The Michigan Daily - michigandaily~com h
Monday, February 12, 2007 - 5A
WITH TASTY ALBUM
By MATT EMERY
Daily Arts Writer
Whathas TheApples inStereo frontmanRob-
ert Schneider been up to in the five years since
the band's last album? Quite
a bit, actually - two side-
projects, some schmooz- *** .,"
ing with Elijah Wood and
others at Austin's SXSW Apples in
music festival, a solo per- Stereo
formance on "The Colbert
Report." Oh, and creating New Magnetic
his own music scale called Wonder
Music Scale" - and it's just
as esoteric as it sounds. According to Schneider,
it has something to do with creating new tones
with varying frequencies that "add according to
a different algebra from the traditional, rational
pitches. Music theory in this scale has not yet
been worked out." Whatever.
Unlike the group's last album, Velocity of
Sound, which had a personal, concert-ready
feel, New Magnetic Wonder is highly polished.
Schneider's production prowess, clear in his
work with Neutral Milk Hotel, has never been
cleaner: multiple layers and a heavy emphasis
on percussion and cowbells that would make
even Brian Wilson happy. The album is also
more grandiose than the band's previous work,
* featuring 14 "true" songs and 12 interludes that
No 'do re mi' for Apples in Stereo.
Schneider calls "link tracks." Unlike the other
link tracks Schneider placed in prior record-
ings, these sound vital to the overall composi-
tion of the album. New Magnetic Wonder crafts
a grand concoction featuring ELO-style vocals,
Neutral Milk Hotel-esque production and a new
edginess from the band.
Although "Apples in Stereo" might be bet-
ter known for comparisons to the Beatles, the
album's first four tracks distance them from
those stereotypes, and instead pick up new ones
that put them side by side with ELO. The opener
"Can You Feel It?" puts the new music scale to
use right off the bat, but it mostly sounds like a
cheap doorbell tone. ThentheELO-trademarked
computerized vocals take hold when the voice
commands the listener to "Turn up the stereo"
as the band stars to rock out with high-energy
wails and a call-and-response section backed
by computer-generated horns and a prominent
While "Skyway" exhibits more of the band's
cowbell/hard-hitting guitar-hook fetish, the
album's first single "Energy" borders on com-
pletely hokey Kidz Bop fair with schlocky lyr-
ics ("And the world is made of energy /And the
world is electricity") until its salvaged by gritty
guitar-slam segues and, you guessed it, more
cowbell. It sounds awfully phony - and it is, but
the song has so vocal ability behind it and a pow-
erful, quasi-drug-trip feel that it turns out to be
one of the best on the album.
It's these moments of hard-hitting, New Por-
nographers-rock that really distinguishes this
Apples effort from their past. "Sunndal Song"
and "Sunday Song" thrust Hilarie Sidney's
vocals to the fore, and just like with the New
Pornographers and Neko Case, it's a shame Sid-
ney spends so little time at the front of the band.
Still, her consistent, restrained voice adds a rare
glimpse into the real dynamic of the group.
Though the music scale should be a big deal,
it doesn't make much difference in the sound.
Take "Beautiful Machine Parts 1-4." Allegedly,
the eight-minute concerto-style piece brought
the entire work to a halt - yet it simultane-
ously sounds crisp and scattershot. The track
floats through high-tempo guitar strumming
and atmospheric wails until it's interrupted by
a Neutral Milk Hotel-like scene transition into
a lightly strummed ballad - then a loud, con-
fusing guitar mish-mash - before fading into a
Pop music doesn't get much better than this -
new music scale or not. All the outside hype with
Elijah Wood and Comedy Central would hint at
a band trying to nudge their way into the main-
stream, but as "Can You Feel It?" so eloquently
states, "Turn off the bullshit on the FM radio."
So maybe not. Either way, New Magnetic Won-
der is a peppy jaunt into what good pop music
can sound like.
looks high and low
By CATHERINE SMYKA people who think like me."
Daily Arts Writer The Collage piece he wrote,
for example, combined early-'80s
The audience at the eclectic influences such as Oingo Boingo
Collage Concert at Hill Audito- with other inspirational musi-
rium on Jan. 20 enjoyed a diverse cians Harry Partch and Gentle
group of performances and per- Giant. It was originally written
formers, including choirs, orches- as an "electronic playback piece"
tras and rock bands. - that is, not for live performance.
Only two of the show's pieces, He also adapted versions for both
however, were original composi- the soprano saxophone and a
tions, and one of them was written chamber orchestra.
and performed by Alex Temple, a While listening to other schools
second-year School of Music grad- and their composers - especially
uate student. when looking at grad schools -
Temple incorporates several Temple realized the University's
different forms and instruments music program and students work
into his music including synthe- in a distinct way.
sizers, electric guitar, voice and "Michigan composers are more
piano. While his experience in
Ann Arbor has only complement-
ed his composing, his passion for
music began far before his time at A student
the University and his undergrad-
uate education at Yale University. experiments with
When he was young, Temple
and his family began a series of dissolving genres.
