Thursday, December 30, 2004

Scissor Sisters Remixed!

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Without a doubt, one of my favorite albums of the year was the self titled debut from the Scissor Sisters. My European readers will say that it's from last year, but it only came out in the US this summer (although I did "obtain" a copy of it well before it came out here...). Anyway, I really didn't expect it to have much staying power. I have to say that the opposite happened, and I found myself listening to it all year, and the songs continued to get better and better. I am hoping to go and see them at the end of January - I finally caught them live on SNL a few weeks back and was very impressed at how good they were live. The first tune I heard of theirs was the amazing cover of Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb - a downer of a song turned into a funky ass disco track, complete with Bee Gees falsettos. It's fantastic, and there are several remixes of it on the EP Remixed!. This version is very close to how the live version sounds - pumped up drums and bass, and a lot more guitar...
Comfortably Numb (ATOC Dub Remix)

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

David Holmes' Ocean's Twelve

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David Holmes seems to be director Steven Soderbergh's favorite soundtrack scorer. After having done Out Of Sight and Ocean's Eleven he's back for that film's sequel. Where the first movie's soundtrack was a very "Vegas" styled set of music, this one takes on a darker, more European sound. Several of the non-Holmes tracks are from the '70s - by Piero Umiliani and Dynastie Crisis, and also Dave Grusin. There is also a track by Holmes' mate and studio partner Hugo Nicholson AKA Yellowhammer. The rest of the tunes are by David Holmes - $165 Million + Interest [into] The Round Up is two tracks - the first half is a very Serge Gainsbourg inspired cinematic rock track, all big twangy guitars and chunky bass. I kept expecting to hear Serge start singing at any moment. The second half is a playful, horn filled romp - a bit of hip hop in the beats, but it's the horns that get me on this - it's a Pink Panther kind of thing. Nice and funky.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Depeche Mode Versus DJ Shadow

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This Christmas I gave myself the gift of music and picked up the 3 CD limited edition set of Depeche Mode's Remixes 81...04. I have been a fan of theirs since the track Photographic appeared on the classic Some Bizarre Album in 1981. I stuck with them even though the results weren't always what I wanted - I bought and then sold a few of those '90s albums. This collection is all over the place stylistically, and it's great. There are remixes by Air, Jack Dangers, Ulrich Schnauss (on the 3rd, limited disc), Francois Kevorkian, K+D, and of course several by Daniel Miller. Also on it is this DJ Shadow remix, Painkiller (Kill The Pain Mix). Shadow doesn't do a hell of a lot of remixes so this one got me going - it's pretty typical Shadow, with lots of build ups and break downs and spacy keys over a cool, chugging electro glitch beat. It kind of reminds a bit of Massive Attack too. Very nice, as is the rest of the 3 discs.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Blue Xmas

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I like Christmas music, but my tastes tend towards the traditional - massed choirs, the orchestral interpretations, the classic songs of the '40s, '50s and '60s. I also really like jazz versions of Xmas music, and one of my fave holiday records is an old Columbia Records album called Jingle Bell Jazz that features mostly recordings from 1961 and 1962. Some of the tracks featured include Duke Ellington's "Jingle Bells," the Chico Hamilton Quintet playing "Winter Wonderland," and the Dave Brubeck Quartet doing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town". It also has the classic little Miles Davis and Bob Dorough duet Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern) - a witty romp about the rampant consumerism of the holidays that still rings true today. A delightful little number sure to make you smile.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Two Lone Swordsmen Put Some Bass In Yer Face

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2004 was the year that TLS reinvented themselves as a sleazy, grinding post punk rock act. The sleaze has always been there, the rock, not so much. I think the LP they released (From The Double Gone Chapel) annoyed a lot of their fans who liked the electro they did. I dug the album, so last week I picked up the new 6 track EP Big Silver Shining Motor Of Sin. It features two remixed versions of Sex Beat and two versions of two new songs, Showbiz Shotguns andFeast. This track rides a filthy, up-in-yer-face bass riff - I want to swagger around the room when I hear it. It's a sort of funky track with some nice scuzzy guitar noises, and some doom and gloom vocals. Love it.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Soul Jazz Sunday

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The always excellent Soul Jazz Records has spent the last couple of years cornering the market in cool reissues. I've spent quite a bit of green on many of their releases, including a couple of great ones I picked up this week - Konk's The Sound Of Konk and the collection of funk, soul and disco from 1965-73, The Sound Of Philadelphia - Philadelphia Roots Vol.2.

Konk were a 7 piece NYC punk-funk combo who combined afro beat and Latin flavors with hip hop and classic American funk. They were part of the seminal early '80s NYC scene, bands like ESG, the Bush Tetras and Liquid Liquid. Another band who they share some similarities with is A Certain Ratio. Unlike many of their peers, their success outside of New York was small, and so as the '80s drew to the end so did Konk. Love Attack shows traces of a lot of the genres I mentioned earlier with the addition of some electro flava. It's a bumpin', horn filled disco track with a great chorus.

The Philly soul compilation is 20 tracks of funk from acts like The Three Degrees, The Delfonics, Nat Turner and a bunch of other bands all affiliated with the famed writer and production team of Gamble and Huff. If you dig the '70s sound of Philly soul from bands like the O'Jays, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes and MFSB, this collection is a great way to experience the music they made in the years prior to that. MFSB's first recording was a version of the Sly Stone tune Family Affair, which they recorded as The Family. This song has always been a fave of mine, and this version is great. It's an instrumental, uptempo take on the song with some killer keys taking the lead role and a fat ass groove - lots of wacka wacka action. Short but very sweet.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Julian Cope's Dancing Heads

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Julian Cope released what I regard as his best solo album in 1991. Peggy Suicide was a sprawling, 18 song cycle about the Earth and the destruction of the environment and love and the anti Poll tax movement. The record got played a lot back in those days - there's nobody who does stuff like Julian, and I was thrilled with the music he created. It came out in the middle of the heady days of "indie dance", when Brit rock bands were putting out cool remixes of their tunes by the likes of Andrew Weatherall and Paul Oakenfold. I was in love with all of that music, and when I saw an EP of actual remixes for Cope's tunes I was very enthused. He had enlisted Hugo Nicholson to do the remixes and the Dancing Heads EP was born. Hugo was a mix assistant to Andrew Weatherall - he worked on the classic Higher Than The Sun mixes for Primal Scream. For the EP he remixes Head, Beautiful Love and East Easy Rider, and he gives them all a pretty different feel. It's great stuff, so spliff up (if you do that kind of thing), kick back and enjoy the psychedelic space out...

Head (Remix) is not hugely different from the original - it features an extended vocal fadeout not on the first version.

Head (Long Meg And Her Daughters Mix) is a full on, beat driven beast. It's reduced to an instrumental, an is very much like something The Orb or Primal Scream were doing with it's dubby breakbeats and atmosphere. I love this groove.

Love (L.U.V.) (Beautiful Love Remix) was the "big hit single". This remix gives it a new, uptempo beat - kind of a jazzy shuffle, with a big bass line and some horn riffing added. The breakbeats at the end of this have a very Meat Beat Manifesto feel to them. To me this is another example of a "good remix" - the tune emerges as something quite different from it's origins.

