Carly Rae Jepsen’s first ‘Kiss’
// by Will Adams
It took a Justin Bieber tweet in January, a glut of parodies and sing-a-longs in April, and nine consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard Chart for people to realize that “Call Me Maybe” was pretty much the best song ever. Strings that strike in time with a fluttering heart and an unabashed declaration of love resonated with anyone who’d ever had a crush. A rise to fame as meteoric as Carly Rae Jepsen’s can be dealt with in a variety of ways. One method involves rush releasing a slapdash cash-in with nine carbon copies of “Call Me Maybe” to capitalize on the fad. The other involves assessing the artist’s appeal and crafting a cohesive record that expands upon that appeal. Only one of these options will get you the best pop album of the year. Carly’s team, fortunately, chose the latter, and thus “Kiss” was born.
Thanks to the high profile line-up of songwriters and producers (Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Redfoo of LMFAO) who quickly picked up on the appeal, the thesis — Carly Rae Jepsen has a crush — is telegraphed from the moment the album begins. On the opener “Tiny Little Bows,” a helium-fed Sam Cooke sample warbles, “Cupid, draw back your bow.” Then, the disco synths swoop in, the arrow fires, and song after smitten song steals your heart. Carly wears her influences well. You can tell that she’s listened to Robyn more than incidentally, especially since the second single, “This Kiss,” is essentially a “Call Your Girlfriend” narrative. But where Robyn mopes, Carly Rae beams with glee: the lyric “I’m dancing the way you are/And you’re dancing the way I am,” over 80s-core electropop couldn’t be more wide-eyed and eager. This glee pervades “Kiss”; Carly turns a guitar string into a wedding ring, says she just wants to drive you, and asks if you and she are going to be more than a memory.
But is Carly’s star too bright to share the stage with others? “Kiss”’s low points arrive when other artists barge into the scene. “Good Time” finds Owl City dousing the party with some high fructose corn syrup woah-ohs, and the Justin Bieber duet “Beautiful” is, at its core, that One Direction song by way of Jason Mraz. As necessary as the duets seemed to boost sales, both songs trip up the album. Attenuating Carly’s appeal won’t fly; she’s bursting at the seams with a burgeoning love. There’s much more behind the cutesy posturing, and a pop star as refined as Carly Rae deserves all the stage time she needs to develop this persona. For now, “Kiss” will do.
Contact will adams at
We are never, ever bonding
// by Jackson McHenry
You may think of Taylor Swift as the princess of bad breakups and tween-relatable emotional trauma, but whenever I hear her latest single, all I think of is titration. Dr. DiMeglio, you see, has a certain fondness for, or rather an addiction to, Top 40 radio. It plays every week in his lab. As we weary premeds struggle through yet another synthesis lab, each reflux, distillation and isolation is narrated by Katy, Britney or Taylor. There isn’t any other sound, besides the occasional moan of low yield-induced despair. One semester in, hearing Adele outside of class gives me stress flashbacks; I can only dread what plastic pop song orgo will claim next.
Contact jackson McHenry at
A pirate’s fife for me
// by Aaron Gertler
I’m the kind of killjoy who can’t watch Johnny Depp stab evildoers without thinking about how pirates are just like regular robbers who prey on helpless innocents, only with boats. But all my scruples walk the plank when I put on Alestorm’s latest and greatest album, “Back Through Time.” Alestorm isn’t the world’s only pirate metal band (Scuurvy, Swashbuckle and the confusingly titled Verbal Deception crowd the scene), but they’re the only one to be seen on the U.K. charts lately (#200! Arrrr!). After “Captain Morgan’s Revenge” and “Black Sails at Midnight,” I thought they’d be out of ideas, but then came the opening lines of the title track.
“Captain! Thar be Vikings off the starboard bow!”
Alestorm is back, my friends — in Norwegian waters, circa 1000 AD. Thousands of bloodthirsty globetrotting blond savages; one ship full of humble musicians. A fair fight? Probably. Alestorm has gunpowder. Another quote from the first two minutes:
“You put your faith in Odin and Thor / we put ours in cannons and whores / your Viking gods won’t save you now / when pirates strike from the starboard bow!”
