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We Are The In Crowd’s “Weird Kids” isn’t just for weird kids

by Charlotte Woo


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“We’re all just weird kids in the end.” How true is this? No one is normal; we all have some defining characteristics that make us weird to others.


    Pop-punk band We Are The In Crowd released their new album, “Weird Kids,” on February 18th. Three years after their last release, the album has a more mature sound. The band spent most of the last two and a half years touring and gaining experience on stage before heading into the studio to record “Weird Kids.”


The album opens with a soaring track entitled “Long Live the Kids.” Most albums I listen to have this type of song, a song that’s empowering and has a good message, a song that starts slow and builds up to hit listeners with strong bass-lines and booming drums.This is that song. Vocalist/guitarist Jordan Eckes’ harmonies create a sound that is very haunting and resonates with lead singer Taylor “Tay” Jardine’s voice.


    “The Best Thing (That Never Happened)” reminds me of something that would have been popular in my middle school years. It’s bitter, and it places blame on a significant other. It’s a very fast-paced song that’s kind of angry. It’s profane, but it sends a message that the singer is too good for the former significant other.


    The next track “Manners” records an argument between an angry couple. Eckles and Jardine alternate singing in a call-and-response style, which creates an effect that is again haunting that lends itself nicely to the line, “But I’m right back here to haunt you.”


    “Come Back Home” is one of the less bass-heavy songs of the album. Though it’s not a standout song for me, I enjoy it because of the harmonies between Jardine and Eckes.


    The first single released from “Weird Kids,” “Attention,” opens with the lyrics, “We’re all just weird kids in the end.” “Attention” caught my attention because I love when songs mention album titles somewhere in its contents. Titles inscribed in content show that the titles aren’t just obscure phrases that don’t completely relate to the content.


The song has a more traditionally pop-punk sound than the rest of the album, which I definitely appreciate because it shows that the band is still connected to its roots and to the sound they first released five years ago.


    “Dreaming Out Loud” begins heavy with drums, but the lyrics make it sound like the song would be more upbeat, more pop. The lyrics are about starting over, starting fresh but remembering past experiences that shape a person.


    The title of “Remember (To Forget You)” is paradoxical. To remember to forget someone is to still remember that someone. The song isn’t the most memorable of songs, but its paradox made me think, and sometimes I like songs that make me think.


    “Don’t You Worry” is the most story-like of the album’s tracks. It’s a sort of letter telling someone not to worry because problems will work themselves out in the end.


    My favorite track of the album is “Windows in Heaven.” This song is the closest the album has to a ballad. I love how simple the instrumentation of the track is; it’s soothing and calm. This song is also like a letter, but it’s a letter to someone who is no longer in the letter-writer’s life.


    “Reflections” is a great track to end the album on. The title itself is a message: reflect on what the album sounded like, reflect on what the album actually said, reflect on the messages it leaves behind. The drum line is powerful and strong, and it sticks in my head long after I listen to the song.


    WATIC’s “Weird Kids” will appeal to the masses because their sound is similar to the older Avril Lavigne songs our generation grew up on, such as “Girlfriend” and “Sk8er Boi.” The album overall definitely has a traditionally pop-punk sound that I love and would recommend to many of my friends.

 

Chvrches will make you believe in a higher god

by Henry Monteiro

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Ever since the release of their first EP, “Recover,” Chvrches has built a lot of buzz, marked as one of indie pop’s premiere acts. With their combination of evocative synths and Lauren Mayberry’s vocals, their music became the talk of indie sites such as Pitchfork, along with more mainstream sites like the Huffington Post and the BBC, where they were included in their list of the most promising of 2013.


    Finally, back in September, six months after the release of “Recover,” Chvrches released their full-length debut, “The Bones of What You Believe,” amid a storm of pre-release buzz, festival performances, and Mayberry’s now infamous facing of online bullying and sexual harassment. Luckily, Chrvches has managed to emerge from this shroud of hype that dooms so many new artists and released a strong, mature album that was one of the strongest releases of 2013.


     Usually, bands who have a heavy focus of synths in their music tend to lose my interest pretty quickly, either because they sound dated or layer keyboards on top of each other endlessly until it becomes white noise. Chrvches is a great example of using synths right, creating a beautiful, fresh atmosphere while never going overboard. The sound is perfectly fleshed out, sounding as if every instrument track was thought out from the get-go, without any last minute ideas being placed haphazardly on top of the song.


