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April 04, 2000 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-04-04

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 4, 2000

SUPERGRASS 'HIGH' ON EPONYMOUS RELEASE

Bukem Journeys' into
new realm of electro:C'°.

Usually self-titled albums represent a band's
calm and collected moment of recollection
absprbed in a sense of self-importance. These
-albums are often also a crucial turning point for
4 hand musically. The members of Supergrass
have never been big on arrogance or relaxation,
and their third album is special in that it pro-
vides the progressive .element of a self-titled
work without succumbing to the same old bor-
.ng form.
*When you pick up "Supergrass," it is immedi-
ately evident that it's not your typical self-titled
album. Rather than a typical
Wn r . largely blank cover (ex.
Beatles' "White Album,"
Grade: A- Metallica "Metallica"),
tupergrass "Supergrass" features an X-ray
Suera of the three band members'
Supergrass heads. With singer/guitarist
-* Island Records Gaz Coombes and drummer
Rwd Danny Goffey just entering
Reviewed their mid-twenties (bassist
for the Dailyby Mick Quinn is 30), the band is
Andrew Seifter still very young and excited. In
just their third studio album,
Supergrass certainly aren't prepared to look
backon their career with any sort of elderly wis-
ui'ai-.
"Moving"'epitomizes the struggle between maturi-
ty and youthful exuberance that is thoroughly exam-
med throughout the rest of the album. "I'm moving,
just keep moving ... when I-don't know who I am ...
no need to follow, there's no way back again" sings

you hear us pumping on your stereo?" and he
knows the answer is a resounding "yes." The song
evokes memories of a young and energetic Rolling
Stones, both in the style of guitar and Gaz's strik-
ing vocal resemblance to Mick Jagger.
While songs such as "Shotover Hill," "Eon"
and "Born Again" hint at a quieter, more com-
plicated Supergrass, "What Went Wrong (In
Your Head)" and "Jesus Came From Outer
Space" indicate that the band hasn't strayed
completely away from their more care-free ori-
gins of their first album "I Should Coco." The
newest UK single "Mary" blurs the lines
between the typical "girlfriend song" and some
sort of fright tale right out of an '80s horror
movie (the music video would have you believe
it's more of the latter than the former), complete
with ogre-like background vocals.
This album is terrific in that it creates an
interesting and unique listening experience
without sacrificing the wild fun of past
Supergrass albums. The songs are remarkably
layered but still undeniably catchy. Whether
attempting to play with lounge, punk, disco,
classical, or even a little bit of hoe-down music,
this album does it very well. Supergrass have
clearly matured over the last five years, but they
haven't lost the personality that makes them
stand apart. "Supergrass" is certainly an impor-
tant album in the growth of the band, but it is
also clear that visions of producing art-rock will
not prevent these three young men from pump-
ing on your stereo for years to come.

LTJ Bukem has never been one to stay
within the bounds of genre. Back at the
dawn of the '90s, he was a key instigator
in the creation of the genre known as
drum and bass. Bukem has since tran-
scended the genre he came to define by
taking drum and bass into hip-hop style
down-tempo territory with his knack for
taking jazz-fusion sounds from the '70s
and placing them into a high-tech drum
and bass context.
On Bukem's first studio album,
"Journey Inwards,'it should come as no

frontman Gaz. "Moving" is clearly a song about tran-
sition, and is fittingly the opening song on the new
album. Like its lyrical content, the song is also one of
musical progression. Opening with simply an
acoustic guitar, "Moving" develops into a booming
disco chorus before eventually settling on a lounge-
style outro.
In many respects, the first two UK singles off
the album depict the amazing balance the album
features. While "Moving" symbolizes the band's
desire to progress emotionally and musically,
"Pumping on your Stereo" reminds listeners that
Supergrass are still primarily a loud, fun rock and
roll band. Gaz repeatedly asks the listener "Can

Grade: A-
LTJ Bukem
Journey Inwards
Good Looking/Kinetic
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
Jason Birchmeier

surprise to those
acquainted with
him to learn that
nearly half of the
songs on this dou-
ble album fall out-
side the generic
confines of drum
and bass. Some
songs such as
"Rhodes to
Freedom" and
"Close to the

I
.

