CD reviews

Various Artists – SoundtracksAmerican Pie 2/Rock Star

Normally, I loather combining CD reviews, as it combines laziness and indifference, along with a level of disrespect towards the CD providers, what with giving them the decency to wax poetic about their product on an individual basis. But since disrespect and arrogance are my two dominant traits, fuck ‘em.

AP2 and Rock Star are basically the same disc, separated by a generation, but both featuring the battle cries of rebellion, or at least artists with tunes that didn’t make their last disc. AP2 is a record heaped with the newest of the new, some really good tunes that are getting decent airplay (Uncle Kracker, Green Day, American Hi-Fi, Alien Ant Farm and 3 Doors Down), though for my money, the two of note are Oleander and Sum 41. Both groups are on the cusp of breaking large with Sum 41’s “Fat Lip,” which is the tune off the soundtrack getting the crap played out of it on every station, which is good ‘cuz they kick serious ass. My guess is that most of the songs on this disc are featured sparingly throughout the film, as background noise for the car ride, or, heaven forbid, during the credits, so the only chance to catch them in their entirety is on this disc.

Rock Star is a film based on the true story of a cover band singer who get tapped to replace former Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford for a world tour. Unfortunately, no Priest tunes make the disc, as a fictitious band was used with the name Steel Dragon. Steel features Zack Wylde from Ozzy fame, Jason Bonham from Zeppelin lineage and some session dudes of some renown, but all are more than capable of creating a good hairband heavy metal sound. Classics from Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, INXS, KISS, and Ted Nugent round out this guitar feeding frenzy, filled with cliches, gimmicks, big time cheese and a van load of flashbacks to mindnumbing volume and chicks that you had no shot at, and quite frankly still don’t.

I’d recommend both CDs for purchase, even if one of them is for your parents.(Universal/Priority Records)

— bdp

Nickelback

Silver Side Up

There is a certain safety level in reviewing a disc that has already received a lion’s share of accolades, and debuted at spots one and two on the Canadian and U.S. charts respectively, but having said that, I am not above tossing my hat into an ever enlarging ring.

Silver Side Up had the ominous misfortune of hitting stores on Sept. 11th, a day when media outlets were focused on providing far more vital information, but when the numbers came back, Vancouver’s Nickelback found themselves in some uncharted waters. Debuting atop North America’s charts is usually the territory of divas, rappers and boy band flavours du jour, not the guitar-driven angst of four colleagues borne out of whatever drove them to the place they’re at now. Despite not fitting the surroundings of today’s modern landscape, Nickelback does one thing really well, and that’s play music. Silver Side Up is the band’s third disc, and an outstanding one it is. “Rocks hard, sounds great, doesn’t piss me off to make me loathe hearing the next tune for fear I may snap under the weight of another misguided rant” should be the credo of every working band today, for that seems to be what fuels these guys.

The first single, “How You Remind Me” is getting more air time than the national anthem (at least in some places), but is by no means the entire record. From start to finish (titles “Never Again” and “Good Times Gone” in case your wondering), this record delivers all the goods. Vocalist Chad Kroeger has good rock and roll pipes, brother Mike on bass, and the Ryans, Peake on guitars and Vikedal on drums, fatten up the rest of the sound like a Thanksgiving feast.

The band has also made a name for themselves by touring exhaustively for the last couple of years, just to get their name out there, a strategy that has worked famously in the band’s favour, even if the news might have gotten lost in the shuffle. For more info, check out www.nickelback.com, and they also have bonus material at the site.

May the Maker bless us all. (Roadrunner)

— bdp

Simple Minds

Neon Lights

They are little bit of the known mixed with the unknown. They are everything that a cover band should be.

Bowie, Van Morrison, Neil Young, The Doors, Echo and the Bunnymen. These guys play it all. I believe that the Simple Minds are able to best describe themselves. “We believe in the obvious – that to make music you have to be a fan of music. Thankfully we remain foremost fans at heart. The origins of Simple Minds lay in the familiar event of a few school friends getting together to explore and often worship whatever mysterious music came our way.”

Personally I prefer the original artists to the renditions concocted by the Simple Minds. The Simple Minds are a little bit too 80s electronica for this reviewers tastes. Although if you were a fan of ripped-up jeans, fluorescent leg-warmers, and big hair, then I’m sure that the Simple Minds are for you. (EMI)

— E.R. Jordan

The Verve Pipe

Underneath

Grand Rapids, Michigan’s, The Verve Pipe are undoubtedly a bunch of guys you’d want to take home and show your parents. Lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Brian Van Der Ark in particular, whom wears his heart on his sleeve throughout their latest album titled Underneath, which is produced by Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne, Ivy). Since 1996’s Villains, which boasted the number one single “The Freshmen,” The Verve Pipe have raised the bar lyrically and melodically on Underneath, with standout tracks like, “Miles Away”, “Happiness is”, “Colorful” and “I Want All of You”, which finds Van Der Ark confessing an ode of innocent and unabashed love for a woman – pure and simple. Underneath is rich with words of severed love affairs and personal longing, while alternating between darkly atmospherical and radiantly sunny.

Throughout, Underneath is no doubt very heartfelt and vulnerable (sometimes too heartfelt – if you know what I mean), and can be shelved between Vertical Horizon and The Goo Goo Dolls in your collection of what most Freshmen refer to as “bed wetter’s music.” Brian Van Der Ark makes his first big screen debut in the film Rock Star, starring Mark Wahlberg, which diegetically features the song, “Colorful.” (RCA)

— Kurt Bradley

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