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April 07, 2004 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-07

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 7, 2004



By Hussain Rahim Jknn$Jt Y°~
Daily Arts Writero
Music REVIEW tk** x


Courtey0o1 osUiLlaionUJ

Norah Jones with a guitar.

Canadian songwriter
can't inspire on latest

Much like the supervillain with whom he
shares his namesake, there is no stopping MF
Doom. Previously known as Victor Vaughn, he
is currently operating under the moniker
Madvillain with fellow dastardly evil-doer and
underground producer extraordinaire Madlib.
Both MF and Madlib are known for their skills
behind the boards, but for
their latest release, Madvil-
lainy, MF took charge of the Madvillain
vocals and Madlib took the Madvillainy
production helm. Stones Throw
The result is akin to the
most drugged-out Marvel comic never published.
There are 22 tracks on this collaboration (there
are also 22 pages to a comic book), and many of
them run for a minute or two, with few tracks
actually adhering to traditional song structure.
MF doesn't let things like choruses and bridges
get in his path. The haphazard structure of the
record feels like Madlib and MF recorded as
much of a song as possible and fled before their
secret lair was discovered.
This may be due, in part, to the fact that the
album was leaked on the Internet well before it
was released. As a result, many songs - some of
high quality - were dropped and completely new
ones were recorded. Fortunately, forcing some
last-minute creativity turned out pretty well.
Between sampling "Street Fighter" sound effects,
old film noir clips and whatever else he could get
his hands on, Madlib fits MF's oddball style. On a
few cuts, Madlib takes full control and goes the
solo instrumental route.
Lyrically, MF Doom is as sharp as on his last

By Amos Barshad
For the Daily

Be wary of record covers that
lack a prominently featured name
and a track listing. At times, this
can be a red flag,
indicating an Elizabeth
artist trying a lit- Anka Vajagic
tle too hard to be
difficult. Eliza- Stand With
beth Anka Vajag- the Stillness
ic's debut, Stand of the Day
With the Stillness constellation
of the Day, suf-
fers for this reason. The Canadian
songstress recruited a crew of ver-
satile local musicians to provide
complicated orchestration, similar
to Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes.
The difference is that Conor writes
good songs.
The album is a dense and intense
listening experience. Vajagic's sparse
lyrics, alternately yelled or whispered
in a fairly unique husky baritone,

don't do much to lighten the load. On
"Where You Wonder," when the
drums pick up and the guitars kick,
it's a relief from the droll repetition
and there is hope that the album will
veer into the "good" kind of experi-
mentation. Soon enough, the song
resorts back to Vajagic's quiet, bored
whisperings. This is a unique pop
record because it doesn't rely on the
bass-guitar drum setup and yet the
songs here fall too easily into a for-
mula: down-tempo, moody orchestra-
tion and spare, accusatory lyrics, with
slight, intermittent crescendos.
Vajagic's fans, in defense, might
describe her as raw or uncompromis-
ing. While these are good buzz words
to throw around, they also offer a clue
as to why this music fails to capti-
vate. By focusing on being different
and abstract, Vajagic has lost focus
on writing quality songs. This album
is amnbitious, no doubt, and Vajagic
should get credit for trying. But it
seems that her songs have gotten lost
amid her ambitions, floating in a sea
of strings and cymbals.

Nobody defeats Victor Von DOOM.

project, Vaudeville Villain. Although the drive-by
lyrical assault of the tracks doesn't allow for the
same absorbing type of story raps as on Vaude-
ville, it's simply difficult for MF to be anything
but fun. With lines like "Got lyrics like the church
got 'oh lords' " and "Egads! He got enough style
to start three fads," MF keeps things witty and
fun. "Figaro" serves as the album's lyrical banger.
Madvillainy is strong, but many of the songs end
just as you really get into it.

Underground rap music is often labeled as
overly conscious. Too frequently, the genre is
labeled as only talking about the stars, moon and
going back to Africa. That being said, Madvillainy
is easily as comical as anything ever released by
Redman or Ol' Dirty Bastard.
With an endless supply of quality projects and
bizarre offshoots, MF Doom is assuming the role
of hip-hop bizarro Kool Keith and it might not be
long before we get a Dr. Octagon.

Jazz trio 'Bad' covers eclectic musical styles

By Andrew Horowitz
Daily Arts Writer

When The Bad Plus made their
major-label debut with 2003's These
Are the Vistas, the piano trio instant-
ly became the talk of the jazz world.
These Are chal- _
lenged the con- The Bad
cept of jazz by Plus
boldly trespass- Give
ing into rock and columbia
pop idioms. The
trio managed to create an album that
defied genre classification, with
spirited originals and mean rock cov-
ers that included Nirvana's "Smells
Like Teen Spirit." The trio then
spent the year ruthlessly touring,
appearing everywhere from the pres-
tigious Village Vanguard to The
Bowery Ballroom, New York's indie
haven. Exciting some and inciting
others, The Bad Plus became a quick