Prophets 'Reproduce' pop-rock

Source" operate as perfect executions of
the style of drum and bass that Bukem
has come to define while others such as
"Sunrain" and "Deserted Vaults" fall
within the realm of genres that haven't
yet been defined.
Bukem's daring sense of creativity
never seems short on ideas and often
results in brilliant pieces of music that
simply are far ahead of their time. "Inner
Guidance" could be the future sound of
jazz with its light percussion and smooth
horn melodies just as easily as "Deserted
Vaults" could become the future sub-
genre of hip-hbp that one might refer to
as ambient.,Categorizing Bukem's music

is a difficult task that will only result in
frustration since within the course of
nearly every song one finds elements of
hip-hop, jazz, soul and ambient inter-
mixed with drum and bass.
If Bukem's "Logical Progressior
albums function as dance music anc
his "Earth" albums as smoking music,
then "Journey Inwards" surely oper-
ates as a contemplative album for
home listening. Notably absent on this
album are the rolling bass lines that
have become such a key ingredient to
modern drum and bass. instead,
Bukem replaces the earth shaking bass
with soft bass lines that compliment
the poetic melodies that float across
his gentle percussion loops as clou
would across a lazy sky. Nothing rn
this album is going to make you shtake
your ass too much, but one cannot
deny Bukem's courageous and innova-
five spirit. Most importantly though,
Bukem and his crew have a gifted
sense of beauty, a quality sorely lack-
ing in the dark, manic genre known as
drum and bass.

To be honest, it is difficult to be a good rock band
in the 2'lst Century without being a blatant rip-off or
cheesy teen pop band. Thirty-five years after Bob
Dylanz The Beatles, Brian Wilson and Jimi Hendrix
innoyated the mix of electric guitars and song struc-
tures, the genre has become exhausted. There are
some occasional moments of fresh rock sounds such
as Nirvana and REM, but for the most part people

6.a,
Grade: B-
Bottle Prophets
Reprodactive
learning
Self Released
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
Jason Birchmeier
can even make it

are retiring their guitars and '
buying electronic equipment.
The product of five University
students known as the Bottle
Prophets, "Reproductive
Learning" stands out as an
admirable attempt to produce
fresh rock in a post-modern
culture.
To illustrate this point, one
needs to take a close listen to
this young band's ideas about
modern pop rock. Before one
through the first song, the vocals

that, on this album, she sounds as good as nearly any
Lilith Fair artist.
Singers such as Natalie Merchant - a close com-
parison - or Liz Phair can be excused with their
witty and poetic lyrics. Unfortunately, Folk's lyrics
sound like cliched pop rock most of the time.
Granted, most of the time you can't decipher the
lyrics, but when you can, they end up being rather
straightforward narrative tales about human rela-
tionships. Here is one of cheesiest examples: "You
make me so happy! now that you wear a tether/ 'cuz
when I'm near you! it's always heavy weather."
Far too deep beneath the cliched vocal pop sur-
face is admirable music that truly deserves more
moments without the smothering vocals. This bright
spot in the band comes courtesy of the two primary
songwriters in the band, Jaime Vazquez and Dave
Berzin. By the conclusion of the album it is clear
that these guys cover all the bases in just nine songs.
There are some laid back ballads with an acoustic
feel and then there are some nice modern rock songs
with subtly distorted guitar riffs. Vazquez lays some
truly unique guitar rhythms with his distortion ped-
als while Berzin is hard to follow, jumping from
piano to guitar to background vocals.
In sum, there are some nice moments on this
album, especially the haunting melody of Folk's

FormerPyhnIl
. . r
'Sings' musiclc CTe y

chorus in "Drive" and the Santana-like guitar play-
ing of "Dr. Husky." But even as much as this band
tries so hard to sound unique, it is a difficult task in
today's post-rock culture no matter how many
instruments you play or how many distortion pedals
you use. In the end, they almost take their ambitious
drive to be unique too far, resulting in an album of
many different flavors. Most of these flavors are
admittedly tasty - especially for a band of college
students - but in the end one wishes they had
another year or two to develop a trademark sound
rather than sounding like a guitar-driven update of
10,000 Maniacs.

of |GY singer Michelle Folk stand out due to her
proitinence in the mix and also due to the fact that
she sings almost non-stop through the album. Of
course, vocals are a big part of pop rock, but at times
one gets a bit tired of her singing despite the fact

Anyone familiar with Monty Python
knows the work of Eric Idle. Idle, with
contributions from his partners in come-
dy, was responsible for a majority of the
songs used in numerous Python skits
and movies. Now, nearly twenty years
after the last Python performance in the
United States, Idle is touring the country,
playing the songs that he made famous
in the '70s and early '80s. In addition to
the tour, Idle has released an album con-
taining most of the songs he will be per-
forming, called "Eric Idle Sings Monty
Python."
The album samples famous, infamous
and obscure songs covering two Python
movies, various sketches and some of
Idle's side projects away from the group.
While most of the
songs were origi-
Grade: C nally very funny,
many of them just
Eric Idle don't hold up after
Eric Idle Sings more than twenty
Monty Python years. "Every
Restless Records Sperm is Sacred,"

Indie-rock godfather Lou Reed rocks, rolls on 'Ecstasy'

