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September 24, 2010 - Image 8

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8A - Friday, September 24, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com o I

8A - Friday, September 24, 2010 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom *

"ExpelliarmOs t
HOsrohibitive hit

Scorsese's 'Empire'
is stunning, but lacks
a riveting story
By JAMIE BLOCK
Managing Arts Editor
"Boardwalk Empire" is among
the best new shows of the season
- if not the standalone favorite -
but that does not
make it phenom-
enal. The Martin
Scorcese-direct- Boardwalk
ed series delivers .
on many of the Emr
unspoken prom- Sundays at
ises of an HBO 9p.m.
original series: HBO
an all-star cast
backed by big-
name producers, production value
out the wazoo and a premise here-
tofore unexplored on television.
But HBO struggled just like Steve
on "Blue's Clues," not knowing how
to arrange these three pieces once
it had them all figured out.
We enter a world about to go
parched: Atlantic City in 1920, as
prohibition first seizes its grip on
a country of wastrels, gamblers
and no-good crooks. Our no-good
crook of interest is the city's trea-
surer Enoch "Nucky" Thompson,
for whom Steve Buscemi ("Big
Fish") gives a portrayal as adept as
it is unsettling. Behind his faiade
of public hero - which he main-
tains only for a select few ignorant
women searching blindly for a
champion - Thompson is nothing
more than a ruthless crime boss.
Buscemi is clearly the standout
actor of the cast, as he well should
be in a lead role. But he is closely
followed by Michael Pitt ("The Vil-
lage"). Pitt takes on the personage
of Jimmy Darmody, Nucky Thomp-
son's one-time apprentice who
went off to college and then to war
- quite selfishly, Thompson might
add. Pitt's performance shows the
most emotional depth, as he man-

ages to make Darmody's struggle
to fit back into his own life feel sin-
cerely jarring.
But beyond Pitt and Buscemi, no
actors manage to stand out. That
said, it's not entirely their own
fault. There are just so damn many
of them. We're presented with the
entire city council of Atlantic City,
several officials from other major
cities looking to get in on Thomp-
son's smuggled booze, and all of the
assistants and lackeys those poli-
ticians need to muscle each other
around while keeping it under
wraps. It becomes unmanageable,
and scenes lose their spark in an
instant when the viewer can't even
identify who's on screen. There is

an exception to this problematic
trend though, and he's just a lackey
- well, just a lackey who's name is
unceremoniously revealed to be Al
Capone (Stephen Graham, "Gangs
of New York").
And really, what makes "Board-
walk Empire" captivating at all is
its subtle presentation of the pro-
hibition era and its turbulence.
Where HBO has always succeeded
is not hitting its viewers over the
head with obvious symbols, while
at the same time bringing smaller
details to the fore. A champagne
bottle, popped in celebration of
prohibition's official beginning,
is tossed into a montage, while
Thompson spends a full min-

ute staring through a window as
nurses attempt to save babies born
drastically underweight. And all
this is highlighted by HBO's req-
uisite stunning set and costume
design. Without feeling like they're
being patronized, audiences can
see the 1920s as though they were
living them. They also see that
this Thompson fellow might not
be totally heartless. After all, that
same cruel treasurer who turned
down a drink invitation with "I
already got what I wanted, what
the fuck would we talk about?"
comes to an abused wife's aid -
by having her husband killed.
Nobody's perfect.
And while the writers certainly
pull off strong dialogue and some
gripping events that fit well in the
epoch, they struggle to pull togeth-
er a cohesive, compelling story.
The consequences of everyone's
actions are made clear by the end,
but the plot itself is somewhat of a
blur. A lot of similar men in suits sit
around a lot of similar tables mak-
ing similar business deals, then
some people get shot. None of it is
particularly memorable, but luckily
for "Boardwalk," the show's suc-
cess does not depend solely on the
sensibility of its story.
The real focus of "Boardwalk
Empire" is power. In an era when
political and economic influence
came in a corked bottle, it was
only a matter of time before one
crook smashed the bottle over
the others' heads. "Boardwalk" is
about men trying to maintain the
lifestyle of the affluent emperor,
whatever the cost. As Jimmy Dar-
mody says, "That's what we all
want. At least I got the gumption
to take it." And in this respect,
the series prevails. We get sucked
into a dark, dirty, amoral but well
dressed world where the only
light to see by is the brothel mar-
quee. We meet ruthless, believ-
able and captivating characters,
battling to control this world. But
as it unfolds, that battle is a mud-
dled and forgettable mess.

