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November 30, 2005 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Nvmber.3, 2005
arts.michigandaily. com

R Te Sittig "'tilu


One grateful little boy

Dinosaur Jr. guitarist J Mascis performed at the Blind Pig on Monday.


Idon't believe in sappiness, but I
do believe in gratitude.
It's easy to become a snarky,
heartless critic when you're forced to
make decisions on each piece of art
you seek out in the world.
I'll try something else.
Thanksgiving is over, but the
turkey hangover (more viscous than
tequila, more sluggish
than downing a case of
Beast Lite) and surpris-
ing amount of cheer have
left me - normally a
surprisingly jaded tool 4
- in a nicely optimistic
haze. Most of the time,
trying to separate thex
memorable and forgetta-
ble according to personal
taste is usually a pretty E
inadequate job. Now soon McG
everyone's year-end lists
will come spilling out, highlighting
albums that present themselves as
big achievements. You'll buy some
random shit - live.Wilco albums,
the new 50 Cent for your cousin
- and try and make sense of what
happened in music. Instead of toss-
ing money at the year, trying to
"catch up" on the stuff we missed,
we need to take some satisfaction in
the small, vividly personal moments
in music that may only matter to us.
Big picture stuff is never that inti-
mate, so for an actually meaningful
appraisal, here are some small victo-
ries that set off a spark in my imagi-
nation over the past few months.
And the thing is, all you have to do
is open your ears, extend yourself a
little bit and lists like this are a snap.
Gratefulness is a fantastic emotion,
even if only for something as fleet-
ing as pop music.
I'm thankful for Mike Jones's
ability to work in his phone num-
ber, full name and even existential
thought (who?) into his verses.
I'm thankful that more of my
female friends are starting to come
around on PJ Harvey.
I'm happy that people care about
Johnny Cash again.
I'm grateful that Kelly Clarkson
released two good singles and that
some girl from Sri Lanka became
the hippest thing in pop.
I'm glad My Morning Jacket stays
under the radar.
I'm giddy when Jadakiss gets a


By Uoyd Cargo
Daily Arts Writer
Whether it be nostalgia or depleted bank accounts,
there's been a spate of reunions in the last couple
years, most notably late-'80s/early-'90s indie-rock
touchstones The Pixies, Slint_
and Dinosaur Jr. The original
line-up of Dinosaur Jr. - drum- Dinosaur Jr.
mer Murph, bassist Lou Barlow At the Blind Pig
and guitarist J Mascis - reunit-
ed last year for the first time fol-
lowing an acrimonious split after their last album for
SST, Bug. The band continued as a vehicle for Mas-
cis, but it was Dinosaur Jr. in name only. On Monday
night at the Blind Pig, the band recaptured the glory of
its heyday in a special tour warm-up show.
The reunited band's tour has been very well
received; they have consistently sold out venues three
or four times larger than the Blind Pig - making
Monday night's show a hot ticket. And for good rea-
son: Seeing Dinosaur Jr.'s legendary loud aural assault

I'm proud that The Hold Steady and
The Constantines may be two of the
greatest live bands of our generation.
I'm thankful for R. Kelly DVDs.
I'm thrilled for being able to
introduce my nephew to rock music.
I'm thrilled my mom learns about
rap artists so she can talk to me
about them. Mom, Young Buck vs.
Lloyd Banks ... discuss.
I'm proud to share Van
Morrison records with
my dad.
I'm happy about some-
one you actually want to
make a mixtape for.

I'm overjoyed at see-
ing a copy of "Vanity
Fair" with Jay-Z and
Rick Rubin in front of
a private jet next to a
short piece by a writer
trying to describe "99

in a small bar was like hopping in the Delorean and
dialing it back to 1988. Murph commented on the suc-
cess of the reunion, saying, "The tour has done really
well. It has gone better than we could've thought or
hoped. We didn't know what to expect, but it's been
pretty cool all around."
The band's notorious tension also seems to have
eased with age. Although put down recently by Mas-
cis and Barlow for being out of shape, Murph said of
Dinosaur Jr's new dynamic, "It's totally different now;
it's like 180 degrees - a whole new vibe completely.
Lou has a family, Jay has a wife and it's been a much
different and better vibe." The change hasn't nega-
tively affected the music, nor has it altered the group's
icy stage demeanor. There was almost no stage banter
as the band segued from one song to the next with
noodling, jumping into the songs simultaneously, as if
through telepathy.
The band kicked off their set with "Gargoyle," off
its self-titled debut album. The sheer volume of the
show was like a fourth member of the band, adding
another element to the music. Mostly stage volume,
Murph's snares sucked the air out of the room, while
his bass drum was like being punched in the stomach.

Barlow's basslines swayed your shoulders; Mascis's
shredding was like being picked up by the top of your
head and hurled around the room.
The band selected songs exclusively from their
three albums together, Dinosaur, You're Living
All Over Me and Bug. They played fan favorites
"Sludgefeast" and "Freakscene" as well as less-per-
formed songs such as "Forget the Swan" with equal
aplomb. Guitarist/vocalist Mascis was undoubtedly
the star of the show, sounding like a mad scientist's
mash-up of Jerry Garcia and Tony Iommi. After
nearly 20 years of playing these songs, the solos still
astound, making a strong case for Mascis as the last
real rock'n'roll guitar god.
As the band thrashed through their encore of "Just
Like Heaven," "In a Jar" and "Does it Float?" it was
hard not to think of what it must've been like to
see them in their first incarnation, when most of the
people at the concert were still in diapers. Regard-
less, Dinosaur Jr. can still turn it out. "We're still
wrapping up touring. We want to see this through
before we start recording new songs. We're looking
at maybe going to Japan in January after this mini
tour," Murph said.

