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Tag Archives: pop-rock

White Monkey (2001): Papa Don’t Preach

Danielle Spencer, White Monkey (EMI Australia, 2001)

[originally posted 19Feb2002]

A picture of Danielle Spencer looking pensive adorns the cover.

Black and white artist photo on cover: moody, acoustic singer-songwriter music. Guilty!
photo credit: crushable.com

Danielle Spencer is Russell Crowe’s on-again off-again girlfriend. [ed. note 2014: they’re married now.]

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, one wonders if her longstanding relationship with Crowe (which goes back some twelve years, to the two of them filming a painfully bad indie film called The Crossing in 1990) has eclipsed, rather than enhanced, Spencer’s long and obscure musical career. Over the past three years, she’s jettisoned the bands she’s been working with and set out to write her own
material. White Monkey is the first full-length showcase of the results. And while it’s an inconsistent piece of work, the first word that comes to mind is still “brilliant.”

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Abe Messiah (2001): The Dream Must Stay Alive

The Tribe, Abe Messiah (Sanctuary, 2001)

[originally posted 19Feb2002]

Pitch-perfect Kiwi pop from the best YA TV show you've never seen. photo credit: thetribe.wikia.com

Pitch-perfect Kiwi pop from the best YA TV show you’ve never seen.
photo credit: thetribe.wikia.com

These days, it’s the rare country on the planet that hasn’t been made aware of the New Zealand young adult-themed show The Tribe. America is, unfortunately, one of those rare countries, thanks in no small part to the operating budget of the channel (WAM, a part of the Encore/Starz network) that has exclusive American rights to the show. The Tribe has been making waves all over Europe and Asia; the upcoming season 1 DVD releases are in the top 2,000 ranked Amazon purchases at amazon.co.uk on preorders alone. Why? Because aside from the obvious draw of soap opera, the show’s producers, Cloud 9 Entertainment, did their best to come up with a top-notch cast of actors. Most every main character in the show, and not a small number of minor folks, have a respectable number of film and theater credits backing them up given their ages. Some of them also have relatively extensive musical backgrounds. So the producers hatched on an idea—why not have the cast sing the John Williams-written theme song? Meryl Cassie (Ebony, on the show) took lead vocals on the opening theme, and the closer is an ensemble piece. Both hit the charts almost overnight. Next logical step: an album.

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Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada (1999): The Pinnacle

Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada (Kranky, 1999)

[originally posted 24Jan2002]

A basic black cover with Hebrew lettering in copper.

Rumor has it that the translation of the cover is “no translation available.”
photo credit: mysterytricycle.com

Godspeed You Black Emperor! have been around for a few years now, turning out classical-pop crossover material in relative obscurity and building themselves a small but rabid fan base. The band’s aversion to publicity of any sort (motivated not by affectation so much as a deeply left-wing anarchic bent in the Montreal collective that spawned this nine-piece, who go so far as to not even reveal their last names in most cases) has kept them from the audience they fully deserve for their style of music, especially in these days when Cecilia Bartoli is a superstar even in America and Sarah Brightman and Michael Ball are cutting platinum records left and right. There is a great untapped market for pop-informed classical music, and that is exactly what GSYBE! And their legion of spinoffs do. And they haven’t done it anywhere any better to date than on the EP Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada.

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Donc… (1997[?]): Peak the Source

Igor Wakhevitch, Donc… (Fractal, 1997?)

[originally posted 7Jan2002]

A spiral of dust, like a galaxy, adorns the cover.

The endless spiral of decay and regeneration.
photo credit: progarchives.com

Dear Igor,
Bet you were happy to see Fractal, a French label who seem to specialize in reissues of out-of-print titles, gather up your complete works and reissue them as a 6CD box set. Price is a little stiff (Forced Exposure sells it for $90 on this side of the pond [ed. note 2014: not anymore, of course]) for six discs, but it’s hard to argue with anyone who says this is seminal stuff, so the price may be justified for the archivists and collectors who are the thing’s main audience.

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The Spirit Room (2001): A Drop in the Ocean

Michelle Branch, The Spirit Room (Maverick, 2001)

[originally posted 6Dec2001]

Branch stands, alone, looking over her shoulder at the camera on the album cover.

What I wouldn’t give to be that horizon.
photo credit: Wikipedia

Michelle Branch’s debut album, Broken Bracelet, was as stunning a piece of pop artistry as one could find almost anywhere. It attracted Madonna’s ear, and Branch was signed to Maverick. Now comes her first major-label release, and it’s (predictably) a trade-off. That said, it’s still the first great major-label pop album since Midge Ure’s Breathe in 1996.

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One-Track Mind, vol. 4

A week late and a dollar short, but finally here…

STANDING DISCLAIMER: It would be ridiculous to try and do Full Disclosure on these. Just assume I know everyone here at least via the Internet, and most of them in person. You’ll be right far more often than wrong.

* * *

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One Track Mind, vol. 3: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

STANDING DISCLAIMER: It would be ridiculous to try and do Full Disclosure on these. Just assume I know everyone here at least via the Internet, and most of them in person. You’ll be right far more often than wrong.

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