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December 06, 2012 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-12-06

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8A - Thursday, December b, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

8A - Thursday, December 6, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom 6

VIDEO GAME NOTEBOOK
ease the sequels
Lack of originality
hinders gaming
experience
ByJULIAN AIDAN
Daily Arts Writer
Out of about 60 video games
released in November, eightedidn't
rely on previously existing intel-
lectual properties in some way. Of
those eight, only two scored high-
er than 80 on Metacritic, a review
aggregation site. While media
companies have been beating A
dead horses in the name of profit
since the inception of copyright,
video game companies - espe-
ciallybigger ones - are amongthe
worst offenders.
This year has seen the release This guy should totally compete in MMA
of several high-quality origi-
nal games: stealthy steampunk with Solid Snake (of "Metal Gear Unfortunately, high barriers to
smash hit "Dishonored," the Solid" fame) and Jak and Daxter, entry and difficulties with distri-
ambitious "Kingdoms of Amalur: stars of the eponymous series, bution have marginalized inde-
Reckoning" and indie hits "Fez" instead of Mario, Luigi and Link. pendent developers until recently.
and "Journey" have all garnered Neither game is original in the Thankfully, it seems that some
critical acclaim despite their least, instead relying on exist- big players in the industry have
release amid a sea of rehashes. ing fanbases and mimicking suc- recognized the need for diversifi-
However, lackluster sequels cessful series to get attention. cation. The massively popular dig-
and spinoffs like "Family Guy: It's frustrating that play- ital distribution platform, Steam,
Back to the Multiverse" and ers are being shortchanged and has begun a "Greenlight" pro-
"Rabbids Land" fail to bring fed the same slop, release after gram for which players get to help
anythingnew or fun to the table, release. The "Assassin's Creed" decide which games from small-
relying on familiar characters to and "Call of Duty" series, though name companies will be released.
cover up sub-par gameplay and unarguably highly popular and Multiple Kickstarter campaigns
story. Even worse, half-assed, well-reviewed games, rely on the have successfully raised enough
remastered re-releases of games same essential mechanics again funding for several ambitious
from previous generations ("Bal- and again with slight tweaks new title developments. This
dur's Gate: Enhanced Edition," here and there to push sales to closer interaction between com-
"Under Defeat HD") are being new heights. Fortunately, it does panies and consumers will hope-
touted as fresh and worthwhile not seem that the primary demo- fully result in a greater amount of
additions to a rapidly stagnate graphic these games appeal to high-quality, original titles in the
industry. ever gets tired of killing bad guys near future being distributed via
Sony's decade-late attempt to in the same way, year after year, popular channels like the Xbox
cash in on the successes of the whereas those seeking innova- Live Arcade, the PlayStation Net-
"Super Smash Bros." and "Mario tion are forced to look beyond work and PC platforms like Steam
Kart" series, with "PlayStation every month's slew of spin-offs. and Green Man Gaming.
All-Stars Battle Royale" and There's much to be said about One can only hope that the age
"LittleBigPlanet Karting," have the difficulties of creating a new of sequels (and sequels of sequels)
earned a 75 and 74 out of 100, intellectual property. If a com- is slowly starting to draw to a
respectively. But, at their core, pany isn't well established, an close. While some may never get
they provide nothing but novelty ambitious new title could have sick of old dogs with new tricks,
in the formof familiar gameplay difficulty gaheringenough steam greater originality, more power to
dressed up with different char- to see the ight of day. Titles that gamers and independent devel,
acters. In "Batife Royale," te "Se too bizare occasionally lack opers paint a brightefuture for
all-out brawl that has made the the mass appeal of "shoot the players craving new horizons to
"Smash" series famous returns bad guy in the face"-type games. explore.
FROM THE FILTER
Living in a golden age of
sensual male falsetto

