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September 11, 2012 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-09-11

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Being bewitched by
Wes Anderson

REPUBLIC
Verizon. More bars in more places.
Carpenteris hand
crafted Amerlicana

The Avett Brothers
hammer out soulful
hits on new album
By ANDREW WEINER
ManagingEditor
Scott and Seth Avett, two-
fifths of folk-rock outfit the Avett
Brothers, are the subjects of the
new chromatic
GAP televi-
sion spots. The 7k**
commercials
feature the The Avett
pair in a clas- Brothers
sic Gap gray-
scale studio, The Carpenter
just the Avetts Republic
and their gui-
tars. Watching
their eyes, it's clear something
isn't quite right - Americana,
melancholia, banjo and skinny
jeans? Both appear determined
not to meet the camera's eye-
line. They're the same folks who
helped bring American folk back
to the (near) mainstream in their
previous six albums, notably
2009's I and Love and You, but
with a cloudy blanket of corpo-
rate awkwardness. Would their
latest, The Carpenter, suffer
from the same?
"The Once and Future Car-
penter," opens the album and
answers this question with a
resounding "No." Right away,
the Avetts and their bassist Bob
Crawford (the core of the band)

remind us that they're real,
touch-the-dirt American musi-
cians. Simple guitar strumming
- other bands strum, but the
Avett Brothers strum - begins
the rhymed reflection on death.
In the course of the first minute
and a half, a second set of strings
joins, then another, and soon
voices add harmony. What start-
ed as a man and a guitar quickly
evolves into a humble tour-de-
force worthy of starting off The
Carpenter.
The words hit on beat in
"Pretty Girl from Michigan,"
until without warning, the last
lines spit rapid fire as if the
"Pretty Girl" stormed away and
the singer was compelled to fin-
ish his thought before the door
slammed. Like the vocals, the
guitar takes an unexpected turn
toward hard rock at the chorus.
But like a North Carolina gentle-
man, the rift is quick and the song
composes itself again. There's a
mish-mash of reasons it didn't
work out with the "Pretty Girl" -
first he blames her, then himself,
then, yeah, it was probably his
fault: "The way you cut the rope
that kept you dangling from such
pitiful amounts of hope / I would
have cut it too." Cue dramatic
guitar solo.
The cello steals "February
Seven," a haunting ballad of for-
getting but not necessarily for-
giving. "There's no returning to
the spoils / Once you've spoiled
the thought of them / There's no
falling back to sleep /Once you've

waken from the dream." The
cello is dreary enough for the wet
end of winter and its persistence
complements and.challenges the
lyrics in a battle of the disheart-
ened.
"Through My Prayers" follows,
its melody highly reminiscent of
"The Ballad of Love and Hate,"
from the Brothers' Emotionalism.
But "Ballad" is better, and this
track is easily passed over.
The biggest disappointment
on The Carpenter is that "Ger-
aldine" is only a hair over 90
seconds long. Its beat and four-
word-by-four-line stanzas are
up tempo and necessarily quick
- a shot of adrenaline before the
album fizzles out. Sandwiched
between "Geraldine" and album
closer "Life," the experimental
rock show "Paul Newman vs. the
Demons" sounds unneeded and
out of place.
"Life" is the perfect bookend
to complement "The Once and
Future Carpenter." It wouldn't
be an Avett Brothers album with-
out a casual reference to "hell on
earth," but overall the closer is
sentimental in instrumentation
and lyric. Exploring how love and
honesty can make life unearthly,
"Life" is the album's defining
track.
Produced by rock auteur Rick
Rubin, The Carpenter solidifies
that Avett Brothers can continue
to stay relevant with their classic
folk. The Gap jeans may be too
tight in a spot or two, but they
look great by and large.

