“SLC Punk!” – A Movie Review

The rage, terror, and joy of punk rockers is hard to appropriately capture on film. I have seen directors place punk into a nice neat box of hardcore drug users, nihilism and fighting, but that’s not punk.

“SLC Punk!”, directed by James Merendino, explores hardcore punk rockers’ reasons to live and rebel. I do not think this film encapsulates all of the punk genre, but it does get a clearer representation of punk compared to a mainstream music film. 

This movie stars Matthew Lillard as Stevo, Michael A. Goorjian as Bob and Annabeth Gish as Trish. A few other notable actors are Jason Siegel, James Duval and Summer Phoenix. 


Stevo and Bob are reformed nerds who turned to the punk music scene when they felt outcast by their classmates. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is a funny setting for a punk film. Exploring the fictional punk scene in Salt Lake City (SLC), we are taken on a journey of pent up emotions. 

Stevo is pushed by his parents to attend Harvard Law School after graduating from Utah University. Bob, on the other hand, is growing more accustomed to life in SLC as he falls in love with a mystical being, Trish. 

I love the way Merendino is able to show Stevo becoming more aware that being a punk in SLC isn’t something to do for life. Stevo’s dad at the beginning of the film tells him to “buy in” to society and law, but don’t sell out. This comment is a catalyst for Stevo’s change throughout the film. 

By the end of the film, Stevo changes, Bob changes, even punk changes. The characters are full of life throughout the film, but as we explore their motives and backgrounds they become more realistic and loveable. The way I perceived this vision of punk changed how I appreciate music in general. I see more artists as expressive, and I am able to enjoy more voices in music. 


Okay, the music in this film is great. It doesn’t dive as deep as it could in terms of hardcore punk, but it grasps the roots of punk rock firmly. 

The movie opens with “Sex and Violence” by The Exploited, which is a fun way to open any film. I think this track (even though it is a bit repetitive) can keep my blood pumping even harder. It also prepares viewers well for the blood, sex, and stories that follow. 

Also, in the intro are the opening credits where they put actors’ names onto the album art of tracks they used in the film. I thought it was a cool way to appreciate the art and love for the albums as they flashed across the screen. 

A few more key tracks in the movie are “Amoeba” by The Adolescents, “Gasoline Rain” by Moondogg and a classic, “Kill the Poor” by Dead Kennedys. 

The Adolescents bring a hard, riotous edge to one of the fight scenes, while “Gasoline Rain” slows the film down a bit during an emotional scene. I find both tracks are used perfectly in the score. They tie into the characters’ emotions well and are able to make the scenes feel bigger than the film. 

“Kill the Poor” by Dead Kennedys is great core punk music. I just wish this wasn’t saved for the end credit scenes of this movie. It could have been used for a cool rowdy scene in the desolate SLC, but unfortunately got chopped up to be put with the credits. 


I don’t think I could write about this film without talking about the costumes. There are so many wonderful flavors of people that are represented. 

Stevo’s striking blue hair is sick. At one point he has a massive blue mohawk that grabs your eyes from every other thing happening on the screen. Everyone’s clothes are really well adapted for the SLC weather and punk shows.

Check out this clip that shows off their costumes well [Content Warning: violence and cursing]:

Clip off YouTube from “SLC Punk!”. YouTube video posted by cybluvshatchets2012.

I love how all of the “gangs” of Salt Lake City all have a semblance of a uniform. The mods in the suits and coats, the punk rockers in their rough style and the rednecks looking like stereotypical rednecks all come together to create a strange, vibrant scene. Everything meshes together to create a lifelike city atmosphere, and I could almost attribute that solely to the costumes. 


While I love watching this film, there are a few issues with it. Mainly, I think it does not talk about sexuality and punk well. It will have lines that hint at the topic, but I think it’s a big part of punk culture that gets glossed over and not explored. 

More issues include how the movie ended and what it poses as a solution for punk rockers. I won’t go into much detail about it because it spoils it a bit, but I feel as if it gave up too much of its core values and did not set up a bright future for all of the characters (not that they have to have bright futures). 

Overall, I highly recommend watching this even if you aren’t remotely into punk as it explores art and music in an exciting way. 

Keep eatin’

DJ chef

Band/Artist Profile

AAPI Artist Spotlight – Rina Sawayama

Next up in my AAPI Artist Spotlight series I would like to introduce Rina Sawayama. 

You might have heard of Rina’s song “XS” on TikTok.

