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February 15, 2006 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-15

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February 15, 2006
arts. michigandaily.com

TSe igan ailg



"OOOOOH, Mitch's!"

Similar releases hurt
* Beth Orton's latest


By Chris Gaerig
Associate Magazine Editor
In real estate, few things matter more

than the three Ls:
location. A gorgeous
house in an impover-
ished area (see Outer
Drive in Detroit)
won't sell as much
as it would if it were
elsewhere. Music fol-
lows the same logic

location, location,
Beth Orton
Comfort Of

- just replace geographic location with
timing. 2 Live Crew's album As Nasty
As They Want to Be pales in compari-
son to the raunchiness of the Ying Yang
Twins's "Wait (The Whisper Song)" or
David Banner's "Play." If 2 Live Crew
tried their old tricks nowadays, they'd
be pushed aside in the pile of moronic
sexuality that's currently overrun by the
likes of Lil' Kim's "How Many Licks"
and Big and Rich's "Save a Horse, Ride
*' Cowboy."
Unfortunately for Beth Orton, her lat-
est, Comfort Of Strangers, comes out
just after Cat Power's sprawling, South-
ern-inspired The Greatest and to a lesser
extent Fiona Apple's Extraordinary
Machine. Chan Marshall employed the
help of numerous Memphis studio musi-
cians to create The Greatest, the first
notable record of 2006. And while Orton
recruited her own team of superstars
Sonic Youth's Jim O'Rourke produced
Comfort Of Strangers and Tim Barnes of
The Silver Jews added percussion - her
efforts are still overshadowed by Marshall
and her collection of soulful croons.
When looked at separately from The

Greatest, though, Comfort Of Strang-
ers runs the gamut of Orton's singer/
. songwriter style without overstepping
her bounds. Her voice is as soft as a
satin sheet and lies delicately across the
acoustic guitar pluckings and intermit-
tent piano. And her lovelorn lines fill
the record with a gentle longing. As
she croons on "A Place Like That": "I
do still sometimes put my hand across
/ And imagine yours is placed on top /
Drive along these empty streets / Same
old ones they've always been."
While songs like "Absinthe,"
"Feral" and "Safe In Your Arms" fol-
low this same trend of forbidden sen-
suality and subtle guitar lines, Orton
lets loose with several tracks filled
with soaring pop melodies and an
upbeat attitude. The title track, "Com-
fort of Strangers," opens with brushed
percussion while Orton confidently
sings, "Say what you mean don't tell it
like it could be / All right this time I'm
gonna keep that in mind." And "Con-
ceived" rides a bouncing bass line and
twangy guitars as Orton blasts her
double-tracked vocals.
Comfort Of Strangers straddles the
line of sentimentality too closely for
too long to avoid it completely. Orton
repeats "Where is the love in your heart
/ C'mon put a little love in your heart"y
on "Heart of Soul" to its breaking point.
Besides, the track is buried at the end
of the record, which drives the listener
to the point where he nearly forgets the
gems that came before it.
But it all comes back to timing.
Comfort Of Strangers is a great record
that should bolster the scene of female
standouts - but will ultimately floun-
der in their shadow.

Fine Arts

Out of Nothing

For all of us with distant memories of Mitch's
before it closed down two years ago, we also
mourn the eyesore that still looms on the cor-
ner of South University and South Forest avenues.
While the oft-missed bar is moving across the street
(finally, but probably not until I'm gone), its previous
boarded-up second-story space remains seemingly
unoccupied and abandoned.
That is, until June. That's when the
University of Michigan Museum of Art
will move in, at least temporarily.
The museum's permanent space, Alum-
ni Memorial Hall, which rests prominently
next to Angell Hall and Tappan Hall, will
undergo a massive two-year expansion
- so massive that the museum will close
its doors to the public for construction.
Meanwhile, UMMA and its con-
stituents will scatter all over campus. Its ALI
administration in the Rackham Building G(
on East Washington Street, its perma-
nent collection in storage in various secret (yes, secret)
locations and finally, its featured exhibitions on display
across the street from Village Corner and New York
Pizza Depot.
The space might seem like an odd fit for a museum,
and it's certainly a departure from Alumni Hall. The
old building's 15-foot ceilings, Beaux Arts-style archi-
tecture and open-air feel make an adequate backdrop
for larger traditional pieces - such as the University's
Monet acquisition - and is as versatile as it is grand.
On the other hand, and on the other side of campus,
the museum's temporary space is best described as
snug - cozy enough that UMMA will only display

