Spencer Radcliffe, ‘Looking In’ Album Review

Spencer Radcliffe dropped his new full-length LP, Looking In, on October 2nd. Spencer Radcliffe is a young musician and songwriter based out of Chicago, who has been silently killing it in the underground music scene for a few years now.

Radcliffe began making ambient electronic music under the name Blithe Field. This is not Radcliffe’s only project; he was also making music with a full band as Best Witches, a fast-paced, loud-mouth rock and emo band. Radcliffe also released a four-song Ep under the name California Furniture, a slower project than Best Witches but sounding along the same lines of emo with more elements of indie rock.

Both projects (Califonia Furniture and Best Witches) sound very influenced by early Modest Mouse releases like Lonesome Crowded Wast, appearing strongest on the tracks “Yellow”, “Skeleton”, and “Labor Day.”

Spencer Radcliffe preforming in Best Witches in Chicago, photo taken from Couch King Emo's blog.

Spencer Radcliffe performing in Best Witches in Chicago; photo taken from Couch King Emo’s blog.

Radcliffe also works in a solo project under his own name (Spencer Radcliffe). He’s dropped three, six song EPs. Sounding much different from his previous projects, his solo act combines elements of indie rock, experimental rock, folk rock, and ambient music.

Following his split EP with like-minded artist R.L. Kelly, Brown Horseout on Brooklyn-based label, Orchid Tapes, Radcliffe put out his first full-length LP, on booming indie label Runforcover Records, based out of Boston, Massachusetts.

Mia,” the first single Radcliffe dropped, I found to be a bit misleading. I absolutely love the song, which is your typical indie rock song with pop and emo influences, but Mia sounds absolutely nothing like the rest of the record. “Mia” is a 2-minute upbeat jam covering topics of relationships and secrecy.

Being dropped as the first single when the LP went up for pre-order and was announced, it led me to believe that Radcliffe was taking a more math rockish/emo and indie pop approach to his new record. I found this to be exactly quite the opposite.

Radcliffe then dropped the second single from the forthcoming LP, “Mermaid.” Sounding absolutely nothing like “Mia” at all, “Mermaid” is almost in a completely different genre; more ambient, dark, and dreamy.

“Mermaid” is a 5-minute track that starts off with spooky, eerie sounding horns and a light distorted guitar that reminds me of the sound an old creaky, rusted wind mill would make over looking a swamp. The song continues with a prominent acoustic guitar and Radcliffe’s melancholy vocals.

Through out the whole tune, there is faint static in the background along with a heavy humming that sounds like a cat is purring right next to your ear. A simple drum melody chimes in about half way through.

The song has lyrics much different from “Mia” like, “We dare not dream at the same time, so we would dream of nothing at all,” making me feel as though Radcliffe feels lost and this song speaks about not knowing who we are and not caring to find out.”

Spencer Radcliffe on roof top in Chicago. Taken from Run For Cover Records web site.

Spencer Radcliffe on a rooftop in Chicago. Taken from Run For Cover Records website

The Last Single Radcliffe Drops is “Yankee“, which sounded along the same term of style as “Mermaid”. The song kicks off with the lyrics “Dose it make the most sense to eat like a bird?” Radcliffe displays his more cryptic song writing on this track.

“Yankee” is a lot more clean cut than “Mermaid” but, still expresses the experimental rock aspect with it’s awkward acoustic and, loud distorted guitars. not to mention the catching paper bag drums.

The other tracks off Looking In, follow the same lines as “Yankee” and “Mermaid”, some with stronger elements of ambient rock and experimental rock the others.

The title track “Looking In” is completely instrumental, built up of many variations of sound and electronic elements. this is extremely similar to Radcliffe’s work in his previous project Blithe Filed.

Even though this track is the only instrumental track on Looking In, it does not feel out of place as “Mia” did. This is because all the elements that this track is entirely built of are present on almost ever track on the record.

I was beyond impressed by this record, its new and original style and feel made it not only stand out to me but leave me thinking hard about the topics covered in the songs. This is by far one of the grates LPs to be dropped in 2015, I give it a 10/10. I find myself listening to this album daily, I love every track.

this record needs to be experienced in its entirety; stream the whole album for free and purchase a digital copy here: Runforcover Records Bandcamp.

Purchase a physical copy, CD/Cassette tape/Vinyl here: Runforcover records web store 

 

Capitals Create Solid Start

The Washington Capitals are on a solid five-game win streak to start the season. Sitting at third in the metropolitan division with a 6-1 record, the Capitals aim to continue their fine form.

Playing in a star-studded metropolitan division, the Capitals have taken the league by storm, accumulating 29 goals in just seven games¹. Left winger Alex Ovechkin, coming off a monster top scoring season last year (53, 30)², leads the team with five goals¹. He seems to be enjoying himself more on the ice as well, taking on defenders and orchestrating beautiful dekes.

