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All-Reviews.com Top 50 Songs*:
for the 3rd week of October, 2002

*based on airplay at alternative, pop and rock radio stations a cross the nation (reviews by LarryG)

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  1. Pearl Jam-I Am Mine    (unchanged)      buy it!
    The lack of a real standout song on the not great 2000 Binaural CD continued Pearl Jam's decline in record sales and fan base. I Am Mine, from Pearl Jam's The Riot Act CD, is a very good single that justifiably is getting Pearl Jam more radio play than their album tracks have had in years. I Am Mine returns Pearl Jam to a classic sound and should spur a modest comeback for the band. It reminds how Pearl Jam's music has more substance and less emoting than that of younger current bands, led by deep voiced singers, that are clearly influenced by Pearl Jam. I Am Mine is somewhat reminiscent of Eddie Vedder's I Am Sam version of You've Got To Hide Your Love Away in the way it keeps things simple, relying on Vedder's strong voice. I Am Mine is also a little like powerful, subtle Pearl Jam songs like Vs.' Elderly Woman and Yield's Given To Fly. Vedder's serious, dramatic delivery is a bit of a caricature. He's often heavy and sanctimonious but he's not afraid to try to say something important.. On I Am Mine, Vedder's vocal is pretty well controlled. Vedder and the band have the confidence to keep things subdued and fairly quiet. I Am Mine's guitar and percussion slowly builds but the sturdy accompaniment never becomes showy before ending with an elegant, controlled guitar solo. I Am Mine has a philosophical tone. Vedder looks to avoid the mistakes of those "hopin' to buy themselves time". Even after having his "innocence broken with lies" and seeing great sorrow, Vedder vows to take control of and live his life, figuring "I only own my mind" and that his time on earth "is mine."

  2. Red Hot Chili Peppers-Zephyr Song    (unchanged)      buy it!
    I was bored by some of the Chili Peppers' earlier attempts at a serious, adult sound but they've won me over with the By The Way CD's singles. Zephyr Song is fairly lightweight but it has the easy, natural flow of a classic. Zephyr Song follows a now common Chili Peppers pattern with a loose, goofy verse and a more serious, catchy chorus. But the verse isn't that goofy. Anthony Kiedes' vocal is playful rather than stupid. Kiedis' singing isn't great but he's became more comfortable as a balladeer. Zephyr Song's chorus is wonderful. Kiedis trades the verses' free association for a simple, elegant invitation to "fly away on my zephyr", promising "we'll find a place together." The song that came to mind the first time I heard Zephyr Song was Lulu's To Sir With Love. I still feel like the comparison is apt. Seemingly effortlessly, they both knock you out with a light, uplifting hook. Zephyr Song is a nice showcase for guitar player John Frusciante. He lays down a good fluid sound and plays a decent, unshowy doodle of a solo that fits the easy mood. Ending with majestic percussion crashes, the Chili Peppers sought a meaningful sound on Zephyr Song but they were smart enough to keep the mood relaxed.

  3. Creed-One Last Breath    (unchanged)      buy it!
    I should know by now not to underestimate Creed. I figured, after My Sacrifice fell off the chart quicker than the hits from Creed's Human Clay's CD, that people might be getting tired of Creed's bloated, ultraserious sound. In fact, while it won't have Higher or With Arms Wide Open's longevity, One Last Breath is Creed's first #1 song. Radio still loves their generic, soaring, meaningful sounding music. On One Last Breath, Scott Stapp admits he's screwed up and doesn't show the self righteous arrogance he has on previous hits. His clenched fist intensity is still way too much. One Last Breath, the third chart hit from the Weathered CD, starts O.K. Stapp sings with just a quiet guitar and then a subdued guitar, drums and strings. Inevitably, the sound intensifies and any subtlety is bludgeoned by heavy rock guitars and drums and Stapp's pained howl. Stapp uses his big, melodramatic imagery to say how bad life's become. He's close to the edge and "I think I'm falling." He's cried out to heaven "save me" but this time he's apparently looking for help from a woman not God.

