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March 21, 2000 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-03-21

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 21, 2000

MARSHALL DELIVERS 'POWER' ON COVERS'

Victory dishes semi-
triumphant compilaton

Back in high school, everyone had some sort
of tie to a cover band. You might've played in
one, or at the very least, knew one or two people
that did. Whatever the case, the band always did
its best to imitate contemporary rock hero's, did-
n't it?
Cat Power is the nom de plume of eccentric
southern singer/songwriter Chan (pronounced
Shaun) Marshall. On her latest release, ''The
Covers Record,' Marshall performs 12 songs, I1
of which are covers. But none of them can be
rightly termed imitations. This record is a far cry
from the realization of the dreams of every cover
band that ever lived. Instead of going the typical
"look how much I can sound like the famous
guy" route, Marshall, backed by only guitar and
piano, has chosen to weave a
rich musical tapestry scanti-
Grade: A- ly based on the works of
other well known and not so
Cat Power well known artists. "The
The Covers Record Covers Record" is a strik-
Matador ingly original homage, not
an imitation.
Reviewed by The album opens with
Daily Arts Editor what one major music net-
Gabe Fajuri work recently voted the
number one rock song of the
last century, the Rolling Stones standard, "(I
Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Not once during
her version does Marshall actually sing the
words that make up the song's title. And yet this
version, though sounding nothing like the origi-
nal, has been crafted into something extremely
beautiful and serene. Beautiful and serene might
not be what the Stones had in mind, but this ver-
sion is just as good as the original.
The rest of the record is much of the same -
though only one track was written by Marshall
("In This Hole"), they all sound like the second
coming of Cat Power, a semi-reprisal of 1998's
acclaimed "Moon Pix." Each number, no matter
who the writer, takes on the unique personality
of the haunting musical mastermind that is Chan
Marshall. As a matter of fact, the only song on

the album that even slightly resembles a previ-
ous incarnation is the traditional "Salty Dog," a
tune I remember singing as a little kid.
Marshall's treatment of the song elevates it from
a traditional folk number to a delightful acoustic
jangle.
Unlike the aforementioned Stones track, the
vast majority of the material Marshall covers on
this record isn't nearly as well known. Though
she dips into the catalogs of artists like Bob
Dylan ("Paths of Victory" and his version of
"Kingsport Town." another traditional), a major-
ity of the record's space is devoted to artists like
Michael Hurley, Smog and Phil Phillips, Which
doesn't make a bit of difference when it comes
to the stripped-down, emotionally raw nature of
Marshall's performances. If this effort is any
indication, she could cover Van Halen's "Hot for
Teacher" and make it sound like uber-mellow
indie folk-rock gold.
The two best tracks on the disc are also the
most weepy of the lot. "I Found a Reason" and
"Wild is the Wind" are originally Velvet
Underground and Nina Simone compositions,
respectively. "Wild is the Wind," on a bad day, is
poignant enough to make even the most cold-

hearted soul bawl. As Marshall strikes one aston-
ishingiy stark piano chord after the next, her per-
fectly sculpted voice calls out "Love Me/Love
Me/Say you Do/Let me Fly Away With You." She
goes on, "You touch me/I hear the sound of man-
dolins baby/you kiss me/with your kiss my life
begins." And though it reads like pure sap on
paper, those lyrics, with the full Cat Power treat-
ment, are nothing short of heart-wrenching. With
no orchestra or fancy production tricks to hide
behind, Marshall bears it all to listeners, who will
be well-rewarded listen after listen.
Dripping with sadness and slow tempoed
numbers, "The Covers Record" proves Marshall
more than just a supremely talented songwriter.
After all, she only wrote one of the tracks on the
album. What the record proves is that Marshall
is a gifted musical performer. The tracks that
make up this release can be characterized as
sonically sparse at best. But on her own, with
nothing more than her naked voice and two of
the most basic instruments to protect her,
Marshall is at her strongest. Moby Grape's
"Naked if I Want To," is a near sublime acoustic
guitar ballad, yet could be played by most aspir-
ing finger-pickers after only a couple of
attempts. The same goes for the piano work on
much of the record - I could play this stuff fair-
ly easily even though I quit taking lessons after
a few years. Complexity is not the issue here.
"The Covers Record" makes clear the fact that
Cat Power is about the performer and her gift for
making captivatingly simple and poetic music
that is hard to match in beauty or depth.
That beauty reaches its pinnacle on the record's
seventh track, "I Found a Reason." Marshall prac-
tically weeps her way through the all-together too
short song. And though its lyrics, like those on
the rest of the record are not hers, Marshall makes
perfect sense in sweetly singing "What comes is
better/than what came before. And you better
run/run run/run run/to me." "The Covers Record"
is better than the release that came before it. I
only hope it won't be too difficult to top the next
time around.

