Seriously, Stop Calling People “Snacks”

If I were to tell you that I was extremely astute when it came to slang terms, I would be lying through my teeth.

Every day, it seems as though a new expression finds its way into the digital lexicon. For me, it is incredibly difficult to keep up with this fast-paced facet of Internet culture. Seriously, I still find myself saying “yeet” and “on fleek” from time to time. Continue reading “Seriously, Stop Calling People “Snacks””

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A Sneak Peek of My Fourth Novel!

Hello, friends,

As always, I am going to begin this entry by clearing things up, because my overarching paranoia and fear of ambiguity among my five readers is very much prevalent right now.

Yes, I have written four novels: one last month, one last year, and two throughout my childhood. The latter two may not count to you, and believe me, they once did not to me, but as time has passed and I have been truly exposed to the turmoil that is completing a multi-paged volume, I now consider them tantamount to my other works.

That’s all! Can you believe I managed to compartmentalize my disclaimer into a single paragraph? Hardly can I! Anyways, onto this snippet of As A Stranger, unedited! Continue reading “A Sneak Peek of My Fourth Novel!”

Style vs. Substance in the Blogsphere AKA Why I Posted a Photo Story

*YES THIS POST IS VERY MUCH OVERDUE AND I SHOULD HAVE POSTED THIS IN APRIL BUT PLEASE FORGIVE ME I WILL REPENT FOR MY SINS WITH AN ONSLAUGHT OF ENTRIES IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF MONTHS SO YAY OR NOOOO DEPENDS ON WHETHER YOU LIKE ME OR NOT*

The definition of a blogger has been debated ever since the platform has been introduced into the mainstream.

Honestly, I’m unsure if it actually has been debated, but for the sake of this entry, it has been.

Are bloggers those who write long form entries and personal anecdotes? Are bloggers those who focus on the visual aspects of the Internet, posting photos and having a large social media presence, as well as a front seat at Fashion Week? Are bloggers a combination of both of these things? Can they be both of these things?

However, a large amount of today’s most well-known bloggers are more focused on maintaining a visual aesthetic rather than writing entries.

Punfiltered, I like to think, is very much based on writing. Each of my entries has some sort of longevity, and I spend a long time curating my content. To me, this page is a space where I can express my thoughts and feelings, almost like a personal diary. I consider myself almost more of a writer than a blogger.

Although I do focus on making my page visually pleasing, the most important part is the actual entries.

At this point, it is pretty easy to tell that as a writer, it can be infuriating to see bloggers who focus more on style amass all of this success, and even fit the mold of a “blogger” for most.

However, instead of writing an angry entry, I decided that I would try to write a visually-based entry myself, just to see what it was like and gain a better understanding of what I had planned on attacking.

I originally wanted to do this a few months back, just on a regular Sunday. But I soon realized that the photos were far too mundane and boring. So I decided to restart this venture on a day when I accompanied my two cousins and aunts to look at prom dresses in the LA Fashion District. I knew there would be plenty of things to take pictures of.

Did I like this new approach? Well, I did not dislike it, but it is definitely not for me, nor will it ever replace or overshadow my preferred methods of blogging.

The biggest reason is because I didn’t have the proper equipment to take good pictures. I only have an iPhone 5S, and an older one nonetheless. The pictures came out alright, but not beautiful like most photo-based bloggers are able to do.

The solution to this problem would obviously be to invest in a better cell phone or a camera. But that would be a waste, because I won’t be photo blogging very much.

There a few reasons why. One, I don’t usually do things exciting enough to warrant photo blog entries. Neither do I lead the sort of lifestyle where even doing nothing is aesthetically pleasing.

Also, I’m simply not a strong enough photographer to make pictures the focus of my entries. I would much rather showcase my writing.

Lastly, while this may be a good thing to some, the sort of iPhone photo blogging I did required minimal effort.

I’m not saying that all brands of this do not take much work. In fact, most of them require plenty of effort, that is, if they are working with professional materials, or had a drive to take the perfect photos, none of which I have.

