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March 20, 2008 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-03-20

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2B - Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Picking one and one apart.

The Daily Arts guide to
upcoming events
Today 3.20.08
Face-to-Face: Bruno
Monsaingeon and
Photographer Peter
7 p.m.
At East Quadrangle Room126
Tomorrow 3.21.08
Looks Given /
Looks Taken
8 a.m, - 5 p.m.
At Institute for the Humanities
Exhibition Space (room 1010)
Man Man
9:30 p.m.
At the Blind Pig
$10/advance, $12/day of,18+
Saturday 3.22.08
The Full Monty Presented
by Musket
8 p.m
At the Power center for the Performing
$7/students, $13/others
Patty Larkin
8 p.m.
At The Ark
Enchanting Ruin Art
Exhibit: Tintern Abbey
and Romantic Tourism in
10 a.m.
At the Harlan Hatcher Grad Library, 7th
Sunday 3.23.08
"Inge Morath and
Arthur Miller: China"
Presented by UMMA
10 a.r;
At 1301 South University
Please send all press releases
and event information to

Not just one-hit

Wale's signing of a joint label deal with Inter-
scope and Mark Ronson's Allido Records is impor-
tant for two reasons. First, the simple fact that
Wale, who has a Gilbert Arenas-size presence in
the nation's capital, done got signed! Second, and
more importantly, is the fact that we now have a
timetable for what is sure to be an earth-shatter-
ing moment when the album drops next fall.
Wale has an impressive record for someone who
was unsigned until last week. With only a couple
of mixtapes under his belt, Wale has nonethe-
less performed on the MTV Video Music Awards,
toured with Justice, collaborated with Lil Wayne
and BunB, and established some kind of relation-
ship with Nike after his ridiculously triumphant
"Nike Boots" single.
"Back in The Go Go" continues to up the ante.
Producer Best Kept Secret unleashes a dynamite
and noticeably overstuffed beat with breakneck
drum rolls, record scratches, sped-up chants and
xylophone - pretty much anything he can get
his hands on. And yet amazingly, Wale cuts right
through it with top-dog bravado and more hockey
references than, well, probably any hip-hop track
ever. Bun B and Pusha T similarly deliver confi-

dent, witty verses that match the force of the jam-
packed production.
For those unfamiliar with Wale, "Back in The
Go Go" is as good a launching point as any of his
other singles. It shows his knack for pop refer-
ences, honed lyricism and flow that should make
Kanye extremely jealous. And then of course
there are the ubiquitous D.C. references: "DC hip
hop get my U street on / Cops acting funny see /
They get their Blue Streak on." Wale's emergence
will certainly jump start a once faltering D.C. hip-
hop scene, but don't be surprised if it changes the
entire hip-hop landscape in the process.

Daily Music Editor
Chumbawamba. Yeah, that's
right - the "Tubthumping"
band. The group responsible
for one of the most obnox-
ious guilty-pleasure, one-hit-
wonder singles in pop music
history. "Tubthumping" was
maddeningly ubiquitous in
1997. The irony of the song's
massive success was never
lost on the band that wrote
it from a radical perspective.
Fans still debate whether the
song is about the drudgery of
wage slavery interrupted by
weekend bouts of drinking or
the Irish Troubles. The con-
textualizing liner notes were
removed from the U.S. release
of Tubthumper, but make no
mistake: Chumbawamba is an
anarchist, radical band.
If you would be so kind
as to direct your attention
to the release date of Pic-
tures of Starving Children Sell
Records, you will notice that it
appeared a full 11 years before
Tubthumper. Released on CD
in the early 1990s as half of
the compilation First 2 LP's
(along with the follow-up, the
equally vitriolic Never Mind
the Ballots), and originally
on vinyl in 1986, Pictures is
Chumbawamba's savagely
biting debut full-length. The
albu iis a critique of the per-
ceived hypocrisy of the ultra-
hyped Live Aid festival, Live
8's predecessor.
Pictures of Starving Chil-
dren Sell Records begins with
the sprawling "How to Get
Your Band on Television." It's
a sort of manifesto, attack-
ing the "fashion for charity,
not change" mentality. The
track builds slowly, beginning
with a character introduced
as "the boss of the company"
explaining the "economics of
supply and demand." After a
few samples of old pop music

MARCH 19-20

Check it out at

and opening beer cans, the
8-minute track launches into
its second part, a dramatized
variety show on which the
major pop stars of the time
are called out by name, one by
one, for complicity. Musically,
it shifts from driving game-
show music to slow, mournful
acoustic guitar.
And it only getsbetter. "Brit-
ish Colonialism & The BBC" is
an indictment of sensational-
istic news coverage, backed
by hand drums and a groovy
bass line. The track itself is
deceptively chilled-out, given
the subject matter. "Unilever,"
with its sharp snare hits and
smooth distortion, gives some
You know
their name, but
not their
indication of the band's future
as (temporarily) an electropop
band, but also, through speed
and descending bass riff, man-
ages to be one of the punkiest
tracks on the record. "More
Whitewashing" is catchy,
qgoet-loud pop rockp with a Fat
Wreck Chords-worthy final
blast. "Dutiful Servants and
Political Masters" opens as a
calm, sarcastic narrative, but
ends with one of the band's
few forays into true hardcore,
with vocalists Alice Nutter and
Danbert Nobacon screaming
breathlessly over each other.
The album ends with "Inva-
sion," a pounding, acidic rant
against colonialism and capi-
talism, with a laid-back, reg-
gae-style interlude and final
call to action.
Pictures of Starving Chil-
dren Sell Records has aged
amazingly well, and has far
more to offer present-day lis-
teners than the inevitable
"Holy shit, this is who, again?"
response. At the peak of fash-
ionable punk - not to mention
Margaret Thatcher's tenure
as British prime minister -
Chumbawamba managed to
put together a record with an
undeniably punkish DIY ethic
and uncompromising politics
while pushing themselves for-
ward musically. I'm not sure if
the album's still-current sound
is due to Chumbawamba's tal-
ent or to the stagnancy of the
punk-rock genre, but either
way, it works.
The band avoids the rep-
etition of unrestrained, vague
rage that plagues a lot of politi-
cal punk, opting instead to
embrace catchy pop hooks and
tongue-in-cheek irony. Take
"Commercial Break" for exam-
ple. The song is a spoken-word,
almost nursery rhyme-style
track that's an obvious pre-
decessor to Propagandhi's "A
Public Dis-Service Announce-
ment from Shell" - but it's
a decade older. The album's
little bits of borrowed sound -
samples of songs, commercials
and Nobacon vomiting wetly
- give Pictures a collage fee

It's the musical equivalent of a
Crimethloc. flyer.
So what happened to Chum-
bawamba after "Tubthump-
ing" launched them to
international fame? Frankly,
not a lot. They continue to
make music and experiment
with various genres, having
released the beats-heavy Un in
2004 and the folk-inflected A
Singsong and A Scrap on their
own label in 2006. And after
25 years, they're still one of the
most politically radical groups
in rock, whether you know it
or not.





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