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New Album Review

“SPARK” by Whitney Album Review

One of the best things about listening to an artist is seeing how their sound develops over time. Hearing an artist’s sound evolve from album to album is truly a special thing. Sometimes, however, an evolution can sound more like a fall back than a step forward.

Chicago duo Whitney is famous for their wistful falsetto vocals and warm instrumentals. They make indie that incorporates folk and country, topped off with soul.

I was excited to see that they started releasing singles in June for an upcoming project. “REAL LOVE” was the first in a string of five singles that would release before the record.

Sadly, most of the songs released before the album left me desiring something more. Something I was hoping I would be able to hear at the album’s release.

“SPARK”

The first thing I noticed about each song on “SPARK” was the incredible production. The synths, strings and horns, which Whitney has utilized before, are on full display for these songs. At its peak, the production of each song truly melts in your ears.

However, I cannot help but feel like these peaks are few and far between on Whitney’s new record. It seems the sacrifice for the clear, crisp production of this album was a lack of variety and songs that die out before the halfway point.

A big problem I have noticed with many of the songs on this record is they are very front-heavy. Songs like “SELF” or even “REAL LOVE” (which I still admittedly like a lot) start with a strong premise but instead of building on that premise, they plateau.

Music video for “REAL LOVE” by Whitney

This isn’t to say the new Whitney album is all bad. “BLUE” is quickly becoming one of my favorite songs by the band. On the slower, more melancholic songs, like “COUNTY LINES” the high-quality production is at the forefront and sounds great.

There’s something about this album that makes me want to like it more than I do. Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m such a fan of their first few albums. It could also be that when this album is at its peak, it sounds excellent. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t hit that peak enough.

Conclusion

In “SPARK”, instead of evolving into a new and original sound, Whitney falls into a sound that highlights many of the band’s shortcomings. While there are highlights, if Whitney continues to make music in this vein, I hope they increase the variety within and songwriting of their tracks.

I fully believe Whitney is capable of doing this. I think that if they can get a better grasp on this new sound, they could release their best album yet.

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Blog

flipturn Concert Review

This weekend I went to The Grey Eagle in Asheville, NC to go see Florida indie band flipturn in concert. To state it simply, this was one of the coolest concerts I have ever been to.

This show was the second stop on flipturn’s tour after the release of their debut album, “Shadowglow”. Opening for flipturn was Nordista Freeze, a band I had never heard of until they came on stage that evening.

Overview

Both flipturn and Nordista Freeze did not disappoint. Nordista Freeze was a great opener, they did a great job hyping up the crowd before the main event. flipturn did an excellent job, their performance gave me a new appreciation for every song they played.

It was my first time at the Grey Eagle. I think the venue an artist plays at can add or detract a lot from the show. While both bands utilized the small venue very well, a slightly bigger venue would have been better.

I think the organization of the entrance to the Grey Eagle was quite poor for a show this large. The entrance to the stage, ticket check, and merch were all in one narrow hallway which made it quite a cramped waiting experience before they opened the doors to the stage.

I was pretty close to the front of the venue for the show. This enhanced my experience of the show greatly because I could see everything that was happening on stage easily and everything was perfectly loud.

After getting in right after the doors opened, I was happy to see Nordista Freeze come out right on time. As I have gone to more concerts, I have come to appreciate this more and more.

Nordista Freeze

Nashville indie band Nordista Freeze was quite frankly wild to watch live; I don’t think I have ever seen an opener bring so much energy so instantly to a crowd.

Guitarist, drummer, and lead singer of Nordista Freeze live
Nordista Freeze live at the Grey Eagle

Every member of this band has such off-the-walls energy and watching them riff off of each other. They played with energy like it was their first show ever but with the confidence of having played a million shows before.

The band is comprised of a drummer, bassist, lead singer/tambouriner, rhythm guitarist and lead guitarist. The lead singer also brought his girlfriend out at the end of the set to sing with him.

Nordista Freeze members were not scared to use the smallness of The Grey Eagle to their advantage. Many members jumped down into the crowds throughout the show. The lead guitarist played one of the most technical solos I’ve ever heard while in a pit.

Lead singer of Nordista Freeze up in the rafters
Lead singer of Nordista Freeze swinging from the trusses

The lead singer/tambouriner brought a crazy amount of hype to the show. He ran through the crowd over five times and hopped up into the trusses of the venue and started swinging around, twice. He was extremely in-tune with the band as well, emphasizing every important note and beat drop with his tambourines.