  4. Nirvana-You Know You're Right    (up 4 positions)      buy it!
    Courtney Love's resolution of her legal issues with Nirvana and Geffen records has allowed the long delayed release of You Know You're Right, which is included on a greatest hits record called Nirvana. Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic recorded You Know You're Right, apparently the last song they did together, in late January, 1994, less than two months before Cobain killed himself. Like Nirvana's MTV Unplugged concert, You Know You're Right gets added resonance from being made so close to Cobain's death. Cobain's mix of resignation, flippancy and rage on You Know You're Right seems to foreshadow his end the way his sad weariness did on Unplugged. You Know You're Right feeds the fascination with Kurt's death. It reads like a suicide note. After singing "I have never failed to fail", Cobain repeatedly cries out the word pain. Cobain promises "I will never bother you" and "I will crawl away for good." You Know You're Right also seems like a kiss off to Courtney. The second verse, which Kurt sings with a choked up catch in his voice, includes the line "nothing really bothers her, she just wants to love herself." You Know You're Right makes me sad that Kurt was so troubled and sad that we don't get more of his music. You Know You're Right is a great reminder of the power of Cobain's music. His howl's edgy but focused force makes today's troubled rockers seem like whiners. Cobain's guitar is subtly brilliant, changing styles as the song's emotion ebbs and flows. On the chorus, Dave Grohl shows the fast, hard hitting drumming that helped Nirvana reach its artistic peak when he joined the band before they made Nevermind. You Know You're Right doesn't show that Kurt Cobain was moving in a radically different musical direction before he died but it shows he was still making vital music.

  5. Puddle Of Mudd-She Hates Me    (up 2 positions)      buy it!
    She Hates Me, Puddle Of Mudd's fourth chart hit, is the least annoying song so far from the Come Clean CD. At least, Wes Scantlin isn't ranting or tunelessly whining. She Hates Me brings to mind numerous jaunty songs by otherwise rocking alternative bands. The melody and guitars particularly remind me of L7's Pretend We're Dead. She Hates Me is also obviously reminiscent of Nirvana songs like Lithium which start whimsically but then reach an angrier screamed chorus. She Hates Me is fairly listenable if totally disposable. Scantlin doen't give us much insight into why things went wrong. His writing is typically uninspired, starting by rhyming grand with hand, two with unglued and grip with slip.

  6. U2-Electrical Storm    (down 1 position)      buy it!
    Electrical Storm is one of two new songs on U2's Best of 1990-2000 CD. Not so long ago, U2's work from the second half of their career didn't seem particularly worthy of a greatest hits set. Then the band refocused their energy and put out All That You Can't Leave Behind, which included thoughtful, musically rich singles which should be memorable years from now. Electrical Storm isn't quite on the level of Beautiful Day or Walk On. With a melody similar to Zooropa's Stay and guitar lines like the ones The Edge played on Walk On, Electrical Storm feels a bit rehashed. Still, Electrical Storm has the depth of sound and feeling of U2's best work. William Orbit worked on Electrical Storm instead of usual U2 producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. Orbit fills out the sound with keyboards that at times are like something from a bad sci-fi movie soundtrack but he's generally respectful of the classic U2 sound. Even if it's familiar, The Edge's playing still creates big, poignant atmosphere. He easily segues between ringing lines on the verse and thick, powerful work on the chorus. It isn't Bono's most exciting vocal but he admirably projects hope while keeping his naturally supple voice under control and restrained.. On Electrical Storm, Bono plays a distant, guilty("you're in my mind all the time, I know that's not enough") man confident that a relationship that's been dogged by bad luck will be repaired by "love and only love", allowing them to see colors and places "that have never been seen.".

