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‘Stick Season’: An ode to New England

Noah Kahan teased his newest album “Stick Season” as an ode to New England. When he released his first single, the namesake of his album, it blew up on Tik Tok, and the once-niche indie singer was thrown into stardom. The single “Stick Season” was released on June 8, while his second single “Northern Attitude” was later released on Sept. 16. 

Kahan’s album captures a sense of nostalgia for a region many people have never even been to. Stick season is a term coined for the transition in Vermont from fall to winter. He opens the album with his two singles, both of which encapsulate the changing of the seasons.

The album follows this pattern as well with the first seven songs on the track list being more upbeat, with a quick strum of the guitar in the background of lyrics about love and memories. While fall may be considered a depressing time of year, there is something about the beauty of the changing of the leaves that we simply cannot hate. The first new song of the album is “All My Love.” This track, just like many of the songs on this album, talks about forgiveness and lost love. “Now I know your name, but not who you are”, Kahan sings, “there ain’t a drop of bad blood, it’s all my love.” This sentiment of yearning for what was, but also accepting the passing of time, follows throughout the album. 

“She Calls Me Back” takes its spot as track four, and again has the fun guitar strums in the background as Kahan sings about a love that once was. It is in the fifth track “Come Over” where the audience sees its first shift to a darker tone. Especially in contrast to “She Calls Me Back”, in “Come Over” we hear Kahan’s longing for the love that he once had. “I don’t think that I can take this bed getting any colder,” he sings before repeating the name of the song. 

“Everywhere, Everything” is when the audience really sees the shift of the season and the album. Despite also following the story of two lovers, this song takes a much more melancholic outlook on love. He wants nothing more than to die with his lover’s hand in his. He wishes to rot, just as does everything at the turn of the seasons. Regardless of the more pessimistic tone in this song, it is still relatively upbeat when compared to “Orange Juice”, his next track. 

While all of his previous songs had a darker tone toward love and nostalgia, “Orange Juice” follows the tale of a friend who has struggled with sobriety. The soft strum of the guitar combined with Kahan’s gentle voice contrasts with the second half of the song, where he can sense the frustration with the situation, a struggle with sobriety familiar to many. 

The remaining songs all add onto each other, and Kahan perfectly transitions from a beautiful fall season to the dark uncertainty of winter. It mirrors his transformation from a singer from Strafford, Vermont to performing in front of a national audience. 

While the first half definitely has a lighter mood than the second, mental health is another theme present throughout the album. From the start, medication and trauma are intertwined with the lyrics. This does not distract from the overall album, but rather deepens the meanings and intention of each song. It is a personal album for Kahan, and we see this the best in his final song “The View Between Villages.” 

If you instantly repeat the album after listening to “The View Between Villages” it would be hard to imagine that it belongs in the same one as “Stick Season.” But Kahan so beautifully transitions from one song to another that the audience is simply immersed in the beauty of the album. 

“The View Between Villages” is the perfect ending to Kahan’s love letter to New England and his childhood. Any college student can relate to the feeling of being trapped between two stages in life, and this song encapsulates those emotions perfectly. 

“A minute from home but I feel so far from it,” he sings as the chorus starts to pick up. We feel his anger, frustration and confusion, all before the guitar slows down, and the audience is left with an ambiance of nothingness. For the final minute of the album, there are no lyrics, and the audience is forced to sit and think. 

This album feels like a wave rushing over you, and there is no better time to listen to it than when the leaves are falling and the first bit of crispiness is hitting the air. 

Artist: Noah Kahan

Album: “Stick Season” 

Favorite tracks: “Homesick,” “The View Between Villages”

If you like: Gregory Alan Isakov, Dean Lewis

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

Contact Olivia Schatz at oschatz@nd.edu

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‘When Harry Met Sally…’: The heartwarming origin of the ‘Meg Ryan Fall’ trend

As we enter autumn, TikTok has taken a turn from focusing on the “coastal grandmother” summer aesthetic, to one more fitting of the current season: “Meg Ryan Fall.” This trend is inspired by the namesake’s hit movies of the 80s and 90s. Because of the popularity of the aesthetic, many of Ryan’s movies have faced a resurgence in popularity. Among her most well-known works is the iconic “When Harry Met Sally…,” a 1989 romantic comedy written by Nora Ephron. In this film, Ryan’s character decorates herself in warm colors, tweed jackets, baggy jeans and thick sweaters: all essentials of the TikTok aesthetic. Even greater than Ryan’s outfits in the film are the memorable story and its characters.

