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January 10, 2012 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-01-10

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - 7

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, January10, 2012 - 7


"We're bringing sexy back."
Snow has Fallen

Newest Snow Patrol
effort underwhelms
Daily Arts Writer
It's been over three years
since Scottish outfit Snow Patrol
released their last studio album,
2008's A Hun-
dred Million **
Suns. If fans
are looking for Snow Patrol
a follow-up
that's far from Fallen Empires
profound, the Fiction/Interscope
band's latest is
just about the
ideal album - Snow Patrol's sixth
studio effort, Fallen Empires, is
an uninspired collection of tunes
that is easily forgettable.
The album opens with "I'll
Never Let Go," a shapeless ven-
ture with predictable pop-rock
percussion. The song takes a
decided turn toward the rock end
of the spectrum with the addition
of backup vocals by folk rocker
Lissie. But her wailing sounds out
of place and only adds confusion
to the direction of the album.
The whole of Fallen Empires
appears to be an attempt at a
sequel to Snow Patrol's big-

gest hit to date, 2006's "Chas-
ing Cars." Most of the tracks are
spent unsuccessfully taking aim
at the perfect angst-ridden love
"This Isn't Everything You
Are," one such attempt, features
the groan-worthy lines, "Feels
like you loved him more than he
loved you / And you wish you'd
never met / Don't keel over now."
The song fulfills that resounding-
ly dull Snow Patrol mentality of
love as the be-all, end-all, must-
have force of life.
One of Fallen Empires's few
pleasant surprises is "The Sym-
phony," which starts out with a
more exciting, synthesizer-based
percussion line. The rest of the
song is a wash, but the introduc-
tory rhythm on its own stands out
more than most of the collection's
Another is "The President,"
the darkest ballad of the album.
It's built on a foundation of mini-
malist piano chords and elon-
gated string lines and is easily
the most convincing track of the
bunch. Coincidentally (or not),
it's also the least produced - and
therefore the least obnoxiously
One shift that the group has
taken is a noticeably heavy use
of layered unison vocals. Dur-
ing the title track, a chorus even

chants "We are the light," no less
than 48 times. Impressive, but
not in a good way. That's the case
in point - Fallen Empires lacks
the self-editing required of any
band that hopes to make a repeat-
edly listenable album. The track
titled "Life-ning" centers around
the vocalist moaning "this is all I
ever wanted from life" over and
over. Like this song, most of the
album's material feels unneces-
The album closes with "Bro-
ken Bottles Form A Star (Pre-
lude)," an instrumental track
laced with plucking strings and
pulsing piano. The song barely
peaks before it's over, cascading
with momentum. Surprisingly,
it's a refreshingly positive note to
end on.
Snow Patrol would have great-
ly benefitted from cutting a few
songs off of Fallen Empires, shav-
ing the selection down to focus
the direction a bit more. As a
whole, the lyricism feels unmo-
tivated and the production lack-
luster. Disappointingly, it sounds
like Fallen Empires was made in
a mere few weeks - after a full
listen of the album, most of the
songs blur together.
The majority of Fallen
Empires's fourteen tracks, clock-
ing in at one hour, aren't worth
your time.

" he magic of the mov-
ies." The old adage
connotes escapement
and fantasy. In today's cin-
ematic landscape the saying is
truer than
ever - Pan-
dora literally
leaps out at
us from the b
screen, invit-
ing audiences
to share in
James Cam- JACOB
eron's fic- AXELRAD
tional world.
Marvel Stu-
dios cranks out superhero flick
after superhero flick, and we as
viewers now expect such block-
busters and the technical savvy
inherent in their creation.
I'll admit it - I'm no differ-
ent. I ooh'ed, aah'ed and all but
drooled right there in the theater
when Sam Worthington first
inhabited his avatar, catapult-
ing himself into a landscape so
colorful and pristine it could
only be, well, imaginary. Though
we know this to be the case,
it's worth repeating, given the
legions of fans committingthe
Na'vi language to memory.
The reason I'm stating the
obvious - as if I recently learned
humans are not in fact waging
full-fledged wars with alien
races - is because I have only just
discovered this, ina sense. While
I'm aware we cannot transfer
our consciousness to giant blue
bodies and swing from big, bright
Pandora trees, I've only just
learned of the merits of non-fic-
tion in film. I'm talking about our
world, the one that actually exists
all around us.
For those who already consid-
er themselves fans of the docu-
mentary genre, you've got one
new member. And for those who
scorn documentaries as a carni-
vore scorns broccoli, Iask you
to open your minds and sacrifice
glamour and CGI for stories of
real people.
First, some background infor-
mation: Documentaries were not
always on my radar. I watched
them, sure, but mainly out of
obligation when my parents

