Volume 94, Issue 99
Wednesday, March 28, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Hawksley dropkicks Kristin
Sing Loud, Sing Proud!
If ever there was a soundtrack to a soccer riot, this is it.
Boston-based band Dropkick Murphys deliver an energetic punch with their album, Sing Loud, Sing Proud! By creating a mix of ska, punk and Celtic music, the band creates a mood appropriate for nights of intoxicated pub crawls.
Although it's interesting to hear traditional instruments such as bagpipes and tin whistles, there isn't much to the album. The guitars keep to power chords and the drums sound the same throughout the album. More emphasis is put on the lyrical content. Songs such as "Which Side Are You On?" and "Caps And Bottles" tell blue collar tales of fighting for unions and alcoholism.
The downside, however, is that the songs are packed with too much energy, and the vocals are too hoarse and out of tune for the listener to decipher the meaning without reading the liner notes.
All faults aside, this band does their job well. The Dropkick Murphys definitely set the tone for a rowdy night on the town and present themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
(Last Night We Were) The Delicious Wolves
On his latest album, (Last Night We Were) The Delicious Wolves, Canadian Hawksley Workman proves himself as a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumental musician and producer.
Beginning with a mournful sound, "Jealous of Your Cigarettes" is a highlight. In the middle of the track, Workman breaks into a crazy guitar and demonstrates his mastery of the instrument. With the Smash Mouth-like sound, the chorus is infectious and makes the song perfect driving music for the impending season of spring.
"Old Bloody Orange," "What A Woman" and "You Me And The Weather" are examples of more mellow tracks on the album, but by pushing his voice too far, Workman's downfall is the resulting jarring sound.
The other track that stands out is the closing, "Dirty and True." With its theatrical sound, the song transports the listener to a playhouse where they feel like an observer of a performance.
Although he may not be the most famous name in Canadian music, Workman's album is an incredible listen. Rock-opera is a sound that has been long missed and hopefully, Workman will have another release soon.
Lester Bangs EP
Hello New York Kennedys, or The Dead Dolls?
Although not overtly political enough to be a Dead Kennedy's cover-band, and not nearly image-conscious enough to reconstruct the glory that was the New York Dolls, Nasty On is stil able to appeal to both hardcore and sleaze sensibilities. Think of this as the bastard child the late 70s and early 80s never produced.
Qualifying as CanCon (written, recorded, mastered, produced, performed, registered and wrapped in Vancouver), and pretty much biting the heels of Montreal's Cafeine in terms of visceral 70s sleaze, the Lester Bangs EP (named after the mid-70s editor of Kreem magazine) is salvation for those who wish they were old enough to have experienced a live show at New York's famed CBGB club.
As for the songs themselves, "Lester Bangs" pounds out in unmistakeable indie fashion, "Sometimes I Take Pills" delves into the world of absentee girlfriends and "Girl, I Won't Come Over" dabbles with dub-reggae so well The Clash would be proud.
Although this record isn't worthy of many spins in CD player, it was a nice 13:36 while it lasted.
Sunny Border Blue
Emotionally autobiographical records can sometimes suffer from overwrought lyrical imagery and self-indulgence. On her latest work, Sunny Border Blue, former Throwing Muses frontwoman Kristin Hersh avoids both, for the most part.
The instrumentation and production fit her soul-baring lyrics well, creating an intense concoction coupled with wistful, tortured vocals. At times, Hersh's lyrics have a poetic irreverence that is striking. On "Flipside", she sings, "Maybe dead's like being really high without the low/But I enjoy the hangovers here."
The instrumentation ranges from sparse acoustics to driving electric guitar and heavy percussion. The production is clean, keeping the vocal level carefully above even the heaviest backing. The result is high calibre sound quality, making even the weaker songs tolerable.
Although a few of the songs suffer from sounding a little too mundane, Hersh does a good job maintaining balance between the more subtle slower tracks and the heavier, more uptempo tracks.
Hersh may never experience happiness in song, and she may never write a song about a successful relationship, but that doesn't mean Sunny Border Blue and the rest of Hersh's creative output is not delightful, high quality listening material.
Not too long ago, it seemed the Bad Boy empire was slowly crumbling. Listeners had lost interest in his signature sample-heavy production. Rumours insisted substantial discontent ran rampant among his stable of artists. To top it off, he himself was in the battle of his life to stay out of jail.
Enter One Twelve.
The quartet, whose hit single "Only You" remains a classic party jam, never seem to disappoint. With Part III, One Twelve has spun out one of the best R&B albums released in a while.
Instead of following the crowd of thuggish Jagged Edge wannabees, they have stuck to their low-key, not too edgy, not too soft style. With Slim providing his yearning, school-boy voice and Q mixing in his more mature man's-man vocals, the group has found an amazing dynamic that makes them appealing to different tastes.
If you've heard and like the first single on this album, "It's Over Now," you will be pleased to know the up-tempo club banger is just one of many on the album. "Dance With Me," and "Peaches & Cream," are a continuation of the group's amazing ability to produce on-point dance tracks.
The choice cut is "Caught Up," another upbeat, catchy tale about a love triangle that sets itself apart with it's emotion and moving violin loop.
For some the only downfall of this album will be its persistent use of easily digestible hooks, moving it dangerously closer to boy-band pop instead of soulful R&B. However, any minor problems with Part III are heavily overshadowed by its balanced brilliance.
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