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March 02, 1994 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-03-02

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Buffalo Tom aim
0 for core of rock

Over the last decade, few groups
have managed to create music as
energetic and consistently pleasing as
Boston-based trio Buffalo Tom. From
their first self-titled album to their
latest release, "Big Red Letter Day,"
Buffalo Tom, currently comprised of
guitarist/vocalist Bill Janovitz, bassist
Chris Colbourn and drummer Tom
Maginnis, seem to have effortlessly
but ambitiously taken the style of
simple, three-chord powerpop to new
levels in a way that remains both
exciting and fascinating.
"Big Red Letter Day" is the follow-
up to the trio's most critically and
commercially successful release, "Let
Me Come Over," which found the
band dropping some of the noisier
guitar work that had been present on
their first two releases, which were
produced by DinosaurJr.'s J. Mascis.
"Big Red Letter Day" tends to
continue in this direction, but, as
Colbourn explained, the band
members found themselves exploring
0even more different approaches.
"The first two records just
highlighted a band learning to play
their instruments and pounding away
on guitars," Colbourn said. "On ('Big
Red Letter Day'), we had more than
one vocal microphone for the first
time, so we were doing things like
singing harmonies together while we
constructed the songs. We all agreed
16 that the songs were kind of loping,
acoustic-based songs. We write most

of our stuff at home on acoustic
guitars, so its natural to record with a
lot of acoustic guitars but we'd never
really done it that way before!"
However, Colbourn admitted that
some of these new elements, such as
the use of female backing vocals on
the album's second single,
"Treehouse," made him somewhat
"(The album) features Buffalo
Tom at its best and its worst," he
stated. "I thinkthe dynamics involved
and the songwriting have really come
a long way, but I think we're not quite
sure of what to do in a big studio, and
we used some things just because
they were there!"
"The idea of (backing vocals)
bothered me at first," he continued,
"but some people who were close to
me thought I was taking it a little too
seriously. There's an element of it
that I like, but I think we should be
careful and not go too far with letting
those kinds of things take control of
the songs too much."
The majority of "Big Red Letter
Day," however, finds Buffalo Tom
remaining true to form with raw,
powerful guitar riffs and their usual
brand of quirky lyrical imagery.
"We draw a lot (of images) from
growing up," Colbourn said. "When
you're 25 and you look back, you can
see a lot of things that are consistent,
even if you look back to fourth grade!
There'salotof phases you go through,
(but) it's like your childhood is the

Buffalo Tom's popularity has increased steadily since their early days spent bumming around Boston. Catch them at the Blind Pig Thursday night.

blueprint for the person," he
explained. "That's why a lot of our
images, like 'Sodajerk' and
'Birdbrain,' are kind of childlike!"
Buffalo Tom played in Detroit last
October and proved once again that
their music is equally exciting in a
live situation.
Songs such as "Velvet Roof,"
"Sodajerk" and the Colbourn-penned
"Darl" never fail to bring crowds to

their feet, and the sheer beauty and
emotion of songs like "Tailights Fade"
leaves audiences both mystified and
"The songs give you this feeling
of sort of knowing them, but not quite
knowing them, and there's a real
warmth in that," Colbourn mused.
"We've got that 'Joe-next-door'
quality that doesn't threaten people
and allows neonle to lust listen to the

Buffalo Tom's consistent style is
certainly welcome in a music world
full of sometimes unpleasant
surprises, and, fortunately, Colbourn
said that he doesn't see the band's
unique style changing anytime soon.
"We're the kind of band that are very
consistent song writers ... I think the
next Buffalo Tom album won't be a
whole lot different from the last one!

We just saw Royal Trux in Los
Angeles and I was really inspired to
just let things flow, and not worry
about (things) so much ... It was rock
'n' roll at its purest. I want to keep all
of those elements in Buffalo Tom."
BUFFALO TOM perform Thursday
night at the Blind Pig, with special
guest whirlingRoad. Doors opn at 9
p.m., 19 and over are welcome. Call
996-8555 for more information.

'Ruby' proves intuition's correct

It's hard to justify the irrational.
In January, I wrote a top 10 films
of the year list that applauded this
Ruby in Paradise
Written and directed by Victor
Nunez; with Ashley Judd.
film. I hadn't seen it. Ijust had a sense
about it. Yeah, yeah, it was
unprofessional as hell, not to mention
utterly pretentious, but what can I
say? Sometimes youjust know things
without knowing why. And no, that's
not an excuse, it's reality. It's called
intuition and it's something we have.
"Ruby in Paradise," the first
wholly accessible and critically-
worshipped offering from
independent filmmaker VictorNunez,
is not about the Holocaust. It's also
not about a hippie and his dad in
Ireland. Or an actor and his partner in
China. Or a sexually frustrated butler
and his housekeeper in England, or
the sexually repressed aristocrats of
old New York, the sexual-political
climate in L.A., the sexual preference-
related discrimination in Philadelphia,
or the sexual freedom one can
experience with a piano and a short,
tubby man with a big gut.
Unlike many of its contemporaries,
"Ruby in Paradise" is a film that has
very little to do with anything big,

