Album Review: “Kill For Love” by the Chromatics



Album cover: “Kill for Love”

For anyone who has seen Nicolas Winding Refn’s film, Drive, with Ryan Gosling, or for those who are for better or worse, hopelessly in love with the 80’s (I raise my hand here), you’ve probably heard the Chromatics before. Maybe Ruth Radelet’s voice came up on Pandora, Spotify, or in films like Drive, their sound is unmistakable. I was at a wedding recently for a couple in their early thirties. Still young and hip as far as I’m concerned, however, the music at their wedding was about as sexy as my Nani’s yellowed high-rise panties and frankly, hopelessly lame. Are DJ’s and the general public aware of just how much music has come out between then and now?

If you’re interested to know, even in just the last decade, there have been some truly spectacular, unique, and sparkling albums that have been born. Pitchfork, a fantastic music based website, showcases the latest and greatest music discussions, reviews, and interviews with the eclectic range of artists circulating worldwide today. Pichfork published an article for the top 100 albums from the last decade, Pitchfork provides a brief description, album title and artist, and the cover art. Explore, read, listen, share, and enjoy!

I wanted to write my own review about the newest album from one of my favorite bands, the Chromatics. Although it was released back in March of 2012, it’s still refreshing and exciting. Some may have heard their other albums, “Night Drive”, “In Shining Violence”, Plaster Hounds”, or from the “Drive” soundtrack. “Kill for Love” is the groups fourth studio album and it’s the first in five years. With 17 tracks to choose from, it’s not hard to get wrapped up in Ruth Radelet’s smokey, sexy, night time web. It’s not just Ruth who makes the Chromatics complete, there is also Adam Miller who is on guitar and vocoder, Nat Walker on drums and synthesizer, Johnny Jewel the producer, and Ruth Radelet on vocals of course, as well as the guitar and synthesizer.

Wondering what they sound like or who they are? Pitchfork’s Marc Hogan writes, the “Chromatics formed in the Pacific Northwest as a rickety no-wave band more than a decade ago, but re-emerged in the mid-2000s with a revamped lineup and a new sound that nicely coincided with a resurgence of interest in the slow, dreamy, not-always-Italian dance-pop subgenre known as Italo disco. As with other acts on New Jersey-based Italians Do It Better, a label co-founded by group mastermind Johnny Jewel, Chromatics didn’t just incorporate the vocoders and vintage synth arpeggios of the turn-of-the-1980s originals, they added the brittle guitars, dubby reverb, and urban dread of post-punk.” I’ve always thought of the Chromatics as an undeniably sexy, tense, and robotic sound. Something I could press play on, plug in my multi-colored chili Christmas lights, and lay down knowing that I won’t need to get up to press next for at least the next hour.

The Quietus, an online news forum, deemed “Kill for Love”, “one of the classiest and most romantic albums of 2012.” Lucy Jones, the author of The Quietus article, wrote, “Cellos, tubular bells, cymbals, shuffle beats, bubbling guitars, synths and crepuscular vocals colour the picture. It’s not in the least predictable: on ‘Lady’, there’s a beat, which recalls ‘Gimme Some More’ by Busta Rhymes (Jewel is a hip hop fan). The album is sexy with an undertow of menace and tension; sometimes unsettling, always rich.” This album is almost like a painting, artfully arranged, colorful, textured, and incorporates a broken hearted, searching for something, story line.

Pitchfork’s Marc Hogan also writes, “hearing “These Streets Will Never Look the Same”, which stretches “Eye of the Tiger”-like guitar tension into an eight-minute treatise on loneliness and includes the album’s first male lead vocal, rendered cyborg-like by a vocal harmonizer. Or take the vampire-pallid lament “Running From the Sun”, another male-led track, based on piano chords reminiscent of those found on Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”. Fans who discovered Chromatics through Drive will find plenty of easy entry points here.” The Chromatics is the best of both worlds; they’re the salt and the pepper, the sun and sunglasses, they are beauty and brains. They manage to honor the music of the past while moving forth and making their music, uniquely theirs. Gently borrowing from another era, giving their audio child of 2012, a sound somewhere between 1980 and now.

The Chromatics

The Chromatics, looking luscious.

Ultimately, this album bubbled up recently for me, nearly two years after the fact. The Chromatics has resurfaced in my life this fall. Whether it’s feelings of melancholy, loneliness, or finding my place again here at St. Lawrence as a senior whose spent a junior year away. This album has resonated in the loneliest corners of my soul that I didn’t even realize were empty. On a campus with what I feel to be, many strangers, hearing Ruth Radelet’s voice somehow comforts me. Sometimes when it feels like no one else in your world can understand what and how it is that you’re feeling, it’s music that saves the day. Sometimes it’s the beat and the poetic verses that sit by your side as you cry or can pump you up during a run. “Kill for Love” can do both of those things, just press play. I suggest trying track #2, Kill for Love or #14, At Your Door. And please, always continue the quest for quality, artful, and thoughtfully rendered music. Pitchfork is always there to help and so am I! 

