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Lugubrious ladies first: Fiona Apple, the Princess of Pessimism, is back with a new CD pretentiously entitled When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King, What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight, And Hell Win the Whole Thing Fore He Enters the Ring, Theres No Body To Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might, So When You Go Solo You Hold Your Own Hand, And Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights, And If You Know Where You Stand, Then You'll Know Where To Land, And If You Fall It Wont Matter, Cuz You'll Know That Youre Right (Clean Slate/Epic). If brevity is truly the soul of wit, then clearly, Fiona is about as funny as a canker sore.
"The title came from being made fun of and then, of course, it becomes a thing I'm being made fun of for," Fiona said in a recent Time magazine interview. She is at once more ironic than Alanis, more jaded than Jewel, and more bitch than Meredith Brooks. Fiona is truly a woman to watch out for and stay the hell away from. One look at the lyric sheet for When the Pawn Hits... shows Miss Apple has more issues than National Geographic and more baggage than American Tourister. Songs like "To Your Love," "Limp" and "Love Ridden" point fingers and pout but do little to uplift or leave the listener as fretful as Fiona herself. "Cuz I know I'm a mess he don't wanna clean up," she sings in "Paper Bag." Well, at least she's not in denial.
Not to dismiss When the Pawn Hits... as a total tragedy, Fiona's voice does have a soulful quality, similar to Edie Brickell and Rickie Lee Jones, only deeper and more resonant. There's no denying Miss Apple's seductive charms, which stalk the listener like a panther on the prowl and perfectly compliment producer Jon Brion's tasteful arrangements which vary from the slow piano groove of "On the Bound," to the sultry jazz vibe of "To Your Love," and even get a little quirky with the rhythms and textures heard in "Paper Bag." If it weren't for all the lyrical brooding and bitterness, this might be a very likable, even romantic album. But, of course, Fiona is far too busy being cynical than to share a moment of human warmth or tenderness.
When the Pawn Hits... follows Fiona's phenomenally successful, award-
Chiefly responsible parties for the RATM sound are Tom Morello whose machine-
If you can withstand RATM's whirlwind of rhetoric, The Battle of Los Angeles does have some electrifying energy built into its dozen sermons of bluster and babble. From the opening call to arms of "Testify," through the first single and video "Guerrilla Radio" and on through to the closing cacophony of "War Within a Breath," RATM mixes up bludgeoning beats, funky chunky riffs and rabid raps with a surprising flair for dynamics and production subtleties. The barrage doesn't stop till the CD's final digitized second, leaving you feeling like you've been through a bit of a war yourself. Ultimately though, as the Beatles sang in "Revolution," "If you're talking about destruction, brother don't you know that you can count me out." Sorry Zack, I'll take Lennon over Lenin any day.
Well, music fans, there ya have it and don't say I didn't warn you! Check it out, two new albums of today's hottest sounds as performed by the most anguished artists anywhere. Man, have I got a headache!