Pierce Pioneer

2020: A Year in Music

 

 

To say that this year was difficult for the average college student would be the understatement of a century. Whether you were attempting to start your life at a new university, preparing to complete a graduate course digitally or perhaps you were sequestered in your dorm for too many hours to count, new music helped us battle our way through the quarantine depression. 

 

With many artists bunkered in as well, we saw many ordinary homes turned into creative spaces that were used to generate some of the best music we’ve been presented in years. Here are 20 albums that made my year as a fledgling college student easier.

20.BUBBA by Kaytranda 

Genre: Dance/Electronic & R&B

Release date: December 13, 2019

A swan song to life prior to quarantine, BUBBA is a euphoric collaborative dance album. It’s lowkey afrobeats are fit for any blood pumping experience, but within it’s dance worthy beats lies a political and social subtext that feels poignant now as it did a year prior. Rounding out at around an hour in length, the album progresses both easily and smoothly, never missing a beat as Kaytranada opens the floor to a bevy of collaborators, including Kali Uchis and Pharell Williams. The result is one of the best dance records in recent memory, and is a worthwhile listen to anybody interested in Boiler Room sets and easygoing beats.

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19. Good News by Megan Thee Stallion

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Release date: November 20, 2020

Operating within a male dominated genre that seeks to objectify and sexualize black women at any moment of success, few have truly refound their agency in the same way Megan Thee Stallion has on Good News. Her debut record is jam packed with filthy sex jams and earworm hooks that are sure to populate your TikTok for months to come. Megan feels more like a larger-than-life character than ever before, performing tracks that represent her southern and black pride in joyful ways that enable necessary conversations. It is the essential rap album of the year, and is sure to please anybody looking for an introduction to her sound.

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18. Róisín Machine by Róisín Murphy

Genre: Disco

Release date: October 2, 2020

After quarantine mandates closed down the clubs, several of pop music and electronic’s biggest heads ensured that the party continued in our homes. On Róisín Machine, Róisín Murphy provides some of her best tracks that have been in the works for over a decade. An incredibly fun nu-disco album, Murphy takes the traditional disco sounds we expect and expands onto them in ways that are danceable and entrancing, but also incredibly smart and deliberate. A perfect record for anybody yearning to get their groove on, my personal recommendation is to replace the standard tracks with their extended counterparts.

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17. Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa

Genre: Disco & Pop

Release date: March 27, 2020

When we first met Dua Lipa, she seemed like a young pop star in search of a larger identity and star power. She has always had the production power and songwriting chops, evidenced by hit “New Rules”, but prior to this year the general populace couldn’t quite make her out. Now, she welcomes us into club Future Nostalgia, where disco is new once again. Revitalizing the genre within modern pop music, Lipa crafts an album that feels timeless and quick-pact. Its short runtime allows for each track to feel substantial, and the result presents the young artist as a pop star worthy of the crown.

Buy here

16.

Lianne La Havas by Lianne La Havas

Genre: Neo-Soul & Folk

Release date: July 17, 2020

Inspired by cycles of love and the birth and rebirth of nature surrounding her, Lianne La Havas’ self-titled and self-produced third LP feels like a serene waterfall hike. Fluttered throughout with pleasant acoustic guitars, soulful jams, and emotional ballads that feel made for television’s most dramatic moments, La Havas directly opposes those same neo-soul stylings by clashing them with rock sounds. The heavier moments on this record, such as its Radiohead cover, “Weird Fishes” feel like beautiful storms within a gorgeous forest. This album is certain to please those searching for an R&B record with edge, or perhaps a folk music fan looking for something to dance to.

Buy here

15.

KiCk i by Arca

Genre: Dance/Electronic & Pop

Release date: June 26, 2020

Beyond the incredibly harsh tones and glitchy surface of KiCk i, any listener will hear the sound of self realization. An artist coming into her form, Arca feels more realized than ever before, finetuning her sound into a place that is both listenable to longterm fans seeking the bizarre sounds of her early work and new fans seeking conventional but off-the-wall electro-pop. The result is an album that features some of the singers best performances and production, and promises an even brighter future for what could become of the pioneering electronic artists sound.

 

Buy here

14.

SAWAYAMA by Rina Sawayama

Genre: Pop & Nu-Metal

Release date: April 17, 2020

Any longtime fan of Rina Sawayama will tell you that a major label debut has been a promising idea for years. It’s arrival feels like a blessing to pop fans around the world, a fun album inspired heavily by Y2K pop and nu-metal. Despite its clearly dated inspiration points, SAWAYAMA feels incredibly modern, relying heavily on modern pop stylings and fusing them with the characteristic production of collaborator, Clarence Clarity. It’s an album that’ll transport any listener into a nostalgic buzz, one that will feel especially poignant within the record’s political subtext. It’s a necessary album for anybody interested in sophisticated pop music that pushes the boundaries of its genre.

Buy here

13.

how i’m feeling now by Charli XCX

Genre: Dance/Electronic & Pop

Release date: May 15, 2020

One of the earliest popular musicians to declare publicly that she would be releasing a “quarantine album”, how i’m feeling now manages to arguably be Charli XCX’s best album to date. Fusing modern hyperpop sounds with her knack for writing impactful pop hooks and the nostalgic clubby experimentation presented in her debut, the album manages to strengthen many of the elements at play in her previous full-length. Abandoning her frequent reliance on collaborators to create a personal pop album with old and new producers, the album highlights Charli’s attention to detail and refrain, stripping her larger than life sound into a more intimate and approachable affair. A digestible album for any person in search of exuberant pop sounds.

