Volume 93, Issue 24
Wednesday, October 13, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Nickelback effort needs no refund
Nickelback, the hard rocking, energetic and lively band from Vancouver have emerged from virtual obscurity to stardom in Western Canada. Not only are they outselling Canadian pop star Alanis Morrissette, but their new release, The State, is the top selling indie album in Vancouver.
Their unique style derives from an array of alternative influences which include Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden. Their musical cohesiveness, boldness and smooth timing are all assets which contribute to this band's exceptional sound.
The State's first single, "Leader Of Men," is a musical gem wrapped in edgy hard rock with a fine hint of clever bluesy flavour.
Lead singer Chad Kroeger possesses a voice similar to that of deceased rock legend Kurt Cobain. His raspy vocal entourage creates the backbone for Nickelback, which is most evident on the first track, "Breathe."
Kroeger's vocals, along with the simplistic, yet creative riffs of lead guitarist Ryan Peake, account for the character and appeal of the album. It seems the bass and drums are just there for background, not exceptional in any way, but providing an essential platform for Kroeger and Peake to build upon.
Most of the songs offer imaginative, distorted riffs and impressive vocals. "Cowboy Hat" exemplifies the band's ability to compose variations of tempo and genres of music. It opens with clean rhythm and blues, then follows up with crunching guitar and eccentric effects.
"Worthy To Say" is a nice change of pace, beginning as a mellower tune which quickly transforms into an upbeat melody with cool riffs. Nickelback ends The State on the right note, leaving the listener begging for more with a dramatic acoustic version of "Leader Of Men."
Despite their relatively hard style, Nickelback has produced a clear sound for their genre, introducing a new standard of music that should force other grunge stylists to redefine their sound.
With its energetic and original sound, it is clear The State will establish a new state of affairs in the alternative arena.
The Dance Album
Nowhere is a sign that the Apocalypse is upon us more clear than in this release of antiquated tunes punctuated by tinny computer generated beats.
Apparently a few blank suits in the record industry thought the way to boost Engelbert Humperdinck's sagging record sales was to "repackage Engelbert for the kids" in this manner, a questionable move at best, utterly incompetent at worst.
The problem with such a move is that Humperdinck has no kitsch factor for younger generations to find appealing. Not a timeless crooner like the late Frank Sinatra or a Julio Iglesias/Tom Jones-type sex symbol, Humperdinck is someone you could never justify playing on the stereo, even in his prime, let alone digitally remastered and beat-boxed to the point of absurdity.
Classic Humperdinck tracks like "Release Me" and "Spanish Eyes" are robbed of all the sincerity they once held and merely sound hollow and forced. Humperdinck's vocals are used to being drawn out to the longest syllable, milking every note for applause and have consequently sound clipped to maintain the rigidity of the dance beats.
One bright spot of the Humperdinck mistake is when he lapses into what he terms "Spanglish," mixing Spanish choruses with English lyrics. His defining hit "Quando, Quando, Quando" is one example of this and actually seems to work well with the up-tempo computer beats.
On the whole, however, Humperdinck's Dance Album is a complete waste of a good compact disc and unless listened to by a total masochist, is better utilized as a Frisbee for a dog than as listening material.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999