New Music Reviews: of Montreal and Midwest Hype.

of Montreal – Paralytic Stalks
Released February 7, 2012
Polyvinyl

I never know what to expect with Of Montreal (They are a part of the Animal 6 Collective which includes the Circulatory System, The Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, Elf Power, and Apples in Stereo), which is very good thing. They do not disappoint on Paralytic Stalks. This indie pop, rock, funk, psychedelic, and R&B, have got so much going on. I got the genre list from wikipedia by the way. Every track is a pleasant surprise. If I was to best describe Of Montreal’s, it would be a sexier Beatles whom also happened to be stuck in a permanent acid trip. They have that perfect pop sound, not that annoying pop crap that is shoveled down societies throats on the lamestream radio, but that beautiful 60′s pop sound. The music is so catchy without being repetitive in nature. I cannot even describe some of the sounds this band puts out. All I know is if you want your mind blown, give this record a listen.

EM.


Midwest Hype – DayGlow
Released January 5, 2012

Before I popped in the disk to listen to DayGlow by Midwest Hype I was extremely intrigued by the album cover. The most note worthy entity about the disk was the inside cover. It displayed each member of the band and I was in awe of how eclectic the group really was. The seven or so gentlemen each had their own unique style and presence to them both in fashion and posture. Each member had their particular contribution listed below their name and the amount of different instruments incorporated into the collection was astonishing. I was eager to listen to the first track and the sound right off the bat correlated very well to how diverse they appeared. When thinking of how to describe the sound Midwest Hype, I posed to myself the question of “what do they bring to the table?” After some pondering, I came to the conclusion that Midwest Hype is sort of like an aunt of mine that every Thanksgiving brings the same platter, but adds a new twist to it each time. This idea came to fruition even more greatly when I listened to the song entitled “Runaway.” The dynamics of the song greatly resembled an iconic pop tune that I could nostalgically recite in my head over and over, but at the same time was as unique as an ensemble that I had to keep listening. The entire album was well synchronized and truly lived up to its name. Each song has a certain mellowness to it, but is hyped by high pitched instruments and a strong cadence. The combination is very strong and although I do not know exactly what they are bringing to the table I am still for sure looking out for seconds.

KR.

Sin Tour Review

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 I was able to see two of my favorite bands at the 9:30 Club.  Just weeks after seeing Hit the Lights in November it was announced that Hit the Lights and Sparks the Rescue would be going on tour with Like Moths to Flames, and headliner Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (D.R.U.G.S).  I was jumping around my house because HTL and STR make my little world go round.  D.R.U.G.S.’ front man Craig Owens is one of those band boys who’s nearly everyone’s dream.  Owens was the former lead vocalist of Chiodos.  He is the poster boy for this type of music, boys praise him and girls get weak at the knees.

What’s good about the 9:30 club is that the set list for the upcoming concert is posted on line.  So you know beforehand what time your band(s) will be on and you don’t have to listen to bands you don’t like.  I was primarily at the show for STR and HTL, however My Arcadia was the first act and they have recently followed me on Twitter and were tweeting at me.  I found out I missed them and tweeted them my apologies.  Every fan wants to know that they’re appreciated (even though I’ve never listened to this band before) but it felt like I was appreciated.  My Arcadia’s last night on the tour was in Charlotte, North Carolina, they will be rejoining the tour for the last date.

I walk into the 9:30 club as the next set begins.  It was pretty decent.  I would characterize them as a hardcore band from Chicago, Action Blast (band name could use work but they’re fun and the band is very diverse).  The band was very energetic and the lead singer’s voice rocked.  What caught my attention the most was either the guitarist or bassist wearing this Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey and he had the most colorful sleeves.  As I’m waiting for Sparks to take the stage I turn around and see Craig Owens just hanging out and then the crowd swarms him.  Obviously this was my chance to get a picture and have my concert bag signed.  Mission accomplished.

