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September 15, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - 5

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, September iS, 2009 - 5

Illustrating the sound

lbum art used to sell
music. Before music
preview blogs, before
Pitchfork, one of the primary
things that
spoke for the
music, besides
the music itself - ,
obviously, was
the illustration f
stuck to the
front of the LP, -
cassette tape or WHITNEY
CD. I specifi- POW
cally remember
being 12 and going to the record
store to pick up Oasis's Be Here
Now not because I knew any of
the songs, but because of the
album art.
The cover of BeHere Now
depicts a collage of images: a white
Rolls Royce sunken in the middle
of a turquoise pool of water, a
despondent-looking Gallagher
brother standing in the foreground
next to a European motorbike with
a gramophone aimed at him. The
surreal imagery, I think, is what
sold me. I assume that many oth-
ers have experienced the thrill of
strongly associating an album's
musical twists and turns with the
images provided on the album
cover. One of my most vivid child-
hood memories is listening to the
intro crescendo of "D'You Know
What I Mean?" while I, in my
mind's eye, floated around in a sur-
realist landscape ofsinkingcars
and motorbikes.
While album covers try to sell
you their musical contents with
images, with time these images
really do begin to speak for them-
selves - they become iconic. You
can spot the pop-art banana on
The Velvet Underground's album
The Velvet Underground and Nico
from 50 yards away and still know
which album it is. And, similarly,
Chicago's twin Marina City tow-
ers on Wilco's Yankee Hotel Fox-
trot have become so iconic that,
when I recently found myself
in the windy city and looked up
to find those towers above me,
hinged on the skyline, the first
thing I thought was "Wow, those

are or
ists cl
by Ge
tial cc
ist. R
his p1
of am
- usi
The i
the m
on on
all tin
was t
the al

n the cover of YHF," not Similarly, the cover of Radio
w, those look a lot like corn Ethiopia by Patti Smith contains
" Because they really do. a striking image indebted to New
u wouldn't be surprised, York photographer Judy Linn.
that many bands have There's an almost a voyeuristic
wned contemporary art- quality present in the album art,
reate these iconic album where a skinny, waif-like Smith
es for them. Take Sonic sits on the floor in a windbreaker,
h's Daydream Nation - the looking away from the camera.
s's prominent candle was Linn was a close friend of both
from the painting Kerze Smith and her roommate, pho-
rhard Richter, an influen- tographer Robert Mapplethorpe,
ontemporary German art- and this intimacy can be seen
ichter is most notable for through the cover photo - there's
hotorealistic paintings in an odd sense of vulnerability and
h he emulates the imperfec- grace present in Radio Ethiopia's
of photography - the blur album art that perfectly matches
notion shot, the scratched the emotional frailty present in
ty of damaged negatives the album and the album's ballad,
ng careful brushstrokes. "Pissing in a River."
mage of the candle on Day- Album art is important not only
Nation, then, presents the to our immediate first impression
a's music visually, where of an album, but to the way in
Youth's purposeful, some- which we interact with the album
messy dissonance parallels as well, listen after listen. If it
with Richter's ability to weren't for Pink Floyd's cover art
ire the imperfections of pho- for Wish You Were Here, which
phy on purpose. depicts two businessmen shaking
other notable piece is the hands, one bursting into flames,
'of Sticky Fingers by The would the song "Have a Cigar" be
nearly as affecting? And similarly,
album covers themselves can
Visual art's become so iconic that we look at
them and are instantly transport-
ace in popular ed to the aural pathways of the
music itself. For me, the garishly
MUSIC, colorful cover of Magical Mystery
Tour by The Beatles instantly
takes me to the hot-green fields of
ng Stones. The album's "Strawberry Fields Forever."
orable photograph of a man's The visual and the auditory
jeans - complete with a are deeply intertwined in music
in the groin region -was albums. Even with the advent of
aived by Andy Warhol, the the MP3 and iTunes cover flow, it
minent pop artist of the still might be a better idea to go
and '70s. Sticky Fingers's out and buy the physical CD or
'reverberates with Warhol's LP just to be able to flip through
ture penchant for turning the liner notes and get the full
undane or odd into the musical experience. While music
c, from soup cans to car might be great, and art might be
es. On Sticky Fingers, we memorable, when the two are
an embarrassing, if not com- paired together, a whole new
lace happening emblazoned experience erupts from the scene.
e of the best rock albums of And why would you choose to
me. It seems like the band have one without the other?

She was involved in a botched drug deal with Justin Feagin.

'Sorority' sorrow

Big surprise: Sororities and
horror are an awful combination
Daily Arts Writer
"SororityRow"is amovieofsuchstunningawfulness
that it has to be seen to be believed.
Actually, on second thought, there is
absolutely no reason for anyone to 7)
ever see this movie, unless you just
want to hang your head sadly over $0wnty
the state of horror films today. Row
The story features five sorority
girls who are such broad caricatures At Quality16
that names really aren't necessary, and Showcase
as they can effectively be identified Summit
with one-word character traits -
either slutty, bitchy or goody-goody.
The five ladies (led by Bitchy) attempt to play a prank
on an unsuspecting boy, involving faking the death of
one of their fellow sisters (Audrina Partridge of TV's
"The Hills," who is far more convincing as a corpse
than a real person). After dragging out this unfunny
prank for far too long, the poor sister is murdered with
a tire iron and the other five girls make the world's stu-
pidest decision: to dump the body down a mineshaft
and pretend it never happened. Have none of them
seen "I Know What You Did Last Summer?" That
would make them a pretty rare breed in the world of
Greek life.
And wouldn't you know it: Eight months later,
there's suddenly a serial killer stalking the girls with
a heavily modified (read: covered in really sharp shit)

tire iron. Rather than go straight to the police (as they
should've done long before) the girls decide to engage
in behavior that, for anyone who's ever seen a horror
movie or just existed as a human being, is downright
stupid. In particular, nobody should ever wander off
in the dark while asking, "Hello? Is anyone there?"
That's a sure way to get killed. The film also features
not one, but two moments in which someone snaps at
the other girls to stop moping about the murders and
just go "back to the party!"
The sisters seem far more preoccupied with party-
ing and drinking than the fact that they murdered a
friend. With portrayals like this, it's no wonder soror-
ity girls get a bad rap.
The film is visually quite hard to look at, making
the experience all the more painful to sit through.
Each scene seems to have been shot with a weird sort
of graininess, which makes no sense in an era when
even the crappiest films are shot in crystal-clear HD.
The poor visuals simply make it harder to care about
any of the characters, seeing as the viewer can hardly
tell who is who. The sisters' boyfriends, in particular,
all seem to resemble each other, making it hard to tell
which collar-popped douche is getting stabbed with
the tire iron.
To compete with other films of the same ilk, "Soror-
ity Row" has to find a way to creatively kill off its main
characters. Sadly, most of the time the tire iron is sim-
ply shoved into different body parts, complete with
gooey sound effects. Ho-hum, been there, done that.
But redeemingly, this may be the only horror film in
which one of the leads is killed by a flare gun while
wrestling in massive amounts of bubble bath.
Of course, the killer in this movie turns out to be

rying to get at an unsettling
1 experience to advertise
bum, and, in fact, it sold the
nts very well.

Want to illustrate the album cover
of the soundtrack to Pow's life?
E-mail her at poww@umich.edu.

HPV Fct:
You boyfr
H PV-h

A strangely enjoyable 'Hospice'

By JOSH BAYER tially seem to laze by on sparse
Daily MusicEditor frameworks unveil themselves to
be lush fever dreams.
Hospice is an album's album. During an impromptu listen to
And it could easily be the downer the seven-minute "Atrophy," Sil-
of the year. Stark- berman's vaguely violent lyrics
ly chronicling a about castration threats and glass
man's angst as * bullets take center stage while the
he watches his ambient acoustics passively lull
wife empire from by. But with headphones and some
bone cancer in Hospice time, it becomes clear the music is
the'Sloan Ketter- Frenchkiss anything but an afterthought or
injg Cancer Ward, a vessel for Silberman's gutting
the record is an poetry. The album is like a "Magic
epic poem - an abstract narrative Eye" book for depressives, harbor-
pieced together through cutting ing dormant melodies in wintry
stream-of-consciousness imagery studio murk and icy guitar feed-
with raw confessional lyrics. back that doesn't whine so much
Establishing a clear-cut protag- as it weeps.
onist and immersing the listener in It's Hospice's largely funereal
what is essentially his nightmare, pace that makes its erratic sonic
Hospice boasts a narrative ambi- booms all the more rewarding.
tion that is incredibly refreshing in The album is all about context
today's let's-be-cute indie world. and juxtaposition, clambering
The lyrics possess a standalone along with a nervous energy of
quality and truly deserve their unpredictability, using its wint-
own rating (and CliffsNotes). ing restraint as a loaded spring for
Musically, Hospice is built like a its louder, more upbeat moments.
pressure cooker. Slapping togeth- The surges of straightaway rock
er chiming, straightforward pop during the choruses of "Sylvia"
with avant-garde tangents and and "Bear" are ejaculatory when
melodies shoe-hazed by glitch sandwiched between the sleepy
and drone, the album assumes wallow of warped dirges ("Wake")
a hauntingly unstable swagger and swirling ambiance ("Thir-
that chafes icily with the pro- teen").
tagonist's desperation. Intricate "Kettering" builds an uncanny
melodies and arrangements sulk pressure while Silberman sings
deep in the mix, wisping around about a significant other being
frontman Peter Silberman's amor- hooked up to tubes "singing mor-
phous tenor like a dense fog. Upon phine alarms out of tune" in a
repeated listens, songs that ini- velvety falsetto croon laced sinis-

that cau

terly with a subtle sexual menace
that clashes uncomfortably with
the grim lyrics. When Silberman
warbles "they told me that there
was no saving you" over the song's
sparsely unnerving piano line,
there's a spine-chilling beatbefore
the track explodes cathartically
into a well-earned heat chamber
of buzzing guitars, crackly drums
and ethereal shoegaze swoons.
The entire album functions on
these unstable cycles of emotion,
both lyrically and musically.
With such drab subject matter,
Hospice could've easily wound up
an overcooked pot of mawkishly
earnest doom and gloom. But Sil-
berman manages a stabbing brand
of dark humor that keeps the
album from taking itself too seri-
ously without ever compromis-
ing its bite. Lines like "and all the
while I'll know we're fucked and
not getting un-fucked soon" tread
an impeccably uncomfortable line
See THE ANTLERS, Page 10

There's somethi;
It _


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