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October 15, 1996 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-10-15

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 15, 1996 - 11

iJ.ECORDS
Continued from Page 9
Archers of Loaf
All the Nations Airports
Alias/Elektra
***I
"All the Nations Airports" Archers
of Loaf's Alias/Elektra debut, finds the
fhapel Hill, N.C., indie rock quartet
experimenting further with blasting
uitars, irreverent lyrics and catchy, up-
Mtenpo songs, yet also displays more
ture playing and songwriting.
Strangled by the Stereo Wire" com-
'a3nces the album, a 1:46 dirge contain-
7ng the Archers' usual bouncy rhythms
d singer Eric Bachmann's raspy growl.
he song, with grotesque lyrics about
being strangled by a stereo wire, segues
ely into "All the Nations Airports,"
bose dueling guitar shards, produced
Sy-Bachmann and Eric Johnson, under-
"ecre Bachmann's funny depictions of
rport scenes. "Invalids collide with ter-
rist scum," shouts Bachmann before
rni-crooning, "the pilots are drunk."
T= Assassination on X-Mas Eve"
egins with a high-pitched guitar effect,
a Tom Morello of Rage Against the
tachine, before the song kicks into
ear and tells the tale of Santa Claus
W ing murdered, complete with a cho-
rus of "Assassination shocks the
nation!" "Vocal Shrapnel," the most
joyous, poppy song on "All the Nations
Airports" showcases Bachmann's and
Johnson's sweetest guitar tones, while
Bachmann makes fun of singers on the
radio (including himself): "The lazy
voice / Is making noise / The reason's
crap /Vocal shrapnel."
"Bones of Her Hands" and "Form
nd File" also venture down similar
paths, with fast-paced, quirky, guitar-
driven sounds reminiscent of the band's
1993 indie hits "Wrong" and "Web in
Front;' off of its debut, "Icky Mettle."
Unlike the excellent but entirely
speedy "Icky Mettle" "All the Nations
Airports" features a more balanced and
slower facet of the Archers' oeuvre.
"Scenic Pastures" has extremely pretty
uitar playing by Johnson and
achmann, and drummer Mark Price's
tom-tom fills click nicely with bassist
'Matt Gentling's low-end rumbles.
"'Chumming the Ocean" and the album-
concluding instrumental, "Bombs
Away" both contain quiet and beautiful
piano lines, while "Acromegaly" pos-
sesses an almost fiddle-like guitar sound
emanating from Bachmann's instrument.
"All the Nations Airports" is a solid
'and more diverse effort from Archers of
Soaf, with the familiar, up-tempo pop-
ock songs blending smoothly into and
out of more sad and poignant tunes. If
you are an Archers fan, "Airports" is a
must for your collection, and if you
haven't checked the exciting and ener-
getic band out yet, this album is a good
starting point.
-Aaron Rennie
J Krush
Meiso
,, ony
P***
Born and bred in the Orient, DJ
Krush is out to place Japan on the hip-
hop community map. Krush deserves
-some props. "Meiso" is a mostly
vocal-less, rap-less exhibition of
Krush's mixing, scratching and turning
4bilities. The creations which leapt
"from his turntable onto this 14-cut
ilbum show that Krush's head is

deeply grounded in hip-hop culture.
However, throughout many of his
songs, Krush includes a variety of
sounds unique to his homeland. These
symbols show Krush's unwillingness
to sacrifice his heritage to fit some
-stereotypical persona of "tha real" in
-iip-hop culture. Krush knows and
1hows that Japanese culture and
American hip-hop need not be seen as
eternally distinct. They can compli-
ment each other; Krush makes this
happen with "Meiso."
Bringing lyricism to some of Krush's
musical works are the Roots' Black
Thought & Malik B on the title track
and Guru and Big Shug ("Most Wanted
Man"). C.L. Smooth (now Pete Rock-
less) does the best job of bringing
(rush's music alive on the CD's first
tut, "Only the Strong Survive."
DJ Krush is up against some very
difficult odds. He is out to show that
hip-hop has grown too massive and
has reached audiences too far away on
the globe to be seen as belonging sole-
ly to African Americans. There are
many people in many different coun-
tries seeking to join the hip-hop com-
munity and bringing out even more of
Sts heretofore unseen potential. To
ignore their attempts or sideline their
works as marginal is to disrespect all
that the spirit of hip hop stands for:
Inclusion, experimentation and the
ability to find the spirit of commonal-
itv in that which may. at first glance.

