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February 17, 2006 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-17

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Friday
February 17, 2006
arts. michigandaily.com
artspage@michigandaily.com

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Courtesy of Doghouse

Cemeteries. Hot.

FUTURISTIC PLAY
DELVES INTO 'LIFE +
DEATH' AT DUDERSTADT
By Colleen Cox
Daily Arts Writer
FINE ARls PREVIEW
When contemplating 15th-century morality plays,
most people don't typically think of Virgil cyborgs,

Adams coasts, holds
out hope on latest

By Jake Montie
and Lloyd Cargo
Daily Arts Writers
MUSICR EV IEW
How will Ryan Adams be remem-
bered? The precocious media darling will
either be labeled a
brilliant songwriter Ryan Adams
who had trouble2
finding a singular 29
voice, or go down Doghouse
as an ill-tempered
burnout who blew his load with Heart-
breaker and spent the rest of his career
wallowing in shallow genre exercises.
With such concerns hanging over his
head, Adams opted for the concept-album
route with his third release in a recent del-
uge of albums, delaying final judgment
one more time.
Vaulting from youth to ... well, more
youth, Ryan Adams developed 29 around
the idea of leaving his 20s behind. Each
song represents a year in his third decade,
blessing the listener with nine tracks as
mercurial as Adams's famous temper.
The result is a startling combination of
what made Cold Roses and Jacksonville
City Nights so impeccably good. 29 is, at
times, a faint reminder of what Adams is
capable of while maintaining hope for a
brighter future.
Musicwise, Adams remains at least
partially stuck in the same rut he's been in
since his brilliant debut Heartbreaker -
exceptional music that hints at a grander

potential. The album's seventh track, "Sad-
ness," employs Spanish guitars that stand
out in the song's nostalgic depression. His
lyrics are often convoluted and prosaic, but
therein lie their charm. "Sadness" begs to
be put on repeat with its strange, splendid
lyrics such as: "I am the horror that brings
us to the morning / Where I will have to
stand up and fight God." The song seems
to unravel at a blistering pace, but at its
climax, listeners realize that nearly seven
minutes have passed.
The best track on the album is
undoubtedly the grandiose "Strawberry
Wine," an epic, winding journey through
Adams's attempt to come to terms with
his own aging process. In contrast to the
chaotic pace of "Sadness," "Strawberry
Wine" meanders leisurely through eight
minutes. His mellow voice and effort-
less musical talents allow the listener to
envision the ebbing tide of a rockstar's
life under the glare of a media spotlight,
minus the tragedy of it all.
But frustratingly, Adams still hasn't
found a way to convey these more complex
emotions with the verve of earlier clas-
sics Heartbreaker and Gold. Tracks like
"Twenty Nine" collapse under their own
weight and kill any momentum the album
builds. Elsewhere, "Starlight Diner" feels
rushed and underdeveloped. Hedged in by
"Sadness" and the funny, rambling "Caro-
lina Rain," the track just gets lost.
In fact, Adams himself seems a little
lost - only time will tell if he'll ever real-
ly find himself.

contemporary jazz and abstract
video. But in "The Museum of
Life + Death," an adaptation of
the medieval play "Everyman,"
conventional thinking doesn't
enter into the equation.
"Museum," which is play-
ing at the Duderstadt Center
through Sunday, is set in the
distant future after the extinc-
tion of the human race, and fol-
lows the journey of Everyman
as he tries to prove his worth to

The Museum
of Life +
Death
Now through
Sunday
Free
At the
Duderstadt Center
Death. Revamped

for modern times, the play is a collaborative project
between Andy Kirshner, an assistant Prof. in the
schools of Art and Design and Music, and Mark
Anderson and Isabelle Kralj, who run Milwaukee
Dance Theatre, a professional theater company.
It arrives fresh to North Campus's enormous
video studio after its maiden performance in Mil-
waukee.
" 'The Museum of Life + Death' combines music
and theater in a way that not many people have seen
before," Kirshner said. "It integrates technologies
borrowed from film, but at the same time, I'm also
really committed to the idea of live performance, so
I am hoping to bring in the best of both worlds."
Combining computer animation, video and pho-
tography with a grandiose soundtrack, "Museum"
powerfully brings the distant future into the present:
Costumes are austere and the actors are eerily inhu-
man in appearance. Everyman, played by Anderson,
dresses in a gray suit and a white mask with a shaved
head. He does not speak during the performance, but
instead acts to prerecorded dialogue and music on a
nearly empty stage. Everyman's ambiguous identity
is more than his namesake - it's also his strongest

