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Volume 91, Issue 12
Wednesday, September 17, 1997
Gazette CD reviews
Alkaholiks' beats shouldn't be wasted
Get ready to spend a night in detox The Alkaholiks have returned with their third album, Likwidation.. Their first two offerings, Coast to Coast and 21 and Over caused big waves in the underground scene and this record successfully incorporates the old-school breaks from the first album and the good lyrical flow of the second one to form their best album to date.
The tragic demise of Tupac and Biggie has awakened the hip-hop community to the need for unity from coast to coast, in order to strengthen the hip-hop culture. This West Coast trio are an example of such an awakening and their sound is one all their own.
It's certainly refreshing to hear that not all L.A.-based crews have to depend on the G-funk sound to become successful. Likwidation consists of bangin' beats, compliments of E-Swift, that are guaranteed to get your head bobbin'. And if that isn't enough, then J-Ro and Tash shine on the mike.
The disc does contain 14 solid tracks addressing the importance of MC battling skills, as in "Rockin' with the Best." Other tracks deal with the threat of biters and punks in the industry, like "Captain Hook" and most notably is the partying theme on the track "Likwidation."
This album features some great talent ranging from Ol' Dirty Bastard, to Keith Murray, to Xzibit and contains some special appearances by Nas and LL Cool J. The lyrics are clever, entertaining free of gun-toting, drug-running references.
One play of Likwidation will leave all heads feeling open like a forty and a blunt.
What A Life
Take the hyper-dominating guitar-style of Green Day, mix it with the raw sound of Everclear, throw in a little "rules and life sucks" attitude of any '80s rock band wearing make-up and voila instant Smoother.
Formerly known as Sponge, Smoother's latest release What a Life, has a high-energy/hard-edge sound that characterizes many of the up-and-coming semi-alternarock bands. But despite their obvious musical influences, Smoother manages to give this album an original sound with catchy, fresh and spirited tracks.
The most refreshing aspect of this album is its lack of fluff. The lyrics for the most part come from frontman Andrew Franey, as he shares his experiences and growing cynicism about life and the industry. The album definitely has a darker feel, but its playful style keeps it from being depressing.
"Apple Crisp" and "N.F.S." are self-reflective and express Franey's frustration over apathy among music listeners. All tracks, especially "Morgan Le Fay" and "Two Dragons" are honest and opinionated, yet the album escapes from being whiny. Franey is not complaining about life, he's simply stating what he thinks and there happens to be drums smashing around him. Just listening to the album is a stress release in itself.
Franey is the only surviving member of the original band out of Stoney Creek. The current line-up of three supporting members brings with it a solid rock/pop background that avoids sounding inexperienced despite the new collaboration. While it's tough for a group to be under the constant rapid change that has faced Smoother, the silver lining in this case is an album that has the energy of a new band and brings with it a sound that's inspired, rather than tired.
Sweet 75 is the new band formed by ex-Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and Tina Turner-like diva Yva Las Vegas. Sweet 75 is really the backbone of Yva, as her powerful and emotional baritone voice enhances the quality and uniqueness of the entire album.
The band has attempted to distance itself from Krist's early grunge stylings and does not completely betray the style. The album's first single "Red Dress" is very catchy due to Yva's vocals but it is also remarkably Nirvana-esque, especially in the basslines, as are the songs "Lay Me Down", "Poor Kitty" and "Nothing". They would have had less trouble creating its own identity if it had chosen a first single that better represents the band and album style.
Sweet 75 also brilliantly displays its Spanish influences with both "La Vida" and "Cantos De Pilon," as they are sung entirely in Spanish with Spanish flare and charm. "La Vida" is accompanied by a very fitting horn section, including a trumpet solo from legend Herb Alphert, co-founder of A&M Records (Note of interest: Sweet 75 are signed to Geffen and not A&M). The album also benefits greatly from an engaging horn accompaniment in the song "Dogs" and the charming mandolin addition in "Cantos De Pilon".
Where this album really shines though, is with its creative turn on modern rock with songs like "Fetch", "Bite My Hand" and "Ode to Dolly," the latter being a Sweet 75 tribute to Dolly Parton. Sweet 75 has absolutely succeeded in creating its own identity and breaking out of the stifling mold created by Nirvana and Foo Fighters. If you're looking for another grunge album, look elsewhere, but if you're looking for quality and uniqueness, look no further.
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Copyright © The Gazette 1997