re:CDs - Back From Britain

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Five years ago, Elastica broke onto the British rock scene in a big way.

With bratgirl snarls, trashy punk flare and a stroppy willingness to

rip-off its musical predecessors (Wire, the Knack, the Fall), the coed

group became the beloved darlings of the Britpop nation. They toured for

two years straight, sold over a million records, stumbled through a string

of tabloid-panting love affairs, indulged in a panoply of party drugs and

then promptly disappeared.

MIA since their last tour in 1996, Elastica has finally reemerged with

Menace, a 13-song, 38-minute affair that begs the question, what

took you guys so bloody long? Granted, they've learned some new tricks.

Ambient breakbeats, synthy bass lines and the occasional techno teaser are

all added to Elastica's arsenal. But aside from the added technotronics,

there's little here to suggest that the band's half-decade recording

sabbatical was anything more than a sojourn in celebrity self-indulgence

and in-house squabbling.

They've dismissed cute, waify guitarist Donna Mathews in favor of the

very un-cute, un-waify Paul Jones, added keyboardist Dave Bush, and

returned as a barely dissimilar version of their former selves. Slashy

guitar licks, mechanical hooks, Justine Frischmann's coldcocked vocals -

all the stuff that made their first album so jostling and fresh - are still

prominent, if not a little dated. The sneering obsession number "Love Like

Ours" crackles with the same sexual energy as previous hits like "Stutter"

and "Car Song." Hook-heavy tunes like "Mad Dog" and "Your Arse, My Place"

easily correspond to the 1995 flagbearer "Connection." And stand-out

sing-alongs like the gorgeous "Nothing Stays the Same" and the quirky cover

of Trio's "Da Da Da" (a song which, strangely, will not die die die) recall

the best moments of their earlier work.

As a follow-up effort to their much-loved debut, Menace is

entirely respectable. It is listless and fun, and Frischmann still provides

a commanding, sexy lead. But let's not forget how long it took the band to

get to this point. Five years is a helluva long time to make such blunted

musical bounds. Perhaps next time, they'll quit foffing about (Brit

translation: dicking around) and offer fans more than just a teched-up

rehash of yesterday's masterpiece. [Jon Steinberg]

Gilles Peterson

INCredible Sound of Gilles Peterson


DJ mix CDs are difficult for some critics to evaluate. They aren't full

of original music by the DJs themselves most of the time, so why should

they even be commented on?

Perhaps because DJ mixes are all about the styles of the DJs in

question. These are fellas who spend all their lives and every last cent

they have lusting after that perfect record - that record no one else has -

to play during their sets and define who they are in the fast expanding

world of DJs. Danny Tenaglia, we've learned, is a master of dark house.

Paul van Dyk, on the other hand, is an authority of thrilling trance.

Thanks to this new compilation from Epic, Brit-boy Gilles Peterson can now

be considered an expert of cool, chic dance music.

With a flawless, 14-track mix of tunes from the likes of Nu Yorican

Soul (with their classic "I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun"), INCredible

Sound of Gilles Peterson comes off as the ideal party soundtrack for

anyone who likes a bit of retro mixed in with their cool.

Peterson puts much emphasis on the influences of jazz funk, hip-hop and

'70s retro to his personal style. For example, Minnie Riperton's 1974

inspirational "Les Fleur" is only one of three tracks from that era that

actually manage to fit in aesthetically with the rest of the collection. On

the other side of the spectrum, hip-hop-flavored inclusions such as

Handsome Boy Modeling School's "The Truth" lend complimentary attitude to

the album's flow.

INCredible Sound of Gilles Peterson is almost a night at Studio

54 in spirit, but it's definitely tailored for a '00s audience to consume.

There may be a wide range of styles used throughout its duration, but at

the end you realize that only one person with enough devoted effort could

have put it all together. And Peterson's that guy. [Bryan Chin]


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