Buy here

12.

5EPs by Dirty Projectors

Genre: Alternative/Indie

Release date: November 20, 2020

Releasing five EPs throughout the course of the year alongside his newly introduced lineup of performers, David Longstreth latest Dirty Projectors piece is an inviting and incredibly ranged piece of indie pop. Drifting by as though a breeze in a park, the album flows masterfully within each respected EP, and its result is a compilation piece that shows a band coming into full unity. There are several moments on the album about love and the power that it has over others. But its best moments are its most intelligent, subtly telling political stories in an accessible and creative manner. It is an essential indie album that jumps from genre inspiration, but is sure to please all listeners at some point.

 

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11. What’s Your Pleasure by Jessie Ware

Genre: Disco & Pop

Release date: June 26, 2020

Disco definitely found new footing this year within the pop landscape, but this was no more clear and effective than Jessie Ware’s latest effort. What’s Your Pleasure feels like an effortless display of good pop and dance music. With an emotional opener that is certain to grasp listeners, and grooves that are fluent and evocative throughout, Ware set out to do what the best escapist music does, “Will this make people want to have sex? And will this make people want to dance?”. That idea is prevalent in fun and sweat-soaked anthems throughout, an album certain to please any listener hoping to get their groove on.

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10. Shamir by Shamir

Genre: Alternative/Indie & Rock

Release date: October 2, 2020

Upon the release of his critically acclaimed debut record, Ratchet, it seemed Shamir was primed for indie fame with an already viral classic under his belt. In the years following that, he left XL Recordings and self-released four records that took inspiration from “outsider music, country & punk”. These ideas come to full fruition on the singer’s latest self-titled album, which contains the finest moments of the young artist’s career in a brief, engaging record. Featuring memorable lyrics and earworm hooks that are accompanied by a DIY-rock sound, you’ve got an essential lofi-indie rock that is certain to please any fan of the genre.

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9. WHAT WE DREW 우리가 그려왔던 by Yaeji

Genre: Dance/Electronic & K-Pop

Release date: April 2, 2020

Signing with XL Recordings, Yaeji was inspired by the support systems within her life to create her most playful and collaborative music yet. Whilst still clubby and fun throughout, WHAT WE DREW largely contrasts the moodier sounds of her previous EPs, with moments on this record coming across as bubbly and bouncy. The record, which was entirely self-produced by Yaeji, is at its best when it manages to fuse these unlikely elements into dance tracks that feel substantial and are easily danceable. Above all, WHAT WE DREW is the artist’s most diverse body of music to date and promises an exceptional full-length debut.

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8.The Angel You Don’t Know by Amaarae

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap & Afro-Pop

Release date: November 12, 2020

Amaarae is an up-and-coming Ghanian-American artist whose steadily subverting expectations with her progressive and stylish brand of afro-pop. Inspired by a multitude of stylistic genres, including southern trap and mall rock, The Angel You Don’t Know is wildly experimental and written exceptionally well also. The best tracks feel layered and sultry, combined by Amaarae distinctive whispery vocals. The end result is an incredibly enjoyable pop record that is fueled by its fun collaborations and genre-bouncing tracklist.

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7. Every Bad by Porridge Radio

Genre: Alternative/Indie & Rock

Release date: March 13, 2020

It’s always a dream when a band grows with their second record, and Every Bad is an example of this. An incredibly enrapturing rock album, Porridge Radio presents a series of truths, dreams and realities, and incredibly emotional themes that are later propelled by the band’s brash sound. At its heaviest, lead singer Dana Margolin vocals highlight a harshness to the bands songwriting, which is sometimes counteracted by the bands brighter, pop rock production pieces. While its tougher moments are cathartic and encasing, the album’s strongest elements are its dramatic builds throughout, with each song feeling large and climatic. It is an enjoyable rock record and is certain to please any fan of the genre.

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6. St. Cloud by Waxahatchee

Genre: Alternative/Indie & Folk

Release date: March 27, 2020

Amassing a decent cult following and building a reputation for herself with the indie music scene as a promising songwriter, St. Cloud feels like an exuberant highlight within the young artists building discography. Where her previous records were somber and sparse, an intimacy that highlighted her prowess as a songwriter, the ‘90s rock sound exhilarating. The result is an American folk record that fits as well into indie circuit radios as it might on a big country festival stage. Featuring some of the most stylistically bright music in the young artists career, it is a transformative album that is certain to leave any willing listener impacted by the end of its concise runtime.

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5.All the Time by Jessy Lanza

Genre: Dance/Electronic & R&B

Release date: July 24, 2020

Completely uprooting her life in her hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, Jessy Lanza prepared for a new journey as a budding popstar. Now, her most energetic record must live within the walls of a quarantined New York apartment; however that doesn’t deprive the record of its deeply effective grooves and sensations. Writing some of the smartest dance tracks in her career, Lanza pitches and plays with her vocals in fresh ways that create variance throughout the album. However, that is already easily done by the immaculately understated production that is on display by Lanza and club-pop musician, Jeremy Greenspan. Several tracks on this record depict Lanza’s resentment and emotionality towards the duo’s relationship, and when paired with glossy pop and R&B-adjacent productions, the result is sickeningly sweet and fun.

