ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Worried that Swing and Boogie Woogie have gone out of style, only to be replaced
by 50 Cent and Britney Spears? Worried that after a saddle blazin’ shootout
in the Old West, you won’t be able to walk into your favourite saloon
and find some decent piano fingers at work?
If these things worry you on a day-to-day basis, perhaps you should turn off
Rick Dees weekly Top 40 and pick up Michael Kaeshammer’s new CD, Strut.
Kaeshammer’s sound is so individual and emotionally driven that it is
an excellent escape from today’s mainstream. Unlike the majority of today’s
stars, he doesn’t use words (that’s right, only two songs on the
13-track CD actually have words) to interfere with his raw musical talent.
As well, Kaeshammer does not try to “hammer” his music into your
head the way some hip-hoppers or rockers do with loud, abrasive sounds. In
fact, quite the contrary: every song on Strut flows together in a very harsh
yet melodic tone.
Kaeshammer is a real talent and would surely be one of the most talked-about
names if Boogie Woogie carried a little more weight.
On one hand, Kylie Minogue has always been stuck in the past — she’s
the classy, leggy pin-up with the cute butt, and a catalogue of ’80s
mall-pop and disco-dance numbers; on the other hand, Minogue is ahead of her
time — the sounds of the ’70s and ’80s are back in vogue.
Whereas retro-rockers The Strokes praise Lou Reed, campy metalheads The Darkness
stand at the alter of Queen, and dance-punkers The Rapture rave on to Gang
of Four, Minogue looks to the new ghost of music’s past currently re-haunting
us: Prince. Beyoncé recently performed with him and Janet’s latest
single bares his peppy brand of light-funk, but it’s Minogue who has
beaten them both to the punch with her new record.
Much of Body Language is inspired by the symbolic one — porno-riffic
guitar licks, falsetto vocals and the occasional sensual yelp are rampant — but
the mix is most potent when modern elements are added. Electro-beats fire up
synth-jams like “Sweet Music” and the devilish “Secret (Take
You Home),” where Minogue even takes on a coy rap verse.
Body Language also bears an R&B mid-section with vivid song titles like “Red
Blooded Woman” (a fantastic “Cry Me a River” clone) and “Chocolate,” a
sweet, slow-groove meltdown. It’s this delicious imagery — of shiny
cars and confections, burning hearts and obsession, and dark dance floors and
neon-lit nights — that makes Minogue, at 35, pop’s most sultry,
If you’re looking for melody, harmony or any sort of cohesive song structure,
you won’t find it here. The Locust keeps it short, fast and weird, with
most songs lasting until the one-minute-or-less mark. Plague Soundscapes makes
it incredibly clear what The Locust’s stance on modern
America is: “Messed-up music for messed-up times.”
The average music listener will probably have had enough of The Locust after
30 seconds, let alone 21 minutes of this musical insanity. The album is for
those interested in music that pushes the boundaries of both abrasiveness and
absurdity. So what if the tracks start to melt into each other after awhile,
and so what if you might be left with a headache after listening to the entire
The train wreck that is Courtney Love sets off on her virgin voyage as a solo
artist, and though her reputation as a crazed, pill-popping troublemaker precedes
her, the tongue-in-cheek titled America’s Sweetheart surprisingly delivers
the goods — emotional baggage in tow.
Here, Love takes the hook-filled rock balladry of Hole’s Celebrity Skin,
sucks out the sunny-ness from it, and injects her raw, visceral, howl-of-a-voice
that was most prominent on 1994’s lauded Live Through This.
The reference that will get most people up in arms is the uncredited stealing
of the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” riff for the sex-obsessed rocker “I’ll
Do Anything.” The steal (which she legally owns the rights to) becomes
delightfully devilish since Love knows full-well her detractors are easily
outraged by her every move.
And they’ll be outraged that Sweetheart isn’t the washed up album
they hoped it would be. On rousing anthems like “Mono” and power
ballads like the cheekily titled “Uncool” (co-written by Linda
Perry and Elton John’s songwriting partner Bernie Taupin), Love sounds
re-energized, ready to take on rock’s boy’s club — and she’ll
do it with her usual mad and reckless abandon.
A Crow Left of the Murder
Sweet, but with an edge — that’s probably the simplest way to
sum up Incubus in a few words. The majority of Crow consists of mellow, laid-back
grooves that transport listeners to a lazy beach in Southern California, but
the edgier tracks are what make this disc worth its salt. From the raw opener “Megalomaniac,” which
presents an open attack on the American political system, to the tragic “Sick
Sad Little World,” Incubus’ latest offering is an updated Make
Yourself: it delivers the same “stellar” beauty, but offers a more