the Wife Project with critical observation and unwavering determination, but as his “short skirt” cleaning woman, Eva, chastises, “no one is perfect”. Just as Don is waiting for the perfect candidate to reply to his project, 29-year-old Psychology student, Rosie Jarman enters his office.

Following a bizarre first date, Don immediately disqualifies Rosie as being a potential candidate, seeing her vibrantly dyed hair, her tendency to smoke, and her poor timing as being flaws to the qualifications of his Wife Project. Yet he cannot help being intrigued by her character, particularly when it is revealed that Rosie is on a quest to find her biological father. Given Don’s knowledge of genetics testing, he decides to assist Rosie in her Father Project and the two set out to find and test the DNA samples of the project’s numerous candidates. While collaborating on the project, Rosie’s spontaneous spirit helps to coax Don out of his social challenges and encourages him to think beyond his regularly regimented schedule as their working relationship flourishes. Over time, Don begins to realize that the stunning woman before him could be just the person he was looking for, and the eponymous final project begins.

Oddly endearing and refreshingly candid, “The Rosie Project” has been hailed as a “smart love story” for men and women alike by the San Francisco Chronicle. Don Tillman is the literary embodiment of television’s Sheldon Cooper in his ability to continuously state the apparent and unconsciously create social gaffes as a result. Acknowledging Rosie through what is observed by Don, she is an impassioned heroine determined to better herself for when she meets her biological father, though her independence allows her to adapt to any circumstances that life may throw at her. Overall, Simsion’s characters inspire his readers to cheer for Don’s success in finding love and to fall for Rosie as the spirited counterpart of the socially inept narrator.

In addition to tracking Don’s journey as he attempts to pinpoint the symptoms of love, the novel encourages the reader to question how much of their own information on love and relationships stems from outside forces. While working on both the Wife Project and the Rosie Project, he consults his closest friends, Gene and Claudia, on how to recognize love when it’s within proximity, though their answers differ significantly. Gene, who has made it his mission to have sex with as many different nationalities as possible, believes that men cannot be expected to remain faithful, and Claudia believes that one should be capable of accepting their partner’s true nature, even as she hopes for Gene’s mission to end. Along with his friends’ advice, Don analyzes the messages of famous cinematic love stories, such as Casablanca and As Good as It Gets. As Don aptly states in his narrations, “humans often fail to see what is close to them and obvious to others,” a statement that remains especially poignant once he realizes that finding someone to fall in love with isn’t something to be diagnosed with scientific scrutiny.

For readers who found themselves charmed by the follies of Don and Rosie, a film adaptation is currently in development and Simsion’s sequel “The Rosie Effect” has received excellent reviews by fans of the original story.