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February 26, 2013 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-02-26

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
Will '13 be
unlucky for
music festivals?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 5
Listening in to the Best
Original Song nominees

This past week was
a stressful one for
most in Ann Arbor as
midterm exams and projects
continue to loom on the hori-
zon. But for
others, the
past few
days werer
for frenzied
celebration
as some (the
truly, hope-
lessly dedi- ELLIOT
cated) were ALPERN
released
from another
tension that weighed just as
heavily on the conscience. Yes,
I'm talking about the release
of the lineups of two summer
music festivals - Firefly and
Bonnaroo - after preceding
weeks of rampant speculation.
It's finallyfinally time to
start talking about summer
plans, to circle some dates on
the calendar and cross out oth-
ers, all in pursuit of the ideal
string of festivals. Ever since
that inception of the yearly
music fest known as Lolla-
palooza way back in 1991 (and
the subsequent resurrection in
2003), the business of multi-
day music celebrations has
exploded, culminating in the
yearly summer offerings we're
blessed with today.
And yet - feel free to call me
out if you disagree - did any-
one else let out sigh or a "meh"
as one lineup leaked, and then
another, only to realize that
none of the festivals seem to be
that truly exciting? The pros-
pects should be entertaining
and enticing, as they always
are (especially when headliners
are thrown millions of dollars
for a single performance), but
was anyone really shocked
or amazed by the turnout for
2013?
Regardless of my pessimistic
outlook, there are a few acts
at most festivals to make them
worth (or almost worth) the
hefty ticket prices. I usually
follow the same formula: com-
pare lineups by tiers and look
out for big names that tend to
appear frequently. Circle those
that are unique or so awe-
some that they don't have to be
unique, and count the circles.
Analyze accordingly.

with thousands of crazed, pos-
sibly drug-addled EDM fanat-
ics in the Miami sun?
Coachella: April 12-14 and
April 19-21, Indio, Calif.
Coachella is the argument
to the above question. Usu-
ally, along with Bonnaroo and
Lolla, the Cali fest is one of the
premier live-performance col-
lections of the year. Yet when
the lineup was announced way
back in January, I was only
drawn by a handful of artists.
Blur is cool, but honestly, I'd
rather have Damon Albarn
bring Gorillaz and ask for a few
cameos from other performers.
Lou Reed is a rare appearance
even if he's a bit over the hill,
and the presence of Phoenix is
opium for alt-lovers, but what
else? RHCP already did Lolla
last year; the xx is all over the
place; even Wu-Tang Clan and
the Postal Service are coming
to Bonnaroo and Sasquatch,
respectively. I'd rather save my
money for a closer and better
set of performances.
Sasquatch: May 24-27, Gorge,
Wash.
For a somewhat smaller fes-
tival, Sasquatch actually pulled
a couple good headliners this
year: Mumford & Sons, the
Arctic Monkeys and Ben Gib-
bard's aforementioned Postal
Service. But the drop off is
steep from there - Vampire
Weekend, Sigur R6s, the xx
and then we're wading through
Cake and Dropkick Murphy's,
relics of past (and better) fes-
tivals.
Bonnaroo: June 13-16, Man-
chester, Tenn.
It was Roo's lineup
announcement that ultimately
spurred me to write this arti-
cle. I'd heard both sides of the
argument already by the end
of the day: "Paul McCartney!
Billy Idol! ZZ Top!" I have to
admit, the blast-from-the-past
factor is high, even if Mumford
and Tom Petty are somewhat
tired headliners. And R. Kelly
would probably be worth the
12-hour car ride alone. But did
anyone else find it weird that
DANIEL TOSH was scream-
ing in all caps on the second
line? And again, maybe it's just
me, but Bjirk isn't a top-liner,
just like how Wilco (ever the
critic's darling) shouldn't be
the first band on the second
line. I feel like my mantra for
the weekend would be "Come
for the middle tier, stay for the
top tier."
Firefly: June 21-23, Dover,
Del.
I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for
Firefly. I went to last year's
inaugural show, and while
RHCP, Tom Petty and Vampire
Weekend don't hold a candle
to last year's trinity of the Kill-
ers, the Black Keys and Jack
White, I'm still excited for a
few other unique names. Foster
the People has yet to appear on
another lineup, as does MGMT.

