Tag Archives: music

Rock Band offers students an opportunity to learn music

By Jon Garvin

Prep Editor-in-Chief

Rock Band is an Expeditions course offered at Summit Prep in cooperation with the Riekes Center for Human Enhancement, a nonprofit organization that offers many programs for the community to take part in.  

Students enrolled in this course meet at the Riekes Center, which is located in North Fair Oaks, in close proximity to Summit Prep. Students are encouraged to learn about music theory, learn new instruments and have fun.

Walking through the class feels like something out of a movie. Students split into groups to use the many instruments the Riekes Center offers in order to learn and play songs together in a mini band. The instruments include piano, bass, guitar, drums, vocals and percussion.

Students pick a song from an array of options, some being “Halo” by Beyoncé, “Marry You” by Bruno Mars, “Wish I Knew You” by The Revivalists and many more. They then decide how the instruments get divided up and start teaching themselves and each other the songs.

The Riekes Center coordinators enter their sessions to help students where needed throughout the two-week Expeditions periods. At the end of the week, students perform for each other.

The Rock Band class helps students connect on a deeper level to something they already deem important: music. It gives the students tools and resources to either learn how to play an instrument or refine their skills on a new instrument.

While sitting in a group’s sessions, one would notice the initial meeting of the classmates, who vary from all different grades. The students would then start playing their instruments in order to get a feel of their new group. Then students would begin collaborating to figure out the best way to perform their song.

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Summit Prep junior Luke Desmarais

Students learn more than just how to play an instrument for a specific song. Summit Prep junior Luke Desmarais said, “I’ve learned how to read music and how to break it apart and break it down.”

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Summit Prep junior Matthew Tognotti

Students’ perception of music also changes due to the collaboration opportunities this course offers. Matthew Tognotti, a Summit Prep junior, said, “I see it as more of like a group effort. Like working together with other people to make music.”

Bennett Roth-Newell, the Music and Creative Arts Director at the Riekes Center, is one of the supervisors of this course. He said, “The structure of the class is mostly based on playing music with a group, getting familiar with playing an instrument and then how that instrument’s role functions in the entirety of an ensemble.”

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Riekes Center Music and Creative Arts Director Bennett Roth-Newell

Mr. Roth-Newell also said that a student’s main takeaway is getting a shot at experiencing playing music. He explained, “To me, it seems like a lot of students are getting their first or first few experiences of playing music and getting a chance to give this a shot or even getting exposed to it. [Had] they not had this in their Expeditions, maybe it wouldn’t’ve been part of their life at all.” He also said that his students are becoming more well-rounded individuals.

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Summit Prep sophomore Megan Mayo

Megan Mayo, a Summit Prep sophomore, has learned how to play bass during this course. Mayo said that a key takeaway she’s taken from this course is to “never give up. Even when you don’t know anything or like it’s really hard.”

The resilience Mayo spoke about is one quality that Mr. Roth-Newell said students interested in taking the course should have. He said, “Just be prepared to give the best effort that you can. Really that’s all that we could ask of a student to do. To try their hardest and while doing so continue to keep up the core cultural values of the Riekes Center where honest communication, self-supervision and sensitivity to others thrives throughout all the programs – not just music – but throughout all the programs we do here.”

See below for a video about the Rock Band course:

Billie Eilish’s “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go” blows away expectations

By Nick Reed

Arts Editor

Billie Eilish, to me, has always seemed somewhat of a boring, non-offensive indie singer. She writes songs for a demographic that I’m not in, and, thusly, is someone I’ve never taken particularly seriously.

Leaving the “Don’t Smile At Me” era of her career, I wasn’t particularly interested in what she would do next. That was until I heard her new single, “When the Party’s Over.”

Now, I am a lover of sad songs, and I can learn to love many a sad pop song. This is no normal sad pop song. “When the Party’s Over” is this bare bones, nearly a cappella ballad, where Eilish finds herself crooning over faint choral humming. The song feels patient and measured, as if Eilish isn’t rushing to any ending, almost reminiscent of late ’90s emo works such as “Love Letter Typewriter” by Mineral.