All I had to do was take a fair amount of phone pictures and give them quick captions. It could not have taken me more than twenty minutes to do the entire thing.

I’m not too frequent of a poster on my page, so I want to make sure that when I do post, I am putting my biggest effort into my entries. I did not feel that way about my photo story.

Although this sort of blogging was not for me, I could see why other people would do it, and why it is so successful. We live in a world that depends on vitality. Pictures are easier for a consumer to scroll past than a long blog entry.

While I am aware of this, I am still staying true to my writing-based style of blogging, simply because I enjoy it. In the end, I would rather do what I love than appeal to what other people love.

Do I still think that today’s definition of blogging places an emphasis on style over substance? To a degree, yes. But do I understand the appeal of photo-based blogging, and do I know that there is plenty of effort that goes into it? Definitely.

I do not hate photo blogging, I was just never meant to do it. But, if I’m ever doing anything interesting, and I am too busy to upload a full-fledged entry, photo blogging will definitely be an option.

A day in the Fashion District (told in low-quality iPhone 5S photos)

Stereotypically awkward outfit photos.

The 3 Cs: Cayla, Carly, Char.
Looking at other dresses for inspiration.

“Wow, guys, we’re actually downtown!”
Only a select few will remember when this was my dream school.

Keep your friends close, and your belongings closer.

Before I knew that taking pictures in all of these formalwear shops was prohibited.
We walked a lot, 7,904 steps, to be exact.

Although I didn’t need a dress, I still had fun trying them on.

Unfortunately, none of us found dresses, but we still had fun exploring!

The greatest study tips you will ever witness

Blah blah blah, shebang about how school season is in full swing, blah, blah, blah, fluff about how hard my classes are, blah, blah, blah, even fluffier fluff about how I know how to study principally because of the rigor of my classes, blah, blah, blah, onto the list proper.
1. Start a group chat with other classmates where you can talk about your assignments and ask questions.

Throughout my high school career, I have been involved in at least one group chat for my classes every year. I highly recommend doing this because it gives you a place where you can communicate with people like you who may be struggling on a certain concept, help other people who are struggling while simultaneously helping yourself, and get help from someone who knows more than you do about something. Also, if you goof off and forget to write down the homework problems, you will always have someone to ask. In short, this method is a surefire way to stay on top of your classes.

Until Becky invites Steve, a guy she’s “seeing,” into the chat. And they begin to commiserate over trigonometric functions. And then they begin to commiserate over whether or not Jupiter is in retrograde. And then their hopes and dreams. And then their ideal number of children. And then come the fire and water droplet emojis. And then come the words that will never be shown in a Punfiltered entry. And then come the pictures that will never be shown in a Punfiltered entry. And then you see that their little exchange is too rich for words. And then you remember that Becky ruined your white Keds in elementary school. And then you declare it’s time for revenge. And then you expose her to the whole school. And then she fights you. And then you both end up in the dean’s office. And then you both get suspended, but you for longer. And then that goes on your record.

Case in point, class group chats will save your life. Next!

2. Use brightly colored supplies to add some vivaciousness to your labor

This may sound juvenile (PRETTY COLORS), but using bright highlighters, note cards, pens, and PostIts makes studying worthwhile. Call me a nerd, but there is something so oddly satisfying about taking APUSH notes and highlighting locations pink, groups and organizations orange, people yellow, dates and years green, important words blue, and vocabulary words purple. It’s so fun to paint with all the colors of your school supplies and study tools.

And then that makes you think of Pocahontas. And then that makes you realize that you haven’t seen that movie since gymnastics camp in 2008. And then you watch it on Netflix. And then you cry. And then you notice that there are even more movies on Netflix. And the you peruse the entire Disney subcategory. And then you miss your childhood. And then you cry to your mom and tell her that you want to stay a kid forever and that you miss those days were there was no such thing as responsibility. And then you realize that there can be no such thing as responsibility. And then you stop doing literally everything.

