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April 16, 2002 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-16

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 9A
BREAKING RECORDS
REVIEWS OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY'S NEW RELEASES

THE KICKOVERS
OSAKA
FENWAY RECORDINGS

By Will Yates
Daily Arts Writer
The Kickovers' Osaka is the brainchild of former Mighty
Mighty Bosstones guitarist Nate Albert, who handles vocal,
guitar and songwriting duties and is supported by a rotating
cast of characters including Bosstones drummer Joe Sirois
and ex-Weezer bassist Mikey Welsh. Now I know what
you're thinking: "Man, didn't ska stop being cool, like, five
years ago?" Well fear not, because Albert's one step ahead of
you. Like your little brother, he's moved on to greener pas-
tures and, in his case, that means slickly produced, anthemic
power-pop.
My initial reaction to Osaka was somewhat favorable
(once I got past the opening song - a regrettable 15-second
hardcore parody called "I'm Plastic"). It's got the big hooks,
thick, propulsive guitars and tireless energy level that have
endeared today's punk-pop to many a teenage heart. Unfor-
tunately,lthese qualities alone do not make for a great album
(only on the infectious "Put Me On" do they truly congeal
into something special), and the album quickly loses its
momentum, becoming more and more grating over the
course of its 33 minutes. Albert's songs are undeniably
catchy, but too often they come off sounding forced and con-
trived for mainstream acceptance (note "Black and Blue,"
which verges on plagiarism of Blink 182's "What's My Age
Again?"). Likewise, his gruff sneer of a voice seems charm-
ing at first, but ultimately proves to be a pale, humorless
imitation of Dicky Barrett's amiable baritone. The playing,

* ..
it ltmEM

production

and lyrics on this album are

all respectable:

Nothing revelatory, but nothing embarrassing. Osaka is
essentially a competent pop-rock record with a respectable
chance of making a dent in some modern-rock radio
playlists. However, there's nothing here that hasn't been
done better before and I can't shake the feeling that the song
"I'm Plastic" may be unintentionally prophetic. Barring an
ingenious marketing scheme, Osaka is on its way to being
just another forgotten slab of plastic taking up space in the
used CD bin.
RATING: : *

MISS KITIN & THE HACKER
FIRST ALBUM
EMPEROR NORTON RECORDS

By Jeremy Kressmann
Daily Arts Writer

Damn those hipsters! Wearing their Diesel jeans
and thrift store shirts, snubbing their nose at pop
music, sometimes it seems as though all their super-
fluous posing has no point. Miss Kittin agrees with
us. The potty-mouthed singer/DJ has built an entire
album out of ridiculing the excesses of the elite, priv-
ileged and hip. Garnering acclaim for her vocal con-
tributions to Felix da Housecat's recent hit album,
Kittenz and thee Glitz, Miss Kittin's sultry yet mono-
tone delivery combined with ironic, deadpan lyrics
provides a fresh take on the entire club scene. On
First Album, her production companion, the Hacker,
provides a superb electro-synth song structure evok-
ing memories of Afrika Bambaataa and an early
1980s Juan Atkins. First Album breathes new life into
a long- stale genre, providing a humorous yet eerie
and ominous listening experience.
Touching right at the heart of hipness and excess,
Miss Kittin is a walking parody of herself. Speaking
"foreigner English" like she just stepped out of the
first lesson of night-school class, she doesn't manage
to sing her lyrics, instead telling them to us like a
delighted child telling an overused joke. The delivery
sounds like a sort of ironic stupidity, but it holds a
degree of biting wit. Her topics never diverge from
the crude, addressing such "heavy-hitting" issues as
champagne and caviar, sex in limousines and Swiss
peep shows. Perhaps the best evidence of her style is
the hilarious dance hit "Frank Sinatra." The song has
little to do with the famous crooner other than hinting

