Bis have reached a turning point in their career. Their new album, Return to Central, could potentially have the same effect as Radiohead’s Kid A on their fans; critics liked it, however some fans were just confused and felt left behind (their problem, really).
Their recent EP, Music for a Stranger World, ushered in an older Bis. Its songs were more produced and techno-sounding, without much in the way of melody. Central returns to this sound, but adds the melody this time around. The songs aren’t as kitschy as on previous records, but they are no longer a band of 18-years-olds. Manda Rin’s voice has matured from that of a late teenager singing songs like “Ninja Hi Skool” into a whispering one typically heard in night clubs. The album is filled with Bis’ roots in ’80s dance, rather than their interest in early ’90s riot grrrl. Their idea is the same: “Don’t be a cookie cutter kid,” and you can still dance (somewhat) around to it. But this time, you won’t be singing along.
Bis will perform at the TLA on October 8.
The debut album from Fabolous, the first signee to famed New York mixtape DJ Clue’s Desert Storm imprint, shows hip-hop fans a rapper-in-progress. The Brooklyn, New York native shows that while he has lyrical ability, he has not come close to maximizing his potential.
Ghetto Fabolous has many of the top producers in the industry, along with a few collaborations from some big names (like Lil’ Mo, Jagged Edge, and Ja Rule), to help ensure Fab’s success. His smash single, “Can’t Deny It,” features a West Coast-driven beat from Rick Rock and Nate Dogg on the catchy hook. In fact, Fabolous thrives on catchiness, which takes away from the fact that he can actually rhyme and not just spell his name out on every track.
On the Clue-produced (with his partner Duro), “Keepin’ It Gangsta,” Fab rips apart the beat with punchline after punchline. “Ma’ Be Easy” and “Young’n” (produced by Just Blaze and the Neptunes) are typical odes to chickenheads. “One Day” and “The Bad Guy,” however are introspective looks into the life of Fabolous.
Overall, this is a somewhat repetitive album. Fabolous’ subject matter rarely changes-he rhymes about his ice, his cars, and his girls- and despite the array of producers (including Timbaland, Rockwilder, and the Neptunes), most of the beats have the same vibe. However, this is an up-beat album, and as far as Fabolous’ talent, you “Can’t Deny It.”
Think of this Chicago quintet as an eclectic intermingling of various genres. Lucky Boys Confusion is SR71 meets Good Charlotte meets Sugar Ray meets Blink 182. Their major label debut weaves from punk to hip-hop and reggae. Tracks like “Bossman” with Beenie Man, “Do You Miss Me (Killians)” and “3 to 10” are infectiously fun tunes, but beyond a few gem tracks, this album is rife with repetitiveness.
The abrupt transitions between 5 different genres of music in a single track make the songs disorienting and dizzying. They seem to be trying to pull it all off, going from 0 to 60 and back again in a heartbeat, bouncing back and forth between thoughts. The “boys” would be well advised to stick to something if it works, as in the continuously mellow and quiet, “Never Like This,” which is only over a minute long.
However, there is great potential for this group if they differentiate themselves through incorporating the exotic Eastern sounds found in “One to the Right,” indigenous to vocalist Kaustubh Pandav’s Indian background. Overall, Throwing the Game is well-performed and polished, with potential.
MCM’s new album, OSC-DIS, stays interesting for about the first four songs. Then their “digi-hardcore-metal-punk” gets really old. You get the feeling that these guys were just a simple punk band in Japan and needed some sort of gimmick to get people interested. It’s really quite a shame. On the third track, “Pulse,” they have a great anthemic chorus … good enough to get even the punk puritan to sing along.
Another downfall of this CD is the lyrical translation. Take “Jag” for instance: “Asian never fear/And I jump it over on tricks/Rev Up Get Up/’Ultimate Karma’ it makes your mind/I think you’ll play jerk…” If you actually listen to the words, you just end up confused and disappointed. You’ll be much better off if you just stick to the few tracks on the CD that aren’t gimmick-inspired.
On the other hand, we have Bleachmobile. This Japanese threesome is making their U.S. debut with Detonator 23 minutes of ear-bleeding, speaker-cracking punk rock. Bleachmobile is a simple punk band in the truest form. If you ever have, or ever do see a picture of these women (they’re as cute as the “Powerpuff Girls”), you could never guess they would be making the music they do. With vocals that rival Pantera’s Phil Anselmo, and bass lines that sound like Les Claypool on anabolic steroids, this CD has something for everybody.
