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Coal Chamber – Chamber Music

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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

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Choclair
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

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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

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C-Note
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

Jude – Interview

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.