We Re-Built This City
This EP starts off with the bang that is “Mamma Anti-Fascisto,” a catchy sing-a-long which you may have seen on MuchMusic’s The Punk Show. This song about fascist fighters in Europe sets the tone for the album: a high energy, socio-political seven-track disc, reminiscent of early ’90s releases from Rancid or Bad Religion.
As the album continues, the songs cover the fallacies of history class and historical documents, reclaiming public space and love, most notably in a song entitled “Punk Rock Ruined Our Lives.”
Then it slows down, with “The Empire Strikes Iraq: A Sad Day For Sovereignty,” a softer, acoustic song with heartfelt lyrics like “if this is freedom then what’s with all the piles of dead.” It picks up again after this short interlude, but ends rather quickly, with only two songs remaining.
The final track delivers a few references to their influences, including “this truly ain’t no mecca man, this place is truly fucked.” This closing, however, lacks closure, since you’re left feeling like the album ended prematurely. Closet Monster leaves you wanting more.
David W. Jacobson
David W. Jacobson’s album offers a taste of many genres, ranging from horsewhip country to the ’80s synthesizer spell. With 23 tracks, plus a secret song, Cubical Wonderland overstays its welcome.
The first eight tracks are excerpts from Jacobson’s “Cubicle the Musical,” where the experience of working at a crappy job is put to song. Though many can relate to the humourous rhymes, Jacobson’s vocals are neither particularly funny or very pleasant.
The remaining tracks may be called experimental or suffering from an overuse of a keyboard’s special effects function. “Moving Faster” is a good example of how a track begins with potential appeal, but loses all hope with the entrance of a weak chorus. “All Stops to Dover” is the most likeable track, but it happens to be instrumental.
This album may be better suited to a live audience, where Jacobson can add comic gestures and silly dance sequences to go along with his humorous lyrics. As a pure listening experience, however, there isn’t much that is wonderful about Cubical Wonderland.
Sing For The Enemy
Play this CD and 13 minutes later you’ll have experienced six high energy tracks with fast guitars, faster percussion and distinctively scratchy vocals. If it were possible to blink your ears, and you did it, you might miss an entire song.
Hostage Life’s lyrics are globally-minded, concentrating on the state of the world today and what might become of it tomorrow. The songs are full of satire: “Money Parade” describes the great joys of capitalism — including the lines “this year’s a good year for taking more than you need” and “this land is my land/ your life in my hands/ not trying to understand/ not helping any man.”
There’s no lack of creativity either. Every song has at least two titles, such as “Nickel Sneakers or Children Stitched My Wardrobe or The Emperor’s New Fall Line.” The one song that is not about global issues is about — surprise surprise — a girl. “Ginny Applejack And The Potato Sack Prom Dress” relates to what happens when you try to pick up girls by telling them you’re in a band.
Unlike so many Shakespearean actors, he couldn’t woo her with song lyrics, like “take off what you’re wearing/ nothing could ever look that good.”
Set Yourself on Fire
Arts & Crafts
Some albums simply serve as background music as the listener attempts to simultaneously write an essay, read a book or chat with a friend over MSN.
However, every once in awhile you will come across a superb album that will stand out — it will distract you despite your need to focus on other tasks. Set Yourself on Fire, the third release from Stars, is this type of album.
The primarily pop record includes pretty, romantic tracks mixed with sporadic political backlash. Intolerance is clear on the track “He Lied About Death,” in which such lyrics as “I hope your drunken daughters are gay!” speak directly to the American president.
Part of Stars’ charm comes from its inclusion of boy-girl duets; this practice works particularly well in “The Big Fight.” Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell deliver soft vocals that effectively communicate lyrics like “he doesn’t want her but he just won’t let her go/ she started breaking but she still won’t let it show.”
Those who enjoyed Stars’ sophomore album, Heart, will surely find Set Yourself on Fire equally stunning.
Vampire Beach Babes
Beach Blanket Bedlam
Beach Blanket Bedlam sounds like the result of The Archies getting together with The Beach Boys to re-record the soundtrack to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In other words, it’s just plain weird.
The first couple of tracks sound like they’re from a ’60s commercial — a combination of cheesy lyrics about the beach along with some creepy organ music, which make it possible for the listener to actually picture vampires playing on the beach. The purpose of this vision, however, is unexplained, because although the Vampire Beach Babes have a stereotypical gothic look, the band’s songs are peppier than the music of Hilary Duff.
The tunes might make you want to bust a disco move, or stab your ear drums — whichever comes first. In a song called “Bad Boys Bad Girls,” it almost sounds as if the band employed cats to meow along with its music.
The lyrics are also lacking. In some songs, the artists seem to be so strapped for words that they make two-syllable words sound as if they have six syllables. A good example of this is in the track entitled “Stars in Your Eyes”: “One thing I kno-o-oh-oh, oh oh, oh-uh-oh, that makes me so-o-oh-oh, oh oh, oh-uh-oh, crazy about you! It’s the stars in your uh-uh-eyes, make me totally hypnoti-ai-ized.”
The Beach Babes do briefly redeem themselves in the middle of the CD with a track called “Sunshine on Me,” which is a nice-sounding love song. However, this love song sounds good because it’s a break from the awful beach sounds which constitute the rest of the CD and the track is no different from any other popular love ballad. Sadly, after this much needed break, it’s right back to the beach music.
If you’re into the sound of coconuts banging together and vampires, then feel free to pick up a copy of this CD; otherwise, make like Bono and walk on!
—Dominika L. Grzelak
From the industrialized automobile city of Sunderland, England come four singers between the ages of 18 and 21 who have banded together to form The Futureheads. While “futurehead” cannot be found in a dictionary, simple common sense gives a subjective description of a group operating under the guise of a new kind of music. Once you actually hear the music, however, you’ll realize that this promise of singularity is overblown.
The Futureheads have delivered a new age pop-punkish album incorporating a distinct style with a hint of similarity to another one of England’s hit bands, The Darkness. All four band members contribute vocals, but quantity is often not quality. With tracks like “Stupid and Shallow,” the Futureheads instill “thoughtful” wisdom with a chorus consisting of the lyrics: “you eat shit because you are stupid and shallow/ but I like it when you’re stupid and shallow.”
This said, the tunes are actually fairly catchy. On “Robot,” another example of their genius, the guys give clear-cut examples as to why being a robot is cool: “the best thing is our lifespan!”