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November 29, 2006 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-11-29

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8A - Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Clapton, Clapton,
where art thou?

By ANDREW SARGUS KLEIN
ManagingArts Editor
Nowadays, our relationship
with iconic rock stars of the past
is hit-or-miss. The Rolling Stones
aren't going to
rent a French **
chateau and
crank out The Road to
another Exile Escondido
on Main Street. Eric Clapton
B. B. King andJ.J..Cale
won't rock the Reprise
Regal like he ti
used to. And The Who, well, they
were never good.
We can't and don't expect our
heroes to be the same rockers
they were 30 years ago. It's not
fair and it's not plausible. The Red
Hot Chili Peppers are far removed
from BloodSugarSexMagik. Don't
even pray for another Highway 61
Revisited from Bob Dylan. As do
us normal folk, the gods of rock
must move on, lest they fall prey
to a novelty-act demise.
Eric Clapton. The man has a
rap sheet longer than ... something
really long. He riffed on "While
My Guitar Gently Weeps." He
thrashed with John Mayali and
the Bluesbreakers. He was in a
band with Jeff Beck and Jimmy
Page. He got down on his knees
and wept for George Harrison's
wife through Layla and Other
Assorted Love Songs. We know the
man has both soul and chops. At
least, he used to.
But Clapton has always been a
solo entity. He tried and failed to
join both the Beatles and The Band.
His approachjust doesn'tseem con-
ducive to group work. He's been a
lone wolf for as long as anyone can
remember, with a smattering of
fine collaborative efforts. His more
recent albums, Pilgrim, Reptile and
Me and Mr. Johnson are laudable,
middle-of-the-road efforts, but
they lack that ... that something.
Where's the woman tone from
"White Room?" Or the backbreak-
ing riff from "Layla?" The possible
exception would be 2000's Riding
With theKing, a heartfelt duet with
B. B King.
Without running counter to my
argument that we can't expect
our aging icons to be the men and
women they used to be, it has to
be said that there's a legitimately
high bar that musicians of Clap-
ton's caliber must reach. Coasting
isn't acceptable. Contemporaries
such as the White Stripes and The
Black Keys are pushing the blues
rock envelope that Clapton him-
self helped push in the '60s and
'70s. There's a tangible demand

Tor relevance, aniu lapton isu
coming out on top.
But that's been Clapton's modus
operandi for the past decade,
and his latest collaboration with
J. J. Cale is further proof. The
first four tracks off The Road to
Escondido (and pretty much the
entire album) contain absolutely
no shred of dynamic. The volume,
the tempo, the emotion: stagnant.
Clapton doesn't go for over-the-
top solos soaked with overdrive.
He holds his trademark Strat
tone to the T, but can't bring any
life to the tracks aside from a few
inspired riffs.
Cale is no stranger to Clapton.
The latter made solid hits from
covers of "After Midnight"fand
"Cocaine." Both tunes are full of
ol' fashioned Clapton at his best.
Cale has made his mark with a
smooth blend of blues, rock'n'roll
and jazz, and Clapton wades
into the mix effortlessly. But the
product is just that: smooth and
glossed over. The beats are plac-
id, the chord changes lacking in
What are we
to do with our
aging icons?
vigor. The vocals are quiet and
unadorned with emotion. It's a
completely listenable album - for
a laid back shindig over the holi-
days, that is.
No, Clapton isn't supposed to
recreate his old sound. His days
with Cream are no more. We won't
hear another "I Feel Free" and
its deliberately out-of-key solo.
No. What we want is evolution.
Divergent evolution. To his credit,
Clapton constantly attempts to
reconsider his role in contempo-
rary music. And he's going to keep
at it, selling plenty of records along
the way to his loving fans that
don't mind his borderline parlor
act. But damn, he could give us so
much more.

