Passion Pit gets candid about frontman’s recovery on “Kindred”

By Carter G. Shelter

via Consequence of Sound

 

Part of what made Passion Pit’s last album, 2012’s “Gossamer,” so compelling was the fact that the subject matter stemmed from frontman Michael Angelakos’ experience dealing with depression and bipolar disorder. He concocted a beautiful contrast of dark and deeply personal lyrics with catchy upbeat music that just begged for repeated listens.

On “Kindred,” Angelakos’ lyrics follow his personal path to a healthier place in life. They still carry the same weight and depth that make Passion Pit more intriguing than other indietronica and synth-pop acts; however, instead of focusing on what’s bad about bad things, Angelakos tackles something more challenging: the struggles and obstacles one must tackle on the road through recovery to happiness.

Lyrics are littered throughout the album that indicate the effect that Angelakos’ wife has had on improving his life. In the opening song (and first single) “Lifted Up (1985),” he likens her to an angel, saying, “The sky broke apart and you appeared.” In “Whole Life Story,” he apologizes for the effect that his life in the public eye has had on her. He sings, “Sorry darling, how could you forgive me when our life’s whole story’s out for them to buy.” As the album title suggests, this is record is not just about his romantic life, but also about family and the people he keeps close.

Angelakos’ lyrics have a way of making the listener feel as though they are listening in on some private conversation or confession. Even on the catchiest songs on “Kindred,” it’s like those choruses are being repeated because he needs to sing it that many times to get his point across to whomever he happens to be singing to, rather than because it makes for a damn good pop song.

Musically, “Kindred” has a number of highlights, including a phenomenal string of four songs on the back half of the album from “Five Foot Ten (I)” to “Looks Like Rain.” The latter is a quieter number that is maybe the album’s only real ballad. “Whole Life Story” and “Until We Can’t (Let’s Go)” sound the most like 2012 Passion Pit, with quivering jittery synths and easily danceable, hook-filled falsetto choruses.

Where “Gossamer” seemed to delight in the contrarian way it mixed music and lyric, “Kindred” seems to find a way to make these bright synths and dance floor beats perfectly match the stories being told. Emotions and music seem to blend into one, instead of combating each other. Halfway through the record, on “Five Foot Ten (I),” Angelakos, reflecting on “summers in our second home,” sings over a building of bass drum that, at the end, explodes into a chaotic cluster of synths:

“I can see you yelling and throwing your rings at me
Well I never stopped trying to be better than that
And I’m getting so close to where I want to be at
You can depend on me, you can rely on me
But every once in a while I’d rather be
All alone.”

It’s one of the most direct remarks Angelakos makes about his recovery. He does nothing to cover up that while he’s come a long way, he’s not quite there yet. Maybe the next Passion Pit album will show us what he’s like when he’s finally gotten there. Or maybe it won’t. Life rarely works so linearly.

Carter G. Shelter is a staff writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com.

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Nick Santino talks going solo and learning curves

By Rachel A.G. Gilman

via Rachel A.G. Gilman for WSN

via Rachel A.G. Gilman for WSN

Before taking the stage at The Studio of Webster Hall, singer-songwriter Nick Santino sat at a vacant bar in the back and spoke with WSN. Dressed in a tattered denim shirt, Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirt, and many silver rings, Santino mentions he’s played the venue about half a dozen times over the past year.

“New York’s just like a really fun vibe…whether there’s two people or two hundred people or two thousand people,” he said.

Since the break-up of his band A Rocket to the Moon, the former frontman has been tackling going solo, noting the differences.

“I can be really free with what I’m writing about, but also that’s why it’s hard at the same time, being my own critic,” he said.

Santino also credits the freedom of being unsigned and working with 8123 to helping his process. He’s a close friend of The Maine, also on 8123, texting lead singer John O’Callaghan before our interview starts.

