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April 05, 1996 - Image 8

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-04-05

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Jfe[iguuItttailg

Straight from the monkey gods ...
It's a cosmic head-trip deep into the realms of our multicultural,
multi-ethnic psyches. Politics, religion, theater, art, philosophy
and rock 'n' roll all come under fire in this performance by this
Asian American acting troupe, "Ballad of the Monkey Keeper.
The milestone happens tonight at 8 o'clock at Lydia
Mendelssohn Theater; tickets are $3. They promise Asian
America will never be the same.

1..

Thulsday
April 5, 1996

8

t/

I-I..", - ... I i

Britain's Radiohead triumphs in America

By Thomas C owley
Daily Arts Writer
Those with an eye for detail will have
noticed an alarming trend: Performers
almost always have difficulty retaining
the inertia that comes with a madly
successful debut. Call it the "sopho-
more slump," call it "most bands only
have one good album in them," call it
what you will, but it'san ugly truth with
few exceptions. Starting atthe top means
having nowhere to go but down.
Unless you hap-
pen to be in RAD1OHEA
Radiohead.
The band's first Where The Sant
domestic single, When: Tonight. 1.
that masterpiece of begins at 8 p.m.
self-effacement, The show is sold
"Creep," struck a
chord with American audiences in the
thick of an extremely anglophobic era
in musical history, setting the Oxford
quintet up for "one-hit-wonder" status.
Two years later, Radiohead released
"The Bends" and we witnessed a full
eclipse that had everyone asking,
"'Creep?' Who ever heard of it?" A
stadium tour with REM followed.
Now Radiohead has sold out their
second American tour for "The Bends."
First they take Manhattan, then they
take B.C.
It's not luck. It's not hype. The re-
sponse to this tour is simply a response
to a remarkably fresh-sounding follow-
up LP, mature enopgh to be a fifth or
sixth album by a veteran outfit that has
evenhandedly scaled fame's mountain,

It
Thc

and planted its flag permanently into
the summit.
The label "New U2" popped up in
more than one review of the past year,
and it sounds not a bit too extravagant.
Skeptical? An attentive listen to "The
Bends" won't sustain such dubious-
ness. What we hear is a polished, me-
lodic trade-off between whispers and
wails, between (what their press re-
leases refer to as) Jonny Greenwood's
"abusive" guitar attack, Ed O'Brien's
"polite" guitar
pleasantries and
singer Thom
um in Pontiac. Yorke's "quiet"
e show guitar musings.
Backed by Colin
>ut. Greenwood on
bass and Selway
on skins, Radiohead's unique sound
stands apart from their contemporaries
on both sides of the Atlantic.
"We don't play music that you can
actually align with any kind of fashion
or trend," drummer Phil Selway said in
a recent interview with The Michigan
Daily. "But there's a depth and an in-
tensity to our music."
There's no question that a great deal
of this depth and intensity stems from
Yorke's extraordinary vocal talent.
Contemplating the video for album No.
2's second single, "Just," it may occur
to the viewer that he resembles the
bastard-child of Johnny Rotten and
Martin Short. Nonetheless, the man has
a voice that, aesthetically, can do no
wrong. Unaffected by the English-isms

of Liam Oasis or the backwoods moan-
ing popularized by Eddie Pearl Jam,
Yorke's voice glides gently but not
vaguely over Radiohead's 21st century
space-rock.
On the topic oftheirinnovative video-
achievement, Selway noted that the
group filmed the studio segments for
"Just" atop a most unusual location:
"Did you see the Blur video for 'Coun-
try House?' It was filmed on top of that
set, if you can imagine." This tidbit
seems oddly symbolic of the manner in
which Radiohead has surpassed most
of their fellow Brits in the press-insti-
gated battle to crack America. Ironic,
seeing as how it took a while for the
band to crack its own native England:
"We've always had a very peculiar re-
lationship with (sensationalistic British
music magazines) Melody Maker and
NME. They didn't really latch onto us
at first," Selway explained. "When we
were signed it was at the height of the
Indie/Major debate and because we
signed to a major label, we were ostra-
cized in some ways."
Eventually Radiohead forced critics
to swallow their pride and shower the
group with due praise for what was
arguably the best follow-up LP of the
last year. One has to wonder, though,
how it is that aband puts up with a fickle
national press holding so much sway
over public opinion where pop music is
concerned. In Britain, a favorable re-
view can make a band while a scathing
one can put a band's reputation in trac-
tion indefinitely. The tide can turn and

