April 10, 2013 at 3:33 PM
Whether a five-piece or a trio, Paramore will always be my favorite band.
Though the drama surrounding the departure of two founding members Josh and Zac Farro would seem to slow the band down in 2010, Paramore has come back full force with its self-titled album released this week.
This is the first album since the 2009 gold-certified “Brand New Eyes.”
Paramore experiments with blending different sounds on the new release but does not departure too much from the spunky alternative rock it is known for.
The first single, “Now,” is in classic Paramore style with Hayley Williams’ powerful vocals intertwined with a rebellious-tinged guitar riff.
However, “Now” feels a little too much like “Ignorance” and “Misery Business,” and it took awhile for it to grow on me. While it is the band’s signature sound, the trio had a chance to revamp it, but the single falls short.
“Anklebiters,” for example, would have been a much better first single. The song not only has aspects of previous hits from the band, but “Anklebiters” captured my attention and approval a lot quicker than “Now.”
“Still Into You,” the album’s second single, is very reminiscent of “The Only Exception” in its pop and adult alternative crossover aspects.
However, unlike the “Brand New Eyes” ballad, the single is upbeat and very catchy, making it easy for the band to cross over yet again into Top 40 radio.
Williams takes a page from No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani in “(One of Those) Crazy Girls,” incorporating a ska-like feel to the alternative rock jam. Perhaps the tour with No Doubt in summer 2009 did some good for the band.
Furthering the band’s musical experimentation, the incorporation of xylophones into “Ain’t It Fun’s” instrumentation gave the track the extra edge it would have lacked had it not been included.
The three one-minute interludes also push the envelope, going for a Jason Mraz-like, relaxed feel.
Overall, the trio took a stab at reinventing its well-known sound and succeeded. The question now is if Paramore can continue the trend in the future.
Download This: “Still Into You,” “Anklebiters” and “(One of Those) Crazy Girls”
March 21, 2013 at 7:13 PM
Roughly a half-hour drive from State College at the Quality Inn, a hotel in Milesburg, comic book fans will hope to have their fill of cosplay and collectibles at Nittany-Con 1.
The comic convention will be held on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Ken Feduniewicz, the convention’s promoter and the owner of Way Cool Comics in Huntingdon, said he was inspired to organize the event after his merchandise dealers alerted him that they faced difficulties in traveling to similar shows he has promoted in that town.
“I was looking for a site off of I-80 that would be easy to get to,” Feduniewicz said of the convention, which is now sold out. “There’s been a lot of enthusiastic response.”
In addition to hosting a costume contest and offering myriad prize giveaways — including a free gas card — the con will also serve as an outlet for creators of independent comic book series to showcase their work.
One of those creators is Robb Horan, who will be promoting the re-launch of the late Drew Hayes’ series “Poison Elves.”
‘The added plus is that there’s a core demographic that’s coming from the Penn State community,” said Feduniewicz, citing an anime convention held in January as having set a precedent for the event’s success. “I think we’re going to turn some heads.”
Though the “1” at the end of its name suggests that the convention has the potential to become an annual event, Feduniewicz has no immediate plans for the future.
“I have no intentions right now other than making Sunday’s show a success,” Feduniewicz said.
Admission for the convention costs $3. Parking is free and there is no charge for children 12 and under. The first 100 patrons will receive free comics.
March 10, 2013 at 5:16 PM
When most people go to the movies, they usually have a similar monotonous experience.
They buy their movie tickets at the booth, purchase popcorn and other sweet snacks at the concession stand, and then they move to their seat in the dark theater.
The movie theater that I visited in Collegeville, known as Movie Tavern, puts a twist on the classic visit to the movies.
It may seem strange, but to me this was the highlight of my spring break. The franchise, which is based in Texas, pegs itself as a theater where customers can not only enjoy a film, but can also order a full restaurant style meal while doing so.
From the moment you enter the cream-colored building it becomes clear exactly where you are. The view of a full scale bar just a few feet away from the ticket booth is striking.
If someone had never visited the place before they might guess by the name that Movie Tavern is a small independent theater with a homestyle feel. But they would be mistaken after they view the large rectangular sign at the entrance.
