The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

Editorial: The Scarlet’s Favorite Releases of 2023

With an introduction by Nic Smith, Living Arts Editor.

Clarkies are a diverse community of people. We all come from different backgrounds, life experiences and values, and sometimes these differences can feel harshly dividing and isolating. However, we all share at least one commonality: art.

Connection with art is unavoidable: whether you interact with it intentionally, such as going to an art museum to view a painting by your favorite visual artist, or unintentionally, like hearing a Steely Dan tune humming through the Higgins Café speakers – we are always interacting with and relating to art, whether or not we realize it.

The art we connect with says a lot about who we are. By engaging with the art and media that someone else encounters in their day-to-day life, you can learn about their environment, personality, opinions and even their core beliefs and emotional experiences. Art is so personal, and I believe that sharing your love of art with others is one of the deepest forms of connection in the human experience.

The Editors, then, would like to share a piece of ourselves with you. As the semester and calendar year come to an end, we’ve decided to share our favorite releases of 2023. Hopefully, this gives you a chance to better understand us, not only as Editors but as people.

And, if you end up checking out any of the albums, films, games, or books we recommend today, we hope to open your mind to a new world that lies within exploring new media and artwork.

Here are the Scarlet Editorial Board’s favorite releases of 2023.

Nic Smith (they/them), Living Arts Editor: “Space Heavy” by King Krule

King Krule (stage name of Archy Marshall) has been my favorite artist for about three years now, and I think “Space Heavy” is his best work yet.

Marshall shows maturity in this project, blending all the previously explored elements of his music into a masterwork. His vocals are controlled and beautiful, even when he’s screaming in his characteristic half-growl-half-sob tone. He tastefully explores a range of musical styles like post-punk, slowcore, art rock and lush orchestral arrangements.

This album contains such a wide range of feelings, and it’s incredibly difficult to describe the blend of nostalgia, calmness, isolation and longing that Marshall creates. These feelings are presented in such a way that it doesn’t cause emotional whiplash; rather, Marshall blends them all into a river of moods that flows into the listener’s ears with ease.

If you haven’t heard much music released this year – which, in my opinion, was a fantastic year for music – I highly recommend giving this album a try. My favorite tracks are “Flimsier,” “Seaforth,” “Space Heavy” and “When Vanishing.”

Leo Kerz (he/him), Web Editor: “The Lamb as Effigy” by Sprain

I didn’t consume much unique media from this year, making my options limited. It was either “The Lamb as Effigy” by Sprain or “Killers of the Flower Moon” directed by Martin Scorsese. That movie was phenomenal, but being a sucker for music, I went with Sprain. 

This album was really good (even if I only listened to it once). This music is repulsive but beautiful. The album is indulgent, sounding as if the band members forgot they were recording music and are fidgeting with their instruments, but they remember just in time what they are supposed to be doing. The vocalist screams a lot – he sounds pretty unwell but in a cool way. 

That being said, I don’t recommend the album unless you want to feel divine guilt for about an hour and thirty minutes. 

Sophia Lindstrom (she/her), News Editor: “Unreal Unearth” by Hozier

I’ve been a fan of Hozier since “Take Me to Church” took over radio stations in 2014, and his music has been a big part of my life for nearly a decade now. His third album, “Unreal Unearth,” blew me away. 

The album explores Dante’s journey through the Underworld through a lens that feels both universal and deeply personal. Each track represents a part of the journey, primarily the nine circles of Hell, but is also about Hozier’s life, Irish history and mythological references. 

My favorite song has changed about five different times since the album came out in August, but right now it’s Track 14, “Abstract (Psychopomp).” It’s about Hozier’s childhood experience of watching a deer get hit by a car (it’s better than it sounds).

There are zero skips on this album. You will have to look up some words in Gaelic to understand what he’s saying, but it’s all worth it for the Brandi Carlile collab. 

Alistair Borg (He/Him), Layout Editor: “Dead Space”

My favorite release of 2023 was the “Dead Space” remake. It did a fantastic job of staying true to the source material while elaborating further on the lore. This game gave Nicole, the protagonist’s lover, more lines and made her better rounded. Her character finally reflects her intellect and importance on the ship, and she actually looks her age. The gameplay itself is phenomenal. The game delves deep into the horror atmosphere with levels in absolute darkness – my favorite instances of this are when the player needs to turn off the lights and there is a moment of dread as you know the terror that will follow.

Throughout the game, the scare tactics change, so even if the player thinks they know what to expect they are constantly proven wrong with faux jumpscares and curveballs. 

The flying and zero-gravity mechanics are also thrilling, especially when you engage in mid-air combat with necromorphs hurling themselves toward the player from every direction. 

Another thing I thought was fantastic was the accessibility preferences, where you can toggle to warn before a character is killed or to blur gore from the game. I thought this was amazing as many people are uncomfortable with excessive gore, and these settings allow even more people to enjoy the game.

William Schechter (He/Him), Sports Editor: “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

A movie five years in the making – for me no other 2023 release topped “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (“ATSV”). After the 2018 smash hit “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” captured my unyielding admiration (and top spot on my Letterboxed favorites list), “ATSV” followed up five years later with another breathtaking animated masterpiece.

After my first viewing, I mostly felt shocked – five years of waiting had finally materialized into two hours and twenty minutes of pure genius. Though at first I was slightly taken aback by the film’s ending, I came to see the movie as both a perfect middle film of a trilogy and an even better Gwen Stacy story. 

With each viewing of “ATSV,” I observed new details, better-internalized plot threads, and basked in the stunning visuals. The encapsulating plot of “ATSV” is bolstered even further by top-of-the-line animation and a banger of a soundtrack. 