"Oh, it'
It's sup
they w
but a s
it. I wa
and ou
sors as
work. I
taste: f
of: "Be
I knew
but sin
call a "
My frir
ing bet
rest, as
the '90
later ra
Phife D
ture bl

ntary magic
request I see a movie with were told that left me glad I'd
'Which one?" I would ask. set aside an hour and a half.
's a new documentary. A central plot point describes
posed to be really good," the behind-the-scenes tensions
ould say. And I would between Q-Tip and Phife, a key
What is a documentary reason for the group's breakup
eries of interviews spliced in 1998. This isn't "Jersey
er with black and white Shore" or some melodramatic
e added in for historical depiction of reality. The guys
entation? I wasn't having tell it like it is, and the truth
itched them with family of their lives resonated more
it of necessity when profes- powerfully with me than any
signed them for home- special-effects-laden bonanza
But "mockumentaries" like I've seen in a long time.
and Recreation" and "The Director Michael Rapaport sits
were more suited to my down with Tribe's four original
unny, half hour episodes of members and countless guest
ion documenting nothing. interviews to better understand
the complexities behind the
disintegration of a relationship
1k e reminiscent of McCartney and
o KnewLennon: two childhood friends
'al life could who make music together and
are eventually pulled apart by the
so thrilling? thing they love most.
Yet the little moments make
this film great. Phife cries when
he learns his wife will donate
change occurred last her kidney to him (he's diabetic).
er. My best friend sug- Q-Tip shares his joyin finding the
a title I had never heard perfect beat on the most obscure
ats, Rhymes & Life: The records he can get his hands on.
s of A Tribe Called Quest." The two friends dance together,
r about the hip-hop group, freely and uninhibited, in the
ce I'm not what one might recordingstudio in preparation
music guy," I was hesitant. for their 2010 reunion tour.
end persisted. I had noth- At the film's end, Q-Tip says
ter to do, so I gave in. The "I think the reason why A Tribe
they say, is history. I was Called Quest is still relevant
d. today after all this time is
ats" presents the rise and because it was truth, it was hon-
ture demise of A Tribe esty." If only I could say these
Quest, one of the most words to myself five months ago,
ant hip-hop groups of the guy who shrugged his shoul-
s, which influenced ders at the thought of watching
appers such as Common, talking heads discuss boring
, Kanye West and many, <em>real</em> issues instead of
more. Beginning with the action-packed, phantasmagori-
s early days growing up in cal sci-fi fare. As I should have
s, N.Y., the film tracks its remembered, a good story, told
ss as the four members - right, will always captivate. If
(Kamaal Ibn John Fareed), there's honesty, then people will
)awg (Malik Taylor), Ali listen. Sometimes a 3-D epic is
ed Muhammad and Jarobi the way to get there. And some-
- develop their signa- times, all you need are memo-
end of Q-Tip's laid-back, ries, recounted to a camera, to
h rhythms topped off with remind us of the power of mov-
fiery lyrics. This John ies. That's where the magic lies.
ne-meets-N.W.A. combi-
placed them on top of the Axelrad is watching all of the
p scene for a brief time. documentaries on Netflix. To join
it was the way the stories him, e-mail axelrad@umich.edu.

'Work It' doesn't work

Uplifting, impersonal 'Dreamer'

DailyArts Writer
If men are from Mars and
women are from Venus, why can't
Lee Standish find a job on his own
planet? The star
of ABC's new
sitcom "Work
It," Ben Kol- Work It
dyke ("Stuck
on You") plays Pilot
the befuddled Tuesdays at
family man 8:30 p.m.
forced to resort
to unorthodox ABC
methods (ahem,
cross-dressing) in an apparently
female-dominated workforce.
Presenting yet another program
encircling the tragic dwindling
of masculine power (hello, "Last
Man Standing"), ABC redeems
itself through a sympathetic cast,
but fails to deliver the ferocity
implied by its title.
Salesman Lee Standish has a
heart of gold, and a 14-karat gold
heart bauble embodied in the
polished hoops of his feminine
alias. Escaping the seemingly
imminent fate of Astro Taco ser-
vitude, Standish readily braves a
nine-to-five life of lipstick for a
position with Coreco Pharmaceu-
ticals. As an employee of a com-
pany for which a uterus is worth
more than a degree, Standish and
best friend Angel Ortiz (Amaury
Nolasco, "Prison Break") pose as
conspicuously broad-shouldered
women in order to regain the dig-
nity stripped by a failing economy.
The two modern bosom buddies
wiggle their way back to earning
a paycheck, but not without learn-
ing a thing or two about the labors
of women.
Replacing the failed sitcom
"Man Up," "Work It" is ABC's
third attempt at reining in a male
audience, touting subtle sexist
remarks and cries for the salva-
tion of manhood in the face of
recession - or, as bar-hopping
friend Brian (comedian John

