Paramore reloads with new album

After countless jabs and jeers, Paramore emerged from the cloud of nasty remarks with two fewer members and a promise of returning to their former glory. Josh and Zac Farro left the band three years ago, and lead singer Haley Williams vocalized her struggle to recover from the break-up via social media. But Williams, Taylor York and Jeremy Davis come out swinging with their new album, which hit shelves April 9. The self-titled work features 17 tracks, which seem a bit much, but the fact the band waited so long to name something after themselves really speaks for itself. This collection of songs shows the talent of each member, rather than appealing to the market like previous successful singles have done. The best example of the trio’s new outlook on life can be found in the musicality of “Ain’t it Fun.” This song sounds more like one Justin Timberlake would sing. Instead, Williams delivers a perfect performance. The jazzy intro develops into a chorus the three rockers pull off flawlessly. Then, gospel-style claps and choir music interludes completely puzzle listeners. A lot like her fiery red bangs, not everyone could handle this odd assortment of styles, but it seems perfectly fitting for Williams. “Fast in My Car” features Williams’ sassy lyrical delivery that makes the simple song work for both new and old fans of the group. A future summer hit, perhaps? Undoubtedly, the band has matured over the years even with the loss of two members. “Grow Up” speaks to that process when Williams sings, “Some of us have to grow up sometimes, but I might have to leave you alone. But we get along for the most part.” While there will be plenty of head-banging to come, many things have changed for the young musicians, and the result is a terrific composition. One catchy track stands out for the younger audience the band has attracted. “Daydreaming” hits emotional highs and lows with the punk-rock sound fans have been missing for years. Famous for their “Decode” on the original Twilight soundtrack, “Proof” resembles it with honest lyrics and a drum beat that propels the song. Naturally, a lengthy album like this leaves room for a ballad or two. The band performed “Hate to See Your Heart Break” live on BBC radio before the album’s release. Fans immediately responded with positive feedback and vowed that Paramore will “always be (their) favorite.” Indeed, Williams shows off her vocals, hitting honest low notes and also entering her famous high range in this song. The album as a whole explores places the band has never gone before, while still staying true to...

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Third Day concludes,  highlights C3

Third Day concludes, highlights C3

If it felt like the heart of Texas was beating a little harder than usual, that was because renowned Christian band Third Day rocked the foundations of the Bell County Expo Center after making an appearance at Hughes Hall. Their visit April 7 closed out music department Chair, Dr. Mark Aaron Humphrey’s, 2013 C3 series. The purpose of which he said is to “talk about the arts and faith and how those things collide.” Scheduling conflicts and a calendar full of nationwide bookings for the group were no match for Humphrey’s dogged persistence, which is to thank for the last-minute arrangement. Considering the event coincided with The Cru men’s basketball team’s biggest game ever, he was pleased with the turnout. “The fact that Third Day was on campus … even the fact that it happened at the same time as the national championship was cool because it was kind of like, ‘hey, UMHB … there’s things happening,’” Humphrey said. Even though the band was working under a time crunch, Humphrey thinks he was able to have an insightful dialogue with its members despite not spending time with them prior to the interview. Humphrey said, “In general, the more famous the band, the harder it is to create a meaningful conversation … but I think we got in some good time.” Third Day’s newest album and tour are called Miracle after the title track. The goal of this collection of inspirational music is to uplift and encourage listeners and let them know that good things can still take place in their lives. Frontman Mac Powell said, “The thing that we have to remember is that miracles still do happen, and God, I believe, is still in the business of miracles…. He wants us to be miracles in somebody else’s life.” The concert that followed later in the evening was opened by fellow Christian recording artists Josh Wilson and Colton Dixon. They both gave inspiring performances and had large fan bases present. However, when Third Day took the stage, the crowd erupted with a contagious energy that hung thick in the air for the remainder of the night. Third Day fans responded enthusiastically to the new music from Miracle, but they came unglued when the band began to play a few of its older, recognizable classics like “Cry Out to Jesus,” “I Believe” and “Born Again.” At the end of the concert, the audience began to shout and applaud wildly for several minutes in anticipation of an encore until the group came back out and played several more songs to conclude the...

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I Still Believe: a singer’s written journey

Christian contemporary musician, Jeremy Camp, is famous for his songs “Beautiful One,” “Walk by Faith,” “Healing Hand of God,” and “Over come,” just to name a few. Many familiar with Camp’s music do not know that he wrote a book called, I Still Believe. The title comes from his popular song by the same name. This biography tells about Jeremy’s childhood, his college days, his love for his first wife, Melissa, and the tragedy that occurred after their marriage. Ultimately, though, the story is described in the foreword  by best-selling author Karen Kingsbury in the foreword, “We have choices when life hits us with a tsunami of tragedy or despair, crisis or loss. That’s the message of Camp’s book, and it’s the reason you will find hope and healing by journeying through the pages of his story, his personal      tsunami.” Camp grew up in Indiana and didn’t have an easy life as a boy and a teenager. He married his college sweetheart, Melissa, on Oct. 21, 2000.   She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died Feb. 5, 2001. Some of Camp’s earlier songs reflect the pain and confusion he was going through after Melissa’s death. The first song he wrote after her death was, “I Still Believe.” Camp wrote “Walk by Faith” while he and Melissa were on their honeymoon. God has brought a sense of peace back into Camp’s life.     He is now married to Adrienne and has two daughters, Isabella and Arianne. Camp is open about what he went through. Readers are grateful his testimony is now available to be read in book form. If you or someone you know has ever been through a personal tragedy, this is definitely a good book choice. Camp experienced God’s grace in an amazing way. His personal story gives us a glimpse at what we desire in our lives — God’s surpassing comfort for...

