Tuesday, October 22, 1985
The Michigan Daily
Thin White Rope-Ex-
ploring the Axis (Frontier)
In the suburbs of southern Califor-
nia, Karl is lurking. Amidst a fit of
crazed guitars and other musical
dementia-which combine punk,
country, and psychedelia-the inner
workings of this psychotic's mind are
brilliantly captured on the tracks of
Exploring the Axis, the awesomely
menacing debut album by Thin White
We first meet Karl in the opener,
"Down in the Desert." Guy Kyser's
lead vocals slither and drone in a style
similar to that of Bob Geldof or Stan
Ridgeway, but with a nastiness all his
own. The music has a spicey Chicano
flavor to it, a possessed, militant
beat; and the bassline just wiggles its
way through the track. This is coun-
tered with an absolutely insane guitar
which fires through as if it was
perhaps the very thing which corrup-
ted Karl on his venture south-where
something affected him down in
the desert. Karl has returned, but if
you look closely there's still
something scared in his eyes.
From here on, the character
himself takes over and leads into the
sinister, misogynist "Disney Girl."
This song has an incredibly tense
rhythm to it. The nasty, screeching
guitar lines-on the threshold of feed-
back-seem to be taking revenge on
Kyser's hauntingly seductive singing.
The piece has a frightening quality,
and becomes truly threatening as it
stalks toward its psychotically erotic
In "Soundtrack" we hear about the
character's view, or views, of his
world. Windshiels are like TV
screens and I'm not involved at all,
he declares, my entertainment takes
me everywhere nowhere at all.
Amidst thse schizoid confessions the
guitars virtually buzz away like a
demonic chill. When "Lithium" kicks
off, it's almost an expected answer.
You call and all I do is follow until
you call again, begins this song. This
is the first reference to the
"axis" - that evil, driving motive
behind the character's actions.
"Lithium" has a warped feel to it, and
the affected carefree whistling which
weaves in and out is especially eerie
The side closes with "Killing
Grammas on a Train," a wild romp of
a number that has a gritty coun-
try/rockabilly feel to it. The song is a
great time with its "anti-heritage"
lyrics about unborn women.
"The Three Song" opens Side Two
with seemingly pure psychedelia. But
just as you think it's the latest in a
series of revived paisley-itis, the song
suddenly lunges into some totally
crazed heavy-metalesque chords and
a guitar which resembles a demented
trombone. Against this, Kyser sings
about three sixes on my head...
three eyes and one is red and
several other wacked-out "three"
"Eleven" features an XTC-type
guitar line taken to a morosely insane
extreme, so that it lacks any of the
playfulness present in that band's own
riffs. In the middle of this assault is a
fantastically weird acoustic guitar
part-the eye of the storm, perhaps?
This track is followed by "Atomic
Imagery," a loosely held together
number which thrashes away with
ARE A GREAT WAY TO
GET FAST RESULTS
strange dissonant chords and equally
All in good fun and with a coun-
try/western feel, "The Real West"
kicks off in a true beer-chugging
groove. The band's own style is not
lost however, for this song offers the
especially ironic line, I'm just a
young boy and it ain't no big deal.
Yeah, of course you are, buddy.
On the album's last and title track,
we find the killer at work. Set to music
which resembles the theme of "The
Munsters" TV show, the song is
likeably warped. Kyser ties the whole
album together when he sings the
axis calls and sometimes I repeat
the things it says to me. Axis
becomes a metaphor for the supplan-
ted evil within the narrator and
around which his whole being
revolves. He goes off on an eerie
monologue about his nightly outings
(or fantasies of such) to suburban
homes and how he "soothes" his vic-
tims' dogs with meaty-bones. The ax
is him alright. The ax is in her
Thin White Rope are a tight,
energetic act and can make the elec-
tric guitar sound more insane than
you ever imagined. Exploring the
Axis is a venture which can be pretty
creepy stufftat times-but the band
manages to keep a sense of humor.
But whatever the case, I sure as hell
don't want Karl entering my neigh-
borhood. . Beth Fertig
7 Barber Stylists
Liberty off State ......... 668-9329
Practicing Pharm. D.s discuss
Doctor of Pharmacy Graduates
A U-M College of Pharmacy seminar
open to all students
Tuesday, Oct. 22-7-9 p.m.
3554 C. C. Little Bldg.
(corner of Church & Geddes)
College staff members will be present to answer questions about
admissions to U-M Doctor of Pharmacy program.
Thin White Rope's demented style is characterized by a dissonant mixture of punk, country, and
psychedelia. The result is a menacing, frightening sound.
Evening of folk has campfire intimacy
THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO
BECOMING A NURSE IN THE ARMY.
And they're both repre-
sented by the insignia you wear
as a member of the Army Nurse
Corps. The caduceus on the left
means you're part of a health care
system in which educational and
career advancement are the rule,
not the exception. The gold bar
on the right means you command respect as an Army officer. If you're
earning a BSN, write: Army Nurse Opportunities, P.O. Box 7713,
Clifton, NJ 07015. Or call toll free 1-800-USA-ARMY.
ARMY NURSE CORPS. BE ALLYOU CAN BE.
I have great memories of sitting
around a camp fire, singing songs led
by somebody on an acoustic guitar.
Thursday night at the Ark I relived
those experiences with Fred Small.
Small didn't just perform; he led the
audience in singing his songs.
Small's songs focused around a few
themes: peace, human needs and
desires, and fitting into society.
Peace is the bread we break,
Love is a river flowing...
This anthem is probably Small's best
known piece, and the audience
eagerly joined him in singing it.
Small was highly successful at in-
volving the audience, from telling
stories about his appearance earlier
in the day on "Good Morning Detroit"
to singing songs for anyone loved by
someone "that's far away."
Small's political pieces, written
about the current situations in Cen-
tral America and South Africa, con-
centrated on the human side of suf-
fering. He made it clear that he was
concerned about the strains people
felt when face with difficult
A few songs in the middle of the per-
formance were a bit too sappy, par-
ticularly one called "Everything's
Possible," which included the lines
You can be anybody you want
You can love whom you will...
But Small seemed sincere when he
told the audience he likes to hear that
kids listen to his music. "I feel like
I'm creating a culture for kids to grow
up with," he said.
Small sang two songs about people
leaving society - one about a former
college basketball coach who leaves
his job in order to drive a school bus,
and one hilarious song about "Larry
the Polar Bear," who gives up acting
to live in his native Alaska.
Small also devoted music to what
ordinary people need to get thrdugh
life. According to Small's songs, we
need three things: hugs, love, and
Even though a lot of Small's music
focused on uncomfortable aspects of
our society - for example a lesbian
school teacher trying to deal with
heterosexual society - the audience
came away feeling warm, comfor-
table, and relaxed.
If only the concert could have taken
place outside in the fall chill. We
could have been sitting in a circle
around a campfire with the stars
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