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Reviews Written by
David Scott "mottdeterre" (Claremont, CA United States)

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Graceful Ghost
Graceful Ghost
Price: CDN$ 20.52
28 used & new from CDN$ 7.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glorious Forgery, May 23 2004
This review is from: Graceful Ghost (Audio CD)
The Graceful Ghost is the most gorgeous album from the 1800s you'll hear this year. DeLisle comes on like the ghost of Mother Maybelle or Kitty Wells (although sexier and more polished than either), and her songwriting shows ample hours studying at the feet of Dolly Parton (insert jokes about "the shade" here). A little research shows that DeLisle is an ultra-slick Hollywood voiceover queen and has released two homegrown retro-country albums prior to taking the big leap into spooky folk aimed straight for the O Brother! market. Yeah, I'm a bit jaded, but this album is clearly a fake and not afraid to admit it. (I love how the added ambient crackles and hiss on some songs fade out before the music does!) And yet, it's stunningly beautiful and DeLisle's talent as a singer and a songwriter cannot be denied. But she seems very market savvy/driven and going after a niche, I think; too often from head and not from the heart as it were. Still, it's far, far, far superior to the icky yuppie "country" slopped out on Norah Jones version 2.0. I wouldn't recommend The Graceful Ghost to anyone in place of authentic rural American field recordings, however I do think it stands a good chance to make my list for the best of '04 -- 2004 and not 1804, that is.

Get Away From Me
Get Away From Me
Offered by marvelio-ca
Price: CDN$ 11.92
34 used & new from CDN$ 1.28

3.0 out of 5 stars Promises, promises (recorded) / delivers, delivers (live), March 5 2004
This review is from: Get Away From Me (Audio CD)
***IMPORTANT UPDATE! I just caught Nellie live in L.A., and the real deal is experiencing the work in its "just the girl and her piano" mode. The CD tries way too hard to turn this stuff into marketable pop music. Nellie live reveals herself to be Blossom Dearie/Annie Ross dipped in acid. I'll still give the cd three stars (which reflects more on Mr. Beatle than it does Ms. McKay), but Nellie live is five stars all the way.*****
You have to love this if for no other reason than Nellie -- when told that her label planned to market her like Norah Jones (who, of course, hasn't been "marketed" in the least, yeah right) -- quickly changed the title of her audacious double cd debut to Get Away From Me.
The cd is ambitious and loveable and would have made a great single disc had someone bothered to separate the wheat from the chaff. (And that would have been an easy task.)
As Nellie swings recklessly from torch songs to rap to girl group send-ups to political commentary, her debut reminds me of no less than the Divine Miss M: both share a campy cabaret sensibility and prove themselves somewhat challenged by the contemporary genres that they ultimately play for laughs. (Nellie's Eminem homage, Sari, is at once as lame and delightful as Bette's deconstruction of the Rolling Stones.) Bette started out older and wiser than Nellie, who falters here by wearing her intellect on her sleeve and trying way too hard for Cole Porter when she's not even old enough to drink.
However, Get Away From Me literally drips with promise, and I have no doubt Nellie will grow up to become the real deal

Very Best of
Very Best of
Price: CDN$ 16.97
23 used & new from CDN$ 11.89

2.0 out of 5 stars Viva La Longet! - but, sadly, not here, Feb. 21 2004
This review is from: Very Best of (Audio CD)
There's an undeniable magic when Claudine Longet has her way with an arrangement by Nick DeCaro. It's four parts camp to one part brilliance, and it can really hook you if you keep an open mind. This collection, however, is not a best-of or even the place to start. Get Claudine's "Love is Blue" album which has most of her all-time greats - Randy Newman's "Snow," "Small Talk," "Happy Talk," a hysterical "Falling In Love Again," the Bee Gee's "Holiday" (you have to hear it!) and - I swear to God - a love song to a seal. There's never been anything quite like her....

Wig In A Box
Wig In A Box
Offered by USA_Seller_4_Canada
Price: CDN$ 113.19
7 used & new from CDN$ 42.68

3.0 out of 5 stars Heart's in the right place, however..., Nov. 11 2003
This review is from: Wig In A Box (Audio CD)
This project seemed like a slam dunk: who wouldn't want to hear the Polyphonic Spree do "Wig in a Box"? Much to my chagrin, then, I find this set to be pretty much of a failure. It seems many of the Hedwig songs don't function terribly well outside of the musical's setting. For example, the wonderful Imperial Teen sound snappy as always, but "Freaks" isn't much of a song to cover. Likewise, I keep waiting for the Breeders to careen from "strum" to "storm" as they do so well, but "Wicked Little Town" never gives them the chance. In other cases, the artists and songs don't synch up well: turns out that the PeeSpree don't do much with "Wig" until they cut loose and improvise at the end. Rufus Wainwright painfully proved on the dreadful "Want One" that he's no friend of big Broadway-type ballads. Here, he and "The Origin of Love" do each other no favors.
Two songs, however, are first-rate. Pairing Sleater Kinney and Fred Schneider on "Angry Inch" is inspired, and as much as I'm sick of belters and unnecessary ululations in the age of American Idol histrionics, Cyndi Lauper's over-the-top-and-then-some turn on "Midnight Radio" is hilarious and effective.
So, buy this to support a good cause, but just don't get your hopes up -- or sell your cast album or soundtrack.

Her Majesty the Decemberists
Her Majesty the Decemberists
Price: CDN$ 25.00
33 used & new from CDN$ 7.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Thrill Specter, Oct. 28 2003
On paper the Decemberists sound just ghastly: grad students play dress up, check into the Neutral Milk Hotel, and play the Chuck Dickens/Pirate Jenny songbook as sung by Rufus Wainwright imitating Neil Young.
Yet it was love at first accordion wheeze when I encountered them as an opening act. On stage, they're the sweet American cousins of the Mekons and the Go-Betweens, radiating intelligence and shades of dark anarchy in everything they do. I got 2002's excellent Castaways & Cutouts at the merch table that night and immediately fell in love with the haunting (literally) opening track "Leslie Ann Levine," a lament from a dead girl's point-of-view.
Specters from the past are the key to Her Majesty the Decemberists. Songwriter Colin Meloy looks through their eyes to shed light on the darkness of our age. The conceit confuses at first: what are whalebone corsets, radios, telephones and pantaloons doing in the same song? Is that '70s wah-wah guitar and crunchy electric piano I hear amid sea chanteys and old country reels? The Decemberists' Victorian mirror provides a tantalizing, innocent and often deceiving distance to songs about sexual slumming ("Shanty for the Arethusa"), voyeurism and Onanism ("Billy Liar"), emotional sadism ("The Bachelor and the Bride"), the homoerotic thrill of warmongering - just ask Bush and Blair - ("The Soldiering Life"); and a love song to that ultimate city as strumpet, L.A. ("Los Angeles, I'm Yours").
That last song is the album's real standout. Strumming Elton John's Bennie and the Jets vamp on his guitar, Meloy's 18th century busker stands as an evangelical emissary on the corner of Sunset and Vine who blushes as girls with bare midriffs and boys with jeans nearly to their knees slouch on by. ("I can see your undies!" he intones, hilariously.) As a classic sunny West Coast pop arrangement builds and swells around him (think Stevie Wonder meets Richard Carpenter), Meloy summons cherubs and seraphim to help him dispel the stink of burnt cocaine and rotting morals before crying out ecstatically to the city as whore who both attracts and repels him, "Los Angeles, my love!", as if loving her might save her. If you've ever spent time actively engaged with the City of Lost Angels, this song will wrench your heart.

Just Because I'm a Woman: Songs of Dolly Parton
Just Because I'm a Woman: Songs of Dolly Parton
Price: CDN$ 21.29
47 used & new from CDN$ 1.02

5.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Songbook, Oct. 22 2003
If Emmylou Harris weren't writing and recording some of the best work of her career right now, she should take up producing records full time. Grievous Angel, the tribute she masterminded to Gram Parsons, was the best country cover concept album to date. And now Harris, as executive producer, pays equally loving tribute to Dolly Parton.
Parton is, quite simply, America's greatest living songwriter. The fact is often overlooked thanks to Dolly's trashy trappings; this cd should help give Dolly her due.
As on the previous Parsons tribute, the finest moments here come when artists choose to reinterpret Parton's classics. Allison Moorer (a great songwriter herself) delivers a woozy, haunting take on Light of a Clear Blue Morning. Alison Krauss' 9 to 5 gives in to the weariness of the song's lyrics where Parton's original played against them. Newcomer Mindy Smith delivers a stunning rethink of Jolene: Dolly's forceful delivery left no doubt that she could whoop Jolene's [behind] if given half a chance while Smith is left vulnerable and shattered. Me'Shell N'Degeocello's Two Doors Down is served up in a blue funk. Even Parton herself joins in to revamp the title track as prime Memphis soul.
Shelby Lynne, Sinead O'Connor and Joan Osborne give strong performances that stay closer to the original versions, and Melissa Ethridge deserves massive props for taking on I Will Always Love You; she matches Dolly's emotional intensity while bringing the song new shades of meaning.
Even the least among these tracks are quite good. Shania Twain's delivery on Coat of Many Colors is somewhat threadbare, but she has excellent support on the song. And once again the vastly overrated Norah Jones reaches into her one-pony trick bag to get by on vibe alone: at least this time she has an excellent song to deliver.
I would have liked to have seen a wider range of stylists for this project and - as always - Parton's amazing early catalogue gets the short shrift. For volume two, let's have PJ Harvey deliver Down From Dover and Connor Oberst sing Evening Shade.