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4. Ungodly Hour by Chloe x Halle

Genre: Pop & R&B

Release date: June 12, 2020

With a Disney acting role inbound, and an incredibly underrated debut record in the foreground, the sister duo expands on almost every element on their debut record with an instant-classic R&B record. With religious imagery that is utilized effectively throughout the record, Ungodly Hour is consistent in quality and sound throughout. Having found a bouncy, club-pop lane within the modern R&B landscape, they greatly avoid the failures of their contemporaries with a non-excessive runtime and varied emotionality. Ungodly Hour promises sultry and romantic, if not downright sexy, jams and empowering anthems that are bouncy and relatable, yet subtle. Its pop hooks are catchy, and its production quality is airtight, which is further highlighted by the duo’s resiliency in live performances and shows. If anything, the greatest takeaway is that Chloe x Halle seemed primed for R&B royalty, with a backing system that is determined to see success.

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3. Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple

Genre: Alternative/Indie

Release date: April 17, 2020

What will probably go down as the critical quintessential quarantine record, Fiona Apple’s magnum opus record is incredibly expansive and nuanced. Incorporating the best elements of her phenomenal discography, Fetch the Bolt Cutters began as a conceptual album about her Venice home and grew into a political record for the times. While the sentiment “fetch the bolt cutters” is certain to feel relatable in a time of quarantining with financial insecurity and political unrest, Apple’s themes of freedom from oppression will be deeply relatable to anybody who’s felt cast aside by society. With songs written over the course of a decade and inspired by several relationships and lived experiences, the result is an almost confoundingly infectious record, with its best tracks making philosophical assertions seem effortless.

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2. Women in Music Pt. III by HAIM

Genre: Alternative/Indie & Rock

Release date: June 26, 2020

HAIM has quietly been a force within the indie-pop genre, with their debut album Days Are Gone being a deliberate take on the blown-out pop productions of the early-2010s. While this momentum may have been stifled by their second record, which leaned heavier into country and pop genre-stylings than their previous had, it was evident that the band’s inspiration points, including Joni Mitchell, Destiny’s Child, and Blondie, were resulting in groovy nostalgic pop that was occasionally overcrowded. This is a critique that is nearly totally resolved by the bands euphoric and genre-fluid third record. Mastering their production with Rostam, formerly of Vampire Weekend, the result is incredibly explorative and fully realized. No melody on this record sounds like another present here, and that is quantified by Danielle Haim’s songwriting, which is stronger than ever at effectively telling stories with simple words. Women in Music Pt. III is by far the most fun album of the year, occasionally campy, entirely sentimental, and briefly political at times throughout.

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1. Song for Our Daughter by Laura Marling

Genre: Alternative/Indie & Folk

Release date: April 10, 2020

Inspired by global chaos and political turmoil, as well as the 2009 novel Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou, British songwriter Laura Marling welcomes audiences into her northeast London home with a beautifully simplistic folk record. Written to a theoretical daughter, and more generally mothers and women as a unity, Marling writes ten straightforward, endearing and coyly political tracks that continue to demonstrate her unmatched talents as songwriter. Occasionally joined by sparse percussion, Song for Our Daughter mostly features Marling alongside her guitar, orchestrating heart wrenching ballads and serenades that pull on the strings of any romantic listener. Marling demonstrates a knowledge beyond her years, always skeptical of those around her and the love that she both must give and receive. While most of the themes on this record can be directly tied to Marlings visions and expectations of motherhood, Marling continues to touch on themes related to her livelihood as a woman operating love and romance in a world that allows men to control every aspect of their lives and fails to allow said security to women. One of the best tracks on the album, “Strange Girl” feels jubilant, intelligent, and above all fun on a folk album that is otherwise emotionally charged and generally weary. Even at the record’s most somber moments, Marlings vocals feel hopeful and enticing, and when the record ends on a joyfully aware note of appreciation and understanding, listeners feel as though they’ve come to understand Marling in a new way. It is the best folk album of the year, and album of the year because it manages to display emotionally fragility, strength and growth over a stunning and deliberate 37-minute runtime, a feat worth praising. It is the serene and insightful record that we all needed during our clamorous year, and is sure to be enjoyed by romantics and those with an appreciation for delicate lyricism.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review

Abri Wilson / Staff Illustrator

Even if you aren’t exactly a gamer, you might enjoy Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It offers a nice escape from reality, where players can explore and build their own island paradise, with the help of friendly neighbors. There’s a reason the franchise has been popular with adults and kids alike for years. There is something calming about the game, in which players can put themselves into an alternate reality and be in charge of what happens at their pace.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the latest in the popular Animal Crossing franchise from Nintendo. Available only for the Nintendo Switch, this game involves a lot of the same elements of the previous games: players arrive in a new land, find resources to use or sell, participate in events, and interact with anthropomorphic animal villagers. However, what makes this game different is that instead of arriving in a pre-built town, players have to create the town entirely from scratch, with the help of a Racoon named “Tom Nook.”

As a 13-year player of the Animal Crossing franchise, I have to say, there is definitely some significant progress from the previous games. For starters, the graphics are clearer. The villagers are finally able to move their pupils, whereas, in previous games, they would just turn their heads when walked by. Players can also see more detailed flora and fauna.

Also, the idea of building a town from scratch seemed like it would take a while. However, once players get the hang of the controls, it’s easy to navigate the island.

Abri Wilson / Staff Illustrator

Speaking of the island, players can name it themselves, as long as the name’s appropriate. Alluding to my Scandinavian heritage, I named mine “The Fjords.” Learning how to find resources is straightforward, and once players take Tom Nook’s DIY workshop, resources can be used to make furniture and tools.

A new feature that wasn’t in the previous games is gifting. Building relationships with neighboring characters unlocks an option to give them presents when players interact with them. Sometimes, they’ll even give something back.