Moreover, the lyrics detail a story of running away from your problems, trying to fill up the void left by someone you love leaving you in the dust by partying and forcing your mind to other places.

The song has such an in-the-moment feel, characterized when Eilish says of her song, “I feel like that’s such a sentence. It’s like, ‘I’ll call you when the party’s over,’ you’re on the phone with someone and you can’t hear them, they can’t hear you, it’s loud, they’re mad at you for some reason.” 

This song changed my perception of her quite a bit. Her fake quirkiness and the accusations of being an industry plant mattered a lot less. After all, what did any of this matter if the music was good?

My anticipation went from nonexistent to very high. My expectations were still low, however. With a pop artist so early in their career, a miss was much more possible than a hit. This, however, was not the case.

Next came the song “You Should See Me In a Crown,” the opposite of the mellow cuts I’d been expecting of her up to that point. With spastic, grinding high hats and dentist drill effects, Eilish’s vocals shook with vibrato as she sang. The beat almost seems like something out of an underground hip hop project, akin to Death Grips or H099or9.

Eilish had not only proven herself more than capable twice at this point, but also displayed musical versatility, one of my biggest problems with her work up to this point. It seemed the stage was set for her album premiere.

I remember when her album dropped; I was in North Carolina doing my college tours. I was sitting in my hotel room and was shuffling through my usual artists, when I noticed her new album had been released. My expectations going in were high. I started the album at the intro, laid back in my hotel bed and let it all come.

I can say now, without a doubt, this album blew my expectations out of the water. I expected a lot, and yet I was blown away. This album is beyond incredible, and, dare I say, might be the best pop album of the year.

On this record, Eilish has crafted an ingenious, forward-moving, creative, inspired, experimental pop album. It’s almost amazing this came from a mainstream pop star and not the underground.

I find myself most astounded by the fact that Eilish sings in the same tenor, style and volume throughout the whole album, and not once does this delivery fall flat. The production and the vocal effects all contribute, but her singing style does not waver. This is not a bad thing; it’s simply a testament to the skill of her as a vocalist and her brother as a producer.

I must take a second to appreciate the production from Finneas O’connell. His beats — those shuttering high hats, the deep sub bass — all beyond ingenious. The playing with the vocals is something to be reckoned with as well, as the vocal effects add massive amounts of character to her voice and the substance behind her lyrics.

There are several tracks to highlight on this record. There are the obvious and aforementioned “When the Party’s Over” and “You Should See Me in a Crown.” Beyond that, tracks like “Bad Guy,” “Xanny,” “Wish You Were Gay,” “8,” and “Listen Before I Go” are my personal favorites.

Her song “Bad Guy” features a deep sub bass with a set of ever-increasing snaps that slowly feel as they’re surrounding you while Eilish delivers lines including “[I’m the] might seduce your dad type.”

On the other hand, “Xanny” feels like a bare bones, singer songwriter experience as it opens — singing about lifeless, drug addicted zombies — before suddenly an explosive bass effect attacks everything within the song, leading everything (vocals included) to vibrate and tingle with abrasive noise. This is all interspersed with quiet, personal piano bits, Eilish’s voice fluttering over these portions with a beauty akin to a Disney song. This loud soft dynamic doesn’t sound far off from the alternative rock of the ’90s and the ending sounds straight out of “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Cover Band.”

Eilish continues this singer songwriter vibe with “Wish You Were Gay,” her voice laying a ballad over a strummed guitar and trap backing crafting an intoxicating sound straight out of a summer jam. Although one of the more pop sensible songs on the tracklist, it is one of the catchiest and doesn’t miss a beat in comparison with the rest of the album.

