Music Reviews

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 1, 2004

Bob Dylan

Sounds Like: Sitting in a coffehouse in the '60s.

See Also: Woody Guthrie, Allen Ginsberg, Joan Baez.

Live 1964: Concert at Philharmonic Hall: The Bootleg Series Vol. 6

On the surface, Bob Dylan was just a 23-year-old with a harmonica and a guitar when he performed this concert on Halloween in 1964. Certainly, it was much more than that. With the confidence of his youth and brilliance of his songs, he was able to bridge the gap between rock 'n' roll and folk music in one historic concert.

He opens with "The Times They are a-Changin'" and ends with "All I Really Want to Do." He performs many of his lesser-known songs in between, and performs them with beauty, humor and genius.

Concerts aren't performed this intimately anymore. Maybe it was the brutish reality of the '60s and the open revolution in the air that allowed music this great to be written, performed and appreciated. These songs matter. Thank God we still have access to them.

- Celeste Meiffren

The Liars

Sounds Like: The soundtrack to a sˇance gone awry.

See Also: Bauhaus, Joy Division

They Were Wrong So We Drowned

Lyrically, They Were Wrong deals with witches, both as myth and metaphor. And that larger theme of witchcraft manifests itself outside of just the lyrics. The record itself sounds like a spectral remnant of the danceable post-punk scene from which the Liars emerged. Dance rhythms appear briefly before fragmenting and decaying. The sheer creepiness of the record works both for and against it: there are genuinely eerie moments (such as the dense, menacing soundscape "Read the Book that Wrote Itself"), and then there are moments of silliness (like the line "Cry, cry, the devil's in your eye"). But a record so dependent on a sustained atmosphere for definition loses what might be its greatest virtue by undermining its enigmatic density with self-mockery. What the Liars do achieve, while maybe not immediately appealing, becomes more startling with every new sound the listener discovers.

- Mark Sussman

Lou Reed

Sounds Like: A coquettish Johnny Cash burned out on acid.

See Also: Velvet Underground, Tom Waits.

Animal Serenade

Reed recorded this double-disc album at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles; maybe he should have stayed inside the studio. The only high points of the album are the instruments that Lou doesn't play. The low points are Reed. His vocals are off-key, off-beat and constantly in old-woman vibrato. He's got the delivery of a high school goth poet combined with the self-assurance of Mick Jagger. OK, poetic vocals sans rhyme or rhythm were really cool 30 years ago; now, despite the larger band, Lou has lost his touch. True fans will dig the new arrangements of his Velvet Underground songs like "Sunday Morning," but is it worth waiting for Reed to stop loving the sound of his own voice to hear it? Meh.

- Gabe Joselow

The Vines

Sounds Like: Catchy psychedelic rock.

See Also: Nirvana, Flaming Lips.

Winning Days

Vines lead singer Craig Nicholls' seemingly random, but meticulously placed, gutted screams and moans are back.

The follow-up to 2002's Highly Evolved is not as consistent, but still manages to satisfy expectations.

"TV Pro" should be the band's calling card and first single for Winning. Its schizophrenic arraignment is rock-radio-ready brilliance. Whether they kick your gears or not is another thing.

The flow of the sophomore set is not as tight as the debut, mainly because of the placement of two songs: the misguided "Evil Town" and the lackadaisical "Amnesia." The prior is The Vines attempting metal (bad idea) and the former is a snooze fest.

The rest of the songs, including the gorgeous "Rainfall," the tripped-out, Nirvana-drenched "Animal Machine," oldie "Sun Child" and the appropriate closer "Fuck The World," serve to welcome back the diminutive Aussies properly.

- Kevin Smith

The January Taxi

Sounds Like: Radio-ready songs with some grit.

See Also: Foo Fighters, The Special Goodness.

Keep Quiet, They Might Hear Us

Lead singer Joshua Taylor's first cries on "The Ashtray Parade" - The January Taxi's first song on its first album - are a bit off-key, a bit awkward and a bit ugly. They sound like the yelps from a local band that will play at bars and eventually play cover songs at bar mitzvahs.

Then you hit the chorus and Taylor throws some cigarette smoke in his lungs, showcasing rock star vocals. And you think, "Maybe they'll make it; maybe they'll conquer the world." With arena-ready choruses and huge, crunching guitars, The January Taxi has a chance.

Because Taylor's growl is rougher than the pre-pubescent whines of other outfits, "Girls with Six Strings," manages to be more than an exercise in average pop-punk. While Taylor is often the highlight, "Where It Was" is more of a showcase of the three-piece, with soothing background vocals and a tighter rhythm section.

- Nate Buchik