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February 08, 2000 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-02-08

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 8, 2000

ALLSTARS PRODUCE HI-FIDELITY REMIXES

Demented band comes

ollowing the recent trend of musicians releas-
ig mix albums of other peoples' work, the Lo
Fidelity Allstars have put together a mix album
of epic proportions, spanning over 30 years of
music. With tracks ranging from Motown to
Ids-style disco to modern R&B, "On the Floor
at ibe Boutique" is a collection of remixes and
otiginal works blended together seamlessly to
cfq te something greater than its individual ele-
Snets.
,.rawing from their experience as DJs in the
United Kingdom, the Lo Fidelity Allstars select-
ed 21 tracks of house party music and mixed

Grade: B+
Lo-Fidelity
Allstars
On the Floor at the
Boutique
Skint
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
David Reamer

them together in a manner
reminiscent of a club spin-
ner. Songs overlap one
another, creating interesting
combinations of dissimilar
sounds. The result is an
album that breaks track
boundaries, meant to be
viewed as a whole and not as
a collection of separate com-
ponents.
Although "On the Floor"
begins with a remix of the

number of recent works, including a track by
Space Raiders that samples a disco beat straight
out of the late Seventies, confounding any
attempt to organize the album chronologically.
In addition to R&B and soul tracks, "On the
Floor" also features several songs that do not
quite fit that mold. The first is "I Can Feel Your
Love" by Felice Taylor, a Motown work from the
late '60s. The song is an untouched recording of
the original, only modified by the fading out of
the previous track and the fading in of the next.
While the choice of a song hearkening back to
the Wall of Sound era may sound strange, it
somehow manages to blend well with the more
modern tracks on the album and provides a short
break from the beat-heavy tracks that dominate.
The final piece of the album is "Out of Space," a
techno/reggae contribution from Prodigy. Again,
the track doesn't altogether match the rest of the
album stylistically, but the Lo Fidelity Allstars
manage to make it work.
Taken in its entirety, "On the Floor at the
Boutique" is an excellent blend of old and new,
merged together to create unique sounds. In
terms of dance beats, the album is solid from
start to finish, and is perfect for the party host
who doesn't want to bother changing discs.
Toward that end, the Lo Fidelity Allstars have
succeeded in producing a worthwhile album,
even if most of the music isn't theirs.

out of therap
That's odd, Therapy? didn't used to
sound like Captain Beefheart mixed with
Danzig. Nevertheless, that's how "He's
Not that Kind of Girl" kicks off this
album. Catchy and twisted (and no, not
in the Dr. Demento sort of way), the
group seems to have returned to a sound
more in touch with their earlier work.
There's more insanity and less love songs
than on Therapy?'s last two albums -
not that the love songs were all that sane
mind you, but there wasn't quite so much
along the lines of "Hey baby I dig your

Grade: B+
Therapy?
Suicide Pact - You First
Ark 21
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
Ted Watts

y

scars/ They think
you're smart but I
think you're kinda
stupid."
At the same
time, Therapy?
isn't quite as nuts
as they used to be.
The album title,
also the chorus of
"Little Tongues
First," should

highlight songs of particular interest. The soul
anthem "Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy" is
offered by the Tams, highlighting the music of
the early Sixties. Collaborators Silver Bullet,
Trouble Funk, Jungle Brothers and Boogie Down
Productions contribute rap and R&B dance
tracks from the mid to late '80s, all of which are
heavily reliant on the Big Beat sound for which
the Allstars are known. There are also a large

with 'Pact'

SQk classic Blackstreet song, "No Diggity," the
album does not hold exclusively to modern
rhythm and blues. Instead, the Allstars lead a
musical journey through time, pausing often to

_,..........M _. ,

Diverse 'NixOn' shines in irony

show you that. Not so self destructive, or
maybe just not as self deluded as the
themes of their previous output, the
group seems to be less fearful and more
full of loathing. See, for example, "Hate
Kill Destroy," the title of which is pretty
self-explanatory.
That's not just a thematic effect, either.
"Suicide Pact - You First" is a bold
change for the group sonically. The
sound of most of the album is almost
unrecognizable as a Therapy? record. It's
almost a paean to various styles of rock
'n' roll. "Almost" in that the effect is sub-
liminal; there's nothing by and large to
put your finger pn to identify a specific
era of guitar grpups. There's just some-
thing about a song like "Jam Jar Jail" that

recalls some sort of indie crossover into
the mainstream, something that got a lot
of radio play for a season and then disap-
peared back into its subculture, only to
arise again when Therapy'? somehow
incorporated it into the warp and woof of
their newest musical structure.
There are still some remnants of the
almost somber character of the last two
releases on "Suicide Pact"; "Six MilO
Water" plays almost like a slightly
melodic dirge. "God Kicks" is quite
depressing, but explores new areas"of
implosive sound and slit throat vocals.
But the album as a whole does not
indulge in a single minded emotional
state.
That turns out to be a flaw in the
disc. The album is schizophrenic in the
emotional gear-shifts between tracksi
By apparently trying to keep the albu
moving, individual songs end up clal
ing with each other, almost interrupt-
ing the listener. Hopefully time will
excuse this by having Therapy ?'s next,
album emerge as another emotional
extreme. This middle ground is OK,
but the sound is better when uniformly.
manic or depressive.

