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03 2017

605 Outdoor Wonders: Falls Park

By Anna Stritecky

Images courtesy of Siouxfalls.org

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The next outdoor gem to be explored is Sioux Falls’ own Falls Park. This park’s central feature is not only what gave Sioux Falls its name, but what has kept tourists coming to the city to see the rushing water flow down the rocks.

The Falls of the Big Sioux River have been a focus of life in the region throughout history. Native American peoples were the first to visit the falls and bring stories of them to European explorers. They have been the center of recreation and industry since the founding of the city in 1856.

Alongside the natural falls, there is a building that overlooks the water, originally the Queen Bee Mill. The quartzite building still standing on the east bank is the Sioux Falls Light and Power Company building, completed in 1908. The building housed three 500-kilowatt hydroelectric generators and used the dam and the millrace from the Queen Bee Mill. In subsequent years the plant added additional coal-fired steam generators. The plant was abandoned in 1974 and donated to the city in 1977. Before remodeling took place to create what is now Falls Overlook Cafe, the building was in similar condition as when it was first constructed.

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Even though I have been to the Falls, which now seems like hundreds of times, I took a trip downtown all by myself, hoping to take in something that I hadn’t before. Despite the beauty of the rocks and the calming sounds of the rushing water, I felt as if what the falls had to offer grasped the essence of Sioux Falls. Walking Into the visitor’s center you see nothing but the friendly faces of the employees, shortly before you climb the stairs and get easily one of the best views in Sioux Falls. These falls, even though what might seem as just another attraction, has the power of unity for the city it inhabits. Alongside that, the park itself carries many paths and trails that surround it allowing any tourist to appreciate the land.

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Related: 

605 Outdoor Wonders: Pactola Lake

605 Outdoor Wonders: Palisades State Park

605 Outdoor Wonders: Spearfish Canyon

605 Outdoor Wonders: McKennan Park 

605 Outdoor Wonders: Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum 

Meet the Interns: Anna Stritecky

03 2017

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2004

By Sean Calhoun

Outside of Blink-182, I haven’t covered a lot of pop-punk yet on The Music Yearbook. That’s about to change in a big way, starting with this year’s first entry…

Under My Skin – Avril Lavigne

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As popular (and radio-friendly) as pop punk became in the first half of the 2000s’ first decade, it never seemed like there was a lot of room for female artists in a genre ruled by the likes of Panic! At The Disco, Fall Out Boy, and others. One major exception was (and is) Fall Out Boy’s Fueled by Ramen labelmates, Paramore, fronted by Hayley Williams, while another, perhaps more unique, example is Avril Lavigne.

Early in her career, Lavigne stood out as one of the few solo singer-songwriters in the genre, and her first album, Let Go, quickly catapulted her onto the scene behind the strength of hits like “Sk8er Boi” and “Complicated.” Under My Skin, Lavigne’s sophomore effort, unfortunately features nothing as distinctive as these hits.

It becomes apparent early on that Under My Skin is a change in direction for Lavigne, featuring heavier and darker musical themes and a general departure from the sunny skater-punk aesthetic of Let Go. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work to her benefit, and songs like “Take Me Away” and “Slipped Away” bring to mind a bargain version of Evanescence’s Amy Lee (while “Bring Me To Life” is an absolutely ridiculous song, it stands out more than much of the music here).

In fact, even at her best, Lavigne on Under My Skin often lacks originality, mining the musical styles of more successful and established acts. “Don’t Tell Me” and “Fall To Pieces” bring to mind a slightly punk-ier Alanis Morissette, while “Who Knows” sounds like a Blink-182 b-side.

In fairness, there’s no denying Lavigne’s vocal talent. Her lines carry a lot of these songs (although they aren’t always able to overcome cheesy or just plain mediocre lyrics), and she’s got the Pop Punk Teen Angst formula down pat. “Nobody’s Home” is a genuine standout, and the Alanis-esque tracks are also solid.

In the end, however, there’s nothing particularly special here, just an album of pretty average and forgettable pop-punk tracks that fade into the background of what was a grossly oversaturated genre.

Score, Adjusted for 2017 Ratings Inflation: 5.5/10

 

One of the two artists featured in the next review will look very familiar to Music Yearbook readers; in fact, I just covered them in my last entry. However, the sheer inexplicability of this album’s existence meant that I couldn’t help but cover…

Collision Course – Jay-Z and Linkin Park

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Where do I even begin with this album? While Jay-Z and Linkin Park were both household names in 2004, this matchup couldn’t have made a whole lot of sense back then and looks even more inexplicable now (especially given the career trajectories of the two artists going into the 2010s).

