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  Listen Up! 8/22/02 Listen Up!

Thursday, Aug. 22

Cornershop, “Handcream For a Generation,” Wiija Records. As someone who really dug “Brimful of Asha” and a couple of other songs off the break-through album a couple years ago, I feel really let down when I discover that this band is really pretty fraudulent, talent-wise. There’s a “Brimful” redux on this album called “Staging the Plauging of the Raised Platform,” and a couple of other songs that basically take the same formula. Alright, so lots of people recycle what are basically chants as opposed to melodies, but this recycling reveals the paucity of the original concept more than it indicates a fresh play on a melodic trope. And, the constant exoticisms wear thin once you realize that whoever is in charge of playing the bass in this band (or is it a one-man game? I can’t remember) has no sense of rhythmic placement whatsoever. Whether it’s reggae or disco or some other world dance formula, the whole thing breaks down completely because the butt can’t wiggle when the goddam bass is in the wrong place.

Various Artists, “Dressed in Black: A Tribute to Johnny Cash,” Dualtone Records. It’s interesting how much consistency is achieved across the board in this tribute to one of the great personal song interpreters of all time. Raul Malo leaps out of the pack, though he’s a little understated on his version of “I Guess Things Happen That Way.” And Redd Volkaert rumbles his way through the vocals of “Luther Played the Boogie” and sounds somewhat different. But the rest of these singers, for the most part, approach these classic songs with a minimum of idiosyncracy, and a maximum of synchronicity. I mean, they all seem to be on the same page, singing the songs like they love ‘em, but like they haven’t spent a lot of time turning them into their own renditions. Hiring the same basic musicians to play on most of the tracks contributes to this. There’s nothing bad about this compilation. I quite like it. But, I doubt I’m gonna remember it in the morning.

--Steve Pick



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