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April 2020

Artistic Picture of the Sea Against the Shore

Portrait of a Lady on Fire Film Review

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“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is best described as a visual love poem.

Recently released on Hulu in 2019, the French drama centers around a painter named Marianne who is tasked with secretly painting a wedding portrait of Heloise, a reluctant bride-to-be who just left the convent. Marianne pretends she is her companion for walks, and the two young women share lingering glances as they walk around the edges of cliffs, which eventually sparks a fiery romance within the isolated island they are stuck on. 

Set at the end of the eighteenth century in Brittany, France, director Celine Sciamma describes the film as a “manifesto about the female gaze.” This certainly rings true considering men are only given a few seconds of screentime; the majority of the film is dedicated to the women’s eyes. 

The cinematography is bare-boned and simplistic — its most grand setting is the vast, blue sea the women often teeter upon. But this is not a burden on the artful aspect of the film. It instead works in the film’s favor by emphasizing the intensity of the relationship depicted, one that doesn’t need extravagance or grand gestures to prove authenticity. 

The dialogue is fueled by intense silences that make room for the female gaze the film highlights, including having the musical score only occur in two of the film’s scenes. When they talk at length, it is with deep purpose, which creates layers of meaning upon its characters. In the most dialogue-heavy scene of the film, Heloise is reciting the tragic Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, two lovers whose time together comes to a bitter end. 

But above all of the silence and simplicity comes a slow burn that will inevitably leave you walking around with a melancholic ache in your chest for days after you’re done watching the film.

In this case, the ache isn’t a bad thing. Few stories in life are meant to be carried with you like this one; few films are created to pass on the weight of what it means to love and be loved — to feel the distance between the past turn to fleeting memory. This kind of ache is meant to be held close to the heart, and it’s certain that “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” will share this for generations to come.


Picture of Clouds in the Sunset

Jeremy Zucker’s Debut Album “love is not dying” Highlights the Melodramatics and Uncertainty of Modern Youth

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Graduate student Jeremy Zucker didn’t dream of pursuing a career in music. Creating music had always been something he loved doing as a hobby, but as he slowly began releasing music throughout his college years, he was quickly discovered and offered many record label deals. Now, the young talent has put out his very first debut album, “love is not dying.” 

Although Zucker has a massive fanbase, his newest album remains true to his roots, capitulating a powerful listening experience for his fans. “Love is not dying” is a concept album — a record that illustrates Jeremy navigating through life as he experiences hardships all while trying to conquer his hopes and dreams. The album is a poetic and honeyed story that captures Zucker’s life-altering decisions. 

“The album is a lot of introspection and it really outlines my whole life this past year and a half from the perspective of my mental health, my emotions, and my relationships.” Zucker stated in an interview with L’Officiel. 

“Love is not dying” captures the essence of melodramatics and the uncertainty of today’s youth. “Still,” the first track,  sets the tone for the rest of the album through its melodic daze.  Its serene and soothing sound features birds chirping and distant conversations that make you feel you’re outside with Zucker. 

Early into the record, Zucker displays his vulnerability to his listeners with the song “Orchid.” “Orchid” is a detailed and intimate love song. It’s a powerful modern ballad with soft vocals and  lyrics about regret. 

Following “Orchid,” “Julia” also displays an act of vulnerability. Based on a true story, “Julia” is a song about realization and closure; it holds a flair of sentimentality and a dark sense, resembling a love coming to an end.

“[Julia] encapsulates the most important emotions and feelings that come up in the album” Zucker shared. 

Ballads aren’t all Zucker has to offer on “love is dying,” though. More upbeat songs like “lakehouse” and “oh, mexico” create an electric feel. “Lakehouse” is a mixture of a happy and sad song with a pop-infused beat, whereas “oh, mexico” is a tune that starts off soft, but then picks up to a more upbeat sound with the arrangement of an electric piano. “love is not dying” is a euphoric dreamscape of ballads, pops and acoustics. 

