The Hives' desire to “take over your country and change everything,” as lead singer Howlin’ Pelle Almgvist put it, would come off as arrogance from, say, Oasis, but here has positively endeared them to Boomers, Xers and Busters alike.


Is This Week Over Yet?
Frankly, we’re not in the mood to come up with this shit right now. So if it seems even less inspired this week than usual, cut us some slack, dammit. At the moment, we’re livin’ small somewhere between the relative comfort zones of denial and obliteration. Cheers. We’ll drink (hiccup) to that…

1. NBA Conference Championships:
A Game 6 double header Friday night on NBC finds the Lakers and Celtics fighting for their lives against the Kings and Nets. We don’t know about you, but we’re hoping for outcomes that will result in a Game 7 double header on Sunday. Chances are, NBC is hoping for the same thing. Forget Fear Factor—if you’re emotionally involved, this is reality TV at its most stomach-turning. Just ask Kobe.

2. Eminem, The Eminem Show (Aftermath/Interscope):  The Ruler of Rhyme, the Bad Boy of the Beats, is still the most compelling lyricist in pop music. Marshall/Slim loves his daughter, hates his ex-wife and mother, and can't seem to get his shit together.  But he can make some great records. You'd think he could pick on more imposing targets than Jermaine Dupri, Moby and Vanilla Ice, though. Hey, maybe the Osbournes can adopt him.

3. Ghetto Delta: “From tha interior to tha exterior, you gotta get your posterior in one of dese kick-ass planes.”

4. Tom Waits, Alice (anti/Epitaph): Liked it on the drive to Laguna last weekend; LOVED it on the drive back. There are some exquisite songs on this album, just ripe for being covered.

5. The Corrs & Bono: “When the Stars Go Blue” (from Live in Dublin, Lava/Atlantic): The photogenic Irish siblings gain legitimacy from covering the terrific Ryan Adams song with the help of the charismatic U2 frontman. Can you say “can’t miss”?

6. Vanilla Sky (Paramount Home Video)/The Others (Walt Disney Home Video): The former is a blown-up Hollywood-ized version of Chilean director Alejandro Amenabar's Abre Los Ojos. It is a rare Cameron Crowe misstep, a soundtrack in search of a movie, with some nifty song selections, psychedelic visuals and a cool recreation of the Freewheelin' with Bob Dylan album cover, but Tom Cruise should think twice about wearing a mask in any future film endeavors. Where Sky hits you over the head, Amenabar's gothic ghost tale, with the former Mrs. Cruise, Nicole Kidman, subtly suggests the existence of parallel universes even as both films deal with various issues of dreams and reality, life and death and whether John, Paul or George is your favorite Beatle.

7. Esquire, June issue: In which the editors of this venerable literary mag demonstrate that they can suck up to label moguls with all the obsequiousness you’ll find in the pages of HITS. There’s also a revealing profile of publicity-shunning power-broker Philip Anschutz and an equally revealing cover shot of Kirsten Dunst we simply can’t take our eyes off.    

8. Pete Yorn, musicforthemorningafter (Columbia two-disc package): One of last year’s most impressive debuts gets upgraded in a limited-edition revamp that adds a remake of current single “Strange Condition,” covers of classics from Springsteen (including a vivid “New York City Serenade”), Bowie and the Smiths, plus four video clips. 

9. Bad Company/Kansas Tour: English acid meets heartland prog in a tale of separate but equal nostalgias. Rousing all-in encore: "I Can't Get Enough of Your Wayward Son."

10. The Tony Awards: Would you believe we’re nominated? No kidding. CBS Sunday night. Watch it, and pull for Top Dog/Underdog.

The Sum of all Fears
Hey, just what we need to calm our already jittery nerves, the latest Tom Clancy adaptation, this one about a nuclear bomb owned by the Russians on the loose and headed for the Super Bowl in Baltimore (shades of Bruce Dern riding the blimp in Black Sunday) and World War III. I feel better already, how about you? This time, Ben Affleck takes over the Harrison Ford/Alec Baldwin role as the younger CIA analyst hero Jack Ryan, with Morgan Freeman as his mentor, Agency Director William Cabot. Should be interesting to see if the public is ready to embrace a concept that comes a little too close to today’s headlines for comfort. Director Phil Alden Robinson returns after a sojourn away from the big screen, with his last movie 1989’s Field of Dreams. The Elektra soundtrack features the Jerry Goldsmith/Trevor Horn score, along with tracks by Yolanda Adams and Tabitha Fair. The website at www.sumofallfearsmovie.com, is elaborate and suitably high-tech, with a Russian Desk Sweepstakes, downloads and all the requisite cast and crew information.