“8” is one of the strangest songs on the album, featuring (honestly somewhat terrifying) baby voice vocals over a singer songwriter type trap beat. This is one of Eilish’s strongest vocal tracks on the album, featuring goosebump inducing shaking, highs and lows and that aforementioned baby voice.

However, my personal favorite song on the track is “Listen Before I Go.” An isolated, heartbreaking piano ballad is interrupted by vocal effects or bombastic production. There is nothing to draw away from the words Eilish is trying to say, and those words are heart-wrenching. She sings solemnly about her friends she will miss, her loves lost and continually refers to leaving. This is an obvious suicide note and a terrifying way to leave off an emotional rollercoaster of an album.

This album was beyond impressing for me. I completely underestimated what Eilish was capable of. She is no stereotypical pop star.

I know it might be difficult to take her seriously given the way she has come up and the prejudices some might have, but I urge all to give this album a shot. I believe they will find a wonderful and downright amazing pop experience here.

Featured image (at the top of this post): Billie Eilish performs live in Los Angeles in a 2017 concert. PHOTO CREDIT: Justin Higuchi

Music empowers adolescents

By Lyanna Cruzat

Staff Writer

Music surrounds us in our daily lives. We hear it on the radio on our way to school or work, on our phones, in restaurants; we hear music everywhere. Music holds the power to influence mood and behavior in people. Music impacts our lives in ways we don’t even realize. We all know that music is just there; we don’t realize how much music has been a part of our daily lives and how music helps shape who we are as a person.

“Music is an outlet for me to display all my inner emotions; especially now in high school, playing music is a way to just relax and take a breather; it’s something I can confide in,” said Ethaniel Reyes, a sophomore in the Music Club at Summit Shasta.

Elena Mannes, the author of “The Power of Music,” tracked the human relationship with music over the course of a life span. She says that scientists have found that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function. That’s why she sees so much potential in music’s power to change the brain and affect the way it works.

Brian Patel, a k-8 counselor at The Bayshore School said,  “Music was one of my most important teachers and counselors growing up. Music was a teacher and a therapist to me. For instance, I didn’t learn about what social injustice is or low-income inner-city issues for my education, I learned about these issues through the hip-hop and rap music I listen to from the music artist[s] in my community. There was no counselor at my elementary and middle school, and there was nobody accessible in high school, so that wasn’t something I had growing up, and music filled that void for me – even though I wasn’t talking to somebody, the artist I listen[ed] to spoke to me and talk[ed to] me about life and the issues I was going through, such as growing pains of adolescence poverty and other issues such as classism and racism.”

Many adolescents go to music as a way to escape reality. This is usually called music therapy, where music is used to relax the mind, energize the body and even help people better manage pain.

“The lyrics in music have deep meaning, helping me get through stuff with depression, through hard times, and my inner battles,” said Matthew Goncalves, a senior at Summit Shasta.

Teens go to an artist to help them by listening to the artist that they love. Both Mr. Patel and Goncalves agree with their favorite artist, Tupac: “Tupac influence[d] me through the lyrics of his music, emotions, and the messages he preached about; I grew up in a low-income poverty community when I was young; I had nothing. Growing up in life is hard, but through the lyrics of his music I was able to get through my childhood and his music still gets me through my day-to-day life. His music was relevant when they came out in the 90s with the issues going on, and it’s still relevant to this day with many issues of modern times.”

The purpose of music is a very broad question, whether it is from the artist’s perspective or from a fan of music. Music is simply therapy and an outlet for people to connect with their emotions and feelings; no matter how you’re feeling there is always a song that people will be able to relate to. Through music, everyone is able to have an escape from reality, a way to express their feelings through a healthy way by using music.

See below for a video about how music impacts youth:

Music influences today’s younger generation

By Mariam Feleyeh, Sophia Lim and Alana Tutasi

Staff Writers

A teen girl had lost herself in a dark time in her life. She turned to music, which brought her joy during that time, and found herself again. She used music as an outlet for her emotions and started a club at Summit Shasta, Music Club, for teens like her to do the same.