CURIOUS FEW
CURIOUS FEW
SELF-RELEASED

at his love of nightlife excess. Instead, Miss Kittin
suggests, "To be famous is so nice / Suck my dick,
kiss my ass." The comments are worth more than their
shock value. They become a not-so-subtle commen-
tary on the fleeting nature of fame and money.
Not only does First Album amuse with Miss Kittin's
strange, grammatically incorrect ranting, the produc-
tion work is top-notch. The Hacker's tracks glisten
with the glossy euro sound they closely imitate, but
synthesize that sound with a darker, industrial edge
more similar to electro-techno and Detroit techno
sounds. Miss Kittin's collaboration is gimmicky, yet
still groundbreaking - a worthwhile addition to any
jaded hipster's collection.
RATING.:* *

By Scott Serilla
Daily Arts Writer
Ah, the end of another school year in Ann Arbor. A
new set of college memories all ready to progressively
fade away over the course of the next 15 years as you
gradually slide into middle age complicity. So how to
hold on to those precious bits of your youth? What
memento can you grab to remind you of faded glory?
A yearbook? Yearbooks are for kids who went to class-
es. Same goes for diplomas. But for those of you who
spent most their college careers falling off stools at
Touchdown's and Rick's or standing in a sweaty living
room at house parties, you need a keepsake to remind you
of your quasi-academic endeavors.
Beer bottles tend to mold and smell; DPS gets pissed if
you try rip off the street signs on your block. So how
about a little background music that might have well been
playing duing some of your finest Ann Arbor moments,
courtesy of a favorite local band, Curious Few?
It's a solid set of songs from a great party/bar jam band
which has been on the scene for a couple of years now,
working their way up from keggers to long-term stands at
Touchdown's and the like. Two things inhibit this from
being the kind of record that these guys wanted to make.
First, as with any primary live band, there is always
some problem transferring their sound. This collection of
original tunes lacks the loose fun of the Fews' live show.

ME'SHELL NDEGEOCELLO
COOKIE: THE ANTHROPOLI-
CAL MIXTAPE
MAVERICK RECORDS
By Devon Thomas
Daily Arts Writer
Ndeg6Ocello's fourth album Cook-
ie: The Anthropological Mixtape is a
mesmerizing affair. It's triptych in
quality: A blazing sociopolitical cri-
tique one minute, a soulful slow burn-
er the next, the album then turns right
around and becomes a, conversation
piece breathing with the sensibilities
of Miles Davis. The multi-layered
quality of this record is amazingly
assembled. She returns true to form
on her long awaited follow-up to
1999's Bitter;
Created almost a year before its
forthcoming release date Cookie
serves as a fine wine. It's lyrical
virtues and musical possibilities are
inimitable and only get better with
age. The incendiary "Hot Night"
serves as the perfect backdrop to a
long, troubling summer with a blister-
ing rap by Talib Kweli and sound bites
by Angela Davis. Ironically, Me'Shell
makes prophecies for the year to come
with lines like "Suffer in the World
Trade paradise with me now" - the
album being created nearly four
months before the attacks on America.
"God.Fear.Money" is a piece that

s

demystifies the perception of celebrity
("I was way down for the revolution,
until I found it was contingent upon
some corporate sponsorship / And if
Jesus was alive today, he'd be incar-
cerated with the rest of the brothas /
Devil'll have a great apartment on the
Upper East Side, be a guest VJ on
Total Request Live"). The lyrics on
Cookie are intelligent, witty and
direct.
Cookie isn't all trouble funk
though, laced within is a bouquet of
sensual arrangements. "I ain't gon'
pay your rent, all I got is love and
time to spend, can I hang with you" is
the plea to true love. "Berry Farms" is
a no-holds-barred narrative on a past
same-sex relationship with a girl who
couldn't love her openly without
shame and fear ("She had the kind of
kisses that made you sad") and sports

