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March 20, 2012 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-03-20

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 5

Falling for pop radio

"Did you miss us?"
Returning to
The Shins are back he belongs - fronting the Shins.
With a few minor changes to r
from a five-year their previous makeup (there's
a girl in the Shins now?) and hot h
hiatus, little changes on the heels of an "SNL" appear-
ance, they release Port of Morrow n
By EDITH FREYER today, a 10-track album that's
DailyArts Writer pretty darn good, considering a
that they're really out of practice. f
Do you realize how long it's The record opens with a sound s
been since the Shins released that is strikingly familiar to Shins
their last album? Five years. We fans - "The Rifle's Spiral" deliv- p
college stu- ers upbeat guitar chords sprin- a
dents were kled with chimes. James Mercer t
still in high croons, "You're not invisible now n
school - or The Shins / You just don't exist." Ahh, nos- o
worse, middle talgia. This stuff feels good. g
school. Yikes. Port of The album's single, "Simple (
Thankfully, Morrow Song," is a huge success. It has just i
they're back, Aural Apothecary/ the right amount of energy for a e
and sounding Columbia perfect first-song-back-from-hia- r
as good as ever. tus. It's enough to reassure fans S
But the Shins that everything is alright, and the
haven't exactly grown up along Shins have a whole lot of future t
with us. Their music sounds just ahead of them. This song also li
about the same as it did in 2007. features what may be the most e
It's comforting, in a way - but stereotypically Shins-ish lyrics of I
borderline underwhelming. the album: "You tell me with your 1
James Mercer, arguably the tongue / And your breath was in
most influential member of the my lungs." c
Shins - OK, who are we kidding, The Shins take on their version (
there's no argument - has still of a ballad with "It's Only Life," a
got it. Since 2007, he has been drooping, sentimental track that
floating around the alternative pairs effortlessly with Mercer's y
music scene, most notably form- nasally falsetto. The song picks up c
ing the semi-successful band steamas itprogresses,toyingwith c
Broken Bells in 2010. But he's syncopation and hard-hitting per- n
back where all alt-lovers think cussion, which add just enough a

quirk to help the band achieve its
ecognizable pop-rock sound.
"Fall of '82" has an ear-catch-
ng guitar opening and allows
Mercer to experiment with his
range a little - he sounds phe-
nomenal. Throw in abrass bridge
nd soft, echoing vocals into the
formula and voila! It's a Shins
ong.
With an updated sense for
publicity - iTunes streamed the
lbum for free for a week prior
o the release - the Shins seem
eady to boogie on this next leg
if their musical life. They've
got an international tour ahead
and they're coming to Detroit
n June!), and fans seem to be
nthusiastic about Port of Mor-
ow - or maybe it's just about the
Shins being active again at all.
Because when it comes down
o it, there's not a whole lot to dis-
ike about this album, but it's not
xactly the most fulfilling, either.
t's good, it's solid and it's clear-
y another brainchild of James
Mercer - everything we have
come to expect from these guys
and girl ...). But if they continue
making music - hopefully fans
won't have to wait another five
'ears - it would be nice to hear a
change or risk of some kind. They
an give us something different
row - we already know that we'll
lways love them.

Tn a previous column, I
lamented the rebirth of
Detroit's 107.5, WGPR. At
the crest of the new year, the
radio station switched program-
ming from
R&B/Gospel/
Soul/whatev-
er-you'd-like-
to-call-it, to
Radio One's
less exotic
chaff of hip-
hop-top 40 JOE
(their web DIMUZIO
page claims
to "target"
African American/urban con-
sumers - a market-ready verb I
don't find particularly endear-
ing in any sense). Pre-2012, I
had listened to GPR hoping to
hear the ghost of the legendary
Detroit DJ Electrifying Mojo
and others kicking around some
great disco, acid house and
techno on weekends. I remained
content to ignore an otherwise
tepid array of what they played
throughout most of the week - a
mix of what will pass for "grown
'n' sexy" these days with some
disorienting health, economic
and religious advice on Sunday
afternoons.
I would pre-set GPR into my
van's number-three button, jug-
gling between WCBN, assorted
top-40 alternatives, WDET/
WUOM and the occasional wave
of static. Despite the jarring shift
in programming, I've chosen to
leave it locked in, a button push
away. And like any serious rela-
tionship, I'm learning to harbor
the flaws and patience necessary
to find true love.
The station is more or less
anonymous now and less adven-
turous than the "old" GPR. In a
one-hour stretch it manages to
play the requisite two to three
Drake songs, amid the rest of a
limited stable of charting hip-
pop. I could probably count the

numbe
on the
hands.
got wh
Yet!
little ti
to ende
who ac
utterly
air hor
drop -
but no'
daffy, s
ers' tw
by thei
screen
GOTTi
and "D
PART
during
always
And
music.
played
and ali
listena

