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Art with a Bang

Artist Profile: Pedro Reyes

Piece: Disarm Project

Pedro’s collection of eight instruments composed of the remnant weapons confiscated by the Mexican Army. This project is actually the second of its kind after Pedro’s Imagine series back in two thousand twelve. Reyes worked in conjunction with musicians as well as Cocolab when crafting the pieces. When we look at each piece we can see the very obvious weapons used. Shotguns, pistols, and even rifles all put together to bring these works to life.

In fact, the weapons now have a new life as they are not simply sculptures. Each construct is a mechanical instrument able to play pre-composed concerts from a computer. Part of the inspiration for such creation was from Reyes’s trip to a recycling plant the Mexican government used to turn seized fire arms into raw materials. Reyes believed these guns could be used to bring life instead of taking it.

Reyes has received acclaim all over the world having showed his works at Art Basel Miami and the Venice Biennial. In an interview with The Creator Project he was quoted as saying, “I believe that the purpose of art is to come up with ways to transform the most negative instincts into creative instincts…I want my work to be useful for social and psychological transformation,”. Anyone who has had the pleasure to view his works will agree that he is repeatedly doing just that. We cannot help but admire the thought of firearms making music, the instruments ring, strum crash and hum. All together they create a sound Seductively simply but watching the instruments play is all together haunting and beautiful.

These pieces truly bring out the thought provoking notion of what we could be using the materials for instead of weapons. Having travelled some of the most violent places of Mexico none of us could have grasped this as Pedro Reyes has. Surely in the future we will see great things from Pedro that will continue to inspire us to see the potential for beauty even in the darkest creations.

 

 

 

Sources

http://pedroreyes.net/disarm.php

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwQp16D-TqQ

http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/en_uk/show/pedro-reyes-disarm-turning-weapons-into-instruments

Narcos is the new Breaking Bad

Netflix Originals are the new HBO shows. Netflix really takes drama to a whole new level with shows like “Orange is the New Black:. As much I love OITNB, Netflix has completely outdone themselves with their new series, “Narcos”.

I kept seeing references to “Narcos” but didn’t give it much thought. Honestly, it didn’t look like something I’d be interested in. I’ve never claimed to be an action movie or show fanatic. Out of sheer boredom, I clicked on “Narcos” on Netflix and my life will never be the same.

Narcos is badass. For one, it’s based on real events in the life of Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar. The show often references actual pictures and videos of his real-life story. For example, Escobar’s famous mugshot where he’s grinning from ear to ear.

Is Narcos as intriguing as Breaking Bad? Graphic from IMDb
Is Narcos as intriguing as Breaking Bad? Graphic from IMDb

The next reason you should make time to figure out what the hype is about is the acting. The actors aren’t anyone immediately recognizable. However, that doesn’t hold the show back at all. Detective Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) had my heart the first time we see him in the intro of the season.

The best part of the show though is its attempt at getting into the heads of it’s characters. Wagner Moura, who plays Escobar, portrays the human emotions so vividly and perfectly. The show will also pull your emotions in so many different directions. At one point you’ll hate Escobar, yet during the next episode you’re quietly cheering for him.

These actors do such an amazing job of making you realize even the most sociopathic people are still humans with real emotions and families of their own.

If you liked “Breaking Bad”, you’ll love “Narcos”. “Breaking Bad” was very raw in a violent sense. I’m the kind of person who cringes when I see someone get hurt on TV, but if you’re the kind of person who likes action and gore, you’ll be on the edge of your seat watching how things go down.

Another more obvious reason you need to see “Narcos” is the sheer rawness of its details. It’s obviously very gory as Pablo and his men take the lives of thousands, I mean THOUSANDS, of people.

As horrifying as that is, it’s all based on real events. They even show crime scene photos at some points. The producers have done an amazing job in fact-checking while still making the show more desirable.

I will warn you, however, that there are a lot of sex scenes. If you think OITNB pushed the limits with their sex scenes, you’re going to be very embarrassed if you ever watch this show with your parents in the room.

