Between the Covers

Between the Covers

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Outsight brings to light non-mainstream music, film, books, art, ideas and opinions.

Published, somewhere, monthly since July 1991. Feel free to re-print this article.

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BETWEEN THE COVERS

Before me lies a trio of releases consisting of nothing but covers of well-known
songs. First up is Erasure
with the bluntly titled Other
People’s Songs
(Mute).
Of course, Erasure makes these songs their own. Every track, from Peter Gabriel
(“Solsbury Hill”) to Buddy Holly (“Every Day”) to the manufactured MTV debut
band The Buggles (“Video Killed the Radio Star”), is a meeting of melodically
delivered lyrics over dance-inspiring beats. Erasure’s disco-soul, a New Wave
romanticism, plumbs each personally chosen song for its emotion while maintaining
the utilitarian consistency of an album of beat music… Also featuring a self-explaining
title is Love Her Madly: New Women Artists Cover the Doors (Skipping
Discs
). There is something carnivalesque and raw in the music of The Doors
that is generally left behind in the updating of the songs on this album.
Notable exceptions are Bernadette Ketchum’s sufficiently under-produced
rendition of “Love me Two Times” and the dark celebration of “People are Strange”
from Wendy LP. Still, this is an enjoyable and eclectic compendium of songs
that serve as a showcase of contemporary talent exploring these time-tested
songs and an introduction to 20 bands and artists…

The album Sabbatum
from Rondellus is, as subtitled,
“a medieval tribute to Black Sabbath.” The group takes classic Black Sabbath
songs and performs them in Latin on instruments of the Middle Ages. The Estonian
early music ensemble performs this task with professional ability that makes this
a winner for fans of the polyphonic revival, as well as the Dark Age imagery so
sympathetic to Black Sabbath. (More on this album from Amazon.com)…


EPITAPH TO RELEASE TURBONEGRO BACK CATALOGUE

Epitaph/Burning Heart Records re-releases Turbonegro’s back-catalogue albums
Ass
Cobra
(1996) (hailed as “the punk rock album of the last decade”) and
1998’s Apocalypse
Dudes
(“the rock ‘n’ roll album of the decade” according to The Beastie
Boys’ homegrown magazine Grand Royal) on February 25, 2003. This campaign prepares the way for the upcoming new album Scandinavian Leather
due in May 2003. Despite their commercially unacceptable name, a rampant homosexual
image, and live shows that end with Hank Von Helvetes firing a bottle rocket
out of his buttocks, the group continues to have a rabid cult following named
Turbojugend. After a hiatus, Turbonegro was asked to reform to play some huge
festivals. They later agreed to play limited shows and now they are recording
a new album.


SHANE MACGOWAN STORY ON SUNDANCE FOR ST. PATRICK’S DAY

Sundance Channel
will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in 2003 with the U.S. television premiere of
If I Should Fall From Grace: The Shane MacGowan Story. This theatrical
feature directed by Sarah Share will air as part of the cable network’s new
weekly documentary series DOCday. DOCday launches Monday March 3 and
continues every Monday from noon until midnight with a weekly feature premiere
at 9:00 p.m.

Taking its title from the Pogues classic album “If I Should Fall From Grace
with God,” the film celebrates MacGowan’s talent without shying away from the
more painful aspects of his famously chaotic life. This unflinching, music-driven
documentary provides the first real insight into the background and career of
the legendary Irish artist who, as lead singer and songwriter for the Pogues,
became a worldwide punk icon.


EMISSIONS FROM THE MONOLITH FESTIVAL INTO ITS FIFTH YEAR

Memorial Day Weekend from Friday, 5/23 to Sunday, 5/26, thirty-five confirmed acts, including
Alabama Thunder Pussy, Halfway to Gone and Dixie Witch, perform at Nyabinghi
in Youngstown, OH. Nyabinghi is in Youngstown, OH at 1229 Salt Springs Road.
Festival producer Greg Barratt believes he may soon have to find a larger venue
to accommodate the growing popularity of this event, which he conceived as a
way to have all of his favorite stoner, doom, heavy rock and psychedelic bands
play in a comfortable environment amongst like-minded musicians and fans. Lollipop
magazine enthuses, “Can’t say enough good things about the tone of the event;
nary a harsh word from anyone. Woodstock ’69? Dude, you shoulda been at Emissions
’02.” Tickets are on sale online
or the venue. Last year the venue sold-out every night, this year Barratt expects
tickets to sell-out again.


