Anything you can do, Sam Pancoe (C ‘22) can do better.
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Anything you can do, Sam Pancoe (C ‘22) can do better.
I fell in love with food from afar before I learned to love eating. Food writing was the first kind of journalism that meant something to me, and it was all the more ironic that I was savoring the descriptions of dishes I would’ve demurred in reality. I recall picking up my first copy of Saveur, the Nov. 2013 issue, which included this line in a guest column titled “The Food I Dream Of”:
“Are bookstores even a thing anymore?” says my Social Psychology professor, apropos of nothing, in the middle of a lecture on social cognition. Long gone are the days of couches in Barnes & Noble and Kanye West rapping “we met at Borders.” Even further in the rearview mirror is a distant era when a romantic comedy like You’ve Got Mail could be powered by the David and Goliath struggle between a mega chain bookseller and a beloved, independent local bookstore. Maybe that’s because it feels like Goliath wins every time.
Even if someone gave you directions to Slought, there’s a good chance you’d walk right by it at least once. The organization’s art gallery, located on Walnut St. between 40th and 41st streets, occupies the same building as The DP’s offices, but many of our staffers probably haven’t even noticed, let alone set foot inside. In their defense, Slought is fairly nondescript, its presence announced only in minimalist, sans serif lettering.
Sarah Tudzin knows how to milk a moment. You hear it in “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA,” the onomatopoeic pop–punk rager that she put out under her Illuminati Hotties moniker this past April. At the song’s climax, she lets forth a gasp, a villainous cackle, and then squeals into the microphone: “If you’re not laughing, baby / then you’re not making money!” The title of her new album, Let Me Do One More, makes things abundantly clear: She has the stage, and she has no intention of getting off until somebody kicks her off. And Tudzin couldn’t have chosen a better moment to release these deranged and tender songs into the wild.
Upon entering the Jasper Johns retrospective Mind/Mirror, viewers will come face to face with an American flag. This is a timely choice; a recent New York Times Op–Ed challenged six artists to offer their own alternatives or reinterpretations of the flag. Some of their redesigns were idealistic and others disenchanted. American flags also show up repeatedly throughout Mind/Mirror. While they're sometimes doubled or inverted, they are always identifiable. That said, visitors won’t find any easy answers about “what it all means.” The closest thing to a concrete takeaway that this retrospective has to offer is this: Jasper Johns has never viewed any symbol as sacrosanct.
From afar, the members of The Pennchants might come off as unapproachable. With their sunglasses, Members Only jackets, and supple voices, they could easily pass for a gang of teenage heartthrobs. But when they join me one afternoon for our Zoom interview, Evan Bean (E '23), Bauti Gallino (W '23), and Jack Vernon Lee (C '23) just look like normal guys (although Bauti is sporting his Pennchants baseball cap). They serve as The Pennchants' president, business manager, and marketing director, respectively—they also spearheaded the release of the group's new studio album, Are We There Yet?, on September 4.
Yayoi Kusama was born among flowers. Her family owned and operated a plant nursery in Matsumoto, Japan that supplied the Nagano Prefecture with plants and seeds. This can be read from a placard in one of the galleries of Kusama’s new part–retrospective, part–exhibition, Cosmic Nature, at the Bronx Botanical Gardens. This particular viewing room was dedicated to Kusama’s early drawings: precise, diagrammatic sketches of tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa). Her dedication to realism and attention to detail at the precocious age of 16 recalls Picasso’s adage to “learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
What is the sound of the summer? The suburbs are populated with the drone of hissing lawns and kids running through front yards, but here in Philadelphia, you can hear the season blaring through the windows of cars. And for the rest of July and August, you’ll probably hear Doja Cat’s Planet Her enough times to get totally sick of it. The album’s booming bass, trap beats, and 808s are tailor–made for current radio play. But before the inevitable malaise sets in, Planet Her deserves praise for being a major label pop album that is risky, unapologetic, and blessedly free of bloat. Most unexpectedly, Doja Cat’s tailor–made–for–radio–play music is not beholden to current trends; instead, she’s a few steps ahead of the curve.
The following article contains spoilers for ‘@Zola.’
The following article contains spoilers for the first season of ‘Hacks.’
