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  Listen Up! 12/9/02 Listen Up!

Monday, Dec. 9

The Roots, “Phrenology,” MCA Records. In the past, the Roots big claim to fame seemed to be that they sounded like other hip-hop groups only with a live band playing all the rhythm tracks. Now, they’ve leapt way beyond this. The live band has always been good; here they explore grooves of such depth and dexterity, such creative originality, that they’ve either abandoned hip-hop or completely recreated it. I think it’s the latter, since they pull bits of other genres – soul, blues, rock, punk – into the basic format. The rapping seems more vital than it has before, too. All in all, we’ve got an album that just keeps demanding to be heard, because every time it sounds fresher than the time before.

Mudhoney, “Since We’ve Become Translucent,” Sub Pop Records. These guys are still around? Still cranking out the screaming rock music with no sense of groove, no sense of sex, no sense of anything but sloppiness? I don’t understand how music this rhythmically challenged is supposed to be taken seriously.

Mariah Carey, “Charmbracelet,” Island Records. All I heard was Mariah’s mangling of the Def Leppard classic, “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak.” She suddenly has a wispy voice on the chorus, which makes it sound like she can’t reach the notes. Who knew Joe Elliott was a more powerful vocalist than Mariah Carey? Oh, this is wretched. There she is belting out some high notes at the end. The gospel harmonies ruin the background.

--Steve Pick



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