new album, Human, just makes you want to reach out to Norah Jones. Like
Miss Jones, Sawhney's album is oh so accessible. Each track reeks of pop
sweetness. But that's not too bad. If it gets on radio, at least the kids
can hear Sawhney's attack on racism in Say Hello, which samples a news
bulletin of Enoch Powell getting sacked for his racist views. Or Eastern
Eyes, which recounts Sawhney's childhood as the only Indian in an all-white
Nothing strikes greater fear into the heart of an indie rock fan than to hear that one of their favourite or respected bands has signed on with a major record label. Sometimes that fear is proven unfounded when the band marries its intelligence, creativity, attitude and talent with the use of the bigger budget and superior resources that the major label provides to produce a truly exceptional piece of work, as in the case of Modest Mouse's debut album for Epic Records, The Moon and Antarctica. However, this is not the case with the Donnas' debut album for Atlantic. Spend the Night is yet another pathetic addition to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Infamy of gutsy all-girl groups who turned into totally toothless and impotent corporate schlock-peddlers once they sold their souls for Mammon and turned over their good judgement and artistic control into the hands of the completely clueless and mercenary major label radio-friendly unit-shifting production and marketing machine.
While I may not be familiar with their earlier work on the independent Lookout label, I am pretty sure that the Donnas had more balls and bite on records like American Teenage Rock 'n' Roll Machine and The Donnas Turn 21, which were probably closer in spirit and sound to the blitzkrieg bop-frenzy of the Ramones and the jailbait-teasing power bubblegum pop of The Runaways.
Sure they may still display some of their trademark "hard rawk" power chords and overtly ferocious sexual lyrics in songs like Take it Off and Take Me to the Backseat, but the biggest difference between this album and say, The Donnas Turn 21, is the overall sound production. Spend the Night just sounds way too clean and polished and therefore, excruciatingly bland and uninspired as compared to the refreshingly raw and ragged, celebratory all-out down-and-dirty trash rock of their earlier records. And certainly it doesn't help if every other song on this album mines the same old tired territory of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll parties that's been done much better so many times over by those kings of 1970's party-rock, Kiss.
afraid to say that if these girls don't look sharp, they're going to end
up in the same dump of has-been but previously vital all-girl bands like
The Pandoras and the Bangles who once got it right but were then robbed
of their shining destiny by corporate fools who couldn't care less. (2)
- Ivan Thomasz
It's always nice to
have someone cheery and optimistic around. Someone with a consistently
positive view of life, despite the likes of war, aggression and fear,
and yet not be absorbed with self discovery, and the inevitable turn to
pessimism. The whole album is light, friendly and, through its unpretentious
ways, is absolutely charming. For starters, Bindu's technique is faultless,
his notes are so accurately stopped, yet his music so freely improvisatory,
that it seemed simple. Underneath is a mix of lilting jazzed-up rhythms,
and a combination of delightful range of guitar sounds, the gliss, the
plucks, and the shakes, stringed tightly one after another. With Butterfly
On A Wing, and Trees Are Growing, laze back and enjoy the mellow sounds
and the sincere approach to the saying of very simple things. - Sarah
might sound like your typical post-Thom Yorke-post-Buckley, wailing sort
of indie bands (see Coldplay, Travis, Kings of Convenience) if not for
one important factor - there's something startlingly George Harrison-ish
about their songs. Take the popular single 'Pain Killer' - quirky lyrics,
nice melodies but it has a refrain that brings to mind "My Sweet Lord'.
That doesn't mean its bad, derivativeness has long been a non-issue in
the so called 'quietcore' scene (see bands referenced above). Like the
Sad One in the Beatles, the second album from ex-choirboys Olly Knights
and Gale Paridjania has a certain melancholic charm. Not shameless nor
self-pitying, mind, but very hippy and Age of Aquarius-like. A soundtrack
for those late night campfires by the beach, if you're into that sort
of thing. - Eddino Abdul Hadi
After Throwing Muses' 1996 release aptly titled Limbo, fans were left wondering whether it symbolised the group's impending demise. Singer/guitarist Kristin Hersh released a number of solo records in the interim years, which only seemed to seal the impression. Pull out her Sunny Border Blue and the track Listerine conveys her dismay: "How did I love a breaking thing?/How did I sleep through a kidnapping?/How'd I trust a band who'd leave me one by one?"
So it's a
welcome relief to hear their new record, released in conjunction with
Hersh's solo, The Grotto. As listeners will attest, it is their most raw
record yet. Whereas before bassist Bernard Georges' distortion-laden melodies
passionately washed through Limbo, here they retreat and join David Narcizo's
ever-brilliant rhythmic jaunts. Changes in production and mixing mean
the album is guitar-heavy, as ever fuelled on by Hersh's sardonic, sexually
frank tales of domesticity, love and friendship. The opening tracks -
Mercury, Pretty Or Not and Civil Disobedience - are typically Muses, with
their quick shifts in pace and angular melodies. "B-side" tracks such
as Portia and Solardip sound entirely like they are plucked from the Pixies/Breeders.
