Volume 96, Issue 81
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

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CD Review Extravaganza Part 3: stellar sounds

The Juliana Theory
Epic Records

Rundown: For their third album, a follow-up to their successful second work Emotion is Dead, The Juliana Theory is looking to mature their sound and earn more acclaim. Singer/songwriter Brett Detar and his four bandmates released Love after widespread touring with fellow rockers Something Corporate and The Ataris.

Key Tracks: "Repeating, Repeating" is a sullen confession imbued with catchy vocals and ripping guitarwork. Detar solemnly laments, "I'm burnt out on everything," as the intense chorus mimics this feeling. "White Days" takes a pulsing electronic rhythm and juxtaposes it with calm guitar and vocals. "Into the Dark" is a remix of the first track of their previous album, and gets catchier with each consecutive listen.

Sounds Like: Built on the foundations of brooding vocals and poetic storytelling, Juliana fits the emo-rock mold that is characteristic of bands like Jimmy Eat World. The Juliana Theory has an unearthly ability to set lyrics appropriately to music, and they perform with a passion unmatched by most other bands out there today. This record is ideal for punk and emo fans alike, as well as any rock/alternative fans looking for something new.

–Jeff Zon

Various Artists
The Detroit Experiment
Ropeadope Records

Rundown: From the heart of the Motor City comes an experiment in jazz, soul and funk fusion. This recipe calls for over two dozen of Detroit's jazz legends, the fabled recording studio known as the White Room and the illegitimate child of those genres: the proud papa of house music, Carl Craig. Assemble these ingredients in a beaker and let them sit under a Bunsen burner for five days, and what emerges is a comprehensive guide to the past, present and mutated future of Detroit's diverse musical scene.

Key Tracks: Ever question the existence of God? The fifth cut on the album, "There Is A God," does its best to answer the question with a saintly violin also heard on "Revelation." "Highest" will entertain you on the stairway to musical ecstasy. Lastly, "The Way We Make Music" provides a crash course on music-making away from the glamour and glitz typically associated with the industry.

Sounds Like: A light rain is falling outside; inside, the dimly lit nightclub is teeming with the volatile talent of Detroit's finest musicians. You can't compare it to anything you've heard before, unless you're one of the people who conceived of this project. With DJ/producer Carl Craig at the helm, sit back and expect the unexpected.

–Pierre Hamilton

Airs Above Your Station
Sub Pop

Rundown: Kinski is a four-piece instrumental band from Seattle, looking to fulfill the promise outlined in their inclusion on Alternative Press's 2002 list of "Bands to Watch." But honestly, how many instrumental rock groups can people name these days? With a guaranteed lack of support from mainstream radio, the band need not live up to any hype; yet with their brand of faceless atmospheric art-rock, Kinski prove they really are a "Band to Hear."

Key Tracks: Airs Above Your Station is Kinski's third record, featuring epic tracks that often reach the eight-minute mark. On "Semaphore," a squeaky guitar effect is slowly joined by a syncopated drum pattern before exploding into a monstrous wall of guitar. The comparatively quieter "I Think I Blew It" is a hymn-like piece with guitars that calm and mesmerize.

Sounds Like: Atmospheric, delicate, thunderous – experimentation is key to Kinski, and their incredible attention to dynamics is both soothing and stunning.

–Brian Wong

The Verbrilli Sound
Leisure War
Upstairs Recordings

Rundown: When Don Verbrilli sets out to make music, he strives to bring his listeners awareness, peace and wisdom by using "The Verbrilli Effect," a process which involves tapping into unseen electromagnetic atmospheric transmissions and letting them direct the music-making process.

Key Tracks: "Moonlight Swim" is somewhat on the upbeat side, while "Mating Song of the Big-Headed North American Bar Swine" has a truly stellar beat and rhythm. Indeed, if played by said swine after a Saturday night pickup, mating could definitely ensue.

Sounds Like: Something you'd definitely want to play if you were looking to set a romantic mood without being too obvious. Think Barry White without the clichéd "Hey Baby."

–Bryan Rade

Edwyn Collins & Orange Juice
A Casual Introduction 1981-2001

Rundown: British pop impresario Edwyn Collins's unique voices fuels this "best of" compilation, which spans 18 tracks and 20 years, featuring songs he performed both solo and with his band Orange Juice. This compilation is surprisingly uneven, featuring a handful of songs which are definite winners, and others that fall into a cesspool of generic '80s Britpop.

Key Tracks: "A Girl Like You", "Magic Piper of Love" and "Witch Queen of New Orleans" will blast your knickers off. The CD also features a song about Adidas, which tops anything Nelly can write about Nike. Unfortunately, as this album progresses, the songs tend to get weaker.

Sounds Like: A mixture of Bryan Ferry, David Bowie and Scott Walker, with a bit of Spandau Ballet thrown in. Collins's voice saves much of the material from being merely mediocre. If you're a fan of New Wave British music from the '80s, you may get a real kick out of this compilation.

–Daniel Noble


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