As the most badass band in the briny blue since the Beatles circa “Yellow Submarine,” Alestorm takes no prisoners. Multiple melodies per song, split between guitar, violin, accordion and Davy Jones knows what else, and an impressive number of amps compared to the number of outlets I’d expect to find aboard a pirate ship. Midtempo power ballads (“Scraping the Barrel”), uptempo jams (“Shipwrecked”), and really-uptempo drinking songs (“The Sunk’n Norwegian,” in which Alestorm apparently finds a tavern and names it after all the people they killed in the course of getting to shore). This is not for fans of Sunn O))) or Drudkh. There are no drones, no languages foreign or invented, no tracks that are just half-hour sustained growls. The longest Alestorm takes to do anything is when they kill a tentacled monster in under eight minutes. (This title deserves its own sentence: “Death Throes of the Terrorsquid”).
Really, there’s not much else to say. It’s a strong album and invites singing along. If you still aren’t convinced, hold on for summer 2013: rumor has it the next Carribean time portal might drop them in feudal Japan, for that most timeless of conflicts: Pirates vs. Samurai. Avast!
Contact Aaron Gertler at
// by Mila Hursey
If you choose to be happy in your life, listen to GROUPLOVE. And participate in group love, I guess. During the past 24 hours, I’ve listened to their song “Colours” at least twenty times. I rocked out in the library, walking to class, in my room, and finally at 1:41 a.m. as I am writing these words. It’s true happy music! There are colors and life and love. This song reminds me that there’s actually, “ … no need to be sad, It really ain’t that bad.” How profound is that? Just imagine that kind of positivity in an indie rock anthem. It’s like skipping through rainbow sprinkle rain.
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CoRaZON to cORaZoN, musical therapy
// by Jee Bijan
It wasn’t a dream: He was awake and he was next to me. He had soft, curly hair and kind of a broad torso; really, we had met the night before. Set up by a friend in common. “Set up” meaning he was almost coerced to ask me out by someone he considers a friend but was clearly on my side, if there were any sides, since she, the friend, acted exactly in the way I wanted her to act from the very moment I revealed my feelings toward him, the romantic interest. I was thankful for this throughout, but obviously more concerned with my date-cum-relationship-cum-biggest mistake I ever made. In any case, we spent the night together. The date had been a success and my biggest worry in the morning was a palatable insecurity. I only told myself, “Don’t screw this up.” Four months later, when it was so cold outside that a walk from Lynwood to Park would slow your heartbeat, I did just that and he wasn’t even wearing a shirt. The most curious aspect of the futility of my foresight is that I was sure I was doing the right thing, i.e. I was sure I wasn’t in love. This is more than just a testament to my intelligence, or a case of Wittgensteinian self-deceit IRL. Psychology, a lower science, has given us Compartmentalizing, Defense Mechanisms, and the Müller-Lyer illusion, all #thingsidontbelievein, like inches, yards and stones. Unfortunately, there’s no way to measure my behavior but in American terms. Therapy: seven months after the four: Mecano’s “Me Cuesta Tanto Olvidarte.”