Escobar is very committed to his wife, but also has a mistress so you can expect there to be a lot of sex scenes. There are also some references to the horrific sex trafficking that went on at this time in Colombia.

Overall, “Narcos” is just a very addicting show. If you’re looking for a new show to binge-watch, “Narcos” should be your first choice. I’m really looking forward to see what happens in Season 2 and how the producers push the envelope even further.

AHS: Freak Show

“American Horror Story” is back with a vengeance. The frightening show has begun its fourth season on the FX network. Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuck’s series will be holding a new title this season: Freak Show. For those who’ve never seen the series, that’s fine. Every season is the start of its own unique horror story. There’s no need to watch another season to have context. Although the same pool of actors is used as the main characters each time, each season, they portray an entirely different set of characters.

The clowns will get even more creepy in American Horror Story this season. Graphic by Danielle Glumsic
American Horror Story this season will make clowns even more creepy.. Graphic by Danielle Glumsic

The first season begins with a family with rocky relations moving into a new home in LA. The story continues as secrets of the previous occupants and their terrible fates are slowly revealed. Season two features a legendary evil and a serial killer who terrorize a sanitarium. In the third season of the show modern-day witches learn to use their powers to defeat their enemies.

Season four features an American sideshow trying to stay afloat in 1952. The setting is Jupiter, Florida where the troupe sets up their tent of wonderment. As soon as they come to town, so does something evil that threatens the lives of everyone in town. People begin to go missing and gruesome murders occur.

This time around the television show’s star studded cast will include Jessica Lange (Elsa Mars), Kathy Bates (Ethel Darling), Sarah Paulson (Bette & Dot Tattler), and Evan Peters (Jimmy Darling). Lange will be playing the ringmaster that thirsts for a taste of fame (The expectations for her to go nuts in this season are very high.) Kathy Bates will portray a bearded lady along side the other freaks as will Peters. His character “Lobster Boy,” has freakishly long fingers. Paulson will masterfully create a character of conjoined twins with one body and two heads.

This anticipated season will no doubt have you checking your closet and under the bed for monsters. Toss out any ideas of clowns being silly too. The sneak peak of season four depicted a frightening and possibly murderous clown. Could that be the evil raking the town of Jupiter? Find out soon by catching the new episodes of AHS: Freak Show every Wednesday at 10 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discography Review – Manchester Orchestra

Manchester Orchestra was formed in Atlanta, Georgia in 2004 while guitarist/singer/songwriter Andy Hull was completing his final years in high school. The indie band is currently composed of Hull, Robert McDowell, Chris Freeman, Tim Very and Andy Prince. They’ve released an early EP as well as four studio albums, not including a ‘reimagined’ release of their most recent album Cope.

Manchester-Orchestra
Image taken from underthegunreview.net

Their original EP, You Brainstorm, I Brainstorm, but Brilliance Needs a Good Editor, was released in 2005. Although it was small, consisting of only five tracks, this EP put Manchester Orchestra on the map and made all their other albums possible. They’ve made a name for themselves via their extremely distressed subject matter and emotional songwriting. This album was no different. The very first track ‘The Procession’ already introduces the aspects of Manchester Orchestra that I have come to know and love, with quiet instrumental and heart wrenching lyrics as Hull muses “this disconnected phone, well, it’s seldom to speak, although when it does it’s so harsh and complete…” making way for an absolute chaotic breakdown. This set a nice precedent for the rest of the band’s career.

I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child (2006) was the band’s first full-length album and it’s an absolute riot of emotional outpouring. Hull approaches every track passionately and to the point of absolute aggravation, somehow managing to be wistful and violent at the same time. ‘Now That You’re Home’ is a prime example of this, jumping right into the action with a flurry of guitar riffs thickening under Hull’s croon of “Now that you’re home won’t you rescue me? I’ve been trying so hard to be good again.” The album seems to revolve around the theme of family and all of the aspects connected to it, such as death, childhood, adolescence, and relationships. It’s incredibly easy to form an emotional connection with this content as it explores family from almost every angle before ending with ‘Colly Strings’, a song so harshly sad it makes you wonder.

