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September 17, 2002 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-17

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 17, 2002 - 9




By Andrew M. Gaerig
For the Daily

With the microscope of rock firm-
ly eyeing New York once again, one
has to be especially careful. The
Strokes, of course, are the frontrun-
ners of the gaggle, ruling their king-
dom with a fistful of hooks. Their
peers range from the sexy rock of the
Yeah Yeah Yeah's to the disco punk voxed baritone. Equal parts the con-
filth of the Liars. viction of Curtis and the high-art
But in a world of four-on-the-floor drama of Byrne, it floats over the
garage punk, can't a band like Interpol band's caustic pop with a natural ease.
slip through the cracks? You see, Inter- Banks throws his lyrics with a stately
pol sound a bit like the Ramones. grace, be it a shivering premonition
That is, like the Ramones covering OK - "you'll go stabbing yourself in the
Computer, soaked in a layer of reverb neck" - or the elegant cry of the
and fronted by Talking Head's David album title, "turn on the bright
Byrne doing an Ian Curtis of Joy Divi- lights" on "NYC".
sion impression. Even if that's a bit The band's music is also spectacu-
much to digest, Interpol are the one of lar. The guitars churn on an engine
first of the New York batch to both of down-strummed chords, creating a
wear their influences on their sleeve clear, evocative cover for skeletal
while trying to forge an identity of structure of the drums, and the
their own. melodic, throbbing bass.
The most immediate aspect of the Everything from the warm guitar
band's sound is singer Paul Banks' ooze of "Untitled," to the up-tempo
By Scott Serilla
Daily Music Editor

Smiths homage "Say Hello to the
Angels," and the slow-punk burn of
"Roland" are all impeccably per-
formed. "The New" is a synth-pop
melody dressed in chiming guitars
before a roaring, discordant guitar
shreds the song. The band saves its
most impressive moment for a home-
town tribute, "NYC." Its bittersweet
melody is delivered in blunt lyrics
until a whorl of distortion consumes
the second verse, lifting the song into
a whirlwind of glacial noise.
The true accomplishment, howev-
er, is the band's varying song struc-
tures and slight changes in
atmosphere, which keep even the
slowest songs from seeming too long.
Interpol, like their New York
brethren, are nourished from a steady
diet of classic punk. Interpol take
their cues from art-punk - Mission
of Burma and New Order - rather
than the guttural howl of The
Hopefully Interpol won't stay
underground for long. This is a solid
debut, one that births a compelling
aesthetic for the band while keeping
one foot, and two ears, firmly plant-
ed in the past.
RATING:* * * *

Everybody knows Detroit in the middle of August isn't
exactly pleasant. The humidity reaches damn near appalling
proportions with vile and oppressive stickiness that rips any
lingering ambition to move right out you. Add to that the
swarms of brutal bugs and you've got more than ample rea-
son to get the hell of town.
Yet it was into these dire conditions that New York City
garage-punks, The Mooney Suzuki willfully marched last
year to record their second album. Appropriately titled Elec-
tric Sweat, the New York City foursome spent three very
steamy days pounding out the disc at the increasing leg-
endary Ghetto Recorders Studio, owned and operated by Jim
Diamond, of local garage-soul favorites, The Dirtbombs.
With no AC, a mountain of semi-functioning vintage ana-
log equipment and a location in a decidedly rough part of the
city, the tiny Detroit studio is gaining an international reputa-
tion as a pressure cooker for talent, having given birth to
records by the Come Ons, The Go and of course, the White
Stripes. The results .here are 35 minutes and 35 second of
good old Detroit rawness that would do the Stooges and
MC5 proud, with just a hint of Motown sweetness.
Diamond definitely delivers the bona fide unrefined grit
that only his aged equipment and humble little sweatbox can
deliver, but boys of Suzuki come through as well, infusing
these 10 tracks with as authentic of 60s garage/mod sound as
anybody else has mustered recently. Maybe it's not going to
revolutionize the way you look at the world or bring peace to
the Middle East, but it makes a couple of jaded indie kids
uncross their arms for a half hour and shake their asses isn't
that enough?
Singer Sammy James Jr.'s cartoony baritone lets you know
the whole thing is just in fun. "Turn on the turntable / and


By Luke Smith
Daily Arts Editor

turn me loose" he sings on the title track. "Adjust the levels /
let the record spin / turn it over / then we do it again / Got a
feeling creeping up on me/must be the e-lectri-city." The
party really heats up though with the organ driven soul
instrumental "It's Showtime Pt. II", which highlights just
how fun simple a old fashion garage jam can be.
Meanwhile guitarist Graham Tyler, the Keith to James'
Mick, is trying to crunch out riffs that just "want be like Pete
Townsend, Jimmy Page and Hendrix too" as "In A Young
Man's Mind" points out. Maybe that's a bit presumptuous,
but with everybody complaining that this neo-garage stuff is
just purely derivative and therefore ignorable, shouldn't we
be admiring bands that are finally starting to do their home-
work again? What's more ambitious and inspired than to
embrace rock's past, in the same devoted way Townsend,
Page and Hendrix embraced the blues, RB and other Ameri-
can root music?
RATING: * * *

