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February 22, 2005 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-22

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Tuesday
February 22, 2005
arts. michigandaily. com
artspage@michigandaily.com

UX1e MtgTh 9
ART S

8

EVAN

McGARVEY

Youth and experience

0
01

For better or worse, we pretty much
like the art our parents gave us
when we were little. The Picasso
poster our mother put in our room sparked
our lifelong fascination with modernist
art; our father's Coltrane collection com-
pelled us to try the trumpet. Like religion
and political views, our childhood experi-
ences and our parent's biases on art for-
ever govern us.
The thing is, rock music is at a crux and
everyone has one group of people to blame:
their parents. It happened in the '70s when
art school drop-outs were listening to The
Velvet Underground and feather-haired
pop-rockers hummed The Eagles. In the
'80s some kids got Zoloft-y to the Smiths;
others bought Journey records. Ten years
ago it was the Pixies versus Matchbox
Twenty. And right now, for every square-
glasses wearing, SPIN reading, Interpol
fan there are four drunken pals giddily
singing along to The Darkness.
It's corporate rock versus indie-rock.
RCA versus Matador. Jet versus Spoon.
And based on the sheer amount of hurt feel-
ings and bitterness that go along with any
music conversation, the great rock debate
of our generation cuts right to the bone.
' No one wants to be a corporate tool
who's force-fed mindless soft-rock bal-
lads and couldn't pick David Bowie out
of a police lineup. But no one wants to be
the chain-smoking East Village kid who
'efuses to crack a smile when "Gigolo"
starts flowing through the speakers at a
bleary Saturday night party.
Now the way these things worked in
the past is that the art kids call everyone
ele a "sellout," make fun of everyone's
favorite band and pretend to like impos-
sibly dense music. The mainstreamers call
anything with the least bit of white noise
or lyrical opacity "weird," and dismiss the
other kids as hopeless losers. Calmness
drapes itself over the land and everyone
moves on.
Damn, those were the good old days.
Now, thanks to that girlyman Seth
Cohen, the East and West of rock music
are, for the first time in history, colliding.
Bands like Death Cab for Cutie and The
Killers fake the independent music scene

of the mid-'80s but wield PR and mer-
chandise machines that would make KISS
blush. "The O.C." and all of its attempts
at trendsetting have done some marvel-
ous things for long-suffering, impossibly
talented bands like Modest Mouse and
The Walkmen. But the Seth Cohen over-
drive also means that young music fans
carry the soggy, adolescent digitals of
Postal Service hand in hand with modern
indie-pop luminaries like Carl Newman.
Children like me who grew up listening to
Sonic Youth and Mission of Burma on the
family stereo are confused. And when we
get confused, we get angry. A culture of
boldly independent music that preached
dissension and innovation has been
hijacked by bands who create mindless
lyrics and overproduced guitar bridges
under the umbrella of "college rock."
Our generation has foggier rock border
regions now. Both a devout drone-punk
rocker who adores Big Black and a hip-
pie scion who worships at the temple of
Fleetwood Mac can, and most likely
might, love The Walkmen's "No Christ-
mas While I'm Talking."
What makes it even tougher to talk
about is that talking about music taste is
damn tough to talk about. All the issues
we're sensitive about come to the surface:
social class, intelligence, artistic aware-
ness, cultural knowledge and parental fal-
libility come into play when we talk about
what's fit for the masses and what is "elite"
music.
We can banter all day about what
bands are in what boxes, but most of the
time we've been in one mindset since
the day we asked our parents to ditch the
Raffi albums and give us big kid music
- strained peas and lullabies to PB&J
sandwiches and The Rolling Stones. But
for the kids whose parents feasted on
Chicago, well, when you decide you love
Franz Ferdinand or The Strokes, welcome
to the party. You've got a lot of history to
learn. Blame your parents or at least Seth
Cohen.
Help Evan plot the demise of
Seth Cohen by e-mailing him at
evanbmcg@umich.edu.

Courtesy
of RCA
"We shop
at the
same wig
store. Can
you really
tell?"

