Scenery and Fish (Capitol)

A lot of people these days are complaining about the current state of the music industry. There's no good music out there; so many new bands, so much crappy music. Wnah, wnah, wnah (when Northern Swell technology is brought up to par, Charlie Brown's teacher's voice will be inserted here). Personally, I think popular music is heading in the right direction. For example, when was the last time you saw some rock star wearing spandex pants? (Does the lead singer of Living Colour still wear that Body Glove shorty on stage? Borderline case--judgement call.) Furthermore, the leather, buckles and chains look seems to be all but extinct these days. And even better, rockers are finally beginning to cut off all that hair. No offense to you devout hair-farmers out there but I think its about bloody time. Which brings us to the topic at hand: the most recent album from those big-city Toronto boys I Mother Earth. (Not to be confused with fellow Canadians Our Lady Peace, or the relatively obscure bands Me Woman Love and My Mommy Ecosystem.) Since their major label debut, 1993's Dig, the band have shed their heavy metal locks-- hooray!--and have recorded an excellent new album. On Scenery and Fish, I Mother Earth successfully swing between several different musical styles, from tastefully pushing the boundaries of pumping-bass percussion-filled funky hard rock to mellow-yet-intense acoustic-based numbers with a bit of an edge. Wait a minute: I fear that I may have just made Scenery and Fish sound like a funk-metal and power-ballad extravaganza. Wrong! Don't let my meagre descriptive abilities deceive you: this is a great album by a great up and coming band.

Various Artists


I'll open by stating that, in general, I'm not a big fan of "various artist" movie soundtracks. Sure, these can occasionally be good collections of tunes from one-hit wonders whose albums individually would be a waste of money. The sad truth, however, is that most soundtracks are substandard collections of songs that weren't good enough to make it onto the bands' own albums. This is where A Tribute to Hard Core Logo is different: the album is 15 tunes by various nonfictitious bands performing the songs of the fictitious band Hard Core Logo. The band was first created in a novel by Michael Turner and then brought to the big screen by director Bruce McDonald. The film Hard Core Logo cronicles a 1996 reunion tour by these Vancouver/West Coast punk pioneers and is undoubtedly one of the greatest fiction rock and roll movies of all time. Not to be blasphemous, but I feel it is on par with the classic mock-umentory This Is Spinal Tap. A Tribute to Hard Core Logo is one of the most clever concept albums that my jaded eyes have seen in a long time. As documented in the ingenious liner notes, the bands on this cd perform cover versions of songs Hard Core Logo performed during their reign as West Coast punk kings from the late 70's until their bitter breakup in the mid 80's. In reality, the lyrics of the songs were written by author Michael Turner, whereas the music for each song was written by the band performing it. Highlights include "Son of a Bitch to the Core" performed by the Headstones and Rusty's "Let's Break Robert Out Of Jail". Incidently, Headstones lead singer Hugh Dillon stars in the movie, brilliantly portraying Hard Core Logo lead singer Joe Dick. "Pipefitter's Clubhouse" by the Odds is a hilarious song about Hard Core Logo drummer Pipefitter trying to make a gigantic clubhouse sandwich while flying down the road in the back of the tour van. Even some of the songs that are weaker musically have great lyrics. Kinnie Starr's "Canadian Bush Party": "You buy a two-four from your brother, then again you buy another, cuz you never know who won't show up with booze, And your best friend has a four-by, so you fill it up with ten guys, heading out for the big bush party after school." Hard Core Logo are the greatest band that never existed, and this album is an exquisite and befitting tribute.


-- Kevin Rowan

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