Undercover Brother (Universal): This Eddie Griffin blaxploitation satire has a chance to make some serious cizash as the only real mainstream comedy out there in a sea of big-budget blockbusters. At any rate, it’s riding a wave of interest in the ‘70s decade of billowing Afros and gun-toting Amazon superfemales that is being recycled in everything from Nike commercials to the upcoming Austin Powers in Goldmember movie. Griffin plays the title agent who comes to the rescue of a black Presidential candidate whose campaign threatens to be derailed by “The Man,” whose mincing right-hand assassin is played by Chris Kattan. The very sexy Denise Richards and the always-funny David Chappelle (as a comically angry Conspiracy Brother) are also on hand for some serious eye candy and physical comedy, respectively, while the one and only James Brown makes a cameo. The trailers actually look promising, and the Hollywood Records soundtrack features the single, a cover of Parliament’s “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker),” from Snoop Dogg & Friends. The film was directed by Spike Lee’s cousin Malcolm Lee (The Best Man), with a screenplay by John Ridley, a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum who went on to write the story for the Ice Cube/Mark Wahlberg-starrer Three Kings. The website at www.undercover-brother.com, includes a contest, a style guide, an “Afro Attack” game including the ability to throw razor-sharp picks at the enemy, a Cadillac Drive N Jive section that lets you drive through the hood, a Ladies’ Room photo gallery and other theme-appropriate features. Roy Trakin

The Hives at the Roxy, L.A.: They’ve come from the small Swedish industrial backwater town of Fagersta to conquer the pop world, and they’re doing a damn good job of it, given the enthusiasm of the pulsating audience for this L.A. showcase, who were galvanized from the first note. These yokels, with their skinny white ties and black suits, lead at least the fifth or sixth garage-punk revival I’ve been through. Their roots range from Nuggets-style bands like the Outsiders, through the sheer sonic blast of the Stooges and MC5, up to and including such four-on-the-floor practitioners of speeded-up pub-turned-punk-rock as Dr. Feelgood and Eddie & the Hot Rods. Like the latter, who were the best band in the world for about three months back in 1977, The Hives are obviously riding an adrenaline high and reaching an audience numb from a surfeit of gloom-and-doom rock und drone. Their engaging desire to “take over your country and change everything,” as beaming Mick Jagger-by-way-of-David Johansen lead singer Howlin’ Pelle Almgvist put it, would come off as arrogance from, say, Oasis, but here has positively endeared them to aging Boomers, Xers and Busters alike. The set’s highlight is the fuzztoned Kinks homage, “Hate to Say I Told You So,” a song that could follow the likes of neo-punks like Blink-182 or Sum 41 to the top of the charts. Whether that makes these Swedes worth the $3 million/three-album advance figure being floated around is a topic for debate among the anxious A&R hordes that descended on the sardine-packed club to check out the fivesome’s Next-Big-Thing quotient. As Almgvist said, in introducing the band’s set-closing “Supply and Demand,” “This is everything you need to know in three minutes.” Of course, you won’t hear this longtime punk-rock fan complaining if these Scandinavians turn out to be teen idols. Better them than another boy band. It’s still heartening to know that if one 12-24 target demo doesn’t connect to the music of your youth, wait a few years and another will come up that does. The Hives have picked up the garage-punk torch, and they ain’t letting go. —RT

The Breeders, Title TK (4AD/Elektra):
The sisters Deal are back, and it’s not what you might think. Rather than building on the pop-leaning aspects of their last album together, 1993’s smash Last Splash, this set is a spare, challenging collection of quirky yet hummable tunes arranged and recorded in high Spartan style, thanks in large part to the production work of Steve Albini. Opener “Little Fury” kicks into gear with the Deals’ trademark deadpan duet, while, with the help of Albini’s no-frills approach and some really trashy-sounding cymbals, “Too Alive” careens through even drier impressionistic alleys. Instrumental “T and T” is an unexpectedly majestic indie-rock fanfare, setting up the boisterous “Huffer.” With any luck, there’ll be even more to come.
Jon O’Hara