  7. System Of A Down-Aerials    (down 1 position)      buy it!
    I loved the frantic energy and tempo changes of Toxicity's first two chart hits: Chop Suey and the title track. Those eccentricities are missing from Aerials. With Daron Malakian's guitar alternating between forbidding picking on the verses and crunching chords on the chorus, Aerials has the more standard form of a song by Korn and Tool and so many other atmospheric rock bands. Still, Serj Tankian's intense, troubled croon unmistakably shows Aerials is a SOAD song. The guitars, Tankian's voice and eastern percussion effectively create a sinister tone. Tankian's typical bleak, enigmatic imagery depicts a surreal world of confused, cowardly and powerless people. He sings that we're "swimming through the void" and that we "always want to play" but "never want to lose" and suggests "when you lose small mind, you free your life." Aerials isn't my favorite System Of A Down but it is, like most of their music, more interesting than almost anything else out there.

  8. Stone Sour-Bother    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    Stone Sour is a side project for Corey Taylor and James Root, Slipknot's singer and guitar player. Slipknot's intense thrash rock and theatrical presentation have gained them large record sales and live audiences but radio has largely ignored them. Bother, from the Stone Sour CD, is considerably more radio friendly than Slipknot's music. I'm usually amused and disgusted when hard rockers suddenly become mellow and sensitive. Bother has many of the trappings of the music that annoys me: strings and a very serious vocal and subject matter. While Bother kind of bores me, it doesn't have the excess of much rock balladeering. I'm not really interested in introspective, subdued rock songs about self hatred but I understand the appeal of Bother's restrained guitar and Taylor's genuine sounding sadness. Taylor sings about a pain that makes him wish he was too dead to cry. He chastises another for not bothering with him and himself for "my deceit." Bother has suicidal imagery but Taylor sings that, while he keeps "slipping farther", he "won't let go 'til it bleeds."

  9. Red Hot Chili Peppers-By The Way    (down 5 positions)      buy it!
    Like Californication's Around The World, the title track from Red Hot Chili Peppers' new CD mixes the band's trademark styles. Unlike Around The World, By The Way is fun and likable and doesn't get too stupid. By The Way's verse has the mellow, serious sound of the band's recent hits. Its breaks have the Peppers' classic goofy, anarchic sound. The quieter parts remind me of Californication's Otherside. They avoid the heavy, humorless feel of some of the band's ballads. Anthony Kiedis' vocal, nicely underlined by John Frusciante's simple guitar strum, seems to have improved. He sounds more relaxed and comfortable than on some of the band's more serious songs and creates a little poignance as he sings about a "sad little girl singing songs to me beneath the marquee." The looser part, with Kiedis' wacky rap, Flea's heavy bass and Chad Smith's adroit drumming, resembles a Peppers song like Suck My Kiss. It would probably be annoying if it made up a whole song but here the playing around provides a nice contrast.

  10. Eminem-Lose Yourself    (up 4 positions)      buy it!
    It makes sense that Eminem is making his film acting debut in the semi-autobiographical 8 Mile. He's always had a lot of presence and self confidence and has specialized in self aggrandizing semi-autobiographical work. Lose Yourself, from the 8 Mile soundtrack, continues Eminem's huge breakthrough year on the pop charts. He's had his first three top ten hits in 2002. Lose Yourself isn't as distinctive as most of Eminem's previous singles but it is another good, interesting song. Lose Yourself has a tense, urgent sound. Eminem's rap is, as usual, technically strong. He evokes the tension of the performer trying to take advantage of his "one shot" with a breathless, agitated delivery. Jeff Bass' threatening, repeated guitar line and a stiff, basic beat emphasizes Lose Yourself's edgy feel. Eminem opens with vivid description of a sweaty performer. Since it's Eminem, it's not surprising that the details include that he's vomited his mom's spaghetti on his sweater. Eminem's depicts the combination of insecurity and confidence in his ability that drives him. His character is nervous but "looks calm and ready." Choking on stage just gets him mad and more determined. Audience rejection whips up a rage that sharpens his work. Shifting into the first person on the final verse, Eminem's intensity builds. He lists the forces threatening to overwhelm him: determination not to return to his mom's trailer life, the "dishonor" of struggling "to feed and water my seed", his "prima donna baby mama" and the boredom of a "normal life." He resolves to "formulate a plot 'fore I end up in jail or shot." As usual, Eminem is overly melodramatic but he ends up producing something exciting.