Add in Kendrick Lamar and
six more artists to come (last
year's late addition was the
Silversun Pickups, Bassnectar
and Fitz and the Tantrums,
for context), and this festival
nestled in the backwoods of
Delaware should follow up last
year's breakout success, or at
least come close.
Overall, I think we should
wait for Lolla and Outside
Lands for a total preview of
2013 at large. And with rumors
of Jay-Z and the Cure for the
former, maybe there's still
hope. But for now, my calendar
circles are a little too few and
far between.
Alpern is staying home for
the summer. To join, e-mail
ealpern@umich.edu.

Breaking down
winner 'Skyfall' and
its competitors
By GREGORY HICKS
Daily Arts Writer
From platinum-selling Bond
themes to lyrical contributions
of Seth MacFarlane, 2013's Best
Original Song nominees for
the Academy Awards deserve
a close look (or listen, rather),
particularly the winning track
"Skyfall."
"Before My Time" from
"Chasing Ice"
Simplicity breeds elegance,
and this musical conclusion to
2013's most chilling documen-
tary is stripped down beyond all
other nominations.
The track singles out both
performers (Scarlett Johansson
on vocals and Joshua Bell on
violin) in J Ralph's latest work.
Johansson and Bell highlight
the delicate nature of the song
- a song that sounds so fragile,
you might fear listening at the
risk of breaking it.
"My Time" serves as a stark
contrast to the loaded, serious
documentary.
"Everybody Needs a Best
Friend" from "Ted"
One thing to love about this
sensational collection of nomi-
nations is thateach track embod-

ies its film to the fullest - and if
this musical lovechild of Seth
MacFarlane and Norah Jones
doesn't illustrate Ted and John
Bennett's companionship, then
right must be wrong, happy must
be sad and up must be down.
"Best Friend" is a triple threat
for its melodic composition,
lyrical composition and deliv-
ery. Walter Murphy (score com-
poser) took the style in a jazzy
direction - a direction that led
to nine-time Grammy award-
winning jazz-pop artist (there's
a mouthful) Norah Jones as its
performer. MacFarlane cheer-
fully showcases another skill by
shifting his knack for dialogue
creation into a musical form as
the song's lyricist.
The song is undoubtedly a
descendant of Sinatra's "Some-
where Beyond the Sea," or
Hairspray's "(You're) Timeless
to Me." But then again, these
charming, animated songs aren't
few and far between in the jazz
realm.
"Pi's Lullaby" from "Life of
Pi"
It can be easy to overlook the
most obvious characteristic of a
song, even when it's within the
title. "Pi's Lullaby" is a lullaby,
and though it certainly defines
the delicacies of a mother sing-
ing to her child, it doesn't over-
simplify itself.
The gentile bass beat that
floats within the track illustrates
the water ripple of Pi's life, rath-
er than being written off as a

simple choice of foreign instru-
mentation.
An instrumental escalation
progresses, but the escalation is
small enough to avoid exceeding
its lullaby qualities. One of these
added instruments includes a
brief appearance from an accor-
dion soloist - bizarre, given the
accordion's European, South
American nature - but this is
one of many humble qualities
that makes this Oscar nominee
one lullaby that won't put you to
sleep.
"Suddenly" from "Les
Miserables"
Though "Suddenly" is a lead-
ing song in this group of nomi-
nees, there's relatively little to
speak of. The mere fact that this
original composition can seam-
lessly hold with the music of the
unparalleled musical tragedy,
"Les Misarables," speaks to its
quality.
Given its theatrical nature,
however, it seems appropri-
ate to focus on its inspirational
aspects and narrative goals. In
a sense, the song was actually
inspired by director Tom Hoop-
er, who sensed a gap in Jean
Valjean's emotional develop-
ment - comparing the musical
to the novel, that is - as he was
"Suddenly" thrown into this
colossal commitment of raising
a child.
So here is the real question.
Does "Suddenly" capture the
missing element of spontaneity
and anxiety in Jean Valjean's

life story? Most certainly it does
- particularly rare, given that
successful additions to classic
work are few and far between.
"Skyfall" from "Skyfall"
It's somber. It's driven.
It's Adele. It's "Skyfall." The
Epworth-Adkins tandem
strolls in to claim another
award, just to show that the
songwriting team knows no
bounds.
The composition alone is
impressive, but Adele's vocal
dexterity produces perfor-
mance perfection. The com-
manding vocal tone pressures
the thrilling portions of the
new Bond theme, while the
echoed falsetto becomes mys-
terious, almost sinister.
The accompaniment builds
flawlessly - introducing the
piece with a burst of classic
Bond brass which instantly
vanishes, making room for
an isolated piano theme. The
string orchestra also bursts
in as the chorus commences,
remaining until the track's
finale, characterized by anoth-
er sample of a former Bond
composition.
Interestingly enough, nego-
tiations for the writing and
performance of 007's new track
were being' discussed with
Adele before therelease of her
worldwide bestselling album,
21. Fate must've also been col-
laborating with Sony Pictures
and Columbia Records for this
winning nominee.

