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March 11, 2003 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-03-11

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 11, 2003

ARTS

I

tUourLesy ofLee. s amoral/I

My grandmother gave me this shirt.

Jennings folk-rocks the Pig

By Alex Wolsky
Daily Arts Writer
The Blind Pig is a fascinating venue.
Its exterior is hidden from the main
drags in the city; its interior is humble
and low lit. The walls are littered with
flyers from the glory days of grunge
and other featured artists who had
trekked through on their way to the
next stop, leaving their footprints for
generations to witness. It stood as the
start of folk-rock savior Mason Jen-
nings' new tour last Thursday evening.
After becoming somewhat accli-
mated to the road as a solo artist, Jen-
nings has taken on a somewhat fresh
approach to the stage; this time a
band and a handful of new songs to
boot accompany him. "I'm excited
about everything with regards to this
tour," said Jennings. "I'm excited to
get back on the road with the new
band." And it shows.
The onstage dynamic between the
three is representative of a veteran trio,
not a band playing its first perform-
ance together. The stage, an intimate
and austere setting, was lit up by the
band and its presence. The set was
eccentric, filled with songs from his
entire catalog, with an emphasis on his
latest album, Century Spring. He
played some solo, on piano, and the
majority with his band.
A lot of Jennings' material tends to
emulate the likes of folk-rock legends
WAYNE WONDER
NO HOLDING BACK
ATLANTIC RECORDS
Wayne Wonder seems confused. His
album is titled No Holding Back, but
its lead single is "No Letting Go." So
which one is it, Wayne? Listeners can
attempt to sort out that conundrum as
they experience 16 songs of Jamaican
reggae that showcase Wonder's range
as a musician. From the energetic,
vapid "Bounce Along" to the slower,
emotional "Just Another Day," Wonder
covers the full spectrum of tempos and
rhythms, performing most with an
apparent aptitude. Wonder's smooth,
powerful voice aids his performance
and it carries some of the album's less-
er tracks. Unfortunately, Wonder does
not vary his subject matter as much as
his music, and the record's dominant
theme, love, becomes monotonous.
Those who have been enamored with
"No Letting Go" may also be disap-
pointed because Holding Back has few
songs as pop-friendly. *

of music's past. "Most of the music I
listen to tends to become reflected in
the music I play," he said, "as is the
case with any artist. You'll always
adjust a little depending on what's
going on around you."
This could be drawn throughout the
entire evening, as it was apparent that
Jennings is constantly fighting with
two personalities: his folk side and his
rock side. One half of him seemed to By L
want to croon about love's present face Dail
and past personalities; the other want-
ed to rock out with his friends. This
dichotomy created an inimitable blend toge
that was representative of the artists on thei
the walls around him. The
However, somewhere in between the agir
smoke and the unfettered collegiate cou
angst within the audience stood a sim- fron
ple man from the Midwest, one who's ficti
running across North America singing Ir
his songs of love with a smile on his acc
face all the way. He prefers to let his film
music do the talking for him and the exis
way things seem that's not a bad idea, Sun
given the depth and emotion his song- nati
writing evokes. a fi
The tour that started in Ann Arbor wit]
continues through the end of March, fami
covering both the United States and N
Canada. Afterwards he's taking his nati
band overseas and then returning to the ocr.
studio to record another album. But cha
until then, he'll be leaving his footprint forc
on every stop while consistently keep- retr
ing things fresh and new.
SONGS: OHIA
THE MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC CO.
SECRETLY CANADIAN RECORDINGS
By Andrew M. Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer

Courtesy of Columbia

Maybe if we wrap it in an American flag no one will notice how much it sucks.

CRY THE HORRENDOUS MOVIE
LAME PROPAGANDA INVADES FUQUA'S NIGERIAN BATTLEGROUND

Luke Smith
ly Arts Writer
Training Day" director Antoine Fuqua puts
ether a sound piece of pro-war propaganda in
idealistic, paper-thin plot of "Tears of the Sun."
re is enough genocide and ethnic strife rav-
ng the world where a film focusing on such
ld certainly cull the atrocities
n reality, or create carnage in a s
itious Anywhere.
Instead of using Hollywood's
epted norm for fictional war
is (tyranny encompasses a non- TEARS?
stent nation) - "Tears of the S
" resolves to dropping Nigeria, a At Shoi
on with legitimate problems, into Qua
ctional battleground - complete
I a coup d'etat and the ruling Col
ily's assassination.
[ewsreel footage parachutes viewers into a
on being overrun by a military usurping dem-
atically-elected leaders and the result -
os. The United States sends in a special ops
ce led by Lt. A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis) to
ieve U.S. nationals from the now-dangerous

Nigerian countryside.
Dr. Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci, "Broth-
erhood of the Wolf") is one of four nationals
requiring extraction. She is the only national who
leaves with Waters and his men. The other three,
a priest and two nuns, stay in Nigeria and meet
their demise (in a pathetically contrived moment
of attempted visual poetry) while a cluster of
white doves fly out of a tree.
Kendricks' condition for depar-
ture is that the patients able to walk
kk would come with them. After a
momentary pause and consultation,
)F THE Waters attempts to trick Dr.
N Kendricks by just rescuing her. Pre-
:ase and dictably, the moral conscience of the
y 16 grizzled, pate-shaven lieutenant
weighs in, and he returns to rescue
ibia the other Nigerians from the tyranny
of the military.