Easty Risin' (East Easy Rider Remix) is a spaced out groove, again full of nice, dubby beats and spacey keys.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Thompson Twins In 1982

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When the Thompson Twins started out they were a 7 piece band - real instruments, you know, like drums and guitars and bass and percussion. Their 1982 LP Set was my first encounter with the band, and I loved what I heard. It's mix of tribal and dance rhythms, indie rock and electronic atmospherics didn't sound like anyone else. It was produced by Steve Lillywhite and engineered by Phil Thornalley, both of whom went on to much bigger things. It also featured Thomas Dolby on keys on a couple of tracks. One of them was the single Runaway. It's a dubby, almost reggae driven tune, and the melody is really sweet. Of course they went on to jettison the band, slimmed down to a 3 piece, and conquered the world's charts with their unique brand of synth pop. I'll admit that I enjoyed the next few records, and even saw them at the Hammersmith Palais in London on their Into The Gap tour. As I get older though, it's Set that has aged the best of the albums, and I can still listen to and enjoy it today.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

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London Lee over at The Number One Songs In Heaven has posted Mama Used To Say by early '80s British r'n'b singer Junior this week. The song is a great one, and he talks a bit about that era's rash of Brits trying "to figure out how to make black American music properly". One of the bands he mentions is Linx, the duo of singer David Grant and bassist Sketch. This got me digging in the old record crate. They made a small splash in the British charts in the early '80s, recorded a couple of LPs and then split. David Grant went on to moderate solo success, although neither Linx or the solo stuff was popular in America. I liked their early singles as much as I liked Junior's records - they in fact shared the same producer, Bob Carter. 1980's You're Lying is slick and funky, riding a fantstic bass line very reminiscent of Chic. David Grant's voice might remind you a little of Michael Jackson's, and the production on it feels like something Rod Temperton might have done for Jacko or his own band Heatwave. 1982's Plaything was towards the end of their run, and sees them adopting the more synthesized, electronic flavored r'n'b of their contemporaries across the pond - acts like the Gap Band. It's not as exciting to me as their earlier stuff, but it's still pretty funky.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Funky Friday - Therapy? vs. Photek

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What's this, you say? How can it be that Irish metal rock trio Therapy? is being featured on a funky Friday? A few years back - 1995 to be precise, the glory days of the jungle scene - they allowed ultra talented junglist Rupert Parkes, AKA Photek to remix their tune Loose. Photek's style is super minimalist, and his beats and textures ring like samurai swords clashing. He keeps the lovely melody provided by the guitar riffs and some vocals from the original and constructs a fierce, razor sharp track with crisply pounding beats to back it all up. This mash up of rock and jungle works surprisingly well, and the result is a BIG tune.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

A Handful Of Covers v2.0

TV On The Radio do a smashing job with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs tune Modern Romance. They add that TVOTR crunk to it, all dirge-y beats and mournful chants. They make it sound just like one of their own. One of my fave new bands of 2004.

Lizzy Mercier Descloux's version of the Bob Marley classic Sun Is Shining is from the Ze Records reissue of Mambo Nassau that came out last year. It's still based on a reggae beat, but it's much sparser - just drums, her chunky bass, her lovely French accent and some simple accordion. I love the original, and this is another unique and cool take on the song.

Placebo turn up the guitars on their version of Robert Palmer's Johnny And Mary. This was the first tune I ever heard from Robert, and I have always loved it and the album it comes from, Looking For Clues. It has a great melody and hook. Placebo play it pretty straight, but definitely punch it up - harder hitting drums and guitars, and Brian's unique voice all make this one work for me too.

Yesterday I got tickets to see Duran Duran's Astronaut tour in March. I saw them at the House Of Blues in Chicago in November of 2003 on their first go-round, and they were pretty good. I've since seen footage of them playing Wembley Arena earlier this year and they were even better - much tighter. Anyway, I'm psyched to see them in the big arena setting! Here's their version of David Bowie's Fame, the b-side of the Careless Memories single from 1981. It's another pretty faithful rendition.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A Pleasant Surprise In My Mailbox

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I got an email today from Chris Price. He's an electronic musician out of Virginia, and here's a bit of his bio -

"Inspired by the forward-thinking artists and producers of the late 1970s and early 1980s, his latest offering combines 1980’s electronic and new wave with elements of modern pop. Synth layers and driving beats provide a showcase for Price’s unique vocal styling."

The "latest offering" mentioned is the tune Charge Me Up, and it's a mellow, mid tempo track built around some basic drum machine patterns and synth washes, and topped off with Chris' plaintive vocals. Being a big fan of '80s music (and particularly synth pop), this tune struck the right chord with me - it's got a bit of the Brit synthpop/new wave thing going, mixed with some of the same era's r'n'b flavor. Very nice, and I look forward to hearing more of his music.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Hip Hop And Rock Hybrids
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A couple of albums that have come out this year have attempted to weld hip hop with rock. It's not the rap rock of Linkin Biscuit, but a blend of rhymes and beats with some big time indie rock stylings. Automato's self titled debut dropped in the spring of this year, and got my attention for having been produced by the lads of The DFA. I'm amazed that the album didn't make a bigger splash as a result of that union, because it's definitely worth investigating. It's a pretty nice mix of beats, electro influences and some big rock guitars, with the DFA adding their dense sonic sheen to the proceedings. Hope has big, propulsive electro beats with a bit of stutter in them, crusty synth washes, and some seriously skronking guitar squall that just keeps getting bigger - the last half of the tune essentially. I love this album, and think more people need to hear it!

Mel Gibson & The Pants are a Minneapolis act that does the same kind of genre mixing, although their album rocks a lot harder than the Automato. Crosby Steals Nash And Runs (good title, eh?) starts off in a mellow fashion, beats slowly building up until it hits the break at the half way point and turns into a quirky, spaced out jam. This track is not as hard hitting as a lot of the rest of the record is, but is still fairly indicative of their sound. Another record that deserves your attention. More on the band HERE, where you can buy the album for $8 - it's a steal!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Some More Remastered CAN

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Last week brought the release of a couple more remastered reissues from seminal Krautrockers Can. 1971's Tago Mago saw the arrival of new vocalist Damo Suzuki, and a lighter, groovier (i.e. less proggy) sound from the band. Bring Me Coffee Or Tea starts as a delicate folk rock groover, all spindly guitars and keyboards. The beat starts out as a slight shuffle and grows louder in the mix as the band's parts intensify, until about the halfway point when it explodes into a spazzed out space jazz rock jam. 1972's Ege Bamyasi shows the band continuing it's bold experimentation, and saw the band adding hints of "world music" into the mix. Spoon was the hit single from the LP. It starts out with a rudimentary drum machine beat and builds into a polyrhytmic groove with multi layered vocals. It's amazing listening to these records and seeing how much they have influenced rock and dance music over the last 30 years, and how well they hold up today!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Funky Friday - A Little Bit Of Luther

