Thursday, June 22, 2017

2017 NBA MOCK DRAFT

By: Connor Glowacki

The NBA Draft is TONIGHT and below is the 'CKG, From The Sidelines' Mock Draft of 2017. Check out our mock draft before the 2016 edition here.

1.) Philadelphia 76ers- Markelle Fultz, SG/PG, Washington

Image result for markelle fultz     Sometimes you just have to trust The Process.

     With Philly trading up two spots for the number one overall pick and indicating that they would select the former Washington swingman, this move may bring the 76ers back into NBA relevancy with a 'potenitally' lethal and young Big 3 with Fultz and former top picks forward Ben Simmons and center Joel Embiid.
     In college, Fultz displayed an uncanny ability to get to the rim and showcased a pretty solid jump shot. I would expect Fultz to play more of a shooting guard role with Philadelphia due to Simmons being the more natural ball handler, but this scenario could better demonstrate his offensive prowess.
     If, and this is a big IF, all three centerpieces can actually stay healthy, the 76ers might have THE young core for the future and should thank former general manager Sam Hinkie for putting them in this position after so many years of embarrassment.

2.) Los Angeles Lakers- Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA

Image result for lonzo ball     Lonzo Ball has the tools to be the best point guard in this draft class. He has a terrific sense of anticipation for went to deliver passes in the full court and at 6'6" can visualize the plays that are supposed to run and where to find his teammates.
     The fact that Ball has potentially a lethal 3-point shot has delivered comparisons from Jason Kidd to even Stephen Curry. Since the 76ers have Simmons as the ball handler, Ball will likely fall to his hometown Lakers with the second overall pick.
     Even though I worry about his defensive ability against more athletic guards, Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox, for example, Ball on paper is this year's best pure point guard and should stabilize the position for Los Angeles for the foreseeable future.

3.) Boston Celtics- Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas

Image result for josh jackson     I know there's been controversy over Jackson refusing to workout for the Celtics for whatever reasons. That means Boston could end up taking someone like Jayson Tatum or trading the third overall pick just days after trading the top pick to Philadelphia. Whatever the reason for Jackson's no-show is, the Celtics have all of the power with the pick and should still take him if he's available, either to play or as a trade asset.
     At 6'8", Jackson has a 7-foot wingspan and may be the most athletic player in the draft with the most upside into becoming a superstar. I genuinely believe Boston and Jackson can sort things out here and Jackson can work his way into a very deep Celtics rotation.

4.) Phoenix Suns- Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke

Image result for jayson tatum     Tatum has the same measurables as Jackson, but has not been getting the praise and attention that Jackson has received. To be fair, Tatum didn't nearly put up the same numbers that Jackson did in their freshman collegiate campaigns.
     But Tatum would work really well in an up-tempo Phoenix attack alongside guards Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker. Tatum, in my opinion, has enough upside to be a star in the NBA and impact both sides of the court. He probably won't make the Suns a playoff contender right away, but drafting Tatum would be a step in the right direction for the organization.

5.) Sacramento Kings- De'Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky

Image result for de'aaron fox     Fox is another player that many people believe can become a superstar at the NBA level. Even though he doesn't necessarily have the vision that Ball has in the full court and is two inches shorter than his counterpart, Fox schooled Ball throughout the Kentucky-UCLA NCAA tournament game and would create some excitement that is desperately needed for a struggling Kings organization.
     Guard Buddy Hield shined when he was traded to Sacramento last season as he averaged over 15 points per game as a member of the Kings. A Fox-Hield backcourt could be the team's backcourt for possibly a decade if they can develop together.

6.) Orlando Magic- Jonathan Issac, SF, Florida State

Image result for jonathan isaac     Issac is another one-and-done freshman with tons of upside at the NBA level. He is slightly taller than his shooting forward counterparts at 6'10" and averaged almost eight rebounds along with 12 points per game with the Florida State Seminoles.
     Jackson and Tatum might have slightly more upside and publicity than Issac, but he could be a great fit with an Orlando Magic organization that is still trying to find its direction with former draft picks, point guard Elfrid Payton and forward Aaron Gordon.

7.) Minnesota Timberwolves, Dennis Smith, PG, North Carolina State

Image result for dennis smith jr     I thought Minnesota should've taken Jamal Murray with their first round selection last year and I still stand by it, given taht Murray outplayed point guard Kris Dunn throughout their rookie seasons. But I also thought Dunn could be a great point guard with the Timberwolves due to his extensive collegiate experience at Providence and his offensive playmaking ability.
     But even playing with young star talents like guard Andrew Wiggins and forward Karl-Anthony Towns, Dunn struggled to say the least. It may be too tough to give up on Dunn but with the potential trade rumors of point guard Ricky Rubio,
     Minnesota should bite the bullet and take a chance on another point guard, this one being Dennis Smith. Smith is fearless and is ready to take on the top point guards in the NBA. At the very least, Smith will challenge Dunn to step up his game at the point guard spot.

8.) New York Knicks- Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky

Image result for malik monk     Yes, this seems like a surprise because all signs would point to take the Knicks taking a point guard. But the New York Knicks are in an eternal state of dysfunction with the failures of team vice president Phil Jackson and the current trade drama surrounding forwards Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. New York needs to make a splash and take a chance with a potential STAR player.
     That star player could be the 6'3" Kentucky guard Malik Monk. Monk can score and out the ball on the floor. I've seen games in college where he, along with Fox, was able to take over a game by himself. Take Malik Monk, New York.

