Category Archives: Entertainment

“Recess”: Skrillex Releases First Full Length Album

by Sean Begin

Sonny Moore, better known by his alias Skrillex, grabbed the attention of American pop culture in 2010 when he released his YouTube-sampled “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” EP. With songs more reminiscent of angrily arguing Transformers than traditional instrumental music, Moore succeeded in helping take dance music mainstream.

Now, after six years of singles, remixes and extended plays, Moore has released his first full-length effort with “Recess,” an 11 song LP that nods to both the style that made him popular and the influences his music has seen since his ascension.

The opening track, “All is Fair in Love and Brostep,” is a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment from Moore to the subgenre of dubstep attached to his style that has nearly become cliché since. The song features the Ragga Twins, pioneers in the United Kingdom’s early 1990s jungle and drum and bass scene.

The Ragga Twins are also featured on “Ragga Bomb,” the reggae-influenced drum and bass track that feels pulled out of the 90s and touched up with Moore’s unique style. Moore delves into the genre further with the jazzed up just-in-time-for-summer tune “Coast is Clear,” featuring up-and-coming hip hop act Chance The Rapper, whose bubbly crooning seems fit for driving with the windows down.

What seems to make “Recess” shine is the way Moore blends his unique style of growling robots and gigantic bass drops, while adding elements and entire songs showcasing his branching abilities as a producer.

Songs like “Fire Away” and “Stranger” are reminiscent of Moore’s work on 2013’s “Leaving” EP that was released only to members of The Nest, the subscription service for Moore’s Owsla label.

Moore has always been about weird sounds, though, and they shine through in “Doompy Poomp,” which sounds like the theme song to an Oompa Loompa-run carnival on acid. And “Dirty Vibe,” which serves as a first taste of Moore’s work with Diplo as the group Jack-U (who debuted in Miami at Ultra this year) is a blend of styles: techno and hardstyle with a dash of K-pop in the form of featured artists G-Dragon and CL.

The tracks that fit the mold that made Moore such a huge star, however, have been scaled back from the usual exploding bass drops favored in his early work for more subtle, but still intensely powerful, sonic shifts.

Moore works with Owsla signee, Alvin Risk, to make “Try It Out,” which is actually a mix of a bootleg tune titled “Imma Try It Out” that surfaced as early as 2011 and was featured in the 2012 video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II. “Try It Out” features the ragged growls and laser sounds so familiar to Moore’s work.

Working with another Owsla artist, Kill the Noise, the title track to the album fits perfectly with the backing sounds of kids screaming and playing, and comes packed with a bass drop that sucks all sound in favor of hyped up chords. “Ease My Mind” may be the album’s fiercest song, building slowly with sampled female vocals and breaking smoothly into an upbeat laser-filled drop.

A full length release from Moore has been a long time coming, especially after mainstream success and his winning multiple Grammy awards in the past two years. “Recess” is a spectacular blend of both Moore’s pioneering style and the influences that have shaped him as an artist thus far.

“Distant Relatives” Album Review Nas & Damian Marley

By: Brittany Hill

White supremacy, America’s youth and heritage are all covered in Nas and Damian Marley’s 2010 collaboration, “Distant Relatives.”

This multifaceted album brings heavy rhymes from American rapper and songwriter Nas to blissfully mix with the smooth and upbeat style of Jamaican reggae artist Damian Marley.

Marley, the youngest of Bob Marley’s sons, and Nas, the son of a jazz musician, open the album with a back-and-forth sequence of spitting rhymes. Once Marley stops, Nas starts. There’s never a moment of silence, only spitfire enthusiasm and energy, one of the best ways to foreshadow an album that is as lyrically serious as it is playful.

“As We Enter” opens the album in near narrative form, as Nas and Marley play off each other’s latest thought. Nas articulates, “Y’all feel me even if it’s in Swahili. Habari gain,” to which Marley responds “Nzuri sana. Switch up the language and move to Ghana.”

A fascinating aspect to this album is that regardless of the extreme difference in style and sound, the duo are able to collaborate under a mere set list and moral beliefs — how oppression, progression and repression can yield remarkably sensational results.

In a more politically charged song, “Tribal War,” the two touch on oppression of blacks in America and the forced migration that other minorities have faced, as well as the unfortunate consequences of such.

