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October 12, 2006 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-12

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2B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 12, 2006

the b-side

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Television
The (in)famous first husband of pop, Kevin
Federline, will guest-star in an episode of
"CSI" tonight at 9 p.m. The episode centers
on a series of tourist beatings that take
place on the Las Vegas strip. Federline
plays the bit part of Cole Tritt, an arrogant
teenager () who harasses agents on the
crime scene. The show has reportedly
been struggling for its usual high ratings
ever since ABC moved "Grey's Anatomy"
to the 9 p.m. Thursday slot as well. Let's
all bow our heads in prayer that no one
allows old K-Fed to rap for the duration of
the show, or else "CSI" might have to pull
more ratings stunts like these in the future.
MUSIC
What do a popular television cooking
show host and a hip twee-pop band
have in common? Absolutely nothing,
which makes Food Network personality
Rachel Ray's inclusion of a song by The
Boy Least Likely To on her children's CD,
Too Cool for School Mixtape for Kids,
even stranger. Ray apparently has quite
an affinity for The Boy's stylings, and is
a self-professed fan. Other artists to be
included on Too Cool for School are Janis
Joplin, Nellie McKay and Harry Nilsson.
The album will be released on Oct. 31.
Like The Pixies before them, The
Raconteurs are offering a special kind
of merchandise at their United Kingdom
shows this season: instant bootlegs. That's
right: Now fans won't have to smuggle
all of that bulky recording equipment into
the venue underneath their coats to get
high-quality bootlegs! Unfortunately, the
free bootlegs, while limited to a run of
1,000 per show, will lessen the demand
for illegal copies anyway. Each double-
disc CD will come with original artwork
specific to the show at which it will be
distributed. A KCRW version of the "Broken
Boy Soldiers" single will also be included.
The Chinese Ministry of Culture has banned
Jay-Z from performing his debut show
in the nation. The lyrics in many of the
songs the self-proclaimed CEO of hip hop
performs have been deemed too vulgar
for audiences by the Chinese government.
Apparently pimps, drugs, hos and violence
are too much for his intended audience.
Jay-Z, who is coming out of retirement on
a comeback tour, hasn't made any public
statements about the ban and doesn't
seem too concerned. It's not like he's worth
an estimated $320 million or anything.
CBGB night club will close the doors of its
historic New York location on Halloween
after its final concert on Oct. 15. The
club, which helped to make acts like the
Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith and the
Talking Heads household names, has been
a cultural fixture in Manhattan for more
than thirty years. Hilly Kristal founded the
club, whose full name is CBGB & OMFUG,
which stands for Country, Bluegrass
and Blues and Other Music for Uplifting
Gormandizers, in 1973. After issues about

Nick Drake (1970)
Bryter Layter
Island Records

By Caitlin Cowan
Daily Arts Editor
When a brilliant artist dies
young, to view their art through
any other lens than that of their
heartbreakingly short lives
often makes for an incomplete
picture. In the case of British
singer-songwriter Nick Drake,
who died of an overdose of anti-
depressants at the age of 26, his
death did not propel him into
fame in quite the same way that
the deaths of other young musi-
cians have.
Today, Drake is widely con-
sidered to be one of the foremost
singer-songwriters of his gener-
ation. It is his sheer virtuosity,.
his clean, dazzling guitar work
and his inimitably plaintive
voice, not his death, which has
earned him posthumous praise.
While he remains unknown to
the most of the world, he has
garnered a devoted following
among those fortunate enough
to stumble upon his music.
Bryter Layter, the middle
of the three exceptional if
unknown records Drake made
between 1969 and 1972, is a
beautiful, autumnal album.
Recorded when Drake was just
22 years old, Bryter Layter
is the clearest example of his
genius. His sweet falsetto soars
over skillful guitar melodies
and string accompaniments and
then, at other times, drops lower
to a rich, sonorous chest voice
that reverberates with longing.
Every song seems appropriate
for a different occasion, and yet
at the same time all of the tracks
work together as they paint a
red and orange watercolor of
the England Drake knew in his
time. The album begs to be lis-
tened to under a tree at sunset in
the countryside, much like the
Tanworth-in-Arden that Drake
knew growing up.
The glittering instrumental
"Introduction" sets the tone for
the album. Cellos and violins
swell and recede over Drake's
flowing streams of guitar pizzi-
cato. The tempo picks up on the
sunny "Hazey Jane II" before
rolling into the echoing, autum-
nal beauty and strings on "At
the Chime of a City Clock." The
undulating piano and delicate
chord picking on "One of These
Things First" gives the impres-
sion of looking out of a car win-
dow as the world rolls by.
Drake was a master of intro-
spective songwriting. He exper-
imented with a jazzier sound
on "Poor Boy," which has a
gospel-like refrain that repeats,
"Oh poor boy / So worried for
his health." Drake hid away the
magical, sparkling treasure of
"Northern Sky" at the end of the
album, coming in ninth out of
ten tracks. With is rainy, revela-
tory arpeggios
and pleading "Would you love
me through the winter / Would
you love me 'til I'm dead" cho-

