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June 05, 2000 - Image 8

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2000-06-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Pop-punk's not dead
Blink 182 comes to Pine Knob this
Friday with Bad Religion and Fenix
TX. What's my age again?

Qije s

JUNE 5, 2000

Alternative rock innovators return with new sounds

By Jason Birchmeier
Diy Arts Writer
This weekend Detroit hosts the two
bands primarily responsible for conceiv-
ing the genre known as alternative rock:
The Cure and
Sonic Youth. Both
of these bands
spent the early to
The Cure mid-'80s
Pine Knob dwelling in the
Saturday,June0te underground rock
scene before ris-
. ing to critical and,
eventually, popu-
Youth lar acclaim at the
Phoenix Plaza dawn of the '90s.
Sunday, June 11th Since their
respective zeniths
- The Cure's
(1989) and Sonic Youth's "Daydream
Nation" (1988)-- both bands have stayed
true to their creative drive by continually
re-shaping their sound with each succes-
sive album even if it has cost them a bit of
tlteir mass audiences in exchange. Now as
both bands enter yet another decade with
surprising new albums, they promise to
make their current tours special.
As expected, rumors swirl about this
being The Cure's final tour. The group's
latest album, "Bloodflowers," comes
loaded with lyrics alluding to the group's
demise. Its an aggressive album full of
gritty guitars and retrospective contempla-
tion, more interested in communicating its
blatant, climatic message with an apoca-
lyptic aura than weaving catchy vocal
hooks and melodies.
Sonic Youth also seems to care little
about commercial success, judging by
their new album, "nyc ghosts & flowers."
Nowhere on this jarring new album can
listeners detect even faint trees of pop-

singles with his more cheery songs such as
"Close to Me" and "Just Like Heaven."
Even if the other songs on these albums
were still full of shadows, grief and fluctu-
ating levels of depression, these hit singles
sold albums and lured increasingly larger
audiences to the group's shows.
Sonic Youth didn't climb the pop charts
like The Cure, but the band did win over
critics and the college rock crowd with
their inventive albums. 1986's "Evol" and
especially 1987's "Sister" featured a sound
that was less reliant on confrontation and
mayhem. Instead, Sonic Youth began toy-
ing with pop-rock song structuring, adding
melodies and hooks to their overdriven
By the end of the decade, both bands
were the darlings of the underground rock

world. They paved an alternative route tc
rock stardom, a path recognized b4
music industry and by an upcoming gener
ation of young rock bands. Romantic gui
tar bands such as the Smashing Pumpkin
and PJ Harvey followed in the footsteps o
Smith's poetic precedent while distortior
sculptors such as Nirvana and DinosaurJr
looked to the godfathers of grunge.
One cannot judge these two groups by
their level of popular success. Both groupt
began their careers with innovative ideas
and have continued to remain true to their
muse, focusing on remaining crea v
rather than popular. This weekend ser
as the perfect opportunity to see two of the
most influential rock bands in history -the
two bands that defined the abstract con-
cept known as alternative music.

Sonic Youth in 1988 at the peak of their "Daydream Nation" New

rock cliches such as verse-chorus-verse
structuring, salient guitar riffs, vocal
hooks or even coherency. Instead, they
deliver a poetic album filled with beatnik
motifs and their most tranquil playing to
date. On Saturday night, the Cure descend
on Pine Knob for what promises to be one
of the group's most enthusiastic tours to
date, with legions of old and new fans rev-
eling in a possible epilogue to a career full
of peaks and valleys. Then on Sunday,
Sonic Youth performs with Stereolab at
the Phoenix Plaza, a surreal venue hover-
ing above the city atop a multi-level park-
ing structure. Ever wonder what it must
have been like to see bands such as the
Velvet Underground or the Pixies live?"
Consider this weekend a rare chance to
see two bands that will go down in history
as the precursors to modern rock.
Similar to Sotic Youth, The Cure's
recordings in the early '80s were charac-
terized by a nihilistic, gothic aura. Led by
the charismatic Robert Smith, the British
group released a trilogy of dark, evocative
albums. The bleak "Seventeen Seconds,"
the droning "Faith" and the apocalyptic
"Pornography" won Smith's group
increasing respect from an underground