REST OF THE FIRST ROUND (PREDICTIONS) 

9.) Dallas Mavericks- Frank Ntilinka, PG, France

10.) Sacramento Kings- Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona

11.) Charlotte Hornets- Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga

12.) Detroit Pistons- John Collins, PF, Wake Forest

13.) Denver Nuggets- Bam Adebayo, PF, Kentucky

14.) Miami Heat- Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville

15.) Portland Trailblazers- Justin Patton, C, Creighton

16.) Chicago Bulls- Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina

17.) Milwaukee Bucks- Jarrett Allen, C, Texas

18.) Indiana Pacers- Luke Kennard, SG/SF, Duke

19.) Atlanta Hawks- D.J. Wilson, PF, Michigan

20.) Portland Trailblazers- T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA

21.) Oklahoma City Thunder- Semi Ojeleye, SF/PF, SMU

22.) Brooklyn Nets- Tyler Lydon, SF/PF, Syracuse

23.) Toronto Raptors- OG Anunoby, SF/PF, Indiana

24.) Utah Jazz- Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA

25.) Orlando Magic, Harry Giles, C, Duke

26.) Portland Trailblazers, Anzejs Pasecniks, C, Gran Canaria 

27.) Los Angeles Lakers, Kyle Kuzma, PF, Utah

28.) Los Angeles Lakers, Derrick White, PG/SG, Colorado

29.) San Antonio Spurs, Caleb Swanigan, PF/C, Purdue

30.) Utah Jazz, Terrance Ferguson, SG/SF, Adelaide

How do you think the 2017 NBA Draft will play out? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment here or on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

FOO FIGHTERS- 'RUN' (SONG REVIEW)

By: Connor Glowacki

     Well this certainly was a surprise!

Image result for foo fighters 2017     Out of nowhere, the Foo Fighters dropped a brand new single 'Run', June 1. It's their first released music since their 2015 EP 'Saint Cecilia' and their 2014 album 'Sonic Highways.'

     And I'm going to try to make this review quick by simply saying: it's a great kick-in-the-ass rock song by one of the biggest and best bands in the world.

     From the chorus of 'Wake up, run for your life with me' to verses that include 'The rats are on parade. Another mad charade. What are you gonna do', this song lyrically appears to have subtle political overtones.
     With the chaos that has engulfed the political landscape, and frankly the world, in the last few years, it's no surprise that the lead singer Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters decided to make a bit of a statement in 'Run'.
     But it's not overtly political, which perhaps makes 'Run' stronger of a song as a whole. It's anthemic and the crushing guitars, bass and drums throughout the song bring a certain heaviness and weight that is rare in today's mainstream rock and mainstream music. The screams by Grohl during parts of the verses really give the song a sense of urgency, but when the tempo starts to slow and fluctuates, it keeps everything from falling completely off the rails, in a dynamic and rhythm sense.

     The main complaint of this song will probably be that it's a similar rock, anthemic sound that the Foo Fighters have done throughout the tenure of the band. And there's some truth to that, but 'Run' has a level of depth and heaviness that isn't typically seen in a Foo Fighters single, especially in a lead single.
     If we're comparing 'Run' to early political-leaning songs like 'This Is A Call' and 'The Pretender', 'Run' sounds like a band with more life experience sharing these messages than their predecessors. ('Run' also has to have some kind of parallel to their 2011 hit 'Walk', right?)

     Overall, the Foo Fighters, in my opinion, delivered a great tune in 'Run.' If you are a fan of the Foo Fighters, you will probably love this song. If you are skeptical about their direction, I'd ask that you give it a chance because even though it has that same guitar driven sound, the melodies and rhythms of 'Run' are so enticing that they really help separate this single from other singles in their discography.

RATING: 4 Out Of 5 (****)

What did you think of the new Foo Fighters song 'Run'? Let me know what you thought by leaving a comment below or letting me know on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

RIP CHRIS CORNELL- WORDS FROM A FAN

By: Connor Glowacki

Image result for chris cornell     It's been a week, but it still doesn't seem real to me.

     Grunge pioneer Chris Cornell, dead at the age of 52. And the way he died still hasn't fully clicked for me either.

     Cornell passed away early in the morning May 19 after, according to police reports, he hung himself in his hotel room just hours after playing a show at Detroit's Fox Theatre.

     It shouldn't have to be explained, but Cornell was the lead singer and creative force for some of the great rock bands in the Grunge era and in modern rock as a whole.

*Soundgarden
*Audioslave (A supergroup with members of Rage Against the Machine)
*Temple Of The Dog (A group with members of Mother Love Bone to honor former Mother Love Bone lead singer Andy Wood, who died from a drug overdose in 1990)
*Four solo albums that, despite ranging in quality, showcased his versatility as an artist. (2007's 'Carry On' featured a well-received cover of Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean' while 2009's 'Scream' and 2015's 'The Higher Truth' displayed Cornell going off in directions of R&B-based pop and acoustic music, respectively.)

     There's no doubt we've lost a number of musical legends over the past few years... David Bowie, Prince and Glenn Frey are the first that come to mind. But Cornell's death, and the fact he committed suicide, ended up hitting closer to home for me.

     Chris Cornell wrote songs such as 'Black Hole Sun', 'Outshined', 'Spoonman', 'Like A Stone', 'Fell On Black Days', 'Be Yourself', 'I Am The Highway', and countless others that featured lyrics showing the internal struggles of a man trying to find the light in the midst of a darkness that surrounded, and at times would engulf him.

