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February 03, 2004 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-03

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arts.michigandaily. com

Ufe£iigau Oak


By Alex Wolsky
Daily Arts Editor


The story of the Walkmen, humble purveyors of
some of New York City and Washington's finest
rock'n'roll, is chronicled by three distinct phases.
Phase one: disintegration.
At the height of the alternative-rock phase of the
mid-'90s, salivating disc jockeys and unkempt
record clerks were shouting their praises on high
for NYC's Jonathan Fire*Eater. After a successful
debut, the band inked a remarkable deal with
DreamWorks upon which they would release its
raw, biting second album.
However, a year later, Jonathan Fire*Eater was a
no-name band that got lost amidst the hype and
hyperbole of its peers. Their match burned bright
during its tenure but was blown out hastily. Enter
phase two: reanimation.
Taking whatever large sum was left on their tab
from their DreamWorks days, the members of the
now-defunct Jonathan Fire*Eater regrouped sans

Corporatization of the sk8r

lead singer Stewart Lupton
and invested in their own
Harlem recording space, Mar-
cata. From that empty space
evolved the Walkmen.
Their debut album, Every-
one Who Pretended to Like me
is Gone, was a sprawling, dis-
oriented album that took the

Bows and
Record Collection

roots of garage-pop and brought them together to
form an album absent of any cohesive statement or
idea. The critically acclaimed LP struck many as the
finest work to emerge from the New York Renais-
sance at the start of the 21st century. Yet, the Walk-
men were still spotty at times and were too caught
up in the spontaneity of Marcata to have created a
vision as pure as people proclaiming.
With their latest record, Bows and Arrows, the
Walkmen cross over into phase three: resilience.
Warding off demons, such as the sophomore
slump, their haunting past and critical ambivalence,
the Walkmen have returned stronger and more con-
fident than ever before.
"What's in it for Me?" opens the album with
a swirling wall of reverb as vocalist Hamilton
Leithauser hovers over the microphone with a
burning sense of urgency underlying his deliv-
ery. He hazily spouts, "what's in it for me? / I
came here for a good time / you're tearing me
apart." In fact, the most noticeable difference
the Walkmen incurred between recording ses-
sions is the confidence and exuberance dis-
played by Leithauser. His virtually timid nature
on "Everyone ..." is all but forgotten by his
charismatic display on Bows.
In arguably the Walkmen's finest moment, "The
Rat" is a pounding, fist-to-the-wall confessional
that's brimming with anxiety and electricity. The
guitars build like nothing the Walkmen have

have come across the most ridicu-
lous, horribly maddening news
ever: Marc Jacobs now designs
Okay, so it's not a life-and-death
matter. But for a fashion-obsessed,
pop culture-savvy person like me, this
is highly disillusioning.
I have always regarded Marc
Jacobs as an enlightened fashion pio-
neer. While most designers have
either opted for the highly sophisti-
cated, classic look (like Ralph Lauren
or Calvin Klein) or the outrageous,
feathers-and-sequins-clad, scary look
(like John Galliano), Marc Jacobs'
expert blend of quirkiness, feminini-
ty, and '60s-retro throwbacks has
made him the designer for hip youth
culture (or at least rich, hip youth
culture - he is a high-profile design-
er. after all). But now Jacobs has
made the mistake that so many
designers are guilty of - he has tried
too hard to appear "hip" to our disaf-
fected, rebellious youth. He's like my
Psych 111 professor who continuous-
ly references "Joe Millionaire" in lec-
ture in an attempt to show that she
understands pop culture.
I guess it's like any counter-cultural
trend that some ambitious designer
adopts and molds into a staple of
mainstream culture. I feel bad for
punks, who try so hard to shock and
rebel through their fashion,-only to
later see their fishnet stockings -
sans holes - worn by 40-year-old
businesswomen under their knee-
length pencil-skirts, or their Doc
Martens worn by preppy, Abercrom-
bie-clad high schoolers.
I mean, Marc Jacobs' isn't totally
off on his decision to introduce
skateboards to the affluent main-
stream. Admittedly, the skateboard
is all about conveying a certain
image and attitude, as are designer
labels. The image of the skateboard-
er has changed over the years-hip-
sters sporting tight T-shirts
underneath tweed jackets and wax-

ing poetic about Sofia Coppola or
Death Cab for Cutie have some-
what, though not entirely, replaced
the junior-high Jnco-jeans-wearing
misfits with the ball-chains around
their necks. These new skateboard-
ers (not to be confused with the now
lame "skaters") may even know of
Marc Jacobs. Crazy.
And maybe these new skateboard-
ers will embrace these skateboards -
which aren't even cool by the way,
they are plain white and say "Marc
Jacobs" on the backside. If Jacobs is
trying to redefine himself as the token
hipster/slacker of the fashion world,
maybe his target audience will buy
into the image and purchase his stuff.
I guarantee you, however, these
newer, "more respectable" skate-
boarders will not be the main con-
sumers of Marc Jacobs' new line of
skateboards. His consumers will
probably be the same girls who buy
the torn-up Ramones T-shirts at
Urban Outfitters without owning a
single punk album. They probably
won't even use them, just carry them
in an attempt to attract cute skate-
boarders - similar to how they wear
Ramones T-shirts so they can attract
cute, chic music-geeks. You think I'm
exaggerating, but I overheard a girl
once ask to borrow her friend's the
Who shirt for a party so guys who
like classic rock would want to talk to
her. Girls will do anything to garner
males' attention - and rich ones will
have no moral qualms about spending
$225 to do so.
Marc, how could you! You were
so cool before without resorting to
pandering to disenchanted, hard-to-
impress young hipsters in some
effort to reclaim your diminishing
youth. Please stop before your sta-
tus as "innovator" fades and is
replaced by "poser."
- Laneri is a ballet dancer: If
you 're her sk8r boi, drop her a line at

