The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Friday, February 26, 2010 - 5
'Brave' garage rock
"I'm looking for this wall. Have you seen it?"
How not to make a
t elevision 's how
By EMMA GASE
For the Daily
If Little Steven Van Zandt ever needs a
poster child for his obscure Sirius Satellite
Radio rock station Underground Garage,
he need look no further
than The Strange Boys. **-%
The Austin-based group
fits in seamlessly with the The Strange
garage-rock titans of the B
past, while at the same B~
time churning out enough Be Brave
unique tunes to carve a In The Red
niche of its own. Be Brave,
the band's follow-up to its
2009 debut LP The Strange Boys and Girls
Club, has just enough bluesy lo-fi charm to
be relevant in a genre that's nearly half-a-
Be Brave has a strong opener with the
appealing and sunny "I See." The harmoni-
cas and swinging rhythm are a promising
start to a rousing album. Lead singer Ryan
Sambol croons aggressively, "Tonight's din-
ner /Is tomorrow's shit / Soenjoy it /Before
it stinks," commanding our attention (and
our accompanyingcynicism) at the start. The
song sounds right out of the early '60s, evok-
ing the same effortless cool of garage staples
like The Kingsmen.
However, The Strange Boys aren't with-
out a few tricks up their sleeves. "A Walk
On The Bleach" starts out with a slow, mel-
ancholy guitar accompanied by Sambol's
crackly vocal intonation, and plods on with-
out hinting at any climax or hook. About
two minutes in, a pleasantly surprising and
furiously spastic melody kicks in that drives
the song home in an onslaught of organ and
While The Strange Boys have built on
their ragged sound since their debut, there is
only so much of the garage style that's open
to innovation. Most notably, the addition of a
gritty sax solo on title track "Be Brave" pro-
vides a welcome and rowdy change of pace.
Sambol's voice, suited perfectly to loud, slop-
py rock songs, drips with slacker charisma
when his snarky laugh crops up right in the
middle of the track.
While garage rock may be more depen-
dent on authenticity than song quality, The
Strange Boys do the genre proud on both
accounts. "Friday in Paris" uses jangly gui-
tars and an underlying organ that provides
originality, but not without an ode to early
electric Bob Dylan. The band adds enough
quirkiness and personality to its mid-tempo,
drawling rock songs to keep it away from
Unfortunately, the Austin rockers lose
their momentum in the second half of the
album. The Strange Boys are best heard in
the throes of their clanging guitar call-and-
response choruses, not in a lazy attempt at
slowballadry.Sambol's scratchytone,as abra-
sive as it is endearing, just doesn't translate
to slow acoustic songs. On tracks like closer
The Strange Boys
"You Can't Only Love When You Want," the
listener is forced to endure more than three
painful minutes of Sambol's nasally screech
wringing out a love song, accompanied by
his awkward noodling on an acoustic guitar.
After cringing when his voice cracks for the
umpteenth time, the appeal and enjoyment
of the first several songs is nearly forgotten.
Unlike The Strange Boys's debut, which
was impressively stacked with 19 tracks and
very few duds (if any at all), Be Brave is short
on high-quality volume. The winners are
definitely jewels ("Friday'in Paris," "Da Da"),
but there are just as many sub-par acoustic
monstrosities ("The Unsent Letter," "All You
Can Hide Inside") on the album's latter half.
Perhaps Be Brave would have been better
served as an EP or a mini-album containing
only the standouts. Either way, The Strange
Boys will keepbleeding authenticity from a
garage near you.
HBO's latest is exactly
like 'Entourage,' but
with the pretension of
New York City
By NICK YRIBAR
Daily Arts Writer
Why, New York City? What more do
you want fromus? How much more do you
expect us to give? Why
is it that everywhere
we look in American
fiction, you're there, How to
towering over the rest Make it in
of the country like that
hip, older cousin who is Al enCa
willing to buy us alco-
hol? Sure it's cool, but Sundays at
its starting to get a little 10p.m.
sad, no? A little desper- HBO
ate? We know what
you're going to say: "It's the biggest city,
bro! 8 million people! Deal with it!" But
nobody is buying it. There are 292 million
of the rest of us, and we're not taking it
anymore. It was one thing when you had
the likes of Scorsese, Lumet and the Wu
Tang Clan singingyour praises, but "How
to Make It in America," HBO's newest
show, is the last straw.