“I remember I was going through a really depressing, hard time,” recalls Chloe Abinanti, founder of Music Club at Summit Shasta. “The only thing that seemed to get me through at the moment was music.”

Music is used as a place of escape for many people. In fact, many people claim that music has saved their life. Several musical artists have recognized that and written songs about suicide prevention in order to help even more people through that time. Twenty One Pilots, Sia and Logic have all written songs to help people deal with depression and suicidal thoughts. If you or anyone you know has suicidal thoughts, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Music Saves Lives is an organization devoted to using music to educate people about suicide prevention. Music is an outlet for people suffering; it brings people together and helps people get through tough times in their life. Without music, how knows how many people would have died?

Many people are even able to make a living out of music therapy, which is an evidence-based use of music that helps improve people’s mental health. In her article “How Music Saved My Life,” a women depicts the time her brother committed suicide. She had been seeing how music helps her patients through traumatic experiences for years, so she turned to song writing to help herself do the same. “When all I felt was numb, rhythms and chords helped me feel something again.”

Not only can music help to brighten your life, but it can also help you to brighten others. According to greatergood.berkeley.edu, music can actually make you a better person. Listening to certain types of music can make you more generous and more cooperative. It can also change your attitude toward people who are different from you. “The love of music that I share with my friends is something that’s a big impact. The love of music and the same music brought us together,” Onosa’i Tafilele, a Shasta senior, said.

Many people have a similar experience to Tafilele. Music has created bonds of people who would’ve never expected to be friends. Music can also change people’s emotions. Just reading the lyrics of their favorite song can put people in a good mood. “Music has a really big influence on me, and it makes me feel really good,” Aaliyah Aumavae, a Shasta sophomore, said.

One of the main reasons why music can help so many people through awful times is that it changes people’s perspective on life. “I know a lot of artists have made music because of certain disasters in their lives, and something that is perceived as negative could also be seen as something positive and a place of development and growth,” Abinanti said.

Another positive effect of music is that it increases your productivity. According to mission.org, “In 1972, a study published in Applied Ergonomics suggested that people doing repetitive tasks worked more efficiently when background music was played.” There are several other instances where people have performed better when listening to music.

While music can and has changed many people’s lives for the better, it can have negative effects as well. “Music can make us do a lot of things. People hear stuff in songs, and they decided that they want to do it; for example, drugs, alcohol and things like that,” Tafilele said. Moana Mau, a sophomore at Summit Shasta, also believes that songs can make people feel the need for unhealthy things. “A lot of songs nowadays are talking about money, and people want to get their money, but they’re not really focusing on the true meaning of life, which is really just happiness,” Mau said.

Music has a powerful impact on everyone, especially today’s younger generation. It can bring out the worst or the best in people, but it is always a major part of our life.

See below for a video about music’s influence on today’s younger generation:

5 Seconds of Summer really does sound good and feel good

By Monique Contreras

Staff Writer

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5 Seconds Of Summer at the American Music Rewards PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr

5 Seconds of Summer is an Australian pop rock band from Sydney, New South Wales, formed in 2011. 5 Seconds of Summer, also known as 5SOS, consists of four band members. The first member is Luke Hemmings, who is the lead guitarist and lead vocalist in the band. Luke Hemmings also switches to piano, depending on the song being sung. The second member is Calum Hood, who plays the bass guitar and is another vocalist. The third member of 5 Seconds of Summer is Michael Clifford. Michael Clifford is also a lead guitarist, a vocalist, and occasionally a keyboard player. The final member of the band is Ashton Irwin, the drummer and also a vocalist in the band.

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5 Seconds Of Summer when they released “She Looks So Perfect (B-Sides & Rarities)” PHOTO CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons

5 Seconds of Summer formed in 2011 when Luke Hemmings, Michael Clifford, and Calum Hood, all of whom attended Norwest Christian College, started posting videos of themselves performing covers of popular songs together on Hemmings’ YouTube channel. In December 2011, they were joined by drummer Ashton Irwin.