We live in a culture of irony, which means that if
you're going to imitate something from a bygone era.
you had better do it with a smirk on your face.
Lambehop understand this postmodern proverb as well
as anyone, and on "Nixon," they exploit it for all it's
worth.
L.tfibchop is led by Ken Wagner, who writes all of
the group's songs and whose deep, soulful vocals are
the main attraction on cuts like "The Old Gold Shoe"
and "The Petrified Florist." But
he's only half the story.
as@: B+ Lambehop's twelve other mem-
bers cover everything from gui-
LambChop tars and drums to organ, pedal
steel and horns - even a juno is
Nixon thrown in for good measure. On
Merge "Nixon," the group is joined by a
Reviewed by choir and a string section and,
Cristian Hoard given this crowded lineup, the
For the Daily record might easily have come
out sounding cluttered. Rather,
everyone plays with more than enough restraint to
allow the quiet charm of Wagner's songs to surface.
What's really remarkable, however, is how much
uttr cfheesiness the band gets away with. Most of
"Nton"'s ten tracks sport string arrangements worthy

of Burt Bacharach and horn lines borrowed from Tom
Jones' greatest hits. It's sometimes hard to tell whether
Wagner and company are making fun of their forefa-
thers - mostly seventies country singers and white
Memphis soulsters - or shamelessly imitating them.
In fact, while both the CD's liner notes and
Wagner's lyrics allude to Tricky Dick's presidency,
I'd guess that the album's title largely reflects
Lambehop's nudging affinity for the music of the
Nixon era: "The Distance from Her to There"
could have been written by late-sixties pop-coun-
try guru Billy Sherrill and "You Masculine You"
shows that Beck isn't the only one who's been
mining blacksploitation movie soundtracks for
material.
Wagner has insisted that Lambchop is just a country
band' which defines "country" somewhat broadly. But
aside from some subtle pedal steel and the near-twang
of Wagner's voice, the band's country roots (most mem-
bers are Nashville natives) really aren't all that appar-
ent.
Wagner's lyrics certainly owe a lot more to Lou Reed
than Hank Williams. "The Butcher Boy" continues
Wagner's fascination with the macabre that was first
heard on "Soaky in the Pooper," a track from 1994's "I
Hope You're Sitting Down:' That song was about sui-

New York's Screwball.
strikes outwith Y2K'

cide in a bathroom; "Butcher Boy" tells the story of a
girl who hangs herself and has her chest carved open by
her father.
The rest of the record, of course, isn't nearly so dark.
Most of Wagner's lyrics deal with mundane subjects
like love and politics, and despite all of the styles they
draw on, the dreamy, mid-tempo songs might sound a
bit dull to some ears.
But there are lots of little thrills to be found on
"Nixon." Wagner's voice is one of them; so are the
kitschy horns on "Grumpus." And, as "Up With
People" proves, even a group of postmodernists
can make you dance.

For those who follow the New York
hip-hop scene, the name Screwball
should stimulate some interest. The
four-man Qpeensbridge crew provoked
commotion and controversy with some
inflammatory statements made in hip-
hop publications and Internet sites. But
with all the hype and self-promotion
behind this album, "Y2K" falls short of
making any lasting impression on the
hip-hop scene.
Helping Screwball out with the lyri-
cal element of the album are some of
Queens' most popular MCs: Mobb
Deep, Cormega and Capone. Also, Biz
Markie makes a beat box cameo. The