 “When Harry Met Sally…” stars Billy Crystal and, of course, Meg Ryan. The film follows the friendship of Harry Burns, a stubborn man who believes in the impossibility of friendship between men and women, and Sally Albright, a determined, confident woman who tends to have a more optimistic point of view. Despite having different approaches to the world, the two characters share in their growing disillusionment with dating in New York City, and find friendship with each other through it. 

Overall, “When Harry Met Sally…” is an extremely funny and even more so heartwarming story. The main reason as to why the movie is so great is the performances of the actors. The chemistry between Crystal and Ryan is succinct and memorable, but each actor also creates a character that exists wonderfully on their own. Additionally, supporting actors Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby are fantastic in the film, making a just as intriguing secondary plot line. These memorable performances can be attributed to not only the talent of the actors, but also the comedic genius found in Nora Ephron’s writing. 

Apart from the memorable acting and script, the general atmosphere of “When Harry Met Sally…” is another reason why the movie is so enjoyable. The film takes place in New York City and follows Harry and Sally through the changing seasons. Through this, viewers get to see a beautiful fall (contributing even more to the TikTok aesthetic) and a cozy Christmas in New York. The film acts as a love letter to not only love itself, but also to the city of New York, as shown through both the main plot, and the short clips of unnamed elderly couples discussing their love stories inserted throughout the film. It is because of New York that all of the characters of the story are able to experience love, as reflected through the romanticized ambience of the city. To add on, the soundtrack created by Harry Connick Jr. adds even more depth to the already romantic and gorgeous atmosphere created by Ephron’s script, the actors’ performances, and the setting.

All in all, “When Harry Met Sally…” is a phenomenal movie that can be enjoyed in any season, but is definitely a must-watch in order to truly appreciate not only the “Meg Ryan Fall” aesthetic, but also the value found in time, in friendship and in love. 

Contact Maggie Clark at mclark34@nd.edu.

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The freshmen flu: A story of sniffles

The temperature is dropping. The leaves are changing colors. The flannel and gray sweatpants combo have arrived. It is sweater weather if you will. As of Sept. 22, at 9:04 p.m. EDT, fall has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere and at Notre Dame too. You might be tempted to think that the most important development of late is that you can wear cute “autumn-themed” clothes or that it is finally socially acceptable to indulge in pumpkin-spice beverages. But I draw your attention to the elephant in the room, an elephant which we room-dwellers neglect to acknowledge. With the arrival of sweaters and lattes comes the notorious “freshmen flu,” a ubiquitous ailment of varying severity that targets especially first-years but has been observed to affect others.

The “flu,” if it can even be aptly compared to influenza, begins with a sore, scratchy throat that progresses into a dry cough. Once the dry cough settles in, the other symptoms appear like sinus congestion and fatigue. The characteristic mucous-filled cough is the final and most prominent symptom. Such is the common illness progression that I and most likely you endured. Some experience a minor degree of these symptoms, while other more unfortunate others suffer worse. 

Take care not to turn the blind eye to the things you witness every day in class. You see the few extra empty chairs in the back of class. You notice the tissues and cough drops competing for pocket space with your phone and wallet. You hear the not–so silent silence of exam rooms. Sniffles. Sneezes. Hacks. Throat–clearings — whatever noise that makes. It is obvious that the “freshmen flu” plagues the students of Notre Dame. 

