In one of nature’s more endearing displays, a panda paws at a narrow, basil-colored stick of bamboo. Propping the chute up like a flute, the panda tries to meander the bamboo into its mouth. It leans back just a little too far, awkwardly rolling onto its back as it gnaws on the chute like a toothless child. After the victorious snap of fiber, the panda props itself up toward the zoo crowd around it, flashing a hint of pride as it goes for another bite.
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For more than a hundred years, Yellowstone has drawn millions to the American West. Each year, more than 3 million people visit the park, stopping for its 19,000-year-old geysers, its million-year-old mountains and its blankets of forests that look just as dense as they do in the hundred-year-old photos in the textbooks. For many, Yellowstone is that old photo, a natural snapshot of America before Manifest Destiny.
On the track “Why Does It Shake?,” Protomartyr reaches into a viscid haze, where orthochromatic figures waltz with acrylic stills. Singer Joe Casey moans into a microphone, letting waves of thoughts stream out like syrup. Meanwhile, the band crackles between steady thoughts and mental breakdown; a bass guitar tumbles along before a buzzsaw guitar rips it in twain. Casey slips into paranoia, interrogating the abyss. “Why does it shake?” he asks before trying to answer his own question with “the body, the body, the body…”
The Yahara Watershed reaches around the city of Madison and its defining lakes. It’s a large stretch of land, spanning farms and forests and dotted by the occasional construction site that slowly reshapes and urbanizes its traditional farms and prairies.
I believe it might have been Bruce Springsteen who, in some lost interview, narrowed folk rock songwriting down to a basic formula: Use the verse to tell the story and use the chorus as a prayer. I probably have the canon wrong somewhere in there, but it’s a formula that didn’t fail Glen Hansard last Thursday at the Orpheum Theater. Between the balladeer sighs and the explosive choruses, I thought I stumbled into a bedside prayer-turned-rockist awakening.
It’s been hard to describe the meaning behind rock music these days. It used to be the voice for the powerless, the rebel of the 1950s, the loudspeaker of the 1960s and the counterculture of the 1990s. Since then, it’s resigned as the omnipresent voice of musical power; some stagnant voice that doesn’t really need to change or bend like the world around it. Telling someone you like rock music outside of the city gets pats on the back if it’s a classic and an eye roll if it’s indie; telling someone you like rock music inside the city only gets the latter beyond the high fives of the punks.
On the corner of North Bedford and West Mifflin Street, a crane towers over the steel and concrete skeleton of Uncommon, Madison’s next apartment complex—just one of the many high-rise housing projects marking the downtown skyline.
There’s few emotions rawer than rage. It’s an easy emotion to relate to—how often have some of us broken down against some misfortune or against someone who crossed all the wrong wires at the perfectly wrong times? Of course, most of us bury it and move on with our lives, since respect rarely follows bloodshot eyes and swollen veins.
As Tribulation opened the night with their long hair tossed over their instruments, snapping to whatever beat ripped out behind them, a curious thought entered my head. While Tribulation howled and roared, sprinting and grinding through the hellfire and death wails of their black-metal home, I couldn’t shake the familiarity of it all; I had seen some ghost of all of this before, in the hands of hair metal bands.
Two weekends ago, the Marquee at Union South played “When Marnie Was There,” the last movie to come out of Studio Ghibli before the studio’s indefinite hiatus. “Marnie,” Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s second film as director, toned back Ghibli’s trademark fantasy and wayward imagination for a more grounded story that flirted between being too convenient and incredibly touching.
Bronze Radio Return faced that uphill battle at the Frequency this Sunday that all bands have to someday face: the Sunday night crowd. With the exception of a few loud members, the audience responded initially with awkward enjoyment. They were clearly receptive of the music, but something held them back.
To some, music is a mission, with each chord dripping in politics and each bar directed at some critic’s praise or curse. I’ve been one of those critics for a few years now, an accessory to those ideas that music needs some kind of inherent politics or grand, meta concept. It’s a conversation worth having, but it betrays what made so many of us fall in love with music in the first place: the excitement of a stomping beat, clapping your hands and the smile of a warm melody.
Where were you on October 10, 2015, the day Titus Andronicus conquered the world? Perhaps you were out with friends, or maybe in a library studying? It would be easy to have been caught up in the happenings of another Saturday night, but in a tiny stage just west of the Capitol Square, beneath the dimming lights and swinging amplifiers of The Frequency, Titus Andronicus usurped the title of “greatest band in the world.”
I’m waiting for the conversation where the death metal purist somehow convinces me Deafheaven actually is the abomination that haunts the corners of the metal world. Deafheaven has never seemed to have solid footing in that world; there’s plenty of fans willing to defend Deafheaven’s dreamy sounds, but there’s just as many who denounce the band as “hipster drivel.” They run that same spectrum sonically, where chugging riffs and belched vocals drift into colorful progressions and brake-pedal rhythms.
“I have done a thousand dreadful things, as willingly as one would kill a fly, and nothing grieves me heartily indeed, but that I cannot do ten thousand more.”
Record Routine: Philosophy meets fast-paced rhymes on The Underachievers' Evermore: The Art of Duality
The Underachievers aren’t the type to idle. They’re not patient. Their lines don’t hide within the meditative crawl of their beats, waiting to strike. No, they’re upfront about their craft, wasting no time or space to translate their thoughts to rhyme. They’ll give their introductions a chance to breathe and expand across the background, but otherwise it’s their show. They’ve got a message to paint, and they’re not going to waste the canvas.
Buried almost a mile below the Antarctic ice, strands of optical sensors spread through a cubic kilometer of ice, hanging perpendicular to the horizon and stretching as deep as a mile and a half toward bedrock. Above those strands, surrounded by barren ice, is a two-story building flanked by a pair of spires and home to some 300 computers. This is IceCube, a kilometer-wide neutrino detector embedded in the South Pole. Built and operated by the UW-Madison in collaboration with universities and laboratories across the globe, IceCube has been gradually collecting data on neutrinos since 2010, six years after construction began in the Antarctic ice shelf.
Late last July, Taylor Beebe began planning for her new restaurant, a small fries shop among State Street’s well-known stretch of restaurants and specialty stores. By the end of the year, Mad City Frites was open, offering Belgian-style fries to the daily shoppers and stoppers through Madison’s commercial center.
“Vanity project” isn’t exactly an insult. Contrary to certain websites’ critiques, “vanity project” can actually be a compliment. It represents an artist creating for themselves, building a work specifically for and around their ego. It means that, whatever the product is, it’s an expression of that artist at that single moment in time: the “honesty” that so many music fans feel is missing in modern music.
Four decades ago, wolves were added to the Endangered Species Act, and the once expulsed gray wolf trickled back into the Wisconsin wilderness. Protected by federal law, wolves were allowed to grow and spread out among the wooded north, resulting in a resurgence of a species once considered extirpated from the state.