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The Rubber Room
Mariah Carey feat. Snoop Dogg and Pharrell / NORE / Metope / The Sways / Josh Rouse
The Rubber Room column is a weekly look at recent and notable releases that don’t fall into the rubric of traditional reviewed material—namely 7”’s, 12”’s, 3” CDs, EPs, cassette-only, DVDs and MP3-only releases.
Mariah Carey featuring Snoop Dogg and Pharrell
[Island Def Jam, 2005]
Even taking into account Mariah’s pretty awful track record and the fact that both the droney keyboard production and Snoop’s verse are phoned in from somewhere not very interesting, this works. The leaked single from the forthcoming truly horribly titled The Emancipation of Mimi stands up to, and even improves on, repeated listens reveal it to be heavily indebted to the Janet Jackson school of breathily slim R ‘n’ B. If not for her distinctive higher end backing vocals, which don’t turn up till a good two minutes into the track, you could even be fooled into thinking this was someone else entirely.
It’s a shame that NORE chose such an unexceptional backing track to paint such a realistic sounding portrayal of himself as a man addicted to weed and booze. Hip-hop’s clichéd relationship with these substances normally stops the buck at discussing getting a bit paranoid. Thus, it’s rare to hear a once hardcore MC talking about facing weight issues as a result of overindulgence. Advocating the ten step addiction program, trips to the gym and acceptance of a higher power isn’t really the path you’d expect of QB’s once golden boy, but it certainly makes a change from his last LP of hackneyed gangsta-isms.
Libertango/Parallel To You
Taking cues from the naïve charm of Ada’s off-kilter sampled sounds, Metope attempts to slide his own awkward notes to these two punishing tech-house monsters. While “Libertango” works better, mining a grinding out a living amid a few synthetic rays of hope, “Parallel To You” uses the same melodic presets to a much calmer effect, lulling you to sleep over its length. An unaccomplished 12”, this one’s more for the middle of the set, rather than peaks or valleys.
I Will Not Follow the Sways EP
[Fellon Records, 2004]
The Sways are a three-piece outfit from Southampton, which is on England's southern coast (not too far from London). Their music is a mix of oddball folk (think Neutral Milk Hotel), melodious pop (think Crowded House mixed with Richard Thompson bitterness), with the occasional stab of electronic noise thrown into the mix. The music on I Will Not Follow the Sways EP is not as good as Neutral Milk Hotel, Crowded House, or Richard Thompson, but it's engaging and unusual and a lot of fun. I particularly enjoy "Comedy Song," which basically combines Johnny Cash's sense of rhythm, Tom Waits' love of weird vocals, and Brian Setzer's love of rockabilly. It's an interesting and unusual mix from an up and coming English band.
Under Cold Blue Stars (live b-side)
[Rouse’s Homepage, 2005]
I always assumed that Josh Rouse was either a poor man’s Ryan Adams or a cowboy hat wearing redneck. Once again my snobbery takes a boot in the nuts as I discover he’s a one-man version of Lambchop. Sounding a lot like a less whiny Jonathan Donahue, he swoons around the cheesy keyboard melody and perky percussion. Taken from his recent live DVD (this song was originally released as the title track of his 2002 LP) this is a fantastically tight but swinging piece of adult orientated pop. That’s adult as in grown up, not as in the old ‘in out, in out’.
By: Stylus Staff
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