Seeing Nordista Freeze open instantly made me a fan. My favorite’s they played live were “Wysteria” and “All I Wanna Do”.

flipturn

flipturn had a comparitively chill energy compared to Nordista Freeze, sadly we did not get to see lead singer Dillon Basse get up and swing in the trusses, but that is not to say they did not bring energy to the show.

I first got into them in 2020 from their hit, “August” and I had only listened to them semi-regularly until the release of their debut album, “Shadowglow”. This album is in my opinion their best work and I was excited to hear so many songs from it live.

Picture of setlist from the show, in order from top to bottom:
"The Fall", "Sad Disco", "Chi", "Play", "Whales", "6 Below", "Hippies", "In Consideration", "Glisten", "Half", "BB", "Burn", "Weepy Woman", "Goddamn", "Take Care", "Space Cow", "Aug", "Nickel"
Picture of setlist from the show

They played mostly new material, even some songs they had never played live before, which I was extremely happy to hear. The crowd was too, as everyone in the venue was singing right along to every song.

They started the show with the first track off of “Shadowglow”, “The Fall”. They then went directly into “Sad Disco”, which I enjoyed a lot more live compared to the recording. A highlight of the setlist was hearing them play the transition from “Burn” to “Weepy Woman” live, which is my favorite part from their new album.

Picture of drummer of flipturn playing from the crowd

Seeing flipturn live gave me a new appreciation for their instrumentals. The drummer of flipturn was absolutely ripping it up. In a short intermission, he took a tom and crash symbol off of his kit and had two audience members hold them and he played a short rhythm.

The lead singer and bassist both seemed so genuinely happy to be there. Both of them were smiling throughout the entire show. The keyboardist and lead guitarist were both in their elements as well. It was fun to see the keyboardist move from keyboard to keyboard between songs.

Picture of drummer, bassist, and lead singer of flipturn playing together

The set design and lighting weren’t outstanding, but I think they did the most they could with what they had. I was confused by the choice to put the drummer on the right-side of the stage instead of the center. However, besides that one small gripe, I think they made the best out of the small stage they were playing on.

Encore

After a quick walk-off stage, they came back on and played their most popular song, “August”. They followed this by a song I had never heard before “Nickel”. I like hearing how bands try to make the most out of their hit songs and flipturn did not disappoint with “August”. Even though I had never heard “Nickel” before this show, I thought it was the perfect song to end on.

Overall, flipturn was awesome to see live. This concert provided everything I wanted and more. It was the type of show that made my ears ring for hours afterwards and I was not upset about it at all.

The crowd was one of the most energetic I have ever been in,. Everyone seemed super excited to be there and was singing along to every song.

I am definitely going to try to see flipturn again the next time they make their way to North Carolina. If only to hear the transition from “Burn” to “Weepy Woman” one more time. Seeing them live has me listening to their new album and looking forward to their next one even more than I was before.

You can buy tickets to go see flipturn live here, I would definitely recommend seeing them if they are coming anywhere near you. You can also check out an album review of “Shadowglow” by Michelangelo here.

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Band/Artist Profile

Profile of the Week: Pinegrove

Something about Pinegrove stands out to me in a way that no other band does. For this reason, Pinegrove has become my most listened-to band in the past year.

Lead singer Evan Stephens Hall wants his listeners to think critically while they listen. Within the catchy, heartfelt songs and records are an entanglement of depth and meaning. As an avid climate activist, Hall uses his platform as a way to spread awareness about climate change and what we can do to stop it.

Drummer Zack Levine, guitarist Sam Skinner, guitarist Josh Marre, keyboardist Nandi Rose Plunkett, and bassist Megan Benavente make up the rest of the six-person ensemble. Each other these members help to create the flair that makes Pinegrove as special as it is.

Discography Highlights

If you’ve never listened to a Pinegrove record and want somewhere to start, “Cardinal” is what you’re looking for. In this record, I think they best exemplify their sound in its purest form. This album has Pinegrove’s most popular song and many of my favorites. It hits indie rock highs but is clearly rooted in Americana.

Pinegrove, "Cardinal" album cover
Pinegrove, “Cardinal” album cover

Starting with “Old Friends” and ending with “New Friends”, the message is clear: at its heart, “Cardinal” is about friendships, relationships and the movement through them. Evan’s down-to-earth and reflective lyrics are best put on display on this record.