Re
H

r of songs I have heard bride (cocaine), hustling, bailing
station with four or five him out of jail, warming his bed.
You can get what they've Third, and most importantly, is
erever. the petulant drone tailing the
there are little habits, ends of Jeezy's phrases, peaking
cs that have snuck in blissfully in the hook "I said I do,
ear me. Particular DJs I do, I do, I do, I do /You know I
tively spin (usually in an do!" leaving him sounding par-
adequate style) and drop ticularly like Kel on an orange
ns into everybuild and soda bender and a whiny, infatu-
a trick that annoyed me, ated child.
w makes me smile. The Drake, whose comicallybela-
spitfire readings of listen- bored "softness" marks him as
eets on-air, accompanied an outlier (he sings and raps!)
r typically ridiculous is far less endearing even when
names. The inane "YOU his tracks intoxicate. For all the
A GET DOWN HERE"s "sensitivity" flack, he is usually
ETROIT'S HOTTEST a relentless misogynist (par-
Y!"s shouted over crowds ticularly on the supercilious and
live broadcasts - almost fantastically rhythmic "Make
>held out a bit too long. Me Proud (Proud of You)," which
of course there is the leaves me singing along to ahook
Practically all of it over- I despise thematically but other-
,much of it uninspired wise dig).
most all of it relentlessly Some part of me demands
ible. some sort of transgressive
politics with my pop, making
me resistant to the net impact of
Jeezy's predictable thug-drug-
romance and Drake's "sensitive"
)7.5 W GPR. condescension ... but I'm torn.
Can simple, predictable ideas
thrill and satisfy just as much
as nuance and subtlety? Need
ng Jeezy's "I Do" is a we endorse the entirety of our
never skip and manage to favorite pop singer's idealized
least daily. It's sort of an identity? Can our comfort food
ruous mess with a charac- be gourmet?
ally labored Jay-Z verse, a At this unholy pop matri-
teristically celestial run- mony we may stomp on wine
Andre 3000 (both of which glasses, stuff cake in each other's
etter on paper than they faces, slide rings on fingers and
r M16's Southern belle of a trade vows (this column being
nd Jeezy being Jeezy. And a particularly tipsy and verbose
zy's verse and hook that's example) before staring each
ed me in spite of what other straight in the eyes, maybe
s enthused about. First, smiling, trading "I do's" without
s Jeezy, ready to ride or irony, swagger or confliction.
rd and strapped and pen- With honesty (or at leastsignify-
n ode to the crack game ing it) and eyes tearing up, whis-
d as an ode to marriage. pering, "I do. You know I do!"

You]
track I
hear at
incong
teristic
charac
on byA
read b
do ove'
beat) a
it's Jee
charm
I'm les
there i
die, ha
ning at
cloake
Second
he's ca
ment a
tion, w

I, there's the lovely zone
ught in, between commit-
nd the fantasy of devo-
here he can idealize his

Dimuzio is starting his own
radio station. To tune in, e-mail
shonenjo@umich.edu.

One Direction can't quite
capture boy-band nostalgia

Tanlines just skin-deep

By KATIE STEEN
DailyArts Writer
Minus the tornado-y hail, it's
probably safe to say that spring
has arrived in Ann Arbor. Time
for the return
of Wayfar-
ers, frenzied
joggers, Arb Tanlines
excursions and
Tanlines. Mixed
Tanlines, Emotions
the electro-
pop duo from True Panther
Brooklyn, has
arrived just in time with their
debut LP Mixed Emotions. While
the guys - instrumentalist Jesse
Cohen and vocalist Eric Emm -
released a compilation album and
an EP in 2010, this marks their
first LP. They've made plenty of
remixes and some surprisingly
popular singles, but Mixed Emo-
tions serves as an examination of
whether Tanlines can create an
album that stands on its own.
Mixed Emotions is an album
created while in motion: Emm and
Cohen began it while on tour in
Europe, continued in a Brooklyn
studio, migrated to various apart-
ments and ended up in Miami to
seek the aid of production genius
Jimmy Douglass. Oddly enough,
Emm and Cohen, in an interview
with electronic news publication
The Daily, expressed dissatisfac-
tion about the collaboration with
Douglass. Apparently, their work
with the four-time Grammy win-
ner resulted in something that
began sounding "pretty terrible"
and "ended up somewhere in the
middle." Too often, the compro-
mise is uncomfortably apparent
in the album - it's a sunny and
danceable record, but as the boys
admitted, quite average.
While in Miami, Emm and
Cohen would go earn their tan
lines every morning swimming
in the ocean, then record for the
rest of the day. This explains the
beach-inspired sound found in
the first track "Brothers," which
begins with wave noises and
adds in some bongos and pulsat-

