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CD Reviews

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday February 6, 2003

Lou Reed
The Raven


Isn't vanity a wonderful thing?

It brings to the world such wonderful projects like Mariah Carey's Glitter, anything Celine Dion records and now The Raven. This would be fine if the album was good, but instead it slips dangerously into something that could damage a career, or at least a fan's perception of the singer.

Admittedly, if anyone deserves to release a vanity project, it's Lou Reed. He has been around seemingly since the beginning of music. But this? This is something you and your friends do when you have smoked too much pot and it's 1967.

You know that things are going to be bad when the second song, "Edgar Allen Poe," sounds like it came straight from a '70s variety show. Not even a good show like "Sonny and Cher" or even "The Brady Bunch," but one that would be gonged in about three seconds.

That's not to say that all the songs are that bad. I'm not sure if the last 10 songs are bad or not, because I could barely get through the first 11.
Official Site

Coincidentally, track 11, "Broadway Song," is the best on the album. Guest vocalist Steve Buscemi croons a lounge act type of song that - while still partially talking about that Poe guy - stays far enough away from the rest of the album to be good.

When it is said and done, The Raven will ultimately prove two things to the listening audience: One, 99 times out of 100, vanity projects are a bad idea. Two, everything is made a little bit better when Steve Buscemi makes a contribution.

- Paul Iiams


Where you are

There is a book of golden rules that a band needs to follow in order to become a success in rock 'n' roll.

Some of the items have changed over the years. For instance, you no longer have to use 40 bottles of hairspray to get the authentic rock look. But the majority of items remain as true today as they always have been. It appears that Socialburn, with the release of Where you are, has read the rules and is following most of them.

Golden rule number one is that you need to have a song that can be played in heavy rotation on the radio. Because, as everyone knows, rotation usually means sales. Socialburn checks that one off the list early with "Down." It is one of those songs that you can't help but hear a number of times.
Official Site

The only problem with that is that the song is usually followed by the four words that bands hate the most, "Who sings that song?"

This leads to the second golden rule of rock: Have your face everywhere possible. You cannot read a music or entertainment magazine nowadays without seeing something on the White Stripes or the Vinyls or any of the rock flavors of the moment. Socialburn is easily as talented, but do you see them on the cover of Rolling Stone, or any other magazine for that matter? Talent can only take you so far; marketing will take you to the big time.

The quality is there for Socialburn, they just need that extra step to be huge.

- Paul Iiams



Many times, when an unknown band's CD is handed to a reviewer, the odds are stacked against the band. This is mostly because if a band is unknown, it usually is for a reason. The band is easily pigeonholed, accused of blatant influence biting and then ragged on mercilessly for two or three paragraphs. Like taking candy from a baby.

However, this kind of reviewing process could not be conducted with Seattle unknowns Maktub with a clear conscience. The band is just too damn original for that. Many of their tunes could be, and are, played in corporate coffee shops nationwide - but still, there is no denying the uniqueness of their sound.
Download MP3s
You Can't Hide
Just Like Murder

Official Site

They run the gamut from '70s blacksploitation-funk to spaced-out jazz to Jamiroquai to Ben Harper to Lenny Kravitz. Each influence spills out of every track with easy-listening ease. One can picture a room full of yuppie, faux soul patch-sporting Gen-Xers and middle-of-the-road weekend burnouts grooving to these guys in a small Seattle bar. This is not an insult to the band, just an attempt at imagining the kind of fan base these guys must generate, since their music is so diverse, yet so non-threatening.

Maktub really needs to experiment more and tear their sound right out from the roots of their comfort zone. Being original is not enough these days; a band now needs to be original and interesting.

- Kevin Smith


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