Rina Sawayama is a 31-year-old British-Japanese artist that dabbles in various sub-genres of pop music and different genres altogether. She has coined the nickname of being a pop chameleon because of how she can incorporate and seamlessly create music that is indie-pop, electric pop, R&B, dance-pop, rock, and alternative.

She started her music career how most artists do– uploading songs onto the Internet. Rina would upload song covers onto MySpace and eventually formed a small band with local kids and used her high school’s tech equipment to produce songs. From that, she maintained her passion for music and started making music and touring till she was recognized for her talent.

What I find refreshing about Rina’s music is that she finds ways to highlight issues in society and tie that in with her Japanese culture into her music. She is an advocate for a variety of social justice issues such as sexism and uses Pop music, which often is stereotyped and often called department store music, to empower her and breakthrough those stigmas as a female pop artist.

Her debut album titled “SAWAYAMA” as well as her first EP “RINA” both showcases her persona as an artist. A Japanese woman who doesn’t hesitate to call people out and write about her past traumas and experiences while gift-wrapping it into earworm music that is digestible for her audience. She brings in a lot of influence from the 90s and early 2000s Pop scene in all her music and combines it with this R&B style voice. Similar to this ideology she has developed, the artists she was inspired by like Britney or NSYNC made pop music that lots of teens felt embarrassed to enjoy and now are considered to be iconic. 

One of her most popular songs “XS” is about consumerism and capitalism and the phrase ‘XS’ is supposed to represent the excess spending and product manufacturing that highlights how as consumers we always want more and are never satisfied with what we are able to attain.

The mature topic of capitalism and over saturation of the market is balanced with a fun dance-pop track inspired by Britany Spears’ music, as shown through the lyrics:

“Gimme just a little bit (more), little bit of (excess) | Oh, me, oh, my | I don’t wanna hear “No, no” | Only want a ‘Yes, yes” have you dancing around in your room while making you reconsider the role you play in our capitalistic society.”

There is a pattern throughout her music where she writes lyrics that are deep and thought-provoking about our society while keeping this light pop danceability to it that makes her so unique. Time and time again she highlights that oftentimes while her lyrics carry such strong meanings since she is a woman making pop music she isn’t taken as seriously and the upbeat electric pop and R&B style overpower people from looking into her lyrics.

Along with social issues such as climate change or toxic masculinity, Rina also touches on how her experiences being Japanese in Cambridge, her pansexuality, and the feeling of otherness that she has had to navigate through her entire life.

Another song I want to highlight is “Tokyo Love Hotel”. In this song, she discusses the guilt she feels of using Japanese symbolism in her songs as well as calling out people for having this odd obsession with Japanese culture to that point where Japanese people can’t showcase their authentic culture cause it’s not what has been idolized in the West.

 Her lyrics “And oh there’s nothing that I could say | That hasn’t already been said | You got that neon lights, golden guy | Falling for a stereotype| Has it all gone to your head?” bring forth this idea that whoever was into her wasn’t for her true self but of this idea of what a Japanese woman is meant to be like based off of stereotypes. 

There is so much more to her music than what I can capture in this short post and I highly recommend checking out her music even if you are not a fan of the Pop genre. Rina writes lyrics that are genuinely an important part of her experiences and might resonate with a lot of people if given the chance.

In most cases, the mental image of Rina’s music people have when they first see her is quite different from what her music is at the core. Her bold and eclectic makeup looks and appearance almost make you feel that her music is electronic dance music  (EDM) or alternative rock but in reality, she is a Pop artist and it’s a genre she has mastered. 

Check out her discography on Spotify.

Music News and Interviews

mxmtoon “Mona Lisa” Song Review

This song has been on my mind ever since I first listened to it.

Oftentimes, when I listen to a song for the first time, I focus on the instrumentation of it, like the harmony and melody or how the instruments work together. But when I listen to Mona Lisa by mxmtoon, an up-and-coming indie-pop artist, the lyrics had my full attention. 

In “Mona Lisa”, mxmtoon writes about how she often takes the place of Shakespeare by creating characters in a narrative instead of living as the main character in her life. As a songwriter, she often hides behind her lyrics and in this song, she highlights how she doesn’t want to just be another story but wants to feel like she is the central aspect of her own story instead of being just the author.

What really hit close to home for me while I was listening to this song was the environment I listened to it in. It was a rainy day and I was walking back from class alone observing everyone around me. The lyrics felt so relatable at that moment because it felt like I could apply them to my life at that very moment. I am a writer too and similarly, I often feel like I spent too much living through my characters instead of trying to make an impact in my own community.

