Milo – Blog#1

I had a good friend, who I was also infatuated with. We would talk a lot. Our conversations ranged from deep one hour long chats to shallow small talk. We used to recommend each other different songs and try to top one another. One day he linked me to the song “Just Us (For my friend Robert, who doesn’t live here anymore)” by Milo. I fell in love with the song instantly. I downloaded Milo’s entire album “I wish my brother Rob was here,” which was free on Milo’s site. I listened to the album on the subway, while I was walking, while I was doing work, and while friends were over. When we were asked to pick an album to analyze I had a lot of possibilities in my head. I was debating between Childish Gambino, Clams Casino, The Black Keys, Matt & Kim, and Milo. I ended up choosing Milo because I wanted to know more about him. His music moved me in a way the other artists on my list haven’t.

The main reason I chose Milo was because his clever raps stood out. Some of my favorite Milo lines are “Kurt Vonnegut writes off death with a, ‘So it goes’. I guess that’s the primary difference between a poet and writer of prose. I’m not trying to compress your existence into nicely wrapped tidbits. That’d be an insult to your memory as well as metaphysics.” His words are so clever and yet moving. Some of his songs had my eyes filled to their brim in tears. I feel my heart is swelling up with his rhythmic beats.

Unfortunately, a week ago, the good friend I had turned out to be someone else entirely. We ended our friendship, but I was starting this entire blog based on analyzing this album that he had recommended me. The songs now that I listen to from Milo are even more moving.  I, in a different way, lost a very important friend and person in my life. It’s especially terrible when unrequited love is involved. In a way, I’m glad that I stuck with this album. It fills me with sadness at times, but maybe that emotion will help me get into the shoes of Milo and the album he created in memory of his friend Robert.

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“The Best Money Democracy Can Buy: Bush Family Fortunes” Greg Palast 2004.

I have watched documentaries similar to this one in the past. I already knew about the scandalizing way Bush won the election. This jogged my memory. I liked the way the filmmakers included the creepy music in the beginning with screeches to add effects. At first, I believed it was too dramatic and exaggerated, but then I realized it wasn’t. Bush deceived millions of people and silenced their voices. He tricked Americans and still somehow was allowed to be a President, despite all the voices against him. This is BIG. This deserves all the dramatic creepy music in the world. They also played this crazy wild rock music when talking about powerful George Bush near the beginning. They would also refer to George Bush Senior as George Bush’s daddy. It was humorous how hard Greg Palast was trying to go to anger and make fun of Bush. He wanted to belittle Bush as much as possible and show the audience that this guy is awful. The main speaker also dressed in a detective costume, which I thought was silly. He had a trench coat, a hat, and a notepad.  

The interview that most stuck with me in this video is of Willie Steen. The people in charge of the voter registration in Florida turned him down because they said he was a listed felon. He explained in his interview that he served four years in the military. He served in the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Since then, he’s been active in the medical field. He said “Pretty screwed up how they did me, but what can I say?” And it’s very true, what can he say or do? His voice was snuffed out, as were millions of others. It’s awful that so many Americans have the mindset that their vote or voice doesn’t count, but it’s perfectly understandable why. I meet a lot of people who tell me they don’t vote because they don’t think it will change anything. Some of their reasons are because of things like this election. Others say because no matter which president is elected, they’ll all act the same and ignore voices in America.  94,000 votes were tossed out during the Bush/Gore election because they were believed to be felons. 95% of those voters were innocent.

Blog #4 – Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke Story

Lately, there have been a lot of backwards thoughts in government. I am referring to the Blunt Amendment and the Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke story. I first heard about the Blunt Amendment on “The Daily Show.” Had it passed, this law would have allowed employers to dictate whether or not to provide their workers with contraception or “any health service required by the 2010 health-care law.” Unfortunately, this amendment was very close to passing. The Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke story also reminded me of backwards thinking. At first I thought that Limbaugh was just misquoted and the press was trying to exaggerate what was said. When I read his actual statements, however, I was mortified.

What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex — what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”

I am embarrassed to be represented by this man who can say such idiotic things and be heard, yet millions of women are being silenced over these bills that directly affect them. Fluke is not “essentially” saying she must be paid to have sex in the slightest. She is defending the right of women to have contraception easily accessible and affordable.  

            It is 2012 already. By now I thought America would be leading the world with open minded thinking. By now I thought religion would be eliminated from government. It is disappointing that we still have people in power who think like Limbaugh. The Blunt Amendment was only lost by three votes. Americans are advanced in so many things and are still one of the more powerful countries, yet how do we claim we are open and accepting of everyone? The idea to to go over the president’s head and tweek his health care plan so there are less rights for the people is barbaric. -290

            I can understand the other view of this. Conservatives feel like religious employers shouldn’t have to pay for contraception since it goes against their beliefs. While I understand this, I also can clearly see that any employer will be able to claim a religious affiliation just to get out of paying more. While this law would be benefiting religious employers it would also disadvantage millions of others. There is a difficult and blurry line when it comes to religion and government.

