Arts Desk August Favorites


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Arts is a rather broad, all-encompassing term. Here at the Arts Desk, luckily, we’ve got a wide range of tastes and appreciation for every facet of art. With this piece, we kick off a monthly project where we share our favorite arts production or item, providing a bit of insight to everyone about what the Arts Desk is enjoying.


Palak Jayswal 

I’d like to think there are two types of music consumers in the world — normal ones who listen to a wide range of music and listeners like me, who play the same song or album on repeat for weeks until they truly feel like they’ve absorbed it. This month that album was Taylor Swift’s “Lover.” While I’ve already written a separate article singing the album’s well-deserved praises, over this past month I’ve found myself lost amongst the ballads and bops of Swift’s personal growth. Songs like “False God,” “Cornelia Street” and “Paper Rings” all have different aspects to them, but the cohesive element is an almost imperceptible sense of becoming that underlies each lyric. “Lover” continues to inspire me in different ways with each listen. We’ll see if I’ve absorbed its power come the end of September.

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Christopher Payne

I lacked a certain appreciation for quality film before coming to college. I couldn’t have told you what constitutes good cinematography, how scene composition and camera work can emphasize a certain tone and most of all, why film majors lose it over obscure, artsy movies. Now, over four years into a film degree myself, I still can’t explain the dictionary’s worth of film terminology but I’ve learned to appreciate beautifully constructed movies. That passion for masterful film lies at the core of the YouTube series “Every Frame a Painting” by Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou. Each episode, Zhou dives into the techniques of a certain film director and delivers spot-on analysis that both newcomers to film and cinema buffs can appreciate and learn from. Zhou is genuine, insightful, funny and passionate about his work. “Every Frame a Painting” is, without a doubt, my favorite video series and Zhou is the best film professor I’ve seen.

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Hannah Keating

With summer ending, I fell into a sort of music slump. Spotify was churning out catered playlists of songs I was tired of hearing and my deep-dive searches to satiate my weird taste in music were proving unsuccessful. August brought me two of my favorite albums, one featuring aggressively depressive indie jams and the other bedroom ukulele bops. First, “FIRE ON MARZZ” by BENEE, a New Zealand-based musician whose EP opener “Soaked” has nearly 24 million streams on Spotify. My personal favorite from the album is “Afterlife,” a low-key powerful song featuring lyrics of subtle revenge. Second, musician and YouTuber mxmtoon has released numerous singles in anticipation of her second album “the masquerade.” Her song “prom dress” is everything you’ve ever wanted in a bop, but also something you can cry to.

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Abigail Bowé

Well, in my horribly nerdy opinion, the most enthralling arts-related happening of this month was the announcement on Aug. 16 of the winners of the 2018 XYZZY Awards, an event made to recognize the best text-based computer games released each year. This year’s winners and nominees were produced through multiple kinds of gaming software, cover a wide variety of genres and share a strong creative vision. From the winners, I’d most highly recommend playing “Bogeyman,” a twisted fairytale which — astoundingly — made three wins (Best Game, Best Story, Best NPC),  “Cannery Vale,” a wickedly humorous Stephen King-like horror game (Best Setting) and “Alias ‘The Magpie’,” a mystery puzzler reminiscent of “The Pink Panther” films (Best PC).

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Alison Myers

Malcolm Gladwell is known for his books that delve into the particulars of humanity. Recently, though, it’s his voice that’s entranced us. Gladwell’s podcast, “Revisionist History,” has been with us for a few years now. It discusses everything from misconceptions in educational philanthropy to a harmonica player in Nazi Germany. Gladwell rummages through the “overlooked and misunderstood.” Anything we might not look too closely at, Gladwell searches for the deeper root of. Season four just ended, which I find devastating. I need that friendly voice to get me a little further into the semester. Luckily, he just published his book, “Talking to Strangers” — and, fear not, there’s an audiobook.

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Kate Button

The Band CAMINO’s EP — “tryhard”—  is my favorite item from August because it successfully combines an upbeat tempo, strong instrumentals and emotionally vulnerable lyrics. I first fell in love with The Band CAMINO, who describe themselves as “mom’s favorite band,” after waiting in freezing weather for what felt like an eternity before seeing them perform live, but their performance was so dynamic, fun and lively that I would do it again in a heartbeat. The album’s title references how others have seen The Band CAMINO as taking themselves too seriously, but, instead of a try-hard group, I see this pop and alternative rock band as passionate and dedicated to creating powerfully intimate music.

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Abigail Raasch

If you pay any attention to the latest news on Broadway, you may have heard of “Moulin Rouge.” Based on the original movie with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, this dazzling and musical tale uses many well-known tunes to create an intriguing story of a young man who visits the famous Parisian cabaret. The only thing that has been missing was a killer cast album. It’s finally here, and it doesn’t disappoint. The voices of the entire cast are astounding. Broadway took every good point of the original movie soundtrack and made it even better. This mixture of pumpin’ jams and smooth ballads left me to believe that life can be as magical as “Moulin Rouge” makes it out to be. 

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Ray Gill

My arts favorite from the month was working on some cosplays. While school keeps me stressed, working on my cosplays takes me away from it all. My most recent projects have been the most fun and most frustrating of all. When they’re done, I find satisfaction from a job well done. This month I improved my “My Hero Academia” Momo Yaoyorozu cosplay. I thickened her belts with foam and added more length to have more coverage, made a new and improved prop, and added to my previous wig work.

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Oakley Burt

My August favorite was Lana Del Ray’s new album, “Norman F—— Rockwell!” I love how she touches on the concepts of contemporary America, American culture, relationships and Hollywood throughout the album. This album showed her evolution as a singer, but Del Ray kept the classic elements of her music that fans love: slow melodies, visual lyrics and hints of nostalgic references. It’s a beautifully crafted album by Del Ray and producer Jack Antonoff, who centered each song around a mesmerizing piano melody. Del Ray and Antonoff created an album full of paradoxes, complex lyrics and breathtaking melodies that make “NFR!” an ode to beauty, love, pain and classic Hollywood.

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