Their second studio album Mean Everything To Nothing was released in 2009 and marks the pinnacle of Manchester Orchestra’s career in my opinion. They kept the same emotional level as their last releases but also refined their technique considerably. Their instrumentation is infinitely beefier and rougher, forming into a new genre that can only be described as Southern grunge blues. One of the prime tracks ‘Shake It Out’ provides a stomach-swallowing intensity that makes this album stick out, the orchestral drops tightening a firm grip around your heart. Heavy with religious signifiers, ‘I Can Feel A Hot One’ calms the album down considerably as one of the only quiet tracks, contributing an added effect of restraint, almost like a throwback to some of their earliest tracks. The album ends with a hidden track ‘Jimmy, He Whispers’, a track I can only describe as, well, spooky, waxing poetic about monsters and ending the entire album with the line “We’re brothers until we die”.

Simple Math, released in 2011, is a very underrated album. Hull was only 23 when the album came out and essentially wrote the entire project about his own experiences as a young man in his early twenties trying to navigate all of the new aspects entering his life. The result is an incredibly intimate album. Unfortunately, the technical mannerisms seem to have developed some sort of contention against the band’s normal emotional continuity, which drags the album down somewhat.

Manchester Orchestra bounced back when their final studio album Cope was released in 2013. They followed up with Hope, a complete surprise and essentially just a re-imagining of Cope, in 2014. If Mean Everything To Nothing was their prime album, Cope is their climactic conclusion. Its name is ironic, as the entire album doesn’t seem to involve Hull, or any of the other band members, coping with anything. Intricate melodies and semi-cryptic lyrics place it solidly in Manchester Orchestra’s comfort zone. They definitely moved beyond it however, with the content. In the past, their more aggressive albums have been offset with quiet tracks here and there. Cope seems to be exclusively loud. Hull’s unique voice seamlessly glides over a near-constant crescendo of instrumentation, describing feelings of inadequacy, frustration, doubt, and of course, coping. Most of the songs seem mildly repetitive, such as ‘See It Again’, which ends with the phrase, “Didn’t mean to talk about blood, didn’t mean to bother both of you, didn’t really need to say much, didn’t mean to talk about blood.” If anything, I believe this adds to the album, effectively mirroring the scattered thoughts of a person learning to let go.

Manchester Orchestra is one of the forerunners in their genre, despite the fact that that is always changing as well. They’re very versatile and seem to have a song for everyone. I expect big things from them and rarely am I disappointed however, more like anxiously awaiting their next project. In the meantime, they’ll hopefully continue to grow and evolve as a band, giving fans another surprise to look forward to.

Discography Review – Brand New

The ability of a band to change over time and develop a unique style unto its self is how some judge a band’s greatness.  Brand New is a prime example of this. Formed in 2000, Brand New skyrocketed out of the New Jersey emo scene and into mainstream popularity. In the resulting years, they expanded to form an empirical fanbase.

Their first album, Your Favorite Weapon, released in 2001, was extremely pop-punk centric, bordering on emo core. The songs revolved around teenage relationships and the feelings associated with them. It was an extremely power-chord heavy, bitter album. There was a nice mix of teenage angst and upbeat anthems, but essentially it was a more primitive album compared to the rest of their discography. The highlight was definitely the song “Seventy Times 7”, which was reportedly written in response to Jesse Lacey’s former best friend, Taking Back Sunday’s John Nolan after he cheated with Lacey’s girlfriend. If angry teenage musing, like the repeated line of “This isn’t high school” from “Last Chance To Lose Your Keys”, isn’t your thing, then this album probably isn’t for you.

