album reviews

    Down

    II

    Elektra

    ***

    For those familiar with the NOLA scene (New Orleans, Louisiana heavy metal), then you would need no introduction to bayou super group Down.

    Comprised of members from Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar, the music is pretty much what you would expect to hear from a jam of said bands.

    Another Pantera member is present on this album; if you had any exposure to Down from its first abum back in 1995, you might remember that noise-band Eyehategod was also present. Down II finds Pantera bassist Rex Brown (an admitted Texan) “”playing the dog shit”” out of the four string.

    Since I haven’t heard the much-celebrated first album, I was highly anticipating a southern fried sludge sound, but it’s disappointingly formulaic. Going the way of most not-so-super super groups, Down delivers a well-produced, solid album that is rather predicable.

    The bands involved each have a distinct sound, and Down has the odd feel of trying to preserve these individual elements rather than letting something entirely new form. Down II is the musical postcard of NOLA: Not the best, not the most interesting, but something you can send your friends in some other part of the country — like Oregon — and give them an idea what the New Orleans sound is like.

    Hardcore fans of Pantera will probably be the most energized by Down’s second album. Lead singer Phil Anselmo’s vocal work is a trademark, and for a kick he also plays guitar. Metal fans might want to pass, unless you’re into all these groups and have found yourself sitting at home with a six-pack of Pabst and several joints thinking, “”If only there was a way to get all the best sounds of New Orleans together.”” In that case, by all means, be my guest. For the rest of us … m’eh.

    — Rinaldo Dorman

    Associate Hiatus Editor

    Sheryl Crow

    C’mon C’mon

    A&M

    ***

    On “”C’mon C’mon”” Sheryl Crow is trying to evoke the classic rock sound of some of her early male rock heroes, inlcuding Steve Miller, Peter Frampton and Lynrd Skynrd.

    For “”C’mon C’mon,”” Crow enlisted the emotional support and voices of such famous friends as Don Henley, Emmylou Harris, Liz Phair, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and Lenny Kravitz.

    It’s odd that Crow felt that the song “”C’mon C’mon”” was representative of the entire album because while it proves to be less sparse and twangy than most of the material from the “”Globe Sessions,”” the song — with its piano and accordion — is more reminiscent of her 1998 release. This effect may have something to do with Crow’s collaboration with Stevie Nicks, who greatly influenced much of Crow’s earlier work.

    While many of the songs are intended to rock hard, they turn out more like accidental pop ditties. The classic breakup song “”Over You,”” whose elements seem to blend better than those on most of the other tracks, tries to be a decent pop song and succeeds.

    “”Soak up the Sun,”” the first single off the album, reflects Crow’s growth as an artist and came after some advice from friend and The Pretenders’ front woman Chrissie Hynde about appreciating the simple things.

    “”It’s so Easy”” was co-written by Crow’s sister and performed as a duet with Don Henley. The song, at a three-four tempo, is technically a waltz and proves to be the most country track on the album.

    It seems that Crow intended “”C’mon C’mon”” to rock harder than it actually does. The album has a classic hard rock vibe, but with subdued guitars and an overreliance on guest star musicians, it fails to really rock. But that’s fine, because once again, Crow is doing what she does best: mellow, evocative pop rock.

    — Lauren I. Coartney

    Senior Staff Writer

    Weezer

    Maladroit

    Geffen

    ****

    To the pleased surprise of Weezer fans everywhere, the band has released another album. Weezer’s fourth album, “”Maladroit,”” comes on the heels of the commerically successful “”Green Album.””

    Weezer fans who were thirsty for anything released by Weezer now have more than they want. The CD also contains seven video clips, which are mostly from live shows, and the 13 tracks of music are the most Weezer has ever had on an album.

    The songs on “”Maladroit”” have guitar crunches and hooks that are similar to the “”Green Album,”” but their recent effort lacks the summer-like feeling found on “”Island in the Sun”” or the singable chorus on “”Hash Pipe.”” The album is generally darker, but nevertheless well-crafted.

    Nearly all of the songs remain under three minutes long, but there is a great deal of motion and texture to the songs. The minimalistic lead guitar work in the “”Green Album”” is replaced by sharp, techincal lead parts evident in tracks “”American Gigolo”” and “”Dope Nose.””

    “”Most everyone hated the solos on the ‘Green Album,’ or lack thereof,”” stated Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo. “”At first I tried to ignore [the fan reactions], to argue with them or defend myself, but eventually I realized, you know what? Those solos did suck. I should try harder on the next album.””

    The effort shows.

    “”Burndt Jamb”” captures the summery melody of “”Island in the Sun”” but explodes into a fury of distorted guitars. Cuomo had spent his teen years listening to KISS, and the influence of his roots shows in “”Maladroit”” with the big guitar sounds and huge riffs that will get almost anyone to follow along with their air guitars.

    “”Maladroit”” is another step in the constantly evolving sound of Weezer.

    — Joseph Lee

    Hiatus Editor

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