18 The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 17, 1998
In 1990, a 19-year-old folksinger
from Buffalo entered a recording stu-
dib with a few songs and a guitar and
created an album on her own record
label, which she jokingly named
"Righteous Babe Records."
Eight years and 10 albums later, Ani
Dfranco and her label have achieved
astonishing success beyond what the
singer-songwriter and now business
guru could ever have imagined.
Ms. Difranco has outdone even her
own success this time with "Little Plastic
Castle," an album that marks a huge
jump forward in Ani's musical talents,
while at the same time includes the fami-
lar elements that have made her so suc-
cessful in the past.
The most notable change on
June of 44 sets sail to
future sound of music
Daily Arts Writer
guishing it from
all her past
work, is the
trombone to var-
has been in her solo performances (or
sometimes backed by a small rhythm
section) is able to jam with a large
instrumental section behind her.
For fans who can't get used to this
new style, there are plenty of songs
with just vocals and basic instrumen-
tation. "As Is" and "Swan Dive," for
example, are reminders of the raw tal-
ent for which Difranco has been
praised in the past. These songs focus
on her unique style of guitar playing
with vehement fingerpicking that
seems almost violent at times.
The lyrics on "Castle" are as pow-
erful as ever, and include reflections
on a wider variety of topics than on
previous releases. Rather than focus-
ing almost exclusively on personal
relationships or political commentary,
Difranco has balanced a variety of dif-
ferent themes on the album, and has
maintained a consistent sense of
In "Fuel," Ani wonders "who's gonna
be president tweedle dumb or tweedle
dumber / and who's going to have the
big blockbuster box office this summer."
Not surprisingly, the most prevalent
lyrics on "Castle" deal with interper-
sonal relationships. In "As Is," she
advises a friendito "just give up and
admit you're an asshole / you would be
in some good company." Vocally,
"Castle" is extremely successful as
well. Difranco does all the singing in
her original staccato style that is always
enjoyable to hear. A few tracks are par-
ticularly interesting because of the way
mutiple layers of Difranco's voice are
seamlessy blended, producing a some-
Out of the ashes of such esteemed art-
rock bands as Rodan and Hoover, June
of44 has had plenty of experience. Doug
Scharin has to be one of the most talent-
ed drummers in the world. Sean
Meadows and Jeff Mueller duke it out
beautifully on guitar, and Fred Erskine
drops some of the prettiest basslines this
side of the Mississippi. So why aren't
these guys plastered all over the place?
Well, they might make the average
listener a little seasick.
"Four Great Points," the third full-
length album from these Chicago play-
ers, was recorded by Shellac's Bob
Weston, who also recorded the band's
last two albums, "Engine Takes To
Water" and "Tropics and Meridians."
"Four Great Points" is the next story in
this seafaring trilogy, and it definitely
is the most intriguing chapter.
For a band who already likes to
something from a dance club; a unique
blend of Difranco's traditional punk-
fojk sound with jazz and modern dance.
The title song is presented at first in
Difranco's traditional style, with the
addition of an upbeat horn section half-
It is truly impressive the way
Difranco, whose strength historically
what spooky yet robust sound.
One of "Castle's" highlights is the
studio version of the previously
released live track "Gravel." This
much more refined version, while not
quite as emotionally intense as its pre-
decessor, is impressive in its own
Other songs, including "Indepen-
dence Day" and "Two Little Girls," will
also sound familiar to fans as they were
regularly performed live throughout
Difranco's summer and fall tour dates.
The album ends with a 14 minute
version of the poem "Pulse" set to a
very stimulating instrumental jam. It
has a highly sensual feel, placing the
listener in the basement of a smoke-
filled, low-key coffee shop in the city.
This track is yet another example of
Tomorrow morning get up, get in
line and get prepared to enter a new era
of Ani Difranco.
June of 44
Four Great Points
Daily Arts Writer
drum roll, simple
this latest effort
takes them a step
& Belief," by far
is the best track
on the disc. The
full throttle, with Meadows and Mueller
thrashing through the waves, Shellac-
style. Just when the water seems rough-
est, though, the band slows it down
again, leaving the listener fully drained.
The rest of the disc rocks to and fro,
as the instrumentation of songs like
"Lifted Bells" and "Doomsday".4
soothes like the sound of waves lapping
the shore, while "Cut Your Face" and
"The Dexterity of Luck" overturn
freighters. The songs tend to drift at
times, many lasting more than six or
seven minutes, but they never reach
The genius of "Four Great Points" is
that it can be enjoyed as background
music, as well as in the turbulence of
the forefront. It's hard to catch all the
intricacies of the songs upon first listen.
