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December 09, 2014 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-12-09

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - 5

Bald, bold and "beautiful."
A progressive'Elegy'


Billy Corgan
and crew release
inventive new album

DailyArts Writer
"The world is a vampire."
The statement that begins The
Smashing Pumpkins' 1995 hit
"Bullet with
Butterfly A
Wings" fully
encapsulates Monuments
their gothic to an Elegy
Since 1988, The Smashing
grunge prince Pumpkins
and lead singer BMG
Billy Corgan
has led his ever-changing band
of talented instrumentalists, all
a little afraid of the world and its
blood-sucking tendencies. The
band reached mainstreamsuccess
in the early and mid-90s with the
likes of"Cherub Rock"and "1979."
In its heyday, the band achieved
that godly duo: critical and
mainstream success. Since then,
But he's never really stopped; he
writes, he growls, he sings - and
on his newest, brilliant record,
Monuments to an Elegy, he and his
latest lineup of gourds absolutely
Every Christmas, there's
somethingI love more
than anything, beyond
the Mariah Careys, Michael Bubs
and Motown classics that populate
every holiday
driving across
icy roads and
to maintain
control over
my car, while
tryingto ADAM
walk through THEISEN
eight inches
of snowfall
in shoes that should only be worn
in the summer, to listen to the
Christmas sounds of a convicted
Let me explain.
Phil Spector is,unfortunately, a
huge influence on the development
of pop music. If you somehow
don't know him for his work on.
The Beatles' Let It Be and John
and George's solo work, you know
him for his production on '60s
girl-group classics like "Then He
Kissed Me" and "Be My Baby."
Spector's technique is perhaps
best exemplified by George Harri-
son's "Wah-Wah," fromAll Things
Must Pass. By layering instrument
upon instrument - many ofwhich
played the exact same notes -
Spector produced his trademark
"Wall of Sound," a powerful aes-
thetic that carried songs by sheer
force. On "Wah-Wah," Harrison's
defiant, angry voice is surrounded
on all sides by guitars, percussion
and horns, creating a crashing
wave of music that pummels and

energizes the listeners. Similarly,
over 20 musicians reportedly took
part in the recording of "Be My
Baby," resultinginthe simple,
catchy melody turning into an
all-time classic by a lush, com-
plex orchestra whose percussion

The album marks a slight
departure for the band, which,
in this case, works. Songs
like "Anaiset" are distinctly
Pumpkins but decidedly new,
with interesting yet subtle techno
inflections. "Dorian" follows suit
- it's a catchy, barely electronic
number whose slamming guitars
and characteristically rock vocals
create an awesome juxtaposition
for the ears. Monuments to an
Elegy is laced with dark melodies
modern beats and conservative
synths. It's not shocking nor
flabbergasting; this is the good
kind of "departure."
Another asset that makes their
modern metamorphosis seamless
is the "throwback" effect. "Anti-
Hero" is the epitome of all that
was great about grunge: angsty
lyrics, clanging guitars, charging
drums and yelling aboutbeingthe
underdog - Corgan's specialties.
It's salvation for the listener to
hear this nostalgia, as it's what
made the Pumpkins smash in
the first place. "One and All (We
Are)" is also a more traditional
one, showcasingbeautifullygrimy
guitars. A few synths find their
way in but at the appropriate
moment and, most importantly,
tactfully. A perfect balance is
struck. a
Speaking of perfection,

snaps alongto the beat and whose
stringsglide underneath Ronnie
Spector's beautiful vocals.
Spector also helped record my
favorite Christmas album of all
time, A Christmas Gift For You
From Phil Spector. It's a compila-
tion of classic Christmas songs
performed by Spector-affiliated
groups like The Ronettes and The
Crystals, backed by the Wall of
Sound.A Christmas Gift For You
is everything thatholiday music
should be - upbeat, fun and easy
to sing along to. But ,thanks most-
ly to Spector, it's also extremely
musically advanced. His arrange-
ments combine classic girl-group
tropes (the "ring-a-ling-a-ling-a-
ding-dong-ding" backing vocals
in "Sleigh Ride") with intricate
string and percussion parts, giving
the songs layers of greatness.
A Christmas GiftFor You also
features one of the best Christmas
songs ever cut. Darlene Love,
the record's best vocal asset,
sings "Christmas (Baby Please
Come Home)," the album's only
original song. Theatrical and
impassioned, Love's incredible
powerful voice soars above the
bells and strings and backing
vocals. It's a shout of despair that
somehow sounds triumphant, as
Love through sheer force of will
impresses and energizes listen-
Although Spector influenced
The Beach Boys and The Beatles
(and, by extension, practi-
cally everyone involved in pop
music from the '60s on), he was
also batshit crazy. He locked
Leonard Cohen out of the stu-
dio while the two were work-
ing on Death of a Ladies' Man
and reportedly threatened the
singer-songwriter with a cross-
bow. Rumor has it he held The
Ramones hostage at gunpoint
while he and the group worked

