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11 2016

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2000

By Sean Calhoun

Last time, I covered one of the biggest boy bands of all time when I reviewed the Backstreet Boys’ Millennium. In this edition of The (Music) Yearbook, I’ll start with the best-selling album from their most well-known contemporaries…

No Strings Attached – *NSYNC (Jive Records)

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If the Backstreet Boys showed the success a boy band could have with five members who held generally equal weight, their labelmates (and rivals) *NSYNC demonstrated that the opposite formula could work as well – that is, a quintet anchored by a single, most popular (and powerful) member.

It’s impossible to talk about *NSYNC without talking about Justin Timberlake. Not only was he the band’s undisputed leader at the height of their popularity (no disrespect to JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass or Chris Kirkpatrick), he’s also the only member most people can name and the only one to really find much of any post-*NSYNC success.

No Strings Attached was, indisputably, the group’s most popular and successful album. It sold over a million copies on the day of its release and 2.42 million copies in its first week, both records that stood for over a decade and a half.

The first two songs on the record are “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me,” easily the album’s two biggest tracks and perhaps the two most memorable tracks in the entire *NSYNC discography (although one could also make a case for “Tearin’ up My Heart” off of their eponymous debut). These are also easily the two best songs on the album, and I could practically see the synchronized choreography in my mind as I listened to the heavily electronic backing tracks.

The lyrical topics covered on No Strings Attached are nothing new for those familiar with the genre – lots of songs about saying no to girls and wondering why girls won’t say yes, with an occasional heartfelt ballad thrown in for good measure. The biggest exception on this record is its third track, “Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay),” a distressingly strange track about end-times prophecy and escaping Earth (“up in outer space/there’s no gravity to fall”). It’s certainly different, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. (The track is saved to some extent by a guest rap verse from the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, though even that feels a bit out of place.)

This is a goofy album with a lot of tracks that I have no memory of, despite listening to it many, many times as a young child. That afforded me some pleasant surprises while preparing for this review, but it also underscored the fact that a solid percentage of *NSYNC’s discography is actually pretty forgettable. For what it’s worth, I will always believe that the Backstreet Boys were the clear winners of the Early 2000s Boy Band Sweepstakes.

Score, Adjusted For 2016 Ratings Inflation: 6.4/10

 

For the second album from 2000, I went a completely different direction, choosing a memorable, confusing, and highly experimental record from one of the most enigmatic bands of the last twenty-five years…

Kid A – Radiohead (Parlophone – Capitol)

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This album has been considered an indie classic since almost immediately after it was released, and there is hot debate as to whether this record or its predecessor (OK Computer) is the British act’s finest work.

It’s certain, however, that Kid A is the more experimental and unusual of the two albums by far. The album contains no singles, strange and highly unique instrumentation, and lyrics that often make very little sense. Far from being the main event, frontman Thom Yorke’s vocals on this album are meant to be another part of the whole, often mixed lower than in most bands’ work.

The album starts with “Everything In Its Right Place,” a track anchored by a constant piano line and Yorke’s repetition of the song’s title in lieu of any real chorus. It does much to set the tone for Kid A as a whole as a record that never moves in an expected or predictable direction.

Kid A is an album that simultaneously seems to have everything and nothing going on at once. The lack of traditional vocal lines and melodies has the effect of making a lot of these tracks feel empty and unsettling, forcing the listener on edge, and it quickly becomes clear why the record has no singles. Removing any one of these 11 tracks from their original context cheapens the intent; Kid A is an album that demands to be listened to in one sitting.

If anything on Kid A could conceivably come close to being called a single, it would be “Idioteque” (after all, it was performed on Saturday Night Live). It’s a nervy track, with Yorke’s vocals (more prominent here than on much of the album) becoming increasingly more paranoid over its five-minutes-plus runtime. It’s perhaps the most “accessible” track on the album and also one of the best. (“How To Disappear Completely” is another standout and one of the album’s few tracks to actually feature traditional acoustic guitar.)

There isn’t much to say about Kid A that hasn’t already been said. Yes, it is a “difficult” album, insofar as listening to music can be a difficult task. It was one of the first albums to be promoted primarily via the Internet, paving the way for the so-called “streaming revolution” of the 2000s and 2010s. Most importantly, though, it’s an album that still sounds like the music of the future, even to this day.