Center Evgeny Kuznetsov has been solid per usual, starting every game and leading the team with 11 points (3, 8)¹. It certainly makes life easier playing with fellow Russian, Ovechkin. But the starting job isn’t his entirely.

A fan favorite, Nicklas Backstrom, is coming back from injury and has been tearing defenses apart in the process. Having played just four games this season, Backstrom has been on fire with seven points (4, 3)¹. Whether Backstrom or Kuznetsov continue to start, the team will be solid.

So far the Capitals have taken out multiple powerful teams, including last year’s Stanley Cup champions the Chicago Blackhawks. Part of the reason for this is the solid back line led by none other than Braden Holtby.

Holtby has been a solid net minder so far, allowing an average of 2.03 goals per game¹. His 144 saves is good enough for a .917 save percentage so far¹. He can thank the defenders in front of him for that.

The defensive line of Jay Carlson and Brooks Orpik have been producing both offensively and defensively. With a plus-minus of positive three, the pair has kept Holtby at bay with stopping shots. Not to mention, Carlson ties Kuznetsov with assists totaling eight.

That means the Capitals have done a significantly good job on the counter- stopping opponents and taking advantage of it. This well-rounded team looks to continue their fine form into the coming games.

The Caps play the Penguins, Blue Jackets, and Panthers in a total of four games. Not only will the Penguins game be a grueling rivalry battle, but their line depth will be tested. Third and fourth lines will need to step in when the first is tired.

Another factor of the success the Capitals have had is the power play team. It consists of Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johannson, TJ Oshie, Alex Ovechkin, and Jay Carlson³. The team rests second in the National Hockey League on power plays, going 7-28 so far.

Their counterparts, the penalty killing unit, haven’t been too shabby either. They rank 11th in the league, being successful 85% of the time and boasting a short handed goal according to espn.com.

If the Capitals continue their run of good form and luck, this can be their year. Their division is star-studded, but with last year’s leading scorer and the team only getting better, a Stanley Cup may come to Washington.

Update: The Capitals lost to the Penguins Wednesday, October 28th, 3-1.

¹ http://capitals.nhl.com/club/stats.htm

² http://www.hockey-reference.com/leagues/NHL_2015_leaders.html

³ http://espn.go.com/nhl/statistics/team/_/stat/special-teams/sort/powerPlayPct

Penalty Killing unit stats- http://espn.go.com/nhl/statistics/team/_/stat/special-teams/sort/penaltyKillPct

 

 

Boys’ Latin Productions Presents ‘Of Mice and Men’

On October 21, I took the time to see Boys’ Latin’s play “Of Mice and Men.” The four major elements touched on are the costumes, lighting, set, and sound all played into the well-produced production.

The costumes were very believable for the time period that the play was set in, which was the 1930s. Old ragged caps and hats were worn, giving the image they were working on a farm. Dirty jeans and overalls were also worn to get the image across that it was a dusty farm on acres of barren land.

Next was the lighting, something I find the most important. The lighting in the play was outstanding to me for many reasons.

Mixed colors of light shined down, giving the image of light shining down through the cracks of the barn wall. The moonlight was also very well done with a mix of white and blue light that only came from the corner which made it very realistic and took the audience straight into the world in which the characters were living.

MIce and Men_150

Senior Mark Gray as Lennie and sophomore Francis Nnanna as Crooks have a one on one personal chat.

Another huge part which can make the play good or bad is the set. The stage crew who designed the set knocked it out of the park. A huge barn wall was constructed that was made of wood and had shovels attached to it. Instead of painting it on the wall, the stage crew made the entire wall by hand which added to the realism tremendously.

Hay was also spread out across the ground also adding to the realism. It was lightly scattered across the floor giving it a perfect representation of the barn floor. I feel like if they added any more it would have been too much and any less it wouldn’t have been as believable.

The entrance and exit points were strategically placed in the barn wall making it seem like actors were rushing in and out of the barn. There was no entrance point that seemed like the actor came out of nowhere. The sudden appearance of actors rushing in certainly kept the audience on their toes.

The last thing that I want to mention is the sound. I wasn’t too pleased with the sound since it only seemed to come from one corner of the room. It was a single speaker that would play sounds as in a wolf howl or gun shots.

When the sound was played, it was very sudden and came without warning which scared the audience. I watched as the audience nearest to the speaker jumped when the wolf howled multiple times. There were no background sounds such as leaves rustling or dust blowing, either of which I thought would have helped set the scene more.

Something I did think was good was the live guitarist. He moved around the set when a blackout of the lights occurred. He softly played his guitar in the corner of the set which gave a Western country feel.

MIce and Men_079

Senior Mark Gray as Lennie and junior Garrett Glaeser as George sit at the table of their new home.

