by Brett Stewart

When it was announced David Bowie would be releasing extra tracks to ‘The Next Day’, I was immediately sent into a state of heavy anticipation. Now, that deluxe set has been out for awhile, and it seemed about the right time to tackle the review of the extra tracks. Plus, it’s David Bowie’s birthday, so, why not?

While I won’t be directly addressing the first cut tracks on ‘The Next Day’, I will say that the album may be the most evocative, thought provoking piece of musical genius of last year. It’s a masterpiece in it’s own regard. But, I want to focus on the extra tracks, so, being an in depth review, let’s take a look at them one by one:

Atomica:

‘The Next Day’ is a tad longer than the standard album at fourteen tracks, which may be why some of these extra tracks never made the cut, but if Bowie had been feeling generous, Atomica would have made the cut. This track is on par, and even possibly better, than some of the tracks on the actual album. It’s catchy, the heavy guitar riffs are some of the most fun rock n’ roll intricacies Bowie has produced. This is the kind of music you can blast driving down the street at full volume, and not look like an idiot.

Love is Lost - Hello Steve Reich Mix:

On it’s own, ‘Love is Lost’ may be one of the strongest tracks on ‘The Next Day.’ However, this extra mix may reduce some of that grandiere. It’s tracks like this that always make me wary of artsy song remixes, because to be blunt, it took a wonderful song and made it monotonous and even a bit frustrating. The mix employs the use of lots of people clapping the different beats drowned out behind echoey Bowie lyrics. It’s a neat idea… for the first three or four minutes. At over ten minutes, this mix is far too long. It quickly slides from an artsy, potentially interesting take on a song, into, “Why the hell have I been listening to people clap for ten minutes?”

Plan:

I’m not quite sure what makes this track stronger, the fact it’s a very good instrumental, or the fact that it has a clear direction, it’s concise, and interesting, unlike the previous mix. The contrast is immediately apparent, and one can’t help but be thankful for that. ‘Plan’ sounds like an instrumental off of ‘Heroes’ - the album ‘The Next Day’ so cleverly obscures as the album art. It’s fluid, interesting, and it ends when it needs to end without dragging.

The Informer:

Like ‘Atomica’, ‘The Informer’ is a remarkably strong track, perhaps too strong for the extra reel. For whatever reason, though, this is where it ended up, and we can be glad it did. It’s a great song and builds stronger and stronger as it progresses, with unique riffs and tidbits that elevate the track to level of intelligence. Ever since I first heard ‘Ziggy Stardust’, Bowie has continued to amaze me in how he can intellectually pull me into a song, not just through the lyrics, but through the music and the production of it all. ‘The Informer’ does that magnificently.

I’d Rather Be High - Venetian Mix

I’ll be concise- it’s the same song with a bit more of a bubbly filter. Moving on. (But, it is a wonderful track. It’s just not special to the ‘extra’ offerings, due to it’s heavy resemblance to it’s official counterpart.)

Like A Rocket Man:

I strongly believe that this track should have been included on the original album. From the first note of ‘Like A Rocket Man’, you know something weird and zany is about to go down. This wonderful track is the most youthful sounding song on all of the content available for ‘The Next Day.’ With the acoustic guitar barely coherent in the very backdrop of the soundscape as Bowie hops into his head voice for wacky choruses, it’s a track directly from the soul of Ziggy Stardust.  On top of it all, it’s got quite a kick ass guitar solo towards the end of the track.

Born in a UFO:

Riding the wave of youth and celestial inspirations left by ‘Like A Rocket Man’, ‘Born in a UFO’ is a fun track. It’s got the signature David Bowie ‘stars and space’ sound, and like the previous track, it also sounds like a blast of 1972. The strength of the electric guitar solos culminates and resides in the latter half of the track, and it’s even got some star-like synths clicking around beneath the instruments. Bowie’s youthfulness at 67 is pretty apparent here.

I’ll Take You There:

“What will be my name in the USA/What will I become in the USA/ hold my hand and I will take you there!’ the track proclaims as Bowie dual-harmonizes with himself on the verses. At first, this song sounded a bit too similar to the rest of the content to be significant to me, but a key change at the bridge, followed by the catchy, sing-along chant-style chorus brought me right back in. It sounds a bit like the title track of the album, but in a good way.