Of course, a review of “ATSV” would be incomplete without saying which spider is my favorite: none surpass Web Slinger and his trusty ally Spider-Horse in my eyes. 

Beyond the Spider-Verse can’t come soon enough!

Fox Richard (He/Him), Opinions Editor: “Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom”

By far, the best game of 2023 was the newest “Legend of Zelda” release: “Tears of the Kingdom” (“TOTK”). The game takes place after the events of its predecessor, “Breath of the Wild” (“BOTW”), and builds on its existing world to present players with new challenges, quests, and main plot. 

“TOTK” does what so many game developers struggle to achieve: a sequel that builds on what the first game did well. The flawless graphics and smooth controls transfer over to “TOTK” almost identically to how they were in “BOTW.” 

The flying mechanic from “BOTW” is improved in “TOTK,” giving players a huge open-world map that can now be explored via hovercraft. Also, “TOTK” is expanded to include three separate maps (two more than its predecessor), all of which can be seamlessly explored with no annoying loading screens or long pauses when traveling between them.

As if the gameplay itself isn’t enough, the main plot and major side quests are robust, engaging, and time-consuming. 

The game builds on the “BOTW” format of releasing snippets of Link’s memories, but this time they are Zelda’s memories that Link watches as he searches for her. 

The only criticism I have is that Zelda is not given any major role in the game’s plot other than a damsel in distress, something the game’s developers promised to deviate from in “TOTK.”

Everett Beals (he/him), Editor-in-Chief: “The Bear” Season Two

I’m not particularly creative with my Halloween costumes, but this year, I dressed up as Cousin Richie from FX’s “The Bear.” I don’t look much like Ebon Moss-Bachrach, but an “Original Beef” shirt was all I needed. 

I chose Cousin and not male lead Carmy Berzatto mostly because I could never pull off a Jeremy Allen White. It’s also because Cousin quickly became one of my favorite characters in the show’s second season, released in June on Hulu.

“The Bear” is a delightfully original dramedy that follows a motley crew of kitchen staff led by a prodigal son: Carmy, a Michelin-star chef, returns to the family restaurant to take charge after his brother dies. The show is ambitious in how much it crams into each episode while still giving the sizable ensemble room to breathe. In the second season, these characters flourish. 

Carmy and sous-chef Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) were stand-outs in the first season. Their roles in the kitchen changed for season two, and both stepped back to give full highlight episodes for two characters. I loved these: Lionel Boyce’s performance in an episode in Copenhagen dedicated to Marcus, the pastry chef, was electric. Then there was episode 7, “Forks,” following Richie find his purpose as he serves as a stage – a “kitchen intern.” 

This season was star-studded, especially in its best episode, “Fishes,” with Jamie Lee Curtis, Bob Odenkirk and John Mulaney joining the cast, to name just a few. This is peak TV – try it out!

Cyd Abnet (she/her), Social Chair: “Starcatcher” by Greta Van Fleet

As much as I’d like to say my music taste has grown and changed drastically since my freshman year of college, I’m still listening to the same four guys who make rock music. My favorite release of the year is Greta Van Fleet’s “Starcatcher”, which was just as meaningful and complex as their previous albums but sounded and felt more abstract and ethereal than their previous discography. 

One theme of the album included commentary about who you choose to idolize, and what you might be giving up to make them proud or notice you. Other themes surround the “thread” that connects us all – our basic needs, objectives, and ability to connect to everyone surrounding those things.

I also went to see Greta Van Fleet in concert, which I would highly recommend. They had crazy pyrotechnics, several costume changes, and a dual stage set-up with a more intimate acoustic portion. 

Also: to the kid I always see on the day I wear my Greta Van Fleet shirt: I appreciate you saying how much you like my shirt every time. You’re a real one.


Ava Orofino (she/her), Managing Editor: “Percy Jackson: The Chalice of the Gods” by Rick Riordan 

I first read Percy Jackson when I was eleven years old and fell in love with it instantly. Now, almost ten years later at age twenty, I’ve fallen in love with it all over again.

The feeling of “The Chalice of the Gods” is so new and so nostalgic at the same time. Reading from Percy’s point of view for the first time since I read the last book was a dream come true. 

Following a now older Percy, Annabeth and Grover trying to navigate Gods, quests and their senior year of high school was a wonderful experience. I squealed, I sobbed, and I sighed with relief. Now that the trio is older, and trying to figure out who they want to be, I could relate to them as much as I could when I was a kid – not with the fighting of monsters or being a demigod sort of relatability, but with the struggles of growing up and people having expectations of you that you don’t understand yet. 

“The Chalice of the Gods” was like a safety net in book form. These characters, just as smart and sarcastic as in the original series, are incredible, and they remind me of a simpler time. There is something just so special about reading a light-hearted, sentimental book when you are older and stressed. 

Also, Percy and Annabeth have my entire heart, and I loved that they were so delightfully in love this whole book. 

Ryan McDowell (he/they), Treasurer: “Musicks: Volumes I & II” by Connie Converse

I found Connie Converse on Vine in 2015. This year, she released the album “Musicks.” 

This release assembles the remnants Converse left behind after her disappearance in 1974. Recorded in 1956, the album was a gift to her brother, the same person responsible for public access to her music today. 

Song lengths in the album range from less than a minute to almost fifteen minutes. Some are new releases while others are different versions of songs previously released in “How Sad, How Lovely.” 

Converse’s mature voice works in tandem with her guitar playing to create a mixture of the folk genre with harmonies from the Hollywood golden age. Though I think this is the last new release from Converse, I am delighted to see her memory live on.

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