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Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 5

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 5

Heartburn will ruin your night.
Karen 0 goes solo

Recorded sevenyears
ago, 'Crush Songs' a
melancholic affair
By GIBSON JOHNS
Daily Arts Writer
When the lead singer of a
band ventures out on her own,,
there is an unsaid expectation
that her solo
material
should present
a departure in Crush Songs
sound, feel and
emotion from Karen 0
her previous Cult Records
releases.
Ideally, solo
efforts should offer up a fresh
enough approach in order
to back-up her decision to
(temporarily or permanently)
leave the rest of her bandmates
behind.
YeahYeahYeahsfrontwoman
Karen O's debut solo album.
Crush Songs does exactly that;
it's stripped back, melancholy
softness isa drasticallydifferent
sound than the explosive, post-
punk rock that the Yeah Yeah
Yeahs have reliably produced
over the past 13 years. The
15-track album falls more in line
with O's previously released

solo material like "The Moon
Song" from the Spike Jonze's
2013 film, "Her" (interestingly,
O recorded Crush Songs in the
period following her break-up
with Jonze in 2006 and 2007).
Though O's voice works well
in this new setting, much of
Crush Songs feels inexplicably
unfinished. You're often left
wanting more from a song,
which is perhaps the point.
After all, the album is about
crushes, the kind that leave
you unfulfilled and questioning
what comes next. And on
occasion, the effect works. The
sparse production forces the
listener to get a better grasp
on the lovelorn lyrics that,
more often than not, serve as
relatable quips about what it
feels like to be wrapped-up in
the prospect of a love that might
never come to fruition. On
"Body," O sings about stepping
back from loving someone by
taking some time to work on
yourself over tongue-clicking
and christmas bells, provoking
the listeners to reflect on their
own experiences with having
an unspoken crush.
Despite some bright
moments, too much of Crush
Songs leaves you feeling
unsatisfied. The entire album
runs just over 25 minutes, with

some of the tracks not even
reaching the one-minute mark.
And for a debut album from a
woman who has made a career
out of producing fulfilling,
genre-bending music with the
rest of her band, it comes off
as lazy even if she's trying to
be consciously concise. "NYC
Baby," one of the album's most
promising tracks, ends after 58
seconds and feels as though it's
missing a verse or two.
As much as one must respect
O's new direction and sound,
it's difficult not to question her
commitment to producing an
album that feels complete and
well-rounded. The fact that she
recorded the album seven years
ago doesn't help her case either.
For 0, the form that these Crush
Songs take might reflect their
subject matter - crushes that
leave you longing for more,
unsure of where things stand
or are unusually sad - but in
the end, this approach doesn't
work. The album's strongest
moments, like the ethereal
first single "Rapt" and the
charmingly repetitive "Day Go
By," prove that there's potential
in Karen O's solo efforts, but
there simply aren't enough
fulfilling tracks like these to
save Crush Songs fr6m feeling
hastily thrown together.

TtLLTALt
More than ready for hisclose-up.
'Walking Dead' sequel
lives up to predecessor

Roadkill Ghost Choir's debut.
LP an impressive mix of genres

Florida group
blends steel guitar
with electronica
By AMELIA ZAK
For The Daily
Hardened by life on the
road but motivated by many
high-profile praises, Roadkill
Ghost Choir
is a young
band trying
to figure out
who or what In
it wants to be. Roadkill
This Floridian Ghost Choir
group's first
full-length Greatest Hiss
debut, In
Tongues, is best described as
an amalgamation of sounds
and influences held together
by talented musicianship and
noticeably deep lyricism.
Following its nationwide tour
with Band of Horses and stops at
this summer's most important
festivals - Governor's Ball,
Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza -
the band has established itself
as one to be watched. Over the
past two years of touring, the
band has undergone obvious
changes in its sound. Perhaps
hardened by its time on the road,
or just distracted by different
influences, the band has
transitioned from a folk, banjo
heavy 2012 EP, Quiet Light,
into a more indie rock feel. An
obvious change has occurred
in the band's debut album that
gears it towards back-to-back
tours and sold out venues. In
fact, it is clear through this
album that these kids have just
started to scratch the surface of
their smorgasbord of a sound.
It isn't a perfect album; every
song isn't excellent and some

