29 Nisan 2008 Salı

Tiesto's 'Elements of Life' makes grand Oz debut: check the exclusive pics on ITM!

Tiesto’s massive ‘Elements of Life’ show – which has been touring around the US and Europe over the last year, playing to stadiums of as many as 30,000 people – finally touched down in Melbourne over the weekend. As to be expected, he was greeted with a rapturous response from fans who’d endured a massive four-year wait to see him play again. Security was tight; with strict instructions from Tiesto’s management ensuring a complete media lockdown. Photographers were not allowed into the event, except one official snapper from Hardware; David Teuma. As a presenting partner of the ‘Elements of Life’ tour inthemix is proud to bring you the pics exclusively!


When he reached Melbourne Tiesto was flying off the back of a massive return to Australia, having played two exhilarating and jam-packed ‘In Search of Sunrise’ shows at Brisbane superclub Family late last week. Check out the photos (both Thursday and Friday) and review on inthemix to see what went down. Saturday and Sunday night saw ‘Elements of Life’ make its massive Australian debut at Festival Hall in Melbourne, and the fans weren’t left disappointed. “That was INSANE,” raved one ITMer in the Melbourne forum. “He played everything I wanted to hear and then some. Was a really good crowd too, wasn’t too packed… Everyone was just there to have fun and watch the greatest DJ ever in action.”

So what about the visual spectacular we were promised with the visit of ‘Element’s of Life’? Check out the YouTube clip below for an example the over-the-top production that Melbourne were treated to, and have a read of the ITM review for the full rundown.

If you’re heading along to any of the remaining Sydney and Melbourne ‘Elements of Life’ shows be sure to stay tuned for ITM for all the coverage, and also check out the Artist In-depth page for more info on the Tiesto tour.

Summer has arrived in Las Vegas

With the strong euro pushing up the cost of holidaying in Europe, Stateside is the place for Brits to jet-off to this summer season, where the weak dollar makes for bargains galore! If that’s one reason to visit Las Vegas right now, here are a few more.

Last year, Vegas proved, yet again, that it knows how to entertain better than any other destination, welcoming an A-list of artists, from Nelly Furtado and Daughtry, to Snoop Dogg and STYX to a series of poolside concerts. This year promises to be even better with new pool oases and unsurpassed entertainment that already includes Kanye West and Smashmouth. To see everything that is happening in Vegas right now, go to VisitLasVegas.co.uk.

One of the first pools to introduce European-style sunbathing to Las Vegas, Moorea Beach Club at Mandalay Bay, is still enticing sun worshipers. Also offering this poolside perk to visitors are the GO Pool at Flamingo Las Vegas and BARE at The Mirage, which also invite guests to let go of their inhibitions and say goodbye to those pesky tan lines.

The newest aquatic destination to open in Las Vegas is WET REPUBLIC. Opening this month, WET REPUBLIC is a 53,000 square-foot ultra pool at MGM Grand featuring the only two saltwater pools on The Strip. In addition to the main pool area is an open-air ultra lounge featuring signature cocktails, premium bottle and pitcher service and sophisticated cuisine. A sundeck will transform into a stage that will host renowned DJs and entertainers.

TAO Beach, located on the roof of TAO Nightclub at The Venetian, is hosting its second pool season, starting this month. In addition to cabanas featuring high-definition plasma televisions, X-box consoles, iPod and DVD rentals, guests enjoy poolside manicures, pedicures, massages and order an exotic meal from the menu at TAO Asian Bistro.

Last summer, Mandalay Bay Beach completed a US$30 million expansion with the Beachside Casino, the first of its kind on The Strip. Home to the Beach Bar & Grill, it also features climate-controlled beachside gaming and a range of cabanas atop the three-story casino. The Villas Soleil offer exclusive amenities and a spectacular view of Mandalay Bay Beach.