 

Music Blog #6 – Final Impression

Mr. Beast was quite an experience. There were some songs that were too loud and chaotic for me, while others were so beautiful I would tear up. As a whole this album is great and I believe there is a little taste of something for everyone, which is rare in albums. I have read a few reviews and many say that Mogwai isn’t versatile, but I disagree. Their old music was extremely loud and noisy, while this album is more tamed. Mogwai uses their music to manipulate the heart strings and eye ducts of their listeners. I can only imagine what they have in store for the future. On his thoughts about Mr. Beast, Alan McGee said It is the record that they have always threatened to make …For Mogwai this is a creative career high … sure other records might sell more – but they are going to be hard pressed to beat this.” I agree. I have yet to listen to their other albums, but from the reviews this is one of their best ones.

In my first entry I wrote about what I thought the album cover meant. While I was researching the album recently, I stumbled across the actual artist’s commentary. The artist’s name is Amanda Church and the title of her piece is called “Milkbar.” For her explaination about the meaning she said “You know that scene in ‘Aliens’ (the second one I think) that bishop the robot is all messed up by the alien and lying on the ground? He’s got this white milky stuff pouring out of him instead of blood, and as a kid watching it, that was so completely horrific and profoundly sad to me…’Mr. beast’ gave me the same feelings of horrible (un)sense but also sustaining beauty.“ I thought Church’s explanation was so simple yet thoughtful. “Mr. Beast” is so tragically beautiful and Church’s commentary only reaffirmed that idea more in my head. I now see the album, and though I haven’t seen the movie, I am filled with the same feelings she was as a young girl.
After finding out about the album art I wanted to find out the significance of the album title and the band’s name. On the band’s page they answered both these questions. Two members of the band “were walking out to the hall where all the taxi drivers have those signs that say passengers’ names on them. One of them said ‘Mr and Mrs Beast’ which, after a 10-hour flight, is funnier than life itself.” I thought it was a nice little story, but it made me a bit sad that there wasn’t a deeper meaning. I shouldn’t have been surprised since most of their song titles also are chosen at random. As for the name Mogwai, “the name comes from the film Gremlins and means ghost in Chinese. It has no significant meaning.” I thought this was an interesting tidbit as well, but again I was disappointed to see there was not more thought put into it. I realize now, however, that Mogwai doesn’t put emphasis in words. To them the words are just background. The real important thing to them is the music. That is how they express themselves. Who needs to decipher symbolic titles and band names when they say everything they want through the notes they play?

Music Blog #5 – Least Favorite Song

            My least favorite song of “Mr. Beast” is Glasgow Mega-Snake. I didn’t like this song because it sounded like just a bunch of noise to me. As I researched on Mogwai’s music I found out that this song is a good depiction of what they usually sound like. I enjoyed most of this album because of the emotional roller-coaster it put me in. This song stood out to me because it seemed very angry. When I listened to it I imagined two people fighting passionately. It made me extremely anxious and almost imitated the feeling of having butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous. Despite me not liking this song, it was put together very well. It still forced me to feel something, which I think was Mogwai’s goal. I would give this song three stars out of five because the only reason I don’t like it is because I hate when music makes me feel angry. 

            Having to listen to this song was definitely challenging. I was into almost every song except for this one in the album. I couldn’t skip it because it is against the whole project. The point is I have to listen to the entire album and give my input and what I’ve learned. When I was reading the group’s frequently asked questions section, I noticed the title of this song in one of the answers. They began their band when “Stuart and Dominic met at a Ned’s Atomic Dustbin gig in Glasgow in 199? …and four years after that, the band formed and Martin joined as the drummer.” I thought it was very interesting that they chose to name the one song that sounds like their original songs and titled it with the place they first really met and started Mogwai. It’s also surprising that the song that seems to symbolize their start and who they used to be is so angry and passionate. I wondered if their other song titles signified anything important, because I couldn’t really read into them and figure it out. They also answered that question “We make up the music first and add the titles later. Because we don’t use a singer, it’s much harder to come up with a name for a song so it’ll be something that one of us has said or seen that sounds good or makes us laugh or whatever. Arguably, the titles have nothing to do with the songs .“ The answer made me laugh, but disappointed me a little because I like hearing the stories behind the titles because they are little clues to help deciphering the song.

