|VOL. 1 NO. 2 SEPTEMBER 1999|
Lost in Space:
One of the best things about living in an urban environment is the fact that very few people judge you. To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, it takes all kinds of people to make a city.
The great thing about this is that living in a city allows you to feel comfortable listening to whatever type of music you like, even the sorts of things that have their own special brands of brilliance, but which might not be on the top of your friends' hit lists. Some notable examples are Frank Zappa, They Might Be Giants, Ween, and Mr. Bungle, to name only a few. Brilliant artists all.
A problem with these, however, is that have the capacity to be too avant garde for your average high-rise apartment gathering. Fun for a quick listen and an enjoyable escape for a musically adventurous buddy, but after a few tracks the neck rubbing and eye shifting begins. Enter the world of the unusual but utterly listenable.
This month I'd like to showcase a group that, while weird, has produced a pair of albums that can be played front to back on a regular basis. If you value the world of the weird, but don't have an ear for discord, look into the uncharted regions of Space.
When you listen to Space, it's hard not to picture them recording in Frankenstein's laboratory. Either that or the set of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. Their first album, "Spiders," is a zany collection of tunes that have the uncanny ability to bounce around in your head and creep you out at the same time.
Chock full of cheesy horror-movie sound effects and rollicking melodies, the listener takes a tour through the warped mind of singer/songwriter Tommy Scott, who comfortably cants as a resident of a spooky "Neighbourhood," "In 666 there lives a Mr. Miller/ He's our local vicar and a serial killer." Other times he might warn you of "Mr. Psycho" ("No don't you freak him out-- he'll blow you away"). Or else he's one of a pair of suicidal renegades ("You took a chance on a loser like me but you never let me down/ and whether we're in heaven or hell, I know it's better than two separate cells") on "Me and You Vs. The World."
The shining track, however, is certainly "Female of the Species," which is as catchy a tune as I've ever heard, and is featured on the original Austin Powers soundtrack.
As good as their first album is, however, Space's followup offering, "Tin Planet," is even better. More stylistically diverse and technically proficient than its predecessor, Scott shows his versatility on techno clubhoppers like "Disco Dolly." Or Freddie Mercury-esque ballads like "Bad Days." And of course the most vicious duet ever: "The Ballad of Tom Jones," co-starring the raspy vocals of Catatonia's Welsh wonder Cerys Matthews. "Why are we still together/I can't leave you till you're dead/You mean till death do us part/I mean like cyanide strangulation or an axe through your head." All utterly singalongable! Tin Planet has the ability to get your friends speaking the words before they even know what they're saying. This is quality at its weirdest and most listenable or (shudder) danceable.
Check it out-- bring your dancing shoes and your hippest straitjacket.
- Jason Zack
|In This Issue||Features||Columns||Arts||Letters||About Us|
Copyright © 1999 by THE WIRE