ByJACOB RICH Lee. No, the physical controls
DailyArts Writer themselves do not change, but
your strategy will. Intimida-
SPOILER WARNING: The tion and physical strength are
following review contains major no longer tools in the player's
spoilers for The Walking Dead: arsenal, so you are forced to
Season One. find alternative methods for
While therelA- dealing with the hardened sur-
will be no vivors and deadly "walkers." It
major spoil- The Walking was an excellent change of pace
ers for Season Dead, to have to rely more on wits
Two, play- than brute force to survive.
ers looking Season TWO It's not just combat and sur-
to avoid even vival that require a change in
minor plot Telltale strategy: the nature of being
and character a young girl in such a brutal
details should not read on. world also changes how you
Telltale's "The Walking interact with friendly charac-
Dead: Season Two" isn't a ters. Most will talk down toyou,
pleasant game to play, nor is it some will connect with you,
"fun" in the way most games but several will look to blame
are expected to be. Playing you for their own mistakes.
through this game will like- Veterans of"Season One" know
ly be an emotional, personal that it's not easy to keep your
experience, not one you'll . group working together. Often,
invite your friends over to have when conflicts arose-between
a few drinks and play with you. the other survivors, I felt like
That being said, it is one of the a child trapped in a custody
most engaging dramatic expe- battle. The parents bicker with
riences I have ever had with a petty appeals to you, and often,
video game. it's really beneficial to choose
The game is a direct follow- sides. When you do, however, it
up to "The Walking Dead: Sea- makes it just as uncomfortable
son One" (2012), one of the as it would be in real life. There
most lauded and talked-about really are no right answers to
games of the last five years. the choices you are presented
A side story taking place in with in this game. Both often
the universe of the "Walking lead down dark paths, and
Dead" comic book series (not you must more often than not
the show), Season One follows choose the lesser of two evils.
Lee, a professor, as he attempts "The Walking Dead" is not
to protect Clementine, a young the first game series to imple-
girl, during the first several ment a moral decision-making
months of the zombie apoca- system. However, I think so
lypse. The game was highly far, it's done it the best. Unlike
praised for its dramatic script games with similar mechan-
and unique gameplay, where ics like the "Infamous" and
conversational dialogue choic- "Mass Effect" series, you aren't
es were emphasized over com- rewarded for the choices you
bat mechanics. make. There are no "good" and
Here come the spoilers: Tell- "evil" statistics to max out, in
tale ended the first season with fact, the game's morality sys-
the death of Lee. This puzzled tem does not use numbers at
the game's ravenous fanbase, all. You're merely meant to see
already aware that "Season how your choices affect those
Two" was in the works. Who around you, and the only pen-
would become the playable alty for messing up is your real-
protagonist? Would "Season life empathy. It feels distinctly
Two" be a new story with new more human than point-based
characters? morality systems. I recom-
Days after "Season One" mend turning off the text noti-
became the first download- fications informing you of the
only (a retail version has since consequences of your choices
been released) game to win (e.g. "Carlos will remem-
Game of the Year at the Spike ber this"). This hampers the
Video Game Awards, Telltale game's immersion, and I found
revealed that in "Season Two," that you can instead infer these
players would control a slightly consequences from the emo-
older Clementine. As a gamer tional reactions of your peers.
always hungry for new game- Speaking of Clementine's
play experiences, the idea of peers, a strong new cast of
playing as a young girl (this characters is introduced in this
is nearly unheard of in main- season. Except for a few "zom-
stream video games) fascinated bie fodder" friends thrown at
me. Within the gaming com- you in the first episode, they
munity, the news excited some are all memorable, interesting,
and worried others. Would the and best of all, human. Some
game still be fun to play with standouts include Jane, a lone-
a less capable protagonist? wolf survivor who eventually
Would her shift from "good" connects with Clementine, and
moral center to morally ambig- fresh-out-of-college southern
uous decision-maker create guy Luke. Luke acts as a sort
ugly narrative dissonance with of second season replacement
the first game? for Lee as Clementine's main
Having experienced each of protector, but cleverly, Telltale
the game's five feature-length portrays him as less intelligent
episodes released these past and capable than Lee was. This
few months, I can safely say means that Clem must do more
that playing as Clementine was of the protecting herself this
the right direction for Telltale time around. In many ways,
to take the series. "Season Two" is a coming-of-
My favorite aspect of this age story.

