September 17, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 11  

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

CD Reviews


John Mayer

Heavier Things
Columbia Records

Riding fresh on the tail of his first album, Room for Squares, John Mayer has released his next major album entitled Heavier Things. Don't be fooled by the name, because Mayer's second attempt at expressing boyish emotions, through lyrics written to swoon the ladies, is no heavier than his first.

The ten tracks on Heavier Things tug at the love strings and make female fans come back for more: the tempo is light and the lyrics romantic, furthering that boy-next-door sweetness Mayer just can't seem to shake.

The album begins easily and enjoyably with the songs "Clarity" and "Something's Missing," but quickly gets bittersweet and a tad on the wimpy side, including the ballad "Daughters," which is an obvious attempt to keel over any easy romantics out there.

Sticking with the sexy theme of anatomy, the album's first single, "Bigger than my Body," is one of the most upbeat, poppy songs on the album. However, the album sounds as though it was produced for radio and is lighter on the acoustics than Room for Squares.

Only in a few songs does Mayer showcase anything heavy on the guitar. Funny ® doesn't John know girls love a guy with a guitar?

- Ashley Audrain


A Perfect Circle

Thirteenth Step
Virgin/EMI

Following a major lineup change, including the addition of former Manson-ite Jeordie White on bass and former Smashing Pumpkin James Iha on guitar, A Perfect Circle have returned with their sophomore effort. Thirteenth Step resonates with the deep, haunting emotion that has come to define the band since their inception several years ago.

Vocalist Maynard James Keenan's voice snakes in and out of dark, yet uplifting, songs that range from driving guitar tracks to quieter explorations of the band's innermost soul.

The beauty of Keenan's voice mingles with gently-laid piano and string accompaniments on "The Nurse Who Loved Me," a track so mellow and so exquisitely wrenching it will touch even the hardest heart. The album's first single, "Weak and Powerless," teems thickly with anxiety, but is punctuated with the soaring sounds of hope.

Though musical perfection is arguably impossible, Thirteenth Step comes pretty damn close.

- Megan O'Toole


Plastilina Mosh

Hola Chicuelos
EMI International

Plastilina Mosh describe their music as sleazydiscofunkpunknewwavehiphop. Austin Powers might call their third album, Hola Chicuelos, shagadellic - it's thoroughly infectious dance music with a decidedly modern sensibility and a Hispanic twist.

An irreverent, tongue-in-cheek attitude permeates the eighteen tracks. "Naranjada" manages to actually sound like the lyric "happy like an ice cream cone in summer." "Pek’n Jazz" is pure Latin lounge-music, while the instrumental "Celeste" takes a soothing techno trip into outer space. "Al—" is the catchiest track on the album.

This Mexican duo has already enjoyed mainstream success in their homeland and were the first "rock-en-Espanol" group to have a video added to MTV's U.S. rotation. Their secret lies in their ability to merge the techno and jazz background of keyboardist Alejandro Rosso with guitarist Juan José "Jonaz" Gonsalez's love of rap and metal.

Hola Chicuelos is recorded in several languages, with musical influences that range from minimalist urban rap and soulful R&B to cool jazz and classic disco, it will appeal to anyone with a sense of humour, an open mind and itchy feet.

-Nicole Laidler

 

 

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