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March 13, 2001 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-03-13

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9 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Phantom Moon, Duncan Sheik;
Atlantic/Nonseuch
By Neil Pais
Daily Arts Writer
Progressive and intelligent in its
scope, Phantom Moon continues in
the same fine line as Duncan Sheik's
other works, embracing its audience
with gentle folksiness and grassroots
rock. Ostensibly a contemporary pop
album (albeit far more well-con-
ceived), the album emerges rather as
a type of baroque compilation of
soothing melodies. Aesthetically, the
album reaches at perfection - and
comes close. Duncan Sheik, trouba-
dour of sorts, manages to infuse rock
with the Romantic Movement.
Heavily influenced by little-known
1970's counterpart Nick Drake,
Phantom Moon contains many inter-
esting musical arrangements that are
virtually unseen in much of today's
music. Almost completely dependent
on his acoustic guitar, the album
flows with the ease of a delicate day-
dream.
In going against the grain of mod-
ern pop, Duncan has daringly forged
an exclusive sound that cannot be
emulated by many other artists.
Reliant on simplicity and standing
without gimmicks or images,
Phantom Moon becomes accessible
to its listeners. This is the real deal
- non-commercial and unadulterat-
ed with petty strivings at glam, this
Spiritual Machines, Our Lady
Peace; Sony/Columbia
By Christian Smith
For the Daily
First, let me start by clearing up a
common misconception. Our Lady
Peace is not a church. It happens to
be the name of a popular Canadian
rock band. And they are not a New
Age hardcore Christian rock band,
just simple alternative rockers with
a little spiritual influence.
Our Lady Peace was born nearly
nine years ago when University of
Toronto criminology student
Michael Maida answered an ad in a
local Toronto magazine placed by
guitarist Mike Turner, who was
looking to form a band after coming
over from England. The name Our
,,Lady Peace was taken from a poem
%wiiitten by Mike Van Doren.
A lot has changed since 1992. For
Wlone, Maida's name is no longer
Mike. Because he wanted to avoid
Sthe confusion of having two 'Mikes'
in the band, he decided to take the
'logical derivative, Raine. See how
*that works? Don't worry, neither do
I.
The concept of the band's fourth
,album, Spiritual Machines is just as
'confusing. The record, which was
released in Canada almost four
..onths ago, takes its inspiration
from Ray Kurzweil's overwhelming-
ly paranoid book, "The Age Of
Spiritual Machines: When
.Computers Exceed Human
Intelligence."
Our Lady Peace wrote and par-
tially recorded the new album dur-
ing a year of nonstop touring in the
States, Europe and Canada and that
live-stage context, says Maida,
inspired the band to "keep it really
basic and not try to add too many
textures ... to not overdo it."
The result is a less polished
recording than in previous outings,
but after the lackluster performance
of their third album, Happiness ...
Is Not A Fish That You Can Catch
(don't ask), on which Maida admits

the band succumbed to the "tempta-

stuff is as organic as it comes.
Phantom Moon's track list is
superb all around; slightly variant
from Duncan's last album,
Humming, the present endeavor still
contains some of the Duncan Sheik
flavor with a dash of folk.
Particularly well-written tunes
include: "Mr. Chess" and "Sad
Stephen's Song." Also to be savored
are the melodic, ode-like "This is
How - My Heart Heard" and
"Requiescat"
Intimacy reigns supreme on this
album, as does romanticism. Not in a
while has something so beautiful and
stimulating emerged from a main-
stream pop artist. (A subtle enough
hint to the consumer of popular
music?)
Grade: A

Reptile, Eric Clapton;
WEA/Warner
By Gaut= Bakl
Daily Arts Writer
With a massive library of songs and
styles spanning five(!) decades, Eric
Clapton is always at his best when he
plays the blues. After a successful col-
laboration last year with B.B. King on
Riding with the King, Reptile is essen-
tially a solo follow-up project that even
goes as far as to include many of the ses-
sion players from the King release.
From slow-moving ballads to acoustic
based 12-bar blues, Reptile is a solid

record from start to finish.
Through 14 tracks, Clapton performs
half a dozen covers, ranging from a
country/blues mix of Stevie Wonder's "I
Ain't Gonna Stand For It" to a groovin'
version of J.J. Cale's "Traveling Light."
Clapton's own standout tracks include
the fiery "Superman Inside," reminis-
cent of his late '80s Journeyman days,
and the title track, "Reptile," an instru-
mental piece with a salsa beat. He even
does a Marvin Gaye impersonation on a
cover of James Taylor's "Don't Let Me
Be Lonely Tonight;" just one of the
many bluesy love ballads on the CD.
As expected, all tracks feature superb
solos, but Clapton doesn't go as far as to
abuse his talent by cramming the songs

with extended guitar riffs and fill-ins.
Overall, Reptile may not go down as
one of Slowhand's most influential
modern releases, but it shows the legend
is still doin' his thing ... and doin' it well.
Grade: B

tion" of going a bit overboard in the
studio, the band is content with the
change in direction.
Spiritual Machines incorporates
spoken word passages from the
book by Kurzweil himself, and the
songs on the album go a step fur-
ther. Particularly "In Repair," which
ponders the necessity and effective-
ness of machines "repairing" peo-
ple.
The book excerpts are more
annoying than anything, but they
don't make the album any less
effective. From the glaring "Right
Behind You (Mafia)," more of a
supportive anthem than an ode to
the mob, to the rousing leadoff sin-
gle "Life," to the haunting melodies
of the ballad "Are You Sad," the
album's spontaneous feel is a much
better fit for the band.
With their unconventional lyrics
and edgy rock melodies, Our Lady
Peace has developed a strong cult
following.
After becoming a Canadian rock
mainstay with the success of hits
like "Clumsy" and "Thief," they are
attempting to cross the border and
do the same in America with
Spiritual Machines.
If you don't already know who
Our Lady Peace is, look out, you
will.
Grade: B