While the album maintains a consistent edge, not every song has the kind
of consistent capacity to surprise which an album like Limbo did flawlessly.
It sounds like Hersh is trying a new sound, changing the coordinates of
her role as singer/guitarist and emphasising the latter role far more.
The shifts, while not always successful, are hopefully a hint of exciting
things to come. (6.5) - Vinita Ramani
Robin Gibb was doing publicity for the album, which was released last year, when Maurice died and, for whatever reasons, the album never got the publicity or the push. Being released on the European SPV label didn't help as the album was initially hard-to-find.
When we get down to it, we may ask ourselves - do we prefer the guitar-based, jangly Robin or the discofied Robin?
However, the presence of producer Deacon Smith (Ce Ce Winans, Dru Hill, Mary J Blige), says it all. The album opens promisingly with Please. Although synthesized, it's also a throwback to the days of My World and Robin's soaring vocals. While the next track, Don't Wanna Wait Forever, has elements of Hall And Oates, it is Wish You Were Here, the only track on the album written by all three Gibb brothers, that lays down the mainframe of the album - blue-eye soul as performed by George Michael! Why reference Wham! when there are so many other great R&B acts?
You'd feel the album has a problem when the most striking song is a cover of Love Hurts. Otherwise, it could have been seen as any other R&B album released by faceless divas or soul acts. But it is a Robin Gibb album and his vocals are more or less intact. It is a voice that fans love, in spite of the songs.
of doing guitar-based songs for a good part of his career, Robin may find
the dance beats more up-to-date sounding. But he might also like to remember
that fans would like him to stick to what he does best. (6.5) - Stephen
that for a band that considers it indulging in "ironic" pop presentations,
to put together an album that most critics would assess as undemanding
and straightforward would probably come as a rude shock. Long Gone Before
Daylight, The Cardigans' fourth album proper is slickly produced with
all the notes in the right place but unfortunately that merely leaves
you with a competent ABBA-type album. Gone are the chamber pop, hard rock
and electronica elements that enlivened previous works and whilst the
band may strive hard to be relevant, what we're actually left with is
MOR. Kevin Mathews
ANGER IS A GIFT
The hype on Metallica's magnificent new album, St Anger (Elektra) is that it's a return to the band's roots. Nothing could be further from the truth. Guitar solos? Not a one on this album. The career-long quest to improve James Hetfield's singing, first with echo and then with a generally successful attempt to actually learn the craft? Out the window - Hetfield's vocals are raw and forced and where they go off key, so be it. Multiple tempo changes? Only a few, even though the songs average around seven minutes in length.
What's left roars, with Lars Ulrich's furiously precise drumming anchoring the music. Hetfield and Kirk Hammett construct little gems of riffs that mutate into power chords, then devolve back into riffs that repeat and repeat and repeat. This is no garage band jam - the tracks were cut and pasted together with Pro Tools software, although you may not realize it unless you try to play air guitar to them (you might break your wrist).
Unlike, say, ZZ Top's Afterburner, the use of advanced technology here doesn't create its own aesthetic. The high tech manipulation on St Anger merely enhances the emotion in the basic tracks. Proof of that is the accompanying DVD disc, where the band plays the entire album live in the studio and sounds more like Metallica than ever. This isn't the sound of the past, though. It's a bold step into the future.
As for Metallica's past, especially the attack on its own fans who download music files, it's implicitly addressed here in the two line chorus of Sumkinda. It begins with "We the people" - a hoary cliche that still resonates when it has that throbbing megawatt power behind it - but then flips the script to ask "Are we the people?" Can Metallica and its fans be "we" if they are at war? These questions aren't answered directly but the band seems to be attempting to connect back to its street roots.
For example, the St Anger DVD begins with James Hetfield acting out the role of a graffiti artist. It's partly a goof, but the expression of solidarity is unmistakable and Hetfield's graf writer is just a symbol of all those most hated by official society: taggers, skaters, hackers, and, yes, file sharers. On May 1, in what would have made a great addition to the DVD, Metallica played a show for 800 inmates at San Quentin prison, which is just down the road apiece from the studio where St Anger was recorded. Hetfield, all tatted up like a convict himself, told the real cons that "We are very proud to be in your house playing music for you." At the end of the show, he added: "I'm not afraid to say I love you guys." Did Hetfield feel that without a few lucky breaks he could have been in the audience that day?
That same sense of connection is amplified throughout the new album. Lyrically, it centers on James Hetfield's struggle with drug and alcohol addiction ("My lifestyle determines my deathstyle"), but this is anything but a shiny, happy testimonial to sobriety. The songs are filled with self-hatred, false bravado, fear, doubt, denial and the specter of creeping death. Nothing is resolved, there is no peace, and the attraction to the oblivion of Sweet Amber is still very much present. These feelings are presented with great force and skill, an outstretched hand to millions of Metallica fans ("I'm not afraid to say I love you guys").