Home Town Hero, Home Town Hero (Maverick): Another bunch of kids from the mountainous margins of L.A. sprawl go sprawling for the brass ring on this strikingly consistent batch of tunes, which looks bound to capture the same coalition of PoMo kids and headbangers forged by Weezer. Frontman Aaron Bruno and mates are as effective stirring sweet melodies into distorto-anthems (opener “Bleeds in Blue,” “12 Oz.,” “Riley Joe”) as they are digging into metallic rock workouts (“Questions,” “Run Right Through”). But when they turn around and offer something out of Travis territory (“Perfect Night”), I surrender. Bruno sings—and the band plays—with real gusto and surprising grace.
Simon Glickman

Dee Dee Ramone
(with Veronica Kofman), Lobotomy (Thunder’s Mouth Press):  I just discovered this 2000 biography, which is a Basketball Diaries/Charles Bukowski tale of triumph over mind-numbing adversity, as our hero, a founding member of R&R Hall of Famers the Ramones, survives a childhood in Berlin and Forest Hills where he was terrorized by a violent father and domineering mother, only to end up in another dysfunctional family he spends the next 17 years trying to escape. The tale bounds from anecdote to anecdote, continent to continent, with plenty of drugs, implied sex (though Dee Dee always seems to have a girlfriend, there’s very little erotic content) and, naturally, rock & roll. What seemed a happy family, the “brudders” actually couldn’t stand one another, with Dee Dee’s “1-2-3-4” intros and Johnny Ramone’s martinet, neo-fascist ironclad rule perhaps the only things keeping them from outright anarchy and total self-destruction. It’s a narrative littered with the corpses of rockers like Stiv Bators, Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan (Joey was still alive at the time of publication).  Still, the most remarkable part of the story is Dee Dee’s indomitable spirit to live, to conquer his demons, to prove himself worthy of his own self-esteem as well as ours. This remarkable memoir does just that. —RT 

Ah Luv Dick: First off this hyar week, lissen up, race fans: Mah main racin’ man, and everbuddy’s favrite drahver, is back. Thassright, Dick Trickle is back, good buddy. He’ll be flyin’ around the Monster Mahl at Dover Downs in the MBNA Platinum Four-Hunnert this Sundy. He’ll be pilotin’ the #71 Continental Fire & Safety Chevrolet in his second appeerince on tha Winston Cup circuit this yeer. Now, judgin’ from his performince tha first time round, ah cain’t go out on no limb and perdikt a win for Dick, but dang, ah shore got me a big ole salty tear worked up just thinkin’ bout Dick  Tricklin’ round the track one more tahm. Now, ah don’t personally know Dick, but yew kin bet ah’ll be pullin’ for him. An it jes’ goes ta show ya, yew kin take the drahver out the race, butchu cain’t take the race out the drahver. Yeee haw! Now, as for who ackshully has them a shot in hell at winnin’ this danged ole race, yew gotta put Tony Stewart in the #20 Home Depot Pontiac, also sponsored by MBNA, up front, if’n yew git mah drift. And lissen good: Ah never thought ah’d do this, but ah gots ta say that that goddamned Rainbow Divorc is lookin’ overdue for a win, so keep yer eye on him in the #24 Dupont Chevrolet. Also keep yer gander on the Bad Boy of NAYSKAR, Kevin Harvick in the #29 Goodwrench Chevy, cuz he done traded crew chiefs with Grocery Boy, that fat-ass Robbie Gordon, who don’t evin deserve a menchin o’ what number he’s racin’ unner, if yew kin evin call it that. Jes’ look fer the car with the candy wrappers ’n’ chickin bones flyin’ out the winders. And last but not least, that Bud-swillin’, dope-smokin’, a-gamblin’ and a-whorin’ Dale Jr. in the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet (God bless his daddy) is way overdue fer a trip ta Viktry Lane, but don’t look for it this week, cuz as of now, he’s runnin’ behind mah man Dick. An yew already know how ah feel about Dick.
Guy W.T. Goggles

Former Island chief gets his own label. (6/16a)
How'd they do that? (6/15a)
We're reading the tea leaves. (6/15a)
"Variant" is a scary word right now. (6/15a)
Is there a lawyer in the house? (6/15a)
The musical tapestry we know as R&B.
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?

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