     As I delved into his musical discography growing up, Cornell's music always felt like it was a little more sophisticated, a little deeper and yes a little darker when compared to some of his contemporaries in Seattle-based bands like Nirvana or Pearl Jam. His music could range from hard rock to psychedelia to even country inspired sounds that weren't always typical in the genres which he performed. Cornell's four octave range, which stands as one of the greatest voices in the history of rock music, could easily shift between loud bombast and delicate introspection.

     Cornell had demons throughout his life as depression and addictions to alcohol, Oxycontin, and other drugs hung a cloud over an individual who was still able to use that cloud to create a ferocious storm of artistic expression.
     And even though it appeared in the mid 2000s that he got sober and was able to live a clean life... the demons in his head never went away and ended up taking him far too soon.

     I'm 24. I didn't grow up in the early nineties where grunge was the most popular genre of music in mainstream culture and where the genre would get regularly played on MTV and the radio.
     But it was the first genre that connected to me as I really started listening to music in high school. The angst of those times gave me a place where I could both channel my angst and also find solace from, at times, the cruel world of everyday life.

     I've unfortunately dealt with depression throughout my life for a myriad of reasons and, yes, have had suicidal thoughts.
     But Chris Cornell's music didn't just give me a place to vent my anger, it gave me a place to explore my fears and my insecurities. His lyrics, as stated earlier,  helped me and I bet millions of others throughout the world find that light through the vast shroud of darkness both in reality and in our psyches.
     Sure, finding that destination isn't easy and it's something we end up dealing with for the rest of our lives, but he showed us that it can exist.
     Even if it's just flickering, it's worth finding and embracing.

     Whatever caused Chris Cornell to take his life is a question we should have for anybody suffering from depression and experiencing suicidal thoughts. We can't put blame on him for making that choice, even if it might've been drug-induced, because only he knew what was going on in his mind.
If there is any silver lining in this shocking scenario, hopefully it's that we do a better job of listening to each other and looking out for one another as we battle our own personal demons on a daily basis.

     Thoughts and prayers with the Cornell family at this time as they go through this terrible ordeal.

Image result for chris cornell 2017     Chris, thank you for the music and the memories that you've given me and countless others throughout the world. We are lucky that you were able to share your incredible voice, songwriting and philanthropy with us.
     Despite this being the outcome that no one wanted, I hope you can find peace somewhere out in another universe.

RIP Chris Cornell (1964-2017)

**

Friday, April 7, 2017

HARRY STYLES- 'SIGN OF THE TIMES' (SONG REVIEW)

By: Connor Glowacki

Image result for harry styles sign of the timesIt has arrived...

     Harry Styles might be the fourth member of U.K. boyband One Direction to release his debut solo music, but he was always the one I was looking forward to hearing the most.
     Styles' raspy voice had lent itself to rock music during One Direction's heyday and it became apparent once he started taking more of the lead vocals and the group's projects gravitated toward a stadium-rock sound.
     Combine that with the fact that he was considered the 'star' of One Direction and the intense building buzz for his debut album, this was the member to watch for.

     But several of his fellow band-members found solo success before Styles.

     Zayn's debut single 'Pillowtalk' debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and his R&B-inspired debut album 'Mind Of Mine' was fairly well-acclaimed by critics.
(Although his newly released song, 'Still Got Time', for his upcoming second solo album shows him unfortunately chasing trends and trying to sound like Drake).
     Niall Horan had a top-20 and Platinum hit song in 'This Town' and Louis Tomlinson released an EDM banger with DJ Steve Aoki called 'Just Hold On' that reached No. 52 on the Hot 100.

     However, it appears there's no indication that anyone forgot about Harry Styles as his debut single 'Sign Of The Times' is ranked No. 1 on iTunes in over 70 countries worldwide.

     But is 'Sign Of The Times' a good song?


     It's good and, dare I say, maybe even great.

Image result for harry styles
Styles delivered on the songwriting
and vocals for 'Sign Of The Times.'
Photo by DesignTrend.com
     To be fair, I gravitate toward rock music, but this song channels sixties and seventies rock with a message that's as urgent as ever, especially with the United States launching missiles into a Syrian airfield April 6 in order to condemn Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's use of chemical warfare on his own citizens.
     These are dark times around the world and 'Sign Of The Times' presents a looming uncertainty and tension in its sound and in its lyrics.

     I love the buildup of the song which starts with simple piano chords and then builds to clean, crushing guitars and eventually a swell of sounds that build to a beautiful climax before fading back into the background with a haunting piano outro.
     Musically, you can hear influences of David Bowie, Queen, Pink Floyd and The Beatles. But 'Sign Of The Times' doesn't feel like a caricature of that classic British rock sound.

     There are lyrical moments here where Styles references leaving the atmosphere and trying to get away from a current situation. Parts of the lyrics could definitely be about wanting to recapture love and holding on to a relationship, but there are subtle overtones of political nature that makes this song feel so valid and so important in 2017.
     And Styles delivers a heck of a vocal performance, ranging from a hushed falsetto in the early choruses up until some great high notes toward the end of the track. He sounds confident and sure of himself.

RECAP:

Image result for david bowie
'Sign Of The Times' has garnered
comparisons to work of the late David Bowie.
Photo courtesy of Esquire.
     It's way too early for people to be comparing Styles to Bowie, especially with Styles being a former boybander. But he was the singer in a local rock band before he auditioned for 'The X Factor' and appears to have been grounded in the history of rock music.
     And if Styles can continue to put together songs that brings very slight pop sensibilities to this classic rock sound, it is going to do wonders for bringing guitars and rock music back to pop radio.
     And to top it all off, 'Sign Of The Times' is almost SIX MINUTES LONG, which is unheard of today in pop music.
     Styles has the clout in popularity to pull off a move like this for his debut single and I'm legitimately excited for what he has in store with his debut album. Rumors have swirled that he has worked with everyone from Snow Patrol to Bruno Mars to to Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kledis.