the waves that brought an artist ashore
in princely ostentation can drag him
under practically overnight (e.g.
Morrissey, Suede). Such apparent in-
stability - it would seem - could
quite easily cause a nasty case ofschizo-
phrenia. Or could it? "Of course, we do
draw from people's responses to us,"
Selway said. "But I think that we've
grown into a reasonable stature now as
a band and we can actually withstand a
lot of the flack which might be thrown
at us."
Phil and the lads have spent the past
several months writing and rehearsing
tracks for their next LP, due out early
next year. One of the main reasons the
band is touring right now is to try out
new songs on the audience that has
greeted their predecessors so warmly.
Notable too is the cover of Carly
Simon's "Nobody Does It Better (The
Spy Who Loved Me)" they've been
doing on the last few dates. You can bet
that's not a condescending, pedestrian
take on the tune - the band chose it
because of their collective regard for
what Selway calls "an absolutely in-
credible song."
Seem odd? Radiohead covering
Carly Simon? Not really. It's pre-
cisely that sort of unpredictability that
makes the group so exciting. "We've
never been an easy band to pigeon-
hole," Selway said. "I think that when
we initially started, people had prob-
lems with us for that reason - we
wouldn't fit neatly into anybody's
idea of what a band should be. From

0

Radiohead hits Pontiac's Sanctum tonight at 8 o'clock.

''

that though, you do get a certain
breadth and we've come to see that as
a strength now."
Asked what he hopes Radiohead's
momentum will bring the band in five
or 10 years time, Selway laughed,
"Apart from world domination? We

just want to carry on developing iu
cally in an interesting way."
Better watch out. If Radiopead's
development continues as radically
as it has in the past three, years,, the
two things just might occur sinulta-
neously.

Take1 a
bite:out
of 'CriMe

David Gray uncovers new tunes

By TylerPatterson.
Daily Arts Wrniter
The University theater and drama
department's production of "The Tooth
of Crime" delivers a bite. With a tal-
ented cast and crew this production not
only realizes playwright Sam Shepard's
vision, butiexpAnds it, as only live per-
formances can do; to include the audi-
ence. The effect is occasionally fright-
ening.
From the moment Jeff Bender, play-
ing the rock 'n' roll icon Hoss, prowls
onto the stage, he stalks the set as undis-
puted king of his domain. Bender's
savage portrayal of Hoss sends chills
through the audience.
His throne room serves as the set for
the play. The throne itself sits in the
middle of a triangular platform, all of it
emanating the atmosphere of Egyptian
power. Everything
about designer Toni --
Auletti's set speaks
power.+
In fact, all of the
technical aspects
of the production Truet
are incredibly con-
sistent in theme.
Guest artist and
lighting designer Note: This sho
H. Lang Reynolds April 5-6 an
knows exactly Apr
when to throw in a General admiss
spotlight and Generstdens
where the most ef- ($6 for student
fective angle

By Brian A. Gnatt
Daily Music Editor
While bands like Radiohead and Oasis are busy playing
their part in another British invasion out of our radios and
televisions, Manchester-born David Gray's descent on the
United States has quite a different strategy.
Gray's raw and honest songwriting and singing puts him
in a class all by himself, without all the glitter and contro-
versy that surrounds most of his Brit-pop counterparts.
"I think Radiohead are good, and I think Oasis have got
some good songs," Gray said in a telephone interview with
The Michigan Daily. "I don't like all that sub-Nirvana stuff
that's still going on. I find it utterly depressing that these
bands actually do better than Nirvana did without the core
thing that was good in the first place. There's no sort of
vulnerability to their struttings and un-melodic shite that
they churn out. People like Bush should just be put down:
They deserve BSE (the British 'mad cow disease')."
On his powerful third release, "Sell, Sell, Sell" (to be
released on April 30 on EMI Records), Gray throws sincere
personal stories together with classy melodies to produce a
warm and powerful piece of work.
"I like its coherence," Gray said. "I like the way the band
plays on it. There's only the three of us, we did it all
ourselves. I like it slow. I think it sows well between the
bandy stuff and the quieter stuff. I think it remains interest-
ing."
From Gray's social commentary on his debut, "A Century
Ends," to the soulful display of talent on his follow-up
"Flesh," "Sell, Sell, Sell" is by far the best of the singer/
songwriter's work. Gray's heartfelt vocals make the 27-year-
old's stories come alive and tear at your heartstrings.
"The songs are better, the delivery of the songs are better,