Yet another new feature is energy. Unlike previous games, eating fruit can give players energy, which can make them strong enough to chop down trees, uproot trees (which can be replanted later), or smash apart rocks. Players can have a maximum of 10 energy at a time.

In the game, there are locations players can unlock as they progress, like the museum, airport, shops, and a campsite. After playing for a while, buildings like the general store and town hall will go through upgrades.

At the airport, players can redeem tickets earned through an in-game point system called the “Nook Miles System,” head to “Harv’s Island” to take pictures at a photo studio, or visit friends via the Nintendo Online system. Players can also send postcards from the airport.

The in-game currency, “Bells,” can be confusing. For instance, players can sell a dinosaur bone for 3,000 Bells, but a giant teddy bear costs 8,500 Bells. However, Bells are easy to earn through selling items found on your island (or other islands), or, if in a pinch, can be received through “Bell Vouchers,” which are obtained by cashing in Nook Miles.

One thing that I’m on the fence about is the Nook Miles System. Even after getting the upgrade to “Nook Miles Plus” on your in-game smartphone, it takes a while to earn enough miles to cash in for rewards. A Bell Voucher (worth 3,000 Bells each when exchanged at the general store) is 500 miles, and a Nook Miles Ticket, which can be used at the airport to find resources on uninhabited islands, is 2,000 miles.

Although, in my opinion, Bells are actually a bit more complicated. Players can sell resources, furniture, and wildlife to earn bells, but prices are high at the stores on the island. A postcard from the airport alone costs 200 Bells. So be careful about how you spend your Miles and Bells!

My favorite part of the game, however, is the museum. When you catch a new species of bug or fish, or if you find a dinosaur fossil, you can take it to Blathers, the museum curator, and he will help you display your specimen.

Abri Wilson / Staff Illustrator

If you bring him something the museum already has, he will politely reject it, but offer to teach you some interesting facts about it. Even though the museum has an entomology (bugs) wing, Blathers is afraid of bugs, so players can get some pretty funny reactions out of him when they bring him a bug. 

Now, what really makes the New Horizons museum really great, is the facelift it received compared to the previous games. The museum is very fancy, complete with a butterfly room with a fountain in the middle, a walk-through deep-sea aquarium, and amazingly detailed fossils in the fossil wing. Unfortunately, there is no art wing so far, unlike previous games. However, the museum is still a favorite for both me and my brother, Nathan (“Nate”), who has his own character in the game. 

Overall, I would give Animal Crossing: New Horizons, 88%. While some parts of the game are complicated, and there are still hiccups to get through, it is a fun game, and a great way to relax during the stay-at-home order.

 

“Tiger King”: A Must Watch

Ty Phay / Staff Illustrator

From gay, country singing, drug-addicts, to cultish tiger housing societies, the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” shocked the world with its captivating look into the lives of the American big cat community. The most-watched Netflix show since March 20, gave a glimpse into the animal rights controversy that many Americans didn’t know existed. 

According to the documentary, twice as many tigers live in U.S. captivity than in their natural habitats. Big cat owners across the nation claimed they existed for the conservation and awareness of the animals, but directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin allowed viewers to judge the owner’s intentions.

With viewpoints from all sides of big cats captivity, ranging from caretakers to protesters, the directors captured the conflict between good and evil. This conflict drove the story of the docuseries, and added to the dramatized angle fit for national streaming. The docuseries seemed to stray from the focus of spreading awareness for big cats and focused on the characters that drive the controversy.

The protagonist and former big cat zoo owner Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as “Joe Exotic,” provided much of the surreal entertainment throughout the seven-part series. Wildlife park owner Bhagavan “Doc” Antle best described Exotic as, “A completely insane, gay, gun-toting, drug-addict fanatic.” Exotic was the perfect defining character and face of the documentary with his eccentric lifestyle and fiery personality. 

The second large scale animal owner and breeder is best known as “Doc Antle.” The director of Myrtle Beach Safari and Rare Species Fund seemed to bring together cultish intentions with the operation of his wildlife park. His act of polygamy with his park staff added to the surreal nature of the characters in the docuseries. 

In contrast, for these two big cat animal owners, animal activists have devoted their efforts to the abolishment of exotic animal parks. Animal activist and Big Cat Rescue owner Carole Baskin acted as the antagonist to the main character of Exotic. Through her opposition and controversies, mainly over the disappearance of her husband, the directors added her story to blow up the documentary. 

“Tiger King,” may not be for people of all ages due to the use of profanity, guns, and crude language, but the story told is unlike anything the world has seen. The show left its audience laughing at one minute, gasping the next, and finally shaking their head all in one episode. The seven episodes acted as the perfect getaway during the current Covid-19 pandemic that left the world stuck at home. 

The docuseries blew the mind of people around the world gaining popularity across social media. From celebrity photoshops, to Tik Tok videos, and memes, the show was popularized by people of all backgrounds. 

Directors Goode and Chaiklin masterfully put together a juicy and eye-opening docuseries showing the controversy and blinded nature of self-proclaimed animal activists. The endless energy of the back and forth banter led the characters in the series to distance themselves from the conservation of big cats in the wild. Visitors of America’s big cat parks benefit every day from the striking features of an 800-pound tiger, but it’s the animals that ultimately pay the price.

“Outbreak” Review

Photofest / Courtesy Photo
Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo in 1995’s ‘Outbreak’.

A look back at 1995’s “Outbreak”, amidst the COVID-19 quarantine.