In the past two years, Santino has released one full-length album and multiple EPs, although he has dealt with writer’s block. “I feel like I’m currently in one right now,” he said. “But it’s like, once you write a song that gets you out of that, it feels like you’re on pretty smooth sailing…it’s just all part of the cycle of writing songs.”

Initially, Santino went under the moniker Nick Santino & the Northern Wind. He said, “When Rocket broke up, I thought that if I went straight into ‘Nick Santino’ it would kind of be overlooked.” After his full-length debut, he felt he could drop it.

In response to comments over his sound change, Santino said, “It’s obviously going to be different from what it was in the past. And if I make another band, that band will probably be different than what this sounds like. It’s just a lot of growing up and maturing and listening to different things and having different influences.”

Touring solo is also different. “It’s turned me into a better frontman…I can’t just brush the conversation off to a guitar player, a bass player…it’s just me, so…I think it’s kind of made me a little more confident.”

He tries to make each show special. “I think that’s the beauty of playing music live. Nobody wants the same thing twice,” he said. “I don’t like doing that cookie cutter set list every day for a thirty-day tour ‘cause I know there are kids who come to multiple shows, especially on the East Coast.” One of his favorites to play live is “I Just Wanted You to Know.”

Santino is confident about the direction he’s headed. “This is a new thing; why not treat it like [that] and start from the ground up? And I think that’s the best way to be a musician, going through the learning curves,” he said. “I’m just out here, playing music, and that’s it…people care, and people come out, and I feel like I touch people with my songs and that’s the most important thing to me.”

Rachel A.G. Gilman is a staff writer. Email her at music@nyunews.com.

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Hump Day Update: May 6, 2015

By Rachel A.G. Gilman

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

Welcome to Hump Day Update, the place to find out everything you need to know about what’s been going on in the entertainment world for the week. I’m Rachel A.G. Gilman. But enough about me, let’s get to the news.

For those of you still watching “The Good Wife” after the stress and disappointment we’ve been put under this season, you might change your mind once you find out the sexy P.I. Kalinda is bidding the drama adieu at the end of this season. As much as I dislike yet another of my favorite characters exiting the small screen, it makes sense: Kalinda has slept with so many characters she’s pretty much burned all her bridges…and has likely caught something by now.

Jamie Foxx is getting a lot of smack talk following his performance of the national anthem for Saturday’s Mayweather-Pacquaio fight. Many were less than impressed with his performance, some even claiming he should be thrown into the ring and knocked around a bit. I say we should probably blame our disappointment on the lack of auto tuning we’re used to hearing with Foxx’s voice.

On “Elementary,” Sherlock Holmes found himself in possession of what appeared to be the Stanley Cup (aka the highest award a team in the NHL can achieve). Turns out, the cup was legit, which was a bummer because if the trophy had been fake, Sherlock planned on turning it into a lux home for his pet turtle, Clyde. Is it weird I feel like the real scene-stealer on this show is a four-legged reptile?

On Friday, Miley Cyrus continued to document things on social media most people would never publicly discuss, let alone photograph. The singer stuck out her infamous tongue while snapping a shot of getting her armpits bleached, captioning the photo, “Don’t eat the bleach baby,” showing you don’t have to be drunk to make bad choices.

ABC announced its cancellation of “Revenge,” proving its marketing strategy of having every character on their other shows talk about watching the drama was more successful in theory than in reality.

After releasing the trippy space-themed artwork for their single “Pretty Girl,” hot messes Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea asked fans not to share the video for the song once it unofficially leaked. Hey, girls, you should take the good press while you can! Apparently, someone still wants to hear you two “sing.”

For those of you mourning “How I Met Your Mother,” Josh Radnor’s (a.k.a. Ted) new role probably won’t fill the holes in your hearts. He’ll be playing a Civil War surgeon named Jedediah in a new PBS series coming this winter. But cheer up! Perhaps there’s a chance he’ll fall in love with another woman holding a yellow parasol…or at the very least one who has yellow fever.