Almost immediately (and by immediately, I mean roughly two years later), Brand New experienced a stylistic change with the release of their second album. Deja Entendu is, in my personal opinion, an absolute masterpiece. The phrase is French for “already heard” which is ironic because it’s unlike anything I have ever heard before. The lyrics and sound both matured exponentially, as well as their song craft in general. Lacey shifts the focus from lamenting about his ex-girlfriend, on to more adult topics, such as his father’s illness. The album is saturated with resentment and anger and Lacey’s voice flowing seamlessly into their signature powerful choruses and ends with an almost unfathomable amount of passion. Even the slower acoustic songs hold an odd balance of hopefulness and despondency. The result is an album that is an overwhelming tempest of emotion.

Brand New's recent album cover art. Graphic from Alternative Press
Brand New’s recent album cover art. Graphic from Alternative Press

The release of The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Of Me marked their signing to a major label. This album came out roughly eight years ago and still remains one of the most passionate, antagonistic albums I have ever heard. Jesse Lacey seemed to write only to confront his personal demons. The popularity that ensued was a just a side effect. It’s rare to hear such a personal album in the mainstream music scene. However, this one did remarkably well. The band adapted again, moving from Deja Entendu’s modern rock noise to a harsher sound in order to reflect the content of the album. The album opens with “Sowing Season”, a song so polluted with melodic wails and raging guitars that it almost hurts just to hear it. The rest of the album is just as emotionally charged.

Daisy is their most recent album. It marks their transition from alternative rock into post-hardcore noise rock. While they have evolved and grown throughout their career, it’s nothing compared to the transition they make with their fourth studio album. It is absolutely the most polarizing album of their entire musical career. The album opens with “Vices”, which epitomizes the sound of the rest of the album as it opens almost gently with a quiet hymnal before devolving into absolute chaos. The rest of the album is no different. The first single “At The Bottom” includes Jesse Lacey shrieking, “Some men die under the mountain just looking for gold, some die looking for a hand to hold”, over the musical ruckus that is the guitar trio of Vincent Accardi, Lacey, and Derrick Sherman. Overall, this is the most eclectic collection of songs in Brand New’s entire discography. The entire album radiates loneliness, anguish, and an aura that will leave you emotionally exhausted.

One of the best things about a band that creates a completely unique album every time they release something new is the fact that there’s always something for everyone to enjoy. Brand New has announced that they won’t be around for much longer, but has also said they are working on new things. Lacey joked that they are going to try write about happier subjects but assured fans that that probably wouldn’t happen as they ‘do sad bastard quite well’. If anything, you can expect more musical genius from the band soon. They’re a good band to experiment with because while they do change their sound a lot, they do it extremely well. Happy listening.

Mindy is back, haters!

There’s a fall sitcom that all the girls are swooning over. It’s called The Mindy Project, starring Mindy Kaling (The Office). It first aired in 2012 with Kaling playing Doctor Mindy Lahiri (AKA: Doctor L), a talented OB/GYN with no filter. Working in New York City, Mindy looks to balance her career along with new romances. Her character can’t seem to edit her conversation at any point and while it’s hilarious, it complicates things like crazy. She wants the perfect life, the perfect body, and the perfect boyfriend. Perfect never comes easy though!

Mindy rides her bike. Graphic from Veeoz
Mindy rides her bike. Graphic from Veeoz

Our heroine goes on a journey, complete with guest stars like James Franco, to find “the one.” The series began by showing us a version of Mindy that has turned romantic movies into something resembling a new religion. She looks disheveled in the first scene, cries, and rides her bicycle right into a swimming pool.

Mindy tends to bring all sorts of ridiculous and hilarious drama upon herself during her adventures. Not only that, but she must also keep her fellow coworkers in check. By her side are two other doctors: Daniel (Danny) Castellano and Jeremy Reed. In the beginning, Mindy is tempted by Jeremy even though he definitely spells trouble. On the other hand, she’s trying to keep herself from strangling Danny. Danny and Mindy constantly argue and bicker about every decision in the practice, due to their opposite personalities. On top of that, she must battle with outside forces, like the midwives that share a building with them.

The show is essentially a more realistic version of a romantic comedy film, turned into a television show. It has currently begun its third season on FOX and hit the ground running with its new and outrageous episode, featuring a guest star from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Kaling has reprised her role this fall as the fun-loving Katy Perry fan who doesn’t care about the haters.