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The first time I heard Luther Vandross' Never Too Much I was floored. The thumb poppingly funky bass riff, the big orchestration, the jazzy piano riffing and the sweeter than sweet vocals of Luther made this a must have. His partnership with bassist Marcus Miller created some great, soulful music, and the 1981 LP that this track shares it's title with is filled with lush r'n'b - half aimed at the dancefloor, the other filled with those awesome "quiet storm" ballads that Luther is so good at. Nobody hits those high notes like he does, and his vocal riffing at the end of this song gives me shivers every time. A classic that should have you struttin' in no time!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

John McGeoch - After Magazine
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When he left Magazine in 1980, guitarist John Mc Geoch was a hot commodity. One of the first projects he did was Steve Strange's New Romantic supergroup Visage, along with both Barry Adamson and Dave Formula, as well as the lads from Ultravox, Midge Ure and Billy Currie. It's blend of arty electronics, dance beats and rock are both evident on Visage, with John's guitar riffs loud in the mix. He then joined Siouxsie & The Banshees for their most creatively inspired output, and where his big guitar sound dominated. Happy House shows his immediate impact, riding that ultra catchy, psychedelic twangy riff. He played with The Banshees for 3 albums (Kaleidoscope (1980), JuJu (1981) and A Kiss In The Dreamhouse (1982)) and then he moved on again. He hooked up with former Skids singer Richard Jobson in a new band, The Armoury Show. After a couple of unsuccessful years of trying their brand of anthmemic rock they were done, and McGeoch joined John Lydon in the final incarnation of PIL. The death disco era was over - PIL was now a sleek, shiny pop outfit. I'll admit that musically these years are a lot less interesting than the old stuff, but there are a few crackin' good tunes on those records too. Seattle (from 1987's Happy?) is definitely one of those - huge guitars, Lydon's sneer, the over all grooviness of the tune and the chanted outro still sound good today.

John McGeoch died March 4th, 2004.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Magazine...Where The Power Is

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When Howard Devoto left The Buzzcocks in 1977, he made this announcment in reference to his old band and the punk scene in general - "what was once unhealthily fresh is now a clean old hat". Unimpressed by new wave, Magazine was his bid to try something else. Featuring Barry Adamson on bass, John McGeoch on guitar, Dave Formula on keys and John Doyle on drums, they created six albums of spooky, dramatic, arty, spy theme filled post-punk rock. I missed out on these records the first time around - too busy buying ABC and Human League records - and over the last few years have picked up about half of them. I love their sound, anchored by Barry Adamson's big bass riffs and McGeoch's searing guitar - such big talents around Howard Devoto's unique voice. This week I finally got my hands on the remastered "greatest hits" compilation Magazine...(Where The Power Is), and it's so nice to hear these songs loud and clear! Here are three of my faves...

Shot By Both Sides

The Light Pours Out Of Me

About The Weather

Monday, November 29, 2004

Some Classic Future Sound Of London

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Ah, the good old days. Future Sound Of London had a good run during the '90s, creating mesmerizing, ambient electronica. They let their experimental side rule, and often the results were smoking, although it could get a bit pretentious. They went from their early days of straight up electro house to crazy, noise filled ambience mixed with fat breakbeats. Then they decided to go off of their rockers and become a hippy prog rock band. For me the magic was gone. These are some of my fave FSOL moments.

Papua New Guinea (Original 12" Version) (from the Papua New Guinea CD single issued in 1996). An absloute classic dance tune.

The Far Out Son Of Lung And The Ramblings Of A Madman (from 1995's ISDN).

Snake Hips (from 1995's ISDN)

We Have Explosive (Radio Edit) (from 1997's We Have Explosive CD single). Crushingly huge.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

An Iffy Three Pack

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Minneapolis trio Iffy were born out of the ashes of long time local favorite band Run Westy Run. Where Run Westy was indie rock, Iffy are a slick pop-rock-funk act. They released their debut LP Biota Bonda back in 2001, and I was instantly snagged by it. I found it's combination of super catchy, melodic songs, fat beats of both the hip hop and disco kind and rockin' guitars to be irresistible, and felt like they would make a splash with it. It reminded be a bit of Beck, albeit less "arty" and more soulful. The record barely made an impression on most people and I was very disappointed that the band's label didn't do a better job of promoting it. The band have been working on a follow up for a couple of years now, but there is no release scheduled yet - maybe sometime next year.

Some of you who live in the US may have heard the tune Superbad Girl coming out of your TV recently - it's being used in a K-Mart commercial. A supremely funky bass riff, bumpin' disco beats, wacka-wacka guitars and a sweet melody made this tune an instant standout on the album - guaranteed to get you moving.

Double Dutch is a great pop song. It's got a sunny chorus, funky vibes, and is full of all kinds of little psychedelic details - listen to it on your headphones for full effect. This song should've been a hit.

Orignal Green Light is a killer '70s funk flavored slow jam. Deep bass, lots of watery keys and guitars, and a bit of cool trumpet towards the end. Sweet and soulful.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Funky Friday - We Wanna Talk To You

No time to write much today, so simply enjoy this extremely funky tune from 2003's Later That Day... by Lyrics Born - Cold Call. A laid back groover with a sense of humor.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Swell Maps

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A couple of weeks ago I picked up the Swell Maps career retrospective International Rescue. I had never heard any of it before - it was an impulse buy. Formed in the early '70s by Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks, they created a shambolic rock music that has been described as post punk, but is really pre-punk punk, if that makes any sense. It really reminds me a lot of the Buzzcocks - as writer Paul Morley commented in the NME in 1979, they "play restless, relentless music which, in attack if not in sound, comes close to that irregularly economic and parched Buzzcocks period just after Devoto's departure." It's pretty spot on, and you can hear their influence on bands like The Libertines today. I am really enjoying this record - it rocks and it's sharp and catchy, and it makes me want to hear the albums proper. Enjoy these...

Real Shocks

New York

More on the band here and here.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Genius Poet Twat

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It took me two years but I finally got around to seeing the brilliant Tony Wilson (the "twat") / Factory Records biopic 24 Hour Party People over the weekend. The movie captures the insanity of it all very well - the drugs, the excessiveness, the Peter Saville "art" of it all. It's such a great era in music history, and IMO the flick does a great job of capturing the whole mood. My enthusiasm for the movie carried over to work today where I played the soundtrack CD - it's such a good one! The film is split into two halves - the first half is mostly about Ian Curtis (the "genius") and Joy Division's rise and fall - so here's the mighty She's Lost Control. The second half of the picture focuses on the Happy Mondays (Shaun Ryder, the "poet") and how their lavish spending on drugs and studio time did the label in - the track that helped spawn "Madchester" was Hallelujah, here remixed most gloriously by Andrew Weatherall, Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osbourne. If you're one of the few peeps out there who haven't seen the movie by now, I heartily recommend it and the soundtrack.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Funky Friday's Gloomy Soundtrack

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Massive Attack have applied their dense, moody soundscapes to the upcoming Jet Li flick Danny The Dog.The soundtrack is instrumental, and if you have liked the last couple of Massive LPs then you will probably enjoy this album's mix of string filled atmospherics, metallic beats and beefy guitar riffs - it sounds very much like those last few records. One Thought At a Time is a very hard hitting spy movie theme with some nice harpsichord sounds. I Am Home is a more typically Massive hip hop cut, although it is still pretty hard hitting. Good stuff for this rainy, gray day...