“My steps keep splitting my grief / Through these solipsistic moods / I should call my parents when I think of them / I shoud tell my friends when I love them”

Pinegrove, “Old Friend” lyric

Released after “Cardinal”, “Skylight” is a great progression from that album. This record is less structured than their previous album but it shines because of it. The structure and instrumental progression become more free-form, allowing more room for the reflection that Pinegrove is famous for.

Pinegrove, "11:11" album art
Pinegrove, “11:11” album art

Their latest release, “11:11” is also excellent and provides a new flair that Pinegrove was in need of after “Marigold”. This album leans more into a country sound than anything else on their discography, clearly inspired by artists like the Flying Burrito Brothers.

Still full of the internal reflection they are famous for, Pinegrove also looks outward in “11:11”. This is their most politically charged album by far and focuses on many of the problems that our world faces.

“They’re trying to ignore it / We always knew they’d try / Today the sky is orange / And you and I know why”

Pinegrove, “Orange” lyric

Pinegrove Live

I have seen Pinegrove in concert twice. The first time I saw Pinegrove was back in October of 2021 at the Haw River Ballroom in Graham, NC.

This show was what got me hooked on Pinegrove. Evan Hall’s charisma and clear passion for the music he makes really did it for me. The entire band is so in-sync while playing and the highs and lows of every song hits extra hard live.

They had just released “Orange” for their new album and Hall, wearing a DSA shirt, took a moment to talk about the ongoing climate crisis and inform the audience of ways they could go about inciting change.

He took a similar break in his show a few months later in February at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC, an understandably more packed venue. This show was soon after the release of “11:11” and they played through the entire album.

Hearing each song live provided more depth and gave me more appreciation for each one. If you get the chance, I would definitely recommend going to see them live.

Conclusion

Pinegrove always shines a light where there could be darkness. Their songs touch on many things that in different contexts could seem hopeless but instead of basking in dread, they push forward.

Pinegrove has had a lot of personal significance to me in the past year. The hopefulness they inspire definitely helped me through some harder times. They are the first band that I ever saw in concert more than once for that reason.

Thematically and sonically, Pinegrove continues to grow and evolve. I can’t wait to hear whatever they do next.

Categories
Blog

“Nisemono” by Ginger Root EP Review

Ginger Root is an artist known for his self-proclaimed sound known as “aggressive elevator soul”. A true mash-up of jazz, soul and Japanese city pop, Ginger Root provides a fresh sound to the bedroom pop scene that is unlike anything I have heard.

I first became a fan of Ginger Root when a friend showed me a song called “Loretta” off of his 2021 EP “City Slicker”. I was excited to see that he released his first single for “Nisemono” titled “Loneliness” in June.

“Nisemono”

Nisemono (偽物) means “fake” or “fraud” in Japanese. Thematically, this EP is about impostor syndrome and how to overcome it.

“Nisemono” takes place in an alternate reality of 1983 where Ginger Root replaces the fictional idol Kimiko Takeguchi after she leaves her position due to stress.

This setup is an excellent avenue for the themes of the record. The commitment to the 80’s theme in the sound and music videos is very well-done.

Music video for “Loneliness” by Ginger Root

Sonically, this EP is wonderful. Ginger Root builds on the sound that was established in “City Slicker” and adds an extra flair by incorporating more classical and jazz elements. The vocals on this record are great as well, though I wish they were more at the forefront at times.

My favorites off this EP are “Loneliness”, “Over the Hill” and “Everything’s Alright (Meet You in the Galaxy Ending Theme)”. However, every track on this EP is great, throughout the short but sweet 18-minute duration I was not bored once.

I really enjoyed “Nisemono” and I am looking forward to whatever Ginger Root does next. Ginger Root’s fresh sound only gets more fresh as time goes on.

Ginger Root is currently on the first block of his tour. You can find tickets on his website.

Categories
Playlists

Jazz Songs for a Rainy Day

Jazz is an extremely versatile genre of music. Some of my favorite jazz songs are on the calmer, more melancholic side of the genre. These songs are perfect for sitting inside on a rainy day and watching the raindrops stream down the window.

Darn That Dream” by Bill Evans and Jim Hall

Bill Evans and Jim Hall are masters at creating songs for quiet contemplation on a rainy day. This song, like every song on “Undercurrent”, only features the piano of Bill Evans and the guitar of Jim Hall. There’s something isolated about this song that is similar to walking outside on a rainy day with no one else around.

