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February 07, 2012 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-02-07

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 7

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 7

Let's even the score

Merry Christmas from of Montreal.


est LP
an ho:
of Kev
of d
say th
and o
last a
ues th
fied, g
ally er

rnes is back with the religious meditation begun
in False Priest. The subsequent
Montreal's latest track, "Spiteful tntervention," has
a less morose but similarly humor-
np into insanity less tone. Accompanied by a fran-
tic interlude of carnival melodies,
By KATIE STEEN Barnes discusses issues with a
Daily Arts Writer self-loathing he can never seem
to escape that result in "psychotic
y, psych majors: This vitriols" and "manic energy."
's for you! Of Montreal's lat- Unlike his past creations,
, Paralytic Stalks, is almost Barnes speaks candidly in Para-
ur's worth lytic Stalks, writing in the first
rin Barnes person and completely abandon-
ig, chat- ing his alter-ego Georgie Fruit
chanting of Montreal (an African-American man in his
shrieking forties who has undergone mul-
his bouts Paralytic tiple sex changes). Instead, this
epression. Stalks album serves as a form of per-
I sonal catharsis for the singer - a
Mon- Polyvinyl canvas onto which he has slung
fans can't everythought thatcomes to mind.
ey didn't see this coming. This causes Paralytic Stalks to lack
on its 11th LP, the band has melodic continuity, constantly
ed into a more discordant shifting to convey the unpredict-
rverall freakier group. Its able nature of Barnes's emotional
ilbum, False Priest, ended, landscape.
a seven-minute outburst The album ends up scatter-
started off funky, became brained with "Authentic Pyrrhic
'bing and concluded with a Remission," a 13-minute collage
nary message on religion, that involves Barnes claiming
seems to foreshadow the his depression is under control,
onal tangle found in the instantly refuting the statement
s newest LP. and eventually ending with his
alytic Stalks simply contin- dream of a nationless, ego-free
he frenzied gloom that had world. The album's second-to-
seeping into of Montreal's last track, "Exorcismic Breeding
work. The first track, "Gelid Knife," is a song only by loose
it," begins with unspeci- standards - almost eight min-
;houlish noisesthat eventu- utes of choral "ah's," orchestral
!rupt into a continuation of divergences and menacing sound

Most songs off of Paralytic
Stalks, however, remain some-
what coherent. "Dour Percent-
age" is a laid-back, flute-filled
nod to the disco era and "Malefic
Dowery" is a sunny, tropical ditty.
They sound melodic and dreamy,
and they feature classic of Mon-
treal falsetto and funk, but damn
it Barnes is at it again, rambling on
about torment and hostility. "We
Will Commit Wolf Murder" is
another track that has a smooth-
er, more easy-going tone, but
throughout the song, Barnes slips
in little warnings of "there's blood
in my hair." In the lastcouple min-
utes of the song, Barnes seems fed
up, ending with a thrashing spurt
of electronic gibberish while he
repeats his blood-related com-
plaint and finally saying, "fuck."
It's understandable if you put
off listening to Paralytic Stalks.
The album is taxing on the ears
and brain - even longtime of
Montreal fans may be reluctant
to sit through Barnes's disjointed
rant about infinite anguishes and
frustrations. But while the album
doesn't exactly end on a positive
note (honestly, just skip the last
track), it has its moments of men-
tal and musical clarity. Paralytic
Stalks isn't an album you're going
to find on the radio, but embrac-
ing it with an open mind grants
the opportunity to explore the
various mental states of a colorful

The Super Bowl is over,
meaning the next major
spectacle many Ameri-
cans turn their eyes toward to
will take place at the Kodak
Theater in
The nomi-
nees are out,
have begun
and friend-
ships are
teetering on JACOB
the rocks AXELRAD
even as we
speak - "The
Descendants" or "The Artist"?
"Glenn Close or Meryl Streep?"
(They're different people,
right?) And that oh-so-impor-
tant question: Who's hosting the
Oscars party?
I may be hyping the event a bit
out of proportion, but what's true
is that the debate ensues because
we each have our own opinion
about who deserves to win, who
does not deserve the golden stat-
uette and, crucially, who went
overlooked (what, no Oscar nod
for "Tintin"?).
I have a complaint as well.
For whatever reason, the Acad-
emy lost its way when it came to
the category of original score.
When filling out that section on
your Oscars ballots come Feb.
25, you'll find such names as
John Williams (twice), Ludovic
Bource, Howard Shore and
Alberto Iglesias. You will not,
I regret to say, find the name of
one Trent Reznor.
Reznor, the sole permanent
member, producer and singer-
songwriter of the musical group
Nine Inch Nails, together with
longtime collaborator and pro-
ducer Atticus Ross, won the
Oscar for 2010's "The Social Net-
work" - the duo's first foray into
movies. But, more importantly,
they are two of the most original
and groundbreaking film com-
posers tocome along in quite
some time.
The opening scene of "The
Social Network" is but one stellar
example of their strengths. Mark

