Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2007

CDs: Ghostface Killah, The Hives

By Evan Rytlewski
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CDs: Ghostface Killah, The Hives Big doe and just "doh" Ghostface Killah – The Big Doe Rehab Now I see why Ghostface threw such a stink about Wu-Tang releasing their new album on the same day as his: It would be a shame if Big Doe Rehab were overshadowed by the Clan's long overdue reunion. That's not to say that Big Doe is a complete masterpiece—it's padded with some filler, and there's some inexcusably lazy production—but Ghostface is in prime form throughout, spinning some of the most vivid (and often hilarious) yarns of his career. Consider the scene setting on "Yolanda's House." The way I fell cracked the face of my watch/ My mans chanting me on like 'Run son, don't go up in the spot!'/ Jetting through bushes and backyards, neighbors is ratting me out/ Dogs is barking, all you hear is the cars/ Sirens, I'm trying to think and toss the iron/ Blood on my sweats, got me running from, you think I'm lying/ May God strike me if you don't like me, I'm tired and I'm outta breath/ The weed got me paranoid, my heart's pounding through my chest …And that's before he actually gets to Yolanda's house. Forget wordplay for wordplay's sake: Ghostface now deals almost exclusively in page turners. Grounded guest spots from Wu-Tang affiliates lend some contrast to Ghostface's high-strung diatribes, and although this is clearly Ghostface's show, Method Man may be the album's biggest revelation. At this point, listeners know Ghostface is on fire, but it's easy to forget that Meth was Wu-Tang's first break out star. His unusually smooth performances here suggest a new direction for a career disparately in need of one. The Hives – The Black and White Album Sure, The Hives were recording the same album over and over again, but as The Ramones taught us, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Sadly, the rockers have decided to branch out on their latest disc, and some of the results are ugly. Their punk-inflected rewrites of Stonesian '60s garage rock still sounds great, but when they team up with Pharrell Williams for a pair of Emotional Rescue-esque dancefloor tracks—like "T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.," which pits their guitars against his "Hot In Herre" synths—the Swedes finally wear out their welcome. Left at two minutes, their songs blitz by and leave you craving more, but stretched just another minute or so, they become insufferably tedious. When Howlin' Pelle Almqvist shouts the same party-centric proclamations again and again and again, he comes across less like a rebellious rocker looking for a good time than a misbehaving, pots and pans-banging six year old, determined to grab your attention by any means necessary.
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