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November 12, 2002 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-12

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 12, 2002

ARTS

BREAKING

RECORDS

REVIEWS OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY'S NEW RELEASES

44

SHORT TAKES

LROR still chock-full of reverb-heavy gui-
U.X.o. tars, weeping strings and marching
'N EO.DSrhythms that mount to infuriated, if
)N RECORDS foreseeable, zeniths.
Sonically the band breaks little
g ''new ground here. If anything, the
mix is dimmer and the guitars battle
for the same sonic space as the vio-
Black Emperor lins. The drumming often sounds
a vivid image for buried and flat.
o 10-plus minute Despite this, the band is still capa-
es, the band has ble of crafting thrilling passages.
songs with field Highlights include the waltz-time
ical street preach- cacophony of "09-15-00," which
id men, and their builds on a tiptoe arpeggio. The addi-
has always hint- tion of woodwinds to the middle of
olitical dogma. "Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls" is a
full-length album brief sonic expansion, and although
ilded knob twister the song's apex is predictable, the
them headiig in phasing guitars spin it convincingly
iic direction. around the room. U.X.O.'s brightest
>licated diagram moment is the chiming, astral explo-
tainment giants to sions seven minutes into the final
:ations, U.X.O. c o m p o s i t i o n.
n word segments "Motherfucker=Redeemer." The
band's simplest, drums finally pop like they're sup-
itement to date. posed to and the song even picks
ee compositions itself up for another round after a
five tracks and an long bout with distortion and delay.
nutes, UX.O. is GYBE is all about tension and
release. UX. O. has all of the release
- often in glorious, jarring explo-
sions - but it's the first of the band's
albums to suffer from a lack of ten-
sion. Chalk it up to hazy production,
dormant percussion, or a stale for-
mula, but UX.O. doesn't tease and
lead the listener like past albums.
From a band that has treated listeners
to such dizzying experimentation and
excitement before, this album feels
routine.
RAT I N G:
dentials could not be more complete, Armstrong just so
happens to be married to Tim Armstrong of Rancid. If Sing
Sing Death House is any indication, things are clearly
rocking chez Armstrong.
Every song on Sing Sing Death House is played with an
urgency most bands fail to achieve on an entire record. In
her husky gravel howl, Armstrong takes us on a punk
odyssey tour of her life, and shames us for ever doubting
that there is salvation to be found in music. Even in the
record's darkest moments, "Sick
of it All," "Hate Me" and "Desper-
ate," a sense of hope is conveyed
through the fact that Armstrong
lived to sing about it.
Though the majority of Sing
Sing Death House is decisively
not ready for prime time, the most
accessible tracks on the record,
"The Young Crazed Feeling" and
"City of Angels," are undeniably
catchy. With their sing-along
ready choruses and irresistible
hooks, these songs are perfectly
crafted pop/rock gems. As "The
Young Crazed Feeling" reaches its
climax, Armstrong, singing for her
life, chants "I've got freedom and
my youth!" it is impossible to not
be swept up in the moment. Later, as it hits Armstrong,
"I've got everything that I need," it hits you too that libera-
tion may be just that simple.
RATING: * **

4

THEORY OF A DEADMAN, THEORY OF
A DEADMAN; ROADRUNNER RECORDS
Theory of a Deadman is the next in
line of post-grunge bands trying to
pave a path for themselves in the
painfully boring rock world. With a
handful of power chords and a groan-
ing vocalist, Theory of a Deadman puts
forth an acceptable debut album. Chad
Kroeger of Nickelback helped produce
the debut and wrote over half of the
songs, leaving an obvious mark in the
music. Traces of early Soundgarden
and Alice In Chains can also be heard
througho'ut the 10 tracks. What's good
about this album are the catchy chord
progressions and choruses begging for
the listener to hum or scream along.
What's lacking is anything original, but
that seems okay when one considers
Theory of a Deadman's peers. Just
making a decent rock album is enough
for celebration these days, and this
band has earned a reason to party.
- Graham Kelly

I

A

'I

THE DISTILLERS
SING SING DEATH HOUSE
H mcar RECoRDS

By Laura Haber
Daily Arts Writer

There are certain things that can be relied on in life,
and punk rock is one of them. It is oddly comforting and
ironic that a movement founded
in the name of rebellion could
spawn bands that so carefully fol-
low the strict punk conventions.
Any punk revival band worth its
salt knows, respects and to some
extent imitates its predecessors.
Unlike other (more disposable)
forms of music, quality punk rock
looks and sounds similar not out
of a lack of creativity, but because
of an intentional effort by its
practitioners to maintain the puri-
ty of the scene.
If punk rock is a social move-
ment, The Distillers are its new
leader. Their second release, Sing
Sing Death House, is not for the
faint of heart. Led by impossibly
perfect singer/guitarist Brody Armstrong, (picture Court-
ney Love with a mohawk and lip piercings) The Distillers
effortlessly balance irreverent fun with a social con-
science, and create traditional yet sophisticated punk rock
that explores themes of salvation, rebellion, desperation,
drugs and even women's lib. As if The Distillers punk cre-