Best oast:
indie girls'
Taylor Swift
By KRISTYN ACHO it clear that her songs aren't
Daily Music Editor 100-percent autobiographical.
Instead, she focuses more on
Best Coast frontwoman Betha- producing tracks with vintage
ny Cosentino writes songs about beachy vibes a la Shangri-Las
boys, but when she plays The and The Ronnets.
Magic Stick in Detroit tonight, "A lot of it is I'm trying to
concertgoers shouldn't expect take a stab at kind of throwbacks
your quintessential adolescent to girl bands who wrote songs
girl fare. pretty much all about love - and
While Taylor boys, and breaking up, and get-
Swift's lovelorn, Bet Cas ting back together and all that
painfully over- Tonight at kind of stuff," Cosentino said.
played "You 8gp.m. Though Cosentino doesn't
Belong With TheMagicSlick have any real pre-show ritu-
Me" spawned Ticketsafrom $12 als, she wasn't afraid to disclose
a generation of typical antics: "Once you've been
tween fawn- playing as many shows as we
ers, Best Coast proved to be the have in the last year it becomes
indie alternative for a overlooked a routine. But then sometimes
demographic of girls searching you're like let's do something
for a grittier, less mom-friendly crazy tonight and take a bunch
rock persona - It's safe to sayyou of jager shots before we play and
won't see Taylor Swift releasing then you're like, wait why did I
bold and cheeky tracks like Best do that?" Cosentino said, laugh-
Coast's "Sun Was High (So Was ing.
I)" anytime soon. Jager shots aside, Cosentino's
There's more to Best Coast best on-stage moment was at this
than Cosentino's shamelessly year's Pitchfork festival, where
garish persona, though. The "a kid in the front row had a sign
band has made quite a splash that said 'Hi Bethany' and he
in the indie blogosphere, riding drew a picture of a cat wearing
a wave of retro California cool sunglasses. I thought that was
stardom for a slew of breezy lo-fi really cool. And he gave me the
summer jams, notably being last sign afterwards."
Cosentino quickly added, "And
my cat's definitely got a Twitter."
Cosentino ended the interview
Cosentino's cat describing what kind of enter-
tainment diverts her.
has over 2,700 "I don't really believe in guilty
f l e o pleasures, I'll just admit that I
folowers Ofl have bad taste and that some-
Twitter Reall times I don't like everything
y. that's quote unquote cool."
For instance, when asked what
she was currently listening to,
year's laid-back, guitar-fuzzed Cosentino revealed her affinity
single "When I'm With You." for Drake's debut record - "Up
Though she was busy prepar- All Night" being her favorite
ing for a North American tour, track.
Cosentino couldn't have sounded "I really, really truly love
more relaxed when she spoke Drake. I listen to him non-stop
to the Daily last August about and I really can't remember the
everything from Cali-influences last time I went to my iTunes or
to pre-show jager shots - and of in my car and put on something
course, her Twitter-famed cat. and it wasn't Drake," Cosentino
"It reflects the last year of my said.
life and the growth of our band," But reality television tops
Cosentino said in describing Best everything else as her favorite
Coast's debut album Crazy for form of entertainment.
You, which was released around "I just love television. I love
the group's one year anniversary. it more than anything, I'm not
Although Crazy for You may afraid to admit that I'm a huge
be more accessible than previous TV person and I have a real
compilations due to the record's obsession with really, bad, ter-
cleaner production, the band's rible, trashy reality television. I
Cali-girl tendencies have not love 'Jersey Shore' ... I just love
shifted. it. I love watching people's lives.
"I've always been inspired by How can you not watch a show
'50s and '60s girl group bands, with a 4' 11" girl that gets drunk
the beach boys and the whole all the time and wears a bump it?
California aesthetic," Cosentino I mean it's amazing." Cosentino
said. said.
While Cosentino may use per- Dress up like Snooki or bring a
sonal relationships as inspiration cat poster in tow in order to catch
- she is currently dating chill- Bethany's eye - and her heart -
wave artist Wavves - she made at tonight's show.

