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December 02, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-12-02

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 - 5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, December 2, 2009 - 5A

Nothing can stop
Annie's newest

"It makes sense, I promise. Umbrellas on sunny days. Sunglasses on rainy days."
Love and sufferi

By KRISTYN ACHO
Daily Arts Writer
Because of overly hyped
paparazzi magnets like Cheryl Cole
and Lily Allen,
today's Euro-
girl-pop genre
feels like it's built Annie
upon synthetic
tabloid stories Don't Stop
rather than genu- Smalltown
ine musical tal- Supersound
ent. Then there's
Norwegian pop princess, Annie.
Her distinctive brand of pop is the
kind of music her attention-loving
peers wish they made. Anniemal,
her critically acclaimed debut,
landed Annie with an intimate and
devoted fanbase instead of count-
less scandalous press exposas.
- For these fans, Annie's sopho-
more album Don't Stop has been
a long time coming. The record
has been floating in obscurity for
almost a year due to Annie's split
with Island Records last Novem-
ber. Don't Stop proves to be worth
the wait. The released album's
tracklist deviates from the original
listing, featuring new tracks and
eliminating weaker songs like "I
Can't Let Go," "Sweet" and, most
riskily, "I Know UR Girlfriend
Hates Me." These songs appear
on a special edition bonus disc, All
Night EP, released with the album.
Cutting "UR Girlfriend," Annie's
lead single last year, from Don't
Stop is a pretty daring move. But it's
justifiable. The track proves to be a
throwaway compared to the glossy,
revamped slices on the rest of the
album.
The overhaul seems to have
been a success. The album art-
work's quirky, electro-pop guise
is reason enough to give Annie's
music a listen. The cover waxes
her candy-coated, electronically
hyped sound, featuring Annie's
fluorescently scribbled signature
and the artist, clad in a neon-haute
number, seductively peering at the
camera out of the corner of her eye.
It's bound to make any electro-pop
devotee weak in the knees.
Don't Stop is the definition of
"noise candy" - you know you
shouldn't give into its sweet-and-
sticky-ness, but you just can't help
yourself. On the record's first track
"Hey Annie," her chant-like vocals,

poppy as bubble gum, are sung over
fizzy synthesizers and xylophones,
surely satisfying listeners' sweet
tooths.
Still, Don't Stop marks Annie's
gradual departure from her sig-
nature guilty-pleasure sound to
the realm of avant-karde electron-
ics and experimental glamour
pop. In "Take You Home," Annie
coos the flirty lyrics, "looking for
trouble, that's what I am / playing
a game we both understand" with
a swig of confidence and addictive
charm. The track has a mesmeriz-
ing, intense quality, layering care-
fully planned synths and loops that
would make electronic veteran The
Knife swoon.
Annie's albumis still full of poppy
tracks like the ones that made her
famous - but they're not all gems.
One sure misfire is the annoying,
overly cutesy "The Breakfast Song."
The track is a pointless slice of
electro-junk in which Annie grat-
ingly and repeatedly chants, "What
do you want for breakfast?" I don't
know Annie, cereal?
But the most blindingly appar-
ent misstep is one of the final
tracks, the sappy, woeful "When
the Night." The song sounds like
anything heard at the end of a John
Hughes movie, utilizing a stereo-
typical, slow-paced'80s pop sound
to create a real yawner. The bro-
Girl power at
its finest.
kenhearted track feels dejected and
inconsistent with the album's bub-
bly, women-in-power demeanor.
But Annie thankfully brings the
album's theme of female empower-
ment full-circle in the final track
"Heaven and Hell," with the lyr-
ics, "Tell me, tell me what did I do
wrong? / Oh baby, I am perfect."
Girl power at its finest.
With Don't Stop, Annie is creat-
ing pop in the tradition of artists
Kylie Minogue and Madonna, but
with her own indie-electro spin.
Listeners can only hope that Annie
will follow self-guidance she pro-
claims in Don't Stop and continue
experimenting with peppy, sugary-
sweet beats.

* 'Still Walking' takes an
honest look at the
turmoil of family life
By NICK COSTON
Daily Arts Writer
Michigan students returning from Thanks-
givingbreakmayhavenoticed
that the air in Ann Arbor is
markedly colder than it was
a few days ago. Piles of work Still Walking
and sleepless nights await
in the short weeks before At the
the respite of winter vaca- Michigan
tion. It's times like these that 1FC
people need warmth and ref-
uge more than ever, and there is no place more
tranquil and inviting than within the frames of
Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Still Walking."
"Still Walking" brings together the Yokoya-
ma family for its annual ritual honoring Jun-
pei, the eldest son who drowned 12 years ago
while rescuing a young boy. The ceremony's
participants' moods range from unapologetic
disdain for the tradition to false cheer for the
reunion, but everyone is clearly uncomfort-

able, especially Junpei's surviving brother Ryo
(Japanese actor Hiroshi Abe).
This discomfort bristles in sharp contrast to
the gorgeous scenery surrounding the conten-
tious family. The cinematography of this film is
so beautiful that it's difficult to pay full atten-
tion to the narrative - the interiors are warm
and inviting despite their grouchy inhabitants
and crumbling bathroom tiles. The nature
depicted outside is also vibrant and colorful.
The film's central theme, the turmoil that
brings the Yokoyama family together, lacks
the intimacy of the house in which the char-
acters converge. Kyohei (Japanese veteran
Yoshio Harada), the aging patriarch of the
family, makes explicitly clear his preference
for the departed Junpei. Kyohei's wife Toshiko
(Kirin Kiki) admits to her living son that she
invites the now-grown boy whom Junpei res-
cued to their home every year just to watch him
struggle with the guilt of his own survival. But
there is no rage here, only a stale and linger-
ing depression, and the Yokoyamas' aging grief
cannot dim the beauty of their surroundings.
The architecture of the family's home
lends itself to exceptional shot construction.
After the customary greetings and small talk,
the Yokoyamas kneel at a table obviously not
intended for such a large dinner party. The gri-

macing family eats in silence, cramped within
the wooden beams of the dining room and
eager for the meal to end. Ryo and his stepson
bathe together after a forceful suggestion from
Grandma Toshiko; the tub is cramped, and
both man and boy's knees poke out of the water
as they each stare blankly and awkwardly at
the wall in front of them.
The outdoor imagery is as sharp as it is
lovely - at the graveyard, Ryo's stepson's face
appears between the crook of his mother's arm
and Junpei's headstone, indicating that he is
caught between families.
Even with subtitles, "Still Walking" thank-
fully delivers. An American audience's possible
lack of familiarity with the Japanese language
might mask some deficiencies in-performance
by a film's actors, but there is no mistaking the
genuine emotion of the cast of "Still Walking."
These do not look like people reciting lines for
a role. This is a real family with real love and
real disappointment.
Anyone in Ann Arbor could look out a win-
dow right now and it would be difficulttablame
that person for feeling depressed at the sight. If
you find yourself swamped with work or cold
or tired and you have two hours to spare, use
them to see "Still Walking." The warmth will
last long enough to see you home.

Warming upto hip hop

By LEAH BURGIN
Daily Arts Writer
Mike Averill is a man of shift-
ing identities. Known over the
years as "Lit-
tle Mikey,"
"Oliver Hart," Eyedea &
"Eyedea" Abilities
and as a col-
laborator w/Themselves
with multiple Tonight, 9:30 p.m
underground Atihe Bind Pig
hip-hop $12
groups
including
Face Candy and Sage Francis,
Averill is in a constant flux of cre-
ative energies and personas.
While such a roller coaster ride
of an emceeing career might seem
unsettling to most, Averill thrives
on the chaos and avidly seeks an
ever-changing environment.
"One way has never been ful-
filling enough for me. I'm always
starting new bands, starting new
ideas. To be honest, talking, sing-
ing, fucking, making art, it loses
its mystique for me sometimes.
So, I have to force myself to figure
out new ways to enjoy it," Averill
said in a phone interview with
the Daily.
Averill is currently touring
with DJ Abilities (Gregory "Max"
Keltgen), his longtime friend and
collaborator. The duo, Eyedea
& Abilities (formerly known as
Sixth Sense), will perform at the
Blind Pig tonight with other hip-
hop groups Themselves, Bedroxx
and Station DJs.
As for why Averill decided, out
of all his other projects, to recom-
bine with Keltgen for their first
album together in five years, the
answer is simple.
"It was time fir us to make a

new record because everything
else was boring," he said.
If Eyedea & Abilities's new
album, By the Throat, can be rep-
resented by the music video for
"Junk" featured on the group's
Myspace page, Throat is rough
and raw. Heavily distorted gui-
tar and dense drums combine
with lyrics oozing dark "urban
intellectualism": "Load me up,
fall in love / We are America's
favorite choice of drug / It's all in
your hands so kill us while we're
young / You don't need to push
me I'm ready to jump."
When asked why hip hop is
the best way to explore the ideas
and influences the duo lists on

