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September 19, 1989 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-09-19

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Page 8-The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, September 19, 1989

My Bloody Valentine
Isn't Anything
Fade Out
Rough Trade
Noise pop is to Anglo-indie types
as Byrdsian jangle is to Amero-col-
lege types: the hep thang. Of course,
hepper-than-thou college types on
this side of the Atlantic know that
noise is whereit's at: Sonic Youth,
Dinosaur Jr., Happy Flowers, Pussy
Galore, why, the list goes on and on!
But college chart action for such
stentorian sounds in America is all
too brief in a nation where the folk
rock jangle rules. Will talent be rec-
ognized in its own lifetime?
For those college types who care,
the answer to that question can be
found in local record stores via our
cousins across the ocean: Great Bri-
tain to the rescue! Sure, it's easy to
pick on the British music scene for
being fickle, but rarely does talent go
as unrecognized there as it so often
does here. Just look at the dominance
of noise talent in any British music
weeklies: Mudhoney, Sonic Youth,
Dinosaur Jr., all in the top 20. And
those noisy rockers aren't just com-
ing from America. Bands like
Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine,
and Loop are turning up the ampage
across the British isles.
From out of Dublin's depths and
into the British indie top 20 comes
My Bloody Valentine, with Isn' t
Anything. At its inception, My
Bloody Valentine's inspiration was
the Butthole Surfers, whose influence
has since been altered into the guitar
onslaught of Sonic Youth, Dinosaur
Jr. and their ilk, exchanging Di-
nosaur's '70s radio regurgitations for
somewhat more '60s melodies. The
guitars stretch from their almost
minimal use in the syncopated, al-
most hip-hoppy beat of "Soft as
Snow (But Warm Inside)" to the
downer plodding of "I Can See It
(But I Can't Feel It)." (I guess the
Valentines are into parenthetical ti-
Vocals are shared by Kevin
Shields and Bilinda Butcher. It's
Butcher's voice that immediately
grasps, on songs like "Lose My
Breath," which remind listeners of
Kim Gordon's shimmering, less
abrasive side, like "Eye of the Be-

holder" off of Sonic Youth's Sister.
On "Feed Me With Your Kiss,"
Shields and Butcher plead to each
other for nourishment, accompanying
a melody that sounds like an army of
Pussy Galores, only not as offensive.
Lyrically, they take their cue from
the coded sexual imagery that has al-
ways been present in rock and roll,
disguising such urges and frustrations
in light, dreamlike vocals applied to
equally dreamy imagery. Or perhaps
they really are singing about dreams
and just kissing. A cloud of roaring
guitars envelops Isn't Anything, urg-
ing listeners to not worry about
shades of meaning and just abandon
themselves into the ecstasy of My
Bloody Valentine.
Loop tap into the noise fount,
too, but at a different source:
psychedelic garage gods Spacemen 3.
Like Spacemen 3, Loop are into
loud, MC5-type fuzzbox riffs, a
dense mix, repetition. It's easy to tell
that Loop vocalist Robert is trying
to sound like Spacemen 3's Sonic
Boom, but it's hard to tell what the
songs are about, as the vocals are
buried under the driving rhythm,
while all kinds of guitar solos wreak
havoc from all around. Robert says
something about taking us "out of
this world" over and over, guitars
raining down constantly under the
clear skies of the "Black Sun," the
album's first track. That song's ec-
static vortex sucks us into an album
dominated by repeating bass lines,
consistent drumming, and guitars all
over the place, every dial turned to
Turn on and turn it up.
-Greg Baise
We Too Are One
Eurythmic - characterized by per-
fect proportion and harmony, or by
movement in rhythm.
With that definition in mind, try
to understand why I'm so excited
about this new release, the first from
Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart in
three years; also the most musically
varied of their eight-record career.
Annie's lyrical content has, over the
years, won me over, bringing me
close enough to artist-listener obses-
sion as I want to get. Simply put,
the woman mystifies. Songs about
the derangement of love, such as

"You Have Placed a Chill In My
Heart," "Who's That Girl," "Here
Comes the Rain Again," and "Cool
Blue" have mapped out a thematic
lexicon with an incredible range,
ranging from emotional freedom
("Sexcrime," "Let's Go") to its dis-
tant opposite, of utter dependency ("I
Need You," "Aqua"). All of this
spanning an awesome string of al-
bums, all of equal quality.
The most astonishing part of
Eurythmics is that with such open-
mindedness, freedom reigns. Some-
how, the Two do form One - Dave
Stewart becoming the shadowy figure
in the back, while Annie calls on an
incredible vocal range that demands
recognition, even within the scope of
soul. With all of this going on, the
beauty, or the harmony of Euryth-
mics can be defined in a word: liber-
ation. In 1984, when Annie made her
commercial debut in a business suit
and short red hair, she laid the
groundwork for something special -
a woman could sing for a man, as a
man, or about a man, and the differ-
ence didn't exist anymore. "Some of
them want to use you/ some of them
want to be abused," she declared.
That was the beginning. From that
point, anything could happen - and
Their last album, Savage, was a
conceptual album returning the two
to their electronic punk beginning.
And although a distinctive, hypnotic
effect was the result, it served up
much of the "synth-pop" that they
are criticized for. This time around,
they have captured a more rounded-
out sense of musicality, with more
of a live feel to it. We Too are One
is an even sample of almost every-
thing the Eurythmics have done.
From its opening notes, the record is
a shock.
The opener, "We Two Are One,"
is amazingly visceral. Dave seems
freer now more than ever with his
synth basslines, his piano fills daz-
zling leaps to and from the beat. Is
that Ann making those squeegee
sounds, or is it keyboardist Pat Sey-
mour? It is impossible to tell. She
sings "People like us are too messed
up/ to live in solitude/ I'm gonna
cure that problem baby/ I'm gonna
fix it good" with a humility that is
both modest and free. Madonna can't
funk with this.
But the optimism on that track is

