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March 05, 2004 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-05

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March 5, 2004
arts.michigandaily. corn

UbeItdiiwn 1&u


By Andrew M. Gaerig
Daily Music Editoro


"The other night we played at a
huge club in D.C., and we get up there
and the fucking soundman didn't turn
on the mics," explained Hamilton Lei-
thauser, the plain-spoken frontman for
New York City denizens The Walk-
men. "I played the first two songs
without a microphone, but we recov-

Expecting the expected
the obvious in Oscar

ered. A while ago
that would have put
us in a cast."
That sort of pro-
fe ss ion a 1 i sm
should probably be
expected: Each of

Saturday at 9 p.m.
At the Magic Stick

The Walkmen's five members cut
their teeth in successful underground
acts, with organist Walter Martin, gui-
tarist Paul Maroon and drummer Matt
Barrick spending time in hype-
machine casualty Jonathon
The band's second album, the
hypnotic, driving Bows and Arrows,
dulls the echoes of prior bands and
hones The Walkmen's unique sound.
Their first record, 2002's Everyone <
Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone,
mixed gutty guitar jangle, eerie '
piano lines, powerful drum slaps
and Leithauser's high-strung vocals
with impressive results, but some-
how felt higher on potential than
"We opened this recording studio
(Marcata Recordings) up in Harlem
a few years ago and ... during the
first (album) we were just learning"
Leithauser said. In contrast, Bows
and Arrows is a cleaner, more Can ibe th
focused, and ultimately better
record. Leithauser
explains: "This
time, we just knew
how to work the
equipment a lot
better." There was
also a greater E
sense of direction INEW YORK ~
for Bows. "It was
something we had
laid out beforehand. We knew what we were
going for."
Despite the newfound focus, the group's son-
ics don't mesh easily. "Usually one person will

whole band. And then I take it home
to do the lyrics and the melodies."
The album, which was recorded
in four or five different locations,
was considerably more difficult for
the band - used to working in its
own studio - to mold into a cohe-
sive whole. "It was a little weird.
We definitely had to bring it back
to our studio at the end. We weren't
getting everything we needed." The
band, however, makes it a point not
to over-produce their songs, instead
relying on material that they can
reproduce live. "That's the most
important part. People get so caught
up in the studio sometimes. I think
that's a big problem with modern
Leithauser's easygoing demeanor
is betrayed by his recorded persona.
A passionate singer, Leithauser
bucks the trend of disinterested
frontmen, displaying a unique abili-
ty to make even most inconsequen-
tial lines captivating. It is his
presence, more than anything else,
that sets The Walkmen apart from
the spate of New York bands that
of Record Collection they are so often compared to.
It's the kind of presence that can
transform a live show from entertain-
ing to intoxicating.
The band, already
in the midst of a
massive tour sup-
porting Bows and
Arrows, will bring
its transfixing art-
PON DETROIT rock to Detroit this
Saturday. Lei-
thauser argues,
though, that the band's live presence isn't derived
from its sound, but rather its increasing force and
improving chemistry."It's all energy,"he explained.
"You never know until you get up there."

am strongly tempted each year to
think that, on the morning follow-
ing the Oscars, I'm smarter than
the average bear. It seems at times
that my Oscar prescience improves
annually and that with every passing
ceremony I become a more surefire
predictor of who will take home what
statuette. Usually, though, after a lit-
tle reflection on the ceremony, the
pride-deflating reality of the situation
becomes clear: I'm not the only one.
Indeed, the Oscars, in this epoch
reigned by big-studio epics, have
become less and less suspenseful and
more and more unsurprising. The
results may in many cases be appro-
priate, but certain contenders and
eventual winners are studio-bred for
success and emerge from the pack
sometimes before they even emerge
from production.
Take Anthony Minghella's "Cold
Mountain," for example. The film
garnered much-deserved critical
acclaim and was a rather well-told
and sublimely portrayed Civil War
love story. The elements for Oscar
success, however, were evident even
in the film's previews.
It boasts, to accompany Oscar-
familiar director Minghella ("The
English Patient"), a cast including, in
significant roles, Jide Law, Nicole
Kidman and Ren6 Zellweger (who
took home gold); This isn't to men-
tion that Philip Seymour Hoffman
and Donald Sutherland played minor,
hardly important roles.
Zellweger, as mentioned, was the
only major player in the film to take
home a trophy. The consensus on
"Cold Mountain," though, seemed to
be that you almost had to like it:
There were too many savory ingredi-
ents, regardless of how they were