The band became YouTube celebrities during 2011 and early 2012.  They rose to international fame while touring with One Direction’s Take Me Home Tour.

5 Seconds of Summer has released a total of three albums since their humble beginning. On two of their albums, the band’s sound is based on a whining, punk, almost-90s feel that helps them promote a “we’re young and we don’t care” message that fans seem to love. On the other albums, it is the same set of songs, but a live version of them.

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5 Seconds of Summer performs live on their tour “Sounds Live, Feels Live.” PHOTO CREDIT: Wikipédia

Their first album, “She Looks So Perfect (B-Sides & Rarities),” was released on June 27, 2014. The album consists of upbeat songs directed toward a young audience. The second album is “LiveSOS,” which was released on Dec. 15, 2014. LiveSOS is an album made for fans who could not make it to their concert. It consists of the band singing songs from the first album while they were in concert. In the songs on the album, one can hear the fans singing along and the band interacting with the fans. Finally, their most recently released album is called “Sounds Good Feels Good,” which was released on Oct. 23, 2015.

5 Seconds of Summer is planning to release a fourth album in 2018, although a date has not been confirmed. They have said that this upcoming album will be different than their previous albums; their goal is to make it better and create a new sound.

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5 Seconds of Summer on their way to meet fans. PHOTO CREDIT: Deviant Art

5 Seconds of Summer’s second album, “Sounds Good Feels Good,” received different reactions because the album consists of upbeat, “rock out” songs. However, it also talks about topics that people don’t really discuss, such as mental health and suicide. The band wanted to create a safe space for people who are battling with depression and contemplating suicide.

The band attempted to establish a neutral ground for fans to talk about mental health without fear of judgment. The album achieves this purpose because they have specific songs that talk about how people might be feeling at home or with themselves. With this album the band tries to show that although it might be tough, fans are not the only people battling with such problems.

The album was also written as a way for the band themselves to work through their own personal issues and to be given a chance to grow up and learn more. From there, the band worked together to make an album for their fans.

Compared to their first album, “Sounds Good Feels Good” has more mature lyrics. Their first album included a lot of cliched lines and songs as well. For example, their hit from the first album is called “She Looks So Perfect.” In this song, the band talks about American Apparel underwear. The music video seems to be childish as well.

Although “Sounds Good Feels Good” has songs that talk about mental illness or depression, it still manages to have an upbeat sound on certain songs. For example, the first single that was released from the album is called “She’s Kinda Hot.” It was released on July 17, 2015. “She’s Kinda Hot” is 5 Seconds of Summer’s grunge-inspired pop anthem made to celebrate being different and liking being different.

In the music video, the band later talked about the meaning of the song and their opinion about “She’s Kinda Hot.”

“The title is really misleading, because the song is about people not caring of what others think, it’s a revolution for outcasts. It has a deep meaning,” Calum Hood, the bassist shared.

“The song is heavy as hell, heavier than our previous songs. We were shocked, but happy with the reviews,” Michael Clifford, the guitarist, expressed.

In the chorus, 5 Seconds of Summer sings, “They say we’re losers, and we’re alright with that.” The band gains its identity from the fact that it’s full of people who others see as losers. The band wants to celebrate its own “loser” status in an effort to gather everyone else who wants to share the same label.

In an interview with BBC Radio, Michael Clifford said, “I think the song’s got a really cool message. It’s like, ‘Yeah we’re screwed up kids, but we’re going to be okay.'”

Another upbeat song on the album is the second single, called “Hey Everybody!,” which was released on Sept. 14, 2015. The song contains elements from the 80s hit “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran, who were given a writing credit on the song.