The lyrics “I’m so tired of being a book on the shelf | Tired of stories for somebody else | Think that I’m ready to start a new chapter | I’ve been looking for some way |to turn it around | Looking for someone to give me the crown | I wanna feel like I finally matter | I wanna be a Mona Lisa, ah-ah | The kind of girl that you can dream of, ah-ah” resonated with me.

In a world where we are constantly feeling like other people are living better lives than we are due to all the exposure we get to people’s handcrafted posts on social media, this song really encompasses that feeling of wanting to be an inspiration for someone.

The lines “Who could change my point of view? | The way that Van Gogh uses yellow or the self in Frida Kahlo | I could be that for you” drive home this point.

mxmtoon writes that she wants to be a muse and be known for having a specific purpose in life and she compares that to how yellow is such a distinct feature in Van Gogh’s paintings. The entire premise of the song centers around Mona Lisa who was the muse, a woman, behind the painting of the famous Mona Lisa painting done by DaVinci.

I just love the relatability of this song and especially when you realize that everyone has the same thoughts or feelings and you aren’t alone in feeling a particular way.

In contrast to the rather sad lyrics, the song itself is very upbeat and starts off with a strong ukulele intro that launches the listener of the song into a dream world. It makes you feel like you are inside someone’s daydream. The guitar chord combined with mxmtoon’s wispy dreamlike voice in the chorus really hooks you into the majestic environment that the song creates. In addition to this fantastical world that the song puts you in, the music video has a similar enchantment to it that makes you feel like you are in the fantasy mxmtoon has created of being a muse for an artist.

Sometimes we all have this feeling that there might not be anyone we truly inspire or play a huge role in their lives but, maybe we just might be the Mona Lisa to someone out there after all.

Be sure to check out the music video for “Mona Lisa”.


AAPI Artist Spotlight – Dhruv


Continuing on with my series of highlighting various AAPI artists, I would like to introduce the next artist, Dhruv.

You might have seen his name if you happen to use TikTok. His song “Double Take” was released in 2019 and was used in over 2.8M videos racking up over 280M views. It was the catalyst for the launch of his career as a musician. 

Dhruv Sharma, known as dhruv, is a 22-year-old Indian-Singaporean R&B artist. He grew up listening to Bollywood music, because of his dad who would sing at family events, and Western artists as well like the Beatles and Amy Winehouse. Growing up he and his sister would make up melodies and songs on the piano and guitar they had in their house. He wrote a lot of music that he uploaded to Soundcloud while he was in Singapore and even gained a small following.

While music was still something he dabbled in during his free time, he was actually a student at Yale studying Data Science and Statistics when he released the song Double Take. Once he released this song, much earlier than his song ever blew up on the internet, he realized that music was something he wanted to formally pursue as a career.

“Double Take” if you don’t know is a dreamy track about falling in love with your best friend. About that moment where you have to do a double take cause you see your friend in a different way than you used to before.

He released two other songs titled “Moonlight”, which I wrote about in this post, and “Vulnerable”.

What I personally enjoy about his music is how light and magical he makes his songs sound. Of course, not everyone is into that type of vibe when listening to music, but it is something that Dhruv has perfected. Each song in his EP “Rapunzel” has this airiness to it but still manages to capture a distinct feeling or emotion pertaining to various aspects of being in love or falling in love.

The Singaporean artist is a self-proclaimed introvert and writing music was a way of how he shared his thoughts and feelings as an observer. Expressing himself through his music was an outlet for all the opinions and thoughts he had brewing in his mind that he was never able to share out loud. He felt alienated growing up as one of the only queer kids in his conservative community and all of that is reflected through the songs in “Rapunzel”, whether it’s about his experience of falling in love with his best friend, overcoming heartbreak, or showing his true self to someone and being vulnerable.

His work puts you right in his shoes. The soft acoustic chords or his guitar or his melodious voice feel like a warm hug and easily raise your spirits.

His music is his coming-of-age story. Not only about romantic love but about self-love too.

A story where he is finally the main character and has control of his own narratives. 

Check out Dhruv’s discography on Spotify!


The Unlikely Sample That Defined a Scene

One of the things that has interested me most in hip-hop is the different regional scenes that spring up in different areas of the country. One of the most unique and influential is definitely the Houston scene. Many artists make up this scene such as UGK or Geto Boys but no one defined it as much as the legendary DJ Screw.

DJ Screw’s signature style was to slow down and chop up different hip-hop records which which was called Chopped & Screwed. This sound gave the songs more of a funky and distorted sound to them and would be a huge hit in Houston. Screw would remix many songs from different rap artists and would even have his own group of rappers he remixed most often called the Screwed Up Click.

