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March 18, 1997 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-03-18

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Author Lon Otto reads his fiction work. The latest install-
ment of the University Writers Series will take place at
Rackham Amphitheater today at 4 p.m. The event is free.
For more information, call 764-6296.

L5VJE~UE

UWr'.-9Tuesday

'The Blurring of Britpop
British band tries to make it big in the U.S.

By Aaron Rennie
Daily Arts Writer
British music heroes Blur ventured Stateside Friday night
for an action-packed, rocking show at St. Andrews Hall in
;etroit. For nearly two hours, the band played a variety of
'hits, b-sides and new material, spanning all five of its albums.
Looking super cool, the group - lead singer Damon
Albarn, guitarist/backing vocalist
Graham Coxon, bassist Alex James and R
drummer Dave Rowntree - bounded on
stage to the screams of the sold-out
crowd. Many people in the front of the
stage pogoed up in down as the band St
began the show with "Beetlebum" and
"Song 2," the first UK and U.S. singles,
*spectively, off the band's new album, "Blur."
The audience went nuts as Blur swiftly made the transition
from those two new songs to its huge 1994 hit, "Girls And
Boys," off its mega-selling (at least in the UK) album,
"Parklife.' Albarn elicited squeals from the large female con-
tingent (and from some of the males) with his playful stage
antics, which included putting his hands on his hips and shak-
ing his "arse.' Rowntree provided a solid foundation for the
band's more muscular live playing, comfortably banging
away on his drum kit, while Coxon let loose a bit more on his
guitar than he does on Blur's albums. James, meanwhile,
,ooked a bit-hung over, as he stared into space and noncha-
ntly strummed his bass with a cigarette dangling between
his fingers.
The band's next 15 or so songs before the encore were an
interesting mix of ballads and fast numbers, little-known dit-
ties and ones played on the radio. For every "Stereotypes,"
"End Of A Century" or "Bank Holiday" that are second
nature to most Blur fans, the band tossed in the pretty obscure
"Colin Zeal" and "Supa Shopa." Standout tunes played dur-

Uc
It

ing this portion of the show were "M.O.R.," off the new
album, the aforementioned "End Of A Century" and another
beloved song, "This Is A Low," during which Albarn sang for
all he was worth, nearly losing his breath in the process.
After a brief break, the band sauntered back onto the stage
for an encore of pretty generous length. Following a brief
instrumental tune, Blur busted into two excellent new songs,
"On Your Own" and "Look Inside
America." Then Albarn, in a wise pop-
ulist move, allowed the crowd to sing the
Blur chorus to its very up-beat hit, "Parklife."
The energized few hopped up and down
Andrew's Hall like mad to this tune before Blur slowed
March 14.f997 things down for "The Universal,' possi-
bly its most majestic song. Blur ended
the concert with "Sing," one of its earliest songs (which can
also be found on the great soundtrack to "Trainspotting").
Although Blur was late getting to the venue and didn't have
the benefit of a soundcheck to test out the kinks in its songs,
the concert was indeed a success.
Any fan of Blur could tell you that the group's fifth album
sounds almost nothing like its preceding Britpop classics,
1994's "Parklife" and 1995's "The Great Escape." Part of the
group's change to more of a lo-fi, distorted sound might be
attributable to Albarn befriending Stephen Malkmus,
Pavement's lead singer. "He came over (to England) to do
something for 'Suburbia,"' explained Albarn in an interview
with The Michigan Daily, alluding to the new Richard
Linklater movie, whose soundtrack contains a collaboration
between Malkmus and Albarn's girlfriend, Justine
Frischmann of Elastica.
Albarn explained that, unlike what Courtney Love said, the
British press is not sexist. Love believed that this was the rea-
son that Elastica wasn't receiving as much publicity as Blur
or Oasis in England, but Albarn said, "That's just Courtney

Britpoppers Blur rocked St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit Friday night.

talking cra. If anything, being female helps you." Asked if he
was alluding to the current success of the pretty, talentless
Spice Girls, Albarn claimed, "They're all tits."
Blur recorded a good chunk of its new album in Iceland, a
"beautiful, wonderful, optimistic place," according to Albarn.
One of the most fantastic songs is "Look Inside America,"
which contains the lyric, "We're not trying to make her mine."
Asked if this was perhaps a subtle dis of the Manchester bad
boys, Albarn set the record straight: "Oasis is not a part of my
life at all." He explained that the lyric is merely refuting the
old-fashioned attitude of the long-declined British empire to

conquer others. "We're just going with it and not trying to
fight it, he said.
While heartily munching on an apple, whose core would
no doubt be fought over by many teenybopper girls if given
the opportunity, Albarn talked about certain cities where Blur
consistently puts on excellent concerts. "We always do great
shows in New York, Toronto and San Francisco, and some-
times Chicago." And after playing fabulous versions of some
of his favorite songs he's ever written. "Sing," "Parklife"
"This Is A Low" and "Girls And Boys," I suppose Detroit will
soon be added to this list.

Delicious Cake record sounds like candy to the ears

Cake
Fashion Nugget
Capricorn

Wow! I did not expect this. Finally, a
band with a little originality.
Sacramento's own Cake has a second
album that covers all the bases, and cov-
ers them well.
You've obviously heard the buzz clip,
"The Distance," by now. If you're hop-
ing the rest of the record is gonna sound
like that song, stop hoping, because it

sounds better. Cake mixes a batter of
hip-hop, jazz, classic rock and country
kitsch that bakes up into what they call
a "Fashion Nugget."
"Fashion Nugget" has a lot of style.
And many styles. You won't find anoth-
er record this diverse to come along in a
long time. From the hip-hop flavored
"Nugget" to the classic country drive of
"Race Car Ya-Yas," the album seems a
little scatterbrained, but that's the way
Cake likes it. "Friend Is A Four-Letter
Word" is a slow classic rock-influenced
track, complete with horns. There are
also three covers on the album: the

kitschy "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps,"
Willie Nelson's "Sad Songs And
Waltzes" and Gloria Gaynor's disco hit
"I Will Survive."
"I Will Survive" has got to be the
coolest track on the disc, for the fact that
it sounds almost nothing like the original
version. You could still dance to it, but
the guitar is killer, and it's definitely
more groove-oriented than the original.
It alone is enough to pick up the album.
The only drag about "Fashion
Nugget" is that it drags at points.
"Stickshifts and Safetybelts" is pretty
boring, and the last three songs suck.

What you got left though, is 10 strong
tracks that any other group would be
hard-pressed to duplicate.
If you're looking for something a lit-
tle different and you like groups like 311
and some of Beck's stuff, you'll find that
"Fashion Nugget" is a really good
choice. It really is an interesting record
and it has a unique style that somehow
appeals to a lot of people in some way or
another. If only everyone had enough
style to pull off a record like this, people
like me might not be bitching about
popular music all the time.
-Colin Bartos

These are the wacky guys of Cake.

Some Questions the United Rebels Front Want to ask you

1. Why can't the current or any other party justify an MSA fee increase of $
increase of say $10.00?

1, while we can justify an

They talk about your tuition and we suggest solid plans to slash tuition.
They can't save a dollar while we can save hundreds
Out sourcing of non-education related sectors of our University
2. Every year we hear from the old parties how they would increase minority enrollment, then why does the
% of minority applicants keep freefalling?
Affirmative Action on 'class' lines, now.
No one should be penalized for living in a bad school district
3. Why do the old parties engage in debates of whether the charge should be 4 cents or 8 cents?

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