pair of 12-year-olds
shimmied in their knick-
ers to the ba-dum-dum
of a plastic mobile record player
nested in the sand. Pale and
gritty like a
vintage pho-
tograph, the
scene flick-
ered before
me like a trib-
ute to the '60s
- all peace,
love and
horn-rimmed BRIANNE
glasses. JOHNSON
It seemed
familiar - but
why? Were the wardrobe's retro
silhouettes stretched over the
mannequins of a nearby Urban
Outfitters? Did Instagram send
the film through the "Earlybird"
filter like an indie car wash? Was
I just watching too much "Mad
Men"? (Probably, no, yes).
"It's a Wes Anderson thing,"
replied my neighbor, her words
muffled by a fistful of popcorn
and the sudden hush of the audi-
ence as the stars of "Moonrise
Kingdom" shuffled closer in the
sand for a smooch. Yes, that Wes
Anderson thing. How could I
forget?
There's a thrill in discovering
new talent - nudging an art-
ist from iTunes to make room
for the precious new addition
(it's a boy!); adding a fan page to
Facebook so that the world can
ooh-and-ahh at your broadened
horizons. Yet there's an irre-
futable joy in rediscovery, like
unburying a childhood toy from
the depths of the closet, an arti-
fact of the once loved.
As a long-time fan of the "The
Royal Tenenbaums" director, I'd
smudge my eyeliner iila Gwyn-
eth Paltrow's Margot Tenen-
baum and meet the characters'
stares with my own, smitten
with Anderson's world of quiet
nostalgia, deadpan gazes and dry
humor.
Sinking through my theater
seat and into Anderson's palm
with every minute of "Moonrise
Kingdom," I melted with Suzy
and Sam (newcomers Kara Hay-

ward J
cooked
My adr
had res
like an
Suzy a
sea.
But
is duet
history
like a f
there's
wry an
Anders
audien
throug
ambiar
delicat
retains
moans,
existen
I
re
no
Eac
Richie
cigaret
ray scr
raven-(
mystif:
tive -i
indulgi
simult;
ity, and
the and
tered j
his pict
retro c
ing the
era wit
flippin,
photoa
But1
surpas
ting an
fascina
emotio
into ev
scribbli
and on
and his
Dra'

ared Gilman) as the sun shallow recreation of a decade,
lover their shoreline tent. Anderson channels the inner
miration for the director workings of the young and
surfaced, materializing immature mind, presenting
uprooted treasure for each story through a twist of
nd Sam to fish from the wise children and wide-eyed
adults. He exposes the glories
Anderson's wistful appeal and the tantrums of pubes-
:o more than my personal cence, exhibiting the refusal of
, snuggling the director change and age in "The Royal
orsaken Malibu Ken doll; Tenenbaums," and the explo-
a greater nostalgia, a sive imagination of "Moonrise
d humble ode to the past. Kingdom."
son is the Peter Pan to his As if parading through their
ce's Lost Boys, leading us own Neverland, the characters
h hours of Neverland-ish are frozen in a state of man-
nce. His films flirt with a child. The Tenenbaums' same
e cynicism, yet each scene ensembles stretch into adult-
its warmth like an LP's hood, Margot bound in her fur
, unproven but sworn to coat and Richie strapped into a
ice by past generations. terry cloth headband from his
days as a child tennis champion.
The click-click-click of typewrit-
3i1l M u rr ers is still heard in ahouse in
which nothingchanges (not a
Sad this, but booknor aframe out of place)
despite the film's then-modern
one v ll ever setting. Royal Tenenbaum's epi-
taph is inscribed with the date of
believe us. "2t""Te
Like "The Royal Tenen-
baums," Anderson's latest
"Moonrise Kingdom" entangles
h frame - Margot and the roles and expectations of the
Tenenbaum sharing a child-adult dynamic, presenting
:te on the roof; Bill Mur- Suzy and Sam with the solem-
ambling in his pajamas; a nity of a veteran couple, yet the
costumed Kara Hayward spirit of invincibility likened to
ying a Camp Ivanhoe fugi- storybook characters. Chasedby
is given its own moment, a steadfast troupe of boy scouts
ing itself in the characters' slinging arrows like the Lost
aneous fragility and sever- Boys, escaped to the island of
lingers as if waiting for New Penzance and unofficially
ience to grasp an unut- married at the age of 12, these
oke. The director dilutes kids have done more with their
tures as if in homage to baby teeth intact than most pre-
inematography, sweep- teens embarking on homecoming
viewer into a different dances and midnight curfews.
h the eagerness of a child Anderson presents the past as
g through a grandparent's more than glamor or innocence;
album. it's something that clings to us
his dedication to the past throughout adulthood. He insists
ses vintage themes in set- that one may never outgrow the
d wardrobe. Anderson's monsters - or the skeletons - in
tion with the heightened his closet, never rid his clothes of
ns of childhood bleeds the last speck of pixie dust ... but
ery detail, like a toddler maybe that's not so bad.

ing past a paper's lines
to the walls, the carpet
own pudgy fingers.
wing on more than the

Johnson is lovin' on Wes
Anderson. To join the fan club,
e-mail briannen@umich.edu.

