In the world of
Ear Candy #1
-by Tom Grozan
Fall 2000 Sampler
One of the
perks of working for a newspaper is that we get sent review & promo CD’s.
Given that the paper doesn’t do music reviews these hot little items usually
end up getting passed down from the editor to interested parties (like me) or
end up in the hands of whoever’s quick enough to steal them (like me).
The former, not the latter is how I got the Dreamworks Fall 2000 Music
think with the industry heavyweights backing Dreamworks records that this would
be a record company striving for multi-platinum blockbusters, but given the
content on this sampler and ignoring the occasional George Michael signing this
doesn’t seem to be the case. This is for the most part an eclectic and
adventurous bunch of tunes. Even the more radio ready fare has its own vibe and
is not a cookie cutter carbon of what was a hit last month.
With that in
mind, let’s get to it. The songs on this disc can be broken down into three
“Hanging By A Moment” - This starts off the disc and considering I’ve
heard it on the radio it’s the only bona-fide “hit” contained on this CD.
It’s an above average rock song, something you wouldn’t tune out if you
heard it playing. Nothing special, but a lot more tune-friendly and catchy than
your average Creed song.
“I’m A Monster” - Imagine
Morrissey with the vocal pipes of the Cult’s Ian Asbury and you’ve got Ours
“I’m A Monster”. This is full on self-loathing the likes of which we
haven’t seen (unless you frequent poetry slams) since the Smiths broke up. This is not necessarily a bad thing ‘cause unless you’re
one of the young SoCal Mexican boys that Oni Press’s Jamie Rich told me are
the primary audience for Morrissey’s last couple of albums it’s something we
have haven’t heard in a while.
“I Lied” - I don’t know the
gender make up of this band, but if what I hear is any indication these are the
bastard step-daughters of the Runaways and they’re pissed. They even throw
Cherry Bomb into the lyrics. This is full on, in your face punkish metal that
would be very welcome in today’s rock radio landscape. In one song Half Cocked
perfectly encapsulates the sound L7 aspired to but fell short of actually
The Apex Theory
“ Shhh…” - Remember the Escape Club? They had a hit in the late
eighties called The Wild Wild West, not to be confused with recent Will Smith
song of the same name. Take a minute, get the tune firmly established in your
brain, now imagine that group violently possessed by Rage Against The Machine
and you’ve got The Apex Theory. Interesting, definitely, but not really my
bag. If you like your rock rap with a goofy free-styling chorus maybe it’s
Alien Ant Farm
“The Movies” - This is crunchy
power pop the likes of which there really isn’t a enough of nowadays. One of
my favorites on here, with more hooks than a triple support brassiere. Just a
cool little song juxtaposing a relationship with different movie styles until as
the chorus goes “…and just like, the movies, we play out the last scene”.
“Fever Dog” - From the soundtrack of “Almost Famous” , my favorite movie
of last year. If you haven’t seen it, shame on you, you uncultured cretin.
What’s notable here is without the movie imagery defining it, how spookily
Zeppelin this is. The opening drums
are soooo John Bonham they could be sampled by the Beastie’s.
“ Big Money Struggle” - Another good power pop tune. Reminds me a LOT of the
Fountains of Wayne. So much so that I was almost wondering if this was a side
project. Even so, nobody listens to
the Fountains of Wayne anyway so it’ll sound fresh to you. Oh, if you want to
join me in the small fraternity of Fountains
of Wayne fans download “Radiation Vibe” off Napster.
“She” - Apparently Dreamworks entry into the Boy Band derby. Catchy without
being cloyingly so, this is the
type of song the Backstreet Boys would kill for now. Much more Boys II Men than
either Backstreet or N Sync.
“Like Wow” - If only more songs in the current Teen music boom could be this
infectious and fun. So unabashedly old school bubblegum it’s like musical
crack and like the title of my column indicates, I’m all about the bubblegum.
Really, this could be a lost track off of Hanson’s Middle of Nowhere album and
if you’re really honest with yourself, you’d rather have more Hanson than
the current TRL crop.
“Don’t Want To Live My Life (Without You)”
- This is Spice Girls filtered through Gloria Estefan. The type of song
you could see Cher recording a couple years down the road when she’s making
her 7th comeback. But until that happens (and we’re not really
hoping for that) we can safely ignore this.
“ They Don’t Understand Me” -
Not really Top 40 pop this is one of those songs you’d hear on the Alternative
Adult Contemporary stations that have cropped up in the last two or three years.
Well crafted but ultimately forgettable.
“Tell The World” - A very
unremarkable R&B song whose only energy is derived from the Rodney Jerkins
style backing track. You know the kind with the super fast syncopated rhythm a
la Destiny’s Child. Which if you’re like me, and that annoys the hell out of
you, go ahead and let this fade from your continuousness immediately.
Forest For The Trees
“Jellyfish” - The most refreshingly original song in “pop” category.
It’s got a trippy, almost ethereal vibe the likes of which hasn’t be heard
since the heyday of P.M. Dawn. The lyrics are a little goofy, but in quirky fun
way. I really think this could be an out of left field hit if it could get
“On The Radio” - You gotta love a song in which one of the main lyrical
hooks is “…you liked me till you heard my shit on the radio”. Nelly
Furtado has been getting some great press (Her album Whoa Nelly was named one of
Entertainment Weekly’s ten best of 2000) and deservedly so. On this track
alone she effectively intermingles modern female hip hop a la TLC with the
musical subtlety and introspective lyricism of a Fiona Apple or Aimee Mann.
Given that she’s only 21 there’s scary potential here.
“Captain Max” - An amusing blender concoction with punk, ska, and acid rock all floating around in it. This one
song is more satisfying than the last three Bostones (or insert your favorite
ska rock band here) records combined.
“Cigarettes And Chocolate Milk” - This is the type of song you could imagine
hearing in a really cool movie. Something that fits perfectly but is vivid
enough to grab your attention and make your inner music fan demand more. If you
can contemplate Randy Newman’s pop sensibilities infused with Tom Waits
lyrical storytelling then you’re on the right track.
“Jeannie’s Dairy” - I had heard the Eels before but they didn’t really
grab me. This song will make me give them a second listen. A lament on lost love
that’s very Brian Wilsonesque in both form and execution. Intelligent,
heartfelt, and worth checking out.
“A Living Will” - This is
billed as an unreleased track off of Smiths latest album Figure 8. I have to say
if this is unreleased then I want to here the rest of the album because this is
great. Smith seems, like many other under appreciated post modern singer
songwriters, destined for a rabid cult audience. But really, if this stuff was
popular would it be so deliciously stimulating?
This is the first of my weekly musical musings and hopefully you enjoyed it. The two things I was striving for with this first column was to not embarrass myself and be somewhat entertaining. If I succeeded or not on either of those counts please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’m an unrepentant whore for feedback. Also please feel free to hip me to new stuff. I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting music. I’ve got a burner and I’m willing to trade. Thanks for reading and make sure you come back.
Copyright©2000 GrayHaven Magazine and contributors