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October 23, 2012 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-10-23

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1 The Michigan Daily- michigandaily.com

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 -5

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 5

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"Imma let you finish."
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Red' can't add pop star is growing up. She's now
on boyfriend number 321, who
nything new to is not only a Kennedy, but is also
still in high school. How's that for
pOp repetoire maturity?
To be fair, Red, in many ways,
By EMMA GASE is a step forward. Swift is try-
Daily Arts Writer ing, perhaps for the first time, to
sincerely and completely depart
r early twenties are tough. from her CMA, G-rated, big-
asked to deal with tax- haired pop-star-by-the-numbers
ials and tribulations such persona. The physical changes
truggling are all there: the Instagram
itch your album cover, the matte red lip-
zled stick, the striped shirts with
to yourT4 TayoSwift oxfords.
Ted mini Musically, it's there too: The
or try- Red songs on Red are a little longer,
compose Big Machine a little darker, a little richer lyri-
s of love cally. But the funny thing about
to the departures is they require abso-
four guitar chords. You're lute and genuine commitment. A
to wrangle with real- little red lipstick and a duet with
issues like selling bajil- Ed Sheeran isn't quite enough to
of records and dating and catapult Swift into the musical
ng up with Jake Gyllen- elite, but like with the rest of her
and never ever, ever get- music, it's fun as hell listening to
ack together). Sometimes, the attempt.
s rappers call you out and But still, it's definitely saying
iate you on live television. something that Swift is one of
Taylor Swift may not be the last major pop stars stand-
g with hampering tolls of ing who has the guts to produce
coming up with rent or job actual hit songs that are (for the
ag in this economy like the most part) predicated on gui-
'us - but where amore and tars, bass and drums - a setup.
a mega-star is concerned, which is quickly marching into
s been through the ringer., archaic territory.
, her fourth LP, comes on "State of Grace" capitalizes on
els of Swift's highly docu- some heavy arena-rock drums
d summer at the Kennedy and reverb-laden riffs. "Sad
'und in Hyannis, Mass. her Beautiful Tragic" is pure college-
breakup single "We Are radio lite rock along the lines of
Ever Getting Back Togeth- '90s staples the Cranberries and
d the hipster-tastic accom- Mazzy Star. "I Knew You Were
ig video. America's favorite Trouble" is perhaps the cutest
blonde country bubblegum use of dubstep in modern pop

(don't question it).
For a star with some of the best
pop instincts in the biz, unfor-
tunately Swift's duds stand out
pretty starkly. "The Last Time"
is over five minutes long, and
limps along lethargically with a
mopey orchestra telling you the
appropriate sad emoji to resemble
while listening. Presumably, the
song is supposed to be a serious
ballad-slash-duet with a serious
male singer (Gary Lightbody of
Snow Patrol) who awkwardly
dominates the song.
And as for the country in her
music ... there is no more country
in her music. There is absolutely
no reason, ever, for anyone to
classify T-Swift in the country
category anymore. She has offi-
cially crossed the thin glittered
line into non-country territory.
A lone banjo in the title track a
country record does not make.
You have to hand it to her: At
this point, Swift certainly isn't
lacking in the experience depart-
ment. Girl has loved, girl has lost
and girl has written a crapload of
hit songs about it. But come on
now - this is her fourth album
spinning the same tired wheel.
We get it. Break-ups are hard,
relationships can be tangly (espe-
cially when it's pouring rain) and
it's good to be pissed off some-
times.
These components work for
Taylor Swift; they are her bread
and butter, the very foundation
upon which her fans worship
her. And honestly, would you
really change your formula if
your album was projected to sell
a million copies in its first week?