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Who Lives In A Pineapple Under The Sea?

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My daughter and I are all geeked up for the big opening weekend of the Spongebob movie. Being the good Dad that I am, I also picked up the soundtrack album which includes music from The Shins, Motorhead (!), Wilco, and Ween - it's a pretty indie-tastic set of tunes, most of which were written especially for the movie. Pitchfork panned it, but I have to admit that after only one listen I would disagree. It had me and my co-workers very entertained this afternoon. Here are a couple of tunes of note -

The Flaming Lips - Spongebob & Patrick Confront The Psychic Wall Of Energy - a pretty typically whimsical Lips tune.

Prince Paul, The Waikikis & Wordsworth - Prince Paul's Bubble Party - one of two hip hop cuts on the album. If you watch the show you know that bubble blowing is one of THE ways to kill time for these lads - this song features dialogue from the classic "bubble blowing technique" episode, where Spongebob teaches Patrick & Squidward how to blow truly artistic bubbles. "Bring it around town!"

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Can - Monster Movie

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Mute Records is remastering and reissuing the back catalogue of seminal Krautrockers Can, beginning with first album, 1969's Monster Movie. The band members were from all kinds of different backgrounds - Irmin Schmidt and Holger Czukay from the academic world of New Music, drummer Jaki Liebezeit from the free jazz scene, guitarist Michael Karoli was the rocker and African American singer Malcolm Mooney was a sculptor evading the draft in Paris. Together they created a bold new rock, mixing classic rock and pop elements with wild experimentation in the studio and electronic trickery, all laid over fantastic grooves. Outside My Door is a bluesy rocker that features the fine rantings of vocalist Mooney and the blazing guitars of Karoli. Great stuff, and I look forwarad to picking up the rest of these albums as they come out!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

A Certain Ratio Versus Fila Brazillia

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Back in 2003 Fila Brazillia got the chance to produce and remix some A Certain Ratio tunes. A three track EP was the result. Wild Party is remix of an old Factory Records single from 1985. The Fila boys smooth it out, giving it some bouncy new beats and spacy keys. I love ACR's mutant disco and funk - that spirit lives on in Fila Brazillia's music, and I feel their two styles blend very nicely on this tune.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Funky Friday Is Casual Friday

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The ever excellent NYC label DFA Records has just released Compilation #2. It's a 3 CD set with two unmixed discs and one mixed disc (mixed by Tim Sweeney and Tim Goldsworthy). It includes most of the vinyl 12" releases from the last year or two, some B sides and some unreleased stuff. As always, it's great - unrelenting disco beats, spiky guitars and enough experimentation to keep things interesting. Black Leotard Front's Casual Friday is a crazed 15 minutes of disco - yes, fifteen minutes. A stellar groove, reminiscent of Playgroup, it builds up, breaks down, spaces out and features some amusingly sexy lyrics, repeated over and over again. It's fabulously funky and weird and arty all at the same time. Fantastic!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Pallas Athena

Thanks to Fons in Rotterdam I now own two of David Bowie's singles from his Black Tie White Noise album. I have always enjoyed that record, and these singles for "Jump They Say" and the title track are pretty fun. The mixes are what make them interesting - particularly the remixes by Leftfield and Meat Beat Manifesto. I have always been a fan of Jack Dangers' music - it hasn't really changed much over the years, but for some reason I love it. His remix of Pallas Athena has all of the classic MBM elements - the booming "god" sample at the beginning, the chunky polyrhythms, the dub elements, the chanting. It takes a so-so instrumental into booming dub selector territory. A killer groove.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

A Handful Of Covers

The Soft Pink Truth's cover of Minor Threat's Out Of Step is from their new LP Do You Want New Wave Do You Want The Soft Pink Truth? - all covers of classic hardcore songs by folks like Crass, The Angry Samoans, Die Kreuzen and The Swell Maps. Done up in Drew Daniel's usual quirky glitch house style, and in this case with the lovely vocals of Dani Siciliano.

The Damned do a unrelenting take on the Beatles classic Help! - a minute and 42 seconds of nonstop riffing and frantic pacing. Excellent.

Wondermints do Abba's Knowing Me Knowing You - they take it from saccharine pop song to midtempo rocker, filled with loads of cool guitars, and it works amazingly well.

Japan do the classic Velvet Underground song All Tomorrow's Parties (12" Version). Sylvian croons, Rob Dean's guitars are nicely strangled, Mick Karn's unique fretless bass and sax and some nice electronic atmosphere over Steve Jansen's propulsive beat all add up to one of my personal fave cover tunes ever.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Funky Friday - Hiding The Truth And Rights

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Thievery Corporation released a new EP this week called Babylon Rewound. It's a bunch of remixes from their last album, done by themselves, Kid Loco and Voidd. It also includes a previously unreleased tune, Truth And Rights. It's a typically nice dub and hip hop blend with guest vocalist Sleepywonder toasting. Lyrically it relates directly to this week's election in the US - "The prostitutes gather at the top of Constitution Avenue to dictate what I can say or do", or "They keep hiding the truth and rights but we gonna find it, the forked tongues the blue bloods cold hearts they're the ones who design it". Beats to move your feet with words to make you think - a perfect combination.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Vintage Funk Sound Of Connie Price & The Keystones

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Today's tune is a sweet slab of funk called Double Dutch, brought to you by LA funk revivalists Connie Price & The Keystones. It has some cool wah-wah guitar, honking sax and some spooky keyboards all riding a tight, funky drummer beat. Their debut LP Wildflowers is out now on Now-Again/Stones Throw Records and is a very nice mix of funk and soul, jazz, reggae and Afrobeat and cinematic soundtrack stuff. If you're familiar with The Breakestra you'll dig this - band leader Dan Ubick was part of that group, as well as having contributed to records by Macy Gray and Madlib. The record is instrumental save for one cut, and it's all good. I had heard nothing about this record, and when I was in my local music emporium on Tuesday they were playing it - I was sold. Feel the funk.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Music Bloggers For Democracy

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From two albums released during Papa Bush's administration in the early '90s - the words ring true today.

The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy - Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury

Consolidated - Friendly Fascism

Consolidated - Brutal Equation


Monday, November 01, 2004

Music Bloggers For Democracy

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Paris - What Would You Do

Faithless - Mass Destruction

Sonic Youth - Peace Attack

Visit The Big Ticket for a list of other music blogs participating.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Junior Boys Vs. Caribou

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Birthday (Manitoba Mix) is a gorgeous, wistful tune taken from the bonus disc that comes with the US version of this album. You probably already know that these Canadians have made a splash with this debut. It's blend of very modern dance music (you'll see a lot of mentions of glitchy and Timbaland in reviews) with the classic melodies and sounds of the best of '80s synthpop. The original is a lush synth pop song that reminds me a bit of The Postal Service - it's the melancholy melody. Caribou (nee Manitoba) keeps the songs beauty of a hook and grimes up everything around it. The beats pound harder, there's static-y scratchy noises, and some cool windchime bells. The rest of the second disc is rounded out by a Fennesz mix of "Last Exit", another version of this tune called "Unbirthday" and "A Certain Association".

