Currently Listening To: My Top Five Favorite Tracks

Queens of the Stone Age,  Tyler, The Creator , The Horrors, Eric Heron, Cage The Elephant.

 

1. The Evil Has Landed by Queens of the Stone Age

 

 

2. Boredom by Tyler, The Creator (with Rex Orange County and Anna of the North)

 

3. Take It or Leave It by Cage The Elephant (Album: Unpeeled)

 

4. Obi-Wan by Eric Heron

 

5. Something To Remember Me By   by The Horrors

 


 

Thank You for listening to my favorite jams this week! Hope you found something new and something that you like!

-Alina

Lana Del Rey : Lust for Life REVIEW

(photo by Neil Krug )

Just a few weeks ago, sad-pop singer Lana Del Rey released her latest album Lust For Life which contains 16 mind-blowing tracks that span a range of relevant topics but stick true to her ‘Summertime Sadness’ trademark. Lana Del Rey’s songs possess a nostalgia for an Americana landscape full of classic heroes and anti-heroes such as James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Jim Morrison and God. Lana Del Rey a.k.a. Elizabeth Grant often blurs the lines between her persona and her self (Lizzy) or so the public thinks. Evidence of these blurry lines can be seen on stage when she performs, her presence is intense and mimic’s tones found in her music videos but there is something there within her that is honest and very very personal as she sings.

Lana Del Rey is a bad girl who lives in a past-present time shift full of drugs and abusive men, attributes that are linked to Lizzy’s personal life which she has used to evoke her inner muse since the beginning. Lana holds the reigns for a the millennial generation that can relate(?) to hard love, drugs and crime (possibly). Old American styles, and Hollywood icons that have been canonized by American culture are used creatively to highlight and paint her music, making her work uniquely American. Relate-able or not, Lana is doing something that no other musician is at this time, she is synthesizing her experiences and music with specific themes that evoke another life all together. Simply put, the world that Lizzy creates from her influences such as Americana and old Hollywoodland gives her a unique style that can only be found in her music and Lana Del Rey persona.

What does Lust For Life do that Lana’s other albums don’t?

Honeymoon, Lana’s previous albumwas released only two years ago but is a completely different animal from Lust for Life. It appears that Lana’s inward journey through reflecting on her romantic past is finally moving onto a social critique of a present day America. Can anyone blame her? In these troubling times it is more important than ever that cultural icons such as artists, musicians and actresses take a stand and speak out against ignorance and intolerance, they are the most viewed positions in our society for their relevance in our day-to-day lives (music/movies/performances) and they have the ability to speak to large audiences in monumental voices. It is evident that Lana is aware of this fact as she brings up socio-political issues in her songs while evoking past events such as ‘Coachella-Woodstock in My Mind’, the Beatles references (‘Tomorrow Never Came’) while at the same time nodding her head in recognition to one of her big influences Nirvana and Kurt Cobain (‘Heroin’). Her romances are still present and paint this album with darker blues in tracks such as ‘White Mustang’, ‘Cherry’, and ‘In My Feelings’. The handful of themes found within these tracks reflects moods that color the entire album as an intense vibrant experience full of love, life and worries. It’s as if the album is saying, I have my own issues with love and life but it’s worth it even when the world feels like it’s falling apart, this is evident in ‘When the World was at War we kept Dancing’.

Lust for Life also evokes more hip-hop tones that call back to Lana’s Born to Die album from 2012. There has been more discussion lately on cultural-appropriation in music and this topic is brought up in a recent interview with The Complex Cover.

Lana leaves us out of breath and bathing in a summer of blues and reflection as always but especially this year her album feels like a sucker punch to the gut chased with a hard drink leaving us dazed and close to knocked out for good.

MY PERSONAL RATING FOR LUST FOR LIFE :  4.5/5

I’ve been a Lana Del Rey fan since Born to Die, following Lana’s work closely for the past five years. I admire her skill to weave in multiple cultural references throughout her work while maintaining a strong theme and presence of self reflection. I love her blues and attitude towards the past which I find thought provoking. The only issue I have ever had with Lana is that she is not a feminist and the males in her songs are often volatile and abusive recalling a time (1950’s- ’60’s) when women were used up and treated as less than men (guess what….it’s still happening!!!). I respect Lana (Lizzy) as an individual and still admire her work regardless of her stance on feminist issues.