What songs exist at the core of your identity? I’m not talking about your favorite music, your most played album, or your yearly Spotify Wrapped. Maybe this song is your parents’ favorite, so you heard it growing up. You may not know every lyric and be able to sing along; it’s about feeling every chord change and melody in your body, or experiencing the music somewhere deeper than in your conscious mind. These aren’t the songs that form the soundtrack of your most formative memories—they’re the songs that become memories themselves. You might not even be able to name one off the top of your head, since they’re not the songs you remember unprompted, but the feeling of auditory deja vu is unmistakable.
What happened to the guitar solo? In the early 2000s, what was once a standard feature of radio hits became confined to the provenance of white male indie rock. Bands like Wilco and My Morning Jacket kept guitar solos alive, but by the year 2010, indie artists were faced with a decision between the new frontier of pop and the rock music that was suddenly out of date. Titus Andronicus’ sprawling Springsteen–homage The Monitor was lauded on release, but would only place at #194 on Pitchfork’s 200 Best Albums of the 2010s. Or, one could take the Destroyer approach, embrace sophistipop and synthpop, and produce the most lauded work of their career. On her new album Jubilee, Japanese Breakfast's Michelle Zauner doesn’t obligate herself to choose between the new and old indie canons. She finds joy in having her cake and eating it too.
Saturday Night Live is known for an inconsistent standard of quality—across seasons, across decades, and even from episode to episode. Part of this is baked into its conception; executive producer Lorne Michaels was quoted in Tina Fey’s autobiography, Bossypants, as saying “the show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.” SNL’s 46th season was no stranger to errors in judgment, only some of which can be chalked up to the stranger–than–fiction circumstances of its airtime.
Nicki Minaj isn’t just a pop star, nor is she exclusively a hardcore rap MC. She’s both—a fact that took some writers and fans nearly a decade to comprehend.
How will we remember SOPHIE’s musical legacy? For most music critics, myself included, the innovative producer’s magnum opus was 2018’s full–length OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN–INSIDES. That record deconstructed notions of gender, kink, selfhood, and what pop music could be while reshaping SOPHIE’s established sonic terrain. But we shouldn’t dwell exclusively on the transcendent vulnerability of songs like “It’s Okay to Cry” or “Is It Cold in the Water?” That denies the communal euphoria of hyperactive, hard–hitting pop and dance music that always existed at the center of SOPHIE’s ethos. Enter Miami bass duo Basside and their new FUCK IT UP EP, posthumously produced by SOPHIE and a reminder of how much fun the producer could have in the studio.
The fourth studio album from Philly psych–rockers Spirit of the Beehive spells out its concerns in caps–lock, boldface, neon lettering: ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH. It has the inescapable feeling of a good trip that goes very bad, and the comma in the title contains every moment along that journey. There are glimpses of lush orchestration and placid ambience, disembodied advertisements and hellish soundscapes, but they’re all absorbed into the band’s warped totality.
Renée Reed’s self–titled debut album hovers like a will–o’–the–wisp over the Louisiana bayou. She comes off as a naturally gifted musician across these 12 songs, culled from only the first fifteen she ever recorded on four—track. At least part of this talent can be attributed to her relatives: an accordionist grandfather and a great uncle who catalogued traditional regional songs. Reed is well aware of her music’s inextricable ties to the culture in her hometown of Lafayette, La.; she described the project as “dream—fi folk from Cajun prairies.” In that sense, Renée Reed is unified with its surroundings, but deftly walks the tightrope between honoring and transcending its legacy.
It often feels as though Lana Del Rey lives in two different worlds. In her music, she’s “the poet laureate of a world on fire.” But in the harsh light of real life she can be, as Street’s Kyle Whiting puts it, “a bumbling fool.” Take an excerpt from her interview with Annie Mac earlier this year: “It’s like, we don’t know how to find the ways to be wild in our world … and at the same time, the world is so wild.” In reference to the seditionists who stormed the Capitol, this remark dangerously minimized the fact that the riots were foremost a hateful and violent demonstration of white supremacy.
Slint’s music has always felt like a soundtrack to their own disappearance. Even the cover of 1991’s Spiderland, their final and most acclaimed album, looks like the “last sighting” photograph on the side of a milk carton. This month, Spiderland turns 30 amongst a crop of recent releases from black midi, IDLES, and Black Country, New Road. All of these groups pull the most direct reference from Slint’s musical stylings seen since the '90s heyday of their influence. Perhaps Slint’s preemptive breakup has stopped the contents of Spiderland from aging. But it’s the band’s influence on the face of indie that remains their greatest legacy today.
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