Score, Adjusted For 2016 Ratings Inflation: 10/10

 

Related:

Meet the Interns: Sean Calhoun 

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1996

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1997 

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1998

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1999

10 2016

Locally Grown: Ben Gertner

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

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Whether it be a small downtown bakery, or the local Bagel Boy, Ben Gertner has always found a sense of belonging in front of a calm crowd that just want to jam to his music. Originally from Sioux Falls, Gertner is currently pursuing his degrees in Media Studies and English at the University of Sioux Falls. Excelling in a completely different area, Gertner has drifted from life as a solo artist, a backup guitarist to a co-lyricist in a band – all the while double majoring and working a part time job.

Old friends from high school, Gertner and I sat down for coffee to talk about his time the very obvious changes that had taken place since our senior year at Lincoln High School. Between shows outside of Woodgrain Brewing Company and a recording session, Gertner fills us in on this late Sunday afternoon interview.

Kyle Hallberg: Hello hello, long time no see. Please tell me everything you’ve been up to in the music world of Ben Gertner.

BG: Hello! So much is going on. I have this solo project, which is just Ben Gertner. It used to be Stringed Soul, but I found it kind of weird going to shows and saying ‘my name is Stringed Soul,’ so I had always introduced myself as Ben anyway. The thing with having a name like Stringed Soul is that I was expected to always play strings and sometimes I like to include different sounds in my music – and I also found it was more personal to just have my name. That is my favorite way to play my music. Then this last summer I joined a three-person band called The Disarmed. They asked me to join them after their first album, as a rhythm guitarist, to create a fuller sound. As we grew as a band, we all started to contribute more to the writing process. We are actually very close to finishing another album.

That’s exciting!

BG: Yeah, I’m singing on a few tracks, which is awesome. We’ve been on the down-low for a lot of shows, due to our new album being recorded.

Speaking of recording, when we were in high school, I remember you recording songs in your bedroom. Do you manage to fit the entire band and their instruments in there with you?

BG: Well, not really. One of the band member’s dad is the owner of Cathouse Studio, so we are recording our album there. The process is much longer than my bedroom sessions, which makes it feel so much more real. It is so meticulous and drawn out, but the quality is incredible. It’s really cool to see a professional approach the technology and software so swiftly.

So we have talked about a couple of different projects you’ve worked on, and the recording process, but what about the names? How do you come up with band names that are witty and original?

BG: Well, actually, one of my favorite things to do is find names within everyday conversations. I have always been fascinated by the little things people say. I will randomly start writing down what people say, especially my girlfriend. She will be talking and I will blurt out ‘band name!’ Some examples of what she says are ‘nap-mouth, hood fort, raccoon therapy, couch purse.’

Very creative. It seems as though your English degree may play into your music career.

I actually have a tattoo that is symbolic of the first EP I ever recorded. It is the picture of a ship, reflective of the verse ‘We may sail to other water, my dear / Just promise you won’t be afraid.’ It’s kind of symbolic of how I am going to pursue music and not be afraid to try new things.

How do you balance music and school? Have you found any difficulty?

BG: Yeah, I remember a specific time when I had a huge assignment to do, and I still needed to record a new song that I wanted to release at a show the next night. I remember spending all afternoon and night in a practice room at USF, recording until I was hoarse and my fingers were bleeding. I remember getting back to my dorm at 1 a.m., which is when I started my homework. Even though it sucked, to me, that was a better feeling than not doing my music and completing my assignment and going to bed. I think it is definitely really hard to balance everything because school does not lend itself to the creative process.

I understand that. I sometimes think it is more frustrating to not be able to act on inspiration, than it is to not have any.

BG: I get that. I mean, education is very important, but I know that school does not always offer me what I need to succeed in music. I see the same thing happen with my friends whom are art majors. On the other hand, school offers a social experience, which is where I pull my inspiration from. In classes, I am always writing lyrics on the side of my notebook – so school is in no way a distraction for music – and music is never a distraction in school because it’s more of a priority to me.

Is the time commitment of school ever frustrating to you?

BG: Not really. I have noticed that having scheduled school time and work shifts, it allows me to sit on my new songs longer than I previously would have. Some songs I love and feel the need to record, are put on hold due to school. Then, when I come back to them, I realize they aren’t what I thought they were, and I’m grateful to have waited and saved that potential recording time and money.

That’s a really great way to look at it. With such a positive attitude, there must be some great things coming up…

BG: Absolutelty. You can definitely expect some fun and new things from me in the very near future, solo and group. 

Learn more at Ben’s website.

