Jude – Interview

Jude

If science could create talent, Jude might be Dr. Jeckyl’s attempt at a rock star gone awry. He is not a folkie or a bubble-gum pop star, not heavy metal or even alternative, but a rare combination of homogenous music styles.

Jude, better known by his mother as Michael Jude Christodal, was born in Boston, the son of a father who toured pubs in Europe as a professional musician. “I listened to a lot of oldies growing up,” Jude recalled. “My dad used to play a lot of doo-wop songs [and] a lot of folk songs.” As Jude grew older, he aspired to follow in his father’s footsteps, only to become frustrated with music. He turned to education as a way to redirect his energy, eventually earning a degree in Philosophy. Still, music was in his blood. Los Angeles was calling and Jude answered. He decided to head west.

“I was determined,” he recalled. “I wasn’t giving up. I was working at a lot of places. I was working in a computer store and I was working [as a janitor] in a building where they did casting for commercials and stuff.” As a computer salesman, Jude broke into conversation with a customer concerning music. The customer was so enamored by the quality of Jude’s song, “Cammie (I Do)”, that he advanced him $100 for a studio session. Jude entered with four songs and left with fourteen.

As he toured the L. A. music scene, Jude sustained a consistent following. The audience was treated to a show that mesmerized them each and every time. His dream was realized in late 1997 when he put pen to paper and inked a deal with Maverick Recording Co.

So, did he get to meet Madonna (Co-CEO of Maverick)? “I did,” he said keeping his comments safely at a minimum. “It was fairly inconsequential [to his signing with Maverick].”

Influences

“I listened to a lot of oldies growing up. I sent away for all kinds of Motown mix tapes. Eventually [I listened to] a lot of pop music on the radio: Culture Club, George Michael, The Gap Band and Rolling Stones and Beatles records.”

Best thing about being a musician

“Freedom. Freedom to create.”

And the worst

“Battling the influence of people around you to compromise for commercial success. That is even within yourself. You look around and you are like, ‘Man, I’ve got to get a fucking hit.’

I just want to maintain a level where I can just write music instead of doing something else. So, I think it gets less easy all the time. Everyone around you says, ‘Hey man, you’ve got to do this or you’ve got to do that.’ Other than that, it’s the best gig in the world.”

Lyrics

“Ninety percent of this album is written for myself. Now that I’m expanding, I am almost becoming conscious of people listening to it. I imagine that it will start to seep in. You’ve got to do it for yourself or write country songs.”

Selling out

“Commercial music is a process of compromised sellout. Everyone on the radio has to [sell out] to one extent or another. I don’t even know what that means anymore. When I grew up, all my favorite music was on the radio. Thus, I wanted to be on the radio, too. For a long time I went through a period of writing where I kind of didn’t care. It takes a lot of work. You’ve got to want to be there.”

Categorizing

“It doesn’t bother me [to be categorized as a folk singer]. It’s a miscategorization. It’s a mistake, so if someone doesn’t understand folk music, then that’s cool. [It was] probably because during the whole first tour it was just me and a guitar.”

After some small talk about the lack of star quality in music today, we parted company. Jude left with one last tongue-in-cheek quote. “Spread the word. I’m not a folkie.”

+ charlie craine

Brougham – Le Cock Sportif

Brougham
Artist: Brougham
Title: Le Cock Sportif
Label: Warner Bros.
Rating: 6.5/10

Straight out of Silicon Valley, otherwise known as Palo Alto, California, are music trespassers Brougham. They mix hip-hop with rock just enough to earn some Kid Rock comparisons.

Right from go, Brougham gets burnt on “Don’t Speak English”, but then mellows on “7th Grade”. “Main Chick” is a funky odd love song. “Murked Rock” has the early Beastie vibe, but all the kiddies will think of Brougham as nothing but Kid Rock wannabes. The album winds down with “Sangoria” and its ’60’s spirit.

Brougham is an acquired taste. I really didn’t get it, but after a few listens I found myself being won over to their side.

+ rae gun

Ian Brown – Golden Greats

Ian Brown
Artist: Ian Brown
Title: Golden Greats
Label: Interscope
Rating: 4/10

Ian Brown has been his own worst enemy and best friend throughout his career. He was part of one of the biggest bands in Britain’s music history, The Stone Roses, and he helped bring them crumbling down right before his very eyes. After their breakup, things did not go to well for Ian, as he spent ’99 behind bars for an immature stunt he pulled with an airplane crew member. The lackluster push and disappointing effort of Unfinished Monkey Business left critics and the label writing off Brown’s career as finished. Still, his prison time was well spent; Golden Greats shows that this man’s time is far from over.

