Wild Cub is this generation’s defining indie band. Not just in their pure indie rock sound, but also in pure indie trajectory. The band is based out of Portland, which is the “indiest” city imaginable. They released an album to zero acclaim in 2013 before having their single Thunder Clatter gain some relevancy due to being used in a phone commercial, both extremely indie things to do. Then they didn’t make anything for four years and lost any sort of place they had in the popular consciousness, another super indie move. Finally, they came back in 2017 with an album that perfectly hits one note again and again; the practice of doing something obscure to perfection without press is the indie dream.

Unfortunately for them, they did not count on someone indier in every conceivable way from reviewing their album. Pungry wins another battle of irrelevancy as even the least viewed tracks off of Closer have more plays than my site has total hits.

Honestly, I am sad that Wild Cub aren’t more popular. As I said, their new album, Closer (which does NOT contain a cover of that horrid Chainsmokers song, stop asking), is indie rock polished to perfection. That perfection does come with a price. Whereas the band’s first album, Youth, was longer and had more tracks, the first album also had variety in sound. Closer is a collection of 11 high-energy supernovas. It’s only 40 minutes, but the sheer youthfulness and naivety of the album makes it exhausting to listen to. It’s the kind of album I asked to be made 3 years ago.

Basically, what I’m saying is that you have to be young to stand listening to this album. Everything about it is too bright, too perfect. Like looking at someone’s unnaturally reflective white teeth, Closer is objectively a great thing, but dang it is hard to stand at times. Don’t get me wrong, I like the album a lot. It might even be my choice for album of the year. Each track is awesome… it’s just the collection of these 11 together is less than the sum of its parts. There needed to be a song like Streetlights or Drive that sounded different to help the tracks stand out. As it stands, each song is as good as another. Kids in families of 11 children or more probably have similarly tough times being individuals like these tracks do. I’ll try to give unique thoughts on each, but… gonna be hard.

The album starts off with Magic. Honestly though the song names could be rearranged for the most part without anyone noticing. That’s because each track basically uses the same language. Magic, for instance, has reference a plenty to songs in the band’s past (“distant thunder” = Thunder Clatter, “shape” = Shapeless, “color” = …Colour) and to songs on the album (“true words are fire” = fire). In literature, we say that authors who come full circle in material are geniuses. In music, audiences seem less forgiving. But, as I’ve said, I feel like Wild Cub absolutely captures everything that embodies indie rock, and this recycling of lyrics feels very on key for indie rock. So it’s good. Oh, and I like the upbeat song of Magic.

I Fall Over is my pick for best song off the album. The vocal hook captured me immediately, and the rhythm of the chorus is just off enough to stand out from the rest of the similarly cathartic anthems on the album.

Speak was the second single off the album, and the first to really get me excited. I don’t know what to say. The choice of instruments is perfect. The chords used are perfect. The lyrics are nonsensical but easy to sing along to, so they’re perfect. And the video captures the perfect mood for this song to be playing: screaming it down a freeway at night.

Clicks’ hook sounds suspiciously like I Fall Over but has the disconnected optimism of Speak. Also, whenever the chorus starts, I think of the song “Over My Head” by The Fray. Once again, I’m unsure of a song’s title. There’s nothing to do with clicks in anyway in this song. Did someone in Wild Cub wildly misinterpret SEO? Cause naming your song “clicks” does not actually get you more clicks.

Wait also reminds me of a popular song I’m not too fond of. This time, it’s Imagine Dragon’s “Demons” that the band evokes. Of course, it’s done by a band I like, so it sounds good. Wait is the uniquest track on the album. The only ballad. String-focused. Keegan’s voice sounds awful at times. All in all, it’s memorable. But is that a good thing? It still sounds good, so… yes.

Somewhere was the album’s first single. The intro reminds me heavily of Headlights by Morning Parade, another perfect indie rock band. It’s also another memorable track off the album because it’s got a horn section. It fits well. But again, where on earth did the band get the title “Somewhere” from?

Mirror is your classic indie rock song that sounds so bright yet is so depressing on true reflection. That’s a pun. Please laugh. Now that you’ve laughed, enjoy the song! Not With You is a return to the speed and frenzy of the other tracks. The “bass” synth in the background is really cool sounding. And Keegan sounds super urgent in his delivery, so it’s great. It all fits together in this tragic tale of a song.

Fire’s intro also sounds like another popular song, but I can’t place it this time. I’ve really ran out of stuff to say here. It’s another really good indie rock song! Why are you reading this still? Why am I being mean to my most dedicated fan by calling you out? Both are questions I simply cannot answer.

