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September 21, 2004 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-09-21

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 21, 2004 - 9

BREAKING

RECORDS

REVIEWS OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY'S NEW RELEASES

By AdrewM. Gerb
Dai°y Music Edito.
Muso.onicb Ro ~aGv ccPo~rw :c." *°F:""

No, Dizzee, too soon. The other
MC's ... they're still waking up in cold
sweats. The beatheads are still running
around the village green screaming at
Billy Squier, god of the big-beat sample.
The major-label bidding wasn't start-
ed. Hell, you haven't even waited long
enough for other beat-makers to copy
your infectious, minimal two-step mad-

ness. These things
run in cycles, Diz-
zee, and you're
throwing everyone
off. It's far, far too
early for a sopho-
more album.
Of course, Diz-

Dizzee
Rascal
Showtlme
Matador/XL

Don't laugh. These hipsters could be your GSI.

Ann Arbor favorites
exposed on crisp Nigh

zee wasn't listening, but no one was
talking, either. Music fans circle cal-
endar dates and hit the message boards
months in advance of an album's release.
It's rare, then, that an album can sneak
up on people, and the surprise of a new
full-length can outweigh concerns about
a rushed product or a quick cash-in.
Dizzee Rascal's debut album, Boy In
Da Corner, was such an awakening for
American hip-hop fans that its luster has
dimmed even slightly since its release.
There are concerns then, that Dizzee
could taint an extremely promising
career by releasing Showtime, his sec-
ond album (released just seven months
after Boy in the U.S.), too soon.
The decision, however, is not as
rushed as it must seem to American
heads. Boy, after all, was released in
England for several months before
super-indie Matador Records brought it
to Domestic shores in February. On top
of that, some of Boy's best songs were
birthed when Dizzee was merely six-
teen years old.
In Dizz's world, then, it's high time
for some new material, and Showtime
delivers just that, simultaneously extract-
ing Dizzee's wild, garbled flow from his
earlier work and giving it room to grow

ur es VoOLor, L

Dizzee Rascal: slowly losing his grip on the NL West.

SECOND COMING
LONDON RAPPER DROPS LATEST LP

inside a box of buzzes and beeps that
both draw from Boy's videogame sugar
rush and expand its palette.
Boy In Da Corner was one of the
most cohesive hip-hop albums in recent
memory, and while this is truly a testa-
ment to Dizzee's unique style, it is also
partially due to the somewhat homog-
enous beats on the album. Showtime
has no such problem, moving from
bass-heavy rumbles to eastern-tinged
experimentation. But, what the album
forfeits in unity, it more than makes up
for in listenability and diversity.
"Learn" opens with a finely plucked

acoustic guitar before blowing full-
force into compact snare hits and
synth pulses. "Respect Me," one of the
album's best tracks, is anchored by a
rumbling bass that sounds like it stum-
bled out of one of Mordor's swankest
dance clubs. On "Respect Me," Dizzee
also reclaims his throne as rap's least-
impressive braggart. During the cho-
rus, he chants "You people are gonna
respect me / got to make you respect
me / you people are going to respect
me / if it keeeels you." The boast
sounds like typical rap warfare, but
coming from Dizz's tongue, it sounds

more like an internal conversation.
He's not lambasting anyone as much as
scolding himself, trying to convince,
through repetition, that yes, you will
respect him.
Though Dizzee's convoluted flow and
heavy accent garnered him the majority
of his early press, it's clear on Showtime
that it's his bipolar demeanor - alter-
nately boastful and cripplingly self-
doubting - that sets Dizz apart from
mainstream rappers. From being totally
content with his 100,000 album sales to
fighting with club bouncers to get into his
own show, Dizzee is one of the most psy-
chologically interesting MC's in years.
His quest for peace of mind is at least as
apparent as his quest for cash, girls and
respect, and this alone makes him an
interesting, relevant hip-hop artist. That
he's just released his second unique, fully
realized album in as many years is just
icing on the cake.

By Emily Liu
Daily Arts Writer
Local favorites Saturday Looks Good
to Me's popular 2003 Polyvinyl debut, All
Your Summer Songs, drenched its '60s
summery pop with a fantastically lush,
Spector-ized production method that
lent the album its lazy, dreamy mood.

The thick, under-
water-like sound
was undoubtedly
its most striking
aspect. As a result,
the crisper produc-
tion on the band's
latest release, Every

Saturday
LooksGood
to Me
Every Night
Polyvinyl

I b T
jIrish-born Thrills inject homespun sound into latest

Night, is somewhat disappointing to lis-
teners who are familiar with the band's
previous sound.
To their credit, the clean and polished
tracks sound like they actually could have
played on a radio during the '60s, and also
reveal tighter songwriting and playing. The
biggest disadvantage of this sound, howev-
er, is now there is no way to escape the fact
that the female vocalists of Saturday Looks
Good to Me are incapable of singing in
tune. Whereas the reverb-heavy production
of All Your Summer Songs obscured the
vocals in a thick haze, Every Night offers
no place for the off-key singers to hide.
This is horribly evident in the nasal-voiced
"Empty Room"; luckily, the listener's ears
are given a break during the middle eight
with a bright keyboard solo.
The song order of Every Night is a bit

