Art

ALBUM REVIEW: Scott Ryan – Object Permanence

Spokane-based alt-rocker Scott Ryan is back with a new EP and a new perspective.

It goes without saying that 2016 has been the year of surprises — some good, mostly bad. Scott Ryan is a good surprise. His new EP, Object Permanence, carries a shape-shifting, retro sound that covers more ground in five songs than most LPs cover in ten.

What’s fresh about Object Permanence is that “retro” doesn’t mean “vintage.” It’s not The Strokes simply recreating the tones of The Stooges or Vampire Weekend channeling the vibrancy of the Talking Heads. It’s more complex than that. Here, Ryan takes pieces of various genres from the past — psychedelic, funk, blues, pop, and indie — and in an impressive, almost encyclopedic fashion, somehow makes these into sounds his own.

The opening track, “Spent” is a bright, vibrant tune that blends pop-rock with a little funk and you can’t help but move your body. Not my favorite song on the album, but that’s because it’s not really my style. I can still respect it, however, for Ryan is a musician’s musician. Instrumentally, the music on this song and throughout the album is savvy and unapologetically technical.

“Perfectly Good Explanation” is also ambitious, both vocally and instrumentally. Clocking in at just under eight minutes, the song manages well to keep your attention (hard to accomplish in today’s culturally-busy society). As a Radiohead fan I can’t help but make comparisons to the tonal atmosphere of Hail to the Thief, as an enigmatic drum track balances a delicate falsetto with a wandering guitar lead. Simply put, “Perfectly Good Explanation” is really cool. (more…)

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Kevin on the Radio: WXXI’s “Connections: The Writers Panel”

Radio debut? No problem.

Today, I was asked to join “Connections with Evan Dawson” on Rochester’s WXXI. The panel consisted of Eric Grode, NY Times writer and Newhouse School adjunct professor, and Andrea Levendusky, a local freelance writer and soon to be published author.

We bulldozed through many topics (e.g., how to improve as a writer, the arguments for and against teaching cursive, what are our favorite “eggcorns“), we answered phone calls, and even shared a few laughs. Before I knew it the hour was gone. Over. Boom. Just like that. And there I was, pouting, like a child given chocolate for the first time: YOU CAN’T JUST TAKE THIS AWAY.

Anywho, I had an amazing time. Thanks to Evan Dawson for the incredible opportunity. Now… who wants to start a podcast with me? Anyone? Hello?

You can stream the broadcast here: Connections: The Writers Panel

Connections_News_Highlight (more…)

FRINGE Day 2: After Hours A Cappella and Tricycle Madness in Manhattan Square

After a dreamlike introduction, a diffident storyline, and a long journey through the crowds of Manhattan Square, Fringe Festival’s Friday night headliner, Tricycle by Circus Orange, awoke its impatient and testy audience with a spectacle filled finale, leaving them speechless and in awe.

For instance, this happened:

Courtesy of the Rochester Fringe Festival

Courtesy of the Rochester Fringe Festival

Wait. Wait. Let’s back up. There’s more to tell. Much more. Let’s start earlier in the day, shall we?

DAY 2

After Hours A Cappella at Bernunzio Uptown Music

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After Hours always puts on a great show. I’ve never been clear, however, if their sound and style can sustain audiences beyond the academic, rarefied walls of the University of Rochester.

The first thing I noticed was that the show was almost sold out. So that is good. The second thing? These undergrads are amazing. Top notch voices, diverse song selections, innovative compositions.

From “Stand by Me,” to Little Mermaid‘s “Kiss the Girl,” to “Teenage Dream,” After Hours commandingly covered a range of popular genres, feeding their captivated audience with an overflowing trick-or-treat bag of ear candy.

After the gig, I met the crew and asked the gentlemen “Why a cappella?” (more…)

10 Amazing Toronto Animation Artists from TAAFI 2014

Last weekend, my wife and I were searching for coffee while walking along the Toronto waterfront. We were attracted to a building bustling with life, but instead of coffee, we found something much sweeter. We found TAAFI. What the heck is TAAFI? Great question. We asked ourselves the same question after stumbling into an amazing animation art festival.

TAAFI (Toronto Animation Arts Festival International) is in its third year. The four day festival includes screenings, lectures, exhibits, life drawing, workshops, and who knows what else. It’s a visual playground for anyone who loves animation, drawing, comics, or art.

TAAFI’s lectures, or talks, were tempting to attend: “Compelling Character Design,” “Indie Gaming,” “Comedians in Animation,” “State of the Industry,” and lots more.  But we showed up on the last day and spent most of our time walking the exhibits and meeting the artists.

Here’s a list of my favorite artists from TAAFI. All of whom I met, and all of whom were incredibly kind and gracious. All of whom, also, are from or are living in Toronto.

SIDE NOTE: I’m using these pictures without permission. If you’d like me to take it down, just ask! Also, all artist’s websites are linked in their names.

10 Amazing Animation Artists from TAAFI

Bobby Chiu might have been the most famous artist I met that day. He’s worked for Disney, Sony, and Dreamworks on a handful of films. He’s also designed toys and currently teaches at Schoolism.com. His website has a plethora of strange, amazing art (like the one below). It was hard to pick my favorite.

Big_Foot__s_New_Friend_by_bobbychiu

Bobby Chiu

Ally Rom Colthoff is an artist that seems to do a bit of everything. She’s working on an online comic that posts every Monday and Friday. In addition, she also has great landscape paintings, as well as these wonderful, glorious things. She also leads a fun art blog.

Ally Rom Colthoff

Ally Rom Colthoff

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Pinterest, The Musical

The internet is pretty busy these days. (Hey! Over here. Stay with me.) There’s a fierce battle of eyeball real estate going on; somehow, I won you over to my blog. I promise to be quick.

Have you noticed attention spans weakening at a frightening pace? I’m as bad as anyone. Lately, I’ve felt less like Greek Homer and more like Springfield Homer.

SIDE NOTE: I may or may not have just spent 20 minutes on Youtube watching old Simpsons videos.

The internet is just absolute madness: eons and eons of digital stimuli. Remember not knowing the answer to things? That was awkward. What once took a lifetime of information to collect, can now be searched and understood in less than five tweet-seconds.

But I can’t help but wonder about the negative long-term effects of all this big data and short segmented behavior. If things keep going the way they are (and one can only assume it will) humans may just become the most annoying creatures of all time. A Keurig will even be too slow. Maybe that’s why, in the movies, when people discover how to travel through time, they always escape the future and prefer the past. Terminator, obviously, just wants to chill.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a worthy case study and is my favorite example of short-term focus. (more…)

5 Lessons for the Workshop Writer

Now, my darlings, a quick lesson on workshopping. Every writer must seek feedback on his or her work. It’s imperative. Thirty minutes in a workshop table can fuel you for an entire week. Don’t accept the adage of “All work and no play make Johnny a dull boy,”—a writer by himself going crazy from the lonely craft. Writing is, or should be, a team effort.

Last semester I had a playwright workshop course; currently, I’m in a short story workshop. Because I’m nice, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned. You’re welcome, America (and possibly Croatia).

Fair Warning: This blog post was not workshopped. I know, I know.

Here’s my top 5 lessons from the workshop table.

1) Prepare for the worst. Sorry, but your first draft wasn’t perfect. Embrace what’s coming. Get into the habit of looking forward to the edits. (Edits are your friends. They take you to new places and introduce you to new things.)  (more…)