Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Saturday, June 22, 2024 — Houston, TX

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Rockin' the Broch

(03/20/09 12:00am)

Interviewing one of your favorite artists can be nerve-wracking, to say the least. Interviewing Ben Kweller seemed especially intimidating to me for a few reasons.Kweller, whose awesome record Sha Sha was released my freshman year of high school, was the guy a lot of the "cool kids" listened to. He seemed to be their soundtrack for what I imagined to be the crazy weekends filled with parties and drinking, occuring while I stayed at home, listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter, riding horses and reading. In my mind, I had set his personality as one of those popular kids: polite, but well aware of the fact that they're cooler than you'll ever be.

Professor leaves long legacy of kindness

(11/14/08 12:00am)

Over the past week, I heard all the amazing things that Hispanic Studies Professor James Castañeda accomplished in his lifetime. They read like the accomplishments of not one great man, but of five or six. Some of the highlights include playing for the Baltimore Orioles, Cordele and Real Madrid, being decorated by King Juan Carlos I for his scholarly contributions to studies of Spain and spending 47 years as a professor at Rice. That's probably more than twice your age, and is almost half of the time that Rice has been around. In addition, he also served 21 years as a Rice baseball coach and 15 years as a Rice golf coach, during which the team attended the NCAA tournament three years in a row. He also published five books, numerous articles, 52 book reviews and accepted over 80 speaking engagements, and he worked with countless committees that helped push Rice forward both academically and athletically. Do you see why it is almost impossible to imagine what Rice University would be like without him?

Prepare to relax in The National's post-election glow

(11/07/08 12:00am)

For the past month, red, white and blue have covered everything around me. I don't respond well to anything that's shoved down my throat, including elections, and come late fall, compulsory patriotism in the form of flags, American eagles and the words "vote," "maverick" and "change" seem to have replaced the flu as the thing I can't escape.Perhaps that is why I waited so long to listen to The National, the internationally acclaimed indie band playing at the All Rice Picnic today in celebration of Homecoming. Their name sounds so uber-American I wasn't sure how much I'd be able to handle as the election drew closer. While I'd watched a fair share of their YouTube videos and read their Wikipedia article, my exploration of their identity came nowhere near my usual Pitchfork/Spin/Vice/Paste/Rolling Stone review-reading obsession, which involves gauging what the rest of the world thinks of a band and trying to marry those ideas to my own.

The Kooks' Konk will give you cool kicks

(05/16/08 12:00am)

Sometimes, you just want a band that you know will make you smile. A band that makes you feel like you're driving to the beach with the windows down. The Kooks are that band for me. With bouncing rhythm, dreamy English vocals and catchy lyrics, they are exactly what I needed after a few days of locking myself in the library. Their sophomore album, out last month, is named after the studio where they recorded: Konk Studio, founded by the Kinks. The album is a grown-up, relaxed version of their first album. While they don't pull out any new tricks, their sound is much tighter and more pulled together. The quality of the recording has improved immensely and you can tell that the absence of their original bassist hasn't hurt them much at all. They've grown up and stayed young, and it shows.The album begins with a slow fade-in on "See the Sun," with a little acoustic guitar and Luke Pritchard on slow vocals. At first, the amusing lyrics and simple style make me wonder if I have made a mistake. Am I listening to the new Pete Doherty album? Slowly, the album builds to the Kooks I know and love. Bouncy beats, fun hooks and, oh, those dreamy accents. I'm smiling. As I listen to this album, I know it's not the best technically or the most original, but my foot is tapping, and I have a huge grin on my face. The Kooks follow with an intoxicating dance song called "Always Where I Need to Be," which is made much richer by some experimental vocals and an invigorating bass. "Mr. Maker," the third track, brings up memories of the absurd anecdotal songs of The Beatles. This might be the best track on the album. Its simplistic chorus weaves with highly perceptive verses to make it certainly notable, if not memorable.

Sophomore slump: Panic at the Disco and The Raconteurs show that springtime growth should not mean uprooting

(03/28/08 12:00am)

Yesterday, both Panic at the Disco and The Raconteurs released their sophomore efforts, and in my excitement, I bought them both. As a way early Christmas present to myself, I first opened Pretty.Odd., the beautiful Panic at the Disco album, drawn to the gorgeous nineteenth-century-style cover, thick with flowers and butterflies.As the first song, "We're So Starving," came on, I remembered why I love them so much. It's not because they're indie-cool (because they're not). It's not because they're technically the best musicians (because they're not). It is because of their fast, upbeat, fresh sound, a sound that evokes smiles even when the lyrics are filled with prostitutes, adultery and sleazy hotels. Unfortunately, as the album continued, I realized that these snarky pop kids seem to have thrown out their old sound for something much sunnier and, sadly, much more boring.