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The Dave Matthews Band – Live At Luther College

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coal Chamber – Chamber Music

Coal Chamber
Artist: Coal Chamber
Title: Chamber Music
Label: Roadrunner
Rating: 8/10

With Y2K approaching at a rapid pace, many bands are trying to release that revolutionizing album that nobody will forget. Coal Chamber’s Chamber Music, their second opus on Roadrunner Records, is a new twist on their patented spookycore sound. It’s evil in an odd way, and, more strangely, it’s eloquent. They stick to their popular down-tuned guitars but incorporate into their sound a deeper ambience, with more keyboards and spacey effects present.

There’s no “Loco” or Big Truck”, but the tracks hit hard, especially “El Cu Cuy”, the second full track on the album, but the first with Coal Chamber’s monstrous groove. “Tyler’s Song” continues in the heavy direction, while “Feed My Dreams” has that “Sway”-like riffage that rolls and pounds, distinguishing itself with tighter vocals, sans Dez’s scream. The most interesting track is a cover, Peter Gabriel’s “Shock The Monkey”. Covers are a bit outdone these days, but a guest appearance by Ozzy on both the single and the upcoming video shows Coal Chamber’s presence in the heavy music scene. Had it not been for Ozzy, his wife Sharon, and three Ozzfest stints, Coal Chamber might not be where they are right now, looking out at the heavy metal world from the top.

In the first week of its release, Chamber Music has surpassed all expectations by hitting #22 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart, the highest peak ever of any Roadrunner act, selling forty-one thousand copies. The Living La Vida Loca tour with labelmates Machine Head, Slipknot, and AMEN is one of this year’s best metal tours, and Coal Chamber promises to keep going once that is done. Their latest cd’s sound may not be revolutionary, but it does stand out among 1999’s best heavy releases. Chamber Music is your deepest, darkest, and spookiest music and Coal Chamber is the answer to the age-old question, “What will they come up with next?”

+ rick hinkson

Choclair – Ice Cold

Artist: Choclair
Title: Ice Cold
Label: Priority
Rating: 7/10

Straight out of Canada comes Kareem Blake, better known as Choclair. It has taken Choclair a decade to make a name for himself, but it won’t take him that long to get to the top.

In his anthem, “Ice Cold”, the beats are hot and the rhymes are steaming. It might be a little profane, but it’s shot straight from the hip. “Let’s Ride”

is a trip to where every the journey takes you. “Rubbin'” is made up of sly rhymes with sexy intentions.

Want some guest stars? How will Guru of Gang Starr do you? He teams with Choclair on the potent track “Bare Witness”. You might not know who Jully Black is right now, but you soon will. Black’s sensual vocals worked well with Choclair on “Rollin'”. Rascalz and Choclair get nasty on “Die Hard”.

Ice Cold is a solid release that will catapult Choclair to popularity. Choclair’s greatest asset is that he can turn out rhymes to stimulate both your mind and your body.

+ cc morris

Paddy Casey – Amen

Paddy Casey
Artist: Paddy Casey
Title: Amen
Label: C2
Rating: 6/10

Paddy Casey has a voice that’s a throwback to Don McLean with a lateral to Tracy Chapman. The first song, “Fear”, is nice, but not entirely strong for the lead track. The one truly worth a mention is the bittersweet “Sweet Suburban Sky”. “Downtown” comes right on it’s heels with a triumphant spirit.

+ cc morris

C-Note – A Different Kind of Love

Artist: C-Note
Title: A Different Kind of Love
Label: Epic
Rating: 4/10

C Note is claiming to bring a Different Kind Of Love. All of the sexual innuendo that they are spreading certainly separates them from the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, even if it is just a little bit. Still, it’s still better than nothing.

A perfect example is “Wait Till I Get Home”, where the chorus rolls on “wait till I get home for that sweet, sweet lovin’.” There is also a Latin flavor that will have all of the Ricky Martin fans jumping ship for the four guys of C Note. And although C Note claims to have formed long before Trans Continental Management got their hands on them, I find it hard to swallow. I smell another ‘made’ band, much like NSYNC and the Spice Girls. The album’s title track is probably the only song really worth mentioning. The worst part about that statement is that “Different Kind Of Love” isn’t even a really good song.

If all the other boy bands are shooting for the twelve to seventeen-year-old crowd, these guys are definitely setting their sights higher. They might actually get some college gals listening to them. Okay, maybe not, but their songs are much more mature than most of the slush we have to wade through on the radio today. Too bad maturity alone can’t save this album. It’s just way too boring and monotonous to listen to more than once.

+ cc