Yorke runs 'Amok' on Atoms LP

Ca
Lo
mI

n Jay-Z and
Ila save this
mediocre
usic season?

So, let's have a look-see. First
up on the docket is Austin,
Texas' South by Southwest fes-
tival, which, in addition to the
music, also provides cinema
and other forms of culture.
SXSW: March 8-17, Austin,
Texas
Amid the entries that are
making a number of appear-
ances this summer (like Vam-
pire Weekend), Ra Ra Riot,
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
and The Airborne Toxic Event
make this event worthy as the
only opportunity for a few
marquee acts. Add in deli-
cious food and the common
small-club experience, and this
should be a fun pre-summer
getaway.
Ultra Music Festival: March
15-17 and 22-24, Miami
As one of the biggest elec-
tronic music festivals of the
year, Ultra beckons with some
of the heavyweights of the
EDM business like Crystal Cas-
tles, deadmauS, David Guetta
and Avicii. Again, as more of
a niche festival, what could be
a more fun (but late) spring
break than jumping around

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y ELLIOT ALPERN interrupted with what can only
SeniorArts Editor be described as an instrumen-
-_ --- talized water droplet, the ideal
r much anticipation, the backbeat for a rave in some
worldatlargewillfinallyget system of caverns. And like-
dsonAmokone ofthe more wise in "Dropped," a charged,
ated incessant core progresses the
s among B song forward, especially as it
hiles. It evolves into the backbone of
sense Amok a bassline, upon which Yorke
ea, the builds a heaping mountain of
assist of clicking and whirring effects.
lot Chili Peace But can anyone argue that
s fame, XL Yorke doesn't have that nar-
d to join cissistic Midas touch - that
ead's anything he touches largely
Yorke for a new project, a becomes his? Radiohead tends
of two of music's most cre- to turn into Yorke and Radio-
inds. Add in drummer Joey head as his solo album proved
ker, who has backed both was the case, and the same
nd R.E.M., and the industry problem persists here - we
other bona fide supergroup might as well be listening
ands. to Yorke and the Atoms for
act, the first song "Before Peace. For instance, the song
Very Eyes" brings an air "Unless" actually seems ret-
e that this isn't just what rofitted to equip a Flea bass
expect. There's not only medley and would otherwise
s signature soaring voice be a perfectly serviceable
rchnical beat (a simple, Yorke track.
i-hat coupled with punc- Yet, even with such a nag-
nares), but also an elec- ging worry, Amok can still
inky guitar that screams be candy for the ears. Yorke
'eppers. And even though is a seasoned veteran at
s just being Thom like he establishing mood and care-
y does, there's a tension fully constructing complex
everberates, increasingly layers of effects, meaning
as the synths take root and catchiness. It's not the
ow throughout the track. kind of album you pump in
the stereo on an energetic
Thursday night, nor the
hastuff you play to your friends
tagroup beforeclass. And, aside from
s caliber, the maybe "Dropped" and the
lead single "Judge, Jury and
ng should be Executioner," there aren't
any go-to hits to make a brisk
such better. walk between classes seem a
little shorter.
Because, in the end, Amok
has the soul of a homework
then, after just the one album, plain and simple. It's
of optimism, the upcom- deep, brooding and too intri-
sefault" dashes it away. cate to grasp with even the
ng itself isn't actually a first few listen-throughs. But,
- the mechanical per- if you keep it in your back-
n and uplifting chorus ground rotation for those
ract what's an otherwise long nights of midnight-oil
ird melody. But there's essay-writing, you'll start
se that this is Atoms for finding yourself humming
it would fit perfectly along or tapping a pencil as
orke's self-released The a burst of synths bounces off
of a vibrating back-beat. And
mately, that's the fear eventually, you'll realize that
mok. At times, the collab- Yorke sure as hell knows how
n seems to bear tangible to put together an album -
ike in "Ingenue," where regardless of who plays the
deep, buzzing notes are instruments around him.

XL
Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein had a baby .. then it wastfed acid.
STUDENT PE I 7
SPECIAL OUG DY ONLYI
NOW ''HV

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