Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tweaking Roland

The latest single from VHS Or Beta is You Got Me. In it's original form it is an updated new wave song. It sounds kind of like a Duran Duran electro/rock/pop tune as sung by The Cure's Robert Smith. There are two sets of remixes on the single. Baby Daddy from Scissor Sisters turns in a remix and dub, both of which are slick synth-pop-disco takes on the tune. The other remixes come courtesy of The Juan Maclean. The vocal version is an electro house adventure with lots of syndrum tom rolls, squelchy bass and a bit of Roland action. You Got Me (The Juan Maclean Dub) is stripped of all the vocals and instead focuses on the tweaking of many Roland riffs, eight and a half minutes of them. Banks and banks of them competing for headphone space, clashing for echo supremacy, building up and then decaying into nothing only to come storming back again. I like tweaking. And the nice kitties on the cover too...

Monday, February 27, 2006

Riding To Vanity Fair

After much hemming and hawing I decided to buy the latest Paul McCartney album Chaos & Creation In The Backyard. Based on largely positive reviews, and the fact that Nigel Godrich (producer of all that is good and indie) produced it, I had a feeling I might like it. I am quite pleased with it. It isn't anything earth shatteringly new, but it is a relative return to the form of his early '70s solo LPs. You either love Macca or you hate him. I enjoyed The Beatles, a few of his solo albums and most of the music he did with Wings. This record has him playing all the instruments and is nicely stripped down. Are some of the songs a bit trite and twee in that unique Macca way? Sure, but then there will always be some of those on his records. There's nothing twee about Riding To Vanity Fair. It's my fave tune on the album, and is one of the tracks that really is all about Nigel's production. It has deep, swoony strings, a lovely mournful melody, and it could almost be Radiohead circa the mid '90s. Love it, and maybe you will too.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Funky Friday Is When You Want To Come
Frankie Say Funky Friday

Venerable British label ZTT has a new distribution deal here in the US, so last fall some of the killer back catalogue started hitting US shelves. I have picked up Propaganda's A Secret Wish, am working on getting the Art Of Noise discs, and this week I plunged into the 2CD insanity that is Frankie Goes To Hollywood's remix collection Twelve Inches - subtle, innit? As a teenager I was floored by these guys. It was the clash of two worlds - Holly Johnson and Paul Rutherford brought the outrageous gay sex-dance-club vibe, all leather, jockstraps and poppers with fabulous disco beats. Then the band were the LADS - scruffy, party boys who brought the rock 'n roll. To my teenage self it was racy and exciting and fascinating and so far from the ordinary that I couldn't resist - me and millions of others apparently. In the hands of uber producer Trevor Horn and his band of studio wizards their music and words became epics, full of pomp and circumstance, club beats and rock riffs, pop meets art rock meets sex in an alley. Their exploits were extolled on the sleeves via the ramblings of writer Paul Morley. They became instant stars with their debut single Relax. It got them banned everywhere with it's racy lyrics and cover art, but didn't stop the song from reaching number one all over the world. They preceded to chew up the scenery for the next couple of years, milking their debut double album Welcome To The Pleasuredome for all it was worth - the singles were available in a dazzling array of formats, with different covers, versions and picture discs all factoring in. Their follow up Liverpool initially sold well in the UK, but it didn't have the hit power of the debut, and it was the beginning of the end for the band. Six months after the album came out Holly left to go solo. This began a series of legal battles that led to the end of the label's golden years of the '80s.

In the true spirit of FGTH it would be remiss of me to not post the anarchic Relax. Instead of the tidy single version I give you the sprawling, 16:24 (yes, you did read that right - sixteen minutes and twenty four seconds) cosmically/comically prolonged climax of the Relax (Sex Mix). If you're gonna get Relax it better be the most annoyingly brilliant version of it, right? For you to love or hate.

