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New Music Friday

Gang of Youths “MTV Unplugged (Live in Melbourne)”

Rating: 10/10

Gang of Youths, formed in 2012, is a chest-pounding indie rock band from Sydney, Australia. The band consists of singer, songwriter, and guitarist Dave Le’aupepe, lead guitarist Joji Melani, keyboardist Jung Kim, bassist Max Dunn, and drummer Donnie Borzestowski. Gang of Youths released their first single, “Evangelists,” in 2013. It was quickly picked up by radio and the band has since gained a mass following. Since then, Gang of Youths has released their debut album, “The Positions” in 2015, their first EP “Let Me Be Clear” in 2016, a terrific cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” in 2017, and their second full-length album, “Go Farther in Lightness” in 2017 much to critical acclaim. In last year’s Australian music awards, “the Arias,” Gang of Youths won album of the year, best group, and best rock album for “Go Farther in Lightness.” The band is currently on tour supporting “Go Farther in Lightness” and will be back in the states in December after a whirlwind tour of Australia throughout November. The band also spent eight nights last month on tour supporting the Foo Fighters towards the end of their Concrete and Gold World Tour.

Back in August, MTV Unplugged came to Australia for the first time ever. Gang of Youths was the first band to perform for Australia’s MTV Unplugged and on October 25th, 2018, they released the emotion-packed, hour-long album, “MTV Unplugged (Live in Melbourne.)” The live album features nine songs from “Go Farther In Lightness” and one song, “Still Unbeaten Life,” from their EP “Let Me Be Clear.” The songs are stripped back and the band is accompanied by a talented section of strings and brass.

The first song off the live album is “Let Me Down Easy” which is about, “Just dancing embarrassingly,” Dave said as he laughed and proceeded to dance “embarrassingly” throughout the song onstage in St. Louis, Missouri. (Dave is actually a fantastic dancer.) This time, Dave did not sport his dance moves during “Let Me Down Easy,” but was instead alone singing onstage among hundreds of red roses strewn about the floor and cascading from the ceiling. Dave’s talent for writing intense, poignant, and heartbreakingly beautiful songs is absolutely unparalleled.

Dave’s lovely deep baritone voice is on display as the rest of the gang back him up with powerful and heavy bursts of drumming, precise and melodic guitar riffs, and vulnerable background piano and synths. That, paired with the emotion-stirring strings and brass, make for a truly captivating and moving performance. Never has a band affected me in such a way where it feels like, with their music, they reach down and embrace and shine light upon the dark parts that lurk within the depths of my being; they remind me that I am not alone.

Gang of Youths is capable of taking the emotions we all inevitably feel and make them palpable by creating music that details it so well and so beautifully that it hurts. Even after listening to this album at least twenty times over, “Persevere” and the closing song, “Still Unbeaten Life,” never fail to bring tears to my eyes. The sixth track on the album, “Persevere,” is a song about a loss of a friend’s baby and finding hope amidst the seemingly unending darkness. “Still Unbeaten Life” is an eight-minute slow-burning song that details finding love and tenderness within turmoil—when everything one knows and holds dear is on the line. Gut-wrenching and beautiful, each song on “MTV Unplugged (Live in Melbourne)” takes one on an emotional journey through love, loss, pain, and joy.

Especially now, in times of despair, it is vital for people to seek solace in whatever they desire. Even in pain, confusion, and turmoil, there is light; one just has to seek it. We cannot go through our lives always rushing to and from commitments without taking a moment to reflect. We truly need to live in the now. Whoever is reading this: pause, take a deep breath, and hit play. Gang of Youths is by far one of the best bands in the world. You’ll see why. 

Live Music Near Us: The Struts at the Temple Live 

The Temple Live in downtown Fort Smith—once a Masonic temple and theater—is an intimate venue that is perfect for seeing your favorite bands live. I highly encourage everyone to purchase tickets for the pit at the Temple Live because it provides an opportunity to be the closest you can ever get to your favorite bands. Plus, it makes the concert experience ten times better. The Struts, a British rock band, performed at The Temple on October 25th.

The Struts know exactly how to deliver the best rock-n-roll shows. Frontman Luke Spiller kept the crowd on their toes, even coaxing us into getting down low to the floor and then jumping up when the band kicked in as if we were a “human firework,” as Luke liked to put it. It is clear that The Struts—nodoubtedly running on little sleep—give each and every show their blood, sweat, and tears. The glittering tracks from their debut record “Everybody Wants”were performed with just as much enthusiasm as always. As their brand new album “Young & Dangerous” was just a few hours from being released that night, a few of the new tracks were added to their setlist, which made the show feel even more special.

Guitarist Adam Slack and bassist Jed Elliot took over the stage with their rocking, bluesy solos spectacularly while Luke took a quick break and changed costumes. Drummer Gethin Davies, the creator of the unyielding, head-banging beat, kept the crowd totally enthralled right alongside Jed and Adam. As soon as Luke popped back on stage, the band launched into their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” (one they do at every show). The cover includes a fan being chosen to hop on stage to play the role of Courtney Cox from the “Dancing in the Dark” music video. Any Springsteen lovers out there?

The Struts’ presence is infectious and can’t help but possess every single fan to dance and sing along. Although the audience was a mix of older classic rock fans and young glam-rock lovers, everyone danced along all the same when Luke beckoned. There was not one moment that I stood still or didn’t sing along. I absolutely loved every minute of it. There is an undeniable awe that stems from watching these guys perform and it leaves everyone wanting more after they exit the stage. 

