Music Reviews for Friday, March 25, 2005

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Rating Guide

* Run Away! Fast! Now!
** Guilty Pleasure At Best
*** Definitely Worth A Listen
**** Flawless
***** Instant Classic

Heavy Rotation

Thievery Corporation – The Cosmic Game

***** 

If you don’t own this album yet you need to go out NOW and buy it! With their fourth studio release The Cosmic Game, Rob Garza and Eric Hilton have proven once more that they have mastered the world of expansive electronic psychedelia in the tradition of such classics as The Doors self-titled album and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. While the duo will never be able to live up to the impossibly high standard that they set for themselves with 2000’s The Mirror Conspiracy, The Cosmic Game still manages to place itself closely behind it because of the sheer esoteric and nocturnal splendor sprinkled throughout on top of  downbeat tempos and dub rhythms. On top of it all is a heavy dose of the world music influence that has always been present in the Corporation’s work. Mix in a selection of diverse vocal talent such as Perry Farrell, Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips, and David Byrne for good measure and the result is a mystic cournucopia of earthy electronic goodness floating through the room putting everything it touches under its trance. Oh, and it’s great make-out music too…so I’m told…

Notes From The Underground

Bambix – What’s In A Name?

****

Green Day may have made socially conscious pop-punk cool, but female fronted Dutch trio Bambix have been at it since before Green Day were even green. Blending lead singer Wick Bambix’s melodic yet sharp as shattered glass’ vocals with driving classic punk riffs, socially conscious lyrics and an intensity that is impossible to fake, this album is a definite must-have for anyone who loves modern punk rock but is tired of hearing Billie-Joe Armstrong’s whiney nasal voice filtering through the air like a bad smell in a small room. If you find that you enjoy What’s In A Name (distributed through Atlanta’s Daemon Records, it is the band’s first US release ever), it would be a great investment of your time to seek out the Bambix’s prior European releases to add to your collection. Give them a try. You may never look at modern punk music the same again.

Rewind

Everything But The Girl  – Adapt or Die: Ten Years of Remixes

****

I will admit it. I’m not afraid. I love and have always loved Everything But the Girl since the first time I ever heard Missing playing over a loudspeaker in a club in New Orleans. Until I found out who it was I was convinced that Cher was the vocalist. Imagine my shock and embarrassment when I found out that the diva in question was actually none other than Tracy Thorn alongside her co-conspirator multi-instrumentalist Ben Watt. Already a heady mix of pop sensibilities and sensually sparse electronica, the innovative duo have been forging their craft for over a decade now almost becoming synonymous with the genre they made popular, thus making their work the prime target of DJ’s and other masters of the art of spin who incessantly found new and different ways to remix their tracks. Thus, the compilation of which we now speak I must now also admit that I had low expectations for this album. Adapt or Die chronicles these varied remixes including such diverse talents as DJ Jazzy Jeff (of Fresh Prince of Bel Air fame), King Britt and Dave Wallace. While I was expecting the same old endless remixes, the album threw me a curb on the first track and I was hooked from there in. Every track is new and crisp without sounding redundant and mind-draining like too many remix albums have a tendency to do. A no-brainer for fans and a definite prime consideration for anyone who is new to the duo’s melodic masterpieces, Adapt or Die has something for everyone.

Sound Off

Fantasia Barrino – Free Yourself

*** 

I had really high expectation of the debut album from the most recent winner of American Idol, but this record shows little of the Fantasia that millions of fans grew to love on the show. With few exceptions throughout, gone is the powerhouse vocals that put her over the top in Idol 3 only to be replaced with feeble overproduced attempts at making her sound like Patti LaBelle which end up making her sound more like a sober Macy Gray instead. The vocals are nasal and monotone in too many places and most of the songs are so cliché-ridden that it is impossible to take the girl seriously. Also, whoever wrote that goddess-awful Baby Mama song needs to be taken off the artistic roster for the rest of eternity. Someone send him back to the Taco Bell commercials and get him out of the music industry quick before any more innocents are sacrificed. While the album does have a couple of high points, they are far overshadowed by the bad ones to make it worth buying for anyone except those who enjoy losing 45 minutes of their time that can never be recovered.