awkward, beginning slowly with the lan-
guid "Since You Stole My Heart," which
clues the listener in to the band's signature
bittersweet lyrics, but not catching much
interest right away. Thankfully, the album
then switches gears, becoming more
upbeat and showcasing a broad range of
instruments, reminiscent of a peppier
Belle and Sebastian. Despite its unset-
tling out-of-tune vocals, "All Over Town"
features a catchy rhythm guitar sure to
induce dancing.
Frontman Fred Thomas sings on some
of the tracks; he is also a bit off-key (this is
o-fl indie pop. after all), but this works in
his favor. His plaintive voice works espe-
cially well on the standout track, "If You
Ask," placed strategically in the middle of
the album. The jaunty, minimalist guitar
is rounded out by a soulful organ, warm
strings and softly splashing cymbals that
are pleasantly similar to the wall of sound
on All Your Summer Songs.
Every Night is a step forward in terms
of creative instrumentation, as shown by
the harp introduction in "We Can't Work
It Out." Thomas also breaks out an acous-
tic guitar for a couple of songs, such as
"Dialtone," which includes faint sounds of
an audience in the background.
Overall, the album strikes a careful bal-
ance between the more upbeat dance tunes
and the slower, more nostalgic songs, which
is an improvement over All Your Summer
Songs' tendency to drag in the middle.
While Every Night successfully pleases
listeners with cute pop songs, fans of Satur-
day Looks Good to Me's old sound should
approach this album with an open mind.

By Evan McGarvey
Daily Arts Writer
Perhaps America's greatest quality is
its unique appearance to different genera-
tions of immigrants and outsiders. For the
Irish, who have been coming in droves

for the past century,.
an often mystical
land of opportunity
and fame. The most
famous Irish rock-
exports, U2, have
treated the states
with biblical refer-
ence (The Joshua

America becomes
The Thrills
Let's Bottle
Bohemia
Virgin

hauntingly rich vocals of Richard Man-
uel and The Band's, but they still touch
some sweet harmonies.
Most of the time Let's Bottle Bohemia
stays within a stone's throw of beachfront
American dreams with lyrics like, "I
came to this city /to build a mountain of
envy / to marry a Kennedy." The Thrills
are voraciously obsessed with this nation
and, at their best, their voices rise like a
youthful choir, yearning for the shore,
dreaming of stars.
It's good they have such luxuriant
vocals; their rhythm section and percus-
sion are none too adroit. Drummer Ben
Carrigan muffs the easiest drum fills and
makes little impact over the 10 songs.
Guitar interplay is almost nonexistent,
occassionally pushing a shallow, weak
sound to the foreground.
Like any other piece of art primarily
consumed with place, Let's Bottle Bohe-
mia has a wonderfully ambient sense of
transport. In the last breaths of the sum-
mer, The Thrills gaze at the ever-graying
shoreline and wonder where the time
went. They're just a bunch of boys from
Dublin dazzled with the lights and foamy

surf. They're out of place in the Califor-
nia towns and they know it. While they
shouldn't turn around and try and become
the next coming of The Pogues, a little
more of a provincial sound wouldn't hurt
them next go around. Oh, and neither
would a new drummer.

Tree) and with tongue-in-cheek disdain
for its celebrity (Pop).
The hearts and minds of The Thrills
clearly lay in one American setting:
sunny, sweet California. Their debut
album, So Much For The City, was
all Brian Wilson-style high register
vocals and some momentous piano
breakdowns.
This time around, the boys from Ire-

land take a little bit of themselves into
their SoCal fantasies. Celtic twinges
slip into lead singer Conor Deasy's high
tenor and there is some fine introspec-
tion on the album-closing "The Irish
Keep Gate Crashing." The green tinge
on their music still can't hide their idols:
The Thrills borrow equally from the
playbook of the Beach Boys and the
layered vocals and woodsy guitars of
The Band. Deasy, backing vocalists
Kevin Horan, Daniel Ryan and Padraic
McMahon can never hope to mimic the

Studio magic strips raw power from debut
By Jerry Gordinler
For the Daily

After signing with Columbia Records
nearly a year ago, the Bronx-born Ari
Hest is finally giving the public at large a
chance to hear his own brand of acoustic
crooning. A graduate of New York Uni-
versity, he views
his career as a psy- Ar Hest
chological purge
of all the troubles Someone to Tell
he had growing Columbia/Red Ink
up. With his first
major record label
release, Someone to Tell, he walks a fine
line between resonating, haunting tales
and fraudulent emo pandering.
The album's lackluster opening track,
"They're On To Me," can be a likened
to Hest stepping on his shoelace, trip-
ping through vagueness and paranoia.
"I am walking through this city / Try-
ing to avoid the sidewalk cracks / Every
step that I'm taking / I fear I'm under
attack." The electric guitar riffs seem
simply out of place, and the simplistic
beats don't hook. Take your pills, Ari.
However, with the album's fourth
track, "Anne Marie," he regains his
balance. A light-hearted love ballad
set against the backdrop of dreamy
synthesizer fluff, Hest pours his heart
rnt "I call to nnectin / this rattern

mbia/Red Ink

I always feel like somebody's watching me ...

Home and his EP Incomplete has
been reworked for this album. "Aber-
deen" still shines as a beacon of long-
ing, yet it's dimmed by a 25-second
ambient cello intro. "When Every-
thing Seems Wrong" still serves as
a reassuring lullaby, but it becomes
muddled in obnoxious overlays and
tires from an overly slow tempo. The
old adage "first time's the charm"
is truly exemplified in the beauty of
Hest's raw, original material. This
materiali s marred by the Columbian

acteristic to Hest's voice. There's a
special charm in his acoustic creations.
"Consistency" beautifully incorporates
harmonics and taps and it serves as a
centerpiece around which the album
revolves. It is a reflection of the one
thing holding the record together:
Hest's undying spirit.
Though Hest may stumble, he walks
his line carefully. He wears his heart
on his sleeve and sings as if he might
lose it at any second. Though Hest may
et lost he is mindful of his destina-

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