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CD Releases: 50 Cent, Ghosts Of Modern Man, Mando Diao, The Cape May And More!!!
Friday March 11, 2005 @ 01:30 PM
By: Staff

50 CENT The Massacre (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope/Universal) On the strength of a multi-platinum debut record, 50 Cent got rich and didn’t die trying and now the chiseled superstar isn’t looking to mess with the formula. The Massacre beats the usual gangsta tropes to death — Fiddy will kill you if you mess with him, Fiddy’s got lots of money and Fiddy can get any "bitch" he wants. He does deserve credit for doing most of the heavy lifting — The Massacre is mercifully light on guest cameos — and for his charismatic command of the mic, but these skills are wasted on a record that celebrates street life without saying anything new about it.
- Matt Semansky

50 FOOT WAVE Golden Ocean (4AD/Beggars) Someone once wrote that the holy trinity of rock is comprised of The Beatles, The Who and The Pixies. If Golden Ocean is any indication, then a career can be fashioned by aping just one of these triumvirates. 50 Foot Wave swipe The Pixies playbook wholesale, swapping Frank Black’s manic singing with Kristin Hersh’s (Throwing Muses, soloist) gravelly, Janis Joplin-gone-stark-raving-mad caterwauling. This is the antithesis of the punk ethos — instead of inspiration before musical talent, these guys deliver technical expertise with tired, retread concepts. It’s bands like 50 Foot Wave who make the recent Pixie reformation redundant.
- Marc Boudignon

BELINDA BRUCE Dream Yourself Awake (Maximum/Universal) The first album from the Vancouver-based Belinda Bruce makes for a great campfire soundtrack, drifting along on gentle, unassuming melodies and low-fi intimacy. Bruce’s voice isn’t a powerhouse instrument, especially compared with a couple of certain Sarahs who traffic in the same kind of sound, but when it’s laid over softly-plucked guitars and brooding cellos it takes on a uniquely ethereal quality. Though it too often displays the singer’s maddening tendency to under-enunciate and murk up her lyrics, Dream Yourself Awake introduces Bruce as a master of grown-up lullabies and a worthwhile addition to the female singer-songwriter tradition
- Matt Semansky

Cape May THE CAPE MAY Central City May Rise Again (Flemish Eye) Central City’s songs straddle the precarious ledge between grounded rock predictability and free-flying experimentalist flurry. Though this may seem like a suicide attempt, The Cape May pull off the unbelievable — they sprout wings at the last minute and fly away before hitting the ground hard — perhaps that explains the birds on the album cover. Flight for Cape May means different time signatures; the grey area between ethereal pastoral and bombastic urban; the instrumental versus the vocal. All of these elements enact with equal parts precision and fervour, the result being an energetic and evocative experience which leaves the listener level to the clouds.
- Marc Boudignon

DEAD MEADOW Feathers (Matador/Beggars) Bands like Dead Meadow shouldn't be lumped into the stoner rock cliché, which is usually muddy, leaden and worst of all, boring. They can be proud of the fact that they've managed to take the basic concept and make it sound appealing and beautiful once again. Feathers is filled with tons of heavy, trippy moments without ever overstaying its welcome. When they really do want to stretch it out, they at least save it all for the grand opus and album closer, "Through The Gates Of The Sleepy Silver Door." This disc is perfect for those of us who don't want to be so stoned that we forget what we’re listening to.
- Dan "The Mouth" Lovranski

FOZZY All That Remains (Ash) Fozzy may have lost some of their metal edge when they stopped doing cover songs and singer (and WWE wrestler) Chris Jericho trimmed his hair, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They may be more of a modern rock band now, but they’re still far better than what passes for hard rock on the radio these days. "It’s A Lie" is what Evanescence would sound like if they were cool and songs like "Enemy" and the title track put all of those Alter-Drowning-Bridge-Saliva-Pool bands to shame. If this album is any indication, Fozzy no longer need metal covers to rock. It would be nice to see the hair back, though.
- Sarah Kurchak

GHOSTS OF MODERN MAN City Of No Light (Smallman/Warner) Regina’s Ghosts Of Modern Man play indie rock the way Pete Rose used to play baseball — fast, loose and forever on the edge of the rules. They attack the songs on their debut, City Of No Light, with a uniquely frenzied, spastic zeal, charging "Night Light" and "Sleeping At The Switch" with boatloads of nervous energy. But while they do chaos great, GOMM are also quite adept at slowing things down. The comparatively mellow "Dust," which sounds like Spoon’s Britt Daniel emoting at the coolest MTV Unplugged special never aired, is a model of restraint and understatement when held against the band’s otherwise abrasive, scattershot indie.
- Steve English

HOOD Outside Closer (Domino/Outside) Please do not adjust your stereo — all of those pops, crackles and glitches muddying up Outside Closer’s pacific bliss-pop are purely intentional. For the latter half of their decade-plus career, Hood have been the Aphex Twin of the U.K. indie scene. But on their sixth full-length, the Leeds, U.K. trio’s uneasy marriage of indie-rock and glitch-hop seems to have finally gelled. "Any Hopeful Thoughts Arrive" is a shimmering puddle of pastoral post-rock, its kaleidoscopic melody and circular guitar figure ideally suited for both peak and comedown. Elsewhere, "The Lost You" morphs from skittering electro-indie into a monstrous, brain-melting, neo-psychedelic grind. If Outside Closer was any more mind-altering, you’d need a prescription.
- Steve English

