The Local Scene Review

The Local Scene Review

In this first edition, I review two groups of wildly different genres: metal group Fourth in Line and pop group Blue Skies and Death.
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Every band starts small. There were times when even the most immense arena-filling groups were just an idea—a few basement recordings, a few errant riffs. We live in an age of great opportunity, but also one of oversaturation. Sometimes it feels like there's just too much music floating around to even grasp!

At times like this, we must turn to our local music scene. Odds are somebody you know is in a band, and I'd be willing to bet their music is worth hearing. Therefore, I have decided to review releases from two or three local D.C., Maryland, and Virginia-based bands and artists every two weeks. Welcome to my soapbox, and happy listening.


"Σ [Sigma]" (EP) by Fourth in Line


"Sigma" is Fourth in Line's debut EP. The Falls Church-based progressive metal band wastes no time on the seven-track release—each song is layered and bursting with personality. One of the most amazing accomplishments of this EP is its level of polish. The local music scene harbors a slew of hastily and sloppily recorded releases from heavier, more technical groups. In a refreshing display, "Sigma" is meticulous, careful, and exceptional.

The five-piece flexes their musical prowess on each track, but keyboardist Nik Hokaj steals the show. The opening track, "Rho," sets a mystifying atmosphere, and a barrage of buzzing sawtooth synths await on every following song.

The vocal tracks hearken to progressive metal band Opeth's brand genre-defying melodic movements. I'm reminded at times of contemporary death metal band Ghost, albeit with more active and involved arrangements.

Even if you're not a fan of this brand of music, the riding rhythms and melodies keep you from skipping a track. It's a local metal band's EP that dares to be more than the sum of its parts, and it truly feels momentous. Take the time to listen to this one.

Fourth in Line is quite active on Facebook, and "Sigma" is available for free on Bandcamp.



"Little Things" (Single) by Blue Skies and Death

If you've read my writings on Weezer, you'd know I'm a huge sucker for hooks and bridges. You might be able to guess I'm a sucker for syrupy powerpop. The surprise is that I freaking love synthpop. "Little Things" has all of this and more.

D.C. power-synth-electro-etc. group Blue Skies and Death comes off as an absolutely dominant twosome. "Little Things" oozes with textured keyboards and boomy drums, and the vocals literally soar through a larger-than-life chorus.

This is a huge track in its arrangement, its performance, and even its length. Most pop tracks rarely edge much over three minutes, and those that do usually overstay their welcome. Blue Skies and Death overcome this challenge by altering the song structure just enough to remain familiar but varied.

There's a level of nuance to this track that many bands at all levels fail to maintain. And really, I could write an entire article on how this song masters the art of an affecting bridge. It's straightforward and simple, but it leaves me feeling like something happened to me. I think that you experience this song rather than listen to it.

After hearing "Little Things," all I can really say is I eagerly await more upcoming releases from this duo. I'm also a bit curious to see a live set and how the arrangements compare. Ultimately, my interest is locked in. Any fans of pop, or just good music in general, should give this a shot.

"Little Things" is available on most streaming programs, including Spotify. Check out Blue Skies and Death on Facebook, and dig their interactive website.


Cover Image Credit: Blue Skies and Death

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.

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Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.


I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.


I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.


As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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