<3 DJ Hans



The beautiful Ruth Radelet.

If you’d like to read a reputable review on “Kill for Love”, Pitchfork, as always, does it again.

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So Many Questions


I picked up the habit of journaling in France. It started out as an FYS requirement, but soon turned into a way for me to process everything I was seeing and learning about. That sounds corny, I know, but writing has always been the way that I worked through difficult moments in my life.

When I got back to the U.S. I promised myself that’d I’d keep writing. But you know the story: you get a summer job and the hours are long and you’re tired when you’re done and don’t feel much like writing and it’s so sunny out you don’t want to sit down and  actually write something. And so the habit slipped. When I got back to SLU in the fall I picked it back up. If not daily, I write once or twice a week on what’s going on in my life.

As a surprise, my parents bought me this Q&A journal for Christmas. Essentially, it asks you a question every day for five years, the questions repeating every year so you can see how you’ve changed in that time.

Waterproof notebook (the closest thing I’ve seen to magic)

Next to my waterproof journal, it was, by far, the best gift I’ve ever received. It’s eliminated all excuses in the book: who doesn’t have time to answer one question a day? The questions typically aren’t that difficult ranging from “what was the last movie you rented?” to “how do you describe home?”.

It’s kept me writing a little bit everyday and it’s made me stop to consider something about my life. Some of them are pretty tough:

March 15: What do you not want to talk about?

December 27: When was the last time you felt at peace?

January 2: Can people change?


The point here is not necessarily that you have to go out and buy this book, but rather, I think we should all take some time out of our day to answer the questions we never bother to ask ourselves. It’s easy to get caught up in the flow of daily life at SLU, but for all the artist and writers out there let’s take a few minutes to think about the things we never make time for on our plate.

So my question for all of you is: What are you going to do with these last several weeks at SLU?

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World Languages Week

That mythical time has come, when schoolwork comes back from the void of vacation like Gandalf after his date with the Balrog. You’ve returned to find campus transformed from its gray, slushy state under a new layer of white (more Lord of the Rings references. I don’t know why; I’m not even a fan).

There’s also definitely a homework metaphor here.


But the point is, you’re back. What are you going to do about it?

You could ease the pain by celebrating World Languages Week. And there’s lots more to do than just going to the Hoot to celebrate your questionable Irish heritage.



4:30–5:30 Spanish trivia Carnegie 10, test your knowledge and win prizes!

6:00–8:00 Movie: A Bottle in the Gaza Sea in the Winston Room, sponsored by the Arabic Club & Islamic club, discussion to follow



11:00–1:00 CIIS info table in the Student Center

4:30–5:30 French trivia, test your knowledge and win prizes!

6:00–7:00  Cultural performances: dances, songs, poems, music in the Winston Room



4:30–5:30 Poetry for Peace in Carnegie 110. Bring a poem to share in any language (preferably with an English translation as well). All are welcome to read or just listen.

10:00–11:00 Tea Time in the I–House lounge, Sykes 2616



4:30–5:30 German Trivia, in Carnegie 10 test your knowledge and win prizes!

5:00–7:00 SLU International Iron Chef, live cooking contest co-sponsored by Dining Services

7:00–9:00 Movie: Persepolis in Carnegie 10


Check out some pictures from last year’s event!

Iron Chef at Dana, 2013


SLU Iron Chef 2013, Image courtesy of




Ally T.

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The Firs

I’ve always had an appreciation for unknown (obscure) bands, especially when I know people in them.

When I went to college I deleted everyone on Facebook  from my former life (aka everyone I knew in high school), but for some reason I kept this one dude.  Maybe it was because he was super cute and I always had a crush on him.  Or maybe I knew one day he’d make it big in one of the bands he played in.  (Or maybe I still feel guilty for burning him with a cigarette — yes in my former life I was a smoker– even though he said he wasn’t mad about it.  A sign of a superior human.)

I’ve been following Rick Spataro’s musical endeavors for a while (Florist, Slender Shoulders), but his newest project The Firs put out an exceptionally fantastic first album.  And by “put out” I mean, posted on Bandcamp.  The album Smoke Thin is shoe-gazey, and slightly poppy on some tracks (” There is Nothing at All and Fear is Just Put to Waste”) with male Cat Power-esque vocals.  It’s almost like an underwater Indie dream.  The single (“or whatever that means,” says Rick) is a song called “A Fight” is a song about an internal struggle (“what can I say / I was in a fight inside”) that causes an external struggle with a special someone (“we are only talking because you know we’re both depressed”).  The entire album captures what I assume the post-collegiate sadness feels like.  It’s honest, raw and some of it’s kinda cute.  I highly recommend giving it a listen on a mellow night while drinking wine.