At this bar people can actually sit down and enjoy a beer and a glass of wine while viewing a sports game on one of two flat screen televisions.
The whole setting is mesmerizing. It seems more like an actual restaurant instead of a movie theater. But you are soon reminded where you actually are once you step into your designated movie theater.
But even this seemingly mundane event is different. Upon giving the ticket holder your ticket, you are given a menu which resembles the cuisine that someone would order at TGI Friday's.
Movie goers then reach their seats, which are a sort of black, comfortable chair in a slightly cold room complete with cup holders, a partial desk, and a large red button. That button is basically a service button that will dispatch a waitress to your beckoning at any time before and during the film showing. These amenities are very convenient, but can set a little distracting if too many people are ordering while the film is showing.
Movie Tavern really does give people a chance to discover a whole new type of movie experience. And as the only franchise theater on the Northeast, this particular outing is like no other in the area.
But be warned, these movie tickets sell out fast, and most people actually order online instead of the booth. It may be a bit pricey, and the movie that I actually watched might have been lackluster, but as they say in their slogan, “movies never tasted so good!”
March 7, 2013 at 11:32 AM
With the newest adaptation of “Matilda,” audiences can have their cake and eat it too. This fresh take on the Roald Dahl classic, featured at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway, stays true to the book and film that everyone loves while adding new plot points to make the show come alive for the Broadway stage.
Like the 1996 movie, “Matilda the Musical” tells the story of Matilda Wormwood, a brilliant little girl who is stuck with two cruel, negligent parents and a horrifying headmistress named Miss Trunchbull. Matilda finds solace in the books that she reads and the stories that she creates in her imagination, which come to life brilliantly on stage.
Fans of the movie will be pleased to know that many memorable scenes from the movie have made the leap to Broadway. A boy named Bruce is forced to eat an entire chocolate cake in front of his classmates, a girl is thrown like a shot put through the playground for wearing her hair in pigtails and Matilda’s father has his hat Super Glued to his head.
Although much of the plot remains the same as the film, there are some new elements as well. Obviously, all of the songs were new additions, as the film was not a musical. For the most part, the songs are incredibly catchy and clever. In a particularly touching scene, the children in the ensemble sing a beautiful song called “When I Grow Up,” in which they list all of the things they will do as adults as they swing from giant swings that descend from the ceiling.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the film and stage version of “Matilda” is that Trunchbull is played by a man, Bertie Carvel, who originated the role in the London production. Easily delivering the best performance of the night, Carvel brings both humor and creepiness to the iconic role. With hulking, broad shoulders and tiny legs that stick out beneath an even tinier skirt, Carvel’s Trunchbull has an inappropriately girlish voice that she uses to berate her students and teachers. Trunchbull really starts to go crazy as things fall apart for her in the second act and Carvel plays the descent into madness wonderfully.
The most impressive part of the show was the stage design. The stage and surrounding wall are completely covered in toy blocks with letters on them, some of which spell out hidden words that relate to the show. On the stage itself, the desks that the students sit in seamlessly rise out of the floor and then disappear to transform the scene into the Wormwood’s living room. The special effects are also stunning. At one point, the entire theatre is transformed into something out of a James Bond movie as the lights go out and green lasers shoot across the stage and out over the audience. At the end of one particularly high-energy performance, giant poppers release confetti into the front of the audience.
With all of the special effects and hilarious performances doled out by the entire cast, “Matilda the Musical” allows audience members to feel like a kid again, at least for a few hours. As delicious a treat as the chocolate cake that Trunchbull forces Bruce to eat, “Matilda” is not to be missed.
February 25, 2013 at 12:22 AM
Critics, entertainment writers and pop culture enthusiasts alike have been tediously combing through this year’s list of nominees to fine tune their Oscar predictions. Even the most informed expert can only give, at best, an educated guess as to who will walk away with a statuette on the big night. Part of the fun of watching the Academy Awards is seeing how many ways the Academy voters can shock the entertainment industry with their picks. Here are some of the most unexpected winners of the night.