The series continues to follow Mindy as she struggles in a new relationship at the start of the season. Mindy dreams big and wants her prince charming, her diamond tiara, and a giant piece of chocolate cake all at once.  Through the character’s ambitious goals, the audience laughs with this in-your-face lovable character as she falls in and out of love and makes her way in the Big Apple.

“Divergent” brings a popular dystopian series to the big screen

The Regal Cinema in Christiansburg, Va. was packed March 20 for the premiere of the highly-anticipated movie “Divergent.” Fans were filling up seats over two hours in advance to the 8 p.m. showing. By the time the film started, nearly every seat in the house was filled by an anxious fan waiting to see his or her favorite book become realized on the big screen. Continue reading “Divergent” brings a popular dystopian series to the big screen

The fading atmosphere of “The Dining Room”

“The Dining Room” is by far the best play Radford University has presented so far this semester. I was impressed by how well each actor portrayed the complexities of their characters and how the lighting and costumes added to the diminishing atmosphere that revolved around the dining room. The scenes were well constructed and the sounds that echoed off the walls amplified the richness of the play. Continue reading The fading atmosphere of “The Dining Room”

The mayhem that is Saints Row IV

The Saints Row series follows the character of a street gang member in his quest to be the boss of the gang. For the fourth installment, the wackiness is multiplied tenfold. Your character, known as the Boss, is now the President. During your inauguration as the Boss, you get abducted by aliens. Your abductor, an alien named Zinyak, wants to conquer Steelport (the city where Saints Row takes place), the world and possibly the universe.

Continue reading The mayhem that is Saints Row IV

Pebble smartwatch is off the chain

Kickstarter is a great way for new startups to gain funding in order to create great products for the world. The website hosts virtually anyone, so web traffickers can donate to see these innovative products become a reality. The most successful Kickstarter product is the Pebble smartwatch.

Continue reading Pebble smartwatch is off the chain

GTA V: The game that delivers

Grand Theft Auto is an iconic in the video game industry. It practically set its own standard and it never disappoints. In fact, the game set a record for making a billion dollars in just three days. The most anticipated title of the year is here, and we got our hands dirty with it. Grand Theft Auto V is a staple for every gamer’s library.

Continue reading GTA V: The game that delivers

Black Sabbath returns with Christian Dilemma

black-sabbath
Black Sabbath back in the day. Photo from RollingStone.com.

Heavy metal fans rejoice with the return of the legendary band Black Sabbath. The iconic band has released their first single “God is Dead?” from their upcoming album 13, set for release June 10. This will be the first album released by Sabbath since 1995 and will feature three of the original band members: Tony Iommi on guitar, Geezer Butler on bass and of course the human devil himself, Ozzy Osbourne, with vocals. Continue reading Black Sabbath returns with Christian Dilemma

Fall Out Boy rocks once more as they “Save Rock and Roll”

fall-out-boy-save-rock-and-roll-album-artwork-400x400
It’s nice to see an old band come back. Photo from idolator.com.

Fall Out Boy has finally emerged from their self-imposed exile with as much of their classic fire and trademark witty lyricism as they had when they drifted behind the curtains of the music industry. It’s been five years since the release of their last album, Folie à Deux, and while their sound has changed since we last heard from them, Save Rock and Roll is still classic Fall Out Boy with a pop-infused twist. The hiatus is finally over, and in my opinion, it has certainly been worth the wait. Continue reading Fall Out Boy rocks once more as they “Save Rock and Roll”

“Evil Dead” vs “Evil Dead”: Remake or original?

To anyone who has read one of my previous articles, you know how much of a Sam Raimi fanboy I am. On April 5, the remake of the 1981 cult classic “Evil Dead” was released and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. This comparison may have some slight spoilers, but nothing so detrimental that it will ruin the film. Continue reading “Evil Dead” vs “Evil Dead”: Remake or original?