Tuesday, November 11, 1986
The Michigan Daily
By Beth Fertig
Dumptruck- the band, not the
vehicle- will be unloading their
refined pop groove at the Blind Pig
tonight at 10 p.m. for what is sure
to be a smashing performance.
The Dumptruck sound is best
captured on their most recent
release, Positively Dumptruck.
Their first record, 1984's D Is For
Dumptruck, turned some heads, but
didn't show all that the four piece
Boston combo had to offer. On this
year's model, however, Dump -
truck's assets are highlighted to the
best advantage: smooth, winding
guitars in a Byrds-ian tradition,
strong melodies, and a clean pop
sound. Their most striking quality
has got to be the crystal clear vocal
harmonizing of guitarists/singers
Kirk Swan and Seth Tiven, who add
a chilling ring to every cut, from
the lively hit "Back Where I
Belong," to the beautiful shimmer
of "In the Winter," to the eerie "7
Steps (Up)." Names like Big Star
and the dBs naturally come to
"Both Kirk and I think mostly in
terms of a melody," says Tiven,
"We build the songs around a
melody, it's not so much a song
built around a riff."
Dumptruck formed in 1983
around Swan and Tiven. Their first
record was the result of a six-song
recording session in an 8-track
studio which turned out so well that
they recorded another six.
Tiven explains that the band
owes much of Positively's success
to producer Don Dixon (of the
Mitch Easter Drive-In Studio
school), who discovered them at a
gig in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
"The first album wasn't really
produced," he explains, "we went in
the studio and recorded the songs
and didn't really think about the
production or anything. On the
second one, we had Don Dixon
producing it and it was good having
an outside person sort of giving
their two cents into what it sounds
like... Also, the stuff on Positively
Dumptruck was played out live a
lot before it was recorded, so it was
like a whole band and not just a
As legend has it, Boston is a
town absolutely brimming with a
constant flux of local bands. How
did Dumptruck manage to rise
above the anonymity created by
such a scene?
"Our approach has been to not
worry too much about what
happens in Boston so much," Tiven
theorizes, "but to worry about
things on a more national level and
hope that things will sort of filter
back to Boston, which they have at
this point, or they are starting to."
This approach seems to have
paid off nicely for the band.
According to Tiven, Positively
reached number five on the College
Music Journal charts this past
summer, and at that same time
about 30 AOR stations were
playing the record, too. The band
has also been helped by the fact that
their record label, Big Time,
recently signed a distribution deal
with RCA Records, following a
trend of many successful
independent lables in an effort to
boost the sales of their records. "I
think we'll have a little less of a
cash flow problem," Tiven says of
the prospects of this deal, "When
you're hooked up with a major
label, the major label pretty much
absorbs all the cash flow problems
so, like, if we need money to make
a video or do a record, it's definitely
not as much of a problem as it was
in the past."
Dumptruck plans to begin
recording a new record sometime in
January of next year. In the
meantime, you might be wondering
why they chose to name themselves
after such an ungainly sort of
"That's a name people will re -
member... it won't tag us in any
particular sort of vein."
p Nanci Griffith
Nanci Griffith, who first won Ann Arbor hearts at the 1985 folk festival and has since gone on to impressive
success in the country charts, plays tonight at the Ark. Showtimes are 7:30 and 10 p.m. and tickets are $8.50.
is truly a
By Alan Markiewicz
Imagine MTV without the
music. Strange people in colorful,
bizarre settings move about the
screen, yet the driving rhythm of
"Beat It" or perhaps "Yankee Rose"
is conspicuously missing. You
have just pictured more or less what
constitutes neo-pop star David
Byrne's first attempt at movie-
making, True Stories.
It seems that when Byrne
conceived this film he figured he
couldn't go wrong. With a critically
acclaimed album, a hit concert film,
and a cult following behind him and
the rest of The Talking Heads,
Byrne sky rocketed to national fame
and onto the cover of Time
magazine. Thus he is singing the
praises of True Stories, despite the
movie's radicalism (the plot is
based on actual tabloid articles)
amidst the industry's conven -
tionality. Byrne, who directed and
co-wrote the film, has masterfully
executed his deviant concept but
there is one major problem: he
forgot to consider the audience.
The "storyline" proceeds from
the fact that 1986 is the year of
Texas' sesquicentennial celebration.
Byrne portrays the narrator who off-
handedly shows us quaint features
of Virgil, Texas, all the time
sounding like a far-out Mr. Rogers
(kids, can you say "avante-garde"?).
Along the way we meet several
Virgilites such as simple-living
Louis Fyne, one woman who lies
with great imagination, and another
who enjoys her wealth by never
leaving the comfort of her bed.
Amazingly, this plot description
is not oversimplified; True Stories
is 10% plot and 90% tangential
material. Characters are developed
and they serve only bit roles.
Scenes are staged for apparently no
reason. Musical diversions occur
unexpectedly. And amidst all of
this, the narrator pops up and
rambles about anything in general.
Byrne seemingly tries for a
docudrama-esque look and feel, but
fails in that he does not present his
viewers with any one theme to
grasp on to. At one point, the
movie concerns the value of love
and five minutes later the focus
shifts to the effect of modern
economics. The unfortunate movie-
goer is left confused and bored.
Even the film's single mark of
consistency-its characters- can -
not save True Stories. Louis
constantly longs for a wife, the
lying woman always lies, and the
bed-ridden woman forever watches
TV with pillow and blanket. But
the movie's endless tangents
distract viewer, from being con -
cerned with the characters'
problems, that is, if they have any.
True Stories' bizarre aura casts
away any sense of realism so that
one does not take the film
seriously. This is a nothing movie.
Perhaps there are movie-goers
out there who merely want to be
bombarded with mindless images.
After all, millions of people watch
MTV everyday, and comparable
numbers read tabloid articles like
the ones the scenes from this movie
were based on. But MTV is free and
the National Enquirer costs less
than a dollar, and True Stories just
may be worth less than either one.
m NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
Um that is
Meet a Medill Representative at your
campus on 11/18/86 at
Career Planning and Placement.
All told, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET
BAND LIVE 1975-85 represents the definitive perfor-
mance package from the ultimate American rock &
roll performer. As a result, you can count on it being
the biggest holiday gift of 1986.
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