Spew 15, Various Artists; Atlantic
Records
By Chris Lane
For the Daily
What to say about the compilation
that is Spew 15? Well, it's ... diverse.
There are veterans and rookies. Men
and women. Good and bad, sure.
Everyone from Bad Religion to
Taproot to Sinead O'Connor -finds a
happy home on Spew. This mlange of
musical styles certainly makes for vari-
ety, but within that plethora of the son-
ically dissimilar, there is a whole lot of
redundancy.
Yes, that was a contradiction, but it is
accurate. Something called Liquid
Bang starts off the comp. The Bang's
got a fast and heavy, seduce you with a
sledgehammer approach, which is
always fun, but is all the same better
left to metal.
Following the Bang is Bad Religion.
These guys get props for still somehow
being able to rock with their very
familiar brand of 'America is bullshit,'
fast punk. Semi-strong beginning.
In the middle of said comp,-there is
the song, "Haunted," by Poe.:In case
you haven't heard of the anorexic,
"Angry Johnny" songstress, she's got a
gloomier than Aimee Mann type of
voice and shallower than Edgar Allen
type of lyrics. Trust me, Poe's depres-
sion sucks just as much as Aimee's
does. Lyrically, there is a bit of sensi-
tivity. Musically, there is studio, studio,
and more studio. Poe's lyrics seem to
call for something less polished. Skip
'em.
The real female star of Spew 15 is
surprisingly Sinead O'Connor.
Although, the title is dubious, "Daddy
I'm Fine" is actually an unexpected
gem from the notorious, head-shaved
hellcat. The song showcases her usual
melodic moaning, but the combination
of reggae and pop-punk grooves breaks
new ground for the artist.
It's a treat, but the real diamond of
the middle is surely the Meat Puppets.
Despite the utter radio-friendliness of
their "Endless Wave," they draw you in
and get you down deep. The Puppets
prove that even a poppy tune can put
you into a waves crashing type of
trance. Not bad for the middle.
Ah, but the end. Where's the big fin-
ish, Atlantic? Ok, we're just going to
skip the end because it's just out of con-
trol. There's Christian rock, somejazzy
noise, and there's Taproot and
Collective Soul.
These two bands make my worst
ever list. All right, so I've got a few
things to say about the end. Sweet
Jesus, what is the local shit that is
Taproot? Fred, what have you done to
music? Stop it, please. And Collective
Soul, get your diet-rock asses out of my
stereo. No more. The end kills it.
If Spew 15 is supposed to represent
the talent that Atlantic currently
employs, then the executives better get
cracking because these tracks are tired.
You and I have heard them before.
There are maybe three songs here
worth a nod. The rest just make you
nod off.
Grade: D+
Records Gradew
.A-~ Excetent
.8- Good
DI- oor

..................

Ozzfest-Live-Second Stage, Various
Artists; Priority/Divine
By Rob Brode
Daily Arts Writer
Metal is a valid form of music, the
album Ozzfest-Live-Second Stage is not.
With the genre of metal seemingly fad-
ing on the national scene the notorious
bat biting Father of metal concocted his
own traveling metal show, self indul-
gently, yet deservingly titled Ozzfest.
But a festival usually means an all day
event and with only three or four top
quality acts there is much room for filler.
Filler finds itself playing in front of
smaller crowds on a much smaller stage
aptly titled the second stage. As the title
of the album bluntly says the music is
entirely from the second stage, which
implicitly says it sucks.
Since the bloody birth of metal from
Satan's womb each generation of metal-
ers try to weld their brand of metal into
the toughest, and heaviest metal of all.
Bands have traded screaming for bark-
ing, and traded the melodious sounds of
a tuned guitar into mush as their detuned
strings flap in the wind. These practices
have turned a grand form of music into a
stew of cacophony.
All the bands featured on Ozzfest-

Live-Second Stage suffer from this heav-
ier than thou complex. The bass guitars
sound like a lactose intolerant after three
bean burritos and four milkshakes. The
guitars are tuned so low that their intes-
tine rattling lows seep into the flatulent
sounds of the bass. The trained seals that
pass for singers sound as if their vocal
chords were removed, put into a blender
set to puree then reinstalled so each
shriek is saturated with the pain of hav-
ing vocal chords ripped out and the lack
of clarity associated with a blended set
of vocal chords. Tragically enough this
album is a two CD set. Nineteen tracks
and 18 different artists, yet it would be
quite a formidable chore to differentiate
between the acts. Disturbed's track
"Voices" is one of the few flowers in this
pile of dung. Much of the vocals seem to

be words and there seems to be a bit of
singing interspersed with the yelling and
the addition of a synthesizer adds a
breath of fresh air into the dense cloud of
gas that hangs over the two albums.
Slaves on Dope add the poetic lines
"Pushing me/and I can't push you
back/pushing me/I'm ready to attack."
While these simple couplets of anger
may be enough to peak the interest of
troubled testosterone filled teens it won't
do much for anyone else.
One of the most interesting tracks
comes from a group of seventeen-year-
old Canadian girls smugly named Kittie.
A group of girls doing death metal
should have a place in everyone's heart.
Other standouts include Ode to Clarissa's
"Ode to Clarissa;" Powerman 5000's
soulful funky pepperesque "Organized."
Metal is tolerable and even enjoyable
while standing in a sea of adrenaline
valiantly braving the dangerous
whirlpool of the moshpit. This type of
energy is impossible to catch on CD. If
you find metal enjoyable take the twenty
bucks you were going to spend on this
CD and go see Ozzfest in concert this
summer. Even live it may not be good but
it can't be worse.
Grade: D-

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