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July 20 Releases!

July 16, 2018

Music

Ty Segall and White Fence - Joy

Punch Brothers - All Ashore

The Internet - Hive Mind

This week is promising for those who tend to stay off the beaten path. Ty Segall and White Fence joined forces to create an alternative garage rock album. Fans of folk music, check out Punch Brothers 5th studio album, All Ashore. And finally, for you hip-hop lovers, The Internet will have a new album out Friday.

Movies

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Far from the Tree - Documentary

This week will be quiet as far as movies go, but hey, you can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life. Mamma Mia! is back and ready for you to sing along!

Television

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (HBO) – 7/16

Mountain Men (History) – 7/19

The 2018 ESPYS (abc) – 7/20

This week is packed with new series premieres and shows returning to your screen. For a feature length look at the life and legacy of the late comedian Robin Williams, check out

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind. If you’re looking for the toughest reality show on TV, look no further than Mountain Men’s season seven. For all you sports fans, the 2018 ESPYS will be live on Friday. Check back in next week to see what’s coming up in music, movies, and television!


A Trip to Europe

July 12, 2018

Written By: Kay Torres and Marissa Kusayanagi

London, England 

Kay: This summer, Marissa and I were lucky enough to take a trip to four different cities in Europe. Our first  stop was London, England. With over eight million people living there, it is one of the most hustling and bustling cities in Europe. With London being our first stop on the trip, I arrived with bright eyes ready for a new adventure – so this part of my experience might be a little biased because I saw London through rose colored lenses! From the museums to the sights, the city has preserved their rich history in such an incredible way.

London is a multicultural metropolis with a mosaic of cuisine, colors, languages, faiths, and cultures that make the city energetic and refreshing. There are so many sights to see in London, and luckily the public transportation there is incredibly easy to navigate. There are stops within walking distance of each major tourist spot! Some of my favorite spots around the city were Westminster Abbey, Kensington Gardens, Covent Gardens, Borough Market and Hyde Park. On our first day in the city, we were lucky enough to get a glimpse of the Queen of England as she was visiting Westminster Abbey for the opening of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee galleries, which features artifacts from the Abbey’s 1000-year history. Seeing the Queen of England was such a remarkable beginning to our time in London.

One of my favorite spots in London was Borough Market. It has a similar vibe to Pike Place Market in Seattle with local vendors ranging from food to flower arrangements. It was an open outdoor market with a gazebo-type covering that houses over a hundred vendors. Borough Market is the oldest food market in London, as it has been around for a thousand years. There is so much to see at Borough Market, such as fresh fruit being squeezed into juice and small-scale artisan producers bringing their goods to the market. Borough Market is another reflection of the diversity of London. The Market provides a place for local goods, but also for cuisine from cultures around the world.

Lastly, you must visit Brick Lane! We stayed at an Airbnb in this part of London and quickly realized it is an eccentric and flourishing part of the city. It is definitely a growing part of London with many young professionals moving in. This influx of people has furthered the rise of specialty coffee shops, bars, and boutiques. European coffee shops are very similar to restaurants in the States, as they have a full service kitchen and encourage you to sit and have a meal there. My personal favorite coffee shop in Brick Lane is  Nude Coffee Roasters; they are a full-service coffee shop with their roastery across the street. They open their roastery to the public during cuppings or educational workshops. All their coffee is sourced ethically and ensures that their relationships with farmers are sustainable. Brick Lane’s Vintage Market is open from Thursday-Sunday, and it was hands down the best vintage market I have ever visited!

Hop on the Tube (or Underground, as some call it) and explore this diverse city, full of culture and cuisine! Don’t forget to try a classic English scone while you’re across the pond, you won’t regret it!

Paris, France 

Marissa: As I journeyed across the pond, I sat on a train that left the glorious city of London and moved toward the infamous Paris, France. There were countless sights, museums, and cuisine that I anticipated as I sat on the train, but nothing could compare to what I experienced. The architecture of the buildings was by far the most fascinating and inspiring part of my trip to Paris.

The Eiffel Tower is as incredible and jaw-dropping as you would expect. As I walked up to the immeasurable tower I could not even begin to fathom the enormity of the metal structure. Something that is a MUST on your Europe bucket list is visiting the Eiffel Tower at night, but beware of the thousands of rats that come out! Make sure you wait for the Eiffel Tower to shimmer – it happens every hour once it is dark.