While both artists are given equal billing on the album art and tracklist, it becomes obvious pretty early on that this is Jay-Z’s show. He dominates each of the EP’s six tracks, as well as significantly outclassing Mike Shinoda) and largely turns Chester Bennington and the rest of Linkin Park into a glorified backing band.

The formula behind Collision Course is rather simple: each of the six tracks is a mashup between a Jay-Z track and a Linkin Park song (with the exception of the final track). Some of the combos work surprisingly well – “Numb/Encore” (easily the best part of the EP) manages to improve both songs, recasting it as an inspirational track in the vein of T.I. and Rihanna’s “Live Your Life”, while “Dirt Off Your Shoulder/Lying From You” probably does the best job at shoehorning Bennington’s vocals into what’s essentially a two-man rap track – but just as much of the album falls flat.

For example, the EP’s final track, “Points Of Authority/99 Problems/One Step Closer” quickly becomes a hot mess, starting with the indefensible decision to turn “99 Problems” into a rap-rock song and going downhill from there. Shinoda’s verses are bad, the sound mixing is bad, and the vocal placement is bad, and it left a sour taste in my mouth as I finished my initial listen.

In the end, I think that Collision Course was a pretty dumb idea that lucked into a couple of solid tracks. Since its release, it has somehow become the highest-selling EP ever, perhaps out of sheer curiosity (or a deluge of tongue-in-cheek irony purchases). If anything, it’s a monument to excess, a messy wedding of two big names with the cynical knowledge that commercial success was all but guaranteed.

Score, Adjusted for 2017 Ratings Inflation: 4.3/10

 

Related:

Meet the Interns: Sean Calhoun 

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1996

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1997 

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1998

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1999

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2000

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2001

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2002

03 2017

Dining In and Out: M.B. Haskett

One young foodie explores the local restaurant scene, bringing quality cuisine into your kitchen, sans doggie bag.

By Kaylyn Deiter

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Dining Out

Serving up homestyle breakfast in the mornings, deli-style delicacies during the afternoon hours and a three-course “Prix Fixe” meal on weekends, it’s not even cliche to call M.B. Haskett a local gem, because that’s exactly what this downtown deli is: an eatery with a local following as diverse as its menu options.

“We want to have that fun, neighborhood feel here at M.B. Haskett,” owner Michael Haskett said. “We love food and we love coffee, but what we really love is that casual atmosphere, serving people from all walks of life and having them mingle in our space.”

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(Photo courtesy of travelsouthdakota.com)

Locals love M.B. Haskett and M.B. Haskett loves the locals right back. The restaurant proudly serves Breadico bread and recently expanded its drinks menu to include a house blend featuring The Breaks Coffee Roasting Co, a locally-owned roasting company based in Sioux Falls.

(Photo courtesy of mbhaskett.com)

(Photo courtesy of mbhaskett.com)

But though its service is home-grown, the food at M.B. Haskett is decidedly more diverse. With Spanish, French and Mediterranean influences, this deli’s food is anything but typical. Patrons can take a taste bud trip to Paris with a breakfast of traditional French crepes, enjoy a Mediterranean muffaletta sandwich for lunch or stay true to their red, white and blue roots by starting the day off with the American Breakfast of eggs, bacon, ham and toast. Weekend dinners are always a surprise catered to the customer, but you can be sure that a variety of artisanal meats and cheeses will be a staple.

“We’re so fortunate to be in the middle of this downtown restaurant scene in Sioux Falls that’s just exploding right now,” Haskett said. “It’s been fantastic to be part of that and offer a variety of food to customers looking for that versatility.”

For all the diversity of tastes and styles present inside M.B. Haskett’s wood-paneled walls, the restaurant has an undeniable knack for making everyone feel at home.

Tables nestled elbow to elbow invite conversation with neighbors, making the space feel both communal and intimate. The picture window at the front of the shop provides an uninhibited view of Phillips Avenue, perfect for people-watching. And the rustic, wooden design choices and graffiti adorned seating area in the back alley transport you out of Sioux Falls and into a big, bustling city during the time it takes to eat your meal. But the warm hospitality and familiar banter between customers (along with the fact that there’s usually a dog or two in meandering around), gives way to a closeness that’s undeniably Midwestern.

(Photo courtesy of Kaylyn Deiter)

(Photo courtesy of Kaylyn Deiter)

M.B. Haskett is a lot of things—local staple, eclectic eatery, favorite Saturday brunch spot—but ultimately this is a deli with a lot of heart, and hearty flavors to boot. It’s a local restaurant so good, many have stopped to take notice.