Rain breaks out the steel drums for a slow intro before getting back into an upbeat groove when the song “truly” starts. For some reason, the way this bass sounds makes me think of Haim’s bassist playing on SNL with all her “bass face”. Don’t ask. Anyway, it’s another fun song that actually is kind of tragic when you read the lyrics. Classic Wild Cub. The album ends with Go. And guess what? It’s fun and upbeat. It does have a memorable ending with three guys yelling “go go go” before the last chorus comes in. I like it a lot.

On reflection, the lyrics of this album paint some sort of narrative of love and loss, but each song is so fun that I just turn my brain off and enjoy the sound. Sorry, Wild Cub. You guys are too good at crafting mindlessly good sounding songs that I can’t analyze your stuff at all. I really hope you all make another album before four more years pass. I promise to pay more attention and respect to your lyrics then.

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The Gaming Future

Feh… while all you bad boys are out dating women, us gamers (who are also women) are dating our video games, allowing us to “progress” (game term) on the “skill tree” (game term) to “level up” (game term) our knowledge (game term) to become all your bosses (game term). They say the meek will inherit the Earth, and there is no force meeker but greater than us gamers, but that’s because we’ve been preparing for the Gamer Future. Let me offer you foolish fools who have controlled your characters (game term) to a bad ending (game term) a glimpse into this glorious future in which we shall be at the level cap (game term) and you all left with bottlecaps (alcoholic term).

IN the gamer future, people will bring a humble video game rather than wine for a housewarming present. The pinot noir will fall to the wayside in favor of “point” (an anagram of pinot) n click adventure games.

IN the gamer future, resumes will list recent games COMPLETED, video game achievements, and game character references, who are the characters that you would personally call to ask for a recommendation. Me? Of course I would list Professor Layton, Phoenix Wright, and Ph. D Dr. Mario.

IN the gamer future, people will exclaim upon finishing a consumable that they have “one-hundred percented” it. For example, I 100%d the graphic novel Asterios Polyp before I 100%d my dinner of pizza rolls and off-brand Mountain Dew.

IN the gamer future, sports will be banned, and jocks will be sent to hard labor. Hey, I don’t write the future, I simply see it. Just as how Jeremy will see his comeuppance after cheating to beat me for the final slot on the JV tennis team freshman year.

IN the gamer future, religions will be allowed, but only if they accept video game characters as the new idols of worship. I must already recommend to stay away from the Sonic religion, those guys are weird.

IN the gamer future, people will stop automatically saying “gamer” in a dismissive, sarcastic tone.

IN the gamer future, I hardly know er!

As stated earlier, enjoy, mortals, your last days of “normal life”, for the gamer future is nigh. You may have made fun of us for having “no life”, but we truly have many, and all of them will help us craft (game term) a new, brighter, gamier future! Wait, gamier is a word? It appears even the Dictionary is on our side. You cannot stop… the game!

Intern, this is horrendous. I know. That’s not even close to what “gamier” actually means. No, I’m talking about this future. He’s right! All I’ve done these past 50 years was date women and push people off of JV sports teams! What shall I do? Clearly, you must repent at the new altar. I recommend one of Sonic’s churches. I shall go, with godspeed. You mean with sonicspeed.

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An Interview with an English Major

This past Monday, I sat down with my good friend and English major Riley Sheahan. I hoped my ineffable acquaintance would have something to say about his major considering course registration is coming up, and I’m looking for some good filler classes.

John Keller (JK): What classes are you signing up for next semester?

Riley Sheahan (RS): Well, I don’t know if this is exactly the kind of answer your question is looking for, but I just think it needs to be said because the people here just don’t really get it, you know?

JK: That didn’t answer my question at all. I asked about what courses you’re taking.

RS: Oh, yeah, nah, yeah, like we get it but we don’t get it and I just feel really strongly that someone needs to stand up and just say everything that we as a collective are thinking of, you feel me?

JK: Are you even taking classes next semester?

RS: Oh yeah, yeah, totally, man, totally, that just reminds me of the book “The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus, a Roman Slave” which I’m sure you’ve heard of, but just in case I’ll explain since I really think it’s relevant to the question you asked and once I explain it that relevancy will come real apparent, okay it’s this Roman slave who says a bunch of moral things, you know, and it’s like some crazy stuff like “slavery is bad” and I just think that in this political climate and in this economy especially that like you know he was right and I know that it doesn’t sound like it’s relevant but if you really think about it I think you’ll know I’m right.

JK: What?

RS: I mean, just like Publius was and frankly that’s what I truly think. Anyway, I gotta run, I still haven’t finished my 250 word response to the reading since I just don’t know what to say.


