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April 01, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, A pril 1, 2009 - 5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, April 1, 2009 - 5A

St. Louis's finest come
to Hill tomorrow night

"Moustache buddies 4 life!!!!"
Dying 'Tk
After the ubiquitous unnecessarily dingy sound, resulting in
a collection of unappealing faux-dance
success of 'Writer's tracks. The excessive use of migraine-
inducing synthesizers and disjointed
Block,' PB&J stumble rhythms prevents most songs from quali-
fying for any nightclub's playlist.
with their follow-up Opening track "The Feeling" tries des-
perately to be ironic with self-consciously
By DAVID RIVA dysfunctional instrumentation and lyrics
Daily Arts Writer like "I feel it / Can you feel it / There is
something in the air." But the absence of
Writing a hit song can be both a bless- a discernible melody renders the song an
ing and a curse. The unfortunate yet appropriate selection to
blessing comes in the commence an album that follows its lead.
form of paychecks The relentless use of a disagreeable drum
from advertisers dying PeterBjom machine grows increasingly irritating
to insert a memorable and tiresome throughout the record.
melody into their com- and John "Nothing to Worry About" is the lone
mercial. The curse Living Thing track whose danceable beats actually suc-
comes in the form of Almost Gold ceed. Substituting the gloomy mood for a
snobbish criticismfrom carefree chorus creates an impeccable
holier-than-thou pur- sing-along that flirts with the stickiness
ists declaring the band guilty of treason of "Young Folks." PB&J sounds refresh-
for selling out. ingly natural in this comfort zone.
Peter Bjorn and John's "Young Folks" Peter Bjorn and John look to their
is the archetype for this kind of song. It inner Vampire Weekend on the title
gave the world 2006's most whistlable track. An afro-pop melody is backed with
line, and the band received fat paychecks repeating baritone vocals over which lead
fromAT&T and Budweiser as a result., singer Peter Moren impolitely injects his
Instead of succumbing to the allure of falsetto whine. The ominous yet playful
only writing toe-tapping, juvenile love guitar line is not enough to rescue the
songs, PB&J found it necessary to rede- track from its vocal debauchery.
fine their sound - an admirable nmove Contrasting "Living" Thing," "Last
for a band attempting to maintain self- Nights" tones down the pipes almost to
respect and dignity. the point of nonexistence. The jumble
But on Living Thing, PB&J opt for an of randomly distorted drum hits sounds

like Phil Collins's "In the Air Tonight"
if it were played in an uninspired alter-
nate universe where monotonous synth
chords and vapid vocals were the musical
norm.
Complementing the record's dreary
tone and bleak subject matter, "Blue
Period Picasso" touches on the theme
of love lost in a world of gloom by refer-
encing the well-known stretch of time in
Picasso's career where various shades of
the same hue created works of misun-
derstood melancholy. The song is nearly
charming, but ultimately too predict-
able. Lyrics like "Trying to figure out /
how to get down / because this solitude
is bringing me down" are unsurprising
and contrived.
Everyone knows how to whistle the
opening line to "Young Folks," but many
people fail to realize the infectious track
was part of an excellent debut album of
unpretentious and clean songs. Living
Thing, on the other hand, feels sloppy and
manufactured. Attempts at experimen-
tation are reduced by the album's con-
stant clap-heavy drum machine beats,
which suffocate Peter Bjorn and John's
attempt to exhibit their mettle. By trying
to distance themselves from the dreaded
indie-pop genre, PB&J
end up neglecting their
previous record's more
listenable sound. 2

By BETHANY GIBBONS
Daily Arts Writer
Tomorrow night, conductor David Rob-
ertson makes his University Musical Soci-
ety debut with the Saint
Louis Symphony Orches-
tra (SLSO). The SLSO has Saint Louis
won six Grammys and Sympho
been nominated for 56 O
more. It attracts some of
the world's best soloists, Tomorrow
including Finnish cellist at 8 p.m.
Anssi Karttunen, who At Hill
has performed in more Starting at $10
than 90 world premieres
and travels with the SLSO
this week to Ann Arbor. Like the New York
Philharmonic earlier this season, the SLSO
is set to perform a magnificent array of
pieces at a world-class level.
But the SLSO isn't just another high-
end, globe-hopping musical ensemble. And
David Robertson, the SLSO's music direc-
tor, is no dry old man. According to Ward
Stare, resident conductor of the Symphony,
Robertson is energetic, creative and char-
ismatic both in rehearsal and in perfor-
mance. He is not only fresh and original in
his approach to older classics, but he also
stands as a recognized expert in 20th and
21st century music. Robertson champions
modern music and current composers,
mixing in newer pieces with more familiar
ones.
This Thursday, the SLSO will perform
"Good Friday Music" from Wagner's 1882
opera "Parsifal." Wagner is known for his
grandeur and pioneering influence on Euro-
pean classical music. This excerpt from his
last stage performance tells the story of a
knight's quest for the Holy Grail.
John Adams's 2001 "Guide to Strange
Places," the second piece in the program, is
distinct even in comparison to the contem-
porary composer's other works. The exis-
tence of fantastic pieces like it proves that
classical music is not dead. Here, Adams
creates a journey to a strange and wonder-
ful world with a mix of colors and emo-
tions, making for a powerful and unique
experience.
Bernd Alois Zimmermann's 1957 "Canto
di Spera za" includes no violins, and SibeJ-
ius's 1915 Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major,

Op. 82, was written during a crisis in his
career, balancing the modern desires of his
audience and his own artistic inclinations.
All of these pieces are exciting, dynamic
and entirely characteristic of the SLSO.
"They have a lot of heart and a unified
sound concept that is unique in orchestras
today," Stare said. "They have an identity in
their sound."
That identity comes from both a long
tradition as a symphony and the new,
energetic team that makes up the SLSO's
current staff. Their mission is to make clas-
sical music accessible and alive, especially
through the presentation of lesser-known
composers or pieces like those they will be
performing tomorrow night.
To show their dedication to the general
public, SLSO musicians give more than 250
free performances every year, many out-
side their home at Powell Symphony Hall
in St. Louis.
"It is important tobe as accessible as we
possibly can be to as many people as we
possibly can be," said Stare.
The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
is prospering, offering a great number of
free events in the last year. It's hiring new
Using new takes
on the classics to
be accessible to
all audiences.
staff, and its last holiday concert attracted
a much larger audience than expected.
Even in the midst of a recession, the SLSO
has made, compelling music available to
the general public - often for free - and
managed to make a profit at a time when
other orchestras are struggling to sur-
vive.
The SLSO is bringing modern music to
the fore - taking new interpretations of
well-loved classics while making the whole
experience attractive toa large audience. If
phat's not the mark Qf a great orclestra, it's
hard to say what is.

ARTS IN BRIEF

Film Review
'12 Rounds' of awful
torture
"12 Rounds"
The Mark Gordon Company
At Showcase and Quality 16
As if Hurricane Katrina didn't
damage New Orleans enough, in
"12 Rounds" the struggling city
now has to deal with the havoc
wreaked by psychotic criminal
Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen,
"Shanghai Nights") and Detective
Danny Fisher (WWE wrestler
John Cena).
Exactly one year after Fisher
captures Jackson and sends him
away to prison, Jackson manages
to escape. He comes back to New
THERE ARE
NO
OPENINGS
ON OUR
FINE ARTS
STAFF...
APRIL
FOOLS!
E-mail battlebots@umich.
edu for an application to
our hilariously clever
Fine Arts staff.

Orleans seeking revenge and entan-
gles Fisher in a deadly game of cat
and mouse in which Fisher has 12
chances to save his girlfriend. Nat-
urally the game results in plenty of
testosterone-packed chase scenes,
car wrecks and explosions.
Despite the fact that Gillen's Irish
accent comes and goes as it pleases
and John Cena is a total meathead,
"12 Rounds" is moderately enter-
taining. The implausibility of the
scene where Fischer unsuccessfully
tries to free an overweight elevator

operator from a doomed elevator
by squeezing him through a tiny
escape hole is oddly engaging.
And it's always exciting to watch
a man take down a speeding tram
Chuck Norris-style. Yet it feels
like all the movie's successes were
unintentional.
"12 Rounds" is nothing new -
it's basically a stale James Bond
movie - and it wouldn't exactly
be a tragedy if it didn't ever make
your to-do list.
EMILYBOUDREAU

On the Road to a Cure
17>
www.mrelay.org
Relay For Life
April 4-5,2009
Palmer Field
Celebrate. Remember. Fight Backl
Take Back the Night Rally and March
U of M Diag Thursday, April 2nd 7pm
Take a Stand Against Sexual Violence
**
*ftW
v~whdUin-wI

www.tbtnannarbor.org

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