November 23, 2004
arts. michigandaily. com
RTSWtr ftdtig ntt
Before I begin, I must first
make a confession: In my
household - and in my Dis-
cman, for that matter - I started
playing Christmas music on Nov.
1. I know to most sane people, this
seems like crazy behavior, but as
soon as Halloween has passed, I
trade in the "Monster Mash" and
"The Time Warp" for "Deck the
Halls" and "Carol of the Bells."
I love listening to Christmas car-
ols because they all bring along a
sense of joy and happiness that can
sometimes go missing around this
time of year. Most carols, it seems,
are content to say merely that it is
great to be alive and, depending on
the carol, that getting presents is
awesome. Now I know I could get
the same message from '80s pop
music, but I have to say that I prefer
"Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer"
Now, I know that many of you are
thinking that this is unfair treatment
of Thanksgiving. But let me ask you,
what is the point of Thanksgiving,
besides watching football and eat-
ing yourself into a coma? The point
is to be thankful, per the name, and
I say that Christmas music embod-
ies that. And really, can you hon-
estly think of a song that you would
deem a Thanksgiving song?
Whether or not my argument has
convinced you to blare "Jolly Old
St. Nicholas" next year while the
remains of smashed pumpkins still
litter the street, I think you will at
least now believe me when I say I
have a huge repertoire of Christmas
music that I know and love. From
Manheim Steamroller to the Trans-
Siberian Orchestra to the differ-
ent compilations of Windham Hill,
By Evan McGarvey
Daily Arts Writer
Karl Marx and the King of Crunk?
Could the manufacturer of thunderous,
rowdy club shakers possibly be subver-
sive enough to have social tenets buried
under squealing synth-lines and far-out
there are many carols, and many
different versions of carols, that
grace my speakers every year.
With such a passion for Christ-
mas carols, one would think that
the radio station 100.3 WNIC's 100
percent Christmas music all the time
starting Dec. 1 would be the perfect
place for me to set my boom box.
This is the second or third year of
this tradition for the station and yet,
after having listened to it in years
previous, I cannot be excited for it. I
try to enjoy the free broadcast of the
music I love, but after hearing "I Saw
Mommy Kissing Santa Clause" and
"I Want a Hippopotamus for Christ-
mas" 12 times each in the same day,
my patience wears a little thin. Why
is it that this radio station feels they
must play the 12 worst Christmas
carols of all time on a loop for an
entire month? It is enough to turn
even the happiest and most chari-
table girl into a Scrooge.
With that said, I hope you will all
join me in beseeching WNIC to play
a larger variety of carols this year.
Just about every artist who puts out
an album also puts out a Christmas
album, so there is a huge variety
to chose from. Even Jim Henson
and the Muppets have a Christmas
album out, and believe me when I
say it is priceless. I know my request
for quality Christmas music this
year as opposed to merely quantity
will probably fall on deaf ears yet
again, but a girl can hope. Happy
Thanksgiving to all and to all a
-Sarah insists it wasn't her
mommy kissing Santa Clause. Let
her know the real story by e-mail-
ing her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtesy of Interscope
One, two, three, 14!
IRELAND'S FINEST DROP A DIRTY 'BOMB'
By Evan McGarvey
Daily Arts Writer
There's a joke in Dublin that's pretty rough on
one of its more famous native sons, "Q: What's the
difference between God and Bono? A: God doesn't
walk through the street thinking he's Bono."
It's caustic, even for Dub-
liners, but there's a nugget
of truth in there: Sometimes U2
Bono acts more like a pseu- How to Dismantle
do-messiah than U2's lead an Atomic Bomb
singer. He's raised millions Interscope
of dollars for famine and dis--
ease-ravaged Africa and it's
fair to say he's got more international clout than
notable members of our own nation's Cabinet.
