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October 21, 2003 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-21

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - 11




By Alexandra Jones
For the Daily
Music REVIEW ***I
On their fifth full-length album,
Dear Catastrophe Waitress, Belle &
Sebastian redeem themselves after a
series of depressingly mediocre
albums and recall the energy of their
first two great records. While retain-
ing the sarcasm and levity of earlier
work, the band has clearly matured.
Delicate, precocious shoegazing has
become intrepid, rhinestone-studded
Contrasting styles between adja-
cent musical sections appear

Courtesy of DFA
Hey, guy to
the far left,
4 - I didn't
know Luke
Wilson had
joined a

By Andrew M. Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer

throughout the
primary sign of
Belle & Sebast-
ian's recent
The band's earli-
er work, includ-
ing songs on the
flawless IfYou're
Feeling Sinister,

Belle &
Rough Trade

The Rapture, flagship group of ultra-hip label DFA,
made their splash in 2002 with "House of Jealous
Lovers." The song's very presence was unique on the
underground rock circuit, as its genius lay not in
melody or arrangement, but in the 10,000 spastic
dances it inspired. The band has become symbolic of
the dance-punk movement, one that still hovers well
below radio airwaves, but has had
a profound effect on the rhythmi-"
cally stoic underground. The Rapture
Those who first started tripping Echoes
over themselves to "House of DFA Records
Jealous Lovers" will find a lot to
like on Echoes. The Rapture rely
heavily on frantic drumming, elastic bass lines and a
slashing, shrapnel guitar attack. The lyrics, true to the
band's dance roots, are simplistic and involve a lot of
chanting and repetition, but they never feel hokey or
contrived. Tracks like "Killing" and "Sister Savior"
should cement the group into the playlist of forward-
thinking dance clubs.
For all of its impressive rhythmic constructions ,
however, the band's greatest asset is its ability to skirt
dance music's chief flaw: it's only interesting in a
crowded room. "I Need Your Love" and "The Coming
of Spring" are notable both for their contagious ener-
gy and their excellent arrangements, while "Open Up
Your Heart" and "Love Is All" reveal impressive
melodic range. "Olio" is the clincher: a perfect syn-
thesis of icy piano stabs, whining keyboards and

retained aural homogeneity. After
collaborating with former Buggles
member and producer Trevor Horn,
the days of B&S as a musical
democracy are over, but it has found
more ways to tweak, expand and
embellish its vision.
The musical additions to B&S's
oeuvre include placing brass and
strings where subtle keyboards
would have fit in earlier incarna-
tions. Besides six band members, 42
additional musicians play everything
from bass trombone to cor anglais to
viola, expanding the dimensions of
the band's pop style with orchestral
While some groups appropriate
old styles with a satirical bent, these
sweet Glaswegians wear their Donny
and Marie smiles without a hint of
Belief in the truth of their art is

Dogs are Belle & Sebastian's best friend.
what "sells" Waitress; the new,
tricked-out songs of intimacy and
introspection avoid becoming bratty
or self-indulgent, and instead pro-
vide the best bedroom dancing tunes
this year.
Opener "Step into My Office,
Baby" sets the topsy-turvy mood of
Waitress. This romp through the sex-
ual innuendo of the nine-to-five life
relies on silly cliches, but its alterna-
tion of rollicking verse and
Bacharach-esque chorus provides an
impressive start.
New songs like the title track
show B&S's current taste for dra-
matic contrasts, while the soft
respite of "Lord Anthony," the oblig-
atory tale of an outcast youngster, is
a song of Murdoch's from years
back. "If She Wants Me" and the
festive "Wrapped Up in Books" sta-
bilize an experimental album, featur-
ing new elements but providing
familiarity for longtime fans.
Despite the grin-inducing qualities
of Waitress, its low point occurs at
an inconvenient spot in the middle
of the album. Besides its vague
ruminations on outdoor fun, "Asleep
on a Sunbeam" lacks a decent vocal-
ist: Lone female band member Sarah
cannot inspire the boring lyrics with
her breathy, inflectionless perform-
In "Piazza, New York Catcher"
Murdoch seamlessly combines lines
like "I love you I've a drowning grip
on your adoring face" with details
of the rumors behind New York
Mets catcher Mike Piazza's sexual

orientation. The only song on the
album featuring lone guitar and
voice, its spare, intimate construc-
tion and Murdoch's detached lyrical
agility add hushed impetus. In the
Motown tradition, he sings of the
pain, confusion and desperation that
follow a breakup over one of the
band's cheeriest instrumental
arrangements in the sublime "I'm a
Densely orchestrated "Roy Walk-
er" and "If You Find Yourself
Caught in Love" would sound at
home on a mid-'60s Beatles album
or in a crazy-ass '70s musical - all
spotlights, sequins and choreogra-
phy. To close the album, Murdoch
channels Elvis Costello's gravelly
style on "Stay Loose."
Belle & Sebastian took a serious
risk adding sprinkles to their heavily
frosted style, but Waitress proves
that the band has the balls to get
away with it.

incessant drumming - it's a glorious, mesmerizing
synthesis of the band's strengths.
The Rapture will undoubtedly be given credit for
pioneering a sound and a movement, and while this
sort of hyperbole is painfully misguided, the group
should be given plenty of credit for what it has done:
interpreting the scratchy punk rock as a sweaty, fran-
tic dance party. Oh, there will still be naysayers.
"More Yo La Tengo!" they'll cry. "Give me Pavement
or give me death," they'll moan. It's alright, though:
their voices are fading under the sound of Converse
All-Stars smacking mightily against the sweat and
beer-soaked floors of punk clubs everywhere.