change is that Clem plays It's worth noting that The
inherently differently from Walking Dead is one of the

only major video game series to
depict its protagonists as peo-
ple of color. Season Two is the
only game I have ever played
(and I play most mainstream
video games) in which the
playable protagonist is a Black
woman. Some may not care at
all about this, but to me, hav-
ing played 95 percent of video
games asa white male, it's been
a breath of fresh air.
As if the production value
wasn't high enough already,
the success and popularity of
"Season One" attracted sig-
nificant acting talent to "Sea-
son Two." Namely, respected
character actor Michael Mad-
sen ("Reservoir Dogs") and
rising comedian Kumail Nan-
jiani (HBO's "Silicon Valley").
Their voices blend well with
the other members of the cast,
and their characters are some
ofthe most memorable of the
entire series.
Nearly matches
the dramatic
highs of
'Season One.
Without a doubt, this is one
of the best games I've played
in 2014. "Season Two" makes
enough meaningful changes
to "Season One" to keep you
engaged, and it nearly match-
es the first season's dramatic
highs. The game even ran bet-
ter than its predecessor; I only
experienced a few noticeable
instances of freezing and slow-
down.
The game wasn't perfect,
though. I had two major prob-
lems with it: First, I felt that
many of the dialogue choices
didn't make as much sense
in this one - in other words,
I often felt as though there
was an obvious thing to say
but there wasn't a dialogue
choice that let me say it. I don't
remember having that prob-
lem in "Season One." Second,
Telltale did not live up to their
promise that the choices made
in the "Season One" DLC chap-
ter "400 Days" would mean-
ingfully impact Season 2. The
changes these choices bring
about are so minor you may not
even notice them.
This game was so heart-
wrenchingly emotional,
though, that I find these prob-
lems melting away from my
reflection on the game. Telltale
really has something special on
its hands here; their last sev-
eral games have all been of an
extraordinarily high quality.
Color me very excited-for its
"Game of Thrones" adaptation
to be released later this year.
If you played "The Walking
Dead: Season One," you have no
excuse for not playing "Season
Two." If you didn't play "Sea-
son One," play "Season One."
And then play its wonderful
sequel.
"The Walking Dead: Season
Two" was reviewed usinga digi-

tal season pass purchased by the
reviewer.

GREATEST HISS

"Are you down for a tour of Emo Lake?"
songs aren't even all that good.
But long-haired and bushy-
tailed, the band has given each
song a redeeming quality that
keeps the average listener
intrigued and the avid fan
obsessed. There is no specific
theme to latch onto in listening
to the album, but perhaps this
is a result of its odd mixture
of influences that range from
Radiohead to Cormac McCarthy
to My Morning Jacket. Andrew
Shepard, with a voice similar
to that of fellow Floridian Tom
Petty, stars as the songwriter
of the band. Providing a
poetic backbone to the album,
Shepard's voice and lyricism
acts as the sole constant.
The album is kick-started
by jam songs. "Slow Knife,"
the album's most popular
single, is reminiscent of My
Morning Jacket's "Circuital."
The inconsistent rise and
fall of rhythms and sounds
becomes clear here, when two
songs later the boys move their
listeners into more electronic
explorations. "A Blow to the
Head," for example, is a six-

and-a-half-minute jam session
that warrants a comparison to
Radiohead. While Shepard's
scratchy vocals belt "Don't talk
me down / I'm trying to see
the stars," a steady guitar and
drum set accompanies. It is
undeniably the best song on the
album. The transition from the
slow, more acoustic "I Could See
Everything" into a synthesized
yet guitar-heavy, steady rock
song, "No Enemy" is confusing
but excellent. Each song
individually possesses notable
moments of greatness.
There is no telling where this
band is headed. Dabbling 'in
multiple genres and influences
from song to song, it's easy to
understand why Roadkill Ghost
Choir's fan base ranges from
the hipsters of Bonnaroo to the
criticsofRollingStone. Itssound
is Americana yet universal.
It surprises listeners with its
synthesized bits but suppresses
them with a steady steel guitar
and singer-songwriter style
lyricism. If this band were to
have a college major, it would be
indefinitely undecided.

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