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Inside a Dream

Of all the musical albums I own, I am most embarrassed to show off my copy of Echosmith’s debut album “Talking Dreams”. iTunes may think the band is “punk” but I think their genre system is “junk”. As is the album, for the most part. Alright, that’s unfair. I genuinely like it.

Hang on, I think I accidentally recycled everything I said the first time I wrote about Echosmith. Let me check… Hmm, yep. Even used the same joke about Echosmith being classified as punk on iTunes. Great. What else did I say in that piece?

“I’m looking forward to seeing what Echosmith will do for their next album. It’ll probably be nothing earth-shaking, like this album wasn’t, but it’ll probably be more solid music. And the world could always do with more solid music.”

Well, who knew it would take the siblings four years to live up to this simple hope? Four years and one sibling lost later, Echosmith is back as a trio with the 7-song EP Inside a Dream. Instead of focusing on a particular sound off of Talking Dreams, the band has shifted to sounding closer to a generic pop band. At the very least, the pop sound they capture is closer to Phoenix-influenced pop of 2012 or so than the newest, godawful wave of edgy pop music as produced by Katy Perry or Taylor Swift.

Did I just write that sentence? Man, that’s awful. I’m going to stop sounding bitter about becoming an old man and instead focus on what’s playing in my headphones right now. Oh, would you look at that? It’s the new Echosmith EP. I liked their first album, and it’s too bad they had to delay their second one until February of next year, isn’t it? That song Cool Kids was a real banger, I hope they have one as good here! I’m a little worried that they just got extremely lucky with that, but hey all that matters is what we got.

The EP starts with the chillpop song Lessons. A friend of mine I showed the song to said it sounded like a natural evolution to Taylor Swift’s 1989 sound, and I can see it. It’s a simple, slightly-clever pop song. Plus, if you read the lyrics, they basically sound like a sequel to Style. It isn’t offensive, nor is it catchy. Some may condemn a piece of art for not making any real impression, but if you can listen to a song for 3 and a half minutes without thinking it sucks, isn’t that an achievement in itself?

Get Into My Car is very hard for me to evaluate without any further context. The reason for that is the hilarious music video. It really is just multiple ads stringed together in a hackneyed way. But I like the song a lot. The way she “sings” the word “car” in that odd pitch stuck with me and got the track in my head despite the tasteless music video and bad lyrics. Again, it’s a well-written pop song that just works. One cynical thing I will say is how the music video does not go well with the EP’s theme of being young and confused; these guys know exactly what they’re doing when framing the McDonald’s logo in the camera’s center.

18 is by far the best song on the album. It’s pure Phoenix, and I love it. This is the first song that Sydney sings about being young and confused. What confuses me is that she’s 20! Ah well, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say she wrote the lyrics when she was 18. Future Me follows, and is not quite as good, but is another solid pop song about being young. The synths in the chorus sound like something out of a Chainsmokers track, but Sydney’s voice is far less “corporate” sounding than those guys. Her optimistic lyrics and vocals work with the sound.

Goodbye was the first single off the EP. It’s the only song on the EP that is about somebody other than the speaker, so it is a bit out of place. Plus, it’s a little “darker” in tone. It makes for a good change of pace from all the bright hooks and melodies. I like it. Hungry is easily the lowest of the 7 tracks, but it isn’t terrible. Out of the 7, it is the hardest to dance to. And the lyrics just aren’t great. Love and appetite are never an appealing connection. Now, if the song was called “Pungry”, it’d be way better.

The EP ends with another affirming-but-fearful song about being young called Dear World. It’s a nice, chill way to close out the album, and sums up the message of the first six tracks. Echosmith mastered the art of the five paragraph essay, especially the summarizing conclusion. All in all, Echosmith is a good pop band that makes good pop music, and it is okay for me to like them.

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The Corporate Buzzwords You NEED to Know

As helpful as they might be, career-building websites are not the end-all, be-all of career information. I mean, when’s the last time any of the people writing for them had a stable job? As a holder of three separate part-time jobs, I think I’ve got the true “lowdown” on the current corporate slang. Here’s a handy list of buzzwords to use and impress your next potential employer.

Bespoke: Be the spoke of a bicycle; it’s essentially a new way to say “act like a cog in the machine”, but updated with the modern invention of the bike in mind.

Data: an art form that expresses the meaninglessness in everything; commonly, someone will say “big data” to identify themselves as big fans of data.

Mindshare: mind sharing that food, information, whatever; classic contraction of two overused words, like “don’t” or “can’t”.