Hey Everybody!” talks about how it’s okay to have a “9-5 job” – that you will still make a living out of it. 5SOS wanted people who are going through this obstacle to know having financial issues is not the end of the world; you can get out of this; we’ve all at one point or another been down financially, so now’s your time to get up and do something. Their message is: Don’t sit around and wait for a miracle to happen; if you want some money and want a change go out out there, do something; then you’ll start getting paid, and the worries will be gone.

Their third single from “Sounds Good Feels Good” is called “Jet Black Heart,” which was released on Dec. 17, 2015. This song talks about mental health and depression.

The opening scenes of the music video as well as the description of the video says, “We asked our fans to help make this video. We wanted to hear your stories. We were overwhelmed by the response. This video goes out to you. ‘Jet Black Heart.’ ”

Jet Black Heart” is easily a fan favorite because it describes what many people are afraid to talk about, like feeling sad or alone. The way this video was carefully put together shows that it was definitely for the fans.

The most crushing part of the video, aside from seeing all the emotion in the fans’ eyes as they sing the lyrics straight to the camera, was seeing 5SOS member Michael Clifford crying in one scene. Although the song and video is meant to have you feeling emotional, by the end of the song you feel uplifted knowing that you’re not alone. You feel uplifted because by the end of the video you know the boys as well, and the 5SOS Family will always be there for you.

“Sounds Good Feels Good” is similar to its first album because it still has cheesy lyrics in its second album and cliched themes. For example, in “She’s Kinda Hot” the lyric, “When you’ve got bigger plans that no one else understands, you’ve got a shot though,” seems to be cliche because this saying is always told to people if they are trying something new and no one is supporting them. This lyrics says that it’s okay to be a misfit. It’s okay to do things your own way. Following your passion — whatever it may be — isn’t something to be ashamed of.

Another lyric that may be childish is from “Permanent Vacation.” The start of the chorus starts, “Hey I’m doing fine, and I know I’m out of line. So let’s sing this one more time.” This is the kind of lyric adults might roll their eyes at, but it carries such a strong spirit of rebellion that’s too perfect to resist. Having a “normal,” conventional life is totally fine — it works for some people, and that’s great. But others need to live more freely and recklessly.

Although, their second album has some childish lyrics and cliched themes, it has improved greatly from their last album. Because they open up about mental health and depression, this album gives fans the ability to relate to it while enjoying upbeat songs.

Featured image (at the topic of this post): The band takes a picture before getting ready to perform PHOTO CREDIT: Wikipedia

Artists play a role in politics

By Alejandra Gomez and Jasmeet Kaur

Staff Writers

Should artists play a role in politics? Of course they should. Artists need to play a role in politics because of the power and platform they have in our society today.

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Tahoma senior Vivienne Dimalanta

In a few interviews we conducted, students agreed with the argument above. In one interview, Tahoma senior Vivienne Dimalanta shared why she thinks artists should be involved in politics. She said, “Artists have a really big platform that they can utilize to get a certain message out, so they can reach a lot more people if they just post it online.”

This is true. Artists like Drake, Rihanna, Beyoncé and so many more have millions of followers on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram, so what they post never goes unnoticed. These artists can use their power and relationship with their fans to give attention to and support big important movements like the March For Our Lives movement.

#MarchforOurLives is the social media branch of the movement for stricter gun control started by determined students following a number of school shootings. A prominent member of this movement is Emma González (@emma4change), a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. that left 17 adults and children dead and others injured.

This movement has been given a lot of attention by artists as well. Many celebrities in the music business, such as Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber and many more, have shown their support for this movement in their own ways.

Demi Lovato performed at the national march for this movement, held on March 24 in Washington, D.C.

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25-year-old Miley Cyrus attended the movement and publicized some tweets from that day. She used her song “The Climb” to motivate others. 


Other artists supported the movement by tweeting about the march to acknowledge the students’ hard work and to publicize it as well. 

 

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All these artists, and many more, supported this movement in more ways than one, and that’s really important because the artists were able to reach a lot of people solely by posting about this march on their social media due to their huge platforms. Artists have a lot more reach than others, so their involvement in politics can really help our world if they use it in a positive way.

