The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 24, 2004 - 7
EA races to the
By Brandon Harig
Daily Arts Writer
EA Sports' latest release, "NAS-
CAR Chase for the Cup 2005" has
nearly every element possessed by
NASCAR's real-world counterpart:
the drama, the speed and the crashes.
For all of its celebrated simplicity, the blues too
often comes off as some elitist gentleman's club. The
structure and minimalism are everyman tools, but
ever since the folk revival of the '60s anointed the
blues "legends," everyone else
has been relegated to the "Sure,
you can play it, but only the Black Keys
chosen ones may play it." Rubber Factory
Dayton, Ohio, duo The Black Epitaph
Keys have been pre-ordained:
Their first two albums were
steeped in a garage-blues tradition that welcomed
their "medium-fi" sound with open arms. The Keys'
Dan Auerbach is the latest in a line of Midwest-
ern roots-revivalists; his plaintive voice is less a
big blusey wail and more a sweet homeland crawl.
Backed by the cigarette ash of his alternately sweet
and terrifying guitar and Patrick Carney's tasteful
drumming, Rubber Factory is both the duo's most
realized work and their greatest departure from their
Of course, it's not pure delta blues. The opener,
"When the Lights Go Out," rides an eerie, bleating
pulse too an alternate dimension of woozy chords
and distorted vocals. "You know what the sun's all
about / When the lights go out," sings Auerbach in
a no-accent Midwestern creak that, for all its subur-
ban, hipster T-shirt reservations, sounds all the world
like an authentic blues hammer.
Rubber Factory has more than one such revelatory
But fails to bridge
just as strong, if
not better, than
any of its racing
peers. The shine
of the sun or sta-
dium lights reflect
and bend on the
the gap with non-
Chase for the
PS2, Xbox and
Knock knock. Who's there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad you're not from Ohio?
moment. "The Lengths" is a Bic-waving country bal- Chuck Berry's naive propulsion and Led Zeppelin's
lad with lazy slide work and candy-sweet high notes. mammoth confidence. In fact, Auerbach seems hell-
The Kinks' "Act Nice and Gentle" swallows a six- bent on avoiding the damning lyrical miscues that
string honky-tonk pill and wakes have threatened to novelize the band
the next morning feeling nothing on past albums ("Do the Rump").
but sweet contentment. The closer, The more oblique subject matter
"Till I Get My Way," tears around suits the band well and molds the
in a big-fuzz guitar riff and throws album into a cohesive whole.
piano chords all over the highway. Rubber Factory takes the Keys'
The first single, "10 A.M. Automat- rough-hewn aesthetic and plants it
ic" might be the track that finally ! in ground much more fertile than
breaks the band with the ever-grow- garage-rock or kitschy blues ste-
ing indie masses. The song is a clas- reotypes. Rubber Factory places
sic rock miniature, done up in great the Keys next to a host of Midwest-
detail, its exactness blurred only by ern roots-fanatics (Califone, Jason
its diminutive stature. Molina, Wilco) who are running the underground's
Even when the band comes close to their dreaded coal train of noise and dissonance into America's
garage-rock label, they avoid it with blustery riffs rich folk/blues tradition. The cover may scream sub-
and enough blues to sidestep the pigeonhole. "Grown urban malaise, annoying retro T-shirts and goofy
So Ugly," for example, takes a classic folk/blues lyric hats, but the music roars with the ballsy, mythical
- that of the tragically ugly narrator - head on with simplicity of the blues.
cars as they go around the track, and
the physics model the game is based
upon allows for a realistic pull to the
outside of the track. The A.I. of other
drivers increases as the player make
his way up through the pack to the
No. I spot.
