(Peter Gabriel instigated her record deal) and vocal coach Lakshmi Shankar (sister in law to Ravi, father of global unit shifter Norah Jones). Brik's brand of ethnic eclecticism could catch on in a big way. (Emma Newlands)
JANGLE POP SPACE
Suburban Rock & Roll (RandM) m
Three years in the making. Space's new album is finally delivered. The boys have not had a hit since 1998 and it is difficult to see one coming off this LP. Like Gomez and. more recently, the Coral (all strangely geographical equivalents) Space have always been willing to put themselves on the line as they experiment with everything from Scott Walker-style lullabies to Prisoners-like pastiches. all the time underpinned by a gushing. swirling electronica.
As ever lead singer Tommy Scott warbles the most opaque and simple of lyrics like a man possessed by the Spirit of Marc Bolan and Brenden Behari. On ‘Hitch-hiking'. ‘Pretty Suicide' and ‘The Goodbye Girl' their experiments all come together. Sometimes they don't. but y0u can‘t help admiring them for trying. The beginning of a welcome comeback. (Paul Dale)
ROCK FUCK-OFF MACHETE
My First Machete (Lost Dog) .000
Fuck Off Machete make a s0und that is.
at times. as unnerving as their name. There might be black humour in here but on the face of this debut. we’re not party to it. They rarely roar, finding it much more effective to whisper.
Mentioning Sonic Youth and Tortoise may go some way to help explain where their sound originates. trading as they do in musical textures and colours. but F-OM seem intent on stretching those ideas over real songs as opposed to extended wig outs. Deeper and darker than most in places but not without moments of gentility, My First Machete is a truly excellent debut. (Mark Robertson)
POP JOY ZIPPER
American Whip (13 Amp/Vertigo) O.”
Seemingly oh-so sweet. Joy Zipper are a syrupy synergy of Galaxie 500. My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus and Mary Chain. Not an original conceit. you might argue. but in this case instead of being a bunch of leather-clad monotone sloganeers. Joy Zipper take the path less travelled and get playful with the luscious. soaring melodies that these bands captured so well but so rarely got acknowledged for. ‘Christmas Song' with its ‘I love you more than a thousand Christmases' refrain is pretty much perfect and the sleepy harmonies of the male/female duo never fail to please. Dreamy. (Mark Robertson)
LE TECHNO OXIA
24 Heures (Goodlife) .0
The best known French dance acts (Daft Punk. Air) are Oddly flamboyant and pretty engaging. making this
1 10 THE LIST (1 18 Mar 2004
featureless expanse something of a disappointment. Olivier Raymond. aka Oxia. is a French techno purveyor. but this lacklustre trawl through the cliches of the genre doesn't exactly place him at the cutting edge of anywhere. 24 Heures references plenty of electronic music. but seems to do so with a backwards- lookirig vibe rather than any invention. So ‘lntuition' sounds like an early Leftfield B- side. ‘Never Forget‘ is Daft Punk without the prog rock brilliance and ‘6 For 1' is electroclash by numbers. Not one to get the party started. (Doug Johnstone)
HUNDRED REASONS Shatterproof is Not a Challenge
Talk about getting a duff deal. Hundred Reasons got lumbered with being the saviours of British heavy metal. a title you wouldn't bestow on you worst enemy's bed-ridden grandmother. if this. Hundred Reasons' second album, proves anything. it‘s that they are bigger and better than that ‘honour' might suggest.
OK. so the title is truly toe-curling but inside is a dextrous collection of considered. meaty rock chunks. Colin Doran's emotive wail gives their songs an anthemic quality but keeps them on the right side of pomposity. They fail to rock out totally like they used to but. as a result. resist falling into horn- totin' cliche. The real sounds of progress. (Mark Robertson)
PS2 FINAL FANTASY X-2
(Square Enix) £39.99 O...
And we all thought that the Spice Girls were nothing but a frothy pop act with delusions of sexual revolution. Shows what we know. It w0uld seem that their metronomic repetition of the ‘Grrrl Powah' mantra has finally. many years later. had its effect. if not on the public at large. then almost certainly on the producers of Final Fantasy X-2. Square Enix wanna zigga-zig-ahh.
The Grrrls in question here are a trio of lovely ladies led by Yuna. Yes. Yuna from FFX-2‘s predecessor. which is itself a bit of a shock. This is the first FF game that is a direct sequel rather than the usual new world. new set of characters and new story thing that marks each iteration of the series. Another departure from the norm is that these three Grrrls constitute your entire band of adventurers. Then there is the non- linear aspect to the adventuring. Yep. FFX—2 is just one surprise after another.
But it is nice to be Surprised and when it is coated in that fariiiliarly beautiful FF varnish. you really can't complain. Similarly. fresh ideas like the ability to change each character's skill
base by changing their Outfits. so allowing a degree of tactical jiggerypokery. keep the series ticking along nicely. And when the outfits are of the crazy Christine Aguilera— meets-Marilyn Manson- meets-Clueless variety. they can be appreciated by male and female alike. if only for their physics-defying properties.
But the bravery to have three female characters seems to have paid off in a title that chips away at the perceived misogynistic nature of gaming, while retaining the geekiness of the FF series. Thanks Spice Girls! Now geeks have something to discuss with girls and if that isn't a revolution then Lord knows what is.
PC EVEROUEST: GATES OF DISCORD (Sony) $320 000
It is a mark of the long running success of Everquest that it can release an add-on like Gates of Discord and hope to make money from it. Why? Well. it provides a bunch of additions for high-end players. essentially from level 46 upwards but concentrating on the level 65s. CoriSidering that for an average player level (35 requires about a year of semi~ casual play to reach. it is impressive that Sony thinks there are enough of them to make this profitable. And for their money. these high-end players receive a few additional skills to work for. some new /ories to explore and raid in. and a brand new class to
play. the Berserker. Unfortunately GoD doesn't provide the challenges and rewards of the previous add-on Lost Dungeons of Norrath. nor does it share its breadth of appeal to all levels. Which is a shame as the joy of Everquest is that all players good and bad. iiber and newbie. lootwhore and guildie. share the same world.
XBOX SONIC HEROES (SEGA) 5339.99 .0
Sonic was always about speed. But as any porn star will tell you. speed is nothing without control. And since his very first game on the Megadrive. poor old Sonic has slowly lost that control. Sure he has got faster. even after the addition of another dimension, but that connection between you and the whiz/ing blueness has faded. Sonic Heroes is nearly fun enough to convince you that yOU are in control. and With the variety of characters to choose from. demanded by the strategy. there is almost enough going Oil to deflect you from the crushing truth. And that truth is that. in the end. this is an exercise in how fast a games machine goes while removing the player from the action. Which is such a crying shame for one of the premier characters computer games has ever produced.