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February 07, 2005 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Monday
February 7, 2005
arts.michigandaily.com.
artspage@rmichigandaily. com

ART s

5A

5A

Indie rockers debut as
" headliners in Detroit

'U' alum recounts
childhood memoirs

By Aaron Kaczander
Daily Arts Writer
In a miraculous turn of events at the
Magic Stick on Thursday night, the
colliding worlds of hippie jamsters and
alt-rock snobs were
brought together
in a mish-mash of The Secret
musical styles. The Machines
Secret Machines The Magic Stick
brought their brand
of distant space
rock to this diverse crowd for a night
of arena-sized fuzz. The band took the
stage quietly after a disco-charged set
by L.A. dance-punkers Moving Units.
The Secret Machines' set ran through
most of their debut record, Now Here
Is Nowhere, with a few new songs from
their developing sophomore album.
Bathed in a sea of blue and pink
light, wearing dark suits and perfectly
unkempt hair, the boys barely spoke a
single word to the crowd. They opted
instead to let their dizzying guitar
effects and syncopated drumbeats do
the talking. The trio faced each other

in an intimate triangle setup, while
surrounded by a giant techno-bubble
of stacks, amps, lighting fixtures and
strategically placed strobes. Bassist
and keyboardist Brandon Curtis shared
singing duties with his brother and
guitar noodler Ben. The two remained
mysterious, standing in dark shadows
as they delivered awkwardly titled
tunes with a harmony that was more
monotonous than pitch perfect.
At times, especially during their
more distant, weightier songs, the stage
possessed a strange and disconcerting
ambience, like being underwater. The
aquatic feeling was comforting, but also
tiresome through their slower paced
songs. Luckily, this feeling was lifted
for crowd pleasers like the sing-along
chorus of "The Road Leads Where
It's Led" and MTV2 staple "Nowhere
Again." The sold-out crowd was com-
prised of a diversified mix of aging
and neohippies and their arch-nemeses
- 20-something indie elitists. This
combo was quite puzzling, but ulti-
mately revealed The Secret Machines'
eclectic appeal to both genres of fans.
This attraction allows them to bask
in the college-rock limelight for long

By Bernie Nguyen
Daily Books Editor
As a rule, childhood is one of the most
taboo topics of conversation. Its show-

sypocrit"e
ma
pouffy white dres
:zattA: r ^"--hakyoku, 0 Lo 3£i4

'' rts " or "'p"""e

case of immature
dreams, accidents
and memories is
too easily remem-
bered with a blush
of humiliation.
But "Hypocrite in
a Pouffy White
Dress," by Susan
Jane Gilman, han-
dles childhood and

"We need hair cuts."

Hypocrite
in a Pouffy
White Dress
By Susan Jane
Gilman
Warner Books
adolescence with

enough to secure spots in both Bonn-
aroo and Coachella, two of the year's
most sought after rock festivals. How
did they manage to impress promot-
ers of both coveted galas? Probably the
same way they entice their diversified
fanbase, who are usually at each other's
bearded/skinny throats. Their appealing
mix of ambient, My Bloody Valentine-
esque swirling guitars with Zeppelin-
fused riffing somehow captivated the
attention of the clashing crowd.
Though sleepers like "You Are
Chains" caused uncomfortable shift-
ing and uneasiness among the spec-
tators during the hour-long set, The

Secret Machines still managed to stun
visually and provide wall-to-wall gui-
tar and keyboard riffs for their first
headline visit to Detroit. Their hom-
age to heavy-hitting 1970s influences
and late-'90s indie stalwarts was a hit
with the numerous older fans in atten-
dance, as well as the younger neohip-
pies and psych-rockers. While their
atmospheric musicianship may not
have been the most innovative arrival
to the music scene last year, the Secret
Machines conjured enough inter-
est to bring different types of music
fans together peacefully for a night of
underwater bliss.

verve and vivacity as she traces her life
from childhood to maturity through short
stories highlighting the most humorous
and most painful experiences of her life.
Gilman, a graduate of the University's

."-n ila
.:t,.,t is y~fa

creative writing
program, said her
book is "meant to
entertain people, to
make them feel less
alone." The collec-
tion encompasses
battles with neigh-
borhood toughs,

Susan Jane
Gilman
At Shaman Drum
Today at 7 p.m.

