Monday, May 17, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Drawing out the secret
We got these hipster bitches wrapped around our finger.
By ARTHUR VELEZ
Daily Arts Writer
Rising from beneath the ever-
saturated waters of today's
no easy task.
Whether due to .
the sheer volume
of music being Treats
written or the NSEE.T
of media outlets, it seems that
most bands are destined for the
shadows before ever making that
first MySpace page.
That being said, in the quest to
be heard, it is certainly helpful to
have an established artist on your
side. So, having recently signed
to M.I.A.'s own label, N.E.E.T.
Recordings, noise-pop band Sleigh
Bells has nowhere to go but up.
On the surface, the latest act
to be vaulted from Brooklyn's
ever-teeming music scene seems
destined only for its 15 minutes
of fame. Comprised of guitarist/
producer Derek Miller (formerly
of Poison the Well) and pop vocal-
ist Alexis Krauss, Sleigh Bells is an
unlikely duo, but one that uses its
potential shortcomings as creative
After the first listen, Treats,
the band-of-the-moment's debut
album, is, in a word, volatile.
Clocking in at just under 35 min-
utes, this 11-track LP sets its blis-
teringpace from theveryfirst drop
of the bass. Album opener and lead
single "Tell 'Em" is bathed in dis-
torted guitar. Its heavy bass drum
hits pound so strongly that by the
time Krauss's cooing vocals enter,
it feels as though she is a child in
a thunderstorm, still too naive to
see the danger.
The band continues at this
aggressive rate until doing a sty-
listic 180 with the summery "Rill
Rill." This both acts as a necessary
interlude from the frenzied punk
feel of the album and - for once
- gives Krauss's feathery vocals
center stage. As she repeats the
line "Have a heart" behind a lush
soundscape of affected guitars, it
becomes obvious that Sleigh Bells
doesn't simply hide behind distor-
tion, but can occasionally use it to
create truly beautiful pop music.
This duo exemplifies how, musi-
cally, opposites sometimes do
synthesize and go on to produce
decent work. In terms of genre,
these two hail from directional
extremes, but Miller's experimen-
tal songwriting brings their sound
into cohesion. From ubiquitous
handclaps, to the use of actual
sleigh bells, Treats is an interest-
ing juxtaposition of angular, hard-
core guitar work, club-ready beats
in the vein of M.I.A. and bubble-
gum vocals with a tinge of angst.
Sleigh Bells ring
with bo-fi spirit.
Though repetitious and at some
points a bit too abrasive, Treats
is for the most part a success-
ful effort from a unique tandem.
With all of the hype surrounding
this album, it's easy to get swept
into the hipster bandwagon. But in
reality, this is a solid effort from a
fledgling band that might actually
have staying power - not merely
those 15 minutes of Internet star-
By JENNIFER XU
Daily Arts Writer
The biggest surprise of the past year's
Academy Awards wasn't the triumph of
Kathryn Bigelow or the ominous inclu-
sion of "The Blind Side"*
to the Best Picture line-
up. Rather, it was the The $ecret
nomination of a little
Irish film known as of Kells
"The Secret of Kells,"A
which had barely any
screenings to its name, Michigan
in the Animated Fea- GKIDS
ture Film category.
The question at the tip of everybody's
tongues became: What was the Acad-
Yet once "Kells" emerged quietly
onto the moviehouse scene, audiences
understood. In a year where 3-D glasses
and grand IMAX screenings dominated
the box office, one can't help but feel
that the Academy members who voted
for "Kells" were on to something - a
form of silent rebellion against all things
big and explosive.
"The Secret of Kells" finds young
Brendan (newcomer Evan McGuire)
living behind the walls of the Abbey of
Kells, guarded aggressively by his uncle
Abbot Cellach (Brendan Gleeson, "In
Bruges"). As Brendan befriends master
illuminator Brother Aidan (Mick Lally,
"Alexander"), he stumbles upon The
Book of Kells, a religious manuscript
with the most intricate hand-drawn
paintings ever seen. In what becomes
a classic brawn-versus-art showdown,
Brendan ventures deep into the Gaelic
underbelly of the forest searching for
ink, feathers and a glass eye, encounter-
ing a few mysteries on the way.