thrown together, to discount it.
Many of these truths hold for
Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the
Rings: The Return of the King" as
well. The trilogy's first two install-
ments both were unable to win the
coveted Best Picture prize. Many,
however, complain that "The Return
of the King" can't get enough of
itself: It drags on purposelessly.
Jackson and his team couldn't bear
to conclude their precious creation.
Nonetheless, the film took home
timely Best Picture and Best Direc-
tor statuettes that were certainly
rewarding the trilogy as a whole
more than its concluding element.
The result of this predictable
favoring of big-studio productions is
the tragic snubbing of many worth-
while pictures. Sofia Coppolla's
"Lost in Translation" is a beautifully
wry comedy that utilizes Bill Mur-
ray's talent in an absolutely tri-
umphant but previously untested
way. It was able to earn a Best
Screenplay award, but unfortunately,
was otherwise sadly ignored (at
least in meaningful categories).
"Lost in Translation" is a tragic
paradigm of this general, depressing
trend in modern Oscar ceremonies.
It's a deeply lovable and deserving
film that alas lacks the epic clout or
big-studio drive to garner the praise
it deserves from the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
As long as great films like it fail to
win, though, I'll at least have some
sorrow to counteract the hubris that
I get from predicting the winners.
- Zach Mabee is still
disappointed that "Gigli"wasn't
nominatedfor Best Picture. Console
him at mabeez@umich.edu

e cute one? No. You're the short one.

bring in a small idea, a guitar part or a drum
beat," explained Leithauser. "If we like it, we'll
try to add layers on top of it, and maybe one out
of every 1000 times it will sound good with the

Angry rap
bucks radio
on new LP
By Evan McGarvey
Daily Arts Writer

Anything' offers a bit of everything

By Katie Marie Gates
Daily Arts Writer

"For someone who receives a biweekly paycheck in
exchange for her professional expertise on love, I can be
remarkably dim about it. It's as if all my conviction gets
gobbled up between ten and six, and I have none left over
f s -Francesca Delbanco
"Ask Me Anything"

Royce Da 5'9" has been trying to
play the commercial rap game for some
time now. His Detroit mix-tape classic
with Eminem, "Renegade," got lost in
the shuffle and eventually resurfaced as

a booming street
anthem on Jay-Z 's
The Blueprint,
with Jigga subbing
in for Royce.
Heck, Royce has
been so hungry for
some notoriety he

Royce Da
Death is

ingly designed to spurn radio trends.
Eerie and confrontational songs like
"Beef" and "Everybody Goes" fill the
disc with darkness.
Royce can stress different syllables in
a word and his graceful flow lets him
craft slick internal rhymes with this
tried-and-true rap trick. Listening to
Royce is never dull; multiple listens let
each verse flesh out in a new direction.
The DJ Premier-produced "Hip Hop" is
a jewel of a track. Premier's chimes and
Royce's encyclopedic description of rap
combine to make a great song designed
for neither booming systems nor
hootchie-infested clubs.
The angst and weight of Royce's fire
sermons holds back the CD's second
half. It's not so much that a cameo from
Murphy Lee would make the disc bet-
ter, it's just that we need an occasional
reprieve from the chants of fury. Royce
refuses to submit to the pop-rap blue-
print tread upon by former under-
ground warriors (cough, cough ... 50).
But after a while, the bared fangs just
wear dull.