How then are we students to stop the spread of so widespread a disease? I offer a few hypothetical solutions. Be absent from class and recover in your dorm. In theory, this sounds perfectly reasonable. Except, you would sacrificing valuable class and studying time amid exam season, a dubious wager that has direct effect on sometimes 25% of your semester grade. Cross that one out. Purchase medicine from the Huddle Mart conveniently placed in LaFortune. The only issue is that the desired cold/flu medicines are often out-of-stock, snatched up by the other infirmed. And if you are fortunate enough to get your hands on meager sized bottle of Dayquil, the Huddle Mart happily receives a generous $12.99 increase in revenue in exchange for your health. I am still cross about that transaction. Forget it. 

On top of these logistical impracticalities, I have noticed a few subtle stigmas with respect to the “freshmen flu.” In class, it seems almost undignified to cough or sniffle too loudly as it might draw unwarranted attention or disapproval. And no, suppressing your cough to a barely audible volume does not mean that your neighbor did not hear it, even if they did not look up. There is an overbearing silence in common study areas like Remick Family Hall or the Reading Room in Hesburgh Library where I fear to make a noise, let alone sniffle. I fear the day when someone accosts me for such a despicable crime. With respect to getting up from your seat in class, I sense a similar stigma. My neighbor might think, “Wow, is he really getting up to blow his nose. How disrespectful?” Perhaps this is a sign my social anxiety is getting the better of me. However, I cannot read someone else’s mind, and thus I am reserved to these types of sentiments. It remains that the consensus is to stay put for the 50 or 75 minutes and suppress the sniffles and stifle the coughs, even if it means mildly distracting others.

At this point, the “freshmen flu” seems to be more of a plague than a common cold. In contemplating this idea, I attempted to conjure up something good that can come from illness. I once thought rather optimistically that perhaps the “freshmen flu” is indicative of Notre Dame’s dedication to a diverse student population, of whom hail from all corners of the world. Subsequently, I wondered if the tour guides tell prospective students and families of the hundreds of ailments that find their origin in the hundreds of hometowns. Probably not. Yes, it is fantastic that geographically diverse students live at Notre Dame, but how does that cure my cough? It does not. 

And so, I offer this final reflection. Consider the reason for why a majority of Notre Dame is sick. I concede that there exists a specific virus that causes the “freshmen flu,” but I challenge that there is more at play. Given the change in seasons and weather, one’s exposure to sunlight, vitamin D, is dramatically reduced. With respect to classes, exam season is here, and everyone likewise must devote more and more time to studying or doing work. It is no longer “Syllabus Week.” We now must engage in serious work, leaving our silliness for another day. Late nights of studying, all-nighters and copious amounts of caffeine are tried and true practices to ensure preparation for assessments. However, these tactics invariably have adverse effects on one’s sleep schedule and by extension, health. 

Perhaps, the “freshmen flu” is good in the sense that it unites us as a community in a moment of reflection to consider how we have been treating our bodies. Maybe it is that our poor time budgeting and neglect of self-care are finally catching up to us. Poor eating habits, lack of exercise or self-isolation, all of which are common, are, nevertheless, harmful to one’s mental and bodily health. Perhaps, we need to allocate more time to self-care, whether that manifests as engaging in an extracurricular passion, buying a delicious dessert or snack or even just sleeping. Take care not to forget those simple pleasures of life, which have an uncanny ability to keep you sane amid the craziness of academic life.

Find times to treat your health like wealth, even if it means washing your Dayquil cough syrup down with a pumpkin spice latte.

Jonah Tran is a first-year at Notre Dame double majoring in Finance and Economics and minoring in Classics. Although fully embracing the notorious title of a “Menbroza,” he prides himself on being an Educated Young Southern Gentleman. You can contact Jonah by email at jtran5@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Fall is here, but I swear, summer is forever

Perhaps the start of fall isn’t marked by last Thursday’s Autumnal Equinox at 9:04 p.m. Eastern Time — maybe it’s the August 30 return of the Pumpkin Spiced Latte to Starbucks, or the day the box fans start to disappear from dorm room windows. Maybe it’s the first chill of fall you feel on an overcast day on campus or the slow, painful retirement of your flip-flops. However you define this shift, it’s happening, and everyone’s feeling it. 

