Everlast's previous album, Whitey Ford Sings The Blues, would have been a career high point for most anyone - but it was recorded in the wake of a life-threatening heart attack. In those months staring mortality straight in the face, Mr. Erik Schrody must've let his musical alter ego cut loose with absolute abandon. So now, there's even more than the usual pressure to follow up, as nothing so dramatic has shown up to kick-start the inspirational process. But Everlast does just fine nonetheless. More than ever, he's a one-stop shop for hip-hop crossover.
Probably the most established white talent in hip hop outside of the Beastie Boys and DJ Muggs, Everlast has a veteran's self-confidence. His highly individual style includes an easy and natural tenderness in his lyrics about women, an accomplished sense for expanding guitar and string textures, and a peculiar but riveting fixation with joint consideration of death and his adopted faith of Islam.
Among the numerous outstanding tracks here is "Black Coffee," which features background vocalist Merry Clayton still leaping octaves some three decades after "Gimme Shelter." She also shows up on "Mercy On My Soul," which benefits from some purifying organ tones. Guest Carlos Santana's modest showing might be a victim of sequencing: offering up five minutes of understated snarl, Santana takes twice as long to get somewhere as the tightly dramatic string arrangements on the tracks both before and after "Babylon Feeling." Everlast himself is the only musician to overdramatize here, usually accompanied by a telltale flattening of his gruff vocals. But on this very good collection, such moments are worth waiting out. -T.E. Lyons
The latest "British Invasion" came about in 1994 with the influx of bands like Oasis and Bush. Modern Brit Pop only continues to get better with more talented acts like Travis and Gomez. Now the best of all is staking its claim in America. Coldplay's debut album is the perfect example of a serious band that focuses on musicianship.
Parachutes only received a U.S. release recently, but it was well worth the wait. With the current state of American rock spiraling down, it's refreshing to find an album of 10 thought-provoking gems. Even better, Coldplay incorporates a piano into its setup and all the instruments mold together perfectly. In fact, this album is far more complex than most Brit Pop albums.
Singer/guitarist Chris Martin embodies the soul of Jeff Buckley and the guitar skills of someone focused on delicate yet forceful playing. His appropriately simplistic piano melody creates an almost jazzy atmosphere on Parachutes' closing track "Everything's Not Lost." Finally, Martin's lyrics cover the gamut of life's unavoidable situations such as the search for true love and the horrible feeling that comes with being neglected.
As Coldplay prepares to tour the States for the first time early next year, they are already being hailed as "the next great British band." The unadulterated rock and roll feel of "Shiver" and "Yellow" is something that shouldn't go unnoticed by music listeners. It would be a real tragedy if these four chaps don't get the recognition they deserve for creating an unbelievably solid debut album. -Chas J. Hartman
From the first crushing chord of "Day One," you know you're in for something heavy. This should come as no surprise, given that two members of Enemymine are Dan (drums) and Mike (vocals, bass), those tribunes of the brutalitariat formerly known as Godhead Silo. Clobberin' art-thug speaker-busters like "The Balm" and the one-two punch of "Caught Inside/Nightmare Air" are typical of the duo's previous work.Yet Enemymine benefits from a subtler use of dynamics only occasionally present on GS releases. Co-bassist Ryan replaced Zak Sally, who belonged to that fave of depressive romantics, Low. Some tunes, notably the beautiful "Shame Spiral" and the slow, eerie "Passive Equalizer," reflect that band's touch for grand mopery.
But it's more Low's sense of space, of huge silences and quiet power, that was brought to Enemymine. On "Inverted Circle," the grind is interspersed with dramatic breaks of menacing hum, and the awesome "Setting the Traps" swings from restraint to rage and back again before exploding, as Mike raves "We are the sum/ Of our memories!/ Burning them down!/The future is history!"
Even the crushers breathe, less Godhead Silo's solid wall-of-sound than planets colliding in the cold darkness of the void, as on the majestic closer, "Coccoon Clo 3" (sic). Mike wails "You won't see me laughing at you/You won't see me at your funeral," as the big, tragic riffs reverberate.
Bang the head that does not bang, while the tears flow like bittersweet wine. If the ice is in you, you need to make a friend of Enemymine.-Bill Widener