God Bless The Girl:

The acoustic guitar! It still exists! I was beginning to worry. As much as I love Bowie’s employment of a mass amount of over the top production on this album, it’s wonderful to hear that familiar acoustic sound. The acoustic eventually fades though, reminding me of ‘Rock n’ Roll Suicide.’ The song tells the story of a girl named Jackie, who seems to be in a rough spot. She’s aiming for the stars, but landing in the clouds. But, she turns light into darkness for Bowie, so he heavy announces his intentions for her. Halfway through the track, we enter a very cool sing-along ‘oooh’ section. It’s not overly complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s fun - so why not?

So She:

Entering the track with a uniquely interesting guitar riff, followed quickly by melodic synths and pianos, this track builds straight into your heart when it gets going. Utilizing a stringed section halfway through, this track really builds beautifully. It’s the most melodic of the extra additions to ‘The Next Day’ - which is good, because the rest are a bit more rock oriented.

These extras are remarkably strong to be called ‘extras’. They could easily be additions to the original tracks of the album, and I’ve made myself a playlist to allow them to be so. Considering that it’s eight new songs, all of which are very strong, along with one bad mix and a rehash… this is pretty damn good for a deluxe set. We’re lucky to get one or two good tracks from these kind of things, but Bowie’s provided us a little mini-album to add to the current masterpiece. It’s especially nice, because the content all connects very, very well. It’s one of the most fluid, interesting records I’ve ever listened to from start to finish. Holding off on these tracks for a new album would have been a shame, because they’re too similar to separate from the original work. This is why David Bowie is so great - he gives you a wonderful album, and then months later gives you the second half that he liked a bit less, apparently. Check this one out, it’s worth your time.




Hello,

To begin, let us wish you a very merry Christmas, and a wonderful holiday. We hope that all of our readers are taking time away from their busy lives this week to be with family and friends.

This post is to announce that the final issue of Strike Magazine, which was initially slated for the end of December, has now been moved to the end of January. 

The events at Arapahoe High School coincided with the week of deadline meetings and work nights for Strike Magazine staffers. With that said, we were unable to have that time to work, and a good deal of our staff needs time to recuperate and relax before setting back into our final publication. We know that our readers and advertisers will be very understanding of this.

As always, thank you for your continued support of Strike Magazine. We are very excited to release the final issue, and we are positive that our readers will love it.

The Very Best,

Brett Stewart - Editor & Publisher 

Hello,

I’ve found myself having difficulty dealing with the events that happened only a week ago, like many Arapahoe students. I found myself today looking at my AHS shirt, with our ‘Fight Song’ printed on the back. 

I decided I wanted to write a new fight song, using the old one as a template. I also decided to write it as a folk song, because a folk song is never new, but never old. It’s reassuring, and always there. 

Normally when I record a song, I operate under a sort of ‘Go Big, Go Home’ mentality, utilizing all sorts of instruments and people. That didn’t feel right for this, though. This felt like it just needed one guitar, so that’s what I did.

I apologize ahead of time for my voice not being where it usually is, I have a very sore throat this afternoon. I suppose inspiration strikes at odd times, and you just have to run with it regardless. 

Below are the lyrics and link to the song.

The Song: https://soundcloud.com/undergroundoceans/a-new-arapahoe-fight-song

-

Hold strong, Arapahoe

May you stay courageous and brave wherever you go.

Stay bold, black and gold.

Even when you grow old.

-

Arapahoe, we sing to thee

A symbol of love, you’ll always be.

To the hearts of the wounded

And to the souls of the ragged.

-

Though we may grow old

We’ll always bleed black and gold

May we stay here together

Holding our hearts to the wind

Again and again.

-

The road from here looks dark and dangerous

But I know that if we all go together

It’ll be much less perilous

-

I know it’s too dark to find the light

But if we leave now

We can catch the light of the stars,

Tonight.

-

Though we may grow old

We’ll always bleed black and gold

May we stay here together

Holding our hearts to the wind

Again and again.

-

Let us pray for those who are in pain.

And let us pray for those, who can’t find their way out of the rain.

-

I hope that we’ll stay here forever, to sing this song.

And I hope that we’ll stay forever young.