KAOS Hello Stranger (!K7/Fusion III) Because of their highly infectious nature, some things are better left un-resurrected — medical waste, zombies and disco to name a few. Kaos specialize in what should be outed as disco nouveau — an electronic reimagining of that much-taunted bygone era of pomp, polyester and platforms. In this case, the disco sound is modernized via a stronger drum-track, a greater range of cowbell and more explicit sexual references (track names like "Juices" and "Bang The Box" are an indication). Kaos do what they do well, but as with cadavers, no matter how well you apply makeup and dress them up, they’re dead for a reason
- Marc Boudignon

MANDO DIAO Hurricane Bar (Mute/EMI) It must be tough being Sweden’s secret Santa — it’s the nation that has everything. In Mando Diao, they’ve even got their own Libertines. Like their spiritual homeboys from across the North Sea, this Borlange foursome sing from the gut and the gutter, spitting out rough ‘n ready chunklets of rock, pop, soul and street-urchin poetry like "You Can’t Steal My Love" and the gloriously shambolic "Clean Town." Older punks will pick out traces of classic London punkers Tom Robinson and The Jam, too, especially in opener "Cut The Rope" and the mod-boy bounce of "White Wall." If the world latches on to Hurricane Bar, expect these likely lads to be an even more ubiquitous campus fixture than Ikea furniture.
- Steve English

ERIC MATTHEWS Six Kinds Of Passion Looking For An Exit (Empyrean/Sonic Unyon) Eric Matthews is poised for stardom. The progeny of traditional pop authors (such as Burt Bacharach and Brian Wilson), as well as modern revisionists (like Jim O’Rourke and Chris Connelly), Matthews works as comfortably with droning guitar as he does with blasts of lush brass. All these elements add up to a familiar yet novel listening experience. His six tracks on Six Kinds Of Passion are not all pomp and circumstance, however. Matthews’ voice, perpetually veering towards off-key, projects a dire yearning. Matthews’ songs are imbued with an emotional immediacy that make him a voice to be reckoned with.
- Marc Boudignon

MONADE A Few Steps More (Too Pure/Beggars) There's one thing you can count on never changing and that's Laetitia Sadier's plaintive and detached sigh. But the Stereolab vocalist's ultra-cool fembot croon doesn't so much buoy the material on the sophomore disc of her Monade side project, which strays too far from Stereolab's lush, groove-driven French pop. There's the warm retro organs and brass section, except at times the songs aren't anything more than the pretty, aural wallpaper that Air often fall victim to. It's when Sadier moves into more interesting terrain, such as on the part-moody, part-Latin danceathon "2 Porter, 7 Fenetres," that Monade can be delightful.
- Brian Wong

ANNA NALICK Wreck Of The Day (Columbia/Sony) Considering she’s only 20, Anna Nalick’s debut is a remarkable achievement. The memorable melodies and lyrics on Wreck Of The Day resonate with an astute worldly intelligence that belies her age and puts many a singer-songwriter to shame. The problem here is her production. Every guitar riff is buffed, while her voice rings with a compressed sheen, leaving the listener wondering where her spontaneity and passion went. This would have been perfect if it was strictly acoustic, but Anna Nalick’s talent still shines through and proves she is one to watch.
- Marc Boudignon

PAINT IT BLACK Paradise (Jade Tree) Most dyed-in-the-flesh punkers know that loud, fast and angry rules and Paint It Black’s aggressive metalcore attack ups the ante with vicious chugalug riffsmithery and a mighty roar. On their second album, they whittle enormous slabs of weapons-grade guitar thrash down to two-minute scorchers as drummer David Wagenschutz furiously pounds his kit into jelly. Dan Yemin turns his ferocious, larynx-shredding growl on the evils of the day — multinational corporations, the Pentagon, Mr. President — but even he’s no match for the towering walls of guitar and oddly catchy rhythms that dominate the record. These days, raging against the machine is easy; making violence tuneful is the hard part. If anger is an energy, then PIB are a nuclear reactor of focused, white-hot outrage.
- Steve English

VARIOUS ARTISTS Be Cool OST (TVT/Universal) Considering that Be Cool is a film about the music industry, you'd expect the soundtrack to be a lot stronger than this. It starts off well, with old school tracks like Earth, Wind And Fire's "Fantasy" and Kool & The Gang's "Hollywood Swinging," but quickly devolves into generic hip-hop and an absolutely abysmal inspirational ballad ("Believer") by Be Cool actress Christina Milian. Co-star The Rock fares much better with his fabulously cheeky cover of Loretta Lynn's "You Ain't Woman Enough," but that's as good as it gets. And as great as that tune is, it's unfortunate that a novelty song is the highlight of the soundtrack.
- Sarah Kurchak

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