Aside from the poor sound quality through the speakers, I believe this play was fantastic and would have happily gone again if I had the time. All the actors and directors did a fantastic job putting the play together.

Louisville Basketball Scandal: Dancers and Recruits

The Louisville basketball program is currently being investigated for reports surfacing of former assistant coach and director of operations, Andre McGee, hosting and paying for sex parties on campus in an effort to sway recruits to sign.

Andre McGee had been the full-time assistant at University of Missouri in Kansas City, and recently resigned from his position at the school commenting on the “false allegations.” He has been on paid administrative lead since the circulation of allegations.

Over the course of  2010-2014, McGee is accused of paying the dancers over $10,000 to interact and put on a show for recruits and players.  Players interviewed by Outside the Lines, a television series on ESPN, stated that they attended these parties first as recruits visiting the school and again as players.

Another popular occurrence was a “side deal” in which Katina Powell, the lead dancer and escort, said was very common.  Powell took $10,000 over the four years she was supplying dancers, and this number did not include the hundreds of one dollar bills that McGee supplied to the players to throw out during parties.

Even on top of that, McGee would ask recruits which dancer they preferred and set up these side deals in which he would pay whatever amount of money to Powell for the players to do what they do behind closed doors in the dormitory.

A $10,000 minimum and over two dozen parties, as well as bills and side deals, all add up to a lot more than the amount sources are stating. McGee still denies all allegations even though Powell brings a strong argument of evidence to the table. Head coach Pitino also denies everything and stated if it was going on, he was no part.

But honestly, as Powell said in her interview on ESPN, “Four years. A boatload of recruits. A boatload of dancers. Loud music. Alcohol. Security. Cameras. Basketball players who came in at will. You got players that are so loyal to Pitino. Who wouldn’t be like, hey, you know, we got dancers and sex and all that going on? My thing is how could he not know?”

Louisville has been a basketball dynasty in the NCAA for many years under head coach Rick Pitino. They won the NCAA tournament in 2013. It will be interesting to see how this situation unfolds and who was involved or knew about it. It could be detrimental to the Louisville basketball program as well as leave a mark on Coach Pitino’s legacy if this all turns out to be true and he turned a blind eye to it.

Sources:

http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/13927159/former-louisville-cardinals-basketball-players-recruits-acknowledge-stripper-parties-minardi-hall

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaab/2015/10/20/louisville-recruiting-escort-strippers-katina-powell/74259456/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/21/us/louisville-basketball-sex-scandal/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/23/us/louisville-ex-assistant-resigns-from-umkc/

Impact Team Hacks Ashley Maddison

Ashley Madison is an online dating site that appeals to people that plan on stepping outside of their marriage to have fun. In total, the online dating site has a total of 32 million members spread throughout 26 countries as reported by Ibtimes. But the issue at hand is that the online dating site has been hacked and has released online data of its users. 

The people behind this act are known as the Impact Team. The Impact Team is known to expose problems that are not morally not okay. For them, committing adultery is something that affects society as a whole.

 So far, the Impact Team has already leaked a total of 9.6 million credit card transactions to the dark web. But the company has agreed to delete all of the information entirely which will end up costing them a total of $1 million to fix according to CNN.

The hack took place in the month of January, but the information was not leaked until July. According to Spanish police, “Spanish users of the site have come forward to authorities saying they are being blackmailed.

It is now October and those who have been affected by the hack are being blackmailed by citizens of Spain according to IBtimes. In Spain, there are a total of 1.1 million users, but with even that in mind, the Spanish police have agreed to crack down on those extorting these people.

In today’s world, it doesn’t take rocket science to access the emails that were leaked; it is now regular practice on the internet. By just typing in an email address onto a site that generates whether or not the email has been compromised can tell anyone if a particularly website has been accessed. What makes this not okay is that it goes against the privacy settings of the site.

What made this hack so popular is that the site made a promise to its users that their accounts would never be able to be hacked. The long, drawn out privacy settings promised to not only not release names but keep everyone anonymous. But for many people, the trust in Ashley Madison’s site has gone elsewhere. 

The 35 gb of data that were taken was taken by “hacktivists” that don’t support those who lie like those behind the dating site Ashley Madison. They are not doing this for money but to better the society as a whole.

Misleading Attendance Policy Stumps Students

The attendance policy is a frustrating topic that is a reoccurring issue among many students that participate in extracurricular activities. In this aspect, the student handbook is misleading. It mentions three separate times when students can be late but still participate in after school activities.

Under the “Impact on Athletics and Extracurricular Activities section, it explains, “A student must be in school by 8:30 am and attend all of his classes (with the exception of a scheduled appointment) to be eligible to participate in athletic practices, games, artistic performances, or any extracurricular activities.”