The Beach' sizzles with electronic grooves

"The Beach" is the latest movie
feauring teen heartthrob Leonardo
DiCaprio. However, those looking
formusic in the style of the multi-
million copy selling, chart topping
"Tanic" soundtrack should look
elsewhere: "The Beach" soundtrack
proves that Leo is not synonymous
with crappy music - only crappy act-
ing.
"The Beach" features a fully
packed lineup of electronic artists as

k~de: B+
VGorts Artists
~The Beach"
Soundtrack
London Records
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
Andy Klein]

well as surpris-
ing tracks from
Sugar Ray and
All Saints. Sugar
Ray performs
"S p inn i ng
Away," a Brian
Eno and John
Cale collabora-
tion from the
"Wrong Way
Up" album that
sounds remark-
ably unlike

closer to you" are familiar but some-
how don't sound used.
While these two songs have the
greatest potential to become hits, the
bulk of the album's beauty lies with
the electronic players. The opening
track, Leftfield's "Snake Blood,"
provides a dark and winding trail
through fast beats and synthesized
heaven. Moby's "Porcelain" with its
bouncy drum beats, is sprinkled with
a soft and graceful piano melody and
an assortment of looped voices. Over
all of this is an airy male voice that
sings with resignation, "In my
dreams/I'm dyin' all the time?/So
this is goodbye." Underworld con-
tributes "8 Ball," a nine minute track
that sounds more like the Blur from
"13" than Blur's featured track on
this album, the remixed "On Your
Own."
Other artists such as Asian Dub
Foundation, Orbital, New Order and
Faithless all add impressive tracks.
Musically speaking, however, it is
Unkle's "Lonely Soul" that steals the
spotlight. A nine minute masterpiece
composed by Joshua Davis (aka DJ
Shadow) and The Verve's Richard
Ashcroft that first appeared on Unkle's
98 release "Psyence Fiction," it com-
bines dark orchestral arrangements
with human-sounding programmed
beats. Completing the musical picture
is Ashcroft's depressed lyrics that bor-
der on nihilism as he moans, "I'm
going to die in a place that don't know

Grade: C+
Screwball
Y2K
Tommy Boy
Records
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
W. Jacari Melton
skills overshadows

production credits
are equally
impressive with
the likes of
Marley Marl, DJ
Premier and Pete
R o c k .
Unfortunately, the
fact that the mem-
bers of Screwball
possess only aver-
age ' rhyming
these artists' work.

However, what they lack in skill they
make up for with controversy.
Throughout 20 tracks, Screwball
makes sure to represent Queensbridge
to the fullest. On "H-O-S-T-Y-L-E," the
group member of the same name
attempts to show the group's street roots
by describine the tvoe of neonle who
call themselves Screwball fans: Henney
guzzlers, drug pushers and money-get-
ters. Though the track is catchy and well
constructed, the lyricism is less than
inspiring since it isn't much more than a
three-minute long shout-out.
Starting out the more controversial
material is the cut "You Love To Hear
The Stories." It features MC Shan, an
MC who gained fame during the 1980s
for his battles with the Bronx-based
KRS-ONE over where hip-hop originat-
ed and which borough boasted the best
rappers. Though some man say KRS
and the Bronx won the first round of the
fight, this track serves to make people

realize that, as of late, Queens group
have been on top of the hip-hop heap
"Stories" does re-ignite the controversy
yet it is uncertain if Screwball's proclai
mation is of any use.
If the controversy has a climax, it cater
be found on "Who Shot Rudy?" This is
the song that caused Screwball to(
receive so much attention. Here
Screwball serves as the voice of New
Yorkers, especially those in the hip-hop
community, who have constantly beeir
at odds with New York City's may
Rudy Giuliani. It details the fiction'
assassination of the mayor. The tract
serves as a response to allegedly co-
stant abuse practiced by thos
involved in New York City's adminism
tration. If anything, this track serves
as an interesting commentary on
how some people feel Giuliani's
efforts to clean un the city have
encroached on their personal free
doms.
Though there are a few highlight
on this album, they are only due to,.
good production. The album's lyrica
content lacks creativity except for;
"Who Shot Rudy?" However, it'd
doubtful that Screwball's intentiolr
was to be compared to such lyricists
at Common and Rakim. They are trv
ing to establish themselves as a hard-
core hip-hop group in the
Queensbridge tradition of Mobs
Deep and Capone-N-Noreaga, b*
they still have to improve a great
deal in order to reach that caliber.

Sugar Ray. With its electronic back-
drop and ska guitar styling, it is per-
haps the only song of the album that
evokes images of a beach in the clas-
sical sense. All Saints, the latest
Btitish girl band, performs "Pure
Sitores," a tune written and produced
by William Orbit who has, in the
past, worked with Madonna. The
song works because the music falls
Jgst outside of the pop realm while
the lyrics, "I'm drowning, swimming

my name." This track is one of the
finest examples of how mood - and
even an experience - can be trans-
formed into music.
Still, as with most soundtracks,
there is a certain flow that is missing
from "The Beach." While each song
stands well on its own and there is a

genre-linking aspect between them,
there is a certain congruity missing
from the album. It also remains to be
seen how well the music fits with the
film. Nevertheless, music director
Angelo . Badalamenti and company
have compiled a dazzling collection of
individual songs.

p..-

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