  11. Disturbed-Prayer    (unchanged)      buy it!
    I really hated Stupify and Down With The Sickness, the angry, unpleasant rock hits from Disturbed's Sickness CD. But, with David Draiman's manic, staccato delivery, they at least had the courage of their nasty convictions. Prayer, the first single from the new Believe CD, is a weird mix of tight hard rock for their fans and a slick sound presumably intended to appeal to a broader audience. Prayer has a stomping, slashing guitar sound. Draiman's vocal is still harsh in parts but, bizarrely, he sings a melody on the verse not unlike Ricky Martin's Livin' La Vida Loco and the chorus has a cliched pop rock gloss. Prayer seems to be about how Draiman has turned away from God and found his own form of prayer after seeing all the sorrow, pain and suffering in the world.

  12. 3 Doors Down-When I'm Gone    (up 3 positions)      buy it!
    Kryptonite, Three Doors Down's breakthrough single off their The Better Life CD, wasn't brilliant but it was at least spirited and gave some sense that the Mississippi band weren't run of the mill rockers. When I'm Gone Away From The Sun is very run of the mill. It's another offering from the intense, humorless school of Creed and their brethren. Brad Arnold's clenched teeth, tough guy delivery is a bore. When I'm Gone definitely isn't fun. Everything about it is meant to show how serious the band is. The power chords pound and When I'm Gone slowly slogs forward. The lyric isn't awful but it's a lot like those by other sensitive hard rockers and its vulnerability is undercut by his vocal's self righteous tones, making his needy requests sound like orders. Arnold tells his love he lives in darkness burdened with secrets. He's partly redeemed by the depth of his love but he's very dependent, needing her to "hold me when I'm scared" and love him even when he's gone.

  13. Foo Fighters-All My Life    (unchanged)      buy it!
    All My Life is from the One By One CD. It's long been clear that Dave Grohl won't approach the brilliance and significance with Foo Fighters former bandmate Kurt Cobain did with Nirvana. But Grohl has already achieved a longevity that Cobain sadly could never have and amassed a solid body of work. Foo Fighters have continued to make decent music and retain a fan base, even as the rock audience's taste has changed. Grohl's music has remained fairly uncomplicated and ungimmicky and he still has a good knack for a hook. While not obviously following trends, Grohl has also kept an eye on the competititon, most recently playing drums for good hard rockers Queens Of The Stone Age. Like a lot of Foo Fighters music, All My Life is not great but good. While it doesn't have their personality, All My Life is very reminiscent of the Foos' best intense rockers like This Is A Call, Monkey Wrench and Everlong. It's fast, fun and lean. Grohl keeps the crunching guitar coming. Grohl isn't the best singer but he's aware of his limitations and, as usual, it's a hoot when he whips himself into such a frenzy that he can't help but scream. On All My Life sings and rants about how he's always been "searching for something", presumably love, but the "something never comes." Haunted by a ghost of someone from the past, Grohl simultaneously rues and exalts in the fact that with women it's "done, done then one to the next one."

  14. Rolling Stones-Don't Stop    (down 4 positions)      buy it!
    Don't Stop is one of four new songs on Forty Licks, which is billed as the first retrospective of the Stones' entire career. Knowing that people buying the two CD set or attending their concerts are mostly interested in their earlier music, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards don't seem to have exhausted themselves putting Don't Stop together. They certainly haven't repeated Jagger's attempt on last year's Goddess In The Doorway CD to distance himself from the classic Stones sound. There isn't much to Don't Stop. In comparison, Start Me Up is a complex puzzle. Still, there's something satisfying about Don't Stop's simplicity and familiarity. Don't Stop echoes better but similar feel good songs like Start Me Up, Happy, Honky Tonk Women and Tumbling Dice. Jagger wraps his big personality around Don't Stop. Like he does live, Jagger yells as much as sings but shows remarkable energy and warmth for a 59 year old. Richards and Ron Wood could probably play Don't Stop's guitar line in their sleep but their tight, jagged playing still creates a good edge. On Don't Stop, Jagger feels like his "baby" is peppering him "with poison darts" and is soon leaving him but he still asks her to share her "screams of passion" and kisses that draw blood.

