CD reviews

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296

By Ben Coffman

Leonard Cohen
*Ten New Songs*
****


*May everyone live
And may everyone die
Hello, my love
And my love, goodbye*
There is a joyless solemnity to all of Cohen’s work, and this album is no exception. He grieves for lost lovers, relating their haunting remembrance through secretive whispered melodies that simultaneously glide over every piece like eagles on an updraft and weigh each piece down like stones in the pockets of a murder victim.
The whole album seems pretty minimal at first, but upon further scrutiny, layers of piano, organ, guitar, bass, Sharon Robinson’s backing vocals and some saxophone are buried beneath the heaviness of Cohen’s voice. Some of the bass lines sound like Casio-keyboard accompaniment, but that’s easily forgivable, as the bass lines are not the listener’s intended focus — Cohen’s voice is. Cohen is not exactly treading new ground here, but he’s got the form down and does it well; with integrity, feeling no need to conform to the demands of the masses. “Here It Is” and “By The River Dark” both have a sauntering Latin/bossa nova element to them and are the stand-outs. “Boogie Street” is another great song; its melodies easily bury themselves in the shallow subconscious.
This album is solid, predictable and emotionally wrenching, like a slow-motion dream that ends in a near-death experience.


The Heroes
*prettier world*


**


This album is country music with a thin veil of general-rock hiding its true nature. The Heroes are a faintly Counting Crows-ish/Hootie and the Blowfish-ish mix, occasionally too “heavy” to be neo-country, at times too lame to be anything else. Songs like “I Won’t Tell You” come across as a Dave Matthews vocal rip-off. Most of the lyrics are inane and uninspired. An example?
*Somewhere, I don’t know where
I’m goin’ somewhere, ’cause I haven’t been there
Somewhere I don’t know where
But at least I’m goin’ somewhere*
Whoa ho! These guys *must* be from Iowa with lyrics like these, and of course, they are.


Little Hercules
*Still too Juicy*
***
*Still too Juicy* is the third release from this funky Colorado foursome. Much of the time the funk is new-school, tight and at times slightly reminiscent of some of Phish’s funkier stuff. Heavy on guitar wah, slap bass and ultra-leslied rock organs, some of this band’s finer moments come during their instrumental solos. The album’s vocals turn into a distraction at times, especially on the ridiculous “Fat Focker,” a song with some of the most retarded lyrics I’ve heard in a long time.
All in all, this is a good album, though some “fat” could have been cut to make it a little bit leaner.


Lindsay Pagano
*Love+Faith+Inspiration*
*


This album sucked. Straight up. Sorry, Lindsay. From the opening (and boring) strains of “Everything U R,” I realized that I was going to have a hard time listening to this entire sugar-coated, saccharine-sweetened confection, even if Paul McCartney was featured on one of the songs.
Linsay herself graced the front cover of the CD, right next to a large, purple sticker that included the main selling point behind the album: “Includes the hit single ‘Everything U R’ as heard on the AOL commercial.” For all of you out there in readerland who’ve been singing along with that awesome song in that AOL commercial, now you know where that piece of crap came from.
Pagano’s album is one part Mandy Moore, one part Pollyanna and one part Mickey Mouse club. It did nothing for me except subliminally broadcast the phrase “turn off the CD player” over and over again.
The highlight was Pagano’s remake of the McCartney song “So Bad,” a good song before she got her hands on it. McCartney sings background on the song. She added her creative flair to the song by changing the chorus from “Girl, I love you, yes I love you so bad,” to “Boy, I love you, yes I love you so bad.” Pretty clever, huh?


SPIT
*maybe it’s something we don’t have a word for …*
***


Like early Ministry, early Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy and Foetus, SPIT’s 16th album is characterized by driving drum-machine beats, a fair amount of repetition, a heavy dose of vocal effects, ground-down guitars, sampling, loops and synthesizer choruses. This album is a collection of previously unreleased material from the late ’80s and the ’90s and the major players on the album are Vinnie SPIT and Claude Willey.
There are four live tracks on the album: “X-BOZZ,” “Drink,” “Direction” and “Let Go!” Sex is the main thematic ingredient of this album, with songs like “John Holmes is Dead” (“Big John is dead, he’s eternally stiff”) and the anti-religion sexuality of “Let Go!” (“It’s time to spread the word, it’s time to spread your ass”).

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