The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, October 29, 1998, Page 10, Image 10

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“Electro-shock Blues”
Grade: A
A man named E seems metre like a character
from a sadly surreal KurtVonnegut novel than a
living, breathing and even serious musician.
Bom Mark Everett, his father was a world
renowned physicist, who handled his success by
becoming increasingly withdrawn from his fam
ily until he died of a heart attack when E was
only 19.
His mother provided no comfort for her son,
who had steady drug and auto-theft habits by the
time he was 13.
She found solace in the bottle, a situation that
only worsened as it became increasingly appar
ent that E’s sister was suffering from severe men
tal illness.
After several attempts at suicide, his sister
finally met success. E buried her two years ago,
shortly after he floated across the screens of
MTV viewers everywhere with the gravity-defy
ing Eels hit, “Novocaine.”
Thic timp flip flnofintY epneofinn nroe ran 1
Desperate for expression, E, who operates as the
chief songwriter for the tend, crafted a 16-song
album dedicated to what he calls the “greatest
American taboo since sex”
He’s talking about death, and “Electro-shock
Blues” unwinds like an ethereal liturgy for a soul
damned to the eternal torture of... Earth.
Although inspired by lus sister’s suicide,
“Electro-shock Blues” struggles with issues of
life and the painful journey of existence after
But the album doesn’t wallow in pity and is
far from sounding weepy. In fact, it’s riddled with
complex pop tunes that defy their somber inspi
ration. The first single, “Last Stop: This Town,”
is the most infectious tune to be released this
year, and it will stay stuck in your head long after
you’ve moved on to a better place.
E, who has always been more of a post-mod
ern poetic conscience than anything, has finally
penned his definitive work. And the scornful
Wannabe Spice Girls
strut girl power for ad
■ Four New York
preteens chosen from
thousands of hopefuls.
NEW YORK (AP) - Many par
ents would cringe at the sight of
their preteen daughters baring their
midriffs and sporting rub-off tat
toos, platform shoes and clip-on
. navel rings.
But thousands of mothers and
fathers accompanied their scantily
clad offspring to an audition
TUesday. The children were vying
for a chance to be their favorite
Spice Gid in a commercial.
“She loves the Spice Girls,
Baby Spice in particular, and Mom
had to work,” said 34-year-old Bill
Sanger of his 7-year-old daughter
Brittany. “I don’t want her to look
back as an adult and wonder if she
had the stuff to be a star.”
Out of a sea of miniature Baby,
Scary, Posh and Sporty wannabes -
no Gingers, thank you (she quit the
group earlier this year) - only one
set of Spice Girl look-alikes were
The winners were Carissa
Farina, 10, as Sporty; Sarah Back,
10, as Posh; Dina Lorraine
Moakley, 9, as Baby; and Nirine
Biown, 12, as Scary. All the girls are
from New York.
The commercial, for a line of
dolls and other Spice Girls prod
ucts, begins filming next week.
While die auditions were limit
ed to children between the ages of 5
and 12, the competition was hardly
kid stuff.
One 9-year-old Scary Spice
imitator, sporting oversized plastic
green glasses and a spray-aided
hairdo that can be described only as
untamed, coolly surveyed a rival
and said, “You look nothing like'
The response was immediate
and crushing, and it came with a
faux British accent
“Well, Scares-me-Spice, I can
sing. I can dance. I can act We’ll see
what they say inside.”
Parents could offer only wan
smiles for each other. And many
didn’t pretend to know a thing about
the British pop group.
“Honestly, I don’t know Baby
Spice from heather spice,” Sanger
“Oh, Dad,” said blond pony
tailed Brittany, covering her eyes.
“Please, not so loud.”
nature of his songs are not lost in the pop-candy
From start to finish, “Electro-shock Blues”
unearths E’s despair, and he never fails to com
ment on the most minute of depressing details.
The first track, “Elizabeth on the Bathroom
Floor,” is almost entirely silent save for a tinkling
piano and soft guitar. The brief songs ends in the
couplet “My name’s Elizabeth, My life is shit *
and piss.”
With other tracks such as “Going to Your
Funeral Part I,” “My Descent into Madness” and
“Hospital Food,” E takes the. phenomenon of -
death down to microscopic levels of isolation,
pain and the hopeless irony of salvation.
But that’s not all. Instnimentally, the songs
manage to challenge their stunning lyrical com
plexity. Radiohead, Morphine and Pavement are
the most obvious influences, but E deserves
credit for weaving the seemingly incompatible
elements of grief rock and pop rock into a seam
less, goigeous fabric.
E may be grieving, but he’s not nostalgic. The
pop beauty of Eels’ last release, “Beautiful
Freak,” is found here, too, but without seeming
like reincarnated leftovers.“Electro-shock
Blues” manages the precarious balance of gen
uine emotion with pop sensibility: a feat many
have tried and most have failed to accomplish
E cannot bring his sister back, but her death
has inspired his greatest achievement and
brought her to life for thousands of listeners.
This is the irony E sings about
-Bret Schulte
Reel Big Fish
“Why Do They Rock So Hard?”
