RELIGIOUS DRAMA CHOSEN
Mark Millar and Peter Gross
(Dark Horse) 0000
Could there have been a more fertile time to release Mark Millar's take on Christ, the Jesus image bedecked in the classic ‘Frankie Says Relax' T-shirt staring down from the racks of your local comics emporium? With Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ becoming a surprise box office success all things Jesus are hot (there'll be action figures and lunch boxes by the end of the yean.
Dark Horse is the current champion of the creator-led story (it would be interesting to see if DC or Marvel would dare release a comic like this) and here Millar presents an irreverent take on the myths as 12-year-old Jodie Christianson finds out he may well be the second coming in 19808 middle
America. Bizarrely. considering the title and storyline. the religious overtones are distinctly downplayed: the quotidian and mundane are exemplified. Admittedly. this is the first of a three-part mini-series — the religious iconography may well be hammered home in later episodes.
Millar's writing. as always. is tight. Realistic characters in unreal situations are his speciality (see his work on The Authority and Swamp Thing). Gross' understated art hammers home the normality of life. and with a concept this strong and a team this comfortable in their craft. this is definitely one to follow.
HORROR THE COURTYARD
Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows (Avatar) 000.
Here Alan Moore indulges in a number of his passions: the bi7arre, the strange. the unsettling and HP Lovecraft. Comics' only druid has always had an affinity with Cthulhu. the creeping unknown. the unnamed fear. Here he updates the tales to embrace drug use. heavy metal and the FBI.
At heart a hard-boiled detective story with Moore's own unique twist. this is film noir transferred to the comics page. Focusing on an FBI agent specialising in ‘anomaly theory'. The Courtyard joins the dots between a series of inexplicably connected and truly horrific murders.
Moore demonstrates his deft use of words. cutting the chaff, letting Burrows' artwork do the talking. and going straight for the jugular. Perhaps this is a renaissance time for Moore. It seems like many moons ago that he challenged perceptions to an entire genre with his groundbreaking The Wt’itch/nen (1985). but after the success of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Moore he seems to be back on form.
You may well guess the final twist. but it's still handled with subtle style leaving a dark stain on the psyche long after you've turned the final page.
MEGA IVE'B PLUS OR OMINUS THE SQUARE ROOT
355 US CHRIST! HOW
God help us, it’s the chosen one!
104 THE LIST 18 Mar -1 Apr 9004
B-SQUA L OVER
THE SHINS Chutes Too Narrow (Sub Pop) .000
If you don't yet own anything by the Shins. there is something very wrong with your music collection. Their debut offering Oh, lnverted World was one of the indie underground successes of 2001 . but if you missed if you can make amends by grabbing a copy of their second effort which finds the New Mexico quartet on equally shimmering form.
Chutes Too Narrow is jam packed with beautifully crafted. melodic guitar songs. gritty and frenetic in places. soothing and string-backed in others. reaching back to the 19(30s for dreamy harmonies and slotting them neatly into a modern. unashamedly romantic rock sound. A hugely unfashionable but utterly lovely listen. (Camilla Pia)
HIP HOP BLOCKHEAD Music by Cavelight (Ninja Tune) 00.
Imagine 'Fanfare for the Common Man' played by drunk trumpeters. while Pinky and Perky yodel over some slinky beats and hippies chant a mantra in the background. And that's just first track 'Insomniac Olympics'. Instrumental hip hopper Blockhead likes to fuck with your head and the NYC dude does so pretty well here in a multi-layered mish-mash of a record. and one that is as moody as it is funky.
and as sassy as it is schizophrenic. Loops loop. beats clatter. samples stutter and the whole thing hangs together thanks to some superb production skills and an endearineg underground attitude tlir()tig3li()tit.
Rules for a Normal Life
If ever there was an antidote to the bloated posturing and over- production in many modern rock records. it's Closer. With Rules For a Normal Life. the trio have made a snappy collection of tracks. bursting with energy and raw attitude. while also thankfully steering clear of that tinny. cheap scunding garage noise that post-White Stripes bands pay so much for these days.
In the vein of Weezer. they have an unbeatable knack for writing infectious. chugging guitar anthems that make for a truly invigorating musical experience. yet where other emo-ish acts have a tendency to wimp out on occasion. Closer counterbalance sweet melodies with huge waves of riffage and arynx-shredding screams. A boisterous and blisterineg good effort. (Camilla Pia)
DANIEL WYLIE Ramshackle Beauty (Measured) O
The Cosmic Rough Riders must've been
cock-a-hoop when the irritatineg cocky singer left but there's no such joy for the rest of us. cos here he is in undiluted solo form and it's fucking woeful. The musical backdrop is a kind of insipid Byrds jangle. inoffensive but tediously bland, but it‘s Wylie's platitudinous lyrics that really jar. Failing to spot that the Byrds and the Fannies (his two main rip-off targets) actually have personality and soul. Wylie drifts through songs like 'Going Nowhere Again' and ‘Chasing Rainbows' like one of the lyrically undead. trapped in a janeg guitar purgatory for eternity.
GUN N’ ROSES Greatest Hits (Geffen) COO
Maybe it's an age thing, but for a while Guns n‘ Roses were the best rock‘n‘roll band in the whole. wide world. In tragic R‘n‘R style however. they didn't take long to become the absolute epitome of flatulent self- indulgence.
Both sides of their career are captured here and unsurprisingly, the lion's share of the tracks are from 1987's Appetite for Destruct/on. their world—beating melding of Aereosmith's strut. New York Dolls' smut and Sex Pistols' sneer. Four short years later it was pairs of double albums with Use Your Illusion volumes l and II. nine minute arse- bursting singles and eventual disintegration into a paranoid heap of inactivity. A suitably lopsided picture of a momentarin great band. (Mark Robertson)
INDIE 69 CORP
ourpresenttothefuture (Open Sesame) 0..
It’s a controversial statement to make but. y'know. Geneva