Paid social: paying somebody in words; whenever your boss can’t scrounge up the funds to pay you, they’ll commonly say they’re “paying social” and will then lecture you for an hour about how to get money in other ways; I’ve had this happen a lot to me.

Fleet Dynamism: move your fleet (aka car) out of the way; you know how in high school the principal would say on the announcements that someone needs to move their 1970s Camry? That’s this, but it’s coming from someone who pays you, so actually follow it.

Impact: I’m making a pact; common way to say you got a contract done with someone.

Paradigm: a pair of dimes; when something is cheap, someone will describe the price as a paradigm.

Skrrtred: synergistic trend; an adjective for when times are going well.

Qprnvis: biannual jumble; a common practice every couple of years where everyone is fired and then rehired.

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Hopefully you’re already so in-touch with business culture (or bizcult as the cool kids say) that none of these words came as a surprise, but it’s never too late to learn. Happy job hunting!

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Brainstorming the September Holiday

September has a bad reputation: the weather (theoretically) gets colder, school starts again, and the infamous band Green Day does not want to be woken up during it. I believe that the only thing that can salvage this oft-forgotten month is a new hallmark holiday. No, not a Hallmark holiday, designed only to sell cards. But a hallmark holiday designed to bring some spring to fall’s step.

Pride Day: They say “pride goeth before the fall”, so obviously this holiday would come around on September 21st. The vagueness of the word “pride” allows any group or corporation to easily co-opt the day. Plus, the word pride is not connected to any other movement whatsoever. However, the biblical crowd would be unhappy to see a deadly sin celebrated, so let’s try something more religious.

Judas’ Birthday: The timespan of 8 or 9 months between Easter and Christmas is simply too long. We need another major Christian celebration to get the crowd into September. Everyone loves Judas and no one actually knows when Judas was born, so we can just say it was in September. The Lady Gaga crowd will eat this up, as well. Really, I think this one is a surefire hit, but I’ve got others.

septEMBER: Keep September sizzling with a week-long celebration of decorative fires all over the nation. The only thing that will burn brighter in septEMBER is the bright passion of young couples, ready to “fall” in love again. Too forced? Alright, we’ll go for the crowd pleaser.

Valentine’s Day 2: Self-explanatory.

Lucky 7 Month: “Sept” actually means seven, not nine. Therefore, it is the true lucky #7 month, and we should encourage the nation to gamble to cash in on that luck. Unfortunately, people might say it is a moral outrage to do so, since casinos are looked down upon for some reason. I guess it’s a better bet to use some fake “awareness of health” holiday instead.

Appendix Cancer Awareness Month: Two words: NFL tie-ins. Alright, that may actually be 4 words. I looked at the other 11 months and none of them were raising awareness of this very real and deadly disease. I think this is a surefire hit destined to boost September’s reputation, but if you’re still not convinced, I have a slam-dunk of a holiday.

Oktoberfest: Now, I know this holiday has the word “October” in it, but hear me out. October already has Halloween, a staple American holiday. They don’t need another staple. Why don’t we just move Oktoberfest to Sept-hold up. I’m being told that Oktoberfest is actually celebrated in September and is already over. …well, that solves our problem. I’m going to get drunk. Peace.

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Why “Freshman” Is More Progressive Than “First-Year”

Colleges, especially ones deemed “liberal”, have started a trend of renaming “freshmen” to “first-years”. They always give some vague reasons about how “first-year isn’t reinforcing the patriarchy” or “freshman uses the word fresh which is copyrighted by Subway”. And, frankly, I think this shift is ruining the college vernacular. For example, it’s no longer the “freshman forty”; it’s now the “first-year forty”. Furthermore, I believe that freshman is a more progressive term than first-year, and using the classic 5-paragraph English essay style I learned as a high school freshman, I will explain.

Topic sentence 1: Freshman is more progressive since the term denotes an actual person. Yes, I know it is a gendered “man” that is implied, but what the heck is a first-year? Sounds like a corporate buzzword rather than a person to me.

Moving right along without any transitions, because that’s how progressive I am. Topic sentence #2: the term first-year is literally stuck in the past. It refers to either 1 B.C. or 1 A.D, plain and simple. But with freshmen, every crop of them is fresh, as in new or exciting. You want to use an exclamation mark after “freshman”! First-year deserves ellipses…

Finally, no matter what Skidmore or other liberal arts colleges say, as long as high schools use the term “freshman”, it’s going to be impossible to fix. And since high school teaches younger people, it is more emblematic of the future and therefore more progressive than a liberal arts college.

In conclusion, my thesis that “freshman” is more progressive than “first-year” is correct. Now please allow me to pass the state tests so I can move up with to the sophomore class like I should be.

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