Set only in the hippest, most visually
dynamic parts of contemporary NYC,
f "How to Make It in America"-follows the
exploits of two young men as they try .to
make a buck. Ben, played by Bryan Green-
berg ("October Road"), is the charming,
affable nice guy who is foiled by his less
scrupulous sidekick Cam, played by Victor
Rasuk ('ER"). Together, the pair traipses
around New York, from gallery openings
to after-parties to street markets, with
vague aspirations of becoming "The Man"
without having to submit to the shame of
getting a job.
Sound like puerile nonsense? It defi-
nitely is. And the worst part is, we're
supposed to buy it because it's set in New
York City. The smug hipness dripping
off every moment in "How to Make It,"
is punctuated by b-roll "urban" photog-
raphy to remind us of the setting: street
vendors, taxicabs, subways, graffiti, blah,
blah, blah. Sure, these stock characters
are uninteresting, their relationships are
tacked on and predictable, their antics
are snotty and obnoxious, but we're in
New York! Look at the homeless people.
It's mad real, son.
"How to Make It" is brought to you by
several of the same producers that gave
us that other HBO show about hip fame-
seekers, "Entourage," and the similari-
ties don't end with the production staff.
A boyish white guy who can't seem to
get over his ex? Check. Said white guy
doesn't know what to do with his life
amid the success of his peers? Check.
Dudes having "real talk" about bitches
and sexual longevity while on their way
toward another misadventure? You bet-
ter believe that's a check. But while
"Entourage" has the film industry and
all of its nuances and intrigue to fall back
on, "How to Make it" has only a super-
ficial veneer of the NYC "underworld,"
with inexplicable black-market salesmen
hanging outon the docks and "shady-ass"
cousins/loan sharks. These elements, one
can only assume, are supposed to lend an
air of street cred to the proceedings, but
are so transparently contrived that they
are baffling to watch.
There are a few moments of relief. An
Hasidic kid with sidelocks giving Cam a
ride on the back of his bike; another kid
hustling for change with rehearsed frank-
ness on the subway; both of these provide
some interesting, though unexplored,
images and sentiments. And the title
sequence and song is pretty cool. But all
of those city-soaked moments take place
within the first three minutes, and they
leave the remaining 25 all the more cloy-
ing and hollow.
Of course, it isn't New York's fault we're
being submitted to this kind of dumb-wit-
ted bullshit. New York City is obviously an
amazing, diverse, fascinating place and
entertaining stories are being concocted
there every day. But "How to Make It in
America" isn't one of them. Rather, this
crap is just riding on NYC's coattails,
feeding off the myth that doing nothing in
New York is better and more interesting
that whatever it is you're doing, wherever
you happen -to be. But if we ever needed
proof that life in New York can be just as
dull and pointless as in the flyover states,
we don't need to look any further than
"How to Make It in America."
VH1 delves into the details
of tabloid deaths yet again
COURTESY OF IN THE RED
The sun exploding is ruff.
By LINDSAY HUED
Daily Arts Writer
What can be said about Tupac's death
that hasn't already been discussed?
While "Famous Crime
Scenes" doesn't offer
any new insight into
the death of the infa- Famous
mous rapper, it does
present an informa- Cne SCenes
tive overview of the Fridays at
events that transpired 9P.M.
before and after the
VHl's new celeb-
rity show is basically a knock-off of "E!
Investigates," only there's an entire sea-
son of celebrity murders to investigate. In
the premiere episode of "Famous Crime
Scenes," the show uses interviews from
past and present, old photos, graphics
and cheesy reenactments to help recre-
ate what happened the night Tupac was
murdered. Upcoming subjects include
Michael Jackson, John Lennon, Selena,
Marvin Gaye and Notorious B.IG.