  15. Hoobastank-Running Away    (down 3 positions)      buy it!
    Crawling In The Dark, Hoobastank's first chart hit, had a likable energetic chorus and modest lyrics about looking for the answer. Crawling In The Dark was also wildly derivative of other rock songs and after repeat listens, I soon found it uninteresting. Running Away, the second single from Hoobastank's self titled CD, regrets that a woman "never gave us chance to be" and ran away just when they were getting close. The lyrics have a charming humility("I don't want you to feel sorry for me") but the music is painfully over the top. At times, Running Away sounds like Incubus as it combines a touch of mystical synth sound with Doug Robb's sincere vocal. But, especially on the chorus, Running Away is a bombastic classic rock wannabe with big but meaningless guitar and drums. Running Away slowly drags along with a cliched arena sound.

  16. Santana Featuring Michelle Branch-The Game Of Love    (up 2 positions)      buy it!
    After achieving incredible success, with a big assist from Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas, on the Supernatural CD by targeting baby boomers, Carlos Santana aimed for an even younger audience by teaming up with teen favorite Michelle Branch. Neither the song nor Branch's vocal is particularly exciting but, coming on the heels of her weepy hit Goodbye To You, it's nice to hear Branch loosen up a little. Branch again is likably sweet and unassuming, especially when she doesn't quite reach the high notes. Game Of Love, from Santana's Shaman CD, has a pretty dopey lyric. Branch cries for a guy who don't "come around no more", asks him to "use me" and "control me" and consoles herself with the thought that "it's all in the game of love." Fortunately, Game Of Love's music is so relaxed that Branch's angst barely registers. The innocuous "little bit of this", "little bit of that" hook is the most memorable line. Santana's comeback music isn't great but his ability to blend contemporary sounds with the dense but easy music he's been playing with his band for more than 35 years is impressive. Game Of Love's steady percussion flow isn't that different from Oye Como Va's. Game Of Love is very lightweight but its hand claps and horns give it a rich, buoyant feel. The guitar playing is quite remarkable. It's distinctively Santana's and impressively proficient but it never sounds like showing off. Santana seems like he's just trying to fit in with and accentuate Game Of Love's sunny mood even towards the end when he throws out a very good and seemingly effortless solo.

  17. Chevelle-The Red    (unchanged)      buy it!
    The Red is from the Wonder What's Next CD by the Chicago based band formed by the Loeffler brothers. The Red is the latest rock radio hit with threatening atmosphere and a singer seriously intoning about a young man with a troubled mind. It's hardly surprising that two hit songs this year have been based on the idea of "seeing red." At least half of rock music these days is about being pissed off. The Red's repeated riff effectively creates a tense mood, slowly grinding forward with Joe Loeffler's good bass line and Pete Loeffler's crunching guitar. But after The Red creates a stark impression, nothing much happens. As the riff repeats again and again, it loses some of its power. Unlike other current rock singers, Pete generally avoids pretension and overemoting but he's not particularly memorable, until the predictable cathartic climax when he rants "seeing red again." The Red is about a guy unable to control himself after repeatedly being singled out and called a freak.

  18. Audioslave-Cochise    (up 3 positions)      buy it!
    Singer Zack De La Rocha left Rage Against The Machine in 2000. The rest of the band has joined ex-Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell to make the Audioslave CD. On his solo record, Cornell tried to forge a more adult, restrained image. Most Soundgarden fans weren't interested. On Cochise, Cornell is back to screaming his lungs out and trying to outwail Robert Plant. The notable thing about Cochise is that his over the top singing fits comfortably with the Ex-Ragers' playing. Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford have always played big, thumping rock and roll but only now that they're backing up Cornell do I see them as Zepellin fans. With Morello slowly plowing through Jimmy Page style riffs, you half expect Cornello to start singing Whole Lotta Love. Cochise provides the thrill you get from a big powerful rock sound and Cornell's huge shriek is an impressive force of nature. But Cochise's sledgehammer approach wears thin on repeat listens. It's not such a good thing that Cornell is a close musical match for the Ex-Ragers. Cochise is definitely not subtle. Its lack of nuance or variety illustrates the risk of a Cornell/Rage teaming. De La Rocha's rap inflected vocal was sometimes obnoxiously arrogant but its combination with good hard rock produced a good range of flavors. De La Rocha's cerebral, confrontational, part spoken work was a good match for Rage Against The Machine's overtly political songs. It's hard to imagine Cornell's theatrical wails giving resonance to charged songs calling for revolution. Cochise is about wanting to help a screwed up friend, offering to take the blame for his problems and be the target of his anger. I don't know why it's named after the Apache leader.

  19. Matchbox 20-Disease    (up 23 positions)      buy it!
    Matchbox 20 has made a career of catchy pop songs with a touch of rock edge. None of their singles are great art but they're usually easy to listen and there's occasionally something interesting going on. The band's knack seems absent on Disease off the More Than You Think You Are CD. Disease's familiarity will get it a lot of airplay but it's pretty bad. Disease sounds a lot like Smooth, Rob Thomas' contribution to Santana's Supernatural CD. Its "'til I'm free of my disease" fade out sounds just like Smooth's "Or else forget about it." Disease doesn't have the light feel and easy flow Santana's rhythm based music gave Smooth. Disease is pretty heavy. Thomas does a dramatic vocal but the song doesn't have the substance to support the emoting. Thomas wrote Disease with Mick Jagger, who presumably chose not to include it on his Goddess In The Doorway CD. I don't really understand Disease's lyrics. On the first verse, Thomas chastises a partner for making "somebody's heart break" and taunts her: "I am stronger than you know/I have to let you go." After that, he tells us "my world is comin' down" and "I can't live without you" and he needs her to "keep your distance from me" until his obsession fades.

  20. Coldplay-In My Place    (down 4 positions)      buy it!
    Coldplay's second CD is called A Rush Of Blood To The Head. In My Place lacks Yellow's rock guitar drive but it otherwise resembles Coldplay's biggest hit. It has the likable, dreamy feel that marked Yellow, Trouble and much of the Parachutes CD. Chris Martin's vocal is, as usual, appealingly modest and sensitive. Jon Buckland's trademark ethereal guitar tone accentuates the music's delicate weightlessness. In My Place again takes Coldplay close to background music but In My Place has enough texture and beauty to give it real charm. On In My Place, Martin sings that he was lost and "underprepared" and he's now willing to wait for the object of his affection who's still waiting for another.

  21. Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland-Dilemma    (down 2 positions)      buy it!
    Dilemma is the Nellyville CD's ballad. I'd have thought that doing a tame, kind of sensitive song would hurt Nelly's tough guy rep but I guess he's done enough songs objectifying women and establishing his gangsta cred that Dilemma won't hurt his image much. Nelly competently works in a much more restrained mode than usual. Like his rapping, Nelly's singing is easy and fluid but he's so quiet and subdued that he's upstaged by Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland. Nelly doesn't get to express his usual arrogance but Dilemma does stroke his ego. Rowland plays a woman who's with another man but is crazy over Nelly and always thinks about him. Nelly's character plays it cool, listening and waiting for his cue to make his move. Nelly has followed Hot In Herre, his first #1 pop hit, with another sure hit. Dilemma is based on a Patti Labelle song written by Kenny Gamble and Bunny Sigler. It has a classic, relaxed sound with a crisp, easy beat. Rowland's good, straight forward vocal is nicely underlined by inobtrusive chiming synths. The repeated "oh" sample reminds me of the version of This Woman's Work by Maxwell, a smooth singer I'd never think I'd compare to Nelly.