DVD REVIEWS ******************

Boasting an eclectic collection to fit any taste, Music
Video Distributors
also offers very good prices and an on-line store. Here
is a sampling of some of what they offer currently. Ahmad
Jamal – Live
(Quantum
Leap
) offers two sets featuring the improvisational jazz pianist with his
Trio. Gary Burton joins
on vibes for the second set. A master of subtle, elliptical understatement in
his playing, this style is ideal of casual listening and provides ample space
for Burton to fill in for the second set… More Burton-Jamal performances, as
well as Burton with The Hum Trio is on Live,
a DVD also from Quantum Leap. These two performances from MIDEM ’81 and ’84
showcase the vibraphonist’s active, scintillating sound… From the Melvins, MVD offers
Salad
of a Thousand Delights
. The live material compiled on this DVD was recorded
in 1991. Most of this was on the VHS of the same release from Box Dog Video
released in 1992. Among the material added to this release is 1984 studio footage.
This very early footage shows the noisy power trio creating the genesis for grunge through clamorous original material that sounds like enthusiastic,
if amateurish, songs inspired by Black Sabbath and other ’70s hard rock… Willie
Dixon shows a socially aware side in “Peace”, one of the many live segments
in the 1988 recordings captured on I
am the Blues
(Quantum Leap). In between songs of the set recorded in
New York, Willie Dixon chats on the important contribution he made to popular
blues-rock through having his songs recorded by The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin,
Chuck Berry and more. Dixon also highlights his then current efforts to keep
the blues alive…


CD REVIEWS ******************

Discontent
Discontent
Disaster

Discontent is a suburban Orange County neo-punk outfit with a taut, hard rock
sound. Before this debut CD was even in existence, their 7″ and a CDRP got them
an opening spot with The Damned in Germany and touring the West Coast with The Hunns.
The scratchy, deep-voiced vocalist leans toward Motorhead comparisons, which
also fits with their ’70s rock approach guitars, giving them a sound like an
angry street punk shadow of AC/DC. After that West Coast tour with The Hunns,
Duane Peters decided to produce this recording that is a good disc from the
oxymoron that is working class punk from suburban roots. (3.5)


Renee Cologne
The Opposite Of
Back Door Records

On The Opposite Of pop vocalist Renee Cologne sings in front of an intriguing
blend of drum programming, string section and horns. Matching these big, electronic
beats to the synthesized and acoustic instruments gives a trip-hop quality and
smoky, after-hours feel to the music. What all this adds up to is the dramatic
and theatric. It is no wonder that a promising singer-songwriter and producer
that lists David Bowie and Freddie Mercury among her influences should produce
music that is majestic and dramatic, painted in stunning, bold strokes on an
oversized canvas. (4)


Circle
Raunio
Squealer Music

Arising from the Pori, a Finnish port on the Baltic Sea, Circle brings to mind
the remote and frigid Arctic Circle both in name and in the minimalist and
hypnotic rhythms. They augment their sonic repetitions with hymn-like chanting
(more sinister than spiritual) of “incantations” written in their made-up
language of Meronian. Just before this release the group did a John Peel session,
a sure sign they are at the peak of their powers. This is actually a reissue of
a release on the Ektro label out of Finland, now getting greater distribution
through Surefire Distribution. A 12-minute bonus track is included: “Raubonmix”.
The potent ensemble surges and recoils in their music with alternating waves of
tension and eerie serenity. (4.5)


Lorelei
Our Minds Have Been Electrified
Ice-Made

Susannah Mira is the voice for indie rock trio Lorelei. She adds a complementary
juxtaposition of female vocals to the low-end rock for two bass guitars and kit
drumming. Those bass guitars are so heavily saddled in distortion as to be rhythmic
more than melodic instruments, leaving Susannah largely the source of
melody in the ensemble. After a split EP and appearing on the compilation Fields
and Streams
(Kill Rock Stars), this is the group’s debut CD. (3.5)


