Volume 95, Issue 94

Wednesday, April 3, 2002
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Say YES to Yoko Ono's collection at the AGO

Unfortunately, Smoochy is already dead

Becoming a nightmare

Outside the Box

Care Bear stare causes enjoyment

Britney more savvy than Square

Trail, the Hives and Fellows breathe life into music

Trail, the Hives and Fellows breathe life into music

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead

Source Tags and Codes

Interscope Records

Four stars (out of five)

Once in a while, a band comes along that makes music writers wet their pants. The band might cause critics to excrete such heralds as "saviours of rock" and "the next Nirvana."

The four Texans who make up the fantastically named ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead are definitely not the next Nirvana – but that's actually a good thing. Their major label debut, Source Tags and Codes, is a smoldering piece of wreck and abandon that still reaches bliss.

For more than four years, the mod-cut cropped team of Conrad Keely, Kevin Allen, Jason Reece and Neil Busch has honed a brand of art punk that floods the listener with layers upon layers of sound. Sometimes it's discordant, sometimes it's symphonic and sometimes it's both – rammed together tightly in a can ready to explode.

Source Tags continues the aesthetic in a somewhat more accessible package, but it's still nothing you would want to listen to with your family

In "Heart in the Hand of the Matter," a mysteriously enchanting introduction gives way to a chugging motor and the sorrows of a crippled pessimist doomed to eternal loss. The final minute of the track is a collage of metallic noise that complements the artwork accompanying the lyrics – a precious drawing of a man who grips the heart he just tore form his chest in one hand.

Further carnal pleasures can be found in the devastating "Homage," the sax-romp "Baudelaire" and the monstrously majestic "Relative Ways," which sounds like Thurston Moore slowly morphing into the devil.

While you may not wet your pants, Trail of Dead will completely pulverize you and leave you among the neglected litter of their sorry, sorry victims.

–Brian Wong


The Hives

Veni Vidi Vicious

Burning Heart/Epitaph

Four stars (out of five)

You've heard all the hype. You've even seen the video for "Main Offender" on MuchMusic. You've put up with the unwarranted comparisons to The Strokes and The White Stripes. Finally, you listen to the album and only one adjective can be used to describe Veni Vidi Vicious – rollicking.

The Hives is comprised of five suit-wearing, cocky Swedish mods who have taken their cues from the greats. Led by Howlin' Pelle Almqvist on vocals, the other four members – bassist Dr. Matt Destruction, drummer Chris Dangerous and guitarists Vigilante Carlstroem and Nicholaus Arson – combine to create a relentless style and sound.

Veni Vidi Vicious combines the rawest elements of The Velvet Underground, the party-flavour of the New York Dolls and the defiant energy of Iggy Pop to create a vicious, garage-inspired piece of power-pop sure to rocket this underground mainstay into mainstream "buzz band" status.

Every track is a highlight, but the especially aggressive moments come in the form of "Die, All Right!" and "Outsmarted," while the aforementioned "Main Offender" and "Hate To Say I Told You So" have radio single written all over them. The 50s bop of "Find Another Girl" and the subtler "Supply And Demand" round out a fantastic release.

– David Perri


Christine Fellows

The Last One Standing

Six Shooter Records

Four stars (out of five)

Not another female singer-songwriter who plays piano, you say?

But Winnipeg's Christine Fellows isn't interested in writing songs about being in the arms of angels and even if she did, those angel arms would probably be dry, cracked and frostbitten.

On the follow-up to her 2000 debut 2 Little Birds, Fellows takes her training in jazz piano, reshapes it for three-minute pop songs about regret and hope, surrounds it with a cast of instruments and uses it as the backdrop for her compelling lyrics and naked vocals.

The recipe makes The Last One Standing one of those truly charming records that you play on solitary nights, sitting next to a crackling fire, wrapped in blankets hand-quilted by grandma.

With Fellows' experience creating contemporary dance scores, it's not surprising that Standing is rich in sounds – even the glockenspiel and mandolin are represented here. Besides the piano, Fellows also takes on accordion, guitar and organ duties.

Returning to the fold are friends John K. Samson and Jason Tait of The Weakerthans, who – along with Leanne Zacharias on cello – add to the symphony of sound.

In songs like "Lost Overtures" and "Blueprints," the classical instrumentation gives the tracks a sense of tragic urgency as strings bounce and bloom. The drums on "Surgery" thump and pop from the live feel of the production.

There's also a bit of lighthearted humour here – a cough interrupts the middle of "2 for 1 (Part 2)," while an extra track titled "Surprise!" is surprising heavy compared to the rest of the album. Perhaps the screeching guitars and carefree singing is the liberating result of being the last one standing.

Perseverance never sounded so perfect.

–Brian Wong

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