Ifthereis somethingyou missed about
any of the celebrity murders, this show
has got you covered. Every single aspect
of these cases is examined, includingthe
events leading up ton the death and thoise
that occurred after. High-profile "celeb-
rity" witnesses and friends explain what
they think happened, while police offi-
cials from the crime scenes help to veri-
fy how authorities responded. Get ready
for some more of those annoying people
you remember hating from the news
coverage - Howard K. Stern included
- who are probably looking for one last
outlet for their everlasting 15 minutes of
Real-life recreations of the scenes,
using maps and actors, help to visu-
ally place the viewer at the crime scene.
From toxicology reports to ballistics,
DNA evidence, suspect profiling and
more, this show is basically a virtual
tour of the night these infamous celebs
kicked the bucket.
Computer-generated (and somewhat
lame) visual aides explain what is going
on inside of the bodies. Doctors who
took the calls are interviewed and they
explain exactly how the bullets were
lodged in Tupac's body and the combi-
nation of drugs that Anna Nicole Smith
Luckily, each episode is only 30 min-
utes. Any longer and it would have been
searching for content and dragging out
a story everyone knuws about. While it
is interesting tin review famous murder
cases, this show doesn't really have any
staying power. Most of the cases were
covered so intensely when they actually
happened, that you'd have to be living
under a rock to not know at least a little
bit about what occurred.
Future episodes, for example, are
about Anna Nicole Smith and Michael
Jackson. What could we possibly learn
What more is there
to say about M.J.
and Anna Nicole?
about those cases that hasn't been
plastered all over the news? "Famous
Crime Scenes" might have more suc-
cess 20 years down the line, because it
would be geared toward a generation
that wouldn't know as much about those
deaths. For now, it's going to "go behind
the crime-scene tape," and take us all
to a place we've been many, many times
'Ruby': 350 lbs. of smiles
Daily Arts Writer
Imagine going most of your adult life not
being able to do a simple thing like put on a
pair of jeans. In the season three premiere
of her self-titled show,
Ruby Gettinger finally *
does that for the first time
'Style Network's take on R
the healthy weight-loss Sundays at
show is "Ruby," which 8 p.m.
follows the 34-year- Style
old southern belle who
weighed over 700 pounds.
Through diet and exercise, Gettinger now
weighs about half that. As Gettinger pre-
pares her meals, goes to the gym and lives
her normal life, the cameras are there to
document her journey.
Southern belle deals
with obesity and
On the positive side, this show breaks
several stereotypes about overweight peo-
ple. Gettinger is not an unhappy person.
She seems happy with every other part of
her life, except for her weight. She is not a
loner, but has tons of friends who are always
at her side throughout the show. Also, she is
not lazy. She has experienced past trauma
that made her turn to food. She is always
going for walks, going out with her friends
and doing normal activities.
While the show does poke fun at the
gross amount of food Gettinger once ate,
this isn't the primary focus, nor is "Ruby"
about exactly how much weight Gettinger
losing. Instead, "Ruby" takes you into the
life of an obese woman who has ups and
downs during the everyday struggle of
maintaining her weight. In the first episode
alone, several different parts of her life are
examined in relation to why she overeats
- and how she can stop it. She is shown at
home, cooking her own food with friends.
Instead of making mashed potatoes with
cream and butter, Gettinger chooses to
make asparagus. When she goes out to eat
with some friends, Gettinger worries about
what the chefs put into her food.
One irritating moment, however, is when
she talks to her therapist about her mental
health. Gettinger claims she can't remem-
ber any of her childhood before the age of
13. Whether or not this is true, Gettinger's
battytherapist's advice is tostay sober with
her food and that her memories will come
back. Could that be any vaguer?
The most difficult part to watch was
when Gettinger flat-out denied she had
an addiction to food. You just wanted to
slap her upside the head through the TV
to make her have her "ah-ha!" moment.
Finally, with a push from both her friends
and the loony therapist, Gettinger comes to
terms with her denial.
Despite the fact that "Ruby" doesn't
present any new revelations about weight-
loss, Gettinger is a caring and charismatic
gal who you want to see persevere. She is
just so flipping nice - it's almost nauseat-
ing how much everyone will want to see
Gettinger win the battle over obesity.
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