Anger is presented as the antidote for all problems: "And I want my anger to be healthy/ And I want my anger just for me/ And I need my anger not to control/ And I want my anger to be me/ And I need to set my anger free." While anger can be cathartic ("You flush it out, you flush it out") it can also become a dead end. Yet heavy metal at its best - which this album certain]y is - makes anger feel like liberation.
still not free when anger subsides, that doesn't mean the feeling was
false, just that liberation is more complicated. Metallica's insistence
that we can openly acknowledge our demons and wrestle with them, even
to the death, takes us at least halfway home. St Anger is a gift.
Lee Ballinger, Rock & Rap Confidential
full-length release from ADF cements what an inspirational force the band
has become. The UK collective's empowering and civil work is well documented
but what's remarkable is that the spirit still resonates strongly in their
songs. Its hard to sit still to this album, the two opening tracks
are a perfect blend of dub, drum n bass, rock and techno, the get-up-and-go
type of songs you just can't help but pogo to. A minor setback is the
absence of longtime vocalist Deedar Zaman, who moved on to do social activism
full time. His replacements, MC Spex and Aktarvata are competent and blend
well with the driving rhythms but fail to ignite the spark left behind
by their predecessor. The presence of Sinead O'Connor, who lends her beautiful
wails to the track '1,000 Mirrors' and another new addition to the vocal
department, female Indian chanteuse Sonia Mehta more than make up for
the MCs shortcomings though. - Eddino Abdul Hadi
Nineteen albums since 1972, singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading continues to burn brightly with her pleasing folk-jazz pop and proves that good old-fashioned songwriting never quite goes out of style. Oh sure, if you're under the age of 35, I'll wager that you've never heard of Ms Armatrading. But that should not deter you from checking out Lovers Speak with its mix of pop savvy (the title track, "Waiting"), ballads ("In These Times," "Fire and Ice") and upbeat belters ("Love Bug," "Tender Traps").
else the positive, feel good sentiments of "Blessed" deserve special mention
- "But if you can feel the sun/If you can feel the rain/Life can't
be bad/If you've got food to eat/All your dreams to dreams/Life can't
be bad/If you can walk away/And fight another day/life can't be bad."
Simple truths from unlikely sources.- Kevin Mathews
For Gillian Welch's fourth album, Soul Journey, the bad reviews have started appearing. But that's really because her standards have been so high. Time (The Revelator, 2001), Hell Among the Yearlings (1998) and Revival (1996) were just classics in the country canon. So Soul Journey is just good, not great. If the first three albums showed Welch bleeding, Soul journey is just a graze.
As Welch admitted in an interview: "This really is the sunniest record I've ever made." A part of this change is explained by the recording process. Instead of intense scrutiny, Welch opted for a more spontaneous approach to the production. Aside from one takes, unplugged performances, Welch also included three tracks where she sings and plays solo (she has never done this before on record). One of these is the gorgeous One Little Song where she pleads to hear a truly original song, where you can find "one little word that ain't been abused a thousand times/In a thousand rhymes."
Another reason is her approach to her songs. It is in the end a nostalgic album, just not a painfully nostalgic one. For example, I Had A Real Good Mother and Father is exactly that. Or the fact that Make Me A Pallet on Your Floor and Lowlands are bluesy country numbers which exist more as singalongs than gut-wrenching tracks.
one new classic, I Made a Lovers Prayer, which can easily rival many Bob
Dylan or Neil Young love songs. As Welch sings so poignantly: "Help me
rise above what I'm thinking of/Just a little more love, just a little
more love." (7) - Philip Cheah
If you go by hype and raving column inches alone, nu-garage bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes and The White Stripes should be moving gazillion units by now. But of course, no one's that naïve anymore - critic darlings and the alumni from the cool club rarely make an appearance in the Billboard Top 10 (with the exception of Radiohead maybe). Listening to Fever To Tell, it doesn't seem like much of a concern to Karen O and her boys though. It is noisy, messy and has enough of all the little no-wave, arty bits to make sure that it doesn't exactly end up mainstream fodder, not even in the way The Strokes or the Stripes have done in their excursions into the pop world.
Ms O might
steal the spotlight with her rabid delivery that's a like a dirty blend
of Iggy Pop, Chrissie Hynde and a Kathleen Hanna who spent more time in
art class rather than grrrl school but look behind her and you'll see
that guitarist Nick Zinner is quite a gem of an axe man, alternating between
Sonic Youth noise bits to Tony Iommi style riffs and everything else cacophonic
in between. You don't notice that it's just him and drummer, Brian Chase,
making all the racket either - the productions a little more slick
than the usual guitar/drum duo but it suits them just fine. Don't be afraid
if they come across as art school brats - this album's a good indication
that the trio understands that above all else, rock n roll
should be about reckless fun. - Eddino Abdul Hadi
In a moment
of sincere self-deprecation, singer-songwriter Mike Felten sent his new
CD, Landfill, together with a roll of toilet paper. In his liner notes,
Felten says: "What you have here isn't perfect, by any means. Life is
flawed and uneven, I'm just trying to get after the truth." And yes, Landfill
is flawed. It isn't musically stunning and isn't lyrically breathtaking.
