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September 29, 1998 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-09-29

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 29, 1998

VISIONARY UNKLE BLINDS WITH 'PSYENCE'

Harvey's 'Desire'
burns brilliantly

At least four years in the making, UJNKLE's
"Psyence Fiction" is the brainchild ofcred-heavy Mo'
Wax label boss James Lavelle and DJ Shadow. By
assembling a stellar supporting cast, such as the
Beastie Boys' Mike D, The Verve's Richard Ashcroft
and Radiohead's Thom Yorke, Lavelle and Shadow
have crafted a '90s masterwerk. This album brings so
much ambition, rawness and depth that it will surely
set the high watermark for 1998 and beyond.
Shadow and Lavelle say this album has become
their "Apocalypse Now" This sentiment is expressed
in the "UNKLE Main Title Theme" where a sample
from "Hearts of Darkness," the documentary on the
making of "Apocalypse Now" appears. As the sample
laments: "We had access to too much money, too
much equipment, and little by little we went insane."

Yorke's musings about "fat bloody fingers" at the
beginning, to his demctiic wailing of "Awaaaaay" at
the end. The final effect makes "Rabbit" downright
frightening.
Even more impressve is the nine-minute epic
"Lonely Soul" featurirg Richard Ashcroft. The start
of the track has Ashcroft crooning standard Verve
lyrics over a fantastic Shadow heavy beat. The tune
takes off about five minutes in, when everything
drops away to showcase the strings.
This orchestral interlude was arranged by Wil
Malone, who did the strings for Massive Attack's
"Unfinished Sympathy." After about two minutes, the
drums and Ashcroft enter back into the mix, with the
song ending in a melancholy flourish of beats, strings
and vocals.
Elsewhere, the album is rounded out by a host of
other amazing cuts. "Nunery Rhyme" shows Shadow
doing his take of Britrock-on-steroids, with lyrical
help from newcomer Badly Drawn Boy.
"Unreal" and "UNKLE Main Theme" are two
incredibly solid Shadow instrumentals, and represent
a musical evolution from his 1996 debut
"Endtroducing." Both tunes feature guitars - the
"Main Theme" is layered with '80s-style synth-guitar
and "Unreal" is structured around an atmospheric
Spanish-style guitar.
With the exception of the sparse "Chaos" and the
tragic briefness of the album (it only clocks in at about
55 minutes), this is a complete, balanced and visionary
album. Simply speaking, tihis is a near perfect sonic
collage of the 1990s.

"Is this desire... " PJ larvey-asks
on the title track of her fifth album.
"enough? Enough to lifi us higher?"
This "Desire" is certainly enough to
lift Harvey to the next plateau of rock
stardom with its indescribable yet whol-
ly accessible charm, making for an
album that may be the best of her career.
More so than on her previous albums,
which were largely raw, Harvey here
crafts 12 songs of studio-polished mag-
netism, a blend of dramatic, blues-
heavy, electro-goth hymns that vary in
tempo and subject matter but stay unit-
ed in their churning, sneering beauty.
But don't be fooled by the beauty of
the music, these collected songs still
sing the alt-rock blues and some get nas-
tier than others.
That nastiness appeals to the vamp in
everyone, the vamp that Polly Jean
Harvey gets to be - the leather-clad,
sexed-up, uninhibited rock star who
delivers scathing bits like, "Till the light
shines on me, I damn to hell every see-

;, ,<.

UNKLE
Psyence Fiction
Mo'Wax/London
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
Michael Kegler

Originally fueled by Lavelle's
musical vision, this album
could have ended up an egotis-
tical folly, had it not been for
the immense musical talent of
DJ Shadow.
The album opens with
"Guns Blazing (Drums of
Death Part I)," featuring New
York hard core rapper Kool G
Rap. The track is based around
a vicious set of drum loops and

vocals by Mike D and a bass line supplied by Jason
Newstead of Metallica. The production on the track
has a similar feel to Part I, with Mike D's lyrics sound-
ing very reminiscent of his work on "Hello Nasty"
These two tracks slap the listener in the face and beg
for attention. But it is in the other more subtle songs
like "Rabbit in Your Headlights" and "Lonely Soul"
that this album steps into the realm of genius.
"Rabbit" is a down temp jazz excursion, with a
mesmerizing 9/8 tempo and a cavalcade of beats.
Thom Yorke's vocal contribution is so raw that it
almost sears the eardrums. Reportedly recorded in
one take, the vocals are a lesson in dynamics, from

features more fills than Puff Daddy's entire back cat-
alogue. Rap's vocals are complimented by a swirling
chaos of drums, bass and radio interference. Later on
in the album, Part 11 "The Knock" appears, with

.r.. .

