re:CDs - All Mest Up



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Mest

Wasting Time

[Maverick]

When times are good, American music tends to get nice and mushy. Right

now, our fat, restless, young-adult booties are shaking to a frighteningly

squishy surge of bubble-gum boy bands and teen divas. But more mainstream

punk bands are also blowing bubbles, as Mest do on their debut CD,

Wasting Time.

In a surprisingly catchy mix of pop, punk and power chords, Mest have

created an album that is simple yet appealing. Though the first radio

single, "What's the Dillio?", plays as a Sublime-like fake ode to sleepy

reggae, it sits apart from the rest of Wasting Time as a slightly

disturbing aberration during an unusually smooth ride through Happy Punk

Land.

Mest have plenty to be happy about concerning this album - although its

"punk-lite" brand of music may be too sugary for punk afficionados, the

album is sure to garner younger fans that are just beginning their

adventures in punk rock, as well as already-avid listeners looking for

something to play around mom and dad.

Throughout Wasting Time, the boys of Mest genuflect to punk idols

Blink 182 and Green Day, fusing sweet songs of love, heartache and regret

with punchy bass lines and thick-yet-unobtrusive guitars. Tracks are

interpreted almost solely on a literal level, as when lead singer and

guitarist Tony Lovato croons on "Girl 4 Tonight," "When was the last time I

saw you / who would have known I'd still be blue / I'm getting up and

movin' on / Cuz I've been drinking here for way too long."

Coupled with cover art featuring the band posing with a bevy of buxom

dwarves, Mest convey a picture of punk rock getting fat and happy as it

thrives on modern rock stations across the country.

Unfortunately, fat and happy music can also be confused with that which

is slow and sluggish. That Mest's debut deserves at least a perpetual head

nod is apparent, but it's difficult to tell if Wasting Time should get much

more recognition than that. While tracks vary from the annoyingly

repetitive chorus of "What's the Dillio?" ("What's the D-D-D-Dillio Dillio

/ What's the D-D-D-Deal Deal?") to the defiant thrashing of "Forget You,"

there's little discernable ingenuity or signature style on Wasting

Time. Mest mesh well musically, but clearly they have a lot of gum

chewing to do before they can expect raging throngs of teenagers pawing

them at shows. [Rachel Metz]


*N SYNC & Britney Spears

Your #1 Requests ... And More!

[Jive]

Aren't franchise tie-ins the most beautiful things in the world? In the

wake of the mind-boggling successes of their latest sophomore albums, *N

SYNC and Britney Spears have decided to join forces and take the Golden

Arches by storm. Yay!

Yup, McDonald's is now offering a new CD and video featuring our current

favorites in the land o' pop. If hip-hop or Latin pop are more your thang,

there are also CDs featuring artists like Mary J. Blige, DMX, Enrique

Iglesias and Selena(!). The best CD of them all, though, is the one with

four songs from *N SYNC and four from Brit.

It's wonderfully contrived! They've put on a remix each from their most

recent hits. There's the Teddy Riley remix of "Bye Bye Bye," which tones

the original down a lot but keeps the spunk intact, and there's a Rodney

Jerkins mix of "Oops! ... I Did It Again" that isn't as good as it sounds

like it would be.

Two songs serve as sneaky advertising for the latest chart-toppers they

come from. *N SYNC's "I Thought She Knew" and Brit's "One Kiss From You,"

while not the best tracks from either's respective album, do their best at

luring your naive little sister to ask mommy to make a trip to Tower

Records. The last four songs are pure b-side material - mostly slow and

generally indistinguishable from one another. It's certainly pop at its

most airheaded-bliss.

This CD is a hoot for anyone shamelessly obsessed with the bubblegum pop

that's out there. Artistic integrity aside, it's a great move for *N SYNC

and Spears when it comes to getting exposure ... as if they need anymore

anyway. But McD's is obviously the ideal place for them .to go and expose

themselves, setting little girls' hearts aflutter as they prepare for the

Big-Mac-induced heart attacks coming to them in 50 years. Gimme fries with

that! [Bryan Chin]


Beenie Man


Art and Life


[Virgin]

If art and life truly do reflect each other, Beenie Man can rest assured

that his latest musical offering, Art and Life, will be on many

reggae buffs' autobiographical CD lists.

