Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An old favorite returns with a familiar, nostalgic feel

Originally published in the October 19, 2011 issue of the Coast Report.
Written by Chris Rashidian, Staff Writer

Blink-182's latest album, “Neighborhoods,” disappoints with an inconsistent mix of pop-punk and adult alternative genres peppered with a little Vans Warped Tour nostalgia.

“What’s my age again?” was the question asked in 1999 by the world-renowned group that now appears middle-aged and confused.

Yes, we remember their wild and crazy energy combined with plenty of poop jokes and juvenile love, but we eventually grow up. It is alright to change your music style. In essence, it is what makes an artist grow.

As their first album released in over eight years, “Neighborhoods” was treading on new territory while still trying to keep it’s youthful appeal. Yes, I do remember listening to them back in elementary and middle school, but music styles change, and change can be a bad thing.

I felt almost as disappointed with this album as I did when Radiohead released “In Rainbows” after their hiatus from “Hail to the Thief.”

Tom DeLonge, guitarist and vocalist for Blink-182, left the band to pursue his own dream with a group called Angels and Airwaves in 2005 just as Blink guitarist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker formed their group, +44. But in 2009, at the 51st Grammy Awards, they all appeared on stage together for the first time in five years and said that they are back, picking up where they left off.

After listening to “Neighborhoods” many times in its entirety, it did sound like they picked up where they left off. Sure, it may grow on me like “In Rainbows” eventually did, but in the eight years they spent in hiatus I expanded my musical tastes and moved on.

Nostalgia is a very tricky element that artists can employ because it has the ability to be a double-edged sword. The way that Blink-182 utilized that aspect for their album repelled me away from recommending it to friends.

In all, their new album is not going to reach the popularity that their previous ones did, but if they have the courage experiment with different styles, hopefully their next album won't disappoint.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spin Master

Originally published in the May 11, 2011 issue of the Coast Report
By Stephanie Mendez, Staff Writer

Frustrated with the music scene in Orange County, one Orange Coast College student took matters into his own hands last year and decided to spin what he loved.

Victor Arellano, a 19-year-old undecided major at OCC, went out and purchased his first set of DJ equipment, adopted the stage name Mr. Smith and started a musical journey that has placed him on the bill at raves including Electro Kandy and the Elevation Festival.

“One of the things that really prompted me to do this was local DJs playing at the clubs and parties I would go to. They all played the same shit and it was so annoying,” Arellano said.

As Arellano became better acquainted with his equipment, he also realized what genres of music interested him the most.

“When I first got my equipment, my main focus was fidget, electro house. But as time went on and I got even more into the music, I started to acquire different tastes. Nowadays I spin minimal and tech house. I have a passion for this music that far surpasses what I did for electro and fidget,” Arellano said.

Tony Olivarez, better known as Dins Rendezvous, is a promoter for Rendezvous Events who was so impressed by Arellano that he decided to hire him as a main act.

“He was extremely passionate about music and he had a great taste for quality music. Furthermore, he sent me a link to one of his tracks one day and after I listened to it I knew I had to book him,” Olivarez said.

Arellano credits a few music classes at OCC for his ability to fully understand and facilitate his skill as a DJ.

“I’ve taken two music classes at OCC -- business in music and music theory. They both have actually helped me in my little musical journey. My business in music teacher went over promoters and what they do and how they work,” Arellano said. “It helped me out because I work with promoters all the time and have actually done a little promotional work, too.

Arellano’s experience with music traces back to his adolescence.

“I used to play bass. It was my main focus before I started this whole DJ thing. I was in a punk band for the longest time but things were off and on so I called it quits,” he said. “I also played trumpet for nine years in school. Did the whole marching band thing and everything.”

Joel De Santiago, a 19-year-old Santa Ana College student and electronic dance music enthusiast, said DJ Mr. Smith’s music selection attracts people to events and performances.

“Mr. Smith's live mixes definitely appeal to a crowd that leans more towards the electronic dance music scene in Orange County,” De Santiago said. “So much that he’s even getting known more in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties for his progressive house, techno sets.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Clips of the Week May 11: The Art of Turntablism

On the front page of this week's Coast Report, we have a profile of DJ Mr. Smith, a 19-year-old student at OCC, who was fed up with what local DJs were playing.

Even the current trends in electronic music are stale, but here are some clips of two of the greatest and most influential turntablists ever.

Chinese-Canadian, Eric San, better known as Kid Koala, has worked with the likes of Gorillaz and Deltron 3030. In the art of turntablism, there are so many techniques and nuances, that the genre can sometimes be hard to appreciate to the casual music fan. That is what makes Koala special - his ability to bring in the entertainment value (check out 2000's Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)

Watch him scratch out a trumpet solo with his scratching techniques above.

There is no turntablist album more important than DJ Shadow's Entroducing.... Using cut and paste techniques, Josh Davis, who was raised in suburban California, pieced together samples, and pulled from lost and forgotten vinyl, creating a dreamy haze that not only serves as a history lesson, but an innovation for popular music.

This is a live performance of one of his more popular tracks, "Organ Donor."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Special Clip of the Week April 28: Coast Report fighting for funds

The Associated Students of Orange Coast College Fiscal Affairs Committee has proposed that the Coast Report will receive eight percent of what was requested for next year's budget at $750.

This budget covers three conferences that the Coast Report attends every year.

As the features editor of the Coast Report, I attended my first JACC in Sacramento this year, and the experience was invaluable. It would be a robbery and disservice to students if the conferences are taken away.

So, theres only one thing to do.