it over the years. This is especially
evident on "Being Beige," the
first single off the album, where
Corgan hits falsetto in the chorus
for a sweet second and reminds
us of the innate sex appeal in his
nasally nuance. It comes through
on "Run2Me," as well - Corgan's
voice gives the song's electro nods
the edge they need. And he can
bend a vowel like no other singer
in the business, clinging to every
"a" and "o" with a despondent,
moody wail. Never in history has
anasal infectionsounded so good,
Britney Spears aside. Hot whiny
vocals are the new black.
"Monuments" is an interesting
track, with nice, pounding drums
and forceful vocals. But the best
song by far is "Tiberius," the
opening jam. Its lovely piano
intro falls into a solid rock groove
by the 50-second mark, guitars
mimicking the dark melody
brought forth first. It's classic
Smashing Pumpkins: uniquely
melodic rock.
Monuments to an Elegy is
an inventive, progressive step
forward for the band. In a world
void of raw rock, this album is a
macabre breath of fresh air.
On the song "Drum + Fife,"
Corgan sings, "I will bang this
drumtill my dying days." For the
sake of music and all things rock,
we're begging you, Billy. Please
on End of the Century. But the
worst of Spector's actions, obvi-
ously, is his 2003 murder of
singer Lana Clarkson, a crime
that he was convicted of in 2009
and for which he is still serving
a sentence of 19 years to life.
And that's why you should
never listen to the A Christmas
Gift For You's last track, "Silent
Night." Spector talks over sug-
ary, sappy strings playing the
old Christmastime standard,
thanking the listener and the
groups on the record with really
wordy, awkwardly phrased sen-
tences, speaking in his delicate
voice that just sounds slightly off,
probably because you know this
is the voice of insanity. It's slow
and quiet enough to put you to
sleep, but I'd recommend keeping
one eye open. The track will make
your skin crawl everytime.
When I'm listeningto the joy-
ous sounds ofA Christmas Gift
For You, I sometimes snap outcof
it. I realize how awful the person
who created this great music is. I
want to think about the context
and eschew the R. Kellys and the
Ariel Pinks and all the horrible
people who make music. But
somehow, the spiritcof Christmas
overwhelms everything else. The
crazything about pop music is
how it can simplify our lives, fill
our minds with a rush of pleasure
and allow us to forget everything

else. I usually take issue with the
phrase, "Turn offyour brain," but
in the case of Phil Spector, maybe
that's not the worst thing. Maybe,
in this case, it's OK to sit around
the fire and turn on classic holiday
music, focusing on just the music
and what it means to us person-
Theisen is still wearing his
summer shoes. To ridicule him,
e-mail ajtheis@umich:edu.

Tragic storylines
come together in
'Coda' episode
DailyArts Writer d
Spoiler Alert: this review
contains major spoilers for season
five of"The Walking Dead."
Walking A-
Dead" has TeWalking
usually been The i
known for Dead
its explosive
mdesn Season Five
finales that Mid-Season
serve to Finale
punctuate Returns Feb. 8
the vicious AMC
reality of
the series.
This year's midseason finale,
"Coda," saw a subversion of
the norm for "The Walking
Dead," though, while still
dealing a relatively strong
emotional blow. Rather than
constant escalation, the
episode saw most characters
intentionally avoid killing,
only to see their efforts
tragically fail. "Coda" wasn't
the strongest episode of this
half-season, but it was an
intriguing change of pace that
put previous episodes into
Even the opening seemed
to foreshadow an incredibly
violent ending for the Grady
Memorial Hospital storyline,
as Rick (Andrew Lincoln,
"Strike Back") callously
executed the escaping Officer
Bob Lamson (Maximiliano
Hernindez, "The Last Ship").
Lincoln has been a standout
this season, bringing a cold
intensity to Rick, a man who

