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November 27, 2001 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-11-27

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 27, 2001

4

I'm Waking Up To Us, Belle and Sebastian;
Matador/Jeepster

It takes eight people to make the simple
sound that is Belle and Sebastian. This Scot-
tish wimp-pop band with the funny French
name usually finds strength in numbers, but
their new three song EP shows them getting
down to business in under 13 minutes. The
British (and Scottish, and Irish and miscella-
neous U.K.-ish) kids already fancy Belle and
Sebastian, as does a small cult of American
college girls in thrift store cardigans and
nouveau granny glasses - and you should
too.
If you don't know about Belle and Sebast-
ian, you're rather behind the times (this
album being something like their 12th offi-
cial release), but hopefully now that you've
found them, they aren't past their prime."
Their first major release, 1996's If You're
Feeling Sinister, cemented their place in the
hearts of indie geek girls and brokenhearted
boys, but Belle and Sebastian have yet to top
that Burt-Bacharach-meets-Travis-with-a-lisp
perfection found on Sinister. Though it's not
for a lack of trying.
The band has attempted to add electronic
elements (drum loops, samples) and rotate
lead vocal duties over their subsequent
albums, giving them an expanded - and
often uneven -- sound. Unfortunately,
despite the band's size and willingness to
experiment, their best songs combine sim-
plicity and old-fashioned melodic quality, not
electronic pseudo-innovation or vocal variety.
Though all of the band's vocalists are talent-
ed, primary lead singer/writer Stuart Mur-
doch should act as the only lead
singer/writer, as the band's past attempts at
executive democracy have done nothing but
detract from their overall quality.
But Belle and Sebastian's new, and teasing-

ly brief, EP I'm Waking Up To Us offers a
return to fine form. The title single floats a
soft, acoustindie ditty over a cloud of strings
and brass. Though the instant catch of Sinis-
ter has yet to be consistently recovered, each
of Waking's tracks has something poppy
going for it. "I Love My Car" drives along
with a trifecta of brass, bass and drums sup-
plying the power and the pop, while "Marx
and Engels" lets snappy little guitar and
vibes bits snake sleekly through the piano
part.
If they can keep this up for an entire
album, Belle and Sebastian may be poised to
make a comeback. A full-length sustentation
of the song quality found on their recent sin-
gles (like this summer's Jonathan David and
this latest one) would definitely swing the
Belle and Sebastian sound trajectory back in
a positive direction. So, jump back on the
Belle and Sebastian bandwagon before it
regains much more musical momentum. The
cardigan kids are on their way up again.
Grade: B-

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: Original Motion Pic-
ture Soundtrack, John Williams; Atlantic

I

My, my, what a surprise. "Harry Potter," one of the biggest
films of the year, is finally upon us, and John Williams, of all
people, provides the musical accompaniment. With nearly 80
film soundtracks under his belt, Williams has certainly
become the most prolific film composer of the last 25 years.
While the music from "Harry Potter" is further proof of
Williams' supremacy, it fails to break any new ground for the
composer and take on a life apart from the film.
Movie critics have lauded director Chris Columbus for
making "Harry Potter" so faithful to the book, and likewise,
Williams' score is remarkably well-tailored for the film. In
typical Williams fashion, the opening track begins with a har-
rowing yet playful xylophone theme that carries throughout
the score. This theme, which transfers over to the strings and
brass in later tracks, sets the tone for the world of Harry Pot-
ter. Williams' orchestration is adept at conveying the dark
undertones of Potter's adventures, shrouding the film in a low,
lyrical cello and mellow flute.
You might leave the theater humming "Hedwig's Theme,"
but may also ask yourself if you've heard it before. Williams
does quite a bit of recycling from previous scores, most
notably "Jurassic Park," "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and
"Angela's Ashes." Considerable trumpet fanfare is almost a
given in a Williams soundtrack and you'll find plenty of it on
tracks such as "Harry's Wonderous World." These brass
themes instantly remind one of the closing scenes to "Jurassic
Park," flying above a dinosaur-infested island in a helicopter.
The audience has left Isla Nublar - but Williams has failed

0

On the other hand, Williams often blesses his score with
tracks such as "The Quidditch Match," which perfectly cap-
tures the frenzy of the fast-paced game. Here, the whirling,
flying athletes onscreen are matched by Williams' scurrying
violins and schizophrenic brass choir. But on the whole,
Williams seems to want to play it safe; the soundtrack to
"Harry Potter" is remarkably tame and lacks the emotional
fire needs to become a classic.
Grade: B