"The 20's are the decade of most
change in your life," novelist
Francesca Delbanco said, quoting
her mother. "Because when you
enter them you're a kid, and when
you leave it is time to be an adult."
Delbanco captures this moment in
between college and the rest of life
in her witty first
novel, "Ask Me
Anything." The Ask Me
story follows 26 Anything
year-old Rosalie By Francesca
Preston who Delbanco
works in New W. W. Norton & Co.
York City as a
teen magazine advice columnist by
day and a small time theater actress
by night.
Rosalie is likeable and complex
as she endures a tumultuous year
comprised of acting rehearsals, an
affair with her friend's father and
the daily task of advising angst
filled teenagers. The first person
narrative immediately brings Ros-
alie to life with profound honesty. "I
wanted her to be a really smart ver-
sion of a 26 year-old, but still like a
kid who is figuring everything out,"
Delbanco explained.
While Rosalie is the leading lady
of "Ask Me Anything," her support-

ing cast is an entertaining ensemble
of varied characters including best
friend Grace, rich girl Bella, friend-
with-benefits Cam, director Evan,
lover Berglan Starker (Bella's
father) and Irish playwright Declan.
Fans of "Sex and the City" will
notice some similarities in the antics
of these characters and the sexual
nature of their single lifestyles.
However, Delbanco admits she had
never seen the show before this
year. Unlike the racy HBO drama,
"Ask Me Anything" manages to be
sexy without long, descriptive sexu-
al encounters.
A humorous addition between
chapters are the letters Rosalie
receives as "Annie Answers" and
her responses about love, life and
relationships for teens like "Wig-
ging in California" and "Not Popu-
lar in Montana."
The idea for Rosalie's day job
actually came from Delbanco's real-

life work as an advice columnist for
Seventeen and Teen People in New
York. "I did receive hundreds of
those letters over the years, so much
so that they ring in my head," she
Delbanco graduated from Harvard
University before receiving her
Master's of Fine Arts from the Uni-
versity of Michigan. Her father is
also a professor at the University
and a writer, but Delbanco said she
didn't get interested in writing until
her junior year in college.
Coming home to Michigan in
February for a reading from "Ask
Me Anything," the new author
received a warm welcome at
Shaman Drum, where family and
friends squeezed into the crowded
shop. Delbanco's humorous text and
entertaining presentation had the
audience laughing despite the close
Delbanco spent four years creat-

My advice: Read more!

even did an amazingly awkward (and
hilarious) cameo on C-list teen-queen
Willa Ford's "I Wanna Be Bad."
Even with all the mishaps that have
marked Royce's career, Death is Cer-
tain has no stink of desperation. All the
scorn on the disc comes from frustra-
tion, not for lack of fame. Instead of
going the crossover route and using a
fsmattering of hot producers and nubile
female singers, Royce's album is seem-

ing "Ask Me Anything" and is cur-
rently working on a second novel
while freelancing for women's mag-
azines in Los Angeles. Her interests
center on true-to-life modern fiction
and she strives to achieve a distinc-
tive voice in her writing. "I hope
that is what makes my writing dif-
ferent from the next book that you
pick up," she said. Rosalie's charac-
ter lets Delbanco's voice shine
through in this insightful and light-
hearted tale of love and the search
for self after college.

Shakespeare's tragedy brought to campus

By Sarah Peterson
Daily Fine Arts Editor

Arguably one of the most emotional-
ly intense and expertly crafted dramas
of Shakespeare's career, the Guthrie

come to a head.
Cheyenne Casebier (Desdemona)
described the play as a story of the
extreme love of a very powerful black
military man (Othello) and a white
woman (Desdemona), and how Othel-
lo's trust and friendship in Iago leads to
his demise. "It is about the fall of a
great man due to pride and jealousy,"
Casebier said.
The costuming and sets come from
the Victorian period, but, as Casebier

already written down on the page and
then fleshing out the character using her
own real-life characteristics. "After all,"
Casebier explained, "everything that
you have experienced is really what is
speaking up on stage."
Casebier admitted that one of the
biggest challenges she has faced has
been dealing with the violence, both
physical and mental, that her character
is exposed to. "It is strange to go
through something so violent over and

HAPPY HOUR: M-F (4-7) a g
Plymouth Rd. across from
(2000 Commonwealth Blvd.)

Theater performs
the tragedy of
"Othello" this
weekend at the





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