Pluses & Minuses

It's been a little while, but we return with lots of pluses.

+ Blizzard released a new Overwatch update with a pink skin for the healer Mercy, as a way to raise money for breast cancer research. The skin costs $15, and all proceeds go toward the cause. 

+ It’s teacher appreciation week, which means free breakfast pretty much all week as well as a free lunch on Friday for me. Best of all, I get to go on a field trip to the new and improved Turtleback Zoo. Zoos are cool.

+ Playboi Carti released his debut album Die Lit.

+ Our Swamp Dragon shirts sold out and the new batch FINALLY came in . Get yours here before they go; we might not make more! New shirts and hats coming soon as well.

+ Rick and Morty has been renewed for 70 new episodes. Although I never thought the show would get canceled, as the ball was always in Dan Harmon’s court. It’s nice to see that the contract issues have been resolved, and that the creators will be working on new episodes. 

+ Frank Ocean took his mom to Venice for Mother's Day. See you in four years Frank.

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+ Car Seat Headrest performed Body’s from their new album Twin Fantasy on Jimmy Fallon. As a song that’s already humorous, in the way it calls attention to its own slow but rewarding  structure, Will Toledo expands on this joke even further in the live performance. First, he directly talks to the keyboard player, saying how they are skipping a verse to fit in the show’s time constraints, then he breaks the fourth wall and says “Normally we do a bit of a breakdown here, but we only have 50 seconds, so we’re just gonna go right to the final chorus.” This self-aware humor is very characteristic of Toledo, and a big reason why I enjoy Car Seat Headrest so much. 

Three Piece Combo: Frank Ocean's Blond

In a recurring series, strangelooks presents some of our favorite sequential three track combinations. Here, we have tracks 7, 8, and 9 from Frank Ocean's Blonde.

written by: Forrest Bloom

Funny thing: the first time I listened to Blonde, I hated it. I guess the high pitched vocals, lack of drums, and overall experimentation turned me off...at first. However, fast-forward to the present and Blonde is my favorite album ever... EVER. It’s my “you can only pick one” album for when I get stuck on an (existential) island. This album is home to one of the best three piece combos in music: the magnificent trio of Self Control, Good Guy, and Nights. It’s almost a cheat code because Self Control and Nights are easily two of Frank Ocean’s greatest songs; I’m speaking subjectively AND objectively. 

Track 7: Self Control

Self Control is a song about disconnection.  Musically, it sends summer AND winter vibes at the same damn time. It’s a musical masterpiece that manages to keep you engaged through the entire listen. The sonic textures are inviting and the lyrics are captivating. Austin Feinstein’s guitar is the perfect backdrop for Frank Ocean’s soothing melodies. The emotions are so deep that just a single play-through can leave you drained. 

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Track 8: Good Guy

Good Guy is a quick, sweet, and curious song that breathes a feeling of nostalgia. It’s related to Self Control in the way that it speaks to the disconnection plaguing Ocean’s potentially intimate relationships. Here, Ocean links up with a guy through a mutual friend (the "good guy").  Although Ocean seems to be searching for a deeper, more meaningful relationship, his date is not. 

“Here's to the highlights. When I was convinced. That this was much more than. Just some night shit. I know you don't need me right now. And to you. It's just a late night out.”

This disconnect is further symbolized in the phrase: 

“First time I’d ever saw you. And you text nothing like you look.” 

The disconnect is seen in the differences between our true self and the virtual self that we push into the world. Good Guy, in its fleeting nature, ends with a seemingly uncomfortable conversation—related to their sexuality—between two guys. If you’ve ever seen the movie Moonlight, this snippet reminds me of the scene when Kevin is telling Chiron how he got in detention for getting it with a girl and Chiron is just awkwardly listening. 

"This nigga, all the bitches in the neighborhood wanna fuck you nigga. He told me. I used to fuck with all of 'em. Yeah I ain't got bitches no more. But now I don't care about bitches like that my nigga. That shit Jasmine fucking wrecked my heart. I don't even know how to even feel about it."
 Frank Ocean for 032c. Photo by Petra Collins.

Frank Ocean for 032c. Photo by Petra Collins.

Track 9: Nights

Nights is exceptionally interesting because it's basically two songs in one. The first verse can be interpreted as an ode to a past relationship that Frank has since moved on from. Continuing into the pre-chorus, he seems to be having a conversation with himself, and holding himself accountable for his own work: 

"New beginnings ahh. New beginnings wake up ahh. The sun's going down. Time to start your day bruh. Can't keep being late on me. Know you need the money if you gon' survive. The every night shit, every day shit.”

The chorus explains the cyclical nature of life. Frank Ocean spends the day with his lover, but has to drop them off so he can get to work at night. The every day stress is ever present and he uses marijuana as a “cheap vacation.” 

In the bridge, the night is ending and morning is on the horizon. Even though he didn't have his lover spend the night, cause he had work to do, he gets a craving when the morning comes. He uses his past memories to temporarily quell the craving, but it’s a constant cycle: 

“Every night fucks every day up. Every day patches the night up.”

Personally, I think there are two interpretations to these lines. First, he could be referencing the fact that the strain of nightlife leaves you with a hangover for the next day. In turn, the day patches you up for the next night. Second, he could be referring to the fact that each night leaves him stressed and craving his lover, but he sees them in the morning to fix himself up.

Either way you interpret these songs, they tell a beautiful story in a very musical way. Self Control is Act I, Nights is Act II, and Good Guy is the extremely personal interlude. 
 

Moonbase 8

Fred Armisen, Tim Heidecker, and John C Reilly will be staring in a new A24 series called Moonbase 8.

written by: Casper

The trio will be playing mediocre astronauts who live on NASA’s moon simulator, but have aspirations to be selected for the next lunar expedition. If the premise alone hasn’t sold you, it’s worth mentioning that the show will be directed by comedic powerhouse Johnathan Krisel. As a director on each actor’s hit show, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule, and Portlandia, Krisel has shown his ability to highlight the comedic genius of Armisen, Heidecker, and Reilly.

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With executive producer credits for all three actors, it will be interesting see what direction the show goes in. All things considered, this Moonbase 8 will be quirky to say the least, and the overall potential seems limitless.

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Is Kanye West Preparing a Yeezus Part Two?

Written by: Forrest Bloom

Yeezus is my favorite

Like many, I'm a diehard Kanye West fan. None of his albums are bad, but my favorite is Yeezus. This is closely followed by My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and 808s & Heartbreak. As a few of my friends are aware, I have a running (hopeful) theory that Kanye West has been diligently working to release a Yeezus Part II. When I say "Yeezus Part II," I don't necessarily mean that the album will be explicitly named "Yeezus Part II." Instead, I mean it will have the same raw & authentic—almost industrial—sound that is only possible through the collaborative environment and reductionist techniques used to create the original Yeezus masterpiece. These techniques, as explained to me by a good friend, are related to the cubism movement of the 20th century.

Cubism

Cubism was an art movement characterized by a visual language of geometric planes and compressed space that rejected the typical perspective techniques of the time. Cubism reduced visual reality to a series of overlapping planes and facets. In the realm of music, Kanye West and his team did a similar thing when making Yeezus.

 A cubism piece by  Paul Ygartua

A cubism piece by Paul Ygartua

A few clues...

  1. Yeezus was released June 18, 2013. Kanye's newest album will supposedly be released June 1, 2018.
  2. Yeezus extensively harnessed the minimalist techniques of genius producer Rick Rubin for Yeezus. Currently, it's been rumored that Kanye was holed up in Wyoming with none other than Rick Rubin.
  3. Yeezus, coming in at 10 tracks, is Kanye's shortest album to date. Interestingly, his newest album is supposedly only 7 tracks.

Kanye's recent tweets have sparked widespread uproar about the connections between race, power, and politics. The emotions running through the veins of long-time Kanye West fans & supporters are contradictory and difficult to understand. Is this serious, or just an extravagant trolling attempt to generate buzz? 

Either way, Kanye's recently revealed "free thinking" mindset suggests that his new music will be anything but orthodox. I'm not saying I'm 100% positive that Kanye West's new album will be Yeezus-esque, but the clues are certainly matching up. Moving forward, all we can do is wait and hope. Until then, scoopidity poop.

Music, OpinionForrest Bloom
Moving

written by: Elisha BenNet

In my socks on a cloud of an island in my mind. I was in some godforsaken town outside of Philadelphia. Reading and eating dinner by myself across from an extended table of contemporaries who think they’re all friends despite the fact that they only seem to talk about work. Stuck out past Manayunk—where business sends hope to die—there seems to be a few towns that serve as truck stops. Imagine a destitute Jersey City: lavish with trendy chain eateries that are inexplicably always adjacent to hotels sporting ballrooms. The town planners knew exactly what they were doing when they put a Dave & Busters across the street.

So why am I here? For a job. A job that was a means to an end; relocation. Relocation to Philadelphia. In my head, that's where I want to be. I specify in my head because in reality, why am I moving? Is it because there are concerts there every night, or because girls there seem to think I’m cuter than the girls at home? If I had to sell it to someone, I would say it's because I fit in. 

“Utopia is on the horizon. I move two steps closer; it moves two steps further away. I walk another ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps further away. As much as I may walk, I'll never reach it. So what's the point of utopia? The point is this: to keep walking.” - Eduardo Galeano

I suffer from a certain strain of the disease of more. The disease of desire, and it never seems to end. I’m not out shopping every day. Instead, my symptoms manifest in an existential itchiness as if what I need is somewhere else. Change things up, live somewhere new, go into grad school undeclared, it all makes sense. The confusion is the worst part, and not knowing if it’s irrational or not. But, doing nothing is a choice, the worst choice.

So what if I were to leave? I can’t really leave. My friends & family are here. My life is here. I would be a tourist. Besides; I really love where I live, my friends, and my life. I’m not miserable, why would I be? I live by the water, it’s sick. New Jersey is sick. The world is so alluring, though. Why couldn’t I run some diner in the Gilmore Girls town? Living out my life with my asshole nephew where we share sexual tension with the same family? But there's stuff to do, and it’s not here.

It seems that I won’t be happy anywhere. I mean, you can’t have everything you want. Going through a door closes others. We’re in an opt-out, not opt-in system, and the opt-out path is an ugly way. If somebody told you that the reality of our situation is preconception, would you really subscribe?

So, I’ll keep walking. It’s all I can do here. I’m here. I might as well participate, make the most of it, and try to figure out what’s up.