Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Uh Oh Hello

Elefant's 2003 debut Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid was one of my favorite albums of that year. A set of sharp, new wavish guitar pop, it was filled to overflow with hooks - I seriously listened to it every day for months. I still go back and play it today. Last month finally brought the follow up, The Black Magic Show. It picks up where they left off - a tight as hell band cranking out sharp new, wavish guitar pop and a singer with a great, sexy crooning voice. The label has given them a bigger studio budget this time around, and they hired producer Don Gilmore to tart things up. It is refreshing to hear it put to good use - songs sound cleaner and crisper instead of overblown, and there are some nice little keyboard bits. Since I held their debut in such high esteem I have to admit that I was a little unsure about how this album was going to turn out. It's taken a few listens but it has now got me firmly hooked. It doesn't really differ too much from their debut as far as the music goes. An instant fave is Uh Oh Hello - a prime candidate for a single. Opening with shimmery key arpeggios, it cruises from jangly, Johnny Marr riffs to the handclaps and "uh-oh's" of The Cars. I really like the dynamics here - twangy jangle in the verse to the tight, clipped rawk riffage of the chorus. Very nice.


A Post-Punk "Where Are They Now?" Answered
If you live in the US you probably know about the illegal immigration debates and rallies that have been happening over the last month or two. Yesterday was a big "boycott work" day across the US. I was watching CNN last night (and surfing the web - media junkie that I am) when they did a story about a related "outrage". A group of Latino singers and Wyclef Jean have recorded a version of the US national anthem in Spanish. The man behind the concept was then interviewed. Adam Kidron is his name. I looked up from the laptop and my jaw hit the floor. Adam freaking Kidron? This is the guy who produced the early Orange Juice records. Who else? How about the crucial early recordings of The Slits, The Raincoats, Scritti Politti's The 'Sweetest Girl' and Red Crayola. Then there are the Nina Hagen records, and the Lizzy Mercier Descloux records, and those by the Virgin Prunes, Ian Dury and Pere Ubu. In other words, a pretty seminal figure in the sound and shape of post-punk. Oh, and he was also the son of a millionaire Socialist publisher, Michael Kidron. I found this out when I then googled him. I also found out he has been living in the US for 16 years. He has been involved in the hip hop music biz, as well as running a reggaeton label. He's gone from being a, and working with, leftist rabble rousers of 25 years ago to doing pretty much the same thing today with a different set of people and ideals.

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