It just wouldn’t feel like the last Hump Day Update for the semester without T-Swift and Kanye. The two made news together this week when Swift said she admires Kanye’s creativity and hopes to find some studio time with him. Some call this insanity, but Taylor, with all of the successful relationships you’ve had, I’m sure you’re a great judge of people’s character.

And finally, in one last bit of Kanye news, he announced the renaming of his new album from “So Help Me God” to “Swish,” a word he’s previously thrown around when posting nude photos of his wife, Kim Kardashian. Again, genius or head case? You be the judge.

Hope you enjoyed this week and this entire year of pop culture news! It’s been my pleasure. Good luck on finals and have a great summer!

Rachel A.G. Gilman is a staff writer. Email her at music@nyunews.com

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Brooklyn duo Oh Honey swoons Webster Hall

By Rachel A.G. Gilman

via Rachel A.G. Gilman for WSN

via Rachel A.G. Gilman for WSN

Last month, folk pop duo Oh Honey spoke to WSN about how they felt before heading out on their first headlining tour, Postcards Across America. Wednesday night, they brought the show home to a sold out crowd of fans and friends at The Studio at Webster Hall.

Among the openers was former A Rocket to the Moon front man Nick Santino, who brought his own sizeable crowd to the show. Fans pushed toward the stage for his set. The singer songwriter and his electric guitar crooned out tracks from his solo EPs and 2014 album “Big Skies,” including the love song “I Just Wanted You to Know” and sing-along favorite “Long Way Home.” Santino will return to The Studio in June for another sold out supporting performance.

Also opening was Public, a Cincinnati trio of guys in pastel, rolled-sleeve button down shirts whose bubbly energy and pop-rock tunes echoed that of WALK THE MOON, who they have previously supported on tour. Their funky half hour set included their new single, “Heartbeating,” as well as a respectable cover of Britney Spears’s “Toxic.”

When Oh Honey finally took to the intimate stage set with microphone stands wrapped in white string lights and oriental rugs, they received a warm welcome from fans. The duo expressed their own happiness at returning home, perhaps best represented in Mitchy Collins’s jacket, which read “New York F*cking City” on the back. They opened with “I Love You Will Still Sound the Same,” a track off their 2014 EP, “With Love.”

The Brooklyn natives’ performance was as upbeat and loving as their music, featuring nearly all of their recorded songs to date. The duo beamed throughout the set, taking a video for Snap Chat of the audience and frequently expressing their gratitude for being able to go on their first headlining tour. Danni Bouchard danced with their backing band, her smile twinkling like the gemstones next to her eyes, while Collins rocked back and forth with his acoustic guitar.

About halfway through the set, Oh Honey had an acoustic break, performing the heartbreak tune “A Thousand Times” off their most recent EP release, as well as a medley of ‘90s hits where Collins discussed his special affinity for particular television shows. The crowd cheered and sang along, creating a big, jam session feel.

The energy was brought back up with “Sugar, You,” Oh Honey’s latest single, a positive, danceable track. “Be Okay,” Oh Honey’s most well-known tune, rounded off the set, where some of their friends from another band joined them on stage before they performed an encore of two extra songs. The duo thanked Sirius XM at the end of the evening for always supporting them.

Following the concert, Oh Honey and supporting acts held a free after party at The Studio to meet with fans and celebrate. Overall, the night was a success, a great way to show no matter how great of a time you have on the road, there’s nothing quite like coming home.

Rachel A.G. Gilman is a staff writer. Email her at music@nyunews.com

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Art History 101: Frida

By Austin Bowes

via Vintage Marketplace

Frida Kahlo was born in the summer of 1907 in Mexico City, a short three years before the Mexican Revolution began in 1910. When she was older, she would tell people she was born in 1910 so that her birth coincided with a revolution that resulted in the beginnings of modern Mexico. I feel as though this is a very descriptive trait of Frida, who early on had very forward ideas of the world. She lived a life with many challenges and pains. Her paintings have inspired the world.

