Music review: Album lacks holiday cheer but works for modern music generation

When “Holidays Rule” was released a few weeks ago, Christmas music lovers were likely trembling with excitement. The album is a compilation of Christmas singles from various artists including The Shins, Fun., The Civil Wars and Paul McCartney to name a few. Such a lineup deserves anticipation. As an avid lover of Christmas music, I am always eager to find more once Christmas season arrives. It’s fun to see artists I enjoy put out Christmas albums. The albums often do well. Take Mariah Carey’s phenomenal Christmas album, “Merry Christmas,” for example. It holds, arguably, some of the best classic modern Christmas songs, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” I expected “Holidays Rule” to be no different.

Unfortunately, I was mistaken. Other than a few songs that truly did sound like Christmas music (Paul McCartney’s “The Christmas Song,” Rufus Wainwright’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and Fun.’s, “Sleigh Ride”) it was exclusively artists playing songs that sound no different from their regular music aside from the words. For example, The Civil Wars’, “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” sounded exactly like, say, “I’ve Got This Friend,” from the album “Barton Hollow,” or the song “Kingdom Come,” another of the band’s more famous singles.

Even Fun.’s, “Sleigh Ride,” which was one of the more “Christmasy” songs on the album, was jammed with random electronic beeps and plunks that sound like they came out of a Buzz Lightyear toy. Hardly the sounds that come to mind at the mention of Christmas music.

While “Holidays Rule” is certainly not my taste, it definitely finds a way to make the songs work. It has done what most, if not all, classic Christmas artists have done in the past. I would define Frank Sinatra’s Christmas albums, or Bing Crosby’s, Mariah Carey’s or Point of Grace’s Christmas works as classic Christmas music. To put it in perspective, those albums are not very different from each respective artist’s normal music, save for the addition of some sleigh bells and violin and flute runs. “Holidays Rule” has simply conformed “Christmas music” to the popular modern times, just as Frank Sinatra and Mariah Carey did in their time.

I won’t be listening to “Holidays Rule” this year, or likely any year, but many people will enjoy it. It’s an album that, while I’m hard pressed to call it true Christmas music, defines its musical era and works for those who cling to that modern era.

Peter Duell Staff Writer

Contact Peter Duell at pduell16@my.whitworth.edu.

Jazz ensemble performs with major artist

Cowles Auditorium was packed with people of all ages on Saturday night, to hear jazz music performed by a renowned jazz artist and Whitworth University’s jazz ensemble for their annual fall concert.

Dan Keberle, a professor of music and the director of jazz studies at Whitworth, said this event has been going on for 24 years so far, bringing in artists who have helped shape jazz music into what it is today.

“We bring in nationally known, grammy-winning and grammy-nominated jazz artists,” he said. “[Students] know this will be part of their experience when they come here — that they will get to work closely for a couple of days with a major jazz artist.”This year’s artist was Kenny Barron, who is recognized internationally as a master of jazz performance and composition. He has been called “one of the top jazz pianists in the world” by the Los Angeles Times and “the most lyrical piano player of our time” by Jazz Weekly.Barron has played with other jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Freddie Hubbard and Yusef Lateef and is a nine-time grammy nominee, and has been recognized for his outstanding work with jazz music.

Sophomore Caleb Brown, who plays tenor saxophone, said he is most excited to have the opportunity to work closely with Barron.

“The fall guest artist concerts are an amazing experience,” he said. “Playing with my heroes is a dream come true.”

Sophomore Kyle Moreen, who plays lead alto saxophone in the jazz band, agreed.

“It’s so great to get to play with a master like [Barron] is,” Moreen said. “Anytime you meet someone who knows what they’re doing is great. Just playing with anyone who is better makes you better.”

The concert started out with the jazz ensemble playing songs like “Again and Again” by Benny Carter and an arrangement of “I Thought About You”.

After a short intermission, the ensemble came back on stage to perform again, and this time Barron also appeared at the piano. He collaborated with the ensemble on a number of songs. Most of the songs involved piano solos, which showcased his expertise.

The band also took a few breaks from playing to listen to Barron perform some songs by himself during the concert. Keberle said this was important.