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Related:

Meet the Interns: Kyle Hallberg

Locally Grown: Mato Jacob Standing Soldier

Locally Grown: Tevyn Waddell

Locally Grown: Kyle West

Locally Grown: Addison Avery

 

 

10 2016

Bookmarks and Big Screens: The Da Vinci Code

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: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

I may be a bit late (give or take 10 years), but I have finally understand the hype the Da Vinci Code created. Many of you have already experienced the Da Vinci Code craze and are waiting for the next movie installment to come out later this month. But before heading to the theater to watch Inferno, reminisce over the Da Vinci Code as I rave over the book for the first time.

The Da Vinci Code follows Robert Langdon, who is thrown into action after  becoming a police suspect to the murder of a curator at the Louvre museum. With the help of a cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, Langdon must follow a trail of clues and riddles to solve a mystery involving a secret society.

The most impressive aspect of the novel is the extent of historical research the author, Dan Brown, must have put into weaving together the intricate storyline. I highly suggest keeping a computer nearby to look up the art and churches mentioned in the story. With the actual visual in front of you, the book becomes more of an interactive experience in which the reader can follow along and try to figure out the riddles at the same time as the characters.

I was pleasantly surprised by the change in Robert Langdon’s temperament from the previous book. After reading Angels and Demons, the first book in the series, I ranted profusely to anyone who would listen about Robert Langdon’s pretentiousness. However, in this book he only came across as an overly eager nerd. Can running for your life change your personality?

The Da Vinci Code is a fast paced mystery novel which will throw you for a loop at every turn. If you are anything like me, you will not want to put this book down and stay up until 2 a.m. to finish.

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After reading the Da Vinci Code, I turned on Netflix to watch the movie version. While watching, I wrote down some of my thoughts:

 

  • Can a professor save the world?

 

As a college student, it’s difficult to imagine any one of my college professors going on a life threatening quest and saving the world, like Robert Langdon does in the Da Vinci Code. Although, I could be persuaded to change my mind for extra credit. (I’m only half kidding, Professor).  

 

  • Sit still, look pretty?

 

I’m very disappointed that the book, which is feminist in nature, has a bit of a sexist movie adaptation. In the novel, Sophie is an invaluable member of the team. She puts her credentials as a cryptologist to use helps Robert solve numerous puzzles. However, in the film, all of Sophie’s contributions are taken from her and are attributed to Robert. I’m frustrated because the filmmakers had such a strong and interesting role and failed to develop her character.

 

  • No romance!!!!

 

In the book, Robert and Sophie get together at the very last second of the novel for no apparent reason. While in the movie, there is no unnecessary romance between the two characters!

Final Rating:

Book: 5 stars

Movie: 2 stars

If you previously read or watched the Da Vinci Code, consider reading Inferno before heading to the theater!

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Related:

Meet the Interns: Ellie Trebilcock

Bookmarks and Big Screens: Me Before You

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10 2016

Dining In and Out: Oh My Cupcakes

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

As the first all-cupcake shop in South Dakota, Oh My Cupcakes is no stranger to standing out. But really, that’s what this bakery/gourmet sweet shop destination is all about: standing out in the crowd, frosting and all.

Started out of her home seven years ago, owner Melissa Johnson never imagined her culinary dream would turn into something so sweet. Oh My Cupcakes now has a staff of 25 “cupcake ninjas,” working to create new flavors for customers that keep coming back for a taste of the delicious.

“We’re experimenting all the time,” cupcake ninja Randi Johnson said. “We use the finest and freshest ingredients from our vanilla beans to our eggs. We try to buy local whenever we can.”

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(Photo courtesy of vbclink.com)

Johnson said many of the shop’s unique cupcake recipes are bred out of simple curiosity.

“My mom [Melissa Johnson] had a dream about a cupcake one time and just wondered what would happen if we tried to make it,” Johnson said. “Another time one of our staff members was making stuffed french toast with her family and decided we should turn it into a cupcake. Now we have stuffed french toast cupcakes.”

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(Photo courtesy of farmfabulosity.com)

That creative drive translates to other areas of the business as well. Oh My Cupcake’s interior is a study in minimalism with pops of color interspersed throughout. The same can be said of the cupcakes themselves—though the boxes the treats come in are stark, the cupcakes inside provide the requisite amount of sparkle, perfect for brightening any day.

“We’re just a cupcake shop in South Dakota, but we want to provide a quality, unique experience that you can’t get anywhere else,” Johnson said. “Our mission is to shine God’s love and make people smile through cupcakes, and that’s what we’re always working toward.”

If a lineup boasting anything from chocolate peanut butter attack to raspberry lemonade cupcakes can’t make you smile, I don’t know what can.