-

Though we may grow old

We’ll always bleed black and gold

May we stay here together

Holding our hearts to the wind

Again and again.

 -

From Brett Stewart

Today, I was sitting in my fifth hour psychology class when it happened. At first, it sounded like someone had dropped a heavy book. Then the sound came again. It took my class a moment to realize that gunshots had been fired less than a hundred feet from where we were. Our teacher immediately locked the door, turned down the lights, and had everyone get on one wall. Pepper Spray in hand, she crouched at the door lying in wait for any possible threat. God bless her.

After the shots, you could hear screams down the hall. “He ran that way!” “He has a gun!” Sobbing students in my class began to face their own mortality, questioning who the shooter was, would he come for us, and if he did, would he shoot us? Over the course of thirty minutes, sirens, flashing lights, screaming and loud footsteps thundered throughout the campus. Entire SWAT teams rushed onto the scene within ten minutes and tactically pushed through the halls shouting “Blue!” or “Clear!” when a room was clear. In hindsight, we now know that the last shot heard must have been the self-inflicted death of the shooter, but at the time, it was absolutely terrifying, because all of the screaming made it sound as if the incident was prolonged much, much longer.

Eventually, men with guns slammed on our door and directed us out of the room. Leaving my phone, keys, and jacket, (which I would later regret in the cold Colorado weather) I was ushered out of the room by legions of police. They made us put our hands over our heads, and they frisked some students, which is understandable, considering at this point in time they weren’t aware of the extent of the threat.

You know that scene in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ on the beaches of Normandy where Tom Hanks is in a haze, watching all of the carnage and destruction in slow motion, without any audio? That’s what it felt like when we crossed the street to take refuge at a nearby church. Students screaming, crying, frantically looking for friends, calling parents and huddling together. When I walked across Dry Creek, it felt like I was walking into a war zone.

Immediately I was in a crazed mind set. I needed to find my best friend. I needed to find the people I cared about most. On the verge of tears, I painfully pushed my way through hundreds of students in an effort to find them. Later, I would find out they had been evacuated to a different area, but having no phone, I couldn’t confirm it. I eventually found the girl I was searching so desperately to find, and I don’t think I had ever been more relieved, or hugged anyone harder.

The church was a chaotic mess. We were in a large gymnasium when they started calling out names, trying to get kids to their parents. Teachers were running back and forth with makeshift sign-off sheets attempting to secure students a safe passage home. Hours in the gym went by, with rumors circulating at an ever increasing rate. Was there a bomb? Was anyone dead? Who was shot?

I know who did the shooting. And I have an idea of who was shot. But I don’t plan on writing about that here, because, one, I don’t want to cause any issues for law enforcement and their confidentiality, and two, that’s not why I’m writing this. All I have to say on the matter, is that I knew the shooter, which made the matter more painful. Was I friends with the shooter? No. But that doesn’t change the fact that I knew him. I had interacted with this student. I had been in classes with the student that would later alter all of our lives in a chaotic hell-storm. That’s a big realization.

Sitting in that gym, I found it somewhat interesting that a giant mural of Jesus was staring down at us, with an ever-so-reassuring Bible quote. I found myself frustrated at it. “Well, Jesus, where the hell are you now?” was my initial thought. But then I realized he, or whatever deity or mystical force of faith you believe in, was indeed there.

He was there in the form of our teachers. Of our students. Of the churches, businesses and parents who immediately came to our aid. I hold my teachers in higher regard than I ever have in my life, and will never forget my admiration and thankfulness for how well they handled the situation. The police arrived in a timely fashion, and despite the horrible news of the injuries, it could have been much worse. It could have been Columbine.

At the same time, though, how does one go back to school now? I felt safe before. How does Arapahoe reassure me I’m allowed to feel like that again? An administrator once told me that there were only a handful of blind spots our high-tech cameras couldn’t pick up on the campus. But that didn’t stop the shooter from walking in the same west entrance I walk into five days a week. Where do we go from here? Do you install metal detectors? Put another police officer on the campus at all times? I’m not blaming Arapahoe or saying they did anything wrong, in fact, Arapahoe did everything right. The question still remains, though, how do you prevent the same thing from happening again?