“[Barron] could probably play 5,000 songs, 5,000 different ways,” Keberle said. “I don’t want the band playing all the time. We want to be able to listen to the subtleties of the piano.”

Before the concert, Moreen said he was most excited to hear Barron performing the song “Never Enough”.

“It extensively features the piano in the beginning, and the piano has a really long solo,” he said. “It’s going to be great to hear what he does with that.”

“Never Enough” was written by Virginia Mayhew, with whom Barron had played this song originally. This version of “Never Enough” was arranged by Keberle.

Keberle said this concert has been in the making for more than a year.

“We tried to get Kenny to come out here many times; it’s been a long road,” Keberle said. “A lot of jazz artists have tours in October and November, so it’s hard sometimes.”

Brown said the band has put a lot of work into the concert.

“We have rehearsals three times a week, and this whole week leading up to the concert we’ve had rehearsals every night,” he said. “I spend about 10 to 20 hours a week practicing on my own.”

Keberle said that the jazz ensemble will not have much happening until around February, when the ensemble is going to Chicago for the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival.

“[It’s] the oldest collegiate jazz festival,” he said. “We’re going to travel over there and play, and hear a lot of jazz from eastern and western universities that we don’t usually get to hear.”

Meghan Dellinger Staff Writer

mdellinger15@my.whitworth.edu

Whitworth.fm show features underground hip-hop artists

One can safely say that Spokane’s hip-hop scene is lacking. Nonetheless, sophomores Niko Aberle and Jacob Dansereau are attempting to inject just a little more life into it with their radio show, Underground Railroad on Whitworth.fm.

Dansereau and Aberle get behind the Whitworth.fm microphone Sunday nights at 7 p.m. to deliver two solid hours of underground, lesser-known hip-hop. They play artists such as De La Soul, Handsome Boy Modeling School and Jurassic 5.

Aberle, the creator of Underground Railroad, did not initially expect the show to be where it is today.

“I am friends with Jacob and knew his taste of music so I asked him if he would be interested in doing an underground hip-hop show,” Aberle said. “He said yes and here we are today.”

Largely undiscovered, underground hip-hop artists are no different than their mainstream counterparts. Their lyrics tell of hardship and loss, but also of love and community.  Many themes in hip-hop are often deemed negative. Some of these messages glorify violence and drug use. Sex and hedonistic lifestyles are often dominant in lyrics.

But it is important to look deeper at the reason why such themes are present and why hip-hop artists focus so strongly on them.

“Hip-hop is a perspective. It’s an artistic tool that is used to convey a message. All of the bad is part of the music — it tells a story,” Aberle said. “These artists have gone through drug addictions and alcoholism and family and gang violence. Those themes are present because it’s the artists’ story.”

The Underground Railroad plays hip-hop that exemplifies the artists’ lives.

“That’s what it comes down to, is showing hip-hop as a story of a person’s life, a story of that person’s hardship and how they could overcome it or sometimes not overcome it,” Aberle said.

Underground Railroad includes a portion featuring anyone who wants to simply get behind a microphone and rap. Aberle and Dansereau call it “Sunday Night Cipher” and contribute to that portion of the show themselves.

Every Sunday at 8:15 p.m., Aberle and Dansereau speak their thoughts in musical form with freestyle rap. Only one person has taken them up on their open microphone offer. Northwest Christian High School student, Zach “Zeal” Taylor, son of Whitworth President Beck Taylor, entered the booth on Oct. 14 to chat with the hosts and freestyle rap.

Taylor has more than 20,000 views on Youtube and is releasing a mixtape on Oct. 31.

“It all started when I was recording with a rock band mic in my friend’s basement,” Taylor said. “We were covering the song ‘Forever’ just for fun. My friends started noticing some actual talent coming from my verse. A month later I purchased my first mic and started writing songs.”

Taylor performed a song in the studio that he had written and chatted with Aberle and Dansereau about his inspirations, his aspirations and his parents’ support of his music.

Technically, Aberle could end the show with the conclusion of the semester and the class, but he may have other plans for the show.

“I really enjoy putting on the show,” Aberle said. “Jacob and I mesh well and it’s a time to simply have fun and play good music. I don’t know the future of Underground Railroad, but I am definitely not opposed to carrying it on into next semester.”

