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April 02, 2002 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-02

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11- The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 2, 2002
BREAKING RECORDS
REVIEWS OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY'S NEW RELEASES

THE PARTY OF HELICOPTERS
SPACE ... AND HOW SWEET IT
WAS
TROUBLEMAN UNLIMITED
By Keith N. Dusenberry
Daily Music Editor
Dyeing a teddy bear's hair black
doesn't make it metal. Neither
would giving Dashboard Confes-
sional some Marshall stacks and
Slayer T-shirts, which, sadly, is basi-
cally what the Party of Helicopters
do. POH have the formless song
structures and whiny vocals that
Dashboard fans have long used as a
soundtrack to makeoutclub.com
browsing and sundry other forms of
self-immolation, but with a metal
edge! It's like you can join the Kiss
Army but still cry and have star
tattoos.
POH's musicianship (vocals
excepted) comes off pretty clean, if
standard. The occasional trebly hook
or math-rock rhythm keep these
songs from completely driving lis-
teners to their shotguns, but the
extended melancholy metal jams in
the middle of most of them could
give pacifists itchy trigger fingers.
Therein lies Space's most prevalent
SCHATZI

problem: This record sounds like an
endless stream of all-too-similar
parts and pieces. Verse, moan,
whine, solo, wail, jam, verse, verse,
moan, jam, chorus (?), whine,
whine, wail, whine, drum break,
moan - that's the basic structure of
both of the discs which comprise
this album.
Which brings up another thing:
Why put a record that totals less
than 40 minutes on two CDs and
release it as a double disc? Probably
the same reason that Dashboard
releases countless EPs - these
records contain too much pain for
current full-length CD technology.
Try burning these two discs onto

one and your CD drive will lock
itself in its bedroom, listening to
Saves the Day for weeks at a time
and writing in its online journal
about how you just don't understand
and how it thinks it might want a
serious relationship with you, but
it's not sure, but it will definitely
ask its close guy friend about the sit-
uation next time they hang out and
drink wine while watching '80s
high school movies.
At this point, looking at the lyrics
seems silly: How could mere words
ever express the pain of the cave
from which these founts of frivolity
spring? Though occasionally sub-
limely transcendent ("Bastard moth-
erfucker / I hate you / I hate you
twice"), POH's lyrics sound like a
high school creative writing student
trying to mimic Shellac-era Steve
Albini. Which, probably not coinci-
dentally, also categorizes most of
the music on this record although
this is a little more metal, a little
less math.
You kids can keep your POH and
MOC, the grown ups will be in the
other room listening to Big Black
and browsing undiesonlyclub.com.
RATING: * 7

FIFTY REASONS TO EXPLODE
MAMMOTH RECORDS
By Gina Pensiero
Daily Arts Writer

Rhyming "libido" with "mosquito," and not being
Kurt Cobain, is the first red flag that you don't deserve
to breathe, let alone have a record deal.
. Schatzi, on their newest release, Fifty Reasons to
Explode, is trying to be The Anniversary and failing
miserably, which is pathetic. They knew they needed a
Moog so they went and bought a Casio. They looked in
the dictionary for "off-beat rhyming words," so they
could have bizarre lyrics. Then they pulled a scenester
off the street, had her sing some semblance of back-
ground vocals in a studio with one mic in the middle of
the room and then fixed the whole thing with pitch con-
trol and whine effect.
"I had to live through youuuuuuuuuuu. Step into your
shoooooooees...How can I exist if I'm the only one?"
whines lead singer Chris Kyle. The next line is even bet-
ter; "Sometimes I kind of miss the alienation." I guess
that's only when he's taking a break from crying and
wondering how he can exist if he's the only one?
Bad emo is like the dregs of a hopelessly flawed soci-
ety. It's what happens when networks give out too many
talk shows. It's Fox in general. It's the lowest of the low.
There is nothing good or interesting about Schatzi.
They start with stupid riffs and surge into soft-core
punk, like every emo band before them has done, and
every bad emo band after them will do. How long can
we live like this? How many stupid bands can this awful