Hours later, my best friend arrived at the gym, and thankfulness and gratitude washed over me. I felt like I had finally found my brother in the panic of this terrible, terrible day. He’s not my real brother, of course, but he might as well be. His girlfriend also arrived, and broke into tears as they embraced. I’m not trying to sound cheesy here, but it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. These two students who loved each other very much, who had been together for so long and through so much, to finally be safe and together after all of it.

Arapahoe didn’t deserve this. The students who were hurt didn’t deserve this. But we were presented with a challenge today. We faced that challenge. I don’t have over-excessive school pride. As a matter of fact, I regularly feel outcasted from my school’s community and there’s only a select group of people I have really bonded with. Today, though, we were all together. No matter how much we may not like a person, or how often we’ve had bad thoughts about someone… we didn’t want to see any of those people hurt today. Today, I hugged people I never thought I’d hug. I felt thankful and relieved to see anyone safe, regardless of whether or not I’d even met them before.

Arapahoe will continue to stand, just as Columbine did, and it’s by the grace of our local law enforcement and teachers that we won’t have to suffer as severe of a blow. As a musician, I wrote a song called ‘Under Our Blood Red Skies’ reflecting on the tragedies of 9/11, Sandy Hook, Columbine, and countless other unspeakable acts. I wrote that song over a year ago, and I went back and listened to it again tonight. I never wanted that song to be as painstakingly relevant to me personally as it was today, because today, we were living under blood red skies. We changed those skies today, though. We changed them from blood red to gold and black. Not just black. And certainly not blue. Everything today was gold and black. Arapahoe Warriors, take care of one another.


Two years ago when ‘The Hunger Games’ was released, I reviewed it for my school’s newspaper. Soon after that, I started Strike and left said newspaper, but with that said, my ‘Hunger Games’ review was one of the few, if not only pieces that I was able to create a level of impact with. Two years later, the follow up ‘Catching Fire’ has been released, so I thought it apt that I return to review that as well.

Before proceeding, let it also be said that my knowledge of the ‘Hunger Games’ universe is limited at best. I have never read the books. Before you throw your hands in the air and proclaim my insignificance in reviewing this title, consider that I am reviewing it purely from a theatrical standpoint, along with it’s correlation to the previous film. My understanding of those who have read the books, is that they spend their time entangled with “what the movies changed and/or did wrong.” I cannot enter that argument, so at the end of the day, my opinion of the film, on the basis of itself, is probably more valid as a result.

In my original review, I cited that “The ‘Hunger Games’ has the potential to be the next big craze following the Harry Potter series.” I no longer think that may be the case. ‘Catching Fire’ attempts to progress the story of dystopian future bousquie revolution (original, right?) in all the wrong ways. So, let’s dig into it.

Well, there’s a lot to dig into, actually. Why? Because this movie is too damn long. It spends the first half of the film meandering around the futuristic society throwing engagement parties for characters and building meaningless character relationships that are never actually concluded or addressed further in the film. Half the film is just Katniss and Peeta flying around on a futuristic light-rail system causing pseudo-revolutionary undertones to arise within the districts. Okay, that’s great that the future has revolutionized the light rail and RTD transportation, but let’s put the kids in the arena so we can get some action on screen. Let’s face it, that’s where the real plot develops, anyway.

Let me express my frustration at this weird love triangle with Katniss, Peeta and Gale. I’m sick of it, to be frank. Katniss, you have stereotypical “farmer boy back home” with Gale, and then you have Peeta, who is actually a pretty awesome dude who treats you with respect despite you constantly using him as your rug. You say that your “love” for Peeta is purely theatrical, and then you get back into the arena, and there you go again! I’m not buying that it’s theatrical this time, because at this point, Katniss has made it abundantly clear she’s given up on the theatrics of the whole event in the first place. Katniss has clearly come to the conclusion that you need to ruffle some feathers to fly, and at this point in the story, this mockingbird has already flown the coop. So that makes the love triangle all the more confusing, especially to someone like me who doesn’t have the book to fall back on.