Peter Duell Staff Writer

Contact Peter Duell at pduell16@my.whitworth.edu

Classic Crime performs songs from newest record

The clash of The Classic Crime’s guitars and the beat of drums could be heard throughout the Hixson Union Building. The fans in attendance said their performance went beyond expectations. The performance was energetic and the band brought a strong stage presence.

The four-member band played many songs from their latest album, “Phoenix,” which was released in August. The album broadened and progressed their style beyond their traditional roots.

“We’ve always been known for our ability to meld accessibility with experimentation,” Matt MacDonald, lead singer and guitarist, said about their new album. “I think we’re less afraid to do what we want this time around. We were less afraid of trying new things, of dreaming up parts that we previously would have discouraged because of our inability to pull them off live.”

Based out of Seattle, The Classic Crime started in 2004 like many other small, independent groups do — with a few guys just playing music together. For MacDonald, music is a passion, a voice through which emotion can be expressed in the form of riffs and chords.

“Music has been a way for me to name my struggles over the past few years,” MacDonald said. “The best thing for me is to hear these songs done and know exactly what I felt when I wrote them. It’s meaningful to know that somebody out there will feel the same way.”

As the band began to develop their talents and grow in popularity in early 2006, they released their debut album, “Albatross” and signed with Tooth and Nail Records, a record company predominantly known for releasing Christian artists.

In its first week of release, “Albatross” grossed more than 4,000 sales, the highest in Tooth and Nail history. The sales allowed The Classic Crime to gain momentum and esteem, according to Tooth and Nail. Though respectably successful, MacDonald felt an urge to do more by expanding their musical abilities and experimenting with different sounds.

Apparently the new methods were successful, because responses from critics and Whitworth fans who attended Thursday’s show indicated pleasure with the new style in comparison with the old.

“The Classic Crime’s first two albums were really good,” freshman Cooper Budden said.  “They were exactly what their band name suggests — just classic modern rock music. They played a lot of their new stuff at the show and I can’t get enough of it. I hope they continue in this direction because there’s so much room for higher potential.”

Although the band’s style has progressed, The Classic Crime’s foundations have remained the same.

They are signed with a Christian label, so many people think of them as a Christian band, but they emphasize their neutrality when it comes to faith.

“We believe faith is personal, and can be only held by an individual person,” MacDonald said. “To entitle a group ‘Christian’ would be to assume that the group has a collective soul, or at least individual souls tied to a solid collective belief. Not everyone in our band is decidedly set in their faith, and we respect that.”

The Classic Crime will tour through November with The Rocket Summer and William Beckett.

Peter Duell Staff Writer

Contact Peter Duell at pduell16@my.whitworth.edu

Student musician creates worship concert event

Growing up in a very musical family, senior Joseph Lawyer has always had a passion for music. Between his gospel church roots and his contemporary Christian high school, he has a firm foundation for his musical ventures. This foundation was a gateway for creating the “Ministry at the Campus” gospel concert event that happened Oct. 13 in the Hixson Union Building Multipurpose Room.

Lawyer and his sister, Whitworth alumna Miracle Lawyer, performed, along with Whitworth’s Exceptional Praise Gospel Choir, and a few members from Gonzaga University’s gospel choir.

Joseph Lawyer experienced a turning point in which music was raised to a higher level of importance in his life. Lawyer was a high school basketball player and went through the unfortunate event of blowing out his knee. What would be devastating for many worked out for Lawyer because it opened his eyes to his true calling.

While injured, Lawyer was asked by his coach to lead devotions for his basketball team. Lawyer began to realize his main priority wasn’t sports, but spreading God’s message.

“While I couldn’t play basketball, I could still make music. Basketball became a platform for me,” Lawyer said.

Lawyer said he sees music as a source of universal power; it is able to go from culture to culture. For him, it is a ministry, and music is a means to be authentic with ourselves and God.

Lawyer plays the keyboard and sings, and makes every aspect of his music himself. When writing music, at times an entire song will come to him instantly, and other times songs come like a shadow.

“Music is the one thing that can enter into our heart and mind unintentionally,” Lawyer said. “My desire is to be able to help someone have an encounter with God through music.”

