Volume 93, Issue 91
Wednesday, March 22, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Rollins rocks, de Bussac rolls
Get Some Go Again
Despite his self-inflicted description as an "aging alternative icon," Henry Rollins still shows no signs of slowing down or compromising in the least.
In addition to numerous acting credits, an acclaimed writing and publishing career and spoken word concerts which have attracted cult followings, this 40 year-old rock star has managed to find time to reformat his Grammy award-winning style into yet another Rollins Band effort, Get Some Go Again.
Rollins' latest effort comes with a change to his band's composition, as he broke amicably from his former bandmates to hook up with local L.A. band Mother Superior, reverting back to his harder punk rock roots. The supporting cast is of no consequence, however, as the result is an album filled with the same uninhibited brash and bluster Rollins is famous for.
In comparison to prior Rollins Band albums, Get Some is an effort with a much more classic punk rock sound. Influences such as Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy and MC5 are obvious, especially with the inclusion of Thin Lizzy's cover "Are You Ready?"
Moreover, it is an album which burns with the fervour of a creative genius, reinvigorated and ready to conquer the musical soundscape once more in bare feet, with a microphone cord wrapped around his clenched fist.
Tracks such as "Illumination" and "Monster" feature the socially conscious lyrics which are tantamount to the Rollins patented design. As well, "Thinking Cap," first catalogues a checklist of cosmetic surgeries, then declassifies them with the blatant maxim, "It's like putting pearls on swine/You can dress up a pig, but it's still a pig." It may not be Shakespeare, but it still rings true to the cynical listener.
Most of the album might prove surprising for some Rollins fans as the music is given much more emphasis than the lyrics. The guitar and drum work is heavy, pounding and blistering with the intensity of a garage band given a shot at greatness and jumping on it with full force.
However, Rollins Band fans of the past may not enjoy this newest installment from their guru as much as prior efforts. Many of them will find that the lack of biting banter and relentless punk sound detracts from the album, making it a chore to wade through the tracks for the snippets of underlying wisdom buried within.
On the whole, however, one thing is undeniable about Get Some Go Again. Rollins still knows how to rock and rock hard.
Suzanne de Bussac
The Valley of Baca
Suzanne de Bussac's debut album The Valley of Baca is an enchanting escape and a mystical ride through the many sounds that make de Bussac unique.
This Calgary-born native has been performing since the age of three, when she was enrolled in a music program for toddlers. She has previously been awarded the Royal Conservatory Silver Medal, the Kiwanis Festival Scholarship and the Alberta Culture Study grant. The Valley of Baca is not only de Bussac's debut album, but the first release on her own independent label, Tranzister Music.
She hooks listeners and takes pop music to new heights with her use of different rhythms. The months of recording spent to create this alluring album is evident through the precise beats and rhythms chosen to accompany her powerful vocals.
From reggae to Latin American sounds, de Bussac's meaningful lyrics are uniquely strewn together to produce a strong quality of musical depth. Her enthralling lyrics are uncommonly deeper than most other musicians'.
Her direct approach and openness to her craft coupled with her sensual and spiritual writing ability leave the listener truly inspired. Hidden within her words are profound messages and lessons learned from the life of a born musician.
The Valley of Baca is an inspiring and uplifting album filled with personal and spiritual outlooks on life. The originality of this album is a welcome surprise in an age of tiresome repetition. For an artist to emerge from the abyss of struggling musicians is a hard task, but to come forth with a unique and strong new sound is even harder. de Bussac has accomplished both of these tasks with great success.
A Lo Cubano
Orishas, named for the Gods of the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria, are anything but God-like. A Lo Cubano, their debut album, consists of 15 disappointing tracks which all sound frustratingly similar.
Touted by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo as "a master work of universal hip-hop, topping the best albums of Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, The Fugees," A Lo Cubano raises expectations they are not able to live up to. Suffice it to say, Public Enemy has nothing to fear from this Latino-rap group.
After a year of pre-production and recording in Paris with famed French MC Miko Niko, the album is disappointingly uneventful. The vocals on every track waver between rapping and singing and do not incorporate any variation either one member sings by himself or all four of them sing in unison. There is no harmonizing or creativity in terms of the background vocals.
However, one still has to credit the quality of their voices every member has a smooth, pleasant sound, making each song easy, if not interesting, to listen to.
The beats are combinations of hip-hop and rumba which are definitely different than anything heard on local radio stations, but are not cutting edge.
Two tracks which stand out in particular are "Represent" and "Connexion." These offerings are perhaps the most memorable on the album, simply because of their catchy choruses and the variety of sounds and samples, supported by interesting beats.
"Barrio" encapsulates the album's lack of energy perfectly, incorporating ballad-style lyrics with simple mixing to create a sound quite different from the rest of the tracks, but one which is not necessarily exciting.
In an attempt to liven up the music, the band uses a variety of instruments piano, saxophone and trumpet being the most easily distinguishable. However, despite this variety of sound, the tracks still all sound remarkably the same.
Ultimately, the weak rhythms and mixes all contribute to A Lo Cubano's failure as a hip-hop/rap production.
Fifteen months ago, a nameless duo from Winnipeg signed a contract with Nettwerk Records.
Now titled, but still relatively obscure, Jet Set Satellite have unleashed their debut album and a positive reception is all but guaranteed.
Blueprint, a 10Šsong effort from vocalist Trevor Tuminski and keyboardist Dave Swiecicki, is a surprisingly easy listen, with smooth transitions between acoustic and electric guitars.
Standard rock efforts such as "Baby, Cool Your Jets" and "The Night It Went Too Far" mix comfortably with the slower lyrics of "Tinfoil Star" and "Afterglow," allowing listeners to sit through the entire album without jumping from track to track.
The album ventures in and around the typical conventions of rock but succeeds in overcoming stereotypical boundaries.
Blueprint's first single, "Best Way to Die" has already found reasonable success, climbing its way onto radio countdowns and medium rotation at MuchMusic.
With vocals from folk singer Martha Wainwright and programming contributions by Delerium collaborator Rhys Fulber and The Cult producer John Webster, the heavier sounds of Jet Set Satellite are balanced into recordings aimed simply at fans of music.
As with most albums, there are a few tracks which will definitely not see any video rotation, but the majority of songs should gain a reasonable amount of interest. It would seem that this is just the beginning of an impressive career. The duo are hoping to evolve into a solid five-piece with an even richer sound before they begin touring.
Jet Set Sattelite's album is an appealing debut effort which defies the boundaries of typical rock.
Whether it's used for background music while doing homework, or is just something to throw in the stereo when there's nothing on TV, Blueprint quenches the thirst of the average music craver and serves as a comfortable introduction into the world of Jet Set Satellite.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000