Not surprisingly, the best and most effective
moments on U2's newest release, How To Dis-
mantle An Atomic Bomb, come when Bono drops
the savior act and sings as one man trying to save
himself, not the world. The death of Bono's father
in 2001 sparked "Sometimes You Can't Make It
On Your Own," the emotional centerpiece of the
album. The song works because Bono is wound-
ed and altogether human.
The rest of U2 is the same as they ever were.
The Edge rips power chords eight days a week,
uses enough echo to fill the Super Bowl twice
over and acts a bit like the sober yin to Bono's
raging yang. Larry Mullen hits the same snares
as he did on Boy. The ever youthful Adam Clay-
ton is content in the background, smacking away
at his bass.
Atomic Bomb is a nice middle ground for
U2: It's nowhere near as glitchy and muddled
in digital flourishes as Pop, and even the pomp
is scaled down when compared to All That You
Can't Leave Behind. This median doesn't relieve
the traditional flaws of a U2 album, however. Just
like all the albums that came before it, Atomic
Bomb is incredibly top-heavy. Any of the first
five songs could be successful singles. The inane
chorus on "Vertigo," the album opener and first
single, is nicely offset by a whipping guitar and
a surprisingly modern bass line. "City of Blind-
ing Lights" is just another in a long line of tran-
scendent anthems, and while it's not in the same
league as "Where the Streets Have No Name,"
it's got flashes of beauty.
And just like Joshua Tree and Boy, Atomic
Bomb's second half is nothing short of a mess.
The spiritual communions are aborted and Clay-
ton shows his age, dropping fatigued notes and
Their trademark sonic arena rock still carries
weight, but it's U2's humanity that have kept them
around and endeared them to so many. It's ironic
then that the highest moments on the album are
when Bono climbs down from the mountain top
and shows himself as a man, not as a redeemer.
'Shadows' tough, but rewarding LP
By Jacob Nathan
Daily Arts Writer
Joseph Arthur uses his latest release, Our Shadows
Will Remain, as an opportunity to challenge his listener.
Arthur's unique brand of dream-pop features equal parts
acoustic guitar and synthetic sounds.
On the surface it's cold and desolate,
but after further listening, the album's
warmth and lush soundscape begin to
With a style reminiscent of Brian
Eno, and heavily influenced by men-
tor Peter Gabriel, Arthur avoids being
Using a Lil' Jon catchphrase is really cool.
whistles? In an age
in which most of the
pop world trumpets
Grey Goose and
H2's, all one needs
to join Lil' Jon is a
rebellious spirit and
a poor sense of civil
obedience. Lil' Jon
Lil' Jon &
for the past 18 months. That's not to say it
For all of the pot-shots Lil' Jon has
taken, from Dave Chappelle and rap
purists most notably, there is one invin-
cible tenet of Lil' Jon's music: It's got
more energy than a ton of plutonium.
It's club music of the highest form. Lil'
Jon's crunk jams are really just alco-
hol, sweat, booming chants and club
denizens condensed into four-minute
anthems. Again, slyly aware of his own
shortcomings as an emcee - Chapelle
was pretty on point with the entire
"YEEEEAAAAAAH!" skit - Crunk
Juice enlists Ice Cube on the shrieking
"Real Nigga Roll Call" and mainstream
rap talents like Ludacris, Pharrell, Nas
and Fat Joe on other tracks.
For the most part, Crunk Juice is pro-
lifts up the working class, the everyman,
into a sublime party state.
Crunk Juice is the third album Lil' Jon
has released with his longtime partners
The Eastside Boyz and, much like the
small empire he's constructed produc-
ing hit singles with unerring quality, it's
essentially the same song you've heard
letariat empowering party rap. "What U
Gon' Do" starts off with murky whistles
and muffled sonar bleeps emanating
somewhere from the U.S.S. Lil' Scrappy.
Tracks like "Get Crunk" and "Aww Skeet
Skeet" are locker-room songs designed
to rile up the young and willing.
