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October 08, 2009 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-10-08

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4B - Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Finding its own timeK


For the Daily
Remember 1998? Climbing the
charts were Green Day's "Good
Riddance (Time of Your Life)" and
"Tearin' Up My Heart" by *NSYNC
- the industry was dominated by
punk-tinged alt rock and tween-
darling boy bands. The "Titanic"
soundtrack was the top-selling
albumofthe year and alittle-known
band called Remy Zero released
Villa Elaine, an otherworldly and
gritty album that just didn't fit in.
More famous for penning "Save
Me" (better known as "that song
from 'Smallville' "), Remy Zero's
more seminal '90s work has gone
largely unnoticed. Villa Elaine was
the result of the Alabama-based
group's two-year hole-up in a run-
down Los Angeles motel of the
same name. We've all heard the
story of the wide-eyed artists who
came to the city looking to make it
big. But as Remy Zero demonstrates
on Villa, these five Southern boys
are not your average idealists.
Lyrically, the album presents a
bleak landscape while simultane-
ously beaconing hope - a cathar-
tically contradictory stance that's
embodied in the chorus of the first
song, "Hermes Bird" - "So hold
to your permanent bliss / in the
time that it takes to exist / From
the hours to the fall of it / It's all
right, you're all wrong." The track's
overpowering confusion funnels
into a simple and vaguely positive
message. Even "Life in Rain," the
album's biggest downer, finds sing-
er Cinjun Tate proclaiming, "So
when it comes down / you'll know
rm with you." Villa Elaine oper-

ates in an apocalyptic world where Cinjun's smooth, emotive voice gar-
there's nothing left but simple emo- nered comparisons to Thom Yorke,
tions. and rightly so - Remy Zero was
Mystical references and myste- invited to open for Radiohead after
rious sounds run rampant on Villa. it heard the band's demo. But the
Song titles like "Hermes Bird" and dirty, grinding guitars on "Proph-
"Whither Vulcan" recall ancient ecy" give the song a churning drive
Greek and Roman mythology. The thatkeeps it from soundinglike any
songs are linked by veiled lyrical other band.
references to ghosts and flames Hidden among the gems on the
and spirits. Lines range from enig- ubiquitous "Garden State" sound-
matic ("A thousand hours are in track, "Fair" may be the best song
your mouth / I dreamed our learn- on Villa. With a franker vibe than
ing / And now it's time to dream most rock songs could even dream
our turning out") to a cdrugged-out of, the song's first murmuring
brand of creepy ("And she's strung "Hey, are you lonely / Summer
gone so slowly?" makes you want
to answer the query. It's the kind
of songa girl would want a cute boy
Af album lost with a guitar to sing to her, if only
in the '90s that the meaning wasn't so elusive ("So
what if you catch me, where would
could have we land? / In somebody's life for
taking his hands / Sing to me hope
f lcsiiicbc* today. as she's thrown on the sand / All
* of our work is raided again"). The
melody ambles along like the musi-
cal equivalent of a stroll on a foggy
out on life, he soon rolls his teeth beach - the acoustic guitars wrap
/ Spilling out from a mouth fit the listener and the song's sudden
to overflow / back into me"), but end comes too soon.
always stop just short of real life. So how come Remy Zero didn't
Remy Zero's music is pretty make it back in 1998? If Villa Elaine
without being delicate, strong with- had been released in today's musi-
out being pushy and coarse with- cal climate, it would have easily
out being crude. Layered guitars found a home. Remy Zero wouldn't
frame simple melodies with soar- be out of place next to mellow
ing choruses. Unabashedly melodic British acts like Snow Patrol and
and emotional, the group is often Keane, or even indie-pop groups
compared to U2 and Coldplay, but like The Shins. The late '90s was
its unpolished, personal style and an unfortunate time to be a moody
unconventional lyrics are better and introspective band, as Remy
suited to bars than to huge arenas. Zero found out. But in the coolly
"Prophecy" was the only song intimate world of modern indie
on Villa Elaine to get any radio play music, Villa Elaine finds itself more
upon release. The cryptic lyrics and relevant than ever.