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(Photo courtesy of girlonthemoveblog.com)

Three reasons to eat at Oh My Cupcakes:

  1. Seasonal favorites that rotate each month
  2. Party atmosphere
  3. Enjoying your cupcake(s) in the presence of other cupcake lovers

Dining In

It’s time to test out your cupcake ninja skills in your own kitchen. Whip out the spatula, turn on the mixer and let’s get baking with these Oreo cupcakes courtesy of the Melrose Family blog. I promise you’ll earn your cupcake black belt in no time. Hiya!

Ingredients:

  • Cupcake batter
    • 1 box triple chocolate cake mix
    • 1 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 large box of unprepared chocolate pudding
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 4 eggs
    • ½ cup water
    • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 6 chopped Oreos
  • Frosting
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
    • 4 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 Tbsp vanilla
    • 1 8 oz. container of cool whip, thawed

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together cake mix, oil, unprepared pudding, sour cream, eggs and water. Add in chocolate chips and Oreos.
  3. Bake in cupcake liners for about 18 minutes.
  4. While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting.
  5. Beat the cream cheese and vanilla together until smooth and fluffy. Slowly add in the sugar while continuing to mix the cream cheese mixture.
  6. On low speed, add in cool whip.
  7. You may need to allow frosting to set in the refrigerator while cupcakes continue to cool. Make sure cupcakes are all the way cool before adding frosting.
  8. Put frosting in a pastry bag.
  9. Stick the point of the pastry bag into the cupcake and squeeze a little frosting into the center. You will see the cupcake puff up.
  10. Frost the cupcakes like normal and sprinkle with crushed Oreo.
  11. If you’d like, stick an extra Oreo on top of the cupcake for a little extra flair.
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(Photo courtesy of Kaylyn Deiter)

For a person who’s not an avid cupcake-lover, these cupcakes were pretty dang delicious. Thanks to the cake batter, chocolate pudding, chocolate chips and Oreos, they were also pretty chocolatey, which suited my sweet tooth perfectly. Pair with an ice cold glass of milk and you’re in for a memorable after dinner delicacy.

Three reasons to enjoy Oh My Cupcakes at home:

  1. You get more than one cupcake
  2. Be your own cupcake ninja
  3. You get more than one cupcake (I mean, seriously)

Cupcakes make the perfect treat whether dining in or out. Stop by Oh My Cupcakes for their endless selection and celebratory atmosphere, or choose to earn that cupcake ninja black belt at home with the help of our Oreo cupcake recipe. Either way you’ll be indulging in something delicious.

 

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Web Extra: Ode’s Dirty Arnold

10 2016

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1999

By Sean Calhoun

The musical landscape at the turn of the millennium was largely dominated by teen pop, a genre that produced some of the biggest-selling albums and singles of all time. My first choice for 1999 is perhaps teen pop’s most memorable debut album…

…Baby One More Time – Britney Spears (JIVE Records)

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It can be easy to forget, especially considering the many twists and turns that both her career and her life have taken, but for a few years in the late 90s and early 2000s, Britney Spears was everywhere. This record, along with its follow-up, Oops!… I Did It Again, were both massive successes, cementing Spears as one of the new millennium’s biggest acts.

…Baby One More Time opens with the massively popular title track, a single that shattered the stratospheric mark of 10 million copies sold. The track (and its music video) is an iconic landmark of late-90s pop, and it’s easily the best track on the album, with its sharp, R&B-influenced production.

The second track, “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” was also a single, and it’s another highlight, with some unexpectedly creative instrumentation (including a very un-poppy guitar solo) and a very capable vocal performance (although there’s not much in the way of vocal range or creativity anywhere on this album).

Unfortunately, after the first couple of tracks, …Baby One More Time starts to drag, with the tracks blending into each other and nothing much sticking out one way or the other. There are still highlights to be had (especially the “MMMBop”-esque “I Will Be There” and the duet “I Will Still Love You”), and every track is anchored by a solid performance on Spears’ part, but there isn’t all that much special outside of the title track.

Even if …Baby One More Time isn’t all that great of an album, a lot of credit must be given to Spears for effectively kick-starting the massive success of teen pop at the turn of the millennium. Not only did she pave the way for a number of female stars, she also opened the door for the success of a number of boy bands (and indeed, much of the record’s instrumentation is very reminiscent of such acts). She also gave the genre one of its defining tracks (an achievement she would duplicate with the title track from Oops… just a year later) and vaulted herself squarely into the front of pop music’s collective consciousness.