    Another improvement Chrvches makes over similar synth pop bands like Capitol Cities is in their singer. Most synth pop bands put their entire focus on the music, leading to the singer being left with underwritten lyrics or, in the worst case, having to sing one repeating chorus for a four minute song. Chvrches, meanwhile, have songs that would work just as well if the band replaced all of the synths with acoustic guitars. Every song has a distinct verse-chorus-bridge pattern that keeps them from getting too repetitive, and Lauren Mayberry, in exchange for being the only one of the trio who doesn’t play an instrument in concert, delivers the lyrics with absolute conviction and has a lovely singing voice.


    To get straight down to it, the best aspect of Chvrches is that it feels like a pop album that doesn’t have the burden of being a pop album. Most mainstream pop albums give off a feeling of required elements, whether it’s unfitting guest rappers, using currently popular genres like Dubstep, or other tired elements. Chrvches is free from that. No moments feel like a record company requested them to be included. It all feels consistent and untampered, and it leads to a very joyous sounding album. This is a happy sounding album, more than any mainstream pop album I’ve heard in the past year.


    If there’s one problem with this album however, the songs do become weaker the further the listener gets into the album. The first three songs are all fantastic and should be vying for top 40 radio airplay, along the lines of Bastille. Unfortunately, after that beginning, the songs lack that special quality that’s needed for good pop music that can be hard to label. It’s not that they’re bad, or even average; they’re just weaker and not as memorable. The album also includes a few songs sung by Martin Doherty, one of the synth players, but they aren’t as strong as the Mayberry tracks.


    Chvrches are a very strong group, and definitely of the most interesting new acts for 2013. “The Bones of What You Believe” is one of the best albums of last year, standing head and shoulders above the bottomless pool of indie pop and synth pop artists that are debuting every week on a bandcamp page online.


 It was already in my top 20 of the year, and maybe if they patched up the rest of the songs and had Lauren sing all the tracks, it would’ve been even higher. As it is, though, it’s still a strong release that anyone who enjoys music could bear to listen to at least once.


3.5 out of 5 stars

 

The Humble Bundle sparks new life into “Civilization 5”

by Hans Oberschelp

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Your civilization begins at the dawn of humankind as a village of huts and tents. From there you can conquer the planet, bring world order, create a utopia, or colonize space!


    “Civilization 5” is a turn-based strategy game. Players build cities and units across a a giant hexagonal grid. Rival civilizations form alliances, go to war, trade and blockade all towards the ultimate goal of military, diplomatic, cultural or scientific domination. Freshman Nathaniel Villa noted, “I used to play board games like [Civilization], like 'Settlers of Catan.'”


    The computer game “Civilization 5” launched in 2010, but only recently has it grown in popularity at Lincoln. The game, usually priced at $30 for the base game and $30 more for each of the 2012 and 2013 expansions recently all went for $15 on The Humble Bundle, a name-your-price website that periodically sells bundles of games for little to no cost.


    The cheap price of the game convinced myself along with 100,000s of others to pick up the bundle. I was quickly hooked on the game's scale and complexity, and I was eager to try it with friends.


    This where The Humble Bundle saved “Civilization 5.” See, “Civilization 5” is a grand campaign game that takes hour to complete on even the quickest settings. It's like Monopoly in that finishing a game often requires pausing and coming back another day. Completing a game like this is impossible with strangers on the internet.


    Thanks to the low price bringing an influx of new players into the series, newbies and veterans alike are now able to enjoy the game with friends. Nathan Seidman, Lincoln senior, bought the game a year ago, and didn't know anyone who played it, but now after the bundle knows 10. Seidman expressed, “I really like multiplayer because the people are smarter and more logical [than computers.]”


    Ten people may not seem like a lot, but it's hard finding just one friend willing to play a five hour round of a game. Try to imagine the last time you finished a game of risk with more than two people!


    Villa is on the other side: new to the series. He was convinced to get “Civilization 5” on The Humble Bundle. He mentioned, “It's funner with more people, talking on Skype with them [while playing].”


    In my opinion the most exciting part of “Civilization 5” is its length. Extending games over days gives players time to deliberate scenarios and formulate plans. The length turns games from an instance to an adventure. And having plenty of friends to enjoy the adventure with me makes it all the more worthwhile.