The ending of this film was remarkably anti-climactic. It was like I waited four hours in line to ride Splash Mountain, got in the log, chugged my way up to the top, and now there’s a ride malfunction, so I don’t get to go down that fun drop at the end. Instead they are now they are reversing me back through the ride. The entire movie hints at a revolution, and then at the end of the film, they just throw it in your face without giving you anything. In order to have a cliffhanger, at least, an effective one, you need to give viewers something to attempt to piece it together themselves. I think the best way to play out my confusion of the end of this film, is to just play out a simulated dialogue for you from inside my head:

"Wait. What? Woody Harrelson is in cahoots with the bad guy from Mission Impossible 3? And now he’s also a good guy? Or are they bad guys? I guess they’re starting a revolution. Where’s Peeta? It’s eluded to me that something happened to him, but you aren’t telling me anything. Second thought, why should I care? Peeta doesn’t progress the plot at all. Now that I think about it, what DOES Peeta do?! I’m so confused. Now they knocked Katniss out before even hinting at explaining any of this, and the movie’s over. What the hell just happened?”

You can see my frustration. Let’s move on.

Now, I don’t want you to walk away thinking I absolutely hated this movie. I didn’t. The effects were splendid, the plot development that happened in the arena actually made sense, discarding everything outside of it, and as always, the fights were pretty cool. In fact, I think the last half of the movie is pretty wonderful, discounting the anti-climactic ending.

I think the reason ‘Catching Fire’ frustrated me, is because it went in the opposite direction I wanted the film to go. It spent way too long on things that didn’t matter, and way too little on the things that did. I think the next movie is going to be absolutely awesome, because it’ll be forced to fill in all the gaps that this one left.

I have to rescind my previous comment two years ago, that this may become the new Harry Potter, because even though I’m not the biggest Potterhead, Harry never left me after a movie feeling like I did with ‘Catching Fire.’ Harry Potter understood how to end a film to make it interesting, while still maintain my excitement for the next film. Also, please keep in mind that the same goes for any sequel or franchise, not just Harry Potter. Every good sequel has to stand on it’s own, as it’s own story. It’s job is to be on it’s own, while still adding to it’s predecessors. ‘Catching Fire’ doesn’t stand as it’s own story, it just acts as a bouncing board for the last film, and a distant hope that the next one will be far better.

Let the hate comments and messages ensue! 

This morning rock legend Lou Reed passed away at age 71 due to complications from a liver transplant he underwent in May of this year.

The next issue of Strike features a celebration of Reed’s life and music, but until then, we leave you with a video of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, “Sunday Morning.” Considering Lou passed on a Sunday morning, this song only made sense.

You will be missed Lou, now it’s time to take a walk on the peaceful side.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cWzxJvgWc8

Hello,

We wanted to release an official statement as to the nature of when our final two issues will be distributed, since some slight alterations have been made to that schedule. They are as follows:

The next issue will act as an October/November issue, normally we’d distribute at the end of October, but we found that we had excess content and wanted to take more time and care to putting it in an issue. Thus, the issue will be coming out on November 9th.

Our final Strike issue will be released the week before Christmas, on December 18th.

As always, we thank our readers for their support of the publication. We always strive to produce the best publication possible, and we think that these changes in scheduling will reflect that. 

The Strike Staff

Tonight the Rock Hall of Fame announced their nominees for this year’s inductees, among them is Nirvana. Now, I feel that I’m fairly knowledgeable of rock and roll’s history, so this next statement may not make much sense: I absolutely hate Nirvana, but I also absolutely love Nirvana.

Let me explain: I hate Nirvana’s grunge. I don’t particularly like grunge, and while I understand it appealed to a rebellious 1990’s generation, I find that it just gives me a headache while I get constantly bombarded by bar chord after bar chord. That said, listening to a Nirvana song is a painful experience for me, it’s like Grohl’s drums are steadily poking a hole through my musical spirit.

With that said, let me explain why I love Nirvana. Cobain was an excellent lyricist and songwriter, and I strongly believe that Nirvana produced some of the greatest lyrical works of the decade. Cobain’s emotions are conveyed so well through the songs, and I absolutely love his voice - it’s the Dylan effect, a professional musician or instructor would turn a blind eye to it, considering it a lost cause, but in reality, it’s better than trained vocals. 

That’s why I think the MTV Nirvana Unplugged album was one of the best albums of the decade, it allowed you to appreciate Nirvana for what they actually were, allowing you to hone in on the lyrics and genius behind them. It also helped that the band could put on a pretty stellar acoustic set. 