Three reasons to eat at M.B. Haskett:

  1. Breakfast you can’t beat
  2. The Breaks Coffee Co.
  3. There’s almost always a dog there, what’s not to love about that?

Dining In

When M.B. Haskett is swamped on Saturday morning but you’re still craving a delicious breakfast, try out this strawberry-Nutella crepe recipe modified from juliasalbum.com. Though this Parisian staple may seem intimidating at first, crepes are a fun way to spice of breakfast (or any meal, for that matter).

Ingredients:

  • Batter
    • 2 cups milk
    • 4 cups flour
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Filling
    • Strawberries
    • Nutella

Instructions:

  1. Mix all batter ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until lumps dissolve
  2. Heat a frying pan on high and spray with cooking oil
  3. Using a soup ladle, spoon a small amount of batter into the saucepan as you roll the pan from side to side to cover the bottom with a layer of batter
  4. Let the layer of batter cook until surface is bubbly
  5. Flip the crepe and let cook for another 1-2 minutes
  6. Transfer finished crepes to a plate
  7. Once all the crepes are cooked, spread Nutella on half a crepe
  8. Arrange strawberry slices on top of Nutella
  9. Fold the crepe in half, then fold it again to form a triangle
  10. Top with more sliced strawberries

I have to admit, this was probably the trickiest meal I’ve attempted so far (not to mention I minorly burned my hand in the process). It took a couple crumpled up crepes for me to get the flipping technique down, but once I did this turned into a delicious dinner sweet enough for dessert.

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(Photo courtesy of Kaylyn Deiter)

Three reasons to enjoy M.B. Haskett at home:

  1. Beat the morning rush
  2. Conquer homemade crepes
  3. Strangers won’t judge you for eating five crepes

M.B. Haskett is one of Sioux Falls’ most beloved small restaurants. The local crowd makes this deli feel like home, while the food is quality enough to stand crepe to crepe with big city cuisine. In that same homegrown style, crepes make a delicious breakfast at home modeled after this little deli with big flavor.

Related:

Dining In and Out: Crawford’s Bar & Grill

Dining In and Out: Crave

Dining In and Out: Oh My Cupcakes

Dining In and Out: Fiero Pizza

Dining In and Out: Phillips Avenue Diner

Dining In and Out: Mama’s Ladas

Dining In and Out: Ode to Food and Drinks

Web Extra: Ode’s Dirty Arnold

Meet the Interns Kaylyn Deiter 

 

03 2017

Locally Grown: Courtney Albrecht

Interviews with South Dakotans finding success outside their college major by Kyle Hallberg.

Images submitted

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For most people, being a collegiate athlete, a Nursing student and still finding time to sleep would be a major accomplishment within itself. For Redfield native, Courtney Albrecht, the addition of raising feeder pigs was necessary for the summer to feel equally packed and busy.

In between the beginning of school and the selling of her pigs, Albrecht sat down with me, a self proclaimed city slicker, to explain to me the inner workings of balancing farm life and academic life, piggies and all.

Kyle Hallberg: What is your major?

Courtney Albrecht: I am going for Nursing.

That takes a certain kind of person. Have you always been into science and stuff?

CA: I guess you could say that. I like it more than anything else.

Nice. So besides school, what do you do when you are home or during the summer?

CA: Well I live on a farm just outside of Redfield, South Dakota. During the school year I am on the Track team, and I play a ton of softball during the summer, as well as taking care of my piggies.

Speaking of your piggies, can you explain to me what exactly that means?

CA: Basically, I buy little feeder pigs that weigh about 50 lbs, feed them until they’re around 250 lbs, and then I sell them as butcher hogs.

Interesting. Did this start as a family thing?

CA: No, my Dad raises cattle, so I’ve always been around livestock, but I wanted to do something myself. I originally wanted my own heifers, but the return of profit would be too long and my dad would end up taking care of them while I’m at school. Hogs don’t take as long, so it is something I can do during the summer while I’m home. I also really liked the idea that I could sell them all locally when they are ready.

So, you’ve grown up in the world of livestock sales. There is a lot more to it than I thought. How many pigs do you buy at once?

CA: Well, I only bought 39 pigs since it was my first time. But next time, I’d get at least 75.

That is a lot of piglets to take care of. Is this strictly a summer activity?

CA: Yes. I did that so I would be able to balance school, track and my hogs.

That’s a really smart idea. I feel like work on a farm is so time consuming, that it would be close to impossible to do both school and work. The one thing that I keep thinking about is getting attached to the pigs. Does that ever happen to you?