While lyrical depth is non-existent
and occasionally the shouts to women
become more than a little unnerv-
ing, there is also absolutely none of the
materialistic obsession found in similar
party rappers like Fabolous or Twista.
He preaches individuality, energy and
nationalism through repeated shouting
of one's state. Of course, for each of the
album's rowdy peaks, the droning val-
ley gets thrown in sharp relief. There is
a limit to how much crunk a listener can
take, and after 20 tracks of high-decibel
shouting, it's easy to see why LiI' Jon will
always be a singles artist. It's fun when
it happens and while it lasts, so the slop-
py sound of Crunk Juice scrapes by on
effort And hey, if songs about everyone
throwing elbows in the club can make
someone think about a Crunk Manifesto,
that's got to be worth something.
pretentious or self-indulgent. By injecting strong melo-
dies into an ethereal landscape, Arthur has championed a
unique and satisfying sound.
Some songs have very traditional elements, but utilize
a non-linear structure in their composition. The other
songs are more experimental, and, as a result, are some of
the brightest spots on the album. This mix adds a dynam-
ic to the album that serves it well. The cohesiveness of
the album is strong, and his goals are clear throughout
the entire effort.
The best songs showcase Arthur's creative guitar
arrangements and highlight his unique voice. "Can't
Exist" is a fantastic opener and a great statement about
the album as a whole. It is a well-crafted effort that show-
cases everything Arthur is going after. The intriguing
track "Even Tho" brings the same sensibility of Arthur's
more straightforward songwriting to a more convoluted
approach to musicianship. The techno effects in the back-
ground of this song do not take much away from his vocal
work and offer a different perspective on Arthur's sound.
The best part of this album is its hookiness. The slow
pacing of many of the songs belies the fact that they are
incredibly catchy, with hooks being both slow to present
themselves and incredibly effective.
There are some tracks that really do not work at all, but
they detract little from the overall accomplishments of
Ray Charles is back, and he's an awkward white boy.
the album. "Stumble and Pain" is so mired down in over-
production it sags and slows down the solid sequencing
of the album. There is something resembling a slamming
door in the background, and it sounds exactly as ridicu-
lous as it looks in print. The song "Wasted" is accurately
titled both because it is wasted space on this album and
because Arthur must have been intoxicated when he com-
posed it. "Echo Park," an attempted sob-fest, is a dismal
failure at saying something profound. With inflated lyrics
such as "A fire never understands / The spark," Arthur
gets himself off track in a very major way.
Arthur has offered a strong release, albeit flawed, that
clearly shows what he was trying to do. The stronger pop
tracks illuminate some of the failings of the other tracks
on the album, but the overall product remains strong. An
album like this may appear unapproachable because of its
experimental stylings, but, in this case, a listen is incred-
Means' short stories reflect depths of real life
By Katherine Seid
For the Daily
David Means's "The Sec
fish" uses the cliche topics
tery, scandal, murder andr
in trashy romance
ness in narration. In his story, the
author utilizes the first-hand perspec-
tive of a professional pianist, but also
includes "omissions" that often con-
tradict and enrich the viewpoint of
ret Gold- Means's narrator. "It Counts As See-
of adul- ing" also delineates Means's unique
rape seen and sometimes ambiguous style. The
story is quite confusing as the iden-
tity of the narrator switches abruptly
Secret from various vantage points.
dfish One of the most memorable and
d Means disturbing of Means's tales is prob-
ably "A Visit from Jesus," which
Jesus as the voice of righteousness
and the devil as the source of tempta-
tion. It demonstrates how Means con-
stantly challenges his reader to see
beyond the immediate stories of vio-
lence and vice to better understand
Means associates a deeper meaning
to the grotesqueness and dejection pre-
sented in his work, but sometimes his
stories are so abstract that it becomes
difficult to grasp what Means wants
his readers to get out of his stories.
Although the text is not complicated
novels and local
operas in a unique
way. Instead of
showing the pop-