ATN's Music News of the WorldRage Singer Decries Mexican Massacre
Rage Singer Decries Mexican MassacreJoins large L.A. protest in calling for international probe into killing of 45 Indians.Addicted To Noise Staff Writer Chris Nelson reports : Asserting that "there must not be another Vietnam in Mexico," Rage Against the Machine singer Zack de la Rocha joined about 300 protesters in Los Angeles on Friday as he called for an international probe into last month's massacre of 45 Indian peasants in the Mexican state of Chiapas."It has become clear than neither [Mexican President] Ernesto Zedillo ... nor the whole U.S.-backed ruling party of Mexico have any intention of creating an open and honest dialogue and investigation into the horrific events of Dec. 22," said the outspoken lead singer for the thrash-politico punk rockers in a five-page statement.The massacre -- reported to have been carried out by paramilitary gunmen whom the Washington Post have linked to the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party known as the PRI -- took place in a village located 500 miles southeast of Mexico City, not far from the remote jungle town of La Realidad. For three years, La Realidad has served as the stronghold for the peasant-supported Zapatista Army of National Liberation, which is pushing for the recognition of the autonomy of indigenous people by the Mexican government.During Friday's demonstration, 45 protesters donated vials of blood to nurses onhand. The blood -- one vial for each of the Indians killed in the massacre -- was then presented by De La Rocha and National Commission for Democracy in Mexico (NCDM) head Cecilia Rodriguez during a meeting with Mexican consul Jose Angel Pescador.In a statement laced with revolutionary rhetoric, De La Rocha contended that the local government was repeatedly notified of the four-hour slaughter by the paramilitaries but chose not to act until the bloodshed was over."The facts of what happened on Dec. 22 follow the trail of the children's blood from the war-torn highlands of Chiapas and find it smeared on the desks of PRI's officers of the federal district, and illustrate once again that the Mexican government simply serves as the woven base of the whip, the handle of the knife, the butt of the rifle," said De La Rocha, whose lyrics often speak to Third-World political issues.The Mexican consulate was unavailable for comment on Monday.Friday's demonstration corresponded with similar protests against the massacre held in 25 other U.S. cities. The NCDM has called for worldwide demonstrations on Jan. 12, as well as an international investigation into the massacre."They told [Pescador], 'Let them take our blood and leave the innocents in Chiapas alone,' " NCDM spokeswoman Crystal Echohawk said.In his statement, De La Rocha pronounced that the government's chief aim is "to wage an outright war designed to destroy the hope, the will and resilience of the communities standing alongside the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, whose just demands of land, food and community-based political and economic control threaten the Mexican political-power structure and their oil-thirsty corporate counterparts."Although the consul reportedly listened to De La Rocha's demands, he had nothing to say afterward, according to Echohawk. "We take that as a clear indication that the Mexican government wants nothing more than war," Echohawk said.***Album Preview: Pearl Jam Slam It With YieldBand delivers punk rockin' masterpiece.Addicted To Noise's G. Kaufman & M. Goldberg report : For Pearl Jam die-hards, Yield (Feb. 3) will likely feel a bit like coming home again. The Seattle rock quintet's fifth album is packed with heavy ebb-and-flow arena anthems, hard, fast punk rockers and even a few mellow ballads.It is a stunning work from a group clearly at the top of its game.With Yield, Pearl Jam manage the difficult feat of delivering an album that both echoes the sound that made us fans in the first place (think Ten and Vs.), yet continues the group's musical evolution (think No Code).Pearl Jam has always been a band that's made a big noise and had something to say. Here lyricist Eddie Vedder manages to mix the personal with the political. The album includes songs of social commentary ("Do the Evolution") and songs that are extremely personal ("Faithful"). At times Vedder manages to mix the two as in "Wish List" and "No Way," the latter of which finds him reflecting in a most personal way on his very commitment to activism.Yield was recorded with long-time PJ producer Brendan O'Brien at guitarist Stone Gossard's Seattle-based Studio Litho, as well at Bad Animals studio (also in Seattle). It leads off with the galloping "Brain of J," which the band has been playing live for some time (it was most recently road-tested during their stint opening for the Rolling Stones in Oakland). The album opener immediately establishes that, as promised, this 13-track effort is a return to Pearl Jam's more hard-rock and punk roots. Over Jack Irons' pounding drums and a Zeppelin-like guitar riff, Vedder passionately wonders, "Whose got the brain of JFK?/ What's it mean to us now?" He delivers a brilliant vocal performance, his voice rising and falling between a grunt and a falsetto. Like several of the other tracks ("Faithful," "Given to Fly"), "Brain of J" makes repeated use of PJ's signature ebb-and-flow style, raving up to almost punk speeds one minute, only to break into a slow, melodic dirge the next.Yes, this is a rock 'n' roll album. But that doesn't mean the band has abandoned the Beatlesque studio tricks they've learned along the way. "Faithful" opens with some mellow, lounge-style drums and features eerie-by-way-of-the-echo-chamber backing vocals, multi-layered guitars and radio interference; "No Way" is haunted by a low, buzzy guitar hum; "Low Light" includes an out-of-tune barroom piano riff and the untitled eighth track is a one-minute world beat drum 'n' mantra special effects jam as abstract as anything PJ have released to date.While the songs are filled with the elliptical, hard-to-unravel word play that Vedder is known for, they also appear to offer a glimpse into his psyche. "We're faithful/ We all believe/ We all believe it," he sings in the classic arena rock number, "Faithful."But in the same song, Vedder also grinds his way through this couplet: "Believe in the game controls/ That keeps us in our box of fears/ We never listen to the voice inside/ So drowned out, so drowned/ You are, you are, you are a furry thing/ And everything is you me, you, me you/ It's all related/ What's a boy to do?"The song ends with the dedication: "Faithful to you."Then, apparently commenting on his reputation as a recluse, in the very next song -- the slow-burn, countryish "No Way" -- Vedder sings, "There's a token of my openness/ Of my need to not disappear... I just need someone to be there for me/ I just want someone to be there for me."In what at first seems like a reversal of the band's righteous reputation, Vedder confesses, over a funky wah-wah guitar, "Cuz I've stopped trying to make a difference/ I'm not trying to make a difference."But moments later he blows that lie to bits: "I've stopped trying to make a difference -- no way.""No Way" is one of several songs that show just how important drummer Jack Irons is to this band. But don't misunderstand. Irons isn't the only one that has raised the stakes. He and bassist Jeff Ament have become one of rock's great rhythm sections. And guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready deliver numerous high points, including the groovy riff that kicks in during the chorus of "Pilate," and the delicate melody that opens "Given To Fly."The band is at its most mellow on the wistful "Wish List," a mid-tempo song with a spare backing track and a surf-styled guitar solo. Vedder delivers the lyrics with such sincerity that what would seem wimpy or maudlin in the hands of a lesser singer, comes across as a powerful personal statement: "I wish I was a neutron bomb," he sings. "For once I could go off/ I wish I was a sacrifice, but somehow still lived on." In what sounds like a playful dig at his rock star lifestyle, the singer also wishes, "I was as fortunate/ As fortunate as me."The album reaches its emotional and musical apex with the sixth and seventh songs, "Pilate" and the searing, hard punk "Do the Evolution." The aggressive, thrusting "Pilate" evokes an Everybody Knows This is Nowhere-era Neil Young track, with it's enigmatic, spiritual lyrics and the mix of electric and acoustic guitars."Evolution" gets going at a hyper pace, with furious guitars and the sound of Vedder wailing. Grunting and nearly shouting his vocals over punkabilly guitars and bashing drums, the singer sounds unhinged as he spits the lyrics "I can kill cuz in god I trust" and "I'm a thief/ I'm a liar/ There's my church/ I sing in the choir," as falsetto backing vocals mimic the sound of a boys choir.The second half of the album coasts to a mellow denouement with the up-and-down, Neil Young-influenced arena rock of "MFC," and the instant classic lighter-flicking epic rock ballads "Low Light," and "In Hiding."Eerily, in light of the recent trial of a teenager who claimed he was inspired to classroom violence by the video for "Jeremy," the chaotic, experimental track "Push Me Pull Me" opens with the sound of a radio breaking down and a gunshot, with Vedder evoking the sexually-charged poetry of The Doors' Jim Morrison as he recites the spoken-word couplet: "I had a false belief/ I thought I came here to stay/ We're all just visiting/ All just breaking like waves/ The oceans made me/ But who came up with love."Yield closes with the low-key, Beatlesque "All Those Yesterdays," a steady-climb ballad that builds to a crescendo on the back of muted horns and call-and-response vocals.