Friday, October 29, 2004

Funky Friday - Dance To The Music

I played the 2 disc Essential Sly & The Family Stone at work today - it's always a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Here's Dance To The Music, a joyous call to get down and boogie. The version here is an extended mix taken from a 1979 Epic Records Mixed Masters 12" - it's remixed by famed disco DJ John Luongo. He takes it from it's stomping soulful roots and turns it into a 6 minute and 32 second disco plate, emphasising the bass riff and the beat. Fantastic remix of an already great tune.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Apples And Oranges

Dogs Die In Hot Cars released their debut LP Please Describe Yourself in the US this week. They are another one of those new British bands that are paying tribute to the early '80s UK literate pop and new wave scene I love so much. They owe XTC a huge debt - singer Craig Macintosh does a very good Andy Partridge. You'll also hear bits of Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Dexy's Midnight Runners, David Bowie and even a whiff of '90s Britpop band like Blur and Pulp. While I was reading the liner notes on the CD I noticed the album was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley - they produced so many of those orignal bands of that era. Apples And Oranges is a synth infused, slightly psychedelic pop tune that sounds like Talking Heads meets Split Enz meets The Futureheads (it's the uh-oh-uh-oh-uh-oh's!) - lot's of melody and great vocal harmonising. A fab tune from a pretty good album.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Bush Hater

Eminem has decided to put his considerable talents to use to incite the youth of America to do something about their country, instead of covering his usually more juvenile territory. Mosh is a scathing attack on the Bush administraton, the war on Iraq, and in particular GW himself. What really hooked me about this tune is it's video. Put together by the people from The Guerrilla News Network (where you can download or watch a stream of the vid - you can also get the video from Mr. Gilbert over at The Big Ticket), it's an animated video mixed with live footage, and it's pretty brutal in it's portrayals. I won't give details as you really should see it for yourself - you won't be seeing it on TV! I have always thought that Eminem had the skills - it's good to see him using them to talk about something as big as next week's election. A very controversial little movie - I love it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Double Take - Josef K & Propaganda

Josef K were one of famed Scottish label Postcard Records' rising stars of the early 80's indiepop scene. Alongside Orange Juice and Aztec Camera they released a handful of classic records combining edgy guitars with pop song sensibilities. Sorry For Laughing is a great little song - full of jangly, skittery guitars and singer Paul Quinn's big crooning voice. They never quite capitalised on the hype, and broke up - Paul went solo and guitarist Malcolm Ross joined Orange Juice, and then Aztec Camera. Their influence would be felt for many years to come - bands like Franz Ferdinand name check them today. (Taken from Rough Trade Shops Indiepop 1 compilation)

Propaganda covered Sorry For Laughing on their fantastic 1985 debut LP "A Secret Wish". Instead of the loose indie jangle, they add their ZTT approved sonic electronic sheen (patented by Trevor Horn) to the song, and in the process transform it into a stomping, rhythmic synth pop gem. The beats are big and pounding, there are great washes of organ in the chorus, and suddenly it's no longer a scratchy little tune, but a Teutonic epic.

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.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Funky Friday - Pop Muzik

When I was at the record store earlier this week I stumbled across a 2004 reissue I had no clue about, M's 1979 album New York•London•Paris•Munich. It's been put out by Razor & Tie Records, and features 5 bonus cuts on it. The classic hit single everyone knows is Pop Muzik. Over a funky, percolating disco beat Robin Scott extolls the joys of pop. It features some great, twangy guitar, some cool sax and it's vocals are unforgettable - his manic new wave delivery, the girls singing the "shoo-bee-doo-bee-doo-wops". The band on this recording is interesting too - Wally Badarou on keys, Gary Barnacle on sax and Phil Gould (from Level 42!) on drums. Sure it's got that "one hit wonder"/novelty song thing going on, but it's so damn catchy and poptastic I can't resist, and neither should you!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Prefab Sprout

Left Of The Dial : Dispatches From The '80s Underground is a great 4 CD set that came out last week. It's a really diverse line up of bands that populated US college radio during that decade, mostly British and American acts (very few Aussies and no New Zealanders are represented). It's a fantastic mix of new wave, punk and early alternative music. Buried in between Suicidal Tendencies, The Pixies, Ultravox and Bauhaus I spied the name Prefab Sprout. God, I loved that first record of theirs - Two Wheels Good if you lived in the US, Steve Mc Queen everywhere else. It's been a few years since I listened to it so I pulled it out, and it's blend of smart, melodic pop seduced me all over again. Produced by Thomas Dolby (who also played synths on it), the album still sounds good today - it's songs have something of a timeless quality to them. Appetite was the first track of theirs I heard, and it remains one of my favorites. It's got great bouncy bass, gorgeous swirling synths and piano, and fantastic harmonising from Wendy. I love all of the different guitar bits too - jazzy in places, rockin' during the chorus. A very memorable tune from a great album.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Heavy Rotation - Moving Units & Duran Duran

The Moving Units finally released their debut LP this week and it's getting a fair amount of play on the old hi-fi. Dangerous Dreams may have arrived too late to cash in the on the whole second wave of post punk thing, as so many people would appear to be over that scene. It's too bad, because I almost think that these guys are one of the better bands of the bunch. I know for sure that I'd rather listen to this record than The Rapture's Echoes - it's got many of the same ingredients, but is a good deal grimier, and not so concerned with the electronic sheen. There is a wee bit of that, but it doesn't detract from the drums-bass-guitar thing going on. Bricks & Mortar starts of with a tight beat, some dubby echo, and then slams into one of the best jams James Chance / White never wrote. A huge bass riff and some shreddingly sharp guitar made this track jump out at me right away. Fierce.

Also getting max exposure on my stereo is Astronaut, the new album by the recently reunited original lineup of Duran Duran. It's fun to see and hear the guys again. The music isn't a quite up to par with those first 2 records from the '80s - as my bro pointed out to me, the music is not too far from the records that Simon and Nick and Warren recorded as Duran in the '90s - they rock, they funk, and there are some ballads.If you're a fan of the band you know that the lyrics are going to be goofy and some of them are. Bedroom Toys is one of the tunes that I liked right off. It's co-produced by Nile Rodgers so it's not a surprise to hear the very Chic-like rhythm guitar. A mid tempo funker, it's got typically poppin' John Taylor bass, cooing backups, and a silly Simon rap. I love it. Not a patch on Planet Earth but it'll do.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Classic 45's Week - Old School Funky Friday

Today's tunes come from a freebie 7" given away with the Record Mirror in 1988. It's a Rhythm King versus Jive Records split, and it showcases the two different labels pretty well - edgier, more experimental fare on from Rhythm King and pop rap from Jive.

Side A kicks off with Bomb The Bass' Megablast in it's original rap version, featuring Merlin on vocals. It's five minutes of beats and scratching with a great rap about the track's fierceness - not much melody or even a tune, but still rocks hard. Track A2 is S'Xpress' Coma, "specially written and produced" for this EP. Essentially it's 2 minutes and 40 seconds of measured breathing and a diagnostic machine beep. It's art, man.

Side B starts off with The Wee Papa Girl Rappers' You Got The Beat - new jack swing beats, the squealing horn sample, and another rap about how fresh their tune is. This is followed by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's Here We Go Again, which is totally goofy and self promoting, but then most of their tunes were. The music is ace - great keys and bass samples. Guaranteed to make you smile (or turn it off!).