But it achieves what Felten has aimed for, getting to grips with stories
about ordinary people and their worries of domestic violence (Sister),
unemployment (Save Her Old Man) and dashed hopes (Life Goes to Hell).
Still, there are at least two worthy tracks, the catchy Talking 66 Summer
School Blues, where Felten outlines his generation against that of Columbine.
And the beautiful title track, Landfill, which unlike most of the other
songs, is written powerfully and succinctly: "Landfill, landfill/Bustin'
tail, paying bills/ Landfill, landfill/ On this earth by force of will."
(5) - Philip Cheah
to dismiss Peaches the way that punk rock was dismissed in the beginning.
It's easy to dismiss Peaches the way that Singaporean Annabel Chong still
gets dismissed. Both are women who talk about sex the way that men do,
get as much fun out of it and make interesting statements from it.
cant get enough of their five song EP. With the longest tracks being
2:38 minutes, its sweet simple and direct. Aluminum Babes
songs give a shot of life into the Punk Rock genre. Its like going
back to the no-bullshit spirit days of the Ramones and early Blondie.
Also featuring AJ Novello and Pokey of legendary 80s hardcore band
Leeway. The squashing infectious opener, Oh Yeah, at times reminded me
of The Go Gos especially with Anna Soders cute vocal crossings with
Belinda Carlise and The Cardigans. You should get and hear this before
they are gone. Nearly all of the tracks captivate hope and the humour
of love with mild yet flowing Punk beats and layered vocal harmonies.
It seems who you know and what you express has a lot to do with your success
in todays music industry. How an audience and a world full of critics
react to your album makes or breaks any artist no matter what status.
"Im no sweet thing/ no deep thing/ no cheap thing/ I am real."
But these three guys (who wear their stage attire dressed as priests)
and a girl doesnt care, do they? Naahh. - Adam Md Yusop
way to her fame are her contributions to the Armageddon and Dawson's Creek
soundtracks, or more currently, Providence. For those familiar with her
style, this album is a treat that offers more of the easy going good stuff.
Most songs are delicate yet wistful and soul searching and their overall
appeal is a rather an acquired taste, but rewarding. The one thing that
mars this appeal perhaps is the monotony of the arrangements, and yes,
the seemingly endless repetition of the same words. Boredom will creep
in but a few such familiar pop-style numbers as Weight of the World, and
Miss April, with its innocent music-writing will also keep one glued to
her voice. There are also the priceless In This Life and the title track
What If which will grow on anyone not already absorbed by her style. -
Not as experimental
as the previous Amnesiac and Kid A, Hail to the Thief is nevertheless
more elusive than the art rock of OK Computer. It straddles a middle ground
for both new and old fans of Radiohead to find each other.
Still, even if you choose to ignore all that, the album is musically transcendent. Scatterbrain is the killer track, a luminous melody with an even more luminous Yorke vocal. And the closing track, A Wolf at the Door, swells with warm string synths.
the road map, not to peace, but to war, stares you in the face. The special
edition is designed as a traveller's map and Radiohead have inserted all
the anguish of this world on it - poor, military, murderers, generals,
president. (8.5) - Philip Cheah
"What ?!? You listening to second rate Alice In Chains?" Thats what my pals, the ever so-called purists told me when I yanked this CD out. Is it due to the bands association with Fred Dursts FLIP label that they were branded as "whiny sell-out babies"? Well, don't buy this album expecting a super-heavy, nu metal sound. Buy this album if you want to hear down to earth, melodic music. Its still heavy, but its not "metal" anymore, with the exception of a few songs. Break the Cycle, the bands second album was depressing, like Alice In Chains but none of that foreign substance was prevalent. I can honestly say that Ive listened to the first and second songs of the new album for about five days, then proceeded to hear the rest. Price To Pay and How About You are just two that define the bands mega status. I can listen to this album without skipping one single song. Cant say that about the past two Staind albums.
The new songs
are just amazing. Initially, I was a little worried that I couldnt
take the depressed tones. And Lo & Behold! another new change, not
all of the songs are about Aaron's bad relationship with his parents *gasp*!!
That was one of the biggest complaints about this band that they kept
whining about their family life. None of that angsty family matters on
this album. Overall this is a great album, the songs sound very different
from each other and very diverse. Zoe Jane - definitely the softest song
on the CD, just like Lennon and Creeds Arms Wide Open, a beautiful
song about Aarons daughter. While Layne (a nod to the late Layne
Stanley, Alice In Chains tragic vocalist who died of an overdose)
plods triumphantly just like a track played by the mighty Alice themselves.
You can even sense the eerie vocal similarities when Aaron gives out his
low bellows, its like Layne helping out on backing vocals. It could
be the next single, and Intro - nice name for the final song. It's a nice
finisher. Though Aaron's voice sounds a bit distant, it works. A good
way to close the album which also functions as a DVD-audio in multi-channel
surround sound. - Adam Md Yusop
House Painters composing a score for Mogwai and you have A Place For Parks.
