Shoddy Journalism (part 2)


Scene writers Matt McMahon, Erin McAuliffe, Kelly McGarry, Adam Ramos and Sam Fentress cast judgment on albums based on their covers.

Albums include: “Mending Wall” by Angst, “Potted Meat Spread” by Spongehead, “Are You Ready for Freddy” by Fat Boys, “Sunburst Finish” by Be-Bop Deluxe and “Crippled Children Suck” by The Meatmen.

Listen and subscribe on iTunes here. You can also listen live every Thursday at 6 p.m. on WVFI.



Shoddy Journalism (part 1)


Erin McAuliffe — “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”

45c12b8d-0ba7-47a4-b7af-71ab940bc920Erin McAuliffe | The Observer

Judgment: Both the giant hot air balloon head and title draw comparisons to Sacha Baron Cohen. Also, this book is a screenplay. These things considered, I am pretty sure I found one of Cohen’s long-lost characters.  From the blonde braided rattail in contrast to his gray rolled wig, the photoshopped tooth twinkle and the ship hanging from the handlebars of his mustache, this head was made for Cohen.

Supporting characters include the girl in a blue nightgown hanging from the ship’s anchor (serious “Shining” vibes), the little person in Beetlejuice stripes and the guy in a Ronald McDonald suit with chains around his ankles.

The multitude of cannonballs, various wartime costumes and the city up in smoke in the background portray the book’s central conflict: war. However, the floating head balloon, the golden sun idol and the curtains that frame the scene add an air of surreal absurdity, again convincing me that Cohen misplaced this screenplay while visiting the ninth floor of Hesburgh. Continue reading

Frankie Cosmos moves onto ‘Next Thing’


Graphic c/o Lindsey Meyers

At the Art Institute of Chicago, there is a tea kettle that would overflow if filled by a medicine dropper and a clock smaller than its pocket-sized brethren.

People peer into the 68 tiny tableaus of The Thorne Miniature Rooms and see minute details painstakingly crafted in constraint. Standing in front of the glassed-in art works, there is a surprising sense of immersion: a dollhouse-esque nostalgia in the breadth of the elaborate, condensed scenes.

“Next Thing” contains 15 songs. It is 28-minutes long. Frankie Cosmos’ sophomore album, released April 1, mirrors Narcissa Niblack Thorne’s intimately intricate art. The Thorne Miniature Rooms were constructed on a scale of one inch to one foot between 1932 and 1940. However, while Thorne instructed master craftsmen to carry out her specifications, Greta Kline (Frankie Cosmos) is a DIY artist.

With over 40 tracks on her Bandcamp profile in 2013, Kline, then 19 years-old, was mastering unconstrained experimentation via fragmented songs and involved lyricism. Vulture named Kline’s 2014 18-minute debut album “Zentropy” the Best Pop Album of 2014. She addresses the pressure the acclaim added to the development process of “Next Thing” (her self-awareness affirmed by the title) on track “I’m 20:” “Washed up already,” she croons before examining her thought process behind consumerism and corporate America via the time she accepted a MySpace pen from a recruiter.

Kline is able to strip down the heavy into relatable airy pop tracks that clock in under two minutes. She has the power to make small things seem deceivingly big and big things accessible. The concept is perfectly depicted in the Pitchfork produced music video for track “Outside With The Cuties.”

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Frances Luke Accord to play Lakeside, LangLab — but not Legends


As an inconsistent South Bend spring breeze rolled through the windows, Brian Powers of Frances Luke Accord talked about his band and their upcoming album, tour and South Bend shows over the steady tick of his flashers in a black, five-seater car parked illegally in Library Circle.

Brian Powers and Nicholas Gunty formed Frances Luke Accord during their senior year at Notre Dame. They played a secret show with fellow Chicago-via-South Bend act Ratboys at Bond Hall that year, along with frequent performances at AcoustiCafe and Legends … until they didn’t.

“We got banned from Legends, actually,” Powers admitted, pulling at the zipper on his worn navy hoodie. Their senior year, the duo opened for Girl Talk at SUB’s now retired B1 Block Party concert series (a lineup that is painful to acknowledge with the recent announcement of The All-American Rejects for this year’s spring show).

Powers babysat contributing violinist Christian Rougeau during Powers’ freshman year at Notre Dame. Although Rougeau was significantly younger than Powers, the two started to play music together. Rougeau’s family moved to Boston while Powers was still at Notre Dame, but they flew him back to play Girl Talk’s opening set.

