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April 09, 2002 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-09

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 9, 2002

BREAKING RECORDS
REVIEWS OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY'S NEW RELEASES
Goo Goo DOLLS
GUTTERFLOWER A F "$
WARNER BROS. RECORDS ISRISSUED Tr
By Christian Smith "°;___ _ _
Daily Arts Writer nnc w CCt T t -

It is only once in a great while
that an album comes along that
eclipses all expectations. With the
exception of reliable rock pioneers
like R.E.M. and Radiohead, most
highly anticipated releases are
about as consistently firm as Brit-
ney Spears' ... songs. Recent
efforts from Kid Rock and
Michael Jackson floundered, while
the likes of U2 and Chris Isaak
proved unexpectedly germane, sur-
passing critical and commercial
expectations with beautifully
crafted pop masterpieces. With the
release of the long-awaited Gutter-
flower, the Goo Goo Dolls fall
somewhere in between this shuffle
in the battle against ephemeral
success.
Having been around for 15
years, there is no denying that they
haven't earned their success. But
after shaping and changing their
sound with their 1995 break-
through A Boy Named Goo and the
multi-platinum follow-up Dizzy
Up The Girl, Gutterflower seems
like a small step backward. Full of
jangly, down-tuned guitars and
symbol-heavy drums, the album
follows in the vein of its predeces-
sor, blasting three-minute
anthemic power pop ditties at full
throttle.
However, here they drop the
strings and acoustic guitars and rip
through chords with overstated
yearning, allowing frontman Johnny
Rzeznik to play off of his self-
imposed vulnerability with his
breathy and soothing vocals.
Despite somehow finding a way to
utter 'yeah' in the chorus of every
song, Rzeznik does manage to pull
off reflective lines like "I'm torn in
pieces/I'm blind and waiting for
you," and "I thought I lost you
somewhere/But you were never
really ever there at all." These are
the types of brutally honest emo-
tional outpourings that helped make
REMY SHAND
THE WAY I FEEL
MOTOWN RECORDS
By Dustin J. Solbert
Daily Arts Writer
Take Maxwell and D'Angelo, cross
them with Jon. B and add a sprinkle of
the Bee Gees and you have Remy
Shand, Motown's newest addition to the
neo-soul movement that has stampeded
its way through the market faster than
Jill Scott in a line at Ponderosa.
The only difference between Win-
nipeg-native Shand and all of the other
popular artists cut from his cloth is the
fact that he is "pigmentationally chal-
lenged." Don't let his white boy status
deter you, though ... the guy's got some
blow to him. His old school influences
leak out into his vocals and his music. In
addition, he is already five steps ahead
of the game because, much like D'An-
gelo, he writes, composes and per-
forms all his own music. Brownie
points for that.
The Way I Feel sounds somewhat
like the poor man's substitute for Urban
Hang Suite from Maxwell. The music
contains that nice, jazzy, coffee house
ambiance - background music ideal
for discussions of progression of blacks
and embittered feminism. Check for

04

"Iris" and "Slide" such huge hits.
But those expecting a retread of
such hits will be surprised to find
the album void of such over-sappy
tracks and more similar to their
raucous arena rocker "Long Way
Down." There are essentially three
different kinds of songs here: The
uplifting mid-tempo ballads, like
the contrived yet rousing leadoff
single "Here Is Gone;" moody
rockers like the standout "Big
Machine;" and the interchangeable
rackets sung by raspy-voiced
bassist (and also the original
singer of the band) Robby Takac.
The one exception, and the
strongest hope for another smash
single, is the stripped-down gem
"Sympathy." The combination of
the mandolin intro and Rzeznik's
cautiously fearful lyrics prove that
these Dolls are masters of creating
simple pop confections. -
Beyond that though, there isn't
much variation in the structured
formula that has gotten them to
where they are today.
Behind the board for the third
consecutive time is producer Rob
Cavallo, who seems to be achiev-
ing a sound that prohibits the band
from breaking free of the mold as
not to alienate their longtime
punk-rock following while simul-
taneously trying to flatter the 13-
year-old girls that propelled them
to rock-star status. Seemingly,
there is something for everyone.
As it comes off though, save for
hardcore fans, there isn't all that
much here for anyone.
RATING: * * i

the high pitched kick on "Burning
Bridges."
The title track is a sweet up-tempo
joint that should keep radio listeners
scratching their heads wondering who
the newest "neo-soul" voice is. "The
Mind's Eye" is the best track on the
album, bringing it to a close with a
mood-setting instrumental medley.
Remy Shand's album is not spectac-
ular or groundbreaking in any sense,
other than the fact that there it is a gen-
tleman of the Caucasian persuasion
behind the music. No joints on the
album will yield greatness, but if you
are all about "neo-soul," then you defi-
nitely wont be disappointed.
RATING:* * '

