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January 09, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-01-09

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, January 9, 2009 - 5

Two discs prove
to be too many on
Soundtrack's latest

By DAVID RIVA
Daily Arts Writer
From the opening riffs
of Communion, one thing is
brutally obvious: The Sound-
track of,
Our Lives **%
embraces
all things The
rock'n'roll. Soundtrack
Its vin-
tage, clas- of our Lives
sic-rock C
mindset
separates Universal
it from
most contemporary bands.
Some might consider the
style outdated, appealing
only on long-play recordings
and in sports arenas, but in
TSOOL's case, maintaining
a similar sound to its prede-
cessors is an integral part of
its identity. Its anachronis-
tic music is like an endless
tribute to the forefathers of
rock'n'roll.
On Communion, a two-
disc offering, TSOOL
continues to wear its influ-
ences on its sleeve. South-
ern rock is channeled
through the album's first
single "Thrill Me," which
displays a driving melody
reminiscent of ZZ Top and
accompanied by lead singer
Ebbot Lundberg's growling
shout. "Fly" follows, and it
immediately contrasts its
predecessor, opening with
a folk-rock guitar line that
reeks of counter-culture
hippie-ism. The '60s vibe is
brought full circle through
feeble vocals, with lines

like "Please / give me sec-
ond grace." A robust horn
section provides a full, ele-
vating sound that gives the
song a soaring quality that
aptly fulfills its title.
But with every success-
ful reproduction of classic
rock glory comes an equal
failure. "Just A Brother"
experiments with one too
many instruments and
jumbled synth drones,
none of which produce
any discernible melody. It
comes out like '70s prog
gone wrong (if prog were
ever right in the first place).
"Distorted Child" is a mud-
dled mess of disfigured

with a daunting pipe organ
bellow. A chantingchorus of
"Don't worry / Stop hurry-
ing / Get on with your life /
It's not too late," shows Lun-
dberg's knack for sporadic
one-liners. On the whole,
however, Communion is
much more notable for its
music than its lyrics.
At an exhausting 24
songs, Communion's length
is questionable, especially
when considering tracks
like "Digitarian River-
bank," an instrumental
number that exhibits solid
musicianship but adds
nothing to the record that
it didn't already have. The

vocal
hacke
contr
poor
the fir
A
e]
C1
r(
"Ut

s and sloppy guitar disc could've done without
ry. Its frantic, out-of- much of the similar filler
ol tempo renders it a that bloats its length to a
selection to close out completely unnecessary 93
-st disc. minutes.
The Soundtrack of Our
Lives could easily be criti-
cized for its classic rock
lopsided tendencies and disregarded
rtf as a band trying tobe a part
ffort from of something that ended
three decades ago. But that
assic rock would be an unfair attack.
. . Throughout Communion,
evivalists. TSOOL never confines
itself to one single style and
doesn't shy from occasional
experimentation. TSOOL's
opia" starts off prom- ability to channel its influ-

"Did you look this distinguished when you were 10? Didn't think so.'

Agin g racefully

isingly with a few ambitious ences without copying
opening bars, but it's void them is commendable, but
of a memorable guitar riff the album is exhausting
and never really gets off the and far too many songs fall
ground. Luckily, the album's short. Still, the few invigo-
final song, "The Passover," rating stylistic explorations
is a triumphant closer. It are just enough to bring
begins with a shy bongo the disc up to a respectable
rhythm that crescendos standard.

Pitt shows he's jamin Button" takes the con-
cepts of age and experiences
more than a and turns them on their heads.
The film, inspired by F. Scott
pretty face in epic Fitzgerald's short story of the
same name, follows the life of a
fantasy flick man whose physical appearance
*ages in reverse. Born a wrinkly
By ANNIE LEVENE and feeble-bodied infant, Ben-
Daily Arts Writer jamin Button (Brad Pitt, "Burn
After Reading") grows younger
It's human nature to second- each year. The phenomenon
guess. People tend to look back makes him an obvious outsider,
on their lives quite unlike the other children
and wish for around him. While Button's
do-overs,sec- backwards descent into youth
and chances The Curious certainly affects his various
or the fore- travels and experiences, it's his
sight to Cas5 Of relationship with the beautiful
understand Benjamin Daisy (Cate Blanchett, "Indiana
the conse- Jones and the Kingdom of the
quences of Button Crystal Skull") that most deeply
their actions. At the shapes who he is and who he
After all, Michigan wants to become.
Rod Stew- Films that span a character's
art sang it Patanount lifetime typically employ sev-
best, "I wish eral actors to play the character
that I knew what I know now, at different ages. But "Benja-
when I was younger." Infants' min Button" director David
minds begin blissfully unaware Fincher ("Zodiac") wisely goes
of anything, especially the life a different route here, employ-
experiences that will eventu- ing some of the most advanced
ally make them who they are. CGI effects available to add and
People grow up and out; or remove years from the actors'
that's how it usually goes. faces. This approach makes a
"The Curious Case of Ben- 20-year-old Pitt and a 70-year-

old Blanchett look credible - a
feat, considering that these
superstars' faces are recogniz-
able worldwide. Some effects
are misses - the 80-year-old
incarnation of Benjamin But-
ton is eerily Gollum-like - but,
for the most part, the effects
are believable.
Aside from the visual effects,
the most engaging element of
"Button" is, unsurprisingly,
leading man Pitt. Primar-
ily known for his heartthrob
appearance, Pitt spends a sig-
nificant part of the film looking
less than beautiful. But as the
audience comes to discover, it's
really only Button's body that
changes significantly over time,
not his demeanor. Pitt plays
Button as the eternal optimist,
whether seven or 70. Pitt's eyes
shine whimsically through the
CGI effects, showing how But-
ton's outsider appearance has
little to do with who his real
character is.
"Button" also benefits from
a gifted supporting cast. One
standout is Taraji P. Henson
("Smokin' Aces"), as Queenie, a
servant at a nursing home who
takes in the abandoned But-
ton and raises him as her own.
Henson's loving portrayal of

a woman who believes in the
power of fate reveals an endur-
ing theme of the film: Even
though Button's fate is set - he
can't change how he ages - he
still aims to live every moment
to its fullest.
Perhaps the most interesting
aspect of this re-imagined ver-
sion of Fitzgerald's story is the
interactions between the char-
acters and the time periods in
which they live. There would
have been no way for Fitzger-
ald to predict the trends of the
'50s, '60s and beyond, but the
film provides apt depictions of
the changing eras. It's fasci-
nating to see how a character
engineered in the '20s func-
tions in a more modern society,
and Fincher is able to create a
world and circumstance that
allows Button to remain true to
his most endearing quality: his
love for life.
"Button" isn't perfect. The
length alone is more than
enough to deter many casual
moviegoers, but it is certainly
one of the all-around best-
produced films of 2008. Its
message is hopeful, its story
is touching and, like Button's
own life, its ending is surpris-
ingly satisfying.

Band members: six. Band members prepared for this photo: zero.

Best of A2 hit the Pig

By SARAH CHAVEY
Daily Arts Writer
If you pay any attention to the
local Ann Arbor music scene, you
already know
about this con- The Hard
cert. But if you
don't frequent Lessons
the Blind Pig, this and My
weekend's gigs
will make for the Dear Disco
perfect intro- At The
duction to one of Blind Pig
Ann Arbor's most
famous venues. and m Tonight
The Pig's double
bill presents two $15 at the door
Ann Arbor favor-
ites, My Dear Disco and The Hard
Lessons, in what is sure to be a
standout weekend of shows.
My Dear Disco is a solid staple of
the local music scene, well-recog-
nized around campus for playing
at student events like the Groove
show. The band's energetic perfor-
mances and unique sound make it a
crowd-pleaser for fans of all genres.
And don't be put off by the name;
this Disco is less Travolta in tight
white bell-bottoms and more indie
rockstar in a spacesuit.
Front woman Michelle Cha-
muel's smooth vocals blend seam-

lessly with endless layers of electric
guitar and keyboards atop perfectly
orchestrated beatsthatmake ithard
to resist hitting the dance floor. The
nod to retro disco style gives MDD's
sound an ironically modern feel.
And while it's hard to serve up disco
sans cheesiness, through MDD's
synth and percussion shines a soul
that only the passion of real musi-
cians could pull out of electronic
dance tunes.
2008 brought MDD's Dance-
think LP which included fleshed-
out tracks from the band's earlier,
shorterEP.The fresh material bodes
well for the upcoming concert and
should allow the band to serve up a
good mix of old and new.
The Hard Lessons isaband worth
bravingthe cold for in its own right.
Though sporting decidedly differ-
ent sounds, the two bands share one
thing in common: glossy, high-ener-
gylive performances that transcend
the power of the music itself.
The Hard Lessons also pull
from the past, blending classic
rock structure with a post-punk
edge and an indie mindset. Similar
in sound to fellow Detroiters The
White Stripes, The Hard Lessons
maintain melody at a hard-rocking
level. Offeringboth male and female
leads, the strong, brazen vocals

match aggressive guitar and throb-
bing drums on the band's standout
songs like "Wicked Man." Others,
like "It Bleeds," break the madness
for glimpses into the band's softer
side. The chemistry between new-
lyweds Augie Visocchi and Korin
Cox is obvious from the beginning
to the end of any gig they play.
After its 2005 debut Gasoline,
the band followed with Wise Up! in
A powerful pair
of headliners.
2006 (any band that uses punctua-
tion in its album title is bound for
greatness). Last year, the Lessons
dropped B&G Sides, a four-disc set.
Because the band's repertoire is so
varied, its live performances are not
only exhilarating, but also consis-
tently interesting.
Whether you're into the glitz and
glam of MDD, the gritty substance
of The Hard Lessons or just looking
for some quality entertainment the
first weekend after classes started,
check into the Blind Pig to catch
this double dose of local flavor.

THE BIGGEST BACK TO SCHOOL
P STR SLE
10 '05 O
Where:
Michigan Union
Ground Floor
When:
Mon. Jan. 12 thru Fri. Jan. 16 le
TMme:e nd $9
10A .-7 RM
Sponsor:
x r .University Unions
Arts and Programs
ALL
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