Contact jee bijan at
The free association song game kind of life
// by Sarah Strong
Sometimes I let myself be defined by my love of boy bands. As many groups asked for “fun facts” in my first days at Yale, my go to one became “I’ve seen the Backstreet Boys five times.” The inevitable “I thought they broke up” follows and I inform the questioner that they never broke up, a few of them just went to rehab. Because my love of boy bands is clear almost as soon as you meet me (look out for my BSB and NKOTBSB t-shirts) people are often surprised that I listen to “good music” too. Sure, some of my other favorite artists are considered novel like Avril Lavigne and Panic! At the Disco, but I know more Queen songs than many of my contemporaries and my iTunes library contains countless singer-songwriters and musical soundtracks. I am definitely pulled in by a catchy hook: It is literally impossible not to like the songs “I Want It That Way” or “Popular” from Wicked, but song lyrics speak to me in ways melodies cannot. The whiteboard on my wall has lyrics that change with my mood — I am currently feeling Andy Grammer — and my notebooks are filled with as many rewritten songs as mathematical theorems. A recent physics lecture prompted me to write out Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” in its entirety. Yes, I know all the words, and yes, I would gladly rap them for you. I have been blessed with a great memory, especially for song lyrics, and I never exhaust my library. But I do not confine this passion to paper; tell me how you are feeling and I will sing you a song that I think describes your emotions or to which you will relate. I call this the free association song game, and I have made it a lifestyle. Hang around me and you will pick it up. My roommate now sings on repeat the songs I was obsessed with a year ago because they describe how she is feeling this week. This is one hundred percent a cliché, but song lyrics really do say the things I cannot put into words. A friend recently told me that he knew not to be flattered by things I said to him because they were only song lyrics, but I meant the words I said, they were just not originally written by me. To end with something from one of my favorite songs, Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life:” “I want something else to get me through this semi-charmed kind of life.” For me, that something else is song lyrics … and boy bands!
Contact sarah strong at
Bless these Antlers
// by Sunik Kim
250 Temple St., the ticketing site said. As a lowly freshman, I had no idea what or where this place was — hell, I had no idea that established off-campus acts actually played anywhere other than Toad’s. Using Google Maps (an indispensable freshman tool), I found that 250 Temple St. was on the far side of the Green from Old Campus.
Okay, so maybe it’s an outdoor thing, I thought. This got me even more excited — pretty much all the shows I’ve seen in my time here have been in off-campus basements, so the pleasantry of the Green would be a refreshing change.
Making sure to travel in a pack of three so as not to get preyed upon, I ventured through the Green and arrived safely at, according to Google, 250 Temple St.
The only thing is — I found myself standing in front of a church. “Center Church-on-the-Green,” said a banner hanging on the front of the building.
Well, first off, there were three guys hanging out on the front steps smoking. That should’ve been enough of a hint, but even after seeing ethereal purple lights flashing through the windows, I was convinced I’d simply stumbled upon some bizarre New Haven cult ritual.
But upon hesitantly entering the building, I found that the Antlers were indeed playing in the Center Church-on-the-Green.
After shelling out $18 and getting my wristband, I entered the holy space. I walked down the aisle past pews full of young concertgoers. There was a chandelier hanging from the lofted ceiling. And where the altar is, in front of the organ, sat the opening act, Port St. Willow.
I’m a huge fan of the Antlers. Their album “Hospice” is one of the heaviest albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to, and their more recent efforts “Burst Apart” and “Undersea” are equally beautiful.
So, imagine my embarrassment when I thought the opening act was the Antlers. They finished after 45 minutes, and I thought I’d just been ripped off.
In my defense, Port St. Willow played a set filled with songs even more depressing than the Antlers’. Plus the lead singer had a very Antlers-esque falsetto. Their set was really quite good, and the fact that they were playing in a church added to the drama of the moment.
But on to the main event.
I’ll just say it upfront — the Antlers were great live. Really really great. Their guitar lines and rolling percussion and piercing vocals washed up against the walls of the church, adding a subtle echo to the mix. People headbanged in the pews.
Two memorable moments: First, at one point, the lead singer’s mic cut out in the middle of a song. Rather than stopping the song, the band carried on with the instrumental, and in the final few seconds, the singer formed a megaphone with his hands and belted out the last word to the enraptured congregation.
Second, at another point the stage lights cut out, leaving the church in complete darkness. After standing around in silence for a bit, they asked everybody to turn on their iPhone “flashlight” apps and point them towards the stage.
As phones turned on one by one and the four band members came into view, there was a strange, incredible — almost spiritual — vibe enveloping the place. Everyone was silent, holding their devices above their heads. No one moved.
Then, suddenly, the stage lights came back on and the spell was broken.
It was a good night.
Contact sunik kim at