Score, Adjusted for 2016 Ratings Inflation: 7.7/10

 

The other defining feature of teen pop in the late 1990s was the proliferation of a number of popular boy bands, with the next album coming from one of the biggest. Coincidentally enough, physical copies of …Baby One More Time sold in early 1999 featured previews of a number of tracks from…

 

Millennium – Backstreet Boys (JIVE Records)

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First, a personal admission – I have a great deal of personal experience with this album, so I can’t necessarily promise that this review won’t be at least slightly colored by nostalgia. As I was growing up, my sister owned several Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC CDs, and I still have in my personal possession a mix CD, hilariously misnamed “Greatest Rock Hits,” that I had my father make me in 2002, featuring a number of tracks from these two boy bands (as well as, inexplicably enough, three of the singles from the Goo Goo Dolls’ 1998 album Dizzy Up The Girl).

Millennium is a boy-band classic, and it starts off incredibly strong, putting its three best tracks right at the beginning of the record. The first track is “Larger Than Life,” the record’s second-most successful single and a shining example of the well-oiled machine that the Backstreet Boys formed in their prime – slick electronic production, tight vocal harmonies, and the like.

“Larger Than Life,” though, can’t hold a torch to “I Want It That Way,” perhaps the defining Backstreet Boys song (and one of the most defining tracks ever to come out of the boy-band genre). Even now, so many years after its release, I (and so many others) have this song almost completely memorized. There really isn’t all that much for me to say about “I Want It That Way” that hasn’t been said before by someone, somewhere.

The third track (and third single) is also really memorable. “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” is the record’s first true ballad, and perhaps the best ballad the Backstreet Boys ever made. There’s some interesting and even borderline lush instrumentation here, with heavy use of guitar and other strings, and the boy-band melancholy formula is executed to perfection.

There are a couple of forgettable tracks on this album, but one non-single standout (and a track that really should have been a single, all things considered) is “Don’t Want You Back,” a biting track with lines like “But I should have known that I would be / Another victim of your sexuality” that definitely went way over my head when I was six.

The back half of Millennium is a bit of a letdown, with fourth single “The One” standing out as one of its better tracks, but there certainly isn’t anything particularly bad to be had anywhere on the record. Perhaps it’s just the nostalgia speaking, but I will always be a defender of this album (and the rest of BSB’s early discography, to be completely honest). It really defined both the Backstreet Boys and the boy-band genre.

(By the way, check back next time for a look at the other half of the BSB-*NSYNC debate as I cover another boy-band classic from Justin Timberlake and company, No Strings Attached.)

Score, Adjusted for 2016 Ratings Inflation: 9.0/10

 

Related:

Meet the Interns: Sean Calhoun 

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1996

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1997 

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1998

10 2016

605 Outdoor Wonders: Palisades State Park

By Anna Stritecky

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South Dakota’s own rose quartz beauty is just a half hour drive from Sioux Falls, right on the outskirts of Garretson. The Palisades are a 605 wonder, scaling up quartz rocks that overlook a surrounding river and trails for tourists to come and enjoy.

As for the history of this park, there was once a flour mill that was located on the bluff overlooking the park. The mill, powered by a large water-wheel installed along the rushing Split Rock Creek, was home to a once-inhabited Palisades Township. This town grew up around the success of the mill seeing that in 1886, silver was discovered downstream. The silver ore proved to be low in quality, however, and the nearly 300 claims were quickly dropped.

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Since then, the Palisades have been turned into a state park. Even though I grew up in Sioux Falls, I hadn’t been to the Palisades until recently, where I was shown a whole new part of east river South Dakota. First and foremost, the hospitality that I received was unbelievable. As soon I pulled up, I chatted with the park ranger, who after I told that I had never been before, showed me the best part of the parks to see, the nicest trails to hike and so on and so forth.

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After getting the inside scoop, I pulled up to my first trail. This trail was the perfect intensity of hiking, where it was not impossible to get through the path, but it still felt like you were experiencing the outdoors. Beneath the trails is a slow-moving river that you can either sit and enjoy, or there are rocks you can climb over to get onto the other side.

Walking up and down the Palisades, you experience a canyon of beautiful life forms while also enjoying people laying on the river, climbers scaling on the rocks, and just your average tourist enjoying the view. Even though this park is a little on the path less traveled, it is a gem of South Dakota outdoors.

