SOUND CHECK : RAP.
On his debut disc, Jay-Z hits you with rap's trends - Mary J. Blige riffs, Foxy Brown rhymes, Isley Brothers loops and more fashion info than Cindy Crawford. But his sassy way with a lyric transcends the material on ``Reasonable Doubt'' (Roc-A-Fella/Priority).
``I've been around this block too many times/Rocked too many rhymes/Cocked too many nines,'' he raps on ``22 Two's.'' Instead of apologizing for his hustling days, he treats his street career like any CEO - as a way to make money that has risks and rewards.
On ``D'Evils'' he admits greed has corrupted him, and on ``Regrets,'' he allows that getting paid has its price. Like the Notorious B.I.G, with whom he shares the mic on ``Brooklyn's Finest,'' Jay-Z is living better now, but hasn't completely left the hood behind. Three Stars
SOURCE: - Tonya Pendleton
Does the world need another Marilyn Manson? We didn't need the first one, but here's similarly structured New York shock act Psychotica anyway.
The group's eponymous debut for American arrives minus frontman Patrick Briggs' flashy visuals (at Lollapalooza, Psychotica's eye-catching opening slot has earned it buzz band status) and you might be hard-pressed to understand the interest.
``Flesh & Bone,'' ``180'' and ``Barcelona'' are built on collisions of industrial instrumentation with razor-sharp hooks and delirious manic energy. Those tracks are good.
Otherwise, a cacophonous mix of guitars, heavily distorted vocals and keyboards sinks too many cuts in cartoonish muck. One Star
SOURCE: - Howard Cohen
Like Bush, Sponge has taken a beating from critics who liken the group to a musical pawnshop, dealing solely in secondhand angst and used emotions. There's some truth in the charge, as ``Wax Ecstatic'' (Columbia), the Michigan band's follow-up to its breakthrough album, ``Rotting Pinata,'' doesn't break any new ground, and its dark, angular, moody guitar rock lacks the emotional resonance of, say, the Afghan Whigs.
Still, also like Bush, the quintet can rock with a hooky intensity when it wants to, especially on rollicking, up-tempo songs such as ``Silence Is Their Drug,'' the sax-inflected ``My Baby Said,'' and the title track. When things slow down, as in ``The Drag Queens of Memphis,'' ``Velveteen'' or ``Have You Seen Mary,'' Sponge is less striking.
And depending on a consumer's point of view, the 11-song (including a hidden track), 42-minute album is either a welcome display of restraint in this era of hodgepodge 15-track, hourlong CDs or just plain stinginess. Two Stars
SOURCE: - Cary Darling
Harry Connick Jr./``Star Turtle''
Call it coincidence or cross marketing, but Harry Connick Jr. has just released an album with a space theme. The premise: Connick, who also appears in ``Independence Day,'' serves as a New Orleans tour guide to an alien visiting Earth.
Musically, ``Star Turtle'' (Columbia) is the second New Orleans funk album by Connick, once a performer with jazz pianist and heir-to-Sinatra big-band singer ambitions. It feels earthier and looser than 1994's ``She.''
``Reason to Believe'' gallops by with flair and a wink, and while the lyrics in ``Just Like Me'' sound just as dumb as they read, the music is a small pleasure.
Talking about New Orleans is to talk about groove, however, and Connick's solid band offers plenty of that in ``How Do Ya'll Know, Little Farley'' and ``Boozehound.'' But what's missing in Connick's music is grit and a lived-in feel. Try as he may, Connick still comes across like a tourist of funk rather than a local. Two Stars
SOURCE: - Fernando Gonzalez
Prince/``Chaos and Disorder''
This 11-track, 39-minute-long, rock album by Prince (or whatever he's calling himself these days) is a peculiar follow-up to last year's underrated ``The Gold Experience.''
Recorded in part at South Beach Studios and originally intended for private use only, ``Chaos and Disorder'' (Warner Bros.) smacks at first like a kiss-off to his label, a way to fulfill his contractual obligations and move on.
But the Purple One can't help himself. There are forgettable rockers (title track, ``I Like It There''), standard-issue funk (``Dig U Better Dead'') and unneeded curiosities ('60s West Coast folk rock revisited with ``Dinner With Delores'').
But there are also some inspired turns, such as the country-r&b-jazz revue of ``Right the Wrong,'' the blues boogie ``Zannalee'' and ``I Rock, Therefore I Am,'' a delightful mess of a mix of funk, hard rock and r&b with some toasting, rapping and a tip of the hat to Marvin Gaye thrown in for good measure. Two Stars
SOURCE: - Fernando Gonzalez
The story behind the title track of this 13-year-old's best-selling CD is fast becoming country music legend. ``Blue'' was written for Patsy Cline, but a plane crash in 1963 took her life before she had a chance to record it. The song waited for a voice worthy of the traditional torch country ballad. Garland, Texas, native LeAnn Rimes fills the bill.
Possessing pipes well beyond her age, Rimes might be the most impressive youngster to cut a major country hit. The last comparable artist is raspy Tanya Tucker, who at age 12 in the early '70s struck with the adult-oriented ``Delta Dawn.'' Rimes' poise and controlled yodel on ``Blue'' is equally remarkable. Commercially, ``Blue'' has crossed over to Billboard's pop singles chart, something that eluded Tucker, not to mention today's hot Shania Twain.
The full-length CD is good as well, mixing other traditional torch/country tunes (``Hurt Me'') with contemporary country material (``My Baby''). It's on the latter that Rimes runs into trouble: Most of ``Blue'' (MCG/Curb) is lyrically suitable for her age and experience, but ``My baby is a full-grown man'' sounds awkward coming from one so young. How full-grown can he be, LeAnn? Three Stars
SOURCE: - Howard Cohen
Gretchen Peters/``The Secret of Life''
Gretchen Peters has written lots of hits, including Martina McBride's career-making ``Independence Day,'' voted 1995 song of the year by the Country Music Association.
``The Secret of Life'' (Imprint) is her first album, and while it's not likely to make her as big a star as McBride, Patty Loveless, George Strait or others who have taken her tunes to the top of the charts, she proves to be as good an interpreter of her own material as anyone.
The hint of huskiness in her voice makes Peters sound like Roseanne Cash at times. She's less interested in Cash-like confession than in hook-conscious songcraft, but that doesn't diminish the emotional power of her songs, whether they're about restlessness (``Waiting for the Light to Turn Green'') or rejection (``On a Bus to St. Cloud'').
On ``Border Town,'' ``This Uncivil War,'' ``A Room With a View'' and the title track, she displays a sharp eye and empathy for the hopes, struggles and little victories of everyday people. Three Stars
SOURCE: - Nick Cristiano
Photo: (1) Jay-Z taps into rap's latest trends on ``Reas onable Doubt.''
(2) Psychotica's music suffers without its visual component - singer Patrick Briggs.
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|Title Annotation:||L.A. LIFE|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Article Type:||Sound Recording Review|
|Date:||Jul 26, 1996|
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