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CD Reviews par Jean-Paul Bavard

CD Reviews par Jean-Paul Bavard

Translated from the French by Daniel Davis
illustrations by Ans

Wilco and Billy Bragg
Mermaid Avenue, Vol. 2
(Thumbs Down)
Wilco et Bragg’s highly-anticipated collection of songs written by Arlo Guthrie (the writer/songsinger who later became famous for playing the role of Vic Tayback in the American situation comedie Alice Doesn’t Live At Her Restaurant Anymore) is unfortunately a very disappointing effort. In fact, this perhaps may be the worst electronica album of the year. Guthrie’s genius lyrics are ruined by lackadaisical songwriting, unrecognizable samples, sparse use of synthesizers and drum machines, and beats that rock virtually no blocks at all. Wilco singer Jeff Tweety’s voice is accompanied by few electronic effects, and comes off sounding human and real, the true death knell of any techno record. Manchester’s legendary drum’n’bass DJ Billy Bragg fares little better. Frankly, it would take literally gallons of ecstasy to groove mindlessly to this record.

Eminem
The Martial Matters L.P.
(**1/2)
Eminem, the young white man rappeur avec l’attitude who became famously notorious for declaring himself the “Real Slimshady,” releases The Martial Matters L.P., a disappointing follow-up. Not only is this not an L.P. at all but a Compact Disc, but Eminem’s vaunted rapping skills inexplicably play a secondary role here to song parodies and polkas! A bold move, perhaps, but a failure on such accordion-heavy tracks as the parody of L’Offspring song “Pretty Fly For a Rabbi,” and a polka cover version of Puffy Daddy’s “It’s All About the Pentiums.” Incredibly, this whole recording is such an obvious homage to the genius Weirdal Yankovic that Running With Scissors, the title of Yankovic’s latest project, is inscribed upon the surface of this disque compacte! Eminem is to be commended for the artistic risks he has taken here, but the end result lacks in originality, sounding like other performers, and the “polka and parody” approach will doubtlessly disappoint Eminem’s legion of hardcore fans.

Britney Spears
Oops, I Did It Again
(10 out of 10)
The neo-feminist heroine’s latest is a genius masterwork, an artistic triumph that ranks alongside the great masterworks of 20th century art, such as Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” Welles’ “Citizen Kane,” and Ritter’s “Three’s Company.” Britney Spears is a multi-talented force, a singing, dancing, prancing, producing, smiling, posing, songwriting genius with a message: les femmes and girls can be empowered, and can do anything their male counterparts can, merely by whitening their teeth, enlarging their breasts, and smiling politely. Her songwriting talent especially shines through on the title track, and on “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” which contains such genius lyrics as “When I’m drivin’ in my car/And a man comes on and tells me/How white my shirts can be/I can’t get no/Hey, hey, hey!” These words are a signal, a very clarion call to us all, that we are truly in a brand-new century, and it is visionaries like Spears that shall lead us forward to our destiny.

2gether
2gether Again
(9.5 stars)
The sensitive folksinger who calls himself 2gether has put together a truly original collection of passionately emotional, wildly poetic songs that reveal intriguing insights about life and love. Inventive titles such as “The Hardest Thing About Breaking Up is Getting Your Stuff Back,” “U & U & Me,” and “I Gave My 24-7 to You” don’t even begin to tell the story of the true creativity of 2gether’s vision. Multi-tracking his intense vocals to sound like several different harmonizing singers, 2gether uses samples of contemporary Rhythm et Blues and pop tunes to highly ironic effect, weaving a veritable sonic collage that pushes his edgy lyrics to even greater heights. Fans of such challenging and earnest folk artistes as Ani DiFranco and Jewel have a new name to consider: 2gether.

Creed
Human Clay
(B+)
Creed has proven themselves to be one of the most creative and original acts on contemporary Modern Rock Radio today. Whereas most Modern Rock artistes limit themselves to strict formulas, such as 50% Pearl Jam + 50% Bush, Creed cleverly stands the whole concepte on its head, coming up with a truly unique formula that no other band on the radio today has been able to totally emulate: 31% Pearl Jam + 13% Bush + 21% Stone Temple Pilots +14% Live + 4% Matchbox 20 + 5% Metallica + 6% Dokken + 7% U2. Speaking as a famed international Music Critic, it is safe to say that we’ll all be hearing a lot more from Creed on the airwaves in the future.

Matchbox 182
Third Smash Horizon
(B+ stars out of 10)
In the two-plus years since their runaway debut smash hit Sex & Candy, Matchbox 182 have enjoyed a veritable plethora of radio airplay on such mid-minor hits as “Semi-Charmed Life,” and “Walkin’ on the Sun.” But these three young power-punk heartthrobs - Stephan Harwell, Rob McGrath and Mark DeLonge - have finally released a true follow-up with Third Smash Horizon, une collection de radio-friendly, guitar-based, reggae-and-hip-hop-tinged upbeat pop-punk. Potential superstar hits such as “Closing Time” and “I Just Want To Fly” are already in tres heavy rotation, due in part to the band’s Grammy-winning collaboration last year with the legendary guitarist Eric Clapton, on his smash comeback hit “Black Magic Woman.” But even more success is sure to follow with the many upbeat winners on Third Smash Horizon such as “What’s My Age Again” and “Every Morning.” Despite their somewhat unoriginal sound, the feel-good power-punkers of Matchbox 182 have the style, raucous energy and unforgettable hooks for long-lasting success with their target demographic audience. Expect for these gentlemen to be around well into the next fiscal year.  


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