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September 18, 2001 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-18

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

4

Shit Sandwich, Not
Saved EP; Cheap Drugs
Records
By Ryan C. Moloney
Daily Arts Writer

C
b<
h
s
d
re
a
ti
S
to

If there's one talent you
an pin on Long Island-
based punk-metal group
Not Saved, it's a sense of
umor. The title of the four-
ome's new CD, Shit Sand-
"ich, is a punchline the
ozen or so critics who
eview it will no doubt use
s their "A" material.
We'll bypass that tempta-
ion here, for though Not
aved is as musically semi-
alented as any other garage
unk-metal band, they are

still a cornerpiece in today's
scream-and-be-pissed-off-
for-nothing puzzle of copi-
ous hardcore music.
Kids, lock up your
Deftones CDs at night. The
first song on Shit Sandwich,
"Fintastic Voyage," (apolo-
gies to Coolio) is a suitable
showcase for the intertwin-
ing riffs of guitarist Gerry
Giacalone and bassist
Kevin Purcell, though
vocalist Jim Burns' indeci-
pherable lyricalrants set the
tone for the record. Is he
yelling about drugs? The
desperation of life? Going
to Seven-11 for a Big Gulp?
Do we care? Burns pro-
duces such a wide range of
screaming audible noises,

his vocal chords must be as
frayed as the Red Wings
1998 Stanley Cup flag you
are stillflying from your car
window.
Not Saved peppers
"Crash and Burn" and
"Excess" with subtle inter-
ludes of bass and guitar
before launching back into
the violent stuff, but this,
er, sandwich has no mus-
tard. "Excess," in particu-
lar, is plagued with a
simple-minded three-note
riff that will suffice for a
living-room slam-dance
session, but will probably
fall back when the next
hardcore album thrashes
by.
"Tormented," the sixth

and last song on the album
might also qualify as the
best, if only because it is
the most definitive of the
collection. The song starts
out hard with every piece
of the ensemble, before
drummer Andy Flav ends it
with a percussion accompa-
niment of another Burns
rant.
If you need a soundtrack
for watching "Backyard
Brawls" or BMX on
ESPN2 and you like hard-
core music, this is your
bag. Otherwise, you might
want to stick with the
PB&J as far as sandwiches
go - sorry, couldn't resist.
Grade: B-

Visitor Jim,Visitor Jim; Fortune
Records
By Keith N. Dusenberry
For the Daily

Fortune Records didn't get the p
memo - instead of sending their
A&R people out to sign the next Sum
182 or Limpin' Park, they signed
R.E.M. wannabes Visitor Jim. This
band is a "hot" find - 15 years ago. I
almost didn't have to listen to this
record in order to review it. How
could I have done this, you ask'? Well,
it comes in a cheap, digipack-style
case (you know, those crappy card-
board sleeves that major bands put out
a CD in so as to look "indie" and hip
(read: Save money), and that little
bands put out CDs in so as to ... well, r
save money). Lesser-known bands
employing digipacks mean one of two
things: Either the label has no money,
or it has no faith in the album's ability t
to actually sell. In this case, I think
both of these things are true. Visitor a
Jim's frontman, Jim Greer, has previ- <
ously made three solo albums and a a
few miscellaneous band/side project
albums for Fortune Records, but his .-
appeal and selling power have yet to s
stretch beyond his family and closest S
friends. Let's say that he's not exactly :i
a "unit shifter."r
Despite all of this, I have to give ex
Jim and his band mates James Bowser fu
and Jimmy Leslie some credit. This he
album has its moments. "Place of My 14
Own" and "I'll Be Gone" prove that to
Greer studied under Brian Wilson and >D
the Byrds at the Pop Songwriting ge
Institute, but sadly he never utilizes 5
that tutelage to produce anything bet- 13
ter than the most mediocre of Foun- th
tains of Wayne songs. The "harder" pI
rockers on the album such as "Devil Sl2
Trouble" and "Never Get Home" are re
just hard enough to keep this record di
out of your mom's CD collection, but Su
not good enough to garner a second of
listen.
If you still think that you want this C0
album, I recommend thatyou buy its std
older, wiser cousin called Document.
Bch
Grade: C-
Strange Little Girls, Tori Amos; Atlantic
By Gina Pensiero
For the Daily

Songs In a Northern Key, Varno-
line; Artemis Records
By Rob Brode
Daily Arts Writer
There is a fine line between the beau-
tiful and the unremarkable and Anders
Parker falls into the realm of the latter.
Anders Parker's self-brewed concoction
Varnoline and his new album Song In a
Northern Kev, put-
ters along softly
amongst psychedelic
dissonance and plush
soundscapes cour-
tesy of mandolins,
banjos and pump
organs. The discc
starts off with "Still
Dream," featuring a
guitar part which
echoes Fleetwood
Mac's "Landslide"
and vocals that sug-
gest Neil Young's
vocal chords have found a new home in
Parker's throat. Most of the disc suffers
from this type of catatonic passivity.
Parker sings thinly "Too far gone/how
can you go on?," on "Indian Summer
Takedown," track three, unfortunately
by this point the listener is asking the
same thing of Parker.
Songs retreads familiar territory song
Wonderland, The Charlatans UK;
MCA
By Chris Lane
Daily Arts Writer
Think Brit rock mixed with techno.
Think bluesy, bassy riffs meeting elec-
tronic beeps and bumps. Think Moby
sharing the stage with the Oasis. It is a
strange soup, but the taste is surpris-
ingly good.
Wonderland is the newest effort
from The Charlatans UK, a band that
has survived fame, imprisonment,
death, and even an accountant stealing
five hundred thousand from the trea-
sure chest. This is definitely a "Behind
the Music" band.
The Charlatans have'certainly
braved the storm and Wonderland is
their proof. It struts with experience,
yet is driven by a youthful experimen-
tation. The band has been tinkering
with techno and trance for some years
now and Wonderland seems to be the
destination they've been looking for.
The album glides with a particularly
feel good mood. Even the sad songs
refuse to dwell on hard times. You get
the feeling that these Brits want the
listener to celebr'ate life, rather than
feel its harshness. There is little varia-
tion in the tone of the album but these
ten tracks are grooveable. Wonderland
has that cool vibe that makes errands
or washing the dishes less of a chore.
You'll scrub and-still muse over how
they jam with all the different tones
on the synthesizer. Remember there
was clarinet, jazz guitar, harpsichord,
etc.
Toxicity, System of a Down;
Sony/Columbia
By Luke Smith
Daily Music Editor
System of a Down's second album
carries where the first left, an explosive
power grind
SOAD's discolored mix of tempo
changes and aggro-harmonized vocals
drive tunes like "Jet Pilot" and "Prison
Song" to the edge of nu metal fanati-
cism with a mettalic sharp edge.
Toxicitv does more than reach at the
tits and bras Fred Durst tilted crowd and
it reaches further than the simplicity of
"Nookie," and the countless Fred Durst-
a-likes. SOAD reaches towards a socio-
economic point, stretching beyond
"asses" and "fine bitches," and to novel

