ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
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.
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.
Death in Vegas
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
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
Boy In Da Corner
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.
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.
At Crystal Palace
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!”
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.
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.
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.