During these quiet, yet rather suspenseful times, many people may be finding that they’re running out of things to do while sitting at home. While it is more than likely that most have had more than their fair share of TV and Netflix, one classic movie stands out in light of its relevancy to today’s events. 1995’s “Outbreak”, available to stream on Netflix, wonders, “What would happen if a deadly virus took the world by storm?” 

This virus in particular is named ‘Motaba’, where the recipients of which break out into nasty open sores. The makeup in the movie is quite realistic, as expected of a feature film; but nevertheless, if blood makes one squeamish, this may not be the film for them. 

As far as factual accuracy is concerned, Outbreak, being set mainly in the United States, uses correct medical and governmental terminology. The main protagonists associate with real organizations such as the World Health Organization and the CDC. 

The movie has a very well planned and moderate pace, rarely being too slow, yet not skimming over any important details or scenes for the sake of time. 

For those looking for comic relief in this rather dark story, there are several light jokes throughout between leading roles which helps viewers connect to the characters, making the movie all the better. Not to worry for those who find that humor ruins a good plot however, as there is still plenty of solemnness and blood to go around. 

This being said, the semi-intense graphics of the disease are not the only reason this movie is rated R. While there is no questionable or sexual content throughout the movie, the main characters swear frequently enough that one may want to reconsider before watching this movie with children. 

Overall, Outbreak is a well-orchestrated film that will capture the attention of a viewer throughout, with the perfect mix of both suspenseful and heartwarming moments. Especially considering the events that have been happening around the world recently, this movie is certainly worth a watch for anyone with a Netflix subscription.

Kicking it with Q – Quintin’s Anime List

Quintin discusses anime.

Editor: Quintin Mattson-Hayward

Logo: Jesus Contreras

The Weeknd’s Triumph Return with “After Hours”

Duncan Loudon / Courtesy Photo

A song-by-song review of the Weeknd’s 2020 album release, and a deep dive into the meaning of each piece

The Weeknd put out his highly anticipated explicit album titled “After hours” after a 5-year period. Surpassing over a 221 million streams on media platforms such as Spotify, it made number one on iTunes its first week, becoming the most trending topic on Twitter with the #afterhours. 

This dark cinematic piece tells a story of the Weeknd’s journey through loss, heartbreak, and heavy substance abuse, with 80s vibes and smooth transitions.

Starting off the album is his song “Alone Again”. The Weeknd uses futuristic yet hopeless sounds to help introduce the pain he is suppressing, and the façade he has been putting on for the world. Unique sounds, including twinkles, compliment each word with emotion as he says, “I don’t know if I can be alone again… Take off my disguise. I’m living someone else’s life.” 

Listeners can hear his pain building up, as it smoothly transitions into his next song, “Too late”. This song starts with a more smooth intro, with soft vocals pleading for his loved one to come and save him from himself. It comes to the conclusion of knowing their love is dead by saying “It’s way too late to save our souls, baby.” The song ends with listeners questioning what is going to happen, as if he’s leading them on a roller coaster ride of his on and off relationship with a dance beat and blaring sounds backing it.

Suspense fully flies into “Hardest To Love”. It focuses more on the pain his lover may be masking while being in love with him, trying to save the relationship but also trying to let go. “I’ve been the hardest to love. It’s hard to let me go,” the Weeknd said. “I can feel it, I can feel it.” 

This track is more heavily influenced by an 80s flow than previous tracks. Knowingly aware that he is to blame for his relationship ending, he is in disbelief; questioning why his lover is allowing herself to feel this pain when she can just let go.

The album starts slowing down as “Scared to live” starts playing with a more prominent piano sound, slower beats, and soothing vocals. The Weeknd shows his regret for not giving space to allow his lover to decide what path she wanted to take. This pushed her further away and resulted in the end of their relationship. 

Through the song, he is pleading with his lover to not lose herself in him anymore and live with the three sentences starting the song. “When I saw the signs I should of let you go, but I kept you beside me,” the Weeknd said. “If I held you back, at least I held you close. Should’ve known you were lonely.”

Ending the album with the song “Until I bleed out” brings the end of the struggle he has faced by taking substances to avoid pain, when all he wants is to erase a loved one out of his mind. Throughout the album, listeners will understand that he has reflected on the many mistakes he’s made while finding his way back to Earth and grounding himself without anyone else. 

I believe that this album exceeded expectations, and overall I was impressed. For some, the 80s sound the Weeknd went for can bring back a feeling of nostalgia. For others, this could be a new side they are seeing of The Weeknd. The Weekend was able to try something new while keeping his own original flare, making it his own.

“After Hours” is a story of a man battling back and forth on escaping and starting over with the issues in his life. Playing as if he’s the “bad guy” to these issues. 

Being an artist as popular as the Weeknd, he has to put on a different type of face for the people and for the press. But in the “After Hours”, he is on his own facing all these issues in the dark. His battle with substance abuse and losing his loved one, followed by hypnotic instruments, helps listeners feel his pain in each song. 

Be prepared to be sucked in track-by-track, and enjoy this cinematic body of music.

Kickin it with Q – Bloodshot movie review

Quintin gives a review of Bloodshot.

Editor: Quintin Mattson-Hayward

Logo: Jesus Contreras

Expanding Your Creative Horizons

Jesus Contreras / Staff Photographer

Pierce College’s Digital Design Studio and the Maker Space provides students with new creative opportunities

Pierce College is full of useful resources and commodities put in place in order to help students succeed. Many of these outlets, such as the library and tutoring center, are widely known about, and regularly give needed aid to a multitude of students. 