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Related: 

605 Outdoor Wonders: Spearfish Canyon

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Meet the Interns: Anna Stritecky

 

09 2016

Locally Grown: Mato Jacob Standing Soldier

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

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Mato Jacob Standing Soldier, stage name: Mato Wayuhi, is taking his motivation, culture and heart and taking the Sioux Falls music scene by storm. A recent graduate from Lincoln High School, Standing Solider started his music career with a makeshift studio, and an even more rudimentary sense of hip hop. Now doing shows at Icon with some of the MidWest’s most popular musical acts, Standing Solider is here to talk about where academics play a part in his journey to the top.

How did you get into music?

Mato Jacob Standing Soldier: Since I’ve been young, I’ve always been searching for creative outlets – whether that be poetry, storytelling or movie making. I got introduced to music my sophomore year of high school, and it just seemed limitless. I love it so much because it’s a way to take any excess energy you have to turn it into something positive.

Well, when we went to your show, we really saw how your music affected other people. Was your first show like that, too?

M: Well my first show was at The Taste of The Big Apple during an open mic. My friends and I all performed our new song “No Bad Days.” I tweeted it, thinking no one would actually listen, and almost forty people showed up… it was such a wild experience. From there, the shows just escalated.

So take me back to the beginning…

M: I started with writing raps. My friend and I would sit in my house and rap. Our first setup was a microphone with a hanger that we morphed into a circle, and then put a sock over it as a pop guard. I needed it, no matter what. A lot of my idols were already succeeding by the time they were sixteen. So I felt this intrinsic pressure to be there too.

Who are your top idols?

M: It’s a tie between Freddie Mercury and Tyler The Creator. They both crossed the boundaries of so many things, while still remaining extremely humble.

As a recent high school graduate, what’s next? More music, or more school?

M: I’m going to The University of Southern California. I’m going in as undecided – but I applied to the Lovine and Young Academy, and after I didn’t get in, I didn’t know if I could handle any more rejection. But, after a pep talk from my mom, I ended up getting that extremely excessive envelope of acceptance to USC.

California is pretty different than South Dakota. Are you worried about keeping your music what it is right now?

M: I was worried for awhile, but I talked to my brother-in-law and he said the best thing to do is keep it going during school. You meet people and find new inspiration in new experiences. I’ll be bring a laptop and little keyboard to make sure I can produce when it hits. I guess the only thing i’m worried about is keeping up with school, because once something hits me, it completely takes me over – it’s the only thing that matters until it’s finished. I’m working on this new EP I call The Pretty Pink tapes and I was writing about the feelings and I wrote “once these melodic testimonies take over me, it’s done.” I want to do it to fulfill me, because that’s all I want to do.

What makes you different?

M: Well, I think my name for sure. Mato Wayuhi is my Lakota name. When you become a certain age, you get this alternative name which describes you. Mine means “Conquering Bear,” who was a chief way back when. It took me awhile to embrace that, to embrace my culture. I feel like every kid of a different nationality experiences a time when they want nothing to do with it. There was a lot of shame and guilt, and for some reason I was ashamed of that. But, once I realized how beautiful I was, and my culture, I really started to love it. That love seemed to surface when I started with my music, so my music carried a lot of suggestive themes about oppression, assimilation and Native heritage. I needed to include this because I needed to create myself and my image, which is my culture.

My music is who I am. I feel like I am positively representing my culture. My position is not just to spread positivity and peace, but more importantly to represent the fact that stereotypes and ideals should not define you. Whether it is on a bar stage, or the campus of USC, Mato Wayuhi’s goal will always remain the same: make it to the top, represent my culture, and stay true to myself. 

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Though Standing Soldier is undecided, it wasn’t hard to me to decide that his music was worth listening to and his shows even more worth attending. He’s going places, not only in the Lakota community, but in the world of rap, EPs, and open mic nights. Take a listen to some of his stuff before his next show:

https://m.soundcloud.com/matoaster

https://matoaster.bandcamp.com/

 

Related:

Meet the Interns: Kyle Hallberg

Meet the Interns: Tevyn Waddell

Locally Grown: Kyle West

Locally Grown: Addison Avery

 

09 2016

Bookmarks and Big Screens: Austenland

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: Austenland by Shannon Hale

I decided to switch up my blog routine this month and review the movie version of Austenland before reading the book. Although the movie holds a special place in my heart, I promise to keep an open mind about the book and rate it fairly.

Austenland follows Jane Hayes (played by Keri Russell), a woman obsessed with the works of Jane Austen. After many failed relationships, Jane decides to escape reality and spend all of her money on a immersive Austen-themed resort experience. While staying at the resort, Jane struggles to find her own Mr. Darcy.

