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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    CD Reviews

    Everyone who’s turned on a television set within the last two years has heard electronic duo Goldfrapp. Its glam-inspired disco rock has become a sonic staple, of sorts, equally at home in Target and Verizon advertisements as on dance floors. Well, if there’s one thing to be said for Seventh Tree, it’s this: These songs ain’t goin’ on no car commercials.

    Hurray! Take solace in that knowledge, because that’s where the excitement ends. Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory’s new release is a pensive stroll through the meadows of the English countryside, complete with chirping birds and wallowing acoustic guitars. If 2003’s Black Cherry was a glorious immersion into a world of obsessions, ecstasies and enlightened observations, Seventh Tree is the unfortunate comedown.

    Seventh Tree
    Goldfrapp – Mute U.S.
    2 stars

    Sure it’s an intentional departure from the duo’s earlier work, and probably a needed escape from the commercial attention afforded by 2005’s Supernature, but that hardly justifies its impotence. A departure ought to be inspired; Seventh Tree is all underwhelming hooks and overpowering stagnation.

    The opening track, “”Clowns,”” sets a pleasant enough mood, eliciting Nick Drake comparisons with its serene guitar plucking and quiet folk melodies. As with the comparable “”Eat Yourself”” and “”Road to Somewhere,”” it excels at structural simplicity and introspection – and utterly fails to engage.

    “”A&E”” is a classic sell-out disaster. It takes alarmingly little effort to imagine the shimmering synthetic layers replaced by a nameless studio band and Michelle Branch on vocals. Fans clamoring for originality will be sorely disappointed by this egregious display of radio fluff.

    There is, for what it’s worth, one standout track amid the mediocrity. “”Cologne Cerrone Houdini”” opens with a ballsy, funk-like bass line. Orchestral violin slurs punctuate the

    downbeats, in between fragmented declarations like “”I’m not your kind/ I’m not your girl.”” And finally, it returns: the dreamy, echoing, quasi-operatic Goldfrapp voice that sings to you in your sleep. If only it would last.

    From there, the album degenerates into the ’80s-styled dance jam “”Caravan Girl,”” which sounds like a track that didn’t quite make it onto Supernature. Musically similar to “”Fly Me Away,”” it is an apparent attempt to break away from first-person narrative by uttering a few phrases about a half-developed fugitive character. It might nearly qualify as a “”nice little ditty,”” if not for the minute and a half of “”run away”” repeated over the same two chords.

    After this aural assault, “”Monster Love”” makes a valiant effort to leave the listener with a burst of inspiration: “”Everything comes around, bringing us back again,”” a chorus of Alison Goldfrapps preach in digitized harmony. “”Here is where we start and where we end.””

    Seventh Tree wants to be monumental, but remains stuck in a stage of debilitating self-awareness. Goldfrapp had best move past its awkward post-adolescent phase and recover its edge before it fizzles completely.

    – Laura Hawkins


    Janet Jackson is back with a vengeance, Discipline and a lot of sass. Jackson has just released her 10th studio album laced with electronic interludes, techno beats and raunchy, yet cheesy, lyrics.

    Not since Control has the dance fever in Ms. Jackson’s bones been so inherently contagious. All you have to do is play about ten seconds of any given song on this album and suddenly you will have a burst of energy from head to toe.

    My guess is this album will probably be the workout material of many high school dance teams, but only if their mommies allow it. Some of the risqué lyrics are reminiscent of a high schooler’s sexual fantasies; mind you, Jackson is in her forties.

    Some casualties include “”The Meaning,”” “”2 Night”” and “”Discipline.”” The title track not only boasts a flat melody and vocal chorus, it entails some of the most disturbing lyrics.

    Discipline
    Janet Jackson – Island Records
    2 1/2 stars

    “”Daddy make me cry … I misbehaved/ And my punishment should fit my crime/ Tie me to something/ Take off all my clothes/ Daddy, I want you to take your time,”” Jackson murmurs.

    While there is a serious lack of lyrical growth on the album, that’s not to say that there aren’t some likeable tunes.

    Potential radio hits like “”LUV”” and “”The 1, feat. Missy Elliot,”” are downloadable. “”Rock With U”” showcases Jackson’s sweet voice over a retro beat.

    With songs produced by Ne-Yo, Jermaine Dupri and Rodney Jerkins, you would think there would have been more stand-out songs on a 22-track album.

    “”Greatest X”” showcases a more emotional side of Janet’s voice. The song’s soulful tone plays on the emotion of a break up and is introduced with the intense beats of the heart.

    Ironically enough “”Can’t B Good”” might just be the one song on the album that actually is.

    Discipline is definitely overproduced, and I wouldn’t say it has any raw appeal but it nevertheless satisfies the need for some delicious dance beats, R&B crescendos and naughty pop lyrics.

    – Carissa Grubbs


    Hello dance party, meet Los Campesinos!. The septet from Cardiff, Wales, has finally released its first full-length album, Hold On Now, Youngster…, after stirring up much acclaim for its six-track EP Sticking Fingers Into Sockets.

    The release kicks off with “”Death to Los Campesinos!,”” in which the accented vocals of Gareth Campesino! pair nicely with Aleksandra Campesino!’s. Generally, what makes the band shine is a lack of technical prowess – there are no exquisitely beautiful vocals, technically magical musicians or lyrics that require days of rumination. The sparring male-female voices, simple guitar chords, basic drum lines and nonsensical lyrical musings provide, however, for an animated, fun time. This band isn’t producing music for the artist holed up in his studio or the café-goer brooding with newspaper in hand. These tracks are purely for a vivacious set that isn’t afraid to have a good time.

    Hold On Now, Youngster…
    Los Campesinos! – Wichita
    3 stars

    This becomes even more apparent in the jolting “”Broken Heartbeats Sound like Breaking Backbeats.”” The track drives viciously forward and has the most polished lyrics on the album, a sad fact because it is hidden underneath shouted vocals, masking the vulnerability of lines like “”Kiss him in the face with no lips and no tongue/ But with your little, middle, index and ring fingers”” – possibly on purpose.

    The fourth track, “”Drop It Doe Eyes,”” marks a lull in the album’s likability. The chorus is a recognizable attempt to support the piece with enjoyable, but limited-range female voices gliding over “”Deer die with their eyes wide open,”” but the song is brought down with the lack of fluidity from the irrelevant lyrics. Somehow the listener is supposed to understand that a line like “”You expected my war diaries, but time ran out and I, I let you down/ Small thanks now written in French is no shorthand for this thing gave me writer’s cramp”” is a metaphor for love lost, and not the start of a dull, poorly crafted song.

    If one song could sum up the effective livelihood of Hold On Now, Youngster… it would be the anthemic “”You! Me! Dancing!.”” Complete with xylophone accompaniment, tempo breaks (to grab that pretty little thing and hold ’em close) and even a stab at hipsters, the single might not have the solid production of the initial track, but will have a longer shelf-life due to its topic.

    While Hold On Now, Youngster… isn’t necessarily a work of modern-indie art, the Welsh band has provided an opportunity to dethrone Vampire Weekend from ruling your playlist.

    – Jamie Ross

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