Radio and record companies never quite knew what to make of Faith No More. Despite that, for a few years, the band managed to reach a wide audience, and Slash/Reprise/Rhino have pulled together This Is It: The Best of Faith No More, a collection covering the band's 13-year history. First appearing on the scene in 1985 as a wild punk-funk fusion band, it made its major label debut two years later with Introduce Yourself, and its tongue-in-cheek slap-bass anthem "We Care a Lot." A switch in singers and a bizarre melange of classic piano, funk and technicolor hard rock in the single "Epic" gave the band its biggest success in 1989, with the album The Real Thing. Three more albums and an EP — Songs to Make Love To — followed in the '90s, but the band never connected again with radio in the way that "Epic" did, and in 1998 it disbanded. But not before making some exciting excursions into the merger of punk, funk, heavy metal, and even adult contemporary — Songs to Make Love To included a surprisingly true-to-the original remake of Lionel Ritchie's "Easy." "We Care a Lot," "Epic," "Introduce Yourself," "Easy" and its cover of Black Sabath's "War Pigs" all appear here, with 14 other innovative tracks. In many ways, Faith No More did the same thing as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and did it better. But like the Betamax videotape, the best of the two punk-rock-funk bands slipped away, and the other act lives on. Relive the glory with This Is It: The Best of Faith No More.
Champaign-Urbana' Parasol label group has grown steadily over the past few years, and continues to serve up a steady diet of both alternative rock and power pop offerings. To spotlight its developing artist roster, the label periodically releases a collection of singles and previously unreleased tracks. The latest, Parasol's Sweet Sixteen, Volume Six, opens with a catchy track from Bettie Serveert that falls squarely between Blondie and No Doubt on the girl-pop radar. The disc also includes Beatlesque-pop from John Cunningham, a French guitar and cello piece from Orwell, a breezy retro bit of pop from Ronderlin and the title track to Menthol's excellent '80s-leaning album Danger: Rock Science! which made the Pop Stops best of the year list for 2002. Other acts include Club 8, Folksongs for the Afterlife, The Violents, and dreamy chimey selections from Absinthe Blind and Fonda. Check the Parasol Web site for the label's always innovative catalogue at www.parasol.com.
The Los Angeles duo Crushing Velvet has landed songs on TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Third Watch" and "Dawson's Creek." Now, the band has released its own CD, featuring Chyanna Davis's light but entrancing vocals and Tom Diekmeier's crunch-pop guitar and keyboard instrumentation.
The opening track, "Special" (which originally was heard on TV's "Third Watch"), is awash with warm reverb and Chyanna's swirling, silky vocals. "Sugar Star," the disc's second track, has appeared on "Dawson's Creek" and is reminiscent of Canada's Wild Strawberries, with its sinuous dark guitars and bass and singsong chorus. "Buffy" fans might recognize "XXX," which has appeared on that show, and features the same kind of slow, strutting eerieness that Elysian Fields created a few years ago on its one full-length release for Radioactive Records.
"The Day" (another "Third Watch" song) opens with an electric backdrop and chirpy vocal line that sounds a lot like Ana Voog before slipping into a breakneck chorus. "Hurt Myself" features a more langorous pace and sinister feel as Chyanna bemoans that "I hurt myself on you/you're not kind/I've been blind."
Crush is a strong recording for an independent band, with a good mix of slow-building anthems and upbeat rock songs, though it's a little ambient and airy for most radio stations. Fans of femme-fronted bands that spend more time setting moods than trying to pen three-minute pop hits will enjoy this disc.
With a bigger budget and strong producer, this is a duo that could jump to the major leagues on its next release. Check it out at www.crushingvelvet.com.