Crows s Globe' is worth spinning

PJ Harvey
is This Desire?
Island
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
Bryan Lark

ond you breathe."
Those words
hail from
"Catherine," a
song of suspi-
ciously hushed
intensity that
stands out as one
of tlto' darkest.
most somber of
the seamless, stel-
lar tracks.
Also making a

Harvey also seems to lighten up on
"The River!' the most melodic of the
tracks, using the deceptive self-help
sweetness of its repeated hook, "Throw
your pain in the river!' to hide its melari-
choly core.
At the core of "Is This Desire?" i.-' e
gorgeously therapeutic holler of a v.e
that alternately roars and seeps out of
Harvey, a sound so soulful and personal
that the music backing it up could be
viewed as irrelevant.
All the better for Harvey, the arrange-
ments here are flawless and ceaselessly
interesting, such as the sample of Jery
Goldsmith's "Planet of the Apes" score
that haunts "The Wind,' blending w ih
the voice for an aural tapestry of intoxi-
cating power.
But this is not a tapestry to be smp
placed somewhere and appreciated
-occasionally.
No, "Is This Desire?" craves atten-
tion, unleashing your inner vamp ns
Polly Jean knocks you on your ass and
seduces you with her singular genius in
just more than 40 minutes. After PJ
Harvey's "Desire," one needn't be lifted
any higher.

In 1996, Sheryl Crow released a follow-up to her
star-making and Grammy-winning "Tuesday Night
Music Club" and called it "Sheryl Crow."
That title would definitely be more apt for her third
release, "The Globe Sessions," the first album in
which Crow largely scraps her cleverly worded third-
person storytelling approach to rock songs and focus-
es on her clever old self.
Gone are the "He"s and
"She"s, the troubled drag queen,
the lonely housewife, the sweaty
Sheryl Crow Vegas stripper-dealer and the
The Globe Sessions vending machine repair man.
A&M On "The Globe Sessions,"
named for the New York studio
Reviewed by where the album was recorded,
Daily Arts Writer the "I"'s have it.
Bryan Lark The result of "Globe"-trotting
through Crow's mind is a
compelling portrait of the artist as a 36-
year-old woman that mostly rocks but
sometimes rolls over on itself.:.,
Aside from establishing who
Crow really is, "Globe" also rein-
forces the sound that has become
Crow's hallmark - the seductive,
slightly throaty voice of a small
town girl who's been around the
big city too many times, set against
bluesy guitar, swelling organ, boot-
tapping beats and a swooning
W stern-flavored slide.
,,hat urban-country-pop-rock-
bltis sound is present on most of
the album but is best heard on the Megababe Sheryl Cr
album's opener and first hit single, 'Favorite Mistake.'

"My Favorite Mistake."
Beginning with a healthy dose of wah-wah guitar,
the bittersweet tune of a love gone creeping instantly
tattoos itself on your mind, for both its ingratiating
chorus and Crow's weary wit about leaving a sex-
based love-hate relationship.
But Sheryl Crow is not merely a woman scorned.
She's an overwhelmed entertainer on the radio-
friendly "Anything But Down" and a poet on the lush
"Riverwide."
She's a party girl surveying her decaying surround-
ings on "There Goes the Neighborhood," a musically
fascinating song cursed with some of the most inane
lyrics ever spoken by any artist of Crow's caliber.
She's a woman asserting her independence on "It
Don't Hurt," a rollicking little country song that could
put her in the running as an honorary Heartbreaker, as
in '70s era Tom Petty.
She even channels Bob Dylan on
Mississippi," appropriate since the song
was a gift from Dylan that went unused
on his "Time Out of Mind" sessions.
Crow lets loose here, with her
swaggering delivery of the bril-
liant, fast-paced lyrics matched by
Benmont Tench's driving piano
aX4-hisa Germano's lilting violin,
making "Mississippi" one of the
best states in which Crow's ever
'= sbeen.
She scores again on the sprawling
"Am I Getting Through (Part I & II),
with Part I being a slow confession-
courtesy of A&M al growl and part 11 its high-octane,
row makes her stream-of-consciousness counter-
part.