In this album, Jeremy Zucker does an incredible job of transforming his inner feelings into a therapeutic journey. During this journey, Zucker makes room for acceptance and growth and expresses his emotions through music. For it being Zucker’s first album, “love is not dying” is an immaculate project — and I can’t wait to see what more Jeremy Zucker has to offer in the future. 


Picture of Colorful Guitars

One World: Together At Home

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Global Citizens, a group working towards ending extreme poverty, partnered with Lady Gaga to celebrate healthcare workers and The World Health Organization, or WHO. Famous singers, actors and comedians from around the world were invited to share their art and messages of support for the cause. 

A livestream of the six-hour pre-show began on April 18 at 2p.m. EST. It was globally broadcasted on Twitter, Youtube, Amazon Prime and other streaming sites. The pre-show was a mix of music and heartbreakingly beautiful stories from healthcare workers. Stars like Jameela Jamil, Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson and Megan Rapinoe cameoed to praise WHO and the workers putting their lives in danger to help sick individuals. A mix of singers from around the world did the same, including Adam Lambert, Eason Chan, Leslie Odom Jr, Hozier, Jennifer Hudson, Ke$ha, Lang Lang, Luis Fonsi, Vishal Mishra, Ben Platt, and Sebastián Yatra —just to name a few.

After the pre-show, the show continued at 8 p.m. EST on NBC, CBS and ABC for another two hours. The hosts Jimmy Kimmel, Steven Colbert and Jimmy Fallon kicked off the show. Stars like Beyoncé, Victoria and David Beckham, Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street, Amy Poehler, Oprah and Mathew McConaughey shared facts about COVID-19 and added kind words for the workers involved in keeping people healthy. Singers such as Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Lizzo, Paul McCartney and more came together to perform for the cause. 

Each performance brought its own surprise; due to their virtual nature, nothing was cohesive; small differences like their location, how they were filmed and the way they went about performing their song created a dysfunctional atmosphere. This fact, however, only made the show all the more beautiful. Singers from different cultures and backgrounds of music shared their art with the world, serving as a reminder that we are all going through this together. 

These times, despite being dysfunctional and odd, still seem to be bringing people closer together than ever before. With each song and message, the feeling of hope almost became tangible. More than anything, it served as a reminder that none of us are alone in this, though it may be hard to see that at times. 

Hope, love and respect all played large roles in the overall theme of the day. Anger or annoyance was nowhere to be found, even at times when it might have seemed acceptable. The respect for the work being done by WHO and the frontline workers took over any bitterness in an instant. Beyond respect and hope the theme was clear: our world will probably never be the way it was before, but that should never stop any of us from trying to find joy and hope in the present. 


Fiona Apple at Damrosch Park Aug 8, 2015.

Fiona Apple is the Freest She’s Ever Been: Fetch the Bolt Cutters Album Review

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So much has been said about Fiona Apple that it seems impossible to add anything more. With four Grammy-nominated albums, spanning genres of jazz, art pop and indie, fans have been waiting eight years for a new album. That day has finally come with “Fetch the Bolt Cutters.” 

Released on April 17, 2020 and recorded in her Venice Beach house, the album has already garnered critical acclaim, with Pitchfork giving it the first perfect album score since Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” in 2010. 

Within the heavy percussion sound, raw vocals and occasional dog bark, Apple describes the album’s central theme as “not being afraid to speak.” It’s a sentiment perfectly incorporated here as she rages against Brett Kavanaugh, invites her ex’s new girlfriend to her old things and calls out her childhood bullies.

Apple certainly holds nothing back in her songs centered around depression, jealousy, trauma, and resentment. More than that, she makes an effort to portray female relationships in a world that often tries to diminish them.

In “Shameika,” Apple describes a middle school classmate that tells her she has potential. It’s a detail that especially stands out to Apple, since middle school was when her relationships with other women were first messed up due to bullying, she told Vulture.

This relationship continued to struggle well into her adult life; in “Newspaper,” she sings to her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, saying “I watch him walk over, talk over you, be mean to you, and it makes me feel close to you.” Perhaps there is no better example of tricky female relationships than an ex’s girlfriend, and Apple illustrates this without fault.

