Record & Tape Reviews: November 1991
David Gaffen Company
All the promise of Bleach is fulfilled on the new Nirvana album. The single “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” is only the beginning as the record takes off with lighting speed and rarely slows down to let the listener catch a breath. Can you keep up with Nirvana? They put you to the test on this one.
All the elements that made the first album so great are here again: raunchy guitar licks, steady bass and drum throbs accompanied by vocals that range from soft and melancholy to screaming burst of energy. Nirvana stretches one’s sense of “rock” music to its limits, adding unconventional lyrics and guitar sounds to a conventional genre. This album isn’t contrived by any means. From the first song to the final fade-out, this album takes on a life of it’s own, with the band in tow.
Nevermind also shows a more vulnerable side of Nirvana, with the ballad-esque feel of “Polly” and “Something In The Way,” complete with a cello line in the background that adds a new dimension to Nirvana’s music. Don’t be alarmed though. These aren’t typical rock ballads like Motley Crue and Guns N Roses spew out on nubile young females with an excess of hormones. There’s sincerity and hopelessness wrapped up in these songs, and a reason for them being on the record; not just to fill space, but to express another aspect of Nirvana.
If you missed Nirvana live this past summer in Salt Lake, you may not have a feel for the energy level this band creates live; so much so that a CD or cassette can barely hold it. If Nevermind is your first encounter with Nirvana, then check out the grungier, garage sounds of Bleach to find out where these crack smokin’, fudge packin’, satan worshippin’ motherfuckers come from.
Trompe Le Monde
If they haven’t yet, the Pixies are bound to conquer Le monde with their new album. Trompe Le Monde is their strongest record since the duo of Surfer Rosa/Come On Pilgrim, with a perfect blend of grungy guitars and vocals worked into the slick studio production that detracted from Doolittle and Bassamova. The energy and frenzy of the Pixies live performance is captured on this disc.
Trompe Le Monde finds the Pixies branching out, blending the influences of heavy metal, hardcore and alternative rock with trademark Pixies sounds. The diversity broadens the band’s music appeal, while they make out and out gut-wrenching rock n roll. Black Francis seems even more psychotic as he sings through effects as well as his straight singing.
The strange and weird world of the Pixies is still very much with us as Francis sings lines like “Jeffery with an f, jeffery” or in the mock send-up of rock underground culture, Subbacultcha, “I was looking handsome/she was looking like an erotic vulture/I was all dressed in black/she was all dressed up in black.” Somehow the lyrics fir the feel of the songs, especially when delivered in Francis’ half singing/half screaming vocals, as if he needs to shout to get his point across. Needless to say, when Black Francis wants to make a point, one is inclined to sit up and listen.
One of the highlights of the new records is a ripping version of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On.” It fits within the context of the album and sounds as though the Pixies wrote it themselves. Their version puts the excitement back into the song that seem to by dying within The Chain.
Sadly missing from Trompe Le Monde is Kim Deal’s presence. She’s so far in the background that she’s hardly noticeable. Maybe this is due to the strength of her side project The Breeders.
This record is bound to fool the world into loving the Pixies and embracing them for the musical leaders they are.
Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite! Les Pixies!
Wings of Joy
After releasing three independent singles on their own label, England’s Cranes have landed a deal with America’s EMG, who will soon be releasing the band’s first full-length album, Wings Of Joy. Hearing their first single was enough to make me a loyal devotee to the group, but this album surpasses all my expectations of the band.
Lead singer Alison Shaw has a distinct vocal style that is childlike and frail, but gains strength from it’s apparent naïveté. At times she seems to drone songs rather than sing, and then she turns around and does sing-song, nursery rhyme type vocals. One thing’s certain though: You will never make mistake her voice for anyone else’s. She is the new and unique voice for the nineties and she leads Cranes through a mish-mash of music.
A lot of the songs are quiet and melodious, with Shaw’s vocals over repetitive, but captivating piano riffs. The rest of the album has a wall of feedback and other guitar noises behind her vocals, like some terrible monster awakened from a nightmare and pursuing Show through these songs. It is the soft, fragile nature of Cranes that sets them apart from other guitar noise bands that are emerging on the music market. You feel as if at any moment the music might break down and disappear into nothingness.
So keep an eye out for the official release of this record this month. It is one that will haunt you long after it is over and sitting on the shelf next to your stereo.
Creation/A and M
Just for A Day
Britain’s Creation label has been up and coming for the past couple of years. With the release of these two full lengths albums by Swervedriver and Slowdive, Creation makes it to the forefront of creativity and innovation.
Both albums have a similar feeling of moodiness, but this is expressed in different ways by the bands.
Swervedriver has heavy guitar and steady beats that carry their melancholy. Songs start out with hard driving riffs and then add even harder sounds on top. Vocals are another instrument, slow and steady through the noise. “You close my eyes without blinking/ You read my thoughts without thinking/ You sit and smile when I’m Sinking/ Could be the cause of my drinking.” And so it goes with Swervedriver. Included on the album are the signs “Sandblasted” and “Son of Mustang Ford,” as well as the new hit “Rave Down.”
Slowdive takes the slow and steady path through despair and longing. The album starts of with “Spanish Air,” written in six/eight. Guitars have an electronic edge, adding orchestration and depth to the music. Vocals are hushed, whispered over the guitar blasts. This is carried through pretty much the whole record. The listener is drowning in a sea of Slowdive; tossed and turned by every whim of the band.
Just for A Day flows like no other LP of late, quietly carrying you from beginning to end on sometimes turbulent, sometimes peaceful waves of sound and light.
For more from the SLUG Archives:
Always FREE, thanks to READERS LIKE YOU!
Donate $10 OR MORE to get a SLUG sticker pack!