conscience loosening thoughts such as

after song. "Blackbird Fields" sounds
like a sequel to "Still Dream."There are
a few instances where Parker emerges
from his comatose musicality. Songs
"Song" and "Anything From Now""
rock with a Foo Fighter's rock/pop sen-
sibility.
The background is beautiful but the
foreground is nonexistent. The album
would work best as the music for a
commercial. When VW was looking for
a trance-like folk-y
song to put behind
their add for their
Cabrio they could
have used some-
thing off of "Songs
In a Northern Key"
but since they went
> _with Nick Drake's
"Pink Moon" this
CD will never
serve a purpose,
unless you want to
listen to 15 covers
o~f "Pink Moon"
with different titles by a different artist.
Too bad Parker's spider sense didn't go
off when he was considering releasing
this album. If you are arty, ostentatious,
a big Neil Young fan or a girl this CD
has a place in your collection otherwise
leave room for it in the trash.
Grade: D

4

The Charlatans tinkering sonically
begs a nod to singer Tim Burgesses'
smart vocal work. Be warned, much of
the singing is in falsetto. But his reser-
vation in volume, his quivering
cadences and hopeful emotions prove
that the man has got a vision. And I
don't mean that in a 'paint a canvas
purple and the artist has a vision' way.
I mean Burgess wants to soothe and
affect you just as the music does. It's
like he's singing hymns in church, but
has absolute faith in the words and
music.
Wonderland is a solid album. It's
not an album that you're going to
mosh to or scream along with the cho-
ruses, but it's fun. Morebvr, it's a
breath of fresh air that seems extreme-
ly appropriate for this week, as well as
for the angry and alienated -ap-rock
phase that music is currently languish-
ing in. Plus, at the end of the album,
you'll look around and say "Wow,
where the hell did all these clean dish-
es come from?"
Grade: A-

Tori Amos is a cult. And that is not an exagger-
ation.
She quite possibly has one of the most die-hard
fan bases in music today, which seems somewhat
bizarre among the ranks of empty-headed bub-
blegum and rap metal that plague modern popular
music. She has always come off as an intelligent
artist who writes from the heart.
However, it is not Amos' writing that appears
on her new disc, Strange Little Girls. It is actually
a diverse mix of covers fused into a concept
album. By doing everything from a Depeche
Mode song to a disturbing spoken word version of
Eminem's "'97 Bonnie & Clyde," Amos tries to
portray the female perspective or even a female
character portrayed in the song.
It's certainly an interesting artistic idea, even if
it isn't completely original. The packaging con-
sists of photos of Amos as each of the characters
from the song. Combining this with the covers
aspect makes for a unique offering. However, one
can't help but feel that the intention of Strange

1AJ}t Ax
*
Little Girls is some sort of twisted cross between
Natalie Merchant's Ophclia and Shawn Colvin's
Cover Girl.
There is no doubt that the songs Amos chooses
are, for the most part, exceptional. A standout is
undoubtedly "Real Men" by Joe Jackson in which
Amos' haunting voice echoes the lyrics, "But now
and then we wonder who the real men are."
Another track of interest is The Beatles' "Hap-'

piness Is A Warm Gun," which Amos sings from
the perspective of a call girl whom Mark Chap-
man hired and confided in the night before he
assassinated John Lennon. Also, Amos' rendition
of Tom Waits' smoky bar ballad "Time," is as
touching and somber as any Waits original could
be.
Musically, the album is quite good. Amos'
voice remains unique and the arrangements are
reminiscent of 1998's From the Choirgirl Hotel
and 2000's To Venus and Back. To an uneducated
listen, it sounds like the songs could stylistically
be her own. And, as always, the piano work
remains exceptional.
The thing about Tori Amos is, she could put out
a blank disc with nothing but track numbers and
still be loved and revered as a great artist. Strange
Little Girls is not her best work, as there is little
that compares to her own song writing, when she
hits her target.
All things considered though, this album is
very interesting and thoughtful. Devoted fans are
sure to love it and those less acquainted with her
work will certainly be able to find something
appealing on Strange Little Girls.
Grade: B+

freeing the imprisoned, (even if it is
Charles Manson).
SOAD's newest album changes gears
growling like an Audi on the Autobahn,
unleashing and unwinding through the
straight-a-ways and humming around
corners. The crossover's between Tool
and Staind are ties that bind, but not
ropes that confine and SOAD rises
above any bad Aaron Lewis jokes.
Grade: B

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