Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

New Music Tuesdays

By Nick Romanow, Collegian Staff

Sonic Youth – “Goo” (Deluxe Edition) – Geffen Records


1990 was a scary year for alternative rock. Back when alternative actually meant something, Sonic Youth was the nation’s finest purveyors of something known as college rock and they had just signed with a major label.

15 years later, Sonic Youth is still making brilliant, ground-breaking music for Geffen Records; it has since become unquestionable that an indie-band can sign a major label contract and retain its credibility. Sonic Youth never made it big on MTV or mainstream radio, but the label still allowed them to do what they wanted, setting a precedent that, while not always followed, has allowed for some of the best music in recent years to get heard by a larger audience.

Of course the real lesson of 1990 was that it doesn’t matter what label an album comes out on, it’s the music that matters. Sonic Youth’s new CD “Goo” is an exceptional slab of music, a natural progression from “Daydream Nation” that pulled no punches and never played it safe. “Goo” has been spoken about infinitely, which is exactly what warrants this double-disc reissue, but still not enough can be said. From the opening build and subsequent explosion of “Dirty Boots” to the Kim Gordon/Chuck D duet “Kool Thing” to “Mote,” one of Lee Ranaldo’s best songs and the closing epic “Titanium Expose,” Goo is an incredible album that sounds better then ever thanks to the remastering job.

However, the meat of any good deluxe edition is the bonus tracks and Goo’s supplemental material stands up the original album. The centerpiece is 11 eight-track demos that form a complete alternate version of “Goo” (substituting the excellent feedback frenzy “Scooter + Jinx” for the fantastic, unreleased “Lee #2”). Songs run different lengths and contain new parts and structure, mixes highlight different elements and some songs get completely altered by the tones and sounds that weave in and out of these demos, even the track order makes for an exciting new listen.

Fans weary of cheap-but-identical sounding demos that pass for extras have no reason to fear; the quality and caliber of these recordings are of the highest echelon and are as invigorating as the released album itself. The other extras include “Goo”-era b-sides and outtakes, including a cover of the Beach Boys’ “I Know There’s An Answer” and an interview track that finds Thurston Moore discussing songs via beat poetry. All this, combined with extensive liner notes, make it clear that a lot of time was put into this reissue.

Goo is a seminal album, for both the band and the music world, by one of the most important, interesting, and consistently great rock bands of the past 25 years, and this deluxe edition makes that clear. Sonic Youth fans already know that this is a must-buy, but this is a collection that anyone interested in independent-minded, forward-thinking, art-rock needs to have.

By Nick Romanow, Collegian Staff

Rob Dickinson – “Fresh Wine for the Horses” – Sanctuary Records


The Catherine Wheel spent their nearly decade-long career just bubbling under the surface of the mainstream, but their lush post-shoegaze style not only made them one of the better bands of the ’90s but also one of the most influential – with hard rock chops that influenced alternative acts and a sensitive side with a big sound that certainly helped Coldplay form their sound. The band sadly parted ways in 2000 and now front man Rob Dickinson has finally emerged with his first solo offering, “Fresh Wine for the Horses”.

The good news is that Dickinson, a great songwriter, vocalist and guitarist, is back after a long hiatus. The bad news is that “Fresh Wine…” suffers from first-solo-album-from-accomplished-artist syndrome. Dickinson still has his talents but takes less risks, focusing more on himself as a singer/songwriter type. Songs like “My Name Is Love” and “Intelligent People” have the feel of big stadium rockers but lack the thrilling feeling that The Catherine Wheel’s best songs brought with them. A lot of the songs feel slightly bored with themselves and solid, but slightly formulaic, production and heavy use of strings only serves to blend the tracks together more. The first half of the album is comprised of soothing arena-ballads that aren’t bad, but simply not up to the high standards that Dickinson has set for himself.

Fortunately the album picks up at the halfway point. A trio of songs, “Handsome,” “Bathe Away” and “The Storm” breathe life into the album right as it begins to become complacent. “Handsome” and “The Storm” are adrenaline packed anthems; the latter is somewhat of a Catherine Wheel reunion, featuring all the members that appeared on the bands last album. “Bathe Away” works around tight strings and a menacing drum beat, with Dickinson lamenting, “There’s nothing sweet to eat.” “Bad Beauty” is a stripped-down ballad that works beautifully. The closing track, “Towering and Flowering,” also features The Catherine Wheel line up and also touches upon the majesty of the band’s work – unfortunately the album closes with an unlisted reprise of “The Mutineer,” a Warren Zevon cover and one of the album’s weaker songs.