On Art and Life, Beenie Man employs a variety of reggae sounds

and guest artists (including Mya, Wyclef Jean and Redman), piecing together

a major-label debut that is complex in its musical layering but soothing in

its whispery grooves and warm beats.

Though Beenie Man is in full reggae form on Art and Life, his

army of drummers, horn players, keyboardists and mixers support his smooth,

on-the-beat vocals in a variety of musical styles. While guest artists Jean

and Mya step up the album's RnB feel, Beenie Man delves into funky

reggae-swing waters with tracks like "Ola," which also features Steve Perry

of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies. With fart-tooting trumpets and swing-style

backing vocals, "Ola" crosses reggae with some of swing music's more

distinct moves to create a cool, fused groove.

Moving in a very different musical direction, Beenie Man teams up with

Arturo Sandoval on "Tumble (La Caida)," where bright vocals and salsa beats

are highlighted by cries of "Hey baby let's do the tumble / make sure that

you don't stumble" and Jamaican-tinged Spanish rhymes that flow in

sugary-sweet, foot-tapping style.

Beenie Man craftily crams many different schools of music into Art

and Life in seamless fashion, passing the baton from swing to salsa to

synthesizer tracks in the form of quick, soulful vocals. This attention to

lyrical detail serves him well, creating a positive-yet-sexy vibe that

carries through Art and Life.

On "Love Me Now," Beenie Man's dedication to meaningful lyrical content

is displayed with striking directness as he coos, "Love me now or hate me

more / But we're still going to lead / Cause we're gonna be, forever more /

Cause we're still going to lead." By including a cut of "We Shall Overcome"

in "Love Me Now," he calls out for tolerance and respect, no matter what

the cost.

The messages Beenie Man channels via Art and Life all follow

similar themes, though the beats accompanying songs are quite mutable.

Winding through songs about love, trust and lust, Beenie Man's point on art

and life becomes evident - though the two often exist in different realms,

neither can survive without the other. [RM]


Cabaret Diosa


Voodoo Piņata


[Exotica]

When I am old enough to drink, I will either (a) jump into a bathtub

full of beer and slosh around in it until I pass out, (b) move next to the

Pyramid Brewery and go there daily for my morning drink or (c) throw a

cocktail soiree and invite Cabaret Diosa to slurp banana rumbas along with

me.

Actually, I'll probably do all three, but a swanky party with Cabaret

Diosa will definitely come first. Even if the band can't make it, I'll

still have the sensuous mambo rhythms on Voodoo Piņata to keep me

company.

In the martini-sipping, leopard-slipper-wearing, fez-sporting traditions

of Martin Denny, Yma Sumac and Pablo Esquivel, Cabaret Diosa say, "Welcome,

welcome, welcome!" to the world of exotic big band romance.

Perhaps the image of suave men in silk robes with olive-bedecked drinks

in their hands is elusive and almost extinct, but on Voodoo Piņata,

Latin exotica combines with space-aged bachelor-pad sounds to create a

musical mixed drink that soothes the senses and tickles the toes. With

foot-tapping monkey sounds and trilling violins, Cabaret Diosa entice

listeners by serving up tracks in English and Spanish that offer a glimpse

of older lounge music with a year-2000 twist.

In the vein of its predecessors, el grupo tries to stay true to the

exotica genre by including lots of maraca-shaking and echo-ey background

choruses, but it also marks its own path with more American-style vocals

and saxophone solos via singer Montana del Fuego (a.k.a. Kimberly Franco)

and brass and wind player Arturo Sabado (a.k.a. Ari Dvorin). Though the

band sometimes takes a turn which almost sounds like a scary Bar

Mitzvah-band flashback - like with "Miami Beach Rumba" where only the

song's subject prevents it from falling into "Hava Nagila" territory - its

attempts to resuscitate Latin exotica are striking and exuberant.

The Boulder, Colorado group's small-band size and big-band appeal cut

up trippy, tropical grooves and classy cocktail moves with modern Latin

exotica style. Songs such as "Banana Rum" and "Como se Dice" will make

party-goers and drink-sippers alike prone to outbursts of "Break out the

tiki torches! Cut up the pineapple! And gimme a piņa colada!" [RM]

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