This French trio composes melancholic instrumentals (Open All the Windows,
Our Screwball Concerto) which sometimes burst with violent fury (Apparently
Empty Room). The best track is Hidden Landscapes, where a trombone and
sax are added for a long-drawn, melodically beautiful climax. File under
children of Godspeed. - Philip Cheah
aka Lunt is a French avant-noise singer-songwriter. Alternating between
distorted soundscapes and songs of heartbreak, this self-titled album
unfortunately also suffers from constant unevenness. Loretta Is Dreaming,
a foreboding moodpiece and Love Is Wasted Time, a melodic tale of yearning,
begin the album well, but then self-indulgence takes over. - Philip
music was last seen in the Gregorian chant setting, and then the New Age
setting, which was not that long ago, just that the void was never fully
filled. Perhaps it is an inherent problem in pop classics that they do
not lend themselves too easily to being "updated" in its entirety, and
most who entered this realm lacked the boldness and courage of a different
mindset. Most tend to leave untouched the impressions and interpretations
of the classics, so what's left is, as with many such recordings, classical
music set to some rhythm or another. A new rhythm pattern, a new album.
For this album, very sadly, although the opening was pleasantly startling,
it ended there, and it joins the rest of the other artless attempts. It
does not offer any stylistics, or insight of real value, although a little
bright moment in Cest Lamour qui reticent, a more elusive piece, and a
slightly different harmonic approach to Mozart's Romance, were a few saving
points. As a piece of entertainment, and easy listening, it fares sufficiently
well but will probably not meet up with high expectations. - Sarah
There are many red herrings to note when approaching Yo La Tengo's new Summer Sun: That it's just a light, pleasant record. That it's tackling the jazz palette again with such distinguished guests as bassist William Parker, trumpeter Roy Campbell Jr and saxophonist Daniel Carter. That it only gets interesting in the second half when more instrumental passages and jams take place.
Well, I started out thinking all of those things until I tried to just hear the songs as songs. And there are some simply gorgeous ones. The jazzy lounge number, How to Make A Baby Elephant Float, is part High Llamas and part Stereolab and it has this lovely lyric: "I like to hold hands when we walk/I'm not averse to pillow talk/But I prefer a private joke/The memory it evokes."
That same tenderness, from guitarist/vocalist Ira Kaplan appears again on Don't Have to be Sad: "Last night I was trying to read in bed/I got to watching you sleep instead/Even when I got tired I couldn't stop/Because I love you so/ And I pray you know/ But I'm not one for praying/You know I couldn't say that without making a joke." The gently slicing synth beat and the late-night jazz piano perfectly matches Kaplan's whispered vocal.
On Nothing But You and Me, Kaplan broods further: "I don't know how I lost control/ But I now know that it's true/ That the hurt I aimed at me misfired and came back to hurt you." The bass is atmospheric and brooding while a synth thunders at various points to add to Kaplan's misery. These songs are almost and could be confessions to his wife, drummer Georgia Hubley.
He cheers up more on the pretty, chiming pop of Season of the Shark. The song almost explains the album's title, Summer Sun, that it's time not to be afraid anymore, to come out and play, after all the darkness.
Which fits in with Hubley's bubbly retro instrumental, Georgia Vs Yo La Tengo, and her catchy Little Eyes, which is a plea to wake up and not waste the day. Even bassist James McNew gets in on the act with a rare vocal contribution on Tiny Birds, another tender love song.
Make no mistake.
Summer Sun is not brilliant in the way that ...And Then Nothing Turned
Itself Inside Out (2000) was, but it's not a throwaway album. You just
have it play it more and then the words begin to ring as much as the guitars.
- (7) Philip Cheah
Punk Rock" quintet lets out the passion in those shouting vocals, menacing/smooth
guitar riffs, pulsating bass lines and hard hitting beats. Upon first
listen, 59 Minutes could possibly be passed off as another radio-friendly
rock band trying to cash in on other band's ideas, but on further examination,
this band is much more and their tight musicianship and the way they tackle
the issue of love brought a smile to my face. The
lyrics, though honest, is a little bit floppy for my taste but it is something
that every guy can relate to. "Do you want to play this one little game?
To me, it's really hard with someone as lovely as you/Day by Day, keep
asking me why that I don't have the guts to tell you that I love you."
The special thing about this EP is the inclusion of their Knowing You
video. You can watch the band's brand of wackiness, clips of them recording,
and playing live at the Esplanade. Do try to catch them whenever they
play. - Adam Md Yusop
All right rock fans, you know the drill by now. Classic rock band reunites to record reunion album to support reunion world tour, to maintain stately mansions, flashy vehicles, various chemical addictions, assorted playthings - ah, the lifestyle of the rich and famous!
What does it have to do with the music? Everything, if it's the business end you're talking about, if not...?