THE BALDWIN BROTHERS
COOKING WITH LASERS
TVT RECORDS
By Scott Serilla
Daily Arts Writer
Relax, this isn't what you think. Your reoc-
curring nightmare that Alec, Billy, Stephen and
Danny Baldwin might follow the lead of the
Bacon Brothers and begin releasing horrible,
horrible folk records with an annoyingly heavy-
handed social conscious has not come to
fruition. Yet.
Instead of another entry into the recent rash of
uncalled-for movie star albums (Jack Black, you
are excused), these Baldwin Brother are actually
a Chicago quartet of real musicians, who, despite
anything else, cannot be blamed for "Pearl Har-
bor," "Bio-Dome" or "The Flintstones in Viva
Rock Vegas."
What these boys are accountable for is their
brand new debut LP, Cooking With Lasers, a
funky mix of Electronica and 70s lounge jazz.
With a sound centered around leader TJ Winder's
retro Fender Rhodes keyboards, the Baldwins
have broken down the extended jams of their live
shows and rebuilt them loop-by-loop on their lap-
tops, using Sonic Foundry's Acid program, a rela-
tively straightforward variety of music-software.
The result is a slightly warmed-over collection
of grooves that never quite gets around to be
impressive as you might hope. The tracks are
never unpleasant or unlistenable, only somewhat

"Haven't we been here before?" sense of deja vu.
The album is filled with a seemingly endless
number of 70s pop culture references, which try
to flesh out the retro feel the band can't quite
muster sonically. The album contimplates TV's
"Sanford and Son" ("Funky Junkyard") and "Six
Million Dollar Man" ("Bionic Jam") to Daredev-
il Evel Kneivel ("Viva Kneivel") and Judy Blume
novels ("Are You There Margaret? It's Me God"),
and even an instrumental tribute to the light fix-
ture that defined a decade: the "Lava Lamp." Yes
pseudo-Baldwin Brothers, you were alive in the
70s, we get it. Nice work, way to go. But it's get-
ting to be time to move on.
It's the kind of half kitsch irony, half youthful
remembrance that Generation X-ers have been
comically referencing/sobbing over for almost a
decade now. (Remember how Reality Bites
wouldn't shut up about this sort of thing? You
still have to answer for that one Ethan Hawk and
Ben Stiller.) Anyway. you have to let things go ...
well, except crappy movies, those wounds never
heal.
The record is helped along though by mostly
live material like the laidback "Somebody Else's
Favorite Song" and an appearance by Miho
Hatori of Cibo Matto/Gorillaz on the lovely
"Dream Girl." Next time around, lets hope the
Baldwin Brothers don't bother cycling their
music through the computer and just bring forth
their grooves directly instead of endlessly loop-
ing them on the PC. It'll save time and money.
RATING: * *

@s
f

BREAKING RECORDS STAR SYSTEM
* * * * * CLASSIC
* ** * GREAT - If you missed a week of
BREAKING RECORDS, check
*** FAIR the archives at
* * SUB-PAR www.michigandaily.com
* WORTHLESS

repetitive.
There is unfortunately nothing here as cool or
infectious as the solo records of the Beastie
Boy's extraordinary organist Money Mark, or
anything as compelling or innovative as jazz/jam
band trio Medeski, Martin & Wood's work with
DJ Logic. Those acts went a long way to capture
the depth and soul of master jazz-funk key-
boardists Jimmy Smith and Richard "Groove"
Holmes, while simultaneously blending in a defi-
nite modern edge. But because they follow close
in those footsteps, the Baldwin Brothers fail to
either match or re-invent those previous efforts
on Cooking with Lasers, giving the record a

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