***Prodigy, Dylan, Radiohead Score Grammy NominationsModern Grammy nominations reflect the real world.Addicted To Noise Staff Writer Chris Nelson reports : It may be hard to believe, but on February 25, Bob Dylan may receive his first Grammy award for album of the year.Certainly Dylan has been honored before. In 1994, his acoustic World Gone Wrong album of old country and folk songs garnered accolades as best traditional folk album, and 15 years before that, he netted the best male rock vocal performance for his religious rock-song, "Gotta Serve Somebody." Dylan even received a lifetime achievement honor in 1991, giving credit to the man who is hailed as one of the best songwriters of the 20th century.But Dylan, creator over the past 36 years of some of rock's most critically acclaimed albums -- Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde and Blood On the Tracks, to name a few -- has never been accorded the album of the year award. This year may see the end of Dylan's wait.On Tuesday, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences announced this year's Grammy nominees, which included Dylan's highly acclaimed Time Out of Mind collection as a potential album of the year.The Grammys have long been criticized for offering unwarranted attention to veteran acts, and Dylan's nomination is likely to be viewed as a tribute to his entire catalogue as well as to his current work. Still, this year's list of nominees includes an invigorating number of groundbreaking modern artists, including electronic-upstarts Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers, feminist folk-rocker Ani DiFranco and Renaissance woman Bjork.Of course, there are still more than enough familiar faces to please classic-rockers, including Fleetwood Mac, the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen.Joining Time Out of Mind on the list of potential albums of the year were Radiohead's widely praised OK Computer, Babyface's The Day, Paula Cole's This Fire and Paul McCartney's Flaming Pie.One album forecast by many to be on the album of the year short-list was Erykah Badu's Baduizm. Though Badu missed out on that honor, she was nominated for best new artist, along with Fiona Apple, Puff Daddy, Hanson and Paula Cole.Last year, NARAS altered its nominating procedure in answer to charges that the annual awards were out of touch with changing times and listeners' tastes. Now a special panel determines the finalists in each field, which are then voted on by the 9,000 industry professionals who comprise NARAS.The change was credited last year with the nomination of Beck's breakthrough Odelay for album of the year. Many would call Radiohead's nomination this year's equivalent to the Beck nod.Several other groundbreaking albums did garner nominations, although most were relegated to more specific categories than album or song of the year. Prodigy's The Fat Of The Land, the Chemical Brothers' Dig Your Own Hole and Bjork's Homogenic all received nominations for best alternative music performance.Rage Against the Machine ("People Of The Sun") and Smashing Pumpkins ("The End Is The Beginning Is The End") were held up as potential best hard rock performances, and Korn's "No Place To Hide" was among the tracks nominated for best metal performance.In addition, this year's Grammy ceremony will include two new awards that reflect the current interest in electronic and club music: remixer of the year and best dance recording. Remixer nominees include Armand Van Helden for his work with Sneaker Pimps, Daft Punk and the Rolling Stones, as well as Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, Mousse T and Todd Terry.The best female rock vocal category held some refreshing surprises, with Ani DiFranco ("Shy"), Patti Smith ("1959") and Fiona Apple ("Criminal") garnering nominations along with Meredith Brooks ("Bitch") and Abra Moore ("Four Leaf Clover").The commensurate male award, however, read like a membership list for the classic-rock boys' club: David Bowie ("Dead Man Walking"), John Mellencamp ("Just Another Day"), Bruce Springsteen ("Thunder Road"), John Fogerty ("Blueboy") and Bob Dylan ("Cold Irons Bound").Babyface led the pack this year in the number of nominations received, picking up eight. Paula Cole trailed him with seven, as did rapper/producer Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs.Contenders for song of the year (which honors a song's writer) include No Doubt's "Don't Speak," R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly," LeAnn Rimes' "How Do I Live," Shawn Colvin's "Sonny Came Home" and Paula Cole's "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone."Cole's and Colvin's songs have also been nominated for record of the year, which awards performance and production. Also up for that honor are Hanson's "MMMBop" and Sheryl Crow's "Every Day Is A Winding Road."Absent from both the song of the year and record of the year categories are two of the year's most popular songs: Elton John's "Candle In The Wind '97" and Puff Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You." The fact that both cuts are re-writes (of "Candle In The Wind" and "Every Breath You Take," respectively) removes them from the running for song of the year. That neither song was nominated for record of the year reflects the aesthetic consensus of NARAS members. "Candle In The Wind '97" was nominated for best male pop vocal.The nominations were announced in New York on Tuesday by nominees Fiona Apple, Paula Cole, Shawn Colvin and others.The 40th annual Grammy presentations will be held Feb. 25 at New York's Radio City Music Hall. Hosting this year's ceremony will be "Frasier" star Kelsey Grammer.