Every Thursday and Sunday the Michigan Men's Glee Club meets in the Modern Language Building for rehearsal.
U phold ing tradition

From Page 3B
Barbie and Emperor Zurg say-
ing "No Buzz, I am your father" -
solidifying the production studio's
image as a purveyor of magical kid's
films made for adults.
During the intermission, Pixar
treated us to creepy footage of the
infant stages of Woody and Buzz
Lightyear (then dubbed "Tempus
from Morph"). Woody is a drawl-
ing, drooling mess of a cowboy and
"Tempus" 's mouth doesn't move
properly. Thank goodness Pixar
fixed that snafu or else the studio
might've gained an entirely differ-
ent household reputation - one for
unintentionally making children's
horror films.
Although I wouldn't say the
3-D really adds a great deal to the
films, it doesn't take away anything
either. Henry Selick's "Coraline" set
the gold standard for 3-0 anima-
tion transcending dimensions, and
"Toy Story 3-D" doesn't come any-
where close to meeting this prec-
edent. Even still, it's refreshing that
Pixar didn't succumb to the showy,
headache-inducing gimmicks that
most 3-D films possess. While the
characters don't exactly "pop out
of the screen" as advertised, there
are moments ofshivering awesome-
ness. The camera careens upward
to reveal "The Claw" looming down
upon the worshiping aliens. Buzz
Lightyear spins off the ceiling and
loops around a model car racetrack,
only to land upright on his feet. Still,
the benefits of watching this double
feature don't lie in the 3-D effects,
but rather in the magic of reliving a
childhood masterpiece.
In contrast to "Wall-E," which
was a biting commentary on the
ubiquity of mass-marketed mer-
chandise, "Toy Story" seeks out the
softer sides of globalization, exam-
ining how a mass-produced toy can
be a simple joy in a kid's life, and
how a kid can be a simple joy in a
toy's life. We put our own souls into

our toys, and no matter how much
we accidentally abused them or out-
grew them, we still loved them. We
constructed elaborate scenarios in
which the hero encountered insur-
mountable obstacles only to get the
girl. Before we all promptly turned
into cynics upon reaching puberty,
we were storytellers - idealistic
champions of the imagination. "Toy
Story" captures that childhood
spirit in the highest degree.
"Toy Story 2" was the first movie I
ever cried at. The moment when Jes-
sie the cowgirl relives memories of
an owner long grown-up while Sarah
McLachlan's "When She Loved Me"
swells up in the background (I have
this song on my iPod - don't judge)
remains one of the most powerful
scenes in my movie memory. Years
later, the scene still doesn't fail to get
me. I had to take offmy3-D glassesto
wipe my tears away.
"Toy Story" is a film about child-
hood. It's about your childhood, my
childhood, Pixar's childhood and
our collective childhood. It's about
what you wish your toys did when
you weren't around. The movies
out all your dusty playthings and
transport yourself back to elemen-

tary school. Back then, a yard sale
was a battleground, a trip down-
stairs seemed like a covert mission
and cars moved so damn fast. "Toy
Story" is a perfect encapsulation of
youth's perceptions, reminding you
of whatyou were like when you first
watched it. It reflects a time when
you thought you too could go "to
infinity and beyond."
If mere sentiment won't get you
there, the full trailer for "Toy Story
Not particularly
flashy, but still
3" in all its 3-D glory can be seen
exclusively intheaters with the "Toy
Story" double feature. A montage of
Andy growing up and leaving for
college while the toys try to survive
in a daycare center forecasts heart-
break alongside comedy. I am liter-
ally counting the days until June 18,
2010. Hopefully, "Toy Story 3" will
be the crowning jewel in this trio of
childhood celebration.

From Page lB
inappropriate - but the harmony! Oh, the harmony
in that wonderful echo chamber."
Business senior and current member Anthony
Ambroselli explained a little less spontaneous but
equally unforgettable moment.
"A favorite recent concert memory was during our
trip to Spain last spring," he explained.
"In C6rdoba, the Glee Club was featured as the
final attraction of the town's music festival. We sang
in a small church for a (house full) of people far over
the building's capacity. The energy in that venue was
indescribable - the audience was thrilled to have us
and that, in turn, fed the energy of that particular
"During the third encore, we sang 'La Tarara,' a
traditional Spanish folksong. Upon conclusion, the
entire audience immediately began applauding us in
a uniform rhythm of triplets," Abroselli said. "One
man in the front row exclaimed 'Viva laUniversidad
de Michigan!' It was a very unique cultural experi-
ence, really showing us how easily music can tran-
scend cultural and linguistic boundaries."
At times, the club has exceeded its role as pro-
moter of the University, and acted as representative
of the United States. In 2003, during a tour in the
British Isles, former director and current associate
professor of voice in the School of Music, Theatre &
Dance Stephen Lusmann described the experience
of performing on behalf of the entire country.
"My fondest memory was our overseastour of Ire-
land and the United Kingdom," he said.
"This tour was during one of the lowest points of
the Iraq War: the scandal at Abu Ghraib. The Men's
Glee Club always thinks of itself as (an ambassa-
dor) for the University of Michigan, but this was a
time when we were truly ambassadors of the United
"There were times during the tour when some of
us had awkward moments on the street or in pubs
with locals voicing their dislike of the war in Iraq
and that the United States 'dragged the United King-
dom into the conflict,"' Lusmann said.
"However, after a concert at St. James Church
in London many audience members expressed very
emotionally their love for our concert and how we
were the best ambassadors of goodwill the United
States could have sent to Europe at that time."
Some other defining instances for a past and pres-
ent director range from hilarious to heart-wrench-
Bloom described the rush of celebrity approval of
the club.
"The movie star Gene Kelly ("Singin' in the Rain")
received an honorary degree from the University at
a Winter Commencement in 1987," he explained.
"The club sang for the commencement exercises.
When the ceremony ended, President (Harold) Sha-
piro and Kelly led the recessional from the speaker's
platform. Gene Kelly broke rank, came over to the
place where the Glee Club sang, shook my hand and
said 'That was terrific. Thank you.' I still have not
washed my hand," Bloom said.
Current Director Dr. Paul Rardin said, "The'best
example I've witnessed of what Glee Club has'meant
to its members came from a first-year student dur-
ing his end-of-tour speech to fellow members. He
described the way in which our performing a piece

about death (set to Walt Whitman's poem 'Invoca-
tion,' which welcomes death as a relief from suf-
fering) helped him come to grips with the sudden
death of a close friend of his," Rardin said.
"I was overwhelmed with emotion at watching
this brave student - still new to the Glee Club and
surrounded by students who had been members for
two, three and four years - stand and speak about
something so powerful and so personal. The only
way he could have arrived at that emotional stage
was by feeling so comfortable with both the music
and the members of the Glee Club. From what I
could tell the Glee Club had become his social and
spiritual home."
National and international tours mark the
amount of time group members spend together, but
lifelong friendships are sparked right here in Ann
Arbor. The second pillar is formed after an exhaust-
ing rehearsal on Thursday night, club members
will venture over to Cottage Inn and unwind, never
ceasing their singing.
Although it's difficult to put into words, the club's
focus on camaraderie is always apparent and lasts
well beyond the college years.
"You know, it's a special fraternity, a special band
of brothers," Ramsey explained. "Like guys in the
military, maybe, who go through unique and excit-
ing experiences together, there's an incredibly con,
nective bond that's built, one that never breaks."
Tradition and camaraderie aside, Lusmann may
have said it best:
"(Glee Club) is an organizationcthatdraws togeth-
er men from every school in the University for one
reason: their love of singing."
Dr. Rardin explained how he upholds the third
pillar of the Glee Club.
"The steps I take to ensure musical excellence
are nurturing a sense of energy and joy whenever
we sing," he said, "which includes showing my own
enthusiasm for the music; nurturing a basic under-
standing of the words in a piece of music, not just its
music (we will sing our best when we understand
the text and context of a piece); insisting on excel-
lent rehearsal protocol from every member; apply-
ing for performances at regional and national music
conferences - audiences at these conferences are
all, professional musicians, so this ups the musical
ante," he explained.
Although this year celebrates the past150years of
the club, Quakenbush likes to think of it as atime to
look forward to the next 150 years. Reaching out to
the community factors heavily into this equation.
"We have begun to regularly make music for
patients in the University's hospital system, reach
out to local urban high schools through our choral
mentorship program and pursue relationships with
local assisted living facilities," he said.
With a century and a half of tradition under its
belt, hundreds of thousands of relationships formed
and alevel of perfection in singing measured only by
its own high standards, the Glee Club should have
no problem maintaining its high ranking among
campus organizations and its standing as an elite
collegiate choir.
As Rardin said, "It is excitingto be part of a story
that is still being written."


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