Eurythmics (Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox) stand right by each other's sides on their latest album, We Too Are

somewhat limited - much of this
record seems to be written with a
poison pen. "Sylvia," a mournful
ballad, follows the lines of other la-
ments of the lost, i.e., "Belinda," or
"Jennifer." Sylvia, with a tattoo that
reads 'love and hate,' isainclined to
suicide, and we wonder why until
Ann reveals "the finger prints of
strangers, on the ugly bedroom floor/
reveal the only traces of what Sylvia
was for." On another track, Annie
strips it bare, singing quite simply,
"You hurt me and I hate you."
"The King and Queen of America"
is a vicious stab at all political lead-
ers, and the first of its kind from
Eurythmics. The rest of the album
seems to follow suit: Ann ap-
proaches the familiar with malice, in
an obvious drive to create momen-
tum. Other songs "How Long?" and
"Angel" seem somewhat confused in
their direction. However poignantly
Dave may have produced these tracks,
he cannot disguise their obscurity.
Not to downgrade the overall impact
of the album; it follows an evolution
of sorts. Most likely, this is yet an-
other one written with artistic liberty
- requiring some amount of assimi-

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lation to fully appreciate.
We Too Are One is a mainstay,
an exclamation point following the
train of successes like Be Yourself
Tonight and Revenge. It represents
the end and, hopefully, the beginning
of different chapters - fair enough,
even if three years was a looong
wait. A new Eurythmics album is
always a great deal. Let's hope that
the next one is another forward step
into the unknown.
- Forrest Green III
Jane Siberry
Bound By The Beauty
Reprise/Warner Bros. Records
It's difficult for me to be objective
about Canadian singer/songwriter
Jane Siberry - ever since I fell in
love with her ethereal voice and
haunting, wandering, poetic songs on
her 1986 release The Speckless Sky,
I've spent many a long hour trying
to convince friends that she deserves
deification. Even trying to be objec-
tive, however, I must say that her
new release, Bound By the Beauty, is
one amazing record.
For those unfamiliar with her ma-
terial, my stock description is that
it's to the right of Laurie Anderson
and to the left of Suzanne Vega. That
is not doing her justice, however; her
sound, and especially her voice, are
truly original. Some people describe
it as simply odd; and admittedly
some of the cuts on the new release
(such as The Life Is the Red Wagon
and Everything Reminds Me Of My
Dog) are nothing like standard female
rock vocalist fare. However, on this
album, Siberry tries out many differ-
ent styles; some of the pieces are
reminiscent of the extended art-rock
pieces found on her previous release,
The Walking, while others, including
the shimmering title track, sound
like left-field country/folk rock.
The subjects of Siberry's songs
vary tremendously: Hockey brings
to life a pick-up hockey game on a
frozen Canadian river; Miss Punta
Blanca describes a short affair with a
Cuban motorcycle dealer. The last
song, Are We Dancing Yet? chroni-
cles a romantic seduction in progress:
"Did you just touch my hand? Did
you just kiss my shoulder...?"
She is at her best lyrically when
she describes moments like these,
but what distinguishes this album's
songs from others she has done are
her uniformly strong melodies. The
album was recorded with very little
overdubbing except for vocals, which
works well for her - never before
has Siberry's band complemented her
dense, yet fragile lyrics so well.

Jane Siberry deserves a wider audi-
ence; if justice is served this albud
will gain her many new fans. Take a
risk on this one; you won't be disap-
-Will Thomas
The Jesus Lizard
Pure EP
Touch and Go Records
The Jesus Lizard? This vinyl gila
monster probably deserves to be cru-
cified simply for its name. God, and
it's engineered by Albini (Big Black,
Rapeman) which does nothing but
spin a web of nightmares about the
direction the Pixies went post-debut
album. Nightmares like that I do not
Unfortunately for JL they are.4
swimming in the wake of some
pretty big names. Chicago - in
which they are based - has been the
soil to spawn a bumper crop of fan-
tastic bands: Breaking Circus, Rifle:
Sport, Arsenal, and of course Al-
bini's own Big Black. Can they
compare? Sadly, no. My insistence
in the past years that any band out of
Chicago sucks if they aren't as good
at what they do as Big Black was has,
caused problems, but let's face it, I
dig good Chi-town music and The
Jesus Lizard ain't it.
Side one is pretty useless - a
collection of inconsistent intensity
and noise crawls around aimlessly,
clawing at a sound they merely
scratch out at their hottest moments.
Comparisons could only verbally de-
face any band these jokers could be
influenced by - but - the music
sounds like Men and Volts at times,
and vocalist David Yow's (Scratch
Acid) scaley growling and deep bel-
lows of course call up memories of
his Chicago predecessors. Like John
Brannon of Laughing Hyenas minus
the angst (i.e., minus the power, in-
fluence, attraction, talent...)
Side two is a bit better, though far
from faultless. Very Wiperish guitar 4
from Duane Denison on "Starlet" -
repetitive riffs laid down like a cur-
tain into which Yow and ex-Acid
mate bassist David Wm. Sims, also
of Rapeman, throw themselves, gi-
ing a taste of what this band could
become. "Starlet" is followed by :a
very dark, coldblooded version of
"Breaking Up is Hard to Do." At best
a novelty.
Not so hot.
-Robert Flaggert

Kick Off College Nites and
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tuesday the 19th with two rocking bands:


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19 and older invited to
J Barrymore's first weekly College Nite


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