Wretched EP makes poor foray for new band

By Chris Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer
Post-punk and synth-pop were two of the more
influential genres of the past few years. Following

the path of The Killers, Elk-
land are attempting to recre-
ate the energy and charisma of
post-punk from the late 1970s
and '80s. However, Elkland
arrive at the party egregious-
ly late. Their EP, Apart, is an

Elkland
Apart
Columbia

World melodies and pseudo to-fi recording.
Apart is completely devoid of choruses and
hooks. On "Salvation," the lack of a solid chorus
leads to embarrassing lyrical catastrophes such as
"Salvation, salvation, salvation is great." Unin-
spired lines like these clearly show the band's
basic inability to write a catchy phrase or chorus.
Not only are the melodies and lyrics sub par, but
the subject matter rarely changes throughout the
album. In the grand post-punk tradition, Elkland
clings to morbid and dark subject matter but fail
to say anything original or interesting. Three of
the five tracks on this disc - and the fifth being a
remix of the EP's opener - are stereotypical pop
songs identifiable through the titles: "Apart," "I
Think I Hate Her" and "Everytime You Tell Me
That You Love Me." In addition to the archetypal
song titles, the keyboard riffs and mundane melo-
dies solidify Elkland's pop-trash status.
Apart is a monotonous, unimaginative release
from an up-and-coming band. In a genre with liv-
ing, touring legends, there is no need for mediocre

her rebelliously psychedelic adolescence
and the painful experience of her par-
ents' divorce. The chronological thread
of the stories allows the reader to view
Gilman's character from all angles as she
tumbles through growth and experience.
The stories were compiled as "a sculptor
would look at different objects and try
to make something out of them," Gil-
man remarked. "I didn't write (the book)
because I think I am so fascinating and
everyone has to read about my life ... I
just stepped back and they seemed like
funny stories."
The book's easy coupling of humor
and emotion is one of its strongest points.
The author's remarkably human voice
creates intimacy and a sense of confi-
dence between character and reader.
Little Susie's childhood scrapes and teen-
age embarrassments become secrets told
between friends. Gilman's personal tone
puts the book almost on the level of a diary
or a journal. Fortunately, she doesn't shy
away from emotional insight or candor

when it comes to sensitive issues such as
injustice and sex. "Not everyone has had
my experiences, but ... everyone's been
humiliated, everyone's been overconfi-
dent at times, everybody if they're lucky
has been through all of that and all the
drama," she said. "I wanted it to be funny
... while tapping into a vein."
Gilman has found her niche with
the familiar, warm languagethat both
endears her life to the reader and allows
her to write from the standpoint of an
active participant. Her words, like lines
on a map, are significant in and of them-
selves while leading to a greater desti-
nation. Description and development
abound, each character and story is cohe-
sive and full, exposing a treasure trove of
experiences. It is clear that these memo-
ries, while painful at times, are cherished
and loved.
With a light touch and a keen eye for
humor, Gilman adeptly shows the rites of
passage that everyone must undergo. Her
book is well written, honestly up front
and sometimes startling funny while
it chronicles the process of maturity. It
is growing up at its most painfully poi-
gnant. "This book I really wrote ... out
of a sense that the world is a very scary
and difficult place, particularly now, and
I sort of wanted to make people laugh
and give them comfort and feel like they
had another friend in their life."

attempt to piggyback on the synth-pop revivalist
movement poorly led by The Killers.
While the group boasts its love for synth-pop,
its vintage equipment and labored hooks fail to
reproduce an iota of the quality created by their
idols. The band believes if its equipment is old, its
music will mature accordingly. However, they play
garden-variety pop - a coalescence of Jimmy Eat

releases and lackluster bands
reputation and cult following.

to taint post-punk's

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