Cocky, Kid Rock; Atlantic

By Rob Brode
Daily Arts Writer
One of the many mouths of Detroit is back motoring again. The brash brava-
do that is Kid Rock is back once more to share tales of carnal conquest, copi-
ous cocaine consumption, the delights of drinking and his trademark
self-aggrandizement. Cockv is the follow up to 1998's Devil Without a Cause.
While it is a successor, it is not a sequel. Three years on the road and hobnob-
bing with his former idols, now cohorts i.e. Aerosmith, ZZ Top and Lynyrd
Skynyrd has taught the Kid a little more about Rock.
The engine that drove Devil Without a Cause to its multi-platinum status is
lodged deep within Cock's frame but the fixtures around the trailer are differ-
ent this time around. Public domain metal riffs a la "Bawitdaba" roar in the
first half of the CD, most prominently on the album's first single "Forever."
The album's title track "Cocky" is the epitome of what Rock fans have come
to expect, with big drums in the verse before the onslaught of fuzz blade gui-
tars carrying Kid Rock's swaggering vocals like a high tide as he sings "They
Say I'm Cocky/and I say what?/it ain't bragging motherfucker if you back it
up." Classic Rock gives way to the new, two parts "Only God Knows Why" to
every part "American Badass." "Lonely Road of Faith" unveils the new coun-
try/folk sound layered with acoustic guitars and plaintive pianos mixed with a
dash of falsetto harmonies. To ease the listener into the new sound, "Lonely
Road" changes pace halfway through, morphing into another rap/rock combo.
But bluegrass boogie bubbles up again on "Midnight Train to Memphis" but
is yet again quelled by the Kid's urge to rock halfway through. The plangent

melody of "I've lost another good one/she's on the midnight train to Mem-
phis" turns into the pimp's proverb of "fuck a bitch, fuck a bitch, fuck a
bitch." Rock's inability to commit to a style is both jarring and disappointing,
ruining a perfectly good bluegrass tune with rap or vice versa.
Rock makes gallant strides forward away from the limiting and dying genre
of rap/rock, distancing himself from acts like P.O.D. and Limp Bizkit, who
are content with living within the cramping confines of rapcore. Using his
voice for singing instead of just rapping and taking his hands off his crotch
long enough to lay down some dirty south blues on the guitar distinguishes
Kid Rock from to the one-
dimensional artists littered all
over the Billboard charts.
Growth is apparent, but so are
growing pains. Bi-polar disor-
der compromises the continu-
ity of too many of the tracks,
derailing solid songs into dis-
array. Cocky has a bunch of
good but ill-fitted ideas, but if
Rock decides to pursue his
heart's musical desires and .:""k
continues to learn from the
rock icons he now calls
friends, he will truly have
something to be cocky about
Grade: C-

Genesis, Busta Rhymes; J Records
By Dustin J. Seibert
Daily Arts Writer
Great googaly-moogaly ... where to
start? It's like watching The Detroit
Lions play on a big-screen television
with a Steven Seagal movie on the pic-
ture-in-a-picture feature, while eating a
bowl of Special K with a Tom
Jones/Engelbert Humperdinck album
playing at full volume. It's like a grown
man being circumcised with no anes-
thesia shortly after watching Halle
Berry's topless scene in "Swordfish."
It's like your husband leaving you and
your nine children for an airline stew-
ardess because he feels that you are
getting a little "chunky around the
edges." It's like being tied to a chair
with your eyelids clamped open, arms
tied around your back, butt-naked
packed in a mound of snow being
forced to watch the last two minutes of
the Michigan/Michigan State football
over and'over.
The "Battlefield Earth" of hip-hop
albums, Genesis reads as a blueprint to
end one's otherwise luxurious career.
How Busta Rhymes has the unmitigated
gall to give his devout fans such a poor
record escapes me. While his 1996 mag-
num opus, The Cioming, can be consid-
ered one of the few innovative albums in
'ie history of hip-hop, each of his fol-
lowing albums are increasingly lacklus-
ter in quality; with this his fifth solo

I

turn, he has outdone his own deplorable
levels of despicable music making, evi-
denced in his 2000 atomic bomb Anar-
chy. Never has this reviewer desired his
$15 back so much. Jerry Falwell could
squat and take a shit on a CD-R and
produce something more aurally pleas-
ing than this filth.
Not even his producers could help
revive the listener from this sleep-induc-
ing album. Dr. Dre is supposed to be the
big-deal producer for this album, but he
must have been hung over when he pro-
duced the pitiful "Holla" and the sub-
par first single "Break Ya Neck."
Relative unknown Yogi had the nerve to
sample a Curtis Mayfield classic and
completely botch it. Even superior pro-
ducers Jay Dee and Diamond D went to
the bottom of their bag of beats for
Busta. The only halfway decent track
that saves the album from total failure
and obscurity is "Shut Em Down
2002," the Pete Rock-produced remake
of the original Public Enemy jam ...
even still, P.E. did it better.
Plain and simple, Busta is just boring

I

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