Y

genre spawn when there is not variation, originality or
really anything but four twentysomething #vhite guys
with Rivers Cuomo glasses combining big words with
big, stupid, overdramatic, repressed, sub-masculine pain.
"You're looking for something better, for something
better," is another all toQ perfect lyric in the song
"Delta." And then there's, "After all I'm going nowhere,"
in "Song for Stephanie."
I hope they go somewhere called "away."/
You're fired from the music industry. Your homework
is to go home, eat bleach and die.
RATING: *

TWEET
SOUTHERN HUMMINGBIRD
THE GOLD MIND INC.
By Devon Thomas
Daily Arts Writer
Gold Mind's newest excavation,
Tweet, gives us a taste of honey-
drenched soul on her debut album
Southern Hummingbird. Helmed by
the lead single "Oops (Oh My)," a
late-night R&B heater about the joys
of "self-love," one might figure the
rest of her album is full of jerky, over-
produced Missy Elliott numbers.
This is not the case.
The album takes its cue more from
the classic soul of the '70s and '80s
than modern R&B with surprising
results. The album lovingly grooves
along with rich vocals, soulful ballads
and acoustic underpinnings.
Instrumentation and musicianship
take a refreshing front seat over heavily
produced, trendy R&B. Filled with
impressive gems and intoxicating
rhythms, there's a song for almost
every melodic mood. "Best Friend" is a
reclined slow jam that pares up the

laid-back, no fuss stylings of Tweet to
the warmth of neo-soulite Bilal.
The range of Southern Humming-
bird is remarkably multifaceted; from
the stripped-down,
microphone & gui-. .
tar vibe of
"Motel" to they
heartbreaking dark
of "Drunk" which
howls with carous-
ing abandon ("I'd
rather be drunk on
a cloud far away
from here than r
sober") and inebri-
ating to-and-fro
melody. There's a
foray into early
'80s synth-soul
with the old school-esque jam "Make
Ur Move," a throwback to the roller
discos and poplockers of the era of
excess and even tiptoes into honky-
tonk country ("Complain").
Largely the artist herself culls most
of the album's more potent material.
Her more than 10 years toiling as an
aspiring solo artist have paid off: Her
skills as a songwriter, drummer and

acoustic guitarist are impressively
detailed here.
More complex than nything that
can currently be offered dp by a trio of
"bootylicious"
singers or a girl
that's not yet a
woman, Tweet's
voice exhibits a
unique redolence
similar to the soul
sirens of the seven-
ties - Minnie
Riperton, Evelyn
Champagne King
and Angela Bofill
- rather than
keeping up with
the interchange-
able chicks fea-
tured on the hook of a rap track.
She is distinctive amongst the
crowded school of R&B fish. Her
album is one that opts to lead by being
lyrically open and musically adventur-
ous. An old school-inspired record
brimming with new school promise,
Southern Hummingbird is the diary of
an emerging musical talent on the rise.
RATING: *'C*

THE APEX THEORY
TOPSY-TURVY
DREAMWORKS
By Will Yates
Daily Arts Writer
Times are tough for old-school
mainstream modern rock fans.
Sometime circa 1997, it became
clear that the grunge revolution
had run its course. The good old
days, when bands like Smashing
Pumpkins and Alice In Chains
ruled radio playlists, were over. It
was time to make a choice: either
you bought Korn's Follow The
Leader and Limp Bizkit's Three
Dollar Bill, Y'all and never
looked back or, like me, you fell
hard for Radiohead's OK Comput-
er and switched your allegiance to
electronica and indie rock. Radio
and MTV took the former road
and hit paydirt: The industry's
new favorite son, rap-rock, had its
fifteen minutes. After the fallout
settled, a new era of pretentious
(but catchy) angst-core led by the
likes of Nickelback and Puddle of
Mudd was upon us:
So where 'do LA's The Apex
Theory fit into this picture? For
starters, they definitely bring the
n0-rock flava, but luckily use it as
a jumping-off point rather than a
crutch. Fans of Incubus and Sys-