A kick-brass collaboration

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A
COMMITED RELATIONSHIP?
WRITE FOR DAILY ARTS!
To request an application (or more), e-mail
arts@michigandaily.com

By KATIE STEEN
DailyArts Writer
Pretend you're back in high
school, and David Byrne and
Annie Clark are in your class (for-
get the age gap
for a moment).
They're the
weird kids who
forgo prom, David Byne
instead prefer- and St.
ring to dance Vincent
alone to records
in their bed- Love This Giant
room. Fast-for- 4AD
ward to 2012,
and they are
still the same old weirdos, but
now they're also the cool kids,
hugely successful and loved by
thousands. And now, they've col-
laborated to create the highly-
anticipated Love This Giant - an
album that feels like a 45-minute,
brass-filled inside joke.
While almost any living per-
son with a set of healthy ears
has heard of Talking Heads and
its founding member, Rock and
Roll Hall of Famer David Byrne,
Annie Clark is a name less rec-
ognized but equally adored.
Known for her band St. Vincent,
with its manic, distorted guitar
lines and cherubic vocals, fans
anticipating Love This Giant may
be unsure of what to expect from
her alliance with the genteel
David Byrne.
With the release of the first
single and first track off the
album "Who," the public was
finally given a metallic taste of
Love This Giant. "Who" seems
to be a peek inside the funky
relationship Byrne and Clark
established in their time togeth-

er. Cheeky horns kick off the
song, and Byrne begins a series
of punchy questions balanced
by Clark's croons. Simply put,
"Who" is fun - a clear departure
from the dark, I'm-going-crazy
stuff St. Vincent fans are used to.
"Who," like much of the album,
has a heavy dose of Byrne's
vocals, which makes Giant seem
unfairly lopsided. The idea for
the brass rampant throughout
Love This Giant, however, was all

WANT TO
LEARN MORE SA
ABOUT TH E
DAILY? I i

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Those ever-present horns Giant remains a good time - one
t to counteract any overt that not everyone is sure how to
ce on the album from enjoy. Songs like "I Should Watch
rtist, but Love This Giant TV" and "I Am an Ape" bop along
les more of a babbling, despite the awkward, almost hap-
Talking Head - a shame hazard nature of Byrne's voice.
hat Clark really does have But part of the album's charm
e of a saint. derives from its slightly off per-
sonality. Giant could have been
nuzzled under layers of Clark's
Sinside joke vibrato, but that would have been
siejoke too easy instead the duo went
.n album, but for something a bit more bizarre
I - pointedly less attractive or
totally get it expected. Just look at the album
cover: Annie with a distorted,
we think, protruding jawline while Byrne's
chin features a grotesquely hand-
some cleft.
In an interview with Pitch-
Annie does have her fork, Clark designates the label
ts. In "Ice Age," Clark's of "harmless freaks" to herself
smooth and crystalline as and Byrne, which is appropri-
ns, "We won't know how ate given that Love This Giant is
ye lost until the winter defiantly abnormal. While Giant
While the same jaunty may at first seem like a big joke
and bounces along and whose punch line is only under-
hythm, the lyrics linger stood by kids who sit at the art
ster in standard St. Vin- table during lunch, the album
yle. "Lightning" gravi- is hardly untouchable. Giant is
ward Annie's earlier days, indeed quite loveable, but fans
ing a crunchy guitar that of both David Byrne and St. Vin-
along with Clark's almost cent might have to look past its
ngly saccharine vocals. awkward outside appearance
he most part, Love This first.

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A MASS
MEETING!
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Thurs., Sept. 13
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Sun., Sept. 23
ALL MEETINGS
AT 7:30 P.M.
LOCATED AT
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