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October 30, 2013 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-10-30

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1 The Michigan Daily- michigandaily.com

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 5A

Raising that roof.
Arcade Fire makes
dark masterpiece

I know everything aboot ymos
Country music lives on

Tortured needlessly stretches the first
half's best two songs (the title
Reflektor' subverts track and "Here 'Comes the
Night Time") beyond six min-
expectations utes each, adding to the album's
mood at the expense of immedi-
By ADAM THIESEN ate impact.
For the Daily Reflektor often sounds like a
glimpse into frontman Win But-
Reflektor is a 75-minute sprawl- ler's psyche, and the peek into
ing mess of genius, the sound of his private world reveals Butler
young, creative people gathering as a man extremely uncomfort-
in some dark, able with himself. The lyrics are
abandoned loca- A- a constant onslaught of modern.
tion and drink- alienation, with every song fea-
ing and dancing Ref lektor turing lines like, "I can't tell if
and not giving a . I'm a normal person," and ref-
shit about what Arcade Fre erences to being "trapped in a
anyone else Merge prison." Butler's voice sounds
thinks. This agonized when he sings these
time around, words, like he's a confused fac-
having scratched "Win Album of simile of himself struggling to
the Year at the Grammys," off its be real again. The blunt dread of
bucketlist, Arcade Fireseems con- these lyrics can quickly become
fused about what it represents and tiring, and they continue a
what it wants to do next, and all depressing trend for a band that
this results in a tortured master- nearly 10 years ago opened its
piece. Though often an inconsis- debut album with "Tunnels,"
tent experiment, Reflektor shines one of the greatest love songs
as a one-of-a-kind work from an ever written.
inimitable band. None of these songs would be
With influences culled from comfortable on the radio. Many
diverse styles ranging from of the album's tracks are dance-
producer James Murphy's indie able, but not in a nightclub, EDM
dance work to traditional Hai- way. The ghostly, minimalist
tian music, Arcade Fire sounds style recalls 1980s new wave, and
very different from what fans the bassline to "We Exist" even
are used to. Gone are the soft- brings to mind "Billie Jean." The
rock singles of 2010's The Sub- disappointment, though, comes
orbs or the heart-on-sleeve when Arcade Fire doesn't have
anthems of its early work. Now, the pop sensibilities and melo-
the band cloaks its rawest emo- dies to elevate the songs beyond
tions behind studio tricks and moodiness. When not sounding
adventures into atmospheric like 1980s hits, the band tries out
synth music. The group even, punk rock with songs like "Nor-

mal Person," earning decent
but unspectacular results, and
heartfelt, slowed-down songs,
which are more successful.
Reflektor feels like a very con-
scious step in an anti-commer-
cial direction. The band jokingly
plays with fans' expectations by
starting songs one way, only to
completely change the tempo
and style 20 seconds later. As
a journey, the album travels a
little choppily from arty, experi-
mental music to driving garage
rock to slow, reflective songs
to, finally, a glorious three-
song conclusion that makes the
whole trip worth it. "Porno,".
"Afterlife" and "Supersymme-
try" showcase Arcade Fire at its
strongest, pushing boundaries
while still playing to its anthe-
mic strengths, and each track
will certainly please fans con-
fused by the rest of the record.
At its double-album length,
Reflektor can often seem like it
needs a good amount of cutting,
but really, the record wouldn't
work if it was just cut down to
its best bits. Reflektor satisfies
because of the greatness that
continually pokes through the
album's smokescreen. This lat-
est effort will definitely never
be Arcade Fire's most popular
work, but it feels destined to be a
cult classic, an album treasured
by hardcore fans who identify
with its uniqueness. Arcade
Fire's experiments don't always
succeed, but the band is still
hugely influential, and Reflek-
tor's unconfined ambition has
the potential to be legendary.

DailyArts Writer
In a musical decade character-
istically overrun by abstract elec-
tronic, pure pop, R&B and rap, it's
shockingthat country music stakes
such an enormous claim. Coun-
try and folk artists snatched up
half of the spots for Billboard's 10
best-selling albums of 2012 in the
United States, with Jason Aldean's
Night Train holding the 11th spot.
Zac Brown Band, Eric Chgrch and
Lady Antebellum were other con-
tenders, with over half a million in
album sales by the year's end.
These Nashville superstars neu-
tralize their successes, however,
from an absence on the top=tier
singles chart. Don't get me wrong,
there's a high level of attendance
for country artists at the Top-
40 party, but the VIP section is
consistently claimed by tailored-
for-Top-10 pop artists and one-
hit-wonders. That's a debate for
another time, though - the tussle
between the importance of sell-
ing a record and the importance of
selling a single.
The album v. single battle isn't
totally unrelated though. Look at
any period of music - baroque and
classical, '70s and '80s, etc. - and
you'll find a popular retaliation to
contemporary trends. Unless your
eyes have been closed and ears