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Classic 45's Week - Gary Numan

Gary Numan had obviously taken notice of what Japan were doing when he released Music For Chameleons in 1982. The trademark sound of Japan was not just David Sylvian's voice, it was also Mick Karn's fretless bass playing. Gary Numan hired ace bass sessioneer Pino Palladino to play the part, and the result is a typically icy yet tight and funky song. What I dig about this 45 is the B side, Noise Noise. It's a rougher edged track notable for featuring the talents of Thereza Bazar on vocals and David Van Day on "helpful hints". These two are better known as shiny UK poptarts Dollar, who rode a wave of Trevor Horn produced singles to chart success around the same time. They were the ultimate air brushed duo, so it it was intriguing to see their name on a Gary Numan record. As a little bonus treat (and a chance to compare how different the two artists really are) here's one of Dollar's biggest hits, Hand Held In Black And White. I would put them in the "guilty pleasure" category - this song is such a cheesy pop tune, but for me the trademark big production by Trevor Horn and Bruce Wooley make it sound so great I can't resist!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Classic 45's Week - Eddy Grant

Eddy Grant began his career in the late '60s with multi-racial combo The Equals. By the late 70's he was a solo star in Europe, creating records that were political and anti-racist, as well as having pop appeal. They sounded unlike any others around at the time - a blend of reggae, rock and pop with lots of electronics, all played by the man. It wasn't until 1983 that he got the attention of the US, and it was with monster single Electric Avenue. Everybody knows the tune - it's brash, growling riff, the spongy synths - you couldn't escape it at the time, it was everywhere. The beauty of this little 7" is it's B side pairing with a previous single from 1979, Walking On Sunshine. This is one funky ass tune, IMO one of the best things he did - disco reggae beats, smooth horns, and much sunny positivity make me shake it every time I hear it. As a little bonus treat here's the brilliant 1982 cover of Walking On Sunshine by Rocker's Revenge, which boosts the disco with a sweet electro sheen. Arthur Baker is at the controls, so it's chock full of NYC electro goodness.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Classic 45's Week - Captain Sensible

In 1982 Captain Sensible took a break from The Damned and launched a solo career. He hooked up with producer Tony Mansfield (New Muzik) and crafted a pop single that swept the charts, the Wot!. It tells a simple story - man with jackhammer makes a lot of noise, Captain complains, droll female backup vocalists sing along. It's got a great bass line, funky guitars, the words are funny, and the backups always make me smile. You have to remember that rap was in it's infancy, and was a uniquely American thing, and suddenly you've got this punk rock dude from England having a go at it - all of this juxtaposition makes it pretty unique! The B side is six minute, six part mini psych pop epic, Strawberry Dross. There's more goofiness in the lyrics - magic roundabouts, hippies in caftans and advertising are all covered, and there are a couple of instrumental bits with some nice guitar and piano. Parts of it make me think that if he'd actually put a bit more effort into it some of it could have been very good. Again, all very silly yet still enjoyable.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Classic 45's Week - Bomb The Bass

I was hanging out with my bro last night and got a chance to rummage through his box of old '80s 45's. He graciously allowed me to nab a few so that I could share them here. Every day this week I will be posting a single, both the A side and the B side (because sometimes the B side is just as interesting). Today's inaugural post comes from Tim Simenon's ace beat combo Bomb The Bass. Breaking out of the late '80s acid house scene with the Thunderbirds and funky drummer sampling Beat Dis, they created a slew of classic dance cuts, combining hip hop, breakbeats, electro, scratching and sampling with a rotating cast of guest vocalists. One of the biggest hits from their 1988 debut LP Into The Dragon was their fairly radical (for the time) reworking of the Bacharach classic Say A Little Prayer. It's essentially the blue print for trip hop before there was even such a term - breakbeats, spacy keys and a big diva voice provided by Maureen. The flip side of the record is 10 Seconds To Terminate - it's aimed squarely at the dancefloor. A pumping house-y beat, speak and spell voices counting and more than a little bit of one of Kraftwerk's finest riffs all add up to make this a pretty bangin' track.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Guilty Pleasures

I turned 40 this year, and over this and the last couple of years the music of "my era" has come of age for the remastered reissue treatment. Today's selections are all culled from some of the remasters I've picked up, and they're all oldies but goodies that you're either going to love or hate. Now, on with the crusty old dude selections...

First up is Billy Joel. I normally wouldn't call myself of fan - I haven't bought a new record of his at any time over the last 20 years. I did go through a phase in the late '70s though, and that's where Zanzibar comes in. From 1978's 52nd Street, it's a very Steely Dan like blend of jazz and rock. The tune actually includes a jazz breakdown in the middle of it which is pretty smokin'. I think that this era is the man at his creative peak, able to handle all kinds of styles and still craft catchy pop hits. The last album of his I bought was Glass Houses, so I picked up the remaster of that one too. Next up, The Stranger and then I'm done!

I finally got my hands on the remaster of Adam & The Ants' breakthrough album Kings Of The Wild Frontier. From the opening track, Dog Eat Dog, you know you're in for a fun ride. Gone are the art punk pretensions, in are the big tribal beats, hugely twangy, Morricone-esque guitars, and that unmistakable voice. Of course chart domination ensued. These Ants remasters are really sweet - lovely packaging, great sound and loads of bonus cuts.

I took Paul McCartney & Wings' Wingspan into work this week and was amazed at what a crowd pleaser it could be - lots of co-workers seemed to enjoy it, at least those close to my age! Silly Love Songs was a huge hit in 1976, and I remember hearing it on the radio a lot. Sure it's goofy, but it has a great bass line and horns, and I love it. I never actually bought a Wings record - my parents gave me Red Rose Speedway for Xmas one year - so I'm amazed a how well I know all the songs on this complation, words and all.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Funky Friday - Debate Special - THE LINK WORKS NOW!

In honor of tonight's second presidential debate enjoy a classic funk cut from The Godfather Of Soul, James Brown - Talkin' Loud And Saying Nothin'. Over a typically tight funk jam JB spouts any number of lines that can be used in this context - "You keep on singing the same old pop song" - "You can't tell me how to use my mess" - "Shape up your bag, don't worry about mine". Of course, in my little world it's all applied to GW and the current administration, but in the spirit of bipartisanship I suppose it could go either way...

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Return of De la Soul

De La Soul released their first new record in 4 years this week. It's called The Grind Date, and it features a bunch of guest vocalists - MF Doom, Flava Flav, Common, Ghostface, and some cool production assistance from Madlib, J Dilla and Supa Dave West. I've listened to it a couple of times and have to say that I'm digging it. I love the hook on opening track The Future - an old easy listening vocal sample about "the future", lyrics establishing their "elder statesmen" position in the rap world, and a nice fat beat. It's kind of crazy to think that I've been listening to these dudes for 15 years now!

