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Tuesday, March 2, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 104

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Kenny Chesney releases fifth album, Oleander's new sound shines with February Sun and Built To Spill tells all secrets


Everywhere We Go

Kenny Chesney
Available from BNA Records
Our rating: *** (out of 5)

Our view: Chesney tries to get to country super-star status, but his sweet ballads and country standards don't quite achieve this.


By Matthew Fowler
Daily Cougar Staff

Unlike many of today's other recording artists who rapidly shoot to the top, only to disappear just as quickly, Kenny Chesney has built a career the old-fashioned way: step by step, record by record and hit by hit.

While you may not immediately recognize his name, anyone in the '90s who has listened to country-music radio is familiar with Chesney's distinctive voice and style.


Peter Nash/BNA Records Label


Kenny Chesnay tries to make a bigger name for himself with his fifth album, Everywhere We Go from BNA Records.

Known for such No. 1 hits as "When I Close My Eyes," "She's Got It All" and "That's Why I'm Here," his fifth album, Everywhere We Go, is being billed as his strongest album to date.

After winning the 1998 Academy of Country Music (ACM) New Male Artist of the Year award, he is off to a fast start in 1999 with the first single, "How Forever Feels."

The single may even turn into the biggest hit of Chesney's career, but perhaps even more exciting is the invitation to tour with the 1999 George Strait Country Music Festival, due to hit Houston in mid-April.

To sum up Kenny Chesney's music in one phrase, the obvious answer is "Real-to-life stories, real-to-life songs."

From very beginning to very end, the new album is no different.

The first track, "What I Need To Do," and the eighth track, "California," are new not only in style, but also in the type of personal issues with which they deal.

Although these type of songs will probably never make it to the radio, they are the type which make country music worth an audience.

Still, consistency always seems to be the key to success and Chesney, staying true to form, features his trademark ballad in the third track "You Had Me From Hello," which he co-wrote with Skip Ewing.

Playing on both a personal experience and the infamous line from Jerry Maguire, this is sure to be a future radio hit.

Also worthy of note is the spiritually-moving ninth track, a smooth duet with Randy Travis, entitled "Baptism."

While it makes for a great song, it also celebrates a strongly-held tradition that is very much alive in some parts of the country, even today.

What this album lacks, however, is a song that will help to vault Chesney into true super-stardom.

The potential is there and people are definitely starting to take his music seriously, but there is still something missing at this point in his career.

I guess, when you do things the old-fashioned way, you can't expect the immediate success.
 



February Son

Oleander
Available From: Republic Records
Our rating: **** (out of 5)

Our view: A beautiful but poisonous shrub, Oleander puts a great taste in your mouth.


By Jesse Lauritz
Daily Cougar Staff

What do you think when you here "Oleander?" Well, you have me.

Oleander is the common name for an evergreen shrub, native of the East Indies. Oleander has leathery leaves, and its sap, used in rat poison, is extremely toxic. A single leaf may contain a lethal dose.

Oleander took their name from these wild, poisonous, flowering plants which are now found in Northern California -- some growing outside the band's practice studio.

In Fall 1997, Oleander recorded an independent, 10-song release that caught the ear of radio personality Curtis Johnson. He added "Down When I'm Loaded" into the regular rotation of his station.

After that single's success, Johnson began to spin "Why I'm Here," which became one of San Diego's top-five tracks in 1998.

By then, Oleander had already recorded all eleven tracks with producer Steven Haigler (Fuel, Local H and Jimmy's Chicken Shack). The release is entitled Feburary Son.

From the melancholy hits of "How Could I?" to the apocalyptic beats of "You'll Find Out," the songs of February Son are driven by Orleander's Thomas Flowers and his passion for an audience.

Flowers, a vocalist and guitarist, explains that his songs are mostly warnings. "Why I'm Here" describes a time in his life when he felt completely alone, as he was living in a friend's garage. 

Flowers' candor, mixed with the band's finesse, makes Oleander's February Son a striking, completely original record.

Through hard work and perseverance, Flowers and bassist/co-founder Doug Eldridge guided the Sacramento local band to its current line-up.

It wasn't always easy for Oleander. Over a year was consumed by the auditioning of drummers. It paid off, finally, with the addition of veteran-drummer Fred Nelson, Jr. to the band. 

Money was also a problem. Flowers had to work as a bus boy for a number of years just to make ends meet. Ric Ivanisevich, a guitarist for Oleander, recently worked at a storage warehouse for a record chain.

The first single, "Why I'm Here," was a smash in San Diego and in the rest of California. It's guaranteed to be a favorite of listeners for 1999.

The rest of February Son isn't great, in comparison to the first two tracks of the album. Songs like "Lost Cause" and "Never Again" are mediocre and lack the same quality of "Why I'm Here."

Oleander's cover of the Cure's classic "Boys Don't Cry" does no justice, but gets the job done.

Oleander hits the road this spring, beginning March 3. The tour will end in Las Vegas on March 13. Hopefully, they will set a date for our poisoning pleasure.
 



Keep It Like a Secret

Built To Spill
Available From: Warner Brothers Records
Our rating: **** (out of 5)

Our view: Built To Spill leaks out more than you can clean up.


By Jesse Lauritz
Daily Cougar Staff

One band that's built to rock is Built To Spill. Their music is best described as a combination of witty lyrics and irresistible melodies. The band has toured in Europe with Foo Fighters, and played at Lollapalooza '95.

Doug Martsch started Built To Spill after he left the Treepeople, a Northwest band whose three, full-length albums (Guilt, Regret and Embarrassment, available from K Records) swept the Seattle music scene.


Butlt to Spill spills all the beans in Keep It Like A Secret, putting forth a solid album that features witty lyrics and irresistible melodies.

Brad Miller/Warnew Bros. Records

Built To Spill started as Martsch and a constantly revolving cast of players. With 
varying members came fresh and new ideas. As time progressed, however, the line-ups became steadier, and the latest seems to have cemented.

Martsch welcomes into the band drummer Scott Plouf and bassist Brett Nelson, a longtime friend of Martsch's. 

Together, Plouf and Nelson lift Built To Spill to new heights. They recorded Keep It Like a Secret, Built To Spill's biggest accomplishment and most focused effort to date.

The threesome assembled after the material from Built To Spills' acclaimed, major-label debut Perfect From Now On was recorded back in late 1995.

The pieces for the new album came together almost magically. Songs such as "Temporarily Blind" and "The Plan" equate to technical greatness .

The first single, "Center of the Universe," entirely swallows and regurgitates you, with its refreshingly mellow guitar riff and catchy lyrics. "Carry the Zero" charms you with super-hypnotic, melodic tunes.

"Sidewalk" and "Bad Light" also lets the guitars crank with focused and emotional connotations. Keep It Like a Secret closes with "Broken Chairs" and guest Sam Coomes of Quasi, which is reminiscent of Neil Young.

In fact, throughout Keep It Like a Secret, Martsch's creative guitar techniques howl when words cannot describe enough.

Most of the songs do not follow the standard verse-chorus-verse formula. This variety allows Martsch to explore his complete, musical capabilities.

Few rock stars hail from Boise, Idaho; but Martsch, born and raised in Boise, isn't going to change anything. He moved out of Seattle just when Seattle got hot and played long guitar solos just when guitar solos went out of style.

His loyalty to the unhip, however, does not deter Martsch. He may become one of the decade's most influential, independent-minded musicians.

As the title implies, I don't think their secret will last any longer. Built To Spill consistently creates some of the most visual, pop music of the late 90s.
 

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