While 8:30 am is what the administration conveys as the set time, the handbook notes two other times as well. One is under the “Theater Arts Department Rules and Policies” where it states, “A student must be in school by 10:45 am and must attend three full classes in order to participate in a rehearsal or performance.”

The other is noted under the “Athletic Rules and Policies” section where it states,A student must be in school by 10:30 am and must attend three full classes in order to participate in practice or games unless excused by the Headmaster, Upper School Head or Dean of Students.”  

The Director of Academics, Mr. Franklin, explained, “So I think that both of those – the Athletics and Theater Arts ones – are older versions that just didn’t get updated like the Upper School one Mr. Mitchell and I update every year. The athletics one with Mr. Thomas and the arts with Mrs. Molling probably haven’t been updated, so it has just stayed [that way] year to year.  So if it’s 10:30, 10:45, that was sort of the whole model, and that was really just based around the MIAA.”

Now the administration obviously wants what is in the best interest for every student.  However, the attendance policy needs to be more consistent. So how is it possible to have three different times for extracurricular activities?

Coach Schell, the varsity football coach, when asked about this topic, responded, “It doesn’t make sense to me why we don’t follow the MIAA rules. What’s the difference between a play, robotics, or a football game? If you gave any special cases for let’s say lacrosse, everyone would think they were getting special treatment, which everyone already thinks.”

Lacrosse is used in Coach Schell’s example to prove a point of why there cannot be multiple start times for extracurricular activities. Lacrosse, along with every other sport, has to follow these start times or else the students will not be able to play. 

There have been many problems with attendance due to this inconsistency with the handbook as it is now. Many students are confused with understanding the attendance policy of athletics and extracurricular activities.

For example, senior Pat Stahl said, “I think the set time at 10:30 is fair” in regard to an appropriate time for students to come into school and still be able to participate in extracurricular activities with an appropriate excuse.

When other Boys’ Latin students were asked about reviewing the handbook, they responded:

“No, I never have,” Brett Friedman, ’17.

“No, I have never reviewed it,” Hayden Kovinsky, ’16. Daniel Norman, ’18, had a similar answer.

“I knew you had to be in school by a certain time but didn’t know the specifics,” Matt Post, ’18.

“No,” Noah Labonte Clark, ’16.

“Somewhat, I don’t really know”Andrew Lee, ’18.

Obviously, part of the problem lies with students who do not read the handbook. However, a more clearly communicated attendance policy might clear up some of the misinformation as well.

The administration needs to publicize the extracurricular policy better and make the handbook clearer. The students understand the administration wants what’s best for all students, but there are certainly a few questions and concerns that need to be addressed regarding the Impact on Athletics & Extracurricular Activities.   

2016 Baltimore Ravens Free Agency Preview

The Baltimore Ravens have certainly had a disappointing 2015 season so far. With a record off 1-5 it is very unlikely the Ravens will be able to advance to the postseason. The Ravens roster has many holes that will be able to be filled via free agency in 2016.

The Ravens biggest holes are at wide receiver and in the secondary. Luckily, 2016 will include many big-name free agents that would fit the Ravens system exceptionally well.

Next year, the Ravens will be losing veteran receiver Steve Smith Sr. to retirement. He is the Ravens current number one receiver.  Behind him, the Ravens do not have many options; fortunately, there is a variety of options at wide receiver in next year’s free agent class that can help replace the savvy veteran.

One option is Chicago Bears wide receiver, Alshon Jeffery. This would make sense as current offensive coordinator, Marc Trestman, was the former head coach of Jeffery. He is a large target standing at 6 feet 3 inches, which is good as Flacco has had success with larger wide receivers.

Another interesting option is T.Y. Hilton of the Indianapolis Colts; he is a much different player than Alshon Jeffery as he is smaller but extremely fast. His speed is something the Ravens are lacking currently on their roster. It is uncertain if the Colts will be willing to allow T.Y. to test the market, but if he does, don’t be surprised to see the Ravens interested.

The second hole on the Ravens’ roster is in the secondary. The Ravens do not have many cornerbacks to complement the talents of former first-round draft pick Jimmy Smith.

For many years, this secondary unit has been plagued with injuries causing them to perform poorly. Injuries to the secondary have consistently occurred which has unshadowed the issues they have with depth in the secondary.

One name that sticks out as a potential 2016 free agent signing is Adam “PacMan” Jones. The Ravens know him all too well as he is a member of fellow AFC North rival, the Cincinnati Bengals. Jones is a proven veteran who can double as a cornerback and special teams player.

The Ravens have a history of bringing in wise veterans who can play both special teams and defense, such as cornerback Corey Graham. Adam Jones would certainly add a much-needed boost to this secondary unit in the 2016 season.

The Ravens have a strong foundation. They have many young players full of potential, and with a few additions, they could become a viable Super Bowl contender for the 2016 season.