and the band's better," he said. "All in all, it's better. Plus y
get two extra songs, it's a value for the money. You get a
dozen on this record, and there were only 10 on the other two.
"An album is sort of like a logistical exercise, so many
things can go wrong, as you discover when you start making
them," he continued. "The first one, I was hyper about doing
it. We only had a certain amount of money and \ve didit all
in a week, or just about, and then mixed it straight away. It
was very easy as far as that goes. The producer took care of
most things and I just went and did my stuff. It's got kind of
an emotional momentum because of that. The second one,
everything was going wrong at the record company. it4
such a mess. It's got some good writing and good moments,
but on the whole it doesn't have that wonderful thing. Lt was
a real disappointment to me. I did learn an awful'16t from my
mistakes from that one. The third is probably the best, and the
next one's going to be fantastic."
Already busy writing for his next album before the-current
one is even released, Gray's ambitious attitude carries over from
his music to his everyday life. Frequently thought ofas anangry
man because of his songwriting, Gray admits sometimes he can
have an attitude.
"Yeah, fucking watch it or I'll kick your head in," he s
jokingly. "It's so easy to do all that all that angry young-man
protesting and bullocks to people. It's a bit of a one-diinen-
sional tab, for what isn't a one-dimensional thing. I .try and
exercise all my ghosts. I don't just fucking go 'I'm not happy
with society, I'm going to tell people.' It's slightly more
complex than that. As far as the angry-you gnman label
being for the way I deliver everything, I think it's not a very
accurate one. I'm no sissy."
David Gray will be openingfor Radiohead tonight at the
Sanctum in Pontiac.

Brandon Epland and Jeffrey Bender star In "The Tooth of Crime."

w
r
nd
il
is

rock 'n' roll warfare, called "the game."
Hoss, after years of challenging the
system, suddenly finds himself on top,
where he realizes the new generation
will be gunning for him.
Surrounding him, separating him
from the outside world, is his manage-
ment. Becky Lou,
EVIEVV played. by both
Greta Enszer and
The Tooth Jenna Davis, is the
most intriguing
of Crime character. She is
lood Theater both domineering
April 4, 1996and seductive, de-
manding and serv-
continues itsrun ing.
ueboon Tetrn To answer the
uebloodTheater' conflicting as-
711-13 at 8 p.m.; pects of this char-
7 & 14 at 2 p.m. acter, director
n tickets are $12 Betty Jean Jones
). Call 764-0450. uses both Enszer
and Davis on stage

outset to shy away from any challenges.
Davidson's mellow delivery and super-
natural air is a good interpretation ofthe
role.
Another notable supporting perfor-
mance is that of Jay Cramer, who plays
both Galactic Jack, a famous DJ, and the
Referee. With both characters he demon-
strates a keen sense of comic delivery and
dramatic pause, showing excellent com-
mitment to his characters.
. The portrayal of Crow, played Ingrid
Eggertsen, is special. Eggertsen's witch
laughter and calculated stalking in the
second act mirrors Bender's prowling
in the first act, giving the eerie sense
that things are repeating themselves.
Bender and Eggertsen bounce off each
other so well, demonstrating an excel-
lent sense of chemistry, especially in
the final confrontation scene.
As an ensemble, the cast delivers the
show powerfully. With the exception
of Cheyenne, every character feeds off
Hoss in a kind of sadistic, cannibalistic
ritual. All of these characters are gun-
ning for their own place in the power
hierarchy, arranging themselves around
Hoss, while trying to position them-
selves higher.
The production portrays these dy-
namics wonderfully. The fall of Hoss
from King of the Jungle to an evolu-
tionary memory is incredibly tragic,
causing one to question one's own vul-
nerability, while exciting one's pulse.
In short, the production does exactly
what Sam Shepard was trying to do: It
exposes the cruel, sadistic but intoxi-
cating challenges of life.

