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It’s not just the music

April 10, 2015 Opinion, Opinions Columns

Lining the back wall of Studio B at the WKMS radio station is a bookcase heavily stocked with vinyl in pastel colors, muted over the wear of time.

For some reason these were the voices that told me this was my kind of place. It wasn’t until my first year of graduate school, even through a full four years of undergraduate studies at Murray State that I realized the Price Doyle Fine Arts building even had an eighth floor.

For so long I had thought the building magically dissipated after the sixth.

I’m an intern at WKMS, now, and there’s something about being in the presence of all this vinyl that makes it feel like I’m in a perpetual summer. 

It’s similar to the way I feel getting lost in the stacks, waiting to be found by a book I’ve never read.

It turns out I’m not the only one with a soft spot for vinyl. While illegal downloading and digital streaming have hit the music industry hard, vinyl sales keep going up.

In 1993, 300,000 albums were sold, as opposed to 9.2 million albums in 2005. And that number has risen each year since. Why? With the impeccable sound quality that digital technology offers, why are so many of us opting for a reversion back to dated technology?

Vinyl is an experience. This is something I learned between my time at WKMS and listening to the Black Keys on my husband’s turntable. Thank god I married him and his Crosley.  … Continue Reading

Newcomers Old Dominion to perform on April 7

March 5, 2015 Features

The sounds of country music will once again spread through campus when the Campus Activities Board brings the up-and-coming band Old Dominion to Lovett Auditorium next month.

The band has developed a following after opening for larger acts such as The Band Perry, Luke Bryan and Keith Urban. Old Dominion is fronted by lead singer Matthew Ramsey and also includes Brad Tursi, Trevor Rosen, Geoff Sprung and Whit Sellers.

The band’s new single “Break Up With Him” from its self-titled EP has been rising on the charts. Jeanie Morgan, student activities adviser, said students should take advantage of this free event.

“It will be a fun night,” Morgan said. “We look to do activities that we think will be educational but also stress relievers.”

One unique feature of this concert will be its conjunction with the Miss Murray State pageant. The 15 contestants will be on stage for part of the concert doing a dance number to one of the songs. Morgan said the contestants and the band are excited about this collaboration.

Another reason CAB puts on its yearly free concert for students is to give them the opportunity to learn how to put together a concert event the right way. She said the CAB members gain experience they can take with them into the workforce.

“There is more to it than just saying ‘Oh, we’re having them,’” Morgan said. “You have to do the background, the setup, the advertising; there is a lot that goes into it. There are a lot of students who want to do this for a job so this gives them a perfect learning opportunity and makes them connections.”

Old Dominion is not the first country act the CAB has brought to Murray. Last spring, Chase Rice performed for an only half full Lovett Auditorium. This year, Morgan hopes to double the number of people in attendance.

Students should be on the lookout for meet-and-greet opportunities with the band before the concert. An announcement should be released soon on the group’s Facebook page.

The concert will be at 8 p.m. on April 7 in Lovett Auditorium. Attendance is free for anyone with a student ID and tickets cost $10 for the general public. Tickets are on sale now.

 

Story by Breanna Sill, Features Editor

Ain’t nothin’ but a party

January 30, 2015 Features, Features Columns

I really like all types of music. I’ve never been super picky when it comes to the music I like and don’t like (which doesn’t happen very often). I’ll sing along to anything when I’m in my car alone I’ll belt “Jolene” by Dolly Parton and rap “Blunt Blowin’” by Lil Wayne. I’ve never considered myself a music snob.

What really makes an artist stand out to me has always been their character when the cameras are off and the world is not watching.  An artist immediately gains my respect when they treat their fans well, and a really easy way for them to reach out to their fans is through a fan club party.

Fan club parties are such a great way for fans to spend quality time with their favorite artists and get a personal experience with them that they wouldn’t normally be able to have.

In the past, I have gone to two of Carrie Underwood’s parties, one of The Band Perry’s parties and one of Luke Bryan’s parties.

Each of those events has held a special place in my heart because of the personal feel you get just being in the room with the artist and they are there just for you.

At The Band Perry’s and Bryan’s parties it isn’t out of the norm for them to come straight into the crowd and take pictures with fans and just have one on one conversations with them.

At Underwood’s parties she almost always holds a question and answer session and a raffle. The first year I attended her party, in 2008, I won two tickets to the Nashville, Tenn., show on her upcoming Carnival Ride tour along with two meet and greet passes to hang out with her before the show.

