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Now in our third calendar year
PCR #124 (Vol. 3, No. 32). This edition is for the week of August 5--11, 2002.
The Digital Divide
 La Floridiana 
 Movie Review 
 Deadguy's Dementia 
 WooWoo Express 
 Mike's Rant 
 PCR Archives 2002 
 2001    2000 
 Crazed Fanboy home 
 PCR 2002 Home 
by Terence Nuzum
LEDs     CD REVIEWS    by Terence Nuzum
CDs are rated 1 to 5 LEDs
RadioheadRadiohead have debuted several new tracks at various live shows and after hearing mp3 bootlegs I can say that if they follow through the new album will sound amazing. The songs such as "Scatterbrain" and "Wolf at the Door" all carry on with the laidback experimental vibe yet it now sounds as if they are going about the same style of music minus the electronics. No release date has been set for the future album.

Sleater-KinneyOur favorite Indie-chicks, Sleater-Kinney, are releasing an album on August 20th titled One Beat. If you can't wait you can hear the entire album now on their label's site k i l l r o c k s t a r s via streaming audio. The new tracks sound like a mix of playfulness from All Hands on the Bad One and the rocking drive of Dig Me Out . Definitely a no-miss release.

Spoon who released one of the best albums of last year headed back into the studio earlier this year and have emerged with their new release Kill the Moonlight which like Sleater-Kinney's One Beat will be released on August 20th.

A couple weeks ago Oasis claimed that the band would end with either a plane crash or in some spectacular way. Well, perhaps they should have knocked on wood because the band was invovled in a car accident Tuesday afternoon in downtown Indianapolis. The band's taxi had a head-on collision with another car. Noel Gallagher appears to be in the worst condition with brusing and cuts to his face. The other band members got out of the incident safley with the exception of the keyboard player who's hand had to be strapped. The band was saved thankfully due to airbags and seatbelts. See, all that time Blur's Damon Albarn was spending in Africa supposedly taking in musical influences he was really learning the fine art of voodoo.

Release Dates

August  13
Primal Scream:
Evil Heat - Import

August  20
One Beat
Frank Black: The Devil's Workshop
Frank Black: Black Letter Days
Spoon: Kill the Moonlight

September  3
Greatest Hits

Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth: Murray Street
Available at Amazon.com!

3 LEDs!

For some, waiting for a new Sonic Youth album is like waiting for the Second Coming. You know that each new album will peacefully deliver you from the drivel that is mainstream rock. Even if it is bad it's still ten times better than what's out there. On that note, I must report that Murray Street (the 2nd album of their New York trilogy) is not quite bad but it's not that good, either. I hate to give a bad review to Sonic Youth but the fact remains I'm wholly unimpressed with the New Yorker's latest offering. Of course, it's coming off the heels of 2000's excellent tribute to the beat scene of the 50s, NYC Ghosts and Flowers. That album was made under dire conditions. The band's equipment of 20 years, most of which had been customized over the years, had been stolen , leaving them to start from scratch, to start all over again. But instead of producing Evol pt.2 we got NYC Ghosts and Flowers an excellent stab at avant-garde deconstruction. But what we have with Murray Street is quite the opposite, we have Daydream Nation pt.2. Except one problem---it's not as good. The pop tunes are there, but 2 mins in, the songs lose all lyrics and turn into noise-art instrumentals. The album, in doing this, satisfies neither the Dirty-era fans or the Evol fans (myself). Murray Street was hyped as being the album on which Sonic Youth go classic rock. Yeah---like any of us believed that would happen. To be fair though, several tracks evoke a heavy influence of Grateful Dead licks. But unlike the fluid guitar-playing of Jerry Garcia, we get monotnous drones of boring hooks, that sounded original only in 1987 when Sonic Youth first played them. There is one song on the album though that is pure genius. "Karen Rivisted" by guitarist Lee Renaldo is Sonic Youth at their best and perhaps their most emotional. The hooks are great, the lyrics are great ("you smell of memories"), and unlike the first half of the album the extended jam is artistic in its sparceness. Perhaps Thurston should let Renaldo write more often. The last half of the album has 2 songs tacked on to the end on which bassist Kim Gordon sings.. well they are the worst songs Gordon has ever laid to record. The demo version of Gordon's "Plastic Sun" had anti-Britney Spears sentiments but the final version has nary a trace leaving very little to like. That is unless you would like to hear Kim re-sing "Swim Suit Issue" all over again. The worst Sonic Youth record in a longtime (not the worst, that title is held by 1994's Experimental Jet Set Trash and No Star). That was first impression I had upon hearing Murray Street. Of course I came to like it, not love it, but like it.

The album settled on me but while my opinion changed it is still a major letdown. It's not a genre-defying album it's simply the Sonic Youth party record. The one not too pop for your Glenn Branca-loving friend, yet not too avant-garde that it will offend your Strokes- loving acquaintances. It's the one you kick back and relax to. But for me, that's not good enough. You see, us old school Sonic Youth fans expect a lot. Let's face it, their past albums, with the exception of Experimental Jet Set Trash, were and still are classics. Evol, Daydream Nation, Goo, Dirty, Washing Machine, and even A Thousand Leaves all pushed the envelope in one way or another. So, I'll leave you with this: if you are a longtime fan prepare to be disappointed. But on the other hand if you are new to Sonic Youth then you might actually like it. This might be your Daydream Nation. I just hope that Sonic Youth gets out of this slump because while it may sound fresh and exciting to new comers the fact remains that it really isn't. Daydream Nation planted the seeds of a revolution. It was propaganda for a war that was carried out by Kurt Cobain and Billy Corgan among others. It's time Sonic Youth set the world on fire again because, though I hate to say it, Murray Street is barely even a footnote.