     Styles' 'Sign Of The Times' already makes him the most relevant member of One Direction in 2017. It proves you don't have to follow the 'Justin Timberlake' route by following a R&B pop path once you leave a boyband. (Looking at you Zayn!)

'Sign Of The Times' is a great rock power ballad that hits the nerve and showcases a classic sound that somehow feels current and relevant this year.

RATING: **** (4 Out Of 5)

We may disagree, but this could be what rock needs right now in popular music. Did you or did you not like Harry Styles' debut single 'Sign Of The Times?'

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below or on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

Friday, March 17, 2017

LINKIN PARK- 'BATTLE SYMPHONY' (SONG REVIEW)

By: Connor Glowacki

Image result for linkin park battle symphony     Was I a tad harsh in my review of 'Heavy', the lead single from alternative rock band Linkin Park's upcoming seventh album 'One More Light'?

     Perhaps.

     But I stand by what I said a few weeks ago as the song being a big disappointment from the perspective of a long-time Linkin Park fan. And 'Heavy' accomplished what Linkin Park had sought out to do, which was to get the band back on the pop charts and into the mainstream consciousness.
     'Heavy' has so far peaked at No. 52 on the Billboard Hot 100 and with its music video racking up millions of views so far, I could see it climbing even higher. Yet even though 'Heavy' still remains a bland pop cash-grab, it is undeniably catchy and does stick in your head, for better or worse.

     I can't say the same thing about Linkin Park's latest single, 'Battle Symphony.'

     From what starts out as a surprisingly layered, interesting and catchy synth-filled instrumental intro, everything plateaus from the first verse through the end of the song. The same beat repeats itself over and over throughout 'Battle Symphony' and I just don't hear a catchy enough melody here to keep me invested as a listener.

     The lyrics focus on an inspirational theme of overcoming one's obstacles and it's a tried-and-true theme for rock bands to tackle. But the lyrical content is so bland on 'Battle Symphony' that limits the song from standing out on its own.            There's nothing descriptive in the message and there has to be more energy from lead singer Chester Bennington's vocals to sell any impact of the lyrics and the emotion falls flat here. Linkin Park has done these types of songs MUCH better in the past ('What I've Done', 'Breaking The Habit', etc).

     Again, I don't hear a band on this song, but it doubles-down that Linkin Park will make a 'poppy' kind of record for 'One More Light.' Pop is fine, but it still has to be interesting and aesthetically appeasing for it to be good.

QUICK RECAP:

     There's really not much more to add about 'Battle Symphony.'

     It's bland, sterile and ultimately forgettable. And it pains me to say that 'Heavy' is the better song of the two and ended up being the better lead single choice. The instrumentation isn't particularly interesting, the vocals are sweet but lack any urgency for this type of song template, and the lyrical content feels generic. I know Linkin Park can do better, but I'm afraid I'm not going to see those top-tier performances on 'One More Light.'

RATING: 2 Out Of 5 (**)

What did you think about 'Battle Symphony'? And with two songs now released off of 'One More Light', how do you feel about Linkin Park's upcoming seventh album? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below or by letting me know on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

NERLENS NOEL TRADED TO THE DALLAS MAVERICKS

By: Connor Glowacki

Image result for nerlens noel     Ah, the NBA Trade Deadline is upon us. And until 3 p.m. EST rolls around, we will be keep getting more trades that will certainly impact the landscape of the NBA for the rest of the season.

     Earlier this week, we had huge news with the Sacramento Kings trade All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Now, the Philadelphia 76ers have traded center Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks for center Andrew Bogut, forward Justin Anderson and a first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
     The deal was reported on by The Vertical, which by the way has become the go-to source for NBA news over sports media heavyweights like ESPN, Bleacher Report, etc.

     The Vertical and other sites are now reporting that the 76ers are looking to find a new trade partner for Bogut because otherwise they will have to buyout his contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Now let's try and briefly break down this deal.

     Noel is the centerpiece. And he has career averages of 10.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. But his overall numbers have dropped this season due to the emergence of Joel Embiid and the continued development of Jahlil Okafor at the center position. The 76ers wanted to move one of their three centers, so Noel is the one to go.

     But this could be a great pickup for the Mavericks because Noel is a 6'11" ballhawk who can protect the rim. He has improved slightly in his offensive game, in terms of his post moves, and can be an elite defender. He is also still just 22! Philadelphia drafted Noel sixth overall in 2013, but he still has tons of upside to improve.
     Dallas got younger at the center position by trading Bogut for Noel and I think will fit in nicely in that Mavericks frontcourt with long-time veteran forward Dirk Nowitzki and forward Harrison Barnes. And even though Dallas has underachieved with just a 22-34 record before the All-Star Break, they still are just three games out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. It's a move that can help short-term and long-term, provided they get Noel signed to an extension.

     The deal also makes sense for Philadelphia because it again allows them to focus on Embiid and Okafor as their two centers. Second-year pro Justin Anderson could end up being a nice swingman down the road for a young Philly team as he was currently averaging 6.5 points per game behind Barnes on the Mavericks depth chart.
     They also get a first round pick for a deep 2017 draft class and may be able to get some value for Bogut. Overall, this move means that Joel Embiid is officially the face-of-the-franchise. Trust the Process!