MY TOP TRACKS:

White Mustang

Summer Bummer

In My Feelings

Tomorrow Never Came

Heroin

 

SIDE NOTE:

The only question I have for Lana Del Rey,

Is Lust For Life a reference to Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life song???

If not, cool, if so…suddenly my three favorite things can be connected Iggy Pop, Lana Del Rey, and Trainspotting!


 

If you are reading this Thank You for taking time out of your day to read my writing!

I hope you will return in the future!

-Alina

Nine Inch Nails: ADD VIOLENCE EP

Nine Inch Nails Official Store

(image source: store.nin.com)

I am overwhelmed by the music being released this year already…so much I love and so much to look forward to.

One album soon to be released (July 21st, Friday) is Nine Inch Nails ADD VIOLENCE EP.

Two songs have been released already to the public LESS THAN and THIS ISN’T THE PLACE. The latter song was put up just yesterday on NIN’s official youtube channel. The song is melodic, slow and infectious. The video features a machine (audio equipment?) with knobs/buttons/lights labeled phrases such as ‘Amplify Chaos’ and ‘Add Violence’, as the song goes on the camera slowly pulls back revealing more of the machine.

The video is simple and after I viewed it for around the 50th time (not kidding) a few ideas came to me. I have long loved NIN and have worshiped creations by Trent Reznor. His lyrics and technique in song writing is extraordinary. Reznor often critiques society/politics and inner turmoil among other things in his song lyrics (think album YEAR ZERO).

A connection between Year Zero and ADD VIOLENCE is definitely there and NIN has given information about this. Info in article here.

My impression from the video might be a bit of a stretch but this is what I got, old machine (audio equipment of some sort, I’m guessing) appears aged and beaten up a bit but everything appears to ‘work’ as the machine turns on and comes to life. The machine could be a metaphor for a society that still runs on ‘old technology’ or ideals (phrases on buttons/knobs). A reference that comes to my mind is the machine in the underground facility in the early 2000’s TV show LOST. I’m not sure if this is audio equipment but if it is then my idea of a society that runs on ‘old technology or ideals’ could be the spoken word/thought process that is ‘old/archaic’ and still being used today. A bit of a stretch yes but that’s what I think of.

A few thoughts on the video for LESS THAN. Video begins with a woman staring at a TV screen with game controller in her hands (TV looks like an old chunky TV from the 90’s or early 2000’s) a neon bright animation is shown on the TV screen similar to a retro video game from the ’80’s . Lyrics are digitized and zoom up into the viewers face. This reminds me of virtual reality and societies trends today that revolve around the style and technology of past generations. It is as if the woman, in the video, is being consumed by this ‘new/old’ technology until her identity becomes nothing. The repeating line at the beginning of the chorus, “So what are you waiting for? You got what you asked for.” brings to my mind the idea that millennials (myself included) demand more of everything and for a generation that is overloaded with technology in their life, most of us get sucked into a ‘virtual reality’ of what ‘life is like’ (how people look, what people do, who they are etc. think social media/fashion trends and airbrushing photos for flawless skin). The end of the video has quick shots cut in of what I think is a hand reaching out of the TV…reference to VIDEODROME? Not sure but that’s what comes to mind.

(VIDEODROME (1983) photo source: imdb.com)

 

To sum it all up, I am excited for this new release from NIN and will be purchasing a digital copy and most likely a vinyl copy as well for my collection!!!

Please feel free to leave any comments below!

Thank you for reading my writing and I hope you return in the future!

-Alina

 

p.s. I haven’t started watching the new season of Twin Peaks yet but damn NIN on the show is wicked, see video here.

 

iZombie: Why the Living Dead matter

iZombie Poster

(photo source: imdb.com)

iZombie is a series based on the DC comic of the same name originally released in 2010. The TV show began in 2015 and is still running. There are currently four seasons out but I will be covering just the first three. The main premise of the show is about an underground existence of zombies in Seattle, Washington. Their existence was the result of a energy drink (similar to toxic sludge) at a 4th of July boat party turned massacre.