So, if you’re in the mood for a gimmicky Ministry rip-off, make sure to get The Mad Capsule Markets CD. If you’d rather be rocked into the next century, make sure to check out Bleachmobile you won’t be dissapointed.
Bleachmobile will perform at the Khyber on October 17
LA’s Remy Zero may have gotten their start in Alabama, but they’ve got a sound straight out of Manchester. The Golden Hum is an album filled with epic songs built around resonant guitar, propulsive drums, and airy vocals.
Arrangements are more layered and lavish then those heard on Remy’s ’98 LP Villa Elaine. “Strawberry Fields”-esque strings mix with spacey licks to great effect in the standout “Out/In,” and speedy lead-guitar trills make the dense “Bitter” all the more terse. “Save Me” starts out simplistically with clanging U2-esque harmonics, pulsing bass, and echoing beats, but progresses into a reverberant glory of strumming and feedback.
At the same time, there are points where things get a little too melodramatic. Singer Cinjun Tate’s wails combine with distorted chords to bring down “Glorious #1.” Conversely “Over the Rails” wastes a fantastic intro when a driving riff gives way to mellow jazzy strums and cheery vocals.
But these short-falling moments are few, and on the whole The Golden Hum’s sonic expansiveness makes for a provocative song set.
Remy Zero will open for Travis, Sat., October 6, 9 p.m., at The Electric Factory
At ages 19 to 21 most young men are sophomores in college, but for the five men that make up Reveille, sophomore status means something else: the release of their second album bleed the sKY.
With the combination of introspective lyrics that pick apart the flaws of individuals and society, anger laden vocals, energized percussions and a double attack on the guitars, bleed the sKY is a powerful display of tapestry distortion that takes you over the edge at breakneck speeds.
The 13-track album covers a wide variety of music and clearly shows a band that has matured and reached into the depths of darkness to carve their niche amongst the heavier side of rap-metal. “What You Got,” their first single, a catchy hip-hop song hardly represents their full potential, “Modified Lie” and “Inside Out” far better represent their aggressive style of ticking and picking at you until you’re helplessly caught singing along.
“Farewell Fix” and the title track “Bleed The Sky” are two slowed up masterpieces that display Reveille’s growth, while “Look At Me Now” and “Plastic,” featuring Taproot vocalist Steve Richards, soar with the most insightful and impacting lyrics on the album. “Down To None” is a short, but serious rap backed with a circus like beat, worth noting, but brace yourself, it’s far from a trip to the circus and more of a journey into life’s darkness.
bleed the sKY is solid, well rounded and packed with the insanity and heaviness that has made Reveille famous, but more importantly it drills home that these five talented young men are the future of rap-metal and make Limp Bizkit look like minor leaguers in comparison.
Rock ‘n’ roll is not for television commercials. It is meant to be intense and heartfelt. On their debut album, The Strokes (five men, age 20 to 23) don’t reinvent the wheel the one created by VU and the Stooges works so well but rather remind us that good rock music is far from dead.
The rhythms are primitive, the song structures are straightforward and the solos are staggered. Throw singer Julian Casablancas’ muddled vocals over the mix and the chemistry is incredible. The CBGB’s punk of “Barely Legal” and “Last Night” is enough evidence.
“Someday,” the album’s pop pinnacle, is The Fall’s Mark E. Smith fronting a Motown super group. Casablancas’ visceral ranting and bassist Nikolai Fraiture’s three-note groove make the tune an instant classic.
Months before this album arrived, critics were testifying to the Strokes’ god-like genius. Now that it’s here, they’re wondering about the quintet’s impact. No-hit wonders or rock ‘n’ roll saviors, one thing is certain: in a time of not-so-good albums and not-so-much-to-smile-about, Is This It’s vitality is worth rejoicing.
Turn it up. Get tinnitus. Be happy.
Folk singer Suzanne Vega usually has one foot in folk and the other in pop. Her “trendy” production techniques, among other things, have hindered her from being taken seriously as a real folk artist, while her introspective lyrics give her problems in terms of being played on Top 40 radio. Songs in Red and Gray, though, is pure folk the type Nanci Griffith and a younger Ani DiFranco have played.
The lyrics still have the playfulness of those from her ’90s albums as well as the honesty she became famous for in the first place. No need to worry about whether this new, stripped-down, acoustic-y Vega has lost her luster. Though the songs here are all surprisingly radio-friendly, she still probably won’t make it past WXPN.