Monday, October 25, 2004

Heavy Rotation - K-os, Le Tigre, Mos Def & The Zutons

The Zutons are a Merseybeat four piece who just released their debut in the US. Titled Who Killed......The Zutons?, I picked it up on a whim - I liked the name, had read a few things and decided to take a chance. It's a mix of all kinds of things - classic '60s rock, a bit of disco and new wave, some country and a bit of ska. Singer David McCabe calls it "soul-funk-voodoo-vibe". Producer Ian Broudie (The Lightning Seeds) gives everything a super crisp sound. Zuton Fever kicks off the album in fine form with a huge, twangy guitar riff and a very memorable vocal, as well as some great sax. I love it when one of those impulse buys pays off!

Le Tigre's major label debut This Island was released last week, and I'm not really sure how I feel about it yet. It's a much more polished sounding record than the previous ones, and I get the feeling that I've heard it all before. I do like New Kicks, essentially an anti war anthem. Over a crunchy beat, and amid chants of "peace now" are all manner of samples recorded at the "The World Says No To War March" in NYC back in Feb.2003. Included are comments by Al Sharpton, Susan Sarandon and Ossie Davis. Fight The power!

A couple of rap records have caught my ear over the last couple of weeks. Mos Def's second album The New Danger is a sprawling, 18 track rock-rap beast. It's got a bunch of rock tracks with his band Black Jack Johnson, whose members include Doug Wimbush and Bernie Worrell. It's a smoking band of great pedigree, but somehow the rock tracks sound a bit dated. The hip hop tracks are ace, several featuring production by Kanye West. The Rape Over is a raging indictment of those who rule the music industry - "old white men is running this rap shit" - a minute and 34 seconds of fierce beats and fiercer rhetoric.

Canadian rapper K-os caught my attention a couple of years ago with his debut release. I saw a few of the vids and liked what I heard but never got the record. A few weeks ago I saw the video for his new single "B-Boy Stance" and was hooked. Joyful Rebellion is a very nice blend of beats and real instruments, with a bit of rock and reggae thrown into the mix. It fits into the whole "conscious rap" scene - definitely not hard core. There's lots of positivity, and dude not only raps but can sing too, so the end result is a very melodic, fun record. The Love Songs rides a nice mid tempo beat, and features piano riffing, sitars, and a cool string sample with a very Asian feel.

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