Artists will usually just sit on stage with their microphone and guitar and perform a set of their songs, but with each song they include a story: why they wrote it, what it meant to them, anything that the fans might not already know about that particular song. It adds so much to the experience.

There is nothing more special to a fan than being able to make memories with their favorite artist.

So shout out to the artists who still take the time out of their busy schedules to have these special parties with their fans. You’re the real MVPs.

Column by Breanna Sill, Features Editor

Moore: It’s a punk rock life

January 23, 2015 Opinion, Opinions Columns

As I was in the office of WKMS-FM 91.3 in Murray, it was refreshing to hear the band Fugazi’s song titled, “Waiting Room.” After hearing the song on the radio, I began to dance, even though my dance moves are horrible.

This song was important because one of the segments was talking about capitalistic society and how it is overrunning our nation. It is amazing how a song can create such a political standpoint against our society and show people the government can use different ideas across the globe to distract Americans from the problems that exist here. 

Today’s songs do not match up to the classic ballads or sounds of the punk rock genre. Punk rock helped me see the world in many different perspectives from what others can see.

It is not just the guitar that gives punk rock songs the majestic sound of anger, sorrow and angst against the society that we have been living in for years.  It is heard in the messages that are carried to us from many bands across the nation that never went mainstream.

Mainstream American music is absent of a message and usually receives awards, while punk rock stays on the message at hand.

Punk rock originated in England and was brought over during the “British Invasion,” which was a huge influence on the genre and started on other musicians. As years go by, this genre has decreased from many radio stations and also exclusively on records, which is a tough loss due to the idea that this genre was too rough or just noise.

No, it is not noise; it is music. It is easier to dance to electronic dance music or rap and people do not understand what messages are being delivered. Music in general has to have a message with instruments that can set the mood of the song.

Unlike other genres, punk rock is all about instruments that carry on rebellion for democracy, or anarchy even. There are instances where it is easily mistaken to not love a genre because of miscommunication, or it is simply too hard to listen to. 

Growing up, I was always a fan of punk rock because it saved me from the worst times and was there for me through best times. Bands such as Dag Nasty, Off!, Black Flag, The Clash, Career Suicide, Bad Brains, Suicidal Tendencies, Sum 41, Riot Grrrl, The Misfits and so many others have influenced me to reach the broader outlooks of not only the genre itself, but also my life.   

Every single song speaks to me and provides insight on the world around me to help me understand that my life is something that I actually have to fight for because people are fighting every day to make it through our capitalist society.

Politics weren’t really my cup of tea at one point, but thanks to punk rock, I became more involved and understanding that the system will be corrupt in any and every form. It also talks about life as you grow. 

There is not a single day that I do not listen to punk rock and not learn and grow from it. For example, one of my favorite songs of all time was, “Institutionalized,” by Suicidal Tendencies. It helped me comprehend the idea that we, as Americans, are all trying to reach that common goal and achieve the so-called “American Dream,” which practically doesn’t exist anymore. 

Ideals are what kill a nation. In general, music is music. However, punk rock will be the light in your fire and your drive to everyday life. It is one genre to definitely listen to.

Column by Taurus Moore, Graduate student from Wadesboro, NC.

‘1989’ shines, exceeds expectations

October 31, 2014 Features, Music Review
Photo courtesy of taylorswiftweb.com Taylor Swift released her fifth studio album “1989” on Monday. She performed and promoted the album on “Late Show with David Letterman” Tuesday.

Photo courtesy of taylorswiftweb.com
Taylor Swift released her fifth studio album “1989” on Monday. She performed and promoted the album on “Late Show with David Letterman” Tuesday.

Taylor Swift released her fifth album, the musical masterpiece known as “1989,” Monday.  As an avid Taylor Swift fan, my first response to the album was tears. No fan of Taylor Swift is used to hearing her singing with Auto Tune to a full-on pop song with all the bells and whistles. It’s no secret I prefer her voice raw with just an acoustic guitar in the background. So my immediate response was, “this is not Taylor.”

As I gave the album a second listen, I started hearing the words apart from just the music and there she was. Taylor’s most endearing quality is her way of turning her feelings into a song. For a second, I thought that the Taylor I listened to for the past seven years was gone, but she was there all along.

