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September 09, 2004 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-09-09

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 9, 2004 - 13A

Drive-By Truckers revive Southern rock

By Forest Casey
Daily Arts Writer

In their past three albums, the north Alabama-
based Southern-rock quintet Drive-By Truckers
have become the de facto keepers of the verbal
tradition of the South. They have spoken, in their
two-disc opus Southern Rock Opera, of the true
meaning behind the Neil Young and Lynyrd Sky-
nryd feud, most famously exhibited in Skynyrd's
song "Sweet Home Alabama." ............_
They have told of the diaspo- Drive-By
ra between average Southern Truckers
families and the terrible rac-
ism that was attributed to their The Dirty South
region because of two-faced New West
politicians and violent cops.
They have excised the angst that fills modern-
day Southerners too young to have seen Skynyrd
perform live, and have watched their stoic fathers
disappear into the ground. Just how much more
material can DBT glean from a single geographi-
cal region?
The Dirty South, a record purely blends what
lead Trucker Patterson Hood calls, "the Mytho-
logical South" with timely social commentary and
astonishingly balanced views about crime and cor-
ruption in the South.
"Puttin' People on the Moon" serves as a perfect
example. When it opens, Hood's voice sings of
fathering an illegitimate child and is forced to set-
tle down by the second verse. Because "Goddamn
Reagan" is in the White House, jobs are scarce in
his town. He is forced to begin running drugs for
a small-time criminal in order to keep his family
from starving. The Washington politicians are so
concerned with "turnin' mountains into oceans"
and "puttin' people on the moon" that they over-
look his miserable life; his wife's newfound cancer

The Rock, "Walking Tall," yet DBT's approach
to this story is still interesting. One of the songs
is told from the perspective of a rebel moonshine
distiller, one song is about the many impacts of
Sheriff Pusser's ax handle and, perhaps the most
captivating, the middle song is told from the per-
spective of one of the brutal sheriffs who worked
with Pusser.
The song, "Cottonseed," is brash and the lyrics,
"I ain't here to save no souls, and even if I could /
I could never save enough to put back half the ones
I took," are more reminiscent of gangsta rap than
Southern rock. To make things even more melo-
dramatic, it is sung in an over-the-top manner by
vocalist/songwriter Mike Cooley.
It's not that subvocalists Mike Cooley and
Jason Isbell aren't talented. They both can write
absolutely heartbreaking songs about fictionally
deceased fathers - it's just hard to compete with
one of the most dynamic and interesting voices
of rock music today: Patterson Hood. DBT's lead
vocalist has been consistently flattered with the
title "Rock Royalty" due to his father's bass play-
ing for the Muscle Shoals studio band, but his
vocal skill doesn't seem as much genetic as it does
sheer divine will - the new iconic voice of the
South. At least, it used to sound iconic; Patterson
Hood is losing his voice.
Hood's usual raspy scream seems out of breath
during the chorus of "Puttin' People on the Moon,"
and decidedly falters throughout "The Sands of Iwo
Jima." It's sad that, due to the nonstop touring and
cigarette smoking, Hood takes it easy for the rest of
the album, while Cooley and Isbell make up for his
absence, crafting mythic, autobiographical songs.
The Dirty South still succeeds with its haunt-
ingly morbid storytelling. It is as if the History
Channel was pressed into a compact disc, that is,
if the it could make mullet-sporting men cry about
their fathers and make us all believe in the mytho-
logical South.

Is it still too early to make jokes?

Goodman, Reiner
can't save NBC's tail

By Doug Wemert
Daily TV/New Media Editor

Courtesy of New West
Will Oldham look-alike contest gone awry.
(likely as a result of NASA experiments in nearby
Huntsville, Ala., of "puttin' people on the moon")
and lack of chemotherapy, the increasing commer-
icialization of local towns. Many of the economic,
global and political ideas that are being debated
today are handled in this one song. And, yet, it is
typical DBT storytelling.
The album encompasses all sides of the mythical
tale of Buford Pusser, who, legend has it, single-
handedly rid an entire county of moonshine distill-
eries, prostitution and narcotics with nothing more
than an ax handle. It's a shame that Pusser's story
is now known because of a pseudo-biopic starring

