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June 05, 2006 - Image 12

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-06-05

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 5, 2006

Goats' EP can't
climb Mountain
By Chris Gaerig
Associate Arts Editor
When all is said and done, John Darnielle (lead sing-
er and mastermind of The Mountain
Goats) will go down as one of the best The
songwriters of our generation, but right Mountain
now, he's been thrown aside by main- Goats
stream media and has become under-
rated by many critics (a position that Babylon
Blur frontman Damon Albarn has been Springs EP
in for years now). It's inconceivable 4AD Records
how both continue to get tossed aside
while they release album after album of resoundingly
excellent material.
Even after The Goats' last full-length The Sunset
Tree, which found Darnielle writing more accessible
material, they were shunned by Clear Channel radio
- possibly because of the heart-wrenching subject
matter of tracks like "Dance Music," or because of the
lo-fi recording.
But Darnielle perseveres.
His latest effort, an Australian-only tour release -
which is remarkably easy to find in the United States
- the Babylon Springs EP, boasts five tracks of the
angsty, lo-fi guitar pop we've become accustomed to
from The Goats.
It seems impossible that Darnielle will continue to go
unnoticed after this release, with cuts like "Ox Baker Tri-

Life after the curtain

Courtesy of A4t Records
"Is that guy still over my shoulder?"
umphant," another narrative track filled with The Goats'
signature razor-sharp imagery ("I'll crawl my way back
inside / To the guts of the building, where my enemies /
Hide in the dark like roaches!'). But what else would you
expect from the group that can write masterpieces like
"Going to Georgia" (perhaps one of the best songs writ-
ten in the past 20 years)?
But Babylon Springs relies too much on abstract
emotions and concepts (something they're generally
able to avoid) and gets bogged down at points. And
though there aren't any total failures there also aren't
any transcendent ones.
Even so, it's inevitable that The Goats will continue to
be a cult favorite, because if everything they've released
thus far won't get them noticed, Babylon Springs cer-
tainly won't.

By Ted Chen
Daily Arts Writee
It's common knowledge that no per-
formance ever runs perfectly. But.be it a
wrong note or an
unspoken word,
the show must go A Life in the
on, and only after Theater
the curtains fall are
performers able to Thursday through
laugh about it. "A Sunday 8 p.m.
Life in the Theater" $24.50 to $32.50
is an ironic tale of Atthe
two professional Performance Network
actors shining
comical light on their own life.
The play,writtenby DavidMamet,pre-
miered almost 30 years ago at Chicago's
Goodman Theater. Apart from the mind-
warping twist of reality, its unorthodox
direction to focus less on plot and more
on intense characterization is indicative
Mamet's style.
Leading the show is Robert (Loren
Bass), the experienced performer who
passes himself off to be a wise sage offer-
ing direction. Behind him is John (David
Wolber): middle-aged, insouciant and
more socially active. In 26 short scenes
- another one of Mamet's unconvention-
al methods - there's a slew of reenact-
ments on stage life: forgotten lines, shared

makeup, zipping each other up and argu-
ing over scripts.
This mentor-student, father-son rela-
tionship can fuel an endless philosophical
debate,but thankfully director John Seibert
does not let it rule the play. Seibert creates a
balance by fusing comic elements with the
more serious tropes. From banishingecritics
to helping one another look perky,hardly a
scene goes by without a laugh or two.
To provide the illusion of a play within
a play, Seibert splits the stage into two
segments: the pseudo backstage where
Robert and John interact, and the perfor-
mance area where they perform in front
of an imaginary audience. Though not an
original concept, it helps to make the play
more convincing.
Like stranded travelers, Robert and
John's return to the wider circle of life
sees their relationship wither. The aging
Robert is confined to the world he knows
best, and tries to impart life lessons into
the greenhorn John. Although John is
courteous andreceptiveultimately he iso-
lates his personal life away fromhis work,
which also includes Robert.
OncuewithMamet'sstyle,youshouldn't
expect an ending that wraps everything
up. "A Life in the Theater" may not be the
funniest or deepest of playsbut if you can
enjoy all the jokes on stage and appreciate
the irony of artists mocking themselves,
you might be able to take away real life
lessons from an imaginary world.

can Restem
1930OWhittakerRd.
Ypsil~anti, M4 9
734) 961..664
Fax: (734)
/dr.
Best Margaritas in Town
Margarita Special every Tuesday -
$5 (small), $7 (jumbo), $9 (monster)
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SHORT
TAKE S

0

THE VACATION
BAND FROM WORLD WAR ZERO
WARNER BROS.
The Vacation's latest release portrays
a duct-taped microphone in the crotch
of vocalist Ben Tegel. This sums up the
album well, a grungy, gritty sounds-like-
AC/DC band with four dudes unabashed-
ly rocking from the seat of their acid-wash
jeans. The jeans fit, and the boys steam flat
their white marks of rock hubris to parade
them out for the listener.
The outfit is simple in its energetic
beauty. "Spiders" comes in with a chop-
ping, creeping electronic sound, as Vocal-
ist Ben Tegel vibrates "I see the spiders
creeping around my bed / When I was
sleeping spinning me into their web" over
obligatory clapping, guttural screams

and lacerating guitar licks. The boys skip
across the surface and avoidmurky depths
with "Cherry Cola'" a bouncy quick-stop
that makes the important statement that
"Oh yeah, for the moment, it's all right."
"Destitute Prostitutes" demands the lis-
tener raise the fist of rock to the building
electric guitar heroics and pound to the
pull of a steam-roller guitar solo running
over the steady-quick tempo.
The Vacation is not AC/DC, but a
rather quick reminder that you should
always keep a microphone in the pants.
Go from the gut. Don't stopbelieving. As
"No Hard Feelings" runs, "We had some
fun, but / Now I have to quit it." There's
not much more to say.

Jerry Gordinier

0

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