“Man what happened to us? Geographically they moved us from Africa. We was once happiness pursuers. Now we back stabbing, combative and abusive.” Nas continues, “The African and Arab go at it, they most Muslim.”

Other songs tug at the overwhelming nostalgia one feels while remembering their impressionable teenage years, bred from pure naiveté.

Stephen Marley guest appears in the tune “Leaders,” by repping’ the chorus throughout. The artists talk about their different interpretations on what it means to be a leader.

Damian Marley reminisces: “Everything you do? It impact me. Your lifestyle attract me, parents try distract me. When I grow up I want to be like you exactly.”

Following this less political path comes the next track, “Friends,” through which Nas and Damian spit honestly about the issues that face friendships. This sentimental tribute allows for male listeners to connect to the emotions often experienced when friends turn their backs, but often are repressed.

“Look what’s it come to…Our rapport’s good no more. We was good before, ’till I saw what type a dude you took me for. We had a chance to take paper down. What I took was more. Because of hatred, opportunity wasted,” Nas raps with passion and anger.

Over a hypnotic and haunting beat, Marley repeats his chorus featured in and out of Nas’ interludes. “Your real friends will serve you long, acquaintances will fade. Your real friends won’t do you wrong, real friend don’t change.”

To break up the albums’ deep lyrical content and heavy beats, comes a song in the near middle of the album. “Count Your Blessings” reflects on the small things that really count, but that are often missed throughout all the chaos and expectations of daily life.

This song really gives the listeners a clearer view on how raw Marley’s vocals can be, but more so, how soft they can be on the ears.

“If you’ve got someone who miss you, man count your blessings,” he reminds the listener.

A funkier tune, “Nah Mean,” catches the listener by surprise after it follows the more spiritually driven tune “In His Words.” The harsh contrast brings the listener from feeling moved spiritually to being moved physically.

But, by the far the strongest and most moving song of them all is “Patience.” The song is poetic, political and so real. It critiques how our passions and views as humans have shifted towards a more societal perspective than a nature perspective.

“Scholars teach in Universities and claim that they’re smart and cunning. Tell them find a cure when we sneeze and that’s when their nose start running,” says Marley. “Can you milk cows, even though you drive cars? Huh. Can you survive, against all odds now?

Nas echoes these sentiments as he wraps up the ballad with lyrics that leave the listener to think about life’s true meaning. He recalls the tragic times when he held dead bodies in his arms, and how it changed him.

“Why we born in the first place, if this is how we gotta go? Damn.”

Netflix It: “Friday Night Lights”

By Ariana D’Avanzo

Crowds of howling fans cheering, popcorn being thrown amongst the packed bleachers and arguments happening left and right about who’s the better team: the environment of a football game. Then, suddenly, in the midst of the game, the fans fall silent and let out a big roaring gasp in unison, something happens that no one saw coming. This personifies the first episode of the very first season of “Friday Night Lights”.

Love triangles, relatable family drama and football. If you enjoy watching a series containing all three of these, then “Friday Night Lights” is for you.

The five series phenomenon that was developed by Peter Berg and executive produced by Brian Grazer, Sarah Aubrey, David Nevins and Jason Katmis, takes place in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas, and follows the progress and hardships of a very competitive high school football team. “Friday Night Lights” aired on NBC from 2006 to 2011 and is now available on Netflix streaming.

The series emphasizes how the high school football team in this small hick town enables and affects the people of the community as an entity.

The main focus is that of Coach Eric Taylor, played by Kyle Chandler. He begins as the head coach of the Dillon Panthers, then later becomes the head coach of the East Dillon Lions and is the soundboard of the entire town. This coach is the go-to-man in the show; he is looked at as if he is a god by his community, at least when the football team is winning, but when the team hits a losing streak or an outsider comes in, the tables seem to turn.

“Friday Night Lights” contains an overall main plot with numerous subplots seamlessly mixed in to the latter. The series follows specific players of the team: The way they live their personal lives off-the-field, their family, the friends they keep, and how they deal with various situations and influences that they encounter throughout.

Some of these situations include incidents with alcohol, which Tim Riggins encounters quite often, causing him some some quite detrimental consequences for his sometimes erratic behavior which consisted of: breaking the law, death of a family member or friend, prison, love triangles, trust issues and more. Oh, and lets not forget sleeping with the coaches daughter.