The Louvre, one of the most popular art museums in the world is located in Paris and cannot be skipped. I must warn you, the museum is enormous and it is almost impossible to see everything in a day, so if you are in a hurry make sure you see the Mona Lisa. Follow the arrows to get to her and if you get a chance there is a café with balcony seating that overlooks the glass pyramids.

Grab a baguette and a blanket, sit under the Eiffel, pick up a cup of espresso, and don’t forget to see the Mona Lisa. There is so much to see and experience but make sure you find ways to really connect with the people around you.

Gent, Belgium 

Kay: Our next stop was Gent, Belgium, which is the second most populated city in Belgium and just an hour outside of Brussels. We had less than twenty-four hours in Gent – it was our break from all the larger cities. Although we spent the shortest amount of time there, it was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Gent is the quaintest city we stayed in, but the quaintness does not inhibit the fullness of culture and history there. Gent’s historical heritage has remained intact for hundreds of years, which makes a great deal of their architecture unique. My favorite part of Gent is their attention to “ecotourism”. Gent is committed to the environment and they want to encourage tourists to limit their impact on the environment. To achieve this goal, the city is very accessible by walking, bicycles, and green public transportation. Their city centre is a car-free area, encouraging use of the aforementioned modes of transportation. As a tourist, I easily understood why the residents of Gent love this growing city. Like Amsterdam, there are canals that connect the city, and these canals encourage tourists to take boat tours to see the city from a different perspective.

You can tell by the restaurants there that Gent’s attention to the environment is not just a fashion trend, but a way of life. In 2009, Gent launched “Thursday Veggie Day”, where they encourage their citizens to only eat vegetables on Thursdays. There are markets located all over the city that range from your typical farmers’ markets to flower and book markets. My favorite meal was at a small local café (Carmen Soep) that is owned by a local woman who opened it less than a year and a half ago. She prepped and cooked all the meals by herself, and the meal I ordered was simple yet delicious.

In the short time we were there the people we encountered were incredibly hospitable and kind, they had a plethora of Belgian waffles to choose from, and don’t forget to grab some chocolate for your friends back home. If you’re planning a trip to Belgium, skip Brussels and head over to Gent!  

Amsterdam, The Netherlands 

Marissa: If you are a fan of vegan meals, vintage shops, and riding your bike, then Amsterdam is the perfect city for you. I can easily say Amsterdam was one of my favorite cities that I visited in Europe. Amsterdam has an entirely different atmosphere than London or Paris because people are extremely health-oriented. Our first Uber driver mentioned how vegetables are a staple in Dutch cuisine and that you will experience the healthy eats everywhere you go in Amsterdam.

We made our first stop in Amsterdam at a café called Pluk, because how can you pass up smoothie bowls and fresh avocado toast? Pluk was the perfect way to start off our visit in Amsterdam. The restaurants and boutiques really embody the feeling of the city. We walked in and immediately there was fresh fruit and vegetables to our right, sitting under a window that brought in light to the shop. As we looked over the counter, there were countless fresh baked good likes a matcha cake and carrot cake. Handmade goods surrounded the walls of the café along with plants, and sunlight was beaming into the room. Freshly made food and drinks kicked off the day perfectly for us, especially after a long morning of traveling.

Our next stop was the Anne Frank house, which is pretty much required if you ever visit Amsterdam. The tickets are cheap and it was by far the most incredible experience I had in Amsterdam. We walked through each room of the house and listened to an audio recording of everything that occurred in the home. Pictures, letters, and Anne Frank’s journal are pieces saved for people to enjoy as they walk through the house.

The Dutch-inspired city is home to the Canal Ring, a network of intersecting waterways, that surrounds Amsterdam. Canals were used in the Golden Age for trade purposes and architectural development, which created expansion in the city. Amsterdam is a unique city with vibrant colors, the feeling of home and the pursuit of culture. A city home to hundreds of different ethnicities creates a welcoming atmosphere for any visitor.


What we've been listening to

July 6, 2018

For the latest "What we've been listening to" our Event Coordinator, Drew, picks out his favorite songs of the summer so far. Enjoy!