CA: I mean, I have my favorite, his name is Wilby. But with livestock, you have to remember that it is a business and as much as you love them, they are not pets.

Yeah, I think that would be the most difficult part for me. Do you think you’ll keep doing this after you graduate?

CA: I guess I haven’t really thought that far ahead yet, but I probably will. I love my piggies!

This is all pretty interesting to someone who has never lived on a farm. Do you think you’ll stick with hogs?

CA: I’m sure! It is kind of hard to explain to people who know nothing about livestock, so I hope I’ve done alright. But yeah, I think I’ll continue to work with hogs.

You have done a great job, don’t worry!

From running races all over the midwest, to raising over 30 piglets into fully grown feeder pigs, Albrecht has found the perfect way to balance two important aspects of her life, while still going to school full time to become a nurse. After speaking with Albrecht and discovering the ins and outs of feeder pigs, I realized that school, track and her piggies are all equally important to Albrecht’s future, an example of someone who finds success and achievement from multiple outlets available in her own backyard.

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Related:

Locally Grown: Ben Gertner

Locally Grown: Cassia McLoon

Meet the Interns: Kyle Hallberg

Locally Grown: Mato Jacob Standing Soldier

Locally Grown: Tevyn Waddell

Locally Grown: Kyle West

Locally Grown: Addison Avery

02 2017

605 Outdoor Wonders: Sioux Falls Bike Trail

By Anna Stritecky

Images courtesy of siouxfalls.org

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Our next outdoor destination is not just one place in itself, but an entire trail that loops all the way around the city of Sioux Falls. The bike trail takes any traveler through 22 stops that compose Sioux Falls to what it is as a city. The trails are described as “home to connection of over 70 public parks. The centrally located Falls Park is the hub of the park system and connected to many of the city’s other parks via the bike trail corridor which encircles the city.”

The bike trail comes with many advantages, such as being able to individually explore each park that it connects. Whether it be stopping for a quick time on the swing set or a few games of sand volleyball, the trail allows you to ride right up to the parks around Sioux Falls.

Having lived in Sioux falls my entire life, I have always known about the bike trails because they were so popular amongst residents, but I didn’t fully take advantage of them until these last couple years. In my most recent experience, I set myself out on a mission to bike the entire trail straight through, finding beauty within the limits of Sioux Falls. I was able to see wooded forest all the way to the airport, all with the sun shining down on my journey. The bike trails take you along the scenic route of Sioux Falls, into many places that one wouldn’t see usually that included forest greens and the Big Sioux. As I was riding my bike, I also quickly realized that the trials were not just meant for biking, seeing that there were a fair amount of runners, rollerbladers, walkers, and skateboarders along the trail because it is so nicely kept and you don’t have to worry about car traffic.

Though the trails are manmade, one can see an entirely new part of nature, and Sioux Falls, along this concrete path.

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Related: 

605 Outdoor Wonders: Pactola Lake

605 Outdoor Wonders: Palisades State Park

605 Outdoor Wonders: Spearfish Canyon

605 Outdoor Wonders: McKennan Park 

605 Outdoor Wonders: Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum 

Meet the Interns: Anna Stritecky

02 2017

Dining In and Out: Spezia

One young foodie explores the local restaurant scene, bringing quality cuisine into your kitchen, sans doggie bag.

By Kaylyn Deiter

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Dining Out

Pasta, bread, wine, tiramisu, the list of mouth-watering Italian staples goes on at one of Sioux Falls’ premier Italian eateries: Spezia.

Though the restaurant is located in the midst of traffic-heavy Louise Avenue, Spezia itself is a welcome retreat from all the craziness—lights strung from the ceiling, traditional music playing softly in the background and wine flowing by the bottle—it’s all in the southern European style Spezia prides itself on.

“I like that you have the ability to see somewhat into the kitchen,” patron Mason VanEssen said. “It’s an entertaining atmosphere, being able to see where your food is coming from. Sitting around those big round tables, it makes me feel like I’m part of a big Italian family.”

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(Photo courtesy of speziarestaurant.com)

If a trip to the Colosseum isn’t in your near future, what better way to experience the wonders of Italy than through the food this country is famous for? Luckily, Spezia’s got you covered.

An Italian trademark, Spezia’s spaghetti and meatballs do the country of gladiators and vespas proud. But spaghetti isn’t the only thing this restaurant gets right. The pizza is top notch, the wine list is extensive (and authentic) and the bread is refilled constantly (though for a girl who has been to Italy, this is more of an American than Italian thing, but who’s complaining?). That’s not to mention Spezia’s weekly Sunday brunch buffet, aka feast, featuring the best the restaurant has to offer, plus its enviable list of Italian-inspired desserts. Giant tiramisu, anyone?