Anyways, colorful supplies are my natural high. Next!

3. Watch educational videos to get an explanation from a different perspective.

Let’s face it, teachers and their lessons could be difficult to understand. If only you had a better explanation. Well, take that “if only you had” out and replace it with a “there is,” and you will have a true statement! There are an abundance of videos on YouTube available on a plethora of concepts and subjects. Most of the time, they give a completely different explanation, and usually, they’re better or clearer. Whenever I need help in my chemistry class, for example, I search the concept on YouTube, and I’m immediately met with plenty of results. What I usually do is take note on the video and write them in the terms of the person educating me in the video.

And then you notice that said person is actually kinda cute. And then you Google his name. And then you come across his IMBD page. And then you click on another tab to see that he was arrested for driving under the influence and twerking on a police officer. And then you watch videos of him getting arrested. And then you laugh. And then you laugh harder. And then you snort milk from your nose. And then you realize that you don’t even drink milk. And then you freak out. And then you call your doctor. And then she tells you that she’s not answering questions at this hour. And then you go to the emergency room. And then you get waited on long before the woman near you, who is dying of a heart attack. And then, she collapses. And then you develop a guilt that you will carry for the rest of your life.

Aren’t educational videos great? Moving on!

4. Find motivation and stick to it

Academic motivation can be very hard to come by. There’s just so much work, right? But the sad truth is, there will always be so much work. The best thing that you can do is imagine all of that work leading up to amazing results.

The next time you’re studying for an unreasonably important test or slaving over an unfairly long paper, picture yourself working hard enough and earning an A, B, F+, or whatever may fulfill your standards of goodness. You will for sure be motivated to put all of your effort into whatever scholarly task you are assigned. And then you will remember that high grades are not the only good things in life: donuts are, too. And then you’ll become hungry. And then you’ll get in your car to drive to the nearest bakery. And then you’ll realize that it’s 1 a.m. because you procrastinated. And then you’ll call a PostMate. And then the only PostMate available will be your Econ teacher, whose assignment is what you’re procrastinating on. And then you laugh because Mr. Chidderman (tell me that’s a last name) is actually a PostMate. And then you’ll get ready to expose him. And then you’ll realize the minuscule proportions of a teacher’s salary, and you can’t help but feel bad for the guy. And then you remember that your teacher is the only PostMate available. And then you come up with a masterful disguise so he does not see you. And then you put on an excessive amount of makeup. And then you remember that all of your makeup is infected. And then you proceed to slowly and painfully perish.

Motivation. Find it. Next!

Well, that’s all the study tips I have for you guys today! I wish you all a slew of good grades, positive progress, and police reports!

School and Perpetual Self-doubt and Conflicting Inner Forces, Oh My!

If you are standing up right now, you may want to sit down. If you are wearing an uncomfortable outfit, you may want to change into some sweats. If you have a lot on your mind, you may want to meditate or light some eucalyptus candles while you’re at it.

Why? Because I am about to deliver some truly shocking news.

I…

Actually…

Like…

School. A lot, in fact.

I can hear the collective gasp already. But, please, allow me to explain.

All of my English teachers have been the ones to mold my passion as a writer. The amazing friends I have met over the years have positively impacted me and have made life valuable. School has given me so many fantastic opportunities to learn about myself, learn about the world, and learn about the lives of others. And that’s barely the tip of the iceberg.

I place a lot of emphasis on my education. As positive as that may seem, it leads to the sole thing I don’t like about school: the competition, and the impact that it has had on my confidence in my own abilities.

I’m going to begin by retracing my path as a student, a pretty traditional one.

From kindergarten to seventh grade, I was on top. Every kid tried to cheat off of my tests, my report cards were full of 4s and As, and my standardized test scores were always advanced, and on occasion, the top 5 to 10 percentile in the nation.

During those times, school was challenging enough for me to work my hardest, but simple enough where academic-related stress was a rare occurrence for me.

