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May 08, 2006 - Image 10

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-05-08

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a

10 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 8, 2006

The 'Stars'are
almost aliged
on new album
By Alexandra Jones
Daily Arts Writer
MUSIC R EV IEW *
Every aspect of the Starlight Mints' sound is a little
bit, well, different: Their multi-textured instrumenta-
tion includes orchestral strings and curious
auxiliary percussion alongside (or in con-
junction with) crackly, crunchy production Starlight
effects and electric keyboards. Lead singer Mints
Allan Vest's wobbly croon sounds a little Drowaton
like the sonic spawn of a David Bowie/Ste- Barsul
phen Malkmus tryst. Vest's awesomely
titled lyrics are abstract, dreamlike medita-
tions whose simultaneous weirdness and simplicity might
sound a little embarrassing from any other frontman.
In one of the more fortuitous developments of 21st-
century indie pop, the combination of these odd ele-
ments makes the music of this Oklahoma quartet as
addictively charming as their red-and-white-striped
namesake is tasty.
On Drowaton, Starlight Mints haven't quite recre-
ated the sweet, spazzy aesthetic that made their debut,
The Dream That Stuff Was Made Of; a highly addictive
hit of pop crack. But, continuing to work in the looser,
more measured style of 2003's Built on Squares, the
group's first Barsuk release shows a significant, if not
always successful, stylistic divergence from the stan-
dard up-tempo, hook-heavy, candy-coated sonic blasts
that characterized their earlier work.
"What's Inside of Me?" is the disc's clear standout,
possessing a directness that the Mints sometimes lack
as well as a wry, self-referential piano hook that 1 could

UMMA's last exhibit
provocative, lacks form

"We're one big happy family. We like mint.'
listen to on loop for days. Quirky tracks like opener
"Pumpkin," "The Bee" and "Seventeen Devils" keep up
the energy - they're immediately intriguing, attention-
grabbing and hook-laden, which pretty much encapsu-
lates the band's skill set.
Even when they're not at their high-energy best, Star-
light Mints still sound pretty sweet: The spooky, acous-
tic "The Killer" outlasts its welcome mostly because of
its placement at Drowaton's midpoint; it's preceded by
the forceful, growling strings of "Rhino Stomp," and the
backing vocals provide a welcome transition back into fun
with "Eyes of the Night's" spidery bubblegum.
"The Killer" isn't a bad song, just a dull one amid the
bright colors and flashing lights that make up the rest of
the album, and it's not too difficult to imagine Vest and Co.
pulling off a few great ballads on their next release.
Drowaton ("not a word" backwards, in case you hadn't
noticed yet) shows stylistic exploration that, rather than
implying a slow descent to poorly formulated blandness, will
make listeners jones for Starlight Mints' future work like a
six-year-old in need of a sugar rush. If the Mints' sound was
sparkling and crackling before, they've managed to rein
themselves in without suffocating their infectious energy
and hidden-treasure style.

By Andrew Klein
Managing Arts Editor
Although the University's Museum
of Art is set to close its doors for a mas-
sive renovation
project this sum-
mer, the exhibit Rethinking
"Rethinking the the
Photographic Photographic
Image: the Best of Image
Photography from
the George East- New through
man House Col- June 25
"ection running Free
through June 25, AtUMMA
offers one last dose
of good art before the digging begins.
Intended as a retrospective on the
development of photography as an artistic
medium,the exhibit - specifically on the
second floor - instead reads as atimeline
of American culture. The lack of any sub-
stantial work by foreign artists prevents
a full understanding of photography's
growth as it relates to other cultures.
That being said, the museum's ground
floor houses a provocative series of pho-
tographs by contemporary British artist
Andy Lock. "Orchard Park" is a series
of social-realist images of British projects
that belie its pastoral title. The process
by which the images are produced is the
series's most interesting aspect. Thirty-
five millimeter slides are projected onto a
canvas layered with luminous green paint.
As the highly unbalanced materials began

to fade and warp, the canvases themselves
are rephotographed, "capturing" the pho-
tos' degradation.
The end result is disconcerting. The
alien-green backgrounds and impossibly
dark shadows envelope an array of simple
objects (e.g. a chair, a bundle of rags and
windows), and take the context from an
objective social critique into a geometrical-
ly abstract vision. There is a distinct feel-
ing of isolation in Lock's images, but the
viewer is left to draw her own conclusions.
The second floor, though, is where the
bulk of the exhibit's weight lies. Its intro-
ductory text promises the viewer that the
following exhibit grandly encompasses
the breadth of photography's evolution.
The first prints startoffontheright foot.
Several early photographic procedures are
well documented andenlightening,evenif
their subject matter - namely portraiture
- can get a little redundant. The exhibit
moves into the era of the American Civil
War,explaininghow photographic images
were manipulated as early.as 1860. After
a disappointing single image from Mat-
thew Brady, the works begin to reflect an
industrialized America and the deepen-
ing divide between the rich and the poor.
Artists started applying the aesthetics of
painting to the lens, as well as further
exploiting the camera's potential for social
criticism - much like the 2005 Walker
Evans and James Agee exhibit.
By the time the viewer moves through
iconic World War II images - including
a Robert Capa print - into the experi-
mentation and abstraction of the '60s,
it's clear what the viewer is seeing is a
progression of American culture as wit-
nessed through photography. The photos
of the Vietnam War are no less unnerv-
ing 40 years after their creation, and
Nicholas Nixon's documentation of an
AIDS victim in the '80s is heartbreaking
with its sense of forboding. Carrie Mae 4
Weem's racially vitriolic 1987 "Magenta
Colored Girl" is immediately followed
by images influenced by pop artists
Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
Truth be told, the exhibit's text weav-
ing alongside the various sections is
not very helpful. Over and over again it
generalizes the achievements of Ameri-
can-based photography as indicative of
the medium as a whole. But the images
themselves are extraordinary. Whether
you heed the text or not, the historical
and reflective range of the images is
what holds the exhibit together.

U U

Marian Volkman
Going into One of the Helping Professions?
Come to a free talk on Traumatic Incident Reduction,
by an expert in the field
A Breakthrough Technique for Treating Traumatic Stress
Imagine graduating with the knowledge and skill
to efficiently and permanently reduce
the traumatic effects of loss, injury, illness,
violent crime and combat.
(for further information see www.tir.org)
When: Thursday, May 11th from 7:00 - 9:00 pm
Where: The Kalamazoo Room of the Michigan League

second annual
o tes *
Try to find the "Fake ad" in today's paper
and throughout the month.
ithyou think yauhave found the ad, e-mailaysar guess
(with your same and page numbier ot the ad) to:
displayomichigandaily.com (subject: fake ad contest)
Contest sponsored by Papa John's Pizza.
Winner will receive i Free Large Pizza
Winner will be chosen at the end of each month and
will be contacted by e-mail. -

U

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