By Bob Ruggiero
By Hilary Hughes
By Peter Gerstenzang
By David R. Adler
By Devon Maloney
By Brian McManus
By Jessica Hopper
By Harley Oliver Brown
"My wish for 2001: The Voice goes easy on teenpop and bad metal coverage," Sasha Frere-Jones pleaded in his Pazz & Jop ballot. And ignore where the action is? Not a chance. Anyway, the previous Singles Again column concentrated on teenpop. So guess what?
Mailed out as a promotional Christmas card (its green-and-red label sporting Santa and reindeers) a few months back, it outcaroled holiday product by Grandaddy and Weezer and especially Flaming Lips; only thing is, "Turn, Turn, Turn" isn't a Christmas song even if its lyrics date back to Ecclesiastes and bedecked post-Vatican II folk masses. Here, the millennia-old words are excised so only music remains: guitar explorations chiming like church bells for nigh on 20 minutes, cross-stitched like gaggles of Pavements and Silver Jews jamming "We Are the World"- style. Probably the best Byrds cover since Hüsker Dü's "Eight Miles High" in 1984, though probably closer to the Hüskers' 14-minute "Dreams Reoccurring" from that same year, or maybe the Byrds' own live 16-minute "Eight Miles High" on Untitled, back when they were inventing space-rock.
Best 10-inch vinyl metal record in the universe since Bloodstar's 1991 "Exterminator 666 Does Not Answer"/"Hyperspace." And from insane sleeve calligraphy to micro-miniature guitar squiggles, this one like that one launches early Voivod into early Hawkwind. Outer-space tornado-thrash lets its force be with you: As the sound drifts slower and slower toward small-n nirvana, it's hard to imagine mere human beings behind it. But they are, and "Pot Hibernation" suggests their inspiration. "I think my brain is bleeding/ Oozing pus . . . Deep sleep of the gods/Drifting into nether worlds beyond." Yowza, dude! Put the ebb and flow and vomit on repeat all day, and you'll have no worries.
Sculpted wank and pedal abuse as more ambient background heaviness, on the only orange translucent vinyl 10-inch I've ever fondled. Amsterdamsters who shared their previous Man's Ruin EP with Queens of the Stone Age, Beaver drown out inaudibly high-up-there mouths with a very unhurried guitar trio unpronounceably named "Tos Nieuwinhuizen" and "Joszjoa da Weerdt" and "Roel Schoemakkers." The titles might all be about standing still: "Static" (note onomatopoetic pun), "Tarmac" (music for realairports), "Repossessed" (car culture meets Satan culture), "Interstate" (ticking its odometer like "Autobahn" gone metal). Stoner rockers sure do dig the road. Especially Dutch ones: Remember "Radar Love"?
If you spin the only graytranslucent vinyl 10-inch I've touched at 45 rpm instead of 33, you'll hear as much "Super Fly" in "Supersoul" 's groove as "Supernaut" (that's Sabbath, G). More committed to verses/choruses/ verses than Beaver, these Swedes pummel tunefully, though you're forgiven for not caring about angstrom distinctions within such a throwback subsubgenre. "Light Years Ahead" is chunkier than "up to the fucking sun we're gonna fly then fly to the moon" suggests; a spiraling byrd-of-prey called "Inside the Falcon" is the big blastoff.
Oddest and best hit on metal stations in the past year, and a cover of a song that might well have won the 1978 Pazz & Jop poll if there had been singles balloting before 1979. Did these French death-metal semiparodists (whose album also thrashes Michael Sembello and '80s Genesis and turns Pantera into synth-pop) hear about Gerry Rafferty from the part in Reservoir Dogswhere that cop gets his ear chopped off? They don't take the easy way out, reducing an old hit to slamdance shit; instead, somehow, they make it even more minor-key and mythic, tapping the Gothic loneliness of Scandinavian metallers like Tiamat and Therion. One guy sings loungey and laid-back; his partner plays some bighearted behemoth chained in the catacombs. Together they turn "Baker Street" into the suicidal lament of a Norse nomad weighed down by burdens on his mind and possessions over his shoulder, taking a Dark Ages odyssey across the frozen Black Forest. The city made him feel so cold; another year and then he'll be happy, but he's crying now. So he buys some land, gives up booze and one-night stands, settles down in a quiet little town, forgets about everything. When he wakes up, the sun is shining. And afternoon-rock's all-time-greatest sax solonow a distorted guitar, yet as optimistic as evercarries him home.
From the only gnu-metal children of the Korn who realize how ridiculous they are, a few remixes emphasizing said silliness. A very white guy plays fast and loose with the race card (big hook goes "throughout the projects") in his Russell Mael falsetto; says bitches love him 'cause he can rock, he can rhyme, he can fuck, and he's on time. (Punctuality counts!) Remixer Michael Patterson ups the opera quotient and stirs in what sounds like Malcolm McLaren's "Buffalo Gals"; re-remixer µ-ziq builds a perpetual-motion pinball machine from shards of broken glass. The B side, "Molly," hiccups about a "good girl" who turns out to be a "liar," as its mad percolation achieves the world's first fusion of drum'n'bass, heavy rock, and circus music.