CD reviews

This week’s CD Reviews are: >> Aereogramme : A Story in White >> Dilated Peoples Expansion Team >> Sarah Dougher : The Bluff >> Earth : Sunn Amps and Smashed Guitars >> Hey Mercedes :

This week’s CD Reviews are:
>> Aereogramme : A Story in White
>> Dilated Peoples Expansion Team
>> Sarah Dougher : The Bluff
>> Earth : Sunn Amps and Smashed Guitars
>> Hey Mercedes : Everynight Fireworks
>> Stereo Total : Musique Automatique
>> Sunny Ledford : The White Disk
>> Various Artists : The Wash Soundtrack
>> Woven : Eprime

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A Story in White
Grade: B+

Do you dream of the day Modest Mouse will give in and turn aggro like a hick Limp Bizkit? Or when Vic Chesnutt will do a “post-rock” record? If so, get A Story in White and all your dreams will come true.

This Scottish outfit rocks like few others in the world of indie rock and delivers the goods other hyped bands (see Sigur Ros) just can’t.

The best part about Aereogramme is their ability to change like stylistic chameleons. Even within one song like “Post-Tour, Pre-Judgement” vocalist Craig B goes from a hushed, peaceful verse to the ultimate screamo chorus. “Egypt” sounds like Beta Band covering something off of Amnesiac and “Sunday 3:52” recalls a Rachels chamber music piece.

If Mogwai wrote good songs, they’d be called Aereogramme.

—Neal Ramirez

Aereogramme will play with Superchunk at the Trocadero on November 25

Dilated Peoples
Expansion Team
Grade: A+

The Cali-bred trio of Evidence, Rakaa Iriscience and DJ Babu have rocked the crates of the underground rap circuit for the past couple of years, releasing The Platform, one of the best records of 2000. But after just one year, Dilated has released their masterpiece upon the world.

Production? The roster for Expansion Team reads like a hall of fame induction ceremony. DJ Premier, The Beatnuts, Da Beatminerz, Alchemist and Evidence himself release the fury while Beat Junkee Babu adds scratched samples.

Lyrics? While Iriscience is still the stronger MC, Evidence has developed so much lyrically — he is Tracy McGrady to Iriscience’s Grant Hill. Their lines are much more complicated and thorough, protesting both the evils of the world and the evils of wack emcees. “Trade Money” middle fingers the bling-blingers, giving money a double-edged sword feel: it may buy you shit, but it won’t make you happy. “Proper Propaganda” delivers an anti-government message that would make Chuck D pump his fist.

This record is just what the world needs. The rap game is in shambles (Lil Jon, Fabalous, P-shiddy) and someone finally has shown signs of the music rising from the rubble. DILATED YA’ALL!!!

—Bobby Sumner

Dialated Peoples will play the TLA on November 25

Sarah Dougher
The Bluff
(Mr. Lady)
Grade: C-

Attention all artists: Unless you’re John Muthafuckin’ Lennon or Billie Goddamn Holiday, DO NOT release a new album every year. Chances are the record will suffer from rushed production and less-than-fully realized songs.

Here we have the third Sarah Dougher album in three years and as you might guess it’s a pretty bad record.

Dougher may be the smartest woman in indie rock (she is a respected college professor/author/lesbian/activist), but that doesn’t make up for the fact that her overbearing voice can sure kill a song (see “Must Believe” and “System Works”).

2000’s The Walls Ablaze was Dougher at her best, but only a few songs on The Bluff can hold a candle to that record. The oldies-inspired “It’s Raining,” the sweeping “The Bluff” and acoustic gem “My Kingdom” are the album’s only truly great songs.

Dougher puts all of her musical might into “Fall Down,” but it just comes off like a poor woman’s Lois Maffeo.

—Neal Ramirez

Sunn Amps and Smashed Guitars
(No Quarter)
Grade: A-

Earth is remembered for two things: an association with Kurt Cobain (who plays on some Earth recordings) and a reputation for creating sludgy rock dirges. Although brainchild Dylan Carlson did purchase the shotgun Cobain fired in the spring of 1994, the founder of the now defunct Earth did more than simply pay grunge’s fare off the planet. He practically invented a new genre by stripping seventies blues-influenced rock down to its essential part: the riff.

Sunn Amps and Smashed Guitars, a collection of live and unreleased tracks, could easily be a soundtrack to depression. From waves of feedback emerge minimalist Black Sabbath influenced riffs. Plodding along for several minutes to drum-machine accompaniment, guitars drone along at a snails pace only to submerge once again into a sea of pure noise.

—Richard Charles

Hey Mercedes
Everynight Fireworks
Grade: C+

Although relatively new to the scene as Hey Mercedes, band members Todd Bell, Damon Atkinson and Robert Nanna began performing together in the mid-90s under the name Braid. In early April of 2000, the trio enlisted the stylings of guitarist Mark Dawursk and hit the road with a new sound and a new name.

