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Corey Feldman – Still Searching For Soul

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Corey Feldman
Artist: Corey Feldman
Title: Still Searching For Soul
Label: Vegas
Rating: 5/10

Crossing over into the music world after spending years in Hollywood can be a tough task, especially if your decade of success was followed a well-publicized bumpy ride through your twenties, as was Corey Feldman’s. His newly formed project, The Truth Movement, is his first major attempt at reaching a different audience. His effort, Still Searching For Soul, is a strong one.

Feldman’s music is best described as Pink Floyd-influenced blues. The opening track, longer than ten minutes, is a deep opener for an even deeper opus. He has assembled a fine group of artists who create music that is at once emotionally heavy and serene.

Each tune is crafted differently. There are sequels to a few of the songs scattered throughout the disc that serve to pull together the work as a whole and effectively complete this collection. Although the sound is high quality, Corey’s vocals need to be smoothed out. His lyrics are a testament to the ills of the industry, but sometimes overshadow the sound that is the backdrop. His words do need to be heard, because they are the truth, but they are at times overpowering on this very promising project.

+ rick hinkson

Filter – Title of Record

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Filter
Artist: Filter
Title: Title of Record
Label: Reprise
Rating: 7.5/10

After a four-year hiatus from the recording biz, Richard Patrick returns with Filter, and his second release, Title Of Record. No longer in the midst of the mid-90’s industrial revolution, Patrick has taken big steps to produce an album that maintains the brashness of Short Bus, the band’s first release, but progresses with melodies and emotions not heard on his first offering. He hasn’t been afraid to display his direction in releasing a more meaningful album. The acoustically led “Take A Picture” is the perfect example of how Patrick can kick his industrial past aside to offer a broken down portrayal of the man in his rawest form.

The album’s first single, “Welcome To The Fold”, is a blistering wave of post-industrialism with a massively psychedelic segue that paints the ideal picture of the new wave of emotionally heavy, but still sonically tight rock ‘n’ roll. “The Best Things” blends pure electronica with Patrick’s softer vocals, which once again proves that his ability and ingenuity has grown tenfold since Short Bus.

This album flows more so than the previous one. Still, it looks as a whole to be a depressing vision that has high points, but not nearly as many of those as of the low ones. Voice is emphasized more, which shows that the man is looking out, with new sight, where the picture in music has grown considerably since 1995. With his Nine Inch Nails touring days far behind, Patrick is leaving some of that energy back there with them, and has progressed in a positive direction for himself and for his music. He’s true to himself, which many musicians forget to be when the almighty dollar is waved in the air. Filter belongs out in front, and Title Of Record should put them there.

+ rick hinkson

The Donnas – Get Skintight

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The Donnas
Artist: The Donnas
Title: Get Skintight
Label: Lookout
Rating: 7.5/10

The Donna’s have me baffled, as they seem themselves. I think they’re these hard rocking punk tramps who just want to be loved. After enduring numerous injustices at the hands of the other gender, they realize that they really don’t need guys, and are better off not wanting them, until the next hot thing comes along. They want us to think that they want only to get laid and hang out with their friends. I’m not buying it. Hell, maybe they are just a bunch of crude broads on a free wheeling joy ride. Maybe the fleeting glances they offer at vulnerability are full pictures. Either way, this album, Get Skintight, is a huge improvement from early 1998’s American Teenage Rock ‘n’ Roll Machine.

Their ideas are crude and their lyrics are simple. “You Don’t Wanna Call” is one of those songs that hints at something more than just a good time. Maybe I’m an emotional idiot, but when she goes on with, ‘So, I guess I’ll just stare at the wall/ ’cause i know/ you’ll never call,’ I can identify. We’ve all been there. ‘You know, I got nowhere to go/ unless you take me to that midnight show.’ Then later, keeping her chin up, she sings, ‘I’ll pretend everything’s all right.’ This isn’t the type of music I usually listen to, but I love that song. I wanted to go over to her house and drag her out for a few drinks; let her know that someone understands, someone cares. You know? Screw that guy. He’s not the only one. Okay, enough.

