Album reviews

    Nine Inch Nails

    ‘All that Could Have Been. Live’

    Interscope

    ****

    Clad in the ubiquitously dark imagery that NIN is known for, “”All That Could Have Been. Live”” is an auditory watermark of the “”Fragility V2.0″” tour that acquired critical acclaim.

    What could capture Trent Reznor’s rage better than the chance to pick out his own best moments? Granted, live recordings tend to lack the precision and control that a studio album provides; nonetheless, everything is of the highest self-loathing quality that is nothing less than demanded by fans and artists alike.

    With various songs from several albums and the notable “”Broken”” EP, this serves, as do many albums of the tour category, as a sort of “”best of”” without actually having to advertise it as such.

    But at least with NIN, every time a song gets released, it gets a fresh new coat of paint and a new remix. Sometimes the risky venture of attempting to capture highly emotional music reveals the limitations of recording a live performance.

    Largely, though, the angst and seething torment come through in pristine anguish.

    Some songs get an interesting nose job between everything involved in the recording.

    Case in point: the last line of “”Hurt,”” the closing track from the massive “”Downward Spiral.”” The line “”I would find a way”” is all but drowned out by distorted guitar; here, Reznor’s vocals get precedence by changing the dreary mood of a voice being lost in the fray to a more resolute statement of hope.

    Most NIN fans are pretty die-hard about getting every recording they can; for the rest of us casual fans, “”All That Could Have Been. Live”” offers another set of smashed-out songs of internal rage and external frustration.

    — Rinaldo Dorman

    Senior Staff Writer

    Spyglass

    ‘Strategies for the Stranded’

    Pattern 25 Records

    ****

    Seattle used to be known for its ability to churn out alternative rock outfits that stormed the nation with sounds that emphasized the “”power”” in power chords. The music scene is still strong, but Seattle won’t be typecast in the music world. Bands such as Spyglass will help break those molds.

    In August of 2001 the band released its second album, “”Strategies for the Stranded,”” and this album has been met with critical acclaim.

    The full tones in Barbara Trentalange’s voice are a powerful musical weapon. She can sing with husky tones or in pleading cries. John Roth (guitars, keyboards), David Einmo (guitars), Clay Martin (bass) and Barry Shaw (drums) round out a crew that can play haunting Portishead-esque melodies or rough-edged tunes reminiscent of early Radiohead.

    The somber quality of “”Strategies for the Stranded,”” combined with well-placed orchestral crescendos, create sweeping soundscapes. The album is not overproduced with quirky electronic blips or overbearing strings.

    “”Dimming Stars”” is a seductive song that captures the listener with its guitar hooks and a keyboard line that wanders in and out. “”China Doll”” might be the closest nod to the Seattle rock of old. This three-minute rocker throws in familiar alt-rock drum licks and fuzzy guitar chords.

    Melodic guitars, a steady bass guitar and swirling synth loops mixed with sultry vocals result in a dark atmospheric album. Elements of Mercury Rev and even the “”Pablo Honey”” days of Radiohead can be found in the Spyglass sound, but “”Strategies for the Stranded”” remains fresh and the album flows like velvet.

    — Joseph Lee

    Hiatus Editor

    Thievery Corp.

    Sounds from the Verve Hi-Fi

    Verve

    *****

    The Thievery Corporation falls in the cracks somewhere between abstract electronica and jazz. Rob Garza and Eric Hilton formed the duo in 1996 in Washington, D.C.

    Famous jazz record label Verve Records asked the group to select its favorite records from the Verve catalog and put them on a compilation.

    The result is a diverse selection of sharp lounge tunes with influences that range from India to Brazil. Stan Getz, Astrud Gilberto and Cal Tjader and others create a beautiful montage of sounds that range from bossa nova to music noir.

    Getz and Luiz Bonfa open the album with “”Menina Flor,”” a distinctively Brazilian bossa nova sound with the gentle caress of the guitar and the tropical sax flowing through like a cool breeze. Tracks such as “”Hard Latin”” by Kenyon Hopkins continue the Latin flavor scattered through out the album.

    Richie Havens’ “”Something Else Again”” opens with the cascading notes of the sitar, which noodle around while the sounds of a flute playfully scamper around the background.

    Gilberto’s take on The Doors’ “”Light My Fire”” is a dark and brooding cover with jazzy elements that make this classic rock song a pleasant lounge tune. You can also groove to some more straight-ahead jazz with “”For Mods Only”” by Chico Hamilton.

    This is a collection of classic tunes compiled by two very modern characters who did not forget what inspired their music.

    As Garza states, “”While listening to this collection of music, one is able to travel through many places and times.””

    One may also suppose this compilation will remain timeless.

    — Joseph Lee

    Hiatus Editor

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