the Dra
one las
boot "b
scene t
voss tw
hums a
beat af
near p.
the bes
two m'
the Dr
only th
Ross h
of fam
one of
with it
rock, I
with tl
ing fro
give a:
this yr
with t

berg (Jesse Eisenberg, "30 Hollywood seems to be expe-
s or Less") and soon-to- riencing of late. A black-and-
girlfriend Erica Albright white movie could very well win
y Mara, "The Girl with best picture, and Billy Crystal,
agon Tattoo") share the host our parents know and
t meal together before love, is back once again. There's
ht gives Zuckerberg the nothing wrong with the com-
ecause he's an asshole." posers the Academy chose to
ween that now infamous nominate. I grew up with John
up scene and the first Williams's themes to "Juras-
o portray Zuckerberg in sic Park," "Raiders of the Lost
tion with the Winkle- Ark," "Superman" and "Star
ins, Reznor's score Wars" seemingly defining what
along eerily, synthesized it meant to have an adventure
ter synthesized beat, through movies.
ementing Zuckerberg's I suppose that in a year when
ted, adolescent rage to moviegoers and filmmakers
erfection. Though the alike "collectively looked back,"
my may have-deemed the it makes sense to exclude those
unworthy of winning who don't take Hollywood's
st-picture category, the glory days as a template. There
en behind the music were are some who might say (with
ly recognized for their a degree of justification) that
bution. farming out musical composi-
tion to "rock stars" is just a way
to save money on the large-scale
he Ac d e my orchestras required by the likes
of "War Horse," "Hugo" and
n this battle "Tintin." This is partially true.
Why use a full orchestra when
it they w on't Reznor, aided by Ross, can do
his work in a studio, using digi-
vin the w ar. tal media technology instead of
paying union musicians?
This time, I'll settle for a look
back, a celebration of the more
ile 2011's "The Girl with wholesome, more traditional
agon Tattoo" marks movies, like those from Spiel-
heir second cinematic berg and scored by Williams.
from the opening-credit Yet if Reznor's musical career
ce it's evident Reznor and is any indication, his influence
ave cemented a place for casts a long shadow, and the
elves in the film-score hall imitators will come. Winning
e. With a cover of Led Zep- an Oscar isn't necessary to show
."Immigrant Song" that that the hard-edged style of
have come directly from Reznor can do wonders for the
Nine Inch Nails' albums movies as well as a 100-piece
:s mastery of electronic symphony.
Reznor and Ross do with I've still got a soft spot for the
what the film editors do old-fashioned scores I grew up
he images of bodies emerg- with. But if I'm going to down-
rm a black sludge that load a movie soundtrack, it's
across the screen - they got to be Trent. Not because it's
n ominous sense of fore- better, but because it's different.
g, of something lurking just And I'll listen, with or without
th the surface. the Academy's approval.

they weren't nominated
ear, which is upsetting.
ps it has something to do
he collective nostalgia

Axelrad is headbanging to
Nine Inch Nails. To stop him,
e-mail axelrad@umich.edu.

The Fray's scars tell no
stories on latest production

Dog ditches nostalgia
for freshness in 'Void'

Daily Arts Writer
So you're making a new friend
at a party. An awkward pause
ensues, and all you hear is music
Partly to break
the "silence"
and partly to Dr. Dog
see if you actu-
ally want to be Be the Void
friends with ANTI-
this person, you
ask - "what is
your favorite band?" The answer:
the Beatles. On the outside, you
nod approvingly. On the inside,
you think about how to leave the
Sound familiar? You probably
live in the year 2012. Music has
become so varied and so much
creativity bursts from countless
blogs that you have long grown
bored of '60s pop. You envy swag,
and no longer want Paul McCart-
ney's hair.
Dr. Dog has long been derided
as a lonely bit of '60s nostalgia
floating in an ocean of 21st cen-
tury musical innovations. Its
embrace of '60s pop and even the
to-fi sound were considered too
referential to the past, and not
innovative enough to be given
heaps of praise. However, Be The
Void, the band's latest release,
doesn't give anyone opportunity
to make such criticisms. How
does it do so? Through its embrace
of a more fast-paced, indie rock.
'The first two songs, "Lone-
some" and "That Old Black Hole,"
signal the band's progression.