With its latest release in the
"Victory Style" series, Victory
Records presents a collection of 23
many new and unreleased, tracks from
as many artists. This edition features
some definite gems from the hardcore
giant's roster. However, the problem is
that there exists a huge contrast of
styles evident on one recording. The
album moves quickly from the fero-
cious growls of Integrity 2000 and
Buried Alive to the emo influenced
Grade to the straight out skate punk of
Grevarca. The lack of continuity
works as a source of disruption but
also as an affirmation of Victory
Records' diversity.
"Victory Style 4" presents new
material from the highly anticipated
releases of Earth
f Crisis and
Shelter. Earth
Grade: C+ Crisis' "In the
Victory Style 4 Wire" opens the
Various Artists album with
extremely tight
Victory Records rhythms and sur-
Reviewed by prisingly melodi-
Daily Arts Writer ous guitar lines
Andy Klein juxtapoaed
against a quieter
almost rapping section. Shelter's
"When 20 Summers Pass" follows and
opens with a straight forward yet com-
pelling punk rhythm before breaking
into a chorus of Ray Cappo's charac-
teristic searching for unity.
Snapease contribute "Typecast
Modulator" from their recently
released "Designs for Automotion."
The song's lyrics of "don't give us safe
interpretations, we want to know the
ugly truth" is a perfect representation
of the ban's urgings to find individual-
ity and truth in a world of conformity.
Another stellar contribution to the
album is "Rookie" from Boy Sets

Fire's forthcoming album "After the
Eulogy." The song begins with p
crescendoing guitar line that propels
the pace of the song until the drums
enter in full stride. As always Boy
Sets. Fire offers heartfelt lyrics of
striving and suffering like, "I used to
be a lot like you, now I'm only m "
One reason why this track sticks
is that it is long enough for musical
development and differentiation to
occur.
Despite these triumphs, the album
has some less impressive material.
Whether it is The Strike's "Shots
Heard Round The World" which
sounds a bit too much like The
Ramone's "I Want to Be Sedated"
under sedation or Integrity 2000's
vocals that are impossible to decip r
without a lyric sheet. NevertheI,
"Victory Style 4" does not cease to
have its high points.
If the consistent level of gravity and
purpose could only be paralleled by a
consistent flow of music than "VS4"
would be an exceptional album. All of
the songs can stand on their own. It is
just that they don't seem to fit togeth-
er like the band's individual releases
do. However, as a sampler of 0
Victory Records catalogue, "VS4"
serves its duty well.

