Archive for November, 2003

Questions in Musical Chaos: An Essay

November 12th, 2003

I went to Tower a few days ago, and, unbelievably, bought 3 CD’s for a little more than 30 dollars. Pretty impressive huh? I swear these weren’t in the “priced so low we’re going to give them away” bin either. What I found amazing about it was that a few years ago, this scenario was closer to the norm than the exception. These days, a CD is “on sale” at 16 or 17 dollars, instead of 13 or 14. Twenty dollars won’t even buy a CD when the tax is included, but all we hear is the RIAA crying out about how their artists are getting screwed, getting cheated out of profits they so rightly deserve. Universal Records has listened to the complaints, and has managed to drop their CD prices to 12.98, although no other record labels seem to be following suit. Maybe if the other labels went with this type of pricing the amount of illegal music downloading would go down. Read more…

By Fred Pilarczyk Posted in Features

MXPX – Before Everything and After

November 7th, 2003

It’s Not a Bad Album… If You’re Twelve

This review is by far one of my toughest namely because it’s hard for me to slam one of my favorite bands. Yes, yes… MXPX is one of my guilty pleasures, but their latest effort, Before Everything and After, may just make me refrain from exposing my fondness for these three guys from Bremerton, WA. Read more…

By Ben De Leon Posted in Reviews

Northern State – Dying In Stereo

November 6th, 2003

Killing My Stereo

If this was 1985, Northern State would be touring with the Beastie Boys, and together they would own the hip-hop world. Unfortunately, this is 2003 and Northern State’s album Dying In Stereo feels like more of a cheap rip-off.
The beats are well done – simple and clean. The additions of Latin percussion, live drums, and other instruments make up for what these three girls are lacking, namely anything to really rap about. Read more…

By Fred Pilarczyk Posted in Reviews

Seal – Seal IV

November 6th, 2003

Untitled Album Four

You’d think with all the positive thinking, Seal would be able to come up with at least a title for his fourth album, simply called Seal IV. But alas, Seal’s thinking is still limited to “moving on” and “loving forever”. Upbeat and optimistic, pop music’s Quasimodo of love ballads and inspirational dance diddies delivers again once more to the world of adult contemporary music. Pessimists and nay-sayers may be turned off by all the love, but any fan of innocuous, radio-friendly soul may want to check the album out. Read more…

By Brian Small Posted in Reviews

David Bowie – Reality

November 6th, 2003

Never Get Old

Back in 1971, David Bowie first sang “Time may change me / But I can’t trace time.” Now, 32 years later, Bowie has released Reality, an album that does a remarkable job tracing the many twists and turns of his career. Over the course of his 26 album catalogue, Bowie has constantly adapted his music, style and persona. Each song on Reality, though heavily anchored in Bowie’s rock roots (thanks in part to the return of producer Tony Visconti), flirts with the many tricks he’s acquired over the years, from glam to disco to jazz, all tied together by Bowie’s unique musical craftsmanship. Read more…

By Steve Mangione Posted in Reviews

World Fusion Part 1 Page 2

November 4th, 2003

Ashley MacIsaac, however, has gone a very different route
with the same music. Though he still plays the traditional jigs and reels, punk
and blues have been fused with his style as well. A song may start off with simple
drums and electric guitars, ready to sound like another 90’s grunge song or a 3-chord
punk song…then just before it gets boring, MacIsaac’s fiddle jumps in bringing
a wonderful sense of the traditional fiddle as a rock instrument, often playing
it as an electric. His style ranges in experimentalism from the electronic aspect
being hugely implemented, creating a sort of traditional Irish rock/electronica
sound with sampling and artificial beats in a punk rock style (such as in the song
“Sleepy Maggie”), to a more down-to-earth, less spacey, blues-influenced
sound (such as the song “Lay Me Down”). MacIsaac has his share of energy
as well, dancing onstage during performances in combat boots and a kilt (in traditional
Scottish fashion, if you know what I mean). For anyone who enjoys folk (especially
Celtic) mixed well with electric guitars and electronic samplers without being overly
“clubby,” this is one artist that you must check out.

If you enjoy Gypsy rythms, pop, and French
music, then you might like the work of Khaled.