Some of the hottest pool parties are happening off the Las Vegas Strip. The Palms Pool & Bungalows returns with Ditch Fridays beginning in May. Hosted by resident DJ Skribble of MTV fame, the parties feature live performances, fashion shows, prize giveaways and more. The three-acre paradise consists of three pools, four outdoor bars, a separate dining area, waterfalls and lavish cabanas.

The ever popular Rehab at Hard Rock Pool and Beach Club returns for its fifth season. In this adult beach-club atmosphere, floating palapas become dance floors with the music of famous DJs like Tiesto, Jonathan Peters and Scooter & Lavelle. Party-goers enjoy the Beach Bar & Grill or placing a bet right along the water’s edge at the gaming tables. The Friday Night Live (FNL) Concert Series begins on 2 May with Puddle of Mudd. In its second season, FNL will feature Eeek-A-Mouse, Dropkick Murphys, Stephen Marley, Smashmouth, Steel Pulse, De La Soul and Jonny Lang.

In Vegas, you can get a tan while enjoying live music by some of the top artists in the world. Taking place in the Sandbar Backyard at Red Rock Resort is the Summer Concert Series. Launching on 25 April, Red Rock will welcome GRAMMY Award-winning artist Kanye West and special guests Lupe Fiasco and N.E.R.D. Also appearing throughout summer are Dierks Bentley, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Peter Frampton and UB40.

From Armani street-chic to urban elegance

FINALLY it's time to get rid of heavy coats, welcome the warm sunshine and enjoy the fun parties that follow. Be it huge or small, rave or cocktail, each party has its own dress code.

There is nothing more dreadful than wearing the wrong outfit to a party - don't laugh. Some partygoers in Shanghai still have no idea what "dress code" means. It's not surprising to bump into people in sports wear at luxury fashion parties, and vice versa.

A/X, or Armani Exchange, the accessible line of Italian fashion guru Giorgio Armani, recently held a casual, sensual spring/summer fashion show at nightspot M2, with world-class DJ Tiesto. The late-night fashion bash drew thousands of enthusiastic dancing music lovers.

The collection is inspired by street-chic culture and fashionable DJ dance culture, designed for the young, urban and sexy who want to see and be seen.

The season basics are still whites, pales and neutrals, which are matched by bright, saturated summer shades such as yellow, red, aqua and orchid, giving a feel of coastal chic.

A message of simplicity in both silhouette and style are supported by interesting details such as frayed hems, drawstrings, textured weaves and slightly crumpled fabrics. Thin layers and long dresses hint subtly at bohemian style and relaxed island living. There are complete collections of mini skirts and hot pants perfect for a steamy, roaring night.

For those who go to more sophisticated social events, Hong Kong designer Joel Chan's new store in Xintiandi is worth a check. A renowned stylist in Hong Kong, Chan established his personal brand "Pursue" in 1996, which has attracted many celebrities on the island city as its loyal cult.

In recent years, the designer has changed his focus from ready-to-wear to tailoring service, creating clothes that use "quality fabric, exquisite handicrafts and unique cuts." The style is simple and elegant, featuring abundant details.

Women's cocktail dresses are crafted in a classic palette of black, white and gray, with a flash of magenta and lavender. The lengths vary, but mostly above the knee. The designer has chosen ultra feminine, floating fabrics such as satin, silk, light linen and soft leather.

The silhouettes are basic, but Chan's use of layers, hems and interesting details such as buttons, knots and drawstrings make them appear distinct and also, a little bit avant-garde. The men's suit collection is based on a casual, fit silhouette, featuring mostly light shades and an androgynous style.

Last but not least, a pair of fabulous shoes is essential on any occasion. Leading local shoe manufacturer fed has recently introduced its new collection inspired by the latest apparel fashion trends.

The futuristic trend in apparel fashion has inspired designers to generously adopt metallic hues such as silver, oxidized silver and steel optics, while the use of a fruity palette of candy colors bring about the summer time vacation feel.

To match the exotic African trend this summer, fed has created shoes made of soft wood, bamboo and linen, featuring water-proof wedges or flat heels.