$

Innerzone builds soulful 'house'

Innerzone Orchestra's "Programmed" album
was one of the most important releases of 1999. Its
fusion of musical styles (jazz, electronic, hip hop)
pushed boundaries and deconstructed rigid
notions of genre, challenging
listeners around the world.
One of the stand out tracks on
Grade: A- the album was a cover of the
Innerzone Stylistics' "People Make the
Orchestra World Go Round." The cover
featured the vocals of Paul
People Make.. Randolph (Muddpuppy) and
Planet E Craig Taborn on keyboards,
Reviewed by as well as flautist Alan Barnes
Daily Arts Writer and Susan Schreiber (Detroit
Joshua Taaffe Symphony Orchestra) on vio-
lins. The inspiration for the
cover was apparently Carl Craig's inability to find
a copy of the version of the track which he fell in
love with as a child. This 12" presents remixes of
the track by Carl Craig and Moodymann (Kenny
Dixon Jr.).
Moodymann's KDJ mix discards much of the orig-

inal material, opting instead to recreate the track in
his own studio, employing the talents of Funkadelic
members Bubs and Amp Fiddler on bass and key-
boards and long-time collaborator Norma Jean Bell
on Soprano Saxophone. The result is a soulful jam-
session, anchored by the slow, plodding kick drum
that has come to typify the Detroit "roots house"
sound. The keyboards and sax build off of the central
melody of the original track, sometimes wandering
in and out of focus. Half way through the track sud-
denly jumps tempo for a more forceful vibe.
Moodymann trades in the vocals of Taborn opting
for his own occasional spoken comments. This
reconstruction gives the track a fundamentally dif-
ferent aesthetic to the original. One of the most orig-
inal remixes of late - worthy of the global excite-
ment that it has caused.
Carl Craig's Future mix immediately starts off
with a different focus, Taborn's vocal and organic
guitar sounds. Slowly an oscillating electronic
frequency emerges and is soon joined by a violin
and kick, hi-hat percussion. Much of the produc-
tion juxtaposes the electronic and the organic,

2-disc set makes for
listening 'Odyssey'

playing off the tension between the two. The track
eventually shifts into a syncopated jazzy drum
work-out that strolls out of the tradition 4/4 terri-
tory. A flute and a reverberating snare sound enter
the mix to close out the track and again the lis-
tener is met with a'radical re-working of the orig-
inal; remixes that explore different territory and
ideas. Destined to be one of the more memorable
12's of the year.

Techno. Rave. House. Big Beat.
Dance. Electronica. Each name repre-
sents a subtle variation on the common
theme of electronic dance music. The
producers of "Machine Soul: An
odyssey into electronic dance music,"
have attempted to unify the different
subgenres into a coherent timeline docu-
menting the evolution of the modern
club scene.
Admittedly a four-cd set trimmed
down to two discs, "Machine Soul" is
remarkable for the scope that it manages
to cover in such a short compilation.
Reaching back as far as 1977, the album
follows the course of electronic dance
music as it incorporates new technology

Vue and Gunga Din deliver dark debuts

On his band's self-titled debut, Vue
singer Rex Shelverton screeches, howls
and screams like a man possessed.
We're not, sure exactly what he's so
pissed about (lost love? sexual frustra-
tion? that there is no god?) but he's def-
initely trying to purge his soul of some-
thing or other, and when his caterwaul-
ing combines with his bandmates' dark
and raucous grooves, it makes for a
powerful - and intelligent - brand of
angst-rock, something like Alanis
Morrissette gone indie.
Songs like "One White Traffic" and
"Nothing Left But You" show off Vue's
main stock-in-trade: Spacey and distort-
ed guitars, loping bass lines, tom-tom-
heavy drum beats, Shelverton's embit-
tered lyrics. "The Shame" sounds like
the Replacements' Paul Westerberg
backed by the Buzzcocks, with
Shelverton ominously chanting "That's
right!/(I'm) fallin' down with you" - an
epithet that's either grating or emotional-
ly-charged, depending on your ability to
tolerate howling front men.
Though the band turns down the vol-
ume on "Her Moods," a soothing

Grade:
The Gunga
Gliterati
Jetset Records
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
christian Hoard
Grade: B
Vue
Vue
Sub Pop

