album reviews

The Verve Pipe

Underneath

RCA

***

Most of us remember The Verve Pipe as the masters of the slow, haunting song from 1996, “”The Freshman.”” Now, following their 1999 self-titled album, they come to us with a wide-ranging repertoire of new songs from love ballads to harsh diatribes. Without a doubt, this new album, “”Underneath,”” is The Verve Pipe’s most all-encompassing album thus far.

Although there is not one dominating factor on the album, there is one underlying commonality to all the songs — accessiblity to the audience. The band really shows itself to be melodically in touch with the human condition and the emotional hardships of daily life.

They kick off “”Underneath”” with the first track, “”Only Words,”” a song with a soft, lulling harmony, a gentle chorus and poetic lyrics. The easy introduction eventually crescendos to a more poppy tone and then a harsher sound. “”Never Let You Down”” proves to be the hit of the album with its catchy riffs and unabashed sense of joy.

“”I Want All of You”” is a ghostly, even eerie, mixture of multiple minor chords juxtaposed with a chanting chorus and harsh guitar sounds. One of the next songs, “”Miles Away,”” reveals a subtle frustration and a failing love affair. The song really drives home with the lasting abstract lyric: “”I’ll be right here, miles away.””

“”Happiness Is”” explains just that: what happiness is. Containing muffled guitar transitions and tambourine tones, this song will make you want to dance with its ’60s-esque, upbeat sound. Other songs “”Medicate Myself”” show that the The Verve Pipe still have their sense of humor, while other songs like “”Colorful”” and “”Underneath”” are ballads about love’s redemption.

Once again, The Verve Pipe make their rise to the top of the music industry from underneath, and as they themselves said from their album-titled song, “”It’s not pretty underneath.””

— Sabrina Morris,

Contributing Writer

The Cranberries

Wake Up & Smell the Coffee

MCA

**

The Cranberries, once held in esteem among their musically inclined Irish counterparts U2, Enya and Sinead O’Connor, now seem to lie in the graveyard of musical has-beens.

Known for their first two albums, 1992’s multiplatinum debut “”Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can’t We”” and “”No Need to Argue,”” The Cranberries came out strong in the music scene and quickly began to fade.

Now releasing their fifth album, “”Wake Up and Smell the Coffee,”” the Cranberries are giving it another shot.

The group began recording the album a year ago at Dublin’s Windmill Lane Studios, prior to the birth of the second child of singer Dolores O’Riordan and guitarist Noel Hogan. This album is supposed to reflect a more mature oulook on life.

O’Riordan describes the band as “”the calmest we’ve ever been,”” explaining that The Cranberries have “”already proven ourselves by now, so we’re really relaxed and really enjoyed ourselves in the studio.””

They may have proven themselves by now, but The Cranberries still fail to attain the musical power they had on their first two albums.

The album attempts to capture a sense of calm, but it is stagnant instead. It is devoid of passion in anger, pain or even happiness.

The initial tracks are slow, repetitive and boring, with melodic babbling that seems more like a childhood ramble than an emotional melody. Even the most touching words seem cliched.

There is an interesting mix of new sounds on the new album but it’s not strong because it lacks emotional emphasis. They seem to have run out of things to say through their music.

This album has some decent songs, but overall it is dry, uninspired and repetitive. Maybe O’Riordan and Hogan should just stick to raising their kids for now.

— Heather Clark,

Staff Writer

Edwin McCain

Far From Over

Atlantic

Edwin McCain is one of those unfortunate artists who will always be eclipsed by the limelight of a past hit. Ninety percent of the songs on “”Far From Over”” are indistinguishable from those previously recorded on 1999’s “”Messenger.””

The album would be an artistic breakthrough were it not a regurgitated rehashing of all of McCain’s previously released material.

Some of the songs are decent. “”One Thing Left”” is a surprise because it has what most of its counterparts on the album lack: originality.

The saxophone is by far an edge that this artist has over others in his genre, and in “”One Thing Left,”” the instrument is at its best. A pleasing marriage of scat and blues, this song is a standout, giving the listener a glimpse of the artist that McCain could become once he starts releasing songs that are more than formulaic, acoustic hit-hopefuls.

“”Radio Star”” has the makings of a great farce as an anthem to the superficiality of a music business enamored with its own pretentiousness, but it doesn’t live up to its expectations. Managing to be jubilant and entertaining but little else, the listener is left with a “”that’s it?”” mentality.

“”Dragons”” is exactly what McCain stated this album wasn’t going to be: “”music to slash your wrists by.””

“”Dragons”” has a strong chorus with a solid melody. For anyone who loves a wallower, I wouldn’t press the skip button so swiftly.

“”Write Me a Song,”” the album’s principle love ballad, is a dud. It has neither the sentimentality nor the strong melody of past hits “”I’ll Be”” and “”I Could Not Ask For More,”” which this latest ballad tries to emulate. Yet the song just comes off sounding like a mediocre copy of some of McCain’s better material.

The album is good, it’s just a let down. McCain’s career may be “”Far From Over,”” but in the future, he had better give us a more enjoyable ride.

— Keely Hyslop,

Contributing Writer

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