Inspiration often comes through other people: through encouragement and motivation to pursue our own potential. That is how Lawyer received  his inspiration.

“My freshman year of college a good friend said ‘God has gifted you with musical ability. What is your legacy going to be?’” Lawyer said.

The next year Lawyer came out with his first CD, “Ministry at the Campus, Vol. 1.” It included music by junior Jessica Ziemann, as well as his sister. Following the first CD, Vol. 2 was produced last school year, featuring Ziemann as a solo artist.

“I’ve been involved in the music ministry nearly all of my life and it was time that I started pouring into the lives of those around me on campus,” Lawyer said.

Lawyer said he felt God bringing forth a mission of sorts to pursue the music industry in order to follow the call God had given him to spread the “Good News”. Of course, every mission comes with challenges. For Lawyer, the challenge was confidence.

“I had to remember that to whom much is given, much is expected,” Lawyer said. “It’s not about what other people think, but what God has called you to do.” Entering his final year at Whitworth, Lawyer felt God telling him to do a “Ministry at the Campus” live worship concert to present his newest album, “Vol. 3, The Reality.” The event was inspired by Lawyer’s production label, Trilog3 Productions.

Lawyer said he thinks of  “Ministry at the Campus” as a mission he can tackle while he is a student.

“As followers of Christ, Jesus gives us the mandate to spread the Gospel, and the ‘Ministry at the Campus’ series is one of those avenues which God has given me to spread his ‘Good News,’” Lawyer said.

Freshman Jazmin Andrade came to the “Ministry at the Campus” event to praise God and quickly figured out how much gospel music meant to her.

“I love it — how it’s upbeat and it really encourages praise to God,” Andrade said.

Miracle Lawyer said her brother has inspired her to pursue her calling as well.

“He’s been an inspiration to me. He’s always been a go-getter and has used the gifts God has given him,” Lawyer said.

Christina Spencer Staff Writer

Contact Christina Spencer at cspencer15@my.whitworth.edu.

Terrain event brings local artists, musicians

Sculptures next to paintings, poetry readings next to short films, photography next to graffiti, all accompanied by the sound of live musical artists. Terrain 5 continued its growing legacy as an art smorgasbord in downtown Spokane on Oct. 5.

Terrain, a one night only annual art show that began in 2008, showcases local artists in an attempt to link them with Spokane’s art establishment, putting industry professionals and upcoming artists in the same room. Since it began, Terrain has introduced more than 120 local artists to more than 14,000 art enthusiasts, according to Terrain’s website.

Terrain works in collaboration with the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, the Pacific Northwest Inlander and the Garland Theater. Terrain 5 was voted the third best art organization by the Inlander.

The event holds a vast variety of multimedia art, each one selected by a jury made up of members of the local art circle, according to Terrain’s website. This year, Terrain boasted 13  musical artists, including the Terrible Buttons, Ocnotes and Velella Velella.

The show incorporated three floors of works, ranging from oil pastels to installation pieces made of old circuit boards and unrecognizable pieces of scrap.

“I thought it was really neat how you could go to both extremes of very different art,” Spokane Community College student Naslund Rush said. “It was interesting how they separated genres by floors and rooms.”

Each floor’s walls were lined with pieces from different artists, each one utilizing very different art techniques. The music of local bands wafted through the rooms and halls of the Music City Building. Brick walls, naked beams and colored lighting accented the artwork. All this came together to produce a setting unique to Terrain, a setting that spoke to the Spokane art scene.

Terrain 5 also included the “Literary Park,” a section of floor covered in real grass and a small stage, with usable swings and a hammock hanging from the rafters. Several local poets, including Whitworth students, shared their work to the crowd of people lounging on the grass and swings.

Whitworth senior August Sheets shared several of his works.

”It was exciting and nerve racking, but it’s a very chill environment,” Sheets said.

The crowd at Terrain 5 is just as colorful and diverse as the artwork, with no admission fee and no semblance of the subdued atmosphere typical of an art show.

“It’s a lot more urban that I was expecting,” art enthusiast and Terrain first timer Chad Shayotovich said. “The art sort of has that antagonized adolescent feel.”