Sparks takes the stage and I make my way from the back of the crowd (it was still early/there were probably only 400 at the show) to the front and put the purse down so I could dance.  Alex Roy always puts on an excellent show he’s like a mixture of Gabe Saporta (Cobra  Starship/Midtown) and Adam Lazzara (Taking Back Sunday).  He swings that microphone around his neck and has some funk dance moves as he sings his heart old.  Being that I was fortunate to see Sparks twice last year the set list was nearly identical.  My mind was BLOWN from this show’s set list.  There were older songs and the usual favorite/popular songs were not performed.  I liked the change of pace even though I wished other songs were played.  All in all it was all still worth it, just a surprise.  I was able to meet Alex Roy after the set and get another picture.

Like Moths to Flames followed Sparks the Rescue.  I had never heard a thing by them, and at this time I was tired and went to my usual spot to wait for Hit the Lights to come on with hopes of meeting the band up there.  The top right corner of the balcony my friends is where you’ll meet all your favorite artists.  The whole band was up there, I have history with lead singer Nick Thompson we’ve met before and we tweet back and forth all the time, we chatted a little and got our picture.  I spent the entire Like Moths to Flames set up there.  I wasn’t amused or entertained.  Sometimes you go to shows and discover new music that you wish you knew the words to.  Not in this circumstance.  I sat around; talked to this girl I became friends with, and went down to the pic to get a good spot for Hit the Lights.

Alternative Press began streaming Hit the Lights’ new album Invicta the day before the show.  A few singles had already been slowly released over the past few months.  HTL’s first full length album in years will be released Tuesday January 31, 2012.  I made my way further and further up front, first to second row depending on where I decided to jump during the song.  I went nuts.  There were a few of us HTL fans, I heard people saying “They like this band this much?”  In my head I was just like, “YES.” Like I said the last time I saw them, I act like a boy.  I’m in my little skirt, tights, and boots with a 20 pound tote bag.  There was an excellent variety of new, old, and older songs.  Old songs were played at this show with them as the opener when it wasn’t on their headlining tour like “Coast to Coast,” which I’ve been playing on repeat for days.  The energy from the crowd and Nick were at high levels as always.  A bit too high, this group of friends kept starting a mosh pit that I would get caught up in for a few seconds then I make my way back up and push the boys away.  During the last song, “Bodybag,” the crowd got nuts I was jumping around on top of people and this guy got into a physical fight with a much younger girl.  They were both pulled out and Nick commented on the situation at the end of the set.

Unfortunately I was unable to see Craig Owens work his magic.  I’ve heard that D.R.U.G.S.’ live performances aren’t all that good.  I suppose I’ll have to wait until next time.  Regardless I left feeling completely accomplished in having a good time.

 

Odile Durocher, WGMU Assistant Local Music Director

New Music Review: Lights – Siberia

Lights – Siberia
Lights Music/Last Gang Records
Released October 4th, 2011

With the release of Siberia, Lights Valerie Poxleitner known simply by her professional name, Lights, has a second album under her belt. The Canadian musician known for her blend of sugary synthpop and electronica with soft melodic undertones offers this time around a sound that packs more of a punch than her previous album The Listening. Dubstep is a strong influence as heard in her use of heavier beats, yet she manages to not let them overpower and instead (for the most part) seamlessly stitches them along with the backbone of the songs, creating a groove that’s mighty contagious. “Everybody Break a Glass” almost demands for a limb or two to start moving the moment the verses kick in. “Timing is Everything” follows suit and goes down the same infectious route.

“Flux and Flow”, possibly the best track on the whole record, however takes a hairpin turn and boldly dives into a realm that’s gutsier than the artist is recognized for, revealing a more intriguing angle unexpected of the 24 year old. With a youthful girly voice that almost hints toward child-like innocence, hearing a hefty amount of depth than usual behind her vocals makes it clear that Lights has more potential than some might initially think. There are also moments of rhythmic heaviness that creates almost a heady sway, apparent in the 12th track “Fourth Dimension”. Its melody is reminiscent of a lullaby, albeit one with a steady boom of synthesizers in the background. With a musical style that runs the danger of sounding boisterous, it instead becomes channeled into something harmoniously intense, surprisingly enough.