Curt will remain poignant as one of the strongest lyricists of 90’s, and his raw emotion compelled musical culture into a new generation of rock. So, my vote this year goes to Nirvana, let’s get them in the Hall this year.

Oh, and as a side note, I write this article to explain my view of Nirvana more than I do to actually promote them towards the Rock Hall. I think the Rock Hall is an absurdity and a money-grab. Axl Rose’s letter to them last season summed up my thoughts on the subject, and I don’t think I could put it any better than he does, so check out the article below:

by Brett Stewart - Editor & Publisher of Strike

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/music_blog/2012/04/axl-rose-pens-open-letter-to-rock-hall-will-not-attend-asks-to-not-be-inducted.html

I’m probably using the Strike website as a personal blog at this point, but I think this article may be relevant to lots of kids.

Today I finished a musical album I’ve been working on for a couple months now, it’s nine new, original tracks and I plan to release it under the name, “It’s a Beautiful Life.” This specific piece of work has been a retrospective for me, looking back at my musical efforts of the past four years. Looking back on it, I feel humbled and grateful everything that’s happened.

Being an “indie” musical artist is both empowering and discouraging at the same time. It’s empowering due to the lack of restraint and personal power you obtain as a result, but discouraging when you look at your album sales and impact. So, looking back on this journey of mine, I realized how so many individuals impacted it, and I wouldn’t be where I am without them.

All the way back in 2011, Joe Redmond was taking photographs of me for my first album, “The World’s Changing” - it was freezing outside, we went during a school off hour during finals week and parked his car on top of a parking garage and began taking pictures. Joe then went home and edited the photos for me, and produced a wonderful album cover. Looking back on that album, I’m pretty sure I’d never put it on to save my life, but it’s beautiful that I had friends who would when it came out.

Then, Larson Ross changed the way I thought musically, and we partnered as “The Twin Thieves.” Our first album, “Masquerade” was a collection of some of the first half-decent original songs I had ever written, and it was certainly the first time I had collaborated with anyone. In hindsight, the album was a bit more pop than I would have liked, but that sure didn’t matter when we created some of the greatest inside jokes ever. (Michelle!) Jon Schulte also wrote some amazing songs for us; let’s never forget the pure angst of “See Her Walking”! Sharing music is the greatest human experience, and Larson brought me into that. It was also the first album we had outside help from - Addie & Cassie came to record beautiful back up vocals for us, and again, Addie and Joe designed us a wonderful album cover. I remember proposing a very different album cover to Larson, and let’s just say, we’re both glad Addie and Joe put together something so much better! 

After “Masquerade” I experimented around with playing alone. This produced an EP and a follow-up album, “Sweetheart Like You.” Sweetheart was my first real connection to the album itself - each song felt like I was creating something larger than any song by itself. 

Then we had “Loss of Peaceful Places.” It’s really an epic, to say the least. A sixteen song album addressing social stigmas, suicide, depression, broken relationships, but at the same time celebrating love and friendship. When we released the album, we had the most wonderful people come to our album release party, and later our shows at a local bar. Half the time, we were playing to an empty bar, but I’ll never forget when Chad, Alex, Madeline and Nash came for the full two hour set to support us. 

I think the point I’m getting at, is that I’ve had a lot of help along the way. Without these people I wouldn’t have wonderful backing vocals, album covers, and above all, wonderful support. I also certainly wouldn’t have had the greatest musical partner I could have asked for in Larson. 

Now, I have this new album - “It’s a Beautiful Life.” Music is my life, and I want to pursue it. This album is my statement, that I don’t want to go away. Bob Dylan once said that he was born a long way away from where he was supposed to be, and he’s still working towards getting there. I feel the same way, but I know for a fact that I’ve made it a lot further with the help of all these people. 

So thank you, all of you, from the bottom of my heart. This music has meant the world to me, and it’s meant so much to share it with all of you. I hope that in six months I’ll have one more album to share with you before we all go on our way - I know I already wrote the first song for it this evening.

Today we officially released our first issue of the year, in the planned newspaper format. The distribution was a massive success, and the entire community is enjoying the latest installment of Strike! But, if you missed it, or aren’t directly in the community, it’s really easy to read it online, too! Just head on over to the page on our website, or follow this link! See you next month! 

http://strikemagazine.net/september2013