Joni Mitchell
Travelogue
Nonesuch

Joni Mitchell has elevated herself from being a leader of the original folk-pop
movement through an apotheosis into a commanding jazz vocal stylist. This 22-track
2-CD release focuses on Joni’s stunning work with a 70-piece orchestra. Even
during its creation, this opus was conceived as a magnificent, high watermark.
Filmmakers Allison Anders (Gas, Food, Lodging) and Alistair Donald (Wingspan)
then duly captured the recording. While the recording is new, the material
spans Joni’s entire career, reaching back to selections off her albums of the
early 1970s like “The Dawntreader”, “Woodstock” and “Trouble Child”. Albums
right up to the present day are sampled for this release. Enhanced by a 20-member
choir and featured musical guests (Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Plas Johnson,
Billy Preston etc.), one feels that we are hearing Joni’s songs with no limits,
expressed with every timbre and voicing she would have. Much more than greatest
hits, Travelogue is the greatest realization of Joni’s material. (5)


Primitive Painter
Armadillo in the Snow EP
Dead Digital

This is an album of “listening techno” not bereft of the utilitarian beat repetitions
necessary for the dance floors, as on the title track. On “Mantra”, like the
soundtrack to a horror film, the instrumental track is the icy tingle of very
trebly sounds sparkling gently over urgent, horizontally rushed beats.
“The Peoples Parasite” is another chilling work, this time an innocent melody xylophone-like under the words of a politician (Tony Blair?) with New
World-like rhetoric. (3.5)


Reaching Forward
Complete Discography 1998-2000
Martyr Records

That candle that burns the brightest burns the shortest. Maybe if Reaching Forward
had not reached forward with such violent thrusts, their discography would
be longer than what can be contained on a single CD. Even listening to a single
track of their explosive doom punk, combining elements of spastic punk rock and
extreme, dark metal can leave the listener with a distinct feeling of exhaustion.
Spewing venom and profanities, this barrage of aggressive hardcore ends on an
up note (if somewhat threatening) with a cover of Sham 69’s “The Kids Are United”.
(3)


Second Story Man
Pins and Needles
Landmark Recordings

Signature in the sound of Louisville, KY band Second Story Man is the interweaving
harmonies of vocalists Carrie Neumayer and Kelly Scullin. They sing delicate
and wistful melodies, with the two gents in the quartet sometimes joining in
for harder-edged rock episodes in this album of largely gentle, dreamy pop.
Layers of sound make for a rich, plush sound experience on Pins and Needles.
Some songs, like “You, You, You”, shine with a smart, catchy pop feel. (4)


The Stitches
Twelve
Imaginary Inches

TKO Records

The Stitches are a contemporary punk rock band that revive the sound of ’70s
American punk rock. After a string of successful vinyl releases, this is the
group’s first nationally available CD. It is time to catch up on the fun pop-punk that has previously been a regional success in California. Snotty and wearing
clashing ties, the group is wonderfully unpretentious in delivering their high-energy
power-pop. (3)


The Riffs
Underground
Kicks

TKO Records

The Riffs have a tough, street punk sound that recalls ’77-era British punk.
This is a reissue of the 2000 debut album from the Portland, OR band. It has
been remixed and remastered and sounds great, featuring such anthemic, group-sung
tracks as “Throwin’ It All Away”. Fans of the New York Dolls will really appreciate
parts of this album, like the gang choruses and descending guitar lines of “Johnny
Johnny”. The album closes with a version of “Waiting for the Man” from the Velvet
Underground. (4)


Joboj
X
Quad Records

Joboj (Joe Bochar) presents the listener with a dizzying blend of guitar pyrotechnics,
programming and more, with Bochar performing all instruments in these fearsome
Frankensteins. This home studio creation features crazy guitar antics (“Stool”,
“Screaming Chicken”), acoustic interludes (“Blackthumb”, “Bitch”) and more, so
that each track is aimed at entertaining rather than merely shredding. (4)


Soulo
Man,
the Manipulato
r
Plug Research

Soulo is to pop music as Dali’s melting watches are to timepiece accessories.
Soulo melds in swaying beats, gentle female vocals and bright electro ornamentation
into a rich and warm (warm from the often analogue elements) canvas of grooves
and melodies akin to trip-hop and such modern dream pop as Sigur Rós. (4)


Arcana
Inner Pale Sun
Cold Meat Industry

While it appeared that The Last Embrace, released over two years before Inner
Pale Sun
, was to be the final chapter in Arcana, which proves not to be
the case. Peter Pettersson’s new album still features the neo-Gothic tone coloring,
ethereal voices and rumbling drums for an effect like Dead Can Dance. This is
the romantic edge of darkwave, eerie and mysterious but at the same time nostalgic,
gentle and melodic. (3.5)