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Tahoma freshman Bianka Ortega

Artists can get involved in politics in other ways too, not just social media. Tahoma freshman Bianka Ortega said, “The music is something that everyone can hear, and you could spread messages through music. As you can see throughout history, music is being used to tell people things and to tell them stories; so if musical artists write about gun control, people will notice there’s something wrong, and wanna make a movement.”

Many believe that artists should take advantage of the position they are in to speak on issues like this. Some artists do. They use their music to talk about issues in politics or their thoughts on the world issues.

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Jermaine Lamarr Cole

J. Cole is an artist who speaks on behalf of the Black community about governmental issues in society today. One song that stands out in particular is “High For Hours.” This is a song about racism in society and a visit J. Cole made to president Obama, including a vivid portrayal of the conversation between him and President Obama in the lyrics.

He says, “American hypocrisy, oh let me count the ways. They came here seeking freedom and they end up owning slaves.” This line speaks for itself about the issue of slavery in our society, an issue is still present in some ways today. He goes on to talk about his conversation with the president, saying:

“I had a convo with the president, I paid to go and see him, thinking bout the things I said I’d say when I would see him. Feeling nervous, sitting in a room full of white folks, thinking about the black man plight, think I might choke, nope. Raised my hand and asked the man a question. ‘Does he see the struggles of his brothers in oppression? And if so, if you got all the power in the clout as the president, what’s keeping you from helping n****s out?’ Well I didn’t say n****, but you catch my drift. He look me in my eyes and spoke and he was rather swift. He broke the issues down and showed me he was well aware. I got the vibe he was sincere and that the brother cared, but dawg you in the chair, what’s the hold up? He said there’s things that I wanna fix, but you know this sh*t n****, politics. Don’t stop fighting and don’t stop believing. You can make the world better for your kids before you leave it.”

This is a good example of an artist using his voice to make songs about issues in society today. While Cole’s songs focus mostly on the struggles of Black people, other artists can also use their voice to convey other important messages through their songs as well. Another song by J. Cole that portrays messages about issues in the world is “Be Free,” and Cole also dedicated a whole album, “4 Your Eyez Only,” to sharing his views on society today, including governmental issues, along with other world problems. 

Artists all around the world can do many things to help the society we live in due to their platform and influence. They can post about issues or transmit their messages through their music to reach a lot more people. We believe that every citizen has a responsibility to the country and should work to make it better in whatever way they can contribute; which means that artists just have the same responsibility, but with a bigger advantage because of their fame. Artists should definitely use their power to make this world a better place.

Featured Image (at the top of the page): Students from Summit Tahoma participating in the March For Our Lives movement on March 14. 

 

City of Caterpillar is the greatest screamo act of all-time

By Nick Reed

Staff Editor

City of Caterpillar is a Richmond, Va. post-hardcore band that formed in 2000. Coming to be later than most of their contemporaries, City of Caterpillar stood out in the post-hardcore scene for their raw, passionate, screamed vocal deliveries, but at the same time they craft a clean-cut, well-produced overall sound.

The group recorded their only release with Level Plane Records in Maryland in 2001-02. It was mixed and mastered by Mark Smoot. The band said the mixing was influenced by The Cure’s “Pornography.”

Although City of Caterpillar only released one album, the record has since become a cult classic, and is considered one of the best works of the genre. It has received universal acclaim from critics and fans alike for its originality and clean sound against the backdrop of the poor-quality recordings of their contemporaries.

City of Caterpillar was one of the first bands to be pigeonholed into the genre of screamo, a form of extreme post-hardcore with screamed vocals. Their playing style also stood out, as they took influence from post-rock giants such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai. Their songs were dissonant, depressing, emotional. The album featured genius instrumentation that seemed to separate it completely from punk, until the thundering climax was reached after a long buildup.

