Sun, Mar 14, 2004 - Page 19 News List

CD reviews

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Courtney Love

American Sweetheart

Virgin

Love her or loathe her, you have to hand it to Courtney Love for the manner in which she sells herself as the voice of the post-grunge generation. Never hesitant in her relentless pursuit of fame, Love has survived lawsuits and never faltered while the music press has chastised and belittled her over the years.

If she possessed the same degree of chutzpah in the studio that she displays when dealing with her many critics, then Love could easily become the unopposed Queen of Rock'n'Roll. Sadly, Love's recording career has proven to be a rather hit-and-miss affair.

Released late last month, America's Sweetheart, is Love's second album of new material in 10 years and it shows. Her solo debut is as sloppy, predictable and unoriginal as a third-rate Nirvana cover-band on a bad day. Its' slick cover art and glossy production cannot disguise the fluff inside.

She may consider herself to be America's sweetheart, but on record Love can't quite seem to make up her mind just who she is. One minute she's Bonnie Raitt, the next Stevie Nicks and the nest she's doing her damnedest to be Exene Cervenka.

While the album possesses a few blustering moments, the rebel rock riffs that eke their way to the surface on tunes like Mono, But Julian I'm a Little Bit Older Than You and Hold on to Me leave the listener cringing.

Span

Mass Distraction

Island

Since making its international debut at the UK's Reading and Leeds summer festivals in 2002, Norwegian four-piece Span has become the latest in a long line of Scandinavian rock acts to make a mark on the international music scene.

Shortly after the band released its 2002 debut single, Baby's Come Back, it came to the attention of Island Records. The band signed to the label that same year and released its second single, On My Way Down, shortly thereafter. A year later, Span scored its biggest hit to date, when the single Found eked its way into tail end of the European music charts.

A blend of Aerosmith-styled metal guitar smarts and the druggy off-center chic of the Queens of the Stone Age, the Oslo-based quartet has gone against the grain, ditched the indie punk revivalist sound of popular Scandinavian compatriots, The Hives and come up with its own addictive sound.

Released early this month, Mass Distraction is the combo's debut album and is packed with the same blistering blend of nu-metal/funk-metal inspired hooks and brash melodic choruses that fans have now come to expect from Span.

The debut longplayer makes for an interesting and original listening from the off, with the opening jerky mainstream metal anthem, Found. What follows are a bunch of nu-metal drenched tunes on which Span takes no prisoners and manages to hit all the right notes time after time.

Primarily an adrenaline inducing record fueled by untainted metal riffs, Mass Distraction also has its less predictable moments. The most noteworthy of which, On My Way Down, is a Jimmy Eat World inspired piece of raw edged power pop.

The Clippers (夾子)

Can't Speak Taiwanese (不會說台語)

EMI

Taiwan's favorite architects of alt-nakashi, The Clippers (夾子) returned to record store shelves recently with its second major label release, Can't Speak Taiwanese (不會說台語).

Like the band's previous vinyl outings, the latest album is a mish-mash of pop, rock, funk and ska intermingled with trappings of traditional Taiwanese nakashi, or minor tone, two-beat, four-chord, accordion/keyboard and guitar-driven music. Unlike the band's previous releases, however, Can't Speak Taiwanese, is much less rambunctious.

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