House Exchanges that exposed
him to new music. Through the
House Exchange program, fami-
lies from around the world send in eclectic and more direct in their
information to a catalog about the music," he said.
location of their home and where Apart from the his experience
they would like to travel to. Those with fellow University musicians,
with similar ideas about the tim- Temple cites deceased compos-
ing of a trip are matched up and ers such as Schoenberg, living
switch houses, avoiding the cost composers like Scott Johnson and
of a hotel stay. bands such as SUU's, Henry Cow
"An Italian family had CDs in and Thinking Plague.
the house I had never heard," Tem- "Although,"Templesaid,"those
ple said. "I listened to Schubert listening to my music often hear
and the soundtrack to 'Thirty Two influences that may not have been
Short Films about Glenn Gould."' intentional."
Somewhere between listening Temple said film is the other
to his father play piano when he form he can most easily relate
was young and the Padua house to: "Films that are emotionally
exchange, Temple began to take ambiguous or contradictory, like
piano lessons and compose his 'Donnie Darko' - I try to do that
first pieces. in composing," he said.
When he was 15, a House As he begins his last semester
Exchange to France introduced of the two-year Music program
him to the Beatles's "Strawberry and considers plans for relocat-
Fields Forever." At that point, ing to New York, Temple hopes
"things really opened up." his music encourages students to
"My music combines incongru- push aside the "bigotry of looking
ous styles," he said. "I like to break at an entire genre in one way."
down alleged boundaries between "Boundaries between genres
high culture and low culture are bullshit," Temple said. "You
music." should judge music by the speci-
He also said the University has ficity of the work instead of the
influenced his music composition category it falls in to."
and that students seem to grasp
and think about music in simi- - To hear Temple's music
lar ways: "I've found a number of visit www.umich.edu/atemple/.
CBS's latest sitcom just following the Rules'
By IMRAN SYED
Daily Arts Writer
The sitcom has grown up.
the days when **
something Rules of
yuppies with Engagement
streak hung Monadys at
out at coffee 9:30 p.m.
shops all day cgs
Now, with shows like "Rules of,
Engagement," those yuppies are
older, married and, well, still scru-
tinizing the finer points of rela-
tionships. Sure, the characters and
their problems are more middle-
aged, but the craft is largely the
same - except robbed of the fresh-
ness and flair that can only accom-
pany an original.
"Rules of Engagement" stars
David Spade ("Saturday Night
Live") and Patrick Warburton
("Seinfeld") as guys in their 30s
who have prematurely embraced
the problems of midlife. Warbur-
ton plays Jeff, a bored, zoned out
husband who adds new depth to
the definition of deadpan. He and
his wife befriend a younger, recent-
ly engaged couple"
out of politeness.
Throw in Spade as
the drifting loner '
- sarcastic, face-
tious and without a
hint of a conscience
- and there's actu-
ally a cast that could
carry a show. SPADE
And for a while it seems like
they will. Warburton, drawing on
his understated genius on "Sein-
feld," is superb. He's perhaps the
best comedian you've never heard
of, effortlessly employing the high-
est form of deadpan. Stealing every
scene he's in from far more kinetic
actors, Warburton alone makes the
show worth giving a shot.
As for Spade, he plays essential-
ly the same character we came to
love on "SNL" and hate in almost
everything since. He avoids the
flat, almost masochistic self-depre-
cation that bogged down his most
recent roles ("Joe Dirt" comes to
mind), and he's good for many
Despite strong efforts from both
Spade and Warburton, "Rules" is
mediocre at best, even in a genre
where the bar is really not very
high. Recycling themes from a
handful of recent shows and com-
pletely ripping off the plot and
premise from "Til' Death," the
show is a shoddy result of unin-
spired and unambitious writing.
Relying on the one-to-two-
word punchline that got old in the
fourth season of "Friends," "Rules"
is also accompanied by an unusu-
ally intrusive laughtrack. Aside
from the fact that it's annoying, it
good chance "Rules" could be a
success. Wrapping up a popular
two-hour block of comedy (fea-
turing "How I Met Your Mother,"
"The Class" and the still-not-good
"Two-and-a-Half Men) and lead-
ing into consistent ratings-giant
"CSI," "Rules" doesn't have to do
much to stay afloat.
But just because the show stays
on the air doesn't mean we have
to watch, and the producer's of
"Rules" still have a long way to go
to make the show worth our while.
hinders the development of jokes;
a smattering of quick laughs keeps
the humor from ever rising to
higher levels. This is OK in a sit-
com with the razor-sharp wit of
Spade refuses to
evolve, but 'Puddy'
steals the show.
"Seinfeld," but it magnifies flaws
in stale material, like what's pre-
Despite its inanity, there's a
Uin iversity of mchidgasymposium"
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a ~ 1
Keynote Address by
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915 E. Washington, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Details and Registration at
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