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November 04, 1996 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-11-04

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 4, 1996

Folkie DeMent disappoints with new release

Iris DeMent
The Way 1 Should
Warner Bros.
On her debut album "Infamous
Angel" and the follow-up "My Life,"
Iris DeMent's plaintive twang warmly
evokes images of dusk setting on empty

prairies pocked here and there by the
flickering lights of small towns, and of
Sunday mornings in church, raising her
voice in reverential song heavenward.
But on her upcoming release "The
Way I Should," DeMent serves notice
that times have changed. While she still
sings of small towns, lost loves, family
and God, politics have informed her
lyrics, while Nashville honky-tonk has

influenced her sound.
The disc starts with the quietly intro-
spective and characteristic "When My
Mornin' Comes Around," featuring
DeMent's distinctive voice backed by a
familiar and comfortable piano, man-
dolin and pedal steel.
But the second track, "There's A Wall
in Washington," referring to the
Vietnam Memorial, steps up the tempo
and the level of social commen-
tary, which comes to a head
in the third track,
"Wasteland of the
Free." In an angry,
almost disbelieving
tone, DeMent tears
into contemporary
American society:
"We're livin' in the
wasteland of the free /
where the poor have now
become the enemy / let's blame
our troubles on the weak ones / sounds
like some kinda Hitler remedy / livin' in
the wasteland of the free."
The scope of her excoriation encom-
passes politicians who fuel their cam-
paigns with corporate contributions,
televangelists, wealthy CEOs and
"high-school kids ... who cannot pass a
sixth-grade reading test / but if you ask
them they can tell you the name of
every crotch on MTV."
It's a stinging and earnest rebuke
which at times comes off as somewhat
preachy, especially when similar senti-
ments (this time directed towards sub-

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urban yuppies who neglect their chil-
dren) are echoed in "Quality Time."
When she's not on the political soap-
box, her lyrical focus remains true to
the form she has displayed on her pre-
vious albums. This can be seen in
"This Kind of Happy," "Letter to
Mom, "Keep Me God" and "Walkin'
Musically, the album features a
much more up-tempo style than
the subdued tones of her
previous work, though
there are still many
quiet moments.
Tracks like "The
Way I Should" and
~~"I'll Take My
Sorrow Straight,"
along with the afore-
m e n t i o n e d
"Washington" and
"Wasteland," are louder and
faster than anything she has done in.
the past.
For those who haven't heard Iris
DeMent, but who appreciate honest and
intelligent lyrical content, distinctive
vocal ability, and melodies that are both
catchy and wistful, either of her previ-
ous albums are preferable to this one. In
comparison to her contemporaries and
peers, such as Victoria Williams,
Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch. Nanci
Griffith and Lucinda Williams, I would
recommend their albums more highly
as well.
- Anders S mith-Linidall

*.llf lI A ll-i. N
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Weston got beat up for making a horrible record.

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Got Beat Up
Go Kart Records
A little self-pity is pretty normal, but
drowning in it is another story. East
Coast natives Weston have managed to
suck, and suck all self-confidence from
themselves at the same time.
"Got Beat Up" is a really lame
attempt at mixing a lot of nerdy '60s
love topics and emo-core punk, and it
fails miserably. Every song either man-
ages to stress how much the vocalist
sucks or how his girlfriend went away to
college and left him home to wallow in
his pocket protector.
The disc starts out with a song called
"Retarded," which pretty much sums up,

the band itself Songs like "Varsit
Sweater," "Got Beat Up;" an,
"Heartbreak Sandwich" are all pretty
indicative of what you'll get from
Weston: stupid topics and music that
just screams for a music lesson.
"No Kind of Superstar" just makes
you want to shed a tear for these poor
boys: "I know I'll always be the fat kid
on the bus." Other songs like " ew
Shirt" are just plain sorry: "I got a new
shirt ... and my mom said I looked rer,
handsome in it / ... I got a new shi
cause I thought you might like me in
It'd be one thing if Weston was being
funny about all this stuff, but they're
totally serious. "Got Beat Up" is a good
title, because I hope Weston did get beat
up when the record company heard the
- Colin Bartos

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