Various Artists

4AD Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I'm normally not a big fan of samplers. Sure, they often feature versions of songs not readily available anywhere else, but many of them seem to be assembled in a slipshod manner. Plus, most of the time I've maybe heard of one or two groups, and the others tend to be groups I'll find in the "Where Are They Now?" category of Trivial Pursuit.

Then came Anakin, the latest addition to the Pierce Archive (Matt, we're gonna miss you) courtesy of 4AD Records. Not only does this disc build from acoustic to electric in a natural fashion, but with one exception, this disc makes me want to discover more about most of the bands featured.

The highlight for me on this disc is "Say What You Came To Say" by a group named scheer, noted for writing their songs acoustically and recording them with a thicker electric sound. But this song stayed acoustic... and is one of the most powerful songs I've heard in a very long time. This is a song that had the power to move me emotionally and make the most of my mind - and if they don't make it to the big time soon, I'm going to be one pissed-off puppy. (One suggestion, though - why not do an album in this style? It my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 works!)

Mojave 3's demo of "To Whom Should I Write" and His Name Is Alive's "Ain't No Lie" both display talents of bands from whom you should be hearing a lot from in the near future. And while Lisa Germano sounds a lot like Liz Phair on "Reptile," she does add enough of her own flavor to it to make this another winning cut.

Checking in with the most unique guitar sound on Anakin is starry smooth hound with "Dreamt U In A Dream" - killer fuzz effects, though a little more variety in the chords would have been more enjoyable. Still, I defy you to not get hooked on this song with a guitar riff like it features.

Two bands we've featured on "The Daily Vault" are featured on Anakin. Thievery Corporation is about to have their debut album released in the UK, and they check in with "The Foundation".While I'm not gushing with as much praise as Sean Belvedere was when he reviewed Songs From The Thievery Hi-Fi, it is an enjoyable track which you readers in England will soon be grooving to. And Iceland's GusGus checks in again with a demo version of "Blue Mug" - further proof that this band should soon be eclipsing their fellow countrymen The Sugarcubes.

The only real downfall on Anakin comes on Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke's effort "Sacrifice," a song which sounds more suited for someone like Diamanda Galas or Nusret Fateh Ali Khan. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not get used to this song. Fortunately, acts like The Hope Blister and Kristin Hersh (whose latest album was released on Tuesday - as was this disc) quickly redeem Anakin.

Every time I'm ready to declare true alternative music dead, something like Anakin comes along to make me happy that I was wrong about the state of the genre. Here's hoping we'll be hearing more - and I mean a lot more - from these bands, all of whom will have new albums out in 1998.

Rating: A-

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of 4AD Records, and is used for informational purposes only.