Music Blog #4 – Most Inspiring Song

The most inspiring song in the album Mr. Beast would have to be, Auto Rock.  This song is hauntingly beautiful, mixed with simple chord progressions and complex layered rhythms. The beginning of the song slowly builds up the listener’s emotion, which most of Mogwai’s songs are known for. This one, however, beat out the rest of the songs in this album. When this song is playing even the most mundane tasks seem extremely significant. My emotions are heightened and I feel as if everything I love is at stake. It makes the listener feel powerful and in control of whatever situation. It is very difficult to put into words what this song makes you feel, but inspiring is the first word that comes to mind when I hear the strong bold drums.

I mainly played this song on the subway from my commute to school and home. Even when I was just sitting on the blue seats in such a boring inactive setting, I felt empowered by this song.  It made me feel like I was about to do something life changing and amazing. I would want to get up and start running as the rhythm began to speed up. The drums in this song are so powerful and it feels as if your heart is playing with the song and is being manipulated by the tempo. This isn’t the type of song that can be played lightly in the background. You cannot help but feel taken over by, Auto Rock.

            This song reminds me of the article professor Dunphy sent out about why Adele’s music makes so many people emotional and teary eyed. The word for it is appoggiaturas, or grace notes and it “contrasts the melody and creates tension” causing the listener to feel emotional. In Youngteam’s review of “Mr. Beast” they described the intro of, Auto Rock, as “a soulful piano surge that delicately prods at every control center in the brain.”  I thought this short description of the song was spot on. This song almost has a magical effect. The same article made a commentary about how the majority of Mogwai’s music has the recurring theme of a “quiet- loud/quiet-loud” buildup, but this song differed from their usual music.

 

Music Blog #3 – Most Likely to be in a Movie Soundtrack

            The song in “Mr. Beast” that is most likely to be a in a movie soundtrack is Acid Food. This song is so tragically beautiful. Whenever I listen to it I have an entire movie scene playing out in my head. I see a man who is heartbroken over a woman and he keeps thinking about her and the times they’ve had together. It is bittersweet because the memories of them together are so happy, but sad because she is no longer in his life. In another post I also wrote about how this song gives reminds me of a Hawaiian or tropical place too. It’s hard to think of a bittersweet song with a Hawaiian tone. Mogwai believes their music should evoke the emotion they want from the listener. They don’t want just the words and lyrics to get out what they mean. The listener is supposed to feel something from the instruments and the lyrics aren’t meant to be as significant.

The lyrics are:

“What happened after the storm
Was everyone okay
I tried to call again
I think they’ve gone away

(Will you look the other way)
(Will you look the other way)
(Will you look the other way)
(Will you look the other way)

I dreamt of an ice-age today
Cold and white to see
I walked for miles and miles
They came back another way
We learned them as we went
Forgot them straight away
The ones we left behind
The ones we sent away

(Will you look the other way)
(Will you look the other way)
(Will you look the other way)
(Will you look the other way)”

In the first stanza of the song it sounded like they are talking about a relationship. The storm represents a fight between a man and a woman and he continued trying to fix the relationship, but he pushed her away. This is just my interpretation, however. This song, like most of the others in Mr.Beast, has no specific meaning. All their songs are up for interpretation and mean to be deciphered by the listener. Mogwai doesn’t want to have to tell their listeners what they are trying to get them to feel. Their songs are generally heartbreaking and beautiful, which would fit most dramatic movies.  Even the lyrics in this song are so vague that they could mean anything.

            I would give this song four and a half stars. It is hauntingly beautiful and it stays in the listener’s head. Many different elements are woven together and the end product is so moving. I wondered how other people viewed this album and as I searched I found many negative reviews mixed in with the good ones. The negative reviews felt like a personal attack on me. I was angered and annoyed by them. One reviewer wrote “Mogwai are the kind of group that thinks ‘expanding the palette’ means slapping electronics on top of bedsit melodrama. Their efforts at stretching boundaries falter because they have inscribed themselves within such narrow aesthetic parameters, hitting a fourth chord feels like a massive achievement.” I agree that they have a common theme within their music, but all artists do. Musicians become famous because they perfect their own type of style and Mogwai’s style is their own. Though I have not yet listened to their other albums, plenty of other reviewers pointed out how this is different than Mogwai’s other stuff. They are perfecting their style, and I don’t believe they’ve given themselves narrow boundaries. It’s silly to say that any album sounds too similar to the other albums made before it. Of course songs by the same artist will sound a bit similar. I think Mogwai did a terrific job at giving this album variety.

Music Blog #2 – On The Radio

This album would not be on the radio at all. Not because it does not deserve the recognition, but because unique and breathtaking music is rarely played for the masses. People want songs that give them a good feeling inside or something catchy that can be played five times in under an hour. Mogwai’s, Mr. Beast, does not  have songs like that. The songs in this album are heartbreaking and emotional and unexpected. People want their songs to have happy endings, but, Mr. Beast, is about the struggle for that happy ending. Alen McGee, head of Creation Records, commented that he “can’t see how [Mr. Beast] is going to be played on Radio One or Radio Two but you know what – it is probably the greatest art rock record that I’ve been involved in since My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. It is possibly better than Loveless.” For the sake of this blog entry I will pretend Mogwai would be accepted by the radio community.

