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December 10, 2002 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-12-10

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ART S

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

BREAKING

RECORDS

REVIEWS OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY'S NEW RELEASES

BABY A.K.A. THE #1 STUNNA
BIRDMAN
CASH MONEY/UNIVERSAL
By Joel M. Hoard
Daily Arts Writer
Bryan "Baby" Williams, a.k.a. the #1 Stunna, made a
name for himself by building New Orleans-based Cash
Money Records from an upstart label into a small empire
alongside his brother Ronald "Godfather" Williams. With a
roster including Juvenile, Lil' Wayne and Baby's own Big
Tymers, Cash Money helped to establish and define the
dirty south sound.
After a decade as a CEO and part-time rapper, Baby
finally steps up to the mic for Birdman, his first solo
record.
Featuring a small army of producers including Cash
Money regular Mannie Fresh, Jermaine Dupri, Timbaland,
Swizz Beatz and the Neptunes, Birdman's beats are the
highlight of the album, covering everything from laid back
R&B to pounding drum-n-bass.
Baby's list of guest artists is equally impressive, with
Toni Braxton, Lil' Wayne, Cam'ron, 8ball, the Clipse and
fellow CEO P. Diddy all lending a hand.
Despite the plethora of guests, Baby still runs the show
with his slick southern delivery. He shines on the Nep-
tunes-produced "What Happened to that Boy" and his first
single "Do That ..." featuring P. Diddy.

PRE-TEEN SUPREME
A 'SLICKER' DAVID IS JUST WELL BELOW 'AVERAGE'

If there's any problem with Birdman, it's the subject mat-
ter. Considering Baby drives a Bentley and has a set of plat-
inum teeth that cost him a -cool $150,000, it's a bit difficult
to take him seriously when he rhymes about livin' a thug's
life in the ghetto. But nevertheless, Birdman is a strong solo
debut for Baby.
RATING: * ** C

CRAIG DAVID
SLICKER THAN YOUR AVERAGE
ATLANTIC RECORDS
By Niamh Slevin
Daily Arts Writer
Flashback to junior high school
dances: gaudy Christmas lights
hanging around a gym, principals
hovering over eager young students,
and raunchy, mind-numbing music
blares in the background. This is
quite possibly the only place Craig
David's new album, Slicker Than
Your Average, belongs. With its per-
petually repeating beats and mun-
dane rhythms, only such a
pre-adolescent fan base could appre-
ciate David's second effort.
How can I make such crude state-
ments against this up-and-coming
British R&B star? Admittedly, it's
difficult to comprehend the album's
banality when the "hit single" boasts
such clever lyrics as "I met this fly
girl in a club / went by the name of
Pecan Deluxe / This ice cream was
high maintenance / When I took her
out nearly cost me 20 bucks."
However, upon even deeper
inspection, it becomes more painful-
ly obvious how trite and utterly
ridiculous these songs can be. The
titles themselves are an experiment
in idiocy, such as "You Don't Miss
Your Water 'Til the Well Runs Dry,"
"Eenie Meenie," and my personal
favorite, "What's Your Flava?"
In the wake of Eminem's come-
back record, David hasn't failed to
exploit his own "nobody appreci-

ates me" lament. The first and title
track plays into his previous run-
down style with yet another recy-
cled rhythm from his equally
terrible follow-up tracks. Though
the whiny loss of love routine is
overdone throughout the album,
the worst feature of Slicker is,
without a doubt, the half-hearted
attempt at self-pity running ram-
pant here. "So why do imitators
wanna bite my style? Eh? You
neverhad a prolm a al whe
wasrhavinghwomangouble.eSobm-

SALIVA
BACK INTO YOUR SYSTEM
IsLAND
By Alex Wolsky
Daily Arts Writer
Picking up a copy of Saliva's
sophomore release, Back into Your
System, you shouldn't expect any-
thing spectacular. It seemed unfair
to expect poetry from nu-metal,
but this is devoid of all musical
value. Although the musicianship
was mediocre overall, it looked
phenomenal next to the lyrical and
vocal performance by lead singer
Josey Scott.
In fact, the album would've
been much better if he were
absent from the recording com-
pletely. His attempt to become
introspective on System provided
the album with nothing but cliche
love songs and rhymes that you'd
be embarrassed to tell your own
mother. And that's not because of
profanity. However, upon deeper
inspection the overarching prob-

lem with the album is that in a
time when rock music is in a defi-
nite valley, Saliva just gives us
more of the same with a new, hard
to open package. They get trapped
in a generation
of bands that
aren't rock
enough to hang
with the Hives;
yet, they aren't
heavy enough to
match up with
bands like Pan-
tera.
The band ulti-
matelyvdoom
themselves to
used racks and
reunion tours
because it
brought nothing new to the table
of rock music. It seems at times
that it's afraid of innovating with-
in their genre and instead suc-
cumb to imitating other artists for
the sake of becoming mainstream.
Trust me; there's nothing on their
album that hasn't been done
already by someone much better.

