Press Play – CD Reviews

This album is filled with synth-goth, a sound meant to feel brooding and dark. Perhaps if Trent Reznor hadn’t already mastered this genre, Eat Me, Drink Me would be better.

Marilyn MansonEat Me, Drink Me**This album is filled with synth-goth, a sound meant to feel brooding and dark. Perhaps if Trent Reznor hadn’t already mastered this genre, Eat Me, Drink Me would be better. The literal message Manson seems to communicate is that the music industry is full of contrived ideals that consume its stars in order to continue thriving. Even with this idea, Manson comes off as unoriginal and desperate. However, the album does make a fine soundtrack for a seedy evening of heavy drinking and energetic, kinky sex.-Robert Seitzinger

Birch BookFortune & Folly***1/2This album is not something to listen to when trying to stay awake. Do not fly a plane with this album in the background, or you will kill your passengers. However, this album is a superb example of soft, simple music and is among the sweetest cream of the folk-rock butter churned out by Portland in recent years. Fortune and Folly has a few tracks clearly written during a whiskey-soaked bong session in the Birch Book rehearsal room as The Doors were played through low-treble, high-bass speakers. There are the occasional chanted lyrics, pianos and harmonicas that agree very nicely with the minimal percussion, and some listeners will believe the album to be a spiritual excursion. I prefer to think of it as a nice sleepy time accessory.-Robert Seitzinger

SiberianWith MeZero starsAs a former emo kid, I have a soft spot for boys who weep out their lyrics and inject their self-applied “sonic genius” into their sound. Siberian is an indie-emo group that reminds me why I stopped listening to the genre entirely for a few years. They are equal parts Franz Ferdinand, The Bravery and The Killers (none of whom I extend that soft spot to).Siberian is from Seattle, which may explain some of the misguided attempts at synth-pop. Too much of this album feels like the slow pace of terrible traffic and rainy days. In a neat twist of irony, a lyric from “Wolf and Crane,” far and away the most tragic mess of sounds and words on the album, defines Siberian entirely: “Nobody knows / nobody cares,” repeated a million times over dull guitars and the most uninspired rhythm section ever. Siberian is not good.-Robert Seitzinger

Across the UniverseMusic from the Motion Picture **1/2

There used to be an unspoken rule that unless you were Joe Cocker you did not cover Beatles songs. But lately, covering the Beatles has become acceptable, with songs left and right popping up to desecrate the good name of the classic band.Now comes a film, Across the Universe, composed almost entirely of Beatles covers. The movie itself is getting favorable reviews, but the soundtrack, which lacks the visuals of the film, is missing the essential component that made the Beatles great: joy and fun. It’s not that the songs are bad. In fact in most cases they are quite good for being cheap knock-offs. The problem is listening to them, as you will find yourself pining for the real thing. Most of the songs are slower, more emotional (read: whiny) versions of songs you know well. It’s a bad sign when one of the best songs on the soundtrack-“Across the Universe” (natch)-is only the fourth-best version readily available. -Stover E. Harger III

Scary Kids Scaring KidsS/T**Scary Kids Scaring Kids, comfortably nestled in the Hot Topic genre of soft-loud emotional rock, give everything you would expect with their self-titled album and nothing more.Co-opting the sound of Thursday and mixing it with the more goth-leaning AFI, Scary Kids Scaring Kids deliver song after song of Warped Tour rock about girls and depression.When they really let go and their metal leanings come out, like on the song “Snake Devil,” the album works. Unfortunately, for every song that works, there is another featuring piano plinking and Tyson Stevens as he cries banal lyrics (example: “For better or worse this love must be cursed”).If you are a post-hardcore enthusiast, you probably already own this album or are planning on buying it. For others thinking about trying it out, stick to the dozens of other more interesting bands out there.-Stover E. Harger III

Hot Hot Heat Happiness, Ltd.*1/2I’ve never really cared much for Hot Hot Heat, and if Happiness, Ltd. is any indication, things will probably stay that way. The new album is nothing if not the same as the band’s last two albums–just as forgettable, but more produced. Aloof album cover art notwithstanding, it’s pretty clear that these kids have let the idea of major label-dom go their heads, as the album is bloated with lyrics ripped straight from the sappy annals of late-’90s pop. Forgettable tracks that show little more effort than jumbling up formulaic song parts A and B abound, and overall, the album gives off a melodramatic, cloying feel that is downright irritating. Also, can anyone tell me the last time it was cool to sound like The Strokes?-Steve Haske