Case in point, Fleetwood Mac, with their most successful aggregation (viz. Lindsay Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, well almost, as Christine McVie has now retired and is described only as "additional musician" in sleeve) returning after a 16-year absence (not counting The Dance live album) to deliver a prolix album that just about spans the full 80 minutes possible.
Well, if nothing else, you could argue that that's value for money but again, that's a business perspective and I refuse to discuss rock music purely on those terms. Ostensibly, Say You Will comes across as a split solo LP from Buckingham and Nicks (artists in their own right), especially so in the absence of Christine McVie's usual songwriting contribution. On that ground alone, this album succeeds if only halfway as Buckingham's songs are almost all winners with their pop savvy, strong melodic qualities and upbeat vibe while Nicks' materials displays too much of the new age hippie jive that is now pretty passé.
In that respect, songs like the breezy What's The World Coming To? the rustic Miranda, the fragile Red Rover, the driving Peacekeeper, the Arabic confessional Come and the pleasing folky Steal Your Heart Away reveal that Buckingham's muse remains vibrant. Not that Nicks is wholly in her ex-lover's shadow, as the likes of the shiny title track, strident Smile At You and the atmospheric Silver Girl attest.
- far and between, it must be said - Fleetwood Mac are able to evoke former
glories but by and large, Say You Will pales in comparison with its illustrious
predecessors. Still, diehard fans will not be disappointed and sophisticated
pop lovers will thrill to the work of Lindsay Buckingham. (7) - Kevin
This is actually a compilation of two EPs. This is the band where you can see and hear their musical growth. Their 1998 EP consists of seven ska tracks that do get a little bit samey. In their case, the absence of the horns works because if not played properly, it would be like listening to a Chinese funeral band procession. And even they can play better tunes. Don't get me wrong, Cesspit dish out good and infectious tunes, like School and, lyrically, the track, Question, stands out: "If We can say No, Did we disobey, your rules too much for me, Make life a misery."
their five new tracks are great! With horns added, influences clearly
audible, they have started to colour their canvas with various music genres.
In The Pit is a delightful instrumental that grabbed my attention - like
a Big Band turned Ska turned Rock. It's fresh and worth the price of the
CD. Sad Asia, their second track, boasts the sexy teasing guest vocal
by Mas Mellisa of Pop Whizzee. In The Sun has a metallish guitar intro
and Latin percussion interlude then finally a reggae ditty that No Doubt
could be envious of. The group's vocals are more relaxed and have improved.
Wake Up and Kao Play Ska only solidify the fact that they're capable of
achieving something more. Along with Fishtank, these guys are learning
and mastering their craft. - Adam Md Yusop
a small Japanese/French label, +cross, has been putting out experimental
electronica. Most of their artistes can be sampled on the new Readapt
compilation, a remix album of +cross artistes remixing other +cross artistes.
Founded as an art project by Lulie Kutsuma, Benoa Berger and Narushisa
Matsuoka, +cross is an attempt to fuse art and emotion into electronica.
The result is like walking into an art installation with music for the
inner space of your mind. Artistes such as Mils uses skipping CD loops
and distortion to continually jolt you out of any notion that this is
just pleasant electronica. Mils has released a three track EP, Lit Clos.
Yuzo Kako works in a highly rarefied sound environment. Cool, detached
and postmodern, Kako's work can be described as "super post-electronica",
also the title of one of +cross' earlier compilations. Kako's album release
is titled Distillation. But of the +cross acts, the most melodic and aurally
beautiful music comes from Akira Tanaka. His album, New Town, evokes the
French influences of Stereolab, but instead remains largely instrumental.
- Philip Cheah
Written during Mozart's early teen, Sym No. 10, 42, 12, 46 and 13 show a more experimental period where his music appeared more programmatic and where his thoughts seemed fleeting and unsettled. Such works are difficult to handle, and even harder to appreciate except to say that they fulfilled the function for which they were written. To this, Mackerras seemed conservative and there was not much opportunity to witness any charm or quirks.
Symphony No. 25, with its infamous syncopated introduction, was a bit faster than I have heard anybody play it, but this feature turned out quite endearing as justified by the skillfully paced and rhythmic precision at which the players handled the final section. However, the performance of Adagio seemed predictable and offered little in terms of freshness and, after some time, the lively tempo became an obligated factor that held the movement together. The Menuetto: Trio was interesting in the way the piece was serious, but the scope for various textures was not exploited, so what resulted was quite a drag. And even in Allegro, the orchestral texture seemed too heavy to convey anything musical or emotional. A lighter touch, to begin with, would have provided more scope for textural shadings.
Saving the best for last, Sym No. 36 and 38 remain the best. Opening with Adagio is the ever interesting topic of speed. Called Adagio but wonderfully performed at a scintillating one-one speed where vigorous energy is contrasted with beautiful warm colours and melodic contours. The second movement's Poco Adagio is a nice show-off little piece for the strings, displaying every bit of refinement and sensitivity for harmonic and timbral shades. And in irony, the last movement's Presto has a stronger paced feel where long melodic lines flow around effortlessly, playfully interwoven with the rhythmic punctuation.