If you’re a Jane Austen fan, like me, you’ll love all of the references to her books in Austenland. However, if you ever romanticized the regency era, the movie will also make it clear to you why you would never want to live during that time period.

The movie is also laugh-out-loud funny! Jennifer Coolidge plays Jane’s friend Elizabeth Charming in the film. Everything that comes out of Coolidge’s mouth will have you rolling on the floor in laughter. Austenland is silly and outrageous and everything a nerdy book-lover would want in a comedy.

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After watching the movie, I made a trip down to the local library and checked out the book version of Austenland. Here are some of my thoughts after reading:

  • Different Beginning?

In the book version, Jane inherits a trip to go to the Austen resort inside her recently departed great-aunt. In my opinion, this is not as satisfying as the movie version where she decides to spend her life savings to go to Austenland.  This plot point shows how enthralled Jane is with the works of Austen and the extent to which she goes to satisfy her obsession.

  • List of awful boyfriends?

Each chapter starts out with a short description for Jane’s past boyfriends. In my opinion, these short portrayals of her failed relationships provide the character with a strong backstory. Jane turned to fantasy in order to cope with rejection and protect herself.

  • *Sigh* Another love triangle???

My biggest literary pet-peeve is love triangles. In my opinion, love triangles do not provide any character or relationship development to the story. Love triangles only stall the relationship between the two main characters that everyone wants to get together in the first place. Therefore, my one disappointment in both the book and the movie is the introduction of a love triangle. How could Jane even consider Martin (the Wickham character of the story) when she could have Mr. Darcy (Henry)!?!?

Final Rating:

Movie- 5 stars

Book- 4½ stars

Calling all Jane Austen aficionados! Both the book and the movie versions is the perfect modern Austen story that will make you wish there is actually an Austenland. I rated the movie better than the book because I am super impressed with Jennifer Coolidge, who improvised almost every one of her hilarious lines. If you are lover of anything Austen, I highly suggest you read and watch Austenland.

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Related:

Meet the Interns: Ellie Trebilcock

Bookmarks and Big Screens: Me Before You

Bookmarks and Big Screens: Dances with Wolves

Bookmarks and Big Screens: The Giver

09 2016

Dining In and Out: Fiero Pizza

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

Downtown’s Fiero Pizza is a pizza lover’s paradise. With virtually unlimited topping, sauce, and crust options, Fiero takes the “do it yourself” motto of chains like Subway and Qdoba to a whole new level.

Fiero itself is Italian for “proud,” and proud this pizza joint undoubtedly is. Situated in the middle of bustling Phillips Avenue (with a new location now open on 41st Street), the restaurant’s interior is homey without being over the top. Dark brick lines the walls, while cozy booths accommodate customers. But without a doubt Fiero’s centerpiece is the long counter where all the culinary magic happens.

“Fiero is one of my go-to spots for casual dining downtown,” patron Andrea Conover said. “It’s awesome to have that fast-casual option, but still be able to enjoy the sights and sounds of downtown.”

Once in front of the counter, customers have the choice of either trying one of Fiero’s 11 suggested pizza combos or crafting a creation entirely their own. The Spartan pizza has become my go-to Fiero favorite, but there’s nothing like choosing everything from dough to finishings to instill a sense of pride in your custom creation.

“The flavors are rich, the crust is the perfect combination of soft and crispy and there are endless options when it comes to sauce and toppings,” Conover said. “Plus you can always rely on the employees to be friendly and excited for you to experience their pizza. There’s a real sense of pride in their product.”

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(Photo courtesy of thegunnysack.com)

Although it’s only been open for two years, Fiero has quickly become a Sioux Falls staple. With it’s fresh, local ingredients, reasonable prices and commitment to Italian tradition, this pizza joint is not just stop to get a quick pizza fix, it’s a restaurant local foodies can take pride in, one slice at a time.

Three reasons to eat at Fiero Pizza:

  1. The ingenious combination of make-your-own and suggested pizza options
  2. Plethora of topping choices
  3. Pride in fresh, local ingredients

Dining In

Want to test out your Fiero Pizza crafting skills right at home? Do you long be the one rolling and flipping the dough like the pizza master you know you are? Check out this tried and true recipe from Williams-Sonoma’s The Kid’s Cookbook for that homemade flavor right in your kitchen (no culinary acrobatics required).