“Since it was his first time back in South Bend after moving, he wanted to invite all his high school buddies to hangout with him — he’s a 17 year-old. The Block Party was 18 and up, so we snuck all of his friends in with our backstage passes. Continue reading

The future oldies

“I guess this was like an anti-war song — I just thought it was about sunshine!” the DJ for 103.7 “The Treasure Coast’s Oldies Station” states as I roll my eyes and peel my thighs from the hot, sticky leather backseat of my grandparents’ minivan. We’re on our way to the local suburban Olive Garden but are currently lost on a grandma-mandated Christmas light detour.

“Do you know the band The Who?” my grandpa asks me without turning around from the passenger seat as the DJ spins “My Generation.”

Feeling patronized by the question, I say yes — affirming the music tastes of my generation as he circles the parking lot waiting for a handicap spot to open up.

Musing over my grandpa’s innocently-conversational but pointed question, I think about my “Autumnal Hymns” playlist featuring songs by The Smiths, The Cure and Depeche Mode copied over from my dad’s iTunes library on our “Home Sharing” network. I sprinkled these songs amongst Bon Iver, The Shins and Kanye West to curate a collection transcending decades and genres. I was inspired by individuality and personal tastes, not tradition or musical continuity. The only sense of time that mattered was keeping the list under 90 minutes so I could burn it onto a CD to play in my car. Continue reading

SceneCast: Comedy Central and late-night TV

In the midst of March Madness, Matt McMahon, Erin McAuliffe and Adam Ramos take on late-night and “other-time” TV (like Comedy Central’s “Idiotsitter”). In a time of abundant niche TV content and real-time comedic commentary via Reddit and Twitter, will late-night come to adapt its traditional end of the week/night model? This is Scene’s call-to-action.

Listen and subscribe to Scenecast on iTunes here. You can also listen live every Thursday at 6 p.m. on WVFI.

Ratboys returning to South Bend


Graphic c/o Susan Zhu

Ratboys’ lo-fi sweet sound emanates from Notre Dame alums Julia Steiner (’14) and Dave Sagan (’15) alongside Will Lange and Pat Kennedy on their album “AOID,” released in June 2015 under Topshelf Records. They will be performing at McCormick’s this Thursday at 10 p.m. I talked to Julia Steiner, vocals and guitar, in a phone interview Monday.

From her eleventh day on the road of their current tour, Steiner reflected on recent performances.

“We went down to South by Southwest but didn’t play any of the official shows, which was cool because we got to avoid the crowds and chaos,” she said. “The Topshelf show was really fun in Austin, [Texas], we got to play for the guys that run our label and we never really get to see them — they live in San Diego. And there was free La Croix so that was dope. And we played with this band The Enemies that I’m obsessed with … We also go to play a skate shop in Wichita, [Kansas]. It was actually the first day it was open, so that was pretty special.”


Ratboys performing at Topshelf’s SXSW showcase | Photo c/o Jim Vondruska

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Scenecast: BroadCast


Scene writers Matt McMahon, Adam Ramos, Erin McAuliffe and Sam Fentress discuss their spring break media consumption plans on this episode of SceneCast. The “broad” range of topic span TV (“The Venture Bros.”/ “Man Seeking Woman”/ “Broad City”), music (Miguel/Charli XCX/jazz recos) and film (“Knight of Cups” and Terrence Malick — “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Goon”?).

Listen and subscribe on iTunes here. You can also listen live every Thursday at 6 p.m. on WVFI.

The characters of ‘The Characters’


Graphic c/o Lauren Weldon

What do you get when you give eight comedians creative free reign and Netflix’s budget and platform? “The Characters,” an eight episode sketch-based comedy series (with set-ups much better than this one) was released March 11.

Netflix has sponsored stand-up specials before, but this series sees the platform investing in comedy at an even more involved level. Where the stand-up sets they’ve hosted before stand alone, the project works as a collection of comedians and content united in hilarity but not much else. The format is conducive to a wine tasting, a deviation from the normal Netflix binge model. The sampling encourages discernment, ranking and an open mind.

Each of the episodes starts out with a tracking shot at a microphone poised in front of an empty audience and travels backstage to the central comedian’s dressing room door, where it lapses into a March Madness bracket-esque title sequence — perhaps the formatting is meant to prompt viewers to select a winner from the contest of episodes.

Touted as sketch comedy, the show’s stars took unique approaches to the vague outlines. From Henry Zebrowski’s “A Christmas Carol”-esque character visitation bits to Dr. Brown’s episode filmed in an Iñárritu-inspired single tracking shot where he shuffles amongst three varied characters via fluid costume changes, the show pushes boundaries and conventions. Each comedian was able to develop a wide range of developed characters. Multiplied by eight, “The Characters” provides ample material for spin-offs. Continue reading