“The pasta was extremely rich, delicious and perfect,” VanEssen said. “I would order it again. I had no complaints”

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(Photo courtesy of speziarestaurant.com)

Although everyone seems to love Italian food no matter what, Spezia doesn’t bank on familiarity alone to keep customers coming back. Each feature is prepared to perfection, and it’s evident that care is taken to ensure the cuisine is as true to its Italian heritage as possible.

That attention to detail, and the delectable food, of course, make Spezia a delicious European transplant that’s here to stay.

Three reasons to eat at Spezia:

  1. Extensive list of Italian wines
  2. Interior that feels like you’re sitting on a streetcorner in Rome
  3. Tiramisu that’s the size of your face

Dining In

Want to try carb-loading the Italian way at home tonight? Look no further than this recipe courtesy of my mom, Jana Hurley of Aberdeen, SD. Warm up some bread, toss a bit of salad, and I promise you’ll be singing bella noche in 25 minutes flat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package spaghetti noodles
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 8 oz. can mushrooms
  • 1 lbs ground beef
  • Italian seasoning
  • Garlic powder

Instructions:

  1. Begin browning the hamburger in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Boil noodles until al dente, about 8 minutes.
  3. Once hamburger is fully cooked, add diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and mushrooms to hamburger.
  4. Mix together and simmer for about five minutes, adding in spices as you go.
  5. Once sauce mixture and noodles are fully cooked, drain the noodles and combine the two in a pasta bowl.
  6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
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(Photo courtesy of Kaylyn Deiter)

I might be a little biased (after all, this is my mom’s recipe), but this is one of the simplest and best spaghetti recipes I’ve ever tasted. If you want your spaghetti more sauce-heavy, consider upping the amount of tomato sauce from 8 oz. to 16 oz. Otherwise, enjoy your pasta Lady and the Tramp style and see where the night takes you.

Three reasons to enjoy Spezia at home:

  1. Everyone loves pasta night
  2. Second helpings are a must
  3. Light a few candles, throw on some music and you’ve got a fine Italian dinner on your hands

Spezia is the ideal dining locale if you’re craving Italian comfort food with a touch of Roman style. Recreate that pasta-centric dinner at home from our recipe and we guarantee you’ll be planning your trip to Tuscany in no time.

 

Related:

Dining In and Out: Crawford’s Bar & Grill

Dining In and Out: Crave

Dining In and Out: Oh My Cupcakes

Dining In and Out: Fiero Pizza

Dining In and Out: Phillips Avenue Diner

Dining In and Out: Mama’s Ladas

Dining In and Out: Ode to Food and Drinks

Web Extra: Ode’s Dirty Arnold

Meet the Interns Kaylyn Deiter 

02 2017

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2003

By Sean Calhoun

I’ve already covered some rap-rock on this blog (Rage Against The Machine, Korn), but there is one band that really shaped the genre in the early 2000s with their slickly produced, aggressively individualistic music. First up on this week’s Music Yearbook…

Meteora – Linkin Park

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If you listen to enough early Linkin Park, you begin to realize that just about every song fits into an easily defined formula. There’s a crunchy guitar intro, some singing from frontman Chester Bennington (often dripping with adolescent angst), an occasional Mike Shinoda rap verse, a chorus with some yelling and a message about individuality and “not needing anyone else”, all wrapped up in around three and a half minutes.

The formula worked to great effect on the band’s debut full-length, Hybrid Theory, and Meteora is more of the same. The tone is set early, and there’s nothing particularly unique about any of these tracks. Yes, there are singles – very successful singles at that – but if I hadn’t known which songs they were, I’m not sure if I could have picked any of them out, as just about everything here sounds the same.

“Somewhere I Belong” is the first single to appear on the tracklist (following an instrumental prelude and “Don’t Stay”). It’s perhaps the purest distillation of the Linkin Park formula, with Bennington disdainfully singing, “I will never know myself until/I do this on my own” and a number of similar sentiments over pretty basic backing instrumentals.

The need to “be yourself” is an oft-repeated theme on Meteora, and it becomes really tiresome after a few too many consecutive tracks concerning Bennington’s (and Shinoda’s) need to “break away” or “separate” from who I can only assume is an authority figure or parent (generally presented as “you” – see “the very worst part of you/is me” in “Lying From You”).

(On a slightly different note, it’s pretty easy to see how this album spoke so clearly to the suburban middle schoolers of the early 2000s – a rather profitable target audience if not necessarily a particularly artistic one.)

