Volume 93, Issue 9
Tuesday, September 14, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
New Parade needs polishing, High & Mighty have strong Advantage
The High & Mighty
Home Field Advantage
Rawkus records is quickly becoming one of the premiere hip-hop labels. Among their bragging rights, Rawkus carries some of the best lyricists in the game today like Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch and Shabaam Sahdeeq.
Composed of DJ Mighty Mi and Mr. Eon, The High and Mighty is the latest to release an album on this hot New York label and they have certainly maintained the high Rawkus standards with Home Field Advantage.
The album has 19 tracks and while not all of them will get your head nodding, there are quite a few gems with some amazing guests. One of the craziest rhymes on the album is "Hands On Experience Pt. II" which features Bobbito, What? What? and the Black Elvis himself, Kool Keith.
The "Open Mic Night" remix can also be found on the album as well as "Friendly Game of Football," which is a take on the classic track by Main Source and also makes good use of an Ol' Dirty Bastard sample.
Production wise, Mighty Mi makes good use of his 1200s and there's some nice turntable wizardry throughout the whole album it's definitely not the best out there, but it's dope none the less. The beats are nice and flow smooth with Eon's vocals.
If you're a fan of No Limit and Cash Money groups, stay away from this record. This is real hip-hop and not one of those rip-offs often found on other labels. This effort actually leaves listeners with the hope that there are hip-hop albums out there bearing more than just rhymes about how much money you have and what kind of car you drive. Home Field Advantage is worth checking out, especially if you're looking for the real thing.
The Sheila Divine
When it comes to making relevant rock 'n roll, the Sheila Divine have some good ideas. They know it's cool to maintain an ironic tone, but they also have the good sense to undercut the irony with some lung-busting passion.
On New Parade, lead singer and guitarist Aaron Perrino rails vehemently against bland Top 40 rock, corporate sell-outs and everything else in his "phony" file. Although it's easy to sympathize with this message, the group never quite manages to make a compelling case on it's behalf.
The band's sound can be described as a vastly inferior crossbreed between REM and Radiohead. Perrino's barely distorted guitar work invites comparisons to the former, while his vocals, most noticeably on tracks like "Automatic Buffalo," are shoddy imitations of the detached yet impassioned singing style of Radiohead's Thom Yorke. Elsewhere, bassist Jim Gilbert contributes some noteworthy bass lines but drummer Shawn Sears merely churns out boring rock beats with little adornment.
Perrino has his moments as a lyricist, but his words are often impenetrable or just plain lame. For instance, on "The Amendment," he serves up this clumsy pun: "I'm done/I'm just pink in the meddle/or at the stake." Who would have guessed that mere words could induce more groaning than a kick in the testicles?
In fairness, the album's first two tracks "Automatic Buffalo" and "Like a Criminal" do testify that the Sheila Divine have some talent and promise. However, Perrino and his mates have considerable musical maturing to do before they can be deemed a good rock band. New or not, this parade deserves to be rained on.
Even by conventional rock luminary standards, Moby is a queer fellow. After the release of his slightly overrated 1995 offering Everything Is Wrong saw him become one of electronic music's first bona-fide stars everything went awry.
In addition to being openly criticized for his irreverent brand of house music, Moby became known as a politically overactive nutcase. His views on Christianity, veganism and the environment began to overshadow his music. To make matters worse, his subsequent release, Animal Rights, was a universally abhorred exercise in pseudo-punk.
With this latest release, things seem to have come full circle for Moby. Play is an invigorating mix of traditional vocals, earthy samples and jaunty melodies. Bluesy album opener "Honey" is a clever musical amalgam which defies comparison. The Vaudevillian sing-along "Run On" sounds like Blackstreet's "No Diggity" as told by Fatboy Slim. The list goes on Play is loaded with prime examples of Moby at the very height of his creativity, juxtaposing unlikely musical genres to often dizzying results.
If there's one fault with Play, it may be in it's length. Eighteen songs is simply too much to process in one sitting, especially when they're all as textured and as rich as these ones are. Regardless, no matter how good the songs, the end result is not unlike the feeling you get when you've eaten too much chocolate cake. In the grand scheme of things, this is a minor detail. What matters is that Moby has finally made the album that so many seemed to believe he was capable of making. A curious triumph.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999