success story, attracting listeners for-
eign to the small jazz community.
A year later, the trio has released a
follow-up, Give. The album begins
where These Are left off. Rather than
risk their sound, The Bad Plus creat-
ed basically the same album all over
again. The originals are - for the
most part - fun and quirky, dab-
bling in different genres and coming
across as in your face. The cover
selection is, yet again, bizarre,
including Ornette Coleman's "Street
Woman," The Pixies's "Velouria" and
Black Sabbath's "Iron Man." The
album seems to be held together not
by the strength of the music, but by
the personalities of the musicians
Rock-shuffle "1979 Semi-Finalist"
begins the album on a low note. The
song lacks any hint of direction and
wanders on a little too long. The
steadfast harmony and mid-tempo
rhythm doesn't help the cause very
much either. The Cuban-tinged

tion that allow the listener to under- cessful PC role-playing franchise "The Crocodile Hunter" Through the
stand what the fuss is all about. The could be ported to consoles by trans- first stages fthis uninteresting,
literary-inspired "Frog and Toad" is forming it into an action/adventure fuxturisticre-pangae, gamners
playful and altogether enjoyable as game. Instead of an enormous invest- fight des f sters mutated by
bassist Reid Anderson matches Iver- ment'in a highly intensive role-plai that
son's inquisitive melodies with environment, players.navigated a man- destroyed the WOrld. The gae
curiosity and charm. ageable 10 hour game that more accu- not be any simpler ormore s
The Pixies "Velouria" contains rately met their console experences. ward if it tried. It i a bi .
moments both pleading and beauti- But the sequel, "Ba'dur's Gate: Dark 4h.gh . &ug.and destroy
ful. David King's stomping bass cou- Alliance 2;'does not live, up to ts everything thacomes cos your
pled with Iverson's Ravelian muted predecessor.
tinkering is captivating. "Neptune Graphicaly, theaedoes not look Unlike the orginal.
(The Planet)" similarly illustrates the nearly as good as the first.Ta whih featured more p edd.
trio's assertive sensitive side. "DrkAliance" was one of the better.game pla.y - "Brotherhood o
While These Are the Vistas was looking.gameson bohXboxand.....Steel" is basically like a .ngia.
exciting for its musical implications, butthe secndinstallmentis otnearly.straight line and hitting mitated:
Give is much more questionable. At .as intesting. For a f they s
what point does The Bad Plus simply Gate franchise, "Dark Aliane.2"..s. ..vn. the puzzles y
become a novelty act? If they want to still approachable, and players can does not take too much thought or
continue receiving the attention mane ..er.chara.ers:through.sev- ti.e either, but, then .,the
they've garnered, something has to .eral interesting ho~urs of geplay. The game is very easy on the whle
change. It won't be long before The game can be an enjoyabledve.o, U.less you fancy yourself the.
Bad Plus are no longer considered but it is unfort.naely no m hbete Steve Irwin, stay cla o B. te.
cutting-edge, and when that time than the many other RP aable hood of SteeL **
comes, they better hope they're not today. *** -.Char.es Pradis
simply considered bad.
'The Missing' revitalizes the Western

"Cheney Pinata" follows, bringing an
almost surreal aspect to the record-
ing. The tune can't really be taken
seriously and seems like a joke from
the start. Pianist Ethan Iverson does-
n't have the technique of Chucho
Vald6s or the Latin edge of Tito
Puente. and comes off flat.
Give isn't bad, though, despite its
rough start. There are a few composi-
tional gems and moments of inspira-


By Ryan Lewis
Daily Arts Writer

the world of film. So when a notable
gunslinger film comes along, it
deserves all the
recognition it'.'.i
receives. Enter The Missig
"The Missing." Columbia
One of Ron
Howard's darkest projects, this film
has many of the old genre qualities

At one time considered the most
important and influential genre,
Westerns, especially good ones, have
now become a veritable obscurity in

with enumerable novel nuances.
Similar to John Ford's unforgettable
"The Searchers" "The Missing" chroni-
cles the journey of Jones (Tommy Lee
Jones) and his estranged daughter Mag-
gie (Cate Blanchett) as they search for
her kidnapped daughter. Laden with
pathos and filmed in classic Hollywood
style, it's as good as any the genre has
seen in a long time.
The new DVD package, however, is a
more hit-or-miss experience. Complete
with the requisite digital sound and pic-
ture quality, it is noticeably devoid of
any commentary tracks. Two of the main
features - outtakes and deleted scenes
- are neither funny nor informative,
and it's understadable why is was absent
from the final cut.
The latest rage for DVDs seems to be
short, behind-the-scenes featurettes.
This set continues the trend with six of
these, two of which are unnecessarily
boring. Having them all in one com-
bined feature would have been the
smarter, less cumbersome thing to do.
The last two features - Howard's
commentary on various Western history
films and his home movies - deem the
rest almost forgivable. They are both
neat and entertaining, giving the audi-
ence an insight into the director former-
ly known as Opie.

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