Although I want nothing more than to embrace the turn of the new season, I find myself holding on for dear life to the summertime. On chilly late-night Grotto trips and sweatshirt-clad walks to DeBart, I’m thinking about legendary nights with hometown friends and summer romances. I’m thinking about saturated sunsets and mountain air and feet-dangling-out-of-car-windows. But whenever I feel this sense of loss, I remind myself that summer can be bottled. I’ve found my summer during this seasonal transition in a few songs.

The first song is “BIKE NO MORE” by brotherkenzie, which can best be described as a haunting, unfinished love letter. The dark piano melody coupled with the eerie vocals creates an otherworldly feeling. The lyrics are distant and vague like those lingering moments from summer: “Don’t you think I know you best / When you’re fast asleep on my chest? / I’ve still got so much to say.” Despite its lack of specificity lyrically, the song is made more vivid in its repetition and sonic mood. It feels like stomping through frozen flower beds, moody and satisfying. 

“Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap, an anthemic song popularized by 500 Days of Summer, opens with a glittery, tangy guitar riff that builds gradually to an epic pre-chorus. The pre-chorus is a series of snapshots that encapsulate youth and recklessness: “A moment, a love, a dream, aloud / A kiss, a cry, our rights, our wrongs.” The song invites listeners to plug in their own kisses, cries and mistakes — it’s a montage of our youth. It’s frantic and desperate, but also slow, mesmerizing and complex. 

The most gut-wrenching song is “Wish on an Eyelash” by Mallrat. The song is less than a minute long but creates a mood of longing that survives the track. Singer Grace Kathleen Elizabeth Shaw delivers crisp, angelic vocals detailing her pining: “I made a wish on an eyelash / Made a wish on elevens / Made a wish on my birthday / Talk about you to heaven.” The song is ethereal and somber, reminiscent of summers spent full of yearning, blowing on dandelions and hoping for things seemingly out of reach. 

“September” by Roy Blair is the most obvious transitional song for this time of year. It chronicles the end of a relationship, but with a glimmer of hope for the future. Blair contextualizes the narrative, singing, “I haven’t seen your face in about three months now.” He includes concrete images of a drunk walk home and his former lover’s Honda Accord, with commentary and reflection. He pleads, “Wish that we still talked / Even if the talk was small.” The song is as much in the now as it is in the past; it is one foot in and one foot out. But, above all, the song is about acceptance that all good things must end, whether that be a season or a relationship.

Surf Curse’s “Lost Honor” is an upbeat grunge rock song that is full of anticipation and excitement. Guitarist Jacob Rubeck told Flood Magazine, “This song is about fighting for love that feels right.” From New Year’s memories and hands on hips, frontman Nick Rattigan details and discerns precious moments, but asserts that “A final kiss never dies.” When I hear this song, I feel so sure that nothing ever dies. Nothing ever goes away.

The beauty of these songs is in their breadth, but mostly in their ability to capture this indescribable feeling that we call Summer. The songs are full of longing and anger and mourning and freedom. The songs sound like those invaluable fast food runs with hometown friends and Culver’s runs in South Bend with school friends. The songs sound like curling up in a ball in your childhood bedroom and sobbing salty tears at the Grotto. The songs transcend time and place. They are not summer songs — they are forever songs. Because surely our falls will be full of longing; surely our winters will be full of joy; surely our springs will be full of “rights” and “wrongs.” Because every season brings so much new and so much of the same. 

As we trade our t-shirts and shorts for sweatshirts and jeans, I hope we all call upon those moments of bliss from the summertime with the knowledge that bliss will return in time. Maybe we won’t find it in Hesburgh Library at 2 a.m. cramming for a midterm, but we will find it somewhere in Notre Dame, Indiana, perhaps when we least expect it. 

Kate Casper (aka, Casper, Underdog, or Jasmine) is from Northern Virginia, currently residing in Breen-Phillips Hall. She strives to be the best waste of your time. You can contact her at kcasper@nd.edu.