I remember a moment in the seventh grade where I had a 4.0 GPA. After the ceremony that honored me and other students with similar achievements, my mom cried and said that this was the proudest moment of her life.

I did not understand her reaction. For me, this was not a big deal. I just did assignments, and got good grades. It was habitual.

Little did I know that this would be one of the final instances where I felt such a way, because in 8th grade, everything changed.

It was Algebra 1, my first “real” math class. I’ll spare you the long story: I tanked in that class. Part of it was my inconsistent teacher and the constant barrage of substitutes that knew as little as their students did, part of it was my failure to get help when I needed it, but most of it was the fact that it was a relatively difficult class and subject for me.

I ended up getting my first C ever, which eventually became my first B ever. This grade kept me from getting the prestigious award for maintaining a 4.0 all throughout middle school.

Awards night was absolutely horrendous for me. The visual of seeing those who had once prospered alongside me, including my best friend, walking up to the stage and accepting the award I should have gotten haunts me to this day. Even as I’m writing this, I’m tearing up.

The real kicker was the fact that the parents of each of the awardees walked up to accept their award with their smart children that deserved to be celebrated. My parents and I were confined to our folding chairs.

That night, I had never felt more ashamed in my life. My grandparents offered to take me out for ice cream, I outright told them that I didn’t deserve it. Instead of enjoying a nice, refreshing ice cream cone (cookie dough with rainbow sprinkles, obviously), I cried myself to sleep. Not only did I feel like I had failed myself, I felt like I had failed my family.

Looking back, I now know that my middle school years were amazing. All As except one B in my academic classes? That’s fantastic!

Honestly, it took me a while to get to that point, but I’m glad that I have finally found the ability to view sixth grade through eighth grade in a positive light.

However, the same can definitely not be said about my high school years.

I’m not going to pretend like I take easy classes. I don’t. My agenda over the last three years has been full of honors classes, high-level courses, and a few APs here and there.

For the most part, I have worked my tail off in these classes (except for 10th grade AP Euro. We don’t talk about 10th grade AP Euro). I study for every test, I ask my teachers questions whenever I need it, and I do my best to completely immerse myself in every little thing that I learn.

With habits like this, it’s safe to assume that I have a set of UC-friendly grades to match.

Well, my friend, that assumption is completely incorrect.

It’s not like my grades are generally thought of as bad, however. I’ve received mostly As and Bs, with a few Cs in my worst subjects, math and PE.

However, I fail to see that I have relatively good grades because for the first eight or so years of my academic career, I was at the tippy-top. Now, I’m not, and as much as I hate to admit it, I have had a very difficult time accepting this truth.

Why have I had such a hard time? I compare myself to others.

This is the part where I introduce you to my two intrinsic forces that are in charge of this tendency. Because I am eccentric (er, a freak), I decided to aptly dub these forces Yayla and Faila.

Let’s meet Yayla first. Physically, she is a gleaming high school movie stereotype. She’s the head cheerleader, the girl that’s always smiling, and the one with an insufferably high voice.

In case her name was not indicative enough, she is my biggest supporter. However, the way she finds support for me is, well, questionable.

To put it in perspective, I’m going to give an example of a situation where Yayla prevailed. A few months ago, I was chatting with a very VERY smart person that I knew and admired for his intelligence. He was talking about how upset he was for getting a C on an English assignment, whereas I had just found out that I got an 8 out of 9 on my first AP English essay, the top score in the class.

Yayla told me, “Go, Cayla! You’re better than the smart guy! You can do anything! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” (yes, with that many “o”s.)

As terrible as it sounds, I was using someone else’s defeat to augment the gravity of my victory. That’s Yayla’s specialty: putting myself above others, even when it’s not necessary, and basing my success on being better than my peers.