From Page 8
MATC keeps busy with much
more than the bi-weekly dance les-
sons. Each year, the group organizes
three national (and sometimes inter-
national) festivals that are basically a
72-hour "tango bubble," according to
Heinz, as well as three smaller-scale
workshops with guest instructors.
Earlier this month, a festival enti-
tled "May Madness" brought Buenos
Aires tango professional couple Ari-
adna Naveira and Fernando Sanchez
and fellow professional Eriqueta
Kleinman to campus. MATC's festi-
vals attract tango-ers from all over the
country - and sometimes even attract
dancers from abroad.
"It sounds really snobby, but I would
say Ann Arbor is very well known (in
the larger tango world)," Heinz said.
It's rare that the visual components of
a film can completely saturate its entire
being. Indeed, the Irish fairytale story-
line seems to exist wholly for the sump-
tuous drawings depicting it. A flighty
little nymph sprite, with her white hair
blowing spiritedly in the wind, guides
ribbons of smoke along the geometric
curlicues of the screen. Armed with
nothing but a pencil, Brendan battles
fearsome villains as he catapults him-
self within a milky plasmatic nebula.
And then there are the montages: some
whimsical, like filigreed clockwork,
some impressionistic, like a smudgy
Renoir painting, and some brilliantly
naturalistic - think jeweled leaves with
verdure smeared all over the surface.
Yet although "Kells" features scenes
heavily laden with Irish mysticism and
subversively Pagan rituals, the film
could essentially double as a social
allegory for the modern film industry.
Brother Aidan says dishearteningly to
Cellach: "You've forgotten how impor-
tant it is. All you want forus is this wall!"
Just replace "it" with "hand-drawing"
and "wall" with "hyper-explosive 3-D
graphics," and you've got yourself the
perfect antidote to James Cameron and
his devoted followers.
Quick, put on your
With a runtime of little more than an
hour, "Kells" is a refreshingly different
take on classic animation, lovingly and
defiantly flattened into two dimensions.
It's inspiringly simple and more than
a little trippy. By paying homage to an
ancient time where beauty and patience
inevitably won out over brute force, the
film blends a straightforward moral-
ity with sophisticated hand-draw-
ings to stunning visual effect. Truly,
"The Secret of Kells" practices what it
COURTESY OF GKIDS
"You look magically delicious, and I just happen to be a cereal lovemaker."
"Which is why it's so cool to organize
a festival. People are just drawn to us,
because they know the quality of dance
is really high, but our tickets for these
festivals are literally a sixth sometimes
of what tickets are elsewhere."
"We advertise (for our festivals) all
over, and we have dancers from all
over the country, outside of the coun-
try, come and dance with us," Garcia
said. "It's a total mixing pot of all these
different, amazing people. And we try
to host as many of the out-of-towners
as possible in our own homes, to try
and reduce their costs."
Aside from the larger festivals and
workshops, the group also organizes
milongas - or dance parties - every
other Saturday. Sometimes the milon-
gas have special themes for outreach
efforts - last summer, the group part-
nered with the LGBT community and
held a "Rainbow Tango." It has also
been raising money for earthquake
relief in Haiti since Valentine's Day,
when it threw a milonga with proceeds
all allotted to Haiti.
The group is still accepting dona-
tions for Haiti. Proceeds from pro-
spective events will continually be
sent to Haiti medical support group
"Partners in Health." Their goal is to
raise at least $2,010 throughout the
course of the year.
Garcia commented that even
though the act of tango doesn't direct-
ly relate to MATC's philanthropic
efforts, group members enjoy using
their time spent together to benefit a
"Often I feel like (tango) is the
central answer to a very rational life
that we lead, you know, with Ph.D.
and master's and bachelor's degrees,"
"And the only way that this is possi-
ble is that everybody does everything