The album opens with the epic “And You’re Wondering How a Top Floor Could Replace Heaven.” The track features a constant slow buildup, although still starting off thunderous and fast. The wailing, almost screamed vocals are the first feature you notice. Harsh punk guitars thrash, backed by the constant rumbling and crash of the drums.

Don’t let the bands hardcore roots fool you, though. Melody is found all throughout this album. Once the song dies down a bit, it falls into this quiet lull of jangling guitars. This quiet instrumental dynamic is where the album’s post-rock comes into play.

Further on “F****** hero” features more of the band’s punk song, being one of the shorter tracks at just under four minutes. The same thrashing guitars thunder, however uninterrupted by any quietness. The track is unrelentless: loud and angry. There is still a rhythm and melody to it, however. The dual guitars flow in and out, somewhat reminiscent of post-hardcore greats such as Fugazi.

“When Was the Last Time We Painted Over the Blood On the Walls?” starts with a similar slow dynamic, grows loud and fast, and returns again to the lull. However, it again shifts into this waving, swaying thunder, yet again crashing with noise and passion. The song fades out among a distorted drum break.

City of Caterpillar’s self-titled isn’t the first album to feature loud/soft dynamics, a concept explored early on by bands such as the Pixies and popularized by Nirvana. However, it was a concept never really brought to a music style as extreme as screamo. Screamo is a style of music widely believed to be an evolution beyond post-hardcore.

The album bridged this extreme variation of hardcore punk, with all of its anger and walls of noise, with the soft ambience and melody of post-rock. The ability to make something so extreme yet also so beautiful is nearly unheard of. It wouldn’t do City of Caterpillar justice to say they were ahead of the curb; they built the curb.

Some say that contemporaries like Circle Takes the Square or Envy took what City of Caterpillar did and made it better, but no band has been able to master loud/soft dynamics in as unique a way as they have. If you separated the harder parts of the tracks from the softer ones, you’d have to separate songs, one a dissonant post-rock drawl and one a jagged hardcore wall of noise.

Many artists have attempted what they did and failed, spawning copycat bands the world over. Not only did they revolutionize the screamo scene, they helped to show that screamo was more than just an offshoot of punk and actually had a lot to offer artistically.

The lyrics bleed together: very upfront punk lyrical styles with more cryptic metal lyrical styles to make a new kind of screamo lyric. Although not the first to do this, they perfected the style. Lyrics in songs like ‘When Was the Last Time We Painted Over the Blood on the Walls?” detail an abstract situation (Locked in a room like a tom / To fall from bed to sickness), much like metal, but bring a straightforward realism to it as well (And no one to witness this mess I’m left with), much like punk.

The last important thing to mention about the album is the singing. It ranges from almost whispering, emotive singing to massive shrieks that border on throat-splitting screaming. Although rarely venturing to actual screaming, the album’s style has become enigmatic of screamo as a genre.

There are some problems I have with the album. At times it doesn’t know whether it wants to be a noisy hardcore band or a spacey post rock band. Although it usually works out for them, at times the sound can fall short, like it doesn’t match up.

After the release of their self-titled debut, they disappeared briefly after a short tour around small punk venues on the East Coast. They did not receive much attention during their short existence.

Over the course of the next few years they began seeing attention, from underground fanbases to coverage from large music-related sites like Noisey covering them.

In 2016 City of Caterpillar reunited. Although before playing only small venues and house shows, they were now playing sold-out shows in front of hundreds of people. Although the crowds were filled with nostalgic people from City of Caterpillars heyday, there were also a lot of younger faces in the crowd.

The same time that they reunited to start touring again, they released previously unheard material. The single “Driving Spain Up a Wall” was written for the self-titled album but never recorded. Now, among other similar tracks, they are being released again now, and sound right out of City of Caterpillars golden era.

City of Caterpillar is a legendary band that will go down in history for revolutionizing the genre of screamo and punk music as a whole, and their album will be remembered as one of the best punk albums of all time.

 

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