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‘Down’ with Jesus

By Leif Johnston The bearded Robertson clan has suddenly become a part of American pop culture this past year. The family went from being average working-class to one that created duck calls in their hometown of West Monroe, La. This soon developed into a multi-million dollar corporation. One thing that hasn’t changed about the Robertsons is that their faith in Jesus Christ will always be at the top of their priority list. Season one aired last March and now the Duck Commanders are in their third season, with the third episode of that season scheduled to air March 13. The ratings of the show rise as audiences get a glimpse of the ins and outs of the Robertson family’s lives. Reasons for this trend include their unfailing commitments to  faith, family and ducks. This may seem like a simple concept, but it is just what many Americans are looking for in a society that is largely frustrated with dramatized, fake reality T.V. “I think people are especially interested in Duck Dynasty because the Robertsons’ family and friends are outrageous, unpredictable characters, yet they also are relatable and likable. They are God-fearing, family-oriented people who enjoy life,” Jim Miller, director of the mass communication program at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., told the Christian Chronicle. If you happen to follow the show, you know that Phil Robertson and Si Robertson thoroughly enjoy duck hunting, catching bullfrogs and getting rid of those pesky beavers. But more importantly they cherish the opportunity to let the younger generation know that God should be first in their lives. The show is aired on A&E, and, unfortunately, some of the strong Christian references were edited out in season two. This didn’t fly with Phil Robertson as he told the Christian Chronicle in an interview,        “They pretty much cut out most of the spiritual things. We say them, but they just don’t run them on the show.” In the first episode of the current season, the Robertson family sat down to eat, but before they dug into the ducks they had killed in the opening day of season one, they bowed their heads to pray. But in past seasons as Robertson prays, the words “in Jesus’ name” were edited out. Josh Reese senior intredisciplinary studies said, “I think it is awesome that they would go the extra mile to make sure Jesus gets the praise. It is good to know that the Robertson family stands behind God ….” Whether the guys on Duck Dynasty are making duck calls or riding four wheelers, they will end with thanking God. This simple act may have a...

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Should The Last Exorcism be cast out of theaters?

The Last Exorcism Part II picks up right where the original left off. Nell Sweetzer (played by Ashley Bell) is the only individual left after the cult ceremony toward the end of the first film. Sweetzer travels to a home for recovering victims and begins to pick up the pieces. She tries to make a new life for herself, which includes a new job and a possible romantic interest. Just as Nell begins to forget the horrifying events of her past, the evil that once possessed her comes back for more. Nell soon realizes she must partake in another exorcism, but just like the first time, the situation doesn’t go as planned. The events that follow are even more terrifying than anyone could ever imagine. The film has an overall MPAA rating of PG-13 for horror violence, terror and brief language. Directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly, the movie also features Spencer Treat Clark (who played Lucius in Gladiator), Julia Garner and Judd Derek Lormand (who played Officer Darrell Lino in Joyful Noise). Bell’s most recent projects include: The Black Tulip, Sparks, The Bounceback and The Marine: Homefront. Unfortunately, The Last Exorcism Part II takes a major step back from the original film. The plot is so overused and washed up. Not even the few cheap jump scares can save the movie. Even though Bell is spot- on with her acting, it’s just not enough to make an average thriller extraordinary. The Last Exorcism was interesting and kept viewers guessing until the very last scene. As for Part II, well, the trailer is as good as it gets. The sequel is predictable and downright boring. The film closes without a solid ending, leaving room for a third movie, but if I were the director, I would just close the door on the franchise now before it turns into another cheesy Paranormal Activity series. If you’re looking for an even scarier version of the first film, you won’t find it here. Don’t waste money going to see the sequel. You’ll be left disappointed and wishing you had rented it at the nearest Redbox...

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Songwriter shares dramatic life story

Ifar “Eef” Barzelay spoke as a guest for the university’s C3: Conversations About Christianity + Culture program and followed up with a concert that was part of the Highways & Byways series. Associate Professor and music department chair Dr. Mark Humphrey was excited to have Barzelay as a speaker for the  March 1 portion of the C3 series because of the experiences that have shaped the way he writes songs. “Eef is less of a speaker. He’s a songwriter, and that’s what he does well. You read his lyrics, and you get the best of him; he’s not a believer in any way, but he writes in incredible ways about belief, nonbelief and doubt,” Humphrey said. Barzelay said at the beginning of the program, “My grandfather watched his father get beaten to death essentially in front of him, because he was Jewish…. And it wasn’t even by Nazis. It was their neighbors.” After that experience during the Holocaust, his grandparents changed their names, began to only speak Hebrew, reinvented themselves as Zionists and completely rejected God. Barzelay said being raised among Jewish atheists and Zionists made it difficult for him to have anything tangible to hold on to when it came to his beliefs. The songs Barzelay performed during the concert contained lyrics that made freshman marketing major Hannah Warren think about the mysterious ways in which God works. Warren said, “A part of a song that really stood out to me said, ‘Just remember that God loves mostly those who fail.’ Although I didn’t agree with what was said, it made me realize that a lot of people, including myself, tend to recognize God’s work only during a time of need.” Humphrey said that Barzelay’s background and belief   system are different from any of the previous C3 speakers, which made it worth the risk to have him speak for the program. Humphrey’s  favorite part of the songwriter’s visit was the relationship the university built with its guest. He said, “We made a commitment to say ‘we’re going to pray for you,’ and what was fascinating to me was at the end, after telling us all these interactions he’s had with Christianity, no one in his whole life had ever said ‘how can I pray for...

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