Archive for the ‘jk’ Category

I Drink Your Milkshake! I Drink It Up!

February 25, 2008

One frosty Monday night, my compadre Jake and I ventured into the heart of Beaver Falls to obtain that nectar of the gods, more commonly known as ice cream.

The Corner Drug, purveyor of this sweet sugary goodness, is located across the main drag from the Rite Aid. We were immediately impressed by the ambiance of the soda bar, having everything that a classic soda bar should. We were disappointed to find that they did not make malted milkshakes, but we ordered one regular chocolate shake and a Golden Tornado sundae.

Yes, that’s right. At only $2.69, it consists of three scoops of vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate, caramel, and topped with whipped cream. The milkshake was decent, but we agreed that the Golden Tornado was the real treat. We encourage you to round up some friends, head downtown and experience some classic Beaver Falls culture.

-Andrew Wright & Jake Kauffman

Across the Universe (2007)

November 30, 2007

Only proceed to read this review if you love Beatles music and can tolerate musicals. That being said, you might well like Across the Universe (if you can handle the hard-PG-13 rating, that is).

Across the Universe is set in the late 1960s; young British chap Jude (Jim Sturgess) travels to America and becomes good friends with Princeton drop-out Max (Joe Anderson), eventually becoming romantically attached to Max’s sunny and beautiful sister Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood). Jude eventually starts to question where his life is heading once Max gets drafted into the Vietnam conflict and Lucy begins to embody the anti-war activist prototype.

Although the idea of another anti-Vietnam-laced movie shouldn’t necessarily make one’s head spin, the fact is that the Beatles and the war did intertwine somewhat, and plus, a 60’s movie can’t be filled up with over-the-top psychedelic scenes alone. The film overcomes overall inexperienced acting with truly interesting plotlines that move along very well. But the real fun of the flick is the seeing how the Beatles’ songs fit into the story (or is it the other way around?), singing along and then guessing which one will come next. Highlights include “With a Little Help From My Friends” and its rowdy male-bonding, the sadness of death enunciated with “Let it Be” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” the sensuality found through a tender rendition of “If I Fell” and the communal unity with the harmony in the haunting “Because.” Also, this writer must admit that Salma Hayek as a war nurse combined with “Happiness is a Warm Gun” was proverbial icing on the cake.

But what is Across the Universe really trying to say? Nothing much more than the Beatles ever did, that all you need is love, really. Yesterday, Jude might have been a nowhere man, but now this boy is practically Mother Nature’s son after finding the inner light and giving all his loving to Lucy. Let’s just hope that they didn’t turn out to be day trippers like the rest of the hippies.

– Jake Kauffman


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Peter Bjorn and John – Writer’s Block (2007)

November 14, 2007

After being captured by the deceivingly somber “Amsterdam” by Peter, Bjorn and John this past summer, I was thrilled to be able to listen to the Swedish pop band’s Writer’s Block, their third full-length release. 

The group has a humble, down-to-Europe demeanor in which they subtly insert interesting instrumentation in an ever-so-slightly experimental fashion (“instruments” include the thundersheet, the whip, and “oral sounds”). Sometimes fast, restless and rather insatiable drumming contrasts with mellow whistling, almost shoegazer-esque guitar and reverb-laden, resounding vocals to represent the possible conflict between subconscious anxiety amidst laid-back, usually nonchalant lyrics. Here’s a trio of guys yearning for ideal romanticism and thus come off as epicurean in their wariness to work through rough spots in their relationships: “When you decided to knock on my door did you remember what happened before? It just didn’t sparkle, it just didn’t grow; some things look better inside of the store” (“Let’s Call it Off”) or “let’s take the easy way out” (“Roll the Credits”).

However, the lyrics are not overly-weighty. They are often simplistically romantic: “While I’m sleeping, you paint a ring on my finger with your black marker-pen” (“Paris 2004”). Writer’s Block dwells and thrives upon fantastical ideals and the everyday situations which sometimes live up to them but so frequently do not, creating an ultimately dreary tone. 

Nevertheless, the album comes off as brilliant in its insidious gloom, especially if the listener is well-adapted to this sort of music in the first place. The musical highlights have to be the popular indie single “Young Folks” and the aforementioned “Amsterdam,” but the band might be trying to make its biggest lyrical statement in the album-closer “Poor Cow”: “I want to spend, in a never-ending story, but it always ends.”

-Jake Kauffman

Listen to Peter Bjorn and John on Myspace

The Fiery Furnaces – Widow City (2007)

November 12, 2007

Quirky brother-sister duo The Fiery Furnaces return with Widow City, their fifth album in as many years. Brace yourself with The Fiery Furnaces. Singer Eleanor Friedberger sounds like a Grace Slick throwback, but this is not your parents’ Jefferson Airplane.

Widow City‘s lyrics are excellently “abstract specific,” giving the most idiosyncratic of lyricists like Van Dyke Parks a run for their money: “…the new school bus assistant snuck in charge of leaving seven sleeping children in their seats, in a trance, induced by air-conditioning” (“More Automatic Husband”). Lyrics are also laced with Arabic references (“My Egyptian Grammar”), prone to wry humor (“save a glacier name for my daughter” from “Navy Nurse”) and speak of ambiguous relationships (“Japanese Slippers”).

Matthew Friedberger’s music is brashly eclectic, restlessly changing about as fast as a ninth grader’s relationship status, and is ultimately unique, if not innovative. Amidst it all, though, catchiness reigns in songs like “Ex-Guru” or “The Old Hag is Sleeping.”

Unfortunately, Widow City seems a bit too disconnected from one track to another to be a landmark album. But, it remains an odd treasure for anyone strange enough to acquire such a brilliantly funky taste in sound or anyone just desperately jaded from modern pop radio. The Fiery Furnaces’ cryptic style either requires rigorous philosophic prodding in order to find truth, or the Friedbergers are just as mixed up as their music implies. In any case, Widow City is for anyone wishing to listen to something they’re not normally hearing in music.

-Jake Kauffman

Listen to The Fiery Furnaces on Myspace

As I Lay Dying – An Ocean Between Us (2007)

October 12, 2007

Christian speed-metal/scream-a-lot-about-death band As I Lay Dying returns to the scene with their fourth studio album, An Ocean Between Us. Picking up bass player/vocalist Josh Gilbert adds some much-appreciated melody to the bass-drum-and-heavy-metal-guitar-barrage, and hints at P.O.D. circa 2003. Though the intensity of the music no doubt takes talent, As I Lay Dying doesn’t appear to have any aspirations to bring anything new or spectacular to the table–this album could be five years old and no one would know it.

Though seemingly afraid to mention God by name (we wouldn’t want to be too obvious, would we?), An Ocean Between Us seems set-out to portray truth and hope in grim circumstances: “For there is still beauty inside this dying world” (“Wrath Upon Ourselves”). Therefore, the lyrics have some weight–too bad you have to read most of them instead of listen and be able to decipher. Needless to say, the instrumental “Departed” is a hauntingly charming break from the usual thrash-rock action. An Ocean Between Us–though never original enough to rise beyond the usual Christian metal sound–presents credible, ultimately positive Christian lyrics to those who may be in need of some hope in life.

As I Lay Dying seems content in resting in their gloomy, dark imagry (just glance at the album art, complete with the cliché skull and all), for words like “decay” and “ruin” pervade throughout the album. However, the final track, “This is Who We Are”, concludes with a hopeful piano line to symbolize the subtle joy that still can be found in this otherwise sad and sinful world in which we dwell.

– Jake Kauffman

Listen on Myspace