Gov't Mule goes off the deep End

Dyk s Reflections not quite flattering

By Ryan Lewis
Daily Arts Writer

By Andrew Horowitz
Daily Arts Writer
Music REV EW *
It's hard not to respect the dedica-
tion of DJ and producer Paul van
Dyk. In a time when most DJs sim-
ply sample, van
Dyk continues to
produce and Paul van Dyk
record original Reflections
material. But it is
hard to overlook Mute Records
his music's
derivativeness. On his fourth album,
Reflections, van Dyk attempts to
create a fusion of pop and trance,
and is unfortunately unsuccessful,
winding up with a mis-mash of stale
ideas and outdated material.
Reflections is too predictable
from the get-go. "Crush" begins the
album with synthetic atmosphere
and a computerized drum kit. As
expected, the bass drum kicks in and

the '80s synthesizer takes over after
a minute of buildup. Then, every-
thing suddenly comes to a pro-
nounced dramatic halt and an
extremely clever "I know you want
me" enters, followed by another dra-
matic bass drum entrance and more
series of repetitions. Never heard
that in a techno song before.
Van Dyk's recent work has
focused on creating an atmosphere.
He emphasizes a need to capture the
moment. At a dance club this may
work, but in recorded form it's dull.
On the single "Nothing But You,"
the whiney vocals aren't interesting
enough to carry the song from start
to finish. "Time of Our Lives," a
collaboration with the obscure
British band Vega-4, sounds too cal-
culated and synthesized. The track
fails to stand out from the other cal-
culated and synthesized tracks. Why
use a live band in the first place if
the result will be the same? "Knowl-
edge," with German rapper Trooper

da Don, is basically the same
drum/bass driven rhythms we'd
expect from van Dyk except without
any harmony.
When it comes down to it, there
just isn't enough going for Reflec-
tions to stand out from every other
techno CD. This album fails to cre-
ate anything beyond music fit for
car commercials. Unless you're into
that kind of thing, don't bother.

Gov't Mule's The Deepest End concert album is noth-
ing short of a stroke of genius. Culminating a rigorous
tour in tribute to the late Allen Woody (who founded
Mule along with front-man Warren Haynes after break-
ing from the Allman Brothers), this two album-plus
DVD compilation fuses the incendi-
ary guitar of Haynes and the impec-
cable backing by drummer Matt Gov't Mule
Abst, with some of the finest musi- The Deepest
cal talent the world over. End
The two concert albums kick off ATO Records
with the rocking blues riffs of "Bad
Little Doggie" and never stop to
breathe. From the straight rock of "Which Way Do We
Run?" to the funkified "Sco-Mule" and still reaching
further to the softer "Beautifully Broken," featuring
inserted lyrics from Prince's "When Doves Cry," The
Deepest End showcases the best of all the varying styles
Mule offers.
Obviously focused more on the incomparable instru-
mental improvisations than lyrics, the band often takes
its delicate time to allow special guests to flaunt their
best work. But straight-rock tunes like "Patchwork
Quilt" return focus to the poignantly palpable poetry
Haynes is capable of creating.
While the band had an entire wish list of rock leg-
ends on its studio tribute albums The Deep End Vol-
umes 1 & 2, it had an equally jaw-dropping list of
special guests to play on the concert album. Ranging
from the complete Dirty Dozen Brass Band Horns to
the individual contributions of Victor Wooten, Jack

Casady, Les Claypool and more than 15 additional sup-
porting appearances, one would be hard pressed to find
a comparable list of talent in a collective box set as in
this double disc.
Still, the true treasure from the night comes in the
DVD that accompanies the concert album. Watching the
show forces the visibly striking image of Haynes literal-
ly pouring his soul onto the stage as well as the sheer
fun these musicians have together, many playing with
each other for the first time. And if all that wasn't
enough, a nifty bonus video with interviews throughout
the show is probably the most enjoyable part of the

Cedars sprouts branches of balladry

By Andrew M. Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer
Since the mid-'90s, British guitar
acts have served as models of famil-
iarity, their stale interpretations of a
tired style often falling on deaf ears. A
scant few - Blur, Radiohead - have
managed to move on, mostly through
drastic style changes. British quartet
Clearlake have the

the album thrives not only on Pegg's
arching melody, but on the shifty sway
of the troupe's compositions.
If the group has a fault, it's that it
doesn't offer experienced listeners
anything new: They're smart, fresh,
and clever, but they're not ground-
breaking. For all of its energy,
"Can't Feel a Thing" sinks into its
own aggression, and "Come Into the
Darkness" folds under weighty
lyrics. "It's All Too Much" attempts
to break the mold, with it's solitary



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