covered for the past decade, you've walked away from the 2011 Gram-
most likely noticed an explosion my Awards with five Grammys,
of singles sales and a tremendous including Record of the Year and
downturn in album sales. Coun- Song of the Year - two awards not
try's lucrative market for record exclusive to country music.
sales is likely to be a result of this Now, before I'm labeled com-
dissent from the conglomerately pletely naive, I will concede to a
written and produced music of lack of complete authenticity with
singles artists. It's fascinating to popular country. Taylor Swift had
witness a sizable market for mod- the best-selling album of 2009.
ern artists releasing (generally) Was it full-blown country? Abso-
self-written albums that see the lutely not. Was it country enough?
record in its entirety, rather than a Absolutely. The instrumentation
package of singles. and storytelling lyricism is suf-
ficient for this label. Does Eric
Church use too many rock instru-
ments? Yes. Does Florida Georgia
Line use beats that are too thick?
evolving Yes.Did JasonAldeanonce feature
Ludacris in a song? Yes. It's 2013.
George Strait-country is not going
to be blazing a trail. Expect cross-
Discounting lyrics that come over.
nothing short of vapid - Capitol Country thrives as long as it
Records Nashville probably pays continues to compromise. Carrie
Luke Bryan a hundred bucks to Underwood, Luke Bryan, Taylor
use the word "beer" in a song, and Swift and the rest of the pop-coun-
two hundred to put it in the title try gang take quite a hit for their
- the comfortably straightfor- successes - words like "sellout"
ward melodies of acoustic tracks and "not even country" are thrown
are equally refreshing for the around quite a bit - but the genre
mainstream 2010s. Contrast an needs these pop crossovers. Coun-
acclaimed but simple Lady Ante- try's contemporaries fuel the
bellum piano ballad against the promotion necessary to continue
mind-boggle of Zedd's abstract its .stunning amount of album
electronica or Lady Gaga's pro- sales for the genre as a whole - a
found symbolism and style. genre that technically should have
Also note that Lady Antebellum washedup years ago.

Why you should watch TV

For the Daily
Since the dawn of time, mothers
have been warning children that
TV will "melt their brains," and
lately it seems like more people
agree. It's almost becoming trendy
to denounce TV in the same way
it has recently become trendy to
eat "gluten-free." The other day,
I overheard a girl in my Econom-
ics 101 lecture bragging with an
upturned nose: "Oh, I don't watch
TV. I don't really have time for
Though there are currently no
official reports of brain-melting
as a side effect of television watch-
ing, many believe that watching
TV can stunt creative growth and
expression and, through adver-
tisements, groom viewers to
become mindless consumer-zom-
bies. Of the contributors to debate.
org, an online forum for discussing
and debating relevant topics, 57
percent believe that television is a
"bad influence." A simple Google
search reveals the existence of an
extensive 15-step guide to quit-
ting TV, as if TV is a drug which,
through rehabilitation, one must
shake their addiction.
The recently refreshed stig-
ma surrounding television may
be due to the "binge-watching"
culture that has grown out of
streaming services like Netflix
and Hulu Plus. Now, TV is more
accessible than ever, and a lot of
people take advantage of that by
spending hours in front of their
computer screen, consuming
the latest addition to Netflix's
"Instant Watch" section. But it's

