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April 16, 2003 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-04-16

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ART S

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 16, 2003 -11

TOBASOL to mix up
rock and folk at Leo's

Supreme beats the trend

By John Honkala
Daily Arts Writer

Ann Arbor's The Original Bothers
and Sisters of Love folklore-ish pres-
ence precedes them. Their CD packag-
ing, show posters and website drip
sepia and old maps, Michigan iconog-
raphy and turn-of-the-century photo-
graphs. You almost
expect exclusively T S
sea chanties or TOBASOL
mountain songs Tonight at 10 p.m.
when you finally At Leopold Bros.
get to the music.
And while those elements actually do
show up on their albums, TOBASOL is
essentially a folk-rock outfit with a
Mark Twain and Johnny Horton com-
plex. Americana couldn't find a better
Midwestern representative.
TOBASOL is essentially two bands
- your standard rock trio (drums,
electric guitar and bass) and a folk
band (accordion, acoustic guitar and
violin). They synthesize these two
qualities seamlessly, shifting from
placid to raucous in the same three-
minute pop song. They do so subtly, in
the way that only musicians who've
played together for a while can manage
- that is, they don't rely on over-
wrought hyperbole to get their point
across. Rather, their songs are sophisti-

cated, tasteful and sublime.
TOBASOL count three accomplished
singer-songwriters among their ranks,
all of whom bring basic melodies to
practice, which are then, as bassist Scott
McClintock puts it, run through the
"TOBASOL filter - six people with
distinct, passionate tastes." For a lot of
bands this approach might lead to either
a muddled musical mess or a pissed off
drummer stalking out of practice with
the P.A. But, somehow, it works for
TOBASOL, a band whose members
talk as excitedly about other bands as
their own. According to McClintock,
they often spend large portions of prac-
tice "powwowing over chord changes."
But TOBASOL aren't moody musi-
cal snobs perpetually holed up in dark
studios. Their live shows draw a boister-
ous, drinking crowd that feed off the
band's energetic stage presence, which
at times includes kick-ass accordion
rock moves and six-person harmonies.
Upon hearing TOBASOL's music,
you may think the Zombies and Olivia
Tremor Control. Listen further and you
hear XTC and Camper Van Beethoven.
They've been saddled with "pirate
rock" and "Northern pop music." More
than anything else, though, TOBASOL
is a Michigan band that wears that fact
on their collective sleeve. Oddly
enough, though, they are hardly known
within the state, despite the fact that
they are a national act. Their shows in

is the latest to
buck the prevail-
ing trends - join-
ing producers like
Kanye West, Just
Blaze and 9th
Wonder - and his
excellent The Sat-

Like a surgeon. Hey! Cutting for the very first time.

The Saturday
Nite Agenda
Grit Records

Chicago, New York and Austin are usu-
ally better attended than their Ann
Arbor shows. In those cities, according
to McClintock, their audiences are
enamored with the idyllic Michigan
they present in their music.
It's not difficult to see from where
that romanticizing stems. TOBASOL
presents Michigan as a mythical place
where exasperated factory workers and
suburban fathers share a common
milieu composed of Tiger Stadium,
Lake Superior cottages and dirt roads in
Brighton. All of TOBASOL, except for
New Zealander Liz Auchinvole, hail
from the state and clearly their music
springs from the nostalgia Michigan has
instilled in them. In fact, their latest
album, H.O.M.E.S (a Michigan refer-
ence itself - think the Great Lakes),
finds them twisting fables and folk tales

around music that often sounds like
Michigan. For example, one need only
listen to the lazy, meandering har-
monies and muted trumpet solo of
H.O.ME.SS "Vintage Schwinn Enthu-
siast" to remember that Michigan actu-
ally does have tranquil summer
evenings. The album is peppered with
these references, both lyrically and
musically. "We talk about what you do
in a small town, where you drink,
etcetera," McClintock says.
As Michigan enters its most spastic
season and ambles along toward sum-
mer, TOBASOL's music just might be
the perfect soundtrack. "Climate and
weather in general," says McClintock,
"are a huge influence on our music."
God only knows what weather Michi-
gan will bring tonight but TOBASOL
will surely capture the mood.

one, immersing the old school in the
new and both reminding fans of hip-
hop's past while proposing a pleasant
idea for the future.
The timeless mode of this record fal-
ters in spots. Some songs become mild-
ly monotonous and certain verses
throughout the album are merely ade-
quate and mostly underwhelming.
KRS-One's flow on "The Message"
suffers this fate and the pioneering MC
sounds a little old. However his status
in the game and substantive lyrics ren-
der criticism of his and similar efforts
unfortunate given some of the other
obvious targets in hip-hop. Checkmark
even hints at these cultural transgres-
sors when he spits, "I leave rappers
with paralysis / Till they spellin' their
name wrong, like Fabulous." While
Check is rapping about his skill, his
example inadvertently illustrates the
mindless hip-hop that commonly
obscures gems ;like Soul Supreme's
craftsmanship.
And indeed, the record's real
strength lies in its beats, ones that Soul
Supreme masterfully crafts and per-
fectly mixes. Packaged as a happy
homage to '70s Blaxploitation and
seriously reminiscent of the classic
music of the early '90s, TSNA has a
great narrative arc created by the seam-
less transitions between songs and an
overall continuity in sound that makes
an already fine LP even more engross-
ing. Listeners will likely lose track of
the album's hour-long length given
how easily it flows and the overall
quality of each song.

urday Nite Agenda is a virtual sampling
cathedral in which hip-hop heads who
worship the style can find refuge with
which they can symbolically pay
respect to the art.
TSNA will appeal to those purists
because it combines the throwback
sampling of Soul Supreme with the
rhymes of revered artists like Big
Daddy Kane, KRS-One and Pete Rock.
The first release from Grit Records, a
Boston-based distributor who made
this album with Soul Supreme's pro-
ducer-oriented label Inebriated Beats,
TSNA also showcases new acts from
the greater-Boston area like Check-
mark, who spits a nasty verse alongside
Kane on "Come Get It." The album's
overall effect is a pleasantly confusing

UNFUNNY COMICS
The girl from
Ipanema goes
walking, and
when she
passes each
one...
~0
J/p

YOUR GOT USED BOOKSTORE

I

she passes
goes OUCH!
4

Hey! Wha

SELL THOSE BACK
YOU JERK!
l
t 1
i
' J

Man, Jerry, my El
Camino sure needs a
new paint job.

Well, did you sell
your boo ks back to
the bookstore?

J1r' /

No, I didn't Jerry.

Then I guess this El
Camino stays ugly.

u 549 E. University a
662~3201
( m-f 9...6)
( sat 10...5)
(sun 12...5)
wwwouirichs.com
BOOK & SUPPLY
"317 S. Staten
665~4990
(rm-th 9...7)
(fri 9...5)
( sat 10...5 )
(sun 12...5 )
wwwomichbookocom

_ti

I

Sheila, you caught Roger
frenching Janelle,
remember?

I Ti

fi AjI E11

a

1 1 AP'EllM

I

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