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March 16, 1994 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-03-16

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 16, 1994 -9

Nouveau hippies hit Rick's

By TOM ERLEWINE
"I like being on the road because I don't have anywhere
to live. ActuallyI think three out of the five band members
don't have anywhere to live. I don't think (the three crew
members) have any places either. We're kind of a homeless
operation," laughed Adam Hirsh, the lead singer and
guitarist for the Hatters. "When I'm off the road I either try
to do my best with the ladies or call up friends of mine and
see what I can do with a couch. If need be, I'll call my
family up and hang with them but that's difficult. That's
definitely one of the trade-offs when you live with one
foot in the dream and one in the reality."
Such is life for Hirsh and his band (formerly known as
the Mad Hatters), one of New York City's top nouveau-
hippie blues-rock bands. Since the fall release of their
major-label debut "Live: Thunderchicken," the relentless
pace of the Hatters' touring has increased; the band has
launched an extensive six month tour supporting their
major-label studio debut, "The Madcap Adventures of the
Avocado Overlord," which will be released next week.
"It's kind of funny because we did the full studio
record before we did 'Live Thunderchicken,"' explained
Hirsh. "We actually recorded ('Avacado') in the studio
last summer, up in Bearsville. The day we finished mixing
it, we had a gig at the Wetlands the next day and the head
of the record company said, 'I really want to get the whole
record company behind you and I'm thinkin', we're just
going to send you out on the road with a live album and
release this a little later when we can get more of the record
company behind it.' So we're like, 'You know what's
best, you know what's gonna work but we just gotta be on
the road because that's where we live.' And then we're
like, 'When are we gonna do the live album?' And they
said tomorrow. So we did it the next night and it was mixed
in two days and went into production the third day."
"There are rough spots (on 'Thunderchicken'),"
admitted Hirsh, "but when I think back and I listen to some
of my favorite records there's a lot of rough spots and alot

of personality - if someone sings a little flat here,
someone over-bends a guitar note there, you know -
somebody fucks up. The jams are long and not so
commercially happening, but I don't give a fuck."
Like most bands of their genre, the Hatters excel on the
stage, stretching their music into long, innovative
improvisations. Ordinarily, these bands dread entering
the studio, but not the Hatters.
"We had a ball, man," laughed Hirsh. "We had two
people- (producers) Mike Barbiero and Steve Thompson
- who were totally cool and nurturing and didn't mess
with anything. And we had a month living in the woods up
in upstate New York barbecuing together every night and
getting shitfaced and having a ball. We'd go in and we'd
cut songs live and if it wasn't good, we'd just put the tape
away and go out to dinner and come back, smoke a joint,
and do it again. I thought it was one of the best experiences
or my life. Certain people in the band had a harder time
soloing on the spot because there is at all times in the back
of you mind, this feeling of like, 'Shit, man - this is for
posterity,* and when that goes on, sometimes you cramp
up but you can also get juiced off of it."
"The Avocado Overload," sounds surprisingly lively
and energetic; it sounds as much like a live album as
"Thunderchicken," yet more concise and consistent.
Atlantic, the Hatters' record company, is planning to
launch a full assault on radio and MTV. Hirsh wants "to
keep his nose out of (the details)" but he is pleased with the
albums and his record company. "On 'Thunderchicken'
we're playing ragtime songs and there's a 15-minute jam,
we do whatever we want to do. And on the second album,
it's the same kind of thing. Nothing got cut down, nothing
got cheesed. We didn't have to throw layers of distortion
over everything you can hear when everybody's playing.
They let us be honest and play honest music. That's what
we're about."
THE HATTERS are playing at Rick's tonight. Call 996-
2747 for more info.

The Hatters like to get high, eat barbecue and just jam, man. You got a problem with that?!
0 ~ 1 ; I

