When Sh*t Gets Personal: All Together Now #4 Review

Read the article on TheMillennialNoise.com

By Alexandra “Xandra” Fileccia

The Lilypad, Saturday April 29

Local Rapper Tashawn Taylor is the perfect hype-man to kick off All Together Now’s fourth installation. With his brown overalls–one strap hanging off to the side–and thick-framed glasses, Taylor emanates some serious retro, hiphop vibes. “We want to make the people outside jealous that they’re not having a good time with us right now,” Taylor says to the audience. “Repeat after me,” he continues. “I ain’t no joke!”

I ain’t no joke!

All Together Now Curator Anna Rae first discovered Taylor at a Black Lives Matter rally. As soon as she heard him perform, she knew she had to incorporate him into her next collaborative piece. He starts off his set with “Grown Man” and follows that with “Raindrops.” In this song, Taylor repeats a short, solemn chorus, countering the animated style of his verses.

Continue reading “When Sh*t Gets Personal: All Together Now #4 Review”

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All Together Now #3 Review

Read the article on TheMillennialNoise.com

By Alexandra “Xandra” Fileccia

Sarah Fard sits on a piano bench; the light highlighting her face and guitar. As she starts to strum a slow, jazzy tune, Adlai Grayson lifts his head. He sits on the floor facing Fard and begins to dance along with soft, smooth movements; his pink, hooded poncho slowly becoming a prop. Grayson stands up, his arms creating shapes as he carefully curates his next move. He reaches out to the audience, some of which are sitting on the floor just steps away, and plays with an audience member’s hair. Fard stands up and the two of them sway back and forth mimicking toe-taps.

All Together Now, a collaborative multimedia performance, came to a close with its third installment on September 27. As its final show at The Lilypad in Cambridge, MA, the event did not disappoint. Show curator and pop-rock singer/bassist Anna Rae put together a truly unique performance that created space for performers of color and LGBT performers. Each installment of All Together Now showcased multiple artists using a variety of different mediums. At the last performance, there were four acts: Sarah Fard, Adlai Grayson, Johnny Blazes & 3rian King, and Hemway with acts ranging from stand up to drag to rock and jazz guitar.

Continue reading “All Together Now #3 Review”

WERS 88.9FM Packages

Over my Fall ’14 semester at Emerson College, I worked for WERS 88.9FM. I worked specifically on the public affairs show called You Are Here contributing a package almost every other week related to the show’s changing weekly theme. Unfortunately, they haven’t uploaded anything recently to their SoundCloud page so here are my clips that aired on WERS (Note: these have already aired on the station and do not cover recent news):

I want to add that working for WERS was an awesome experience and has opened my eyes to the world of radio journalism, which I found out I really enjoy. I hope to continue with the station next semester as well.

Update: WERS has uploaded these clips: herehere and here.

Breaking Bread

Award Winning Bricco Panetteria (Published in Scene magazine)

By Alexandra Fileccia

Hidden down an alleyway off of Hanover Street in the North End lies Bricco Panetteria. Follow the stairs down and you’ll enter into the cozy bakeshop. On your right stands a tall rack filled with dozens of loaves of bread. On the counter in front of you sits fresh croissants and sandwich bread. The buzz of busy bakers fills your ears as they make the day’s supply of bread. The panetteria has received nothing but praise since its opening about four years ago.

The bakery takes the title of “Best bakery/bread” for the second year in a row in Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” issue. The Panetteria was also mentioned in the August 2014 issue of Bon Appétit. Owner Frank DePasquale initially opened the bakery to supply his own bread to his restaurants. Now, anyone can stop by for a loaf of bread.

With new head baker Antonio Follico and a new variety of breads including polenta bread, truffle bread and sesame bread, Bricco is bringing a fresh taste while staying close to tradition. “We like to play with the recipes,” says Antonio, “People like to try something different.” Antonio worked his way up in the panetteria, and with his experience and new responsibilities he plans to change things up a bit.

