Meet this fall's A&E desk
It's been a long, hot summer and we spent a lot of time doing what we love: watching movies, listening to music and being impressed by ballet and the latest video game. Take a look to see what got us through the summer.
As a simultaneous night owl and music lover, I often find difficulty listening to the right artist at 3 a.m. However, Rhye’s debut album, “Woman,” offers an ideal level of entertainment and intimacy for the post-bedtime hours. Instrumentalist Robin Hannibal’s unconventional mix of R&B and classical sound is complemented by Michael Milosh’s vocals, which, together, enhance the band’s signature downtempo genre. I have repeatedly found myself falling in love with the raw tenderness of this duo’s single “Open” just as obviously as Milosh’s lyrics share that he is a “fool” for his love interest. In the presence of such endearment, sleep comes easily.
Aimee Plante is a journalism and mass communications freshman. Follow her on Twitter @aimeeplante for local music coverage.
"La Bayadère: The Temple Dancer"
"La Bayadère: The Temple Dancer" is a ballet performance performed by many companies across the world. However, the performance that I attended was Ballet Arizona earlier this year in The Phoenix Symphony. La Bayadère is set in India. The story revolves around a temple dancer, her lover and a love triangle ripe with vengeance that separates them. It is a production of glamorous costumes, fancy settings and breathtaking dancing. All in all, I enjoyed the performance very much and was completely stunned by the end of the ballet.
Juliet Moo is a senior studying public relations. Follow her on Twitter @moojuliet for local art event reporting and blogging.
This summer, Mike Hadreas of Perfume Genius dropped “Queen” from his upcoming album “Too Bright,” and boy is it a doozy of a single. One really has to watch the music video to get the full effect of Hadreas’s most ornate, guitar-laden song to date, which Hadreas described “as a kind of alternative universe Forrest Gump and Jenny, except with fluid genders and ever shifting identities.” Sounds fun, right? Notable sights of the video also include: a one-legged Elvis impersonator, abnormally large shrimp cocktail and a cheer squad.
The song itself — an abrupt departure from Hadreas’s earlier, sparser but no less haunting albums — is a gritty, celebratory response to what Hadreas calls the “gay panic” and “faces of blank fear” he’s encountered as a gay male. “If they see me as some sea witch with penis tentacles that are always prodding and poking and seeking to convert the muggles — well, here she comes,” he says. Slate Magazine deemed “Queen” the “Gay Anthem of the Year,” but that’s awfully limiting for such a powerful track. The song’s brazen chorus, “No family is safe when I sashay” could and should apply to everyone’s strut.
Zachariah Webb is a junior studying creative writing. Follow him on Twitter @zachariahkaylar for music reviews and blogging.
When I first heard The 1975’s hit “Chocolate” on the radio earlier this year, I didn’t see much past the catchy beat and the singer’s nearly incomprehensible Manchester accent to the amazing musical and lyrical complexity the band was capable of. It wasn’t until a friend forced me to listen to their eponymous debut album that I saw the band for what it was behind the veneer of its radio hits. Songs such as “Menswear” and “Robbers” resemble the ambient trip-hop of Portishead or My Bloody Valentine far more than the bubblegum British boy-pop with which the band is often associated. Songs such as these reveal a unique, artful style of songwriting that seems to go unnoticed and is overshadowed by the upbeat tunes that have become their hits. After years of cynicism about popular music in the world of media moguls such as Dr. Luke and billion dollar recording conglomerates, I had long given up on finding anything new or interesting on the radio. The 1975 proved me wrong.
Emily Zentner is a freshman studying journalism and mass communication. Follow her on Twitter @grapishcoconut for the latest in the local arts scene.
"The Last of Us Remastered"
"The Last of Us Remastered" on PlayStation 4 makes the PS3's greatest game ever even better with greater graphic fidelity and smoother frame rates. The challenging multiplayer keeps players invested by testing their patience and skill. It is the best movie in video game form you will ever play and the best game of 2014 so far.
Mike Martin is a senior studying mass communication and communication studies. Follow him on Twitter @Bizarro_Mike for news and reviews on the video game industry.
"They Came Together"
My favorite piece of artwork this year is David Wain's film "They Came Together." A brilliant satire of the romantic comedy genre, particularly the works of Nora Ephron, "They Came Together" is blisteringly funny and bound to become a cult classic.
Zach Heltzel is a senior studying marketing. Follow him on Twitter @zachheltzel for movies and television reviews.
Writer and director Ti West's "The Sacrament" is a rarity in horror cinema. Despite the potential to fall into "Blair Witch Project" territory due to West's choice to give the Jonestown Massacre-based film a found-footage angle, it never does, largely in part to the dedicated performances from leads Kentucker Audley, AJ Bowen and West's fellow filmmaker and crony Joe Swanberg. The film never feels forced; rather, there is an organic sense to the way West instills and builds his sense of dread in the audience.
Things in Eden Parish seem perfect at first, but of course, all is not as it seems, and as things in the compound progressively get stranger, West's signature slow-burn brand of horror works wonders. Regardless of the fact that audiences know where things are heading, the mass suicide of the compound's residents still manages to be shocking, horrific and incredibly disturbing thanks to West's no-holds-barred approach. While it's certainly too much to handle for some, "The Sacrament" is more than worth a watch for those who can.
Shane Weinstein is a sophomore studying filmmaking practices. Follow him on Twitter @S_weinstein95 for scoops and reviews of upcoming movies.
Parquet Courts' "Sunbathing Animal"
Parquet Courts most recent album, "Sunbathing Animal," is a manifesto — a call to arms against the vagueness and the repetition that plagues our lives.
The songs that make up "Sunbathing Animal" are made up of familiar 12-bar blues riffs, dense post-modern inspired lyrics and Parquet Court’s now signature guitar tone that is equal parts austere and twang.
Even though the musicianship ranks among the tightest in recent years, the real strength of the album is the lyrics. Andrew Savage, one of the two lead singers, is inspired primarily by the literary work. The song structures are almost completely devoid of choruses, allowing the lyrical play of Savage and Brown to run amok.
The factor that sets this album, and its word play, apart from other albums released this year is the level of unity that the work embodies. There are more than a few motifs that make appearances throughout the album. Imagery that represents the physical nature of the body, the pace at which we lead our lives and the objects (both physical and mental) that entrap us are all present throughout the album.
In a candid interview over sushi, originally published in Stereogum, Savage said, “Cycles are an important part of 'Sunbathing Animal,' because we all find ourselves in them.” The album is a “device to reiterate the power of feeling trapped and being in a cycle,” he said.
The album takes a deconstructionist approach to recycled blues song structures and lyrical styles. "Sunbathing Animal" is a thoroughly enjoyable album. Equal parts innovative and philosophical, Parquet Courts have managed to make one of the best, and one of the most academically crucial, albums released in recent memory.
Jordan Bohannon is a junior studying marketing. Follow him on Twitter @Jordan_bohannon for the latest in local music.
This summer, in the dead of summer, I saw "Boyhood" at Camelview 5. It's Richard Linklater's 12-year-old project in which he followed a fictional cast around and charted their lives. The movie goes to great lengths (including its more than two-hour run-time) to showcase a boy from elementary school to his first day of college. I enjoyed it because the main character, Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is a year younger than I am. He faces problems easily relatable to any millennial audience — from paying for college to playing the Wii — yet, impossibly, the movie theater I attended was full of people who grew up in the Great Depression.
Peter Northfelt is a junior studying English literature. He is the Arts & Entertainment Editor for The State Press. Follow him on Twitter @peternorthfelt.