The eclectic pounding of the variety of art could, at times, be overwhelming, but the crowd fed off this energy, creating an atmosphere unlike other art exhibits.

“There is so much good artwork, and with a crowd like this, I hope it keeps on,” Sheets said.

Luke Eldredge Staff Writer

Contact Luke Eldredge at leldredge16@my.whitworth.edu.

Music review: Mumford & Sons keeps its sound steady

Few contemporary artists have the ability to create and deliver music that grabs a hold of a person’s heart and soul and squeezes out every feeling, every emotion, every drop of life and splays it across a canvas of song.

Mumford & Sons are among the few and do so quite well. In its debut album, “Sigh No More,” Mumford & Sons sets itself apart from other mainstream groups by creating a unique sound that is good but inflexible at times. It is soft, followed by a punch of vigor, then suddenly receding. And people love it.

On Sept. 25, Mumford & Sons released its second album, “Babel,” and with it came the same rich and passionate instrumentals and vocals.

The music in “Babel” has soul, finesse and power in its simplicity. The melodies aren’t complex. The notes and chord progressions are nothing new.

What makes Mumford & Sons different in “Babel” is its ability to force all of its being into the songs and then blow them up to that iconic Mumford & Sons sound on the album and in live performances.

“Frontman Marcus Mumford’s impassioned and rasping vocals give the air of a man who is at least singing for his supper and, on occasion, even his life,” said Ian Winwood of BBC, regarding the sounds of “Babel.” “[The songs] flutter like a quickly beating heart, melodies drifting in and out of focus as the moods shift from gentle refrain to dominant force. It’s beautiful and stirring.”

Other critics were not so impressed. However, many who rated the album lower did not dislike the music itself. What disheartened them was the lack of progression in the sound and style of Mumford & Sons. They heard “Sigh No More” and loved it. They expected a grander, more majestic and advanced tone in “Babel,” but instead got just grand and just majestic.

I’m perfectly satisfied with the latter. Mumford & Sons’ powerful yet often gentle sounds stir the soul and emotions and move them in ways that few other contemporary musicians can. I am delighted Mumford & Sons stuck to its passionate style. I am delighted with the lack of change.

Peter Duell Staff Writer

Contact Peter Duell at pduell16@my.whitworth.edu.

Music review: Dave Matthews Band boasts its refined sound in new album

The Grammy Award winning group, Dave Matthews Band, released its new album, “Away From The World”, on Tuesday, Sept. 11, relieving fans’ much anticipated tension. Media reviews range on a spectrum  from “boring and weak” to “impressive and beautiful.”

“I’ve been listening to Dave Matthews Band for a long time,” freshman Curtis Hunter said. “I bought their new album and was very impressed. It was classic Dave Matthews. All their music is beautiful. This album is no exception.”

Dave Matthews Band is known for its smooth melodies with strong vocals and jazzy riffs backed by horns and keys. “Away From The World” followed suit but did so with a more refined,  mastered style.

Approaching its second decade of existence, DMB has taken its time to craft and perfect its style and sound. The album represents this tone well. While the distinct sound of Dave’s voice and classic saxophone remain, the grittiness has been cleaned away.

Many might find this attractive and enjoyable,  while others prefer the sometimes sharp and rough sounds of the “old” Dave Matthews.

“While ‘Away From The World’ is nice, I found it almost too perfected,” sophomore Eli Casteel said. “What made Dave Matthews so fun to listen to was the imperfections — you didn’t know what they were going to do with a song when it starts. [‘Away From The World’] is too predictable, too boring. It lulled me to sleep.”

While big-name bands will always have mixed reviews and opinions, DMB has remained noticeably consistent over the years.  “Away From The World” is not excluded from that pool.  The classic sounds one can expect from DMB all remain. What sets its new album apart is the way DMB took that sound and refined it to create a nicer, polished tone.

I have always been a fan of DMB’s ability to fuse jazz-like sounds with a more or less rock style base. I am a jazz enthusiast, so hearing DMB focus slightly more on that in “Away From The World” was refreshing. It is not my favorite DMB album, but it is still classic Dave Matthews, which is always fun to listen to. There is so much talent in the group, and they manage to orchestrate their music incredibly well.

