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Now in our third calendar year
PCR #113 (Vol. 3, No. 21). This edition is for the week of May 20--26, 2002.

The Digital Divide
 La Floridiana 
 Deadguy's Dementia 
 Matt's Rail 
 Movie Review 
 Mike's Rant 
 PCR Archives 2002 
 Crazed Fanboy home 
 PCR 2002 Home 
The best band in the world (or some claim) Radiohead are currently working on their new LP. Frontman Thom Yorke hasn't revealed any directions the album might take but did hint that it might include new versions of old songs. On July 22 the band starts their tour of Portugal and Spain where they have promised to play only new material. English music magazine NME reported that Radiohead will tape the concerts and incorporate the singles on the new album. No release date though has been set. More news as it becomes available.
Former Pixies frontman Frank Black has decided to release a double album this year with his band Frank Black and the Catholics. The album might see the light of day as early as August. Titled Black Letter Day it will be his follow-up to last year's return to form Dog In The Sand. Just why, oh why Frank, can't you just regroup the Pixies? Please. Pretty Please!
Guided By Voices' mini-tour was canceled after frontman Bob Pollard (the coolest 40-year-old) was injured. The New York show will be rescheduled for July 16th. GBV will also release a new album on June 18th titled Universal Truths and Cycles. Rock on old-timers!!
Folk/Techno/Weirdo rocker Beck has finally completed his follow-up to 1999's Midnite Vultures. It's rumored to be more downbeat in tone despite the lies that Beck was spouting last year that it was going to be his hard rock album. Beck now claims that it's more influenced by British folk music than Mountain. The release date has been set for September 24th.
Sigur RosIcelandic art-rock troup (2nd best band in the world to some) Sigur Ros blesses us with a new album of their angelic voices over violin bow-playing-guitars. The new album will be released in September or October. "The new material will be more raw and live and less sweet," said frontman Jon Thor Birgisson. Sigur Ros are also planning to release a DVD and live CD of an upcoming appearance at Odin's Raven Magic festival. The performance is based on an 800-year old Icelandic poem. Loki promises to ruin the festivities.
Yes folks, it's happening again and God Save the Queen! The Sex PistolsThe Sex Pistols reunite July 27 at London's Crystal Palace. They will be playing in conjunction with a special concert for the Queen's 50th year on the throne. The Pistols were very rudely not invited and now plan to start their own celebration. In addition to the concert the single God Save The Queen will be re-released on May 27. The Prince Charles of Punk, Johnny Rotten, had this to say, "This our jubilee, this is our Britain and you kind of lost that idea". Now Johnny, re-releasing a single to reclaim past glories and make more money isn't very punk. Ever feel like you've been cheated?

4.   Belle & Sebastian: Storytelling

11. David Bowie: Heathen

18. Autechre: Grantz Graf (EP)
      Guided By Voices: Universal Truths and Cycles

25. Sonic Youth: Murray Street
      Pulp: We Love Life

Weezer: Maladroit
Weezer: Maladroit

Every era has had its geek rock: rock bands geeky in appearance who sing sappy love songs and self-devaluing ballads, but who at the same time can rock as hard as any hip band. The 50s had Buddy Holly, the 60s had Freddie and the Dreamers, the 70s The Feelies, the 80s The Buggles, and the 90s had Weezer. Now that we enter the 21st century we still have...well, Weezer. Weezer's geekiness has never really been much more than a gimmick because when you break it down, they can write some really great rock licks when they really want to. The fact that Weezer are really a great band is the main reason why they still exist and the Buggles don't. Frontman Rivers Cuomo first bled his heart out to us on 1994's Weezer, a classic album that melded Buddy Holly choruses, surf guitar solos, and punk chords all at the same time. In 1996 with Pinkerton, however, Weezer got darker and Cuomo gave us a dose of his emotional breakdowns and his uncomfortable obsession with his inability to get laid. The album almost single-handedly ended their career. It was dark, it was grungy, and it just wasn't pop-oriented like the debut. So, Cuomo went to college, bassist Matt Sharp quit and the band disappeared for about 3 years.

During all this time Pinkerton had somehow achieved cult status with every geek in America who could never talk to girls. Even though he was a rock star, Cuomo was still like them. Suddenly, Weezer went back on the road and became a top-selling concert act. In 2001, Weezer released their "comeback" album, The Green Album. But this was not the Weezer we knew. Instead of tales of lonliness backed by punk pop guitars all we got was "Hash Pipe" and a couple of monotonous love songs that frankly all sounded the same.