The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips:
Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
Available at Amazon.com!

5 LEDs!

I don't know how they do it, but somehow Wayne Coyne and his band The Flaming Lips continue to produce spellbinding records. 1999's The Soft Bulletin was a genius mix of drum looped pop and experimental harmony all with a loungy flair. This time around Coyne goes deeper into his eletronica side with Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. Track one is a mainstream affair, a pop acoustic number in which Coyne tells us " I don't know where the sunbeams end and the starlight begins, it's all a mystery". By track two the robots of the title (which are a figment of the narrator's imagination) have appeared and start to feel emotions. "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots pt.1" tells of the narrartor's black-belt friend, "she's a black-belt in karate" who's training to defeat the evil robots. "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots pt.2" is a sound-effects instrumental of Yoshimi defeating the robots. What does this all have to do with the rest of the songs you ask? Well not much in the way of traditional storytelling. It's mainly about, like the rest of the album, a semi-concept of a future where even though robots attack the earth, our narrator is still worrying about everyday problems, lamenting lost loves ( "In the Morning of the Magicians"), ego trips ("Ego Tripping At the Gates of Hell"), and paranoia ("Are You A Hypnotist?"). The song "All We Have Is Now" sounds like an apocalyptic ending for the Earth: " as logic stands you couldn't meet a man who's from the future/ but logic broke as he appeared/ he spoke about the future "were not gonna make it". But by the end, the lines turn out to be about the narrator's doomed romance. O.K. , so The Flaming Lips lyrical wackiness doesn't gel quite like it did on The Soft Bulletin but Yoshimi is still an infinitely better album.

The sonic atmosphere that appeared on the previous album now permeates the very being of the latter. Yoshimi's true genius shines in the music and not the lyrics. "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt.1" is a great pop song that would get a rise out of even the most jaded pop fanatic. The guitar chord that opens and closes "In the Morning of the Magicians" is a sci-fi sounding twang a la The Day the Earth Stood Still which is backed by synthesizer notes that relish in their otherworldliness. "Do You Realize" takes the Lips back to their midwest pop roots by pretty much deleting any samples or loops while the track "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt.2" pulls no stops on the electro-freak outs. The only track on the album that doesn't quite work is "Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell" with its pseudo-hip-hop beats which just never gel with a band like The Flaming Lips. But as a whole, minus the ellusive concept album part, Yoshimi is a sonic beauty that pulls the right heart strings in all the right places. It's a pop lover's dream girl.

Wire: Read & Burn.01 (E.P.)
Available at Amazon.com!

5 LEDs!

The album cover to Wire's newest E.P.( the first in a planned series) is almost the perfect visual to the music within, gray, dark and minimalistic. But unlike the cover, the music within is not cold nor is it emotionless. There is more drive and Punk-fueled rage in its short 16-minute running time than an entire Korn album. It almost sounds like it could have been recorded alongside Wire's ' 77 debut album Pink Flag. Lumped in with the punk class of '77 like The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Damned, Wire definitely fit the bill but were in many ways more Punk than their contemporaries. For one, The Sex Pistols weren't scary, they were just annoying, The Clash were too safe and The Damned were too silly. Wire though were heavy and raw sounding. Pink Flag was also the most artistic Punk record to come out of that whole anarchistic year. It was dense, minimalistic, and much more anti-pop than anything Joe Strummer was brewing up. Now in 2002 Wire still sound vital. You see, now, unlike in '77, Punk has become the new pop. Classic Pop was little ditties by the Beatles or harmonics by The Mama's and the Papa's. Modern Pop is now 2-minute tame fuzz chord trash. It's not Pop and it's not Punk its just plain commerical garbage. Green Day are not and never really were punk, Rancid are a Clash cover band and Blink 182 should be crushed under their teeny bopper mosh pits. Wire really are the only Punk band left and now they come back once again to deliver us from The Sex Pistols renunion. Read & Burn is 16 minutes of pure vitriol, pure art, pure Punk. "I Don't Understand" almost sounds like Wire are criticizing current Punk as the lyrics pronounce "You've had your chance/ your time is up/ the lights are out", all over a throbbing bass and guitar crunch of white industrial noise that would make Trent Reznor envious. "Germ Ship" is a techno-punk throb that lasts only about 2 mins. But it is an unrelenting 2 mins that only lets up at the end as you are then greeted by track 5, "1st Fast" a dark, fuzzy thrash number. The last song "The Agfers of Kodak" is the poppiest song on the album but don't misunderstand, it is not pop. It simply is the song with a structure closest to pop. The first track in "The Art of Stopping" is probably the best with its driving rhythm and punchy drumbeats. The chorus yelps in a typical British drone "Its all in the art/ Its all in the art/ Its all in the art/ Of stopping". The music then slows to a grinding halt before exploding back into your speakers.

Wire has taken techno and industrial styles and applied them to punk much like they did with certain styles in '77. Except that today, with current studio's advanced technologies, Wire sound even better. In a day and age where Punk sounds like it is hammering its own final nail, Read & Burn sounds downright like a godsend. Amidst yuppie mall punk, and teenie-bopper punk -posers, Wire is the messiah. Forget what revolution you thought that The Hives or The Vines might start because as of right now Wire is the most important Punk band in the world. So all others, read and burn.

This issue's Digital Divide was composed in its entirety, and is ©2002 by, Terence B. Nuzum. Webpage design and all graphics herein, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.    All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova.