4B - Thursday, September 17, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4B - Thursday, September17, 2009 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
R.E.M. - 'RECKONING' (1984)
Simple musical formula, epic album
By MIKE KUNTZ whose lyrics, once deciphered,
Daily Arts Writer sound like a T.S. Eliot poem -
rounds out the formula.
Once upon a time R.E.M. was On paper, it doesn't sound like
pretty damn cool. It held the much - and the best part is that it's
American underground and a gen- really not - but R.E.M's masterful
eration of moody college students execution and effortless channel-
in the palm of its hand. It was a ing of disparate moods and ideas
band of ne'er-do-wrong hipsters makes for a sound far greater than
virtually writing the book on post- the sum of its parts.
punk songwriting. The band knew Reckoning documents the band
everyone, and everyone knew it. It in the midst of an explosion of cre-
was 1984, and everything was just ativity and confidence. R.E.M. had
swell. stumbled upon a winning formula
That was more than 20 years with their 1983 debut Murmur and
ago. It was before R.E.M. was a ran with it. Containing the best
household name your parents collection of pop songs on any one
knew; before stadium shows R.E.M. release, Reckoningstill hits
hard 25 years later.
The first side of the album con-
tains one perfect cut after anoth-
Catchy hooks er; the run of "Harborcoat" to "7
Chinese Brothers" to "So. Cen-
and dark lyrics tral Rain (I'm Sorry)" to "Pretty
Persuasion" is nearly unbeatable.
make for a Each track is so consistently com-
pelling, packing a deceptive dose
powerful listen. of melodic catharsis in just under
The moodiness surrounding
even the brightest-sounding songs
around the world were its M.O.; is all Stipe, though. His lyrics pack
before Michael Stipe went glam. highly imagistic and angst-ridden
Back in the mid-'80s, R.E.M. scenes of isolation and conflict
had its finger on the pulse of the that completely counter the lucid
underground music scene, jan- tone set by the rest of the band. All
gling through dingy bars in college together, though, it's neither too
towns throughout the country. bright nor too dark, making it an
Pop music is a very broad term, ideal template for a new genera-
but at its core lies simple hooks tion of pop literati.
and endearing lyrics and melodies. It's here that Stipe's growth as
R.E.M.'s breed of pop songwrit- a lyricist is evident, too. Lines like
ing is a mix of super-bright gui- "These rivers of suggestion / Are
tars, simple verse-chorus-verse driving me away" and "There's a
structures, driving rhythms and splinter in your eye / And it reads
disarmingly simple aesthetics bor- react" are still pretty cryptic, but
rowed from New York City punk. they definitely ring with more tan-
A mumbling, enigmatic singer - gible emotion than the kind found
The arrangements onReckoning,
as with nearly all R.E.M. record-
ings in the '80s, are kept pretty
spare - often there is nothing
more than vocals, a guitar or two,
drums, bass, the occasional piano
or mandolin and some percussion
here or there. The musical texture
of the band rests squarely in Peter
Buck's Rickenbacker guitar, which
echoes everything from The Byrds
to Big Star to Gang of Four - all of
whom he has cited as among the
band's primary influences.
Apart from the songwriting,
it's the goofy nods and youthful
segues - the funky hidden track
between "Camera" and "(Don't
Go Back to) Rockville" is more
akin to their contemporaries The
Replacements - that push Reck-
oning above the rest of the band's
catalogue. I'd like to think Stipe's
spelling of "r-e-a-c-t" in the last
verse of "Harborcoat" is an hom-
age to Patti Smith (via "Gloria") -
he was, after all, a huge fan of her
Reckoning makes it easy to for-
get how hard it is to make lasting
pop songs that aren't pinned down
by sappy lyrics or overproduction.
The genius of R.E.M. comes from
taking a bright hook, be it instru-
mental or vocal, and winding it
through darkly emotive lyrics
and haunting melodies. Reckon-
ing shows a legendary band in its
prime, and if it's not enough to
make you a believer, goddamn
i i £
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mom" Imp ON I 1 .1 1',,!-. " I'l e " I - " I'll .11 I'll I "'.1_ R " I ll: I I I ". : -,
Warhol in a new light
ing h-heeled shoes break terms of how can we not make
WARHOL the tr of the posing subjects. this not such a white cube sort of
From Page 1B Aside rom these random pic- exhibition and have it intersect
tures serving as an aesthetic with people's everyday lives,"
break in the sequences, jie for- Chang said. "We're asking you
lery proves to be strangely simi- mer is also a nuanced staement to do something instead of just
lar to the modern phenomenon from Andy Warh as a gay'art. stand there and look."
of "Facebook stalking." Instead ist.
of clicking a computer key, Uw- "If-you look closely, the middle
ever, you're transferring your eye foot is a man's foot," Chang said,
from picture to picture. commenting on "how hairy that Like Facebook
"I think that photographs are guy's leg is." s k
so part of our everyday'experi- Tie manageable subject mat- stalking,but
ence," Chang said. "We'reanso ter allows for a more" accessible . v t
adept at procesilng photographs Warhol, an artist that some find With vitage
now that we can just scan them." difficult to grasp. -
Many pictures are titled ' "I think, these photographs Polaroids.
"Anonymou and have no give people a, different pi ure '
description abels. This creates of ,Warhol," Chang explained.
a more immediate experience "Everyone knows the Campbell's
for the viewer and reinforces the soup cans and the idea that he's Falling in line with what
intimate connection between drawing his source imager; from Chang refers to as th "fresh new
viewer and artist. ' popular culture." vibe that (UMMA) is trying to
Adding to the feeling of flip- "Warhol Snapshots" stays etltimate with the community,"
ping through a photo album, the clear of this typical pop-artde exhibit has some special
steady cadence of the projector expectation. events to draw in students.
in the background helps'keep a, But it's also the relaxed, Films about Warhol will also
sense of pace, not allowing view- welcoming atmosphere of the be shown in UMMA's Sterns
ers to get stuck on a single pho- space that separates "Warhol Auditorium, including "Super-
togrgph. Snapshots", from other Warhol star: The Life and Times of
In reference to the Polaroids, exhibitions. The lounge area is Andy Warhol" and "Scenes
Chang explained,- 'Since there tastefully presented and allows From the Life of Andy Warhol"
are so many of the same per- for 'contemplation,;- ed/ation
son but in different poses, we're and relation. Cartfully chosen
essentially scanning them until music selections are displayed
our eye picks up an interesting on a flat-'c'reernTV, books are
detail and then we'll pause. I spread out on a table and comfy
think the photographs just kind couches are placed near tlwall
of ask that." projections that provide tidbits
For example, a Polaroid of of information.
a lobster and three legs wear- "I was definitelythinking i,
on Sept. 26; "Painters Painting:
The New York Art Scene 1940-
197 ," "End of the Art World"
andj "The Cool School: How LA
Le rned to Love Modern Art"
on ept. 27; and "Nico Icon" and
"A Walk Into the Sea: Danny
Williams and the Warhol Fac-
tory" on Oct. 3.
Additionally, a photo, shoot
will take place in conjunction
with the Univerty Musical
Society's presentation of indie-
rock outfit Grizzly Bear at the
Michigan Theater. Ticket hold-
ers for the Sept. 26 concert are
encouraged to dress up for their
15 minutes of fame. According to
UMMA's website, "Pictures will
be uploaded onto both UMS's
Facebook page and UMMA's
Flickr page, and may even be
included- in the installation of
UMMA's 'Warhol Snapshots.'"
The next time you think about
logging onto Facebook t6 look'
at candid pictures, head over to
UMMA instead to see a side of
Andy Warhol nqJ often seen. A
space as well thought-out and
attractive as "Warhol Snapshots'
should not be overlooked.
SIX EMINENT LEGAL SCHOLARS
FROM MICHIGAN LAW
EXAMINE CURRENTLY DEVELOPING
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN LAW SCHOOL
HUTCHINS HALL, ROOM 250
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17
4 5:30 P.M.
SPONSORED BY U-M OFFICE OF THE PROVOST