Volume 91, Issue 98

Thursday, April 2, 1998

cash grab


CD reviews: The mystery of the polythene woman

Mystery Machine
headfirst into everything
Nettwerk Productions

Imagine going to a restaurant and ordering a dish you know you've enjoyed in the past. When you get your meal, you are surprised and disappointed to find the chef has changed the recipe and the food is not at all what you expected.

That's how Mystery Machine fans must feel about the band's latest effort, headfirst into everything.

If this album were the band's only release, it wouldn't be weak. It would simply be yet another average mainstream guitar band, with a slightly Sloan-ish sound. However, coming from a band whose previous albums have been loaded with tracks making listeners cock their heads and scratch their chins, this is a real let-down.

Catchy, inventive riffs have been swapped for extra emphasis on cheesy lyrics which are backed by lifeless, functional guitar. Efforts to enhance the songs by overusing vocal harmony are too late and the entire album has the feel of having been written in a burst of uncreative apathy. Perhaps the band has gone through a reductionist transition.

Although the lack of enthusiastic songwriting is plentiful and most of the tracks have no distinguishable identity, it would have been helpful to refrain from putting two similar songs like "Doubter" and "Doubt is All You Know," back to back.

Representative of the entire album, "Drone" would have been a wise choice for a title track, though this might have given listeners the idea that boredom was part of the concept.

Fans of past Mystery Machine work should have a listen to this album from a friend, to avoid spending $20 to be disappointed.

Mark DiMenna


Are you swamped with work? Cramming for an exam? Or just tired and trying to sleep? If you're having trouble because of total silence, then you need some background music. To be more exact, you need Feeder.

Feeder has the perfect mix of heavy guitar, mellow bass and smooth singing. It's not too hard and won't put you to sleep, thus it is ideal for filling those quiet moments.

While many students do school work in silence in order to focus, others feel the atmosphere should be less constricted. By playing Feeder's first CD, Polythene, students can fill this void with 13 songs of perfect study music.

Grant Nicholas leads the group on vocals and guitars. He is paired with Japanese bassist Taka Hirose and drummer Jon Lee. This trio combines a heavy type of alternative rock with a quiet, relaxing sound.

The band has a toned-down mix of Collective Soul and Smashing Pumpkins stylings. Many of the relaxed sounds can help a person think, if played at the proper volume. Feeder's first single, "Cement," is a prime example of this sound and exhibits the band's talent.

Though they do have a good sound, it is also fairly monotone. All of Feeder's songs have the same feel to them, with similarities in tempo and vocalization. If consistency is what you want, then buy this CD.

Of all the new music groups, Feeder should do well as long as they are used for 'filling the void' and don't plan to deliver a major message.

John Serrarens

Noella Hutton
Noella Hutton
Radioactive Records

It's impossible not to notice the trend of female artists who both write and perform their own often quiet and personal music. Noella Hutton tries to follow this trend, set by her mentor Alanis Morrissette, with a self-titled debut album.

Her sound is unique; ranging from heavy guitars to borderline-country and mixes in a lot of forceful singing. Although there is variety throughout the album, originality does not always equal good execution.

The lyrics, (all written by Hutton, who also plays guitar), though typically bitter, are notable on a few tracks. But the more angst-ridden songs tend to lose effect because of their redundancy.

In "Fear," Hutton screams, "Then I'll let it out/ Then I'll scream and shout/I swear I'll let it out." This is then repeated, verbatim, with increasing shrillness. It is enough to cause the listener to skip the track long before it finishes. Many of her lyrics might be better left in her journal, rather than shared with the world.

Although there are a few redeeming qualities to Hutton's music, the fact remains that this album does not break any new ground. It plays up bitterness in excess of what is justifiable, considering the narrow focus presented in the music. If you're frustrated with life and in need of release, Hutton's album just might fit the bill.

Sarah Pullman

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998