--Madison Slusser

People With Hidden Stories

Everyone has a hidden story. Female sophomore student J.O. is no exception. The beginning of her eighth grade year she started to question her sexuality. She remembers it being a struggle, and was terrified that she wouldn’t be accepted by friends, family, or even herself. She completely avoided the topic for weeks, then finally after building up enough courage, she just “let it happen.” At first, she thought she was just “bi” (meaning a bisexual person would only feel attraction to two genders.) She thought by saying that she was bi it would be easier for people to understand. She told one of her best friend and to her surprise she was very accepting and happy for her, later she then started to slowly tell most of her friends.

It was until mid-freshman year when she started to feel like what she had previously identified herself was not how she actually feels. “I felt fake and more out of place than when it had all started.” She tried to figure out why she was feeling that way. While watching one of her favorite youtubers coming out story, Dodie Clarks, she thought to herself, “I am not bisexual this is not who I am.” That was when she began to search for who she was all over again. She talked to her friends about how she was feeling and it was then they mentioned that she was possibly “pansexual” (meaning a pansexual person would find themselves attracted to all races and genders.) After getting home, she looked up the meaning of pansexuality. “I realized I am in fact pansexual, and right from the beginning it just felt so right, I didn’t feel like a fraud and I wasn’t confused or frustrated anymore.”

She is finally happy and proud of who she is and hopes everyone reading this article will help others accept who they are, even if it doesn’t involve sexuality. When asked if she would be comfortable if I interviewed her for this article, she was excited yet also terrified. Most people don’t know this about her so she considers this as her hidden story.

Braden Baker also has a hidden story. To most people Braden is an outgoing, fun to be around person, but what most people don’t know is Braden, like many others, wants to better himself. In his free time he rants to himself about how he could be an all around better person. “I think it’s important to be the best you can be, and treat others with the most respect you can give.”

It takes a lot of courage to be willing to tell a story about oneself. It isn’t easy and it is a thing that one fears the reaction from people. It is what holds people back from getting their story out there.

--Keily Brown

Riverdale Reigns

Riverdale is an American teen drama television series based on the characters of the Archie Comics. KJ Apa is playing the role of Archie Andrews, Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge, and Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones. Riverdale has been a popular TV show airing on the CW on Wednesday from seven to eight. Recently, the third season came on the air and has been a great hit. 2.3 million people have viewed this program, making it the highest-rated and most-watched episode of the show to date.

Riverdale is my new favorite show and is one of the best new shows I have seen come out lately! It captivates you and is a show you could watch for days on end. I highly recommend this television series if you are the type of person that loves a little mystery in the shows you watch. It also has a little romance for all those romance lovers out there. The actors that are playing the roles of the characters are doing a fantastic job of portraying these roles from the Archie Comics. I have been hooked on this series since the new season came out a couple of weeks ago. You still have time to get as hooked as I am on this show. I highly recommend this show and it has been a great addition to the CW channel. It comes on Wednesdays at seven, so mark your calendars so that you do not forget to check out one of the hottest TV shows out there!

--Gracie Summers

Deadlines Suck! Journalism Staff Tells All

We all deal with deadlines in our own unique way. Many people take the somewhat detrimental route that is procrastination. I have a confession to make; I am one of those people. When I get to the crux of the problem, it is that I am stuck in the neverending, unyielding loop that is perfectionism. I want so badly for my assignments (especially those that have to do with writing) to be things that I can be proud of and that I can confidently stand behind. So, I invariably put off working on my assignments until the night before they are due because of the pressure I put on myself. There have been too many late nights and crying jags to count because of my endless ride on the conveyor belt of procrastination. Procrastination seems almost impossible to shake but I will try my hardest to be rid of it, regardless.

Senior and co-editor of the yearbook, Emily Cox, said, “I try to work ahead because I never know what I have going on. I try to have everything done a week before, so the week of the deadline I can go and perfect everything.” To get her creative juices flowing, Emily revealed that she turns to “deep or sad songs” in order to write motivational texts for the yearbook. Senior and co-editor of the yearbook Jaycee White admits that she is a “big procrastinator.” “Once the [creative] juice kicks in, I’m ready to go. I can get it done really fast.” When asked what motivates her, she responded with, “Music. Country music, like Brad Paisley and George Strait; the old-school guys.” Music seems to be the key to motivation among the journalism staff, myself included.

Sophomore Katie Grice states that she has to “get in the zone” when dealing with deadlines. “I do have a bunch of late-night thoughts about it. I’ll be thinking about it and I get ideas about it. It’s like one of those things where it’s like at the moment you can’t think of anything, but then when you’re, like, thinking about it at a different time you know what you want to do.” Creativity ebbs and flows and, for some, it is impossible to complete an assignment in a timely manner because they are waiting for that right idea or angle. There are a few people who simply toe the line that lies between procrastination and good time-management. Balance is definitely a virtue. There are quite a few people who can miraculously achieve balance in many aspects of life, including time-management. Sophomore Keily Brown is one of these people. “I try to get everything done as soon as possible so I’m not super stressed out. It’s very stressful though because I really like being on the newspaper staff but it takes a lot of effort.” We, procrastinators, have something to learn from non-procrastinators. In the end, putting off work that needs to be done causes an inordinate amount of stress. Especially considering that the assignment could have been completed days before the actual date that it was due. Unfortunately, it seems like procrastination turns into an almost unbreakable habit after some time. For health and sanity of mind, I implore you to not join the club of procrastination. Life is not about stress, after all.