My personal fave of theirs is and has always been the debut album's title track, so it is with great pleasure that I offer Welcome To The Pleasuredome (Escape Act Video Mix). An epic tune that incorporates jungle animals, Kublai Khan and sex into an orgy of excess. It rides a killer groove, a sublime bassline, chiming guitars, and a great funky break that makes me freaking lose it every time. A couple of slices of seriously debauched '80s funk rock to help you with your weekend preparations...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sound Mirrors

If you are a fan of electronic music chances are you know who Coldcut are. Jonathan More and Matt Black began as beatmakers to popstars, writing and producing (and winning Producer Of The Years awards at the Brits) for Yazz and Lisa Stansfield in the late '80s. Then they formed the seminal label NinjaTune, whose roster of leftfield artists have soundtracked so much of the last 10 years of my life. They hosted Solid Steel, a pioneering UK radio show that had them throwing down legendary mix sets. This week Coldcut released their first new LP in 8 years. Called Sound Mirrors, it's the follow up to 1997's Let Us Play. That album was full of good intentions and ideas but was ultimately unsatisfying to this listener - too much hodge-podge, too many ideas not fully explored, too far out in places. The new album is just as full of ideas and guests - John Spencer, Mike Ladd, Roots Manuva, Andrew Broder(Fog) and Robert Owens all represent - but to me it all sounds a lot more coherent. The production on it is definitely better - the tracks are warmly produced, and feature a dazzling mash up of electronics, real instrumentation and genres. It covers soulful Bristolian pop, rap rock a la Beck, folktronica, avant jazz, electro ragga hip hop and everything in between. It falters in a few places for me - the spoken word bit that features Saul Williams - I'm just not big on the spoken word thing. My instant fave on it is True Skool (Featuring Roots Manuva). It's a killer hip hop, ragga groove that has Roots riffing over a booming beat and bassline combo that drops in snippets of disco strings and Indian music, and it's probably the duo's most poptastic moment in years. It's refreshing to hear the duo drop such accessible stuff in the middle of all the experimentation. A very nice record indeed.

Best Music News I've Heard All Week
It's about time. Byrne & Eno Revisit Bush Of Ghosts. On March 28th I will be standing outside the record store, money in hand, waiting to get in and buy the remastered and expanded (with SEVEN NEW TRACKS) My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts. "The extra tracks on the reissue, "Pitch to Voltage," "Two Against Three," "Vocal Outtakes," "New Feet," "Defiant," "Number 8 Mix" and "Solo Guitar With Tin Foil," are bolstered by a film for album track "Mea Culpa" by Bruce Connor." Can you feel my excitement?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

My '60s Remastered - Crosby, Stills & Nash

Born from the ashes of Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds and the Hollies, the trio of David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash released their self titled debut LP in 1969. It was an instant hit with it's blend of folk, pop and psychedelic rock and helped announce the singer/songwriter boom of the '70s. My parents had the album so I heard it a lot growing up, and I have always loved it. I personally don't think the trio ever reached this level of pure creativity again. This week brought a newly remastered and expanded (w/four new songs) version of it. I knew I had to have it to replace my crackly vinyl. These three had great voices and each of them has a distinct style of both singing and song writing. The harmonies and melodies on this record are glorious, capable of transcending even some of the schmaltzy sentimentality that peppers the record. It sounds awesome on the remaster - I've already played it two or three times since buying it yesterday! The hard part is picking music to share because there are so many good tunes on it - Suite:Judy Blue Eyes with it's classic latino flavored doo-doo-doo-doo-doos at the end, Marrakesh Express, all burbling and brimming with the promise of Morroccan mystery and hashish, Long Time Gone's somber reflection on the assasination of Robert F. Kennedy, the classic rock sound of Wooden Ships. It's ALL good. I'm going with the song that I played 3 or 4 times in a row, You Don't Have To Cry. It's a beautiful ballad, with loads of great guitar picking, and oh, those harmonies - they almost make me tear up with happiness when I hear them. I relate to the lyrics too, with their anti-establishment sentiment - "You are living a reality I left years ago, It quite nearly killed me. In the long run it will make you cry, Make you crazy and old before your time." It's a stunner. One of the bonus tracks is the lovely instrumental Song With No Words. It's all about gentle guitars and the dreamy doo-doo-dahs on this track from late '69, recorded before they started work on this album's follow-up, Deja Vu. The song reappeared in re-recorded form on Crosby's '71 solo LP If I Could Only Remember My Name.... A great reissue of a seminal album.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

My '80s Remastered - How to Be A Zillionaire!