“Fresh Wine For The Horses” feels like the solo debut it is; personal, introspective, and sincere. It contains the elements of Dickinson’s best work but unfortunately only a few songs stack up to them, which makes for a pleasant, but not wholly satisfying, listen. “Fresh Wine…” could prove to be an important step in Dickinson’s career but it’s hard to tell what direction he will go from here – of course that’s what always made The Catherine Wheel so interesting.

By Tim McCall, Collegian Staff

Lawless Element

“Soundvision: In Stereo”

Babygrande Records


Forget everything you know from today’s rap and hip-hop and go back to the mid 1990s. It was a time when rap was different, a time when gangsta was only circulating on underground mix tapes.

Once you get over that fact, Lawless Element, a Detroit duo consisting of Kavi “Magnif” Tapsico and his cousin Alfred “Griot” Austin makes more sense. Magnif and Griot recently released their debut album, a dream come true for the duo who’s been dreaming of becoming the next big thing in the hip hop world since they were in the first grade.

Lawless Element definitely is full of today’s most interesting beats. For example, if you listen to track three, “The Shining,” the words flow tight, but the beats sound like a wacky guitar solo with a beat machine.

This is just partially what Lawless Element is all about. They take sounds like ones that they heard growing up, but won’t change for new trends. They often create beats with cut-up drum machine beats with piano samples.

The rhymes of the album definitely aren’t what stall the album at the brink of success. In fact the rhymes are decent, they don’t get political or too ditty which is a major success. But unfortunately the boring beats cannot be forgotten about even if it is what they are all about.

The best rhymes of the album can be heard on track six “Represent Motown.” This song is by far the most political by making shots at the Iraq war and the oil business.

Throughout the album guest vocals can be heard on the album. Some of the vocals are Melanie Rutherford, J. Dilla, Phat Kat and Big Tone. With these guest spots, the albums rhymes have a good amount of various flow. Rutherford for example does not rap, but more or less sings similar to R’B.

Lawless Element have talent, this is after all their first album. If they forget about their obsession with the mid 90’s and catch up with the rest of the rap and hip hop world of today they would be doing much better then they are now.

By Tim McCall, Collegian Staff


“Think Differently Music: Wu-Tang Meets The Indie Culture”



Next week marks the one year anniversary of the death of rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard from the Wu-Tang Clan. Ironically, or maybe it’s just good marketing, Wu-Tang recently released a new album “Think Differently Music: Wu-Tang Meets The Indie Culture.”

“Think Differently Music: Wu-Tang Meets The Indie Culture” continues to the Wu Tang tradition of going above and beyond the typical rap culture. But, this time it is only with Wu Tang producers and MC’s of the underground doing the work: creating rhymes over beats that Wu Tang never got to use.

RZA, GZA, U-God and Dreddy Krueger are all heard rapping throughout the album. It was an amazing feat by executive producer Dreddy Krueger to get GZA and Ras Kass to collaborate together on the album.

Kass is one of the younger MC’s that made an appearance, in his case two, on the album. Some of the other MCs were Aire, Aesop Rock and Vordul Mega.

The beats are strong on the album, but what can you expect when an album has the Wu-Tang symbol on it even though it is mocking the Apple computers emblem at the same time.

Also in the album is a tribute to the fallen members, mostly ODB, but the samples heard as well as the MCs rapping it’s obvious its really a tribute to all fallen members of the clan over the years. This track is all samples and mixes and posses no new rhymes, but that’s what finds this tribute so emotionally touching and well produced.

The biggest surprise on the album is the use of director and punk rocker Jim Jarmach as the narrator of two infomercial tracks. Jarmach is only heard for 45 seconds during each track, but his inclusion is definitely a shocker even though the theme of the album is thinking different.

The best part of the album is the lyrical themes. Unlike the typical rap of today the MCs on this album cover wide variety of topics in their rhymes like Lawless Element they rhyme about the Bush administration, but unlike Lawless Element these rhymes are all intelligently written and they know it too.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *