Apollo Four Forty
Gettin' High On Your Own Supply
I'm going to say right now that one of the best dance-rock tracks of 2000 has already arrived — "Stop The Rock" on Apollo Four Forty's latest wild techno CD ride features classic rock organ, computer-enhanced vocals, chunky rock riff guitar and a non-stop beat. This one's catchy as all get-out. The disc also includes the band's galloping electronic update of the Lost In Space theme.
Those two tracks would be reason enough to buy this disc, but it also offers other beat-happy tracks like the sample-heavy, wolf-whistle-enhanced "Crazee Horse" and the funky siren-blasting "Cold Rock The Mic."
Gettin' High On Your Own Supply is a wild ride through the blissfully manic world of oddball vocal samples, gritty guitar riffs and big beautiful beats. Put this one in and play it loud.
The Next Best Thing Soundtrack
The soundtrack to Madonna's new movie The Next Best Thing is now out on her own Maverick label and features her much ballyhooed cover of Don McLean's "American Pie," which continues the successful pairing of Madonna with ambient techno producer William Orbit (the duo scored last year with "Beautiful Stranger" from the Austin Powers soundtrack). While the smooth vocals and easy listening techno keyboards and beat make for a great "sound" on "American Pie," Madonna's version not only cuts some of the song's crucial verses, but also trims the classic song's emotional impact — she just doesn't sound connected to this song. Better is a sweeping new Madonna/Orbit ballad that appears later on the disc, "Time Stood Still" (which includes the movie's title "next best thing" in its lyric). Here she sounds truly invested in the bittersweet lyric about what might have been.
Metisse leads the soundtrack off with its most exotic offering, "Boom Boom Ba," an entrancing track with background vocals that bring to mind the low-voiced, mysterious vocals of Kate Bush's 1980 single "Babooshka."
Manu Chao sing-speaks a ditty about being the king of the "Bongo Bong," and teen queen Christina Aguilera provides a dance beat and breathy Mariah Carey-influenced voice for the nonsense lyric "Don't Make Me Love You ('Til I'm Ready)." Mandalay offers a Madonna-esque ballad in the lightly trumpet-accented "This Life." Olive delivers a sugar sweet, fast-paced remake of 10cc's "I'm Not In Love" and Groove Armada provides a fun dance track that offers the sage observation that, "If Everybody Looked The Same (we'd get tired of looking at each other)." It's a good soundtrack with a consistently smooth groove and also includes songs from Moby, Beth Orton, Solar Twins and an orchestral movie soundtrack clip from Gabriel Yared.
Pieces In A Modern Style
For fans of William Orbit, Maverick has also just released his Pieces In A Modern Style, an album that turns classical compositions from Henryk Gorecki, Ludwig Van Beethoven, John Cage, Samuel Barber, Erik Satie and more into ambient techno soundscapes. While Orbit is best known for his atmospheric dance mixes, this disc really dismisses the beat in favor of airy strings and synthesizers. It makes for a good sonic wallpaper, but doesn't hold your attention. Better is the included second disc which has two dance beat remixes of "Adagio For Strings," which has been a hit in the U.K.
A better instrumental album of background listening music is Naoyuki Onda's Dream, a warm collection of soundscapes with a Japanese melodic bent that uses ancient Asian folk instruments blended with contemporary ones to create tranquil "dreamscapes." The opening track is very reminiscent of Ryuichi Sakamoto's theme to the David Bowie movie Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, one of my personal all-time favorite soundtrack themes for its bittersweet, melancholic quality.
Dream features stark, classical sounding piano and exotic niko (a stringed lute played with a bow) and shakuhachi (a bamboo flute) melodies against a background of synthesizers and a gentle percussive beat. It makes for great meditation, relaxation or "drifting off to sleep" music. To aid in any meditation you'd like to do to the music, the CD comes with incense sticks secreted in the case's hinge area.
More information on Onda and the label's other Asian artists, is at www.pacificmoon.com.
K-Tel has just unleashed Aggro 2000, a compilation of some of the most aggressive hardcore underground rock of the '90s. Opening with Coal Chamber's pounding distortion anthem "Loco," the disc includes Rammstein's industrial hit "Du Hast," Type O Negative's goth-metal epic "Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)," and the Q101 heavy hits "Guilty" from Gravity Kills and "Fire Water Burn" from Bloodhound Gang. Rollins Band's frighteningly accurate portrayal of a lying male date appears in "Liar," and Static-X's "Bled For Days" will force your head into obedience to its staccato pounding beat. Also included are tracks from Cubante, God Lives Underwater, PUYA, Carcass, Fear Factory, Helmet and more.
The MC5 only released three albums from 1969-1971. But the band's raucous Detroit rock overdrive would inspire scores of bands which led the late '70s punk rock movement. Rhino Records has now released the 21-track CD The Big Bang! A Best of the MC5, with music from its three LPs — Kick Out The Jams, Back In The USA, and High Time — as well as a number of live cuts and rarities.