This deal looks good for both teams, to me. But what do you think? Let me know by leaving a comment below or on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

Monday, February 20, 2017

DEMARCUS COUSINS TRADED TO NEW ORLEANS

By: Connor Glowacki

Image result for demarcus cousins     The drama with the approaching NBA Trade Deadline started out with a bang early in the morning Feb. 20 as the New Orleans Pelicans landed all-star center Demarcus Cousins, and forward Omri Cassipri, from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for guards Tyreke Evans and Buddy Hield, forward Langston Galloway, and a first and second round pick for 2017.
     The trade was reported and confirmed by several outlets, including The Vertical, ESPN and USA Today Sports, among others.

     Cousins is obviously a huge get for New Orleans as he is averaging a career-high 27.6 points this season, along with 10.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.3 blocks. He will be paired with current franchise cornerstone and dominant forward Anthony Davis, who has been averaging 27.7 points and 12 rebounds per game, on his own, this season.
     The Pelicans also were able to keep point guard Jrue Holliday on the roster, which makes an insanely scary trio for New Orleans, who are 23-34 this season and still in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Image result for demarcus cousins
Cousins will now be paired
with fellow All-Star Anthony Davis.
Photo by SB Nation. 


     Meanwhile for the Kings, this is a move to try to get the team into a total rebuild mode. Hield, who is a rookie this season, could be a potentially nice player for Sacramento long-term, but neither Evans or Galloway seem like they will be effective long-term options for the team. (Sacramento initially sent Evans to New Orleans).
     But deciding to trade Cousins also brings back memories of the Kings trading current all-star point guard Isaiah Thomas to the Phoenix Suns in 2014, before he landed up with the Boston Celtics.

     Bottom line: the Kings are a mess as an organization. But with Hield and potentially three first round draft picks this season, there is still a chance that they could turn this into becoming a respectable force in the NBA once again. But it's also important to remember that Sacramento didn't make the playoffs at any point of Cousins' tenure with the team. It is a shame because the Kings are currently only 1.5 games out of the final playoff spot right now in the Western Conference, but it seems that the team was also tired of Cousins' 'fiery antics' on the court.


This is a big shakeup in the NBA. Who do you think won this trade?

Let me know by leaving a comment below or on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

LINKIN PARK- 'HEAVY' FEATURING KIIARA (SONG REVIEW)

By: Connor Glowacki

Image result for linkin park heavy     Well, this review is going to be tough. But it's going to center around the idea of how we as music listeners may outgrow the music we loved when we were younger.

     That's the case for me with nu-metal/alternative rock band Linkin Park's new single 'Heavy', released as the lead single for their upcoming album 'One More Light.'

     Linkin Park was one of my favorite band growing up, as I was in middle and high school. Their first two albums, 2000's 'Hybrid Theory' and 2003's 'Meteora'  turned me into becoming a music fan for the first time in my life.
     The music was aggressive, the lyrics were honest and the melodies were extremely catchy. It was the perfect combination for an angsty teenager.
     I couldn't ignore the criticism of the band because it was obvious. Linkin Park used simple guitar riffs and instrumentation and didn't go too deep with their lyrics. The band has been called the poster-child for brining nu-metal and glossing it up for the mainstream in the new millennium.

     I agree with all of this, but I still don't care.

     Music can sometimes be an individual experience and that's the case for me and Linkin Park. Throughout the rest of the band's career, Linkin Park put out four additional albums taht featured some more hits, some more experimentation, changes of sounds and concepts, but also declining sales from album-to-album.

     That brings us to 'Heavy', which follows Linkin Park's 2014 album, 'The Hunting Party', an album that brought back rougher textures and sounds to their music. The lyrics are once again simple and direct and can be seen as relating to the inner struggle of one's psyche and emotions. In other words, it's about the fear of trying to let go of something and deciding instead to hold on to whatever it is that is bringing you down. It can be about the fear of the unknown and as someone who has always had to work with anxiety, I could relate to the lyrical subject matter.

     But the production, instrumentation and vocals feel so sterile, bland and unassuming that I had to remember this song was performed by Linkin Park. Sound-wise, it's the complete opposite of 'The Hunting Party' and perhaps the softest song the band has ever recorded.
Image result for kiiara
Guest singer Kiiara surprises in
a good way on 'Heavy'.
Photo courtesy: JustJared
     Lead singer Chester Bennington's vocals are so restrained that he almost gets overpowered by guest singer Kiiara, who I thought actually gave a solid performance. I wish Bennington was able to emote more during 'Heavy' so that I could truly feel his pain and the pain he exhibits in the song.
     And up until maybe the last chorus, there really isn't much in regards to guitars, bass or drums. DJ Joe Hahn creates an almost trap-like beat mixed with some snapping fingers and it feels awkward for a Linkin Park song.

RECAP:

      I don't think 'Heavy' is a terrible song.

     There are some things I like, including ideas in the lyrical content and Kiiara's vocals. But I was left feeling underwhelmed and a little disappointed. 'Heavy' may be the most 'poppy' song this band has ever made.
     Now you may say that Linkin Park is a band that pushes their musical boundaries with experimentation, like it did with adding electronic and techno elements to their sound with their 2010 album, 'A Thousand Suns.' But 'Heavy' doesn't feel like experimentation to innovate the genre of rock or to innovate music. It feels like a bit of a cash-grab to get the band back on the charts. And that is sad to see.