one special exhibit at a time'and none of its permanent
works. In contrast, the museum currently has four spe-
cial exhibits on display, in addition to a portion of its
own collection.
The smaller space also requires a different
approach to the art of art display. UMMA officials
have decided not to fight the "urban" atmosphere of
the former bar - brick walls, air ducts
and metal ceiling supports will be left
exposed. The look, according to UMMA
director James Steward, is reminiscent of
an "industrial warehouse:"
But not any ol' painting, mural or sculp-
ture will work in this temporary space. To
match its modern settings, UMMA has
planned a series of exhibitions all linked
to perhaps the most contemporary of all
media: photography.
ON The effort can be described as anything
from obvious to genius, but I also can't
shake how perfect it all is. The space itself,
on a practical level, is almost too good to be true -
above-ground, only slightly off-campus, near parking
and equipped with a loading dock.
And by exploiting the limitations of its new home,
the museum can now experiment with innovative ways
of displaying progressive art. Smaller in scale and less
susceptible to unreliable climate control, photographs
and moving images will complement the relatively
claustrophobic site. It will also help usher in the next era
for UMMA - one that will officially begin when its
shiny new extension opens in 2008.
In the meantime, standing in the clearly under-con-
struction temporary space, I couldn't help but feel a

tinge of excitement. Steward talked about the newfound
ability "to test out the modern aspects of the new build-
ing" and create a more inviting art scene.
Although its huge windows, are boarded up and the
drywall was still stacked in piles on the floor, I could
see exactly what he meant. The room clearly has the
potential to attract average students walking to and
from class - something the intimidating Alumni Hall
has never been especially effective at doing. The muse-
um will even extend its hours way past dusk - follow-
ing the example of New York's Metropolitan Museum
of Art, which has established itself as a viable and hip
option for couples on dates. A little Pizza House, bubble
tea, then a peek at the Iranian photography exhibit? The
possibilities are endless.
Although the space is only contracted to UMMA for
two years (with the option for extension), Steward didn't
write off the prospect that - if the timing, support and
money all fall into place - this temporary location
could be a permanent satellite gallery. Maybe couples
in the class of 2015 will be taking their sweethearts to
the museum instead of Palio for Valentine's Day. Not
that I would know anything about that.
For students who are here right now, these decisions
are best left for speculation until after the space's open-
ing - for all I know, the whole thing could be a horri-
ble failure (God forbid). But luckily for those of us who
care, UMMA took a risk and didn't completely shut its
doors - it just moved them for the interim.
So here's a toast - perhaps with Mitch's beer - to
the grand experiment.

During its expansion and renovation project, UMMA will temporarily
relocate to the former site of Mitch's. The site will eventually feature
exposed brick, air ducts and metal ceiling supports - reminiscent of an
"Industrial warehouse" - when it opens this June.


Go loves Bubble Island more than life itself
Ask her out on a date at aligo@umich.edu

'Revenge' a dish best served to those with no taste


By Caitlin Cowan
Daily Features Editor
Just when you thought the new-wave scene had gasped
its last synthesized breath, She Wants Revenge kicks down
the door and starts to drone their miserable, yet oddly

danceable gospel right into your ear.
Even though they emulate Closer-era
Joy Division or Interpol without the
skinny ties, for a few minutes, it just
doesn't matter.
By the end of the band's self-titled
debut, it becomes clear that DJs
Justin Warfield and Adam Bravin

She Wants
She Wants

through its 11 tracks. Yet even the album's best songs
sound like poor imitations. The hip-shaking confession
of "I Don't Want to Fall in Love" sounds like a sped-up,
drum-and-bass infused remake of Joy Division's "A Means
to an End." The guitar on the album's first cut - the echo-
ing mope-a-thon "Red Flags and Long Nights" - sounds
a little too much like Dan Kessler and Paul Banks's work
on Interpol's "Slow Hands" or "PDA."
No matter who they insist on ripping off on their way
up the charts, She Wants Revenge's first album is highly
stylized and undeniably fun. Considering the dire sub-
ject matter and hardline monotone that runs through
the album like a cold, still river, the fact the band has
received so much airplay on Sirius radio is a laudable
achievement in itself.
Still, after a year in which infamous new-wave reviv-
ers like The Killers and The Bravery dominated airwaves
and magazine covers like pale-faced, eye-shadow-wearing
warriors, She Wants Revenge has every reason to fear the
industry's saturation of bands that share a similar sound.
And unfortunately, they make themselves far too easy to

compare to every band that's come before and all the new
groups running alongside them.
But for all of the hype surrounding the group, work-
ing through an old Joy Division album or throwing on
Interpol's "Turn on the Bright Lights" would be more
fun - and less expensive - than listening to She Wants
Revenge's dismal facsimile.
It's a sad fact that naming names and digging into a
band's catalog to tease out their influences has become
a staple of rock criticism's ethics. Yet even if derivation
can be considered its own art form, She Wants Revenge
sounds more like copycats than innovators. It's one thing
to take something that was done in the past and turn it into
something new and exciting; it's quite another to do Joy
Division all over again, and not half as well.


aren't making any apologies for their influences. In
fact, they're not just trying to derive their sound from
the artists who came before them - in many cases -
they're downright copying their post-punk predecessors.
The record itself is well crafted, rarely hitting a slump

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