CD Reviews 10/3
So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter
Like most radicals, Ani DiFranco takes her views to the extreme. That’s a given.
If you are not a feminist, and you think George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election fair and square, then DiFranco’s music will certainly come across as offensive.
The woman, whose pent-up rage and anger at the world has only increased in the past year, doesn’t hold back in her latest double-live album, So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter, and her audience apparently loves her for it.
Every song, save one, has been recorded before. Some of her fans will criticize her for selling out and going mainstream with some of her latest songs. To that, she answers bluntly with “Self Evident,” a nine-minute rant about her feelings about the attacks of Sept. 11.
“On a day that America fell to its knees/After strutting around for a century/Without saying thank you/Or please.”
Like most of her music – and the classics in the folk genre that preceded it – it’s the meaning behind the words and the compassion behind the guitar riffs that speak to her audience, rather than the particular beat. However, the methodical speech helps to convey her point effectively. (If not also drive it home with a sledgehammer.)
You won’t catch DiFranco singing “Bye, Bye, Bye” or “Hit me, baby, one more time.”
Rather, her ideology and deep-rooted beliefs drive her voice and her ultimate purpose. Part of her “Self Evident” will hit home to Floridians, as well:
“We are a third world nation under the thumb/Of some blue blood royal son/Who stole the oval office and that phony election/I mean/It don’t take a weatherman/To look around and see the weather/Jeb said he’d deliver Florida, folks/And boy, did he ever.”
If you’re nodding your head now, you’ll be hooting and hollering along with the very vocal crowd.
You’ll then be ready to march to Washington, D.C., when she follows that up with a list of “truths to be held self evident: #1 George W. Bush is not president.”
Her previously released live album will leave her fans scratching their heads questioning why she felt compelled to do another. But the renewed vigor and collective excitement that comes along with Shouting, Laughter is a must for fans who are looking for the definitive Ani DiFranco collection.
It’s sad when an artist is not only criticized by her dissenters but by her own faithful, as well. This is a plight with which DiFranco will have to contend as she matures in her career and releases live albums, which could be construed as acts of laziness.
But if you consider her growing list of grievances, she probably isn’t too worried about what her critics have to say.
But then again, most of her critics only take the opposing position because they simply disagree with her viewpoint. And to them, she’d probably say she doesn’t care.
Contact Will Albritton at email@example.com
A Night Out With Boy George: A DJ Mix
Okay, let’s go ahead and clear up the confusion with this title: this is not an album by the well known ’80s musical artist Boy George. A Night Out Boy George: A DJ Mix is instead a compilation album of tracks that George found needed to be heard by a new audience who would have otherwise been oblivious to their existence. But rest assured that this mix is not for those seeking a harder set of dance tracks.
Even though Boy George points out that this album is supposed to showcase a harder side of dance music, it falls short of producing this sort of feeling. Pop-infused tracks such as “U Need It” and “Dizzy” make it hard to keep up the hardcore image.
Many of the tracks on this album are something that one would expect to hear in a Japanese arcade filled with bright lights and bubblegum animÃ¨ characters. This album won’t convince listeners that Boy George can escape his pop tracks of yesteryear, such as “Karma Chameleon.”
There are some tracks that lend redemption to this album. The trance-induced “Stolen the Sun” and the dark subject matter of “The Dealer” make this compilation not a total loss.
If you’re into the whole pop side of techno, this might be just what you’re looking for. If you’re seeking a harder sounding breed of electronica, then play A Night Out With Boy George at your own risk.
Contact Gustavo Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Art of Transition
As the duo’s name suggests, Grits is Dirty South, but don’t let the walloping bass and intense snare action of the infectious leadoff track “Here We Go” mislead. The Art of Transition is not just another cookie-cutter, hip-hop offering deficient in substance and heavy on MTV-ready sonic trappings. On their fourth release for indie imprint Goatee, Tennessee-based Coffee and Bonafide, aka Grits, have a helluva lot more to expiate on than pimped out Escalades, big booty girls and the allure of glimmering diamonds and gold.
Grits refreshingly manage to never sound stale or didactic, despite the fact that their outpourings are much closer to an amalgam of vintage KRS-One, Motown and, on occasion, a downtown Memphis minister than the flows emanating from the material-minded P. Diddy set. Whether fitted with smooth female background singers, acoustic guitars and saccharine strings, or left to flow naked across slamming beats, Grits proves gripping with a life-affirming album that comfortably blends intoxicating, wiggle-your-booty grooves with paeans to self-awareness.
Contact Wade Tatangelo at email@example.com