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Bruce Henderson | Beyond The Pale
A thousand years ago, locked away in remote mountaintops and near-inaccessible caves, medieval monks pondered the question of exactly how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. The modern world allows us many such distractions, amongst which, this album brings to mind: how many cliches can you possibly fit into a four minute song and how many bland-as-breakfast-TV singer songwriters are trying to crest the wave of the (already cusped) alt.country movement? Those venerable monks were asking questions about size, about sub-atomics, about quantity - the latter day questions revolve around quality, or more precisely, the lack thereof. How many records start with a strummed guitar, a common chord and a trite line? How many singers without a voice have tried that slurred, faux Springsteen affectation that makes them sound more like a Stateside Chas and Dave? How many more observations the like of "They say that when you lose an arm / You still have feeling there / Well I never lost an arm / But I lost you" can one reviewer hear before he's raving, foaming at the mouth crazy and reaching for the eject button? My God, a thousand years ago they used to torture people by putting their foot into an iron boot and then hammering in bits of wood between the metal and flesh until the victim's foot was totally disintegrated. These days we have much more advanced, but no less horrible or traumatic, ways of getting people to tell us what we want. Play this record twice and you'll see what I mean. They should have used this, not Heavy Metal, to drive Norieiga out of his fortified jungle compound. The man would have come out pleading forgiveness before the second song was through.