Tuesday, July 25, 2006

For Meth Amphetamine, For Volunteers

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Tuesday is "new releases" day in the US, as many of you will already know. There are a bunch of big name records dropping today - Pharrell's In My Mind, Tom Petty's Highway Companion, Jurassic 5's Feedback and The Sleepy Jackson's Personality... are chief among them. But the one I was most hyped for today is the new Scritti Politti album White Bread Black Beer. It's been six years since Green Gartside's last album, Anomie & Bonhomie. That record was built around Green's love of hip hop, and featured rappers like Mos Def. Now, some 25 plus years on from when he started it all in a London squat he is back on his original label Rough Trade (Nonesuch in the US). He has had this album get nominated for the UK "album of the year award", the Mercury Prize. I have had the chance to listen to it one and a half times and am already smitten by it. It is still very definitely a Scritti record - Green's voice makes that inescapable - with blue eyed soul ballads and soft electronic elements, but the thing that really made me pay attention was the guitars. Yes, guitars, lots of them. You can tell he wrote a lot of this on his guitar. He lets his inner Beatle soar on Dr. Abernathy, which begins (and then ends) as a gorgeous, gentle, ballad strummed on an acoustic guitar. Then at 1:48 it very unexpectedly explodes into a rocking riff. And it is fantastic - the vocals are great, the melody is ultra hooky, the lyrics are quintessential Green, and the guitars rock. I never thought I'd write the word ROCK in a Scritti piece, but there you go. I think I'm really going to like this record a lot.

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