Tricky (With DJ Muggs And Grease)
On this latest outing, Tricky receives a much needed kick in the pants from guest producers DJ Muggs (of Cypress Hill) and Grease, resulting in his most invigorating release in some time. Muggs and Grease fill out Tricky’s desolate trip-hop soundscapes with dark, slinky electro-grooves and splashes of haunting guitar and keyboards. As always, Tricky also has on hand a slew of vocalists to complement his trademark slow-burning, whispered raps. With his favorite diva, Martina, busy recording a solo project, it is the speed rapping assault of Mad Dog and the soulful female crooning of D’NA that are featured this time around. The pair, along with other numerous contributors, slides perfectly into the moody, gritty ambience, which has always been the true star of Tricky’s recordings. Occasionally, some of Tricky’s lyrics manage to eclipse the musical stylings, and this time around the winner is “For Real,” a track on which he subtly critiques the intentions and financial politics behind gangsta rap. A stunning achievement, Juxtapose reaffirms Tricky’s lofty position as trip hop’s crown prince.
Whine De Lune
Chapel Hill’s Trailer Bride, on its second album, continues trolling the South’s seedy gothic backwaters with the expertise of bayou natives. Led by Melissa Swingle and her monotone drone, Trailer’s gritty music is rooted in a mix of echoing slide guitar and bucolic instrumentation, including banjo and jaw harp. Lyrically, Swingle manages to sing about broken-down whores (“Clermont Hotel”) and drugged-up mental patients (“Dirt Nap”) without sounding either affected or artificial. A cross between the Velvet Underground fronted by a woozy-voiced Lucinda Williams and the Cowboy Junkies on smack, Trailer Bride’s rustic songs creak and groan with the kind of authenticity that Nashville usually attempts to spray-paint over with glitter and sequins.
—Dave Gil de Rubio
The Flaming Lips
The Soft Bulletin
This disc stands as one of the most bizarre yet cohesive concept albums since Pink Floyd’s The Wall. The Flaming Lips follow in Floyd’s footsteps, offering listeners an immaculately performed soundscape that echoes through the mind like a watercolor symphony. Far gentler than the group’s earlier efforts, this album replaces the band’s signature guitar buzz with beautifully arranged keyboards, strings, horns and miscellaneous sound effects. While songs such as “Race for the Prize” and “Buggin'” are up-tempo jangle-fests, tracks like the haunting, Floydian masterpiece “The Gash” and the poignant, philosophical dissertation “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate” prove that even the most eccentric and psychedelic indie-rockers can grow old with grace and style. A tour de force from a band that has never let the fact that the ’60s are over deter it from making some of the most original and heartfelt music this side of the stratosphere.
I won’t accuse Fuel of being derivative, because these days that’s like accusing the sun of being hot. Instead, I’ll focus on the fact that, beyond the bleak, angry worldview and pedestrian aggro-guitar sound, the band does possess a modicum of talent. Refusing to employ the hip-hop trappings so ubiquitous in contemporary hard rock, the group uses frequent flourishes of genuine melodicism to get its point across. And despite their obvious gift for unoriginality, I almost became a fan of the four when I heard vocalist Brett Scallions nonsensically sing, “Let me take my sausage pill,” on “New Thing.” Then I checked the lyric sheet and was disappointed to discover that it was just a misinterpretation on my part. I guess it’s just as well, because humor doesn’t move units like hopelessness does.
High Council Records
Perfecting a style that intertwines hip hop with a reggae flavor, High Council redefines the urban music landscape with its new nine-song CD. The four underground rappers from Suffolk County couple creative lyrics with tight production techniques, resulting in music that never compromises its hardcore edge in its search of mainstream acceptance. Even on “Get It Done,” the album’s most radio-friendly track, the group manages to construct a party jam without losing its rugged feel. Most impressive of all is the ability of each emcee—Bolaji, Mindbender, Shock and Venomz—to cultivate a unique sound, making the vocals stand out from the intoxicating piano loops and eerie samples. Although the band has lost a few members over the past year, this record shows that it has gained much more in musicianship. Contact www.highcouncil.com.