There are a couple of reasonably solid tracks on this album. “Breaking The Habit”, another hugely popular single, is the closest thing to a ballad in Linkin Park’s discography, and the production decisions and Bennington’s vocals at least allow it to distinguish itself somewhat from the rest of the record. For this reason alone, it stands out as one of Meteora’s top tracks.

The best of the album’s singles, however, is its final track, “Numb”. I have a relationship with this song that extends beyond the album – I first heard it as part of a mashup track (also featuring Genesis’ “Land of Confusion” and Pendulum’s “Witchcraft”, along with Rick James’ “Superfreak”) made by a Canadian DJ I was briefly obsessed with in high school – and it’s always been my favorite Linkin Park song. While it’s just as angst-filled and formulaic as most of the album, it’s a strong performance from Bennington and doesn’t lean too heavily on Shinoda’s rapping (honestly one of the weaker facets of the band).

In the end, it’s rather obvious that Meteora isn’t a particularly artistic or ground-breaking album, but it sold a ton of copies and went a long way to defining the second wave of rap-metal. There’s something here for the angry 13-year-old in all of us.

Score, Adjusted for 2017 Ratings Inflation: 6.5/10

 

2003 was the beginning of a trend that would quickly dominate American television for the next several years. With the debut of “American Idol,” the United States developed an obsession for musical competition shows, eventually spinning off into “The Voice,” as well as others. Here, I’ll take a look at the debut album from the show’s first champion…

Thankful – Kelly Clarkson

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Strangely enough, Thankful was only one of three albums by early American Idol luminaries to reach number one in 2003 (the other two being Clay Aiken’s Measure of a Man and Ruben Studdard’s Soulful). Kelly gets credit for coming first, though, and she’s certainly had more long-lasting musical success than either Aiken or Studdard (not to mention Justin Guarini, whom she beat out for the season one title).

Clarkson’s debut album is largely a transitional work – it’s the sound of a newly minted star finding her footing and making a few missteps along the way. As her career moved forward, Clarkson settled into a rock-influenced pop groove, as typified by some of her biggest hits (“Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” and “Since U Been Gone” are two that come to mind). There’s definitely evidence of this direction on Thankful, but there are also a couple of songs that clearly miss the mark.

One example of this is the opening track, “The Trouble With Love Is.” Here, Clarkson is miscast as some sort of Mariah Carey-style R&B crooner – while she certainly has an impressive voice, the track is cheesy and wholly unremarkable. There are a number of tracks like this interspersed throughout the record, with “Some Kind Of Miracle” and “Thankful” serving as further lowlights. While these tracks are performed capably enough, they just don’t really fit.

Artistically speaking, Clarkson is far better served by songs like “Miss Independent”, where she can show more of an edge (both musically and lyrically). She delivers a serviceable Alanis Morissette impression on “Low” and “Just Missed The Train”, perhaps the album’s two strongest tracks. Here, Clarkson begins to show some of the raw power and artistry that would serve her well on later albums.

Overall, while Thankful is not a great album, it’s an album that at least provides some idea of what Kelly Clarkson would eventually develop into on her gradual evolution from “reality show winner” to “legitimate pop star”. Everybody has to start somewhere, and there’s no shame in taking some bumps along the way.

Score, Adjusted For 2017 Score Inflation: 6.7/10

 

Related:

Meet the Interns: Sean Calhoun 

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1996

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1997 

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1998

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1999

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2000

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2001

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2002

02 2017

Locally Grown: Kyle Brunick

Interviews with South Dakotans finding success outside their college major by Kyle Hallberg.

Images submitted

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Recent graduate from the University of South Dakota, Kyle Brunick, was never shy when it came to talking with others, or talking at all. Known for his loud and proud presence, Brunick decided to put it to good use, which just so happened to coincide with a life long dream of his. Auctioneering. While he was finishing up his Business degree at the U, Brunick found himself applying to auctioneer schools, looking for something that differed from the norm.

Now, after graduation from both USD and auctioneer school, Brunick is busy at work, holding onto his Business degree, while traveling around the state for auctions on the weekends. Brunick sat down with me and explained to process of auctioneering, while talking about the balance between conventional and non-conventional school.

What did you go to college for?

Kyle Brunick: I went to the University of South Dakota for Business Management. It was the last semester at USD when I didn’t really know what I wanted to with my future. So I enrolled into auctioneer school which is called Western College of Auctioneering. I enrolled in February and went in June.

While you were going through USD, did you have any ideas at all about a future career?

