Strange, Surreal Cartoons
Sure, Liquid Television and MTV's "Oddities" are strange slices of animation,
but they can't compare with the classic cartooning featured in "Surreal
Animation." Featuring clips by Tex Avery and Max Fleischer, the 90-minute
film showcases some of the best warped animation ever made. Make sure to
check it out tonight at the Michigan Theater at 9:15 p.m; if you can't make it
then, it's also showing Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Wednesday at 9:15 p.m.
March 6. 1995
Pond's swooning sounds flood the
By Jennifer Buckley
Daily Arts Writer
"If you hear a great big boom,
will you call 911 for us?" asked
Pond drummer Dave Triebwasser
as he and his bandmate, bassist and
vocalist Chris Brady, tried to light a
gas stove while making pizza at Sub
Pop's eastern headquarters in Bos-
"We're stealing food from Sub
Pop," he admitted with barely sup-
pressed glee. "We made one-pound
turkey burgers last night."
Hey, Pond deserve it. After gar-
nering critical acclaim for their 1994
eponymous Sub Pop debut album
from such music publications as
Melody Maker, Rolling Stone and
Spin, this Portland power trio re-
leased their excellent sophomore
effort, "The Practice of Joy Before
Opeath," in January.
And they're trying to tour in sup-
port of it. Really they are. If only their
van would get them from gig to gig
without breaking down.
"It's a Ford 350 Diesel Econoline,"
described Triebwasser proudly. "It's
a cool van. It's totally comfy," added
So cool, in fact, that Brady's fel-
low vocalist and songwriter Charlie
*ampbell penned a song on "Joy Be-
fore Death" about it. "It's a downhill
van with lots of room / and standard
air / It smokes an awful lot / but so
does our drummer / plus he swears,"
Campbell sings on "Van."
"I don't even smoke anymore,"
Triebwasser insisted, but the van can't
seen to kick the habit, so Campbell
left his bandmates at Sub Pop East
while attempting to get it fixed. So
what's wrong with it?
"Everything. It's got cancer,"
Triebwasser sighed mournfully.
At least it got Pond - and their
delightfully heavy, swooning gui-
tar-rock songs -out of Portland for
a tour or two. Not that Portland is a
musical black hole sun or anything.
The emergence of power pop bands
like Pond, Hazel, Sprinkler and the
Spinanes led many a rock critic to
label the city "the next Seattle."
Triebwasser disagreed with that
Where: Blind Pig
Tickets: $5 in advance
Doors open at 9:30 p.m.
rather glib pronouncement, but the
Seattle-based indie goliath swooped
down on Portland and quickly signed
all four of the aforementioned
All of it surprised the hell out of
Pond. "Well, you've got to remem-
ber, in the old days Sub Pop had
bands like Nirvana, Mudhoney and
Triebwasser. "So when (label own-
ers) Jonathan (Poneman) and Bruce
(Pavitt) came up to Charlie at the
first big rock show we played with
Sprinkler and Crackerbash ... he
couldn't even think about it. We
never thought Sub Pop would be
interested in us. We thought of Sub
Pop as a rock label."
And Pond is certainly a rock band,
though their music is a far cry from
the angry antiestablishment sort that
made Sub Pop famous. "Pond," pro-
duced by Jon Auer of the Posies,
presented Brady and Campbell's loud,
fuzzy pop compositions celebrating
the joys of simple pleasures like sleep
and childhood memories.
The band members themselves
chose to produce "Joy Before Death"
with Adam Kasper, "this guy who
slept on the studio couch most of the
time" while they recorded their first
record. "We really wanted to do it
ourselves," Triebwasser revealed.
The trio commenced recording
rough demos of the new songs in their
basement with the over-the-phone-
aid of infamous producer Steve Albini
(Nirvana, PJ Harvey), whom
Triebwasser knew from his days in
the punk band Thrillhammer. He re-
acted with surprise when informed
that many artists who have worked
with Albini in the past find him a bit
... well, abrasive.
"I think that abrasiveness is just a
front. He's the sweetest," the drum-
mer insisted. "You know, he writes
poetry? It's the most beautiful stuff.
He's got all these haikus, and it's all
tender, you know? And people don't
see that sensitive side. Every timeI go
to Chicago, it's just all hugs. He's just
a Hallmark kid."
Despite Albini's warm and fuzzy
influence, "The Practice of Joy Be-
fore Death" turned out lyrically and
sonically darker than their debut. How
could it not? A long tour following
the release of "Pond" and a brief pe-
riod of rock press scrutiny altered the
band members and their music.
"A lot of stuff has happened in the
last couple of years. There have been
relationship problems. We completely
lost indie credibility because our
record got reviewed in Rolling Stone
and Spin. My god, we were in the
New York Times. We were the Next
Big Thing for about five seconds,"
said Triebwasser a trifle bitterly.
Those lessons show on "Joy Be-
fore Death" as Campbell lays down
thick, swaying guitar chords under
his and Brady's howls while
Triebwasser beats his drums into sub-
mission. Only the childlike lyrics of
the sweet "Magnifier" and references
to artificial turf and rock collecting
remind the listener that Pond are re-
ally just three slightly goofy, mostly
happy, very nice guys.
The band members themselves feel
mixed emotions about "Joy Before
Death," and evidently so does Sub
Pop. "We're trying to destroy them,"
Triebwasser deadpans. "We're anar-
chists, man. Every time something
becomes an established order we try
to knock it down. Now (the label) is
just a corporate lackey and we must
destroy them with really bad record-
ings." (Note: He's just kidding, and
the record is really good.)
"I think they're looking for Sunny
Day Real Estate, you know, the com-
mercially viable record. And that's
fine," commented Brady. "Poneman
loves it, though."