While flats are predicted to be trendy this summer by many fashion publications, a number of innovative heels have been introduced, including hollow wedges and banana heels. The classic Ferragamo-style ballerina made of colorful patent leather is a must-have.

28 Nisan 2008 Pazartesi

Dj tiesto - Ice Rain

Come to the sky through the ice rain

Come to the sky through the ice rain
things are never gonna be the same
nothing to lose other than the pain
hold up ur hands for the ice rain

Look up to the sky through the ice rain
things are never gonna be the same

Nothing to lose everything is pain
hold up ur hands to the ice rain

look up to the sky through the ice rain
things are never gonna be the same

nothing to lose everything is pain
hold up ur hands for the ice rain


look up to the sky through the ice rain
things are never gonna be the same

nothing to lose everything is pain
hold up ur hands for the ice rain

Dj tiesto - in my memory

That summer, we talked endlessly
always, about everything,
fusion, nothing new for you
i felt, hey, under and, cool breezes
the heavenly

face me, sitting in my memory,
hold me, i remember
face me, sitting in my memory,
hold me, i remember

and we argue, constantly
disagree, about everything
distance, nothing new for me
i feel uneasy, under this thing
thoughts away
the heavenly

face me, sitting in my memory,
hold me, i remember
face me, sitting in my memory,
hold me, i remember
i remember

and darkness falls in my eyes
and days are far from rosy now
and if i asked for the sky
would you still shelter me
when the sky falls

i remember
i remember

face me, sitting in my memory,
hold me, i remember
face me, hidden in my memory,
hold me, i remember
i remember
sitting in my memory
i remember

26 Nisan 2008 Cumartesi

Dj tiesto - Close To You

I wouldn’t call it time well spent
Repeating to myself again
Find comfort in an endless stream of moments
I don’t even care, about the way I feel today
Because it changes anyway
Something will make me cry or smile
Another picture on my pile

Now I’m standing close to you
It’s just something that I do
When I need love to be enough
I wish love could be enough
‘cause there is nothing more appealing
Than the thought that I could be enough

Do you find solace in the sun?
Do you consider life as one?
Do you believe there is a limit
To how fast a man can run?
Someone said you’re born alive
Well I don’t feel that alive

No I don’t feel that alive

I don’t feel that alive

Now I’m standing close to you
It’s just something that I do
When I need love to be enough
I wish love could be enough

‘cause there is nothing more appealing
Than the thought that I could be enough...enough

Dj tiesto - Hear You Now

Your eyes they look the same as mine
We can see this way of life
Your eyes they look the same as mine
Guess you knew this for the longest time

Im walking through the corridors
Follow the trace of tears on the floor

Trace of tears left
Trace of tears left

and I hear you now we have to find another way
and I see you now I see you in so many ways
and I hear you now we have to find another way
and I see you now I see you in so many ways

Dj tiesto - Beautiful Things

Got up early, found something's missing
my only name.
No one else sees but I got stuck,
and soon forever came.
Stopped pushing on for just a second, then nothing's changed.
Who am I this time, where's my name?
I guess it crept away.

No one's calling for me at the door.
And unpredictable won't bother anymore.
And silently gets harder to ignore.
Look straight ahead, there's nothing left to see.
What's done is done, this life has got it's hold on me.
Just let it go, what now can never be.

I forgot that I might see,
So many beautful things.
I forgot that I might need,
to find out what life could bring.

Take this happy ending away, it's all the same.
God won't waste this simplicity on possibility.
Get me up, wake me up, dreams are filling
this trace of blame.
Frozen still I thought I could stop,
now who's gonna wait.

No one's calling for me at the door.
and unpredictable won't bother anymore.
and silently gets harder to ignore.
look straight ahead, there's nothing left to see.
what's done is done, this life has got it's hold on me.
just let it go, what now can never be.

Now what do I do?
can I change my mind?
did I think things through?

It was once my life - it was my life at one time.