Frida was born with spina bifida, which affects spinal and leg developments. At the age of six, she contracted polio, which made her right leg very thin (reportedly the reason why she wore long skirts later in life). If these problems weren’t enough, in 1925, Frida was riding a bus that collided with a trolley car, which resulted in a broken spinal column, among multiple other injuries. She was bedridden for months in a full body cast. Although she regained the ability to walk, she suffered from pain most of her life and was unable to have children.

While she was in bed, she became bored. She started to draw and to paint, an endeavor promoted by her parents, especially by her father, an artist himself. She painted constantly, including frequent self-portraits, aided by the mirror she would hang above her bed. She said, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”

Once she had regained the ability to walk, she wanted to pursue art as a career, but needed to know for sure because she did not want to waste time and money on something that could not help her or her family. So, she went to an artist who was working on a mural in town — Diego Rivera.

Diego Rivera was a well-known. Mexican painter. After Frida had him look at her work, he believed her to be very talented and they became close friends. Soon enough, that friendship became love and they got married. While they were both very inspiring to each other, their marriage was not exactly perfect. Diego was a frequent cheater — even sleeping with Frida’s sister –which caused a lot of tension between friends and family, but he was still at her side on her death bed. Further than inspiration for painting, Diego also shared similar political views as Frida. The two were active Communists and partook in political demonstrations fairly often. Much of Diego’s and some of Frida’s work is politically-charged. Diego once had a commission for a mural inside Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, but he was let go and his worked destroyed when he refused to cover the image of Vladimir Lenin in his work. Frida and Diego housed Leon Trotsky and his wife for many years during his exile from Russia. During this time, Frida and Trotsky reportedly had an affair.

This article is mostly about Frida’s life because I became so interested in her as a person once I started to research her (…and once I watched the 200 biopic on Netflix). But what of her paintings? As I have said, much of her work is self-portraiture, which isn’t as simple as one would think.

In one painting, there are two versions of Frida connected by the heart. In another, she is depicted with her head atop a deer who has been shot with arrows. In another, she is sitting in a chair with her chopped hair strewn about the floor. In another she is in a full body brace, her spine represented as a Greek Ionic column breaking into pieces while tears roll down her face. Her self-portraits alone make her an amazing artist with an amazing representation of human emotion and pain.

Her work was often considered surrealist, even though that she completely disagreed with that assumption. She said, “I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”

Frida Kahlo’s works are oftentimes reflections of her own life — or as some would say, the human spirit. She truly was a woman of modern Mexico. More importantly, she was her own woman. Frida has been hailed as an essentially feminist artist because she presented the world with an uncompromised version of the female experience and body. She is also remembered as a traditional and national figure of Mexican painting, something she would be proud of today.

Frida is a new inspiration for me, and I hope you as well.

“I was born a bitch. I was born a painter.” – Frida Kahlo

Austin Bowes is a contributing writer. Email him at entertainment@nyunews.com.

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Pages with Patel: bookbook

By Nishtha Patel

via bookbook

bookbook (Bleecker and Morton Street) is a small, cozy bookstore located in the West Village. It lures passersby in with the table outside displaying many bargain books. You can find anything from “The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri to children’s books, such as “Curious George.” It’s hard to tear yourself away — but once you step inside, there is so much more to discover.

Wall-to-wall wooden shelves have anything from art books, acting technique, literature, and books about New York. Upon entering, the first thing one sees is the bargain bestseller’s shelf where you can find popular books anywhere from $6 to $8. The new release table is in front of it; behind that, there is a huge shelf of nonfiction and fiction bargain books. New and bargain priced books…what more could you ask for?

There is plenty more to see in the back. An entire wall of children’s books is displayed next to the literature. And then an entire back area is dedicated to fantasy and mystery. Along the way, there is a stand selling 20% off Moleskine notebooks, as well as artsy composition notebooks, sketchbooks, and journals. There are New York postcards and cute cards for any occasion. They even sell literary t-shirts, baby clothes, and tote bags. In the back, there is a small shelf in the back carrying used books. With such a vast collection, it is difficult not to get lost in the store.

