Image C/O Atlantic Records
By: Molly Baziuk
Paramore’s most recent album This is Why is the band’s big comeback after a 6 year hiatus and two solo albums from the band's lead singer, Hayley Williams. So the question is: did the new album make the cut?
This is Why seems to be exactly what today's youth needs if they're looking for an angsty way to kickstart 2023. It's true, punk is back and Paramore has delivered. While the album isn't perfect by any means, you can be sure there is plenty of that classic Paramore punk sound sprinkled with the typical daring vocals of Hayley Williams.
This is Why is clearly different from other Paramore albums, but has taken inspiration from their previous works reminiscent of their 2007 album Riot! and self titled 2013 album, Paramore. The one thing that seems to set it apart from the other albums is the maturity felt from the band who started when Williams was just 16 years old. With a now 34 year old lead singer, things are going to sound different. In general, the album is a bit more grounded in its sound. This can be construed as both a positive and negative aspect of the album as one of Paramore’s notable qualities is Williams’ manic vocal technique. The grounding of the album sees Williams’ voice on the backburner with more focus on the music’s complicated and creative instrumentation. The change has caused a degree of backlash towards the band with reviewers stating Williams had “monotone” of “boring” vocals in several songs. What it really comes down to is the fact that the band has matured and is digging into more serious and grounded topics causing less need for the flippant vocals that once defined their sound.
With topics ranging from current world crises to existentialism and presence, the band has delved deeper lyrically than ever before. This is not to say there aren’t lyrical mistakes. In the second track “The News,” Williams is almost too direct with lyrics talking about war and technology topics that have been echoed far too much by other artists especially since 2020. It becomes a bit unoriginal, but not to Williams’ fault, the world is clearly in crisis and it should be sung about, just maybe with a bit more tact. On the other hand, their fourth track “C'est Comme Ça” seems to sprinkle in more original ideas with lyrics depicting social angst and aging. At one point in the song, Williams describes her social life as a “chiropractic appointment.” This felt fresh, and the spoken verses gave off an almost Talking Heads-esque feel to the song. On their penultimate track, “Crave,” lyrics depict an existential angst that is all too relatable to listeners. It speaks authentically about what it means to desire true presence and the pain of being stuck in the past. The complicated ideas of the track really make it feel very original and emotional.
Instrument-wise, there are some serious show stoppers on the album with guitarist Taylor York and drummer Zac Farrow really showing creative direction. When it comes to most creative instrumentally and vocally, the three star tracks on the album have to be the titular track, “This is Why,” and their sixth and seventh tracks “You First” and “Figure 8.” “This is Why” is the band’s first single and is conveniently placed as the first track on the album. It sets the scenery for what the rest of the album will express, the fear of leaving one’s comfort zone and trying to manage life in a world full of fear and noise. The lyrics coupled with a surprising alt-rock chorus definitely make the track worth a listen. “You First” and “Figure 8” go very well together as well with Zac Farro really shining in both tracks. The complicated instrumentation of both songs give the whole album a more creative backdrop with “You First” probably being the catchiest most classic Hayley Williams chorus on the album and “Figure 8” giving a familiar sound reminiscent of Paramore’s Fifth album, After Laughter. The track is the most instrumentally creative on the album and actually gives the listener a feeling of spinning in a figure 8.
This is Why is fresh. It has everything listeners need to feel validated about world crisis and angst with catchy riffs and a classic Paramore feel. If you are looking for a more alternative punk vibe with creative direction, this album is for you. It is not perfect and there is nothing insanely profound about it, but Paramore succeeded in originality and will surely create an even greater influx of punk buzz in 2023.
Oscars 2023: A Year in Review
A quick summary of some of this year’s Best Picture Nominations in preparation for Hollywood’s biggest night
By Andrew Martinez Cabrera
Visiting Culture Writer
From The Batman to The Northman, whether you’re a casual filmgoer or a die-hard cinephile, 2022 had something to offer to both. For the most part, the Best Picture nominees reflect this, so join me in looking at some of 2022’s best films.
Top Gun: Maverick
Both Top Gun movies are propaganda pieces but for two different things. Whereas the original Tony Scott film is a 110-minute military recruitment video, Maverick is set on selling the audience, and in turn the entire Hollywood system, on Tom Cruise. Personified by the character of Maverick, both Maverick and Cruise deal with the notion of drifting into obscurity in an industry that prioritizes automation under the guise of advancements. But as long as both are still kicking, that worrisome future won’t become a reality. Unlike the average legacy sequel, Cruise does not step down to let the new kids take the lead, proving he still has a few tricks up his sleeves.
The Banshees of Inisherin
Writer/director Martin McDonagh returns to a European setting with the re-pairing of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in Banshees of Inisherin. The film chronicles the sudden bromance breakup of Padraic (Farrell) and Colm (Gleeson) after the latter decides to use his time wisely and pursue an artistic endeavor, deeming his former drinking partner as dull. McDonagh combines comedic and melancholic elements to compose a story where you can both laugh at the dry wit or cry at the comic tragedy unfolding on this island stage, as McDonagh wrestles with what to prioritize in life: artistry or close friendships.