Now whats most interesting about this local scene is some of the songs that helped pioneer it. The one song that is the main star for Houston rap is “June 27th“. This song was a 35 minute long freestyle that ever since it dropped has had almost mythical status. The song was actually created in Screw’s living room for the special occasion of rapper D-Mo’s birthday who is on the song along with Big Moe, Yungstar, Big Pokey, and a few more.

Now some of the verses are good and iconic but what really made the song was the signature Chopped & Screwed beat. Now the origins of the beat are very interesting and it first starts with Kriss Kross.

Kriss Kross in 1996 was trying to ditch their “kid rapper” image they had gained with their massive hit “Jump” and with that they released the album “Young, Rich, and Dangerous” which would spawn the single ” Tonite’s Tha Night” which was a small hit. The B-side of this single was a song called “Da Streets Ain’t Right” which would make almost no impact at all. This song would have been forgotten except the instrumental is what Screw would slow down to use for the beat of “June 27th”.

Now this sample is pretty interesting in itself but what is more interesting is what Jermaine Dupri who produced the Kriss Kross songs chose to sample for “Da Streets ain’t Right”. Dupri decided that for the bassline he would sample New Wave/Pop group The Romantics on one of their hits “Talking In Your Sleep“.

Now Screw definitely didn’t know he was sampling The Romantics but when I found this out I thought it was the wildest thing because that means in a way the sound that defines Houston hip-hop and the Chopped & Screwed sound was a New Wave sample that seems like it is the furthest possible thing from the world of Houston rap.

Screw tragically passed in July of 2000 at only 29. But since his passing June 27th would go on to be a staple freestyle beat and has been remixed hundreds of times most notably Drake used the beat on his mixtape “So Far Gone” on the song “November 18th“. The date June 27th has become somewhat of an unofficial Houston holiday and a day to celebrate Screws life.

Weekly Charts

Underground Charts 5/24

2ILLISMFamily Over EverythingThe CRWN
3INJURY RESERVEBy The Time I Get To PhoenixSelf-Released
4LITTLE SIMZSometimes I Might Be IntrovertAGE 101
5MILAN RINGI’m Feeling HopefulAstral People/PIAS
7EVIDENCEUnlearning Vol. 1Rhymesayers
10LAVA LA RUE“For You” [Single]Marathon Artists
Weekly Charts

Afterhours Charts 5/24

2ADULTBecoming UndoneDais
4MAGDALENA BAYMercurial WorldLuminelle
5PENDANTHarpSaddle Creek
6ROSS FROM FRIENDSTreadBrainfeeder
7SEVDALIZARaving Dahlia [EP]Twisted Elegance
9MACHINEDRUMPsyconia [EP]Ninja Tune
10JULESDelta Ajax [EP]Happy Life

Afterhours Adds

1KAPSTAAD“Aula” [Single]Filter Label
2BARRY CAN’T SWIM“Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore” [Single]Technicolour
3HORISONE“Distorted Reality” [Single]Alula Tunes
4ELOY HOOSE, BOECLÉ“Vibe Check” [Single]Municipal
Weekly Charts

Chainsaw Charts 5/24

1ABRAHAMDébris de Mondes PerdusPelagic
2ALUSTRIUMA Monument To SilenceUnique Leader
3ANATOMY OF HABITEven If It Takes A LifetimeSelf-Released
4ANTI RITUALExpel The LeechesIndisciplinarian
5ASTRAGALPonte VedraSelf-Released
6AT THE GATESThe Nightmare Of BeingCentury Media
7BEFORE AND APACEThe DenisovanSelf-Released
8BLACK WOUNDUnending LabyrinthDry Cough
9BLOODY KEEPBloody Horror [EP]Grime Stone
10BOOK OF BLACK EARTHThe Cold TestamentProsthetic

Chainsaw Adds

1CASTRATORDefiled in OblivionDark Descent
2GRAVE INFESTATIONPersecution of the LivingInvictus Productions
3FALSE GODSNeurotopiaSeeing Red
4MOTIONLESS IN WHITE“Slaughterhouse” [Single]Roadrunner
New Album Review

New Album Review: “Behold! I Make All Things New” by Jozef van Wissem

ALBUM: “Behold! I Make All Things New” by Jozef van Wissem


LABEL: Incunabulum

RATING: 7/10

BEST TRACKS: “What Hearts Must Bleed, What Tears Must Fall”, “The Adornment”,  “A New Earth”

FCC: None

Jozef van Wissem, I have found, is an interesting character. He composes soundtracks for films, collaborates with directors, and he makes beautiful lute tunes, all while looking like a thrasher pilgrim. 