Days Of Wine and Roses” by Wes Montgomery

This song’s highlight is its guitar. Montgomery’s style of picking his guitar was a clear inspiration for Jim Hall and this song has much of the same appeal that “Darn That Dream” does. Instead of being paired with a piano, “Days of Wine and Roses” is paired with drums.

A Taste of Honey” by Paul Desmond

Most well known for his work in the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the saxophone of Paul Desmond shines on its own. This song is great for reflection. Paul Desmond once said he wanted to sound like a “dry martini” and I think he accomplishes that sound excellently on this track.

In A Sentimental Mood” by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane

This song, originally created in Durham, is the quintessential rainy day jazz song. No song quite creates the feeling that “In A Sentimental Mood” does. Coltrane’s saxophone and Ellington’s piano perfectly complement each other, with Elvis Jones’ drums and Aaron Bell’s bass truly gluing them together. It perfectly elicits the sentimentality that is often associated with a rainy day.

Categories
Classic Album Review

Discovering “Where the Heart Is” with Sweet Pill

Philadelphia-based pop-emo band Sweet Pill released their debut album with Topshelf Records in May of this year. Sadly, I had not gotten the chance to listen to it until recently. Since I first gave the LP a listen, it has been on repeat.

Coming in at 30 minutes, this album kept me entranced throughout the entire listen. Tracks flow from one to the next with great fluidity. The utilization of pop elements and structure over the emo instrumental and vocals make this record so replayable for me.

Lead singer Zanya Yousseff, guitarists Jayce Williams and Sean McCall, bassist Ryan Cullest and drummer Chris Kerneymakes make this album special. You can tell from the first listen that this passion project has been in the works for over two years.

Favorite Tracks

“Blood” is my favorite off of this album. Coming in off the title track, this song is about the anger that comes with a falling out and it does not mess around. This song utilizes breaks and a gritty, distorted rhythm guitar to really make each drop feel like a gut punch.

The song “Sometimes” also really stands out to me. I can’t help but bob my head when this song comes on. This song masterfully blends pop and emo to create something that’s fun to listen to but with a certain heaviness that’s unexplored in pop.

Conclusion

This album consistently uses violence to express anger and unfulfillment with life. I really appreciate Sweet Pill’s ability to use violence and make it effective consistently. They utilize this explosivity to such a degree that it’s impossible to skip one of their tracks when it comes on.

Sweet Pill’s work is filled with so much energy and enthusiasm and I can imagine them evolving their sound into something truly unique to them. I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the coming years.

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Short Stories

Wildlife I’ve Seen Around NC State Campus

NC State University is right in the middle of a sprawling city. Because of this, it is not very common you will see wildlife around campus. Since the start of last year, I have tried to take a picture whenever I see the fauna of campus. Starting from last fall, I want to share some of the animals I have run into.

Wildlife Pictures and Stories

The animal that started this collection for me is this black cat I ran into at 3:01 in the morning on a late-night walk in August. There was something mystical about running into this little guy at night so late at night when there wasn’t a single person around Centennial Campus. I have not seen this cat since it ran off into the night shortly after I took this blurry picture, but I hope they are doing well, living a full and happy cat life.

The next animal I ran into was a doe and her fawns at night about a month later. Again on a late night walk, I ran into this nice little family at 3:13 in the morning. It’s been almost a full year since this late-night encounter but these deer fawns are probably fully grown now, roaming around campus on their own.

After a winter break away from campus, I went on a run around Lake Raleigh. While on my run I looked over the water and saw these two lovely turtles basking in the sun. Since then, I look out at that log whenever I pass by it, and often another turtle is there, basking.

Seeing this snake peering over at me out of the corner of my eye as I left my building was quite the jump scare. This is probably the largest snake I have ever seen out in the wild. However, when I realized that they meant no harm and were just relaxing out in the evening sun, I relaxed. When I returned to the spot a few hours later, they were gone.

Conclusion

While this is a very small fraction of the wildlife I have seen around NC State’s campus, I think these animals in particular had quite the impact on me.

I am glad that while NC State is in such a big city, there is a lot of nature around, allowing for animals like these to make their way into students’ lives. Taking time to enjoy and appreciate the nature around me on campus has been a great source of stability through difficult coursework.

