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September 11, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-09-11

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com h

Friday, September 11, 2009 - 5A

Reaching for higher ground

By TIMOTHY RABB
DailyArts Writer
Here's the formula: A heart-
rending tragedy precedes an
unlikely friend-
ship. The friend- ***
ship is then
followedbymore Adam
tragedy and At the
finally, a pain- Atche
fully sappy and Michigan
ambiguous reso- Fax Searchlight
lution. Sound
familiar? It should, but don't
write this film off just yet. There
is a hopeful charm that carries
"Adam" to a higher ground than
that occupied by most romantic
comedies.
"Adam" follows a socially
defunct young man of the same
name (Hugh Dancy, "Confessions
of a Shopaholic") as he navigates
the twists and turns inherent in
daily life. The difficulty of these
obstacles, however, is exacerbat-
ed by his case of high-functioning
autism. Adam is a self-described
"Aspie" (a slang term for a per-
son with Asperger Syndrome)
who develops an attachment to
his beautiful, well-mannered
neighbor Beth (Rose Byrne, "28
Weeks Later"). Naturally, Adam's
shortcomings cause tension that
builds and eventually, in light of
several haphazard events, comes

to a he
All
"Adam
ingnes
lished1
unable
connec
audien
movie
hangs
betwe
work c
film I
genres
only se
tunate
rom-cc
Ar
t
USI
Hos
film's
ject m
ing. A
emotic
grasp,
him w
ality t
in ma
Dancy
of Ada

ad. executed. The character's dis-
in all, the mediocrity of plays of emotional volatility are
" is the result of its unwill- sincere enough to demand the
s to push any pre-estab- same empathy from the audience
boundaries. The film seems that Adam lacks.
to establish the vital social According to the film, the token
ction between screen and trait of a person with Asperger's
ce that every well-crafted is uncompromising truthfulness.
should possess. It also A key part of the film balances
in a precarious balance on this quality in Adam and its
en an enlightening, relevant moral implications. When Beth's
of art and another romance father is accused of adultery and
knockoff. The exhausted serious crimes against his busi-
conventions used in"Adam" ness clients, the hypocrisy of his
erve to highlight the unfor- subsequent criticisms of Adam is
condition of contemporary made remarkably evident. This
oms. should cause audiences to ques-
tion whether unwavering honesty
is really an undesirable and imma-
ture trait, or if it indicates Adam's
Sunexpected superior sense of principle. There
S the are moments in the movie when
W ist on t one wonders whether Adam's
ual rorn-corn. avoidance of needless small talk
and superficial social situations
is indeed a disability, or perhaps a
blessing in disguise.
wever monotonous the The movie's tendency to shy
structure may be, the sub- away from a firm stance on
atter is unique and engag- Asperger's syndrome is irksome.
dam's distinctly childlike It seems inconsequential to pro-
snal outbursts and brilliant duce a film in which a group's
of complex subjects endow shared traits are described in
ith an endearing person- full detail but where no opinion
hat wins Beth's heart and, is brought forward as to the true
ny cases, viewers' hearts. state of Adam's normalcy. "Adam"
's accurate representation is a work with a strong subject but
m's condition is brilliantly too quiet a voice.

This is what Jay-Z's dentist sees.

As cocky as ever

Jay
'BI
wit]

Coc
irritati
being a
a requi
relevar
no one
ceited
Carter
The
claime
est rap
and "
back in
Jordan
Since t
comeb
a marr
Beyonc
Jay-
a stat:
domin
laratio
beefs (
politic
his ca
Curren
(Death
even p
of rece
Is Bori
The
all-wh
ments
image
about
"D.O.A
with i
and a

-Z completes his chorus featuring Kanye West. Jay's
aggressive lyrics, "This is anti-
lueprint' trilogy auto-tune / death of the ringtone /
this ain't for iTunes / this ain't for
i a passing effort sing-a-longs," are instantly ironic
since West's entire last album 808s
By DAVID RIVA and Heartbreak was dominated
Daily FineArts Editor by the vocal-altering demon that
Hova forcefully condemns. It's an
ky people are almost always announcement that the whole rap
ng. In the rap world, though, world can't avoid. He's forcing both
rrogant and overconfident is artists and listeners to take a side.
rement for Should rappers be able to sing? One
nce. And *** spin of this convincing track and
does con- you'd be hard pressed to disagree
like Shawn Jay-Z with Jay.
. he .u In addition to this attempt to
self-pro- The Bluepnni 3 place rappers' focus on spitting
d "Great- Rock Nation rhymes rather than singing, Jigga's
per alive" also trying to set a permanent per-
Motherfuckin' greatest" is sonal legacy by comparing himself
full swing after his Michael to Frank Sinatra on both "Empire
i-like retirement in 2003. State of Mind" and "D.O.A." Yes,
then it has been non stop: a the assertion might be ridiculous,
ack album, a soundtrack and but basing his claim on the overall
iage to long-time girlfriend strength of catalogue, career lon-
c6 Knowles. gevity, deep-seated connection to
Z uses The Blueprint 3 as New York and careful collaboration
ement record to voice his selections, he certainly has a point.
eering yet compelling dec- Collaborations on The Blueprint
ns and opinions on celebrity 3 remain spot-on and range from
"What We Talkin' About"), the familiar (Kanye West, Phar-
s ("Off That"), the state of rell) to the obscure (Luke Steele of
reer ("Young Forever") and Empire of the Sun). It also includes
it musical trends ("D.O.A. a sprinkling of fresh faces (Drake,
of Auto-Tune)"). The album Kid Cudi). Jay has an endless pool
rovides a condensed history of artists at his disposal and has
'nt hip-hop emcees ("A Star honed his skill to choose the per-
n" ). fect person for any given track over
album's cover depicts an the course of his 11 albums.
ite collage of musical instru- "Empire State of Mind" is the
and equipment. It's an record's best example of this
that seems to scream "It's all impeccable ability to insert the
the music." The first single right artist to complete the overall
." confirms this sentiment feel of a song. The ever-so-classy
its penetrating guitar loop Alicia Keys lends her soulful pipes
wailing clarinet during the to this ballad about Hova's home-