The only highlight of the album
is a song called "Rest in Pieces."
Unfortunately, the only reason it
stands out is because it was
penned by a guest writer. Nikki
Sixx of Motley
Crue uses sim-
ple and effec-
tive writing for
"Rest in
Pieces," and
Saliva responds
with its most
inspired per-
formance on the
album. Yet, this
is hardly
enough to save
it from the pits
of nu-metal
hell. Let's make
it as clear as possible to Josey
Scott and friends: when a ghost
writer comes up with the best
song on your album, and it's Nikki
Sixx and 2002, well that's a pretty
good sign that your album is
going to be sucking really hard.
RATING: *.

body fill me in. Didn't I serve my
time?" This rather random combi-
nation of his prior harsh critiques
and his "woman troubles" only
adds to his shallow appearance and
terrible sound.
While Slicker Than Your Average
is good for a cheap laugh among
schoolgirls, it certainly lacks any
other redeeming quality. David
would be lucky to grace the play list
of the next pre-teen bash.
RATING: *

I

OURS
PRECIOUS
DREAMWORKS

By Graham Kelly
Daily Arts Writer
If you're wondering what it sounds like to be on a
major label and not sell out, go get the new Ours
album, Precious. It's the sound of five guys who still
have their musical integri-
ty intact, because no one
could sell out and make
music like this. Maybe we
should thank Dreamworks,
but more likely credit goes
to Jimmy Gnecco, the
mastermind behind Ours.
It may take a few listens,
maybe more, to get into<
Precious. Yeah it's a little
bit different, somehow not
quite like the stuff you're
hearing on the radio.
That's the first tip off this
is going to be worthwhile.
Gnecco can't help but be
compared to Jeff Buckley,
a likening.that has been
made since the release of
the 2001 debut album Dis-
torted Lullabies. So why
not pick up a Buckley
album and enjoy his soft croon? Because Gnecco and
the boys have more attitude and play darker music.
Buckley was not a happy-go-lucky chap, but Gnecco
sounds like he never wears anything but black. And
face it, it's really fun to sing as high as you can,
"Alright, alright / my feet keep on taking me back,
back, back to those places" on "Places."
It's hard to say if this 12-track album is good. Gnec-

co wails out lyrics in his highest falsetto (read: glass-
shattering) and the band plays dark, gloomy music
about, well, stuff. It's hard to say what Gnecco is
singing about, and this despite lyrics being included
in .the liner notes. The most straight-forward track is
probably "In A Minute," but that was written by gui-
tarist Dave Milone. And oh yeah, there's a cover of the
Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale," darker and
fuller sounding than the original, but otherwise Ours
didn't alter much.
Many songs are slow, with a driving drum beat and
Gnecco crooning, screech-
*ra'ing, singing, muttering.
The music borders on
goth, alternative rock and
something that would
scare your little sister.
Vague? So is the sound of
Ours. It's not happy, so
don't expect to get any sort
of pick-me-up feeling from
these twelve tracks. The
music is intense, some-
times slow, rarely hard.
Did I mention that the
songs are catchy? But
probably not right away. At
first you might be
extremely turned off by
Gnecco's voice and the
music which, at times, is
almost boring, but only
until the patterns and intri-
cacies become evident.
Suddenly you're bopping your head and singing along.
Ours has a lot of passion, and it doesn't feel like it's
been strained through the colander known as the
record industry. If nothing else, grant them respect for
that, and enjoy this rock album.
RATING: * CC**

RICHIE HAWTIN & SVEN VATH
THE SOUND OF THE THIRD
SEASON
MUTE
By Jeremy Kressmann
Daily Arts Writer
If you put two dance music wizards
in a room and lock the door, what
comes out? One of the wizards, known
as Richie Hawtin, has long been
acknowledged as one of
dance music's most for-
ward thinking artists,
breaking boundaries
with his final scratch
production technique. x
The other wizard, Sven.
Vith, is the techno
equivalent of Pink
Floyd, having attempted
a variety of techno
"concept" albums. This
past summer, the two collaborated on a
mix album based on their residency at
Ibiza's legendary Amnesia club. The
disc plays like a storybook, including
audio samples of the DJ's arrival at the
airport in Spain, Hawtin and Vith at
dinner with friends, some friendly ear-
shattering techno, and finally a few
chill out tracks to wind down the next
day at the beach.
Characterizing the typical sound of
either Hawtin or Vaith is an amusing
endeavor. The two tend to dabble in
what might be described as "avant-
garde" techno. For Hawtin, that often

involves minimal, percussive, and dark
tracks. Vith on the other hand, is all SHORT TAKEs
over the place, dabbling in not only
electro and ambient techno, but also
some trance. What is really a shame
about this particular mix is it utilizes
very few of the elements that have
made Hawtin so famous and well
loved. His stark tracks are often charac-
terized by nothing but the most basic
rhythmical elements. On The Sound of
the Third Season, many of the selected
cuts sound more heavily produced and CENTAUR: IN StREAM;
lean towards the electro MARTIANs Go HOME
phenomenon that has
been s'eeping electron-
ica for the past year or Chmpai, flL:s Hum.swth.ir
two. The head nod to Siamese Dreams briefly matera-
Ghostly's Disco Nou- ize in 1995 with the spae-pop
veau compilation with nUgget "Sars," but
Legowelt's "Disco eventualy gv way to major lbe
Rout" is certainly a nice apathy. Tw< years later, singer/ui-,
addition for the Ann tarst Matt Taibot has launched a
Arbor label's fans. new project Centaut takes the bis-
While The Sound of tering, astral riffs of Hum and
the Third Season might prove an amus- mixes them with psychedelic
ing novelty for Richie Hawtin aficiona- flourishes of acostic guitar.and
dos, druggy Ibiza globetrotters and harmonized vo"a"s. Even when the
hard-core technoids, it has little replay keyboards seem fored, Talbn is
value for anyone else. Check out Vith's able to ride a deep tenor and waves
Sound of the Second Season for a far of distortion. He's on a trainto
superior mix. Mars. ** *
RATING: *** 4nrewM Gwe.
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