So Brady, Campbell and
Triebwasser ate their pizza (the stove
and Sub Pop East are still standing)
and were happily reunited with
Smokey the van. On the way to sev-
eral gigs, they hoped to get the van to
Wisconsin to catch a glimpse of the
legendary Lakota white buffalo.
Brady, whojust received his learner's
permit to drive after failing the writ-
ten test three times, might even have
helmed Smokey along the way. All
four should roll into Ann Arbor to-
day. Share the "Joy."
NYC Opera's 'Barber' avoids hairy situations
y Brian Wise ahead of the orchestra, and tempos be- thePowerCenter'scavernouspit. Though
Daily Arts Writer came muddled. no faultof the musicians, the reduced size
When major symphony orchestras John Packard's initial entrance as of the ensemble gave Rossini's richer
or chamber ensembles bring their pro- Figaro in "Largo al factotum" was par- textures a thin, unsupported sound. The
grams on the road, they must cope with ticularly hurried and uncoordinated, thunderstorm interlude in the third act did
variables, acoustic and otherwise, that compounded by several pitch inaccura- little to create a perilous environment for
arise in unfamiliar territory. Opera is a the forthcoming and highly risky elope-
much less portable art form, however, ment between Almaviva and Rosina. The
and consequently, the difficulties of music faired much better in conversa-
touring become far more numerous. The Barber of tional scenes, although one could argue
! The New York City Opera National Seville with the substitution of an electronic key-
Company has toured throughout the board for a harpsichord. For a somewhat
United States and Canada since 1979 Power Center for the betternotion ofauthenticity, the single set,
building a repertory of travel-friendly Performing Arts designed by Lloyd Evans, used reversible
productions. One is Rossini's "Barber March 3, 1995 components so that the outdoor scenes
of Seville," a favorite in the operatic easily give way to indoor ones. A gothic
canon. In the second of four perfor- cies. Nevertheless, he settled into the town square in Act One was transformed
mances at the Power Center Friday role effectively, and brought an appro- into acourtly living room decorated with
night, the company gave a lively but at priately playful characterization to the a few pieces of gilded furniture in the
times disjointed account of the opera jack-of-all-trades hairdresser. second and third acts.
nder the direction of Richard McKee. Playing theroleofSuzuki inlastyear's The cast responded well in this func-
Theplot,adaptedfromBeaumarchais' National Company production of tional yet slightly cramped environment,
story of the same title, is an 18th -century "Madama Butterfly," Helen Yu demon- even offering a bit of effective acting.
comedy of manners: The young Count strated her smooth mezzo soprano to Ann While it did not overcome some obvious
Almaviva uses two guises (a soldier and a Arbor audiences. As Rosina, her voice musical problems, this "Barber" never-
music teacher), to approach and win retained agility, with tasteful and con- theless avoided any real hairy situations.
Rosina, who is held by her jealous guard- trolled coloratura phrasing in "Una poca
ianDoctorBartolo.Bartolo'sownplansto voce fa." Only in lower registers did her
marry her hasten Almaviva's pursuit, voice tend to loose some of its volume and
which is aided at every step by the town clarity, but her dainty gestures always
barber and factotum, Figaro. bespoke domestic charm and femininity.
* The three-act, three-hour length of Euro Nava overcame his initial projection
'The Barber of Seville" proceeds fairly problems andplayedanamorous butclever
quickly on account of Rossini's well- Almaviva. As Doctor Bartolo, Daniel
calculated pacing and generous supply of Smith was suitably gruff, and Dianna
jaunty melodies. Rossini's trademarkde- Heldman made a good impression with
vice of creating excitement by repeating a Berta's second act aria.
phrase louder, faster and higher posed Conducted by David Charles Abell,
difficulties, however; singers often raced theorchestradidits bestinprojecting from M rch 1 and 11 at
Express Yourself Clearly
Gasoline Alley Records
Damon, a Black guy, has gotten
together with his two white buddies,
Trey and David, (obviously three Color
Me Badd groupies) to form E.Y.C. Out
to express themselves clearly, these guys
do so with one major exception. They're
expressing the sounds of almost every
singer and group that has been in exist-
ence since the turn of the decade; origi-
nality is not a cornerstone of "Express
But, this is not to say that the
group's debut, self-named CD is bad.
To the contrary, there are some pretty
straight songs to be found in this 11-
"Feelin' Alright" starts off sound-
ing like a House of Pain production.
Once the singing starts, you'll quickly
see that these guys ain't hard; they're
not even trying to perp. Listening to
"Nice and Slow" I was thinking to
myself, "I didn't know that New Kids
on the Block had a song out." But, this
is no NKOTB release (lucky for
E.Y.C.); E.Y.C.'s harmony, while not
at that Jodeci level, could run circles
around our "Hanging Tough" friends.
It sounds like George Michael
made a special appearance in "Black
Book," and the piano player in "The
Way You Work It" sounds like he
was tutored by Elton John. And, wait
until you hear the Guy / Janet Jack-
son-inspired rhythms of "Swing My
Way," the Immature-sounding beats
in "You Are My Happiness" (though
the vocal sounds are much more easier
discernible) and the engineered beats
from "Man's Final Frontier" (found
on Arrested Development's "3 Years,
5 Months, 2 Days in the Life of' CD).
In a lot of respects, "Express Your-
self Clearly" sounds more like a star-
studded various artists' release than the
work of one group. EYC's music is
unquestionably as diverse as can be
asked for. These guys' singing skills are
decent, and the beats are pretty straight.
Though E.Y.C. may take a little getting
used to, it is fair to say that this debut CD
has a little something for everyone. Not
a bad first attempt; not bad at all.
- Eugene Bowen
See RECORDS, page 8
1995 PROUDLY PRESENTS
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