Album Review – Vessels by Starset

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Several words or phrases can be used to describe the band Starset and their new album Vessels, but the phrase that sticks out the most is ‘out of this world.’ Vessels is their sophomore release following the success of Transmissions in 2014.

For those perhaps unfamiliar with Starset, they are an electronic rock band led by lead singer Dustin Bates, who has a pretty intense interest in astronomy and outer space. Bates, joined by Ron DeChant (bass, keyboard, backing vocals), Brock Richards (guitar and backing vocals) and Adam Gilbert (drums), create an album full of things their fans love, but it’s likely not an album that will appeal to those checking out the band for the first time.

To fall in love with both this album and band, the first thing a listener needs to do is listen with an open mind. It’s a strong album vocally with lyrics that can connect with the listener, and compelling instrumentals. However, if you go in expecting it to be like every other rock album you’ve listened to, you’re expecting the wrong thing.

The album opens with a song titled “The Order,” which immediately grabs the listener’s attention. It’s a short instrumental song lasting only a little over a minute, but it’s one worth listening to and not skipping just because of a lack of lyrics. It’s followed by four songs similar to the sound the previous album gave off, which just entices the listener. “Satellite,” “Frequency,” “Die For You,” and “Ricochet” have that very familiar vibe, which are very enjoyable.

Once you get to “Ricochet,” the tone of the album changes. It becomes more emotional, which admittedly, does sort of begin with “Die For You.” Lyrics like There’s no pain that I won’t go through / Even if I have to die for you in, of course, “Die For You,” highlight a man professing his love, but the album quickly takes a turn. The tone change is one of the many things besides the lyrics that make this album so beautiful.

“Ricochet,” a personal favourite of mine, opens with a very techno/electric sound, and when the lyrics begin, you get the feel of a relationship gone sour. The lyrics You’d hang on every word I’d say / But now they only ricochet are about someone trying to keep their relationship alive, but everything they say gets taken for granted and thrown back in their face. The lyrics are powerful, as with most on the album.

If there’s one complaint to be made with this album, it’s with the song “Into The Unknown,” which is a great song on its own, but this album is meant to tell a story. This particular song just doesn’t fit with the rest.

Beginning with “Last To Fall” on down to “Bringing It Down,” “Unbecoming,” “Monster,” and “Telepathic,” we see the album take another turn to a more angry tone, and less forgiving than in the earlier songs. Some of the songs, particularly “Unbecoming,” have a ballad-like feel to it, while also screaming at the listener, and not grabbing their attention, but stealing it.

The album closes out with a song that can send a shiver down anyone’s spine; “Everglow.” The song is by far the most emotional on the album. It leaves you wondering who hurt Bates, the songwriter and lyricist, because the listener can feel his pain. It’s one of those songs that if you listen closely enough and pay attention to the lyrics, could send a single tear down your face. It’s sad, it’s emotional and it’s truly heartbreaking. The lyrics in the song are so incredibly intimate, it’s impossible to pinpoint just one line as stronger than another.

All in all, this is an album that does not disappoint. With very few weak points, it’s one that begs to be listened to, analyzed and then anaylzed one more time. If you listen to it all the way through in the order it’s meant to be listened to, you’ll understand and likely relate to the story it tells.

Gatlinburg, Tenn. gutted by series of wildfires

A popular tourist town in Tennessee has become the next North American region to be ravaged by wildfires. Gatlinburg, a mountain resort town southeast of Knoxville, has fallen victim to severe fire causing hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their homes.

As of Dec. 8, 14 people have been confirmed dead as a result of the fires.

For more information on the wildfires, check out my Storify.

Millennials: The anti-social generation?

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Photo: WikiMedia

Picture this: You’re on the bus. Maybe you’re coming home from work. Maybe you’re on your way to school. Now, look around. You’re probably looking at a jam-packed bus. There’s probably 40 or 50 people on the bus. Of these 40 to 50 people, about half of them are young adults. Most of those young adults are wearing their headphones and listening to music.

Did you picture it? You probably did because it’s a common sight no matter where you are.

Whether you’re walking through the halls at school, walking through a mall or walking down the street, seeing young people listening to their music and not interacting with other people is a common sight, but why is it that this is more common in the younger generation than with those 40 years old and up?

As a young kid these days, you grow up with your iPods, iPhones and MP3 Players. You’re almost trained to keep to yourself. It’s a millennial thing.

As a 20 something year old, I know this all too well. I grew up in this generation, but I also believe I grew up in the middle of needing to bury my face in a phone to avoid eye contact and the Gen-X way of doing things – having an actual face-to-face conversation.

There’s an easy fix (in theory) to this “anti-social” problem. As young people trying to make it in a working world where we need to gain the respect of our elders, we need to take the headphones out of our ears. We need to take our eyes away from our phone screens and try to hold an actual conversation. It might be scary at first and it might be hard, but we can do it.

And if we can’t? Well, then we also can’t be respected members of society.

How one tweet will haunt Denny Hamlin all offseason

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Photo: NASCAR / Getty Images

NOD, or NASCAR Offseason Disorder, is a term coined by @annoyingracefan on Twitter. The term was first used by the parody account online in 2014, but the use of the phrase has since become popular by all fans and even some drivers on Twitter during the winter.

Denny Hamlin, on the other hand, won’t be using that hashtag throughout his time off.

In a tweet sent last week, Hamlin expressed his disinterest in fans counting down the days to Daytona.