Various Artists
The
Original Cast Recording
of Baz
Luhrmann’s Production of Puccini’s La Boheme on Broadway

Dreamworks

While Baz Luhrmann updated his sets for La Boheme to the 1950s, he did not change
the music in Puccini through the lens of Guys and Dolls. This cast recording
is very much still an opera, not a musical, be it on Broadway or not. This
recording should satisfy serious fans of Italian opera, as this is not
is pop opera ala Andrew Lloyd Weber. This is the original orchestration, sung
in Italian by opera singers. (4.5)


John Williams
Music
From The Motion Picture
Catch
Me If You Can

Dreamworks

John Williams composed the original music for this Atlantic-hopping caper set
40 years ago. His music takes us back to the ’50s and ’60s orchestrated popular
sounds and provides suitable framing to the gems of that era on this soundtrack:
“Come Fly with Me”, “Embraceable You”, “The Girl from Ipanema” and more. “The
Christmas Song” sung by Nat King Cole could have been left off as it breaks
the continuity 11 months of the year. It should be noted that the CD features
sax solos from noted session player Dan Higgins (Aerosmith, Natalie Cole, Luis
Miguel). (4)


Bob Log III
Log
Bomb

Epitaph/Fat Possum

The title of the newest Bob Log III album does not break the trend of albums
named after modes of transportation. As Bob explains, “I am now the vehicle.”
Bob Log III is the vehicle for a hedonist parade of lurid celebration with such
closed-door party anthems as “Boob Scotch” (instructive photos provided), “Bubble
Strut”, “Drunk Stripper” and “F*Hole Parade”. Bob Log III’s interpretation of
juke joint sounds is through his one-man band approach of slide guitar and kick
drum on one foot and cymbal on the other. Loose and raw, this sound incarnates
the sounds of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf with a real visitation of the spirit
of those raucous roadhouse blues suitable for fans of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
and Speedball Baby. (4.5)


Jett Brando
Jagged
Junktion

Go-Kart Records

Jett Brando is the name used on this album by Jeremy Winter. This album often
offers a full-plate of sounds like his previous space-rock band All Natural
Lemon & Live Flavors. However, there is much more depth and dimension to the
music as well as a greater focus on melody and song. Brando backs his indie
pop songs, apparently featuring him singing all parts simultaneously, with ragged
beats stitched together in the studio. Jagged Junktion is a dark and edgy but
also warm and whimsical crossroad between funky electro-pop and heartfelt song.
(3.5)


Appliance
Are
You Earthed?

Mute

Appliance is a suitable name for a band known for making its own musical appliances.
One such device is the Thrippler. This tone generator is a Hamlet tin filled
with parts from old video and tape decks. However, such rampant experimentalism
does not make their music a simple showcase for unexpected, novelty sounds.
Instead, this is dressing for swirling, sound-filled melodic indie-pop with
a distinct and driving beat.


IllegalTeenageBikini
I am not Job
Precipice Recordings
Precipice@mindspring.com

IllegalTeenageBikini is the first album from Patrick Ogle (Thanatos) in nearly
five years. A key feature of his music is distinct acoustic guitar strumming
and nearly spoken, surreal lyrics. As such, this is a darkwave fusion of Cat
Stevens and early Roger Waters solo material. Loops and other electronics add
a club atmosphere to the darkly intoned music. The Chicago group’s music will
go over well with those that enjoyed such Windy City offerings as Killing Joke,
Pigface and everything on the spectrum between those bands because they are all
touched on in this rich kaleidoscope of an album. (3.5)


Frith, Derome, Tanguay, Boisen
All
is Bright, but it is not Day

DAME

In the performing trio, Fred Frith plays guitars, Jean Derome is on reeds instruments
and more, and Pierre Tanguay provides the percussion. The trio extemporaneously
creates sound experiments which are so artfully used by recording and mixing
engineer Myles Boisen that he is credited as a fourth member. Using real-time
processing, this album is a string of sparse and languid improvisations where
episodes of sound appear on the horizon to grow in clarity as they draw near
only to recede and make room for the next site on this post-psychedelic journey.
(4.5)