Soundgarden
Superunknown
A&M
Prepare yourself. This is not likely
to be the Soundgarden record you
may have been expecting. No
mindless continuation of the
extremely heavy sound of
"Badmotorfinger" here. Instead,
Cornell and company have created a
fairly eclectic and often un-
Soundgarden sounding album. The
only problem with this is that it is
difficult to make many overarching
generalizations about the album.
However, one of the most
outstanding features of
"Superunknown" is its relative
peacefulness. It contains fewer
aggressive or strung-out-and-
depressed songs than its predecessors
and oozes with a much more satisfied
tone. In theme, however, the quartet's
work has lost none of its darkness or
intensity. Forexample: "Fell On Black
Days" has depression ("Whatsoever I
feared has come to life / Whatsoever
I've fought off became my life"),
"Limo Wreck" has aggression ("I'm
the wreck of you / I'm the death of
you all"), and "Mailman" has a little
of both ("I know I'm headed for the
bottom / But I'm riding you all the
way"). It is a testament to the ability
of the band that they can reproduce
heavy themes without resorting to
oppressively droning dirges all the
time.
The album contains its sparkling
bits of energy as well. The first single,
"Spoonman," moves quickly with
tribal rhythms (and spoon sounds) to
create an accessible and upbeat track.
"Kickstand" is punkly swift and, for
Soundgarden, short. "Black Hole Sun"
is a glistening Beatlesy tune, and is
almost the sonic equivalent of light
bouncing off the surface of a barely
disturbed pool.
"Superunknown" has its bad spot,
too. The Ben Shepherd-penned and
sung "Half' is a horrible Far Eastern
sounding corpse which is out of place
even on this inclusive album. It is
disturbing that in an attempt to expand
the boundaries of their traditional fare,
the band ventured as far flung as this
alienating track.
Nevertheless, the album is quite
good. And if you buy the mind-
numbingly beautiful colored vinyl
version, you get a bonus track which
you can mentally replace "Half" with
and thus hold in your mind a seamless
bit of musical treasure.
- Ted Watts

His Name Is Alive
King of Sweet
Perdition Plastics
"King of Sweet," the latest album
from the inventive, Livonia,
Michigan-based group His Name Is
Alive, is like an aural sketchbook; the
album is comprised of 8-track demos
that the group has had lying around
the studio. While not as complete
sounding as the band's studio work
- like "Home Is In Your Head" and
their most recent, the critically
acclaimed "Mouth By Mouth" - it is
by no means rough and in fact
invigorates their sound with a live
intensity.
Many of the tracks are trance-
inducing, atmospheric tape-loop
pieces, such as "Blissfield," "Ode on
aDave Asman," "The Sheperd's Flute
is Always Playing" and "Soul Resides
in the Horse Barn." Others graze the
edge of pop, like "Take aLook Around
You," "A Bird In Every Tree" and
"Honey Babe, My Blue-eyed Babe,"
with beautiful vocals and harmonies
provided by Karin Oliver, Denise
James and Karen Neal and intricate
guitar parts by Warren Defever and
Jymn Auge.
While "King of Sweet" is not
necessarily the best starting point to
familiarize one's self with this
challenging and iconoclastic band, it
is an interesting document to their
willingness to experiment. At a very
limited edition of 2000, get it while
it's hot.
- Heather Phares
Pimley, Ellis, &
Bendian
Noir
Les Disques Victo
Jazz is no longer an exercise in
melody or modes. But,jazz continues
to tap its strength by planting its roots
in the rich creative soils of individual
extrapolation and group expression.
The former comes from years of
practice, and the latter results from a
thorough personal and musical
knowledge of your colleagues.
Fortunately, pianist Paul Pimley,
bassist Leslie Ellis and percussionist
Greg Bendian are steeped in both.
Despite its title, "Noir" is a greenhouse
for their individual talents and group
dynamics. The trio creates placid
melodies that eschew banality with
musical non-sequiturs and surprising
interjections.
Compared to Pimley's and Ellis'

20 year partnership, Bendian is a
relative new-comer; yet they all share
an understanding of each other and
share similar approaches to music,
with influences ranging from pianist
Cecil Taylor to Greek 20th Century
composer Iannis Xenakis.
While this CD's title may mislead
you into thinking of this music as dark
an morose, vibrancy, melody and to-
and-fro rhythms enlighten these tunes.
Bruce Freedman's saxophone flights
on "Interzonia" and "Open Apertures"
only lets more light in. Working within

the framework of jazz, these guys
open up the architecture a bit more,
bringing in more light and life to a
currently dry and dormant genre.
- Chris Wyrod
Too $hort
Get In Where You Fit In
Jive/RCA
The pimp dog, mack daddy, brim
to the side, dressed in all black with
gold chain danglin' (while other things
dangle as well) is back. No, this is not

a blaxploitation flick. Too $hort's
eighth album is out and it is back to
his "Born to Mack style," with 1990's
production quality. There is no attempt
to trim the rhyme to fit the musical
flow, it is almost strictly that "I don't
stop rappin' / That's my theme" for
this album. It is entirely bass heavy
and includes the standard Clinton cuts,
Bootsy samples and corny live synth,
which are essential to any rap album
produced west of the Mississippi these
days. However, it is not a sound-a-
like. Short sticks to his own rhyme

style and his clean cut basslines, which
provide for uncrowded tracks, as each
little funk thang is added to build the
song. There is one song with a
message, poignant as usual, but
overshadowed by the twelve other
tracks which continue in the ironic
tradition of hyper-sexualization and
disgust for women that has always
been Too Short. Whether or not to
support him by buying his album is a
decision dependent on how much
misogyny the listener tolerates.
---Dustin Howes

New Series

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