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February 27, 1995 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-02-27

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, February 27, 1995

Simple Machines
This indie supergroup (Jenny
Toomey from Tsunami, Mark Robinson
from Unrest and Jeremy Christiansen
from the Eggs) follows up its great
1993 debut "Goya" with "Nopalitos,"
continuing the alcohol-related trend of
their album titles. Local music impresa-
rio Warren Defever (His Name Is Alive,
Princess Dragonmom, the Dirt Eaters
and others) produces this effort, and the
combination is heavenly. Toomey's
songs, like "Puddle" and "The Bar-
nacle" mix angularity and pop hooks in
a way that jabs itself into listeners'
heads. Meanwhile, Robinson's songs
take a completely different tack: "What
On Earth Has Happened to Today's
Youth?" "Hell Over Hickory Dew" and
"Roundabout On a Tuesday" sound
like the products of a gently deranged
mind. Guitars jangle like ukuleles and
Robinson makes like a modern-day
Rudy Vallee, singing his vocals into a
megaphone. While a more laid-back,
subdued affair than the peppier, poppier
"Goya," Grenadines beauty still shines
on Nopalitos, taking lounge-inspired
music to a higher level.
- Heather Phares
Following his production work on
Cop Shoot Cop's recent album "Re-
lease," David Sardy is in your face yet
again with his own keen group

Barkmarket. Reknowned for his abil-
ity to make music on tape sound like
itdoes live, Sardy's productionjob on
the "Lardroom" EP shines through in
its communication of drums, guitars,
voices and bass.
The music is pretty special, too. "I
Drown," "Johnny Shiv," "Little White
Dove" and "Dig In" are classic
Barkmarket (as defined on their last
album, "Gimmick"). There's a lot of
head-splitting guitar with a strong
rhythm underlying it and Sardy's
voice screaming over it, making a
most entertaining vibration. "Pushin'
Air" is sort of different, as it was
written by bassist John Nowlin.
There's a heapin' helpin' of radio
static and a voice strained in a differ-
ent way, but the breaking point of
Barkmarket is still far beyond.
Go. Buy it. Love it.
- Ted Watts
Bottle Rockets
The Brooklyn Side
East Side Digital
Those who, for whatever reason,
picked up the Bottle Rockets' 1993
debut were treated to a powerful blend
of punk exuberance and country long-
ng -a harder rocking Uncle Tupelo,
if you will. Those who did not, their
numbers being somewhere around the
entire population of the United States,
have a chance to redeem themselves
with the Bottle Rockets' second re-
lease, "The Brooklyn Side." Though
it is slightly less satisfying than the
eponymous debut, their latest finds
the Rockets with their straightforward

songs intact, spinning tales 01 love,
lust, doomed children, radar guns and
cars that refuse to run.
The band formed from the broken
core of St. Louis's Chicken Truck, a
punkier outfit featuring three of the
four current members of the Bottle
Rockets. Touring with Uncle Tupelo
after the release of their debut sharp-
ened their musical vision, but perhaps
a bit too much. Some of the variety of
that first record is missing on "The
Brooklyn Side." At 14 songs, the new
album is too long, mining the same
groove for a few too many cuts. At 10
or 11 tracks, "The Brooklyn Side"
would have been another inspiring
collection of straight-up rock, coun-
try and punk as the songs that con-
nect, like "Welfare Music," "What
More Can I do?" and "Queen of the
World" hit hard with their simplicity
and understanding of southern cul-
ture. But at the length it is, it is just shy
of greatness.
- Dirk Schulze
So what is a Dink, anyway? The
word doesn't conjure up anything
imposing or dark or sinister or fun; it
sounds more like a wacky Saturday
morning cartoon that's fun to see for
all of 10 minutes. And that's more of
where Dink the band is coming from.
Ohio's answer to EMF has re-
ceived extensive radio play for the
catchy-but-pointless "Green Mind,"
which is a pretty good consolidation


of the rest of the album: sample a
bizarre spoken word segment, punch
it up with a dance beat, throw in a
vaguely industrial guitar noise and
bop'til you drop. Lather, rinse, repeat
ad nauseum.
Fun? Sure. Memorable? No, but it
doesn't make any pretensions to it
either. Dink don't stink, but they sure
aren't unbelievable.
- Kirk Miller
Mary J. Blige
My Life
MCA Records
With hit singles "Mary Jane,"
"You Bring Me Joy," "My Life," "I'm
Going Down" and "Be Happy" -
over one third of the 14 songs pre-
sented in her sophomore CD - al-
ready hitting big, Mary J. Blige has
established "My Life" as MCA's first
big release of 1995 (even though it
was actually released in December
However, these five songs aren't
the only dope ones. The slow and
sensual ("You Gotta Believe"), the
subtly rhythmic ("Mary's Joint") and
the exotic ("I'm the Only Woman")
are all available for your listening
enjoyment in "My Life."
Not only is "My Life," Blige's
second release, it is also her best. This
is not to be taken lightly as her debut
release was no joke either. Mary's
alto-ish voice is a perfect comple-
ment to the R&B tradition. If you can
get past her wack, bleached-blonde
hair, you will quickly be entranced by
the musical treat which lies in store.
- Eugene Bowen
When a band changes its name,
you know something is going on.
And, when Oingo Boingo became
merely Boingo, it was no exception.
The band whose music used to make
people cringe and laugh at the same
time with lyrics like, "I like little
girls, they make me feel so ... BAD,"
has now developed into a stereotypi-
cal alternapop band. They have traded
in darkly haunting works of art for
mundane jangle pop and have come
up with a self-titled album in which
the only unique quality is the ridicu-
lous length of the songs, ranging from
44 seconds to 16 minutes, with the
average being somewhere around
seven minutes. Fortunately, the band
has retained its original members,
including lead vocalistof"Simpsons"
theme fame, Danny Elfman. Unfor-
tunately, even Elfman has lost the
quirky, whiny tones that made his
voice so distinctive on earlier record-
But, despite the overly lengthy
material and lack of originality,
Boingo still has some catchy melo-
dies. The album has already spawned
the tuneful single "Hey!" and "Spi-
der," with its offbeat rhythms and
careening guitars, should be follow-
ing soon after. But, don't expect as
many satirical choruses as in the'80s.
Depending on your ear for surreal
couplets, Danny Elfman's lyrics can
seem either startlingly profound or
frustratingly ridiculous. Though,
"Don't you know though our kids are
dumb / we got smart bombs / What a
joyous thing," is mildly funny, you
could find substantially morehumor-
ous material on any They Might Be

