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This week’s CD Reviews: >> The Cure >> Default >> Elk City >> Front Line Assembly >> Holiday Flyer >> Lambchop >> Kylie Minogue >> Necro >> Solex >> Long Beach Dub Allstars Purchase these

This week’s CD Reviews:
>> The Cure
>> Default
>> Elk City
>> Front Line Assembly
>> Holiday Flyer
>> Lambchop
>> Kylie Minogue
>> Necro
>> Solex
>> Long Beach Dub Allstars

Purchase these CDs at CDNOW.com

The Cure
Greatest Hits
Grade: C+

A letter to Robert Smith:

Stop. Please stop. You’ve had a great run with The Cure, you’ve made some fantastic music, and probably a decent amount of money as well. Just retire … your wife has wanted you to for the past 10 years! Come on, you can do it! Sell your guitars. Pass your pianos on to your relatives. When you wake up in the morning, just say to yourself “I will not write any songs today! I will not go into the studio today!” Find a hobby … start fishing or widdling wood. Just stop making music!

Bloodflowers was a beautiful album. It was musically daring, thematically poignant, and would have been an excellent way to gracefully bow out of the music scene.

But noooooooo! You just couldn’t resist another unnecessary “Best Of” album, delivering a watered down combination of your classic Staring At The Sea singles set and your more recent Galore. And of course, you absolutely had to record two “new” songs and a bonus disc’s worth of acoustic takes on the first disc. on! Just stop! “Cut Here” has come cute techno beats, but your lyrics are just treading the same grounds they’ve walked since 1989, and the song just dissolves into monotany. And the off-kilter vocal harmonies that permeate “Just Say Yes” are harsh!! The acoustic disc can be charming at times, but too often the songs either don’t work unplugged, or conversely sound no different than the original.

Please, Robert…give it a rest! Wouldn’t you rather be remembered as a forerunner in 80’s goth-pop who made 20 years worth of wonderful music and left the scene with a solid LP, and not an obsessive composer who just cannot stop making music even when many of your former bandmates have bailed on you?

But then again, I guess obsession is what The Cure is all about.

Ah well,

A Frustrated Fan,

—John Vettese

The Fallout
Grade: B+

Default, a Vancouver-based band, is sure to possess a familiar feel. That’s because they’ve worked with Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, and Rick Parasher (Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains) produced their debut, The Fallout. Its songs are infused with powerful lyrics, and singer Dallas Smith’s muscular vocals could almost be mistaken for those of Creed’s Scott Stapp (with the exception that Smith is not nearly as grating). Guitarist Jeremy Hora’s style is also comparable to that of Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti.

“Sick and Tired” is a strong start to the album and is sure to capture interest and favor for the band. However, after the first five tracks or so, the band becomes repetitive, lending minimal variation to their sound. Still, they prove appealing throughout and are forgiven for some repetition.

The fervently hardrocking, “Somewhere,” contains catchy guitar riffs, while “By Your Side,” is also memorably melodic.

“Wasting My Time” is already inescapably played in Vancouver. But with Smith’s vocals and impeccably coordinated instrumentals, Default is sure to find itself on American radio more often.

—Kara Deniz

Elk City
The Sea is Fierce
Grade: C+

This Brooklyn trio, which features members of the late, sorta-great New Jersey outfit, Melting Hopefuls, deliver a five song EP that is as hard to channel as its title indicates.

Opening with a nine-minute song is never a good idea, but “Take Me Out,” the lead track, recalls Throwing Muses, so it’s not all bad.

The heart of the EP rests in the three middle songs: a triumvirate of the group’s strengths.

“Turpentine” is less 4AD-fare and more Velvets-cum-Spiritualized. “Three Eyes” merges a good ‘ol Modern Lovers vibe with that Kristin-Hersh’s-little-sister voice of ReneĆ© LoBue. A cover of Galaxie 500’s”Strange” sounds eerily like the original, but at least the group has good taste.

The lilting “Bar Song” is weird in a Squirrel Nut Zippers-meets-His Name is Alive kind of way.