I'm delighted that Houston rap is
sticking around. I'm delighted Hous-
ton rap is sticking around (this sen-
tence has been screwed & chopped).
(281) 330-8004.
I'm glad The Pixies did a reunion
tour, Spoon put out another album
and that the summer's two best
movies were about superheroes
("Batman Begins") and rap ("Hustle
& Flow").
I'm thankful for the shuffle button's
ability to take me from Elvis Costello
to Three 6 Mafia on my iPod.
I'm grateful for whatever made
Jason Molina into a songwriter.
I'm happy to see old people bob-
bing their heads when someone
blasts a Young Jeezy song in public.
I'm thankful for noise.
I'm thankful for silence.
I'm thankful for a few weeks
before the year's end when you can
honestly look back at a calendar and
remember what happened. Before
the inane decorations go up, before
the maudlin Christmas albums per-
vert radio and before your parents
ask for a New Year's resolution,
just shut your probably over-active
undergraduate mind down a little
bit. Don't try and make sense of any-
thing these days. It's the small victo-
ries that feel the best anyway.
- McGarvey is also thankful for
the Pussycat Dolls's new record. He
really loves "Don't Cha." E-mail him,
your love at evanbmcg@umich.edu.

Spy series' decline documented on DVD

By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Editor

After five seasons, ABC finally
gave up on the
little spy show
that could. Last Alias: The
Friday, the net- Complete
work announced Fourth
that J.J. Abrams's Season
"Alias" will end its Buena Vista
run this May. It's a B__ n__Vsa_
move that can't be
considered too surprising given the net-
work's recent treatment of the series.
While the show garnered its high-
est ratings last year when it was pack-
aged with Abrams's mega-hit "Lost,"
the series was moved to Thursdays
in a timeslot that has never been suc-
cessful for ABC. Sure enough, ratings
plummeted. With the aforementioned
"Lost" and "Desperate Housewives"
debuting last season, the network no
longer needed "Alias" for water-cooler
buzz and awards-season nominations.
Throw in a creative meltdown in sea-
sons three and four, stars Jennifer Gar-
ner and Michael Vartan's off-screen
break-up and Garner's pregnancy
with the demonspawn (yes, it's Ben

Affleck's baby) and the writing was on
the wall for the once-proud series. At
least Sydney Bristow's (Garner) adven-
tures continue on DVD.
Following the much-beguiled third
season, Abrams and company prom-
ised sweeping changes. And to their
credit, they followed through. Unfor-
tunately, those changes found incred-
ibly mixed results. Viewers clamored
for the death of Vaughn's (Michael
Vartan) wife Lauren Reed (Melissa
George, "The Amityville Horror")
and for his reunion with Sydney. But
it wasn't enough to solve everything.
The show became more streamlined,
losing its cliff-hanging episodic nature
in favor of a more procedural method
of storytelling. Sydney joined a new
secret organization, the lamely titled
APO (Authorized Personnel Only),
which found her working with the exact
same people she worked with at the
CIA. Even more absurdly, the creators
decided that it would be a good idea to
once again place her under the employ
of her arch-nemesis Arvin Sloane (Ron
Rifkin). This retread is completely
unbelievable within the context of
the "Alias" universe, especially after
Sloane seemingly went rogue at the
end of season three.
The show also retooled by add-

ing a new cast member, Mia Maestro,
as Sydney's half-sister Nadia San-
tos. Nadia seems like the perfect foil
for Sydney as the two are both secret
agents - and they even become room-
mates. Nadia is supposed to be Syd's
shoulder to cry on, helping to domesti-
cate the character. But she isn't nearly
as effective as the characters Francie or
Will in earlier years at helping to show
Syd's softer side - and Maestro isn't
much of an actress.
The special features largely explore
how the series aimed to fix the prob-
lems from season three. The episode
commentaries (the few that are there)
and production interviews respond
more to the fan backlash and the need
for Maestro's addition to the cast than
the reduction of the overarching Rim-
baldi mystery storyline. While some-
what informative, these features aren't
nearly as enjoyable as the behind-the-
scenes pieces on the action sequences.
"Alias" is one of the most exciting
series on TV and these featurettes
illustrate just how exhaustive some of
the stunts are.
"Alias" was one of the most inno-
vative shows on television when it
debuted in 2001. It became ABC's
critical darling and made star Jenni-
fer Garner a household name. It even

got the coveted air-slot after the 2003
Super Bowl. It may have veered off
track in recent years, but it's still bet-
ter than a lot of the crap that ABC is
peddling ("George Lopez," anybody?).
Season four shows a series that's at a
crossroads. Too bad ABC didn't want
to stick with the show long enough to
find out if it could right itself.
Series: ***
Picture/Sound: ****
Features: ***

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