However, there are some resources the college has to offer that are not quite as recognized as others, and many students would be astounded to find the tools they’re missing out on. Made available mainly for students studying design at Pierce, although any student can use equipment and software, are the tools found in both the Digital Design Studio and the Maker Space.

Located in CAS 405, right next to the classroom in the library, the Digital Design Studio looks like a normal computer lab at first glance. Look further into the creative space however, and you’ll find it to be much more.

The computers in the lab, besides featuring massive curved monitors, are equipped with a host of Adobe programs that cannot be found on most other computers on campus. Students wishing to try their hand at Photoshop or After Effects have complete eligibility to do so at any time the studio is open, which should be for the majority any weekday.

Myra Fehling / Staff Illustration
Illustration of 3D printed models from the Maker Space

This resource can, has and will save students much time and money, as these programs can be quite pricey when purchased personally, even for students. Josseline Benitez, a student who works in the STAT department said, “A lot of people do use the resources, and they want to do some side projects, which is completely fine.”

On the ground level of the Olympic building is a space filled with colorful tables, chairs, and room for almost any activity. Many students see this area as just another place to study, but this largely unrecognized area has much more potential. This is the Maker Space, an area where students can not only use equipment like a 3D printer or laser cutter to create whatever their imaginations can devise, but also a space for games and art.

Design student Diane Russel works in the Maker Space and has used its resources for many of her own projects. “I would say we’re a pretty valuable resource,” said Russel. “The tables in the front are usually pretty full, people come to study and do homework.” 

Russel notes that while the space is often packed with students, few know of and utilize the actual equipment they have available. “I wish I had known about the 3D printer when I was taking my 3D class, I think that would have been fun and would have helped me understand the spatial aspects more.”

“I would like to see more people use the Maker Space, using the 3D printer and laser cutter for projects, and to expand their knowledge of the programs, and to use the skills they have in different, hands on ways. I think that would be a great thing.” Russel noted in a recent interview.

These two useful resource centers, although widely neglected, have the potential to be much more of a help to students than they currently are, simply because of how few students know they exist. Dion Jacobs, another STAT employee and student who sees the small number of students who use these assets said, “I think if there was more word on where this stuff was at, there would be a lot more students here, and it would help them with their classes, and give them a better experience here at Pierce.”

Dating Apps for the Season of Love

Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke / Courtesy Photo / Pixabay

Find Love in the World with Swiping

Dating is a very special thing to many people. However, finding a relationship is the tricky part. In the past, it was common to attend social events, and perhaps find someone who caught your eye. In recent years however, this has become less common with the introduction to online dating. This new age of romance can be intriguing, but with so many sites and apps, it can be hard to choose which one is for you. To help with this, here are four potential apps you can download: Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, and Hinge.

Tinder

Tinder is the most popular dating app among people. It invented the swipe gesture, and is patented, with the current owners of Tinder, Match Group LLC. Other dating apps have used this invention in their own apps, making Tinder a pioneer in the dating world. 

Since Tinder is the first of its style of dating apps, most of Tinder’s features are very basic. You have the option to include 10 pictures of yourself, along with a bio and the choice to display your age and distance. It’s a perfect set up for users who don’t want anything over the top. 

Swiping right means you like someone, swiping left means you don’t, and swiping up means you’ve left a Super Like, signalling that you really like them. Tinder gives you one free Super Like a day, but you have unlimited likes. 

Although Tinder has plenty of great free features, you can pay for more. One of the most promoted features is Tinder Gold, which allows you to see who likes you before you swipe. It gives you five super likes a day, one boost a month which increases the chances of you matching with someone, passport to “travel” around the world and meet people in different countries, and no ads.

Bumble

Bumble is similar to Tinder in the swipe gesture feature and format. It was founded by Whitney Wolfe, who also founded Tinder, but parted with them after filling a sexual harassment lawsuit against Tinder and its parent company at the time, IAC. Using the rough amount of $1,000,000 she won, she launched Bumble, and it has become one of the most successful dating apps in the world. 

Although Bumble is a dating app, it also has three modes: Bumble Date, Bumble BFF, and Bumble Bizz. Bumble Date and Bumble BFF are exactly how they sound - Date is for finding a partner, and BFF is for finding friends. Bumble Bizz is for professional networking. Each mode has its own profile, so there isn’t a need to worry about your personal life conflicting with your professional one. 

Bumble’s most popular feature is that women initiate the conversation. Once a match has been made, women have 24 hours to send a message, and then the guy has 24 hours to send a reply. If neither party messages within their time, they are no longer a match. In the case of same-sex couples, either one can message first. Once both parties have messaged each other within their time limit, they can text, call and video chat whenever they want.  

Similar to Tinder, Bumble has its own in-app purchases as well. However, unlike Tinder, it doesn’t offer as many new features. With Bumble Boost, you can see everyone who has right-swiped you. You can also extend your matches by 24 hours and rematch expired connections. 

OkCupid

OkCupid, like the previous apps, uses the swipe right gestures, except with its own unique features built in. For starters, when creating your profile, it has you take a quiz about your viewpoints on certain topics, from your taste in certain styles to your political views. Your answers to the quiz are displayed on your profile, and come into play when you begin matching. Since everyone’s answers are on their profile, it allows users to see what they have in common and what they don’t have in common with a potential match, allowing more insight into a person rather than what they show in their pictures and in their bio. 

Once you swipe right, you now have the option to send an intro, which is just a small greeting or first message. If you do send an intro, it notifies the user that they have been sent an intro and can also look at your profile and decide if they want to swipe right as well. 