A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to picking up the remastered and expanded edition of ABC's third LP How to Be A Zillionaire!. Released in 1985, it saw the band lose original member Stephen Singleton and gain two others in Eden and David Yarritu, who did pretty much nothing more than dance in the videos. The band also became cartoon characters because, to quote Martin, "real life was rubbish. We wanted to reinvent ourselves and our world in cartoons. Larger than life and twice as ugly". It also saw them adopt a harder edged, NYC electro club sound to back their usual hooks and barbs. From the liner notes comes this from Martin - the three records listened to while making this LP were Shannon's Let The Music Play, the Keith Leblanc helmed Malcolm X cut up No Sell Out and Grandmaster Flash's New York New York. The influence of those songs can really be felt - in fact, Keith Leblanc programmed and played beats on several tracks. This record ended up being the band's biggest US hit. Sonically it is definitely of it's era and so it sounds a bit dated. If you have any fondness for that mid '80s electro sound (as I do!) you will probably find some enjoyment in these two bonus tracks -

Vanity Kills (Abigail's Party Mix) - hard electro beats and bass, lots of silly vocal samples, a wicked trumpet solo and Martin's great put down lines - "humble you ain't" all make this one good, funky fun.

Fear Of The World (In Cinemascope) is, in it's original form, the album opener, and signals the new, harder edged sound to be found. I love this tune - it's got killer chimes, big Fairlight strings - "we are living in the best of all possible worlds". It's an epic production that suits it's cinemascope subtitle.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Music From The Crisis Detention Center (Part III)

Sorry - my dork ass self accidently linked to part II instead of III - the link has been corrected so please try again...

OK. Today is the last installment of the three part Finn mix. It's been a wonderfully heavy adventure so far, and today you get the payoff - positivity slips into the mix and things are looking up! I'd like to thank Finn once again for putting so much of himself into this, and for delivering a stunning variety (look at those tracklists!) of tunes. It's been a rewarding journey and I hope to do some more stuff like this at some point down the road. Enjoy...

Music From The Crisis Detention Center (Part III)
Telly Savalas – Looking Back At Thirty
David Bowie – Changes
Bomb The Bass – Winter In July
Marden Hill – Bardot
Go-Betweens – Bachelor Kisses
Cocteau Twins – Cherry Coloured Funk
Elvis Presley – Bridge Over Troubled Water
Aphrodite’s Child – Break
Terry Callier – Love Theme From Spartacus
Rance Allen Group – Ain’t No Need Of Crying
Barry White – Let The Music Play
Ultra Naté – Funny (How Things Change)
Roxy Music – A Really Good Time
It’s Immaterial – Homecoming
Carole King – Home Again
Carly Simon – Coming Around Again
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – The Power Of Love
Madness – One Better Day

P.S. - I have to say that the comments/responses to these mixes have been a bit underwhelming. Finn & I would love to hear what you have to say so now is the time to make up for your slacking ways...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Mixed Bag

Maximo Park - I Want You To Stay (Field Music/J.Xaverre Remix)
This is a pretty radical and gorgeous reworking of the latest Maximo Park single - from frantic new wave to Elton John piano rocker. J.Xaverre is Pete Gofton, who used to play the drums in Kenickie. Field Music are also from the same North East UK scene that gave us The Futureheads and Maximo. Andrew Moore plus song writing brothers Peter and David Brewis record with an ever-shifting crew of locals and as a result are something of a North East supergroup. Peter was The Futureheads original drummer; Barry Futurehead was in one of the many early Field Music line-ups and sometime drummer Tom English is on loan from Maximo Park. Their self titled debut album gets it's US release on April 4th on Memphis Industries US. The Maximo song has a pretty cool video too which you can watch on the I Want You To Stay ecard.

I got this Irving ecard in my inbox this week. I hadn't heard of these guys, so I clicked on the link. A very artfully presented ecard got my attention, as did the stream of three tracks from their upcoming album. It's indie rock, strummy and shiny and kind of summery. I read the band's bio and noted that it was recorded with production and engineering help from Phil Ek (dios (malos), The Shins, Modest Mouse), Aaron Espinoza (Earlimart) and Jim Fairchild (from Grandaddy). I like all of those bands so I figured that there would be a chance I'd like this stuff. I do. The band's second album Death In The Garden, Blood On The Flowers is also out on April 4th on Eenie Meenie Records.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Funky Friday Has It Just About Right

Good afternoon. This is Captain Dimitri From Paris speaking. I would like to welcome all of you aboard this afternoon's flight, number FF21706. We are currently on schedule and will be taking off momentarily. Your flight time this afternoon is going to be a funky, short hop of 5:04. The weather is clear and your flight attendant Charo has all "the right stuff" to make your trip a good one. For your in flight entertainment be sure to enjoy the dance beats, wicked clavinet and lovely disco lollies on Just About Right (Downsized Edit). Thank you for your attention, and have a good trip.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Double Dinosaur

Dinosaur L - Go Bang (Francois Kevorkian Mix)
Arthur Russell's late '70s and early '80s output is the stuff of art funk legend. A cellist from Iowa, he wound up in NYC after time spent studying Indian music in San Francisco. He met all of the right music scenesters (Larry Levan, David Byrne...) and began to collaborate and put out records, both in his own name and as Loose Joints, Dinosaur and Dinosaur L. Most of it was minimalist, some of it experimentation for cello and voices, and some of it was art funk and disco and dub. This track sits squarely in the disco column. It starts out minimally - spacy keys, the lovely hiss of the high hat, slowly building up to a keyboard frenzy. Top it off with wacky post-punk vocals courtesy of Lola Blank, then Arthur himself yelling "I wanna see all my friends at once!" All of it is then wrapped in a lovely mix by the legendary Francois K. Art for the feet.

Dinosaur - Kiss Me Again (Version)
From 1978, this was the first disco 12" released by Sire Records, and also Arthur Russell's first commercial release. It's a very groovy disco track featuring Arthur's cello, muted horns and the vocals of Myriam Valle. It's also notable for the great guitar playing of David Byrne - the last couple minutes of the song are all about David's wiggy riffout. Arthur was almost invited to join Talking Heads at this time. Producer Steve D'Aquisto took the tapes of this tune down to Studio 54 one night and got his DJ friend in the booth to play it. The crowd ate it up - all 12 minutes of it. Another classic bit of NYC art disco.(A big HUGE thank you! goes out to Philip for hooking me up with this track...)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Music From The Crisis Detention Center (Part II)

Alright. You've listened to Part I. Now it's time for part II of Finn's roller coaster ride of emotions mix. Once again the variety is impressive, and there are a few absolute classics - Echo & the B-men, Robert Wyatt's Shipbuilding and the great B.E.F. & Glenn Gregory cover of Wichita Lineman among them. Part III still to come...

Music From The Crisis Detention Center (Part II)
(107.5mb / 1:18:18)
Walker Brothers – I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore
Sammy Davis Jr – Love Is Just A Meaningless Word
The Fun Boy Three – Alone
Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
Issac Hayes – Ike’s Rap II / Help Me Love
Everything But The Girl – Fascination
Julian Cope – Me Singing
Pretty Things – Trust
Echo & The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon
Robert Wyatt – Shipbuilding
Chapter & The Verse – Lorraine (Memphis Listen To Her)
Was (Not Was) – Zaz Turned Blue
Robert Ashcroft – Check The Meaning
Glenn Gregory and B.E.F. – Wichita Lineman
Mr. Fingers – Survivor
Style Council – My Ever Changing Moods
Beach Boys – Disney Girls
The Free Design - Memories

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Today sees the release of a new album from bossa nova legend Sergio Mendes. Called Timeless, it's a set of old songs given new interpretations under the production guidance of Will.I.Am. Better known as the front man for pop rappers Black Eyed Peas, he brings his studio talents and a bunch of his friends to the party. There are guest spots from Q-Tip, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, John Legend, Black Thought, Pharoahe Monch, Chali 2na, India.Arie and Justin Timberlake, as well as some lovely harmonica from Stevie Wonder. What you're getting is some classic bossa nova and samba tracks from the '60s given a hiphop/rap makeover. I was admittedly nervous about this collaboration because I am a bigger fan of the Black Eyed Peas of old - a rap trio with some crossover appeal instead of the pop foursome with some hip hop flava that they are today. It turns out that it's not as bad as it could have been. There are maybe one or two too many Will.I.Am raps, but so far I like the overall vibe. There are also plenty of Brazilian guest on this, so it nicely straddles the two worlds. I am familiar with most of these tracks in their original forms, having grown up listening to Sergio and his various combos. I have to say that some of these are pretty cool updates. The tracks that appeal to me the most so far are the more traditional ones - less hip hop and more bossa nova. E Menina (Hey Girl) is pure Brasil '66 material given the bottom heavy touch, with a clicky, programmed rhythm and boatloads of sunny melody and riffy vocalese. Love it. Samba da Benção (Samba of the Blessing) is more of the same - there are a lot of doo-doo-doos, some nice Portuguese raps and some beautiful piano playing. I know a lot of people think Sergio is too easy listening, but he has a unique style and I love the stuff he plays. It kind of surprises me but I think I'm going to be liking this album a lot...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Mornings Eleven

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The Magic Numbers' self titled debut was released last June in the UK and hit US shores in October - yeah, I know, I'm a bit late coming to this party. I finally fell sway to the hype and hubbub ("two sets of brothers and sisters rocking you like a Mamas and Papas for the 21st century!") and picked it up a few weeks ago. Turns out to be a good move - I am loving it. You see the band described a lot as "California Dreamin" types - breezy, lots of great melodies and mucho harmonizing. All of those things are there, but in a more rockist setting. I would describe them as a softer, gentler New Pornographers meets a more feminine Kings Of Leon, with some of that breezy Mamas & Papas stuff folded discreetly into the mix. I wasn't sure how I would feel about it all, but I like it. I've been playing it at work a bit and some of the people there seem to be enjoying it too which is always a good sign. The album opens with Mornings Eleven, and sets the tone perfectly - it sums up the band's style and sound, and you know what you're in for. There are several slower ballads here, and they are lovely, but it's the summery pop rockers that have me coming back. A perfect little bit of Valentine's Day sweetness - lovelorn, classic pop songs detailing the ups and downs of romance.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Music From The Crisis Detention Center

discogs discogs discogs
Finn Johannsen is a 36 year old DJ, journalist and collector from Berlin. He is also, in geek web speak, an 'Ogger. For those of you not in the know, an 'Ogger is a hardcore user of Discogs, the online, user built discography site that has absorbed way too much of my time and energy over the last 5 years. When I first stumbled upon it it was still in it's infancy, and was strictly for electronic music. Over the last few years the site has grown incredibly fast, and has added rock, jazz, hip hop and some other genres too. It has been a labor of love for me, with the end result being to have my whole collection catalogued in one spot. I love it, love it, love it. One of the other benefits for me is that I've found a few people who's tastes mirror mine in many ways, scatterd all over the world. There's a good rush to be had from finding other like minded souls out there - I'm sure many of you can relate. Finn is one of those people. We share a love for Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66/77. We like a lot of other stuff too, but the Mendes thing is first and foremost for me - that and the fact that his taste is even more eclectic than mine. I've never met any of these other 'Oggers, but I feel like I know them because of the music. Discogs has a wild and crazy bunch of forums too, and if you dig deep you'll find the mixes forum. Many of the 'Oggers post mixes there - full sets for other users to enjoy, some of them beatmatched perfection featuring all sorts of electronica while others are more thematic and not about seamless edits. Finn has posted some amazing sets there, always filled with a remarkable variety of tunes, and almost always thematic. He's very good at setting a mood. Last week I asked him if he'd be interested in having me host one of his mixes here, and he responded by providing me with not one but three of them - although it's really one mix in three parts. There is a common theme, as you will see, and as always the scope of artists is fanstastic - and includes Sergio Mendes of course. Over the next week I will be putting up the second and third installments of this set. And Finn wants me to assure you that he's "doing fine in spite of anything the music could suggest". That having been said, Silence Is A Rhythm Too is proud to present...