town. The tasteful piano jingle and
grooving drumbeat propels the
track to a level that begs to be put in
the conversation of New York City
mainstays alongside Billy Joel and,
yes, Sinatra himself.
But despite The Blueprint 3's
many high points, it still features
a few duds over the course of its 15
songs.
Timbaland's unwieldy beats
and Beyonca's strangely compla-
cent chorus weighs down "Venus
vs. Mars," a love song about how
opposites attract. Unfortunately,
the magic that sparked unforget-
table efforts like "Crazy in Love" or
"'03 Bonnie and Clyde" hasn't been
rekindled.
Dragging tempo and muddy pro-
duction plague "Haters," which
marks West's only misstep on a
record chock full of his vocal and
production contributions. It's also
uncharacteristic for Jay to address
his dissenters in such a halfheart-
ed manner and the song seems to
underscore his endearing cocki-
ness.
Across the board, though, Jigga's
confidence is on par with previous
efforts as he decides "I don't run
rap no more / I run the map" and
concludes he's the "Only rapper to
rewrite history without a pen," in
his signature passive-yet-in-com-
mand voice.
Above all, The Blueprint 3 is an
announcement that Jay-Z is back
for good. "Young Forever" plays
off one of his many nicknames
(Young, in this case) and acts as a
closing statement. And with a line
like "I ain't waiting for closure / I
will never forfeit," it does seems
like Jay-Z will be making music for
a while.

"I have something to tell you: I fucked your brother while you were away."

Just another album for Yo La Tengo

By JEFF SANFORD
DailyArts Writer
For a band as creatively daring
as Yo La Tengo, it's a bit surprising
to see how little
thegroup'ssound
has changed
from album to Yo La Tengo
album. Despite
recording rel- Popular Songs
evant music for Matador
more than two
decades (and in
the fickle world of indie rock, that
makes the group as much a revered
dinosaur as, well, Dinosaur Jr.), Yo
La Tengo's career has been pretty
much the same since 1986.
History lesson: Yo La Tengo
released its debut Ride the Tiger in
1986. It was a critically acclaimed,
Velvet Underground-influenced
album that balanced hazy pop
daydreams with grimy garage
rock.
Now replace "Ride the Tiger"
and "1986" in the preceding para-
graph with any one of the band's
subsequent albums and its corre-
sponding date. What you've got is
a Mad Lib that accurately (if not
dismissively) describes the band's
r 20-plus-year career.
Popular Songs, Tengo's latest,
still sounds like the Velvet Under-
ground, still has a mixed bag of sun
and skuzz, and, in overwhelming
likelihood, will garner near-uni-
versal critical praise.
Normally, such career stagnancy
is a bad thing. But there's a reason
why Yo La Tengo has endured and
impressed for so long. What makes
Ira Kaplan and company so special
is that they don't need a career to
reshape and revitalize their sound

- all they need is an album.
Like most other Yo La Tengo
albums, Popular Songs is so eclec-
tic that the band seems to com-
plete a full career arc in the span
of 12 songs. The group slips natu-
rally from the melodic proto-punk
of "Nothing to Hide" to the cocky
funk swagger of "Periodically
Double or Triple" to the too-long,
meandering epics of "The Fire-
side" and "And the GlitterIs Gone."
And all of this (mostly) goes over
remarkably well, with the band
connecting the dots of disparate
genres with consistently solid
grooves and an unfailing sense of
melody.
Still, like just about all Yo La
Tengo affairs, Popular Songs con-
tains its quirks and surprises that
make it distinguishable from the
rest of the catalog. Most notably,
the use of Phil Spector-like string
'Popular Songs'
follows a
familiar path.
arrangements lends the album a
bright, pop gleam that was largely
missing from 2006's unfortunately
titled I Am Not Afraid of You and
I Will Beat Your Ass. At least on
the first nine tracks, this unusual
brightness makes Yo La Tengo the
most accessible they've been since
"Autumn Sweater."
The album's three closers are
all around or above the 10-minute
mark. It's a defiant move, and from
a band as fiercely independent as

Yo La Tengo, it's not surprising.
But that doesn't necessarily make
it work. The first of the three,
"More Stars Than There Are in
Heaven," is a slow-burn that plods
along, content in its own aimless-
ness. By the time the sparse and
unmoving"The Fireside" ends and
the feedback-laden "And the Glit-
ter Is Gone" begins, patience has
long been exhausted. And there
are still 15 minutes left.
Doubtless, Yo La Tengo is delib-
erately testing its listeners with
this epic row. But it's an upsetting
end to a largely admirable album
that, for Yo La Tengo fans, will
seem pleasantly familiar.
i -

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