The FirsClick the cover art to listen to Smoke Thin on Bandcamp.


-Raina K. Puels ’16

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Things that go bump in the night

I’ve discovered over the past few weeks of the semester that I have an affinity for all things creepy.  Creepy music, creepy writing, creepy photography – you name it, and I’ll probably like it.  Personally, I blame really good crime television, and Professor Caroline Breashears.  But mostly really good crime television.

I think it probably started with Criminal Minds.  I had plenty of free time over the summer, and of course my go-to activity was to marathon nine seasons of psychopaths.  Then I saw Silence of the Lambs for the first time (phenomenal movie – if you haven’t seen it, put it at the top of your list), which prompted me to devour season one of Hannibal (devour – see what I did there!).  One thing led to another, and the next thing I know I’m listening to Lorde, agonizing over Kevin Bacon in The Following, and enrolling in Caroline Breashears’ Gothic Novel class.

Caroline’s class is all about the creepy things that incite fear and disgust.  From classic gothic tropes like incest and religious hypocrisy to classic characters like Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula, every Monday and Wednesday from 2:30 to 4:00 I am immersed in scary stories.  And it is starting to bleed into my writing.

It’s quite liberating to write about things that go bump in the night.  There are no limitations; topics that might seem taboo, or pushing the boundaries, or “not very appropriate,” are suddenly fair game.  Take cannibalism for example.  While learning about gothic tropes of terror and horror in Caroline’s class, I had a writing assignment due for English 310: Advanced Fiction. We had to find an obscure word.  I settled on Paedophage – an eater of children – and turned in a six page narrative about an elderly woman, known around town as the sweet old lady who lives in the woods and goes to bingo once a week, and unknown to the town as a child-specific cannibal.

Creepy, right?

The point of this isn’t that everybody should start writing about cannibals and serial killers and psychopathic personalities.  My love for creepy could very well be a phase, the same way I went through an “OMG I’m totally gonna marry Joe Jonas” phase (although I’m pretty sure my current fixation is more intellectually stimulating).  The point of this to embrace liberation in imagination, in writing, in endless possibilities of exploration.  I mean, I just put Joe Jonas and cannibalism in the same paragraph; who does that?  Find your equivalent of creepy, and run with it.  See where it takes you.

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On Keeping an Artist’s Notebook

I have to keep an artist’s notebook for one of my classes this semester. Spoiler alert: No one “discovers” my doodles or a hidden talent for visual art. My professor (Kirsten Kaschock) told us to look through sections of Da Vinci’s notebooks (the snippets that have found their way onto the internet) for inspiration. Even if it’s hard to navigate to his pictures and the online layout is nothing like the original, they’re definitely worth checking out here.

As I was been thinking what I might put into my own notebook, I realized that too often my inspiration comes from “20 Things in Your Twenties You Wish You’d Done Differently,” “12 Pictures Of Death Row Prisoners’ Last Meals,” or “Who Said It, a Child or a Serial Killer?” These click-bait lists have their place, but they don’t usually inspire a creative response. Making a notebook has slightly augmented all the mental Cheetos I eat when I want a break from intelligent thought. It’s something I can look through when I’m low on ideas and remind myself of some of the wild things that other people have made or that have happened naturally.

Bougles-leg-anatomical-embroidery-square-300x300Embroidered circulatory system, based on an anatomical drawing by Joulien Bougle from 1899. I love to see how art and science can come together. Source

My professor gave us the option of creating our notebooks as blogs, but I was afraid that would give it the same feel as Buzzfeed lists, something that I threw together with a CTL C here and a CTL V there. Personally, being on a computer makes me more passive, more boring, and generally less likely to get anything done. 

CrowHand-carved ceramic from crowfootstudio on Etsy.

What my notebook lacks in volume I’m hoping to make up for in quality. My notebook will be partly a visual timeline of the creation of a final project for the class that my group designed ourselves: a representation of mental illness through poetry, embroidery, and photos of mouse brains taken through a confocal microscope (by the bio major, not me). But my notebook will also be a catchall for whatever beautiful detritus I find along the way. 

You don’t have to be an artist to keep an artist’s notebook. We all have passions and obsessions and a need to create. We all need something to get us through slow days. It’s ok not to organize it. Just create something that makes you want to create more.

MIttensSwedish mittens, knitted 1855, found here

But don’t take it from me, listen to my good pal Kurt:

“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

–Ally T.

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Written Wanderlust

I’m embarrassed to admit that during the school year, my leisure reading predominantly involves glossy magazines. I’ll indulge every now and then in Glamour (it’s fun to share with roommates), pine over my past running days with Runner’s World, or snag an issue of Time to feel updated with the world. Yet my favorite magazine has to be National Geographic Traveler. Once I saw the February/March 2014 cover online, I knew I needed to obtain the issue.

