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March 04, 1988 - Image 14

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-04
Note:
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MUSIC

SHEA
Continued from Page 8
"It was the Super Bowl," I
protest.
"No," says Aristotle. "It was the
Pro Bowl. How could you?"
«I _
"Forgetit. Let's go," says Synge.
We go to February. To the UGLI.

An Ann Arbor return to musical

importance?

And there I am, sitting at a little
desk, intensely reading Aristotle's
Poetics. I'm buried in it.
"See," I tell Aristotle. "I read
your stuff'
"You're not reading it, you're
sleeping in it."
"Pretending is just as bad..."
scolds Synge.

"I want to get back to the pre-
sent," I say. A second later, I am
there and the two figures are gone.
My female friend is still gone, but
down the beach I see a vaguely fa-
miliar figure. It is my English pro-
fessor. (He must be on the same
package, seeing as we are the only
school in the country with a spring
break in the middle of February)

Laughing Hyenas
Merry Go Round
Touch and Go
It's been a long time since a band
from this area was the source of na-
tional attention of any sort. A very
very long time. Maumee, Ohio
transplants the Necros are signed to
Restless/Enigma, various A OR
spandex metal/aluminum foil outfits
like Bittersweet Alley and Adrenalin
have flashed and failed on major la-
bels, and Ready For the World are
from Flint, but you really have to
go back to the turbulent turn of the
'70s where demigods like the
Stooges and MC5 ruled the Earth to
find any local groups that made a
Pick of
the Week
ripple of any sort on the musical
pond.
Merry Go Round , the new six-
song EP by the Laughing Hyenas,
will not place'the Ann Arbor quartet
in the hallowed company of the
aforementioned, but it is a step in
the right direction.
The Hyenas have come a long
way baby from their inception three
years ago. Taking their vital parts
from the ashes of early '80s Detroit
hardcore heroes L7 and Negative
Approach, the Hyenas early shows
were somewhat less than spectacular.
An opening slot for the Minutemen
in October '85 found the audience
hurling pumpkin fragments at the
band, and judging from their recent
candy-heart-projectile filled appear-
ance at the WCBN fundraiser, that
confrontational aspect of their per-
formances has not disappeared com-
pletely.
Along the route towards record-
ing, however, the band has honed
their Mekong Delta blues approach

into a cohesive crunch that is as
sharp as a scalpel while retaining all
the bone-bashing qualities of a blunt
instrument. Like Britain's the Fall,
the Hyenas are better at wringing the
most out of a small number of notes
than most bands with a larger
musical vocabulary, manipulating
relatively simple blues riffs into the
foundations for a sacrilegious squall
of positively seismic proportions.
The needle-fine piercing of Larissa
Strickland's guitar, the skag-like
pull of Kevin Strickland's basslines,
and the DT quakes of Jim Kimball's
drums combine like a post-botulism
Canned Heat to form the most pro-
fane of unholy noises. Live, there's
no question: they're in possession
of your soul from the word go,
whether you've hammered out the
fine print with the devil or not. This
is the stuff that bad dreams are made
of.
Thematically, the world of the
Laughiig Hyenas is one of loaded
dice and busted luck, snake eyes and
stained sheets, junkie gunslingers
and desperate fixes, an amoral no-
man's land where the holes in a
hooker's stockings aren't half as big
as the ones in her john's forehead.
How much is that dildo in the win-
dow? Singer John Brannon's lyrics
don't deal with complex ethical or
moral issues, but survival on a pure
Hobbesian/hedonistic level. Unfor-
tunately, those same lyrics are often
riddled with more cliches than bul-
lets, making the record's lyric sheet
more an object of target practice than
interesting reading.
However, it's not what the Hye-
nas are saying but how they're say-
ing it that pulls the listener into
Merry Go Round. "Stain" is a study
in tension that is as tight as a
hangman's noose, lulling you in
like a Tylenol 3 with it's gravestone
groove, then exploding in your skull
with the force of Oswald's bullet.
"Hell's Kitchen" kicks out a head of
steam worthy as much of Hephaes-
tus as of Hades. "That Girl" is just

an old-fashioned hate song, coming
down in three-part dissonance, with a
bass hook that an ESPN angler
would be proud to call his own.
"Gabriel" features trumpet blasts by
Brannon that call to mind both the
squawks of Steven MacKay on the
Stooges's classic Fun House LP
and the opening of the Seventh Seal
itself. "Playground" is a nursery

demo tape that circulated last year, or
in their torrid live performances.
Also, the band's decision to include
on the record "What Tomorrow
Brings," their lone weak moment, is
questionable at best. The cassette
version of Merry Go Round features
an extra track, "Soul Kiss," which
stands out as the most effective of
all the re-recorded songs, achieving

rise out of ,the sonic swamp his
bandmates create with all the bark
and bite of an acid rock Cerebus,
three sandpaper larynxes howling in
unnerving unison. Over the course
of the disc's two sides, however,
these yowls begin to become one-
dimensional, as anti-rock-star-schtick
becomes schtick itself. With a little
more vocal diversity, the band's in-

"Hey," I yell to him. "I'm in
your class. Do we really have
midterms coming up?"
He looks at me kind of funny.
"Who are you?" he asks.
Uh-oh.
Out of the corner of my eye I see
my friend return. I am hysterical.
"Jeez," I say to her. "How can we
have midterms so fast!"
"Well, you know, it happens,"
she says. "I've already studied for
mine.
"Great," I say. "Listen, we have
to get out of here. I have to get
home and study. I have to learn
more about my good friends Aristo-
it# The Natior
__ _ __e_ 303 N
(across f