I

Here's the hand. Where are the horses?
Bridwell's *vocal
carried Horses show

By RAY MALO general mood of this crowd.
DailyArts Writer , This coupling oftunes as show
openers highlights the duality
Just two of the five mem- of the Band of Horses catalog.
bers of Band of Horses, singer/ Their 2006 debut album, Every-
guitarist Ben Bridwell and lead thingAll The Time, is an absolute
guitarist Tyler Ramsey, take the triumph, in large part because
Michigan Theater stage to begin its quietest moments signifi-
set opener "Ode to LRC." Natu- cantly heighten the impact of
ral suspense results from the its loudest. This is particularly
unexpected moves. On record, obvious on the album's dramatic
"Ode" is a full-band number centerpiece "The Funeral," but
from start to finish. also more subtly throughout.
Bridwell's unparalleled tenor Sophomore record Cease to
soars through the spacious the- Begin largely carries this tradi-
ater, and an almost tangible tion, but also marks the band's
sense of tranquility engulfs split with indie label Sub Pop.
the crowd. When the remain- Their two subsequent albums
ing members join him to com- sound more and more dynami-
plete their sound after the first cally static, especiallythis year's
chorus, the resulting live music Mirage Rock, a trend that seems
moment is rousing, practically to be a product of the influence
transcendent. It's a simple rock ofnew band members and main-
'n' roll move, meant to make stream producers seeking radio
every audience member expo- hits: Theirlive' show has thus~
nentially more excited to be in become a study of a band maneu-
the room. If makes for a grand "ering these sharp noniasts.
entrance. So while older impactful
So when the band launches tracks "The Great Salt Lake" and
directly into "NW Apt." from "No One's Gonna Love You" earn
2010's Infinite Arms, the con- the biggest cheers, new tunes
trast is immediately apparent. like "Laredo," a strummy single
This song, at least in the live set- from third album Infinite Arms
ting, relies on a single dynamic that frankly goes nowhere, have
throughout - fortississimo. It's a less enthusiastic response.
an overwhelming sonic assault, "Laredo" is one of the many
certainly made prevalent by the tunes the band plays excruci-
fact that my ears are thirty feet atingly loud, which seems to
from the rear wall of the balco- stem from the keyboard player's
ny, but one unnecessary doubling up on
that has First seen on rhythm guitar parts when no
noticeably keys are needed.
altered the fiter Even Bridwell seems to recog-

nize the band's tendency to turn:
their amps to 11. After a lighter,
acoustic number, an impatient
audience member shouts "Play
the hard stuff!"
"We've been playing hard this
whole show," he replies.
This little exchange seems to
set off an immediate chain reac-
tion of audience consciousness.
Suddenly, a crowd that seemed
content to have their defense-
less ears blasted while seated
is on their feet, many rushing
to the edge of the stage. What
follows almost seems like a dif-
ferent show than that which
has preceded it. Or, as Bridwell
excitedly yells, "I was pretty
sure this was a rock show!" The
band closes the show with five
fan favorites from the first half
of their catalog, including the
magnificent vocal showcase "Is
There AGhost," and m at and
I leavethe Michigansatisfiod
-'ila of Horses~als many
forms in the live setting, but the
one constant across their reper-
toire is the otherworldly voice of
Ben Bridwell. Adding parts that
satisfy no need beyond volume
seems to only take away an audi-
ence's ability to hear it. Band of
Horses's live show would stand
to gain considerable depth if
they simply recognized and
embraced that Bridwell's voice
is always the most important
instrument on stage.
- A version of this article was
originally published on the Daily
Arts blog, The Filter, on Dec. 5

By RAY MALO
Daily Arts Writer
Falsetto is essentially a form
of cheating. For those who don't
know, falsetto is the voice a
singer employs to reach notes
that extend upwards beyond his
or her natural vocal range. It
can be quite lovely if done well
and rather torturous if not (Say,
when I'm singing along loudly
to '90s Mariah). I believe. pop
music is experiencing a golden
age of male falsetto.
The conversation must start
with "Climax" by Usher. Quite
possibly the jam of summer
2012, "Climax" is perhaps the
finest falsetto performance since
Michael in his prime. When
Usher finally comes down to
earth to crush us in the bridge,
the contrast makes his in-regis-
ter voice seem that much more
buttery smooth. This one is the
blueprint.
Yet many of the finer falsetto
offerings, no surprise, lie in the
indie realm. Bon Iver's Justin
Vernon came out of his father's
cabin with "Skinny Love" in tow,
breaking hearts cloaked in plaid
ever since.
And the hearts that stayed
intact were surely ripped apart
by Frank Ocean's "Thinking
About You." How To Dress
Well's latest record, Total Loss,
turns up the reverb on singer
Tom Krell's vocals to fabulous
effect, particularly on dance-
alone-in-your-room inducing "&
It Was U."
And I just couldn't write a
piece on falsetto from inside
Ann Arbor without mentioning
our favorite crooning son, Mayer
Haw-
thorne. First seen on
His "Just the filter
Ain't

KEEPS ON
GIVING.
BUY A FOOTBALL BOOK
TODAY!
- y store. michigandaily.com
michigan-football-book

Bring it back again, JT.
Gonna Work Out" is as high as a
man has dared sing about break-
up since Smokey Robinson.
Then, of course, there's Justin
Bieber. The YouTube kid enters
his adult phase by literally
counting down to falsetto. It's
not a terribly impressive vocal
performance, however, and even
the music video seems appropri-
ated.
Indeed, it's full of tricks we've
seen before: Remember when
Justin Timberlake grewup, with
"Like I Love You"?
First of all, um, sensual speak

rapping. Secondly, acoustic gui-
tars. Hanging out next to muscle
cars. Black leather jackets. I
could go on. Crap. This prob-
ably should have been a separate
article.
On that note, I'll end with a
personal request to the elder
of the Justins: No one saw "In
Time" in theaters. The timing
has never been better for you
to work that falsetto magic. Get
back in the studio, dude!
- A version of this article was
originally published on the Daily
Arts blog, The Filter, on Nov.13

t

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