This album is the perfect combination of every single one of Taylor’s other albums. It has the sincerity of “Taylor Swift,” the romance of “Fearless,” the excitement of “Speak Now,” and the heartbreak of “Red,” all put into one album. “1989” has everything that “Red” lacked. An interesting fact about Taylor’s albums is that she always includes secret messages in the album booklet that let the fans know who the songs are about. In “1989” by deciphering the messages you learn that the tracks are in order and tell the story of a love affair gone wrong.

The opening track “Welcome to New York” is an dance track about moving to New York and being afraid and excited at the same time. Though, some of the lyrics are a bit cheesy and dramatic, they do not take away from the quality of the song.

I was surprised by the track “Blank Space.” I always say nobody makes fun of Taylor Swift like Taylor Swift, and in this track she proves it.

Although, “Bad Blood” is a decent track on the album, to me it was the biggest disappointment. I expected Taylor to tear Katy Perry, who is the supposed subject of the song, apart. This didn’t happen, but the chorus of chants is catchy anyway.

The absolute shining stars of the album are the tracks “Wildest Dreams” and “Clean.” The first time I listened to “Wildest Dreams” my immediate thought was that it was a Lana Del Ray song, not a Taylor Swift song. “Wildest Dreams” is definitely Taylor’s most risque song to date, but also one of the greatest she has ever released.

“Clean” is my other favorite. This is a much different side of Taylor than fans have heard before. The idea of the song is finally being clean from an addictive relationship and being able to move forward without looking back. The beat of the song is just therapeutic and sends a good message.

“All You Had To Do Was Stay” is a song I would’ve preferred as a ballad. The lyrics are beautiful and sad, but get lost in the noise in the music in the background. Taylor has always been known for her ballads and this would have been another perfect one to add to the list.

The only ballad on the album is called “This Love.” It does a nice job of holding its own among the loud pop and dance tracks that are the rest of the album. It is definitely one of the most emotional tracks on the album.

Taylor described “Style” by saying she should have just called it “I’m not even sorry.” I will not name names myself but by listening to this track it is easy to see exactly who the muse of the album is. “Style” is one of the most upbeat and impressive of the album. She uses her lyrics to paint a beautiful image of a relationship that to her “never goes out of style.”

Overall, I would describe “1989” as Taylor’s best work to date. She encompasses everything a pop star should have and more. This step into the pop world is going to bring bright and beautiful things for Taylor and I have never been more proud to call myself a fan.

Story by Breanna Sill, Assistant Features Editor

Jitterbug’z provides fun for all ages

October 10, 2014 Faces&Places, Features
Kory Savage/The News Jitterbug’z Dance Club and Arcade has a variety of arcade games, concessions and a large dance hall.

Kory Savage/The News
Jitterbug’z Dance Club and Arcade has a variety of arcade games, concessions and a large dance hall.

Whether you can cut a rug and jitterbug, or resort to corny dance moves like the sprinkler and the cabbage patch, people of all ages dance.

Named after the dance, Murray’s Jitterbug’z Dance Club and Arcade opened July 4.

The building is located at 1306 S.  12th Street.  Jitterbug’z is made up of two separate halls, one for the arcade, concessions and party rooms and the other is a large, open room with a dance floor, deejay booth and pool tables on the other end.

The building boasts tinted windows on the outside with hours of operation and amenities they offer inside painted on them.

Bright lime green, firey orange, mellow yellow, electric blue walls and accents welcome guests when they enter the arcade. The dance hall walls are darker for effective lighting when the music is bumping.

Jitterbug’z currently has 10 arcade games and expects to get about 10 more to be delivered throughout the next few months.

There are two rooms available to guests to rent out to play video games on the XBox One or PlayStation 4.

The concessions area offers Coke products and a variety of food options, including hot dogs, nachos and pizza provided by Gatti’s Pizza.

In March, Jitterbug’z owner, Brad Billington, began the process of opening the dance club and arcade.   Before opening Jitterbug’z, Billington’s business across the state line lost customers, in part because of the Murray City Council vote to extend drinking hours to 1:30 a.m. in October 2013, he said.

“We previously owned Cosmo’s, which was a bar, in Puryear, Tenn.,” Billington said. “We decided once Murray extended their drinking hours, it kind of hurt business. We thought we could do something to bring the crowd back, but our only other option was to move to Murray and try out the (the dance club and arcade) on the youth first to see how it would go over.”

Billington said  Cosmo’s went from 350 to 400 customers every Saturday night to 90 people as soon as the drinking hours were extended.

After three months of renovations, Jitterbug’z opened to the public mid-summer. Billington, his wife and his father-in-law opened the business’ doors to teens for dance nights, birthday parties and as a place to hang out. Billington said, however, the high school and middle school students did not show as much interest as expected.