good, dark impression are the Depeche
Mode-esque primal scream of "Joy," the
classically arranged, nearly acoustic bal-
lad "Angelene," the angry, dancehall
swirl of "No Girl So Sweet," and the
charged grind of "The Sky Lit Up."

'Cats' packs little punch

Crow also flies on the irresistible ode to those who
can't dance (literally and: otherwise), "Members
Only," a folk jam that takes its name from a kitschy
'80s jacket and cribs part of;its underlying beat from
Crow's own "Can't Cry Anymore."
It truly is hard to resist a ditty whose chorus begins,
"And all the white folks shake their asses, looking for
the two and four."
It's similarly difficult to reist the charms of "The
Globe Sessions," a world wheime Crow is giving herself
so whole-heartedly to her audience.
If only she hadn't given us the aforementioned
turkey "There Goes the Neighiborhood" or the awful
"Maybe That's Something," maybe there'd have been
more room for the fine, funky, fun-lovin' hidden
bonus track on which Crow croons "I was thinkin'
'bout my livin', I was feelin' pretty fine."
Now that all Crow's thinkin',and feelin' has made it
onto a shining disc, this is one "Globe" worth spin-
ning.

Among the countless and sometimes
needless pop albums that wallpaper
music store windows, Local H gives gui-
tar rock a much-needed kick in the pants
on its latest release, "Pack Up the Cats"
The band deceives listeners left and
right with its huge sound. Merely a duo
(Joe Daniels on drums and Scott Lucas
on guitar and vocals), together the two
churn out Local H's standard sound of
mellow-yet-heavy mood music.
Overall, Local H plays out its standard
sound on most of the new album's tracks.
Toward the end of the record, the tracks
"Deep Cut" and "Laminate Man" main-
tain the band's toughest sound and most
balanced lyrics.
The band chose the album's best song
as its first single. "All the Kids are Right"
is an anthem of youthful pride and sincer-
ity that recognizes some of the bad deci-
sions made by baby-booming parents. In
this track, Local H
r also acknowledges
the bleak fears of a
fanless future,
Local H which seems to
suck up every band
Pack Up The Cats that breaks through
island the airwaves.
Reviewed by The pace is suc-
Daily Arts Writer cessfully slowed
Jewel Gopwani down for the
minute long song
"Lead Pipe Crunch," which follows the
familiar and catchy "All the Kids Are
Right" melody. The band winds down the
album in a Nirvana-"Lithium-esque"-
mood on "Lucky Time," which displays'
Curtis' versatility as a vocalist.

F

trong soundtrack should 'Rush' out of record stores

Just as the movie "Rush Hour" offers
one of the year's best action-comedy
tandems in Jackie Chan and Chris
Tucker, the accompanying soundtrack
features some of today's best artists from
the hip hop world, including Wu- Tang,
Joe and Dru Hill, all of whom contribute
strong showings in one of the better hip
hop movie soundtracks of the year.
The album's star performers produce a
number of dazzling R&B grooves.
Dru Hill leads off with "How Deep Is
Your Love" This up-tempo track, featur-
ing Redman, is a bold yet successful
departure from the old-school croons that
Lovett steps into shining
A T'

attracted listeners to its first album.
Jon B. stays true to form with the sen-
sual "Glad That We Loved," an acoustic-
sounding ballad that quickly melts in
your mind. Montell Jordan's slow jam
"If I Die Tonight" is another quality track,
although Flesh-N-Bone's appearance
seems strangely out of place.
The album's best effort belongs to the
Case and Joe collaboration "Faded
Pictures." This is definitely a top-notch
groove, displaying the lyrical and vocal
abilities that are finally making Joe a
household name.
While it appears to lack chart-topping

tracks, the "Rush :Hour" soundtrack fea-
tures a star-studded cast of contributors
responsible for a number of strong songs.
Despite the inclusion of eight Chris

