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Album Review: New Albums

By Arts Editors, Crimson Staff Writer

A Perfect Circle

Mer de Noms

(Virgin)

Mer de Noms

(Virgin)

A Perfect Circle couldn't be in a better position to explode onto the hard rock market. First, they are spending most of this year touring with Nine Inch Nails (a.k.a. Trent Reznor), a show that has sold out across the country in anticipation of the first NIN live shows since The Downward Spiral.

A Perfect Circle also sports as its lead singer Maynard James Keenan, the scary-eyed tortured soul who has wailed for Tool over the past decade. Keenan may have the most recognizable voice in hardcore and indeed, "Judith," the first track of Mer de Noms, sounds like it was ripped straight from a long-lost Aenima B-side. Tool fans will be happy (well, as happy as Tool fans can be) with this album, as they have been starved of new music from their favorite brand of darkness since 1996, but they will notice differences. For one, composer and lead guitarist Billy Howerdel is less crunching and more delicate with his riffs, still ripping heavy dirges but tempered with artful solos and even the occasional acoustic. Howerdel is full of surprises, showcasing Keenan in front of softer ballads ("3 Libras"), drum machine and sample and extensive strong arrangements ("Rose"). What? Is that a violin? Yes, Tool fans. You will be shocked to find that A Perfect Circle employs a permanent violinist, Paz Lenchantin, who doubles as the bassist. But the focus never changes from Keenan's depressingly enchanting voice, and the music always remains hard enough to blow away most NIN fans during the opening act. B -Christopher R. Blazejewski

Soundtrack

American Psycho

(Koch)

American Psycho

(Koch)

The soundtrack to American Psycho touts itself as from the "controversial motion picture." And upon listening, several "controversial" traits are clear: the soundtrack is just as pretentious and just as mildly unsuccessful as the movie. This is not to say that some of the cuts are not appealing. Dope's industrial punk version of Dead or Alive's '80s classic "You Spin Me Round" and New Wave classics from Information Society ("What's On Your Mind") and New Order ("True Faith") are great the first couple of times around. So is M/A/R/R/S' classic "Pump Up The Volume." Hip-hop makes an appearance in the form of a remix of Eric B. and Rakim's 1987 "Paid In Full." The album tries too hard, however, to capture the basic starkness of the film: the dark remixes of David Bowie and the Cure are wholly unpleasant, as is the new sliver of a song from Daniel Ash called "Trouble."

What makes the album at all platable to someone who was at least entertained by the movie is the last two tracks, composed of the hilarious monologue by Christian Bale (the movie's star) about Huey Lewis and the News before he kills a character, followed by that group's very own "Hip To Be Square." Sadly, that was the only song to make it into the soundtrack amongst the musical references in Bale's memorable monologues in the film about major '80s stars, such as Phil Collins and Whitney Houston, and unfortunately it's been deleted from the newer versions of the soundtrack. What is left is a humorless shell, a mish-mash of remixes that after the first cacophonous and starkly violent playing, leave the listener no reason to come back. C -Jimmy Zha

Devo

Pioneers Who Got Scalped: the Anthology

(Rhino)

Pioneers Who Got Scalped: the Anthology

(Rhino)

Firmly rooted in their eponymous theories of musical "de-evolution," Devo burst onto the musical scene in the late '70s with the memorable "Jocko Homo" and "Mongoloid," and continued producing songs like the oft-covered "Girl U Want" and, yes, "Whip It." The band carved its own niche through minimal instrumentation, precise rhythms and sing-songy atonality; it became known for its cover versions, which "de-evolved" classics like the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" into their bare structural elements. Remembered by most for their early contributions to music video in red flowerpot hats and by a handful for their role in early '80s art rock, the youthful, clever, oh-so-postmodern Ackronites known as Devo, now pushing 40, have decided to release an anthology. Pioneers Who Got Scalped traces the de-evolution of Devo from 1977 to the present, following their glory days as the aforementioned innovative, inspiring, flower-potted musicians to their unfortunate experiments with melody and New Wave in the late '80s to their most recent material, namely an indifferent 1996 cover of Trent Reznor's "Head Like a Hole," which is disappointingly similar to the original, and a creation from this year, "The Words Get Stuck in My Throat."

Pioneers is not an anthology to kick back to and enjoy from beginning to end in one fell swoop; for hard-core fans looking for favorite tracks and hard-to-find singles in a neat little 2-CD case whose design recalls memories of your elementary school ruler with the moving dinosaurs, however, this anthology will not entirely disappoint. B-

-Thalia S. Field

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