Gin Blossoms
Congratulations I'm Sorry
A&M
All anybody wants in life is a little
consistency. Sure, some will tell you
variety is the spice of life, but it's nice
to know there are some things you can
count on. Case in point, when's the last
time you heard a song on the radio,

went out to buy the album and found out
you would have been better off buying
the single? How many times has a band
put out an incredible album, only to
follow it up with the biggest pile of crap
you ever heard OR by disappearing
from existence all together? Well, the
Gin Blossoms are threatening to be-
come as big a staple in your life as that
Friday night Tappa Kegga Ru party and
the ever present Excedrin breakfast the
next morning.

would be. Choreography, costume and
sound also are top-notch and deserve
recognition.
The band, considered in most plays
as technical, could actually be consid-
ered as a unified character. From the
beginning they interact with the charac-
ters on stage, in music and in action.
Bernardo DePaulo, Peter John Fletcher,
Mark Gmazel, Tiffany Jones and Ian
Lawler look every bit the punk band,
grounding the play into the world of
rock. Bender's singing, a Jim Morrison-
like crooning, heads a solid group of
musical numbers.
The play is an imaginary vision of

during the production, often simulta-
neously. The ploy certainly works.
Lines delivered in unison create a
theatrically chilling effect.
Cheyenne (Michael Rubenstone),
Hoss' best friend, brings a spiritual
sobering effect to the production that
counters the paranoid atmosphere set
forth by Hoss. Rubenstone gives a
convincing and touching performance
as the only character owning a sense
of loyalty to the game and to Hoss.
Countering Cheyenne's true spiritu-
ality, is the character of Star-man (Jon
Davidson). Star-man, invoking the
power of astrology, warns Hoss at the

The Gin Blossoms' new album,' Con-
gratulations I'm Sorry," isn't ground
breaking or innovative, but it will make
you wish you were that All-American
high school senior they seem, to be
singing about in every sorg. It has the
head-bobbin' beer drinkin'tunes as well
as the what-will-I-do-now-that-you're-
gone ballads, so you're set noinato
what mood you happen to beim. I's the
perfect disc to throw in the CD ehanger
with five of your other favorites and
just sit back and drink a coupe/l beers.
Once again, Robin Wilson's vocals
are strong and expressive, without ever
really pushing any envelopes (and for
those of you who were worried, he still
mentions getting drunk and smoking
cigarettes about 15 times on the album).
Actually, all ofth inRossoms' trai
mark sounds are here. It's kind of IN
Pearl Jam Lite, all of Eddie Vedder and
Stone Gossard's basic ideals without
the passion and the fury.,
The Gin Blossoms are just a good
pop band, plain and simple. Chances
are you don't have to remember the
names of "For Squirrels" or "Del
Amitri" for very much longer, but the
Gin Blossoms quirky pop licks are here
to stay.

p

The Gin Blossoms are set to become a big staple in the musical mainstream.

Sam Shepard's
THE TOOTH OF CRIME

Rock-n-Roll as
a metaphor for
life in America
Trueblood Theatre
April 4-6, 11-3
-. t. 31A

Ann Arbor not-for-promt center for fine cinema
Mic an Thater
603E. bkr g EVENTS INFO UNE (313)668860
For All Michigan Theater Events Check Out Michigan Theater Wired
http://www.mlctheater.com/mt/
CLASSIC FILMS ALL WEEKEND!
2MI:- ASna eOdvsse v

YELLOW
CAB
2MW o m 0mme rv MInArbOrM48103

-Tyler Brubaker
See RECORDS, Page 9

°:; .:_

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