The Michigan Daily - michigandaiiy.com
Friday, October 8, 2010 - 7A
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Friday, October 8, 2010 - lA
. Stars align at Magic Stick
some of Canada's
best pop fare
By DAVID RIVA
Daily Arts Writer
When blogs and webzines bom-
bard curious listeners with an
of buzzbands Stars
ponies, finding Tomor'ow
new music in the at8 p.m.
Internet Age can The Magic Stick
be a daunting $15
task. The emphasis on the here-
and-now makes it easy to forget
about bands that have gradually
progressed over the years into a
talented collection of musicians.
But during a time when steady
growth is a lost art, Stars has
proven that just because it doesn't
appear on a "Best New Music" or
"Heavy Rotation" list doesn't mean
they're not worth your time and
Now in its 10th year as a band,
Stars will showcase its extensive
catalogue - five full-length studio
albums and five EPs - on Saturday
night at The Magic Stick.
The Toronto natives are part of
a Canadian indie-rock insurgence
along with the likes of Broken
Social Scene, The New Pornogra-
phers and Wolf Parade that seem-
ingly sparked out of thin air.
Bassist Evan Cranley claims
the explosion of high-quality tal-
ent coming out of the Great White
North is no coincidence. His
explanation of the phenomenon is
"We get a lot of government
grants to help us make music and
endowments through the govern-
ment that help fund artists in Can-
ada," Cranley said.
Although policymakers have
made their country conducive to
creativity, the nation's massive
geographical landmass and the
desire for connectivity among
citizens have also contributed to
the conception of many musical
"The fact that we're such a
huge country with a small amount
of people, you need community
around you to kind of feel a safe-
ness and a home," he explained.
Stars's one-two punch of co-
leadsingers (Torquil Campbell
on JF*C series
Stars splits lead-singer duties between Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan.
and Amy Millan) is consistently
its most dynamic facet. The two
play off one another's strengths
and weaknesses - both vocally
and emotionally - creating an
intimate and sometimes vulner-
able relationship that has been
essential to the band's success and
Campbell and Millan usually
divide the songs on a Stars record
into an even 50-50 split. Accord-
ing to Cranely, sharing the vocal
workload isa conscious decision.
"The strength of the band is
having two vocalists, so we think
the more that's kind of equalized
between the two in the record,
then the more it represents us," he
Although Cranely isn't part of
this unique vocal relationship, he
does play an essential role as one
of two primary songwriters for
For Stars's latest record The
Five Ghosts, Cranley noted some
of the main musical differences
from previous records.
"Instrumentally was the big-
gest change," he said. "It was alot
"It was a big thing for us to try
to really push the synthesis and
the drums and the keyboards and
stuff, because the lyrical content
in this record, we thought it was
really kind of cold (and) stark,"
he continued. "We just really
wanted to try to talk about these
really stark kind of emotions and
we wanted to have that really
balanced with, you know, stark
The emotional content felt
throughout Ghosts's 11 songs was a
result of recent events in the mem-
"We lost some people that were
very close to us and we also had
babies and started homes, and for
us, those were themes we wanted
to talk about on the record," he
said. "We want to come with per-
sonal themes because we want to
encapsulate this kind of diary of
what we've been doing the last
year and a half."
These personal themes - consis-
tent throughout Stars's catalogue
- have caught the attention of a
wide variety of people who aren't
confined to a specific style or scene.
Cranley describes Stars's fan-
base as "the people that were first
into us 11 years ago, if you could
take those same 200 people ... and
multiply them by 10," then you
would have an audience at a Stars
"It's kind of an interesting
demographic," he explained. "We
don't have people that dress a cer-
tain way that like us or (are) into
one kind of music that like us."
"These are kind of everyday
people that like us. The characters
in our songs are very kind of day-
to-day, everyday people. And our
fans are kind of the same people in
these stories we talk about."
And Stars dedicate a consider-
able amount of time preparing a
live show to entertain fans.