Laurentian blog_Nat Geo Traveler cover

The feature story has particular significance to me. During my time in China last year, I spent a week travelling the southern province of Yunnan, and we went to some of the same locations as the Nat Geo title suggests: Shangri-La, Jade Snow Dragon Mountain, Lijiang, and more. It was by far the most breathtaking area of the world I ever visited, and one of the best weeks of my life.

Yunnan is possibly China’s most biodiverse and ethnically diverse region. You can go from the southern jungles or the year-round temperate capital of Kunming, drive for a day, and end up on plateaus and glaciers at over 15,000 feet stretching into Tibet. 22 of China’s 52 ethnic minorities reside here, with cultures and languages and color in their lives beyond what my minimal Mandarin Chinese could ever comprehend. I went trekking for a day through Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the world’s deepest canyons, and spent a few nights living and learning with host families outside Shangri-La in the culturally Tibetan village of Napa.

Laurentian blog_Tibetan prayer flags

The photographer, Michael Yamashita, perhaps has the longest-running collection of photos from China spanning across 30 years. These from Yunnan are absolutely stunning and truly capture the rugged, almost mystical essence of the region. And to be honest, I can’t remember anything too notable from the written story because I was too busy marveling at the images. Memories of Yunnan flash through my mind nearly every day. I’m thrilled that National Geographic continually uncovers untouched corners of this world, but in some sense, this is a secret that I want to keep.

The issue also caught my interest for its features on Quebec City and the Berkshires of Massachusetts—so many peripheral connections! I’m not sure if any retailer in Canton offers this magazine (my parents mailed it to me from a bookstore in Florida), but if you’re pining for some wanderlust at any budget, I suggest you check it out. I’m crossing my fingers to return to Yunnan someday.

To subscribe and see more on this issue, peruse the Nat Geo Traveler site.
To see more of Michael Yamashita’s work, both professional and daily life, follow his Instagram.
And my own experience in Yunnan can be found in my blog archives!


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Man at Arms

For those who are on the Internet, you’ve probably heard of a small site called YouTube.  Recently, I stumbled upon a channel called AWE Me (Amaze, Wow, Educate).  It hosts a show called Man at Arms and is features seasoned blacksmith, Tony Swatton, making various weapons.  But these weapons are one of a kind as they hail from different forms of geek media like video games and t.v. shows.  Along with that, there is a smaller series called 3D Chalk Art, which is exactly how it sounds.  Some of which are 8-bit graphics, others are modern pieces of chalk art, either way it is quite a process to watch.  I recommend you check out some of the quick 6 to 8 minute videos of Man at Arms most of all.  From Link’s Master Sword to Wolverine’s claws to Finn’s Golden Sword.

Here’s the link:

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Books to Read

Reading has been a lifelong passion for me, as it is for many people. Lately it has been a hobby of mine to peruse top 100 book lists to see how many I can check off. My average on most lists is around 20-30, and to be perfectly honest, many of those, like The Great Gatsby, Great Expectations and To Kill A Mockingbird, were from freshman and sophomore year of high school.

Here’s a list that all you other book nerds out there can test yourself on:

These lists tend to be a little biased toward THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL, or the British equivalent. Of course books like The Lord of the Rings put in a good name for fantasy, and classics like Dune for science fiction, The Canterbury Tales is on there as well, and Dracula, but overall the relevant genre for our times still seems to be straight fiction. And that is fine, if it is representative of us and our generation. As far as content goes, I think there is more to reading than just fiction or non-fiction from the 20th century. Read older, read newer, read sci-fi and read fantasy and read crappy romance novels and teen paranormal adventures. Most importantly, even though we are are all busy with our lives and homework and everything else, just remember to keep reading.

Here’s another list I found that is a little more rounded, and a bit more specific:



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“Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color”– Maggie Nelson, Bluets


The other day I was sitting in my Sensation & Perception class, when I started thinking about the color blue. Blues are everywhere, from the sky to our jeans, to even the worn out chairs that roll around the W.O.R.D. Studio. I have never been a fan of blue as a color for ink, but I can respect it. So on this day, my pencil to the paper, scribbling hieroglyphics, eyes cast down, hoping not to be called on, I realized that my blues were fading. Instead of showing and explaining the diagram and function of the eye, let me give you the sparknotes: the lens of your eye, which is behind the cornea (where you put your contacts), and iris (the pretty colored part), helps to refract light so it can be better focused on your retina, allowing you to see things. This lens is yellow in color.

As we age our lens become a darker yellow, almost brown. This means that the blues of the world are being filtered through a deeper and deeper yellow, turning our blues, well, less blue. My advice is for everyone to take some time today to enjoy the blues of the world.

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