  22. Avril Levigne-Sk8er Boi    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Complicated was one of the biggest pop hits of 2002. The followup from the young Canadian's Let Go CD is another song that sounds like a hit on first listen. But Sk8er Boi isn't as novel or distinctive as Complicated. It's a standard pop rocker. Its central riff is stolen from last year's hit Flavor Of The Week. Sk8er Boi is unlikely to have Complicated's long chart life. Story songs soon become less interesting once you know how the story ends, especially when the story's not that great to start with. Sk8er Boi ends with Levigne taunting another about following the advice of her "stuck up" friends and blowing her chance to be with the guy who's now famous and going out with Levigne The presumably fictional lyric is obnoxious and less appealing than Complicated's tale of frustration. Still, Sk8er Boi's music is fast and fun. It has good energy and rocks harder than any of the hits by Levigne's rivals for the teen audience. And it's not the worst thing that North American girls have taken the confident, straight forward Levigne as a role model.

  23. Saliva-Always    (up 4 positions)      buy it!
    Singing on the terrible but very popular Hero raised Saliva lead singer Josey Scott's profile. Hopefully, the mediocrity of the title track off Saliva's Back Into Your Sytem CD will return Scott to semi-obscurity. Always is a compendium of modern rock cliches. It's another song based on the Nirvana model from songs like Heart Shaped Box. A subdued verse with quiet guitar picking alternates with a chorus where power chords slam while the singer rants. Always also has a touch of the dark atmosphere and over the top paranoia of the Korn/Tool school though a better comparison may be Def Leppard's empty art metal. Always' "I love you, I hate you" lyric has the misogyny and self pity common in today's rock. I'm sorry Scott went through a tough time but I wish he wouldn't sing about it. Scott doesn't have a great voice and Always' "I'm out the door" but I "can't live without you" tale emphasizes his whininess. On Your Disease from Saliva's Every Six Seconds CD, Scott had cartoonish fun, mixing rapping with broad crooning. Always, like Hero, plays things painfully straight. Towards the end, Always shifts from stupid and annoying to objectionable as Scott introduces the image of a pistol "shakin' in my hand" threatening that he sees "blood all over your hands."

  24. No Doubt featuring Lady Saw-Underneath It All    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    In little more than a year, Gwen Stefani has totally turned around her image from the pathetic, pining for Gavin Rossdale thing she played on Return Of Saturn's Ex-Girlfriend and Simple Kind Of Life. Thanks to appearances on hits by Eve and Moby and the singles from the Rock Steady CD, she's reestablished herself as a cool, confident woman. Underneath It All's lyrics strike me as kind of sad wishful thinking. Stefani tries to convince herself that while her relationship "seems incomplete", her guy is really lovely and trying hard and understands her like no one else. Still, in her vocal and on the video, Stefani has an easy self assurance that belies the lyrics' insecurity. No Doubt have mixed a ska feel into their music for years. Sometimes, the music has been a bit too showy or frenzied. Underneath It All, written with Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, like Hey Baby, was produced by reggae legends Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. It has a good, understated languor, with horns, subtle clavinet and synths, crisp but laid back drums and Shakespeare's rubbery bass. Jamaican dance hall diva Lady Saw nicely adds to the cool, poised feel.

  25. Seether-Fine Again    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    Seether are the latest of many glum, post-grunge bands to hit the top 50 though the first to come from South Africa. On Fine Again, from Seether's Disclaimer CD, singer/songwriter Shaun Morgan sounds a lot like Puddle Of Mudd's Wes Scantlin, the most successful of the recent mopey Cobain clones. Morgan doesn't have Scantlin's arrogance and Morgan's lyric and delivery make it clear that his pain is real, not the showy posturing Scantlin sometimes engages in. Seether effectively use the grunge conventions. Morgan's intense emotion can pull you in, in a Lithium kind of way, as can the way the power chords underline his vocal. But Fine Again sounds so familiar and inferior to the music Morgan clearly loves that it's hard to stay interested. Also, Morgan's depression is apparently so deep that he can't vary his flat affect or Fine Again's fairly monotonous melody. Morgan can't even muster the cathartic wail that is often grunge's saving grace. Fine Again is about being told he should get over his breakup but feeling stuck in a world where every day is gray and the same and feeling "like I'm dying."

Songs 26-50


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