There’s a quote that goes, “Prison will do a lot to a man.” “Free My Way” starts out with inspired doodling straight from prison, “Jingle jangle/ Here’s the jailer.” Brown’s vocal presence has a really distant ring, which was a large part of his early success, resurfacing for highlights of Golden Greats. The record is pretty well tailored to his singing style. Songs “Love Like A Fountain”, “So Many Soldiers”, and “Set My Baby Free” are worthy radio singles. The musical direction and drive of the record aims to combine rock and electronic styles with chunks of trip-hop (“Babasonics”) and sprinkles of dance (“Love Like A Fountain”). “Getting’ High” is the most forward rock song on Golden Greats, if you’re searching for anything comparable to Stone Roses’ material.

The record does hit and miss at some moments due to the producers and band members trying to get too fancy in attempting to make a smash hit record. The album version of “Dolphins Were Monkeys” is highly overproduced, while the Unkle remix is a far more desirable and stronger track than the original due to its stripped down simplicity. Songs such as “First World” and “So Many Soldiers” could have been better designed in a pop format because after three minutes these songs lose their welcome.

This record shows far more potential than Unfinished Monkey Business ever did. I think that we’ll be hearing only positive words from here on out about Mr. Brown.

+ls

Bow Wow Wow – Made in the U.S.A.

Bow Wow Wow
Artist: Bow Wow Wow
Title: Made in the U.S.A.
Label: Cleopatra
Rating: 8/10

If the name of the band Bow Wow Wow doesn’t ring a bell, then maybe the song “I Want Candy” will. Bow Wow Wow is releasing Wild in the USA, a collection of rare remixes and live recordings of your favorite 80’s hits that will surely keep the decade alive in the next millennium. The remixes don’t sound very retro, but are more ’90’s style with big bass, added samples, and real house/dance beats.

They reworked such hits such as “I Want Candy”, “C30 C60 C90 GO!”, and “Do You Wanna Hold Me”. While the record contains six remixes, the live recordings remind their fans of how dazzling the band’s live performances once were with Latin percussion and vocalist Annabella Lwin’s energy. The live recordings are great. They were recorded at The Bluebird Theatre in Denver and The Drama Club in Santa Fe, New Mexico during Bow Wow Wow’s last tour which started in December of 1997 and ended in March of 1998. The album also includes classics like “Aphrodisiac” and “Uomo Sex Al Apache.” Wild in the USA is a must for any Bow Wow Wow junkie.

+ larry Sarzyniak

Boy Sets Fire – After The Eulogy

Boy Sets Fire
Artist: Boy Sets Fire
Title: After The Eulogy
Label: Victory
Rating: 7.5/10

The underground scene is a great place to be these days, and Boysetsfire has found its place among the elite. With the release of After The Eulogy on Victory Records, Boysetsfire has placed itself in the middle of everything that is truly hardcore, and is winning over any doubters with this release. It varies, going from a harsh punk hardcore style to a melodic almost alternative sound. Each tune carries its own personality, and lead singer Nathan Gray switches with ease between a swooning vocal style and a fierce yell that reflects both his serious and mellow sides.

“Twelve Step Hammer Program” and the title track, “After The Eulogy”, are excellent examples of the heaviness that Boysetsfire still maintains, layered with years of improvement, while “When Rhetoric Dies” and “Abominations Of Those Virtuous” seem to allow the band to touch on their not-so-aggressive side. Both sounds are done with great precision, and they mix even better in concert. Boysetsfire have become a staple on the east coast, and their crowds are perfect indicators as to why. They offer real answers to serious questions about politics and the world today, and freely speak on those issues on any given night. Their fanbase has grown tenfold in the last couple of years, thanks to a split EP with Snapcase and non-stop touring, and will continue to flourish with the release of this album. They offer music that blends sounds within a genre to release a powerful message, and they do it without sacrificing themselves to the mainstream. It’s real music for fans of music that’s true to itself. Boysetsfire have voiced their concerns for many years now, and the people are finally starting to listen.

