Jack Gillespie


‘thank u, next’ is Ariana Grande’s most personal album to date

‘thank u, next’ does not have the extravagant, larger-than-life pop mammoths that her previous album brought to the table; there is no “Into You”, “breathin”, or “Love Me Harder”. However, not only is this Grande’s most consistent record yet, it is her strongest statement as an artist that is much more than just a collection of songs.

Five giftable Winter-ready records you should listen to this holiday season

While holiday music might be overplayed by the time the new year comes around, hearing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on the radio is a sure-fire way to tell when it is officially Christmas time. However, while most people can name an endless list of Christmas carols and standards, there are not too many albums that could be considered Christmas staples. The following five records are ones that are either worthy of such title or are just perfect for the winter season.

‘Origins’ should have gone back to where it came from

 'Origins' sounds like a car crash involving quite a lot of albums.  Unfortunately, none of those albums happen to be good ones. Whether it  is the flaccid, lifeless electro-pop and EDM, the overblown radio rock  destined to plague arenas across the world, or the departures from those  two sounds that should’ve been left on the cutting room floor, all the  directions that Imagine Dragons attempt to go in lead to dead ends.  Based on the consistently decreasing quality of their records, seeing  how it could possibly get worse is the one thing worth anticipating for  their future material.  

‘THINK: PEACE’ is R&B Eccentric Clarence Clarity’s poppiest record yet

 Even if it is not quite as fully developed, fresh, or intriguing as its  predecessor, THINK: PEACE is still a strong sophomore record from  Clarence Clarity that further proves that he’s one of the most  inventive, forward-thinking producers out there. It also is a perfect  record for people wanting to listen to Clarence Clarity for the first  time. His trademark glitchy, maximalist production is still intact, but  it’s toned down and Clarence’s talent as a songwriter takes the front  seat. Everything is a bit more streamlined, for better or worse. 

‘A Star Is Born’ is a predictable, but emotional film destined for Oscars galore

 Even if the story doesn’t bring anything new to the table, 'A Star Is  Born' is still a solid execution of a tried and true story. Much of the  thanks has to go to Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, whose chemistry was  gold. Their solo performances also deserve to win gold, Oscars, that is.  This may just be remembered as one of the high points of Lady Gaga’s  career. She finally got the chance to prove herself as an actor on the  silver screen, have her name in the same group as icons such as Garland  and Streisand, and release a song (“I Will Never Love Again”) that is  bound to become a classic power ballad along the lines of “I Will Always  Love You” and “My Heart Will Go On”. It’s a wonderful start for what  could be an illustrious career in film, and solid proof that Lady Gaga  will most likely go down as one of most memorable, beloved artists of  this decade.  

Heartland Film Festival: ‘Back Roads’ will rip your heart out, but it’ll irk the brain too

One of art’s main goals is to elicit a reaction from its audience. In  those terms, Back Roads is quite the success. It is a heart-wrenching  film that skillfully shows the bleakness and hopelessness of the Altmyer  family’s downward spiral. But looking past the story and the better  performances, there are a lot of faults that come with the film. For  those who love movies that will slowly tear your heart out, and even  those who just want a powerful cinematic experience, Back Roads is  recommendable. Just be willing to look over quite a bit. 

Heartland Film Festival: ‘Alaska is A Drag’ is anything but

'Alaska is A Drag' may be a unique film in it’s premise, but it’s  familiar in a feel-good kind of way; it’s a clever take on the sports  film genre. It’s also just a feel-good movie in general: it’s lovable,  sometimes dark sense of humor is very enjoyable and the leads are an  absolute joy to watch. And at the core of 'Alaska' is an inspiring story  for all those people who don’t fit in and have dreams bigger than their  small town. 

Brockhampton succeeds with flying colors on ‘iridescence’

 Much like the first album of their first trilogy, "iridescence" sounds  like a solid blueprint that will polished with the following albums. The  blemishes are visible, but the bigger picture is so wonderful that  those blemishes are (mostly) excused because the possibility for  improvement is pretty much guaranteed. How could a group that shows as  much talent as Brockhampton not have the ability to improve? But as it  is, without thinking of the follow-ups, "iridescence" still captures the  magic of the original "Saturation" trilogy and stands as one of 2018’s  most inventive hip hop records in a year that has brought us a lot of  amazing hip hop. 

On ‘Room 25’ Noname elevates her sound for a stellar debut studio album

 'Room 25' sees Noname and Co. successfully transitioning from mixtape to  album with flying colors. The root of what makes Noname such a  captivating figure in the rap scene right now is still intact; it’s just  been polished and elevated to the point where it’s worthy of being the  debut album from an artist as promising and intriguing as Noname. There  are still some aspects that could be improved upon, but 'Room 25' sounds  like a big step towards even greater things.