0

Maroon 5 remains in pretty-boy pop realm

By ARIELLE SPECINER
DailyArts Writer
Maroon 5 spiced up the summer with its
hit single "Misery," leaving fans wanting
more. With their newest
album, Hands All Over,*
the Los Angeles natives
bring fans out of misery Maroon 5
and into a new collection
of Maroon 5 sounds. Hands All Over
In true A-list pop star A&M/Octane
form, Maroon 5 creates
a captivating tune that,
if their past albums are any evidence, will
soar up the pop charts. "Misery" starts
the album off with a tropical feel, easing
the listener into the record. Lead vocal-
ist Adam Levine's high-pitched melodies
instantly intoxicate as his smooth, but-
tery voice blankets across the track. It's
Levine's captivatingly unique voice that
makes Maroon 5 so easily recognizable.
Adam Levine
explores new genres.
Standout track "Stutter" has a blues-ey
sound that resonates in a handful of songs
on the album. Stadium-ready hooks domi-
nate the track: "Whoa whoa whoa/I really
need to know-oh-oh-oh / Or else you gotta
let me go-oh-oh-oh." Another blues-rock
Maroon 5 rampage is "Hands All Over."

Reminiscent of Maroon 5's biggest single
"Harder To Breathe," Levine sings sexu-
ally charged lyrics dealing with a desper-
ate attempt to coax a distraught, pretty girl
back into his life. While Levine does his
seductive thing, the rest of the gang exper-
iments with dragged-out guitar riffs and
lustful whispers of harmonies.
"How," the album's powerful rock
ballad, is the climax of Hands All Over.
Levine's voice booms across this heartfelt
track with the lingering lyrics, "But I don't
understand the meaning of love / I don't
mind if I die trying / I don't mind if I die
trying."
While Hands All Over may feel similar to
2002's Songs About Jane, it also features a
'70s disco ambiance fused with a Motown
mood that marks a new sound for the band.
Strange combination? Yes, but it works
... mostly.
Tambourine-heavy "Get Back In My
Life" veers toward a disco dance track. The
Jackson 5-inspired song "I Can't Lie" has
a doo-wop candy-counter feel, which could
easily be this album's "Sunday Morning."
Poppy, sunny pianos clink with playful
staccato guitar riff contradicting the mel-
ancholy lyrics, "I just die so much inside
now that you're not there / I wanna feel
your heart beat like yesterday."
With so many genres appearing on
this album, Maroon 5 displays its creative
range. Still, it often seems as if the band
threw together incoherent songs without
much thinking. For example, "Out of Good-
byes," the country-influenced duet featur-
ing Lady Antebellum, not only throws the

Based on this pattern, will the next member of Maroon 5 have long hair or short hair?

album off course, it's just downright for-
gettable.
However, the deluxe version (which
includes a slew of acoustic and live versions
of songs on the standard record) makes
many of the album's not-so-great songs
worth a listen. Stunning acoustic versions
of "Never Gonna Leave This Bed" and

"Misery" are included in the extras. The
acoustic versions of these tracks, which are
significantly better than the album record-
ings, convey the band's pure talent. The
band even takes its shot at covering Alicia
Keys's pop treat "If I Ain't Got You" and
proves its ability to twist any song to make
in sound like their own (though the track

is still comfortable in Maroon 5's main-
stream realm).
Maroon 5's newest album includes the
stadium pop listeners already have a feel
for, while throwing in some curveballs.
HandsAll Over may not be Maroon 5's best
work, but it's good enough that you'll want
to get your hands all over it.

,

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