WARNING: Combination of pussy, pussypussy and marijuana may result in adverse side effects including dizziness, hyperactivity and nausea.
_ ERT PREV.W
BraKzl t teC Pig
ELECTRO-POP ROCKERS TO BRING ECLECTICISM TO ANN ARBOR

By PRIYA BALI
Daily Arts Writer
Picture Bermuda meeting New York City.
Although it's an overwhelming mix, the Brazil-
ian Girls manage to weave
in the essences of both Brazilian
atmospheres. The band Girls
will make its debut in Ann
Arbor as they take the stage Tonight at
of The Blind Pig tonight at 10 p.
10p.m. $15
The band has been tour- At The Blind Pig
ing in support of their new
release Talk to La Bomb, and before the band's
stop in Ann Arbor, Washington D.C, Chicago
and Minneapolis will have already savored the
taste of the Brazilian Girls. The Brazilian Girls'
musical flavor is melded into electronica, pop,
rock, reggae and jazz.
"It's eclectic, all of the above," bassist Jesse
Murphy said.
The romantic mysticism and lulling quality
reminiscent of early Blondie is striking when
it contrasts with the edgy and exotic nature
familiar to the alternative rock band Garbage.
This retro-to-modern quality shows this is a
band capable of maintaining a contemporary
relevance amid a swirling indie scene.
Talk to La Bomb is an appropriate sequel to
their first self-titled album because it contin-
ues making creative and raw sounds commit-
ted to communicating with a diverse audience,
only this time it takes sexy to a higher level. The
fusion of electronic beats mixed in with the pul-
sating rhythm of their voices creates a desperate
need for dancing.
The poetic characteristics of anaphora and

imagery featured in the Brazilian Girls' songs
are especially noticeable in "Me Gustas Cuando
Callas," based on a poem by Pablo Neruda.
"Sometimes it's extremely temporal, some-
times it's some kind of regression or an older
experience," Murphy said. "Some come from
breakups, sudden epiphanies - its really a
mix."
The band members' backgrounds are equally
as eclectic as their music. Lead vocalist Sabina
Sciubba, born in Rome and raised in Munich,
sings in English in addition to four other lan-
guages. Bassist Jesse Murphy, keyboardist Didi
Gutman and drummer Aaron Johnston all con-
tribute to the band's distinct sound through
their backing vocals. Murphy and Johnston are
from California and Kansas, respectively. Gut-
man is a Buenos Aires native. It was New York's
explosive music scene that brought the multi-
cultural foursome together in 2002.
Nublu, a club known for an atmosphere where
other musicians, designers and writers thrive,
became the band's home.
"The band came together really effortlessly
and quickly," Murphy said.
When not on tour, the band plays often at
Nublu with Wax Poetic and Suite, from whom
much of their creative inspiration springs.
According to Murphy, the idea of their name
was hatched at Nublu, where an actual Brazil-
ian band played and where Brazilian girls began
coming to their shows.
Whether it's in English, Spanish, French,
German or Italian, their music has something
for everyone. And don't worry about knowing
all of the languages. Commenting on their song
"Sexy Asshole," Murphy admitted that even he
hasn't fully translated the German lyrics.

"Maybe its about Sabina's father," Murphy
jokingly said.
"Maybe it's even aboutmy father,"he laughed.
"Sometimes the most important thing is to not
understand it and get lost in the music. It's cer-
tainly easy to appreciate music whether you
understand the words or not."
The Brazilian Girls prove that doing so is pos-
sible even when songs break the norm by using
nonsensical words. According to Murphy, the
song "Jique" "is this thing you always want and
think it's going to totally satisfy you, and it does
for a second and then it goes away." It may be an
invented word, but it's certainly real to the Bra-
zilian Girls. The band gives more credit to the
sound of their music rather than the degree of
reality it possesses.
Some songs may take less time to decipher,
and in the case of "Pussy" won't take any need
to decipher at all. Murphy claims that the song
was written in two minutes and the chorus
"Pussy Pussy Pussy Marijuana" was inspired by
two obvious things.
Concertgoers can expect improvisation out-
side of their usual repertoire. If it's not Sciubba's
glittery eye-masks or dark veils (worn to main-
tain a sense of mystery), then it's the band's
eccentric nature to be most comfortable when
the audience members take off their clothes.
So what makes the Brazilian Girls the Brazil-
ian Girls?
The title of the band isn't important. At the
end of the day, no one cares if any of the mem-
bers are Brazilian and only one of them is a girl,
what matters most is that you appreciate the
music for what it is, if not in five different lan-
guages, then at least in one that you most iden-
tify with.

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