Belle's gimmicky failure goes 'Down'

Archers shoot a potent loaf.

mouth, sporting black glasses, two tat-
toos and an extended middle finger,
McNarland's music displays little trace
of a hard edge. Instead of the loud vocal
assault the cover leads you to expect,
McNarland's vocal style is surprisingly
delicate and sweet. Her melodious
voice is the album's biggest asset.
The disc opens with "Stormy;" a
slightly original, slightly derivative
piece. McNarland layers her Sarah
McLachlan-esque vocals atop an
intriguing, slow bass tremolo and subtle
drum beats, pushing her voice into the
spotlight. The problem here is that
whenever the instrumentation speeds
up, her light soprano crooning turns
into a throaty, irritating whine.
Her more mellow songs, like the gen-
tle acoustic "I Won't Stay" are pleasing
to the ear if you focus on her gorgeous
vibrato and ignore her I-wanna-be-a-
bad-girl growls. The constant back-and-
forth from wanna-be punk to almost folk
is not as surprising as it is confusing.

Her third song, "Cry or Cum," is the
best example. The deeply personal
nature of the song, about the pain of
domestic abuse, is spoiled when the
pace picks up with a few guttural growls
and rough guitar licks. It does induce
some foot tapping, but it ruins the real
tragic beauty and message of the song.
The one song that does effectively
bridge the gap between her folk and
punk aspirations is "Mr. 5 Minutes."
Singing to a lover about wanting just
five more minutes of sexual fulfillment,
McNarland lets loose her urgent, whis-
pery vocals, leading into a loud, electric
guitar-inspired orgasm of musical
ecstasy. "Mr. 5 Minutes" is the one song
where her wails make sense.
"Sour Pie" may not be perfect, but
McNarland's luscious sound is enough
reason to listen. With the entire album
lasting just under 26 minutes, you can
afford to sit down and have a slice. It
just might surprise you.
- Stephanie Jo Klein

Jennifer Belle
Going Down
Riverhead Books
*
"Going Down" is the story of a young woman wishing to be
an actor, struggling to attend NYU and financing it all as a call
girl. The novel follows Bennington Bloom through a rambling
series of somewhat promising misadventures that quickly lead
to nowhere. She starts as a high-class call-girl, then gradually
slips down a slope to less prestigious work. As she gets sucked
in further, her prostitution begins to interfere, unhappily, with
her normal, other life. Filled with numerous sub-
plots, Belle makes a fair attempt at exposing
the entirety of her character's life, rather than
simply focusing on the tabloid-esquep
professional sex.
The premise of this, Belle's first
novel, is at least mildly intriguing,
and as the story develops, it is rarely
dull. The anecdotes and chapters are all
quite short, generally refusing to wallow in
the novelty of any one situation.
As such mild praise infers, this is a dismal failure of a
novel. The heroine is incredibly undeveloped and incoherent,
yet she is the most intricate of all the characters. The rest are
stiff gimmicks, so tritely and incompletely characterized that
it is difficult to imagine them as anything but the product of
one episodic situation.
"Gimmick" is the most apt way to describe Belle's work.
Every character is a superficial mannequin put on "stage" to
make some contrived joke or another, generally at the
expense of any sense of realism developed earlier. And never,
not even once, is the humor of Belle's characters worth the

absolute shattering of her attempted fictional-dream. The
jokes are invariably unfunny and unclever.
Taken together, the cardboard characters and corny humor
are enough to ruin "Going Down." But it gets worse. Much
worse. The story goes nowhere. The heroine starts out look-
ing for a means to support herself and fulfill her desire to act.
Along the way, the plot and characterization become so mud-
dled that the novel ends with her going out to dinner with
some random man she meets in the subway. Nothing is
resolved, certainly, but neither is anything really confronted.
Bennington is as shallow a major character as the others are
minor characters. There is no development or exploration of
the labyrinth of her psyche (or at least, the psy-
che one would imagine a girl her age, thrown
into a life of such problems and quirky devel-
opments, to possess). Instead, she merely flits
around through trauma after trauma.
The only way we know she even
notices her surroundings is that she
sometimes breaks out in random
spurts of tears or nausea.
This may be the worst part of the
novel. If Bennington finds herself in a sad situation, the
author seems to automatically turn on "the tears" or "the
vomiting." In both cases, it has the feel of an automatic, inef-
fectual device that exacerbates Belle's absolute ineptitude as
a psychologist of her characters and as a novelist. She makes
no impact on the emotions or conscience of the reader at all.
Her novel has more in common with a marathon of bad tele-
vision comedies than anything resembling art. Perhaps her
next attempt at novel-writing will be more fecund, but this
first one is easy to dismiss as vacuous and utterly unimpor-
tant.
- James Wilson

71 te

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