Steven Spielberg tackles a semi-autobiographical story with The Fabelmans. Sammy, a stand-in for a young Spielberg, becomes enamored with the power of cinema not simply as a creative tool, but also as something he has full control over, which he can use to filter and rehearse his anxieties in a controlled setting. In short, film is his therapy. Spielberg lays himself bare, showing how a sentiment echoed by a distant uncle – “Art will give you crowns in heaven and laurels on earth, but it’ll tear your heart out and leave you lonely” – haunted the filmmaker, who hid the trauma of his parents divorce behind a technicolor veil. Through the film Spielberg shows how he is indebted to cinema as a medium for which he can express himself while also finding himself enmeshed in its trap. The Fabelmans’ mechanics and ideas function similarly to Spielberg’s previous films, but it is upfront about what he has been subconsciously communicating to audiences for decades.
Continuing with films about tortured artists comes TÁR, a film about a classical composer whose torture stems from abusing and manipulating others. The opening scene finds the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik moderating a panel where his introduction builds up Tár as a contemporary worth paying attention to, with distinctions including being an EGOT recipient, an author, and the first woman to lead the Berlin Philharmonic. What follows is director Todd Field’s slow-burning fall from grace as the viewer slowly uncovers the information that Tár has omitted from everyone around her. TÁR is a balancing act between the realistic, lived-in texture of the film and the surrealist qualities that follow the character Tár into the depths of infamy.
Avatar: The Way of Water
Once upon a time, James Cameron made a promise. He will not make just one, nor two, but FIVE Avatar sequels. The internet being the internet, began insisting that Avatar had no cultural value and that The Way of Water would be a surefire flop. $2.2 billion later, it’s safe to say don’t underestimate James Cameron. The Way of Water surpasses the original film in both technical and storytelling departments, deciding to write yet another anti-imperialist/pro-environment film. It is a film that proudly wears its science-fiction camp aesthetic, culminating in a one-of-a-kind theatre experience that begs to be seen on the biggest screen possible.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The surprise indie smash hit is my prediction for the Best Picture winner. I’m in the minority where I don’t consider this the masterpiece that everyone hailed it to be given that the Daniels aren’t subtle filmmakers. However, I am ultimately not made of stone. With so many films tackling the idea of the multiverse, a trope that’s being exhausted, Everything Everywhere’s appeal to pathos and its simple rhetoric of treating everyone with kindness (a Pixar-level message inside an R-rated picture) ultimately lands. The Daniels’ draw you in with a wildly-differing immigrant family, whose age and cultural divisions cause them to seek comfort in other universes. Given how popular this film is, the least Oscar-Baity movie might take the award home.
The Great Egg Dilemma
Why are eggs so expensive?
(Photo C/O CookForYourLife.org)
By Lillian La Salle
While researching this article I had almost ten tabs open all about eggs, their substitutes, and what caused this period of inflation in the Bay Area supermarkets. Numerous people gave me questioning looks as I enthusiastically explained all about the glorious egg and the amazing ways we could replace it in our meals on a daily basis. I found numerous recipes and lots of egg substitute products that may help students avoid the outrageously priced eggs that leave customers going, “You must be yolking!”. Forgive the egg pun, but that will frequently be happening in this quick read.
You may be wondering why egg prices have almost doubled at your local Bay Area grocery store this past month, and the answer may surprise you. The CBS News article, “Egg prices have soared 60% in a year. Here's why,” explains the key reason for the egg shortage. The avian bird flu claimed almost 58 million birds as of January 6, and the lag time of egg laying flocks to get enough resources into the egg supply chain has greatly affected prices in the Bay Area as well as across the nation. According to the same CBS News article, January egg prices saw a 60% increase, and the KRON 4 news article “Are more people turning to plant-based eggs amidst egg price surge?” reports some stores in the Bay Area saw egg prices rise as high as $8.99.
But the egg inflation continues, and it will not be over easy - I mean easily. People all across the nation and the Bay Area are scrambling to find a savory substitute for the well-loved egg.
After researching egg substitutes for baking, I found Well+Good had a great list of options for all your egg needs. Some of the best baking substitutes were 2 tbsp chia seeds (you can find this in the dining hall in the mornings), ¼ cup of tofu, ¼ cup buttermilk, ¼ cup applesauce, ¼ cup bananas, and a special product called Bob’s Egg Replacer.
Sold at Safeway, Bob’s Egg Replacer is perfect for baking and cooking, with 34 eggs for $7.50 as opposed to the current perishable choice at Safeway coming up on $4.99 a dozen. This breaks down to the egg replacement costing 22 cents an “egg” and the perishable eggs at 41 cents. Using perishable eggs during this period of egg-flation is not all it's cracked up to be if they are double the price of the powdered replacement eggs.