Next, “Hook It Up” bombards you with punk rock straight out of the early 80’s. In “Searching The Streets”, they profess, ‘I got a dark side/ and I’m searching the streets/ and baby you better run.’ The objective? ‘Fresh meat.’ Scary. They’re right; you should run.

They are so hard. These are women that will tear a man up, and then put him down. But only if he deserves it. They tell you in “I Didn’t Like You Anyway”, ‘You thought/ I would be brokenhearted,’ and then they add, ‘B-o-r-i-n-g’/ too bad you’re not the boy for me.’ Guys can knock The Donna’s down, but they can’t keep them there. ‘I didn’t like you anyway/ I was just lookin’ for fun/ uh-huh.’ Ah hah! Watch out for trouble ahead. From “Get U Alone”, ‘I gotta get you alone/ and lure you into the danger zone.’ Take heed. Other good songs are “Hot Boxin'” and “Skin Tight”. Use your imagination.

The Donna’s rock a strong punk vibe. They are not trying to be anything but what they are, and that isn’t anything you could safely put a name on. They are a good time; all you have to do is play along. They are carefree, but they aren’t careless. They wrote all of the songs on this album, except “Too Fast For Love”, a Motley Crue cover. There is something really cool going on here, you just have to sift through the trash to get to it. And that’s how they like it.

+ alissa shugats

Dr. Frank – Show Business is My Life

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Dr. Frank
Artist: Dr. Frank
Title: Show Business is My Life
Label: Lookout
Rating: 4/10

He’s not the kind of doctor that you would go to with a sore throat. He’s Dr. Frank and he’s got a Ph.D in songwriting, though in my opinion he could use a few more years of schooling. Apparently Dr. Frank, who is responsible for almost one hundred percent of what you hear on this album, is referred to only as Dr. Frank; no other name appears on the album entitled Show Business Is My Life. The band is essentially Dr. Frank himself, along with his electric and acoustic guitars trying to compliment his desperate vocals. He struggles to hit a lot of the notes he sings, and in many cases he doesn’t succeed. Backup vocals were added on tracks like “Ask Beth”, which help to cover up Dr. Frank’s lack of ability.

Simple and to the point seems to be the way that he conducts most of the songs on the album. He explores many musical styles, ranging anywhere from the dark folk-like tones of “Suicide watch” to punky, more upbeat tracks like “She Turned Out To Be Crazy”. This variety of styles really adds an edge to an otherwise weak album. Typical of many bands on the Lookout label, the recording and sound quality seems a little cheap. “Thinking of you” sounds like something I recorded when I was ten with my mom’s battery-powered tape recorder. There is hope for Dr. Frank, but he needs to step down and let someone with talent handle the vocals. Ouch!

+ matt crafts

The Dave Matthews Band – Live At Luther College

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The Dave Matthews Band
Artist: The Dave Matthews Band
Title: Live At Luther College
Label: RCA
Rating: 8/10

Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds recent release, a two disc set entitled Live at Luther College, is a stripped to the core, no- nonsense album that gives Dave’s fans a chance to hear the man in the raw. The set offers fan favorites “Crash Into Me”, “Typical Situation”, and “What Would You Say”, but also includes many gems that have not yet hit the mainstream. These tracks display Matthews’ and Reynolds’ amazing musicianship, as well as their ability to create a different persona for themselves in showing the range of their talents.

With the huge following The Dave Matthews’ Band has, this release is very well timed. He and Reynolds are currently doing an acoustic tour. If you can’t catch them, these two discs should give you an excellent sample of what you’ve missed.

+ rick hinkson

Paul Westerberg – Suicaine Gratification

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Paul Westerberg
Artist: Paul Westerberg
Title: Suicaine Gratification
Label: Capitol
Rating: 6/10

Paul Westerburg, former frontman for The Replacements, has finally released this mix of upbeat pop and sweet love songs. Suicaine Gratifacation is a smooth ride as each song gently melts into the next. Westerburg’s rich voice lulls you into the album and the longing in his lyrics hooks you. The sunny feel to many of the songs is balanced by the bittersweet lyrical twists that they contain. “Whatever Makes You Happy” and “Best Thing That Never Happened” are prime examples of this idea.