Last year, when I thought I didn’t get into AP Lang (I wrote not one but TWO entries on this. You can check them out if you love me), I surveyed the acceptance list and picked out the people who Yayla thought did not deserve their positions. Although it did not deter my ferocious anger and floods of tears, it automatically made me think that the Lang teachers had just taken the biggest L in their lives.

(Am I using that term correctly? I sincerely hope so.)

So in short, Yayla is that one girl who seems nice, but can literally destroy everyone else who she finds inferior to herself. As the great orator Katy Perry once tweeted, “Watch out for the Regina George in sheep’s clothing.” (She was talking about Yayla, definitely not Taylor Swift. I’ve tried to sell this story to TMZ a thousand times over, but I’m banned from their headquarters for life.)

Let’s go on the opposite end and meet by far the most ubiquitous of my intrinsities (yes, I know that is not a word, but it should be): Faila.

Faila is the Anti-Yayla: she absolutely despises me. To her, everything I do is wrong. If I get a one hundred on a test, she will never fail to remind me that I should have gotten the extra credit point. If I finish a novel, she will angrily point out plot holes and tell me that I don’t deserve to feel proud. If I’m on the honor roll or qualify for honors’ societies and CSF, she reiterates that I barely qualify. If I ace a song, one of my notes didn’t have enough vibrato, according to her. If I break the curve for an APUSH quiz, she will shout from rooftops that I am not the only one who did so, and that I have no right to feel special.

With her, there are no positive comparisons: only negative. Her biggest superpower, however, is disguising herself as some sort of motivational superhero.

Sometimes she fools me, which isn’t much of a feat considering that I was one of those sixth graders who believed in the school’s “pool” on the “third floor,” but that’s besides the point.

In these cases, I will have the mentality that if I want to impress Faila, I’ll obviously work harder, and I’ll get good grades. This does lead to me going the extra mile and putting in a little more effort than usual, which is a positive. But Faila will never be impressed, which eventually leads to an influx of stress, tears, self-doubt, and slight masochistic tendencies from time to time.

One of the cases where Faila made the most unwelcome appearance was my math analysis final last semester. In that class, I was on a dangerous, barely stable rope bridge connected to C Island over the rushing waters of D Rapids. My final, I thought, was the rusty nail that could either miraculously stay in place, or cause the bridge to fall into the depths below, where there was no escape.

That math final was hard. Suffice it to say, there were a lot of “educated guesses.”

To make matters worse, when I was struggling to answer the questions I had skipped and gone back to countless times, Faila decided to join the party.

You bitch,” she told me in her scathing tone, an angry New York accent, obviously. “You have zero future. No college is ever going to want a girl who has a D in regular math analysis. Not even honors. No employer is going to want you, either. You’d better figure out a talent so you can become a street performer, because that’s all you’ve got. Since you’re so bad at math, you’re obviously bad at everything else. Delete your novel files. Get out of CSF now. Stop believing in yourself at once. You’re a fail, a fail, a fail, a fail, a fail, a fail, a fail, a fail, a fail, a fail,

YOU’RE A FAIL!”

I wish I could say that I managed to counter Faila’s insults and use them to motivate me to answer those questions, slay my final, and prove her wrong. But unfortunately, I did exactly what she wanted me to do: I completely succumbed.

Somehow, I was able to finish my test with ten minutes to spare, but as I brought my test up to the teacher, I could feel the nails on the bridge breaking. D Rapids had never felt so close.

At my desk, I could not contain any of my emotions. I began to bury my head in my desk and cry.

No, “cry” is an understatement, I freaking sobbed.

Before I go on and lament some more, I just want to address how annoying I must have been. The other students were trying to take their final and get a good grade, whereas I was sobbing extremely loudly because I had just been defeated by my intrinsic demon.

So I’m going to issue an apology: if you were in Mr. Wilson’s class on the day of my final and you were affected by my wails, I apologize profusely and each of you all will have a guaranteed position in my will.

But anyways, I believed every little thing Faila had said. My usual optimism had completely flown into the wastebasket. I was the worst version of myself in that moment.