Final verdict: only sailors and patient music fans should sail these waters.

—Neal Ramirez

Front Line Assembly
Grade: B

As on previous albums, Front Line Assembly paints a colorful canvas of pain, anger and inner turmoil with their latest release, Epitaph. Laden with harsh vocals and repetitive electronic percussion, Epitaph is a slowly hypnotic head-trip that bombards you with insight and clear thinking.

Slow, yet crafty, “Haloed” talks of words without meanings and angels with crooked halos, while “Dead Planet” picks up the electronic pace as the sleep-deprived vocalist Bill Leeb whispers, “I haven’t slept in four days / something here just doesn’t feel right.” With crashing cymbals and angry vocals (“These open wounds will never heal”), “Backlash” addresses their inner suffering through a highly percussive up-tempo track. “Conscience” uses dark brooding vocals and a piano melody to make it the album’s most memorable cut.

While nothing truly remarkable or new is accomplished on Epitaph, Front Line Assembly proves through carefully crafted songs that they deserve to be a notable mention in the history book of influential electro/industrial rock bands alongside NIN and Ministry.

—Chris Powell

Holiday Flyer
I Hope
Grade: B-

California’s Holiday Flyer have been a trio for most of their career but on their latest album they decided to flesh out the sound and make the band a five-piece.

The songs haven’t grown much despite the added instrumentation. If anything has changed, it’s the pace of some of the songs. “Trains,” “Falling Apart at the Seams” and “Green Envy” are the fastest, most “rocking” songs in HF’s catalog. Don’t remove the quotes though, because when Flyer rocks they are still immersed in sugary-yet-heavyhearted pop.

The slow melancholy of past has not evaporated. Lyrics like “Out of here cause you’re just too far away / Searching for clarity / And I’m wishing / All my fears could suddenly be far away” (from “Out of Here”) aren’t exactly Shakespeare, but for mopey popsters they’ll suffice.

Not quite vital stuff, Holiday Flyer does craft the occasionally great indie pop tune. The closer, “Invincible,” highlights the group’s prize asset: the vocal interplay of brother-sister duo, John and Katie Conley.

—Neal Ramirez

Tools in the Dryer
Grade: F

Tools in the Dryer is a compilation of A-sides, B-sides, live tracks and remixes that wonderfully capture the Nashville group’s substandard history of making music. As bad as the band is, it’s a wonder they even released such an album.

Lambchop’s sound ranges from sad interpretations of a clean and sober Iggy Pop to even poorer renditions of “Lawn Boy”-era Phish. They seem to have the balls-out-“let’s make fun music”-mentality of the Meat Puppets without the balls or the talent.

The band is led by guitarist/vocalist Kurt Wagner, whose songwriting is witty, but whose music is awfully boring. Another mainstay in the ever-changing 10 to 13 piece lineup is Paul Burch, a poor man’s Robbie Fulks, whose guitar playing leaves much to be desired. Clarinetist and noisemaker Jonathan Marx is another founding member. Other than that, the band members come and go, much like a prospective fan that foolishly buys one of their records.

Next time a fire alarm goes off in one of Temple’s state-of-the-art dormitories, be thankful all you hear is that painful shrill and that you’re spared any Lambchop

—Jesse Chadderdon

Kylie Minogue
Grade: A+

Kylie Minogue has gone way beyond the days of “The Locomotion,” and having worked with indie notables like Manic Street Preachers and Ben Lee, she’s received respect that Madonna only dreams of. Her latest import-only album is an indication as to why even the most indie-obsessed European thinks Kylie is a force to be reckoned with.

Following in the footsteps of her last work, the campy Light Years, Fever is pop/dance that doesn’t take the genre too seriously and at the same time shows that pop isn’t mere child’s play. The ’80s-esque title song is tongue-in-cheek, and just when you thought there were no more creative ways to use vocal processing, “Burning Up” proves otherwise. If you want an album that’s as fun as it is artistic, it’s worth it to pay extra for perhaps the greatest pop singer of our time.