But Local H drops the ball when it tns
to cross musical boundaries, as it incl s
cat meows and purrs on"'Cha!', said the
Kitty," and "Lucky." In fact, Local H's
obsession with felines becomes a little
frightening when you consider the
album's title and cover art.
The duo can't seem to win in regards to
lyrics either. Aside from a few songs, the
band fails to focus on meaning and says
almost anything for a rhyme. Track 10,
"She hates my job," is simply the worst,
as Curtis sings, "She'll admit it's not that
bad/ I love my job, but so does her rT
and dad." The album even starts off with
lyrical vacancy on the first track, "All
Right (Oh Yeah)" And if you havent
guessed, that's it for the song lyrics too..
"Pack Up the Cats," will probably dis
appoint fans of the band's previous
release "As Good As Dead," but this
album has a few treats for listeners ready
and willing to throw out lyrical complex-
ity in exchange for an afternoon of o
banging.

t

Rush HourI

Tucker skits
which invite skip-
ping and disrupt
the disc's continu-
ity, the efforts of
the aforemen-
tioned artists hold
sufficient weight
so that this
soundtrack should
not be overlooked.

Original Soundtrack.
Def Jam
Reviewed
for the Daily by
Joshua Levin

Outkast sets new rap standard

new count
In his follow up to the popular
"Road To Ensenada," Lyle Lovett
oftrs up a double-disc enclave of 21
songs that were written by important
Tcgas artists and songwriters, many
whom have influential effect on
Lovett.
Through each song, Lovett joins
his crisp, twangy-but-not-Southern
voals with his clear, lively acoustic
gtdar and an accompaniment of tal-
end musicians on pianos, man-
dolins, fiddles, electric guitars, bass,
and drums.
The wide array of musical talent is
c l early evident on the opening track
"aDars," one of the best songs on the
alum. It's a blend of rocking frolic in
the country with

'House

I

The next tune, "Lungs" is a quick
rocking jam with a bluesy feel in its
guitar solos. Lovett's smooth acoustic
guitar shines in this song and also in
the passionate whimsy of the title
track.
"Teach Me About Love," is the one
track that's arguably the best song in
the collection. Opening with a bounc-
ing fiddle, "Teach Me" lops into an
all-out folk dance with Lovett croon-
ing away. It'll make you want to kick
up your heels for sure.
This upbeat, energetic tempo found
in many songs of the first disc seems
to fade away as the second disc of the
collection evokes a quieter, distant
feel. Lovett moves into a more tradi-
tional country ballads as disc two
nn~c it .rP h n w- n cnno ofa

vent emotion of these two wonderful
artists carries the warm chorus as they
sing, "If you need me/I would come to
you/I'd swim the seas/For to ease your
pain."
Singing is definitely one of Lovett's
many strong talents and his vocals
bring, at times, some reminiscence to
those of the lovelorn Chris Isaak.
While Isaak's music tends to point
toward a more rock feel, Lovett strays
for a morecras ro ots sound. He's

The mark of true greatness is the ability to always raise the
standard in one's arpna. Outkast has done exactly that since it
arrived on the music scene in 1994. Its classic debut was fol-
lowed up by a groumid-breaking sophomore album, and as Big
Boi and Andre' releajse its third effort "Aquemeni," Outkast fans
and hip-hop fans in general all wonder if the southernplayalis-
tic ones can continue! to stay two steps ahead of the rap game.
From the intro, Outkast makes it clear that its message has-
n't changed one bit. It's still showing the pain of everyday life
in the Dirty South oum songs like the angry "Return of the G,"
as well as the hardships of being artists trapped in the rat's
maze that is the music business. But instead of merely talking
about the problems, Outkast also offers ways to cope, like on
the anthemic "Slump." Just like on its second album, Andre'
plays the abstract intellectual, with Big Boi being the fast-talk-
ing hustler. The two complement perfectly, with Dre providing
the theory and Big Bi bringing the examples.
While Outkast's massage is the same as on its last album, the
music hearkens back to the group's debut. Still rapping over
cutting edge tracks by Organized Noize, Outkast has also taken
an active role in production, and just
t1: l 'about every groove on the album is guar=

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