Music From The Crisis Detention Center (Part I)
(109.7mb / 1:19:52)
Tuxedomoon – The Cage
Lee Hazlewood – The Night Before
The Prisoners – Mourn My Health
R. Dean Taylor – Sunday Morning Coming Down
Yazoo – Winter Kills
Simon And Garfunkel – So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright
Pet Shop Boys – Your Funny Uncle
Paddy McAloon – Sleeping Rough
Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Pradizer Adeus (To Say Goodbye)
Liza Minnelli – For No One
Kissing The Pink – All For You
Coldcut – Autumn Leaves
Rose Royce – Love Don’t Live Here Anymore
Jesus Loves You – I Specialize In Loneliness
Dee C. Lee – See The Day
Human League – Louise
The Colourfield – Sorry
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – I’m Glad
Matt Monro – And We Were Lovers
The Zombies – I Remember When I Loved Her
The Carpenters – Rainy Days And Mondays / Goodbye To Love

Your comments are encouraged and appreciated...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Funky Friday Is All For You

Aceyalone has a been a blip on my musical radar for many years now. It began in '93 with Innercity Griots by his West Coast posse Freestyle Fellowship. More Native Tongues than the left coast's own G-funk, it remains an under rated classic of it's time. By '95 Acey was solo, releasing All Balls Don't Bounce. Thus began a solo career filled with guest spots, some more Freestyle Fellowship music, and now this week the release of his latest solo record Magnificent City. If you look closely at the cover you'll see another name displayed - "accompanied by RJD2". I'm a big fan of RJD2. I love his style, his beats, and his willingness to experiment with his formula by adding touches of '70s rock and '80s new wave and Spanish horn charts. All of those elements that made his 2004 LP Since We Last Spoke such a success have now been applied to Aceyalone's record, and it turns out to be a very inspired collaboration. The beats are fresh, the music is catchy and I'm hooked. The first track is All For U, and it's on. Big horns, crunk beats and it's getting all Rocky Balboa on your ass - Acey's gonna knock you out - "I'm Aceyalone, how can I be of service? / What else do you need beside superb wordage?". The rest of the album is just as entertaining, and flows smoothly and with musical variety. I'll say it again - it's an inspired combination - maybe even Acey's best so far - and it would be nice to see this collaboration extend for a couple more albums.

Producer J Dilla aka Jay Dee (James Yancy), former member of Slum Village, has passed away at the age of 32. "Early reports suggest he succumbed to kidney failure, a medical problem which arose in 2004." A prolific producer, he worked with A Tribe Called Quest, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes and Common and also recorded as Jaylib with fellow producer Madlib.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Need You Tonight

I've been known to enjoy a bit of the mainstream stuff every once in a while. This week finally saw the US release of Mylo's 2004 debut Destroy Rock & Roll. This is a mainstream dance album that has already been huge all over the world. The album has been expanded for it's US release, with a couple of remixes and the UK#1 mashup of Miami Sound Machine's Dr.Beat and his own Drop The Pressure. It's a built-on-a-G4 combination of house, electro, breaks, '80s pop (Kim Carnes' Bette Davis Eyes is in the house), synth pop and a wee bit of rock guitar. Yes, it's slick. Yes, it's been successful. And yes, I like it. There's this one tune on it that really grabbed me, and it isn't one of the big hit singles. Bit of a sidestep here - background details. The year is 1979. I had just moved to the UK. There was this big hit song called Stay With Me Till Dawn by Judie Tzuke. It's a lush ballad that reminds me a lot of 10cc's I'm Not In Love - it's similarly rich and melodic and even a bit spaced out. I loved this song. For whatever reason I never bought the 45, and it's been years since I have heard it. Mylo lifts big chunks of the tune for his LP track Need You Tonight - the title of which comes from Judie's lyrics. Once the first bit of the sample played I was flush with memories. The track itself isn't anything spectacular - he's essentially tarted up the original with some nice beats and strings and keyboards - but I still like it. Ahh, memories...

...and if anybody out there has a copy of the Judie Tzuke original that they want to hook me up with, please do!