The main character is Olivia, a med student who is newly engaged to Major (Major what? No, his name is Major) after being scratched by a zombie on the boat. Olivia’s (also called ‘Liv’, lol pun on Live) life dramatically changes as her skin and hair loses color and her craving for brains (dowsed in hot sauce) becomes more voracious. Liv becomes a medical examiner, coroner, for the police department allowing her access to fresh brains which she consumes in secret. Her partner, Ravi, also works as a coroner and quickly discovers her eating brains. Ravi’s reaction is the first of many markers in the show that makes it unique for the zombie genre. Ravi is intrigued by Liv’s condition and begins researching the cause for her zombification as well as a cure which is the overall goal for the entire series.

The next character that plays a major role in the series is Clive Babineaux, a detective at the police department. This is where it gets interesting. In this story, after a zombie eats a humans brains they have spontaneous visions belonging to that person. So, after Liv eats the fresh brains she finds in the morgue, suddenly she begins to have visions that relate to the victims death. She is compelled to help solve mysteries relating to homicides and soon teams up with Babineaux who is led to believe she is a psychic with incredible accuracy. The duo begins to solve mysteries, some of which are related to the mysterious energy drink that caused this secret zombie outbreak. Along with Ravi’s help, these three find themselves getting closer to the truth.

Other Key Characters:

Peyton, Liv’s best friend who works for the legal system, learns that Liv is a Zombie.

Major, Liv’s ex-fiance that struggles with a changed Liv and later learning of her Zombification.

Blaine, a ‘Spike-like’ character reminiscent of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show, who is refreshing, evil (at times), and highly manipulative. An admirable adversary for Liv.

These characters are interwoven throughout the story and play out their own particular story lines that contribute to the overall story as a whole.

Key aspects that bring something new to the Zombie genre:

Eating brains gives you visions.

There are zombies already among us, living in secret.

There are zombie-led organizations that influence the lives of humans and zombies.

Zombies are presented as individuals, or together as a minority group under attack by humans. For the most part the zombies try to blend into society in fear that their discovery will lead to their death (‘death-death’ for the living dead: beheading etc).

Although some of these aspects may already be in other comics/movies/tv shows, I believe it is the approach that gives iZombie its uniqueness.

Key aspects about the show that stand out:

There are comic-book qualities to the show, for instance, the memorable intro that is presented as comic book panels, chapter breaks that are marked by a still of the last shot which morphs into comic-like art, and the precise structure of each episode that is form fitting to a comic in a series.

iZombie possesses qualities that can mark it as a meta-show, the show’s ability to be self-reflexive. For example when characters discuss zombie movies/shows within itself while hinting at a critique of iZombie (I noticed this more often in Season 3).

A killer soundtrack, often songs are sung and performed by the character Blaine throughout the series. They are mostly classic rock hits among others but the songs add a little more ‘art’ to the show. Often the songs are sung/played at the end of each episode to gain an emotional effect from the audience while also reflecting what just happened.

Popularity:

iZombie ranks #3 on imdb’s list of “Most Popular ‘Based on Graphic Novel’ Titles”.

This show has high ratings and a lot of admirers for its style and subject matter. I among them find this show to be very well put together and genuinely intriguing to watch. I look forward to watching Season 4, especially after the the end of Season 3 which left me aghast.

(Note: Contrary to professional movie/tv show reviews, I did not include the actors/actresses names after introducing the main characters. I have included the link to imdb.com that possesses all this information. This is just me writing informally.)


 

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read my writing!

I hope that you will return in the future!

Any comments/suggestions are welcome!

-Alina

Working on Reflection: The Complete Poems of Ernest Hemingway

HELLO!

This is just a brief announcement that I am working on a reflection on the book of poems that I just recently finished.

(image: amazon.com)

The Complete Poems of Ernest Hemingway

In my reflection I will be discussing my favorite poems in the collection and why. I am also thinking of comparing a few select poems to key works of Hemingway’s such as ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’, ‘A Moveable Feast’ and ‘The Sun Also Rises’.

I hope to have this reflection complete and posted on my blog by the end of the week (June 18th)!

Again I thank you all for reading my work! and I hope that you enjoy this upcoming reflection!

-Alina

 

p.s. Heads up, I am almost done with Pinsky’s Singing School, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from my Fiction and Poetry Summer Reading Lists. I also plan on doing short reflections on these.