The game benefits the most from
being an EA Sports release. While
there are not that many ways to
reinvent driving a car in a circle,
the creators of the game worked
hard to bring more to the title and
ensure it was not another run-of-the-
mill sequel. One of the game's most
interesting features is Next Gen-
eration Grudge and Alliance mode,
which allows serious taunting and
the opportunity for the player to be a
NASCAR good guy or a terror on the
track. With this game, it is entirely
satisfying to flatten people's tires
around the bend and be heralded 'as
a villain. Who wouldn't like bring-
ing the hero down near the end of
While a simple race with a friend
or two might satisfy some, games
like "Need for Speed" or "Grand Tnr-
ismo" carry higher replay value for
those who don't follow NASCAR's
professional series. It's exciting -to
be able to race in a variety of dif-
ferent racing series, including the
Craftsman Truck, Busch and Feath-
erlite Modified series. However, tie
strength of the title is in its "Fighi-to
the Top" mode, which requires con-
tinual play and attention, something
the casual racing fan might not be, Up
Assuredly, this game's selling point
will be its capacity as a member of the
Xbox Live series. Easily the best part of
"Chase for the Cup," racing three other
Internet players and causing them to
wreck or fall into the player's rearview
mirror is entirely gratifying. Rules and
policies prevent players from going
all out, demolition-derby style but the
chance to race against people from all
over the country gives the game the
most replay value.
For racing fans, this game is not
only the best game yet released by
NASCAR, but also an extremely
close representation of the screaming-
engine sport. Its strong graphics and
playability will draw the attention of
non-racing fans. However, fan or not,
anyone can get a little enjoyment by
taking out Jeff Gordon in turn three
and watching him careen off the wall
and into five other cars - that's what
racing is all about.
the michigan daily
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Lanegan remains stagnant on latest
By William Gary
For the Daily
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It has been a long and winding
road for Mark Lanegan. From his
blues-rock work with the Scream-
ing Trees to his recent contributions
to hard rockers Queens of the Stone
Age to his con-
has been praised
for his unique
vocals and superb
step of the way.
sents a different type of ballad for
Lanegan. His passionate vocals about
love lost allow for the augmenta-
tion of the nuances in his voice. The
fiery, blues-inflected line, "Where's
Willie John? / Dead so long / Who's
gonna grieve / When you're gone?"
resonates especially strong with the
Lanegan also returns to some of his
hard rocking roots with the superb
"Sideways in Reverse" and "Driv-
ing Death Valley Blues." The former
presents a simple two-chord rocker
with a driving drumbeat. The lyrics
are a sleazy invitation to party with
Lanegan, with the repeated chant of
"Goin' Down, Goin' Down / People
give me your love." "Driving Death
Valley Blues" is an equally engross-
ing blues-rocker with a distorted gui-
tar line and fuzzy vocals. This song
is closest to his work with Queens of
the Stone Age.
The standout track on the album,
however, is the slower "Hit the City,"
a duet with the incomparable P.J.
Harvey. Featuring a pulsing, distort-
ed guitar line over an oozing organ,
the gloriously dark lyrics tell of the
depressing life of a man who has
lost his love: "I'm bad alone, burned
inside out / Nothing to kill it / I hit
the city." Harvey beautifully adds her
trademark blues-wails to the song
behind Lanegan's rough vocals.
Unfortunately for Lanegan,
each time he writes a "Hit the
City" on the album, along comes
a "Can't Come Down" - a mix
of blues, reverberating guitar and
microphone feedback. This and
the clanging, forgettable "Meth-
amphetamine Blues" are definite
misses. Also, the constant refer-
ences to hard liquor and firearms
get old quickly. The conventional
song structures also suppress what
Lanegan's voice might be truly
capable of producing.
Despite these faults, Bubblegum
comes across as a respectable blues
rock album. Hell, "Hit the City"
alone is worth it if you like Lane-
gan's past work. However, Lanegan
definitely has room to expand, and
his voice's potential has not nea;x4y
been realized. Time will tell wheth-
er he will be able to finally unleash
his true ability.
gum, his sixth solo effort, he com-
bines all of his influences to create a
stirring medley of songs. Lanegan's
dark vocals come to the forefront
of his works. His voice is scratchier
than steel wool, yet at the same time
has a smooth beauty about it, which
manifests itself on some of his slow-
er, atmospheric tracks such as "One
"Like Little Willie John" repre-
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PROFESSIONAL COUPLE SEEKS student
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