A Conversation On Country

July 3, 2018

Written By: Steph Ward and Clay Copper

A Brief History of Country Music

Beginning in Bristol, Tennessee, the country music genre dates back to the 1920s. It transpired from artists like Vernon Dalhart and Jimmie Rodgers, who mixed aspects of jazz, blues and bluegrass to create a new sound that became wildly popular by the 1930s. As the sound progressed, artists like Hank Williams (the artist behind the original yodel boy’s “Heartsick Blues” track) and Roy Acuff led way to the Honky Tonk era, which embraced a more wild lifestyle. Loud and fun, the Honky Tonk era was influential to many of the pioneers of early rock and roll, which highly influenced and drove the popularity of this style of country music. By the mid-1950s, Nashville, Tennessee, became the Country Music Capital of the World. During this time, country artists started to dig deeper into their roots by producing a more distinct and twangy sound that led to artists like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and other “outlaw country” artists who sang of life on the road and the depravity that may come with it. This era of the country music genre lasted throughout the 1970s. Shortly after, many pop artists like John Denver, Olivia Newton-John and Linda Ronstadt began recording albums heavily influenced by country. This pop-styled country paved the way for perhaps the most notable artists of the era, including Garth Brooks, George Strait, Reba McEntire and Tim McGraw. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, artists like Sheryl Crow and Carrie Underwood began to gain popularity. Over the last decade, the rise of pop country has brought much popularity to artists such as Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line. These artists, and those alike, make up the current state of country music.

We sat down and chatted with our Director, Steph Ward, and one of our Event Supervisors, Clay Copper, about their opinions on country music as a whole. Read below for the interview, conducted by Erin Diaz, one of the Assistant Directors here at SA.

Q: List your top 5 artists within this genre.

Steph: I have six…I couldn’t narrow it down to five.

  1. Lee Brice - a newer artist, probably my favorite. His “Love Like Crazy” album has been important to me personally.
  2. Sugarland - Jennifer Nettles’ voice is distinct from any other woman in country music. I appreciate her vocals a lot.
  3. George Strait/Tim McGraw - but 90s only. Tim McGraw is not the same now as he was then.
  4. Lady Antebellum
  5. Chris Cagle

Clay:

  1. Willie Nelson - it’s gotta be Willie.
  2. Kris Kristofferson
  3. Johnny Cash
  4. Chris Stapleton - probably the only current artist that I enjoy.
  5. George Strait - but I agree with Steph, 80s/90s was his golden age.

The first three guys I mentioned pioneered the sound of country music when it was more bluegrassy and stripped down. They turned it into something more. They have all been huge influences on blues as well, and I don’t think it's common for a country artist to be a big-time influencer on other genres.

Q: What is your overall opinion of this genre? 

Steph: My overall opinion is that I love and appreciate country music. I think it is completely undervalued. That portion comes from what everyone thinks country music is now, which is more of a pop country where top charts mostly include Florida/Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, etc. That’s how people define country music, but my appreciation roots deeper into years ago. You can’t deny that there is creativity in that type of music, even if you don’t like it.

Clay: I would for the most part agree with that. Unfortunately, when country music comes on the radio it’s probably not going to be something I enjoy. I think a lot of artists today still make country music that has more depth and an old school sound, but they’re harder to find. The style of people like Chris Stapleton isn’t really popular right now. I like blues in general and his is a bluesy country. Old country was something I have always liked because of the heart-heavy lyrics - they’re always heartbroken and complaining about something, which I like. My overall opinion is that I love and hate country music. I really do not like the vast majority of what country music today is, but I still am holding onto hope for the future of the genre.

Steph: Same, Clay. Same.

Q: What specifically about the genre forms your opinion about it?

Steph: One of the things that Clay talked about a little bit in his opinion is something I relate to - I’m a bit of a sap for slower love songs. I think that’s what a lot of classic country was. Music, if you allow it to, can be based on experiences or nostalgia that you feel is related to times in life. I can pinpoint specific moments that I have listened to country music in my life, like when I would go to my aunt and uncle’s house in high school. It was an hour drive there and back and we would listen to country music, and I love getting to think about those memories. I think that’s why the time of country music that I love the most was the 90s, because that’s when I was growing up. I grew up in a small town in Ohio, so maybe everybody expects that of me. Those experiences I had when I grew up formed my love for country music, but this is a broad answer because anybody could relate to feeling this way about a certain style of music.