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz - “Django Unchained”
Now a perfect two-for-two as an Oscar nominee, Christoph Waltz can hardly be categorized as an underdog. However, the slight favorites coming into tonight were Robert De Niro for "Silver Linings Playbook” and Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln," both of who would have been worthy recipients. As arguably the most talented and distinguished group of nominees, the supporting actor category really could have gone any way, though. On the heels of a spectacular turn as host on Saturday Night Live, this has been a true breakout week for the seasoned Austrian actor. Waltz’s win almost makes up for the fact that his co-star Leonardo DiCaprio was completely shut out of this category. Almost.
Sound editing: “Skyfall” and “Zero Dark Thirty” Tie
For just the sixth time in the 85-year Academy Award history, two separate nominees – or groups of nominees – took home an award in the same category, according to the Los AngelesTimes. Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers for “Skyfall” and Paul N.J. Ottosson for “Zero Dark Thirty” each walked away the award, much to the surprise of presenter Mark Wahlberg.
Best Picture: “Argo”
Although “Argo” was arguably the favorite coming into tonight, it is still surprising that Ben Affleck, who was snubbed in the Best Director category, still managed to snag an award. In perhaps the most surprising moment of the night, First Lady Michelle Obama, via a live stream, announced the Best Picture award. With politically focused films like “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Argo” among the nominees, it was fitting to have the First Lady present the award and she provided a nice break from Jack Nicholson, who helped to present the award, and his incoherent muttering.
Bonus surprise: Daniel Radcliffe’s cameo in Seth MacFarlane’sopening monologue.
Now that the Harry Potter franchise has come to an end and Radcliffe has moved on to independent films and series, it is nice to see the boy who played “The Boy Who Lived” on prime time TV again. Radcliffe gets extra bonus points for holding his own while singing and dancing between MacFarlane and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, both of whom have a solid six inches on the charmingly short actor.
February 11, 2013 at 10:08 AM
When “indie” pop sensation fun. was announced as Best New Artist at this year’s Grammy Awards, something literally didn’t add up right.
The question going through many heads was — or very well should have been — “How does a band that’s been around for over a decade be declared the Best New Artist for 2013?”
In fact, the artists behind Fun. would probably be the first ones to propose that question. The only stronger proponents of the other solid yet shortchanged nominees for Best New Artist were the award winners themselves.
In accepting the award, the first thing fun. lead singer Nate Ruess did was to suggest that the others on the list should easily have won over his group. To emphasize a point, Ruess let in on an apparently little-known secret about he and the rest of the group. “We’ve been doing this for 12 years, and I just gotta say that we could not do this without the help of all the fans that we’ve had keeping us afloat for the last 12 years,” he said.
Rather than suggesting which artist should have won, here’s a short explanation of how any other nominated artist should have taken the trophy over fun.
The Lumineers: 2012 was their year. This young group tells an indie success story, exploding in popularity and reaching No. 2 on the Billboard charts for their self-titled debut album, which they released a mere 10 months ago in April 2012.
Hunter Hayes: 21-year-old Hunter Hayes’ name exploded shortly after the release of his self-titled debut album in late 2011. For Hayes and his long career, it’s also been a long time coming. It was with his recent album release, though, that he was signed to Atlantic Records and topped Billboard Charts for the first time.
Frank Ocean: Ocean introduced a fresh wave of hip-hop that broke in July 2012 with his debut studio album, “Channel Orange.” He was instantly recognized for the release, and several of his singles have topped the Billboard Hot 100 over the past six months.
Alabama Shakes: The powerful female vocals and driving guitar leads of Brittany Howard were a treasured discovery for scores of people last year, following the release of Alabama Shakes’ debut, “Boys & Girls,” on April 9, 2012. Since then, this quartet of Alabama natives have made quite a name for themselves, their album peaking at Number 8 on the U.S. Billboard 200 last year.
In short, every other contender for Best New Artist was…well, new. With two albums since 2008, not to mention two other bands (The Format, Steel Train) circulating the scene since 2001 under different names but common members, fun. is clearly the choice that doesn’t seem to fit the category.
With songs such as “We Are Young” and “Some Nights” released in 2012, fun. has with no doubt blown up in a way that’s almost unprecedented. But these were not the first of noteworthy fun. songs. What about “At Least I’m Not as Sad (As I Used to Be),” released in 2009? And “All The Pretty Girls” of the same year?