he signi icance o
songs at sporting events
T he stage is set: Denard rial desks are on opposite sides of - owes much of its efficacy to
Robinson just dashed the Daily's newsroom. the music picked by the athletics
off for a 40-yard touch- Yet it's still undeniable: Music department.
down, and Michigan gives the makes sporting events better. Make no mistake, it works
ball back to the opponent with Michigan football was first the other way, too. Let me tell
just a few formed in 1879, and it only took you a story from my own ath-
minutes left. 17 years for the corresponding letic years - yes, music writers
The boys marching band to take the field. can sometimes be athletic too.
in blue are "The Victors" is so important a As one of my high school's
down a scant piece of music that it even has a lacrosse captains, I led our team
couple points; place in the College Football Hall down the hill behind our school
a defensive of Fame. to the field. We were excited
stop here .£ You could say it's just a and ready for a game under the
could swing ELLIOT distraction, that music is aby- lights, when the speakers all
the game ALPERN product of downtime between began playing our supposed
and put one plays and quarters. But if that's . pump-up music.
more "W" on the case, why does the University Normally, the pre-game
the board. The air crackles with give out nearly 60 scholarships music was electrifying: Rage
excitement. to the marching band alone? Against the Machine, Audio-
And then, you hear it - an And why pay licensing fees for slave, assorted hip-hop "I'm
electric guitar strum echoes songs by blockbuster artists like king of the world" tracks. This
throughout the Big House. Eminem and the White Stripes time, however, someone else
Adrenaline pumps through when some stock rock track will had supplied their own warm-
veins, fans hop with nervous do just fine? up tape, with decidedly luke-
enthusiasm, Eminem's voice warm results. In place of the
booms. "Look ... if you had ... one badass "Killing in the Name"
shot ... one opportunity..." Pleased n wasGreen Day's "Know Your
Outstretched palms bob up UOflL Enemy." Maybe my teammate
and down; the stadium appears la had picked by song title alone,
as a roiling sea of hands and play T-Swift at or it had some special signifi-
arms. The crowd chants along, th cance,"butnone of us felt like
something about mom's spa- the next gam * a warrior (a feelinga pump-up
ghetti. The players, the fans, the song is prone to inspiring).
coaches - everyone is amped, Truth be told, I began to feel
and "Lose Yourself" becomes the It all really boils down to a embarrassed. The fact thatwe
theme song of sports destiny. fundamental point: People like had picked "Know Your Enemy'
In that moment, Eminem has music because it makes them feel as our battle hymn seemed to let
done something that the exalted a certain way. And those same our enemy know how lame we
Brady Hoke himself couldn't people really like the songs they really were.
accomplish. He has convinced know. See, music and sports are
the entire Big House that this is So whenever "Seven Nation more than inseparable - the
Michigan's "one shot, one oppor- Army" starts thumping with its latter can rarely survive with-
tunity," as the Oscar-winning seven-note bassline, it becomes a out the former. Look at the
track has at countless games and societal moment, not just enter- majors: Baseball sluggers pick
stadiums throughout the coun- tainment. Rows of students jump their own walk-up songs to
try. And every time, it's the same to the beat, and the crowd hums put them in the zone. Hockey
- this is our time, our chance. along as closely as it can. arenas select their particular
Regardless of the outcome, But even then, the music tran- goal tracks (like the Fratellis's
the feat is impressive - to instill scends the audience by moving "Chelsea Dagger" for the Chi-
such an air of legend and myth through them. The noise, the cago Blackhawks). And no Super
to any game, for any team. The commotion, the excitement - all Bowl is ever complete without a
relationship between music and of it is tough to ignore, especial- high-profile musician. After all,
sports is both special and curi- ly to an intimidated opponent when music can transport you
ous. One would be hard-pressed in a foreign place. Arguably, the to a completely different feel-
to find another arena in which crowd becomes the twelfth man ing, why not assume yourself as
the arts tangle with athletics: on the field, fully affecting the champion?
Painting rarely goes hand-in- outcome of the play. One could
hand with exercise, nor do even make the case that home Alpern feels like a champion
filmmaking, theater or creative field advantage - typically con- To bring him down to earth
writing. Even the arts and edito- sidered having one's own fans e-mail ealpern@umich.edu

S
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,
,t
, .
n.
n,
.

Titus Andronicus remains

Kendrick's new classic excellently disillusioned

By JOHN LYNCH
Daily Arts Writer
Among the hip-hop commu-
nity, it's practically blasphemous
to describe any post-millennium
hip-hop album
as "classic." *****
Any ' rap fan
born before Kendrick
Bill Clinton's Lamar
presidency will
be quick to shit good kid,
on the slightest m.A.A.d city
inclination that
a classic album Interscope/
could exist out- Aftermath
side of the '90s
Golden Era that produced All
Eyez OnMe,Ready ToDieand The
Chronic. These hip-hop heads say
that rappers today lack the con-
viction and commitment to make
a classic LP and record labels -
with their artistically crippling
profit motives - won't get out of
a rapper's way to create such a
body of work.
It's very clear, however, that
Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar
set out to annihilate these theo-
ries with his major label debut,
good kid, m.A.A.d city.
Kendrick's debut is a cohesive,
sonically innovative - and, yes -
classic rap album that parallels
Nas's 1994 masterpiece, Illmatic,
in lyrical vision. Both albums are
devastatingly detailel represen-
tations of the ghetto microcosms
these rappers hail from. Where-
as Illmatic was an enthralling
39-minute boom-bap excursion
through Nas's Queensbridge,
New York, GKMC is more of a fea-
ture-length, Boyz-N-The-Hood
style, audio film study of Comp-
ton, Calif. - filled with skits
that follow a storyline of Ken-
drick's family problems, shady

sexual encounters and firsthand
accounts of brutal gun fatalities.
One of the two title tracks,
"m.A.A.d city" - m.A.A.d being
an acronym for "My Angels on
- Angel Dust" that defines Kend-
rick's reserved love for his city's
drug-fueled inhabitants - is a
shocking account of gang vio-
lence that first takes place over a
menacing trap beat and switches
halfway through to a power-
ful wave of orchestration and