This bookstore seems to have everything from fresh new hardcovers (20% off original price) to bargain books, used books, and literary merchandise. It is truly a book lover’s paradise as apparent from the impressive, eclectic selection. What may have started out as a quick trip to the bookstore might result in hours lost in the wonder of bookbook.

Nishtha Patel is a contributing writer. Email her at books@nyunews.com.

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“Broadchurch”: Season 2, Episode 6

By Nivea Serrao

via The Telegraph

As this week’s hour of “Broadchurch” progressed, there wasn’t a dry eye left. Prolonged court cases can do that to you. Luckily for our characters, the end is in sight (although it really did seem like it would be sooner than later for a minute there).

The top of the hour features the teenaged Tom testifying in court. This serves as a powerful reminder of not just what a big loss Danny is to his friends and family, but how much more he’d have grown had he lived. It’s also the first time we really get to explore what an impact this whole trial is having on the young boy.

The first thing that comes from Tom’s testimony is that Mark takes to the stand to defend himself. Unfortunately, maintaining his innocence comes at the cost of his marriage. The only silver lining in Beth’s heartbroken sobs is that she allows Ellie to comfort her. This is a relief because I’ve been silently rooting for these two to patch things up for a while now. (The only thing that could have made this episode any better would have been Hardy interacting with Fred. But I can’t always have what I want.) However, watching Beth and Ellie sitting there in the stairwell is a sad reminder that both women were betrayed by the men they loved.

The second development comes straight on the heels of the first. Having witnessed her friend’s breakdown, Ellie decides that she’s had enough of Joe hurting the people around her. So she goes into fierce mom mode and berates Tom (in front of everyone), not just ordering him to move back home with her, but also declaring that she is taking back her life. (You do you, Ellie.)

As much I celebrate Olivia Colman’s performance on a weekly basis, this episode’s MVPs were undoubtedly Andrew Buchan and Jodie Whittaker, who painfully put Mark and Beth through the ringer, not once but twice: first, as he broke her heart in court and later, as they raged against one another. Looks like despite her abundant cuteness, Baby Lizzie will not be able to fix the rift in their marriage. Perhaps justice for Danny won’t be able to either. (Side note: Where is Chloe? What does she have to say about all this?)

Amid the bigger revelations of the episode, we also see Jocelyn finally tell her Ben about her slowly fading eyesight. No doubt this is will probably come into play at some inopportune time while court is in session over the next two episodes, although I suspect telling Ben gives the prosecution a fighting chance to recover. The only big secret left on the show is whatever Abby found in Olly’s house. At this point, his terrible taste in women is a running gag on the series, but Lucy’s completely on-point reaction is priceless.

Stray Observations:
* As much as I like Ellie and Hardy forcing Claire’s hand, I still don’t know what to make of her reactions or her relationship with Lee. While I’m pretty sure she’s guilty (and that last flashback all but screams it), I have no guesses as to what Lee might be trying to cover up. But I am slowly being convinced that he’s innocent.
* After Claire’s epic cereal-tossing breakdown, I really hope Hardy didn’t find that house on Airbnb.
* For a guy who carries a flask to a wedding, Ricky Gillespie’s judgmental attitude towards his wife’s drinking is a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black.
* Hardy would simply text Ellie about his surgery. And of course he also requests a ride almost immediately after.
* Fierce Ellie is my favorite shade of Ellie.
* I am currently having a hard time reconciling James D’Arcy’s performance as Edwin Jarvis (“Agent Carter”) with that of his role as Lee Ashworth. How are they both played by the same man? (Also, #RenewAgentCarter)
* David Tennant’s uttering, “No more broken heart.” broke my heart. Hardy really does need to spend more time with his daughter.
* HARDY MADE A JOKE.
* I really appreciate that neither Ellie nor Tess are being catty and jealous with one another.

Nivea Serrao is a staff writer. Contact her at entertainment@nyunews.com

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