Rai music is associated with Northern Africa, especially Algeria. An example of
rai is the work of Khaled, a highly popular composer and singer in both France and
the Arabic world. Remember that funny car chase in the movie “The Fifth Element”
with Bruce Willis? The music that was playing was one of Khaled’s biggest hits,
“Alech Taadi,” though it didn’t end up on the soundtrack. Khaled has managed
to achieve fusion status by combining the Middle-Eastern sounds of rai with more
European influences such as accordions, violins, and pianos; as well as American
influences including jazz and the electric guitar. His singing is the primary definition
of the style he has created however, with an earthy tone that manages to travel
dozens of notes on a scale within one syllable.

If you like
classic rock and reggae, you might enjoy the
music of Tinariwen.

Click here for Page 3 Read more…

By Thea Cooke Posted in Features

World Fusion Part 1 Page 3

November 4th, 2003

Tinariwen has a history
that would blow any inspirational blockbuster movie plot right out of the water:
they are a group of musicians from the Malian Touareg rebel group in West Africa.
The Touareg people were a race of free-roaming nomads with a rich culture, until
the French colonized the area and later divided the land into the self-governing
countries of Mali, Niger, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Chad. Faced with borders
and harsh leaders for the first time, the Touaregs’ rebellion was crushed and remained
so for decades. A new breed of Touareg, called the “Ishumar,” was formed
out of the malcontent young men of the tribes. These men, full of hate and anger,
were easily convinced to join the revolutionary training camps of the Lybian leader.
In those camps, they first heard the music of Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, John Lennon,
and read the work of Che Guevara and Nasser. In the 1980s, the Ishumar discarded
their traditional instruments in favor of the electric guitar, electric bass, and
drums. They began to redefine their traditional music and created something that
spoke more about the politics of their modern world, based on the sounds of their
past. The result is surprisingly mellow, with beautiful guitar tones that evoke
the impression of a calm Jimi Hendrix, the mood of Ben Harper or Jack Johnson, and
a chorus of vocals that sound ethnically powerful without being overbearing. Aside
from the intensity of the music, its simple yet elegant performance (recorded in
huts using electric generators) is powerfully moving. Their music is quite political,
a bittersweet anthem about their hard way of life, songs of hope in a bitter war.
It is said that one of Tinariwen’s founding members, Keddou ag Ossad, went into
battle with his electric guitar strapped to his back.

In the
1990s the rebellion turned into all-out war as the governments turned vigilantes
against the Touareg in an ethnic conflict. Tinariwen’s music spread across the desert
by audio tape, igniting a passion in the Touareg people to keep fighting. By the
mid 90’s the war was finally put to an end by the UN, and the Touaregs discovered
that international exposure through their music was the most effective way to fight
for their rights. Now Tinariwen consists of about ten members, and remains the Ishumar’s
first and most successful band.

Stay tuned next
month for the second part of this feature, to learn about more world fusion music
that you might enjoy!

Most of the artists mentioned in this
article can be found and sampled at CD Universe :

Read more…

By Thea Cooke Posted in Features

World Fusion Part 1

November 4th, 2003

What do you think of when you hear the term “world music”? Many consumers
of contemporary American music, whether mainstream or indie, probably think of annoyingly
high-pitched unnamable instruments, ethereal new-age soundscapes, or the soundtrack
to a bad Antonio Banderas movie. They may have never listened to a world station
on the radio, or sampled a featured world artist in a music store. Read more…

By Thea Cooke Posted in Features

The Libertines – I Get Along

November 4th, 2003

You Just Got Screwed

If this album was metaphor for sex, it would be a gang-bang with Jack Black, Jack White and Courtney Love, with the VCR rigged up for instant replay at the point of synchronized anal penetration. Read more…

By Elizabeth Halvorsen Posted in Reviews

Alient Ant Farm – TRUant

November 3rd, 2003

Rocking a Junior High School Near You

Cashing in off the success of a remake of one of the King of Pop’s classics, Alien Ant Farm definitely managed to strike while the post-90’s nu-metal generation’s iron was hot. While other groups were spewing self-loathing, angst-ridden tirades, Alien Ant Farm oozed out sugarcoated radio-friendly pop. After a few world tours, music videos and extreme radio saturation, the group became a household name among 8th graders nationwide. But a tragic tour bus accident, which left their bus driver dead, threatened to derail their career for good. The band, still nursing their injuries, return with TRUant – a grittier, edgier take on pop-rock. Read more…

By Taylor Whipple Posted in Reviews