If you want to experience nature around campus but don’t know where to go, some good places are:

  • Lake Raleigh
  • Pullen Park
  • Yates Mill Park
  • JC Arboretum
  • WRAL Azalea Garden
  • Dorothea Dix Park
  • North Carolina Museum of Art Park
Categories
New Album Review

“Icarus” by Cryalot EP Review

Kero Kero Bonito‘s Sarah Midori Perry released her first solo project, “Icarus”. According to an interview with DIY, Perry created her solo project, titled Cryalot in 2018 as an outlet to express herself in a space separate from KKB.

Cryalot was used for DJ sets until this year when Perry, along with producer Jennifer Walton, began releasing singles for the EP in June.

Flying Into the Sun

This EP leans heavily into an electronic pop sound that is reminiscent of KKB’s 2018 album, “Time ‘n’ Place”. This EP does stretches the boundaries of electronic pop, stepping into areas like spoken word and metal.

Five tracks in length, this EP is solely focused on the Greek myth of Icarus. Usually viewed as a cautionary tale, to Perry, Icarus is about the “beauty of human beings pushing themselves to become something more.”

Perry’s sweet voice mixed with the brutal beats from Walton make this EP truly memorable. Both Perry and Walton are firing on all cylinders to create a sound that complements both of their talents extremely well.

Falling Into the Tracks

Starting off the EP, “Touch the Sun” is a great introduction. The song uses perspective to tell the flight of Icarus from his perspective with a bassy, rythmic beat behind it. I felt this was a great starting track because each song following it seems to build on the sound used in this song.

“Let me touch the sun, wanna have it all / I don’t care if I fall, I accepted it all”

Cryalot, “Touch the Sun” post-chorus lyric

The following track “Hurt Me” is about the fall of Icarus, still in the perspective of Icarus. This song has the same appeal as the first song to me but I still enjoyed it. While listening to this track, I couldn’t help but picture Pieter Bruegel’s “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus“.

Cryalot, “Hell Is Here” single art

“Hell Is Here”, the third track, is the heaviest on the EP. This was probably the song I will continue to go back to in the future. Perry experiments with metal-inspired vocals in the chorus which really worked for me.

Following “Hell Is Here”, “Labyrinth” is much calmer. Starting with a calm piano and stepping away from the heavy bass-beats, it puts Perry’s voice in the spotlight. The chorus to this song is super catchy, and utilizes glitchy sounds very well.

Finishing the EP, “See You Again”, is more of a spoken-word song than anything. The production carries this song, but in my opinion it ran on a bit too long for me to want to come back to it.

Conclusion

“Icarus” was a really enjoyable listen. Tracks like “Hell Is Here” and “Labyrinth” will definitely be on repeat in the coming weeks. This EP very effectively tells the story of Icarus from a different perspective, one that I had never considered.

My only problem with this EP is I think some of the songs run a bit too long for my liking. “Hell Is Here” perfectly utilizes it’s length and does not have any fluff which makes it very easy to come back to.

I look forward to future work from Cryalot. This short EP is a very promising start to this project and I can’t wait to see what Perry does next with the project.

Categories
Band/Artist Profile

Profile of the Week: Jerry, at the Beach

Self-proclaimed “fastest band in the world”, Jerry, at the Beach is a ball of fire blasting you away with every track. High-energy and raucous, singer Josh Russell and drummer Ethan Flynn create a sound that can only be thought of as “surf emo.”

I discovered these guys at the beginning of the summer and I have not stopped listening to them since. Upon each listen, I find something new that keeps bringing me back. Within their discography, there are consistent themes of youth, death and love captured with as much angst as you can expect from an emo band.

Jerry currently has two albums: “Jagerbomb” released in January 2021 and “Ketamine” released in June 2022. They also have an EP titled “Jerry, at the Beach” released in 2020 available on their Bandcamp.

Cranberry Run and Before

Jerry, at the Beach, “Jagerbomb” album art

Their self-titled EP is a very different sound than anything released since. Much slower and more melancholic, this release is clearly a very personal piece of art, coming with a 32-page booklet. The laid-back instrumentals and vocals with jazz influence are reflective of a sad summer night.

“I sail / I sail everyday into the dawn”

Jerry, at the Beach, “Jerry, at the Beach” lyric

While different in sound, their following release, “Jagerbomb” maintains many of the reflective themes expressed in their eponymous EP. This album is a whiplash of tracks that mix slow and fast pacing, building slowly before crashing back down in an explosion of sound.

And crash this album does, with constant allusions to cars, violence, and death. The two-track lineup “I Am Not Responsible” into “Cranberry Run” highlight the uniqueness of the LP.