The good old electric guitar plays an important part on this album with many songs having a seemingly Tom Petty sound. However, it is the piano that makes the lilting “Self Defense” irresistible. “It’s A Wonderful Lie” also stands out with its country smack of acoustic guitar.

The love songs on this album are filled with yearning and emotion. “Born For Me” is sugary and sad all at once. Suicaine Gratification is the album for that melancholy rainy day you want to spend at home lost in thought.

+ tricia crafts

Weed – Hard To Kill

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Weed
Artist: Weed
Title: Hard To Kill
Label: Nettwerk
Rating: 6/10

Weed’s Hard To Kill is a mellow album packed with rich beats and vocals. Made up of Cristina and Dan Handrabur, this band sounds like a sleepy, almost dazed Bjork. This married couple’s low-key electronic beats are both contrasted and improved by Cristina’s surreal and dreamy vocals. While a large part of the album is electronic, some more traditional instruments such as the violin and harmonica make appearances.

“Love Takes Two” is probably the most radio-friendly song. Musically it is upbeat and focused; lyrically it appeals to just about everyone. “When a man loves a man/Love takes two/When a man loves a woman/Love makes one.” Their “Fly Together” is a mix of sing-songy vocals and slow, spacey rhythm. It is sweet and lulling like many of the other songs on this album. “Again and Again” is a bit aggressive and has a harder edge to it. The music is the focus of this song and the vocals just play the part of another instrument. The bonus track, “If U Could Only See” (fade vox remix/edit), is more of a dance song, with funkier and catchier beats than the others.

Overall, this is a really nice album. There is enough variety to keep the listener interested from the first song to the last.

+tricia crafts

Videodrone – Videodrone

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Videodrone
Artist: Videodrone
Title: Videodrone
Label: Reprise
Rating: 7/10

The latest release from Videodrone (previously known as Cradle of Thorns) is their first with the new name, as well as their first under Korn’s label, Elementree. Their evolution is quickly apparent, as they have transformed their sound to another level through musical ability. Their long time affection for the darkness of music has been replaced by an affinity for heavy danceable beats. It’s difficult to place this band in any specific genre, mainly because they blend the characteristics of many, including industrial, electronica, trance, hip-hop, and hardcore. The music isn’t heavy, but when they play hard it can be very punishing. Their hypnotizing techno abilities mix well with their industrial grooves, which have been honed to perfection over the course of their almost ten year career.

“Ty Jonathon Down” features Jon Davis of Korn and “Human Pinata” is blessed with the vocals of Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst. Other standouts include “Alone” and “Ant in the Dope”. Although not easily classified, their no-frills freakshow is complimentary to the style of labelmates Orgy. Videodrone’s sound is unique in that it doesn’t blend from song to song. The stone has been cast for all newcomers that can meld heaviness with dance beats and Videodrone is sure to fit that mold. They’re a creative group with a good angle and the upcoming tour with Korn and Rob Zombie should help them into the national spotlight. Now all they need is a twisted video for the MTV kids to enjoy, and their ticket to stardom will shortly follow.

+ rick hinkson

The Verve – This is the Music: The Singles 92-98

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The Verve
Artist: The Verve
Title: This is the Music: The Singles 92-98
Label: Virgin
Rating: 6/10

CORPORATE LINE: This Is Music The album featuring two unreleased tracks and DVD features all the band’s music videos will also be released on the same date.

This Is Music is a collection of all The Verve’s singles including two unreleased tracks, This Could Be My Moment and Monte Carlo, taken from the Urban Hymns sessions.

The Verve, from Wigan, was formed in 1990, releasing their debut album A Storm in Heaven three years later. It was followed by the hugely acclaimed A Northern Soul in 1995.

Three years later, in the summer of 1997, The Verve established themselves as one of the most crucial English rock bands of all time with the Urban Hymns album which, with its landmark singles Bitter Sweet Symphony and The Drugs Don’t Work, dominated the chart for over a year.

