Sound Impressions

By Mutato Staff
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 13, 1996


Arizona Daily Wildcat

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Music Reviews by Nancy Motherway and Andrew Berenson

Tori Amos

Tori Amos told MTV's 120 Minutes that "she just did what the spirits told her" in reference to her latest album, and Boys for Pele seems truly alien and darker than any of her previous work.

Whether at the piano, harpsichord, or harmonium organ, Amos weaves a intricate web of melodies on the 70 minute album. She shrieks, growls, wails and sighs, adding a complex sort of emotional expression to her music, almost like she is singing to it. Written during the breakup of a lengthy relationship, the album not only digs into the subject of being female, but loss, identity, religion, men and relationships.

In her latest single, "Caught a Lite Sneeze," Amos hops back an forth between the harpsichord and piano, comparing her severed relationship to a tumbling wall, "Building, tumbling down, didn't know our love was so small." In "Hey Jupiter" she explains the carelessness of a lover: "If my heart's soaking wet, Boy your boots can leave a mess."

While many of the 18 songs are about breaking up, Amos also touches on her own identity and self worth. In Talula, she nearly calls a man a fool for ending relations with a woman, perhaps herself. "You don't want to lose her / she must be worth losing / if it is worth something."

She even touches on religion in "Muhammad My Friend," suggesting that Jesus Christ was a woman. "It's time to tell the world, we both know it was a girl back in Bethlehem."

Although the melodic twists and turns are intriguing, the lyrics in Boys for Pele are often so obscure that we can't come away with a valid impression of what Amos is expressing. Laughable lines like "And if I lose my Cracker Jacks at the tidal wave I got a place in the Pope's rubber robe," from "Muhammad My Friend," are bound to leave listeners clueless.

And what does the picture of her breast feeding a piglet inside the CD sleeve intend to symbolize?

Since Amos' solo debut with Little Earthquakes in 1991, her music has become larger in scope, the metaphors more colorful. She says this is the way she has always wanted to write, that with every album she is increasingly baring her soul. Boys for Pele also seems to reflect the influence of Robert Plant, Polly Harvey and Bjork.

Maybe it's the spritual influence that compels Amos to wander off into an incomprehensible language. But whether she is wailing with the jarring sound of the harpsichord or sensually crooning in unison with the ivories, Boys for Pele is a moderately satisfying collection of musical emotion. N.M.


Lagwagon

Hailing from the punk-filled area of San Fransisco, Lagwagon has returned with their third CD, titled Hoss. After releasing a magnificent sophomore album, Wanted, Lagwagon shows they have progressed as a unit; their new album is solid and the band is as tight as ever. From the first song "Kids Don't Like to Share" to the last song "Ride the Snake," Lagwagon has shown that they can make 14 great songs that have meaning and feeling. The singer Joey sings with a passion and his voice, which is melodic yet powerful, makes Lagwagon stand out from many of the punk bands in California. Along with Joey's fantastic voice, Lagwagon's other members are no slouches either. Their start-and-stop approach blends in perfectly with Joey's voice and makes for really intense music. A couple of highlights are the ever powerful songs "Violins," "Bro Department," and "Rifle." Another song that blends creativity with humor is "Razor Burn" in which the band mixes the Christmas carol "O Come All Ye Faithful" with lyrics about getting a burn from shaving. This humor is what makes Lagwagon stick out from most of the new school punk bands. They don't take themselves too seriously and that's what makes them great. This is a great album and diehard Lagwagon fans will definitely not be disappointed. If you are just getting into the band, I suggest you pick up their last album Wanted first, but if you are a punk fan in general, this is an album that you can't do without. A.B.

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