Although it’s irrelevant to this entry, this story does have a happy ending. I ended up doing okay on the final, raising my percentage, and keeping a C. When the grade was entered, I got whiplash from an overload of celebratory dabbing.

But we’re talking about Yayla and Faila now. Honestly, I don’t wish this upon too many people (or forces), but I want both of them dead, or fired, if I want to be less extreme.

I want them to take a nice, luxurious, long, permanent vacation to Punta Cana, or wherever intrinsic forces go on luxurious, long, permanent vacations.

Instead, I want to replace them with a whole new force, someone who knows how to bring me up without bringing others down, gives me constructive criticism without tearing me down, and only wants the best for me.

When she is born, her name will be You’re Pretty Awesome and You Don’t Need Grades or The Faults of Others to Confirm That-la. Seems suitable, right?

But before her birth can occur, there will be more than a few obstacles along the way.

By that, I mean that I’ll have to become more confident in my intelligence, my abilities, and my accomplishments.

Which brings me back to school. As much as I hate to blame the system as a whole, I feel that our nation’s most prevalent academic organization is the main reason for my lack of confidence.

I don’t want to get all opinion-editorial-ish, so I’m going to keep it brief.

I hate that my grades make it difficult for me to believe people when they tell me I’m smart. I hate that I can only feel fulfilled when I have the highest number of test questions correct. I hate that my faith in myself and my hopes for my future can be extirpated in an instant due [to a decimal]. I hate that the few times I’ve cried have been because of tests and essays. I hate that school and its narrow definition of “smart” has made me feel worthless.

Wow. That was a lot to get off of my chest, in case the page count was not indicative enough of that. But may I remind you that when all is said and done, I love school.

I just don’t like the way it decreases my confidence while simultaneously making me act pompous and envious in order to feel worthy.

But I am confident that I will overcome this, and abort the efforts of Faila and Yayla in the process. How will I do this? Every day, I will say something to myself that I am proud of. I will fixate on the positive, not the negative. If I can do that for everyone and everything else, I can do it for myself as well.

You know what? I’ll start right now. I have managed to build up an awesome blog with an awesome following of awesome friends and even a few awesome strangers. I have a small but awesome platform to post my awesome and less-than-awesome experiences and feelings. I am sure I can do this because of my awesome supporters’ awesome acceptance and awesome love. Thank you guys. So much.

PS: If I had a GPA point for every time I said “awesome” in those above sentences…