The ingredients and passion that goes into creating the bread make it so desirable. Bricco uses minimal ingredients such as unbleached, unbromated enriched wheat flour and organic wheat flour, water and salt. Antonio’s favorite breads are Olive Ciabatta and Prosciutto and Parmesan Ciabatta, two of the bakery’s popular loaves. The panetteria is open everyday from 8am to 11pm. If you haven’t already, head down Bricco Place and grab yourself a loaf.

Basket Case

Packing the Perfect Picnic Feast

Published in SCENE Magazine

By Alexandra Fileccia


 

The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and Boston is bustling with tourists—summer is finally here. And I have one word for you: picnics. Share a meal with friends, family and Mother Nature. Or make it a romantic date along the Charles River with someone special. Pick a spot, whether it be the Lewis Wharf, Corey Hill Outlook or even Boston Common, and get settled.

The spot where you set your blanket is important, but the food in your basket is the heart of your picnic. Pack your favorite salads, sandwiches and burgers. Need inspiration? See what famous chefs from around Boston would pack in their baskets.

Jasper White
Summer Shack
“Fried chicken and some potato salad. Mostly just fried chicken, it’s my favorite.”

Dante de Magistris
Dante, Il Casale
“That’s easy, left over pasta. I always associate picnics or the beach with tuna spaghetti. It’s really good cold. It’s a light tomato sauce with tuna, anchovy and parsley. Also something refreshing like cut up pieces of jicama with lime chili salt. And of course some wine or a margarita in a pitcher.”

Jose Duarte
Taranta
“A French baguette with Mortadella, grapes and a piece of Crucolo cheese. And, of course, some Prosecco.”

Lucas Sousa
Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro
“Something easy to eat while sitting out. Meats and cheeses for a sandwich, and some fruit.”

Ian Just
Society on High
“I would have to say our Cobb Salad; nicely grilled chicken on top of mixed greens, blue cheese, bacon pieces, hard cooked egg, and avocado. Perfect for a picnic.”

Bill Poirier
Sonsie
“An Asian picnic basket. Premixed Mai Tai with plenty of crushed ice. A sesame lobster salad roll, cold, Sriracha fried chicken, miso veggie slaw and brownies with crystalized ginger. Did I say plenty of Mai Tai?”

Paul Wahlberg
Alma Nove, Wahlburgers
“A six pack of Coca-Cola, pork cutlet sandwiches from my father’s recipe, homemade potato salad and roasted ears of corn.”

Benefits of laughing

Published in Atlas Magazine

By Alexandra Fileccia

Before Jordan Perry, president of the comedy troupe Jimmy’s Traveling All-Stars, walks on stage, he takes a deep breath and clears his mind. He gets into the character of his first skit. The audience roars with laughter. Typically when you are laughing, you are reacting to humor or comedy. For Perry, laughter is a way to feel good. Though the purpose of laughter is not to improve your health, there are some side effects that are conducive to your health.

Laughter is a major combatant to stress. When you are stressed, you release hormones such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol. Cortisol diverts energy from other functions in the body, such as the immune system, in order to use and conserve it for the stress stimulus. Laughter, which releases endorphins, suppresses stress hormones. When stress hormones are reduced, it allows for an improvement in immune functions because cortisol is no longer deterring the energy that the system needs. Studies have shown that women who are characterized as optimistic see less cancer growth because they are able to laugh and make light of their situation, which in turn optimizes their immune system and creates more antibodies.

When you have a really good, deep laugh, your whole body is involved. Your head may tilt back, arms swing, and stomach muscles contract. Some people laugh until they are rolling around on the ground, some even cry. These are all responses to the hearty, belly laugh. During intense bouts of laughter, your heart rate significantly increases, mirroring what happens during exercise. William F. Fry, humor research pioneer who experimented with heart rate and laughter, noted that one minute of a strong, jovial laughter produced the same heart rate as ten minutes of rowing on an exercise machine. Intense laughter can result in muscle soreness, similar to the sore feeling after a heavy workout. However after laughing, your heart rate returns to a relaxed state faster than it does after exercising. Robert R. Provine, psychology professor at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, says laughter can be a gentle form of exercise though the calorie cost has not been determined yet.

