ACRN’s Top Movies of 2021

Pig, [Neon; 2021] By Ben Lindner, Staff Writer Michael Sarnoski’s “Pig,” a meditative tale of learning to cope with loss, stands as one of the year’s best films. Nicholas Cage stars as Robin, a former chef who has transitioned out of city life and now lives with his truffle pig in the woods. When his…

ACRN’s Most Disappointing Albums of 2021

10. Mastodon – Hushed and Grim, [Reprise; 2021] ACRN Contributor Mastodon’s latest project, Hushed and Grim, brings almost nothing to slake fans’ thirst for innovation. The album isn’t terrible, but it is a 90-minute exercise in patience with close to no payoff. Keeping Mastodon’s trend of memorializing loved ones through their projects, Hushed and Grim…

Movie Review: The Card Counter

By Ben Lindner, Staff Writer
[Focus Features; 2021]
Rating: 5/10
Writer and director Paul Schrader, best known for writing Scorsese classics Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and the 2017 indie hit First Reformed, returns to the big screen with The Card Counter. In The Card Counter, former soldier William Tell (Oscar Isaac) is just getting out of prison. Haunted by his time in a cell, William spends all of his time playing blackjack, swindling the casinos out of money with the card counting skills he learned during his time in solitary. William prefers to be alone, but he ends up getting to know La Linda (Tiffany Haddish), the charming poker manager who wants to get William into bigger gambling rings and Cirk (Tye Sheridan), a young former soldier who brings William’s past back to him. William has to face his past and see if he can adapt back into the world.

Album Review: Sufjan Stevens – A Beginner’s Mind

By Adrian Woods, Contributor
[Asthmatic Kitty Records; 2021]
Rating: 8/10
Key tracks: “Reach Out”, “Back To Oz”, “You Give Death A Bad Name”
Stevens is one of the biggest indie folk figures of the 2000’s and 2010’s, and he has released some of the most essential pieces of indie folk music within that time. It was a bit of a shock to see him drop his second album of the year, A Beginner’s Mind, just four months after his last album Convocations.

Movie Review: Dear Evan Hansen

This year is full of Broadway musical adaptations; there was In The Heights this summer, and West Side Story will premiere at the end of the year. Now, a film adaptation of the 2017 Best Musical Tony winner Dear Evan Hansen has hit the big screen. With film adaptations are on the rise, Dear Evan Hansen is an example of this trend going too far, as the film feels soulless, hollow and ultimately unnecessary.

Album Review: Rx Nephews – Crack Dreams 2

By Kwase Lane, Features Editor
[NewBreedTrapperRecords; 2021]
Rating: 7/10
Key tracks: “Who Are They”, “The One”, “Aunty Lip Lock”
Crack Dreams 2, the latest project in Rx Nephew’s endless procession of releases, is a beautiful mishmash of boasts and self-condemnation. If you’re familiar with the New York rapper, you know he has a unique way with words, and if you’ve never heard his work, it doesn’t take long for his inimitable style to register. Rx Nephew’s work is ruled by contradiction. He’ll dedicate several lines to lamenting the tale of Job before irreverently declaring that he wants to “beat the shit out of Eve.” He laments his history of drug use just before criticizing individuals struggling with addiction for not kicking their own habits. Despite the staggering amount of tonal whiplash his pieces share, they are linked by a mutual understanding of pain and a desire to know what it takes to heal that hurt.

Album Review: Honnda – Ultimate Rivals: The Court

By Kiah Easton, Editorial Director
[Orange Milk Records/ Rivals; 2021]
Rating: 7/10
Key tracks: “Megabloom Halo ft Dai Burger & moistbreezy”, “Bounce Castle”, “The Golden Age of Content (Menu)”

Movie Review: One Night in Miami…

By RJ Martin, Contributor
[Snoot Entertainment; 2020]
Rating: 8/10
One Night in Miami… is the newest film from director Regina King and writer Kemp Powers, finding both of them honing their craft. This is only Powers’ second big-screen feature after co-directing and writing Pixar’s acclaimed Soul from late last year. The film is adapted from his original 2013 stage play, and it recounts the events of a meeting between four titans in black history: Malcom X, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown and Cassius Clay (later to be Muhammad Ali). They met in celebration after Clay’s legendary victory over Sonny Liston in Miami, Florida. 

Movie Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League

By Ben Lindner, Staff Writer
[Warner Bros.; 2021]
Rating: 8/10
The time has come. Zack Snyder’s behemoth, a 4-hour director’s cut of Justice League has arrived after over 3 years of calls from fans. After the immense hype and speculation, with the film being stitched together under the worst circumstances, Zack Snyder’s Justice League miraculously delivers a satisfying and engaging epic that is sure to be a hit for the fans who waited so long for it.

Album Review: Weezer – OK Human

By: RJ Martin
[Atlantic Records; 2021]
Rating: 6/10
Key tracks: “All My Favorite Songs”, “Here Comes The Rain”, “La Brea Tar Pits”
What if after Green Day proudly proclaimed their most recent album had “no features, no swedish songwriters, no trap beats, just 100% pure uncut rock” it actually turned out to be pretty decent despite the overwhelming snobbery? Well, you don’t have to imagine, because after a lackluster performance on their most recent records, Weezer seems to have done just that. A few weeks ago, ahead of the release of OK Human, the band took to Instagram to explain that the album was made with a time “when humans really mattered and when the dark tech-takeover fantasy didn’t exist” in mind. The album was made all analogue with a ’60s/’70s sound in mind, which isn’t a new concept. 

Movie Review: Soul

By RJ Martin, Contributor[Disney; 2020]Rating: 9/10 Over the last year, we’ve had our fair share of eyebrow-raises and eye-rolls at various media trying to make some sort of statement about society in the wake of the pandemic. Pixar’s Soul is a film that actually does it well without even trying to in the first place. …

Album Review: Black Country, New Road – For the first time

By Jonah Krueger, News Editor
[Ninja Tune; 2021]
Rating: 9/10
Key tracks: “Athens, France”, “Science Fair”, “Sunglasses”, “Opus”
Black Country, New Road accomplished something incredible—they released an album that got noticed. After forming from the ashes of a promising band ruined by the actions of a single member, the seven-piece’s trajectory seemed pretty straightforward. Gain a quick cult following off the basis of live performances, work out new material, put out a single or two, sign to a label, release a debut album—all the while remaining mysterious and developing an idiosyncratic aesthetic.