However, the tweet has now spiraled out of control. It became widespread even to those who don’t follow him. The tweet, which wasn’t well-received from many fans, even attracted the attention of some of his fellow competitors, including Brad Keselowski.

I think most fans understand the fact that drivers have a long season. NASCAR has one of the longest seasons of professional sports. Fans (I think) respect the fact that drivers are in need of a relaxing offseason, but that isn’t going to stop them from missing seeing racing on their TVs.

Now, to Hamlin, go ahead and enjoy your offseason. But don’t forget—only 90 days until the Daytona 500.

Meet the drivers racing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup

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Championship contenders Jimmie Johnson (N0. 48) and Joey Logano (No. 22) on the pace laps at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo: Tyson Lautenschlager)

Only a few days remain until the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is decided. Four drivers will be vying for the coveted trophy, but only one gets to take home the hardware.

Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch each have at least one championship to their credit, while title rivals Joey Logano and Carl Edwards are both racing for their first.

For one driver, a championship win on Sunday could make history.

I break down the “Championship 4” below.

https://magic.piktochart.com/embed/18157297-meet-the-drivers-racing-for-the-nascar-sprint-cup

 

Students gather at Queen’s Park to fight tuition fees

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Hundreds of post-secondary students from across the GTA protested at Queen’s Park on Wednesday to fight against high tuition fees in Ontario. (Photo: Tyson Lautenschlager)

By Tyson Lautenschlager and Zachary McGregor

Hundreds of college and university students across Toronto marched towards Queen’s Park on Wednesday with one thing in mind – getting the Ontario government to eliminate tuition fees.

The Canadian Federation of Students’ National Day of Action included more than 35 events across the country.

Gayle McFadden, a representative with the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, was happy with the turnout at Queen’s Park.

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McFadden was proud to see so many students making their voices heard at Queen’s Park. (Photo: Tyson Lautenschlager)

“It’s been especially exciting to see folks from outside Toronto coming here to join our voices together at Queen’s Park, and literally bring free education to their doorstep,” said McFadden

McFadden says the organization has three main demands. They want the government to progressively reduce and eliminate tuition fees, convert student loans into non-repayable grants and eliminate interest from existing student loans.

“Ultimately, we’re fighting for free and accessible education for all,” said McFadden. “We believe that education is a right, and it’s a public good,” she said.

McFadden says Ontario’s high tuition fees are indebting an entire generation of students and robbing many of a post-secondary education.

Although the protest had a robust turnout, Humber’s student government is not a member of the CFS and did not participate.

In the past IGNITE has said protests such as this have no relevance to the issues Humber and University of Guelph-Humber students face.

“We are a very diverse community and the issues we face are much different than those of other college,” said Ammar Abdul-Raheem, IGNITE vice president of Student Life. Organizations such as the CFS seem to have difficulty advocating for Humber as a result of its diversity and uniqueness as an institution.

Ammar has also stated the costs associated with being a member of organizations like the CFS outweigh the benefits.

Despite IGNITE’s refusal to participate in the protest, students across the province continue to struggle paying for their education.

One George Brown College student knows she is already in a hole even before completing her schooling.

“I’m in OSAP debt already,” said Carla Rudberg. “Even before I’ve finished my education, I know I’m going to be stuck paying for this the rest of my life.”

While many college and university students felt the need to protest, they weren’t the only ones at Queen’s Park demanding free education.

“This is important because this is going to be my reality next year,” said high school student Michelle Hopkins. “When I’m choosing universities, I have to think about which ones I can afford when I should be thinking about which ones are going to make me the most beneficial person in society.”

While Premier Kathleen Wynne wasn’t present at the protest, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath was in attendance to talk with students and union leaders

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Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath talked with students and union leaders at the fight for free education (Photo: Tyson Lautenschlager)

“We’re the only party that’s been in this legislature holding the Liberals’ feet to the fire around the rising cost of tuition in this province,” said Horwath.

Ontario has the highest tuition fees in Canada and students are carrying the highest debt loads because of it she said.

“I can tell you I don’t think Patrick Brown and the Conservatives are the answer either. They’ve never asked a question that I can recall about rising tuition fees and the impact it’s having on students,” said Horwath.

Students are often forced to take two or more part-time jobs while still balancing their school work on top of that.

“My education should not cost the same as a down payment on a house,” said Paula Clark, Concurrent Education student at Lakehead University.

But this is often the reality for students paying both their tuition fees and other expenses like rent, food and textbooks.

“Ontario no longer has a public post-secondary education system, we have institutions being funded directly by the public through tuition,” Horwath said.

The CFS will continue lobbying both the provincial and federal governments to lower and eventually eliminate tuition fees.

“This is the largest Student Day of Action we’ve seen in a long time,” McFadden said.

She says students are at their breaking point. They are clearly fed up with high tuition fees, unending debt and demand better.

Where to ‘remember’ across Ontario

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Photo: Tyson Lautenschlager (2015)

Remembrance Day has been recognized in Canada since the early 1930s. It’s a day where Canadians can come together, and remember the men and women who gave their lives in the First World War to serve for their country.

Most communities in Ontario have at least one Remembrance Day ceremony. Many of Ontario’s bigger cities such as Toronto and Ottawa have several, but how is one supposed to know which Remembrance Day ceremony is best? Maybe you’re looking for something new, something unique and different. Maybe you’re looking for something traditional, or maybe you’re looking for the most popular ceremonies.

Whether you’re looking to go off the beaten path, or you just want to know where the best ceremonies are to honour Canada’s heroes, look no further.