Album Review: If Not Now, When?

If Not Now, When?  by Incubus (Epic Records, 2011. 50 minutes) From California, Incubus is a rock band comprised of Brandon Boyd, Mike Einziger, Jose Pasillas, Ben Kenney, and DJ Kilmore. With seven full-length albums, Incubus has reached multi-platinum sales and is arguably considered the most successful rock band of the early 2000s. Gaining prominence during the nu-metal trend of the late nineties, Incubus is often classified with Limp Bizkit, Korn, and P.O.D. Yet, the band’s style contains alternative rock, hip hop, jazz, funk, and metal influences. Post-Hiatus After years of constant touring, Incubus faced a dilemma: either they continued prolific songwriting with diminishing returns or they take a break, fall in and out of love, experience life in all… Read More →

Film Review: Paul

Paul directed by Greg Mottola (Universal Pictures, Relativity Media, Working Title Films, R, 104 minutes) Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, and Kristen Wiig. I Hated This Movie So Let Me Be Brief I wanted to see this movie because I had faith in the duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Starring in the soon-to-be cult classics, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, these actors have blended comedy and social satire through an artful presentation. With the funding of a major studio, Paul ought to be even better with a larger budget. Wrong! A Mandatory Plot Mention Pegg and Frost play nerds on holiday in the United States. Having attended Comic Con, the duo travels the southwest encountering… Read More →

Book Review: The Year of the Flood

The Year of the Flood: A Novel by Margaret Atwood (New York: Doubleday, 2009. 448 pp) Born in Ottawa in the autumn of 1939, Margaret Atwood grew up in Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She attained her B.A. from Victoria College, University of Toronto and her M.A. from Radcliffe College. Atwood has written more than 50 works of poetry, children’s fiction, fiction, and non-fiction. While she is most known for her many novels, her book, Blind Assassin, received highest acclaim winning the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Currently, she lives with Graeme Gibson in Toronto. Dystopia Everyone knows Orwell’s 1984. The classic dystopian novel depicts the frightening consequences of an authoritarian state. Without removing much of its well-deserved praise, I wonder if 1984 remains a masterpiece not for its… Read More →

Book Review: West of Here

West of Here: A Novel by Jonathan Evison (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2011. 496 pp) Born in San Jose, California, Jonathan Evison moved to Seattle and formed a punk band named March of Crimes, which included future members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. Before writing professionally, Evison worked as a laborer, caregiver, bartender, and syndicated radio host. His first book, All about Lulu, garnered critical acclaim winning the Washington State Book Award. Evison was awarded a Richard Buckley Fellowship from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation in 2009. Currently, he lives on Bainbridge Island in Western Washington. Prior Tenants Have you ever considered the history around the place you live? Since the earth is older than us (I know; strange right?), the… Read More →

Album Review: Burst Apart

Burst Apart by The Antlers (Frenchkiss, 2011. 41 minutes) The Antlers is an indie rock band based in Brooklyn, New York. The band is a three-piece outfit consisting of Peter Silberman, Michael Lerner, and Darby Cicci. Originally a solo project created by Silberman, the band formed after Silberman self-released two records. The best songs later became Hospice, an acclaimed record independently released by the band. After the success of Hospice, The Antlers signed with Frenchkiss Records. With Burst Apart, The Antlers look to build on the success of Hospice. The Cultural Sensation that Was Emo Before a careful evaluation of Burst Apart commences, we must begin by exploring the nature of emotion-based music. Rooted in the cathartic tones of Sunny… Read More →

Book Review: Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall: A Novel by Hilary Mantel (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2009. 604 pp) Born in 1952, Hilary Mantel is a novelist, short story writer, and critic. Mantel began studying at the London School of Economics before transferring to the University of Sheffield where she graduated with a degree in jurisprudence. While employed as a social worker after her studies, Mantel began writing. After a decade of travel with her husband, Mantel published her first novel, Every Day is Mother’s Day, in 1985. On the heels of her first novel, Mantel found employment as a film critic for The Spectator. Over the course of her writing career, Mantel has won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize for Fludd, the… Read More →

Album Review: Little Hell

Little Hell by City and Colour (Vagrant Records, 2011. 49 minutes) Dallas Green – who performs under the ironic moniker, City and Colour – first entered the music scene with the post-hardcore Canadian band, Alexisonfire. Having already released two albums as a solo artist – Sometimes and Bring Me Your Love – Green has encountered considerable success in his native Canada. He has won a MuchMusic Video Award, Juno Awards for Alternative Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year, and has been named artist of the year by Chart magazine. Modus Operandi Honestly, my critical modus operandi for music reviewing is based on structures, creative musicianship, and lyrics. If an artist exhibits strength in one area, I am… Read More →

Book Review: 33 Revolutions per Minute

33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, From Billie Holiday to Green Day by Dorian Lynskey (New York: Ecco, 2011. 688 pp) Dorian Lynskey is primarily a music writer for the Guardian. Previously, Lynskey worked as a freelancer for Q, The Word, Empire, Blender, and the Observer. 33 Revolutions per Minute is Lynskey’s first book. Read Lynskey’s blog at http://33revolutionsperminute.wordpress.com/. A Pet Named Peeves One of my wife’s biggest pet peeves occurs when I mumble meaningless words to the melody of a song. For her, if you don’t know the lyrics, don’t sing the song. I, sadly, find lyrics difficult to remember. Since I play guitar, my ears focus on the music first. I can hum textured instrumental… Read More →

Album Review: Gloss Drop

Gloss Drop by Battles (Warp Records, 2011. 52 minutes) Battles is an avant-garde rock band from New York City. Originally formed as an underground supergroup, each musician carried successful careers outside of the band being associated with groups such as Don Caballero, Lynx, and Helmet. The band began with Ian Williams on guitar, Dave Konopka on bass, John Stanier on drums, and Tyondai Braxton on vocals and guitar. The band released Mirrored, its first full length, in 2007 to glowing reviews. In 2010, Tyondai Braxton left Battles to work in solo projects. With a hole in the vocalist department, Battles recorded its second album, Gloss Drop, with stand-in singers. Gloss Drop peaked at 98 on the Billboard Charts. Summer Camp… Read More →

Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451: The Temperature at Which Book Paper Catches Fire and Burns… by Ray Bradbury (New York: Del Rey Books, 1953. 208 pp) With over five hundred published works to his name, Ray Bradbury is one of the heavyweights in American literature during the 20th century. Born in Illinois, Bradbury’s family moved to California when he was thirteen. He graduated from Los Angeles High School and did not enter college. Drawn to writing from an early age, Bradbury attended the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society meeting many of the influential writers in the region. Bradbury began writing professionally by publishing stories in magazines. As his stories encountered praise, Bradbury began writing longer works. As the say, the rest is history…. Read More →