Album Review: Banks-The Altar

Before we get into this review, I need to address that this entry is the first real music review I’ve done in a while. It may be a little faulty, so bear with me.
Let’s start with the artist herself. Jillian Banks, AKA Banks, is an electronic R&B and alternative artist from Los Angeles. Her first album, Goddess, garnered enough success to give her a pretty substantial name in the “popular underground” scene (I just coined that term myself. This scene features artists who have a loyal fanbase, critical claim to at least a degree, and maybe even some chart success, but are not overly massive names in modern music. Major examples of this include Alessia Cara, Melanie Martinez, Flume, Carly Rae Jepsen, etc.)
I discovered Banks upon the release of her first album. I remember falling in love with the single “Drowning,” then listening to the whole album.
There were a couple of exceptions, (why is “Fall Over” a thing?) but I liked the album a lot. I revisit its songs to this day.
On Goddess, Banks was trying to be empowering. On the title track, she warns a person that the lover they screwed over was a “goddess,” and not that Banks herself was one.
That was a good route to go, because saying “I’m a goddess” would be more vapid than anything, and it would borderline the purposeful narcissism in which brag rap is characterized.
However, that was the closest thing to self empowerment the album got.
In “Drowning,” she starts off by saying that a wrongdoing lover is going to “get some bad karma.” But in the hook and pre-chorus, she claims that she does things that he does not deserve the effort she’s putting into their relationship, and that she’s “drowning” for this guy.
This is not empowerment: this is an unhealthy relationship.
But my favorite song off of that album was “Someone New,” a tearful guitar ballad where she begs for her lover to stay faithful to her while she goes away.
The song ends with desperate cries of “I promise, baby one day I’ll come back for you.”
This song showcased Banks at her best: a girl in a seemingly healthy relationship who has to sacrifice it for her career.
When I heard about the release of her sophomore album, I was hoping that she would play on this theme more. An album that focused on balancing love life and the demands of being a singer would be unique.
Did she do this? No, not really.
But was The Altar still a strong record? Well…
A lot of people have been pointing out that The Altar shows a different side of Banks, a more confident side.
In “Gemini Feed,” arguably the lead single, Banks mocks a lover for thinking he could “get her to the altar.”
In “F*** With Myself,” she declares “I used to care what you think about me.”
In “Lovesick,” she admits that she is sexually and romantically frustrated, and that she “ain’t even ashamed” of that.
Many people have praised this new aspect of Banks’ message. I, for one, do not hate it. Not at all.
But as I said, my favorite Banks is the emotional, vulnerable one, and that part of her sound was conveyed in two songs.
First, there’s “Mother Earth,” another acoustic guitar ballad, much like “Someone New.”
In this song she comforts someone, maybe a lover, a friend, or a family member, assuring that every time they fall, she’ll be there.
Although this song is close to “Someone New,” when it comes to overall sound, it’s very different in multiple areas.
I remember seeing that Banks wrote this song for her newborn niece because she hated that she had to grow up in such a world where female discrimination is still very evident.
This song is beautiful because it’s not sad, but not necessarily happy, either. It’s somewhere in the middle. I love how Banks belts the chorus in a higher key than what she normally does. The violin solo in the chorus really makes this a special moment on the album. If it were up to me, I would take out the backing vocals, because they distract from the simplicity of the song.
But the closest track to “Someone New” when it comes to the message is “To the Hilt.” Although it’s a piano ballad, both of them deal with similar themes, and Banks’ delivery is full of sadness both times around.
But “Someone New” is by far better, because there are much more raw moments. In the bridge of that song, you could tell Banks was actually close to tears, but in “To the Hilt,” she was faking it. Also, the guitar in “Someone New” added a strange energy to the song, whereas “To the Hilt” used a very general piano melody.
Another song that stood out was “Judas,” not for the meaning, but for the tone. Oddly enough, this song bears a striking resemblance to “The Hills” by The Weeknd.
Okay, hear me out.
Both songs take on a dark, haunting tone. Both of them feature the artists’ lower range on the verses, and a more explosive presence on the chorus (The Weeknd more so than Banks). AutoTune is utilized well in both tracks, because it adds to the ominous, purposefully discomforting mood of the song.
Also, they dated each other a while back. I don’t know if that counts as good evidence, but it happened.
“Trainwreck” is another personal highlight. The song chronicles Banks in panic mode as she tries and fails to gather herself.
When I first heard it, I was not very impressed. The trip-hop production and her borderline rapping in the verses just didn’t sit well with me.
But the more I dissected the lyrics, the more I realized this was intentional. She’s supposed to be going off the rails, the song is called “Trainwreck,” after all.
The high-pitched synths, the increasingly faster tempo, and the shouting but not obnoxious delivery show Banks at her worst, very much different than her usual slinky coolness.
“27 Hours,” a powerful diva ballad, is also worth mentioning. Although Banks doesn’t have a big, powerful voice, per say, her straining added to the darker themes the song deals with. The most powerful thing here is the production, with a pre-chorus that builds up to an excellent beat drop full of her backing vocals, and eventually to one of the best vocal moments of the album on the bridge. As a closer, this is perfect.
Other standouts from the album include “This is Not About Us,” by far one of the most singable things she has ever released, “Lovesick,” in which Banks is honest about her desperation and manages to make it seem seductive, “Gemini Feed,” by far the catchiest song on the album, “F*** With Myself,” which resonated very deeply with me, someone who is her own biggest bully, “Poltergeist,” which features some fantastic production in the opening notes as well as in the staccato chorus, and “Mind Games,” which is, in my opinion, Banks’ biggest translation into a strong dominatrix, and the high quality of the production as well as Banks’ vocals are very convincing.
However, besides the aforementioned “To the Hilt,” The Altar had its duds as well. Clearly the weakest songs were “Haunt” and the aptly named “Weaker Girl.”
On “Weaker Girl,” Banks attempts to compensate the lack of lyrical content in the song by trailing off in her notes and repeating words multiple times (if I hear “bad motherf***er like me” one more, I may get whiplash). I like the overall message of the song, but it could have been executed much better.
“Haunt” tries its best to be a minimalistic, raw R&B track with a snapping beat and backing vocals throughout. However, it comes across as monotonous, and the lack of personality in Banks delivery certainly does not help.
As a whole, The Altar is a good album. I can definitely get behind this new Banks, but I will continue to miss that rawness that made me fall in love with her debut album.

