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February 09, 2005 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-09

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 9



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"I fucking hate piano lessons with Gandma."

Bejar scores with
help from friends

By Mary Catherine Finney
Daily Arts Writer
The John Butler Trio debuted
their eclectic fusion of blues, funk,
bluegrass, R&B and reggae in their

native country
of Australia last
year, showcas-
ing their musi-
cal wingspan
on Sunrise Over
Sea. The band's
music is built

The John
Butler Trio
Sunrise Over Sea

By Chris Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer

s E
Dan Bejar, better known as the
indie-pop act Destroyer, basks in the
safety of collaborations. A humble

and soft-spoken
artist, Bejar was
one of the main
songwriters for
the widely touted
New Pornogra-
pher release, Mass
Romantic. As
his contributions

Lightning and
Other Works

to the aforementioned supergroup
declined in number, Bejar released
several solo pop albums under the
Destroyer name. After his most recent
full length, Your Blues, received
mixed reviews from critics and fans,
Bejar used his influence to recruit
freak-folk pioneers Frog Eyes for his
subsequent tour. With the two indie
superpowers traveling and working
together, the duo was able to tweak
and rework the synthesized songs on
Your Blues. As the Crazy Horse to
Bejar's Neil Young, Frog Eyes toyed
with six Your Blues tracks increas-
ing their vigor and volume. Notori-
ous Lightning and Other Works is the
materialization of that tour and part-
Replacing much of the theatrics and
trite instrumentation with spastic gui-
tars, Frog Eyes assists Bejar in creat-

ing a more energetic and aggressive
album than Your Blues. The resonant
guitars of each song force Bejar to
sing more assertively than in the past.
On the title track, "Notorious Light-
ning," Bejar screams, "Someone's got
to fall before someone goes free."
Despite Frog Eyes's influence, Bejar
never completely abandons his former
style. On Notorious Lightning's clos-
er, "Your Blues," his 50-second vocal
opening about an ex-lover is as sincere
and delicate as his disposition in the
past. When Frog Eyes' keyboards and
near inaudible guitars commence, they
only bolster the earnestness of Bejar's
lyrics and voice.
The only track that seems devoid
of flair is "New Ways Of Living." The
song structure doesn't match with
the new approach; the grandiose feel
of the previous recording seems lost.
Bejar's left-field lyrics can't make the
transition to a more condensed and
formulaic structure.
The largest objection that can be
made against Notorious Lightning is
that it wasn't recorded earlier. Your
Blues contains several great tracks
that gain new life with the inclusion
of Frog Eyes and the power they bring
to the collaboration. This EP is hope-
fully the beginning of a whole new
project for Bejar, one that will carry
him out of ambiguity and to the real-
ization of his full potential. Frog Eyes
is not Crazy Horse, nor is Destroyer
Neil Young, but this album still proves
itself to be a fruitful union.

around slide guitar, acoustic guitar
and banjo. This album is invigorat-
ing, energetic and skillfully execut-
ed. Unfortunately, the poor quality
of the lyrics and vocals drag down
the album.
Butler's jaunty, rhythmic deliv-
ery sounds at times like a first
attempt at reading a textbook over
music. His awkward phrasing and
lack of smoothness sours tracks
like "Old Man," a look at a life's
worth of experiences, and "Bound
to Ramble," a love song discussing
fate and destiny: "Walk for miles,
circumnavigate these lands / Walk-
ing blindly, holding out my hands /
And 1 pass the stones that remind

me why I'm here / I follow the set-
ting sun and you were there." Both
songs sound as though they were
performed in one long breath.
Butler fares better when he
stops the pseudo beat-poetry and
stretches his vocal range on more
melodic songs like "Peaches and
Cream," an ode to his baby daugh-
ter, and album standout "What
You Want," in which his vocal
tenderness evokes Brandon Boyd
of Incubus. Supporting Butler's
vocals is an epic instrumen-
tal backdrop, with rich and raw
orchestral strings driven by relent-
less drum and bass.
"Damned to Hell" and "Mist"
act as short interludes that break
up Butler's occasionally tiring and
predictable vocal style, demon-
strating his comfort playing dif-
ferent instruments. Played solely
on banjo and sung with a muted
voice, "Damned to Hell" has a
haunting simplicity reminiscent
of old-time country spirituals.
"Mist," a syncopated instrumental
Celtic track, consists of a furiously
finger-picked acoustic guitar and
a forceful bass drum.
On a number of the album's
lengthy jam tracks, Butler pays
homage to his humble begin-

nings as a street musician. During
these lengthy instrumental breaks,
the rest of the trio - currently
Michael Barker and Shannon
Birchall - display their musician-
ship, which, despite Butler's occa-
sional vocal flounderings, creates
the band's success.

While Butler's vocal capacities
fall behind his compositional and
instrumental accomplishments on
this record, The John Butler Trio
commands recognition for their
talent. Sunrise Over Sea success-
fully touches on an array of genres
and musical styles.

"They got everything here from a diddled-eyed joe to damned if I know."

Classic sitcom arrives on DVD, minus extras

By Abby Stotz
Daily Arts Writer
Take some middle-age barflies, a
sex addict, a scrappy waitress, mix
with beer and
place in a Boston
bar where "every- Cheers:
body knows SeaSon 4
your name." The Paramount
result: "Cheers,"
a primetime sit-
com staple that lasted 11 years and
won 28 Emmys. While the four-disc
set of "Cheers: Season Four" perfect-
ly preserves this 1980s classic, it's
completely devoid of extras.
By the fourth year, "Cheers" had

worked out any of its kinks and
became a consistently successful sit-
com. It's funny and populated with
lovable characters that make the
show ideal for repeated viewings.
Sam Malone (Ted Danson) is a
washed up baseball pitcher who runs
the bar and hits on every woman
he meets. Sam, undeniably an '80s
man, acts as father and brother to
everyone who frequents Cheers.
Diane Chambers (Shelley Long), a
brainy waitress, spouts academia
and pines for Sam, her ex-boyfriend.
Their on again/off again relation-
ship is the central conflict of which

the show's sparkling supporting cast
The best members of the ensem-
ble cast have to be barstool philoso-
pher Cliff (John Ratzenberger) and
his overweight straight man Norm
(George Wendt).
The show remains a shining mon-
ument of formulaic '80s sitcoms.
Plus, it has simmered in syndication
long enough that all the plotlines
seem familiar. Sam and Diane go
back and forth in their battle-of-the-
sexes shtick to the point of redun-
dancy. Thankfully, the predictability
is made completely bearable by the

acting and pitch-perfect writing.
With Dolby Digital Sound, the
only thing lacking in "Cheers: Sea-
son Four" is the extras. For a show
that lasted over a decade, it's disap-
pointing that the DVD doesn't have
a single feature. There's no incentive
to buy the DVD of a show that's still
on TV twice a day. With no extras
and mediocre visuals and sound, it
might be safer to just stay up late
and catch the reruns.


Show: ****
Picture/Sound: ***
Extras: No Stars

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