The Basement Floor

Jerry, at the Beach, “Ketamine”

Their latest release, “Ketamine”, builds perfectly on the sound created in “Jagerbomb” with the intensity turned up to 11. In this LP, Jerry, at the Beach isn’t only a ball of fire, they are the sun.

“One look at the basement floor / Tells you everything you need / To know / Don’t go”

Jerry, at the Beach, “I’m Hurting” lyric

Starting off explosively, “I’m Hurting” has been stuck in my head for at least three months. The song perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album with allusions to unreturned love, youth and pain. The second track, “I Love You”, slows the tempo before exploding into “Ketamine”, the titular track.

Each song on this 40-minute album provides something new while maintaining the sound that makes listening to Jerry so enjoyable. This album is a great starting point for Jerry, at the Beach and perfect for a listen while it’s still summer. Each song flows directly into the next, inviting you to continue listening until it’s done.

Beyond the Year 2022

The powerful sound created by Josh and Ethan over the past three years is very inspiring. Heartfelt and emotional, I am excited to see what Jerry, at the Beach does next.

On their Spotify page, they say, “Jerry, at the Beach has lots of music coming out throughout the year 2022. Beyond the year 2022 they will also have lots more music coming out.”

I hope that they continue building on their sound, increasing the intensity to 12 on their next project and continuing their legacy as “the fastest band in the world”.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Exploration of Themes in “House of the Dragon”

“Game of Thrones” Sundays have officially returned. After the massive let-down that ended the HBO pop-culture phenomenon, fans have been awaiting a return to the world of Westeros. “House of the Dragon” promises the return.

Set 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones”, “House of the Dragon” takes a dive into Westeros with House Targaryen at the height of their power. From the first episode alone, “House of the Dragon” will explore themes of succession, sexism and classism.

Fantasy as a genre allows for the exploration of themes in a way that is not possible through regular media. Fantastical settings and events allow the creators of these stories to explore themes hyperbolically. “House of the Dragon” uses the Westeros to give perspective and insight into real-world problems that viewers may deal with.

A Prologue

The first episode of the show focuses heavily on succession to the Iron Throne. From the first scene, all three major themes are put on display. In a scene that takes place 15 years before the following scenes in the episode, King Jaehaerys I Targaryen elects a council of mostly male lords to decide who will be his successor to the Throne. The two primary candidates are his two grandchildren, cousins Rhaenys Targaryen, eldest living descendant to the Throne, and Viserys I Targaryen, eldest living male descendant to the throne.

In this scene, while Rhaenys is the eldest, giving her precedent to the Throne. However, Viserys is elected to inherit the throne by the council of over a thousand lords of Westeros. This biting undercut to the succession of the Throne made by this council sets the tone for the rest of the episode and surely for the rest of the series.

A Battle on Two Fronts

We are brought many years into the rule of King Viserys later in the episode. His wife, Aemma Targaryen, is about to give birth to their second child. The king is certain the child will be male. To celebrate, he holds a jousting tournament to celebrate the coming birth of his male heir. As the bouts begin, Aemma begins to give birth.

During a brutal interweaving of scenes, we watch Viserys’ brother, Daemon Targaryen, use his royal status to cheat his way to the final bout of the joust while Aemma struggles in labor. In the final bout, Daemon is beaten by a man who was otherwise unknown before this tournament, Ser Criston Cole. Criston’s defeat of Prince Daemon is a satisfying scene, highlighting that the only thing separating Daemon from anyone else is his rank.

In this world, much like our own, a man’s choice has the power to override a woman’s. This is put into horrifying effect in a scene at the end of this inter-splicing sequence. King Viserys chooses to sacrifice his wife in order to save his male heir, unbeknownst to her. Their son lives for mere hours before dying anyways, leaving Viserys with only his eldest daughter, Rhaenyra Targaryen.

Viserys, only after sacrificing his wife, realizes the foolishness in the precedent of a male heir. A precedent that won him the Throne. At the end of the episode, Viserys goes against a 200-year tradition to name Rhaenyra his heir. This sets up what will be a primary conflict for the episodes following the premiere.

A Promising Premiere

Those were only the biggest highlights of the major themes throughout the episode. However, many other scenes and sequences beautifully portrayed the key themes which will hopefully remain present throughout the entirety of the show.

While this episode was not the bombastic start of “Game of Thrones”, “House of the Dragon” begins as a slow-burning, highly thematic cousin to the show which first aired over 10 years ago.

May the luck of the Seven shine upon you,

-Hüttemeister