important to keep in mind that, in television distribution going
while it's totally possible to watch on lately, the quality of pro-
the entirety of "Mad Men" in a gramming has only improved.
week (trust me oi this one), it's Big-name filmmakers are
also possible (and a lot healthier) exploring the opportunities of
to keep up with a TV show at a the small screen (see: David
much slower pace. Tuning in to a Fincher's "House of Cards"
show once a week allows viewers or Joss Whedon's "Agents of
to designate a time to relax and S.H.I.E.L.D."), and well-made
de-stress from work or school or niche shows like "Arrested
daily life in general. Development" are getting the
chance to exist outside of net-
work broadcasting. There's
Despite what no denying that there are still
mindless shows out there -
your parents tell like TLC's "Four Weddings" or
' r MTV's infamous "Jersey Shore"
you, watching - but in moderation even some
reality TV can serve a benefi-
TV isn't so bad. cial purpose, if the mindlessness
is exactly what a viewer wants
after a long day of work. A Net-
flix or Hulu Plus account is a
The beauty of TV is that it lets wonderful thing to have in your
you access all the joy and enter- life, as long as it's used for good
tainment of a movie or a play, and not evil.
but over a much longer stretch Having a little something
of time. It keeps you guessing, extra to look forward to every
it gives you something to won- week adds a healthy consistency
der about or think about week to your life. It's fun to get caught
to week, and if it's quality tele- up in cliffhanger plotlines and
vision, it will provide its own connect with characters. TV
opportunities to be analyzed in shows come in so many vari-
the same way any other more eties that there's pretty much
"sophisticated" medium could. something for everyone. Even
When done right, a television the busiest person in the world
show can be enjoyed by anyone couldn't argue against a 30-min-
on any level. "Breaking Bad" is ute time commitment once a
a perfect example of this; some week. Whether it's something
people will tune in to admire mentally stimulating like a criti-
Vince Gilligan's deft; almost cally acclaimed drama or an easy
Shakespearian writing style, watch like a goofy sitcom, having
while others will tune in just atelevision show inyour life forc-
because they think murderous es you to take some time to kick
drug dealers are cool. back, relax and wonder what's
With all the advancements going to happen this week.

Msilcal moments with Lou
Daily Arts Writer
As aseventh grader, I scavenged
through my dad's album collec-
tion sod pulled out TheBest of The
Velvet Underground: Words and
Music ofLou Reed. While it surely
terrified my parents that I listened
to the songs "I'm Waiting for the
Man" and "Heroin" on repeat,
thus began my relationship with -
Lou Reed.
Obsessions with certain musi-
cians come and go, but Lou Reed
has always remained a constant
friend to my music collection. In
high school, he sang me through
moments of angst and frustration;
my soundtrack to and from school Linger on Lou. WARNER BROS
usually involved asong from White n '
Light/WhiteHeatorLoaded. I felt I school boyfriend, "There She When I fell in love (for real,
was Ginger Brown, Polly May and Goes Again" and "Rock and Roll" this time), "Pale Blue Eyes" rang
Joana Love, who "ain'tgot nothing played (loudly) in the car on the in my ears for days. My boy-
at all" in "Oh! Sweet Nothin'." ride home. Because, after a dra- friend didn't "make me mad,"
The truth is: I had a lot more matic teenage break-up, it felt like but I wanted him to "linger on"
than nothing, but I wanted Lou mylife was notonlybeingsaved by with his "pale blue eyes." Now,
Reed to show me what it meant to rock'n'roll - more specifically, my listening to that song reminds
feel like I had nothing at all. life was being saved by The Velvet me of that feeling of falling
Lou Reed was my gateway drug Underground. in love once more. And I find
into loving music. He never pre- myself listening to "I'll Be Your
tended to sing, nor did he pretend Mirror" more and more imme-
to ignore the hardships involved .j.~ L diately after hearing about pale
in being alive. He wrote poetry _ Going through blue eyes.
profoundly simple lyrics that help life with Lou promised me all the
me pinpoint exact moments in my things that came true. His voice
life based on which song by Lou L lr * has undeniably soundtracked
Reed played as the soundtrack. Lou's * my life, for the better. In my
I fell in love with Lou Reed lis- teenage wisdom, it felt pro-
tening to "Walk on the Wild Side." found to claim that Lou Reed
He explained to me, very simply, When I left for college, saved my life. He didn't - not
that there's so much in the world "Sweet Jane" played in my mind even close. Lou did, however,
that I hadn't yet experienced. It while I pulled up to my dorm start a musical obsession with
didn't make sense to me when my for the first time. Reed sang me fitting songs to speak truths
parents and teachers tried teach- advice my parents weren't going about my life.
ing me that lesson, yet when Reed to tell me: "Everyone who ever I, and the rest of the world,
sang about the "wild side," I felt had a heart / They wouldn't will deeply miss Lou Reed's
onestep closer to discovering what turn around and break it." He honesty, but he will never stop
I was lookingfor. told me it was going to be okay singing realities about life that
When just by singing "La la la" over take years to finally figure out.
I broke First seen on d over again. And he was - A version of this article
up with right: College turned out to be originally appeared on the Daily
my high -the filter great. Arts blog, The Filter, on Oct. 27.

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