+ rick hinkson

Blowfly – Blowfly Does XXX-Mas

Blowfly
Artist: Blowfly
Title: Blowfly Does XXX-Mas
Label: Panadisc
Rating: 5/10

Soul singer Clarence Reid found fame in a different seting with vividly explicit (though also mostly comical) sex material and outrageous commentary. Reid issued several albums as Blowfly, an adult comedian in the Redd Foxx, Rudy Ray Moore and Dolemite tradition. His albums were issued on tiny Southern independents, and sold mostly in the Black community.

Blessid Union of Souls – Walking off the Buzz

Blessid Union of Souls
Artist: Blessid Union of Souls
Title: Walking off the Buzz
Label: V2
Rating: 5/10

After being tossed around between record labels, Blessid Union Of Souls finally settled down with Push/V2 Records to release their third album, Walking Off The Buzz. The whole album has a rather smooth flavor, easy on the ears, pleasant enough for a Sunday afternoon. If you are already a fan, I must warn you: this album does sound slightly different than their previous ones. I see it as an improvement because they come out sounding a little more genuine. It feels like they let their hair down as they spit out some swaggering, creditable rock and roll.

The first single, “Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me For Me)”, is an upbeat ditty about being in love with a girl that just about every guy out there would like to call his own. A fairy-tale romance of a song that anyone with a smidgen of passion in their heart will enjoy. “Standing At The Edge Of The Earth” is the song that is most reminiscent of the old Blessid Union that some of you may be looking for. It is one of the slower songs on the album, a ballad of love and longing for a woman long gone. When you get to the title track, “Walking Off The Buzz”, you find that this album is not about waking up with a monster hangover and an empty bottle of regret like you may have thought it was. Really, I’m kidding you, because this song too is drenched with regret for a lost love. If you have never tossed someone aside and then realized what a fool you were, you are fortunate. But if you have, you will recognize the pain that is apparent in this song. They also slid in a cover of The Beatles’ “Revolution” and they played it well, which was a nice surprise. It is a hidden bonus track at the end of the album.

These guys have only gotten better since their first disc. If you are a Blessid Union fan, I think that you will enjoy the slight change of pace in their music, and if you are a fan of the Goo Goo Dolls, then you should definitely pick up this disc. The only reason I did not give them a higher rating is because this kind of broken-hearted rock ballad has been played to death, but I guess as long as there is sexual tension, pretty girls, heartbroken guys, or a combination of the three, this music will endure. And I am pretty sure there will always be people out there ready to listen.

+ kevin cousins

Ben Folds Five – The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner

Ben Folds Five
Artist: Ben Folds Five
Title: The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
Label: 550
Rating: 9/10

Don’t be misled by the mysterious title of Ben Folds Five latest album, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. It plays the same game as the band’s name, which implies that there are five members in the band when actually there are only three. Why they named their fourth release after a man who climbed Mt. Everest twenty years ago will remain a mystery. Ben Folds, the front man of the band, is an expert pianist and an emotional yet comical songwriter. The album falls directly in place in the evolution of his songwriting ability, with one especially notable distinction. He shies slightly away lyrically and explores some other instrumental possibilities. A small orchestra of violins, saxophones, keyboard effects, and the occasional kettledrum can be heard along with the usual drum and bass. As for the guitar, it’s still not included.

The first explosive track, “Narcolepsy,” will probably be the first single off of the album, with “Army” being the runner-up. “Narcolepsy” reminds me of a theatrical production, the way Folds so dramatically spills his emotions. “Army” is quite the opposite, a rockin’ tune with lines such as, “Well I thought about the army/ Dad says son you’re fucking high.” To wrap up the album there is the appropriately titled “Lullaby,” with such soft tones that it really could sing you to sleep.

If you don’t like passionate songs about love and life, you may not be interested in what Folds has to say, but you may not be able to pass up the music so easily. The catchy melodies and carefree charm of Ben Folds Five leaves you wanting to listen to the cd repeatedly. On the other hand, some of the tedious shouts from the background vocals seem a little too generic. For those who have never heard Ben Folds Five, the best way to describe them is very John Lennon-like, with a modern pop framework, and a touch of upbeat jazz. To categorize the band is hard because of the diversity in the music. The most recent issue of CMJ magazine pictures a cartoon of Ben Folds Five on the cover as superheroes “making the world safe for pop music.” I can just about guarantee anyone interested in quality music will not be disappointed with this album.