"The Museum of Life + Death" will play at the Duderstadt Center through Sunday.

asset, allowing literally everyone in the audience an
opportunity to relate to him.
The minimal cast and evocative score detach
the production from any sense of era or place,
providing an innovative twist on the reworking
of a play previously grounded in medieval val-
ues of piety and anti-materialism. The result is
stark insight into the struggle of recognizing and
accepting death.
"I used a lot of the original text, but a lot of
the ideas behind that piece had to be changed to
reflect modern times," Kirshner said. "One of the
strengths of writing pieces that take place in the

future - science fiction - is that (they) can com-
ment on the time you're in now. Things that seem
ordinary now can be selected and revealed through
science fiction."
But despite the play's dark theme, its content is
far from overwhelming gloom.
"It's funny, even though it's about death - there's
a lot of good sex jokes - and the question of how
we deal with our own mortality is something that
we all need to address in our lives. It's a way of
looking at death that we can handle, and it gives the
audience a way to look at death that's not terrify-
ing," Kirshner said.

I

California-based Limbeck
reconsiders notions of pop
By Caitlin Cowan
Daily Features Editor

In the current musical lexicon,
there's one term that strikes fear into

the hearts of aficio-
nados and critics
alike: pop music.
Pop has the ability
to incite disgust

Limbeck
Let Me
Come Home

in even the most Doghouse
forgiving of music
lovers. The expression has come to sig-
nify everything that is wrong with the
music industry today.
It's clear that the state of pop
music is worse than ever, as evi-
denced by the fact that some of the
most downloaded songs on iTunes
are obvious winners like "I'm N Luv
(Wit a Stripper) ... " by T-Pain &
Mike Jones and "L.O.V.E." by none
other than Ashlee Simpson, prob-
ably the last girl on earth who is
worthy of presenting her opinion on
the subject.
But thankfully, there are a few
bands who are delivering the term
"pop" back from whence it came -
back to a mythical place where Tom
Petty and the Beach Boys sip drinks
in a sunny yard with Wilco and Big
Star. That band is Limbeck.
Wrongfully condemned as just
another Urban Outfitters band,
along with London indie-pop rock-
ers Bloc Party and the dreamy trio
of Doves, Limbeck makes a strong
showing on their latest effort, Let

'"urtesy o" "Dgouse

Freaky.
Me Come Home. The third release
from the California natives is chock
full of delectable pop hooks, solid
guitar work and summery, alt-coun-
try seasoning.
Robb MacLean's scratchy yet
cheerful voice carries listeners
through a sunny roadtrip with songs
like "Everyone's in the Parking Lot,"
the languishing, dusty "Sin City"
and "Watchin' the Moon Rise Over
Town," a track that sounds more like
an old Mitch Ryder rock-out than a
recent indie release.
The album's only real downfall
is that the disc sometimes lapses
into repetition; too many of the
songs give off the same happy, pass-

the-sunscreen vibe. Granted, even
Limbeck's filler songs are typically
more skillful and exciting than the
vast majority of the Billboard Top
40 list, it's clear that the band has
got more to offer than an album that
is 40 percent fluff.
Perhaps one day "pop music"
won't evoke images of oiled-up,
half-naked women gyrating their
way out of thongs or whiny, overpro-
duced American Idol winners. One
day, "pop" might become credible
again. And if it's in the cards, Lim-
beck will be there to welcome the
movement with a line like, "We're
sittin' in a burnt-out car with a long
way to go."

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