Peter Duell Staff Writer

Contact Peter Duell at pduell16@my.whitworth.edu

Music review: The Avett Brothers delivers album of contrasting emotions

You know those songs that seem to capture your soul and before you know it your toes are tapping and your head is swaying? Well, the Avett Brothers has mastered the mysterious art of connecting listeners to symbolic meanings much deeper than a mere scramble of lyrics. I’d call it an erratic mixture of emotions that somehow all flow together. Know what I mean? It’s like one moment you’re singing along to a melancholic verse, and the next your heart is pounding to the upbeat and synergistic chorus.

Scott and Seth Avett have been into music ever since they were young and once played in a rock band named Nemo. Eventually, in 2000, the band became The Avett Brothers (Bob Crawford was added as Bass guitarist) and it was not until two years later that they hit the road running and released their debut album “Country Was.”

The band’s music is a combination of country and folk, and has a modern day Beatles vibe mixed with the blues of Doc Watson. I saw the Avett Brothers live this summer at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver, Colo., and their passion flowed out from their voices and collective instruments in all directions; all coming together to create this magical noise.

The Avett Brothers released their newest album, “The Carpenter,” on Sept. 11. Once again they have hit the target with the overarching goal of music: relating to their audience and capturing the pure, simple peace that music brings.

Similar to previous albums, this one is so very real, and when you really listen to the words they pull you towards a conundrum of pensive thought. Every song is a story, one that pulls you in and makes you feel at home with the melodic folk beat. And in each is several lessons that we can all connect with.

In the song “Once and Future Carpenter,” Scott Avett sings, “Well we’re all in this together, If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.” How many of us are constantly wishing for something better than the circumstances we’ve been given instead of simply living without fear of the future. Motivational, right?

Looking at the band’s big success album, “I and Love and You,” the Avett Brothers’ new album returns to the rebellious arrangements and whimsically jaunty lyrics of that and earlier albums. As is seen in their song, “Through My Prayers,” the contagious background humming of the cello and the elevating picking of the banjo chime perfectly through their song’s mixtures of light and dark, comedy and tragedy, and fast and slow. Check out “The Carpenter” and get ready for a roller coaster wave of emotional enrapturement.

Christina Spencer Staff Writer

Contact Christina Spencer at cspencer15@my.whitworth.edu.

Whitworth.fm makes changes for new year

When Aaron Kilfoyle, a junior and general manager of Whitworth.fm, came to Whitworth three years ago with an intended major in Athletic Training, and Kinesiology, he had no idea the potential that lay at his fingertips with Whitworth.fm.

What began as a small, out-of-date studio with old equipment, peeling laminate and exposed wires, has now evolved into a state-of-the-art broadcasting studio. It is fit to provide not only an up to date sound and recording experience, but one that will last well into the future.

David Dennis, a Whitworth alumnus and former general manager of Whitworth.fm, now works alongside Kilfoyle with the production. The two poured work into the completion of the renovation this summer — completing it all in just over a month.

“When I came here three years ago, a lot of the equipment didn’t work,” Dennis said.  “There was a lot of feedback with the sound and a bunch of other little problems that needed to be fixed.  At that point we said, ‘Let’s raise the bar.’”

And they did.  Now a completely renovated studio and sound editing room sit where a seemingly ancient broadcasting station was before.

Innovation did not just consist of new computers, amplifiers, a new soundboard, IP codexes and the like. Whitworth.fm now has the capability to broadcast from anywhere on campus, allowing for the recording and transmitting of concerts, student events and athletic games.

Max Carter and John Lobaugh, both freshmen, are two of Whitworth’s first sports broadcasters. While neither are majoring in journalism or mass communications, they both express excitement in being a part of the new sports broadcasting team.

Kilfoyle has three sports broadcasting teams, each with two students. He wants students to have fun while gaining knowledge about the field.

“I want to teach students how to be creative — especially in a professional environment,” Kilfoyle said. “Experience is so important, and allowing students to have that with Whitworth.fm gives them a chance to develop in their professional creativity.”

Peter Duell Staff Writer

Contact Peter Duell at pduell16@my.whitworth.edu