    The Humble Bundle with “Civlization 5” is over, but the base game is still available used for $10-$20. For everyone who already owns the game, why not try to find some friends who enjoy world domination as much as you do? You might find that you have more power-hungry friends than you though.

“Pushing Daisies” makes death fun

by Alan Lew

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            People usually don’t get to solve their own murders, but in the world of “Pushing Daisies,” this is a regular occurrence.  Having a supernatural element while still being fun and right-before-sleep friendly, is what makes this show fantastic.

            Created by Brian Fuller ("Dead Like Me," "Heroes" and "Hannibal'), the hour-long broadcast premiered in 2007 with a nine episode season.  It was renewed for a 13 episode second season before being cancelled due to declining viewership.

            The series follows Ned (Lee Pace), a pie maker who has the secret ability to bring a deceased person back to life for 60 seconds by touching them.  The drawback is that the second touch kills them permanently.  If they are brought back for more than 60 seconds, a random person nearby will die.

            The only one who knows of Ned's gift is Emerson Cod (Chi McBride).  He is a mercenary private investigator that works with Ned.  Together they ask murder victims who killed them and then collect the reward money.

            In the pilot, the crime-solving duo take the case of Charlotte “Chuck” Charles (Anna Friel), who was suffocated on a cruise.  For Ned, Chuck is more than a payday.  They were neighbors growing up in the town of Coeur d’Coeurs.  Although childhood sweethearts, they haven’t seen each other since Ned was sent to boarding school as a child.

            Ned revives Chuck to question her but becomes too attached.  He allows her to live beyond the 60 seconds.  Chuck’s second chance at life had another price: she could not go back to her old life.  Chuck previously lived with her reclusive aunts Vivian (Ellen Greene) and Lily Charles (Swoosie Kurtz), former synchronized swimmers.  Now she finds herself solving crime with Ned and Emerson.

            Olive Snook (Kristin Chenoweth), a waitress at Ned’s restaurant, “The Pie Hole," has an obvious affection for Ned.  Sadly, the only one he notices is Chuck, evoking jealousy in Olive.

            The trio of adamant Ned, energetic Chuck and pessimistic Emerson is a perfect fit.  Their different personalities make their partnership entertaining to watch.  The never-ending love Olive has for Ned even when neglected, provides comedic relief in dramatic situations.

            A highlight of “Pushing Daisies” is the atmosphere.  Each scene is filled with bright and vibrant colors that don’t go unnoticed.  Homes feature cartoonish windows, colorful walls and exotic animals.  Also, in almost every scene the sky is clear blue and the grass a solid green.  The sets feel like something straight out of Disneyland’s Toontown, which meshes perfectly with the characters' animated personality.

            The show blends crime solving and the supernatural like no other.  “Pushing Daisies” is unequivocally original and offers an odd yet hilarious sense of humor.  For example, in the first episode, a man is brought back to life and speaks exuberantly.  He doesn’t notice half his face has been chewed off by a dog.

            As for the plot, the series offers a creative new mystery every episode.  Instead of the standard stabbing, the murders are creative.  Whether it is a bomb in a scratch-and-sniff book, a killer crash test dummy or an exploding oven in a Chinese restaurant/underground casino, the excitement and surprises are present every episode.

            The second season featured constant cliffhangers.  Several story arcs throughout the short-lived series provide viewers with guest stars.  Orlando Jones ("Sleepy Hollow"), Missi Pyle ("The Artist"), and David Arquette ("Scream") have all appeared on the show.

              Currently, “Pushing Daisies” is available on Blu Ray and DVD as well as streaming on Amazon Prime.  The second season is available for free viewing on the Warner Brothers website.  Bryan Fuller is also discussing a revival in the form of a film or broadway musical.

Smile House Café? More like Frown House Café

by Liping Huang


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When I go to a restaurant, I like to know what I’m going to eat. If I’m going to a Vietnamese restaurant, I’m going to expect some pho. If I’m going to McDonalds, I’m going to expect some burgers and high blood pressure. And if I’m going to Taco Bell, you bet your ass I’m going to get me some tacos.


After a semi-tiring session of AP review, nothing says “You deserve this” more than delectable and MSG-slathered chow mein. But, instead of going to the classic 8 Immortals restaurant, I went to a recently opened joint that allured me with its promising name.


 Located at 1030 Taraval between 20th and 21st Avenue, Smile House Café is a Hong Kong Café that doesn’t specialize in coffee at all. Instead, it focuses on Americanized Chinese food.


