Volume 92, Issue 52

Friday, December 4, 1998

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ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
 

A radical itch for power pop brings on a digital judgement day



NEW RADICALS
Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too
MCA Records

One criticism which could never be made about the New Radicals is all their songs sound the same. Each of the 12 tracks on the album are performed by a different ensemble, chosen from no less than 23 musicians.

The constant is the lead vocalist, Gregg Alexander, who sounds like he might be the love child of Robert Plant and Mick Jagger. While Alexander's voice and elements of jazz give the New Radicals a mature sound, this album is definitely for and about youth. The first single, "You Get What You Give," about of the ups and downs of being young, is lyrically typical of the album as a whole.

Alexander pens all the songs on the album and presents many references to pop culture, often weaving in an appealing brand of wry humour. "My love is real, as the flowers you smoke to get high," he insists on one track.

The music itself ranges from upbeat tracks such as "Jehovah Made This Whole Joint For You" to more sombre ones. The album is well assembled and the transition from one song to another is never jarring. The occasional track does falter from a misguided attempt to be overly unconventional, but nevertheless, this is a decent mix of tunes.

–EMILY CHUNG





SCRATCHING POST
Destruction of the Universe
Squirtgun Records

London-based Scratching Post is back with Destruction of the Universe, the follow up to their critically acclaimed Flamethrower, released in 1996.

Although it is just shy of 30 minutes running time, Destruction is packed with rocking energy. This power-pop record features eight catchy tracks backed by hard rock instrumentals. Although these songs are infectious, the music itself does not vary much from song to song.

There is one aspect of Scratching Post's record which allows it to stand out from the rest – Nicole Hughes' vocals are magic. On both the catchier tunes like "Rock Past It" and hard rock songs like the title track, Hughes' addicting voice is the ultimate urge to throw this CD into your stereo. From the first single through to the end, Hughes sings out her heart and soul.

Scratching Post is still a relatively young band with the potential to be one of Canada's finest. For now, they will have to ride on the back of Hughes' vocals until they can find their own instrumental niche.

–MICHAEL BUTT





RZA
Bobby Digital in Stereo
Gee Street/V2





METHOD MAN
Tical 2000: Judgement Day
Def Jam/Polygram

The long awaited return of the Ticalion Stallion is upon us and the wait was worth it. Tical 2000 is east New York meets Armageddon, brought to life by the hardest rapper of the Wu-Tang Clan.

Method Man has always prided himself on being one of best straight-ahead lyricists in the industry and on T 2000 he goes off like a firecracker. His rap stylings snap, crackle and pop-pop on looped beats reminiscent of Tical 1.

While Meth and other Wu members embarked on solo efforts, RZA just dwelt in the Wu basement, mixing, arranging and producing the thickest, ugliest beats in the business. His rapping was often considered of a lower grade than the lyrical assault of Meth. Well you'd better watch out because RZA has stepped into the ring as ghetto god Bobby Digital ready to digitize all analogue.

Where T 2000 succeeds is in its rawness. It's the kind of real life shit you play in the garage while your mom's not home because it'll make her ill. Take note of "Retro Godfather" for its resemblance to "You're All I Need." But generally, the album is more in the mold of "Bring the Pain," which is just what real Meth fans expect. "Torture" and "Perfect World" will once again put Meth on top.

Where Bobby Digital surpasses T 2000 is in RZA's mastery of song construction. Where Meth raps over looped beats, RZA creates fresh symphonic stylings which carry the album to a new level. Bobby Digital is the most developed and conceptually advanced hip hop album of the year. It's hittin' from very beginning to very end – a quality often neglected in the "let's get this shit out on the street" mentality of many producers.

What makes Bobby Digital win the race by a nose is its completeness. RZA still has access to all the sick samples which brought 36 to the top and he takes full advantage – distorting and twisting them to his slurred lyrical flow. He dispels all criticism with a line like: "When you're commissary/Attack your coronary/I'm a very revolutionary/Honourary/ Sonic/Electronic/Brain like Johnny Pneumonic."

To quote Meth is pointless because his lyrics are on fire as always, but unfortunately he suffers from merely average production values – RZA only produces three songs on the album.

So the verdict is in Bobby D's favour, but now that Nas' new album is off until Feb. 9, 1999, these two are gold and silver for 1998.

–MARK LEWANDOWSKI






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

Copyright The Gazette 1998