rus, "Northern Sky" is one of
the most beautiful love songs
ever recorded.
The overwhelming feeling that
comes after listening to Bryter
Layter is similar to the feeling
of looking at a Van Gogh. His
desolate last canvas of a whea
field with crows fills one's heart
with a particular kind of elegant
desperation. Van Gogh's paint-
ings, which went unsold for the
duration of his life, and Drake's
albums, which saw almost nc
success while he was alive, beg
similar questions: How could
men like these go unnoticed ir
their time?
So many artists seek to affirm
their tumultuous lives through
their art. Drake was no excep-
tion. In the documentary "A
Skin Too Few: The Days of Nick
Drake," Nick's sister Gabrielle
said "A lot of young people have
found his music such a help
And that I think would have
pleased him so very very much
He once said to my mother 'Ii
only I could feel that my music
had ever done anything to help
one single person it would have
made it worth it."'
This is the charm of Nick
Drake, and indeed of the beau-
tiful Bryter Layter. While his
songs have since been used
somewhat inconspicuously it
everything from Volkswagen ads
to movie soundtracks from "Ser-
endipity" and "Garden State,'
Drake did not seek commercial
success. He instead yearned
for the validation that a fragile
young artist so desperately need-
ed. He just wanted the world tc
listen, if only for a moment, tc
his music. This fact coupled with
his tragic death, cast a shadow of
exquisite urgency over his entire
discography.
Drake would go on to record
Pink Moon, his third and final
album, on which he sang in a
broken voice, "Fame is but a
fruit tree / So very unsound ...'
He continues, singing "Fruit
tree, fruit tree / No one knows
you but the rain and the air
Don't you worry / They'll all
know / That you were here when
you're gone." What a shame it
is that Nick Drake never knew
how important his songs would
become for so many captivated
fans. However, he did leave
behind the seeds of his vision
in albums like Bryter Layter
which continue to bewitch lis-
teners with their unsurpassed
beauty.

A

If you're sick of your significant other
spending all of her time drafting her fantasyL
football leagues instead of hanging out
with you, log onto www.fantasymoguls.
com. Starting Oct. 27 the website will
allow users to draft movies to be released£
during certain seasons and earn in-game Courtesyofcbgb.com/hiphopreader.com/
dollars equivalent to the actual box-office TOP: Jay-Z. MIDDLE: Club CB odieobsess ecom
earnings of the films in real life during York City. BOTTOM: Rachael Ray.
their quest to become big-time Hollywood Y
movie CEOs. The rules are as complex least 20 musicians and acts that will play
and the game play entertaining as those simultaneous concerts in venues across
of fantasy sports. Best of all, its free. So the country. Some of the shows slated to
get out there and make yourself a star. go on are TV on the Radio and Grizzly Bear
at the Starlight Ballroom in Philadelphia
... and the Secret Machines at Soma in San
Diego. Other bands involved are Switchfoot,
Internet giant MySpace.com decided Jamie Cullum, Ziggy Marley, Alice in Chains
to spearhead an awareness campaign and +44, a band that includes 2/3 of Blink
genocide by creating Rock For Darfur, and 182's alums. A portion of the proceeds
organization that seeks to send a message will be donated to Sudanese crisis relief
about the crisis and a call to action to the organizations and rehabilitation funds.

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world through music and activism. On Oct.
21, the group has organized a group of at

MACDONALD
Continued from page 11B
more than a sequence of skits,
they're strung together far from
seamlessly, without any attempt
at a chronological or coherent
storyline. That scattered nature is
precisely their appeal, as effective
as a standup comedian leaping
from punchline to punchline over
the course of a two-hour set.
The true cinematic response to
our quick-hit tendency should be
the resurgence of the short film.
Shorts are the primary storytell-
ing form of film students - why
haven't these received a little
more mainstream Hollywood
treatment? Sure, you can get an
Academy Award with a short
film, but unless you're at a film

festival you can't get an audi-
ence. Movie screenings used to
come with newsreels or cartoons
beforehand, but only Pixar nods
to the old tradition by regularly
including an opening act with
their feature presentations.
Other than music videos
(the proving ground for visual-
minded directors and its own
sort of creative goldmine), the
Hollywood short is typically
relegated to the anthology film,
a movie composed of several
shorts with a common umbrella
theme. Often this showcases the
work of different directors, such
as 1989's "New York Stories"
(Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford
Coppola and Woody Allen) or
1995's "Four Rooms" (including
Robert Rodriguez and Quentin

Tarantino), although a format
combining so many different
visions can be dangerously hit
or miss. Last year's "Eros" went
painfully awry with the vast dis-
parity of its contributors' projects,
jumping abruptly from a poetic
Wong Kar-Wai fable to Steven
Soderbergh's ill-fitting scene in
a shrink's office to Michelangelo
Antonioni's embarrassing show of
euro-trash eroticism.
This omnibus form perhaps
works best as one director's
single-topic study, and has its
creative advantages. Rodrigo
Garcia's "Nine Lives," released
last year and criminally under-
rated, followed a group of
women's intersecting lives in nine
long scenes without the pressure
of filling in their whole narra-

- Compiled by Caitlin Cowan.
tive biography. In the comedic
direction, there's Woody Allen's
quirky "Everything You Ever
Wanted to Know About Sex *
But Were Afraid To Ask" (1971),
which allowed him to go from
medieval times to a game show
to the inner "control room" of the
brain with a Monty Python-esque
comedic freedom.
Hollywood is often accused of
sticking with the usual clichds and,
as a threatened industry looking
at decreasing revenues on a yearly
basis, it's probably guilty of typi-
cally going with established for-
mula. With an open mind, it should
instead take heart -there are still
plenty of directions to go.
- MacDonald can be reached
at kmacd@umich.edu.

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