December 3 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 53  

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The Milwaukees
This Is A Stickup
Does Everyone Stare? Records

New Jersey-based rockers The Milwaukees’ third full-length release This Is A Stickup is perplexing in that you can’t tell if it’s deliberately ironic, or just ends up sounding that way because of its conspicuously derivative instrumentals and lyrics.

The cover art and haphazardly assembled liner notes, not to mention unpolished studio production, serve to evoke a one-take, indie-style mood for the album. The Spinal Tap-styled, laughable and clichéd lyrics also suggest the album is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, with samples like, “Call an ambulance, call a doctor, we have lost her!... ” belted out at a rate not typically indicative of what to expect from a band’s third major work.

This Is A Stickup does work fairly well melodically in some limited moments, suggesting The Milwaukees can in fact pull it together when required. The disc may be less a serious attempt at a breakthrough and more of a theme album, or simply an homage to various bands, largely from early ’90s punk, credited in the liner notes as being influential. Nonetheless, the disc is largely bland and formulaic, caught somewhere between grunge and new metal, and if not produced for mere camp value, offers the listener little other than something that could be found transpiring in their teenaged neighbour’s garage.

—Mike Arntfield

Beg For Mercy

G-Unit’s first official album is sadly just another exercise for the same-old providing even more fodder for cynics who love to criticize the redundancy of rap music.

Don’t get the wrong idea. 50 Cent’s “slo-flo” is in full effect and 20-year-old Lloyd Banks establishes himself as a lyrical talent that rivals his mentor, particularly in the potential single, “Smile.” Young Buck, formerly of Cash Money, rounds out the primary members, as currently incarcerated Tony Yayo is there mostly in spirit — and shout-outs.

The problem is this: how many ways can you say you’re gonna fuck somebody up before it gets to be too much? “I bust shots/I pop shots/I pop thangs/shells hurt/shit is real/lay yo’ ass down/I ’dun came-up/G-G-G-G Unit!”

Despite this almost inevitable gripe, most of the songs have catchy beats and a few are surefire hit singles. “Salute You,” the Dre-produced “G’d up” and “Stunty 101” are great nod-your-head tracks, while the latter is more soothing, not unlike 50’s “21 Questions.”

Still, despite its strong sales, Beg For Mercy will likely leave fans begging for originality.

—Brent Carpenter

Death in Vegas

Scorpio Rising

Death in Vegas’ music is cinematic in nature and often better suited to soundtracks, of which the band has done many. This doesn’t necessarily make for a bad album, just not a gripping one. On the first track, “Leather,” distorted fuzzy guitars collide with synthesized strings and cheap keyboard sounds to form an oddly riveting track.

At times, however, Scorpio Rising seems to get lost in its own ambiance. “Nalju,” unquestionably the weakest track, contains mechanical droning and no real music, sounding more like the score for a cracked-out space movie than an actual song.

Despite being slightly disjointed, Scorpio Rising will please most electronic enthusiasts.

—Colin J. Fleming

Dizzee Rascal
Boy In Da Corner
XL Recordings

Dylan Mills (Dizzee Rascal’s real name) says he wants to escape all the hip-hop clichés of fast cars, cash and cribs, but this is a cliché in itself. Dizzee’s genre of music seems to be 1/3 garage, 1/3 hip-hop and 1/3 garbage.

Dizzee’s 15-track album sounds like a slowed-down version of some potentially great jungle anthems. Fast forward these suckas and you have yourself an awesome house party. What is even more humiliating is that his emceeing skills sound constipated — in “Sittin’ Here,” he raps as fast as your grandmother would.

Apparently this little rascal is the winner of the 2003 British Mercury Music Prize, which is very hard to believe.

—Gabriella Barillari

Kittens For Christian
Privilege of Your Company
Serjical Strike Records

Privilege of Your Company is an album that doesn’t have a great deal to offer its potential audience, unless listeners enjoy the noise a cat would make if it was in a blender.

The CD has two tolerable tracks, and this is only because they don’t have vocals. The band sounds like a scary imitation of ’80s-era Duran Duran set to rock music.

The vocals in “Bow Legged Bob” sound like the artist is about to die; apparently “Bow Legged Bob” is on his last leg. The song seems to beg the question: how can I drag my voice out and make it sound like crap?

In the song “Had a Plan,” there clearly was no plan — which may explain why the song is entitled “Had a Plan.” The vocalist speaks instead of sings; however, the instrumentation is surprisingly OK.
The only tolerable songs are “Water,” because the lyrics have more than two words repeated in the song and “King Becomes A Star,” because it has no vocals.

—Deanna DiMenna

Erase Errata
At Crystal Palace
Troubleman Unlimited

On the San Francisco quartet’s second disc, the dissonant guitars, staccato bass and Jenny Hoyston’s mostly unmelodic vocals and free-jazz trumpeting are as wild as ever. Anchoring it all is Bianca Sparta’s clockwork timekeeping that’s punchy and veers into those disco rhythms that are all the rage in the dance-punk land.

Yet unlike current dance-punk torchbearers such as The Rapture or The Liars, Erase Errata’s jagged ditties are more dense, packing as much atonal chaos as possible into two minutes. Keeping the tracks short makes these fiery gems easier to digest, but for someone with a high metabolic rate, these hook-less morsels rarely get a chance to stick.

But some do last a bit longer than others: the hilariously titled “Let’s Be Active c/o Club Hott” begins with some of the only melodic verses on the record, while the robotic “Ca. Viewing” benefits from keeping the sounds spaced apart. And when Hoyston proclaims “I can never settle down” on that latter track, you can’t help but think, “damn right!”

—Brian Wong

Country Favorites
Turqoise Mountain

I remember when I was walking home from the bars and got into a knife fight with a vole; he was a weasely little bastard who tried to steal my wallet, but thanks to my super fast ninja skills, I dispatched him with little effort.

As a result of my traumatic street fight I have stayed away from voles, but I was once dogsledding across the Norwegian tundra when my dogs ran away. Left only with my Norwegian guide, I was forced to eat him and a lot of voles until I was rescued by a giant St. Bernard.

But the St. Bernard carried me away to a far away land that was ruled by Nazi voles. Thanks to my appetite for vole meat I was able to eat all of the Nazi voles.
While eating the Nazi voles, I discovered that they listened to a lot of country twang, which is funny because ordinarily country twang is all right, but this CD was pretty bad, so bad I think the Nazi voles listened to a lot of it.

However I did give them a half star because they covered ABBA’s “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” and that goes a long way.

—Marshall Bellamy

Myracle Brah
Rainbow Quartz

If you like your pop-rock loaded with high frequencies and treble-saturated twang, then you’ll want to buy this Teenage Fanclub meets The Knack album right away. Despite the over-wrought ’70s veneer and occasional candy floss elements, the album is instrumentally tight and well-arranged, with vocal work reminiscent of early David Bowie and a generally moody tone which works well for the still relatively obscure trio.

The tracks are consistently tight and as straightforward as they come, with few interludes, solos or bridges used to pad a collection of songs that could be described as the latest incarnation of college rock with a mellow, retro refurbishing. Like Matthew Sweet on valium, Treblemaker makes for ideal background music.

Despite its limitations, however, Treblemaker is a testimonial to the effectiveness of a simple three-piece rock band in an age of post-production and digitally layed decadence.

—Mike Arntfield



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