The things we watched, listened to and streamed this week as we enjoyed the spring weather.
THE MOUNTAIN GOATS
With a career that has spanned 22 years, 15 studio albums and over 500 songs, The Mountain Goats are probably one of the most prolifc rock bands you’ve never heard of. While band members have come and gone throughout the years, the head singer, John Darnielle, has remained the same. With a very troubled past that included physical abuse from his stepfather and a subsequent downward spiral into alcoholism and meth addiction, Darnielle isn’t afraid to let notes of tragedy and sorrow seep into his vignette-style songs. However, the emotionally tinged lyrics are often offset by cheerful, upbeat melodies, as in “This Year” and “Palmcorder Yanja.” This juxtaposition drives home the message that Darnielle asserts with all of his music — that beauty can be found in any situation, no matter how dark or desolate the world may seem. (Devon Shuman, culture editor)
“PERPETUAL,” ROBERT RICH
Rich is a self described “sonic surrealist.” He has performed widely since he began producing very long pieces of music in the 1980s in the Bay Area when he was attending Stanford University. There, Rich would hold what came to be known as “sleep concerts” in which he would compose a piece and perform throughout the night (upwards of eight hours). The audience would come equipped around sundown with sleeping bags and pillows and settle in for the night. “Perpetual” is an eight hour piece adapted from this period of Rich’s career. “Perpetual” is considered the longest artist album of all time. I appreciate music that breaks conventional barriers and would sometimes “bore” people. One of Rich’s main influences is John Cage. Cage is famous for saying: “When I hear something and I don’t think it’s beautiful, I ask myself, ‘Why don’t I think it’s beautiful?’ And after some self speculation, you find quite quickly that there is no reason.” (Kyle Hayden, design editor)
I’m typically not the kind of person who likes watching Oscar-worthy movies. I like rom-coms and other sappy feel-good movies. But here’s the thing: after watching “Brooklyn,” the only thing I could say after the movie ended was, “My heart doesn’t know what to feel.” “Brooklyn” has a pretty simple plot — it follows Eilis Lacey as an Irish immigrant trying to find herself in her new life in the United States. She meets an Italian immigrant and falls in love, but when she returns home for a while, she is faced with life-changing decisions. It certainly was not the feel-good movie that I’m used to, but the ending left me feeling satisfied and wanting more. (Audrey Davis, news editor)
“THE WILD TREES” BY RICHARD PRESTON
This piece of science journalism is a narrative-nonfiction masterpiece. Preston follows a host of amateur thrill-seekers, including “tree hunter” Michael Taylor and botanists Steve Sillet and Mary Antoine as they attempt to catelogue the before-unknown biodiversity that exists in the canopy’s of the tallest trees in the world. This book took me back to my winter abroad studying the epyphites and amphibeans in the cloud forests of Monte Verde, Costa Rica. As more news of climate change permeates our lives every day, the world will not only need scientists, but science educators who can help laypeople digest the seemingly endless wave of research. Preston is one of those educators. He succeeds in making science exciting. Which is no easy feat.