Clay: My overall opinion is that I like older country music, both because I like it musically but also for the reason of nostalgia - it was played in my home growing up. The new sound of country is cookie-cutter, everything sounds the same. Lyrically, it’s pretty shallow. There is a lot of talk about pick-up trucks.

Steph: Yeah, literally every song is about pick-up trucks. (rolling eyes)

Clay: Steph, I looked up the top country song right now and the first line is actually “baby lay back and relax, kick your pretty feet up on my dash.” Anyway, for the same reason that you like country music because of sentiment, I dislike it because of that. For years I had a built-up hatred for country music because in my small town, everybody loved it. There was a weird stigma that if you didn’t listen to it you were weird. Classic rock? That’s okay, but alternative rock was not accepted. Now, looking back on those people that listened to the genre and dismissed other types of music, it feels like a lot of them are in a place I wouldn’t want to be in when it comes to complacency. Unfortunately, that is something that I associate the genre with.

Q: Where would you like to see this genre go in the future?

Steph: I wish it could return back to the classics. I agree with Clay in that Chris Stapleton is doing that, however there are not enough artists doing it. The problem as to why it can’t happen this way is because technology dilutes music. It’s available to anyone and you can create music so easily. There is positivity and discovery in technology, but it makes it easier for all pop country or music on the radio to sound the same. it seems like anyone who has the desire to “make it" can do it now, and it doesn’t mean you’re good just because you’re on the radio. I want it to go back to the classics - Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson. I don’t know how that happens with a generation that seems turned off to it and more interested in a feel-good, roll my windows down type of music (which in some ways I love, admittedly). 

Clay: I think I’m just different because I don’t always enjoy listening to happy music. Good mood music for me is upbeat rock or pop punk. A lot of people think that because it’s a beautiful day, it’s time for some pop country. But people like Chris Stapleton - that’s what I want to see more of. I also recently came across a song by Courtney Marie Andrews and I listened to it all day yesterday. She’s kind of alternative country, but she’s really good lyrically and she has that country/soul-driven voice. As I’ve stated already, I would like to see the old style come back, but I don’t know if that’s possible. I feel like that’s asking for Def Leppard and Lynyrd Skynyrd to come back. I don’t know what it would look like, but I just want it to get away from that pop sound.

Steph: I thought you loved Florida/Georgia Line - “Cruise”!

Clay: Shhhhh, don’t tell!

Check out our country music playlist on Spotify and let us know your thoughts! Contact us @libertysa on social media or studentactivities@liberty.edu.


June 29 Releases!

June 25, 2018

Music 

Florence + The Machine – High as Hope 

Drake – Scorpion 

The Essex Green – Hardly Electronic 

This week there is music for everyone. If you are in need of some soulful indie rock check out Florence + The Machine’s new album “High as Hope”.  Drake is releasing a NEW album for all you hip-hop lovers. For the fans of psychedelic rock with a pop-flare, The Essex Green will provide you will all the vibes you need with their new album “Hardly Electronic”.

Movies 

Recovery Boys – Netflix Original 

Woman Walks Ahead 

Hover 

If you are a fan of documentaries, Sci-Fi, and drama then these movies will keep you entertained this week, whether you are at home or have a movie pass! 

TV Shows – 6/29

Masters of Illusion (CW)

Churchill’s Secret Agents: The New Recruits – Season 1 (Netflix) 

This week there is a wide variety of TV show releases that will keep you watching all week long! If you are a fan of illusionists then the CW’s Masters of Illusions is for you! For any history enthusiasts or lovers of action and a little drama you don’t want to miss the Netflix original – Churchill’s Secret Agents: The New Recruits. 

Grab a bag of popcorn or your headphones because this week is filled with fresh jams and binge-worthy entertainment. Check with us next week for new weekly releases! 

 

Disclaimer: Student Activities does not explicitly promote the albums/television shows/movies we write about. As always, we seek to engage with and review what is happening in our culture in order to interact with it in a godly manner, which is why we do what we do. For more information about movies/music that we do promote, check out our FAQ page!


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