"My judo chop is lethal...sometimes."
ARTS IN BRIEF

On set at the world's coldest photo shoot.

its M
nature
creep,1
- Ave
answer
"It's;
can be
it's a f
R
"It's ea
move it
thing t
long. It
nitely a
In f
improv
trulye
As theN
Scribbl
Battlei
of exp

ySpace page - "earth, even if he now believes the expo-
freedom, the queen, the sure he had as a young rapper is
human suffering and you" embarrassing.
rill again had a simple "I feel like alot of my mistakes as
r: It isn't. an artist have been pretty well doc-
a format that me and Max umented," he said. "I mean, I wasn't
really creative in because smart enough at 19 tobe on TV."
ormat we know," he said. Yet, no matter how embar-
rassed he may be by his earlier
freestyle experiences, Averill
must be somewhat relieved that
Eyedea: A his earliest work - lip-syncing on
0 the school bus or during backyard
k~enaissance metal concerts - has escaped
documentation.
an of gemres. "I would have concerts in my
yard as a kid where I would just
lip-sync Poison songs," he said.
sier to poke holes in it and "And that's how I started with
t around because it's some- rap too. I would steal other peo-
that we've studied for so ple's raps and say them on the
's not the best, but it's defi- school bus."
way." As for the future of hip hop as
act, Averill believes that a genre, Averill has no comment,
'isation is the best way to While it may seem arrogantly
xpress his creative ideas. blas6 at first, his lack of opinion
winner of freestyle battles makes sense after further consid-
e Jam in 1999 and Blaze eration. With such a wide arrayof
in 2000, Averill has plenty interests and so many outlets for
-'Hence with improv -- expression, Averill has r> reason
nej nhhas rV

to feel concern for a single genre.
Even if hip hop began waning in
popularity, he would most likely
expand into another branch of
music.
That being said, Averill seems
to have a soft spot for the impro-
visation hip hop allows. With
bottled excitement, he describes
what he loves about his current
genre of choice.
"Hip hop has a great history
of improvising - the MC free-
styling it and the DJ scratching,
even dancing -the whole thing. I
think improvising is when you're
testing yourself and when you are
experiencing the expression of
those things that we're talking
about (the duo's influences)."
Despite his love and talent for
improvising, Averill has a sur-
prising lack of confidence in his
ability to best other wordsmiths
in an impromptu freestyle battle.
When asked who would win in
such a situation, him or Jason
Mraz, Averill amusedly admit-
ted, "Not me, but that goes for me
against anyoneA

FILM REVIEW
'Rome' falls on
the silver screen
When in Rome
At Quality 16 and Showcase
Touchstone
It's a shame when movies try
so earnestly to distinguish them-
selves from the debasement of
the "B-movie" designation that
they ruin a perfectly good idea.
Such is the unfortunate plight of
"When in Rome," a collaboration
between the writers of an eclectic
array of screenplays (David Dia-
mond and David Weissman, "The
Family Man," "Evolution" and
"Old Dogs") and the director of
an eclectic series of movies (Mark
Steven Johnson, "Daredevil" and
"Simon Birch"). The resulting
movie is something that simply
doesn't reflect the ambition of its
creators.
In the film, Beth (Kristen Bell,
"Forgetting Sarah Marshall") is an
awkward, hopeless romantic who
dreams of one day finding a rela-
tionship that surpasses the superfi-
cialityofthe aff irs she observes on

a daily basis. When she is abruptly
snubbed by her umpteenth suit-
or - the witty, equally awkward
Nick (Josh Duhamel, "Transform-
ers") - at her sister's wedding,
Beth removes the coins thrown by
several other hopeless lovers from
Rome's famous "fountain of love"
under the drunken assumption
that she'll save these people from a
similar fate as her own.
When Beth inadvertently acti-
vates a curse that causes an array of
men to fall deeply in love with her,
however, she must quickly find a
way to reverse the ill effects of the
curse and repair her fragmented
love life. Danny Devito's perfor-
mance as one of Beth's suitors
temporarily bolsters the movie's
comedic appeal as well.
The script and premise start
with a grandiose effort, proclaim-
ing a profound underlying mean-
ing in their attempt to answer the
age-old question: Does true love
really exist outside of fantasy? It's
just too bad that a wannabe seri-
ous romantic drama ends with all
the absurdity of a Kevin Smith flick
- the beginning and end are too
incongruous to belong to the same
movie. Be forewarned that .this
experience won't venture beyond
the realm of the typically mediocre.
TIMOTHYRABB

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