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Now in our third calendar year
PCR #114 (Vol. 3, No. 22). This edition is for the week of May 27--June 2, 2002.

The Digital Divide
 La Floridiana 
 Matt's Rail 
 Wake Up/Comics 
 Mike's Rant 
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HoleCourtney Love's seminal rock band Hole has officially split-up as of May 23. Hole was one of the many bands that helped shape the Seattle scene in the early 90s. Love claims that troubles with the band's label Geffen has just taken its toll on them. So she and guitarist Eric Eraldson have decided to call it quits. Geffen has been trying to sue Love for breach of contract. Apparently the band posted new tracks on the web. Geffen also claims that the band owes them five more albums. Love's statement to the breakup is as follows "I will always treasure the time we played together". Though the band is gone, Love meanwhile is working on a solo album on which she collaborates with former 4-Non Blondes singer Linda Perry. While there are doubts that Courtney's solo effort will be a success one can't help but imagine that she will no doubt milk her late husband, Kurt Cobain's, outtake vaults for inspiration.
The White StripesThe odd couple of rock The White Stripes are working on a new LP slated for an early 2003 release date, tentatively titled Elephant. On their website Jack White comments on the album's progress, "We have about twenty new songs ready to go, including a beautiful song sung by Miss Meg White". And finally the answer to the enigma that has plagued us for so long. Are Jack & Meg brother/sister? Husband/Wife? Both?!! Well the online 'zine Glorious Noise dug up their marriage license from 1996 and they are in fact husband and wife. And no, they are not brother and sister! The White Stripes will play the MTV Movie Awards on June 6th.
Green DayPop/Punk veterans Green Day are in the process of compiling a B-sides album to be released this July. In addition to B-sides it will also include some rarities including "Espionage" from the Austin Powers 2 soundtrack.
Waits: Alice
Tom Waits:

For some reason, this year Tom Waits has decided to grant all our wishes by releasing not one but two albums, oh yeah, and they're great. Alice and Blood Money are both concept albums which consist of compositions that Waits and his wife Kathleen Brennan wrote, based on two plays.

The first, Alice, concerns the infamous story of Alice in Wonderland's author Lewis Caroll and his obsession with one underage girl. The album populates itself with strings, organs, and even a toy glockenspiel. The album's sound creates a world of wonder and dark fantasy not unlike Caroll's. The song's lyrics are very vague and do not lend themselves to interpretation easily. The first track "Alice" and the later "Barcarolle" are the only songs on the album that you can really relate to the album's theme. Though "Reeperbahn" paints a possible portrait of Caroll washing away his troubles in vice and gin in a seedy German bar. The song's German vaudeville approach works like genius in Waits' hands. Waits usual gravel-road growl makes its appearance here, but it is more restrained than in earlier efforts. Waits' vocals steer more towards the soft sounds from his last album Mule Variations.

Alice isn't Waits' most cohesive album as it is mostly filled with slow songs except for a couple of hyperactive tracks which sound out of place and outnumbered in this slowpaced LP. Waits' appeal to me is that his albums are usually diverse in that they have an equal amount of noise/experimental tracks to counter the usual torch singing. Alice is a gentle dark fairy tale of an experience that could have been Waits' "White Album" if not for a couple of out-of-place numbers. The noisy rebel-rousing of such songs as "Kommienezuspadt" feels akward. I suppose that it somehow fit in with the theatrical performance but as a listening album it doesn't fully gell. It distracts the album's torch-singer stylings. That, though, is really a minor complaint for an album that ranks among the year's best.

Tom Waits: Blood Money
Tom Waits:
Blood Money

Blood Money is, in contrast, a dark album, yet it is also an album that gives the listener the feeling that Waits was having fun. Blood Money is based on the German play "Woyzeck" by Georg Buchner (which was also turned into an excellent film, by Werner Herzog, in 1976). The play concerns an everyday soldier who can't get ahead in his world and who is constantly tortured physically, mentally,and emotionally by all around him including his unfaithful wife. In the play, Woyzeck struggles to remain sane in a world in which he has no power or control over the forces opposing him. Waits' lyrics reflect this--unlike Alice whose lyrics are far more vague and cryptic. For instance, the lyrics on "Everything Goes to Hell" deliver the hopeless feeling of Woyzeck and his view of his world's future. "God's Away On Business" paints a picture of a society so degenerate and decadent that the narrator can only explain by proclaiming that "God's away on business". The track "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" oddly enough appears to be narrated by Woyzeck's wife Marie rather than our disturbed soldier. Musically, Blood Money is Waits' finest hour. With its carnival organs, calliopes,and tin pan alley brass, Blood Money evokes a film noir version of a ragtime musical. Vocally, Waits' growls a voice that can only be described as a satanic Louis Armstrong. While Alice is great, Blood Money is a far more cohesive album in sound and concept. Waits once again proves to be a songwriter to be reckoned with and really the only one that matters. I mean, when was the last time Nick Cave gave us anything great?

I wish I could have seen these albums performed live when Waits' originally performed them in Hamburg in 1992 & 1993. Alas, at least I have this, which are in fact the man's best records. Just when I thought I had my top records for the year pegged, Waits comes along and screws it all up. You gotta love him!

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.