Review: Albums

Crush Down

Like This

MCA Records

C

Sometimes an album cannot be analyzed too deeply because it will appear shallow and superficial. Such is the case for “”Like This,”” Crush Down’s debut album. Its heavy guitar riffs and solid vocals make the album just bearable, but one listen to the lyrics is enough to make the listener cringe.

The title track is a well-crafted hard rock song, but its trivial meaning is made obvious with lines such as “”You leave me higher than a whore.”” Another song sounds like a young adult romance novel, as lead singer Justin Raymond sings, “”Pain, it’s a taker, when you’re breakin’ up and you know it’s over.”” It’s almost as if the band is anticipating the negative response to its album, as Raymond sings, “”I’m so transparent … and all the critics increase my dosage,”” in “”Patch.””

Raymond’s elastic voice resembles Stone Temple Pilots’ singer Scott Weiland’s on some tracks, but the quality of Crush Down’s music does not even come close to that of STP. This band does not have any trouble busting out energetic, distortion-filled tracks, but its lack of depth makes its music sound as hollow as bubblegum rock.

— Brenda Xu


Black Eyed Peas

“”Bridging the Gap””

Interscope

B+

All the great ones have a signature sound. The Black Eyed Peas return with a vengeance on their second album, “”Bridging the Gap,”” blazing out their unique mix of hip hop, trip hop, drum ‘n’ bass and jungle.

BEP’s sophomore project flows with a stronger club beat, promoted by contributions by Gang Starr’s DJ Premier and Wyclef Jean. But, apl.de.ap and will.i.am from BEP have been the dominant forces behind the rest of the album’s boards. Funky breaks and old-school samples from party favorites line each track with a dance groove missing from their debut album, “”Bridging the Front.””

Their first commercial release, “”Weekend,”” evidences this dance push by capturing Debbie Deb’s ’80s smash “”Lookout Weekend.””

“”On this album,”” will.i.am said, “”we intended the songs to be played in clubs because we club motherfuckers. We wanted that umph. When we toured our last time, a lot of our songs we played on tour didn’t register live. The recorded version is different. On this album, every single song that’s on it, when we play it, it’s like the way it transforms on stage is energetic enough to play it live.””

BEP takes the hybridization of hip-hop to another level, blending in classical Spanish guitar licks with an all-star guest lineup, ranging from Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na to pop/R&B sensation Macy Gray.

“”Bridging the Gap”” rings true to its name by showcasing BEP’s on-stage presence and flare, which seemed to have been missing from their debut. Look for this album to shoot mainstream hip-hop away from “”trailer trash”” rap back to its soulful, urban roots.

— David Lee


Limp Bizkit

Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water

Interscope

B+

Riding on an endless wave of rock/rap acts, Limp Bizkit is the best at keeping judges pleased with their raw intensity and blend of eclectic hip-hop. After two albums with this same formula, the band’s newest “”Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water”” tastes like everything they’ve cooked for us before.

This record slices with a sonic chainsaw that encourages heavy-knuckle moshing. Wes Borland’s usual, bloody seven-string power chords adorn most of the tracks, and the trippy soundscaping of DJ Lethal form the driving beats, reminding you who you’re listening to. Basically, if you didn’t like Limp Bizkit before, you’re not going to like them now.

Head-banging tracks like “”My Generation”” force their way through listeners’ heads like a deafening tornado, while songs like the syrupy “”My Way”” helps even out the latter part of the album with its steady rhythmic bumps and Fred Durst’s well-balanced rhymes.

Fans will rave about the band’s somewhat offensive third outing, and once again, Limp Bizkit proves that they can still belt out hits that snarl like an untamed beast. Woodstock ’01, anyone?

— Randy Lie


U2

“”Bridging the Gap””

Interscope

A

Behind Radiohead’s “”Kid A,”” the second most anticipated album of the year has to be from those four Irish lads collectively known as U2. Their most recent release, titled “”All That You Can’t Leave Behind,”” is a beautiful collection of songs that blend the classic “”Rattle & Hum”” of U2 and the technology of “”Pop.””

Since their first release, “”Boy,”” U2 have come a long way. Twenty-two years and over 100 million albums later, U2 remain one of the most enduring bands of our time. Even more remarkable is that no one has ever left U2 and no new member has ever joined. Guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton, drummer Larry Mullen and the illustrious Bono have stayed together to release over 10 albums.

After successful albums such as “”October”” and “”War,”” U2 announced in 1984 that they would be working with producer and experimentalist Brian Eno and his protege Daniel Lanois for their fourth studio album. The result was “”The Unforgettable Fire,”” which gave the world the characteristic U2 anthems and included “”Pride (In The Name of Love).””

U2 soon followed with a string of unforgettable albums like, “”The Joshua Tree,”” “”Rattle & Hum,”” “”Achtung Baby”” and “”Zooropa.”” Their political consciousness and the fire of their epic live performances propelled them into greatness. U2’s ability to blend hummable melodies, striking lyrics and the soaring voice of Bono enabled them to push past basic pop music.

It was nearly four years after “”Zooropa”” and their groundbreaking Zoo TV tour that U2 released another album. Though “”Pop”” topped the charts, the music critics questioned whether U2 were pushing the envelope a bit too much with their electronica-tinged album.

“”All That You Can’t Leave Behind”” seems to bring together all of the qualities that made U2 what they are today. Thoughtful lyrics, cinematic arrangements and the unmistakable U2 riffs from The Edge are coupled with the smooth electronic beats and keyboards.

U2’s first single and the first track off of their new album, “”Beautiful Day”” sets the tone for the rest of the recording with sleek electronic beats and a melody that could’ve been straight from any classic U2 album.

Though U2 seems to be pulling old tricks out their hat, one must not mistake U2’s new album as a way to achieve quick commercial success. “”All That You Can’t …”” is merely one of the stops in the evolution of U2.

“”Stuck In a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of”” is a track that could turn out to be one of U2’s best songs. “”Stuck In a Moment …”” offers a powerful chorus that you think is familiar but it is distinctively U2.

Songs like “”Kite”” and “”Wild Honey”” blend the slightly ambiguous lyrics of “”Pop”” yet they still retain the heart-tugging beauty of their early work. “”Peace on Earth”” brings back the socially conscious lyrics that led U2 to headline Amnesty International’s Conspiracy of Hope Tour in 1986 and play a concert in the fragile political setting of Sarajevo.

U2 has come full circle with “”All That You Can’t Leave Behind.”” The band returns to a more simplistic sound that gives a glimpse of the classic hits of the past but the sound is filled out with modern day technology and the constantly evolving brilliance of U2.

This album takes everything U2 has been doing right these past two decades and places it into 50 minutes of sonic brilliance. “”All That You Can’t Leave Behind”” can emerge as one of the best U2 albums of all time.


Crowbar

Equilibrium

Spitfire Records

B+

The latest release from long-standing metal act Crowbar, titled “”Equilibrium,”” returns to the New Orleans sound they started with. It is a sludgy Southern metal that helped form the sound of groups like Corrosion of Conformity and Eyehategod. Crowbar proves that they still have the might and whiskey-driven power they brought to the forefront of the not-so-underground scene.

The music is dark and moving, staying mostly at the slower tempos they love, but occasionally picking up the pace for a riff or two. At one point they totally change gears and delve into a gothic piano and rain track that is simple and beautiful. Using only clean vocals, Crowbar is far from sludge-core, and may not please those out for speed and distortion. Yet for any who enjoy good, heavy music, this is a safe bet.

— Rinaldo Dorman