Hey Mercedes makes good rock music, and with Everynight Fireworks, that fact is not hard to see. The band shells out powerful drumbeats and driven guitar lines mixed up with sing-along vocals.

Unfortunately, the sound they pedal on Fireworks carries an almost formulated approach; feedback build-up, one instrument intro, enter bass line and vocals, full band rock out, chorus, bridge, chorus and everyone is home in time for dinner. If it were possible to glue all of the songs together, you would never know it wasn’t supposed to be just one really long unending song.

Everynight Fireworks is not necessarily a bad album, but it doesn’t carry anything the music community hasn’t seen before. With the combined musical talent in the members of Hey Mercedes, they are certainly capable of much more.

—Ryan Kelley

Hey Mercedes will play the Troc on Nov. 26 and 27 with Saves the Day.

Stereo Total
Musique Automatique
Grade: A

Though virtually unknown in the states, this German-based pop duo has created countless wacky, experimental anthems since 1995’s debut Oh Ah! Their newest domestic release, Musique Automatiqueis their finest collection of sweaty, perverted electro-pop songs and is their chance to finally gain a larger U.S. audience.

“L’amour a 3” is a dance jam that recalls everyone from Serge Gainsbourg to Beck and is the best song ever about (presumably) a menage-a-trois.

Singing in French, Japanese, German and English, their funky jams defy language barriers. From the video game music of “Kleptomane” to the punk-pop anthem “Forever 16,” Stereo Total covers the gamut of retro-punk, old school hip-hop and bizzaro pop.

Stereo Total is the kind of band that will change your life.

—Neal Ramirez

Sunny Ledford
The White Disk
Grade: F-

Just like their namesake, Sunny Ledford give a light, bouncy backdrop to the vocals of Dugi (think Fred Durst’s younger brother) who “passionately” sings about the “problems” of being a white kid. Sweet like Sugar Ray, yet lighter than Limp, this corn (or Korn) upsets me more than any corporate pop group. Of course he’s on drugs (“Pills”) and fucks girls (“Hardcore,” “Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy”), but he has feelings too. “World I Know” and “Mess in My Head” speak out for the visor generation in the same vein as every other young white “musician” that is too hip for rock, but not confident enough to rap, or rap well.

However, these suburban Playstation 2 thugs are just edgy enough for an eyebrow ring and should be rockin’ with Carson in no time.

It’s funny that Dugi sings so much about oral sex because this record
sucks dick.

—Bobby Sumner

Sunny Ledford will open for D12 on Nov. 27 at the TLA.

Various Artists
The Wash Soundtrack
Grade: C

The soundtrack for The Wash (the new movie starring Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg) is basically a West Coast-flavored compilation with many affiliates of Dre and Snoop either on the boards or behind the mic. However, the set throws in a couple of established performers (Busta Rhymes, Eminem, Xzibit) and up-and-coming stars (D-12, Bubba Sparxxx, Bilal) to give it credibility.

Despite the lack of theme and cohesiveness, there are quite a few standout cuts on the compilation. The two Dre and Snoop collabos, “On The Blvd.,” and the title track, as well as the album’s lead single “Bad Intentions” (Dre, featuring newcomer Knoc-Turn’al) are solid blends of The Chronic-era and the duo’s current sound.

Busta Rhymes’ “Holla” (produced by Dre) and Bubba Sparxxx’ “Bubba Talk” (produced by Timbaland) are bangers, while Bilal’s “Bring 2” is the highlight of the R&B tracks on the album.

While a couple of the more obscure West Coast artists on the soundtrack (Joe Beast, Soopafly) show potential, many of the tracks seem to be filler. This soundtrack is basically an attempt to promote artists on Aftermath and Doggystyle Records, Dre and Snoop’s respective labels. Some of the singles are hot, but so many tracks are subpar that The Wash Soundtrack is a wash.

—Aggrey Sam

Grade: C

Ho-hum, yet another electronica/metal group and surprise, surprise … they’re angsty! The LA-based Woven like to refer to their style as “Orsynthanic” but believe me, while there are some surprises, they only come if you are desperate for something to cling onto. The five-song EP has elements of drum ‘n’ bass, Pink Floyd-esque psychedelica, and jazz, along with their industrial sound. The highlight of Eprime is “Steady,” which mixes all these sound convincingly. Thing is, Woven is an angry electronica group, no matter how many subtle musical moves they throw in and I think I can safely say we have enough of them in the world. If I had my way, bands like Orgy, Linkin Park, blah blah blah would be replaced by people more mindful of making an attempt at complexity as Woven does, but I doubt most teenagers would even appreciate their efforts.

—Maureen Walsh

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