In the press Cuomo laid out his new plans. He stated that Pinkerton was a "sick and disgusting" album and that from now on Weezer was straying towards plain pop songs via early Beach Boys. Though I've recently warmed up to The Green Album, it's still not the comeback we all hoped for. So now, 12 months later, Weezer strikes again with Maladroit. Maybe this is the one. Well not quite. Actually not at all. The most that I can say about this album is that Weezer do most definitely rock out. It seems Cuomo has discovered heavy metal. If fans thought that "Hash Pipe" was too heavy, then wait until they hear this baby. The album opens with "American Gigolo" with Cuomo beat-rapping the verse, which then explodes into a chorus reminiscent of Cheap Trick. "Keep Fishin'" sounds like classic Weezer enough, but sadly, that's it. The rest of the album is obviously part of Cuomo's new plan for the group. That's not to say that there are no great moments here. "Slob" is one of the best Cuomo has written and "Death and Destruction" is downright experimental for Weezer. But there are a large amount of duds, too. "Space Rock" sounds way too much like The Pixies while "Take Control" is uncomfortably heavy for a Weezer song. The album closes with "December", which is a good song, but unfortunately, at its short running time, fails to be an impactful climax. In fact, most of the songs on the disc don't exceed 3 minutes. If they just could have been longer than maybe they would have been great. Cuomo seems like he's leading the band down the path of serious rock instead of the pop rock route. Unfortunately, it isn't entirely working. It has some good intentions, but let's face it, if it wasn't Weezer who put it out I wouldn't even be defending it. I've been listening to the album for about a week now and have come to the conclusion that I've been either (A) listening to it because it's got greatness shining through that might finally reveal itself or (B) that as a Weezer fan I'm desperately trying to prove with constant exposure to it that I'll eventually like a very mediocre album. Bottom line is that at the time of this review I still don't know. I believe that like "Episode 2: Attack of the Clones", that upon revisits it will get even better, but only time can tell. So I can only leave you readers with my take on it as of the present.

The album has a lot of great tunes yet a lot of empty filler. Even under that, though, it still manages to rock out and now that I think about it, maybe that was the intention. Maybe it's just a rock album. Maybe it doesn't need some reviewer picking it apart. If that's the case then it achieves everything it set out to do and we fans will just have to accept that even though it's not the Weezer we want, it's the Weezer we got, and some Weezer is better than no Weezer. God, that's a geeky ending to a review. See? Perfect.

The Breeders: Title TK
The Breeders: Title TK

In my own imaginary world I still believe that The Pixies never broke up and that every release by Frank Black and The Breeders are really just new albums by The Pixies. Unfortunately, that's not the case and neither band really functions quite the same way as The Pixies did back when Black and Kim Deal were still working together. Frank Black announced the break up to the fans and the band members alike on live radio in 1993. Black went on to record solo albums and bassist Kim Deal went on to front The Breeders. The odd thing is that The Breeders sound more like The Pixies than Black ever has, leaving one to wonder who really was more influential in shaping that band's sound. My vote is Kim Deal. Kim Deal is hands down the coolest woman in rock ever. Hell, she even inspired the Dandy Warhol's song "Cool As Kim Deal", you know the one with the chorus of " wish I had a girlfreind as cool as Kim Deal". Yeah, don't we all.

In 1993, The Breeders, Kim Deal, twin-sister Kelly, Josephine Wiggs, and Jim Mcpherson released Last Splash, an album that to this day still sounds exiciting and fresh (like The Pixies). But The Breeders never really caught on with a public then obsessed with grunge. Last Splash had mostly pop songs with a punk/surf vibe. Adding to poor public response, Kelly Deal went into drug rehab, and Wiggs and Mcpherson quit. Forward 8 years to 2002, the shameless imitators Nirvana have fallen, Frank Black can't compete, and Kelly Deal is on the straight and narrow. So what we have with Title TK is an album that tells the story of a band who's been through hell and seen a lot of dissappointments along the way down. The story isn't told in the lyrics though, no they are far too cryptic, but instead in the tunes and production of the disc. Sparse guitars and poppy-yet-melancholy guitar licks, and beatnik drum rythyms populate the album. Kim Deal's familiar 1950's girlish/boyish whisper is still there but it doesn't sound like the fun-loving 20-something of Last Splash. Instead it sounds like a voice who's seen the end of her era and survived. On "Off You", Kim sounds like she could have been recorded in the 1930s alongside Memphis Minnie if not for a solitary electro-bleep at the beginning of the song. "Off You" proves itself to be the best track on the album and in my opinion one of the best pop songs written by anyone ever. Other highlights include the Vanilla Fudge-gone-goth sound of "The She" and the bluegrass-turned-punk of "Full On Idle". Though it is a raw record in tone it is still a great one. Kim Deal may sound defeated, but in no way is that the truth in any manner. Again the album's sound is that of a rock band who've been dealt some heavy blows in their time and though we may not know what it was, rest assured we can hear it in the music. The most telling track is the closer, "Huffer", a lo-fi war-worn companion to Last Splash's "Cannonball". Deal proves she can still rock but that she's not the same as she was in 1987 when The Pixies burst on the scene. The Pixies may be gone, but Kim Deal is not and that is a comprimose I will gladly settle for. Frank Black has not survived well after the break up with a string of mediocre solo albums. So, the fact that an artist can survive a band breakup, a changing of eras, her sister's drug abuse, and still sound important is rare. Just look at Paul McCartney (yeah, I know, painful), proof that not everyone can. Title TK may not garner the praise that the more pop-oriented Last Splash did, but in many ways Title TK is a far greater record. So stop listening to my Pixies/Kim Deal praise and go buy it now!

Oh yeah, and ain't Kim Deal just the coolest?

This issue's contents of "The Digital Divide" was composed in its entirety, and is ©2002 by, Terence Nuzum.  Webpage design and all graphics herein, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova.