Last updateWed, 24 Feb 2021 1pm


Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)

The Music Alliance & Colleges Against Cancer Team Up For "ROCK CURE SOCKS OFF"

The Music Alliance teamed up with Colleges Against Cancer to host “Rock Cure Socks Off,” a fundraising concert featuring Blue Hawk Records, in Anacon Hall on Friday, Nov. 21. In conjunction with the University’s Relay for Life chapter, the event raised $130 to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Upon entering the event, the stairs of the Rebecca Stafford Student Center (RSSC) were adorned with paper bags, each containing a light on the inside and a dedication to someone affected by cancer. Paper bags (pictured below) could be decorated inside Anacon Hall, where the University’s chapter of Relay for Life held a table containing facts about the organization and ways attendees could donate. Attendees that donated three dollars at the door were entered to win an iPad mini.

Jordan Levinson, a senior psychology major and Event Co-Chair of Relay for Life, introduced the organization to guests and spoke about their annual fundraising event taking place March 27-28, in which participants can celebrate cancer survivors and fight for those still battling by signing up in teams and taking place in the relay. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Relay for Life in the 1980’s, this year’s event will have an 80’s theme.

Read more ...

“The Band” Tribute Takes Pollak Back to 1976

Glen Burtnik, Sal Boyd, Bob Burger and Arne Wendt performed at Pollak Theater in a tribute to legendary musical act The Band with a powerful and upbeat set that echoed the 1976 concert movie, The Last Waltz, on Friday, Nov. 21.

The Band, originally consisting of Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, and Robbie Robertson, was best known for being the ensemble group behind several popular frontmen, including Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan. The group’s unique folksy style was immortalized on Thanksgiving day in 1976, when Martin Scorsese filmed The Band’s final tour and edited it together with special interview footage to create The Last Waltz.

To recapture the spirit of this star-studded extravaganza, Burtnik, Boyd, Burger and Wendt performed many of The Band’s original hits, complete with infectious guitar solos, swinging horn sections, and several energetic guest performances. The ensemble kicked off the set with a lively version of “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down,” followed by classics “Forever Young” and “Further On Up the Road.”

The group was joined at various points throughout the show by artists including Southside Johnny, Pat Guadagno, Bobby Banderia, Kate Taylor, Bruce Gassman, Frank Puggy DeRosa, Matt Wade, Stringbean Sorenson, Frank Lombardi, Anthony D’Amato, Emily Grove, Nick Foster, and Tommy LaBella.

Read more ...

Ian Anderson & Jethro Tull Fail to Rock the Wellmont Theater

ian-andersonWith his flute by his side, Ian Anderson, 67, took to the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ on Monday, Nov. 10, to bring fans back to the early days of his band Jethro Tull and the creatively distinct music they brought to life. However, it seemed the life had to be choked out of the night in order to be seen.

One hour, 60 minutes, 1200 seconds—that's how long Anderson kept his crowd waiting to hear even one of Jethro Tull's classic hits. He used the first hour of the show to play an "opening act of sorts" off his new album, Homo Erraticus, and to take a 20 minute trip to the bathroom. I'm sure all of the middle-aged men with prostate issues were elated to hear of the intermission, but all I could think was, "who takes breaks anymore?"

So, with a fresh bladder back on stage, Anderson mandolin-ed his way into "Thick as a Brick" and brought some energy back into the building. The anticipation that was fizzled out during his opening act was beginning to resurface.

Anderson molded the show into a kind of trip through time, showing the year the song came out on a giant screen behind him before he played, and a video of his 1970s-self singing the song while he performed. Almost obviously saving his last bullet of the show for "Aqualung," he left the stage with a booming audience. Looking past that, however, I found some oddities with the show.

Firstly, the solos. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with a strong Hendrix-like solo for a few minutes in the middle of a song. When I saw Buddy Guy at The Wellmont, he would flourish a guitar-smacking solo on almost every song, taking a few seconds to gauge the audience's reaction, which was almost always overwhelmingly positive. With Anderson, the solos seemed dragged out and tiring. But then again, it's hard to compare the ear piercing electric guitar solo of a Buddy Guy to Anderson's flute. It just isn't fair.

Read more ...