BADLY DRAWN BOY -
HAVE YOU FED THE
FISH?
ARTISTDIRECT RECORDS
By Scott Serilla
Daily Music Editor
Manchester's Badly Drawn Boy
(better known to his mum as
Damon Gough) seems determined
on his second official release to
prove he's worth the mountain of
accolades thrown his way for
2000's Mercury Prize-winning The
Hour Of Bewilderbeast. The ambi-
tious multi-instrumentalist, singer-
song writer, who likes to hide his
aspirations behind an outer shell
of slackerdom, caught many off
guard with the epic pop textures
and heartbreaking melodies of
Bewilderbeast.
Gough's effortless mix of lofi
folk sensibilities and unexpected
pop elegance defined Badly
Drawn Boy as something of a
contradiction. Here's a chain-
smoking near-catatonic who's
never seen without his trademark
wool cap pulled down in eyes, but
somehow manages to pull bril-
liant, beautiful classical-tinged
pop music out nowhere; kind of a
British Elliott Smith with a quirky
sense of humor.
Maybe he cares, maybe he just
wants to nap on the couch. Maybe
he wants to put on a good show
tonight, maybe he just wants to
pass pictures of his newborns
around the crowd.
The curse of the sophomore
record has haunted many an artist,
but it looked like Gough was going
to dodge the proverbial bullet early
this year when he unofficially fol-
lowed-up his debut with the sur-
prisingly entertaining and
impressive "About A Boy" Sound-
track. For essentially being the
background music for a Hugh
Grant flick, the album was filled
with remarkable treats for listeners.

It didn't top Bewilderbeast, but at
least it held on to the best features
of the first record while standing on
its own.
When it came out in the summer,
fans assumed "About A Boy" was
just the appetizer for the promised
full second album. But now that
Have You Fed The Fish? is out,
turns out Boy was really the full
meal and Fish is just dessert. Now I
like dessert as much as the next
guy, but there's still a bit of a let
down when you're expecting a five-
course feast.
These 15 sprawling tracks have
their moments. Instrumentals
"Coming Into Land" and "Centre-
Peace," along with the pensive
acoustic build-up of "How?" are as
lovely as songs as any others BDB
has written. But sprawling is the
key word here.
The title track is the best exam-
ple of what's wonderful and disap-
pointing about this record. Tom
Rothrock's (Elliot Smith, Beck)
overly slick production chokes what
starts as a great melody. Quirky
touches seemed tacked on just so
that fans don't think Gough is drift-
ing towards the mainstream too
much. Grand overstatements like
"Sometimes you've got to rewind /
There's some good times around
the corner" are contrasted with bits
of everyday worries like feeding the
pets. BDB's cool contradictions are
becoming institutionalized.
What should be a great record
feels half finished, unfocused and
unrefined. While Gough is trying
more than ever to confirm his
genius, he ends up overreaching,
neglecting the details that could
have built the individual great
moments on Fish into something
more up to par with Bewilderbeast.
While the sums of the moments
is still compelling, it's still disa-
pointing that this isn't even the best
Badly Drawn Boy record of the
year.
RATING: ***

Foo FIGHTERS
ONE BY ONE
RCA
N IRVANA
NI1RVANA
GEFFEN
By Luke Smith
Daily Arts Editor
After 1999's There is Nothing Left
to Lose, the Foo Fighters fell far.
Gone were driving, exciting songs
like "Everlong" and "Monkey-
wrench" ("Hero" could've been
included in that group, save for the
abuse "Varsity Blues" bestowed on it)
and in their place were sloth-pop bal-
lads like "Next Year."
One by One (the band's latest set)
doesn't find the Foos
returning to its The
Colour and the Shape
(their best album)
form songs in any
way other than the
guitars are loud again.
Instead of emotion
and drive, Grohl's
songs have lost their
edge, an edge sharp-
ened over and over
through the mid'90s,
when the Foo Fighters
were one of a handful of "rock" bands
worth listening to. They certainly aren't
now.
One by One is faux-energetic, more
than it is energized. There is some sem-
blance of a band attempting to "rock,"
in fact, the Foo Fighters wanted to rock