“We had an issue with the high schoolers and middle schoolers dwelling together,” Billington said. “The high schoolers don’t really want to hang out with the middle schoolers, and that kind of threw us off. But now, we are venturing to many other things.”

In the interest of attracting more faces to Jitterbug’z, Billington and his family members brainstormed ways to have a little something for every age group.

Wednesday night is now host to line dancing for anyone ages 18 and up. Thursday nights are reserved for college students. For now, Friday nights are open for 18 and under.

The business has allowed groups of college students to host dance parties and other events there as well.

“We allowed a fraternity to host a back to school bash and that went over really well,” Billington said. “We had 360 people attend. We stopped at 360 – our capacity is about 400, but I don’t think we should try to fit 400 people in there.”

While the original intent to target the youth in the area did not work out as well for Jitterbug’z, Billington said overall, Jitterbug’z ventures to branch out and bring in more people have been successful.

“I know how it is with new business,” Billington said. “No new business just pops off unless you’re the Cook Out and you just get lucky one day when McDonald’s is shut down. Something new like this takes a little while to catch on. The good thing is we don’t get the same kids every Friday. We are starting to see new faces.”

Billington said he looks forward to the opportunities he will have to expand the business and provide a place to cut a rug for not only college students, but the entire community.

Story by Hunter HarrellFeatures Editor

Roots 5 entertains, educates students

October 10, 2014 Features
Hannah Fowl/The News Chris Scruggs and the Stone Fox Five perform performed at the 5th annual Roots Concert. The band was one of three acts at the event.

Hannah Fowl/The News
Chris Scruggs and the Stone Fox Five perform performed at the 5th annual Roots Concert. The band was one of three acts at the event.

The annual Roots 5 Concert took the stage of Lovett Auditorium Tuesday, entertaining its audience with the sounds of bluegrass and country music.

There was a large turnout at the historic theater, where the audience was treated to performances from Newton and Thomas, Chris Scruggs and the Stone Fox Five and guitarist Kenny Vaughn.

The concert was sponsored by Murray State’s history department and the English and philosophy department.

Ted Belue, coordinator of the Roots concert, said the music played at the concert are ancient tones that underlie a majority of today’s American Music.

Each year Belue hosts this concert with genres ranging from bluegrass, jazz, swing, country and blues. He said roots music led to today’s sounds.

Belue teaches a class on “American Music Roots History” at the University and brings these artists here to demonstrate those Roots kind of sounds.

“Our music is traditionally based Roots wise, but we deliver it in a contemporary fashion,” said Mark Newton, part of the Newton and Thomas duo.

Mark Newton and Steve Thomas were first to perform, playing songs off their album “Reborn.” They also threw in some gospel music, and even brought in some Scottish folk music, and had someone play bag pipes for one song.

The duo has a Grammy Nomination, a CMA nomination and several International Bluegrass Music Awards under their belt and have been together for almost three years.

They ended their set with their most successful song “Old McDonald Sold the Farm.”

“It’s sort of a play-off of ‘Old McDonald’ in this day and time not being able to keep his farm and having to sell it for development,” Newton said. “So it has a little serious content to it, but it’s fun at the same time. It stayed No. 1 for about four or five months on the Bluegrass charts, and the video we had for it went No. 1 too, so we’ve had a lot of success with it.”

The second band to play was Chris Scruggs and the Stone Fox Five. Chris Scruggs, grandson of Bluegrass musician Earl Scruggs, was born and raised in Nashville, Tenn.

He has played with musicians arraying from George Jones to Zooey Deschanel.

He also took part in many Grammy-nominated projects and movie soundtracks like Cormac McCarthy’s “All The Pretty Horses.” When he is in his hometown of Nashville, he plays every Sunday at the Stone Fox night club with his band.

  Scruggs said he and his band have the “pre Elvis sound,” the way country music sounded before it was affected by the arrival of rock ‘n’ roll.

“The country music we play was more the style that was popular in the ’40s and ’50s, like honky-tonk style,” Scruggs said. “After Elvis happened and rock ‘n’ roll became big, they started changing the sound of country music to keep up with the times. So the music we play is after World War II and before the rock ‘n’ roll craze happened.”

The concert focused on letting the audience, especially the younger generation present, and experience the Roots music sound.

