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September 20, 2006 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-20

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006 - The Michigan Daily - 9A

By Abby Frackman
Daily Arts Writer
Bumper-car rhythms, quasi-philosophical
lyrics: It's been nearly a decade since Califone
got together, and the
band is still successfully
toying with the stuff that Califone
works. With their lat- Roots and Crowns
est release, Roots and Thrill Jockey
Crowns, the Chicago
foursome doesn't break
new ground, but the consistency of the album
- with just a splash of the unorthodox - is
Roots and Crowns opens with "Pink &
Sour," a track rife with pulsing, aortic drum-
beats and Tim Rutili's Beck-esque vocals.
But the lyrics are mostly indecipherable, as
is the case for most of Califone's songs on
this album. Rutili sounds unusually sexy as
he begs, "Sing to me pink and sour." The
frontman's vocal style coupled with tribal
instrumentation make "Pink & Sour" one of
the album's key cuts.

"Jesus, what is that thing?"
Califone's synthesis of robotic sounds,
vocal overdubbing and seemingly random
noise effects result in the lovely "Black Metal
Valentine." Again, Rutili swallows the lyrics,
but it doesn't really matter, as the instrumen-
tation is the song's focal point. Mellow guitar
is introduced near the end, highlighting the
band's blues-rock background.
"Sunday Noises" and "A Chinese Actor"
add to the group of standalone tracks.
Dreamy vocals and sentimental, airy brass
combine on the "Noises," while a thunder-
ing drumline propels the latter. "Actor"
is a rhythmic sibling of "2 Sisters Drunk
On Each Other" from 2004's Heron King
Blues. Handclaps and buzzy static combine
to add character. Rutili even changes up his
monotone vocals, singing, "A dim headlight

arrives / Friction breathe tenderness" in a
delicate falsetto, sounding similar to Flam-
ing Lips showman Wayne Coyne.
While most of this disc is packed tightly
with silken, flowing melodies and engaging
lyrics, not all tracks follow that recipe. "Our
Kitten Sees Ghosts" is not as eerily precious
as the title suggests, and "Alice Crawley"
serves as a short, pointless violin introduc-
tion for the following track, the just-as-unap-
pealing "The Orchids." The song relentlessly
plods along, leaving the listener lethargic and
emotionally down at its close.
After listening to Roots and Crowns, it's
clear that Califone knows how to make a (rel-
atively) glowing album. The only hindrance?
You'll wish all of the songs shone as brightly
as the track names.

"Yeah, I don't know what Neve Campbell is up to either."
Jericho' cruambles

Arrested' cements status with final season

By Michael Passman
Daily Arts Writer
p The list of TV shows on which
Charlize Theron is willing to
play a five-episode arc has got to
be pretty
Luckily, Arrested
she chose Development:
to play a The Complete
mentally Third Season
retarded Fox
on the third and final season of
"Arrested Development,' instead
of, say, an impromptu Vinny
Chase hookup.

And while a stint on a TV come-
dy (apparently watched by nobody)
may not have the career-defining
power of her Oscar, it does say a
lot about the show and those who
love it. It's this small devoted fan
base, consisting of Hollywood A-
listers and college undergrads, that
should pick up the truncated third
season DVD of television's great-
est comedy (sorry, "Seinfeld").
The 12-episode set is primar-
ily focused on two extended plot-
lines. The first is Michael Bluth's
(Jason Bateman, "Dodgeball")
unfortunate relationship with Rita
(Charlize Theron, "Monster"),
a "special" young woman from
southern California's Wee Britain,
essentially the British equivalent
of Chinatown. The second set of

episodes centers on the resolution
of George Sr.'s (Jeffrey Tambor,
"Twenty Good Years") legal prob-
lems and effectively ties up the
Season three may not be on par
with the second, but it's uncom-
monly funny - although prob-
ably a little too self-referential for
its own good. Once the writing
staff knew their days on Fox were
numbered, they loaded the show
with tiebacks and gags from past
seasons that left casual viewers not
knowing what they missed.
For a show in its final season,
with such a devoted fan base, the
features are a disappointment to
say the least. Three episodes have
audio commentaries from the full
cast sans Jeffrey Tambor, and

although it's nice to hear the actors
interact outside of their fictional
world, it's a mess that resembles
a cast reunion more than a show
commentary. At one point, creator
Mitch Hurwitz calls Tambor on
his cellphone to get an explanation
for his absence and chaos ensues.
Also included is a short feature
documenting the last day on set, a
blooper reel and deleted scenes.
Although the special features
can't stand up to the likes of
"Freaks and Geeks" and other cult
comedies, the episodes alone vali-
date this set and firmly place it in
the pantheon of comic television.
Show: ****
Special Features: **i

By Michael Passman
Daily Arts Writer
Regardless of what Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad may think, mush-
room clouds
are not cool.
And unfor- Jericho
tunately for Wednesday
the residents at 8 p.m.
of a fictional CBS
Jericho, Kan-
sas, one just
showed up in their backyard.
CBS's new Wednesday-night
drama - titled "Jericho" - is
the tale of this dull Kansas town
that's rocked by the sight of a
distant, and seemingly nuclear,
explosion. The situation only
gets bleaker when the country
bumpkins realize the puff of
death on the horizon isn't the
only one on American soil, and
that this was probably no acci-
But luckily for the citizens of
Jericho, their savior has arrived:
Unfortunately for viewers, it
comes in the form of Johnny
Depp look-a-like Skeet Ulrich
When Ulrich's character,
Jake Green, arrives in Jericho
the mood is unusually tame:
Initially resembling an episode
of "Gilmore Girls," and then

gradually getting darker. It's
certainly not the kind of gloomy
foreboding setting you would
expect to see in an apocalyptic
primetime drama, but I guess
that's the point.
Because in reality, the show
is intended to be exactly that:
nuclear holocaust meets crappy
WB show, which turns into an
open-ended doom-and-gloom
The show doesn't take place in
a big city for a reason. It's clearly
intended to exploit the collec-
tive fear thatamuchaofythe nation
holds - that at any moment,
anywhere in our nation, disaster
could strike. And if it's not your
town, it may be the one a county
over, and you may be left picking
up the pieces regardless.
It's this fear-mongering prem-
ise that is the most troubling
aspect of the show. There is lit-
tle artistic or redeeming value in
"Jericho." Its writing lacks inspi-
ration, the acting is stale and
it resembles a forgettable cable
mini-series. But the produc-
ers have tapped into something
here. It's like one of those 24-
hour news networks - there's
just this oddly ensnaring je ne
sais quoi. "Jericho" may not be
innovative or even engaging, but
it may put the fear of God in
people, and that could be enough
to suck in the numbers.

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Thinking New Perspectives.


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