RETURN OF THE KINGS
FOLK INDIE-ROCKERS AVOID THE SOPHOMORE SLUMP

By Aaron Kaczander
Daily Arts Writer
MUSICR EV IEW
The Kings of Leon have been whisked to the
crucial point in any moder-
ately successful rock band's
career - the anticipated Kings of Leon
sophomore album. This Aha Shake
highly scrutinized record Heartbreak
often determines the critical RCA
fate and sales triumph of the
now not-so-new buzz-band.
Fortunately, the Kings of Leon have succeeded in
maintaining their rural rock expertise with Aha
Shake Heartbreak.
There's something amusing about the Kings
being the offspring of a Southern Evangelist min-
ister. This spiritual association, though, is not the
first thing to come to mind when their magazine
spreads and interviews show a literal band of
brothers and cousins on their way to a full revival
of Southern-fried garage rock. The Kings do not
sing about religion, nor do they radiate any sort of
Jesus-worshiping persona. Still, their position as
ministers' children puts an inviting twist on their

involvement in the type of music that their dad
might not endorse.
The Kings have tired out their worn compari-
sons to proper country folk like the Strokes, and
with Aha Shake, they've taken their frenetic guitar
lines and bouncy bass riffs to a level that a humble
second full length should offer. Though the record
lacks the overall feverish and frenzied ambience
of their debut, Youth and Young Manhood, it
still picks up where they left off. Perhaps weari-
ness guided the boys to a record grounded more
in moodier pieces of personal experience than the
fancily wishful, Southern party-life tales of Youth.
Singer guitarist Caleb Followill's vocals are still
slurred and indecipherable, but thanks to the soni-
cally messy, yet obsessively specific instrumentals,
this is not a hindering issue.
The jumpy riffing of "Velvet Snow" is both
frantic and precise, with Jared Followill's bass
banging an unending whir among the furious
picking. His mechanical bass-playing style com-
plements the raw guitar sound of a sloppy garage
band. This messiness, though, is an aspect of the
Kings' live recording style, courtesy of familiar
producer Ethan Johns', that makes their songs
shine with glossless live appeal. Aha's first sin-
gle, "The Bucket" is a feel good, drum rolling

head bopper that turns into a danceable gem by
the final guitar solo from Jared Followill. "Taper
Jean Girl" offers the enjoyable simplicity of three
shrill notes atop jangling, modest drumming
from Nathan Followill. On "Soft," Caleb explores
his most sexually revealing lyrics, screeching as
romantically as he can, "I'd pop myself in your
body / I'd come into your party, but I'm soft." Not
the most touchingly tender lyrics here, but still
pretty damn genuine.
The album suffers from a few weak moments
as the Kings try to slow down the Southern frenzy
with molasses like acoustic ballads. "Milk" may
put a listener to sleep, and "Day Old Blues," anoth-
er overly pensive tune, is just not as interesting as
Caleb's yelping vocals in the twang-filled songs
that surround it.
The Kings' heightened popularity in the U.K. ,
where Aha was released nearly three months ago,
and upcoming opening slot for U2 raise the stakes
for Shake in a big way. Though they care more
about how they look than your average hillbilly
rock troupe, this family of religious classic rock
lovin' boys follows suit with a sophomore effort
that should have daddy thanking the Lord for his
bearded sons' obsession with sparse, flavorful
Southern rock tunes.

a0

LCD reinvigorates
disco-punk genre

'U' alum's debut novel.
excites, but falls short
By Hriday Shah
For the Daily

By Andrew M. Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer

In the 1970s, disco ate up blues-
based rock'n'roll as the domi-
nant genre of youth music because
rock'n'roll forgot how to move its
hips when The Rolling Stones went

rotten. Punk rock
because it was
too lifeless and
because disco
sucked. Hair
metal destroyed
punk because,
apparently, there
is no God. In the
1990s, rock'n'roll

destroyed disco
LCD
Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem
DFA/Capitol

for their obscure taste and became a
smash-hit track for these very same
fans in obscure dance clubs.
LCD Soundsystem marks the
band's first full-length album. It
comes packaged with a second disc
of the band's first six singles, a noble
gesture, given that they could've
sold this compilation separately
and made a killing. The formula is
simple: jackknife rhythms, plenty of
keyboards and Murphy's detached
shouts. The songs all start slowly,
with just a drum machine and Mur-
phy's distanced melodrama. The
tracks build marvelously, however,
and by the end of their frequently
long runtimes, it's an orgy of cow-
bells, shameless four-on-the-floor
basslines and dense, layered beats.
"Daft Punk is Playing at My
House" kicks things off with an
excitable Murphy laying out, liter-
ally, the preparations before the Daft
Punk show ... at his house. It's not
as humorous or interesting as the
title suggests, but it does provide
the prototype for the rest of the disc.
"Movement" is the album's short-
est song, and its straight-ahead fuzz
bass and handclaps lend it a unique
immediacy. The title of "Disco Infil-
trator" is a more fitting summation
of the song's sound than anyone
should be comfortable with, but the
album's meanest melody saves it.
"Never as Tired as When I'm Wak-
ing Up" is the album's glammy rock
song, and its placement in the middle

From its catchy title to the cli-
mactic conclusion, Megan Abbott's
fictional debut, "Die a Little," is a
sultry tale of jealousy, desperation
and conspiracy.
Abbott, a Uni- Die a Little
versity alum,
dramatizes the By Megan Abbott
traditional ten- Simon and Schuster