For scrambled egg replacements: tofu is a strong front runner, with its ability to cook similarly to regular scrambled eggs. Of course, lots of seasoning is required to make it have the delicious flavor of the typical egg. Personally, I will cook 4-6 ounces of tofu until it's golden brown and add in one regular egg and mix it all together with a few tasteful pinches of salt. That way, I use only one egg to give the tofu an eggy flavor, and the scramble replicates a meal of 4 eggs.
Now if eggs are not available to you at all, fear not. The vegan food experimentalists at Plant Based on a Budget have discovered for the rest of us that a special Indian spice, Kala Namak, tastes similar to hard boiled eggs due to its sulfuric components. Mixing this with paprika, onion powder, red pepper, and salt can give your tofu scramble an eggcellent kick.
Another option for the goodness of an egg scramble without the actual eggs is a powder egg substitute. Judee’s Scrambled Egg Mix, sold for $23 on Amazon, gives you the ease of having 44 eggs in your fridge without using up all the space 44 eggs would need. This is a bit more expensive than the normal eggs but is a great substitute if you are on a vegan diet. Priced at 52 cents per serving of “egg”, the Judee’s Egg Mix is 11 cents more than a regular egg, but you wouldn't have to worry about space in your fridge or having the powder spoil.
New Year, New You!
A Culture Writer Shares Her Insights on New Years Goal Setting
By Remy Zerber
Happy 2023! It’s a new year and that means it's time for new goals, new habits, and a new you. Many people set new goals that they want to achieve when the new year starts as a way of having a fresh start. Even though setting goals for the new year is important for many people to improve themselves, they still may need help to achieve them.
Although you may have started the new year with all sorts of energy and motivation, chances are by this time of year you’re starting to feel the January slump. If you’re like me you might struggle to keep yourself motivated throughout the year and eventually end up not following through with your goals. People joke that all resolutions die on February first and people stop using their new gym memberships that they got at the beginning of the year, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be true. Paying for a gym membership can actually be a good way to force yourself to go to the gym and work out every day because you might feel guilty if you spent money on a gym membership and didn’t use it.
Some of my tips for setting goals are being realistic and making a plan for achieving your goals. You don’t have to make dramatic changes in your life in order to have a successful resolution. Another tip is to make a vision board and keep it where you can see it to remind yourself of your goals. Creating new habits takes time so you need to be consistent and keep yourself accountable. For example, if your goal is to work out more you can be workout buddies with a friend and you guys can keep each other motivated.
One of my new year's resolutions this year is to do more exercise. I have found it hard to be consistent with this goal because I always lose motivation. My plan to achieve this goal is to find a place where I can work out. I made a vision board this year and made it my home screen on my iPad, so hopefully, that helps me achieve my goals.
Goals are important for self improvement, but they are really tough to follow through with. Maintaining motivation is something that everyone, even I struggle with. There are certain tips and techniques that can help with achieving goals like making a vision board and being consistent. You have to be consistent to create new habits. It is always inspiring when people want to quit bad habits to improve their lives. Good luck guys!
One SMC Senior Shares her tips for fulfilling graduation requirements ahead of schedule.
By Brooke Haggarty
Visiting Culture Writer
I have known since I enrolled in SMC back in 2019 that I wanted to graduate early. As someone who has jumped through hoops and now knows the in’s and out’s of graduating early, I can tell you for certain that it can be pretty easy, but there are plenty of steps and obstacles along the way depending on your personal circumstances.
First things first, you need to pick your major, and luckily, for you, so many courses overlap in terms of core requisites that you have leeway to explore and become inspired before picking it. Though I must say, it is best to work with your FYAC (First-Year Advising Consorts) if you are still deciding, and then once you decide, you should talk to a professor of your choice, an assistant assigned to your major, or the head chair of your major about advising you.
Next you should look at your academic evaluation found on GaelXpress where you can check what credits that you have before and during your time at SMC. If you previously took AP classes or community college courses, those credits may have transferred and translated into credits applied to your SMC requirements. It may even be possible to apply those towards major or minor requirements or prerequisites for upper-division courses.
Another thing that you can do to graduate earlier is take summer courses. Though they might not always be an option as you may not be financially able to afford the hefty cost of those 4 to 8 week courses. SMC offers many courses like Jan Terms, cross-listed courses that apply to your major or minor, and core requisites classes. Many local community colleges also offer classes that can be transferred to SMC, though many require prior approval by SMC professors and administrators.
My final piece of advice is to be constantly communicating with your advisor, reviewing your academic evaluation, and keeping up with any possible changes to your major’s requirements that should be posted on GaelXpress and the SMC website.
With all that said, graduating at SMC can either be easy or a nightmare. Take it from me as someone who knows both versions as I once was on a 3-year track to graduate. I ended up taking up two semesters off, and one was involuntary as I was stuck waiting until this spring, to write my thesis in class. It can be frustrating that some courses are not offered when you want to take them, so make sure you keep up-to-date about course offerings.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to graduate early, best of luck to you!
Ryan Ford '23,