INTERSCOPE/AFTERMATH

1
l

G-Funk synths. In the first half, that further proclaim his domi-
Kendrick details the street bat- nance.
ties of Compton - where there's a What really separates Kend-
war zone like "Pakistan on every rick from the rest of today's rap
porch" - and in the second half, artists is his 2Pac-esque ability
he explains why he doesn't smoke to seamlessly mix heavy subject
weed (his first blunt was laced matter with more laid-back and
with cocaine and had him trip- accessible tracks over the course
ping for a week) and calls himself of an album. "Poetic Justice," a
"Compton's human sacrifice." song featuring rapper Drake and
a soulful Janet Jackson sample,
recalls the sex-driven jubilance
2Paci inof Pac's "I Get Around" and is
a sure-fire hit. "Money Trees,"
back H is new which samples indie band Beach
House, and "Bitch, Don't Kill
name is Lamar. My Vibe" are chill-rap at its
nLfinest, and the closing track,
"Compton," is Kendrick's mod-
ern, hard-hitting take on "Cali-
With "The Art of Peer fornia Love."
Pressure," a vividly painted At a summer concert in 2011,
first-person tale of a risky break- Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg cer-
ing-and-entering job with his emoniously passed the torch to
homies, Kendrick has crafted Kendrick Lamar and crowned
one of the best storytelling rap him the new king of West Coast
songs of the past few years. On hip hop in front of his hometown
the vicious "Backseat Freestyle," L.A. crowd. Though Kendrick
Kendrick spits like he's trying only stands a miniscule 5-foot-6,
to convince every set of ears in this heavy crown seems to fithim
America he's the greatest rapper perfectly.
alive, producing emphatic lines good kid, m.A.A.d city is indeed
like "All my life I want money a classic, and it will undoubtedly
and power / Respect my mind or go down in history as one of rap's
die from lead shower" and con- greatest debut albums. It looks
cludingthe song in a remarkable, like this generation has finally
frenzied flow of shouted lyrics found its 2Pac.

By ANDREW ECKHOUS
Daily Arts Writer
Nihilism can be so liberating!
Just ask Patrick Stickles, the lead
singer/shouter of Titus Androni-
cus. Local Busi-
ness,the group's ****
upcoming third
album, embrac- Titus
es the unceas- AndroniCus
ing absurdity
of the universe, Local Business
and adds to the
already brilliant
catalog of Titus
Andronicus' paradoxically opti-
mistic music.,
After three years of EPs and
smaller releases, Titus Androni-
cus fought its way out of Glen
Rock, New Jersey and onto the
national scene in 2005, with its
debut LP, The Airing of Grievanc-
es. The group's seething anger has
yet to subside. Titus uses a punk-
infused blend of rock to battle
fate and the randomness of the
universe, cursing what the world
hath wrought, rain or shine, 24
hours a day. What else would you
expect from a band named after
Shakespeare's most violent and
vengeance-filled play?
Like a shark risking death if it
stops swimming, Titus Androni-
cus's very existence is predicated
on the venomous disillusionment
and optimistic nihilism of Stick-
les, the only original member
remaining. His backers have come
and gone often over the past seven
years, leaving Stickles as the face,
brain and heart behind every-
thing Titus Andronicus does.
Luckily for listeners, Stickles feels
sufficiently wronged by the world
to continue fightingthe good fight
and making great music.
It'sdifficulttojudgeLocalBusi-
ness on its own. Titus Androni-

XL

So this is what Metal Frat looks like.

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lists as
LocalB
ai
"Ec
album
I thin
lished
worth
in the
object
sound
tion fr

irst album, The Airing of tions, allowing him to excel for
nces overflowed with raw the rest of the album.
and Springsteen-esque The lyrics on this album are
tlling, albeit with a few just as good, if not better, than
snarls. The Monitor, Titus anything Titus Andronicus has
nicus's magnum opus, was done before. "In a Big City," the
ept album that used the first single released to the pub-
can Civil War as a metaphor lic, tells the story of life in a city
u guessed it, Stickles's disil- that just doesn't care about you.
ment. Critics lauded the Lines like "Male or female, beg-
for its sincere lyrics about gars still the only ones calling
rowing old and the resolve me mister" and "From Jersey I
t back in the face of insur- come, but I pump my own gas /
able odds. Both albums I'm a dirty bum but I wipe my
reputable best-of-the-year own ass" give listeners a direct
nd inflated expectations for connection to Stickles' thoughts
Business. and make the album an inti-
mate experience. Others, like
the magnificently titled "Titus
Let's all be Andronicus Vs. The Absurd
Universe (3rd Round KO)," are
ngsty today simple and visceral. In that
song, Stickles yells, "I'm going
insanet" over meaty punk riffs
for two minutes straight.
ce Homo" contains the Overall, Local Business is
's thesis statement: "Okay more straightforward than
k that now we've estab- Titus Andronicus's previous two
everything is inherently albums. Stickles decided to ditch
less / And there's nothing the concept album format and
universe with any kind of return to the roots of punk: play-
ive purpose." While it may ing loud guitars and cursing the
depressing, this realiza- universe until he's too drunk to
ees Stickles from expecta- walk.

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