     I think 'Heavy' is a decent pop song. I would listen to it on the radio and sing along. But I have higher expectations for Linkin Park and they fell short, which gives me apprehension for the new album.

     Even though I appreciated the lyrics for 'Heavy', I kept wondering I couldn't connect to 'Heavy' as much as their older songs. Is it because I have grown older and matured? Perhaps. I will continue to listen to Linkin Park's discography, but I might not feel that same emotion and connectedness that I felt as a teenager.

     I think I've outgrown parts of Linkin Park's music. But I can still tell a great, catchy, energetic and memorable song for a dull, melancholic number that sounds more and more like Top-40 radio. I still am a Linkin Park fan, but I do have doubts for the quality of 'One More Light.'


RATING: 2.5 Out Of 5    (** 1/2)

What did you all think about the new song 'Heavy' by Linkin Park? Were you disappointed like me? Or did you really like it?

Let me know by leaving a comment below or on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

MAROON 5 - 'COLD' FEATURING FUTURE (SONG REVIEW)

By: Connor Glowacki

Image result for maroon 5 cold*This is just my opinion. If you feel differently about this song. That is OK.

     After releasing the dreadfully bland tropical-house top-10 hit 'Don't Wanna Know', which featured a surprisingly bad verse from Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar,  last October, pop band Maroon 5 have followed up with a new single called 'Cold'. And just like 'Don't Wanna Know', 'Cold' includes a guest rap verse, this time from Atlanta rapper/singer Future.

*Before continuing on this review, click here for my 'Don't Wanna Know' song review.

     With 'Cold', Maroon 5 have officially burned all bridges of any sort of rock semblance that the former California band once had. Their new song has been described by lead singer Adam Levine as being R&B influenced and will apparently be the main genre indicator for the group's next album, which is set to be released sometime this year.
     Now let me be clear, many bands have been able to incorporate elements of R&B and soul into their music and have been able to put together very good results. (See older acts like The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Hall & Oates, or newer indie acts like The Neighbourhood and Haim).

     But their has to be some kind of passion and some kind of soul coming from the lyrics, the vocals and the instrumentation and they are all completely absent on 'Cold'.

Image result for maroon 5 2017
Be honest. Do you know who is in Maroon 5
besides Adam Levine?
     The song features Levine crooning about essentially being in relationship-limbo. The girl feels so distant, yet kisses him. She, as Levine states, is leaving him in the dark. And Levine asks, "Are we taking time or a time out." Levine ends up in the chorus declaring that the girl is, "Cold enough to chill my bones. It feels like I don't know you anymore. I don't understand why you're so cold to me."
     These lyrics are juvenile and make the song sound entirely one-sided. Can relationships end up one-sided before they flame out? Sure, but I feel like Levine is leaving out examples of what he has failed to bring to the relationship that made his girl act as cold as she has.

     And then we get to the instrumentation... if you can call it that.

     I have said previously that Maroon 5 was at their best, as a band, with their first three bands. And while 2012's 'Overexposed' and 2014's 'V' were examples of the band officially selling out for more glossy, synthetic, Top-40 ready pop overtones, there were still moments where you could hear the other instruments and remember that this is a band.

     'Don't Wanna Know' was the beginning of where I could no longer here any immediate contributions from Maroon 5 band members outside of Levine.

     'Cold' takes it to a whole new level. The song takes such a minimalistic approach in the verses that it's Levine trying to sing in front of what tries to come off as a hazy, atmospheric backdrop. Even though a nice swell builds up into the chorus with a staccato rhythm and a pretty sounding string section anchoring the last few couplets of the chorus, you forget that this is a band.
     It's the kind of instrumentation that you could pull off of something like Adobe Audacity... and not in a good way.

     Levine is okay vocally, I guess.

     He sure has sounded a lot worse in other songs over the past few years. But his vocals sound so processed and so layered that they sound almost monotonous. Even with the falsettos, which is the exact opposite feeling you want to have when you hear a falsetto.
     There's no passion or soul coming from his voice, which is incredible to believe because he had passion and soul vocally earlier in his career with Maroon 5. You could give this song to any other male pop singer and I think that not only would it still be a hit, but the other singer would actually be able to sell what he is singing.

     As for Future, his verse doesn't really make sense lyrically, but you don't listen to Future for lyrics. People listen to Future to get hyped.
Image result for future
The instrumentation is too tame
for Future to provide any real impact.
Photo by: Spin.com

     And they get hyped through his punishing and defiant beats to go along with his drug-fueled bars of hedonism. Not surprisingly though, he comes across far more tame on a pop song like this and his influence is pushed far into the background.
     His chants of 'So fuck this cold world' are a series of flat insults that I think are directed toward the girl of his affection, but he declared earlier in his verse that he first wants to stay with girl, but then later also wants to give her space. Future is the same guy who in his 2014 song 'I Won' compared his at-the-time girlfriend Ciara, to a trophy. A reward for his conquest. Charming, bruh.

RECAP

     I gave a fairly harsh review to 'Don't Wanna Know' at the time for witnessing Maroon 5 embrace chasing trends and losing the aspects of what made them unique. But at least it was mostly harmless from a lyrical standpoint and had a decent enough tropical groove.

     'Cold' is not fun. 

     'Cold' showcases Levine and Future painting their lovers in a completely unflattering light without sharing all sides of the respective story and Maroon 5 have given up on rock and have move toward a new R&B/pop sound.
     If you want to evolve as a band, it's okay to subtly add different influences. But not if it gets rid of the band's entire identity to begin with. And without being able to notice any of the other members in the band besides the lead singer, I now can no longer call this band Maroon 5.