While Lights might consider her simpler approach to writing songs her forte, tracks like “Siberia” and “Peace Sign” fall flat and seem bland in comparison to the songs where she pushes herself both vocally and creatively. It seems that the moments in Siberia that truly shine are the ones where she chooses to step beyond her comfort zone and acknowledges a daring, more innovative side of herself.

-JG.

Dr. Àngel Cabrera Named as the 6th President of George Mason University

At a special Board of Visitors meeting this morning at the Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel, Dr. Àngel Cabrera was unanimously voted to succeed President Merten as the 6th President of George Mason University.

In an exclusive roundtable interview with The Office of Student Media, when asked by WGMU General Manager Alex Romano about the possibility of starting a D-1 football program at Mason Dr. Cabrera said “Athletics are a key part of a rich learning experience but they have to serve the academic mission of an institution; and unfortunately at some institutions a sports team becomes more important than the university itself; obviously not at Mason, but I think it’s wrong for that to occur… the sports program ought to enrich the academic experience, not overshadow it, and that’s my philosophy.”

When asked by WGMU Operations Manager Storm Paglia to describe his experience since Sunday when he was informed of the BOV’s decision to select him as Merten’s successor, Dr. Cabrera had this to say “It’s been nuts… its been very emotional for me; I love Thunderbird and its been 8 wonderful years for me there, I’m going to have to say good bye to a place I love, but it’s definitely been the most intense few days of my professional career, and things have happened very quickly, but I’m ready.”

When Reuben Jones, Senior Administration Reporter for Connect2Mason asked what Dr. Cabrera sees as the role of the University President he responded with “a big part of the President’s role is to represent the university on the outside and to try to get more support and funds for the university, but no president can do that if they’re not fully embedded in the real life of the university; you can not be an ambassador for the university if you don’t spend time with the students, spend time with the faculty and I need to figure out the best way to do that; I don’t know if I will be able to teach my own class, and I would love to do that but I fully intend to be in very close contact with the students.”

Alex and Storm also had the chance to interview President Merten and Student Body President Ally Bowers, who was the only student to be on the Presidential Search Committee. When asked what she was looking for in the new President, she had this to say, “It wasn’t what I was looking for, it was what the students I represent were looking for. They all shared the same visions as me; someone who was passionate about Mason, or their current institution that they could bring here, someone that was really vested in furthering this institution and for student’s sake, strengthening our degrees further from what they already are. I’m thrilled about how the process turned out and I couldn’t be happier with the end result.”

President Merten was asked how he feels about the selection of Dr. Cabrera as the next President of George Mason and he responded with “I’m very excited about the progress we’ve made over the last 16 years, frankly, over the last forty years… what impresses me about Dr. Cabrera is that he will be able to follow in that mode. There may be a little cloning here, he has a background that is somewhat similar to mine, and obviously I’m encouraged by that. He understands where we are and where we need to be and the challenge will be to lay out his plan for the next 5 or 10 years and I feel he will be able to do that.”


PHOTO: Dr. Àngel Cabrera Addresses GMU For The First Time
Credit – Dakota Cunningham (Connect2Mason)

New Music Review: Bjork – Biophilia

Bjork – Biophilia
Nonesuch Records
Released October 10, 2011

No matter how you look at it, Biophilia is simply a bizarre album, or rather “multi-media project,” if you want to acknowledge it as such. While by Bjork standards a bizarre approach is expected and even welcomed, for a project with such strong conviction to a grandiose concept it seems to be weakest where it matters most; the music. Bjork’s all-important solipsistic nature seems to have diminished and taken with it her distinguished ear and ability to filter her myriad ideas.

The album is centered on scientific concepts and how they can translate into music. While this sounds like a promising focus fertile with potential for out-there sounds, no single track seems to achieve the sense of bio-musical synthesis that Bjork has promised. Rather, they seem to be vehicles for an educational iPad suite teaching things you might find in a high-school physics textbook.

I have to wonder if the four years spent making the record were focused more on the creation of imaginary instruments and the iPad app suite than on actual songwriting. Most of the songs are packed with disparate sounds that never seem to congeal or form a driving rhythm or make a point. Worst of all, the sounds are all damn-near-silent most of the time, leaving only Bjork’s lonely vocals. Loudness isn’t by any means necessary and space can be a great tool for making a musical point, but usually as a means of accentuating the parts where the arrangement is full and moving. The sounds on this record are simply disinterested and lost. Even the few sounds which manage to stick out for brief moments faultily pander to movements already far back in most people’s rear-view mirror, namely dubstep and ‘90s-era-IDM.