Metro Station and The Ready Set Host Disappointing Concert in Howell

metro-stationWhen I bought my tickets three months ago for The Outsiders Tour, I thought that I had made the best purchase for the approaching fall concert season.

I was very wrong.

On Sunday Nov. 9, I anticipated having an excellent time seeing Metro Station, the band I have been a fan of since I was 14 and spent my hard earned work money to see. I did not get what I expected.

Before I even arrived at the venue, my iPhone GPS took me to a fish market across the street, which should have been where the venue was, and from then on the evening did not improve much.

I did end up finding the venue once I pulled into the sketchy looking parking lot, and a man flashing a light in my eyes greeted me ever so kindly. He eventually stopped flashing his light at me when my friend handed him five dollars for parking and we went on our way. When we got out of the car, we couldn't help but notice he was greeting every other patron in the same rude fashion.

We waited in line with the rest of the high school kids, who we assumed did not drive there on their own, and mentally prepared what was now turning into a terrible time.

Walking into the venue, GameChanger World in Howell, NJ, we did not expect the atmosphere to be what it was.

According to their website, GameChanger World is "a state of the art event space." I didn't realize that every concession stand at an ice skating rink is considered to be "state of the art," because that is exactly what this place looked like. Already, I knew that I was not going to have a good time.

I assumed there would only be three bands performing that night (The Downtown Fiction, Metro Station and The Ready Set), but I was very wrong.

Read more ...

“Our Town” Comes to Monmouth

our-town-posterThe Department of Music and Theatre Arts at Monmouth recently presented their production of the play Our Town at the Lauren K. Woods Theatre from Nov. 5-9 and 12-15.

The three act play of Our Town was originally written by American playwright Thornton Wilder in 1938. It was first performed as a play at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ, on Jan. 22, 1938, and started its run on Broadway on Feb. 4 of the same year. It enjoyed an incredibly successful run, and Wilder won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama that year for the play. For the past 75 years, it has consistently been one of the most produced plays in the world.

"If you pick six of the greatest American plays, this is one of them," says director of Our Town, Dr. John J. Burke. "There is a performance of Thornton Wilder's Our Town somewhere in the world every day. This alone testifies to the fact that it is one of the best American plays ever written."

The story does not follow a typical plot. Instead, the character of the stage manager, played by junior Stephen Lang, takes on the main role in Our Town, guiding the audience through years and events that happen in the small town of Grover's Corners, NH. With audience interaction, flashbacks, flash-forwards, little scenery and more, the production is an incomparable, unique theater experience. Despite being written in 1938, Our Town continues to have universal appeal, even today. Much of this has to do with its familiar message and being incredibly relatable to anyone who has ever experienced small town America.

"When the play premiered in 1938," continues Burke, "Wilder's use of little scenery, a stage manager who travels through time to tell the story, and the focus on the seemingly unimportant events of everyday life gave the audience a sense that this could be 'my town,' anywhere in America."

Read more ...

“Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor” Sets Standard For Licensed Games

middle_earthLicensed games are typically, to put it delicately, awful. More often than not they're simple cash-ins, next to nothing is spent developing them, and, in the case of Lord of the Rings properties, the publisher knows that the picture of Gandalf on the cover will make back any expenses several times over. Thankfully, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is not your average licensed game. Production values, along with several unique ideas, make it a game worth playing, especially if you're a fan of Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a non-canonical entry set in between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring. The Dark Lord Sauron is slowly waking and gaining power, and Mordor is being overrun by orcs called 'uruks.' There are two player-controlled protagonists, a former ranger captain of Gondor cursed with undeath (Talion) and an elf-wraith (who is actually an important character within The Lord of the Rings, having a special relationship with the One Ring). These two actually play as one character, Talion, for unlike the wraith, he has physical form. The wraith provides a number of unique abilities for Talion to use, such as teleportation, a wraith bow, mind control, and enhanced senses.

The two set out to use Sauron's own armies against him, and stop him from returning to Middle Earth with his former strength. This quest brings them into conflict with the uruk of Mordor.

In terms of gameplay, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor should be immediately familiar to anyone who's played a title from the Batman: Arkham series or Assassins Creed. Shadow of Mordor surpasses the last Batman game I played (Batman: Arkham City). One of the game systems that allows it to do this is the nemesis system.

Read more ...

World War II Rages On In “Fury”

Fury-MovieOn arguably the worst first day of work anyone has ever had, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is a young American clerk thrust into the midst of warfare on the German front in April 1945. Trained to type 60 words per minute, Ellison is rotated in as the fifth crew member of a Sherman tank christened "Fury," and must now ruthlessly kill Nazi soldiers from within this metal monster.

The other crew members are older men who have been manning "Fury" together for three years. Bonded together but psychologically damaged from the tides of war, they dismiss Norman as nothing more than another dead man. Spurned by his fellow tank mates, Norman is told to clean his new seat, which is covered in the blood and the blown-off face of the soldier who sat there before him.

Repulsed, Norman vomits and begs the headman of his tank, Wardaddy (Brad Pitt), to be rotated elsewhere. Aggravated at his new soldier's weakness in the face of gritty war, Wardaddy forces Norman to shoot a captured German soldier through the back. The audience's sympathies are with Norman, for he is definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time, and his new job as a Nazi killer does not match up with his morals. Consistent with a pro-war film, the "Fury" tank-mates Wardaddy, Bible (Shia LaBeouf), Gordo (Michael Peña), Grady (Joe Bernthal), and eventually Norman all keep to their mantra that being in the war is "the best job [they] ever had."

Tasked by their commander to move out with a group of tanks and capture a run-down city, Norman reluctantly enters the tank and the group heads out. Partly hidden by the foliage of the forest they are travelling along, Norman spots a young German boy, but chooses to dismiss him as nonthreatening. This turns out to be a mistake, when suddenly one of their own men in the tank ahead of them is doused with fire from a flare and takes his life to end the suffering. Wardaddy uses this horrifying instance as another opportunity to get it through Norman's mind that to leave a Nazi alive means certain death for the American troops.

Read more ...

“Civilization: Beyond Earth” One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

civilization_beyond_earth_00"Civilization: Not Earth" might very well be a more appropriate title for the latest game in the hit Civilization series. I say this because Civilization: Beyond Earth fails almost entirely in going beyond what was done in the last Civilization title, Civilization V (which was released in 2010). This is especially disappointing when taking into account the outstanding reputation of Fireaxis Games, developer of the Civilization series.

Fans of the series will find several minor innovations in this title. One supposed development within this game is the "technology web." As opposed to the linear technology tree of previous Civilization titles, the technology web starts you from a center point, with different technologies radiating from said center point. This gives players more flexibility in how they choose to develop their civilizations.

However, I found that while you aren't forced to develop your technologies in a slightly branching linear pattern as in previous games, you wind up choosing between three. This is because of the new affinity system, which allows for three alignments; purity, supremacy, or harmony (and depending on the alignment that you choose, different technologies become available). However, each affinity has its own technologies which are pretty much essential, so rather than letting one develop their civilization freely, this technology system gives you more choices. In order to get the most out of their resources, one is going to have to remove miasmas (toxic alien gasses). This need (and others) direct ones advancement on the technology web, limiting freedom.

Also worth mentioning is the removal of technology trading from the diplomacy menu. While technology trading did serve to imbalance previous titles, I think removing it was a poor decision, as its elimination severely reduces available diplomatic options. Even if technology trading was unfixable (which I find unbelievable), it should have been at least replaced by another system to fill the void left in diplomacy. Civilization has had a flawed diplomacy system for a while now, but at least Civilization V made improvements. Try as I might, I cannot identify a single tangible improvement in Beyond Earth. Fireaxis Games has had negative feedback in regards to this system from players and critics alike, and on top of that, they had over four years to work on it. In my mind that is very difficult to overlook.

Read more ...

NJ Artist Spotlight: Zak Smith

Zak-Smith-1-0718-Photo-Credit-Stephan-AlessiSeeded in the roots of the Garden State is a passion and a drive for music of all kinds. From Sinatra to Springsteen, NJ has produced some of the greats, and continues to inspire up-and-coming musicians. 31-year-old Montclair, NJ native Zak Smith is following in the footsteps of these artists with his latest album, Signs of Life.

After picking up the guitar when he was 15 years old, Smith took cues from influences like Neil Young and Kurt Cobain, developing a rock and Americana vibe. "I had a good friend that got me into rock music," Smith said. "[The guitar] seemed like the coolest instrument to play if you were going to play one."

Smith's interest in poetry came alive in a big way when he combined powerful words with meaningful music and became a singer/songwriter. Smith said, "When I heard music, it was like writing but plus something else. The musical aspect made words into something even bigger."

Once Smith got into music, he was hooked. "I became obsessed pretty early on," he said, "and I envisioned doing it for the rest of my life." Smith took the first step at a recording studio in Red Bank, NJ, where he was able to produce a demo and start making connections. He proceeded to play shows throughout the tri-state area, meeting people who shared his passion for music and writing.

Read more ...

Breaking Down "Signs of Life "

Zak-Smith-1-0277-Photo-Credit-Stephan-AlessiMontclair, NJ-based artist Zak Smith released his newest album Signs of Life on Oct. 7, 2014. This marks his sixth official release and his first collection of new tracks since 2013's The Precambrian Age.

Smith, the winner of the 2013 Jersey Acoustic Music Awards "Top Male Vocalist" category, delivers a distinct Americana sound in his latest effort that reminds listeners of another prominent NJ artist. Signs of Life features songwriting that takes many cues from Bruce Springsteen's musical catalog. Though both artists feature a sound that appeals to folk, rock, and country lovers, Smith's stripped-down musical approach and humble sincerity in his voice establishes its own unique identity on his album.

This unique musical identity also sets Smith apart from other current NJ artists. His approach looks back to American music icons such as Springsteen and Neil Young, but he shows a modern sensibility in his songwriting that prevents his music from seeming like a rehashing of classic Americana staples. Though his music might not resemble anything other local artists are striving for, Smith's sound can easily fit in with whomever he shares a gig. The versatility evident in his songs allows him to reach a broad range of audiences across multiple genres.

Signs of Life uses a minimal number of instruments on each track, yet still delivers a masterfully crafted sound. Piano, guitar, percussion, and vocals make up the four major musical components distinctively heard on the album, save for harmonica used sparsely throughout. Female backing vocals also accompany Smith's voice on multiple tracks.

Though this minimalist approach proves effective, one component had been left out entirely: drums. No song on the album features the use of an actual drum set. Though the drums could enhance the dynamic on some of the songs, Smith still delivers a collection of strong tracks with musical timekeeping cared for by mixture of percussion instruments such as a tambourine, shakers, and a cajon.

Read more ...

Taylor Swift Takes Us Back to “1989”

ts-bannerWhen it was first announced that Taylor Swift's new record was going to be pop instead of country, I have to admit I was already disappointed with the album. How could the girl who moved to Nashville to be a country artist just decide one day that she can change her style without any effort? I was one of the skeptics when the album 1989 was finally released on Oct. 27, but I crossed my fingers, hit play, and surprisingly fell in love with the new Swift. The theme of moving on instead of dwelling in heartbreak somehow made this album shockingly catchy.

Before the track list was even shared, Swift put out three songs for her listeners: "Shake It Off," "Out of the Woods," and "Welcome To New York." I will be the first to admit that "Shake It Off" made me want to shake Swift off. The song sounded the opposite of what we were used to hearing: lyrics about heartbreak with Swift playing the piano in the background. Then, "Out of the Woods" was released.

With speculation that this track was about the famous Harry Styles of One Direction, it was a reminder that Swift is still the same girl who writes songs about relationships. "Welcome To New York" was the last song to be released before 1989 hit airwaves. This was track number one, so naturally this is the song I used to judge the whole album. For the first time in what feels like forever, Swift was singing about taking chances that did not involve loving anyone but yourself. Within the past year Swift finally moved to New York after being on the fence about it. This song was to show that she was proud of her decision, and it was the best change she ever made.

1989 is comprised of 13 tracks (Swift's favorite number) and ranges from songs about being stabbed in the back by a friend to moving on from someone who no longer serves you any purpose.

The genre of pop welcomed Swift with open arms as if she had been doing it her whole life. Upbeat songs keep your foot tapping throughout the whole album, and listeners really hear a different side of Swift 's voice.

Read more ...

Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151