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October 14, 2005 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-10-14

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October 14, 2005
arts. michigandaily.com
artspage@michigandaily. com

R TSe icligan tiig


"Hey, we've got six people! Who's up for some hockey?"

Most Serene enjoy
unexpected success

By Aaron Kaczander
Daily Arts Writer

Courtesy of Atlantic

"If we look really sad maybe teenage girls will like us even more."



By Caltlin Cowan
Daily Arts Writer

"Oh God, I'm such an old man," Death Cab
for Cutie's Chris Walla lamented. The band's 29-

year-old guitarist is suffer-
ing from a lingering cold.
But his poor health isn't the
only reason he feels like
he's not getting any young-
er. Plans, the band's latest
album, is "a little bit more

Death Cab
For Cutie
Tonight at 7:30
Michigan Theater

of an oblique record," Walla said, in contrast
with their last album, Transatlanticism. "We're
near 30 ... You just sort of end up asking more
Plans is indeed full of plaintive inquiries -
as well as Catholic nuns, marching bands, piss
and Formula 409. Fans of Washington's indie
sweethearts will notice a smoother, quieter feel
on Plans.
"It's a little bit more of a sleeper," Walla said.
"It's not quite as obvious as the last record was."
Transatlanticism, the band's masterful 2003
soundtrack-to-a-breakup, has sold over one mil-
lion copies since its release on the small Seattle
label Barsuk. It's a tough act to follow.
But Plans still tempers lyrical punch with musi-
cal beauty in a way that is different from Trans-

atlanticism, but no less characteristic of Death
Cab's sound. "Clearly, it's a less rocking record,"
Walla admitted. "There are fewer guitars."
That's not the only change: Plans was released
on Atlantic Records, and this jump to a larger
label from a smaller, independent one had many
fans worried. But Walla said reassuringly that
their deal with Atlantic is "working out really,
really well."
Even in the face if such success, the motif of
loss is certainly prevalent on Plans. In "What
Sarah Said," lead singer Ben Gibbard slowly
traipses toward the haunting lyric, "Love is
watching someone die." The simple acoustic
gem of the album, "I Will Follow You into the
Dark," promises, "If there's no one beside you
when your soul embarks / Then I'll follow you
into the dark."
These intimations of endings don't refer to spe-
cific people or places for the band, but are person-
al in a broader sense. "You know, there's always
that feeling of like, 'who am I going to be when I
grow up? What am I going to do for a living?' "
Walla admitted. "Then there's a feeling of, 'Oh,
this is who I am and this is what I do.' " Elabo-
rating on this, he said, "That inevitably leads to
'Well how do I, you know, deal with that? What's
after this stage of my life?' It's the (feeling of)
people around you going away. I think Ben did a
pretty great job of dealing with that in a couple of
cases on the record."

Death, of course, is also a part of the band's
name. Even some devoted fans are still ignorant
as to the meaning of their conspicuous moniker.
"There's a scene in the Beatles' Magical Mys-
tery Tour (where) John and Paul are sitting in a
black tent," Walla explained, "and there's a band
playing a song called 'Death Cab for Cutie.' That
band is ... sort of a British old-school institution,
and it's kind of obscure," the guitarist added
with a laugh.
After ten years and a half dozen albums togeth-
er, Death Cab thankfully has no plans of slowing
their pace. What will the band be doing in five
years? Chuckling, Walla predicted, "Let's see...
(in) five years ... probably doing another tour like
we're doing right about now."
As for the band's immediate future Death Cab
is playing a show tonight at the Michigan Theater.
Finding a comfortable, accommodating place to
play has been somewhat of a trial for the band
in the Metro-Detroit area. "When we played the
Majestic in Detroit it was kind of rotten and it
kind of didn't work out the way any of us kind of
thought it was gonna work out," Walla admitted.
"We've been bouncing around the towns around
Walla brightened, intimating that the band is
revved up for the performance at the Michigan
Theater. "I'm really excited about it. Ben's whole
family is from Ann Arbor," adding emphatically,
"He's got the whole family flying out."

Subjectivity makes for the most
meaningful listening experience - at
least for The
Most Serene Metric w/ The
Republic, the Most Serene
dream-pop sex- M.r
tet from Ontario. Republic
Their music is Monday, Oct.
crafted for the 17 at 8 p.m.
creative listener. Magic Stick
"Let the audi-
ence tell our story. I couldn't do it
myself," said Ryan Lenssen, Republic's
keyboardist and producer.
A particularly subjective listener
took Lenssen's advice. Just weeks ago,
a newlywed couple used the band's
tune "Content Was Always My Favou-
rite Color" to score their wedding
video. "I've never been so honored,"
Lenssen reacted.
For a group of six close friends in their
early 20s, helping to capture a young
couple's nuptial bliss is precisely the kind
of function they could've hoped for from
their debut record. Underwater Cinema-
tographer was recorded two summers
ago amidst grueling factory day jobs
and even longer nights. Lenssen, singer
Adrian Jewtett, bassist Andrew McAr-
thur, guitarist Nick Greaves and drum-
mer Adam Nimmo (guitarist/vocalist
Emma Ditchburn joined later) made the
record with no real intention of sharing
it with anyone else.
"We created it to be one of those
things you put on the shelf and look
back at 10 years in the future and say,
'Oh yeah, that's what we were doing
back then,' " recalls Lenssen.
Fortunately for the group of frus-
trated art school 20-somethings, some-
one cared enough to bring their gem to