The second major work, the Prague, has an overall more serious tone, with sombre harmonic work, and well-spaced juxtapositions of orchestral tones, and dramatic pivoting of tonalities. The second movement's Andante seemed a bit long-drawn, and was dragged. Presto, however, is taken at lightning-speed, though it seemed unnecessary. A few details would have been appreciated at a more comfortable tempo.
to the other two collections, this one seemed the most poignant and enjoyable,
proving to be more so with each listening. With good music writing, good
performances are easily inspired and appreciated. A mind that understands
and conveys compassionately is all important to the success of any undertaking.
The warmth of Mackerras reaches out and the experience overall was nothing
short of enjoyable and this gives him one incomparable name. - Sarah
The not so old Malaysian Tourism board's slogan was "To Love Malaysia, is to know Malaysia." But it's actually "To love Malaysia is to know its music." This compilation - made by a group of no-nonsense music lovers of the underground movement whom really practice what they preach - is not only great BUT breathtakingly superb! No plastics, no image manipulation, just good ol' lovable rock 'n' roll. All 22 tracks filled with all natural goodness - no non-toxic drum triggers, guitar mixers and layered vocals. Totally raw stuff that made me shed a tear. Openers Toxin 99% has a strong hold on the punk rock genre, flirting with Green Day and Sum 41. The songs flow loosely, sometimes downright sloppily drunk, the perfect raw sound that you can probably only find in a roadhouse dive.
There's a lot of ground covered, and this compilation shows its range when it switches between the driving ruckus of Colors by Angst and the subtle Pink Floyd-like tripping-out of No Reason by the KL-based Terengganu boys, KunchaLana. While this group never really goes out too far on a limb, it occasionally takes a sharp left turn, like on the reggae-tinged rhythms of Brand Not Product. Then there is the pure primal wildness of ReflectionOfLife's Salt Lake City and The Bollock's excellent The Revolution, which will remind you of a cross between Motorhead and D.R.I. With Disaster Funhouse, Freygyle,. In-A-Sense, Pusher and Carburetor Dung, for many, this CD is a true excursion into the essence of rhythm and sound. And it's only RM12! - Adam Md Yusop
Wayne Shorter's sax tone is so gorgeous you have to stop whatever you
are doing just to take it all in. Alegria (Spanish for "joy") is a stunning
album, his first studio release in over eight years and his first as a
bandleader since 1967. Recorded as a rehearsal for his Footprints tour
(released as a live album last year), Alegria broke in his band consisting
of pianists Brad Mehldau and Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and
drummers Brian Blade and Terri Lyne Carrington. As Shorter revealed: "This
recording was really the only rehearsal we had."
After the greater pop emphasis of Sound of Lies and Smile, the Jayhawks return to the roots rock approach of their earlier albums (especially Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass) with this, their first album on the Lost Highway label (also home of that other alt-country standard bearer, Ryan Adams).
Generally speaking, this change of approach (albeit a fairly minor one) works wonders as Rainy Day Music at times touches the brilliance of former glories viz. Tomorrow the Green Grass and Sound of Lies with a sequence of excellent songs (mainly penned by chief songwriter Gary Louris) that mark Rainy Day Music as a notable modern rock album.
The opening "Stumbling Through The Dark" (co-written by Matthew Sweet) is gorgeous country-folk which, while ostensibly is masked in lovelorn terms, contains a serious message - "The men who proceeded us here/Left only questions and fears/The vanity formed by beauty lies/You know it's a crime." The latter day Byrds-evoking "Tailspin" holds even heavier imagery as Louris describes a relationship gone seriously down the tubes - "I'll be damned though I held your hand/They felt a need to crucify you," guitar freaks, watch out for the great Neil Young-ish solo!
The dreamy and fragile "All The Right Reasons" finds Louris in reflective mood - "Like a tired bird flying high across the ocean/I was outside looking in/You made me live again" and the poignant "Save It For a Rainy Day" offers a note of encouragement.
References abound no doubt, but CSNY come strongest to mind with the rocking "Come to the River," the catchy "Angelyne" and especially the folky "Madman." Across these three songs, pseudo-spiritual themes surface - "Turned back, had a fall from grace/Now we find each other face to face," "Hopes haunt me like ghosts/They point their fingers" and "Rage on, rage on my brother/Time to lay down my arms."
Much to appreciate
here for all fans of the alt-country/country rock genre and while it sometimes
evokes the early '70s a tad too close for comfort, the sheer emotional
intensity of the music will win you over. No contest. (8.5) - Kevin
Yeow is a man of many talents - singer, songwriter, musician, engineer, producer - he played guitar in the Singapore outfit, Zircon Lounge and released a commendable first album (What I Require) almost a decade ago.
On this long overdue follow-up, Yeow proves that he is a Singaporean talent with an eclectic collection of material that range from heartfelt ballads ("Impossible," "Run," "Bubbleman"); slick mid-tempo rockers ("This Generation,"); moody jazz-soul pieces ("Skin," "Same One Sky," "Hole") to electro dance numbers ("Pure").
