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May 04, 2010 - Image 9

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2010-05-04

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

9

'Heaven' isn't now

Frill-filled fun

0 The Hold Steady's
latest album is timely
but not timeless
By DAVID WATNICK
Daily Arts Writer
"I really believe that music is tied
to memory more than any of us want
to admit, and that good times and
good memories very much influence
our enjoyment of
songs and albums ***
... no matter what
your favorite artist The Hold
does, it will never Sed
be as good as the
album he/she/they Heaven is
made when you Whenever
were in college." Vagrant
That's Hold
Steady frontman CraigFinn discussing
the meaning of "Sophomore Slump," a
song he released through an old side
project known as The Brokerdealer.
Finn - an apt student of art, besides
being a great artist himself - is sober-
ingly correct: Songs don'tgetscratched
into our souls on musical merit alone,
they must be great songs at the right
time. College is certainly one of those
times, and anyone lucky enough to
have graduated college this spring was
greeted atthestartinggatebythe Hold
Steady'sBoys andGirls in America (Oct.
2006), met on the back stretch by Stay
Positive (July 2008) and rewarded at
the finish by Heaven is Whenever.
The timeframe is different for
everyone, but the conclusion is the
same: Even if Heaven is Whenever

Does this picture make us look fat?
drops on the most sentimental day of
your life, it still won't match the reso-
nance, spark or sex appeal of peak
Hold Steady albums.
The official departure of key-
boardist Franz Nicolay in January
was the first indicator that some-
thing was amiss. But even if the
record suffers from the lack of his
contagious enthusiasm and eccentric
songwriting flare, it's Finn's lane-
shift to the middle of the road that
is most to blame for the slowdown.
Once a morality-play troubadour
who sounded like he knew something
with his cautionary tales of debauch-
ery,("Hallelujah came to in a confes-
sion booth / Infested with infections
/ Smiling on an abscessed tooth" on
Separation Sunday's "Crucifixion

By SHARON JACOBS
ManagingArts Editor
The first single off B.o.B.'s debut
full-length album is already the feel-
good anthem
of spring 2010, *
and for good
reason. "Nothin' B.o.B.
On You" is just
so positive and B.o.B. Presents:
to-the-point, The Adventures
it's hard not to of Bobby Ray
enjoy. Grand Hustle
B.o.B.'s
melodic acco-
lades to a long-term girl who easily
beats the plastic beauties of tour-
ing life pleasantly slide over spurt-
ing synths. The track shows a lot
of promise - so it's a pity that, as
radio-ready as it is, B.o.B. Presents:
The Adventures ofBobby Ray isn't as
fresh as fans would hope.
In the world of up-and-coming
rappers, B.o.B. (offstage, Bobby Ray
Simmons) has stylisti-
cally wedged himself in
between the ultra-cool
"hipster hop" coming
from the likes of Kid
Cudi and Wale, and
the poppier, dan-
cier Asher Roth-
style stuff.
The former
comparison is
most obvious on
the track "The Kids."
This funkier rehash-
ing of the Vampire
Weekend song "The
COURTESY OF B.O.B

Kids Don't Stand A Chance" trades
in the baroque arpeggios and sweep-
ing strings of the original for a less
pretentious bare-bones bassline and
electric guitar accompaniment. But
at the same time, B.o.B. keeps the
upbeat tune and melancholy lines
that made Vampire Weekend's ver-
sion so lovable in the first place.
If Cudi could chill with indie-
boppers MGMT and Ratatat on
his single "Pursuit of Happiness,"
and Wale could remix Justice's
"D.A.N.C.E.," then why shouldn't
B.o.B. take a Vampire Weekend sin-
gle on a toe-tapping and lyrical ride
through his own childhood?
B.o.B. presents:
the identity crisis
of Bobby Ray.
Besides "The Kids," the thick
production and super-prominent
keyboards on opener "Don't Let Me
Fall," as well as the delicate rising
and fallingsynths that back the lyric
rumination "Ghost in the Machine,"
recall intellectual hipster rap. But
B.o.B. doesn't quite fit into that
scene. Put simply, he just doesn't
have the nerd cred of Kid Cudi or
Wale.
For one thing, B.o.B.'s lyrics are
rarely clever, relevant or unexpect-
ed. "Now I'm in your house / Now
I'm in your stove / Now I'm every-
See BOBBY RAY, Page 10

Cruise"), now he plays the part of a
well-meaning parent encouraging
safety and moderation ("The kids are
all distracted / No one wins at violent
shows," in "Barely Breathing").
Finn also opts more for a love out
of convenience than one of passion
("You won't get every girl /You'll love
the ones you get the best," in "Soft in
the Center"), and he seems to have
eschewed his uncanny ability to make
partying sound creative and intel-
lectual ("Tonight we're gonna have
a really good time / But I want to go
to heaven on the day I die," in "Our
Whole Lives").
With Separation Sunday producer
Dean Baltulonis back at the helm,
Heaven is Whenever seemed poised to
See HEAVEN, Page 10

Disney doesn't dive deep enough into 'Oceans'

By JENNIFER XU balloon-eyed Japanese sheepshead
Daily Arts Writer wrasse. On the shore, sea otters lazily
bake their bellies in the hot sun while
"The story of the ocean is one of crabs shakily scuttle past them, trying
fierce and natural struggle for survival, not to be eaten.
but also surely one of tenderness," nar- As a follow-up to last year's "Earth,"
rator Pierce Brosnan Disney returns to the environmental-
("The Ghost Writ- ist fold by plunging into our planet's
er") sleepily - and greatest natural resource in "Oceans."
a bit pretentiously O ans Directed by Jacques Perrin and
- drones. Welcome At Quality16 Jacques Cluzaud (both of "Winged
to Disney's new- andShowcase Migration") and narrated by a bland
est documentary, Disney Brosnan, "Oceans" is an intimate and
"Oceans," where majestic portrait of the life teeming
seagulls dart like missiles into the beneath the shoreline. In other words,
salty waters for food and milky-white it's a beautiful bore.
jellyfish pulsate among the ancient, Disney's G-rated portrayal of the

planet's waterways is the equivalent ficult to imagine a scene more harmon-
of one of those perfectly-contained ic. Never mind that in real life, these
snow globes that you can shake and creatures may actually be tearing each
have glitter fall among the smiling other apart as they struggle at any cost
to survive.
2005's "March of the Penguins"
managed to balance the cute and
A w atered-dow n fluffy with the picture of death loom-
ing in the icy white vastness. In
version of nature. "Oceans," there is no real tension, no
real story - Disney seems more inter-
ested in creating a 90-minute rendi-
tion of a relaxing screensaver than
sea animals. As the creatures amica- truly representing the murky seas
bly scrub each other's orifices like the beneath.
best of barbers and dance together in For the environmentally conscious,
a perfectly orchestrated ballet, it's dif- "Oceans" doesn't provide any more

marine awareness than a trip to Sea-
World. In a heavily edited satellite
image, the one minute devoted to oil
pollution depicts it as a delicate choco-
late vein gliding through a crystalline
background, almost as beautiful as the
ocean itself. The directors' preoccu-
pation with natural beauty results in
a disconnect from all environmental
issues surrounding it - a disconnect so
apparent that viewers emerging from
the film would have no problem eating
sushi afterward.
But then again, that's what we've
come to expect from Disney - safe,
neutered and desexualized, but still
completely and utterly magical.

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