so hard, that they recorded the album a
second time, after Grohl didn't like the
first finished product. It is easy to tell
how far the Foo Fighters have fallen, in
listening simply to the
new/old/lost/found
Nirvana single "You
Know You're Right."
In a world of Nirvana
tracks, the song is a
stinker, but compared.
to the best song on
One by One "You
Know You're Right"
is musical gold.
Finally, the lawsuit
was settled, or settled
enough for the holy
grail of Nirvana songs to be released. At
least that's what the Nirvana leftovers
and the Nirvana left-behind would have
us believe. The self-
titled Nirvana "great-
est hits" collection is
impossibly painful to
listen to, largely
because there are
such grevious omis-
sions from the record.
Obviously giant-
hit/career-launcher
"Sme.lls Like Teen
Spirit" made the cut,
but gems like "Drain
You" and "On a
Plain" fall only on the 10 million or so
pairs of ears who bought Nevermind the
first time around.
In Utero, the band's second, last and
best studio album was well-picked
over by the Nirvana-greatest-hits task
force. Top tier tracks like "Heart-

Shaped Box" and "Pennyroyal Tea"
are included, along with the excellent
"Rape Me." The overrated "All Apolo-
gies" unfortunately appears, leaving
tracks like "Serve
the Servants" or
"Frances Farmer
Will Have Her
Revenge On Seattle"
off the collection..
The myriad for-
gotten and unused
great songs in the
Nirvana back cata-
log lead to the
biggest problem
with an album like
Nirvana, for a band
like Nirvana. Both studio albums,
Nevermind and In Utero are greatest
hits collections in their own right.
Even worse, a Nirvana box set will
likely find its way to store shelves in
the next year, rendering Nirvana both
obselete and useless.
Without stretching too deep, it is
ambitious to try and catalog Nirvana's
greatest hits with a 14 song selection.
Ostensibly, the release of this collec-
tion was done simply to allow "You
Know You're Right" to reach air-
waves - while the song deserves the
radio play it's generating, consumers
don't deserve a hastily put together
sloppy greatest hits collection, espe-
cially from a band whose career as a
Pixies cover band spanned just two
records.
FOO
FIGHTERS: * *
N I RVANA: **

EYES ADRIFT, EYES ADRIFT; SPINART
RECORDS
Nirvana's Krist Novoselic, Sublime's
Bud Gaugh and The Meat Puppets'
Curt Kirkwood have united in the quest
for a musical afterlife. While there is
some debate as to whether said mem-
bers should burn out or fade away, the
band members seem to ignore any
pressure to relate to any of their former
musical identities. This self-titled debut
sounds refreshingly mellow but still
rocks and allows the band to try new
things. Novoselic contributes vocals to
three tracks, his first appearance as a
singer on any album. This record is a
must have for those who miss real
alternative rock. * * * I
-Mary Fitzpatrick
YO LA TENGO, NUCLEAR WAR;
MATADOR RECORDS
Hoboken's finest middle-aged indie-
rock trio churns out four funky versions
of Sun Ra's "Nuclear War" on their lat-
est EP The band flies solo on one ver-
sion, is joined by a pack of wild
children on the next (how cute!), and
invite a buncha horn-playing friends to
help out on a third. Jazz-rapper Mike
Ladd provides a remix to round out the
disc. Overall, 's pretty standard YLT, but
the wee ones steal the show with their
backing vocals on version two. Answer-
ing bassist James McNew's lead vocal,
the kids sing "It's a motherfucker!"
Hilarious! * **
- Joel Hoard
FAT JOE, LOYALTr, ATLANTIC
RECORDS
Fat Joe fucking sucks. Maybe I
shouldn't say that, even though it is true.
Like the name implies, Fat Joe is an
enormous dude and he could probably
kick my ass. Now I'm a pretty big guy
and I run with a tough crew, but I don't
think we could match Fat Joe and his
mob (even if I got reinforcements!). Get
this: In the liner notes, there's a picture
of two cops coming down hard on Joe
and he's sitting there with his shades on
like "Fuck all y'all muthafuckas."
Damn! What a badass! * 9
- JH.
RASPUTINA, MY FEVER BROKE;
INSTINCT RECORDS
Rasputina's latest effort, My Fever
Broke, may corner the market of goth
techno rock with a cellist. The vocals on
the album have the same range as those
of the goth rock group Mindless Self
Indulgence and many of the instrumen-
tal moves in the remixes of the songs
make the two bands sound very similar.
The high point of this short release is
the track "AntiqueHighHeelRedDoll-
Shoes," beginning with a catchy melod-
ic cello intro that repeats through the
song. However, this track also appeared
on the previously released, full-length
album Cabin Fever. Some of the high

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