Ask & Ye Shall Receive
A late breaking update...
In one of those it only happens on the internet moments Gil over at Motel de Moka posted not only this Mylo tune but the Judie Tzuke original and a mash up of her song and Pink Floyd's Breathe. Fantastic. ¡Gracias a Gil por la musica!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Working On The Ground

Shriekback - an early '80s post-punk supergroup, formed by former Gang Of Four bassist Dave Allen and former XTC keyboardist Barry Andrews. They dispensed with the rock of their old bands and set about concentrating on rhythms. Not dance music in the traditional sense though. They were more experimental, constructing shifting beats and topping them off with ambience and leftfield synth art, and then Barry added his vocals, often messed with for added effect. I was fascinated with their sound - they were pretty unique and hard edged. I bought the early 7"s and 12"s and then watched as over the years they lost that edge and became more concerned with mainstream crossover appeal. A 2CD set of their earliest output was released in 2000 called The Y Records Years. It's 24 tracks comprise all of the songs released by that venerable label (also home to the Pop Group, Maximum Joy, Pigbag and Diamanda Galas). I was listening to it today, and some of it holds up pretty well with music's current fascination with '80s sounds. These three tunes from the comp represent for me all of the classic traits of the band...

Working On The Ground is all about the rhythm - there's lots of beats, a bit of bass, some key noises and layered vocals that build up as the tune goes on.

Despite Dense Weed shows a thicker, fuller sound, with nice clattery percussion, a big bass line and Barry's deeper-than-deep vocals, multitracked and panning around the mix. I like the weird ethnicity of the fade out.

Lined Up (Disco Mix Instrumental) is a "version" of one of the band's finest moments. It's all about the bass line on this - one of the chunkiest riffs ever put down. I also like the rough clavinet and the drum programming and the backing vocals and the melody and the breakdown and the buildup after the breakdown - you get the idea!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Rave Down

It's a bit of a '90s thing going this week...
Swervedriver - an early '90s British rock band that sat squarely on the fence between the two prominent musical styles of the day - the grunge-y alternative rock that was ruling the US airwaves on one side and the wall-of-guitar riffs of the British shoegazers on the other. The music press called them the UK answer to the US grunge bands. They released their records on UK label of legend Creation Records (their friends in Ride - also on Creation - gave label boss Alan McGee their demo) and shared a producer (Anjali Dutt) with labelmates The Boo Radleys. The first Swervedriver tune I ever heard was their second single, 1990's Rave Down. The premise is simple - to pound you with a mighty rock riff and a driving beat, both of which are big, and to sing about getting away from dull, small town existence. I love the intensity of this tune - so many delicious layers of melodic metal riffage and such pummeling drums. A great track that still sounds pretty good to my ears today. Over the next few years they carried on, lost members and record deals (due to the rise of Britpop) until finally calling it quits in 1999.

"Rave down Rave down Rave down Rave down, hit the ground Before the pistol crack spins me out sideways Like the sharp eyed hit of a car crash in a dream Those kids on the corner wanna Beat-box my brains to bits You can't cut creed clean Things ain't black and white like they seem Rave down, hit the ground 4 AM on our hell gas station Before we cruise off to the beach Where the breeze flows easy and slow We hung tight all night And no gig to go to There could be something happenin' here But there's just no place to go Your town ain't liven' up no more Rave Down Deep hot sun burns through the city Yeah, they're havin' to peel the pedestrians off the walls Ex-cop 'round the block Rockin' chair, suckin' beer He blasts flies with his gun Because swatting's no fun Your town ain't happenin' up no more Rave down Rave Rave down, hit the ground."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sabres Versus N.O.W.

For a while there in the '90s Sabres Of Paradise were instrumental in helping shape my taste in electronic music. Their skanked out grooves and general spookiness have always appealed to my leftfield sensibilites. The general quality of the music was high to boot - giant beats, huge bass riffs and loads of tasty studio trickery always emanated from the trio of Andrew Weatherall, Jagz Kooner & Gary Burns. With the blogosphere's recent interest in the whole "hauntology" thing I've been listening to a bit of Sabres lately - they get mentioned a lot in that context. In 1995 they released a wicked little EP of remixes of songs from their '94 LP Haunted Dancehall called Versus. The remix duties were tackled by the cream of the DJ crop of that year. Depth Charge bring gigantically crushing beats and industrial strength crustiness to two takes of Tow Truck. The Chemical Brothers remake that same song into a whiz-bang breakbeat dance party. LFO represent Warp bleepdom and In The Nursery turn Haunted Dancehall into a delicate orchestral piece. My fave track on it is the remix of Bubble & Slide by Nightmares On Wax. In a refreshing break from NOW's traditionally mellow, stoner beats, Bubble & Slide (Nightmares On Wax Remix) is a glorious stomper with big, uptempo beats coupled with the bassline from '70s Moog synth dude Claude Denjean's version of 'Na Na Hey Hey' and topped off with that gloriously catchy melody line. A fantastically grooving track from one of my fave Sabres records.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Funky Friday's Mixed Bag