Dj tiesto - Battleship Grey

It’s battleship grey outside
And we don’t know what we’ll be getting
All your sweet talking, raining over me
‘til my name escapes, and I'm set free

There’s a word in your eye,
But I don’t know what is to say it
And when you call me from the other side,
A sense of it starts breaking up, and its lies

I don’t know, what I’m getting,
But I’m getting something,
I don’t know, what I’m getting,
But I’m getting something

It’s battleship grey outside,
Confusion, all this is for the gods
Uncertainty, I could be bathing under artificial light
Under twilight blue, starts to mesmorize
And I tell myself that you light up my life
But its all in the mind when you cannot see in the eyes

‘cause I don’t know, what I’m getting
But I’m getting something,
I don’t know, what I’m getting
But I’m getting something

It’s battleship grey
All your sweet talking, raining over me
‘til my name escapes, and I’m set free

25 Nisan 2008 Cuma

Tiesto turns tables on ranking polls

HIGH-FLYING DJ Tiesto has taken his career beyond the confines of the night club and has made a reputation as one of the world's leading electronic dance artists, writes Aubrey Buckingham

IF there was any doubt that Shanghai attracts only the top DJs in the world, then Tiesto playing at M2 last weekend should have put them to bed.

Despite lacking boybandesque good looks or demonstrating sartorial prowess (his visit was in conjunction with low-end designer-for-masses brand A/X, which released a limited edition Tiesto T-shirt), the Dutchman has made a career based on being among the planet's finest on the decks.

While he no longer ranks at the top (he placed second in "DJ Mag's Top 100" last year) according to industry barometers, the mix master is a clear cut above his peers with mainstream commercial appeal.

His record speaks for itself - four studio albums, scores of awards (and a Grammy nomination) and gigs all over the world, including the opening ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympics Games.

The Dutchman was especially pleased to visit the Chinese mainland for the third time.

"Every time it gets better," said the 39 year-old. "The crowds are more enthusiastic and there is more awareness of my name here."

The DJ/producer even went on the record to say: "There would definitely be an In Search of Sunrise album based on China."

The Sunrise series is an annual compilation inspired by specific locations; recent albums have been based on Latin America (2005), Los Angeles (2006) and Ibiza (2007).

With the spotlight on the nation's capital this summer, when the series is to be released and his love for the country (he has a club/restaurant, Cineac, that serves Chinese cuisine), it would be of little surprise if the astute businessman cashes in on the interest garnered by the Games and releases his China compilation at the same time.

Born Tijs Verwest, the Dutchman has been instrumental in raising the profile of trance music and leading it to shed the image of bubblegum-cheese.

Inspired by a love for sharing music with people, Tiesto's career began in the mid-1990s traveling his native land and eventually progressed into club gigs around the world.

As with a number of acts, the turntablist launched his own record label to support his career.

Black Hole Records was established in 1997 and assembled a stable of musicians that helped Tiesto further his vision of trance.

After years of trailblazing clubs in all corners of the Earth and shooting to the top of the DJ charts (Tiesto topped the "DJ Mag Top 100" three years running from 2002-2004), the electronic music maestro has evolved his career beyond the confines of his genre.

Styling himself in the mold of a rock star, Tiesto was the first solo DJ to sell out a stadium event to 25,000 people in May 2003. The event, in Arnheim's Gelredome in the Netherlands, was a massive success and was later released on DVD.

Tiesto went on to perform more events of such magnitude in Europe, releasing another DVD in 2005, before bringing his audio-visual extravaganza across the pond to the United States.

"Concerts are way better," he said, describing the sensation of entertaining tens of thousands of screaming, adoring fans. "Playing for a sea of people like that gives you a big boost and a big rush.

"A club gig is more comfortable and you feel like you are doing your own thing. If I play a club it could be the same as playing in someone's house."

Tiesto's popularity was further cemented when he was asked to perform as the athletes marched out during the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.

Intriguingly enough, as he noted in the liner notes for his subsequently released studio album Parade of the Athletes, the International Olympic Committee requested that the music not include lyrics as they could be taken the wrong way.