U
wc
lit
um

sion's adjustment. One black soldier (Eamonn
Walker, TV's "Oz") declares his support of Waters'
decision, "These are my people, too." It is forced
and repulsive, almost as sickening as the film's use
of newsreel footage at the onset.
The film's centerpiece happens mid-way into the
picture with the purging of a military encampment
which malevolently tortures, rapes and disfigures a
town of people. Methodically, carefully and swift-
ly, Waters and his highly-skilled outfit cut a swathe
through enemy forces, neatly confronting their
humanity along the way.
This deviation of a deviated mission forces
viewers in a nation on the cusp of war to wonder,
is this what our Special Forces operations are
like? We would certainly like to believe that the
United States military is as concerned with 30 or
so natives as it is with a single, beautiful foreign
national with an open shirt (Ms. Bellucci).
Ostensibly, "Tears of the Sun" becomes a
romanticized pro-military treatment - though
it's a treatment far too simple. Of course, we want
to believe the military operates with this kind of
humanism, but do we have any significant evi-
dence to prove it? Certainly not in the highly fic-
tionalized world of "Tears."

Waters and his men take the healthiest Nigerians
toward Cameroon, obviously encountering the
Nigerian military on the path to a desperately over-
dramatic conclusion.
Nothing between the soldiers gives any hint of
believable cynicism, or questioning of the mis-

It is one of the greater ironies in music that songwrit-
ers - those believed to be possessed
with a singular, savant-like talent for
creating art - have almost unfailing-
ly produced their best work amid a
group of musicians. Since the early
1960s, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and
Lou Reed have all released some of
their most important, revelatory work
as part of a collective.
Jason Molina - a longtime mem-
ber of indie rock's songwriting elite
- has for the past half-decade acted
as a singular entity: as the sole pro-
prietor of the Songs: Ohia tag, his
sparse instrumentation has left little
room for meaningful collaboration.
Molina's post-folk styling has often included only guitar
and his arresting tenor. Nevertheless, a fully-amped live
album and his most recent full-length, Didn't It Rain,
hinted at the potential in collaboration.

It should come as almost no surprise, then, that The
Magnolia Electric Co. is such a breakthrough - it lists
no fewer than nine collaborators and features fellow
Windy City vet Steve Albini pushing the faders. Moli-
na's band cultivates a haunted house of country, classic
rock and folk to lay a vibrant landscape for Molina's
expressive, steely delivery. The band is equally capable
of crafting the country haze of "Just Be Simple", the
pounding, electric blues of "John Henry Split My Heart"
and the theatrical Nashville of "The
Old Black Hen."
The album rolls to a stop amid a
haze of lap steel and fiddle of "Hold
on Magnolia." Molina's lyrics, which
have always resonated with a gloomy
majesty, finally peak: half-blues
cliches and half surrealist imagery,
they shape hard-won resolution.
The Magnolia Electric Co. is a
landmark album, and the first to
truly showcase Molina's talents.
,.. Great songwriters have always
thrived amongst great musicians:
they mine the creativity, history and
passion of the songwriter, transform-
ing it into a fully realized art. This album screams of
that transformation.
RATING: ****7

SUPERGRASS
LIFE ON OTHER PLANETS
ISLAND
By Jeff Dickerson
Daily Arts Writer
They've received critical acclaim
from both the American and British
press, released a bounty of hyper-ani-
mated singles, been offered a TV
show (similar to "The Monkees") by
Steven Spielberg, and yet most peo-
ple have never listened to, or even
heard of, the great British rock-pop
outfit Supergrass.
Singer/guitarist Gaz Coombes,
bassist Mickey Quinn and drummer
Danny Goffey formed Supergrass in
1993 and would in short time
become one of the best Brit rock
groups of the '90s. But while fellow
Brits Oasis and Radiohead would
find equal success in America,
Supergrass never managed to get the
kind of airplay they deserved across
the pond.
On their 1995 debut album, I
Should Coco, Supergrass made a
name for themselves with their
catchy melodies, lyrical levity and
relentless energy. The band became
somewhat of a phenomenon among
U.K. music journalists for their
refreshing sound. Their follow-up,
1997's In It for the Money, featured a
more mature sound, but the playful
eccentrics still remained.
On Life on Other Planets, their
fourth album, the boys from London
return with the same fervor laden on
their first two releases (so sadly

IPIlIA

0
6

- Joesph Litman

missing from their self-titled third
LP). Things get off to a boisterous
beginning with "Za," the album's
fizzy opening track.
The highlight of Planets 'is
undoubtedly "Seen the Light,"
Coombes' uproarious tribute to late
glam rock pioneer Marc Bolan. The
song showcases Supergrass' ability
to channel rock greats (Coombes
also mimicked Mick Jagger for their
previous single "Pumping on Your
Stereo") while putting their own flair
on the music.
Songs like "Can't Get Up"
(abounding with its amusing, overt
sexual innuendos) and "Grace" (a
noteworthy example of the band's
pop perfection) make Life on Other
Planets one of the liveliest albums in
recent memory. If there were any jus-
tice in the music industry today,
Supergrass would be heard as promi-
nently here as they are in the home
country instead of being relegated to
MTV2 obscurity.
RATING: '***

A

0

A film about the way the world is.
The first feature length film about the global AIDS pandemic.
First showing in Ann Arbor!
DATE: Tuesday, March 11, 2003
TIME: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
LOCATION: Lorch Hall Auditorium

Global
H ealth
Council

Sponsored by:

MSA Community
Service Commission

No tickets necessary. Admission is free. For more information, please contact
akleine@umich.edu

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6

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Study in Tokyo at the prestigious Waseda University for Summer,
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