"When you're putting together
a show, you really have to be con-
scious of telling a story in 90 min-
utes between the first song to the
last song," he said. "When we put
the show together ... we want to be
as dramatic and textural as pos-
sible to the audience."
"It's one thing to scribble a
setlist on a piece of paper and try
to write it, but it's another to try to
create a piece of theater out of it,
and that's what we try to do when
we put together shows."
Although the steady growth of a
band is not ideal for the rock'n'roll
lifestyle of most musicians, the
members of Stars seem to be satis-
fied with their place in the music
world. Speaking on the band's
longevity, Cranely cited patience,
trust, work ethic, love and forgive-
ness as key elements to the band's
long-term stability, the fruits of
which can be heard on The Five
Ghosts as well as tomorrow night
at The Magic Stick.
By BRIANNE JOHNSON
Daily Arts Writer
Rome might not have been built
in a day, but14 days were more than
enough for Todd Margaret to flip
all of Eng-
land on its
ing up court The 1w&-asinal
"funding POOI DecSIonS
a terrorist Of TOd
tion, posses- Maret
sion of Fridays at 10 p.m.
and possession of child pornog-
raphy with the intent to distrib-
ute," Margaret unleashes terror
on his new home without wasting
one awkward moment. Such an
accomplishment may inspire awe
in some, but somehow IFC's "The
Increasingly Poor Decisions of
Todd Margaret" goes from poor
to pathetic, making the show com-
Shipped to England on false
faith, Todd Margaret (David Cross,
"Arrested Development") eagerly
abandons his only companion,
his cat, to head a new company in
hopes of overcoming his timidness.
As a representative of Thunder
Muscle Energy Drinks, Margaret
builds his new life from a pile of
spontaneously bizarre lies. Hired
for assumed bravado, Margaret's
luck quickly expires (as does the
toxic drink he mercilessly forces
upon British natives). His hand
is scalded, the government blows
up his luggage and his plans are
manipulated by an ill-deceived
assistant. Yet Margaret continues
sense of success.
The show is as realistic as Mar-
garet's wildly spun lies, and the
result is a total crackpot of des-
perate lines and far-fetched plots.
It's debatable what's more strange
- Cross's attempts to enliven a
hopeless character through insane
table-hopping rants (insisting that
he will "fuck the old out of you")
or the fact that anyone, fictional
or otherwise, could believe such
crap. From a dead company's offer
of a $120,000 starting salary to the
quaint cafd waitress with a passion
for molecular gastrology, "Marga-
ret" is worse with each minute.
The fabrications seem to force
themselves from a fathomless pit
of ignorance and desperation as
Margaret suffers no other reper-
cussion beyond constant humili-
ation. The character is a walking
mass of insanity, with opportuni-
ties only presented by means of
the furthered delusion of others.
It's obvious by the show's title that
Margaret will not develop as a
character, for the first minute pres-
ents his future call to court. Oblivi-
ously self-indulgent, "Margaret"
refuses to deliver a likable front-
man, despite Cross's best attempts.
But at least we can pity Mar-
garet, even with his unappealing
nature - something that can't be
said for the supporting cast. Dave
(Russell Tovey, "Being Human"),
Margaret's newly appointed and
admittedly unqualified assistant
is sarcastic and apathetic. As a
U.K. native, Dave isn't fooled by
his boss's lies and therefore takes
advantage of Margaret's fouls and
fuels the bizarre behavior. The real
charmer is Margaret's unscrupu-
lous boss (Will Arnett, "Arrested
Development"), a huffing and puff-
ing egotistical businessman whose
gravelly intonation reflects one
too many cigars. Arnett tries for
quirky, macho madness, but fails
without a clever script. Through-
Watching this is
out the episode, it's apparent that
each joke aims more for shock
value than laughs. The whole cast
is at a disadvantage as "Margaret"
substitutes actual wit with inces-
sant and over-indulgent swearing.