Behold! I Make All Things New” has a play time of 51 minutes and 41 seconds, and every single moment of it is delicious. 

In the past van Wissem has worked with film director, Jim Jarmusch to create a few soundtracks and album projects. This album, however, is a solo project filled with the plucks, strums, and chimes that could only be made by van Wissem’s delicate fingers.

To start out, the opening of this album is a little darker than it ends, which I love. A transition from dark to light, especially in instrumental albums, allows me to “take shotgun” on the musical journey with the artist. 

The jump from the first track into my favorite track of the album, “What Hearts Must Bleed, What Tears Must Fall”, creates that feeling of transitioning from dark to light. The slow opening of the album creeps and eventually pounces into strong, high notes filled with positivity and light. I know this track is lengthy (13 minutes and 41 seconds), but the gaps of silence between some of the sections give my ears a moment to reflect and soak in the entirety of the song.

More instruments create more layers as the album crawls onward. Unfortunately, I found the middle section of the album to be my least favorite section. The third and fifth tracks slip by and are forgettable, but with “A New Earth” van Wissem regains my attention with faster strikes against his instrument. This track elevates itself from the rest of the album with how short, fast and upbeat it is. 

A lot of what I appreciate about this album is how well everything fits together. I know I lose myself in the middle section, but I can put this album on and completely immerse myself in everything that is happening. 

Another piece of this album that I enjoy is the background drone sounds in “Your Flesh Will Rise In Glory On The Day Of The Future Resurrection”. The whirring of the continuous reverb in the background of this track sits me down at such a strange place. I can’t really place myself in the world when I listen to this track. I do wish he utilized that background noise throughout more of the album in different styles, because I think it helped bring out the power of his normal plucking. 

Through the strengths and weaknesses of “Behold! I Make All Things New”, I gained access to a new appreciation for instrumental artists and some good songs to sit and think to. This album also helps me to know where solo instrumentalists can exist in the music industry today. They have their niche carved out for them, but more artists like van Wissem need to reach out and grab the attention of their genre listeners.

Keep eatin’

-DJ chef

Local Music

Local Artists for the Summer

When I attended Hopscotch in September of last year, I attended a few day parties to try and learn more about the local music scene since I was a fan of some bigger local artists like Wednesday and Indigo de Souza. I got to hear a lot of great artists, so over the year I’ve made an effort to listen to more North Carolina artists and attend more local shows. Now that it’s the summer I have more time to search for local artists, so here’s what I’m going to be listening to this summer from North Carolina artists. 

First is an artist I’ve been listening to for a while, Melaina Kol, an exciting new independent artist out of Youngsville, North Carolina. The person behind Melaina Kol is Logan Hornyak who first broke onto the indie scene when he released his album Black Bile in 2018. His latest album, “AMOSAT,” was released in November of 2021 and I have not stopped listening since. 

The music is infectious and dives into the genres of indietronica, bedroom pop and indie folk. The album opens with the beautiful track “Mi” which transcends you and immediately hooks you into the album. The opening track is followed by my favorite song on the album, “Little Trees” which reminds me of something off earlier Animal Collective albums like Strawberry Jam. I could imagine listening to this album in a field on a warm sunny day as the songs wash over me. 

The next album I’ve been listening to a lot is MJ Lenderman’s new album “Boat Songs.” The opening track is one of my favorite songs and it’s perfect for a summer drive, as is the rest of the album. “Hangover Game” is a driving tune, and gives listeners a taste for the listening journey they are about to embark on. This fun alt-country, slacker rock and slowcore album will have you laughing at some of the silly lyrics and dissecting the more serious themes on the album like Lenderman’s chase for fulfillment and happiness. The fuzz on the guitars and vocals make the songs feel comforting, like a warm hug. 

Another great band I’ve been listening to is Hiding Places from Asheville, NC. While they only have three songs out right now, the band has amazing potential and I can’t wait to see what they release in the future. Their songs are relatable and have great production which adds an interesting atmosphere to the tracks. My favorite song of theirs is “Heartbreak Skatepark.” The track is a perfect indie rock tune, the end has a great build up that draws you into the story of the lead singer’s heartbreak.
The last artist I’ve been listening to a lot and will be listening to throughout the summer is BEX, also from Asheville, NC. The Asheville-based singer’s new EP, “Move It Or Lose It” is filled with catchy indie rock songs, dreamy guitars and vocals and driving bass lines. If you’re a fan of the indie rock outlet Forth Wanderers, you might like BEX.

– Eilee