TRUE PANTHER
"Do you want to come to a plaid party with us? It's on a farm."
ing bass that begs to be blasted, an alluring lowness to flirty high
resulting in what sounds like notes, combined with a simple,
a rave on an island. But Mixed adorable xylophone solo. Mixed
Emotions goes beyond techno - Emotions is obviously poppy, but
the album features more of the its cheery charm overweighs the
deep voice of Emm than Tan- substance that could make this
lines devotees may be used to. album something more than a
His throaty vocals could poten- collection of poolside tunes.
tially give Tanlines an advantage While profound messages
over the babyish singing of simi- may feel slightly out of place in
lar African-inspired bands like an album like Mixed Emotions, it
Vampire Weekend, but unfortu- still calls for lyrics a little more
nately, the majority of Tanlines' original than "sky so blue" and
tracks have lackluster melodies "green grass" (in the song "Green
that serve more as background Grass," of course). For an album
music for tanning on the roof. with the name ofMixedEmotions,
most tracks sound as happy as a
sundrenched beachgoer. Some
Not enough songs, such as "Abby," attempt to
experiment with moodier emo-
brooding tions, but these tracks end up
sounding forced and confused.
Perhaps Tanlines simply
needs to be inspired by a bit
That's not to say that all of more than what they've found
Mixed Emotions is forgettable. exploring Europe, Brooklyn and
"Brothers" is one exception, Miami beaches in order to create
along with the addicting steel a more genuine album. Emm and
drums of tracks such as "Real Cohen have proven their techno
Life." "Green Grass" seems to be talents with an impressive array
created for the sole purpose of of remixes,but if they're going to
frolicking through meadows on try to make any larger of a mark
ecstasy, while the sound of "All as musicians, maybe they should
of Me" evokes images of Mickey pull a Bon Iver and go brood
Mouse hugging kids on cruise pretentiously alone for a winter.
ships. But the strength of this While it's tempting to include
album comes from its ability to the band in the same category as
have a collected vivacity, simul- groups like Vampire Weekend,
taneously catchy and cool. The ultimately, Tanlines pales in
vocals of "Yes Way" shift from comparison.

By GREGORY HICKS
Daily Arts Writer
Without a doubt, One Direc-
tion's debut will have 15-year-
old girls jumping for joy all over
the United
States. This
group could get
a number-one One
album from
remixes of Direction
"Happy Birth- Up All Night
day," as long as
the cover art is Columbia
included.
The success
of the group is surprising, espe-
cially given that- One Direction
was formed from the failure of
its individual members to make
it through the UK television sing-
ing competition "The X Factor."
If only the content of its album
Up All Night were as bold as the
mere presence of the group seems
to be. Whoever put the album
together for One Direction -
facing facts, nobody in the clan
is capable of more than making
noise and jumping - was playing
it very safe.
Three of the album's songs,
including its biggest hit "What
Makes You Beautiful," were writ-
ten by Rami, famous for his work
with the Backstreet Boys and
*NSYNC. This means that there
will be no whining about how
One Direction shouldn't be com-
pared to '90s boy bands, because
clearly, it's trying very hard to be
one. To complement this over-
used '90s songwriter, "Save You
Tonight" was written and pro-
duced by RedOne, who seems to
be on every album nowadays.
Overall, the tracks on the
album aren't bad, they're just not
interesting. Nothing jumps out at
the listener when going through
the record, especially not the
physical sound of the voices.
Unlike the carefully auditioned
boy bands of the '90s, One Direc-
tion was formed on a "Hey, let's
just do this" basis and is therefore
lacking distinct vocals. Essential-
ly, it will alwaysberecognized for
its song and not its sound - even

COLUMBIA
A buffet for teenie-boppers.
if that one guy does sound a lot their songs through stellar per-
like Zac Efron. formances or iconic videos to
Not only is there nothing spe- accompany them, like Beyonce's
cial about the majority of the "Single Ladies." This is not the
album's tracks, but a few actual- case with One Direction. Watch-
ly resemble past hits from other ing the music video for the lead
artists. For example, the song single on the album, "What
"One Thing," which is yet to be Makes You Beautiful," is basi-
released as a single in America, cally like watching a Levi's com-
has a chorus with a striking mercial.
similarity to Simple Plan's "Shut Though its lasting success
Up." in America is up in the air, One
Direction definitely seems to
have staked its claim in England
since the band's November debut
Believe it or there. However, sometimes the
musical tastes of England tend
not, this band to be too different for America
to handle. It's not as if the British
needs more have spawned another Beatles
group - its more of a British Big
m anufacturing. Time Rush without a TV show to
humiliate themselves with.
The album is simple at best.
Album titles like Back To Basics
One of the more original or Basic Instinct would have
songs on the album is "Tell Me been more fitting, if they hadn't
a Lie." It's catchy, it has lyrical already been taken by Christina
value and more importantly, the Aguilera and Ciara. Instead, the
production quality of a modern world gets to be Up All Night in
song. In a sea of basic tracks, fear of how this group will wea-
this one does manage to rise a sel its image onto any and every
tad above the others. It was also piece of media in existence. But
co-written by the fantastic Ms. then again, the name "One Direc-
Kelly Clarkson. tion" captures its musical com-
Some artists gain success with plexity pretty accurately.

AI

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