As the premiere episode ends,
Margaret sulks on the floor of his
apartment, exhaustedly pissing
his pants while his cat lies dead
at home. The show will be lucky
to escape the same fate. Allowing
the pathetic and unlikeable "The
Increasingly Bad Decisions of Todd
Margaret" to continue its plight
may be the poorest decision of all.
Waxing nostalgic on 'Forget'
By JASMINE ZHU blown element to Forget that lends
Daily Arts Writer the album a larger-than-life retro
quality, in stark juxtaposition
The setting is bleak, but not against Lewis's beautifully list-
hopeless. It's long past summer less, mournful laments.
now. The girl is The songs - though backed by
gone. upbeat synths - move with a delib-
Forget, George erate slowness bordering on leth-
Lewis Jr.'s debut Twin argy. The slowness is redolent of
LP under the the hazy recollection of memories,
name Twin Shad pieced together gradually. Lewis
Shadow, is more Forget parallels the album's pace on the
about remember- Terrible song "Slow," in which he warbles:
ing. The record is "I don't want to, be, believe, in
an homage to the love."
past, dripping in melancholy and Forget brings to mind very spe-
steeped in nostalgia, or, in other cific, visceral images with the
words, la douleur exquise, the grati- record's strangely evocative lyrics
fying pain of loving someone unat- and topics. A hot sticky night in
tainable. August, years ago. Neon street-
An '80s aesthetic is pal- lights in a run-down town. Under-
pable throughout the record. age drinking and jean cut-offs.
The urgent, purposefully dated Things once distinctively illicit
mechanical backdrop makes the and exciting now faded over the
album comparable to a B-movie course of time and addled memo-
guilty pleasure - brimming with ry, to Lewis's detriment. In track
hyperbole and unsettlingly out "Castles in the Snow," Lewis
of sync with reality. Sharp cym- croons, "Here's all I know / Your
bal-heavy drums accompanied checkered room and your velvet
by even sharper keyboards are bow /Your Elvis song in my ears /
prevalent, and almost painfully That moonlit voice that I hear."
bright in sound. There is an over- The unhurried nature of Lewis's
silken voice (at times uncannily
reminiscent of'80s icon Morrissey)
drones on with what appears to be
apathy at first listen, but in reality,
is a thinly veiled despondency. on
"I Can't Wait," Lewis waxes nos-
talgic on the halcyon days of sum-
mer: "I cannot wait for summer /
I cannot wait for June / When all
the ghosts are quiet / When every-
thing is new."
evokes the '80s.
Produced by Grizzly Bear's
Chris Taylor on Taylor's label Ter-
rible Records, it's no surprise that
the recording sounds remark-
ably filled out and warm. Taylor's
production brings a depth that
contributes to the languid, atmo-
spheric quality of the record.
There are no profound revela-
tions to be found on Forget. The
album brings nothingnew. A future
is never mentioned. Instead, there
is unrelenting fixation on the past.
From Page 6A
before it reached its plaintive,
"dark art-rock" sound. In Lisbon's
early stages, the band drew as
much from the brassy bombast
dotting its last record as it did
from the one-two scuffle of coun-
try songwriters like Johnny Cash.
"'Blue As Your Blood' actually
started as a country song," Bauer
said. "We were playing a lot of
minor chords instead of major
chords, and with a country beat."
With all ofLisbon's (not to men-
tion The Walkmen's) modesty,
you'd be forgiven for not expecting
the five Washington, D.C. trans-
plants to pack much of a punch in
concert. But make no mistake: the
band has a reputation for being
one of the louder groups out there,
drawing comparisons to the deaf-
ening performances of acts like
psych-rockers Spacemen 3.
"For years, the only thing we
would do was try and be as loud
as possible," he said, before inter-
rupting himself mid-sentence.
"And now my wife is shh-ing me
because I'mtalkingso loud. Imust
be going deaf"
The Walkmen perform at the
Magic Stick on Sunday. Doors
open at 8p.m. Tickets from $12.
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Kuenzel Room, Michigan Union
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