Although most of the United States has long been covered by an "English Spoken Here"
sign that's visible from space, times are changing. The listening public,
to understand many English-speaking vocalists, have embraced the world's
(as long as they've got a cool tune behind them). Add to this the
of rock en espanol and you've got a surefire recipe for success.
101 is a particularly palatable intro, with seventeen songs running the
new wave to punk to metal to...well, proto-metal hip-hop, with a bit of
thrown in. Contributors, who hail from both American continents, include
Lil Rudy G., Calavera and the always entertaining Brujeria. There's
something for everyone
here, though you'll probably get the most out of Spanglish 101 if your
lean hard-rockward. -- gz
Various Artists / Spanglish 101 / Kool Arrow (CD)
Two heady originals vacillate in and out of four-track suaveness.
With strings, stand up bass and plenty of percussive elements slammed
into the mix, it's difficult to pick out all of the pieces on these two
tracks. However, "How Can I Stop Loving You Pt. 2" certainly has a
hip-moving, rhythmic feel to it, as does the B-Side, producing some
substantive musical aptitude -- but the absence of any coherent vocals leaves
this 7" needing something else to complete the mix. -- am
Teach Me Tiger / Teach Me Tiger / Motorway (7")
Some day, the Go-Betweens will get their proper place in history.
Admittedly, they remain revered by critics and fans, and their
pedigree hasn't hurt the solo careers of Robert Forster or Grant
McLennan, but mention them in the same breath as the other
bands who defined the mid-eighties pop sound and you'll get
a healthy assortment of blank looks. As an argument for
full canonization, Bellavista Terrace succeeds marvelously.
If you don't own any Go-Betweens albums, songs like "Cattle
and Cane" and "Streets of Your Town" will send you scrabbling
through record shops, while those with an extant Go-Betweens library
will be compelled to revisit it post haste... -- gz
The Go-Betweens / Bellavista Terrace: Best of the Go-Betweens / Beggars Banquet (CD)
There are some nice tunes here -- guitar-poppy jams with memorable melodies and interesting lyrics. It's too bad that the sound quality is so poor that it's really a drag listening to them. A lot of effort went into the CD's packaging: there's a lovely full-color booklet, clever graphic design and well-written liner notes. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to have been much energy left over for making a good-sounding recording. Dusty 4-track tape recorders and "on-the-cheap home recording" are mentioned in the notes and press materials, and I'm not sure whether it's meant as an excuse or an attempt to establish lo-fi cred. Either way, this CD sounds like it was recorded in someone's basement on a little boom-box with a built-in mic. I'd like to hear what would happen if these folks put as much care into the music as they did the packaging. -- ib
Immature Scientist Vacationist League / Pleasure Map / Flying Nonesuch (CD)
Sometimes I wish I worked for one of those really snooty 'zines (you know who you are) so that I could worry about having the right sort of hipster attitude and making
the right inside jokes instead of actually reviewing CDs based on their
content. Then I could write off Kendall Payne as a Lilith Fair also-ran.
But the honest truth is that while Payne's sound is far from new, it's a
whole lot more upbeat, cheerful and varied than most of the sombre
folk-catharsis bollocks that's being marketed to young women these days.
And while eighteen year-old Kendall's lyrics don't really say much to
a thirtyish male, they'll likely resonate with her intended audience. I
can't say I loved Jordan's Sister, but it was quite a bit better
than I expected it to be. -- gz
Kendall Payne / Jordan's Sister / Capitol (CD)
Fans of Mercury Rev and Spiritualized will quickly hear the merits of
Nashville's Duraluxe. Creating lush soundscapes that are dense and
boisterous, each track also retains a charming and vivacious pop core, a la
Paul Westerberg, that's intrinsically appetizing and strikingly potent.
Standouts include the psychedelic, palpitating "In Time" and the weighty,
radio-friendly "Change Your Mind", which sports a country-tinged rhythm. With a
good dose of all things musical, Duraluxe proves the point that itís hard
to get Nashville out of your system once youíve soaked yourself in it. -- am
Duraluxe / Dolorosa / Meddle (CD)
Mancunians Mark Rae and Steve Christian serve up a heaping
dish of beat-intensive hip-hop and soul action. It's
sophisticated, sultry and sexy stuff that should appeal to devotees of
Tricky and Massive Attack, while pulling in a few converts from the
deep house camp by virtue of occasional vocalist Veba's diva stylings.
However, this newly domesticated year-old effort can get a bit tepid in its slower moments, so if your pulse starts to flag when the BPMs dip below 90,
this Soul probably isn't Sulfuric enough for you. -- gz
Rae & Christian / Northern Sulfuric Soul / Sm:)e Communications (CD)
Originally released in 1992, The Reds' Cry Tomorrow, has been reworked and re-released by The Stereo Society, a cyber-record-company dedicated to distributing several past and present recording projects from producer Mike Thorne (Soft Cell, Nina Hagen). The Reds fall into the category of unrepentant post-punks. Even in 1992 they resisted the nascent Seattle sound, instead opting for what sounds like goth. It's dark and brooding, yet it still has a kind of rebellious Jim Morrison/Iggy Pop audacity (like Joy Division crawling naked across broken glass). It's interesting that the best song on the album is its only cover. The Reds' take on the classic Stones tune "Gimme Shelter" is at once atmospheric and incendiary; it's a tribute to the Reds' musical vision that they make it so much their own. -- nw
Tristeza play their instruments well, but they don't really try to stretch out and do anything risky with them. The lyric-less format is fine, but puts that much more weight on the music proper -- weight that I don't think Tristeza quite carries. Things get awfully repetitive after awhile (although that's probably on purpose), and there are more than enough repeated arpeggios to last for the band's next several albums. If they had come to me and said, "Nurse Bellemead, we just made this album and were wondering whether there were enough arpeggios on it?" I would have said "Plenty." If you're looking for some moody atmospheric music, this might be just the thing. Think The Chameleons UK without the words and you'll be pretty close. -- ib
Tristeza / Spine and Sensory / Makoto Recordings (CD)