M

Cour tesy of DrF/Capitol

sion between a

1i I

"No, I haven't been to Amsterdam recently."

adopted punk because hair metal
only appealed to derelicts and The
Darkness. And then 2000 hit and
punk rock had to turn to disco
because rock'n'roll was too lifeless.
For the last half-decade or so,
James Murphy and Tim Goldswor-
thy have been shaping underground
dance-punk on their insufferably hip
label DFA. They've taken a hip-hop
-approach to rock, remixing tracks
and providing beats for groups as
diverse as free-form noise detona-
tors Black Dice and, most famously,
for funk-punkers The Rapture. Mur-
phy has been releasing singles with
LCD Soundsystem since 2002. Their
debut track, "Losing My Edge,"
simultaneously took hipsters to town

of the album necessarily breaks up
the dance-oriented material around
it. "Great Release" is a near-epiph-
any at the end of the record, a Brian
Eno-esque rock song that, after
45 minutes of disco beats, is more
concerned with blowing minds than
shaking asses.
The high score earned here,
though, centers as much around the
singles disc as it does the album.
Despite the fact that no one really
needs 20 minutes of LCD's most
inane single, "Yeah," the disc is a
flawless compendium of their for-
mative songs. LCD owes a huge debt
to any early '80s punk band with
a dance bend, but that's hardly the
point. LCD aren't trying to break
any barriers, just to shuffle some
sneakers.
LCD is walking a fine line here.
They're making dance music that
mocks elitists and hipsters but is

idiosyncratic and "weird" enough to
appeal to no one but those people.
They are, for all intents and pur-
poses, an underground band running
around with shit-eating grins and
semi-ironic "fuck the underground"
T-shirts.
In some ways, Murphy has made
great strides: His work with the
Neptunes was applauded by indie-
rock fans everywhere, and the fact
that this album is being distributed
by mega-label Capitol records has
received precious little attention.
LCD's debut is bulging with enough
glittering, climactic ass-shakers to
dissipate any remaining doubts. It's
enough to think that in two decades,
when this ridiculous pop-music
cycle comes back around again,
some underground-hating under-
ground rock fan will name a song
"LCD Soundsystem is Playing at My
House."

sister and a sister-
in-law during the first few months of
a marriage.
Lora King's life is turned upside
down when her brother, a criminal
investigator, marries the seductive
Alice Steele. Ostensibly, Alice is the
perfect wife. She is glamorous, a tal-
ented dancer and a wonderful home-
maker. However, as Lora quickly
begins to discover, there is more to
Alice's history than meets the eye.
Discovering small inconsistencies
in Alice's past, Lora probes further.
The deeper Lora digs, the murkier
the story becomes and the more
obsessed she gets with discovering
the truth about Alice's former life.
Abbott's writing style is gripping.
and conveys the urgency of Lora's
investigation while simultaneously
creating the ambience of a room
suffocatingly stuffed with cigarette
smoke. Her short sentences make
Lora's descent into a world involv-
ing sadistic sex, despondency and
murder fast-paced and thrilling.
Narrating through Lora's first-
person perspective, Abbott plunges
the reader into Lora's suspicious
thoughts. The author also makes the
story suspenseful by recounting it in
present tense; it leaves Lora and the
reader clueless as to what will hap-
pen next. She puts together a collage
of Lora's experiences that intertwine

A

the novel episodically, strategi-
cally omitting parts of the story.
For example, she barely mentions
the novel's climax moment, leaving
it entirely to the reader to sort out.
This style of storytelling proves to
be both interactive and exciting.
However, the novel lacks proper
development of the relationships
between characters. Abbott does
not adequately describe the plot-
propelling love between Lora and
her brother. This detracts from the
reader's urge to find out more about
Alice's past and even tends to cause
indifference toward the plot. This, in
turn, makes it harder to identify with
Lora. Abbott also fails to ascribe a
setting to the plot, providing no hints
as to when the story takes place; this
together with the lack of develop-
ment leaves the novel lackadaisical
and comparable to a bad soap opera,
at part.
Despite these weaknesses, the
novel is supported by the plot's
adventurous scandals, risqu6 ren-
dezvous and a gut-wrenching con-
clusion. While "Die a Little" isn't

Gonzo journalist Thompson
commits suicide in Colorado

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) - Hunter S. Thompson, the
hard-living writer who inserted himself into his
accounts of America's underhelly and nonularized

Thompson is credited alongside Tom Wolfe and Gay
Talese with helping pioneer New Journalism - or, as
he dubbed it. "gonzo journalism" - in which the writ-

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