Diana (Dlx Ed)
Diana (Dlx Ed)
Offered by Nadeshico-JAPAN-CA
Price: CDN$ 88.49
12 used & new from CDN$ 24.25

4.0 out of 5 stars She would have made an okay lead singer for Chic, Aug. 1 2003
This review is from: Diana (Dlx Ed) (Audio CD)
As a huge Chic fan who is indifferent to Diana Ross as a solo artist, my morbid curiosity ran high on this as I had always heard that Miss Ross & Co. butchered what would have been Bernard and Nile's production masterpiece. Turns out that only "My Old Piano" and "Have Fun Again" suffered considerable damage and both the Chic mix and the remix have their moments; I actually prefer the Ross mix on the hits "Upside Down" and "I'm Coming Out," but that's likely because I am so familiar with them. There's enough difference between the two mixes that you can listen to both straight through. The real surprise for me, however, was disc two, Diana Dance, which is first-rate except for "No One Gets the Prize/The Boss." That one felt stale when it was released and it hasn't improved with age. So, this is a must-have for Chic fans. I'll let the Rossheads speak for themselves.

Trouble W/Being Myself
Trouble W/Being Myself
Offered by Business Surplus Depot
Price: CDN$ 4.09
31 used & new from CDN$ 0.64

2.0 out of 5 stars The Trouble With Producing Yourself, July 23 2003
This review is from: Trouble W/Being Myself (Audio CD)
Macy's first disk was a fresh, funky mess. The second was a funky mess. This one drops the adjectives altogether. The melodies feel second-hand, and the only interesting musical moment comes when she snitches a rhythm track from Kraftwerk (those funky homosapiens!). She also snitches a song title from the Beatles and constructs some sort of ambivalent reaction to the war around it that ends up being as muddled as everything here. The much-discussed "Childhood Memories" is nothing more than a novelty song; and the novelty that is Macy's croak really wears thin on this, to the point where the shrill "Sreamin'" is unlistenable. She looks fabulous in the cover photos, though.

D-D-Don't Stop the Beat
D-D-Don't Stop the Beat
Offered by langton_distribution
Price: CDN$ 8.91
19 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars White Trash Goodtime Blast!, July 10 2003
This review is from: D-D-Don't Stop the Beat (Audio CD)
Seemingly rank amateurs, Junior Senior manage to pull off quite a feat. They distill the varied history of frenetic dance rock into a singular, minimal blast of frantic goodtime unlike anything else since maybe Disco Tex and his Sexolettes. Punk, Mersey-beat, Motown, disco, old school rap, glam, sci-fi new wave - it's all good to these guys. Next, they add a personal dynamic that's even weirder than Jack and Meg's brother/sister/husband/wife shtick: Senior's big and gay; Junior's little and not. Senior seems to be hung up on Junior, and Junior seems to be, well, very horny and confused. Or maybe it's just the fact that Junior's English syntax would have to actually improve to be as quirky as ABBA's. The wonderful bonus live version of the monster hit and brilliant Chic homage "Move Your Feet" suggests that Junior Senior could actually develop into something truly special. For now, however, I'm perfectly swayed by this trashy little gem's inspirational verse: "We wanna be like Nancy and Lee/we wanna sing like K-k-kim and Marvin/we wanna wear the same as Sonny and Cher/and show we got b---s like the New York Dolls/...even if I got money I'd still be white thrash -- yeah!"

Offered by Polar Bear Store
Price: CDN$ 6.99
55 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Annie Get Your Gun, July 2 2003
This review is from: Bare (Audio CD)
Annie's always been an Artist with a capital A, so this album's pretentiousness is a given. (For starters check out the cover explanation or that subtitle on "Oh God.") Annie keeps from being just another art rocker, however, by always making sure her pretensions and tastes are undeniably middlebrow. So, we get the expected musical and lyrical clichés burnished to a high sheen. Where Annie excels, however, is in delivering despondency to the masses, and I'll be damned if she hasn't served up the feel-bad album of the year. It's so good in fact, it makes you want to ruin a perfectly good relationship just so you can relate. Guess she really didn't "Need a Man" after all....

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