For a total of 76 episodes, “Friday Night Lights” leaves you at the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next. Although, a majority of the time you are left wanting more; it is also one of those series during which you can take a break – and then go back to it when it is most convenient for you, without completely losing track of the sequence of the show. You can also always feed your craving and go on a Netflix binge and watch all 76 of said episodes back-to-back in a short amount of time.

 

Inexpensive Travel How To: Destination: Mohegan Sun

By: Arianna Cecchini

As most of CCSU is not the legal age to go to a casino, one does’t necessarily think to go to Mohegan Sun when looking to get away from campus. Mohegan Sun is not all about the slot machines and poker tables though. Mohegan offers a wide variety of activities for any age of person. Inside the casino they offer a shopping mall of awesome stores and great restaurants at affordable prices. Stores such as American Candle, Things Remembered, Dylan’s Candy Bar and many others have great gifts for others or even yourself.

Dylan’s Candy Bar is likely the best store in Mohegan Sun, offering delicious sweets and treats to all. They have divine flavored chocolate bars and everything from fudge to sour gummy worms and lollipops. They offer a wonderful variety of treats to all the candy lovers out there. The candy is the same price of any other candy shop that you might venture into. Chocolate bars tend to run around $3 and fudge is about $12-$14 a pound. It is average priced candy, but sure is delicious and of the highest quality.

Not only does Mohegan Sun offer great shops, the restaurants here are amazing as well. Mohegan has a restaurant for everything one can think of — from BBQ, to an English pub, to Michael Jordan’s Steak House. The one that is most reasonably priced for amazing food would be the BBQ restaurant they offer. The menu has ribs, nachos, cheese fries, popcorn shrimp, burgers, biscuits, corn bread and many other tasty treats for all under $15. The food is out of this world and is great for sharing with a group of friends.

Mohegan Sun also has a Johnny Rockets, which can also be quite a fun atmosphere for a group of people who are not looking to spend a whole lot of money. Johnny Rockets mainly offers burgers and milk shakes, so if you enjoy greasy, tasty food at an affordable, great price, Johnny Rockets is the place for you to go. The wait is usually a bit longer than you’d hope for, so it is likely that you’ll probably have to wait for a table.

Next to Johnny Rockets is a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop – and who doesn’t love those two guys. Their ice cream tends to be overpriced, but nothing is better than Ben and Jerry’s ice cream on a freshly made waffle cone.

Mohegan Sun is almost home to two huge concert venues and they offer some great artists for a regularly low price. Tickets usually range anywhere from $40-$200 depending on the artist and seat choice, but the arenas are not overly large, so any seat is really good. They have had names like Katy Perry, A Day to Remember, Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, Luke Bryant, All Time Low and many other huge names. Seeing a show in Mohegan Sun is a great time because it is not overwhelming like Madison Square Garden or other huge venues tend to be in comparison.

Mohegan Sun also offers hotel rooms for one to stay at, and it is only a 45 minute drive from CCSU – so if money is tight, staying the night does not need to be an option, knowing it is a fairly short and reasonable drive. Mohegan Sun offers a Krispie Kreme as well, and they are delicious donuts for extremely cheap prices. They beat Dunkin’ any day of the week, especially in that category, so on your way out pick up a dozen if you haven’t tried them, and if you have, well eat some more.

Mohegan Sun is a great affordable place to hangout that happens to be reasonably close to campus. If you desperately need to escape  from the norm of Westfarms Mall and Blue Back Square, Mohegan Sun is a great choice and way to spend a weekend. It has great restaurant choices and shops that offer low prices along with offering some of the favorite artists of the time, performing concerts at Mohegan’s amazing, and enormous venues. It is great place to go, and of course when you turn 21, you might just get lucky enough to make some money from gambling during the visit.

‘Captain America’ Saves Day in Sequel

By: Joe Suszczynski

 

Marvel has been doing a fantastic job with the series of movies they have continued to release since 2008. The Marvel cinematic universe has a unique way of showcasing their heroes, by giving these heroes individual movies, prior to bringing them together, like in the 2012 blockbuster, “The Avengers.” Post-Avengers, the franchise returned to individual films, most recently with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” with the intention to mount anticipation for an upcoming “Avengers” movie in May 2015.

 

The sequel finds Steve Rogers, also known as “Captain America” (Chris Evans), living in Washington D.C., still working for the agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., all while trying to adapt to today’s society, given that he was in a deep sleep for about 70 years. When Rogers suspects something is not right with everything around him he sets off with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), also known as “The Black Widow,” to seek out the truth behind the questions he yearns to have answered.

 

The new Captain America movie is a worthy sequel and great addition to the Marvel franchise with all it has to offer.

 

Evans does it again, as Rogers fully embodies the character of Captain America. Robert Redford gives an amazing performance as well, playing a supporting role as Alexander Pierce. Marvel creator Stan Lee, in tradition, has a funny cameo in the movie.

 

The directing is also very well done. Co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo found the appropriate balance of making action scenes great without making things too over-the-top. The computer graphics looked very realistic and flowed well in the scenes in which this technique was required. We also are treated to seeing Rogers try and adapt to current society, and witness his struggles in trying to fit in doing everyday things, which was shot perfectly and acted brilliantly by Evans.

 

The writing was rather superb. The script doesn’t take itself too seriously given the subject matter, along with sprinkles of occasional humor which provide proper comic relief, which is timed brilliantly by the actors. There are also a lot of twists and turns that were totally unexpected.

 

Another thing that is underrated in the Marvel franchise of movies are the credits. Anyone who has seen previous Marvel movies know that there are two scenes, one mid-credit and one after the credits that play. Without spoiling what these two scenes are, I can say that they are both quite intense given the scenarios that were shot.

 

Overall, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” with its great acting, directing and writing is worth the watch. I did not see the film in 3D or IMAX, but imagine it’s even more captivating in that form, so no matter what the price hike is to see it in those formats – it is well worth the price of admission.

Wes Anderson Checks in at ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

By: Chris Pace

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014), Wes Anderson’s newest venture in film making, proves just how amateur his films have become over his twenty-year career as a director.  The film stars Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave, the concierge of The Grand Budapest Hotel on a mountaintop in fictitious Zubrowka.  M. Gustave has engaged in a sexual relationship with the wealthy Madame D. played by Tilda Swinton.  When Madame D. is found dead, M. Gustave is convicted of her murder.

The story is told by the lobby boy, Zero, who fled his country ravaged by war, and he finds work in Zubrowka, at the hotel.  He develops a very close friendship with Gustave, who almost serves as a father figure for the young boy.  After Madame D.’s murder, Gustave inherits a priceless painting of hers, but her only son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) refuses to allow him to take it.  Gustave is wrongfully sent to prison, where he meets Ludwig, an inmate who asks if he would like to join him and his other cellmates in breaking out.  Throughout the film, Dmitri’s right-hand-man, Jopling (Willem Dafoe), hunts down the other characters and murders them as he looks for one of the servants at Madame D.’s mansion. This all occurs after they are told he is actually the real murderer.  Once he gains knowledge that Gustave has escaped prison, he tracks him down.

Wes Anderson maintains his trademark track shots to introduce the characters as well as showcase the cross section of the buildings in the film.  He always uses a beautiful color pallet through costuming and mise en scene to make the sights attractive to viewers.  Anderson recasts actors in just about every one of his films: Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton and of course Bill Murray, who plays a part in all but one film of Anderson’s filmography.

Anderson does not disappoint with his usual depressing comedies.  His themes are almost always on the depressing side, with characters dealing with parental issues, typically their lack of attention, added by comedic scenes, fighting and awkward conversations.

Although “The Grand Budapest Hotel” seems to be a bit inferior to Anderson’s last two films, “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012) and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009), it shows his precise directing and artistic ability that has allowed him to provide such shots to viewers through his form.

To be quite honest, if you are into artsy films that have much more visual appeal and narration than a story line, then “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is definitely a must see, but if you appreciate story line out of film, do not bother wasting your time here.  Anderson normally has a very short storyline in his films and develops his characters thoroughly, his stories are not as developed as the characters, but you will always connect with at least one character of his movies.  Check out Anderson’s other films like “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001) or “Rushmore”(1998) — both very good examples of his film making style and both eerily funny and entertaining.