broad or universal. In fact, it might be
argued that it has very little to do with
anything much at all. Yet, personal
and specific, genuine and morose,
"Ruby" has more to do with you and
your life than any largely-stated,
history lesson of a film ever could. If
that doesn't serve to render it
universal, then nothing does.
Ruby Lee Gissing (Ashley Judd)
has just left her Tennessee home and
boyfriend in the middle of the night.
She brings with her little more than
the scant belongings and faint
Don't let the
vagueness of the
premise scare you off.
This film is rare.
possibility of a future that is both as
daunting and limitless as the open
highway itself.
Once there, however, she finds
herself no more in control of her life
than when at home. Alone and out of
work, she is faced with the realization
that she does not know what she wants
from her life, her lovers or her
friendships. All she knows is that she
wants to call the shots and not be
judged for it.
It's a lot to ask for, as Nunez
makes clear. Ruby does not have an
easy time of it. As played by the
elegant Ashley Judd, the seemingly

docile Ruby possesses a level of unrest
that is both so quiet and unnerving
that it leaves the viewer shaking her
head in wonder, deeply puzzled as to
how this could possibly be the same
woman who played the sassy, shallow
Reed Halsey on last season's "Sisters."
In short, she is phenomenal. Without
her, the film would lack its shine.
If there is any major flaw, it is the
fact that the film tends to be as slow
and pondering as life itself. Judd and
Nunez bring us through Ruby's every
emotion, every seemingly
meaningless consideration, all in the
hopes of gaining a better
understanding of herself and her life.
Yet, the discrepancy is minor.
There is little here that is not worth
considering, not worth taking into
account when scrambling with the
inconsistencies of your own
sometimes unclearly defined life.
Don't let the vagueness of the
premise scare you off. This film is
rare. It's not about the Holocaust, it's
not about sex, it's not about
discrimination. It's just about ayoung
woman and her life and the feeling it
leaves you with is indescribable, yet
substantial. Call it intuition. Call it
understanding. Call it universal. If
that's irrational, so be it.

Adam Sandier
They're All Gonna Laugh at
Warner Bros.
Cries of "Opera Man! Noooooo!"
will be heard across the country when
people play this useless, unfunny piece
of crap. Sandler and some of his other
"Saturday Night Live" buddies like
Rob Schneider, David Spade, Tim
Meadows and Conan O'Brien have
collaborated to produce this
misogynistic, scatalogical, and most
importantly, thoroughly unamusing
"comedy" album that documents the
most important time in everyone's
life - high school.
The pieces range from the mildly
amusing "Buddy," "Right Field" and
"I'm So Wasted," all of which
caricature high-school high-jinks with
some modicum of talent, to the
perplexing "The Longest Pee," "Mr.
Spindel's Phone Call," "Fatty
McGee," "The Cheerleader" and
"Teenage Love on the Telephone,"
which register some initial,
embarrassed laughter and then
stunned silence, to the unamusingly
disgusting "Beatings (of a High
School Janitor, Bus Driver, Spanish
Teacher and Science Teacher)," all of
the skits with The Buffoon ("The
Buffoon and The Dean," "The
Buffoon and the Valedictorian," etc.)
and the song "At a Medium Pace."

Some sample lyrics: "You see the
shampoo bottle / Now stick it up my
ass / Push it in and out at a medium
pace." Eeccch. No thanks.
Even more disgusing than the
profanity, misogyny and general
yuckiness of "They're All Gonna
Laugh At You!" is that Sandler and
company so vastly underrate the taste
of their audience. That they think that
people will actually buy and laugh at
this album shows more than a lapse in
judgement. Though the songs
"Lunchlady Land" and "The
Thanksgiving Song" are somewhat
amusing, the album is for the most
part useless. "They're All Gonna
Laugh at You?" Sandler wishes.
- Heather Phares
Phil Minton & Roger
Dada da
Leo Records
If you have never heard Phil
Minton's mouth music, then there is
little that words can convey. This
CD's title says it all. His totally
unorthodox throat sounds are beyond
what most of us can imagine. Ranging
from animal sounds to nightmare
flatulence, Minton's sounds can't help
but make you laugh and then wonder

in astonishment.
Roger Turner's deracinating
drumming could try to organize these
"songs," but his host of unusual
percussive sounds only adds more
befuddlement to the situation.
Remarkably, this CD was recorded
without any tapejuggling orelectronic
This is the sound-track for the
birth and death of the universe (or
maybe it's just indigestion). Hear it
and wonder how it's all humanly
- Chris Wyrod
Color Printing
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Big savings on color printing
for all clubs, businesses, and

RUBY IN PARADISE is playing at
the Michigan Theater.


University of Wisconsin-Platteville
"If you have built castles in the air,
your work need not be lost.
That is where they should be.
Now put the foundations under them."
-Henry David 'horeau
_j I- -
Learn Your Way Around The World
* Study abroad in Seville, Spain, or London, England,
for a summer, for a semester or for a full academic year
* Courses in liberal arts and international business
* Fluency in a foreign language lat required
* Home-stays with meals
* Field trips
* Financial aid applies (except for summer session)

Meet with yourJostens representative for full details.
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