Everything seems to be minimal right down to Bjork’s vocals, arguably the most crucial element of her songs. She doesn’t seem engaged or interested in the works, and the playful attitude she brings to her best pieces is altogether absent from the entire record. If she can’t hold our attention, I doubt an instrumental Tesla-coil will, especially if you remove the visual element from the mix.

In short, many of the concepts present in the project as a whole would have been best transcribed into a musical form. It’s a shame the record was envisioned as being ensconced in this multi-media scaffolding from its inception, as this approach seems to have constricted what it can achieve on its own, and at the end of the day I’d wager most people will only know the music exists and wonder what happened upon hearing it.

-RK.

Coaches Corner: ODU Women’s Head Coach Karen Barefoot

Karen Barefoot is a new head coach in the CAA, she recently took over the woman’s basketball program at Old Dominion University.  New but familar, Karen was a fromer  assistant with this ODU squad back in the  2005-2008 season winning three CAA Championships.  Her recent stint with Elon University was a success as she helped coach them to thier first ever Division I playoff appearance.  A pretigous career record of 286-166, she has been an icon of winning and changing programs for the better. 
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Coaches Corner: Interview with Towson Men’s Basketball Coach Pat Skerry

On Friday WGMU continued its Coaches Corner segment with an interview of the 1st year head coach of Towson, Pat Skerry. Coach Skerry took over a Towson squad that was 0-18 in the Colonial Athletic Association last season, winning just 4 games overall. The Towson Tigers have started this season 0-6, but they have faced two nationally ranked teams in Kansas and Michigan. He candidly says that even though the talent level may not necessarily be there to compete this season, the program at Towson is defiantly on the rise.

Coach Skerry notes throughout the interview that with the eventual completion of the state-of-the-art Tiger Arena in 2013, Towson will have the finest facility in the conference.  Coach Skerry goes on to say that even with only one scholarship senior on the team,  that he is very optimistic about the future of the program  because of what he describes as “possibly one of the best recruiting classes in the mid majors” coming to Towson next season.
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Coaches Corner: WGMU’s newest sports segment

If you’re part of the Mason faithful, you know feeling of desire, passion and praise for your athletic teams.  But haven’t you ever wondered what rival teams think when they go up against your Patriots?  In the newest segment to hit WGMU air waves, “coaches corner” is all about getting to know the competition.  WGMU sports directors sit down before every men and women’s basketball game to talk with rival coaches about their upcoming match-ups with George Mason.  If you want the inside scoop on what the opposing coach is thinking, check out WGMU before every basketball match-up.

Follow the link below to catch up on interviews you may have missed:

Coaches Corner archives

Mason vs Stony Brook: A Coaches Take

Coach Beth O’ Boyle enters her first full season at the helm of the Stony Brook women’s baketball program.  Tonight her team heads home for thier first homestand of the season, as they prepare to take on George Mason at Pritchard Gymnasium.  Led by Coach Jeri Porter the Patriots are comming off back to back wins over Oakland and Longwood Universities.  The last time the two programs met Mason pulled out a dominating 74-48 win at the Patriot Center.    Even though Mason has dominated play as of late  you cant overlook that  Stony Brook has  a new coach, its a new year and a road game.  WGMU  sat down with head coach Beth O’Boyle to talk about her take on tonights game and the direction of the Stonybrook program.

Coaches Corner: Interview with Brown Head Coach Jesse Agel

Brown University will clash with George Mason for only the second time in program history.  The Patriots took the first contest in 2008 by a score of 89-52 on thier home floor, a game Brown will look to forget.  Since that contest Mason has undergone some changes, they have new players and a new coach.  In a sit down interview with Brown head coach Jesse Agel, he talks about tonights contest, his expectations for this Brown squad and the “new look” Patriots.

Interview: Coach Agel