First up in the Mogwai lineup is “Auto Rock.” This is perfect for some deep thinking music or if you are going for a jog. It really energizes you so forget the coffee and just listen to this tune. The next song we have is Glasgow Mega-Snake. This jingle is filled with sick guitar attacks and chaos. I recommend this to anyone who needs some angry music to vent with. The next one goes out to all you that are a feeling a little down right now. Acid Food, has been described as “vocoder-filtered singing and programmed beats with a plaintive lap-steel line.” The last song I will play from this album is, Friend of the Night. This song is one of my favorites and I hope everyone listening out there will love it too. There is a similar buildup in the songs, but this one definitely stands out.
            Honestly, Mogwai, does not sound like anything else out there. If I had to pick a song and artist, however, I would pick “Eluvium” by Radio Ballet. I first heard this song two years ago and it blew me away. It was soft and delicate, yet still evoked so much emotion from the listener. That same feeling was found once again, but more intense with “Mr. Beast.”

Music Blog #1

When I was first choosing an album for this project “Mr. Beast” by Mogwai jumped out for me. I am usually not as into instrumental albums as I am into lyrical groups, but I felt Mogwai was an excellent choice. I originally thought “Mr. Beast” would be fast paced and a lot more electronic. I thought this because the only other instrumental album I have in my library is Ratatat. The group’s name “Mogwai,” sounded very ethnic as well, so I believed there would be an oriental Asian vibe to the music. The cover of the album seemed very cartoonish and silly at first glance, but then I realized it reminded me of paintings I had studied last year. The artist drew contorted humans with their limbs too thin and their heads too big as well. Also, the table on the cover had a bunch of white spills. I thought about the cliché, “don’t cry over spilt milk,” and on the cover it seems like all the characters have is spilt milk. The album could be about how the artists cope with the unfortunate events in their life or the “split milk”, though that could be reading too much into it.

My initial impression was surprise and amazement. It’s a rarity to see artists successfully use their talent to really manipulate people into feeling a certain emotion within every song. That is what Mogwai did in this album. My mood continuously adapted to each song in Mr. Beast. My initial impression of each song differed. The first song, Auto Rock, was gut wrenching. Acid Food was a nice relaxed beat and I was surprised it had lyrics. I wasn’t a big fan of “Glasgow Mega-Snake” because it was a bit too aggressive for my taste. “Travel Is Dangerous” was very beautiful, but at parts bitter. The intro to “Team Handed” was really memorable for me. It was delicate, yet confident. “Friend of the Night” was a very nice song. It reminded me of the end of a movie where the hero is running towards his true love and they embrace. The song “Emergency Trap” gave me a weird anxious feeling, but I enjoyed it. Honestly, I didn’t really like “Folk Death 95” very much. A lot of it was a chaotic mess and then suddenly simple chords. “I Chose Horses” had a very magical and almost childlike beginning. It put a beautiful image into my head of the sun setting. I was unhappy with “We’re No Here” as the last song in this album. I felt like the song started out so strong and unique, and the ending sounded similar to other songs in the album. Image

Huck Finn

The 5th estate did cover it well. Jon Stewart’s segment about it was especially good. I agree with what was said about Mark Twain putting in the n-word for a reason. He used it so many times because back then the word was not a big deal at all. By changing the word to slave, what is it really accomplishing? I understand that the word makes some people uncomfortable. I understand that by changing the word more people will be able to read it, or at least that is the argument. This is a high school reading level book and high school students learn history as well as literature. I’m sure the students will see the correlation between American history and why that word is so freely used in this book. It is a good example of the American mindset back then.

            I don’t think the n-word should be erased from Huckleberry Finn. It is a bit like trying to erase American history or trying to cover it up. Americans should read books from the past and see how far society has come since then. There should be little reminders that point out what huge mistakes we’ve let happen in this nation. Jon Stewart’s guest commented about one of the characters in the book not being able to run away from being a nigger but being able to run away from being a slave. It was a humorous statement that received many laughs, but it made me think. You shouldn’t be able to run away from your history because it defines you. The character in the book was called the n-word because in that period that’s what everyone saw him as. Americans shouldn’t be able to run away from this book and others like it just because it is embarrassing to see how awful people were treated in the past. America’s history is what makes America – the good and the bad.

            It is ridiculous to censor literature because it is offensive. Literature is free and no censorship should be involved. One of the things Americans pride themselves in is how the government can’t control what we say. The censoring of this one book may have a domino effect and begin an entire campaign of censorship in American culture of small imperfections in our history.

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