That's why the band has docked. The
band members want you to feel the
music, to let go of your preconceptions,
to sail away with them on a journey
toward the future of music.
whispery-soft vocals. As it rolls along,
it picks up steam, until a violin calms
the seas. Then, the song explodes into
Fiery 'Faith' spins sultry web
Hannah Marcus' "Faith Burns"album winds ethereal spin- The music also
tuality through beautifully blended "psychedelic torch songs." possesses an y
The new release inspiring and poet- almost distant
ic, has lyrics that taste like light rain. The quality, as sounds
smoldering vocals roll like ocean waves, seem to gain their;
In a bubbly bath of floating melodies, own life.
Hannah Marcus the album helps to relax and soothe. At other
Marcus' style is somewhat similar to moments, Marcus'
Faith Burns Tori Amos' or Portishead. Yet, "Faith deep sultry voice,
Normal Burns" has its own smooth chocolate- combines with
Reviewed by coated, sultry style. intoxicating lyrics
Daily Arts writer In some songs, Marcus sings while to become hypnotic. Marcus' style can not be pinned down.
Marquina Iliev playing an acoustic guitar or piano with "Pardon me Mr. Sunrise" echoes with 1940's Jazz and images
very little background accompaniment. of Billie Holiday-esque icons singing near the bar piano.
It's as though Marcus were sitting cross-legged on the floor play- Unlike many new releases, Marcus' music drips with honest
ing live with the acoustic in her lap. emotion.
Reformed band Come rocks 'n rows
gently down punk-blues 'Stream'
Most of the time, when tragedy hits a band, its first instinct
is to quit. When Come lost its drummer and bassist in 1994,
the band could have folded. Instead, they carried on - and
look what's followed.
Enlisting a new drummer and bassist,
founding members Thalia Zedek and
Chris Brokaw have reformed a complete
band and released "Gently, Down The
Stream," an intriguing record to say the
Come's signature punk-blues riffs and
intensity shine on its latest record, which
clocks in at a whopping 66 minutes in
This is the only factor working against
the record. It is long-winded, but some
of the parts are not to be missed.
Daily Arts Writer
as Zedek showcas-
es her intense,
gravely voice. The
tures Brokaw on
gives Come a dif-
Two voices are
The apex of
The Stream" is
"Saints Around My Neck." Throughout its duration of eight
and a half minutes, the listener is poked, prodded, thrashed
and carried along as Zedek delivers the most chilling vocal of
any song on Come's previous three albums.
The album opener "One Piece" is a seven-minute epic that
ignites the fire between Zedek and Brokaw, twisting melodies
Bedhead wakes up with 'Novo'
F ~ F'
F F F <'F
Bedhead is known in indie circles as
the quietest rock band in the world.
Through two full-length records and
two EP's in the past four years,
Bedhead's reputation precedes itself.
Bedhead's debut, "What Fun Life
Was," was completely entrancing:
Simple, quiet melodies mixed with the
complexity of three guitars interweav-
ing their magic, as a bass and drum set
follow along quietly. Then, Bedhead
turned the tables a little bit with their
What is most important, though, is
still the songs. "More Than Ever" starts
out slowly, gaining intensity to the very
last second of the song, when it ends
suddenly. Bedhead has this beautiful
quality of building the listener up, tak-
ing them to the peak, and then dropping
them flat, leaving them waiting for the
"Extramundane" almost sends the lis-
tener into shock. Its quick tempo, drums
Transaction de Novo
Daily Arts Writer
next two releases,
"The Dark Ages
has shattered all
Novo" starts out
with the same
melancholy tone as
cator of the underlying joy to come.
Steve Albini, a member of Shellac and
recorder of some of the noisiest music
in the business, did the producing hon-
ors on this record.
This most unlikely pairing showcas-
es an intensity Bedhead has always
held, but rarely showed.
The drums and guitars on
"Transaction de Novo" are crisp and
earth-shattering, whereas they sounded
somewhat muddled in past efforts. This
is definitely due to Albini.
and interplaying guitars are reminiscent
of "Goo"-era Sonic Youth.
It's completely uncharacteristic of
Bedhead, yet it fits so amazingly perfectly.
"Psychosomatica" is even more surprising.
With a Shellac-like guitar line and
unusual time change, Bedhead travels to
completely new territory and strikes gold.
The album closer, "The Present,"
brings you back down, but not before
Bedhead gets you riled up again, if not
for just a second. Although Bedhead has
gotten a bit louder, the music is just as
intricate and moving as in past efforts. If
you like to get into the music you listen
to, give Bedhead a try, and let yourself be
showcased before on the opener,
"Exhume," which speaks softly, offer-
ing the chime of bells as the only indi-
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