soul food sexuality reflections nanny nanny boo boo
I have no time for lots of words today so enjoy these four distinctly different songs that all have the funk for your Friday.

Goodie Mob - Soul Food - a tribute to good, old fashioned Southern grub as told by a crew of crunk Southerners, including the highly entertaining Cee-Lo.

KD Lang - Sexuality (DJ Krush Full Mix) - Zen hip-hop master Krush handles makeover of sultry, smoky ballad into crackly, mysterious dancefloor fodder.

Diana Ross And The Supremes - Reflections - absolutely classic '60s soul/pop gem with a much sampled intro.

Le Tigre - Nanny Nanny Boo Boo (Junior Senior Remix) - who better to remix this goofy lesbian song than the half-gay party boys of Junior Senior.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Un Peu De Hip Hop

I have been a long time fan of DJ Cam. Laurent Daumail's take on hip hop is largely instrumental, filled with cool jazz samples and classic hip hop vocal snippets. It sounds as if it could have been crafted in the hood in Brooklyn, not France. Over the years he has branched out, working with respected US rappers, Frank Black, and on the Soulshine record he takes a stab at a more organic r'n'b style. A very tasty remix collection hit US stores this week. Called Revisited By, it's got remixes by his French peers Kid Loco, Bob Sinclar and Demon, as well as mixes by Kenny Dope, J Dilla and Lord Finessee. I like DJ Premier's classic style brought to his remix of Voodoo Child featuring Afu Ra (DJ Premier Remix). It's got a terrific beat, bumping samples, and killer scratching - all of Premier's trademark moves. I also love the "keep it real in the rap game" sample - bonus points to you if you can remind me what the original source is. Also very bumping is the remix turned in by '90s UK trip hoppers and Mo Wax Records stars Attica Blues. Success (Attica Blues Remix) is taken from it's more minimal origins on the excellent 1998 LP The Beat Assasinated and beefed up with all kinds of synths and samples and fat beats. A pretty bitching set of remixes.

This should put a smile on your face...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

My '80s Remastered & Remixed

I'm at the record store and I'm browsing. It's a slow week for new releases so I'm open to whatever. I stumble across this compilation called Future Retro. It's a simple concept; your classic '80s synthpop songs given the remix treatment by a host of today's dancerati. Songs from The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen, Depeche Mode, New Order and Devo get the treatment from people like the Crystal Method, Way Out West, Adam Freeland, and Static Avenger. Now, my alarm bells went off pretty quickly - seemed mostly like a bunch of past-their-prime DJ's at work here. But there were a few other names that nudged it into the buy column. Richard X turns in a basic update of Yazoo's Situation (Richard X Remix). He sticks to the original pretty much, with a slightly sped up tempo and a tougher edge to everything - the beats, riffs, even Alison's voice. The other intriguing match up is The Sparks' remix of Morrissey's Suedehead (Sparks Remix). I loved The Smiths, but have never been a big fan of Moz' solo stuff. Viva Hate was the only solo LP I bought, and this song is from that album. This is a radical reworking of the song, with all new music added by Ron & Russell. It takes it from it's very Smiths-like origins and makes it an organ driven, multitracked vocal extravangaza of art rock. Here's a funny story about the song. It's opening lines are "why do you come around?", and it goes on to rail against a former love. Back when this originally came out in the late '80s one of my housemates was going through a messy break up with a girl he had been dating for like 10 years. One day she came over to pick up some of her stuff and dude went out to the living room, flicked through my vinyl, pulled out Viva Hate and proceeded to play this song at excessive volume several times. Ah, love. The rest of the compilation hasn't really moved me much...