“One of the special things about music in the last 100 years is that we have the ability to record music,” Scruggs said. “So once a performance is captured, it’s there forever. And that’s wonderful, but there is a different experience when you hear something live. Especially roots music, be it country, bluegrass, jazz, blues, or rock ‘n’ roll for that matter. It’s a different experience to be in a room with those players when they’re performing.”

“There’s less and less of the kind of country we play,” Scruggs said. “So I think it’s very important that young people who are interested in this kind of music to take it on, learn about it, emerce themselves in it and share it with younger generations to come.”

Story by Taylor InmanStaff writer

‘Blacc Hollywood’ is Taylor-made

August 22, 2014 Music Review
Photo courtesy of thatsenuff.com Wiz Khalifa released his sixth studio album, “Blacc Hollywood,” Tuesday. The album features the popular single “We Dem Boyz.”

Photo courtesy of thatsenuff.com
Wiz Khalifa released his sixth studio album, “Blacc Hollywood,” Tuesday. The album features the popular single “We Dem Boyz.”

“Blacc Hollywood” is not for the casual listener.

Did that catch your attention? I’d like to start out by saying I listen to music and I listen to a lot of it. I have never been a fan of rap or hip-hop. However, I have a major respect for the art and a guilty pleasure for Wiz Khalifa.

I have in my possession 11 Wiz Khalifa mixtapes and have listened to a good portion of the five studio albums already released.

The album, “Blacc Hollywood,” released Tuesday, is geared toward people like me. “Blacc Hollywood” features members of Taylor Gang throwing out its usual party anthems layered between some questionable tracks that the casual listener would discard as slow or just strange.

After reading multiple reviews I have found casual listeners hear a distinct lack of flow in “Blacc Hollywood.”

However, for me, “Blacc Hollywood” is the anthem of the Taylor Gang lifestyle. You don’t have to support or even understand it, but something about the album just allows you to listen to what Khalifa, as an artist, has to say.

Track No. 1 “Hope” begins with a spoken word by Chevy Woods. The introductions to all Khalifa albums are a sign for what to expect through the album and the surprising reality of Woods’ words foreshadows the theme of the album.

Track No. 2 is “We Dem Boyz,” which was released as a single in February. The track has a great beat and it definitely showcases the rowdy side of Taylor Gang, but track No. 3 takes a sharp dive into a serious love song, “Promises.” The Pittsburgh rapper croons “let’s get caught in the moment,” causing me to forget about the previous rowdiness of “We Dem Boyz,” and enjoy the track.

Following the intimate song “Promises,” Khalifa transitions into the next single from the album “KK.” This song has an awesome beat and is one of the songs I consider as a party song that the casual listener could enjoy. But track No. 5 “House in the Hills” featuring another prominent member of Taylor Gang, Curren$y, hit a soft spot for me. The last line of the first verse draws your attention as Khalifa tells you a little bit about his life growing up in Pittsburgh and how his story should be used to motivate people. After all, Khalifa is “25 and not dead.”

Though that may seem like a strange message, the chorus states “when you work hard to get it that’s how you feel.” Now, I didn’t grow up in Pittsburgh and have no way of relating to his situation, but listening to this song, I am glad to give this artist my money.

The track that follows the emotional “House in the Hills” is one Khalifa released specifically for females to use in Vine videos. The song is called “Ass Drop,” and the beat is intoxicating.

The rest of the album follows the same up and down emotional roller coaster from fun to more serious.

Though track No. 7, “Raw,” has a hard beat, it transitions into “Stayin’ Out All Night,” where Wiz says “I’mma leave all my problems out on the floor / I’mma drink so much that I can’t make it home / So would you take me home?” The soft beat is nothing like you would expect but is reminiscent of Khalifa’s hit “Young, Wild and Free.”

“So High” and “Still Down” are the next two tracks, ironically. Another hint that Khalifa is fully aware of is the “lack of flow.”

“True Colors” is the final track of the album (unless you purchase the deluxe edition, of course) and features Nicki Minaj. While it is not my favorite on the album, I would not be surprised if it becomes one of the most popular. The song basically is an anthem where Wiz talks about “doing him.” No matter what other people have to say about the artist, he simply makes his music to make music, not to please others. As a music lover, I have mad respect for that.

Though the album may not be for the casual listener, it is a gem. It gives you a peek inside the life of an artist and his time spent making his way to the top. “Blacc Hollywood” may not be your lifestyle,but it is worth a listen.

 

Story by Hunter Harrell, Features Editor

 

 

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