Texan and leader of the Old 97s
Rhett Miller delievers exactly what
is to be expected on his solo debut
The Instigator.
The melodies are crisp, the songs are
honest, if not replete with campy come-
ons almost trademarked by the high-
energy, high-quality Old 97s.
Miller's songs are given more than a
spit polish-and-shine on Instigator.
Excellent production pushes the sonic
dynamics further; making the album's
highs brighter, and the lows darker.
DAILY Music.

Hammond, who mixes perfectly with
Miller's swoon and croon delivery
and down-home song subjects.
Even without Hammond's back-
ing vocals, The Instigator doesn't
sound as big as 2001's very solid
Satellite Rides.
The songs on The Instigator are
Old 97s songs without the rest of the
band. Nothing on Instigator is as
charged or confident as "King Of All
The World" (Satellite Rides). Instead
of confident sing songy unpreten-
tious pop songs The Instigator offers
sad, insecure hooks like "Will I
always be alone?"
Without his bandmates Rhett
Miller sounds just that, too alone.
RATING: **.9

Despite the buffed up production,
Rhett Miller's record as a solo
artistspales in comparison to his
records with the Old 97s.
Noticeably absent on The Instiga-
tor are the backing vocals of Murry

By Gina Pensiero
Daily Arts Writer

Ani Difranco has peaked for now and
needs to go away for a while. The
woman pops albums out faster than kids
and the strain of running her own record
label and constant touring are showing.
Naturally, being spread so thin has taken
a creative toll that's becoming increas-
ingly evident with each release.
In lieu of a new studio piece, the
Folk Queen has pasted together yet
another double live album, So Much
Shouting/So Much Laughter. Having
already released a very exceptional and
difficult to out-do live album in 1997's
Living in Clip, Difranco's new collec-

tion is only highlighting how much she
needs a break.
So Much serves as a rather abstract
companion piece to the 2001 studio
double album Reveling/Reckoning by
providing more funked-up versions of
many loved Difranco classics. This
sometimes works, but more often
falls short.
It's a definite plus in songs like "Swan
Dive,""Letter to a John" and "Jukebox,"
where schizophrenic horn sections
underscore new versions of songs.
Reworked arrangements of "Dilate,"
"Cradle and All," and "My IQ," are
other album highlights. However, the
album is chalk-full of older songs that
just don't mesh with the new sound. For
example, "32 Flavors" and "Not a Pretty
Girl," and dotted other new composi-
tions simple veer more toward the unin--
Difranco is an artist whose fan base
is built on idol worship, but a backlash

By Luke Smith
Daily Arts Editor


has been in the making for years now.
While musically and lyrically, there is
nothing horribly wrong with So Much
Shouting/So Much Laughter, its just a
somewhat unnecessary album. Maybe
the folk activist should tend to her
record company, take a vacation or clean
up Buffalo for a while. She's low on
grist for the mill.
RATING:* * 9

* **** CLASSIC
***C* GREAT- If you missed a week of
* * * FAIR the archives at
so desperately to be cool and clever. What's worse is that
they do it so blatantly that any sense, hint or hope of wit
is lost. Damian Kulash, OK Go's singer, can't hide his
smirk when he confidently bursts into the lyric "don't
even try to find a line / this time, darling you're still
divine"on "You're So Damn Hot." Despite its the-girl-
just-beyond-my-grasp subject material (so overdone) and
I'm too damn clever lyrics (hey,
: * Damian, irony is dead and wit is
4 dying) the song is the most propul-
, u sive cut on their debut.
Instead of ironic geeks posing as
KISS-y faced rock gods, OK Go's
eponoymous debut bubbles or boils
over with the sound of snot-nosed
kids playing snottier rock anthems
; . 'flavored with moogs and syncopat-
ed chunky guitars. The formula is
old, the sound is tired and OK Go,
like Ozma is another Weezer cover
a ' band. The only difference is OK Go
t . M scored a major-label deal and it's a
4 a major disapointment.

If all of the power pop bands in
the world were combined into a
giant-sized boy band, with each
band representing a stereotypical
'N Sync-er, OK Go would
undoubtedly be the guy who grows
facial hair to look tough, but ends
up the pansy.
OK Go's not-so-unique combina-
tion (think Sweet, The Cars and
enough synths to briefly resurrect
the short-lived but interesting
enough Rentals) will no doubt res-
onate nostalgically for fans wishing
Weezer was still wearing sweaters.
Where Weezer never cared about
cool (not back when they were
WORTH listening to), OK Go tries


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