Cayla Asks Herself Questions: Am I basic?

A: What? Nooooo…

Ugh, who would ask such a thing?

Oh wait, I would.

But that’s besides the point. I am NOT basic. What are you talking about?

I listen to so many unpopular, underground artists. I mean, have you ever heard of The War on Drugs? Father John Misty? Lower Dens? Car Seat Headrest? Hinds? Future Islands? Julia Holter? Steven Wilson? Huh? Huh?

Well, never mind the fact that I like a maximum of three songs from each of them and that my actual favorite artists are actually a little more well-known and are signed to major labels. I mean, who cares about that?

Oh, here’s another piece of evidence: I hate the Kardashians. Like, a lot.

Well, there was that one time I saw Khloe at the mall, and I thought about it for about a month. But come on, that’s not that long. I’m sure that there are people who would think about it for years.

And maybe I did insist on walking by and admiring The Kylie Shop when it was at the mall, but at least I didn’t wait in a 10-hour line for it! Well, I couldn’t because EVERYTHING IN THAT STORE WAS TOO DARN EXPENSIVE AND I WAS NOT WORTHY OF THE FRUITS OF THE GODDESS KNOWN AS KING KYLIE, but that’s not my problem.

You know why else I’m not basic? I don’t dress basic.

Mint blue? I would never. Crop tops? My mom would never. Brandy Melville? I would never. Adidas sneakers? I would never. Yoga pants outside the gym? I would never.

Okay, voice in my head, stop. Yes, I have a crap ton of army green, ankle boots, thigh high boots, skirts, maroon, boyfriend jeans, skinny jeans, black jeans, ripped jeans, nineties-looking stuff, tie-front shirts, and pale pink, but I was doing that way before everyone else. Duh. I’m a trendsetter.

Guess what else? I would never go to basic places.

Well, except for the Santa Monica Pier, Disneyland, my local shopping center, Universal Studios, Downtown LA, Malibu, Paradise Cove, In N Out, Melrose, the Commons, my nearby hiking trails, 24 Hour Fitness, and LACMA, but in my defense, I live in Los Angeles. Every place is basic!

At least I travel to obscure hidden gems off the beaten path, right? I’ve been to my cousin’s house in suburban Maryland. That’s not on any Expedia page!

Who cares that I’ve seen someone I’ve known at basically every place I’ve been? They were there because I was there, obviously!

Oh, this one’s the kicker: I don’t say basic things. There!

Wait, the word “basic” itself is “basic?” But there are no other words that convey the same meaning as it does! I’m just attempting to be linguistically correct here, okay?

I stand by my earlier claim. I’m most definitely not basic. You are. Not me. Understood? Understood.

Some new features!

Before I go into this little announcement, I just want to get a bit sentimental.

Thanks so much to everyone who has supported Punfiltered. Your views, searches, and subscriptions mean so much to me, and I promise to continue posting entries written to the best of my abilities, and posting to the best of my schedule.

Continue reading “Some new features!”