Caparulo) calls it, a "MAN-ces- ability, sets such low expecta-
sion." This regurgitated idea of tions comedically that its few
female superiority as less accept- "laugh out loud" moments are
able than its male parallel does a welcome surprise. A notable
ABC no favors in appealing to example is Angel's sex drive,
either sex. The men are pitifully which gives "Work It" a refined,
desperate in their job hunt, blam- albeit soft, adult sense of humor
ing the female demographic for that's just subtle enough to sail
their failures with claims like, over kids' heads, yet elicits its
"When the women take over, fair share of double-takes from
they'll make pride illegal ... that older viewers.
and eating on the toilet." But ABC The most obvious - but wel-
must have some innovative twist come - shift from the ABC line
up its sleeve to balance out such of testosterone-driven television
a pathetically old-school attitude, is protagonist Lee Standish. A
right? Right? sympathetic victim of the econ-
omy and pantyhose, Standish
displays an endearing conscience
Drag is so last and respectable knowledge of
the industry. Unlike Tim Allen's
season. character in "Last Man Stand-
sea n ing," Standish is not a stubborn,
rambling bonehead. Koldyke
portrays the character with an
Wrong. Unless a pair of men honesty and innocence that is
sporting a pair of boobs is new (it impossible to dislike. Not once
isn't), "Work It" offers little more does Standish lapse into the
than the formulaic family sitcom. role of patronizing, resentful
Misunderstood teenage daugh- husband. Rather, he escapes
ter? Check. Neglected housewife? the obnoxious fall into blind,
Check. A horny heckler, bubbling "macho" pride and presents a
blonde and bitchy co-worker? No rather forgivable cluelessness.
doubt. Complete with a musi- If there has tobe one "last man
cal montage of wardrobe mal- standing" among ABC's repeti-
functions and makeup mishaps, tive slew of man-powered disap-
"Work It," unfortunately, knows pointments, please let it be Lee
how to work a good stereotype, if Standish. Any man willing to
nothing else. brave stilettos for his family is
Yet the show, in its predict- worth a second chance.

Daily Arts Writer
Common embodies paradox.
In one instance he is beating his
chest, parading in the guise of
an early '90s
rap braggado-
cio and spitting
misogyny. In Common
another, he's
calm, spiri- The Dreamer/
tual, present, The Believer
advising young Think Common
people to follow
their dreams Music Inc.
and embrace
love. In his music, the man spends
some time reminiscing about
being "tough" in the hood, but
Maya Angelou proudly gushes
that "this man could be my son"
in an interview with The Mash
at the Common Ground Founda-
tion Gala 2011. There is certainly
somethingnovel aboutthis duali-
ty, and manybelieve thatparadox
is the womb of creativity. Unfor-
tunately, Common doesn't quite
live up to this suggestion in The
Dreamer/The Believer.
This is not to say that the
album doesn't have its moments.
"Blue Sky" is pure visceral
delight. The track begins in a
subterranean mode with muffled
voices singing barely audible
lyrics, producing an anticipa-
tory, hair-raisingshiver. Quickly,
the track soars into the heights
its name suggests. The back-
ground singing clarifies and the
bass thumps, making listeners
feel like they could conquer the
world. Common's lyrics certainly
add to this motivational effect, as
he urges listeners to follow their

dreams and be the best they can
be. 'i'his is the spiritual Common
at his best: combining hip hop
and modern spirituality into a
consciously uplifting work of art.
The song "Celebrate" is also
a highlight. Perhaps Common is
shamelessly aiming to chart-top
and radio-drop with this track,
but it comes out well nonetheless.
The beat evokes a piano-laden
pop suggestive of the lightness-
of-being that Common feels in a
gathering of friends and females.


"Blue S
ities o
song 1
es mo
used tc
- the
and be


rate," when sidled with By not addressing these ques-
ky," exemplifies the polar- tions, the album feels more like
f Common's identity. The a sermon than a rap work. It's
eaves behind Common's anti-personal, and there are
al tendencies and embrac- countless, more efficient ways of
re of what listeners are deliveringmotivational messages
oin the popular rap sphere about the importance of dream-
allure of material wealth ing. The Maya Angelou poem
autiful women. alone, read in the opening track
"The Dreamer," would suffice for
this purpose.
Tot enough Unfortunately for Common,
No I.D.'s production isn't imagi-
native enough to gloss over the
II~ * deficiencies in the lyrics. As
shown in "Blue Sky" and "Cel-
ebrate," the album can be vis-
pite this richness of iden- cerally satisfying. But that is the
ersonal reflection seems height of its aural achievement.
largely missing from the Nuance is essentially absent, and
. The only snippet of Com- the beats progress predictably,
life listeners hear about is seeming only to exist as a back-
on's relationship with his ground to Common's voice.
er, and it is not substan- What we are left with is an
:ow can Common expect enjoyable album that doesn't
um to be compelling when achieve its highest potential.
positional nature of his Common feels like a faceless pro-
y is not addressed? How vider of aphorisms, embodying
tmmon come to embrace the vague archetypes of love-
and spirituality despite seeking soul and appetitive ego,
ig up in an environment exhibiting none of the wholeness
unsuitable to these kinds and complexity of human per-
ngs? sonality.

tity, p
to be
tial. H
the alb
the op
did Cu
of feeli

January 12, 17 or 18 |1 7:30 p.m. 1420 Maynard St.

1 I


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