Laughing also improves your mental health, mostly due to the positive emotions associated with laughter. It serves as a distraction from anything negative in your life. Humor researcher Rod A. Martin says laughter is a coping mechanism. The positive emotions tied to laughter temporarily replace those of anxiety, depression, or anger. This is why people sometimes laugh at inappropriate times or break out in bouts of nervous laughter. It is a way to emotionally deal things that make us uncomfortable—a defense mechanism.

Laughing is contagious; it’s part of human nature. When a person sees laughter, their instinct response is to laugh as well. “The neural mechanism responsible for laugh epidemics replicates behavior that it detects, producing a behavioral chain reaction,” says Provine in his novel Laughter: A Scientific Investigation. The contagiousness is one way laughing strengthens relationships. People who laugh together form a certain connection and comfort. Laughter can diminish stress in social situations, which enhances social interactions. “I like to try and make people laugh,” Perry says, “because I believe laughter brings us together.”

Crystal Castles (III)

Published in Five Cent Sound magazine (formerly Chaos magazine).

By Alexandra Fileccia

The Canadian electronic duo Crystal Castles released their third studio album (III) on November 12. They’ve scrapped their old synthesizers and completely took out computers for this album, says producer and band member Ethan Kath—so what you get is a more refined sound. (III), which was recorded mostly in Warsaw, was released under the Universal Music Group label.

“Oppression is a theme, in general,” said vocalist Alice Glass at the Reading Festival in Reading England this past August. “A lot of bad things have happened to people close to me since (II)… I didn’t think I could lose faith in humanity any more than I already had, but after witnessing some things, it feels like the world is a dystopia where victims don’t get justice and corruption prevails.”

Just by looking at the album cover, you can tell it has a more serious feel to it than (I) or (II). The photograph, taken by Spanish photographer Samuel Aranda, depicts Fatima al-Qaws cradling her tear-gassed son Zayed after a demonstration in Sanaa, Yemen. With such a powerful cover image, it only makes sense that the tracks on the album are laced with hidden political themes of oppression.

“Plague” starts out with Glass’ cyborg whisper over a steady synth. It then uses the pounding drumbeat to build up to a chaotic chorus of soft screams. “Infants in infantry/ Rewrite their history/ Uproot their colony/ You’re ripe for harvesting,” she shrieks and ends the chorus by shouting, “I am the plague.”

“Kerosene” doesn’t stand out from the rest of the tracks on first listen, but if you take a closer look at the lyrics the song becomes very chilling. “I can clean impurity/ Wash away with kerosene,” sings Glass in a breathy burst. “I’ll protect you from all the things I’ve seen/ And I’ll clean your wounds/ Rinse them with saline/ Kerosene.” Her haunting vocals end on the lyric “I’ll protect you from all the things I’ve seen,” which becomes more clearly audible throughout the song.

The only track off (III) that resembles Crystal Castles’ old sound is “Insulin” with a playtime of 1:47. Its start and stop choppy style sounds almost as if your headphone jack is shaky. It has the most distortion on the whole album, however not nearly as much as “Fainting Spells” off of (II).

The album signs off with “Child I Will Hurt You,” a trance-inducing track with an airy feel contrary to what the title may imply. Glass sings in a dreamy haze, “Mercy we abstain/ Hope you’re entertained/ Snow covers the stain/ Forray forever.” The song transports you into another dimension and leaves you there to float on Glass’ melodies and reflect on the violence in our world. The phrase “forray forever” implies that our world will eternally be filled with attacks and tragedy.

The album is more polished and has a smoother flow than previous albums. It is one cohesive work of art rather than various experimental tracks thrown together—you are no longer being attacked by the video game rage of (I) and (II). Crystal Castles have matured as musicians producing songs with more meaning than “Courtship Dating” from their debut album. (III) is more then just an album, it is a wake up call for society to notice more than their morning coffee and daily commute.