Awake-y Breaky Heart

Three emotional releases embrace the theme of resurrection.

By J. Edward Keyes
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted May. 25, 2005

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They miss notes and start false and generally recapture a sense of joy and spontaneity and possibility. All of which is summarized in five perfect minutes of music, the galloping "Entertain."

The song is a case study in dynamic mastery: building slowly from rolling tom-tom rhythm, the band adds powder to the barrel slowly over the verses, and then detonates the whole keg in the chorus.

In what's arguably her most riveting and passionate vocal performance, Carrie Brownstein coughs and screeches and pleads her way through a bitter, biting lyric: "You come around looking 1984/ You're such a bore, 1984/ Nostalgia, you're using it like a whore." It's as if she's singing straight into the cover of the latest issue of NME.

The resurrection of Epic Soundtracks is more sedate but no less stirring. One of the founding members of the obscenely underpraised Swell Maps (pieces of which can be picked out of both the Hold Steady and Sleater-Kinney), Soundtracks passed away in 1997, leaving his brother Nikki Sudden to assemble his final record posthumously.

Good Things is a shimmering piece of slow-burn balladry, a record that seems steeped in the kind of sadness that shows up when a person begins to suspect their optimism is actually naivete.

What's always been remarkable about Soundtracks is his ability to turn genre trappings against themselves. Like Scott Walker and the Tindersticks, Soundtracks takes the facade of A.M. soft rock but reconfigures it to support alarming melodic shifts and his underplayed conversational vocals.

He stacks backing harmonies to create a choir of ghosts in the whispery "Sooner or Later," and smuggles himself into the resurrection of Christ to make "Roll the Stone" both deeply touching and eerily prophetic.

It's not as riveting as his best work-the sweetly determined Rise Above-but hearing Soundtracks sing, "You've got to roll that stone/ And keep on rolling" is enough to make anyone believe that we all might get out of here alive.


spin cycle

Omarion's "Touch" video
www.omariononline.com

Here I am at my desk at work watching Omarion's new "Touch" video for, like, the 200th time. I just can't stop pressing the play button the minute the video ends.

Truth be told, I don't even dig Omarion. Formerly of B2K, this Usher-with-jailhouse-braids is now on his own, trying to scoop up whatever teen girls Mr. Confessions Man hasn't made moist.

I don't even find the video all that original. It has Omarion flirtatiously following a girl around a desolate city street at night. Didn't Michael Jackson do the exact same shit nearly 20 years ago in that "The Way You Make Me Feel" video? So why the hell do I even care? Three reasons:

>> The song. It's a Neptunes production, and I still have a soft spot for those boys, even though it looks they've been eclipsed by cats like Lil Jon and Rich Harrison (who produced what may be the best pop song of the year, Amerie's "1 Thing") as in-demand producers-of-the-moment. Sometimes I don't even watch the video. I just listen to it while I'm working so I can hear Pharrell Williams (who, shockingly, isn't in the video) kick out those background vocals in the third verse.

>> The choreography. I must admit that's the one thing I truly envy about Omarion: his agility as a dancer. I certainly wish I could break and pop-lock with the same rubbery precision. One of my co-workers-a dude-even told me he was so impressed by Omarion's spastic yet graceful moves that, while watching the video, he almost felt like one of those giddy girls in the audience on BET's 106 & Park.

>> That girl! Whoever the hell she is, not only is she the most luscious, curvaceous thing I've ever seen-and just as good a dancer as ol' boy-but she actually restored my faith in girls in music videos. Believe it or not, seeing sistas wobble their asses for five minutes straight in a video can get tiring-especially if you see it in every gotdamn video. At least this honey knows more than one dance move.

Thankfully, those elements keep this video from-uh oh, the video's over. Gotta go press play again. (Craig D. Lindsey)

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