     From now on, they will be known as 'The Adam Levine Experience.'

     The decent swell in the chorus allows 'Cold' to get some kind of a rating, but this song is awful and marks the unfortunate debut era of The Adam Levine Experience.

RATING: 1 Out Of 5 (*)

**

Do you like 'Cold'? Love it? Hate it? And why?

Let me know by leaving a comment below or on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IMAGINE DRAGONS- 'BELIEVER' (SONG REVIEW)

By: Connor Glowacki

I'm not going to lie here. I root for Imagine Dragons.

Image result for imagine dragons believer     I loved Imagine Dragons' 2012 debut 'Night Visions', which featured the bombastic 'Radioactive', uplifting numbers 'It's Time' and 'On The Top Of The World', to the moody deep-cut rockers like 'Amsterdam', 'Tiptoe' and 'Hear Me'.
     Imagine Dragons was able to deliver on a successful template of arena rock that had been missing in the mainstream music consciousness due to U2 taking extremely long breaks in between albums and Coldplay putting out more 'popish' material as of late.
     'Night Visions' was a huge commercial success, selling two million copies in the U.S. and over seven million worldwide. Even though Imagine Dragons' 2015 followup, 'Smoke + Mirrors' didn't feature a hit single or sell as well as its predecessor, I appreciated how the band incorporated folk and gospel influences into their alternative rock rhythmic sound. To this day, 'Night Visions' remains the better album, but 'Smoke + Mirrors' is a solid record that  didn't do as well commercially.

Check out my review of 'Smoke + Mirrors' here

Well. Two years later and Imagine Dragons have released 'Believer' as the lead single for their upcoming third album. How did it turn out?

...I'm kind of torn on this new track.
Image result for dan reynolds 2016
Reynolds sells the lyrics
with a passionate vocal performance.

     I like SOME of the lyrical content. At points, the lyrics seem to be describing lead singer Dan Reynolds overcoming depression and anxiety when he was young and using his songs and music as inspiration to try and make an impact and a connection toward others going through similar situations.
     And I like how the chorus defiantly states that Reynolds is going to confront the pain from his past or his present. But it's not clear to me what exactly the pain is making Reynolds a believer of.
     Is it a believer of the rials and tribulations of life? Overcoming self-doubt? I'm not sure it will come across as clear for the listener. The rest of the verses are filled with a bunch of cliches, but Reynolds on-point flow through several of the couplets created a nice groove and allowed the verses to flow into one another.

The thing I don't like about this track is the instrumentation.

     I know that Imagine Dragons have utilized beats and other hip-hop stylized instrumentations since they formed a working partnership with producer Alex Da Kid on their 2012 EP 'Continued Silence.' A song like 'Radioactive' is the perfect example of what those kinds of beats with an electronic buildup and drop, can add to a song. It can add aggression, urgency and a layer of musical depth that can potentially match well with the lyrical content.
     But the difference between 'Radioactive' and 'Believer' is that 'Radioactive' had an instant melody with the vocal structures and the interweaving guitar and bass lines, which was able to connect with the background beats and create such a gut punch for the listener. At the time, nothing like this was being played on the radio. It was raw and aggressive, but also catchy.

There isn't a catchy enough melody for 'Believer' to stand out.

     I rarely hear any riffs or progressions from guitarist Wayne Sermon and bassist Ben McKee. 'Believer' feels like a Reynolds and drummer Daniel Platzman collaboration because those are the only contributions that I can hear consistently throughout the song. When the song grow into its explosive chorus, even though Reynolds is doing a great job at belting out some of those high notes, the rest of the instrumentation can't catch up and the song leaves me wanting more, not in a good way.

     Even with their early success. I root for Imagine Dragons as I would root for an underdog football team. There are times when they don't receive much respect from the rock community and others where they don't receive much respect from the pop world. I enjoyed their first two albums so I'm going to give Imagine Dragons the benefit of the doubt for their upcoming third album. I like the electronic buildups they are continue to create, but there has to be some kind of melody associated with it.


RATING: 2.5 Out Of 5 (**1/2)

Don't let us down, Imagine Dragons. You are one of the few acts that can help keep rock on the charts and on the radio.


Let me know what you thought about Imagine Dragons' new single, 'Believer.' Leave a comment below or let me know on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

'LA LA LAND' LEADS 2017 OSCAR NOMINATIONS

By: Connor Glowacki

Image result for oscars 2017     The musical 'La La Land', starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, earned 14 Academy Awards nominations for the 2017 Oscars, which is tied with 'Titanic' and 'All About Eve' for most nominations received in the history of the Academy Awards.

     It's important to note that a big storyline coming into the 2017 award show are the success of black actors and actresses receiving multiple nominations, especially after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy for the last few years that consisted of the lists for nominated actors and actresses being primarily caucasian.

     Also, Mel Gibson was actually nominated for best director for his film 'Hacksaw Ridge.' Who saw that coming?

Image result for la la land
'La La Land' received the most
nominations with 14 total.
Photo from LACurb.com
Check out the list of nominees for some of the major categories below. Genres of the film are placed in parenthesis.

