Snake River Conspiracy
There's a reason for the parental advisory notice on the cover of this disc. While most of the male-female duos out there on the CD racks today create light, fuzzy, feel-good pop, SRC's Jason Slater and Toby Torres dish up an album of slinky tease tunes mixed with intense techno anguish anthems — Nine Inch Nails bred with Garbage. Torres would make Tipper blush with her profound and repeated use of the F-word in the band's club single, the hard-to-ignore (or turn off) "Vulcan." And yet, hard edge noted, this is not an album of tattooed black leather angst from start to finish.
Slater, onetime guitarist for Third Eye Blind and currently also a leader of hardcore act Brougham, gives Torres room to both seduce and scream on the disc's opener, "Breed," and sends her down an atmospheric Garbage-pop hallway in songs like "Casualty" and "You and Your Friend," the latter of which is downright head-bopping poppy as Torres whispers and squeaks about some lyrically treacherous territory: "I can't see you and me and her without each other/I hope you feel the same way too/I think I'm in love with you."
The duo rework The Cure's "Lovesong" with a more dangerous oscillating synthesizer edge and breathy vocals, as well as tackle The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?" which is the album's current single.
As it turns out, "Lovesong" was the song that put the two together — Slater was working up a mix of it and Torres auditioned by trying it out. Slater hired her on the spot, instantly forging an electrically creative crucible of dangerous energy — a duo comprised of a former exotic dancer and self professed "wild" femme fatale with an equally wild hardcore producer/writer/hopeful rock savior.
Slater proves himself a savvy writer/producer throughout, never sitting in the same grind or croon for too long.
He melds a crash-crunch guitar riff in the Smiths cover with a grandiose orchestral layer and throws a kitchen sink of sound effects into the aggro mix of "Vulcan" (including a Star Trek" instrument reading "ping").
There's some sample scratching mixed with a pure pop "Ahhh-ahhh" chorus in "More Than Love," a monster guitar grind groove in "Oh Well," and, in "Somebody Hates You," the mix offers a Cardigans-esque 'bop-ba-da-da-da" vocal jazz element (complete with horn break) with a heavy drum machine and buzzsaw guitar attack as Torres complains of "another night, drunk and passed out on the floor."
Sonic Jihad is an aural attack that's not for the faint of ear. But for those who love a little aggression in their pop (or a little sweet soda pop in their aggression), this is the stuff that dreams are made of.
Black and red-lit dreams.
Snake River Conspiracy is part of a hardcore multi-band tour hitting The Double Door downtown on Sept. 2, also including Rorschach Test, Bile, N17, and Videodrone.
New On The Shelves
Rockford's Cheap Trick hit the shelves again this week with The Authorized Greatest Hits on Epic/Legacy.
The latest Trick compilation features the standard hits like "I Want You To Want Me," "Ain't That A Shame," "Surrender," "Stop This Game," "Dream Police," "Tonight It's You," "She's Tight" and "Can't Stop Falling Into Love," along with a live 1988 version of "The Flame," a 1990 recording of "Walk Away" with Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders on background vocals, the band's 1999 offering to "That 70's Show," called "That 70's Song (in the Street)" and the full-length version of "Everything Works If You Let It," (covered to even better effect last year by avowed Trick fans and another local act, Chicago's own Enuff Z'nuff on their Paraphernalia album). The 16-track Authorized Greatest Hits also includes an alternate version of "If You Want My Love," and a 1998 live version of "I Can't Take It."
Clint Eastwood has a long history of incorporating and examining his musical tastes in his films, and the latest is no exception. The soundtrack to the movie Space Cowboys offers a unique meld of jazz and country, with Willie Nelson handling the classic "Young at Heart" as well as singing Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years," the latter of which also gets a jazz treatment from the Brad Mehldau Trio. Sax great Joshua Redman blows on "The Best Is Yet to Come," "Hit the Road, Jack" and "The Second Time Around," and the disc closes with Frank Sinatra and Count Basie's "Fly Me to the Moon (in Other Words)."
This week the Right Stuff label has released two CD compilations celebrating the 10th anniversary of Latin Beat Magazine. If you like that classic Ricky Ricardo-style Latin jazz club vibe, with pounding bongos, echoing piano and throbbing rhythms, look for Real Latin Jazz — Percussion, Piano & Strings and Real Latin Jazz — Brass, Horns & Winds. Unless you're a real aficionado, you probably won't recognize the names — Chucho Valdes, Eddie Palmieri, Pancho Sanchez, Ray Vega, Tony Martinez — but the beat will still warm your blood.