KB: Well back in high school I wanted to go to auctioneer school and become an auctioneer. I knew at some point I would actually go, but I didn’t know it would be this soon. I figured since I had just gotten out of college it would be a good idea. It really was always a dream of mine and a goal of mine to go to auctioneer school. I looked up schools for auctioneering and found that the Western College of Auctioneering was the one that I thought I would do best at.

What pulled you towards being an auctioneer?

KB: Just that it is such a unique profession. People had told me that I wouldn’t be able to do the chant or talk that fast. I worked really hard on my chants, and speaking with a lot of diction and pronunciation – that way people could understand what I am saying, and I practice a lot on my rhythm and pace.

Wow, I guess I never realized how much time and practice when into it. That’s really cool- I always envy the people I see on TV shows.

KB: Yeah, it’s definitely an interesting profession to watch.

So, did you have to study or test to get into school.

KB: Well, there were two tests and an auction bill that were graded during our time at the college.

Can you explain what an auction bill is?

KB: It would be what is being sold at the auction location, along with the time of the auction.You can also have a time where people can look at the merchandise.

Did you study for these while you were still finishing up your classes at USD?

KB: No.We were at auctioneer school for two weeks, where we studied and had class from 7:30 a.m. to 6 or 8 at night.

And where was your school located?

KB: Billings, Montana. I had never been there before, which contributed to my decision to go there, instead of other schools.

Montana seems like the perfect place to learn about auctions. How did your family and friends feel about your change in academic course?

KB: They have been very supportive. They just came out to support me at my latest auction.It’s such a great feeling to have their support. I actually have another one in Trent coming up.

You are really diving into it, then. Do you have a favorite type of auction?

KB: Well there are cattle auctions, estate auctions, benefit auctions and farm auctions. I’d have to say I really enjoy estate and farm auctions, since that’s all I’ve done so far. But I would really like to get into benefit auctions. I want to be able to auctions anything, make a career out of it and to just keep getting offers.

Whether Brunick is crunching sales numbers or spewing off cattle numbers, there is an obvious sense of dedication that he puts forth towards his work. Brunick continues to find offers and make a name for himself, while never settling for the last thing, but always searching for the next best thing. We are sure to see Brunick’s name at the top of the list for benefit auctioneers in the very near future.

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Related:

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Locally Grown: Mari Ibis

Locally Grown: Ben Gertner

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Locally Grown: Mato Jacob Standing Soldier

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Locally Grown: Kyle West

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02 2017

Bookmarks and Big Screens: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

By Ellie Trebilcock

Is the book or the movie better?

It’s the most controversial topic between bookworms and movie-buffs. To resolve the long battle between these two passionate types of media consumers, I will compare and evaluate the quality of the book and movie versions of the story.

{***SPOILER ALERT***}

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This month: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is about Greg Gaines, a teenager whose main goal is to keep a low profile through the end of his senior year of high school is finished. However, his plan is foiled when his mother forces him to befriend a girl after she is diagnosed with cancer.

The author did a very good job in writing the book from a teenage boy’s perspective. The narrative was dripping with sarcasm and the thought patterns were scattered and erratic. The author’s use of screenwriting in parts of the dialog is brilliant because Greg is known for making mediocre films with his friend Earl.

I’m not really sure how I feel about the ending. The book doesn’t have a surprise happy ending and the main character doesn’t have big insightful revelation about life. In the end, Greg is confused and struggling to figure out what to do next. But maybe the ending for the audience is just the beginning of the story for Greg, who had to hit rock bottom before he could start to change. The audience doesn’t need closure because Greg’s story hasn’t ended yet.

After reading the book and sat down and watched the movie version of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

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Here are some of my reactions to the film:

  • Greg has a heart

In my opinion, Greg came across as a bit heartless in the book. But, the actor who played Greg, Thomas Mann, was amazing in showing how hard Greg is just trying to keep his emotions hidden. Greg used humor and sarcasm to conceal his feelings of hurt and discomfort. This portrayal of Greg really shows the struggle he faced with Rachel’s cancer and how much he actually cared for her.

  • What happened to Earl?

I really wish the film would have addressed what happened to Greg’s friend Earl. How was Earl affected by Rachel’s cancer? What were Earl’s plans after graduation? I  was left with so many unanswered questions.

  • Warning! Waterworks

This movie will make you sob so much that your roommate will become concerned about you. (Thanks for the emotional support Katie). It is an emotional roller coaster and I suggest watching it alone.