Ingredients:

  • Dough:
    • 3 cups flour
    • 1 package quick-rise yeast
    • 2 ½ tsp salt
    • 2 tsp sugar
    • 1 cup warm water
    • 2 Tbsp and 1 tsp olive oil
  • Topping:
    • 1 package mozzarella cheese per pizza
    • 2 T olive oil
    • 1 jar pizza sauce
    • Any other desired toppings (pepperoni, tomato, mushrooms, olives, garlic, etc.)

Instructions:

  1. Combine 2 ½ cups flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl
  2. Add water and 2 T olive oil to the mixture
  3. Knead dough for about 10 minutes
  4. Wipe out mixing bowl and grease lightly with 1 tsp olive oil
  5. Put dough into the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap
  6. Set dough out for about 45 minutes
  7. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line two baking sheets with aluminium foil
  8. Roll out dough into two pizzas
  9. Drizzle with 1 T olive oil each
  10. Spread on pizza sauce
  11. Top with desired toppings and cheese
  12. Bake each pizza one at a time for 20 minutes

This recipe makes two square pizzas, which I find usually feeds about five hungry college students. Guarantee you’ll never go back to delivery pizza again once you’ve tasted this delicious homemade recipe.

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(Photo courtesy of Kaylyn Deiter)

Three reasons to enjoy Fiero at home:

  1. You get the chance to put together the pizza
  2. Be creative with ingredients
  3. Your kitchen smells like a pizza parlor

Whether you’re dining in or dining out, Fiero Pizza is the place to beat. Hang out at Sioux Falls’ premier pizza joint and indulge in a combination of your choosing, or get cooking at home—spreading your own dough and choosing toppings for your latest tasty masterpiece.

 

Related:

Meet the Interns Kaylyn Deiter 

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

09 2016

Field Notes and Fixations: Guilty Pleasure Music

By Thomas Hentges

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It’s early spring and you’re giddy just to lower your car windows down and let the fresh air run through your hair.  After seemingly scanning stations for the last five minutes you land on something a little out of your normal wheelhouse, but at this moment, it just feels so right.  Now, with sun-infused abandon, you release your own soulful rendition of the chorus like a pagan praise to the vast sky itself.

And then it happens. 

You are abruptly roped back to reality by the four college girls in the sedan next to you enjoying their front row seats to your inspired performance of the Beach Boys’ late 80’s soundtrack single, “Kokomo.”

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Guilty pleasures…we all have them.  Be it a song with a melody too sweet not to savor or an album that will forever conjure up adolescent memories of simpler days.

I recently queried several area musicians to get a glimpse at what artists, albums and songs have them singing along like, hopefully, no one is watching.

Jared “Jrok” Thomas of Elevated Rebellion

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Artist:  Paul Simon or Neil Young

Album:  Harvest by Neil Young

Song:  “Graceland” by Paul Simon

 

Zach Geier of Gloominoti

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Artist:  Adele

Album:  Only by the Night by Kings of Leon

Song:  “Closer” by The Chainsmokers

 

Paul Squyer of Ch6r6z6rd

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Artist:  Five Iron Frenzy

Album:  Kiss by Carly Rae Jepsen

Song:  “I’m a Slave 4 U” by Britney Spears or “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” by Kylie Minogue

 

Connor Pederson of Condor

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Artist:  Neil Diamond

Album:  Plans by Death Cab for Cutie

Song:  “Kiss From A Rose” by Seal

 

Xavier Pastrano of Skin Of Our Teeth

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Artist:  311

Album:  Mind of Mine by ZAYN

Song:  “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips

 

Lindy Wise of Angie Hosh and Androgynous Squash

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Artist:  Red Hot Chili Peppers

Album:  Freaky Styley by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Song:  “Believe” by Cher

 

Hunter Johnson of International Cover-Up

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Artist:  Counting Crows

Album:  All Killer, No Filler by Sum 41

Song:  “Your Anything” by Taylor Swift

 

Jack Winders of Horseplay

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Artist:  ABBA

Album:  Fly by the Dixie Chicks

Song:  “Africa” by Toto

 

Heath Babcock of WOLF SKIN

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Artist:  Justin Bieber

Album:  Pure Heroine by Lorde

Song:  “Africa” by Toto

 

Ryan Knutson of March In Arms

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Artist:  Rammstein

Album:  The Bleeding by Cannibal Corpse

Song:  “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” by the Fifth Dimension 

 

 

Related:

Field Notes and Fixations: A Conversation with Sam Outlaw

Meet Music Writer Thomas Hentges