The Breda native described the gig as: "Amazing, one of the best in my life," and he would "definitely commit to another opening ceremony, including the one this August," if asked. However, he believed that the idea was kept as a one-off show. "It would be a great opportunity, but I think Beijing shouldn't ask me because they should do something original."

Despite this, local fans are still privileged to enjoy his music live. Tiesto has toured extensively around China's mainland, and has played at venues in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Beijing not to mention Shanghai. His latest trip, to promote last year's Elements of Life album, took him to Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai and will take him around Asia into May.

The globetrotter, who rates Privilege (Ibiza), Mansion (Miami), Ruby Sky (San Francisco) and Sven Vath's Cocoon (Frankfurt) as the best clubs he has visited, was impressed by local venues but found them lacking a key element.

"There's a lot more money here than in European clubs, and everything is so nicely decorated and detailed. The only thing is they spend a lot of money on furniture but not on the sound systems."

Besides his club commitments in Europe, which are a lot more selective these days, Tiesto will spend the summer working on his productions, further indication that his career has evolved and proving the DJ to be more "exclusive" these days.

"I do a lot of remixes; productions are more important to me than they used to be. I will always be a trance DJ, but if you use the word 'trance' it suggests I only play a certain sound. I think I play a diverse sound, and though trance is the main part of my DJ set there's also other stuff in there."

Tiesto - Elements of Life Remixed

Tiësto’s fourth studio album Elements Of Life was released in April 07 to widespread critical acclaim and was supported by a sell out 10,000 capacity UK launch party at Alexandra Palace in London and similar events for 6,000+ in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Eire. Each event saw Tiësto performing solo for the duration with guest vocalists, taking the crowd through a choreographed DJ set. Featuring the four key elements of life utilising cutting edge video, lighting, pyrotechnics and staging created one of the first ever, true DJ concerts.
This concept has been touring around the globe taking in 26 major (stadium) shows in 21 countries where Tiësto has performed to some 300,000+ fans (and still counting) making him the biggest DJ on the planet without a shadow of a doubt! The album itself has gone onto sell 55,000+ units in the UK and another 10,000+ units in Eire.
To celebrate one year on, Tiësto lands with the Elements Of Life Remixed album, a 12 track collection including eight new and exclusive remixes of tracks taken from the original album featuring the likes of Cosmic Gate, Mat Zo and First State alongside an already classic remix of Dance4life by Fonzerelli, Dirty South’s awesome retake of In The Dark plus the previously digital only remix of Break My Fall by Richard Durrand. Also included is the unreleased bonus track No More Heroes featuring Blue Man Group making this album and absolute must for Tiësto fans the world over.
Tiësto facts:
    First DJ to sell out two nights solo at Brixton Academy First DJ to sell out a 25,000 capacity solo stadium gig two nights in a row First DJ to play a live set to accompany the opening ceremony at the Olympic Games 7 million + MySpace profile views
    Elements Of Life nominated for a Grammy for Best Electronic Album
    1. Ten Seconds Before Sunrise- First State Rmx
    2. Everything (feat. JES) – Cosmic Gate Rmx
    3. Do You Feel Me (feat. Julie Thompson) – Roger Martinez Rmx
    4. Carpe Noctum – Fire Element Mix
    5. Driving to Heaven – Mat Zo Rmx
    6. Sweet Things (feat. Charlotte Martin) – Tom Cloud Rmx
    7. Bright Morningstar – Andy Duguid Rmx
    8. Break My Fall (feat. BT) Richard Durrand Rmx
    9. In The Dark (feat. Christian Burns) – Dirty South Rmx
    10. Dance4Life (feat. Maxi Jazz) Fonzerelli Rmx
    11. Elements of Life – Alex Kunnari Rmx
    12. No More Heroes (featuring Blue Man Group)