FYI - I cut the track's first minute out - it's just some very quiet talking intro.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Some Beats To Move Ya Feets

Eighteenth Street Lounge released French DJ Chris Joss' great debut LP You've Been Spiked this week. Keeping in line with the label's aesthetic, it's a very groovy, '60s and '70s influenced party soundtrack. There are Euro spy themes, funky blaxploitation riffs, and on A Part In That Show some killer disco. It's a cross between Chic and Bob Sinclar, with a poppin' bass line, the requisite scratchy guitars and some great squelchy synths. "Jump up, let's go. let's take a part in that show!"

Also out this week is Fingathing's latest sci-fi laced adventure ...And The Big Red Nebula Band. The last couple of albums were released on the Grand Central imprint, but the new one gets it's US release on the venerable NinjaTune. These guys don't get a lot of hype for their music, but I enjoy it. A blend of live and sampled instrumentation, including some killer double bass, they deftly mix hip hop, spy music, breakbeats and a smattering of proggy tendencies (all of the albums have a concept/theme that's carried on from record to record). On Synergy they add a new style to the mix - booming electro. It's old skool beats are topped of with one furiously funky bass riff, wiggy scratches, and as the song goes on, all manner of strings. It's big, nuff said.

DJ Krush's Jaku was released a few weeks ago, and as with all of his records, it has taken a few weeks for it to sink in. Road To Nowhere is a dark and moody instrumental cut. The beat has a bit if a sleigh bell thing going on in it, and it's one of those low slung, loping beats - so loose it's tight. It's topped off with the requisite jazzy double bass line, some nice string samples and a few ghostly electronic noises. Keeps my head bobbing...

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Busy Signals

Howard Hamilton III is The Busy Signals. Back in 2000 he released his debut album Baby's First Beats on Chicago's Sugar Free Records. I heard it on the listening station at my fave record store, and just with a quick skip through I knew I was going to like it. Over all manner of crusty hip hop loops he threw a mish mash of easy listening samples, his almost-spoken vocals, and lot's of lo-fi instrumentation - the album was "recorded and mixed at home". The end result is some very fun, lush pop music, with a big debt to '60s pop, and a little bit of a nod towards Beck and Sukpatch. He went on to release another LP - 2001's Pretend Hits, which features several collaborations with Robert Schneider from The Apples In Stereo as well as guest vocals by fellow Minnesotan Har Mar Superstar, and an EP of remixes and b-sides called Pure Energy. The production values got a bit slicker on the later records, and they never quite hit the spot for me the way the debut did. He hasn't put anything out in the last few years, so I don't know if he's still recording. Anyway, enjoy a few tracks from Baby's First Beats...

Headphone World
88's And 73's
Constantly Awesome

Sunday, October 03, 2004

From The Sublime To The Ridiculous

A few selections culled from the old LP collection...
Metro was the duo of Peter Godwin and Duncan Browne. Their debut album came out in 1976, and Criminal World is the first cut on it. Many of you who are David Bowie fans will recognize this from the version he did on his Let's Dance LP. I've always loved this song - I knew Bowie's version first and only recently came across a copy by Metro. I like the original even better. Bowie's version is a tight groove - this one is spacy, sprawling '70s art rock, with big fuzzy guitars and blissed out vocals. It's always fun to hear the differences in interpretations, and there are plenty here.

Joan Armatrading's I Can't Lie To Myself is a cut from 1981's Walk Under Ladders. I went through a few years there where I was a big fan of Joan's music. I had missed the earlier years of her career, but when she put out this record I was hooked . It's a blend of rock, folk and reggae mixed in with a few gorgeous ballads. The album features a host of guest musicians - Thomas Dolby, Andy Partridge, Jerry Marotta, Tony Levin and Nick Plytas. Her quivering voice fascinated me, so vulnerable and shaky in those softer moments, yet capable of being so big and booming and assertive. This tune is a blistering reggae and rock combo featuring the mighty rhythm section talents of Sly & Robbie - big dub rhythms, blistering bluesy guitars and Joan's honesty make this wicked.

The Feelies' brand of jangly, Velvets inspired indie rock always made me smile. Their '86 LP The Good Earth is chock full of catchy little nuggets. Let's Go has it's roots in VU for sure - the steady propulsive beat, those guitar riffs, that bass line. It's a totally blissful little rocker to help you get your jangle on.

And finally the ridiculous...
B.E.F. was little side project of Martyn Ware & Ian Craig Marsh, better known as one half of the original Human League line up and later as two thirds of synth funkers Heaven 17. They recorded an two albums of cover songs, each track with a guest vocalist. The first volume of Music Of Quality & Distinction came out in '82, and you get Tina Turner doing Ball Of Confusion, Glenn Gregory doing Perfect Day and Wichita Lineman, and a bunch of other oddballs - Gary Glitter, Bernie Nolan of The Nolan Sisters and Paul Jones. There are a few things I do like on it - Billy Mackenzie's Secret Life Of Arabia (a Bowie tune) & Sandie Shaw does a lovely Anyone Who Had A Heart, but for sheer silliness nothing tops Paula Yates on These Boots Are Made For Walking. It's peppy and squeaky, and I actually kind of enjoy it - especially the horns at the end.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

You've Got The Power

Earlier this week Just For A Day posted a track by The Fire Engines. This got me digging into the vinyl, and I'm picking up where the Fire Engines left off. The next band that singer Davey Henderson fronted was Win. The first time I heard their debut single You've Got The Power I knew I had to have it - a brash, anthemic pop tune that rocked and danced at the same time. It's got the wikka wikka guitar riffs, that big '80s drum sound and a very cool, very catchy keyboard melody. Where the Fire Engines were more of a rock band, here Davey was trying for a more of a pop sound - they still had some of the spikier elements in place, just with a much more polished sheen to them. If I had ruled the world chart domination would have ensued, but of course it didn't. They released two albums and Win was over. Davey Henderson has continued to record over the last decade as Nectarine No.9. It remains a mystery to me why this song was not a HUGE hit.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Funky Friday Disco Doubleplay

Today it's a double dose of vintage disco from 1979 and 1980 - Machine's There But For The Grace Of God and Kid Creole & the Coconuts' Darrio. Both of these tunes were written and produced by August Darnell, AKA Kid Creole. The Machine tune is a sweet disco groove - funky bass and keys, lot's of big vocals and a very touching story - family moves out of the Bronx to raise a child and escape the city's evil influences, only to have the kid grow up and develop all of the problems they had hoped to avoid - "too much love is worse than none at all". The second tune is just as funky, but with none of the serious social commentary. Instead it's a chorus of the Coconuts asking Kid Creole's character Darrio to get them into Studio 54, and him replying that it's just not the scene it used to be -"the DJ, he don't even play the B-52s!" or "We should go check out mister James White". Sounds like he had the right idea! Genius stuff.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Hip Hop In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five have made this year's ballot for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. They are the first hip hop group to get nominated, and it's a well deserved sign of the times. 25 years after they released the classic scratch happy single Adventures Of Flash On The Wheels of Steel, with it's mad cuts between Chic and Blondie and Queen, hip hop is a dominant force in modern popular music. This song blew me away back in the day, and it still makes me smile today - especially when you consider that it was all done with vinyl and turntables - not a sampler in sight!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Money Mark's Three O'Clock

Money Mark is back in action with a six track EP called Demo Or Demolition? on on Chocolate Indrustries. Stylistically it's really nothing new, but I've always been a sucker for his lo-fi, soulful musings. Three O'Clock is a funky little shuffle with a sweet harmonica line, some cool keys and soulful vocals from Money and a nice bit of guitar from Smokey Hormel. Perfect listening for this sunny Wednesday afternoon...