<°: :>.

Giants CD. In fact, Boingo has be-
come so desperate for material that
they have resorted to doing covers.
Boingo's version of "I Am the Wal-
rus," has no particular appeal other
than that it's a great song to begin
with. Even if people were tired of
hearing originals, they still wouldn't
be tired enough to replace them with
limp remakes. Instead of buying
Boingo, go for the classics - "The
Best of Oingo Boingo." An experi-
ence that will leave you with only
"Nasty Habits."
- Lise Harwin
John Frusciante
Niandra Lades and Usually
Just a T-Shirt
You're most likely familiar with
John Frusciante's gu'itar work on the
last couple of Red Hot Chili Pepper
albums. But this is not a Chili's al-
bum. In fact, it might show why there
was a. parting of the ways between
Frusciante and the others.
"Niandra ..." is an acoustic gui-
tar-based album. And when I say that
I mean there's mostly acoustic guitar
and Frusciante's voice with a little
overdubbing. It's the sound of a man
and his guitar. They've got somecom-
plex riffs that at times bring to mind
"Under the Bridge," but for the most
part the songs are completely sepa-
rate from Frusciante's previous work.
Sometimes dabbling in tape manipu-
lation, the voice is at times distorted.
When it's not distorted, the voice
sounds kinda distorted anyway as it
flutters in the upper reaches of human-
pitch. It all combines into a rather
uneasy unplugged-on-heroin-actin'
affair. This is not an album that lends
itself to easy listening.
On the other hand, it grows on
you. Like a crazy old guy in the
subway playing Simon and

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Johnny! I!!!!lll!!!!!!!!!!!!HI! Frusciante, that is.

metal/industrial band, as

Garfunkel songs, "Niandra ..." is
ugly but kind of amusing if you
stick with it long enough. Even if
most of its songs don't have names,
maybe you'll throw a quarter or two
in the guitar case.
- Ted Watts

$ .
.. '

Tribal Tech
Primal Tracks
"Primal Tracks" is a "best of' col-
lection for the group Tribal Tech, and
they repeatedly show us how jazz
fusion isdonethroughoutthe 13 tracks
on this release. "Elvis At The Hop,"
"Got Tuh B," "The Necessary Blonde"
and "Bofat" are all top-quality com-
positions with some virtuosic playing
from the two founding members of
Tech, Gary Willis and Scott
Henderson. Henderson's guitar solos
are creative, technically dazzling and
just really, really cool. Willis holds
his own on the bass, but his strong suit
is definitely articulation of lines and
holding the whole group together.
Things aren't always perfect on this
album, and it would be best to avoid
"Mango Prom," "Twilight in
Northridge" and "The Rain." If you
like fusion, you would be advised
strongly to take a listen to Tribal Tech
- they are among the best that the
genre has to offer.
- David Cook
Michael Hedges
The Road to Return
Windham Hill
Mike Hedges is really an imagina-
tive and talented fellow. If you can get
past the unambitiousness of his brand
of new age pop, you'll discover a col-
lection of really beautiful, inspiring
compositions. As a renowned acoustic
guitarplayer, he has the decidedly taken
the road not travelled bymostplayers of
his capability. He takes a simple ap-
proach tosongwriting, giving themusic
only a supportive role while putting his
vocals at the forefront.
Even though he never really goes
wild on the six-string, the music is well-
written, often outdoing his proficient
but corny vocals about such Christian
themes as staying together, communi-
cating, trusting others, etc. On "India,"
the best song on the disc, he plays a
surprisingly rocking riff with a beauti-
ful Arabic flute solo over which he
sings "India I want to break down your
defenses, if you open up and let me
through the glass." On "Communicate,"
he goes for the campfire approach sing-
ing such hokeylyrics as "Every world-
wide color of meaning can shade what
we're meaning to say, before darkness
falls it's time we try and communicate."
There are a lot of other songs with
similar sentiments. The disc is great for
relaxation and studying. If you need
inspiration or just a change of pace, it is
highly recommended.
- Gianluca Montalti
Beggar's Banquet
Mix together the creative forces
of Mercury Rev, the Boo Radleys and
Rollerskate Skinny together, and out
comes the glorious mess that is known
as Shady. The solo project from ex-


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