Got it Made
Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion are raw, uninhibited and they are great at blurring genre lines. The same thing could be said about the band Brassy and their debut full-length Got it Made. This makes sense considering the singer/guitarist in the band is Muffin Spencer – Jon’s sister. Instead of combining blues and punk, Brassy intertwines punk and early hip-hop beats. Imagine Blondie’s “Rapture” style singing mixed with Shangri-La’s girl group layering. Their beats do not come from drum machines, but from the group’s DJ, John Barrington (DJ Swett).
Using DJs and drum machines along with guitars and drums is nothing new to the music scene. Take the Beastie Boys, for example. However, bands like Ladytron, S.Process and now Brassy are expanding further ways of combining the technology and the instruments. These groups are creating new genres in which have not yet been named. Got it Made is an excellent debut from an incredibly hard to describe band.
Revelling / Reckoning
The illustrious Ani DiFranco hit her creative peak in 1996 with Dialate, plateauing into 1998s Up Up Up Up Up Up, and 99s To the Teeth. But with Revelling / Reckoning, the plateau has gradually begun to drop off.
Double CD packages tend to be overwhelming, and this one offers a greater-then-usual share of stagnation. The half-assed funk/rap of “Ain’t that the Way” drag out the album’s opening and “Subdivision” lyrically tackles political issues – a DiFranco trademark – but come off as humdrum and uninspired.
On the upside, Revelling / Reckoning boasts an array of fine songwriting. “Reckoning” and “Sick Of Me” are some of the finest faded-love songs of Ani’s career. The Billie Holiday-esque “Imagine That” is a cutesy ditty, and “Garden Of Simple” sees her acoustic chops in their finest form. The eccentric “Kazoointoit” layers lush instrumentation and samples around a spoken poem a la “Not So Soft”, and short instrumental pieces abound throughout the set.
Most artists go through a creative slump at some point. It’s a shame all slumps can’t sound this good.
Mine and Yours
David Mead is a singer/songwriter from New York who manages to steal by on first listen. However, his infectious brand of power pop is delivered with such expressive fluidity that it resonates and demands another chance.
His sophomore release Mine and Yours is free of angst and anguish. It is more of a retrospective of past events that have lead him to where he is and emanates a feeling of comfortable acceptance. What at first seems like another overproduced pop album transfigures into a testimony of solace.
Mine and Yours infuses slow, diminutive guitar riffs with driving, straightforward bass, piano, and drums. However, it is not without its more upbeat moments, such as on “Girl on the Roof” and album’s title track.
Mead’s Bono-esque, soprano voice and lyrics rife with angels and other celestial references can be endearing if you’re the right mood. If not, it is still good to fall asleep to.
Badlands: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska
You’re probably thinking, “Bruce Springsteen sucks. He hasn’t been cool since Born in the USA.”
Know what? You’re right.
Bruce Springsteen has had a successful career deriving from Bob Dylan. But for some reason, musician-types think he’s bitchin’. Which is probably how Sub Pop suckered these artists into recording this album.
But this isn’t just any ordinary tribute album, it’s a good one. Which, once again, is weird–because Bruce Springsteen sucks.
With artists as diverse as Ani Difranco to Johnny Cash, there is something on this CD to please just about anybody.
Interestingly enough, the tracks on the tribute are in the same order that they were on the original LP. There are some rare gems on this CD, but please, buy it because you like the performers. If you like Bruce Springsteen, seek psychiatric help.
15 Minutes Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(Milan / 1500)
One of the great mysteries of life: why is it that bad action movies produce good techno soundtracks? Whatever the reason, the musical companion to De Niro’s latest vehicle, 15 Minutes, follows in the footsteps of the Mortal Kombat and Hackers soundtrack to deliver a solid set of electronic fun.
Straight from the “what the hell happened to them” file, God Lives Underwater kicks the album off with a cover of Bowie’s “Fame” that is surprisingly on point. Gus Gus’s “Gun” leans towards a driving industrial sound, and “Out Run” by David Holmes finds itself in a dark trip-hop groove with vocals from long time Tricky collaborator Martina Topley-Bird.
Happy club numbers are represented as well. Moby’s “Porcelain (Rob Dougan remix)” and Rinocerose’s “La Guitaristic House Organisation” both flicker and flail with sweaty dance beats.
The album’s biggest asset is its minimal lagging points. Odds are good that this great electro set is going to wind up being more profitable than the movie.
Dance with Me
Another Mariah Carey has been climbing up the charts; Debelah Morgan’s sweet and soulful “Dance with Me” is the song that’s been jamming at radio stations, leaving people to ask: “Who is this cross between Mariah and Christina?”
The title song and lead on her debut album, is filled with sweet singing, along with a sultry rhythm, which makes you want to do as she says.
The album as a whole could be more polished, with a tighter check on the number of “aahs” and shrieks allowed in the album. But if Morgan continues to deliver songs like “I’ll Remember” and “Dance With Me,” she’ll be following the successful footsteps of Mariah.
BIG dumb FACE
Duke Lion Fights the Terror!!
BIG dumb FACE – the name says it all. This may be the biggest, dumbest album this author has ever heard. It is the solo project by Wes Borland, the guitarist of Limp Bizkit.
The songs are sung in one of two voices: either a raspy, hardcore growl or a voice that sounds like an alien on helium. The lyrics, usually about blood, rot and monsters, are humorously bizarre. “Blood Red Head on Fire” describes a bodiless beast as having “Razor sharp fangs in a gross mouth / Yellow burning eyes, surprise, gordy cauliflower ears.” He even dedicates several songs to robots. In “Robot” he sings: “This robot will kill them all/With one huge smash we’ll watch them fall!” That’s some scary stuff right there!
This album is pretty funny the first time around, but subsequent listens accentuate the severe lack of talent. In a press release Borland said, “When I told everyone that I was planning to do an album where I played all of the instruments and sang all of the vocals, they laughed in my face.”
Maybe he should have taken the hint.
-Eric Van Osten