Category Archives: Columns

2014 in Music: The Gems You May Not Have Heard

ADAM PETERSON. Movie Columnist.

As a person who’s mostly a fan of older music, I rarely buy more than a few new albums in a given year. However, with a little bit of effort and time, I have been able to find more and more recent artists producing interesting music. If you’re like me and find yourself continually turning off the radio and looking for something different, here’s a list of my four favorite albums so far this year that are worth your time.

3. Sweet Valley: So Serene and Fang

Sweet Valley is a duo between Nathan Williams (lead singer of Wavves) and his brother Kynan. They make bizarre beats comprised entirely of samples they take from all kinds of sources. A typical Sweet Valley album takes you on a journey through several different genres of music, all filtered through the duo’s strange sense of fun and experimentation. Everything from parts of other songs to video game noises to movie quotes assaults your eardrums; there truly is no experience quite like a Sweet Valley album. They have released two new ones this year, both among their best: the 27 minute long masterpiece So Serene and the relentlessly hard-hitting F.A.N.G.

2. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks: Enter the Slasher House

There is no question that of all my favorite modern artists, Animal Collective stands miles above the rest, and anyone looking for something different should check out their extensive discography. While there is unfortunately no new Animal Collective albums this year, this release is a new side project from their front-man Avey Tare and it will sound instantly familiar to fans of the band. It has the same weirdness and sound experimentation that fans have come to expect, but with the use of more live instruments and melodic hooks, making it slightly more accessible.

1. Tobacco: Ultima II Massage

Tobacco, best known for his band Black Moth Super Rainbow, has been releasing solo albums with a more aggressive tone than the sound his band is known for. His first two albums were filled with colorful synths, trippy beats, and his signature vocoder-distorted vocals that act more as an instrument than as a voice. Ultima II Massage is his best work to date, an album that feels like a great summary of all his unique talents. Tobacco himself feels that the album is a “definitive end to a concept that I’ve been trying to perfect for a while.” Highlights include the face-melting “Lipstick Destroyer”, the haunting “Creaming for Beginners”, and the epic instrumental “Pool City, Mcknight Road.” I guarantee you’ve heard nothing quite like the strange combination of sounds both beautiful and horrid that Tobacco puts together. Songs such as “Video Warning Attempts” are melodic and pretty, but just try watching the music video for the grimy freak-out “Streaker” without feeling unsettled. Overall, Ultima II Massage will leave you feeling dazed, overwhelmed, and completely satisfied.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel (B)

ADAM PETERSON. Movie Columnist.

The latest feature from Wes Anderson follows his typical offbeat formula and does not break any new ground but is nonetheless an enjoyable diversion and a breath of fresh air from all the generic blockbusters currently dominating theaters.

The bulk of the story is set at a picturesque hotel in a fictional European republic in 1932. A new lobby boy named Zero becomes the personal servant of the concierge, Gustave H, who basically runs the hotel. The two quickly develop a friendship and get into all sorts of misadventures together. The complicated plot involves the murder of a wealthy widow, the robbery of a priceless painting, and much more.

Ralph Fiennes is fantastic as Gustave H, masterfully delivering all the witty dialogue and keeping the audience on his character’s side. Seemingly dozens of other famous actors appear in small roles throughout the movie including Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, and Adrian Brody.

Similar to his other films, Anderson immerses the viewer in a world that is not quite fantasy but does not seem to be part of the real world either. The cinematography, shot on location in Germany, is gorgeous and the hotel itself is a magnificent set. This film has a little more excitement than some of Anderson’s other films such as Moonrise Kingdom. There are some great sequences such as a ski race down a steep snow-covered mountain and a hilariously cartoonish gunfight near the ending.

Overall, I left The Grand Budapest Hotel feeling satisfied. It is not a movie that I imagine thinking about or discussing much in the future, but it more than justifies the cost of admission.   

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Kolahdouz on Sports

HAMID KOLAHDOUZ. Sports Columnist.

These days the Chargers have found themselves in an odd position. The team is in a rebuilding mode and has a severe dearth of talent on the defensive side of the ball, yet the team is still finished in the top eight of the league, after losing in the divisional round to Denver. The coaching scheme, the play of Philip Rivers and his playmakers, not turning the ball over and a decent amount of luck just sneaked the Bolts into the playoffs.

The expectation for the Chargers from the organization and fans will be to win a championship, or at least get in the playoffs in the coming season. However, sneaking into the playoffs this year won’t be as easy. Last year, the Chargers played one of the league’s easiest schedules; next year, they will play one of the hardest and face stiff competition playing against the NFC West and, of course, in division. The Chargers can still realistically reach the post season if they avoid playing down to competition like they did this year against teams like Miami and Tennessee, winning all of their winnable games.

Due to the large amount of salary taken up by dead money owed to bad players no longer on the team, like Gaither, Meacham, and Cox, the Chargers will likely need to find solid starters for the defense in the draft, not free agency. Thankfully, the 2014 draft is expected to be the deepest in years and starters are expected to be found up into the middle rounds. The Chargers will have to draft starting-caliber players at the corner, nose tackle, and sub-package pass rusher. Starting-caliber players at these positions are likely far out of the Chargers price range in free agency and not much more than stop-gap players could be found, regardless.

On the offensive side of the ball, expect General Manager Tom Telesco to draft offensive linemen and add speed to the receiver position. The Chargers should have no trouble finding a quality right guard and a sizeable, speedy receiver to complement Keenan Allen.

If the Chargers are able to improve their already powerful balanced offense and field a serviceable defense, they, prove to be a very dangerous team next season.

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