mnesiac; Radiohead; Capitol/EMI
When purchasing Amnesiac, I was confronted by two
signposts of today's music industry - Jessica Simp-
as Irresistible and Icelandic Sigur Ros' domestic release
Agaetis Byrjun. Jessica Simpson's album cover particular-
made an impression upon me, her
uality so forced, her eyes nearly
gging out of her head. Simpson's
vel lacks even the charm of Mandy
ore, reaching such a derivative point
to be no longer enjoyable.
bviously, Radiohead is on the other
of the spectrum making more chal-
ging, interesting music. That's why
forgivable that their new album,
esiac, just doesn't measure up to
00's Kid A. Call it what you want -
d B, Ugly Kid Stepbrother, rejects-
just the truth. Recorded during the
e sessions as the career altering and
erimental, electronically infused
A, Amnesiac is more than a reject
lection. Neither is it a return to the.traditional songwriting
brilliance (a la OK Computer) heralded by the press.
e the video for the eerie, almost painfully somber
amid Song" - don't listen to it with knives around - it
he promise of return to a forever-altered landscape. "A
on full of stars and astral cars/And all the things I used to
see/All my lovers were there with me"
In the video, a figure in a post-apocalyptic, drowned
world dives beneath the risen waterline to his former home,
apparently to die in his old surroundings, united with the
sparkling souls of family and friends.
On Amnesiac there are remains of their more standard
song structures, such as "Knives Out," which exist inside of
their new electronic universe. Another showcase is the
enjoyable beat parade that is "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors."
An altered version of Kid A's
"Morning Bell" highlights Amnesi-
ac's weaknesses while joining them
together like Siamese twins; fortu-
nately not an insufferable double
album, but linked together and
more digestible and understandable
While keeping clear of their own
formula for success, Radiohead has
managed to distinguish themselves
from their own clones (think: Cold-
play) and keep things interesting.
While nowhere on this album do
they reach the kind of transcen-
dence Sigor Ros provide, they allow
bands like them to find an audience
and a market. Amnesiac's packag-
ing pretty much says it all, an old, comfortable book scrib-
bled with danger: "Keep quiet/underground bunkers/charm
offensive/overhead cables humming." A perfect warning, a
This Ain't a Game, Ray J;
By W. Jacari Melton
Daily Arts Writer
Twenty-year-old Willie "Ray J"
Norwood, Jr. has been working in
the entertainment business in some
capacity for the past 12 years. He's
acted, produced music for commer-
cials and released an album. Howev-
er, he's better known for being
popstar Brandy's younger brother.
In fact, his career in the past few
years has basically revolved around
his sister's success.
His first album failed commer-
cially and he sought refuge on his
sister's label, Atlantic. Hoping to
renew his solo career, Ray J is drop-
ping This Ain't A Game. Although
this album will probably do better
than the first, it's still no better than
anything else in the current urban
music scene's heavy rotation.
Ray J enlists the likes of the Nep-
tunes and his sister's favorite pro-
ducer, Rodney Jerkins, to make his
tracks. "Wait A Minute" features a
guest spot from Lil' Kim and is
receiving a lot of attention on urban
format radio and video programs.
It's filled with references to Cristal,
"major ice" and any other cliche
you can attach to the "bling bling"
segment of the hip-hop and R&B
It's a little funny hearing a twen-
ty-year-old sing about all the Moet
he's drinking, ice he's wearing and
sex he's having, but it seems like it's
his attempt to separate from whatev-
er notions people have that he's a
light-weight or riding on Brandy's
coattails. This is captured when a
confused girl asks, "Ain't that
"I Got It All" starts off with DJ
Clue's signature yet annoying
"Yeah!" shout and features Ray J
showing his rhyme skills, or lack
there of. He proclaims, "I've got
more sounds in my truck than ele-
phants." He's "not going for the
G's," rather he's "going for the mil-
lions." Sprinkle in the ice, money
and diamond rings, and you have
the essence of this track. Nothing.
In a welcome change of pace,
"Keep Your Head Up" follows in the
tradition of the 2Pac song of the
same name. Ray J attempts to lift
the spirits of the single mothers
struggling against overwhelming
odds. He urges them to stay opti-
mistic through the difficult times
because they indeed can make it on
their own. This is a good message,
but Ray J probably isn't the best
person to convey it given the mate-
rial on the rest of the album.
As suggested before, Game's 16
tracks are Ray J's attempt to differ-
entiate and separate himself from
Brandy. He calls his music "thug
R&B" so no comparisons can be
remotely drawn between himself
and his older sister.
True, the Norwood kids' music
isn't similar but Ray J has put out
an album that's no different or more
creative than anything else on the
market now. Unfortunately for him,
he's also fashioned a thug image
that may be hard to maintain and for -
some people to believe. After all, he
is Brandy's brother.
10,000Hz. Legend,Air; Astralwerks G
y Arts Writer ,
f you were browsing CD racks and N
ked at 10,000 Hz. Legend without t
saving heard of Air, you'd likely i
take it for a full-fledged member of
electronic army. This would be due t
he fact that their label is Astralwerks,e
of the major players in electronic I
sic, and home to artists such as the
emical Brothers and Fatboy Slim. t
tend does have a fair amount of syn-l
sizers and computerized doodads,a
fails to fit any silicon mold. Itsis fairl
that Legend is a square album
onholed into electronica's round i
0,000 Hz. Legend is a mix of eclec- t
beats, melodies and Beck. Not}
aning that it sounds like Beck, whichI
oes at times, but Beck is actually on l
album. He makes an appearance on a
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a couple of tracks, adding to Legend's
already considerable excellence. Air
doesn't use the 'take one sample, add
one lyric and repeat' formula that most
electronic music follows. Instead, they
weave thoughtful songs using decidedly
non-electronic instruments and sounds,
including woodwinds and a harmonica.
This record has good songs all over
the freakin' place, and they have inter-
esting titles to boot. "Wonder Milky
Bitch" and "Caramel Prisoner" are both
excellent in title and content. The lead
track is a great mellow song featuring
piano and muffled lyrics that puts you in
a happy place. "The Vagabond," with
Beck on vocals, also stands out.
One gripe, however, is that it doesn't
ever give you a jolt. There's no climac-
tic song, nothing to take you over the
top. If you're looking for Air to give
you a foot-tapper like "Sexy Boy," their
biggest hit, you're not going to find it
here. Another sorta-kinda-almost bad
aspect of Legend is that it could be seen
as some sorio gooy, irrevereiii arusm.
The wacky titles along with the twangs
and bongs that characterize some of the
tracks might lead you to believe this.
Don't buy into it. This is one great
record and is highly recommended. Just
don't expect it to be a party soundtrack.
'Cause that it ain't.
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