BEST PICTURE:

*'Arrival' (Science Fiction)
*'Fences' (Drama)
*'Hacksaw Ridge' (Biographical War Drama)
*'Hell Or High Water' (Western/Crime)
*'Hidden Figures' (Biographical Drama)
*'La La Land' (Romantic/Musical Comedy, Drama)
*'Lion' (Drama)
*'Manchester By The Sea' (Drama)
*'Moonlight' (Drama)

BEST ACTRESS:

*Isabelle Huppert in 'Elle'
*Ruth Negga in 'Loving'
*Natalie Portman in 'Jackie'
*Emma Stone in 'La La Land'
*Meryl Streep in 'Florence Foster Jenkins'

BEST ACTOR:

*Casey Affleck in 'Manchester By The Sea'
*Andrew Garfield in 'Hacksaw Ridge'
*Ryan Gosling in 'La La Land'
*Viggo Morgenstein in 'Captain Fantastic'
*Denzel Washington in 'Fences'

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

*Viola Davis in 'Fences'
*Naomie Harris in 'Moonlight'
*Nicole Kidman in 'Lion'
*Octavia Spencer in 'Hidden Figures'
*Michelle Williams in 'Manchester By The Sea'

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

*Mahershala Ali in 'Moonlight'
*Jeff Bridges in 'Hell Or High Water'
*Lucas Hedges in 'Manchester By The Sea'
*Dev Patel in 'Lion'
*Michael Shannon in 'Nocturnal Animals'

BEST DIRECTOR:

*Damien Chazelle for 'La La Land'
*Mel Gibson for 'Hacksaw Ridge'
*Barry Jenkins for 'Moonlight'
*Kenneth Lonergan for 'Manchester By The Sea'
*Denis Villeneuve for 'Arrival'

**

Who's going to win? Leave a comment below or let me know on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

3 DOORS DOWN AND THE TRUMP INAUGURATION

By: Connor Glowacki

*These are just my thoughts/opinions about the situation.

Image result for 3 doors down 2016
     So yeah, let's talk about post-post-grunge outfit 3 Doors Down performing at President-Elect Donald Trump's 'Make America Great Again' inauguration event Jan. 19. The band will be performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with several other acts, including country singer Toby Keith and 'God Bless The USA' singer Lee Greenwood, among others. But if you take a look at the 'star-studded' lineup that the Trump transition team has composed, none are big surprises.

     Many singers and celebrities have decided to not perform or attend this year's inauguration because of the man who will be taking over the most powerful political office in the world. Yes, the entertainment industry skews to the left, but they don't have to perform.

     And the acts who have been chosen to perform shouldn't have to be attacked by the public and the media. It is their own individual choices. For this year, some acts may be hard-lined Trump supporters and Republicans, but others may want to perform for their country and to maintain the tradition of the U.S. having a peaceful transition of power.

     This applies to 3 Doors Down...

      It's not really a secret that the members of the Mississippi band probably skew toward the Republican side of the political spectrum. They performed at the 2012 Republican National Convention, which had former governor Mitt Romney as the party's nominee that year.

     But let's briefly break down the band for a minute to try and provide a larger context.

     3 Doors Down rode the post-grunge wave very well at the start of the new millennium with their first two albums, 2000's 'The Better Life' and 2002's 'Away From The Sun', selling over 10 million combined copies in the United States.
     And it's unfair to label 3 Doors Down as a one-hit wonder.
     They're more like a four or five-hit wonder, with three songs off of those first two albums peaking in the top-5 of the Billboard Hot 100. 'Kryptonite' being their most successful, reaching number 3, but also 'When I'm Gone' and 'Here Without You' reaching number four and five, respectively.

     Was 3 Doors Down ever the type of band that could display technically complex musicianship, innovate their sound and evolve with the times. No.
Image result for trump
Unsurprisingly, 3 Doors Down found
controversy after announcing they'd perform
at President-Elect Donald Trump's
inauguration.
(Photo by: Business Insider)

     They've been a meat-and-potatoes kind of band that has flourished on power chords, catchy melodies and songs with 'topics that everyone can relate to.' The music is bland, unassuming and doesn't draw any controversy in its own right. The message of the music was never going to piss anyone off. 3 Doors Down was, in their prime, a less annoying version of Nickelback.

     But as trends go in music, post-grunge got phased out of radio and the mainstream culture. Each of 3 Doors Down's next four albums sold fewer copies and their latest album, 2016's 'Us And The Night' only debuted 14th on the Billboard 200 and sold 24,000 copies in its first week. The band will probably be able to ride out the rest of its days on classic/modern rock radio and on the nostalgia circuit because they may not become musically relevant ever again.

     And that's where we are now.

     3 Doors Down's decision to perform as part of Trump's inauguration brings them back, even for just a few days, into the mainstream consciousness. People are actually talking about the band again for the first time in a long while. I'm not saying that's why they're performing, but no one was really talking about them a week ago.

     However, it's not necessarily fair to attack them performing at this event just because they may be Republicans and/or Trump supporters. Can we make fun of them because Trump's 'star-studded lineup' is pretty awful, in terms of musical quality and entertainment?
     Absolutely.
     But who are we to stop 3 Doors Down from performing if this is what they genuinely think is morally correct for them to do? It's like when Beyonce, Stevie Wonder or James Taylor performed at events for Obama.

     But the last thing I will say as I wrap this piece up is the band shouldn't resort to 'troll-baiting' on Twitter just because a lot of their fans are upset that they are performing at an event for Trump. Just as 3 Doors Down has every right to play, their fans have a right to voice their displeasure.

     3 Doors Down should be happy though...they still have fans who care about them!

**

Please feel free to let me know what you think about the 3 Doors Down situation and my piece right in the comments below.
Follow me on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.