It isn’t until the eighth song that we see these female connections being healed. In “Ladies,” Apple mourns for the women that have been pitted against her by men, specifically in cheating relationships. It’s a bit tongue in cheek, with Apple insisting “take it easy, when he leaves me, please be my guest to whatever I might’ve left in his kitchen cupboards.”

The intense emotions that define womanhood come to a bitter peak with “For Her,” a song inspired by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault accusations. “For Her” is deeply personal and includes echoing vocals of multiple women, showing the true solidarity and strength that they possess no matter the circumstances.

The messages can certainly feel weighty, but ultimately, Apple finds hope in each of them with her title track “Fetch the Bolt Cutters.” It’s a fight for freedom that unquestionably wins with this album. As she puts it in her Vulture interview,“The message in the whole record is just: Fetch the bolt cutters and get yourself out of the situation that you’re in — whatever it is that you don’t like.”

Picture of McCartney Album

Maybe I’m Amazed: McCartney Turns 50 

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Paul McCartney’s solo debut “McCartney” turned 50 on April 17, 2020; “McCartney” was the first solo Beatle record to be released, marking the end of one era but the start of another: McCartney’s impressive and solid musical journey that’s still rocking today. 

In celebration of “McCartney” turning 50, Spotify hosted a listening party on April 17, giving fans the chance to discuss their favorite tunes and lyrics through a live chat feature. Paul McCartney also released a newly restored version of “Maybe I’m Amazed” and a music video to commemorate the big anniversary.  

“McCartney,” which was recorded between December 1969 and February 1970, encapsulates McCartney’s transition from Beatle to stoned, shaggy-haired and whiskey-breathed solo musician.  However, the album also encapsulates his marriage to Linda McCartney and her aid and devotion to him, making this album an ode to the photographer. In addition to singing background vocals, Linda also photographed for the record; she documented their rural retreat in Scotland and their everyday family life.

Though the other Beatles — John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — and critics didn’t fancy the record, “McCartney” spent three weeks at #1 on the Billboard chart, and it stands out today as a vulnerable and raw project. Full of home recordings, experimentations and Beatle rejects, “McCartney” allowed the then 27-year-old to display his most unaltered self — which helped him through the band’s hostile breakup. 

“It was very interesting to do and it had a certain kind of rawness, because I was breaking loose after The Beatles, we all got a feeling of that, I think,” shared McCartney with his official website.

“McCartney” focuses on themes like love and the everyday, mundane pleasantries, making this record as relevant now as it was then. Check out top tunes off of “McCartney” below, and stream the album on Spotify and Apple Music today. 

The Lovely Linda: Penned by McCartney for his wife, the 44 second song is accompanied by an acoustic guitar and a beaming McCartney on vocals, who ends the opening track with giggles — giving listeners a glimpse into his happy marriage and newfound life away from the Beatles.

Every Night:“Every Night” shows McCartney’s hope and hopelessness during his trying time. Addressed to Linda, the optimistic tune remains simple with mature “woos,” playful lyrics and limited instruments, sounding like the perfect romantic campfire song. 

Man We Was Lonely: Inspired by the Beatles’ breakup, “Man We Was Lonely” takes on a folksy and country attitude with Linda singing softly and hauntingly in the background. Tucked somewhere in Scotland in their farmhouse, the two and their children were secluded, yet “were fine all the while” in their domestic haven. 

Maybe I’m Amazed:A McCartney staple, “Maybe I’m Amazed,” is one of the most loved and most popular tunes off of “McCartney,” touching peoples’ hearts to this day due to its tender lyrics about Linda’s strength and love and McCartney’s utmost gratitude and amazement. Linda got McCartney out of bed and inspired him to make “silly love songs,” until her passing in 1998 to breast cancer. “Every love song I write is for Linda,” McCartney once shared.  

Kreen-Akrore: The most experimental track on “McCartney,” was inspired by a Brazilian Indian tribe McCartney watched a documentary on. “The idea behind it was to get the feeling of their hunt,” said McCartney. The lyricless song is infused with jungle noises, intense electric guitar riffs and dramatic, heart thumping drumming that match and intertwine with McCartney’s heavy breathing.