When I went in, I thought I was entering some Korean pop club, not necessarily a restaurant. I sat on a red booth that was very comfortable for my booty. In the background, Chinese pop music played.  


I ordered the Hainan chicken, a dish with about nine pieces of chicken breast. It also included yellow rice and an extremely vinegary soup. I did not care for the yellow, oily chicken skin. It seemed a little similar to eating the raw bird skin. Thanks but no thanks.


The chicken was pretty juicy though, considering the fact that chicken breast is often dry. Combined with onion, garlic, cilantro and salt-loaded sauce, the Hainan chicken (minus skin) doesn’t chicken out from a flavorful punch of umami.


We also ordered wonton noodles, fried chicken wings with fries and tan, pan-fried sliced beef with rice.  


The noodles were the sham of the century. I’m talking about “Wolf of Wall Street,” Jordan Belfort, mass money laundering kind of sham.  I could buy a pack of noodles, throw in some microwave wontons, and I would still have a better dish than this one.


Wings and fries isn't necessarily a specialty Chinese dish. But here it was executed well. It was crunchy and moist, but definitely not big enough. With only five pieces that were the size of both my index and middle finger, it wasn’t satisfying. And by the way, the ratio of fries to wings was ridiculously irregular. For every wing there were enough fries to feed the poor Irish people during the Potato Famine.


The tan, pan-fried dish was fine. It was fun having a very sizzling hot plate cooking the beef and rice. You know what is not fun though? Being worried about third degree burns when you’re trying to enjoy your brunch.


The rice was mixed with this savory corn sauce. Sweetness overpowered the dish; it was too much for me. I want a savory, salty and stunning sauce to parallel with the beef. I love corn, don't get me wrong, but not on my tan, pan-fried beef.


Smile House Café specializes in casual Chinese but not really Chinese cuisine. It takes quite a while to order, but when you ask for the check it arrives faster than trolls on a Youtube video.


If you have some time to spare, a friend you want to catch up with and a craving for fairly okay food, go visit Smile House Café. Sit on their comfy booths, chomp on that Hainan chicken, and do not order anything with fries.


This café/restaurant/KPop club gets 2.5 Pings out of 5

Childish Gambino grows up in his new album “Because the Internet”

by Nathan Seidman


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Donald Glover, well known for his acting in the popular sitcom “Community” has a darker alter ego who goes by the name Childish Gambino. Gambino is a rap artist, and a good one at that.

In his new album “Because the Internet,” Gambino lets out his inner nerd to cater to the Internet generation, all while reflecting on his past and setting himself apart from other artists through a unique use of jazz and funk beats, furthering the album’s independent musical style.

“Because the Internet” is chock full of Internet references and memes, going so far as to say “Trolling these niggas / Rickrolling these niggas / They mad cause they don’t know any better.”

The references to Internet phenomena set Gambino’s album apart from those of others rappers, and provide comedic relief to a melancholy yet somehow uplifting album.

The album as a whole is representative of Gambino’s journey through life. It starts off with his immaturity in adolescence saying “I’m lookin at her booty, at her boooty.” As the album progresses however, Gambino matures from a booty-starin boy to a contemplative adult who recognizes his fan base and wants help those who are a part of it.

Near the end of the album, Gambino empowers his fans as he hopes that “Eventually all my followers realize they don't need a leader/Stay on your own shit, fuck what these clones think / Just remember that you the shit, but act like it don't stink/We were childish but had to grow up.”

Through all the references and nerdyness and sadness however, comes a reflection of Gambino’s past. Ironically, it is not until the last song “Life: The Biggest Troll” that this occurs when he recalls an old girlfriend telling him “Camp (Gambino’s previous album) was a million years ago / Sing me a different song.”

Musically, the album has a complex beat ranging from jazz to metal to funk, each suited appropriately to the song and its place in the album. The album uses little electronica in the beat, which is a nice surprise in the world of modern music.

Further, many non-musical instruments are used as parts of the beat, from a helicopters blades spinning in the beginning of the intro and outtro of the album, to heavy, complex background singing throughout the album.

The musicality and lyrics of “Because the Internet” come together to create a surreal, yet down to earth tone and a relaxing, rewarding listen. Gambino’s album is well worth the money, or the torrent if you so desire. 8.5/10