tem of a Down will instantly rec-
ognize the sound: Slippery guitar
riffs competing for attention with
a ferociously talented rhythm sec-
tion and a
singer who
loves to
s w i t c h
b e t w e e n
restrained
vulnerability
and guttural
emoting at
the drop of a=
hat. The
songwriting
c o m p 1 e x
harmony,
wringing
interest out
of a minimal
chord palette
by incorporating convoluted
meters and what the band's web-
site calls a "heavy Mediterranean
groove," a stylistic amalgamation
of hardcore, prog, indie/emo and
Eastern influences. In other
words, what we have here is the
thinking man's nu-metal.
Topsy-Turvy, the band's debut
album, manages to incorporate
these diverse elements and yet
remain decidedly mainstream.
Thank the crisp production of
Don Gilmore and the energetic,

although occasionally contrived,
vocals of frontman Andy Khacha-
turian. The songs themselves
largely follow the unfortunately
ubiquitous
m o d e r n -
rock cliche
o f so ft
verses and
loud cho-
ruses, but
are gener-
al 1 y
redeemed
by memo-
invigorat-
e n g
refrains.
T he p lay -
ing on this
especially
that of drummer Sammy J. Wat-
son, is very impressive; compli-
cated riffs and rhythms are
navigated with ease. Essentially,
Topsy-Turvy is a solid set of
songs from a very talented band
who, with some more tinkering,
could really become something
special. In the meantime, they'll
have to settle for being a welcome
breath of fresh air for the stagger-
ing institution that is today's mod-
ern rock.
RATING: ** *

KMFDM
ATTAK
METROPOLIS

By Sonya Sutherland
Daily Arts Writer
After almost two decades, most bands would have disband-
ed and moved on to jobs waiting tables. If you don't believe
me, take a look at the balding members of the 80's rock gen-
eration and you can bet Whitesnake isn't recording anything
cutting edge. Leave it to the Germans to build something
that lasts. KMFDM is back and just as good as ever.
Their fifteenth album, Attak, continues the hard hitting
industrial tradition that 18 years have solidified. The pio-
neers of industrial rock provide the usual over-driven gui-
tars, heavy riffs, and general ass-kicking good time and take
their creative channels one step further to expand on what
seems like their endless supply of sonic combinations.
Filled with subtle beat changes and progressive riffs every
track on Attak is superior to the metal shit that's being
served up to the mainstream by the spoonful and reflects the
true talent of these Deutschland musical heroes.
Batting for this dream team, Attak combines the vocal tal-
ents of Lucia Cifarrelli, Raymond "Pig" Watts and Dorona
Alberity, with the guitar great Joozl Hodgeson of PIG,
instrumentalist Bill Rieflin and master of everything sonic
Tim Skold. A snooth creeping approach mixed with a pot-
pourri of synthetic rhythms and innovative layering,
KMFDM serves up 11 tracks that shame any nii-metal
attempt that the last five years has produced.
"Superhero" is a prime example of superiority. The
bewitching mix of dizzy drum beats, pressing bass and

I

VNVNATION
FUTUREPERFECT
METROPOLIS
By Sonya Sutherland
Daily Arts Writer
Detroit may be at the forefront of Techno but the rest of
America is lagging behind. Unfortunately for the radio lis-
tening public, the waves in the good old US of A are saturat-
ed with a copy of a copy of a copy of a poorly produced
original rock formula, leaving no room for electronica,
industrial or any tune that strays from the safety of a money-
making commercial pop hit guarantee. Perhaps that is why
VNVnation, victory not vengeance, despite Ron Harris and

Lucia s know-how on the vocal track put any smgie rm or
No Doubt boasts into the mediocre bin the prevalent
fronting females have long deserved. Picking any of the
other tracks simply serves to demonstrate that Linkin' Park
is in desperate need of programming lessons and Limp
Bizkit should look into furthering their preschool guitar
education if they want to get out of the playboy mansion
and start hanging with the big boys. If you aren't familiar
with KMFDM, Attak provides a great introduction and if
you are already a fan, as usual KMFDM cannot disappoint.

RATING:* * * *

BREAKING RECORDS STAR SYSTEM

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