New CD releases heat up summer months

Devil’s Night

It’s shock-rock packaged for the hip-hop community. Eminem has made a name in recent years by openly assaulting popular convention, celebrities and, in many cases, good taste. He has now decided to explore depravity with a few friends. D-12, also known as The Dirty Dozen, showcases the talents of Eminem’s former Detroit crew, a group that was founded in 1990 and featured the rapper in his early days.

D-12’s first release, Devil’s Night (Shady Records), produced by and featuring Eminem, is fused with the kind of under-the-skin antics and insulting subject matter that has propelled Eminem to the top. The rapper makes sure to work in all his old favorite themes – Britney Spears, Everlast and pharmaceuticals – while also showcasing the talents of an array of talented rappers. Although maintaining an “Eminem” vibe the record is an obvious collaborative effort. The rest of the group members shine through, taking their place next to, and sometimes overshadowing, Eminem.

Devil’s Night is a quality record, if you can handle it. This album lends a level of gangsta rap authenticity to Eminem’s sound that his music may have lacked in the past. The tracks also work in Eminem’s distinct vocals. Expect to be entertained and insulted by the over-the-top expression of Eminem’s warped psyche.

Moulin Rouge

Director Baz Luhrmann does not do anything small. He gained critical acclaim with his modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and now he is once again in the spotlight with his new film Moulin Rouge, a project that took more than two years to develop. Along with a big film comes a big soundtrack released on UNI/Interscope Records. Featured in the movie are songs by David Bowie, Bono, Fatboy Slim and Christina Aguilera. Additionally the soundtrack contains a number of songs performed by the film’s stars Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.

The soundtrack is exemplary through and through, but the shining moments are the production numbers performed by the stars. The movie features a number of both riotous and emotionally draining songs that leave the listener hailing the film as a new musical classic.

The only downside is the mix of traditional movie soundtrack songs and songs from the musical score. The mix of popular performers and performers from the film leaves listeners confused about whether they bought a pop CD or a musical soundtrack. Perhaps two releases would have been appropriate for this particular venture, one for the cast songs and one for the professional musicians. Regardless, the soundtrack is a well worth a shot. But for the best experience, maybe one should just eat the eight bucks and go see the movie.

Greatest Fits

Since the early 1980s, Ministry has shaped the progression of electronic music. They are the undisputed forefathers of ’90s industrial rock and have spent almost two decades perfecting their disturbing, heart-wrenching sound. The band’s newest release, Greatest Fits (Warner Bros.), is a review of sorts which cycles through their musical history. The album features memorable tracks from past Ministry releases and a new track from the band, “What About Us.”

The single is currently featured on the soundtrack for the new DreamWorks movie AI. The new single is a disturbing hard-rock track that explores the idea of man being likened to machine. The rest of the album features a well-chosen mix of tracks from pervious releases. Greatest Fits offers a quality introduction to one of the most important electronic bands in history. Ministry has revolutionized the genre, and although they may not be doing anything new, their old work stands as innovative and exciting. This album offers little that is new, so for old ministry fans it may be a waste of money. But for mainstream music fans looking to dip into the realms of the dark unknown Greatest Fits is definitely a must-have.

Sugar Ray

Who would have thought we’d still be hearing about Sugar Ray? When the band released their first single, “Fly,” a solitary melodic song on a hardcore album, the term “one-hit wonder” never seemed more fitting. But miraculously this band has stuck around releasing their critically acclaimed 14:59 in early 1999 and now a new self-titled album on Atlantic Records.

The new record does not stray far from the new Sugar Ray formula – pop-rock with silly emotional lyrics and the occasional turntable. At no point does the record breach the surface to delve into serious themes. Rather, the songs are concerned with relationships that seem juvenile.

The album is by no means bad, and Sugar Ray fans will probably want to go grab it. The band has developed a method for song writing – mainly above-surface poppy rock – and has stuck to it on this album. This is an album that might find its way into the CD player during a party or barbecue this summer, but will probably be lost behind the couch before the year’s end.

Dave Navarro
Trust No One

Dave Navarro, on his own? Sure the guy has done great things, even legendary things, with bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Porno for Pyros, but he was always one step out of the spotlight. Navarro mistakenly steps up front with his new solo record Trust No One (Capitol Records).

Since leaving the Red Hot Chili Peppers, little has been heard from Navarro. Many hoped he had been biding his time waiting to release an outstanding album. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Although Navarro has earned his chops as a guitar hero, he just is not a front man. Trust No One is a mediocre attempt to capture an early ’90s grunge sound that may be better left to that decade. Navarro is an apt singer and guitarist, but he lacks energy and originality on this record. It might be best if Dave started looking for another band to back, because this record isn’t going to keep the checks rolling in.

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