one of the most surprising lyrical
bridges in years. She explores the
gamut of elated ecstasy. "Trust" is
among the sexiest songs of her career.
Temperate yet mild, it simmers with
anticipatory nectar ("Put your tongue
in my mouth, make me wet, run your
hands down my back, grab my ass").
"Earth" is truly transcending, it floats
above one's consciousness with the
ubiquity of Roy Ayers.
It also marks a return to the bass
playing ferocity that made her first
two records Plantation Lullabies and
Peace Beyond Passion instant classics
and influential sample-templates (just
ask Brian McKnight).
"Pleasure is the motivation," com-
ments NdeG6Ocello on "Better By
The Pound" and indeed, the album is
just that. With backing by such lumi-
naries as Gil Scott Heron, Lalah Hath-
away and Caron Wheeler, it's a sure
thing. It is an album that will stay with
you long after everything that current-
ly sits on Billboard fades; Cookie only
ripens and glows with time. All
embracing, all encompassing, Cookie:
The Anthropological Mixtape is
Ndeg6Ocello in her element. Easily
garnering cult status, she taps into the
life of a moment and in turn crafts one
of the strongest, most emotive and
complex albums of a generation.
RATING:* * * *

To an old hardcore ear, the new Strife
is not as surprising as it's hyped up to
be. Sure the L.A. quadraphony has dab-
bled in cross-breeding the destructive
nature of hardcore and the serial ampli-
tudes of punk with the steel structure of
metal, but Strife's first album after
regrouping from four years of disband-
ment ends up simply sounding like echo
from fellow Victory band Snapcase.
This of course may not be so bad ...
This new album, aptly titled Anger-
means, boasts a cover art not-so-subtly
depicting soldiers on a battlefield. The
music does convey the picture's mes-
sage, though, and it certainly makes for
a very patriotic piece of weaponry,
despite the band's counter-military per-
sona. Nonetheless, Angermeans carries
its tune, for the rallying measured beats
of drummer Aaron Rossi march parallel
through Strife's heavy-cast chords. Cou-
pled with Andrew Kline's mature, deep

STRIFE
ANGE RMEANS
VICTORY RECORDS
By Tony Ding
Daily Arts Writer

The songs don't quite the sound same if you're not lis-
teneing with a few drinks under your belt and the PA
blasting over the roar of a Thursday night crowd.
Second, while all of the songs are decent here, there's a
bit of trouble distinguishing between the tracks. Every-
thing has the same nice mellow feel that pleases the party
kids, but grows a bit tiresome after 50 minutes when
you're alone with your CD player.
But you never know - 10, 15 years down the line you
might stumble across this record buried with in the base-
ment of your parents' house, put it on and remember sim-
pler times.
RATING: * *
emo-pop proportions. The maneuver-
ability in Rodney's voice and the effects
he applies helps him stand out above the
noise, as most evident in track No. 7,
"Staring at the Sky."
Strife's sound is extremely hypnotic,
and the guitar player, Andrew Kline has
an almost over-bearing effect on the
album -- his strumming is just plain
cool. Kline plays with a creative style
that shuffles from one track to another,
sometimes changing mid-song, peeling
off tempos or vamping down to the
plucks of solitary chords.
In contrast to Strife's guitar lead and
sound shell-shock- drum meter, bassist Chad Peterson can
n bandaged up and be deemed virtually MIA. His bass
thermore, vocalist never leads anywhere and on the off
his troops well with chance one ever feels its presence above
er and intense the general drone, it is faint and feeble.
n. For a noble attempt at the resuscita-
the album's musical tion of a dead soldier, Strife's comeback
a prevalent distor- his some battles yet to be fought before
where the song's it can claim victory. For any hardcore
d out that not even a enthusiast though, the live experience is
re disciple can dis- what determines a group's triumph or
rk exception to this failure.
which the tempo is
alist Rick Rodney
that stretch to near RATING: * *

guitar riffs the songs
ingly live rather tha
dressed clean. Furl
Rick Rodney servesf
enough firepow
onslaughts of emotio
One drawback to t
formula, however, is
tion in the music,
lyrics are so drownec
desensitized hardcoi
tinguish them. A sta
is the title-track inv
drawn-out and voca
carries oblong notes

__________________________ r I

If the City cleans up
your messy property,
YOU
are charged with the

T T !

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764-3967
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