OkCupid has three options you can pay for: A-List, Premium A-List, and Incognito mode. A-List is the most paid option according to OkCupid, with exclusive features including no ads, being able to see who has liked you, unlimited likes, and being able to see who has read your sent messages within conversation before they reply. Premium includes the A-List features, plus one automatic boost per day during prime time, to see and be seen by more attractive matches. Incognito mode is a bit different, with the main goal being to keep you hidden from the public eye. You can turn it off and on, and will also have no ads. Incognito is separate from A-List however, so if you want both you will need to get both.

Hinge

Hinge likes to show off how they are going to eventually be deleted, whether it be for its success or for its simplicity some may not like. Compared to the other dating apps, Hinge has one of the most simplistic designs and features available. 

As most dating apps, Hinge shows you people, allows you to like or dislike, and have a conversation. One major difference is that rather than show you users one at a time and let you swipe right or left, it gives you a list of people to choose from, and lets you choose a question similar to an icebreaker, to help get the conversation going. Hinge also uses your Facebook to connect you to friends of your friends. Of course, you don’t have to connect your Facebook to your account at all. 

Hinge has the basic filters for gender, location, age, distance, ethnicity, and religion. With the Preferred Hinge membership, you not only have those features, but also filters for height, whether someone has children or wants them, politics, drinking, smoking, marijuana, and drug use. You also get an unlimited number of likes to use, with the option to see everyone who likes you. 

These are just a few of the most popular dating apps available to the public.

Best Streaming Platforms for Students

Mohamed Hassan / Courtesy Photo

Weighing out the cost, pros, cons, bundles, and overall content of today’s most popular streaming platforms

Netflix / Photo Credit

Cost

$8.99/mo 

Deals and Bundles

Netfilx does not offer deals or bundles

Available Content

Specific to Netflix only are their Netflix Original TV shows, animes and movies such as Stranger Things, Devilman Crybaby, and When They See Us, to name a few; many of which are award winning or nominated. With just about every genre under the sun to watch, Netflix is a good platform for users looking to binge shows in bulk, or find something new to get into.

Disadvantages

At times the sections can be lacking in content, with some shows and movies having not been updated/replaced for a year now. Meanwhile, originals on Netflix risk being cancelled without warning frequently and regardless of high viewership, such as Daredevil or Sense8, making it difficult to grow attached to some of the newer originals. Odds are once you’re done with a show, you won’t be frequenting Netflix until the next update.

Hulu / Photo Credit

Cost

$5.99/mo with ads, $11.99/mo without ads

Deals and Bundles

Hulu allows users to add multiple premium channels to your monthly subscription, including HBO and Starz. Spotify and Sprint users can also receive Hulu for free via their providers. Getting Hulu through Spotify specifically provides students with a discount which would make both Spotify Premium, Hulu (with ads) and Showtime only $4.99/mo.

Available Content

Hulu provides users with shows that would otherwise only be available through cable, such as Empire and RuPaul’s Drag Race, making it a good alternative. Hulu also regularly updates episodes as they’re aired on TV. Hulu’s deal with Funimation provides users with one of the largest selections of anime as well, rivaling that of Crunchy Roll, another anime streaming platform.

Disadvantages

Unless you’re an anime fan, or really like sitcoms or cable network shows, Hulu isn’t the best platform to have if you’re hungry for a variety of movies. The standard Hulu plan does not have as large a selection of movies to watch; and unless you’re willing to pay more, Hulu will make you sit through ads during your viewings. It is the only streaming platform on this list which makes you pay extra to remove the ads.

Disney / Photo Credit

Cost

$6.99/mo

Deals and Bundles

Current bundles with Disney+ include adding Hulu and ESPN for only $12.99/mo.

Available Content

Disney+ provides a number of throwbacks from Disney Channel, including their original shows, Pixar movies, and other older classics such as Home Alone, making it an especially great platform for parents. Marvel and Star Wars fans would also benefit from having a Disney+, as it contains everything that has ever been produced by these two genres. Disney+ has also began posting popular original series such as the Mandalorian, which is only available on there platform. And with most Phase 4 from Marvel planning to mainly be posted on Disney+, those hoping to stay on track with Marvel can only do so with this platform.

Disadvantages

Odds are, if you’re not a parent with young kids, or a fan of Marvel and Star Wars, Disney+ offers little to nothing beyond throwbacks that can be binged in just a few viewings.

Disney+ also does not have anything available beyond a PG-13 rating, leaving audiences who might want more mature content to rely on other platforms.

HBO / Photo Credit

Cost

$14.99/mo

Deals and Bundles

Students can receive HBO Now for $9.99/mo by providing your college status via online.*

Available Content

HBO Now provides high quality movies and series, containing many popular series such as Chernobyl, Game of Thrones, Euphoria, and Big Little Lies; as well as throwbacks like the Sopranos, True Blood, and Band of Brothers. HBO also regularly adds new movies, both originals and from theaters.

Disadvantages

HBO, being a premium channel, is not for everyone. A majority of HBO’s shows hold an M rating and can be extremely graphic, making it a platform to avoid if that’s not something you want to worry about. And while the quality of HBO’s shows are often praised and emmy nominated, HBO does not have as large a selection of TV shows as platforms like Hulu or Netflix.

Amazon / Photo Credit

Cost

$12.99/mo

Deals and Bundles

Students can get Amazon Prime for $6.49/mo, making it the cheapest student deal on the list.