The highlights include "Impossible" as Yeow waxes lyrical about love and a special relationship with a chorus that will stick in the memory for time to come; "Bubbleman" attempts to comment on politics with a style that recalls Oasis in one of their pleasing Beatlesque folky moments and the opening title track where R&B inflections are suitably emphasized by bluesy guitars and female backing vocals (ala the Stones' "Gimme Shelter").
the state of the moribund Singapore music scene, This Generation is timely
and I would highly recommend it to music lovers who require sophistication
and erudition in their pop diet. - Kevin Mathews
here for a free MP3 download of Yeow's This Generation. Download is
available for a limited period only.
They segue into the epic, which in turn gives way to the staccato edge. The sound can be described as Pink Floyd being battered by Sonic Youth. There's an industrial harshness to it as well, which bites with a metallic edge, while the tribal sounds of Disco Sludge are very organic and earthy. Emotionally wrenching, yet quietly controlled.
The Maharajah Commission have created a world of exotic beat patterns surrounded by waves of aural atmospheres. The combination mixes into an almost visual landscape, revealing layers of depth within a simple package of four players. My fave track, Bullit's Requiem sounds like those quirky French movies that I watched but forgotten. From the gentle solitude of fear and love to the uneasy strumming of La lunaire parisienne et talamena etuark, they wear their proverbial hearts on their sleeve, and with passion to spare. Malaysia Boleh indeed. Visit http://www.yat.ch/mc. - Adam Md Yusop
here for a free MP3 download of The Maharajah Commission's Bullit's
Requiem. Download is available for a limited period only.
Not to be
confused with the ambient pop band, Mono, this Mono is a Japanese post-rock
outfit, formed in 2000. Impressed by them, jazz avant-garde saxophonist,
John Zorn, released their debut album, Under the Papal Tree, on his Tzadik
label. Unfortunately Mono never got bigger because if you wanted a more
intense noise, there's always Merzbow, and if you wanted a more expansive
atmospheric noise sound, there's Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It's not
that Mono are inept. Their epic track, Com(?) produces a respectable squall
and Mopish Morning, Halation Wiper and Loco Tracks are quiet mood pieces.
It's just that they need to sound like no one else. (5) - Philip Cheah
Any fan who
enjoys the loopy laidback-ness of The Flaming Lips will react to each
of their EPs as a thrilling lucky dip. This new seven-track EP doesn't
disappoint. Not only do you get a live cover of Beck's The Golden Age
(from last year's Sea Change LP) but a cover of Radiohead's Knives Out
as well. Then there is their infamous cover of the Kylie Minoque hit,
Can't Get You Out Of My Head, and a techno remix of Do You Realize?? The
best is at the end with two unreleased tracks. The Strange Design of Conscience
is a gorgeous piece of electronica where amidst pulsating synths, Lips'
Wayne Coyne sings about cosmic karma. Thank You Jack White is an affectionate
country tribute to fellow touring band, The White Stripes. It's funny,
irreverent and surprising. It's why we love The Flaming Lips so much.
- Philip Cheah
not going to tell you the good and not so good stuff about the album,
because to me, it simply takes away from its power. You have to listen
and figure it out for yourself. Give in to the force of the guitar intermixed
with the driving beat of drums and Pete's screaming melodic voice. Or
take Comfortable Liar, with moody vocals intertwined with awesome harmonies.
Sure, it's a little repetitive around the edges and not original, but
it's still interesting. The last track, One Lonely Visitor, though has
me baffled. It is an acoustic track with only the vocalist, and it sounds
like the group is playing live in some small club somewhere (you can hear
an audience singing along, like it's a worship at some Christian concert).
It doesn't fit in with the earlier driving, but it's not that bad of a
tune overall. And it's easy to get lost in the art that Chevelle have
created on this album. - Adam Md Yusop
18th-century keyboard music needs tremendous patience for the listener, and even more demands on the performer. It seems to be all ornaments and strict harmony, with little music, and most performers fail to come out of this mindset. It takes one bold and confident pianist to break all rules and, so far, none has come close to disclosing a fresh view of the kind of passion beneath the core.
Richard Goode tackles these pieces with undisputed technique but comes across with mixed reaction. His slower numbers captures the essential rubatos and shape and, in some places, he managed some connection and emotions. In Toccata, he even had some exciting places where his music was varied and dramatic. The lovely range of tones was mystifying, and the true passion captured was totally captivating.
However, in most of the faster-paced pieces here, his playing lack warmth, and his touch was uncomfortable to the ear as it was too harsh and too cold. In the Scherzo, rhythmic life was wasted, the sound was too thin and not much of a statement was made.
be heard with too critical an ear as the dazzle wears off fast. Without
the soft furnishing, what's left is an unsatisfying earful of notes. Macho
playing can be exciting but perhaps not on these. Perhaps his concern
for the inner essence of music and its architectural balance has made
him too introspective an artist. - Sarah Tan
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