(though still dark)
instrumental,
"Vue" is for the
most part a record
wrought with
anger, passion and
ferocity. But don't
mistake these San
Franciscans for a
bunch of neo-
punks set on sonic
nihilism: They're
loud, yes, but
they're also metic-
ulous, and their
attention to detail
as instrumental-
ists keeps things
interesting - even
if you can't quite

"Gliteratti," the Din's debut record,
bears only a little of Vue's in-your-face
rage, instead alternating between hard-
driving rockers and slower, ominous
numbers that come complete with deli-
cately-brushed percussion and horror-
movie organ swells.
One of the group's great strengths is
singer Siobhan Duffy's voice: Deep and
sultry, it sizzles on lines like "Don't trv
to make me laugh / My wounds they'll
split / And you can only say / 'Everyone
feels this way' / I can only disagree."
Amid the fat basslines and chiming gui-
tars of "Let's Play a Game," she turns the
tale of a lover's sinfulness into a series of
sing-songish rhymes: "Pain, pain / Your
loss is my gain / Revenge is the only way
/ To wash down the drain / All the lies
that you tell."
On the down side, there is a certain
blandness which pervades several of
"Glitterati"'s tracks, as if, in the midst
of its shadowy eccentricity, the Gunga
Din is afraid to write tunes that are
catchy and inviting. This minor gripe
aside, "Glitterati" is nonetheless a
more than promising first effort, chan-

Grade: B+
Machine Soul:
An Odyssey
into Electronic
Dance Music
Rhino
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
David Reamer

and techniques.
As sampling,
drum machines,
and new synthe-
sizing effects
enter the music on
the discs, the lin-
ear notes describe
the design and
impact of the new
procedures. For
anyone intrigued
by these notes, the

compilation also comes with a suggest-
ed reading list of music histories.
The set's first disc is dedicated to the
early evolution of electronic dance
music. Covering material from 1977-
1987, the disc is comprised of familiar
and obscure samples from that period.
Recently covered tracks like Gary
Numan's "Cars" and "Blue Monday" by
New Order are placed alongside works
by electronic pioneers Kraftwerk and
Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic
Force, blurring distinctions of time. One
of the more visible inclusions is Donna
Summer's "I Feel Love," a piece that
rides the borderline between disco/pop
and modern electronic dance.
The second disc focuses mainly on the

music of the 90s, arguably the peak of
electronic dance. Among the notable
tracks on the disc are the Depeche Mode
hit "Enjoy the Silence," "Pump up the
Volume" by M/A/R/R/S, and Moby's
"Go" Also included are early tracks
from The Prodigy and The Chemical
Brothers, taken from their respective
debut albums in the United Kingd
The disc and the compilation end A
Godspeed's "BT," released in 1999,
which represents the current state of
electronic dance music.
As a musical compilation, the set has
its highs and lows. Although the anthol-
ogy advertises itself as "a great party
album," it has several conspicuous lulls
in intensity. A number of the songs
included are musical experiments, an
fair amount of those experimentsAW
not totally successful. As technology
improves, though, so does the music's
appeal, and by the third or fourth song
the collection establishes a relatively
solid groove. The second disc in particu-
lar is consistent in terms of quality.
"Machine Soul" is a pleasing collec-
tion of dance tracks, but it is even more
important as a history of dance music as
it has evolved over the past twenty-five
years. As monstrous as that undertaki
sounds in the context of a two disc ,
"Machine Soul" does an admirable job,
and is worth a listen.

feel Shelverton's pain.
Like their West Coast counterparts,
New York's the Gunga Din specialize in
the sort of stylized darkness practiced
by the Doors and Joy Division. But
unlike Shelverton and company, this
quintet prefers to sound subtly cryptic
rather than noisily pissed-off.

neling Jim Morrisson's dark spirit and
manipulating it in exciting new ways.
And, along with "Vue;" it announces
the arrival of two bands that will.hope-
fully stick around for a while, whether
gloominess becomes their trademark
or just proves a passing phase.

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