1 Nisan 2008 Salı

DJ 4 Strings, Paul Oakenfold, Sebastian Bach

Ultra Records will continue dictating the modern dance-club paradigm until further notice; the compilations the imprint churns out invariably focus on who’s-who remixes of the world’s biggest songs. In March, to cite just one example, Tommie Sunshine compiled Ultra Rock Remixed, which included techno-fied versions of tunes from Good Charlotte, Glitch, Mindless Self Indulgence and Gang of Four. Sunshine’s a weird guy, with his ZZ Top look and never shutting up about his love for his hot girlfriend, but he’s a go-to guy in that space, as DJ 4 Strings (a 2-man collaborative fronted by Carlo Resoort) is within the realm of progressive trance.

If you’ve been out of the scene for a few years, you’re advised to listen to a few samples before committing to this album. 4 Strings is into progressive trance, a major jump from traditional trance, which is characterized by its hyperactive thumping beats and anthemic melodies. Progressive trance has a much more subtle way of implementing high BPM (beats per minute) counts, thus if you’re expecting crazy-ass stuff like Darude’s “Sandstorm,” you’re going to be bummed.

Thin White Duke retrofits Gwen Stefani’s mid-tempo ghetto-torch “4 in the Morning” with a lot of extra blips and whaps and maybe one or two upticks in overall speed, but it comes off more as a glorified house tune than a laser-blasted mind-blower. More obvious is the Vission vs Aude remix of Hilary Duff’s “Stranger,” which is without question general-issue house.

So it goes through disc 1, the most action coming from Tiesto’s original “Break My Fall.” Disc 2 is more enticing going by the track list alone – Above & Beyond have the progressive trance genre down better than anybody, and their “Good For Me” is a sight for sore ears. Other pay-attention names on disc 2 include Sander van Doorn (with the original “Grasshopper” in all its cataclysmic, system-crashing glory) and Armin van Buuren’s hard-charging “This World is Watching Me.” Speaking of van Buuren, keep in mind that his more traditional State of Trance albums are the ones trance-heads buy up without hesitation; the progressive trance thing is cute and all, but it’s ripe for creating mass confusion, which has indeed happened on more than one occasion.

Eastern Blok, Folk Tales (Eastern Blok Records)

A no-brainer choice for NPR freaks, and in fact the band – formerly the Goran Ivanovic Group – made an appearance recently on the network. Ivanovic is a Croatian guitarist, joined here by flutist/saxophonist Doug Rosenberg to manage all the harmonics, which are in turn backed by top-drawer jazz bass and drums. The deal here is a pastiche of pan-cultural folk music (Middle Eastern and East European, mostly), classical and Spyro Gyra-style jazz-prog, a mishmash broad and Hollywood enough to have gotten the band a few spots on the soundtrack for Angelina Jolie’s Wanted. Being that it’s Ivanovic’s vessel, we steer into Django Reinhardt speed-picking waters first off with “Tango Pajdusko,” a few Borat-like passages sneaking in to spell out “eclectic” for listeners unfamiliar with the concept of polyrhythm. More Borat on “Balkan Healer” didn’t impress me as much as “Sorrow’s Secret,” a slower piece that’s symphonic in scope. You’ll have to pardon a short curmudgeonly segue here. A lot of people would die for this stuff, and it’s won a lot of recognition, but if it was made for anything, it’s NPR program-reminder wallpaper, which bums me out – I’m getting quite weary of the network’s tacit cheerleading of the ongoing Bush crisis, but don’t mind me.

Hurt, Vol II (self-released)

Hurt didn’t hit the New Artist chart at #1 simply because their drummer’s the son of Zep/Van Halen producer Andy Johns; they’re worthwhile because they treat nu-metal like the urinal it is. Best described as a cross between Live and Candlebox, they’re organic without telegraphing such, like a crew of hillbillies out to throw a monkey in the wrench of a Linkin Park listening party, sort of like Dropbox but with real purpose in life and no sourball-puckered Creed vocals. Their entire trip can be grokked for what it is through a few listens to teaser single “Ten Ton Brick,” a drag-and-drop exercise in ringout riffage, Ozzy arpeggios and front-guy J. Loren’s feigned instability. When in ballad mode, they don’t screw things up by playing fist-in-the-air cartoon characters, this demonstrated in “Aftermath” through simple but wonderfully ambient piano/guitar interplay and Loren’s fragile – occasionally croaking – normal-dude vocals; the song works not just on the level of Bic-flick arena-metal-stopper but could have made it onto any modern pop record. Only misstep is “Abuse of Sid,” whose refrain is pure Candlebox filler.