rock audience more interested in emotion
al substance than vain materialism of.
While the Cure were building thei
niche'in the UK with their tortured pop
rock, Sonic Youth were busy carving ou
their own scene in New York City. Earl
recordings such as "Confusion is Sex" an'
"Bad Moon Rising" featured a confronta
tional group of artistically inclined punt
rockers more interested in exploring th
farthest boundaries of guitar-based musi
than rock tradition. Sonic Youth's image a
a band transforming noise into art was fur
ther complimented by their knack for cre
ating eerie motifs with their uncomfort
able lyrics and alien guitar sounds. In th
early '80s long before many people har
heard of Sonic Youth, the band did what i
could to leave a lasting impression or
audiences, often resorting to blatant shod
tactics such as ear-piercing feedback ant
screaming vocals.
By thre mid-'89s, bothr Thre Crire ani
Sonic Youth had slowly moved away from
their extreme beginnings, refining thei
edgy characteristics to increasingly acces
sible results. On albums such as "Head a
the Door" (1985) and "Kiss Me, Kiss Me
Kiss Me" (1987) Smith began to score hi


R&B supergroup
delivers solid debut

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c One part En Vogue, one part A Tribe
s Called Quest and one part Tony Toni
- TonE. This is the recipe used to create
R&B's answer to
- the Damn
e Grade: B Yankees: a group
d consisting of
t Lucy Pear artists who have
n Lucy Pearl*had success either
k in other groups or
d PokPunk cvyonn as individual per-
Reviewed by formers. Together
d Daily Arts Wrter as Lucy Pearl,
a.racarlMe/on Dawn Robinson
r (En Vogue), Ali
Shalteed Muhammad (ATCQ) and
t Raphael Saadiq (Tony Toni TonE) pool
their talents in a way that is rarely seen to
t create an album that is fun to listen to yet
may not fully showcase their ability.
Looking at these artists' previous
works is impressive. Robinson was part
of one of the biggest female acts of the
1990's. Ali has provided beats for groups
ranging from A Tribe Called Quest to
Scritti Politti. Saadiq had hits on his own
as well as with Tony Toni TonE but most
333 E. Huron " Ann Arbor
Miipt Drly raders
Su tt ' 1 Midni t, Mo- t 'tilt

recently scored big with his contribution
to D'Angelo's latest release. What the?
brought to their original groups is wha
they bring to Lucy Pearl. Robinson is the
sexy female voice, Ali is the beatmaste
and Saadiq provides credible guitar wor
as well as songwriting. The trick is havini
these attributes maximized, which may o:
may not have been the case on this album
On the whole, Lucy Pearl has
catchy songs for listeners to vibe aXi
with, including the lead single "Dance
Tonight." The song is well put together
with Saadiq and Robinson's vocals com-
plementing each other well. It creates a
general good feeling that produces small
actions like foot taps and light shoulder
bounces. The tracks "La La" and "You'
fall into the same category and cause sim-
ilar reactions.
However, these positives are somet
hurt by occasional weak writing, musi-
cally out-of-place tracks, and the brevity
of almost every song. On the 15-track CD
the average song length is less than four
minutes. Although this may be good in
that the songs don't drag on unnecessari-
ly, it suggests that material was rusher
onto the album when more time ant
refinement could have been inserted.
Despite these disappointments, Luc
Pearl should be given credit for the bi
of experimentation that takes pla n
the last track. It begins with thi
Alabama A&M Marching Band doin
their interpretation of "Dance Tonight,'
a treat that otherwise would be reserves
for a football audience. The second par
of the track features a remix of "La La'
by a fan who won a remixing contest or
MTV's website. From these actions, i
seems that getting fans involved witl
the group and bringing new sour'tc
R&B seems to be the aim of Lucy rl
If they are able to be innovative ans
improve on their weaknesses, they stans
to be a group that could be more that
just a ogte-time collaboration.

gym, Fully

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