THE DARK­NESS

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

by beats that al­ready beg a house remix, as on the pop con­fec­tion Shoot­ing Star, or by a hint of swag­ger, as with semi-rocker De­men­tia. Most of all, Young’s dis­tinc­tive, dreamy­high voice floats over it all, some­how both charm­ing and painfully twee. It’s a good voice for his grace­ful song­writ­ing, and those fluid melodies still de­light. Still, while the whole thing is fun, peppy and pleas­antly in­of­fen­sive, there’s noth­ing to make you sit up and take notice.

the show on ev­ery track here and by “steal” we mean he kind of ruins. Maybe some folks will gen­uinely en­joy his rather carp­ing tone — think Billy Cor­gan with a nasal con­di­tion and you’re close — but our bet is that af­ter a full few lis­tens any­one’s au­ral pa­tience will be tested. There are more than a few palat­able mo­ments on these eleven songs and the combo does cre­ate many im­pres­sive melodies that are as toe-tap­pin’ as they are mem­o­rable. Ten Teardrops, with its down stroking gui­tar, fig­ure speaks to a garage-rock ex­pe­ri­ence, but in the end, Jaill is trapped by that one voice. ½ IN the open­ing lines of Ev­ery Inch of You, the first track on the Dark­ness’ new al­bum Hot Cakes, Justin Hawkins laments his past mis­for­tunes: “Oh baby I was a loser/Sev­eral years on the dole/An English­man with a very high voice.” But that loser has made that very high voice work for him as the re­formed glam rock­ers re­lease their third stu­dio al­bum. Hot Cakes just ex­udes fun. It seems to wipe away a pe­riod of dis­cord dur­ing which the band broke up and its mem­bers started other projects. You can al­most see the lanky rock­ers jump­ing around, caus­ing havoc on stage. Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us has a feel-good, 1980s rock­ing cho­rus and gui­tar so­los you can imag­ine be­ing played atop a huge speaker in a sta­dium. It’s a song that’s per­fect for warm­ing up a Lady Gaga crowd, some­thing the Dark­ness will do on her world tour.

For­bid­den Love in­ter­twines melodic har­monies and a del­i­cate drum beat that progress into a rock­ier mus­ing on love.

As the al­bum pro­gresses to With a Woman, it be­comes lyri­cally more som­bre and loses the cocky edge that has de­fined pre­vi­ous re­leases. Hawkins muses on a failed re­la­tion­ship, but still man­ages a Dark­ness­esque squeal at the end. How­ever, this love song isn’t as strong as other ro­man­tic dit­ties such as Love is Only a Feel­ing on the quar­tet’s 2003 de­but Per­mis­sion to Land.

The al­bum stum­bles some­what when Hawkins isn’t us­ing his voice to its full range and sings bland lyrics about ba­nal do­mes­tic­i­ties, mak­ing cups of tea and get­ting taxis. SHOV­ELS and Rope took their name from an al­bum the pair, Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, recorded con­tain­ing sev­eral murder bal­lads in­volv­ing han­gin’ and buryin’. They still have a fond­ness for death and homi­cide on O’ Be Joy­ful ( Shank Hill St.), while deny­ing temp­ta­tion ( Keeper) and taunt­ing stalker fans ( Tickin’ Bomb) as they seek out and cre­ate beauty in the dark­ness.

Recorded at home, in the back­yard, the van and nu­mer­ous ho­tel rooms, the al­bum oozes gen­uine pas­sion, with the duo’s stripped-down and fuzzed up-sound “mak­ing some­thing out of noth­ing with a scratch and a hope / Two old gui­tars like a shovel and a rope” (from Birm­ing­ham) along­side some se­ri­ously haunt­ing fid­dle, har­mon­i­cas, ban­jos, horns and or­gans, all lustily adorned with dirty and ag­gres­sive junk­yard drums. Trent and Hearst are raw, gritty, in­tense, beau­ti­ful, loose, sexy and un­de­ni­ably pri­mal in their White Striped ap­proach to tra­di­tional coun­try mu­sic. ½ al­bum sounds so good. You could put this guy on a bill with Nick Lowe and James Tay­lor and ev­ery­one would be happy, in­clud­ing the girls down front. Tit­comb be­gan his mu­si­cal ca­reer at a pretty young age but Ci­cada could be con­sid­ered a fresh start, and one that could push his mu­sic far­ther afield than ever be­fore.

½ HIP-HOP stars, housewives and the home­less — the power of ad­dic­tion has no bound­aries. When you are right near the top, as Cana­dian MC Mad­child was with his crew, Swollen Mem­bers, it can be a slip­pery slope down when the par­ty­ing changes from pop­ping bot­tles to pop­ping pills.

Af­ter a chaotic four years fu­elled by Oxycon­tin that saw the Van­cou­ver MC blow through ev­ery­thing he had built up as a mem­ber one of Canada’s most suc­cess­ful hip-hop out­fits, Mad­child has turned a cor­ner and used the ex­pe­ri­ence to craft a heavy-handed al­bum that touches on what he has been through and where he is head­ing.

Call­ing him­self a “bipo­lar nar­cis­sist with an ad­dic­tive per­son­al­ity,” Mad­child, a.k.a. Shane Bunting, lays it all out on the ta­ble on his solo de­but — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Drop­ping in­tense, re­veal­ing tales that play well off the sharp drums, punchy squeals and sim­ple, low-end bass, Mad­child has used the stu­dio as his own shar­ing circle. Like ad­dic­tion­mem­oir writ­ers such as James Frey or Eminem’s al­bum Re­cov­ery, Mad­child is not only chan­nelling the pain he has ex­pe­ri­enced, but also the new hope he has em­braced.

Some­times you need to move back to go for­ward. ½ GLENN Gould would have been 80 this year. He died 30 years ago, but his star has never di­min­ished and his record­ings continue to elicit awe among pi­ano fans of all stripes.

This lat­est pack­ag­ing of pre­vi­ously re­leased J.S. Bach ma­te­rial is a hand­some hard­backed is­sue con­tain­ing two CDs and one DVD. Ex­cerpted move­ments are drawn from The Well-Tem­pered Clavier (both books), the Gold­berg Vari­a­tions (1955 and 1981 ver­sions) plus The Art of Fugue and a few more items. Com­plete pieces in­clude the Ital­ian Concerto, Par­tita No. 1 and English Suite No. 2. All are es­sen­tial lis­ten­ing, the or­gan play­ing es­pe­cially, as Gould was no less adept there.

Here also is a piece Gould hated, the Chro­matic Fan­ta­sia in D mi­nor. For­mi­da­ble vir­tu­os­ity not­with­stand­ing, only Gould could make it work with such en­gag­ing glib­ness.

The DVD is Bruno Mon­sain­geon’s 1981 film of Gould’s Gold­berg Vari­a­tions. If you want that film es­pe­cially, opt for Sony’s three-DVD set Glenn Gould Plays Bach that also con­tains Mon­sain­geon’s other two Gould films, The Ques­tion of In­stru­ment and An Art of the Fugue.

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