Creature Feature, The Greatest Show Unearthed (Sumerian Records)
The demographic that goes in big for Corpse Bride can jump right in and start bobbing its collective head to this wholly similar product. Firmly rooted in visual imagery – from say a Maurice Sendak-inspired Tim Burton re-energized for a go at whimsical goth cartoons – it’s comfort food for the ears of pancake-face hallow-teens and people whose collections of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines are pathetically gigantic (guilty). Old-school kraut-electro outfit Das Ich feinted in this direction with their 2006 album, Cabaret, but couldn’t muster the conceptual nerve to provide the record the constant barrage of honking calliope and carnival barker bullhorn it needed, but Creature Feature (presently on tour with Wednesday 13, goth’s answer to Iggy Pop) are burdened with no such qualms, trotting out all manner of squishy, bony, needle-fanged Muppets doing a lot of Nightmare Before Christmas-like la-la-la-ing accompanied by 80s synth lines straight out of Lost Boys and Fright Night.

Otep, The Ascension (Koch Records)

It’s odd that Otep Shamaya, after being freed from her Capitol Records contract and handing her life over to the world’s biggest indie, chose to skip the glaze-eyed spoken word babblings that put her on the map. Not completely, mind you; she goes into a Saw-vs-martians stream of consciousness soliloquy for the entire length of the hidden track, and she’s still the spookiest person in metal, what with her Lucia Cifarelli-like puma-screeches and beware-the-nutty-chick hiccups hot-linked to every song. But this is a comparatively straightforward screamo/nu-metal exercise, which in turn puts the burden on her to make her (always creepy) poetry heard over fast-chugging KMFDM guitars and double-bass breaks; sometimes it works, sometimes you miss the wigged-out spontaneity. Music-wise the band remains edgier and more slickly produced than anything the Metal Bladers are knocking together between band-member firings; in “Confrontation” she makes a play for the Evanescence kids, blending goth and sheer hardness with riffing you might hear from Megadeth. Similarly, “Noose & Nail” throws its Amy Lee pomposity into an industrial-metal blast-furnace in time to prevent it from becoming completely useless.

Paul Oakenfold, Greatest Hits & Remixes (Ultra Records)

Until recently, a greatest-hits album from someone who spins records for a living would have been near-unthinkable. Oakenfold, however, is held in higher esteem by the mainstream than even Tiesto, never mind guys like Paul van Dyk. A lot of this stuff you’ve heard if you ever watch movies – “Dread Rock” is here in all its Darude-like power-flute glory, as is his remix of David Arnold’s James Bond Theme from Die Another Day (in turn cleverly paired up with the like-minded spaghetti-secret-agent guitar of “Ready Steady Go” from the Korean disco scene in Collateral). Other material here is lesser-known to non-wonk dance-clubbers – English techno band Underworld recently released the hypnotic, very danceable album Oblivion with Bells, and the band’s autobahn-cruising “Born Slippy Nuxx” received an Oakenfold makeover that’s part of this package. Massive Attack’s urban-desperation-opus “Unfinished Sympathy” may not have been my first choice to get remodeled into a deep house joint (just picture “Karmacoma” getting its brains dubbed out), but then again, if rock critics ruled the world you wouldn’t want to be in it.

