Snoozebutton – Your Discerning Guide to Modern Culture

Archive for December, 1998

December 11th, 1998

The Aluminum Group – Plano

Friday, December 11th, 1998
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The Aluminum Group - Plano

Label: Minty Fresh

About a year ago I was milling through the used CD bins on St. Marks and I stumbled upon a compilation benefiting a Chicago performance art group called Doorika. Most of the bands on the comp were from Chicago (Tortoise, Sea and Cake, etc.) but of the twenty or so songs, only one really seemed like anything other than just a throwaway track for a good cause. The song was called “Chocolates” and was recorded by an relatively unknown band called themselves The Aluminum Group. Six months later the band recorded their debut masterpiece, “Plano” on the sugar-pop, hometown label Minty Fresh.

Listening to The Aluminum Group is like walking directly back into what youºd like to remember your adolescence as. I’m thinking specifically of that time and place where stacks of Prefab Sprout, Aztec Camera, Roxy Music and “Body & Soul” era Joe Jackson records were strewn across your floor and you were falling in love for the first time, making mix tapes for the crush of the moment. The Aluminum Group is the brainchild of brothers John and Frank Navin. The twelve sweet and sophisticated songs on “Plano” come across as the perfect fusion of 80ºs alterna-pop (complete with synth beats and jangly guitar strums) and the sophisticated slightly more serious emotional and lyrical stylings and orchestral rock of Eric Matthews.

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December 10th, 1998

Permanent Midnight

Thursday, December 10th, 1998
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Permanent Midnight

Director : David Veloz
With : Ben Stiller, Elizabeth Hurley, Janeane Garofalo

Movies about junkies are less common than movies about people with serious coke habits. This is largely because it makes people less squeamish to watch someone doing a line than it does to watch someone tying up and shoving a needle into arms, feet and other unimaginable places. “Permanent Midnight” is the true story about comedy writer Jerry Stahl (the guy responsible for the stellar dialogue on the sitcom “Alf”) and his descent into the dark world of heroin addiction.

At first it’s hard to take Ben Stiller seriously as the heroin crazed hipster, but Stiller has, as with every movie, proven himself profoundly versatile. Although playing a heroin junkie was an imaginative experience, having never used the drug himself, Stiller is said to have lost 30 pounds to better look the part of the twisted and bleary-eyed junkie. Stiller, dressed-in-black leather pants and jacket, does a good job of looking and sounding the part of the transplanted New Yorker, which he is, gone Hollywood to “get away from all the drugs.”

The story is told through a series of flashbacks, during a confessional evening in a motel room with another recovering drug addict. While recovering Stiller does his time frying fish in a fast food restaurant as the last step in the rehabilitation process. With the exception of some pretty explicit heroin shooting scenes, “Permanent Midnight” is a pretty easy watch featuring a good-looking cast (Elizabeth Hurley, Owen Wilson, Janeane Garofalo) and some entertaining dialogue.

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December 10th, 1998

Lida Husik – Faith In Space

Thursday, December 10th, 1998
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Lida Husik - Faith In Space
Label: Alias

Ever since 1990, Lida Husik has been consistently cranking out inventive and enjoyable music. In fact it’s hard to think of even a handful of musicians who have been as steadily original over seven albums as she has been. With a voice a lot like a more self-assured Liz Phair, Husik’s work has been a combination of straight-ahead melodic guitar driven indie-rock and mellifluous ambient music.


On records like “Fly Stereophonic,” “Bozo,” and “The Return of Red Emma” Husik’s cuts her sexy strong vocals with odd lyrics telling bizarre stories. She alternates these records with the sparser, more ethereal with which she collaborates with Beaumont Hannant. On albums like “Green Blue Fire” and “Evening at the Grange” and “Faith In Space” Husik plays guitar, bass and keyboard, while Hannant mixes in drums and various samples to create a seamless spread of ethereal bliss.


“Faith In Space” is a richly textural album mixing a breathy often baby-doll vocal style with the clean thick waves of near perfect instrumentation. This is as subtle a record as the ambient trip-hip leaders such as Hooverphonic, Portishead, and Esthero. The beats may be a little quieter and the vocal riffs are understated, but as a complete composition, Husik fills the sky with a strangely upbeat ten-song collection including a beautiful cover of Paul Weller’s “Monday.”


After a decades worth of records and a tour among some of the best indie labels in the business (Shimmy Disc, Astralwerks, Caroline, Alias) Husik will likely remain an artist’s artist, making music out of a profound love of doing so. “Faith In Space” is a brilliant mood record for those quiet evenings watching snow falling or leaves changing.

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