Apr 192006
Authors: Hailey McDonald

4 out of 5 RAMS

If there were soundtracks to dreams, Massive Attack would certainly be the group contracted for the job. However, when I say dreams, I don’t mean the state of happy bliss we have the privilege to fall into when the world is ice cream clouds, your friends are My Little Ponies and everything smells of fresh-baked cookies. I speak of the dark dream world that we more commonly experience.

Dubbed as “trip-hop,” the group’s music can be described as chill, if not solemn. They have been heard in movies like “Snatch” and worked with other offbeat artists such as David Bowie. This should give you a good idea of what to expect.

The not-quite-electronica group released a compilation album in late March titled “Collected.” However popular, the band is somewhat of a cult classic, so don’t expect to see their next video on MTV.

Hailing from Bristol, U.K., the group has produced music, which has paved the road for groups like The Sneaker Pimps, Portishead and more influential DJs who pushed the trance dance scene.

On “Collected,” you can find carefully chosen samplings from the group’s 15-year career. Compilations, in theory, are the best albums of all because they simply take the best songs off of all of the group’s albums. However, Massive Attack’s most popular album “Mezzanine,” also clearly contributes most of the standout songs on “Collected.”

The hypnotic melodies and the dubby beats more often are the center of attention than the lyrics. Although the lyrics are somewhat drowned out by the new-age tunes, they are rather poetic and the selection of vocalists on a majority of the tracks are top-notch.

Some favorites on the two-disc set album are “Angel” (from the “Snatch” soundtrack), “Teardrop” and “Unfinished Sympathy.” “Angel” and “Teardrop” are on the more haunting/melancholy side, whereas “Unfinished Sympathy” portrays more of a U.K. club feel.

Song like “Karmacoma” and “Joy Luck Club” may not receive as much attention as some of the tracks deemed cinema-worthy, they are extremely innovative works of art. Both tracks feel as if they have roots in traditional cultured music, but are electronically twisted into a more modern scene. “Karmacoma” plays off of African drum beats, and “Joy Luck Club” is enriched with eastern melodies and vocals.

If you have not yet heard Massive Attack, “Collected” is definitely worth a try. The album can be considered a work of art by some but easy listening for all.

Arctic Monkeys

It is said that the target market for the Arctic Monkeys is the group of fans that went crazy for the Spice Girls in the mid ’90s. I figure my room was plastered with Spice Girls posters and you can still catch me belting out “Say You’ll Be There” in my car from time to time, so why don’t I give the Arctic Monkeys a try?

I was secretly hoping for the Spice Girls just dressed up as boys making rock music, but I was seriously disappointed.

Fortunately, the Arctic Monkeys’ debut album “Whatever They Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” pepped up my mood after my devastation that the Spice Girls are dead and they are never coming back. The new group from England is, no doubt, obsession-worthy.

With up-beat rock, comical lyrics and cute little British accents when they sing, the group is destined to please a large group of people. The rock tunage is a little unrefined, but obviously it was what they are going for. The songs are more focused on providing something for you to rock out to rather than producing a flawless sound.

“I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor” is one of the more awesome songs on the album, which was released in the United States earlier this year. The lyrics are flirty and just mindless enough to rock out to. “Riot Van” is more surfer rock with acoustic guitar and slower beats similar to The Cat Empire or Sublime.

The Arctic Monkeys are an immediate flash back to about a year ago when Jet came out with “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”

Many groups have done this sound before. The Strokes, the White Stripes and many more have clearly inspired this group along the way. However, they attempt to distinguish themselves with their youth. This is not an uncommon thing throughout history. It’s much easier for younger groups to turn out a large number of albums and experience extreme success with rather emo-like lyrics.

Because, apparently some can relate to the suburban-gone-bad lifestyle, the Arctic Monkeys skyrocketed to the status of most successful band of the decade in the U.K. While they just may do the same in the United States, they’ll have to tromp over groups that reflect their same type of twist. I wish them good luck against artists such as Green Day and secretly hope they catch on because who doesn’t want another awesome rock band to jam to?

Tracks to download: “I Bet You Look Good On the Dance Floor”, “Mardy Bum, “Riot Van” and “Red Lights Indicate Doors Are Secure.”

Hailey McDonald can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com

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