Raine Maida, The Hunters Lullaby (Kingnoise/Nettwerk Records)

The single nicest surprise so far this music-product off-season is, perplexingly enough, Canadian. Maida, the singer for Our Lady Peace, watched his band run the table at Canadian awards shows and rack up sales everywhere but here in the US, where their biggest exposure came via the song “Whatever,” which, as luck would have it, crazy-murdering steroid-gulper Chris Benoit adopted as his WWE intro song. The band progressively toned down their hard rock, story of everybody’s life, but that didn’t play in Peoria either, so here he’s gone solo to see what American lovin’s in store by edging a little toward the hip-hop side.

That’s not to say he’s decked out in grills nowadays, but the menacing piano loop in album roll-out track “Careful What You Wish For” does forebode gat-fire and hard pipe-hittin’ hood tales. It never deteriorates into in-your-face honky rap, though; Maida mixes a few unobtrusive, natural rhyme-flows up with his Sinex-blasted nu-metal croak, sounding nervous but musically aware. “Yellow Brick Road” is a drop-dead post-Beck hit that seems to have simply slipped out of him; great chorus and enough hip-hop to inspire bursts of table-drumming in the sports bars down here in Bushworld, one would think. Just in case, though, “China Doll” tables a little French-café alt-folk for the home crowd.In sum, the album’s a grower if given half a chance, familiar but a little dark and cold and unsure of itself, although it really needn’t have been.

Sebastian Bach, Angel Down (EMI Records)

No matter what cultural vacuum Sebastian Bach gets sucked into, he always runs back to his beloved Screamy Screamington thrash and axe-demon crunch. There were the Broadway turns, the Gilmore Girls episodes, and the reality TV BFF heart-to-hearts with Kurupt, but you didn’t seriously think that a massive shift of artistic paradigm was taking place in Johann’s head, did you? Plus, for a while there it looked like Guns n Roses were going to get back together, and there was no way Bach was gonna sit still while those guys ran off with all the hot Mensa babes. Besides, we all know that those art-snob departures were heartfelt but overdone atonements for the Homophobic Slur On The Tee Shirt Incident back in ’89. But I won’t mention that.

When Velvet Revolver was forming, Slash gave Bach a tryout but canned the idea, saying that the sessions sounded too much like Skid Row. Jeez, what was he shooting for, Collective Soul? Because that’s the thing – if Bach’s the singer, it’s Skid Row. QED, then, Angel Down is a Skid Row album. When guest screamer Axl Rose trades screams with Bach during the cover of Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle,” he sounds like he’s been helplessly assimilated, stressing to keep up. As usual, there’s polite thrash-metal, blues scales getting beaten to pulps, and Bach’s screaming – nothing new, a fish gotta swim thing.

Shocking Pinks, Shocking Pinks (Astralwerks Records)

This late entry was a stowaway on an Astralwerks care package that included the new Air Traffic LP, which doesn’t hit stores until February. Untested new albums are scarcer than Nintendo Wiis this time of year, so I had three choices: review this, which is old news; review one of the 10 billion Compost releases that I’ve been ignoring for months now (I’m on Ultra’s promo list, so why pretend to be engrossed in unusable Euro-tech acts like Jazzanova?); or do a high-school-book-report-style snoozer on a best-of or live album, which is all that’s been coming out.

For once, luck shone. By going with the most interesting-looking thing (pretty much anyone would give a band called Shocking Pinks at least fifteen seconds to make their case) I can now atone for the Bill Buckner I pulled last year by tossing Cold War Kids’ Robbers and Cowards on the Teensy Bit Too Late To Review stack instead of doing my job and writing it up months before every natural-born-hipster on earth started wearing Cold War Kids tee shirts.

Like Robbers and Cowards, Shocking Pinks is made of parts you’ve heard before, but taken as a whole it’s a jaw-dropper. Nick Harte’s absinthe-drowned voice synchs perfectly with the music’s paisley drone, blurry shoegaze guitars and New Order-like rubber-band bass, but there’s a depth to all of it that can only be described anecdotally – for me, it was like hearing early Cure tunes for the first time; minimalism gone wild. Very nice surprise here.