+ matt crafts

Atari Teenage Riot – 60 Second Wipeout

fifa
Artist: Atari Teenage Riot
Title: 60 Second Wipeout
Label: Elektra
Rating: 7/10

Atari Teenage Riot just might be the angriest band in the world. Having been a fan since Burn, Berlin, Burn wrecked me a few years ago, I knew their latest release, 60 Second Wipeout, would prove to be a chance to see a much more mature ATR. And if you were a fan in the past, you’ll quickly realize that they haven’t lost their touch. Their pounding punk/jungle mix is enough to make even the angriest bands turn yellow.

Alec Empire, ATR’s general, takes anger and makes it hooky enough for those of us who get confused by anything that lacks cohesion. “By Any Means Necessary” is a perfect example of their anthem-atic preaching. The coarse sound and blood-curdling screams will have you looting in no time.

“Western Decay” is slower and more toned down, but still grinds you to rubble. “Atari Teenage Riot II” picks up where part I left off. Within minutes you’ll be screaming the bands anthem, “Atari Teenage Riot”, loud enough to put fear in the hearts of your neighbors. You’ll be lucky if your parents don’t check you into therapy. ATR has everything Rage Against The Machine has, and more: politics, anger, and anthems, but their use of four vocalists adds an unrivaled army of destruction. You’ve never heard anything like this.

“Too Dead For Me” will bring back the late ’70’s, early ’80’s ferocious punk of the Sex Pistols, Black Flag, and The Exploited. “Death Of A President D. I. Y.!” starts of with a playful sounding chant of “Pussy cat/ pussy cat,” which is as eerie as it is awkward. “Your Uniform (Does Not Impress Me)” is jungle that tears at the juggler.

Atari Teenage Riot are revolutionists who owe as much to the Sex Pistols as they do to the Beatles, but they are a breed of animal many have never encountered. This is as refreshing as it is scary. If you haven’t heard them yet, what are you waiting for? The revolution will not be televised.

+ rae gun

Art of Noise – The Seduction of Claude Debussy

Art of Noise
Artist: Art of Noise
Title: The Seduction of Claude Debussy
Label: Universal
Rating: 7.5/10

“Music is not just the expression of a feeling – it is the feeling itself.” Claude Debussy was definitely on to something when he made that statement nearly a century ago. Art of Noise must have thought so; they have devoted their entire new release to his memory. The Seduction of Claude Debussy is original, to say the least. It is an eclectic mix of classical sounds with a touch of operatic vocals and even rap and a spoken word narrative thrown in. While not a disc for everyone, Art of Noise deserves praise, if for nothing else, for having the guts to put out a disc that so deviates from the norm. They strive for something more than the standard Top 40 pop song.

I am not even going to pretend to know what they were thinking during the production of this cd, though. The Seduction of Claude Debussy is described as “featuring the dream life of Claude Debussy as a metaphor for what a difference a century makes and the real life of art of noise as a metaphor for the fantasy life of a pop group.” Sure. The liner notes are quite cryptic and undecipherable at times as well. For example, the “Extract from a novelisation of the film that doesn’t exist of the seduction of Claude Debussy.”

However, it is the music that matters the most, and to simply say that it is unique would be a gross understatement. This is not an album you can jam to, or one that will tug at your heartstrings, or one that will get you moving in the morning. It is definitely mood music; something you’d pop in when you’re in a pensive state of mind. Otherwise, listening would take a great deal of patience.

Right away you realize you’re venturing into uncharted territory. You first hear John Hurt telling you to “imagine an actor saying the following” Add Sally Bradshaw’s soprano over a drum machine after the Enya-like introduction. It makes for an interesting and enjoyable initiation into the world of Art of Noise.

What they appear to be going for, much like Debussy himself, is the creation of feeling by telling his story. They do it well. For example, “Born on a Sunday” evokes the beginning of life and the excitement it brings with a faster, more energized beat, whereas “On Being Blue” naturally has a more melancholy, minor key sound.

They also have a few guests featured throughout the disc. Donna Lewis lends her voice to “Dreaming in Color” and quite a few tracks feature the hip-hop vocals of Rakim.

The Seduction of Claude Debussy exhibits the work of some very creative minds. It is not something that can be truly appreciated by everyone, nor is it something that can be fully explained. As the French poet Charles Baudelaire is quoted as saying: “In music, and in painting, even in the written word, there is always a gap, to be bridged by the imagination of the hearer.”

+ julie pecoraro