Final Rating:

Book: 3 stars

Movie 4 ½ stars

Although you are likely to bawl your eyes out, I highly suggest you watch the movie version of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The book just doesn’t seem to catch the emotional depth that the movie does. If you are looking for some dark humor with a lot of heart, check out Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

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(variety.com)

Related:

Meet the Interns: Ellie Trebilcock

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Bookmarks and Big Screens: The 5th Wave

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Bookmarks and Big Screens: The Giver

Bookmarks and Big Screens: The Da Vinci Code

01 2017

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2002

For my first album of 2002, I’ll be covering one of the biggest albums from one of rap’s most polarizing superstars. Guess who’s back, back again, it’s…

The Eminem Show – Eminem

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Marshall Mathers is an angry man. He’s angry at himself, his mother, the rap community, the United States Congress, and the world in general. More so than most, though, the rapper otherwise known as Eminem has been able to harness this anger and direct it into his music, cultivating one of the most successful and controversial careers in rap history.

The Eminem Show is perhaps the purest distillation of the artist’s aesthetic. It’s seventy-plus minutes of fully embraced, transgressive anger, and while he describes “so much anger aimed/in no particular direction” on the album’s first track, “White America”, there are a few common targets (see above).

Eminem is, first and foremost, a showman, and this comes through often on this album. Even when, for example, he’s rapping about his strained relationship with his family, he’s showing off, trying to top himself in terms of how shocking and faux-vulnerable he can be. While there are a number of lyrically emotional moments on The Eminem Show, the fact that they’re sandwiched around a number of grossly offensive skits and sex boasts like “Superman” and “Drips” definitely cheapens the feeling to a degree.

As for the gross songs, I understand that Eminem’s shtick has always been, to some level, the controversy that he invites with his lyrics. The thing is, though, it’s a style that gets really tiresome when spread over the length of a full album. You can only push the envelope so far before it stops becoming interesting.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t highlights on this album. “Say Goodbye Hollywood” is a highly personal track about the struggles of fame. “Sing For The Moment” makes excellent use of an Aerosmith sample and is one of the more genuine tracks on the album, and “Till I Collapse” is an arena-sized track reminiscent of “Lose Yourself” that borrows the stomp-stomp-clap from “We Will Rock You” to great effect.

There’s no question that Eminem is a talented rapper. His flow and rhyme schemes have always been among the more creative in the game, and his wordplay is solid. The problem, though, is his repetitiveness (not to mention the rampant misogyny and homophobia present in a number of these tracks). Eminem is at his best when he’s genuine and emotional, and this doesn’t happen nearly often enough on The Eminem Show.

Score, Adjusted for 2017 Ratings Inflation: 5.4/10

 

For my second album, I dipped back into the seemingly endless well of early-2000s alt-metal to find one of the biggest albums in the history of the genre…

Believe – Disturbed

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In the interest of transparency, I was expecting very little coming into this review. I had always seen Disturbed as one of the many interchangeably mediocre hard-rock/metal bands (Drowning Pool, Papa Roach, etc.) to come out of the beginning of the decade.

Imagine my surprise, then, when this album opened with “Prayer,” a guitar-driven powerhouse of a track that showcases perhaps the best thing Disturbed has going for them: a lead singer in David Draiman who actually has a legitimately good voice (see the band’s more recent cover of “The Sound of Silence” for more proof). He’s not just growling or yelling here – there’s actual melody to the vocals, which automatically elevates Disturbed above a solid chunk of the nu-metal crowd.

The title track is another clear highlight. Draiman’s voice here almost seems like it was custom-made for Disturbed’s musical style, and the lyricism leans into religious themes that appear consistently throughout the album. There’s also some unexpected rhythmic experimentation here, showing a level of musical competence that a lot of the group’s peers had a hard time reaching.

A good deal of the middle of this record is rather forgettable, although none of the songs are particularly bad; rather, they’re more or less inoffensively average and have a tendency to blend into one another. The final track, however, is another story.

“Darkness” is easily David Draiman’s best performance on this record. Here, the band is stripped down to a piano, a cello and some percussion, and Draiman’s vocals cut through easily. A weaker singer could have turned this track into a muddled mess, but it’s handled excellently and functions as a very strong sendoff to Believe.

The guitar work on this record, while somewhat repetitive, is really solid and anchors most of its 47-minute run time admirably. There are a few melodic twists that keep things interesting, and the percussion, while not particularly noticeable in the mix, is consistently good. Overall, Believe is the sound of a band at the top of their genre delivering work that, while not fantastic, is better than almost anything their contemporaries could offer up.

Score, Adjusted for 2017 Ratings Inflation: 7.8/10

 

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Meet the Interns: Sean Calhoun 

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1996

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1997 

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1998

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1999

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2000