Like the best evolutions, it incor-
porates tradition with innova-
tion. "Lonesome" feels a lot like
something off of Dr. Dog's second
album, Easy Beat. It's "chill" -
slow-paced to a point where it just
touches on lethargy and utilizes
vocal harmonies. But it's only a
prelude to something much more
"That Old Black Hole" begins a"
true energy boost for the album,
becoming more energetic as the ANTI.
song goes on so that the final
minute culminates with a barn- eternal bliss to dance around the
storming finale. All of the band's listener. At this point, the '60s
mechanical power is employed. pop influences are submerged
The bass and drums pump with in a more encompassing indie
increasingly reckless abandon, rock, and the music can no longer
and underlie an organ-like instru- belong to such a simplistic temr-
ment and space-like (hence the plate.
"black hole") effects indicative Unfortunately, there are times
of Dr. Dog's brand of psychedelic when it seems Dr. Dog has tried
rock. too hard to incorporate some
innovations, and the end product
just feels strange. This occurs in
M erging '60s "Warrior Man," in which com-
puterized beeps and boops meld
sound vwith a with an off-kilter rock. The result
throws the listener off-balance
groovy nevv after getting used to a vibe of viva-
cious good-feeling.
generation. For the most part, Be the.Void
is an enthralling bacchanal that
repurposes Dr. Dog's harmonic
sound for summery abandon
From there, the pace doesn't rather than '60s nostalgia. Tra-
ever return to its "Lonesome" ditional fans should not fear the
low. It develops an almost Carib- change, since the indulgence in
bean spirit, and "Get Away" seems harmony and electronic effects is
to epitomize this feeling the most. still there, and fans of indie rock
The conga drums and harmo- should find this a worthy listen.
nized chanting conjure images of Dr. Dog should rest easy, know-
tropical dusk around a fire, invit- ing its latest effort will please the
ing the feelings of escapism and masses.

For the Daily
There is an expectation that
The Fray has set for its listeners.
Whether its goal is to be a top-
40 band or not,
that's what the
group is. Pre-
viously, The
Fray released The Fray
albums with Scars & Stories
at least two or
three hits per Epic
record, with
the remaining
tracks containing powerful pia-
no-rock music.
And by the time a rock group
gets to its third studio album,
its true test is whether it can
withstand the difficulty of cre-
ating new and interesting mate-
rial, especially almost seven years
later, as in the case of Scars Et Sto-
ries. The downside to the group
writing all of its own material -
and this applies for many music
groups in general - is that it has
to endure the critiques of many
listeners about how the material
is either too similar or too differ-
Unfortunately, Scars ft Stories
is lacking. The promotional sin-
gle "Heartbeat" didn't perform
nearly as well as the lead singles
for its other albums, and with that
song having the most mainstream
sound to it, this doesn't bode well
for the success of other singles on
the album. The beginning of the
song's chorus also has a brief but
uncanny resemblance to the cho-
rus of Coldplay's "Every Teardrop
Is a Waterfall."
Ignoring the album's poten-
tial commercial success, it still
misses its target among fans of all
of The Fray's work. Isaac Slade's
voice is perfectly suited for a tone
of sadness and desperation, so it
complements the group's heav-
ily emotional music. And while
The Fray's sophomore, self-titled

"Are you sure he said Platform 9,?"

of a pe
and cry
to t
lious fe
such as
to pusl
the gre
an ear]
is a m:
the alb
Fray e)
of con

essentially paints a picture the place. If the band wanted
rson crawling in a corner variety in its sound, it. probably
'ing for hours on end, such shouldn't have waited until its
n is lacking in its third third studio album to flip things
around on its listeners.
Despite these critiques, Scars
ft Stories isn't bad so much as it's
disappointing. "Run For Your
.eir attempts Life" and "The Wind" are solid
tracks that embody the usual
:ie the album intensity of the group, while "I
Can Barely Say" is the perfect
'ether end up touch of different, with only
piano, vocals and the faint sound
frayed. of a string orchestra. Addition-
ally, Slade uses significantly
more falsetto in the song, rather
than pushing his lower vocal reg-
first few tracks on this ister. It's a stylistic change, that
actually have a more rebel- still expresses the same message
relingto them, with songs the group usually conveys. The
"The Fighter" attempting quality of this song alone puts the
h back the loneliness that album on the radar.
sup typically writes about. Based on this album, it might
Me on," which invokes be time for The Fray to swallow
ier Gavin DeGraw album, its pride and get songwriting or
ajor shift to more shallow production assistance from a rep-
ng in the context of love. utable name. Even singer-song-
.King's "Rainy Zurich" has writer genius Adele had help from
comparable to The Script's Ryan Tedder, Paul Epworth and
O'Donoghue. Given all the a number of others for her album
risons, the issue present in 21. It depends on what the group's
um is obvious. Fans of The artistic goals are, but The Fray
xpect a reasonable amount needs to organize its priorities if it
sistency with the group's anticipates continuing to work in
but the tracks are all over the music industry.


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