In particular, fun. has caught some major attention with its single “We Are Young”, which has practically become the college student’s anthem over this past year. For that, they were deserving of the Grammy for “Song of the Year.”
But for a band that claims to have been around a dozen years and released two full-lengths since 2008, young is the polar opposite characterization belonging to this group of artists.
February 11, 2013 at 12:03 AM
LL Cool J hosted the 55th Grammy Awards on Sunday night. On Monday morning, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will remember a single word he said.
The rapper and sometimes-actor opened the ceremony with a sentimental monologue about how honored he was to host for a second time, and how meaningful the Grammys are to the music world.
“A Grammy isn’t just a shiny trophy to hold on to,” he said. “A Grammy is a dream come true.”
As the night went on, his sole job seemed to be promoting the #Grammys on Twitter by putting a hashtag in front of every other word he said. He spent way too much time straight-up reading tweets from viewers at home and adding his own predictable commentary.
Watching his generic, boring hosting job has to make you wonder if the Grammys even need a host. While LL Cool J hosted the awards show last year, he was the first official host since Queen Latifah in 2005.
As history proves, the Grammys could easily do without a host and instead be run by the multitude of award presenters.
If a host is absolutely needed, any number of comedians or celebrities would have been more interesting choices than LL Cool J.
Sure, LL Cool J has years of experience in the music industry, and was given the chance to express his passion and excitement for music every time he was on screen for longer than 15 seconds. He was able to get personal and relate to the Grammy winners by talking about Michael Jackson being his musical inspiration and the time he gave his own Grammys to his grammy.
Yet, as a host, his performance often fell a bit flat. It was forgettable.
Maybe it’s for the best. While a comedian would have been an infinitely more entertaining host, it might have detracted from the real purpose of the night. People tune in to see performances from top musicians and their favorite artists recognized for their work. No one watches the Grammys to hear a host reading scripted jokes and cliched sentiments from a teleprompter.
February 11, 2013 at 12:02 AM
The 2013 Grammys in Los Angeles featured some cool music. The hats that many performers brought to the stage, though, were interesting. Here's a look at the best and worst of the night.
-Host LL Cool J (or, Ladies Love Cool James) rocked a black kangol cap that, while it worked for him, I fear perpetuates the myth that such head wear is something everyone can pull off. We've all seen that guy on the street who's wearing one and looking around at how many people are looking at his hat. Thanks to LL, we'll probably see more of these people. This is not good.
-The Lumineers showed up with their standard retro look, complete with the suspenders and fedoras. I can appreciate such hats in this context. It's part of their act and they just look right with a song like "Ho Hey."
-Every time I see Bruno Mars wearing a trilby hat like the black one he wore on Sunday night, all I can think is how he reminds me of that kid I'm sure we all remember from our respective freshman year dorms. He sat on the hallway window sill and played his guitar all day. Then when he realized no one cared he went down to the lobby. That's Bruno Mars. The guy just tries too hard, something I think is definitely reflected in his hat choices.
-Prince can get away with wearing just about anything, I guess because when your stage name is "Prince," you can pretty much do whatever you want. That hood/suit combo was...something, though.
-Chuck D was sporting a Pirates baseball cap. That will always earn high marks in my book.
-An unidentified guy in the crowd was wearing a floppy hat. Now, I appreciate a good floppy hat as much as the next guy. Really, there's no better dome piece to hit the water with on a bright summer day or to shade your face in the stands at a baseball game. But sitting on the floor at the Grammys? You'd think it would limit your view, right?
Anyway, until next time.
February 10, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Collectively, the Grammy performances have been awesome.
Rihanna and fun. were both definitely noteworthy - not to mention Jack White's flawless set. The Black Keys were awesome, as well, while country music seems to have a stronger pull in this year's Grammys than in past years.
I'd really like to see a stronger indie presence. Although neither won an award, The Lumineers and Alabama Shakes are both noteworthy groups and I'm glad they got recognized with nominations.
Overall, the collaborations and performances have been awesome and it is great to see that Dan and Pat [of The Black Keys] are taking a trophy back to Ohio.
"The Band" tribute was really, really strong, too.
Passion Pit should have been up for more things. "Gossamer" was certainly one of the best albums of the year, in my opinion.
