April 8, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 100  

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A Very Lonely Planet: Love, Sex, and the Single Guy

By Ryan Bigges
Arsenal Pulp Press
181 pages, $18.95

The single guy is a lonely creature. But in navigating his way through life and love, he is revealed to be a complex fellow taking on many forms.

Bigge’s 2001 examination of the single guy traces the history of this restless individual’s existence. With his encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture and neurotic sense of humour, Bigge, a freelance writer and former Managing Editor of Adbusters magazine, contemplates the single guy’s many incarnations: bachelor, indie-rock mope, computer nerd, sensitive wuss, hopeless romantic, “Accidental Misogynist” and others.

The crux of his argument stems from Bigge’s formation of the “Astute Brute” character. Inspired by the Chuck Palahniuk novel Fight Club (and the 1999 David Fincher film adaptation), Bigge’s Astute Brute is personified by Jack/Tyler Durden, a conflicted hero that straddles the line between controlled yuppiedom and id-driven freedom.

According to Bigge, the Astute Brute doesn’t like pro sports, Aerosmith, homophobia or potpourri. Instead, he likes journalism, Death Cab for Cutie and introspection. Other notable Astute Brutes of our time include Seinfeld’s George Costanza and Sebadoh’s Lou Barlow.

Yet the Astute Brute’s biggest challenge is overcoming his bad luck with love, and Bigge reminisces on past experiences.

In the wrong hands, the Lonely Planet would be difficult to explore. But thanks to the intelligence and wit of Bigge, the solitary world seems a bit smaller — and funnier.

—Brian Wong

Taxi Chain
Smarten Up!
Northern Blues Music

Taxi Chain is a band of musical ambiguity; it’s impossible to restrict their sound to just one genre.

Smarten Up! is based on the musical fundamentals of jazz and blues, but through the use of unexpected instruments — bagpipes, mandolin, tenor banjo, fiddle — many tracks have a Celtic and early-American folk spin to them, flowing surprisingly well at some points.

But uniqueness should not be mistaken with quality, especially on this album. The record’s first song, “Memphis,” quickly loses its appeal through the repetition of a dull verse line and a deprived percussion backing. Other songs like “Zimbobby” and “Tandoori Mustache” begin with promising bagpipe melodies but degenerate into rounds of exhausting repetition.

Though the title track “Smarten Up!” introduces itself through an interesting guitar line, after brief listening it sounds more like a child’s music box than a credible guitarist’s expression.

—Harley N.K. Yule


What You Thought You Heard

Borialis lacks an identity, to say the least.

With far too many musical influences, What You Thought You Heard is a disastrous combination of classic rock, reggae, hip-hop, progressive and surf jams. The annoying Borialis boys chant far too often about their tough lives, deprivation and struggle being a minority — funny thing is, they’re Caucasian.

In “Why Oh Why,” the New Jersey sextet preach about how going to a high school where the population was of mixed races helped to form their identity. Themes of drug experimentation and nights in the slammer are prevalent, especially in “White Trash (Hip Rock)” and “Hourglass.”

Borialis’s irritating style can be compared to bands like Limp Bizkit, or even more so, Crazy Town. Recently, they toured with Jay-Z, N.E.R.D., 311 and Hoobastank on the Sprite Liquid Mix Tour.

Definitely not in the mix, Heard is a poor attempt at fusing too much together, and it ultimately fails.
—Gabriella Barillari

Various Artists

Ladykillers Soundtrack

Like the movie it accompanies, the Ladykillers soundtrack is full of adaptations, featuring not one but THREE versions each of the gospel classics “Trouble Of This World” and “Let Your Light Shine On Me.”

Covers of “Let Your Light Shine on Me” range from versions by the sullen Blind Willie Johnson to the Venice Four, who are every bit as exuberant as a big Southern Baptist gospel choir should be, complete with spontaneous calls of “Shine on me, Jesus!”

Although some covers are powerful and convincing, the problem with the soundtrack is there are TOO MANY covers. With 18 tracks in total, the CD seems to drag on endlessly. Maybe in heaven, all these gospel tunes will be easier to swallow, but not now.

—Mel Wong

Wax Mannequin

The Price
Coqi Records

Much like an open flesh wound, it’s hard to put your finger on Wax Mannequin.

That isn’t to say The Price is bad. The self-proclaimed “President of Indie Rock” combines infectious guitar licks and powerful vocals to produce a sound that’s hard, but not too hard.

Stand-out songs include “R&R WND” and the classic “Fuck Up The Night,” Wax’s aptly titled ode to fucking up the night. A rare find, this album is strong, both musically and lyrically.

Carefully crafted poetry and prose fuse together in 10 insightful and thought-provoking compositions. With many memorable lines, such as “he cooks Christ’s medicine in his cock” from the lead track, you’ll understand right away that Wax Mannequin is one motherfucker who means business.

—Arthur Thuot


Weezer (Deluxe Edition)

The rise of Weezer was like a revenge of the nerds. The members were the types of guys that got picked on by hard rock mooks who worshipped Nirvana — mooks who didn’t get that Kurt Cobain himself stood for the underdog. But as Cobain perished under the weight of superstardom, the stage was set for the myopic, striped-T crowd to take back the rock. These were patient kids, who couldn’t get a date, first dialed on to cyberspace and eagerly awaited Windows 95.

And so we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first Weezer disc. Now famously dubbed “The Blue Album,” the record now appears in a special deluxe edition that not only includes spiffy new cardboard packaging and extended liner notes, but also a second disc of b-sides, live tracks and rough, pre-1994 demos.

Nearly every track on the original Blue Album has become a classic power-pop anthem, from the unrequited love of “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” and “Only in Dreams,” to quirky love odes like “Buddy Holly.”

This re-issue in one word? Nifty.

—Brian Wong

Dead Prez

Columbia Records

RBG: red black and green; rollin’ big ganja... the universal acronym for any freedom fighter, or wannabe for that matter.

Set in New York City, the politically conscious Dead Prez has unleashed the next phase of their revolutionary gangsta rap principles. Emcees and warriors M-1 and Sticman form the avant-garde duo who work towards spreading a powerful message. RBG paints a journey through life in a world full of racism.

“Hell Yeah (Pimp the System)” is the first single and coincidentally best track off the record. Other triumphant tunes like “Don’t Forget Where You Came From” and “I Have A Dream, Too” exemplify Dead Prez’s message of reaching bigger goals and not being afraid to express yourself.

—Gabriella Barillari



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