This Week’s CD Reviews are on: Buckcherry, Die Form, Manic Street Preachers, Kirsty MacColl, The Mercury Program, Placebo Buckcherry Time Bomb (Dreamworks) Grade: B+ After a few listens to “Ridin’,” the first single from Time

This Week’s CD Reviews are on: Buckcherry, Die Form, Manic Street Preachers, Kirsty MacColl, The Mercury Program, Placebo

Time Bomb
Grade: B+

After a few listens to “Ridin’,” the first single from Time Bomb, it begins to sound eerily like Buckcherry’s first big hit, “Lit Up,” with different lyrics. That’s the successful formula, and this is one band that isn’t afraid to flaunt it again and again.

Sounding like any song from the first two Black Crowes records with an injection of testosterone-laced speed, Time Bomb is grittier than its predecessor – which only adds to the old school vibe. In a climate full of PapaLinkinBizkitTapVayne sound-a-likes, some throw back 70s style guitar-rock might be a good idea.

Buckcherry don’t just lift the hooks from their own past hits either, they chase after the crown of becoming the American Oasis on Time Bomb. First is the almost complete recreation of the solo from “Purple Rain” at the end of the weepy “You.” This is immediately followed by an obvious rip-off of Danzig’s “Twist of Cain” used as the guitar hook on “Slamin’.”

But it’s Buckcherry’s expert use of the stolen goods that makes it work so well. Most evident on the straight singing of a lyric from “Gangsta, Gangsta” by N.W.A. on the title track, like Time Bomb as a whole, it doesn’t sound the least bit out of place.

-Michael Christopher

Die Form
Grade: B-

If Philippe Fichot hasn’t done any film-score work yet, he really should. The latest release from his free-form electro combo Die Form is a 2 CD compilation of his side projects and experimental pieces, and the bulk of it teems with eerie, evocative instrumental tracks…a perfect backing for film noir. Seeing as how the lush opening cut is called “Cinema,” Fichot must be aware of the music’s vibe. “Bite Of Dog” is another moody cut, as is the Skinny Puppy-ian “Urban Pains.” Where last year’s Extremum tried to produce more conventionally structured songs but wound up sounding monotonous, AKT succeeds with expansive compositions. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t downsides over the two discs…the abrasive “Disabled Landscape 2” and the droning “Bacterium” both come tortuously close to the 20 minute mark, and the sadistic “Corporal Punishment” layers free form noise over a sample of pained orgasmic moaning. If the idea was to make frustrating and unsettling cuts with these, it sure is successful…but it isn’t exactly the greatest thing in the world to listen to. Fortunately the disc’s highlights make up for the painful moments.

-John Vettese

Manic Street Preachers
Know Your Enemy
Grade: A-

Britain’s not-so-cult cult band Manic Street Preachers have finally delivered an album that harkens back to the early, carefree days when Richey Edwards was alive/not missing and before they turned into a pompous and overtly political group who seemed desperate to create the ultimate epic Britpop song.

Know Your Enemy is full of rockin’ tunes that may surprise those more familiar with their mid-to-late 90s work. The band seems to be more relaxed on this album and they aren’t afraid to experiment with other styles including the mock-Chic style of “Miss Europa Disco Dancer.” The only downside is that at times, the Manics get, well, preachy. This is most evident on songs like “Baby Elian.” However, this is forgivable because the other songs are just so darn good.

-Maureen Walsh

Kirsty MacColl
Tropical Brainstorm
Grade: A+

It is only right that the last album Kirsty MacColl recorded before her death in December celebrated her love of all things Latin American. For years, she had been flirting with these musical styles and she explores many of them on brainstorm from the traditional “We Amazonians” to Latin jazz on “Golden Heart.” Not to say that MacColl abandoned her British-ness for this album; she still demonstrated her clever wit and way with words and story-telling in songs like “In These Shoes?” and the cyber-love homage “Here Comes That Man Again.”

Since childhood, MacColl was one of my all-time favorite singer/songwriters. Though she never got the recognition she deserved, her quirky humor and catchy songs always has and will continue to bring a smile to my face and a bounce to my step.

-Maureen Walsh

The Mercury Program
All the Suits Began to Fall Off
(Tiger Style)
Grade A+

Did you ever get the feeling that there aren’t enough vibraphones in indie rock today? If so, then run out and get all the suits began to fall off, the new five-song instrumental EP from the Mercury Program.

All the Suits Began to Fall Off is a relaxing and melodious collection of music. Unlike a lot of instrumental CDs, the Mercury Program actually keeps this one from getting boring. Although all the suits is loud at times, it’s a completely relaxing musical experience. The loudness does not become annoying as it is done for aesthetic purposes, rather than just for the sake of being loud.

So, run out and buy All the Suits Began to Fall Off. It will make for excellent studying music.

-Jeremy Smith

Black Market Music
Grade: B

Still kicking on the heels of the retro-glam movement from a few years back, Placebo’s new album Black Market Music offers up another 12 cuts of shimmery, electro-tinged glam rock. The mix is successful more often than not, and the band sounds best when they’re playing upbeat and lively.

The short and sweet “Days Before You Came” has some excellent fuzz-box guitar and driving verse licks, and “Slave To The Wage” mixes jangly rhythm chops with soaked-in-reverb lead licks. Brian Mokal’s feminine vocals are reminiscent of anybody from Psychotica’s Pat Riggs to REM’s Michael Stipe, and fit the sound well.

But slower cuts like the dirgy “Blue American” are tedious, and attempts to innovate (rapped vocals in “Spite and Malice”) fail too. Those moments, plus an overkill of drug use and bisexuality references are the only things that keep this band’s highly original sound from forming a great album.

-John Vettese


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