Mojo Records
Grade: D+
Just as last year’s alternative backlash struck
and ska acts hit the mainstream, Reel Big Fish
jumped in at the right time. The band released the
sarcastic debut record “Turn The Radio Off” and
soon they were going from playing small clubs to
‘Turn The Radio Off” worked well because
the band played a lively blend of ska and punk
Former Nebraskan opens
exhibit at Haydon Gallery
A former Nebraska resident
returns home from Arizona to open
an exhibition at the Haydon Gallery,
335 N. 8th St., on Friday.
Robin Smith, a former resident of
Ashland, makes the trek from
Arizona State University, where he is
a professor of art
His exhibit “Still Life Paintings”
explores the minute changes that
light and placement make upon
forms in space. Described as “both
inviting and confounding,” the col
lection will remain at the Haydon
through Nov. 21.
Like Smith, his pieces have
spanned the country, having been
featured in exhibitions in Oklahoma
City, Rochester, Minn., and Salt Lake
Friday evening’s reception runs
from 7 to 9. For more information
call (402) 475-5421.
while ripping on shallow individuals in songs
such as “Trendy” and “Sellout,” and singing of
teen-age pessimism in “Everything Sucks ”
However, in the band’s new release, “Why Do
They Rock So Hard?,” Reel Big Fish not only
does its typical ranting, but it also plays the
style it is making fun of, namely rock music..
“Why Do They Rock So Hard?” is full of
bad electric guitar that takes away from the act’s
strong horn section. Not only do “Brand New
Song” and “Everything Is Cool” not work with
the rock-fueled formula, but they prove to be
less rhythmic and more childish than anything
on “Itim the Radio Off.”
The remakes of “Thank You For Not
Moshing” and “I’m Cool” aren’t any better than
the original versions, and “I Want Your
Girlfriend to Be My Girlfriend” is the band's
worst live song and only takes up space on the
Only acouple of die songs here work at all.
“The SetUp (You Need This)” is easily the best
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horn section in a way that is complementary.
“Scott’s A Dork” is an enjoyable and humorous
listen, simply because the chorus is so point
For the most part though, “Why Do They
Rock So Hard?” sounds like a long and weak
ska-rock remix that only Puff Daddy would con
sider. If they know what’s good for diem, Reel
Big Fish will put more ska chords back into its
songs, because this album will probably never
see the light of a compact disc player again.
-Patrick Miner
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
“Live From The Middle East”
Mercury Records
Grade: Bt
The Slackers
“The Question”
Hellcat Records
Grade: B
Last year, hybrid ska music hit a commer
cial peak. Albums and tours by bands such as
ska-core The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, ska
punk Reel Big Fish and ska-reggae Hepcat
swept the nation and held radio by its ear.
Although the craze has since shifted to
swing music, the ska-influenced acts continue
to release quality albums, with the aforemen
tioned Bosstones and reggae-ska act The
Slackers hitting the stores with new albums this
As anyone who has been to a Bosstones live
show will explain, the band’s concerts live up to
all of the hype they have received over the past
decade. “Live From the Middle East,” named
after the club where the songs were recorded,
portrays the band’s boisterous ska show as well
as possible without the listener actually being
The album is a solid mix from the band’s
five albums, from classics “Hope I Never Lose
My Wallet” and “Cowboy Coffee” to more
recent hits “Royal Oil” and “The Rascal King”
What makes this record great is that it com
bines interaction between lead singer Dicky
Barrett and die crowd as well as great-sounding
renditions of classic live songs,
“Whore’<IYoi£Go/* best known from the
film “CluelesS/* and “Hell of A Hat” sound best
here, with Barrett’s scratchy voice and the
Bosstones’ horn section taking over.
While it would have been nice to hear the
complex “Awfully Quiet” or Barrett screaming
■I— I
on “Issachar,” it’s hard to argue with 21 of the
band’s greatest hits. ■>
“Live From The Middle East” can give
casual Bosstones listeners a glimpse into some
of the band’s greatest work, and it gives long
time fans a good live mix with some slight
changes to the tunes thrown in by the band.
In contrast, The Slackers album, “The
Question,” is much more laid back than the
lively Bosstones’ affair. The record is The
Slackers’ second in the past year on Hellcat
Records, which is eo-owned by Epitaph head
Brett Gurewitz and Rancid’s Tim Armstrong.
Fronted hv the venins sonowriter Vie
Ruggiero, The Slackers were the final band to
play at the July 19 Warped Tour date in
Lawrence, Kan. There they played several
songs from the then-unreleased “The
Question,” and the band received a tremendous
response from the crowd.
Simply, the songs on “The Question” are
more reggae-edged than last year’s “Redlight,”
which had a more soulful sound with die aka
“The Question” flows well with a continu
ously relaxed sound, with songs such as
“Knowing” and “Do You Know” sounding sim
ilar to the grooves of labelmates Hepcat and
“And I Wonder?” sounding like a ska-laced
There are two versions here of the title track
“The Question,” including “The Question
(Version),” which features toasting (reggae
style rap) by artist Paul Perkins, adding another
dimension to an already solid record.
-Patrick Miner
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