Available Content

The biggest benefit that comes from Amazon Prime Video is that it comes with your Prime account, meaning you won’t have to pay extra to see what’s available with it. While Amazon is still adding to their collection of original shows and movies, the few that have been posted are considered both popular and of high quality, such as their new original series the Boys, or the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which recently became an emmy winner.

Disadvantages

Amazon Prime Video has the smallest selection of shows on the list that are Amazon exclusives. And while the few shows that are on Amazon have received high praise, it’s safe to say that at the moment, you’re not missing anything that you can’t find somewhere else for free, as Amazon Prime Video charges for certain shows and movies, similar to YouTube.

*Since this was written, the offer for students is no longer available for purchase.

Pokémon Sword and Shield gives a fresh new take on a well used formula

The Pokemon Company / Courtesy Photo

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, the newest members of the Pokémon video game franchise, are two fun, engaging games that will inspire both seasoned players, and curious newcomers to ‘catch em’ all’. These titles are the first ‘traditional’ Pokémon games being released exclusively on the Nintendo Switch, and fans of the series will be delighted with what the games have to bring.

For those who aren’t familiar with the popular franchise, Pokémon is set in a world where the massive wildlife population, collectively known as Pokémon, hence the series’ name, are traditionally caught and trained by individuals known as trainers. These trainers attempt to take their Pokémon team to the top, by means of battle between the creatures, in hopes of being the best of the best.

Pokémon Sword and Shield represents this well-worn formula well, while also adding its own new take on the traditional trainer’s journey. While players explore the newfound Galar region, they will not only encounter many Pokémon they know and love, but also an assortment of brand-new creatures native to the area.

Anyone who’s played previous Pokémon games will be relieved to know that Sword and Shield manages to maintain the traditional control and turn based battle schemes, unlike the Nintendo Switch’s first Pokémon title, “Pokémon Let’s Go”, which received much controversy upon its release.

Detail-wary players may notice the games’ newer art style, which differs slightly from the design in previous games. The graphics are presented in an attractive, colorful manga reminiscent style, seemingly blown up into the third dimension, but with much more clarity than previous games. This is perhaps due to the fact that the Nintendo Switch, the platform upon which the games are exclusive to, has a much better resolution than any previous hand-held consoles that housed older Pokémon games.

One of the most anticipated new features of Sword and Shield is the option to ‘dynamax’ one’s Pokémon during battle. This new feature allows Pokémon to grow to a massive size, greatly increasing both their power, and general awesomeness factor. During a battle where dynamaxing is permitted, a player may dynamax one Pokémon for the duration of three turns. This new tactic will certainly play a key role in players’ strategizing during battle, as Sword and Shield will soon be the newest official platform for competitive gameplay.

Pokémon Sword and Shield is a promising successor to the many other games in the franchise, with the perfect mix of both new and familiar content. Wandering the extensive Galar region, long-time fans of the franchise will be excited to see how the locals have refreshed the usual trainer’s journey, and players just picking up their first Pokéball will have a blast battling till they themselves become the champion.

Since this has been written, Nintendo has announced new DLCs to be released in June 2020 and in Autumn 2020.

“Klaus” blesses the season with traditional animation

Netflix / Courtesy Photo
This animated holiday movie is set in a surreally gruesome place, filled with surreally gruesome people.

With the holidays right around the corner, Netflix has gifted viewers with a new 2D animated Christmas movie, Klaus. Even for viewers who don’t celebrate Christmas, it is well worth the watch. The movie perfectly captures the true spirit of the holidays with beautiful traditional animation

The movie pulls us into an adventure with Jesper (Jason Schwartzman), a self-centered postman, who is forced by his father to work in a chaotic town called Smeerensburg. Jesper must mail enough letters to go back home. This proves difficult when all of the citizens only want to fight each other.

Jesper learns to work with an old toymaker, Klaus (J. K. Simmons), in the woods to help him achieve his goal of getting out of there. With Christmas approaching, Jesper takes advantage of the holidays to encourage the children to write lots of letters to Santa. Klaus and Jesper must work together to respond to these children’s wishes. In the meantime, he learns about the origin of Smeerensburg and the tales of local citizens while he struggles to make it as a successful postman.

The plot travels along at a steady pace, comedically tying in the original stories and traditions of how Santa Claus came to be. The humor is full of sarcasm and witty comebacks which make the movie an enjoyable watch for audiences of all ages. It doesn’t feel as though there is a dull moment in the dialogue between characters.

Netflix / Courtesy Photo

For older viewers, “Klaus” unexpectedly carries subtle, dark tones which involve violence, breaking and entering, and gloom. These dark themes tend to stick out the most in comparison to the rest of the film for those that recognize it. The audience may be shocked at some of the humor which will hint at something darker than a children’s movie.

At times, some of the characters’ stories can be a little too serious, reminding the audience of the heartaches life has to offer. “Klaus” is slightly reminiscent of the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas” as dark themes stay consistent nearly all the way to the end of the movie. manages to make it feel less like an overall Christmas film.

With 2D animation making a successful comeback in “Klaus,” they take it a step further by adding organic lighting to make objects appear visually textured. The scenes are visually appealing all throughout without feeling clunky like some 3D animations. The audience should watch to appreciate the use of traditional animation, if not for a refreshingly new Christmas plot.

As a great addition to Christmas movies, “Klaus” has a solid storyline and successfully captures the essence of a kind heart. A lesson can be learned about the gift of giving and how small good deeds can influence others in big ways. If anyone wants a humorous Christmas story with emotion, “Klaus” is definitely a movie to watch over the holidays.

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