Lori Freedman
À un Moment Donné
DAME

Lori Freedman’s clarinet soars and screams with seagull-like insistence on this
solo album of avian improvisation from the soprano clarinet and sonorous answers
from the deep, bass clarinet. Lori is a master of both instruments and needs
no other assistance in creating a fascinating, instrumental album of interest
to fans of free jazz. (4)


ekoostik hookah
Ohio
Grown

ekoostik hookah

Fun loving, somewhat Grateful Dead-y, this neo-hippie rock is an excellent soundtrack
to hackey-sack in the sun. The group’s loose, slipping sound exhibits a great
deal of the musical proficiency this hard-working (150+ concerts per year) band
has developed. Sometimes the group tries to be more compelling that they can
pull off (“Godspeed”), but as a party band they are very good. (3)


Julia Brown
Jubilant
Newborn Alien Haze

Julia Brown

With a powerful and expressive voice, Julia Brown delivers quality songs to
be jubilant about on this album. It is all very accessible and even of commercial
quality, beside the edgy, arty title that might scare away some. Bright, understated
electronic percussion backs up electric and acoustic guitars on this full-sounding
album. Easy, poetic choruses make this an album to sing along to on the very
first listen. (3)


Nadine Goellner
Remember my Name
Sophisticated Moon Productions

Nadine leads her ensemble, playing fluid acoustic guitar and singing sweetly
accessible pop jazz. This bluesy jazz fusion is a jambalaya of popular
styles but is artfully blended as to be sweet and easy on the ear. Fundamental
in the sound on this album is songwriter Bill Grady on piano. The full, rich
sound from the keyboard lends a stylish, uptown sophistication to this album,
as on the title track. (3.5)


New Folk Implosion
The
New Folk Implosion

IMUSIC

Productive indie pop songwriter Lou Barlow (Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr.) returns with,
literally, The New Folk Implosion as a follow-up to the immensely successful
One Part Lullaby (Interscope, 1999). Here, Barlow is without former Folk
Imploder John Davis, who left the band shortly after One Part Lullaby.
Barlow is still joined with original members Russell Pollard (Sebadoh) on drums
and Imaad Wasif (Alaska and Folk Implosion) on guitar. Helping out on this new
studio release are Aaron Espinoza (Earlimart, Grandaddy), Mickey Petralia (Beck, Eels,
Luscious Jackson), and Wally Gagel (Eels, Folk Implosion, Sebadoh, Juliana Hatfield).
While there is nothing on this album as catchy and full of impact as “Natural
One,” this new volume of lo-fi alt-pop follows in the same formula. Instead
of something simple and catchy for the radio, the shining gem of this album
seems to be “Pearl”. This bare and stripped down song is an honest and poignant
love song; personal and unadorned, delivered without samples and little accompaniment
to the crisp, acoustic guitar. (4.5)


Johnny Marr + The Healers
Boomslang
IMUSIC

Johnny Marr, for founding The Smith and staying in music with The The, Electronic,
Beth Orton, etc. has earned the title “legend.” His press clippings make him
out to be a guitar hero, but Boomslang is not an exhibition of technique.
This debut album from Marr’s new group is heavy, but accessible. This is not
so heavy to be hard rock, but rather tough dance pop from a journeyman guitarist
out to have serious fun and no longer needing to prove himself. (3.5)


King Missile III
The
Psychopathology of Everyday Life

Instinct Records

Not suitable for radio airplay but outrageously funny, King Missile III’s new
album is more vulgar language and vivid, surrealist imagery spoken and screamed
over punk and indie pop, as appropriate. John S. Hall’s mostly spoken delivery
of his bizarre imagery has carried various incarnations of King Missile through cult-level fame since the late ’80s. On this album, Hall levels his sights
on the establishment for gratuitous coverage of 9/11 (“JLH”) and an obscenity-laden
send-up (send-down?) to President Bush (“The President”). These musings are
interlaced with a series of five Pain Poems. Each begins and ends with “ow”
as the bookends to a string of four-letter words. (4)


Troubled Hubble
Penturbia
Latest Flame Records

Troubled Hubble offers joyous, smile-inducing indie pop full of bright and
cheery timbres. The title refers to a mythical geography for which the album
could be a perfect soundtrack: “Penturbia has in abundance what suburbia lacks:
beautiful open space … clean air and water as well as friendly communities.”
Fans of Ben Folds Five will like the sophisticated, stylish indie pop. Even
when the subject matter is downbeat (“Nancy”), the delivery is always upbeat
from the Elburn, Illinois ensemble that delivers each song with a smile and
puts a package of hope in there. (3.5)


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