Meanwhile, Frank Ocean's performance was a little disappointing. He seemed slightly off-key the entire time which is odd for someone as talented as him.
The Album of the Year going to Mumford and Sons blew me away. That album was a bit of a bust in my mind. Really surprising. I thought Jack of fun. had that one. Totally blindsided.
February 10, 2013 at 8:20 PM
With the 55th Grammy Awards commencing at 8 p.m. tonight, senior music reporter Chris Calabrese predicts who he believes is most apt to bring home a gilded gramophone in the most prominent categories:
1. Record of the Year
“Lonely Boy” was the first single off of The Black Keys’ most recent album, “El Camino.” The production was certainly experimental, as the entire album was co-written and produced by hip-hop beat man Danger Mouse. The team created an interesting sound and I would like to see them win, but I think the award is going to “We Are Young” by the indie pop band, Fun. The way that the album was written and recorded tames the band’s colorful sound in the best way possible. The piano ballad quickly turns into a tribal chorus, with synthesized bass and stadium rock guitar chords. It’s an epic anthem seemingly written on a drunken walk home.
2. Album of the Year
I believe that Jack White deserves it 100 percent. He is my personal favorite guitarist, drummer, singer, rapper and producer. White’s album “Blunderbuss” is the epitome of a solo album seeing that he wrote every part for every instrument on every track, all while producing the album under his own record label, Third Man Records. Jack White is one of the most highly acclaimed rock legends of our time and “Blunderbuss” is an incredible album, but I don’t think he will win this Grammy. I think Frank Ocean will win this award. Although I am an "Odd Future" fan and I really do like Ocean’s album “Channel Orange,” I think it is one of the most overrated albums of the year. His sound is a minimalistic R&B when it is all said and done. No one does the genre like he does, but I don't think it deserves all of the acclaim it has received.
3. Song of the Year
The nominations for this category this year are absolute trash. “The A Team” is a cutesy acoustic serenade that I would deem a one-hit wonder. The track “Adorn” is by Miguel, another R&B artist whose success I don’t understand. It’s nothing too new. “Call Me Maybe” may have ruled the radio waves and the charts, but I could not see it winning this award. I think Carly Rae has a chance in the Best Pop Solo Performance but not here. “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” was popular or bit too, but I don’t think it will win anything. This award, I believe, will go to Fun. for “We Are Young.” It seems like the only song of substance on the list, not to mention that it is a genuinely great song.
4. Best New Artist
This is definitely my favorite award because it shows viewers where pop music is going. Each of these groups is great in my opinion, with the obvious exception of Hunter Hayes. I would love to see either Alabama Shakes or The Lumineers win this one. They both adopt that folk or blues sound that has made its way into the top forty recently. Both bands created outstanding debut albums and I do not see either of them fading away anytime soon, but neither of them will win this award. This one, I believe, is going to be a photo finish between Frank Ocean and Fun. Ultimately, I think Fun. is going home with the Grammy. Fun. has a very powerful sound, reminiscent of Queen. The band has a ton of depth: powerful vocals, epic instrumentals, meaty rhythms, catchy melodies and lyrical anthems of youth and individuality. The group, in my opinion, encompasses an important and long-lasting band for our generation.
5. Best Rock Album
This is one of the hardest categories for me to predict. I think that both “The 2nd Law” by Muse and “Mylo Xyloto” by Coldplay can be ruled out. This one is going to be a tight one between Jack White, The Black Keys and Bruce Springsteen. The Boss pulled off the Album of the Year award from Rolling Stone magazine for his album “Wrecking Ball” and The Black Keys certainly have a chance with their success with “El Camino,” but I want Jack White to run away with this one. Jack needs to win something and I think he has the best chance in this category. “Blunderbuss” was too good of an album to go unappreciated by the Grammys.
6. Best Pop Vocal Album
This is a tough one to predict. I would like to see Florence + the Machine take this one but I don't think they will. I think that this award is split between “Some Nights” by Fun. and “Overexposed” by Maroon 5. Both bands had exceptional years, but I believe that this one is going to Fun. Just as Adele dominated the Grammys last year, I think that Fun. will dominate this year. The Grammys certainly have a tendency to pick favorites, but in this case, I believe that Fun. deserves some recognition for its outstanding come up.