the brainiacs at respected indie label
Arts & Crafts (home to Broken Social
Scene and Stars). The result, besides
being labeled "little brothers" to Broken
Social Scene (they don't share mem-
bers), is an album of quirky sing-alongs,
washed-out synths and cascading guitar
Republic use Underwater Cinema-
tographer to smash as many musical
intricacies and styles into one record as
possible. This certainly wasn't uninten-
tional, as Lenssen once again harkens
back to the creative mind of the listener,
and their ability to piece together their
own understanding and enjoyment of
such a malleable piece of music.
"We tried to stay away from as much
thought as possible (while recording)
- we really wanted to make this as
objective on our part so it could be the
most subjective thing for the listener,"
Lenssen added.
In lieu of such indelible trust in the
listener, Lenssen harbors a great dis-
comfort in describing and thus promot-
ing his own work. "Other than doing
shows, I can't promote my album. I
feel awkward, like I'm a door-to-door
salesman." This modesty is the key to
the band's growing fanbase and critical
praise. A current club tour with fuzz-
rock stalwarts Metric is propelling their
Canadian arses to a point where they
won't be labeled as just the little broth-
ers of Canuck dream-pop any more.
Perhaps it's the live show that can give
Lenssen and Co. that shot at the perfect
balance between listener subjectivity
and an incredible community of friends
playing sparkly indie pop.
Lenssen continued, "Everyone's artis-
tic endeavors, they always wonder - is
what I'm doing important? Does anyone
even care? Or are we impacting people's
lives? Are we being the soundtrack to
someone's summer?" Real-life proof
says yes, and they're not stopping yet.

Continued from page 1
Then - only needing to glide to
the tip of the stage and adjust his
hat - Ghostface launched into the
cyclic, soulful "Nutmeg," holler-
ing, "Spiced-out Calvin Coolidge,
loungin' with seven duelers / The
Great Adventures of Slick, lickin'
with six Rugers."
For the record, you're not expect-
ed to know everything he's saying.
But when he smashes together allu-
sion after allusion, running syl-
lables together and loosely crafting
Mafioso fantasies, the pure momen-
tum of it all takes hold like nothing
else in popular music today.
Stripped down in appearance,
only sporting a weathered Yan-
kees cap and a solitary chain, he
stomped out the quietly ominous
"Holla" and the remarkably sweet
"Be This Way" nearly back to back
(both songs are from last year's
The Pretty Tony Album) and rode

the shift in mood expertly. His
face went from hardened wisdom
to pleading at just one raise of his
brow or twitch of his lip.
Mere snippets of hits sent the
already hot crowd into appreciative
shouts and bellows. A smoky mass
of people slowed down as Ghost-
face took his infamously silky
verse from Raekwon's "Ice Cream"
and drew out each line, swaying
effortlessly on stage.
It's fitting that Ghostface, who
wisely "treats albums like babies,"
as he remarked, is one of the most
unexpected rap acts to grace Ann
Arbor in a few years. With often
surreal images and methodically
uncommercial approach to song-
making (he rarely crafts a melody
out of something other than a pure
pre-'70s soul sample) and battle-
hardened, frequently violent narra-
tives, he's really the only rapper in
the country who legitimately draws
equal sections of his fanbase from
collegiate, underground rap fans
and an older, blue-collar demo-

For some audience members,
their reference point is his starling
appearance on the latest album from
esoteric glitch-rap kingpin Prefuse
73. Others probably remember his
days as the Wu-Tang Clan's boy
After a whirlwind hour onstage,
during which he even managed to
crank out "Be Easy," a tight, formal
song from Fish Scale, Ghostface
had little left to accomplish.
Canvassing an exhausted, capti-
vated crowd for ideas for the last
song of the night, Ghostface settled
on "One," a cinematic, regal piece
from Supreme Clientele. Some peo-
ple chanted along, mimicking line
after line. Others stood content,
shoulder to shoulder with other
giddy listeners who probably have
nothing in common but a few rap
albums. Ypsi or Ann Arbor, back-
packer or Wu-Tang loyalist - it
didn't matter.
On Wednesday night, everyone's
eyes were fixed on one man's face.

Twista can't keep up on 'Day After'

By Anthony Baber
For the Daily

Chicago has been well represented in
the hip-hop business this year. It began
with Common adding
to his already presti- Twista
gious reputation by The Day After
releasing the inspira-
tional Be. Kanye West Atlantic
showed us more of his
true skill as he released the hard-hitting
Late Registration. Both artists took hip
hop to higher places with new ideas and
consistent talent. Now, in comes anoth-
er storm through the Chi, flying at high
speeds: not surprisingly, it's Twista.
Just by looking at the album cover
and booklet, you expect to be taken
down the hard road of a rap star's
extravagant life. He starts hard with
an intro and continues with creative

collaborations from everyone in the
biz: He brings reggaeton with Pitbull,
hard East Coast with Lil' Kim, smooth
West Coast with Snoop Dogg and even
Dirty South rap with Juvenile. Seems
like a pretty good album, right? Well
... yes and no. Even with a newfound
respect from his contemporaries and
confidence in his skill, Twista still
doesn't represent his home as power-
fully as his peers. After establishing
himself as world's fastest rapper and
turning the rap game upside down
with Kamikaze, Twista returns with
The Day After, which is, unfortunate-
ly, a sloppy misfire of an album.
The Day After brings new style and
flavor to Twista's name, but isn't really
a step up from Kamikaze, the album
that proved he could really rap. There's
no real message coming from his latest
album - just another, "I'm at the top,
I got gold, check out my whip" album
delivered at an unsatisfying breakneck

speed. Nothing stands out except the
production, thanks to The Neptunes,
Toxic and Cuzo from Street Heat.
Instead of picking up where Kami-
kaze left off, Twista's almost taken a
step down. This album doesn't live up
to the expectations for Chi-Town rap.
At least Kanye and Common are still
selling well.

3, '' | I
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