G.Love treads water on uninventive new LP

When performer Roy Horn of Sieg-
fried and Roy fame was attacked by a
tiger during his Las Vegas show last
October, two major events happened:
Fans prayed for his recovery, and
activists campaigned against animal
training. One thing did not happen,
however: Nobody
called for an ani-
mated television Father of
comedy series the Pride
revolving around Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
the life of the ani- NBC
mals in the show.
Of course, by this
point, NBC had already invested mil-
lions in this very idea, and the result is
the unfunny, uncomfortable-to-watch
"Father of the Pride."
Larry the lion is the focal feline of
the show. Voiced by John Goodman,
this down-to-earth favorite of all the
animals has just earned the starring
role in Siegfried and Roy's latest trick.
His wife Kate (voiced by Cheryl Hines,
"Curb Your Enthusiasm") is there
right by his side, but has no redeeming
qualities other than the fact that she's
there. Husband-and-wife banter would
have helped, but instead "Father of the
Pride" banks its comedy hopes on
Larry's counterparts.
Snack (Orlando Jones) is a cute

creature, reminiscent of Timon from
"The Lion King," but viewers will find
him too lewd for their tastes. Larry's
rival lion, Sarmoti (Carl Reiner), goes
a step beyond lewd by being plain
mean with his overly-macho, anti-gay
It's probably for the best that Sar-
moti isn't around when Siegfried and
Roy make their required appearances
on the show. The two men are natural-
ly flamboyant, but this program takes
this characteristic to the extreme. The
duo bicker like an old married couple
while dressed in hideous-looking out-
fits and add nothing to already bland
episodes. Plus, the fact remains that
Roy actually was attacked by a tiger,
and it's hard to shake that feeling
while watching.
DreamWorks Animation, the same
company that produced the wildly
successful "Shrek" films, provides the
design for the show and as expected,
the settings are spectacular and the
animals are detailed and crisp. Using
animation does not guarantee humor,
however, especially since the show
isn't even meant for kids. Moreover,
an adult-oriented cartoon doesn't fit
well in NBC's prime-time schedule,
sandwiched between a reality show
("Last Comic Standing") and an actu-
ally funny comedy ("Scrubs").
"Father of the Pride" was a break
from the norm, and NBC earns points
for trying. Unfortunately, it didn't find
it's new king of the jungle here.

By Evan Mcaarvey
Daily Arts Writer

Some art demands attention. It
pulls at our nerves with the impen-
etrable, the sublime and the shocking.
Opposite these occasionally esoteric
excursions ' is
the realm of art, U
where urgency G.Love
fades. away and The Hustle
recedes to a pleas- Brushfire/Universal
ant numbness.
That's not to
say that unchallenging art is imme-
diately of lower status. "Winnie the
Pooh," "Lord of The Rings," "Star
Wars" and The Eagles music all qual-
ify as smooth and appeasing works of
the undemanding ilk.
Philadelphia native and occasional
Jack Johnson collaborator G.Love is

best known for purveying the same
style of easy-listening-grab-a-long-
neck-and-chill-dude songs that Jimmy
Buffet invented and has continued to
rehash for decades. The built-in audi-
ence that has followed Buffet around
like a demi-god is just the older, grayer
version of G.Love's fans today. Buffet's
superficial waxing about cheeseburgers
easily morphs into G.Love's adamant
refusal to date "a girl with thunder
thighs." They both sing about joints,
they both relish sunny days and they
both take ill-advised harmonica solos.
The Hustle has G.Love distancing
himself from some of the early career
harmonizing, like the surprisingly
sweet vocals on "Rodeo Clowns,"
and moving into jam-band terri-
tory by tossing some blues, reggae
and the occasional rap into the mix.
Spice sounds like indecision, however,
about a third of the way through the
disc. Syncopated guitars and G.Love's

droning raps sound like a frat boy
doing his best Bob Marley/Notorious
B.I.G. impression and failing.
Then again, all of these faults might
just be completely unnoticed since all
the music is wrapped in such an innoc-
uous cover of laughable one-liners and
charmingly forgettable arrangements.
You're meant to be relaxing on some
mediocre beach (because G.Love is an
everyman), talking to a girl way out
of your league (because he's an opti-
mist) and you might want to be rip-
ping a bong (because he seems to like
the weed). It's music as a soundtrack,
albeit a forgettable one.
Like the benign albums before it,
The Hustle won't change your life or
your perceptions, something Mr. Love
seems to be at least slightly aware of.
It's tepid music that somehow knows
it's tepid. G. Love isn't just music to
vacation with; it's music to wear a
trucker hat to, while passing a bong at

Want to write for Dailyr Opinion?
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7 m,420 Manard St.

Ssshh... I think I heard someone.
a Jack Johnson concert. It's the perfect
soundtrack to your so-called life.


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