Lou Reed hasn't lost his touch for tak-
ing listeners to places they don't normal-
ly travel. With his work in the Velvet
Underground, he established himself as
the patron saint of junkies, transvestites,
sadist5 .and other savory characters.
Songy lge "Venus in Furs" and "Heroin"

Grade: B+
Lou Reed
Ecstasy
Rep se Records
", viewed by
dalft Arts Writer
Andrew Eder

journeyed to dark
areas of the soul
which many would
prefer to leave
untouched. Times
have changed, and
so has Reed, but his
songs have not lost
their power to excite
and disturb.
"Ecstasy" is
fueled by a sense of

rhythm section of bassist Fernando
Saunder and drummer Tony Smith pro-
vides a solid core for rockers like
"Mystic Child," "Tatters," and "Big Sky."
As usual, Reed doesn't really sing -
instead, he talks, slurs and shouts his way
through his own twisted, complex lyrics.
Reed uses "Ecstasy" to focus on the
pains and pleasures of relationships. As
he says in "Tatters," "Some couples live
in harmony / Some do not / Some cou-
ples yell and scream / Some do not." For
the most part, Reed zeroes in on couples
who yell and scream, as in the vengeful
"Mad" Reed rips into his lover: "you're
as dumb as my thumb" while revealing
his own infidelity. "Baton Rouge" is
slightly mellower, but no less merciless
in detailing the pain of divorce: "That's
what marriage came to mean / The bit-
terest ending of a dream."
For the songs about relationships,
there is only one love song, "Turning
Time Around." The most beautiful song

on the album, "Turning Time Around" is
a slow ballad with gentle arpeggios that
recall "Perfect Day" Reed sings with a
disarming frankness about love, compar-
ing it to time.
In sharp contrast to the ethereal beauty
of "Turning Time Around," Reed sings
two songs that recall the harsh, avant-
garde experimentalism of the Velvet
Underground. "Rock Minuet" and "Like
a Possum" are both postmodern sym-
phonies, full of drugs, violence and des-
peration. "Rock Minuet" actually pulls it
off- the song has an ominous tone and a
musical complexity that compliment
Reed's enigmatic, murderous lyrics. But
"Like a Possum" is more of an endurance
test than a song. Over eighteen minutes
long, the song doesn't rise or fall at all.
Instead, its dissonant guitars drone along
while Reed groans the lyrics.
For all of the pessimism, pain, and
perversity in "Ecstasy' Reed ends the
album on a jubilant note with "Big Sky."

Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
David Reamer

for example, is
impossible to put
into context out-
side of "The

His guitar blares joyously as he declares,
"Big sky holding up the sun / Big sky
holdirng up the moon / Big sky holding
down the sea / But it can't hold us
down anymore." With the Velvet
Underground, Reed sang about
Virginia, whose life was saved by rock
and roll. Thirty years later, Reed is still
proving that rock can break down
boundaries and provide salvation.

Meaning of Life,' the troupe's final fea-
ture film.
Tracks like "The Galaxy Song" and
"Sit On My Face" are hard to take seri-
ously as part of a recorded performance
without being able to see the singer and
his companion performers act and react.
Most of the songs on the album lose
their punch without the original comedy
troupe's visual aids to add to the humor.
The "Accountancy Shanty" for example,
just isn't the same without skyscrapers
doing battle on the open seas. "Always
Look on the Bright Side of Life" suffers
from a lack of visible crucifixion.
One ofthe bonuses of"Eric Idle Sings
Monty Python" is the banter that he

keeps up between songs. Aside from the
mandatory shout-outs to John Clees
Graham Chapman and the gang, Idle
gives some behind the scenes informa-
tion about the pitching of several of the
Python movies. Short poems which may
or may not be authentic dominate these
anecdotes, and are generally more amus-
ing than the full-length songs.
Among the musical highlights of the
album are "Medical Love Song," which
is an ode to STDs, and "The Lumberjack
Song." the tale of a manly man becom-
ing a transvestite. These gems are amon*
the few tracks on the album that stand by
themselves, yet aren't quite enough to
redeem the work
In the end, "Eric Idle Sings Monty
Python" is more a remembrance of
former glory than a serious artistic
work. The songs and poems Idle per-
forms all point back to the Python's
heyday, when they wverc the funniest
men on earth. The lack of origina
material makes the album red undant
however. Those who want it wil be
those who already own all of Idle's
songs in their original forms, as part
of the skits and movies that thev
know and love. Anyone who doesntu
know Python by heart simply won't
understand the jokes in the songs,
and that is a shame.

musical vitality that almost excuses its
lengt i(just under 78 minutes). Reed and
longtime guitarist Mike Rathke fill the
album with sometimes catchy and some-
times dissonant guitar hooks, and the

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