—Maureen Walsh

Gory Days
Grade: F-

Remember the “horrorcore” movement in hip-hop a few years back? Acts like the Gravediggaz would take ’80s “heavy metal” themes of death and gore and mix them with hardcore gangsta rap.

Well, now there’s Necro. And while the Gravediggaz had dope production and talented lyricists, Necro has neither of these things. What he does have is Gory Days, an album full of songs about Satan, violent gore and Necro’s genitalia.

The best example of Necro’s “vision” is the rendition of Blondie’s “One Way or Another,” in which he proclaims: “One way, or another I’m gonna fuck you / I’m gonna fuck you, fuck you, fuck you…” Well, you get the point.

“One Way…” is also a landmark in the field of female anatomy. Necro proclaims: “Her clitoris lips be hangin’ down to her knee caps.” He obviously studied for years, spending hour upon hour in research libraries, carefully combing medical journals, because I was not even aware that “clitoris lips” existed.

With all of his short-comings, Necro has achieved at least one thing: he has recorded what is possibly the worst example of hip-hop to date

—Jeremy Smith

Low Kick And Hard Bop
Grade: B-
The drums! Oh, the drums! The first thing that really catches your ear on Solex’s Low Kick And Hard Bop is the magnificent skin tone. The hard-driving harmonica, punky vocals and twangy guitars – none of it matters once you hear that dirty, booming bass drum enter on the title track. Beats and textures are what Solex does best. Sampling and re-sampling her way though all manner of styles, she is able to disorient the listener with offbeat sound combinations and even more off-kilter singing.

But where are the hooks? As great as the album sounds, the pop really doesn’t start until a quarter of the way in. The sounds are enjoyable, but chances are you won’t remember a single verse moments after listening. Solex tries, and succeeds, in finding all manner of sonic enlightenment, but it feels as if she forgets there’s a song going on.

The cowbells, pianos, claps and clarinets are all very nice, but a few choruses wouldn’t hurt.

—Robert James Algeo

Solex will play the North Star Bar (27th & Poplar) tonight, November 1st

Long Beach Dub Allstars
Wonders of the World
Grade: C-

A dialogue between the ghost of Bradley Nowell and the surviving members of Sublime…

Bradley Nowell: Dude, guys, what is this stuff? What are you doing to me?

Long Beach Dub Allstars: Huh? Wha? Brad is that you? But you’re dead!

BN: Yes, but the shittiness of your latest project woke me from my eternal rest.

LBDA: But, uh, but we’re a SoCal band. We like playing reggae. After the last Sublime album went platinum, we like figured that you’d want us to persevere. You know, like an “it’s all for the reggae” sort of thing…”the show must go on.”

BN: But your singer, Opie, sounds just like me. Why not try something a little different, get a different singer, go for a different sound, don’t just be a cheap knockoff of stuff that we did while I was still alive.

LBDA: But what were we supposed to do? You were our guiding light and you left us! You were the ass who OD’d! We still have to make a living, don’t we?

BN: Hey man, you made a lot of fucking money off of the last Sublime record, as well as the home video, live album, the CD full of outtakes and demos and the acoustic album! You don’t have to work another fucking day in your life. And with the quality of this music, you might as well be doing just that: nothing.

LBDA: But Brad, it’s all in your honor! We do this so that your memory will be preserved!

BN: Bullshit! You went from being my closest friends to being a gang of thieves who plagiarize my work! I may not have been a genius, but at least my songs were just that – MINE! Not licks, riffs and vocals borrowed from some band I USED to be in!

LBDA: Dude, but is the album at least sorta good?

BN: Guys, it’s catchy, and the production’s nice, but this shit is weak! It’s unoriginal, uninspired and utterly a complete rip off of my work! If I was more of an asshole I’d spend the rest of eternity haunting your asses! Ahhhhh, oooooooh, boogedy boogedy boo! (chains rattling).

LBDA: (exhales) Yo, this is some fucked up shit. Opie man, don’t ever score off of that dude again!

—Jeremy Smith and John Vettese


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