will protect his group - his
family - at any cost. Rick
eerily echoed Terminus
villain Gareth (Andrew J.
West, "Sguburgatory") saying,
"Can't go back, Bob." Also, it
has not been a good season for
guys named Bob.
Terminus' effect has
resonated differently
throughout the group and
influenced their actions
accordingly. Rick's cold
resolve to leave nothing to
chance was contrasted by the
rest of the group's insistence
that they could rescue fellow
members Beth (Emily Kinney,
"It's Complicated") and Carol
(Melissa McBride, "The
Mist") without killing every
cop in the hospital. While
Rick has seen the events as a
warning about taking a half
measure, other members have
.seen it as a reminder that
they have to maintain their
humanity. .
The Terminus arc
was one of the strongest
storylines for the series and
unfortunately showed some
of the weaknesses of the
Grady Memorial Hospital
story. The group of former
cops, who wielded their old-
world authority tyrannically
while destroying themselves
from the inside, was a unique
opposition. Members of
Grady described the hospital
as "hanging by a thread,"
and this became apparent as
the season moved forward.
The leader of Grady, Dawn
(Christine Woods, "Hello
Ladies"), was treading water,
desperate to maintain her
authority. As she told Beth,
"you have to have their
respect," and Dawn's was
dwindling. However, a lack of
definition for most of Grady's

cops made it tough 'to get a
firm grasp of the hospital.
Who was with Dawn? Who
wasn't? If addressed better,
these questions could have
made Grady a more defined
A major theme 'this season
has been the dynamics
between strength and
weakness, and its effects on
how people survive. Dawn was
a weakening character who
was trying to maintain her
illusion of strength and power
- these attempts led to the
tragic ending of the episode.
The final exchange in the
hospital was a well-executed
climax with tilted camera
angles creating a surreal
tension that painted the scene
as a doomed venture. When
Dawn went back on the deal
(two cops in exchange for Beth
and Carol) and demanded
hospital escapee, Noah (Tyler
Ja'm'es Williams, "Everybody
Hates Chris") as well, she
was making a desperate grab
to maintain her leadership.
While Beth's growing
confidence in opposition
to Dawn was stretched too
far. This over-extension
of strength led to both
charagters' deaths.
However, while previous
finales might have ended this
standout with guns blazing,
the sudden death of innocent
Beth seemed to emotionally
crush the group, while Dawn's
was a weight off Grady. The
group attempted to do the
right thing and still saw its
efforts fail. There was just
no fight left on either side.
The final shot framed the
mourning survivors against
the looming world, with new
wounds, harsh lessons and no
end in sight.

"Who's gases catch the bouquet?"
Walking Dead' subverts
norms in midseason, finale

The enigma that is 'the lob'

For the Daily
Today, a girl in my class
asked me if I liked having
a lob - a long bob. That's a
great question, extremely
relevant to life and all, but
my hair falls past my chest.
Now, is this the byproduct
of pure ignorance or one of
pure confusion from society's
constant need to give every
new trend a short and catchy
name? You be the judge.
Don't get me wrong, I
love the lob - the concept
of it, anyway. It's so very
nonchalant. Not to mention
low-key casually chic. It
serves the purpose of being
sophisticated, but at the same
time it also embodies the
characteristics of its not-so-
distant cousin twice removed
- the mullet, with just that
right mix of business and
Your hairstyle defines you,
I get that more than anyone.
I'm that girl at the hair salon
who brings a new picture
of Kate Middleton to show

my ha
go (so
than a
For gi
kind o
just h
for gi

airdresser every time I The lob is not just the haircut
mehow I never end up of 99 percent of fashion
g like her) as I sit there bloggers on Instagram right
ng in my chair while less now; the lob is empowering.
n inch of my hair is cut. While I encourage everyone
rls especially, hair is a to stay up to date and educate
f security blanket. themselves on what a lob is,
remember, it is more than a
haircut, but still nothing more
than a trend. And for those of
[hat's next? you just getting into the lob,
sorry, but apparently, the wob
esurrecting is the new thing. Think about
it: the wavy bob. Beyoncd had it
he Rachel?' for a week before she had those
(hideous? life-changing?)
bangs, J-Law is currently at
that awkward wob stage since
trending lob represents growing out her pixie cut.
than that awkward Emma Stone rocks it, even
ween haircuts phase, Taylor Swift is all up on the
'er. It is a symbol of wob game (hoping it gets her
ow much the world is another breakup perhaps?).
ing, and I am being What's next? What about
serious. As hairstyles resurrecting "the Rachel?"
rls start to get shorter That has personality. The blob?
and guys' are getting The cob (crimped bob)? I want
r (never change, Jared the royalties if that last one
- the lob is just the takes off.
'stone of the new and I love the concept of the lob;
ent ideas for what it it's great, it's change. But,
to be sexy, feminine, either it's a bob or it's not,
line ... you get the idea. people.

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