THE SINGLES: The Verve is known best for their magnificent, if not classic, album Urban Hymns. The problem has been that they’ve seemed like a one trick pony. They’re not. The Verve’s two previous full length albums—A Northern Soul and A Storm In Heaven—both deserve to get their due. This Is The Music: The Singles 92-98 does exactly that.

The highlights are certainly the Urban Hymn singles; “Bittersweet Symphony,” “Drugs Don’t Work,” “Sonnett,” and “Lucky Man.” Each is a small masterpieces that add to a deliciously plentiful master whole.

“Slide Away” highlights A Storm In Heaven. Only A Northern Soul isn’t to be ignored as “On Our Own” is wonderful. You can hear the direct growth right into Urban Hymns. Why was “Never Wanna See You Cry” excluded? This is one of the best B-sides that the Verve has made instead of the weaker “Monte Carlo” ?
FRANKLY: This Is The Music: The Singles 92-98 isn’t a great introduction to the Verve. New fans would be better to buy Urban Hymns as it is one of the best records of the entire ‘90s—often overlooked. There were so much that could have been done with this record yet wasn’t. Why not a live supplement album? Perhaps different versions of the hits from Urban Hymns? That would have been interesting to hear. Also why not add the videos on DVD? Who doesn’t want to revisit Richard Ashcroft shoving his way through the crowd singing “Bittersweet Symphony”? This release isn’t for fans as we already have the best songs and albums.

The Verve Pipe – The Verve Pipe

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The Verve Pipe
Artist: The Verve Pipe
Title: The Verve Pipe
Label: RCA
Rating: 8/10

The Verve Pipe isn’t going to lay down and play dead. I’m sure many of us were hoping to never hear “The Freshman” again, but you won’t hear anything like that on their latest self-titled album. What you will hear is a magnificent piece of art that’s sure to take them from their current ‘one hit wonder’ status and elevate them to a level I didn’t think possible. “Supergig” comes out like a tiger, and I must say The Verve Pipe never relents. I’m so impressed with this album that I’m actually recommending it to all my friends.

There are so many tracks I found myself singing well after they had ended. “She Loves Everybody” is a perfect example of this. These guys have found the recipe. I don’t know what ingredient they were barely missing before but they’ve thrown it in, and another pinch for good measure. “Hero” is this album’s “The Freshman”. Though it doesn’t sound anything like it, it’s similar in that it is sure to get way too much radio time and drive you crazy. Lucky for us this album is filled from beginning to end with tasty dishes.

Need something a little different? “Television” is the Verve Pipe paying homage to Trent Reznor. The industrial grind steals almost all focus. Oh, sweet glorious pop. “In Between” dons one of the best choruses on the album. “Kiss Me Idle” finds them downshifting to a much slower gear. Not so slow and boring that it will make you ill, just slow enough to catch your imagination and borrow your thoughts for four or so minutes.

So are you ready for a real surprise? The best tracks are toward the end of the record. Tracks seven on are the most impressive. “Headlines” starts the stampede. This chorus is it. I don’t know what it is, and honestly I couldn’t care less. “Half A Mind” is slow. But boring? Nope. Just close your eyes and absorb the words, the sound, the consciousness, and enjoy what you are hearing.

The two best tracks are “Generations” and “La La”. “Generations” starts off kindly and struts along increasingly until the chorus marches into a vocal prestige I would’ve never expected from Brian Vander Ark. I can’t even express my appreciation for “La La”. The verse starts off so beautifully that it sends shivers from my spine into my mind. The harmonies are fantastic. I mean, they aren’t the Beach Boys, but the simplistic harmony of ‘ah’s’ do a good job. They left me humming loud enough to stir up my neighbor’s dogs. The great thing about this album, the shining star, is the last track, “La La”.

After each and every listen I find myself more and more drawn in by this collection. This is The Verve Pipe’s brightest hour. If they have more where this album was drawn from, then I honestly cannot wait for all of the b-sides as well as the next album. The most striking thing is that I honestly was never quite impressed with any of The Verve Pipe’s past efforts. Now I’m awed. They put me in my place. The Verve Pipe is for real; my words can’t do them justice. If you don’t buy this record, it’s your loss. I already have my copy.

+ cc