Phase one: collect underpants. Phase two ... Phase three: profit.

attempted, the drumming is on-point like pre-calcu-
lated thunder and Leithauser wraps it all together
with his cathartic wail. "Can't you hear me? / I'm
pounding on your door," he bellows.
"The Rat" encompasses the growth and success
with experimentation that the Walkmen have taken
on in making Bows and Arrows. Drawing compar-
isons to a more raucous, finely crafted U2, the
Walkmen have finally defined themselves.
One of the band's most drastic experiments
while recording "Bows" is the song, "Hang on
Siobhan." According to Leithauser, the band
recorded a handful of tracks where they attempted
to be as quiet as possible, barely touching their
instruments. The result is a tranquil, brooding
moment of lingering hope and distilled tension in
direct contrast to the openness and audacity of
other standout tracks on Bows.

"New Year's Eve" is a beautiful piano-laden pop
song that emanates through your headphones; yet, a
pair of biting tracks defines the album's latter half
- "The North Pole" with its jarring hustle and the
title track, "Bows and Arrows," with its rushed
delivery and swilling guitars.
Bows captures the chaotic, garage-meets-
post-punk sound made famous by the Smiths
and Echo and the Bunnymen in the early '80s.
It's a cohesive, unified statement of defiance
that signals that the Walkmen have finally shak-
en off any sonic dust from their former incarna-
tion. And where their debut fell victim to its
rambling nature, Bows and Arrows capitalizes
as a focused, taut record of unabridged maturi-
ty. It draws together every single loose thread
Jonathan Fire*Eater left dangling in critics'
psyches and burns them to the ground.

reeman, Wilson flop in unfocused Leonard adaptation

By Hussain Rahim
Daily Arts Writer
Being pretty can only do so
much. In the latest Elmore Leonard
book brought to screen, Owen Wil-
son tries to carry a movie about
pretty people doing naughty things
on vacation in Hawaii. His oddly
charming looks and disarming wit
serve as inept tools to sustain inter-
est over 90 minutes that end up
seeming like a long, bad vacation.
Jack Ryan (Wilson), small-time
conman, flees to Hawaii in search
of a new life or at least a new place
on which to inflict his schemes.
After being fired for breaking the
jaw of his foreman in what turns
out to be the film's best scene, he
wanders aimlessly through Hawaii,
never keeping the momentum of
this initial scene. Ryan winds up

picking up the loose and inexplica-
ble pieces of the plot that later
come together in one of the most
underwhelming bait-and-switch
endings in a heist film.
Following his firing from the
construction company, Jack is wel-

depth behind it to back it up and
make you believe in what is hap-
pening. Little things, such as why
Jack entrusts a man he specifically
tells he doesn't trust to finish off a
crime they did together, to larger
issues, such as why everyone in the
know ignores the fact that the head
villain's girl is parading around the.
island with Ray's known enemy,
remain unexplained.

Like a bored tourist, the film
wanders aimlessly, and the feeling
viewers are left with is one of
watching someone else's vacation
slideshow while receiving none of
their excitement. Toward the end, an
attempt is made to reel the audience
back, but twisting endings .don't
work if there was no engagement
during the first two acts. It's obvi-
ous that everyone involved had fun

in making this movie, as the locales
are shot beautifully and there is a
cool tongue-in-cheek feel that never
quite makes it off the screen.
George Armitage, who directed
the underrated "Grosse Pointe
Blank," can do little to save the
film, as there is just no story to
direct. Viewers are better off going
to Hawaii and making their own
personal adventure.

comed in by the
town's district
judge, Walter
(Morgan Free-
man) who gives
him some work
and a place to
stay. He then
ambles about

The Big
At Quality 16 and
Warner Bros.

I think I see ... a nipple.

with adrenaline-junkie Nancy
(impressive newcomer Sara Foster)
who happens to be the mistress for
the town's evil capitalist, Ray
Ritchie (Gary Sinese). Ritchie
never comes off quite as frightening
as he should.
Therein lies the fault of the entire
movie; nothing has the meaning or


.Cocated in the hears f fMiracle Strip
Where t he poet nevter cIases
and t he fi.tt nevter ends!
'dour 1os~s: aohn & ftun Peet
12830 3wu,$ beach Road
Panama City Beach, It 32407
j (850) 233-0028
TI email: pta~amofel~kntntuy~nef WWI

The Department of Philosophy
The University of Michigan
Christine Korsgaard
Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy
~~ Harvard University
f.;"Fellow Creatures: Kantian Ethics
and Our Duties to Animals"
Friday, February 6, 4:00 p.m.
rIIRackham Amphitheater, 915 E. Washington

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