INTER VIEW

Continued from Page 8

The Laughing Hyenas (L to R): Larissa Strickland, Kevin Strickland, Jim Kimball,

rhyme for the McMartin generatioi,
an ear-splitting anthem for the End
Times at Ridgemont High.
Beyond the structures of these
songs, however, there are some dis-
cernible faults with the record. For
starters, the production is too clean;
some bands might benefit from ster-
ling sound quality, but the pristine
precision of the recording only
makes the Hyenas seem restrained,
even awkward at times. The songs
described above are all better repre-
sented on the band's rough and raw

an appropriate apocalyptic sheen that
the new versions, especially
"Tomorrow," sorely lack.
The most obvious point of debate
on the record, and the aspect of the
band that alienates many of their
potential listeners, is Brannon's vo-
cals. Unquestionably they possess a
power that few rock singers, of ei-
ther underground origin or the main-
stream market, can call claim to.
Sounding like the over-amplified
offspring of the adults from the
Peanuts series, his guttural growls

I

REMEMBER TO VOTE

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Hillel Governing Board Elections
March 7-10, 1988
Drop off ballots at: Hillel 339 E. Liberty

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tensity and skill at building musical
suspense could be heightened and
highlighted, not toned down or
tamed.
Still, for those unfamiliar with
the band's previous recordings,
Merry Go Round is a worthy
introduction to the tawdry territory
that the Hyenas prowl. It stands out
among local releases, among
independently distributed national
underground discs, and would make a
welcome addition to the record
collections of any self-respecting
would-be serial murderer. I mean, if
you can't stand the heat, get out of
the kitchen.
-Mike Rubin
Eugene Chadbourne
and Camper Van
Beethoven
Camper Van Chadbourne
Fundamental Music
Supposedly, as the creators of
this record tell us, Eugene Chad-
bourne's recording contract required
him to cut another album. After a
series of improbable and unfunny
adventures, he finally decided to
make an album with Camper Van
Beethoven as his backup band - the
writers of such underground hits as
See MUSIC, Page 12

D: Why are no direct negotiations
with the PLO taking place?
I: Arab governments and the United
States in the past few years have
been trying to come up with a solu-
tion bypassing the crux of the whole
problem. This is a problem of the
Palestinians and if you are going to
resolve this problem, then the
Palestinians must be able to repre-
sent themselves and discuss and ar-
gue their own cause. They do not
need someone else, say King Hus-
sain, to sit down and argue our
point.
Recognition of the PLO must be a
first step in the peace process. I may
not like President Reagan as presi-
dent of the United States, but if you
are to have dealings between one
government and another government,
the other government cannot come
in a say, "I don't like Reagan. I want
to talk to Gary Heart." Everyone has
to deal with the government. If the
people elect Reagan, then he is the
president and other governments
must deal with him.
D: Is there an elected government of
Palestine?
I: We have not had the opportunity
to elect the PLO in the proper sense.
We would love the opportunity to
have a'vote, even under occupation,
if it could be administered by some
objective body, say the United Na-
tions. Right now the people vote
by going to jail, accused for belong-
ing to the PLO. Out of 1.5 million
Palestinians in Gaza and the West
Bank, 350,000 Palestinians served
time in prision over a 20 year pe-
riod.
D: Before the West Bank was oc-
cupied by Israel, it was controlled by
Jordan. Was the change simply an
exchange of occupiers or a genuine
change of government?
I: Its different. To be more accurate,
Israel is not occupying the West
Bank and Gaza. Israel has been colo-
nizing the territories as part of their
goal of establishing the Jewish state
and the land of Israel. Israel is the
only state that does not have defined
and recognized boarders; it has never
said where its boarders are. Israel
never said the occupied the West
Bank and Gaza, they said the land
was liberated.
Under Jordan the government did not
come in and take Palestinian land; it
was more political repression.
D: But Israel claims there was a se-
curity threat.
I: No. Take Gaza, for example. If it
was a security threat, the Israeli

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government could have gone in acid
put troops there. People .wouldn't
have liked that, of course, but they
would not have interfered with the
lives of the people. Gaza has 90,000
acres and 750,000 Palestinians and
the Israeli government expropriated
28,000 acres for settlement. This left
62,000 acres for 750,000 Palestini-
ans and held 28,000 acres for 2,400
Zionist settlers.
D: Where do the settlers come from?
I: I'm sorry to say that most of the
fanatic settlers are American Jews.
The Israelis are a lot better I guess.
D: Some people would compare the
occupied territories to South Africa?
I: Yes. This is apartheid when you
can justify taking one third of the
territory and giving it to 2,400 peo-
ple~and leaving the other two-thirds
for 750,000 people. And the 2,400
people arc allowed to dig wells and
have swimming pools while the

other 750,000 people don't have
enough water to even take a bath, let
alone to irrigate their land.
D: What do you think the United
States role in the Palestinian prob-
lem is?
I: The Reagan administration is not
proposing anything new with its
speed up version of Camp David to
which even Israel did not agree. The
United States needs to realize that its
policies in the Mideast, as in Central
America or South Africa, are wrong.
D: What should students do about
the Palestinian dilemma?
I: Students should speak out against
the violence because people are go-
ing to blame America. And many,
many American Jews are speaking
out and condemning this brutality.
People need to learn more about the
Mideast and not be afraid to say Is-
rael is wrong. N

h

---mem

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Phone# for Albert Terrace
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Affordable Rates!
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WEEKEND/MARCH 5, 1988

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