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Serge Gainsbourg In A Rub-A-Dub Stylee

Back in the early '80s French icon Serge Gainsbourg flew into Compass Point Studios and hooked up with rhythm section extraordinaire Sly & Robbie and their smokin' house band to record an LP of songs called Mauvaises Nouvelles Des Étoiles, inspired by a Paul Klee drawing hanging in his home. The end results show how unafraid to experiment Serge was - his smokey drawl fits very nicely into these dub grooves. The set has been remastered and reissued this year with a bonus disc. The second disc is 10 dub versions of the LP songs, and 11 "DJ and Singer" versions, with guest toasting and singing on every track. It's fascinating stuff, and so here is the title track Bad News From The Stars, a song on which Serge doesn't sing - the only vocals are the repeated title refrain from former Bob Marley & The Wailers backing vocalists The I Threes - Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt & Marcia Griffiths. As a little bonus enjoy the dub version too - Dub From The Stars. I'm sure I recognize the vocal refrain from somewhere else - I mean, someone might have sampled it, but I'm drawing a blank. Do any of you recognize it?

Late update... thanks to David F who pointed out that Stereo Total do an odd little version of this song - it's where I heard it. He's posted a link to the mp3 of it in the comments. Enjoy!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Joe Henderson Does Jobim

Inspired by the last couple of days worth of jazz links over at Totally Fuzzy here's a little more jazz. In 1995 Joe Henderson released Double Rainbow, a tribute to the music of noted Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. It was recorded with 2 different groups of musicians, all hot up and comers of the time. The band on side one is made up of Eliane Elias on piano, Oscar Castro-Neves on guitar, Nico Assumpçao on bass and Paulo Braga on drums - all giving the music a very native feel. Triste is from side two of the album, with a different band - Herbie Hancock on piano, Christian McBride on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums. It's a great rendition, with good input from everybody. These songs have long been associated with the sax so it's no surprise that Joe is smokin' - actually, everybody is. A great set.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Original Techno Boffin - Thomas Dolby

The first time I heard Thomas Dolby was in 1981 when he released the single Europa and the Pirate Twins. I promptly took my pocket money and bought the 45. The combination of electronics and real instruments (that's XTC's Andy Partridge on the bitchin' harmonica) and that huge, catchy melody (and drum machine clappy noises) made it a big song for me, and I was amazed that it didn't chart higher. The rest of the album The Golden Age Of Wireless was an equally good batch of tunes, a mix of new wave rockers and arty synth pop. The record was largely ignored, and so was he until She Blinded Me With Science came out, and the proverbial "one hit wonder" was born. Even though I love the goofiness of that tune, there are so many other, much better songs to consider.

Second album The Flat Earth remains, for me, his peak achievement. Opening with the ultra funky Dissidents it fades into a blissful other worldy vibe with The Flat Earth - a big bass riff, some beautiful Soweto style guitar and the weird rubber band like noises through out the song enthralled me in 1984 and still sends shivers down my spine today. The musicians on the LP are top knotch - former Soft Boy Matthew Seligman on bass (also Robyn Hitchcock, who does a spoken bit), Kevin Armstrong on guitars, original NY No Wave scenester Adele Bertei contributes stellar vocals, and usual cohorts Bruce Wooley and Lesley Fairbarn all contribute. At this point things drifted towards the US, and TD moved to LA to do film music (Howard The Duck, anyone?) and continue to make records.

The last Thomas Dolby record I bought was 1988's Aliens Ate My Buick. By now he was working with LA session musicians, and his songs began to began to lose that distinctly British feel he always had. It's a OK album with a couple of great tunes. There's funk on a cover of George Clinton's Hot Sauce, dance pop on Airhead, Zappa-esque jive on The Key To Her Ferrari, and cod reggae on My Brain Is Like A Sieve. My favorite tune on it is the hardest one to peg - Budapest By Blimp. It rides a very US r'n'b groove - a very funky bass line, chikka guitars, all very slick, and mixed in with it is a gorgeous Hungarian aria. Yes, it's the classical funk hybrid. Sounds like it should really suck, but it doesn't. The aria's melody is beguiling and recurs often. The tune builds up to a giant funk rock break with a searing strangled guitar solo before it all drifts back into the original funk groove. Somehow all of these disparate styles that shouldn't work together do, and it's always amazed me. I gave up on Dolby at this point - he continued to write and record, and I heard a few things here and there, but nothing that grabbed my attention like the first 2 records - albums in dire need of the remastered reissue treatment!

A little bonus, Dolby related tune - Ryuichi Sakamoto's Fieldwork from 1985 features Dolby on vocals. This is the 12" London Long Mix, and it's an odd electro tune - it starts with a very Art Of Noise style synth line and develops into uptempo synth pop (with a nod to New Order's Blue Monday beats). The key is the killer weird break in the middle - all of a sudden it's tight, quirky art funk for a couple of minutes before it returns to the synth pop. A strange little record.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Funky Friday Evening

Chicago indie hip hop label Chocolate Industries is behind one of the grooviest records of the year - McNeal & Niles' Thrust. They were Machelle McNeal on vocals and keys and the brothers Darryl (drums) and Wilbur (guitar/synth/perc) Niles. The album was orignally released in '79, and now it's out again, a lost r'n'b gem of that era. It's got elements of disco, funk, and even a bit of rock. It's fantastic stuff, and so on this "end of summer" evening I hope you enjoy Summertime - a mid tempo funk jam, it comes off like a scruffier Chic. It's got a nice bass and guitar riff thing going and some breezy lyrics, and the rest of the record is funktastic too. Well worth investigating.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Dosh's Epic Struggles

OK - it works now!

Minneapolis native Martin Dosh's band has a new EP out on Anticon records - a new LP Pure Trash is out soon. Dosh specialize in leftfield hip hop and post rock, and Epic Struggles is a lovely instrumental - over loping, abstract beats he cuts and pastes a bunch of what sounds like easy listening piano riffs, throws in a bit of rough guitar, and the result is a very nice, hypnotic little tune. The EP also features remixes by a couple of other Minneapolis scenesters, Fog and Cepia.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Interpol Vs. Spoon

Last week saw the release of the new Interpol single Slow Hands. It's one of the standout tracks from their forthcoming Antics LP, and on the single there are two remixes - Dan The Automator gives it the glossy treatment and makes it sound like something from his Head Automatica side project - it doesn't do much for me. The other is handled by Britt Daniel from indie rockers Spoon, and his take on Slow Hands is the shit - it strips it all down to the bare essentials (much like a Spoon record), and the focus is put on the hugely funky bass line and the hissing disco beats. It's raw and groovy, and I think I might like it even more than the original!

Monday, September 20, 2004

What I Listened To At Work Today

Last week I posted a bunch of Madchester era tracks. I've been listening to some other records from that era, and today at work I played The House Of Love's self titled album from 1990. Big, epic songs swirling with psychedelia, classic British rock influences (Beatles and the Stones) and a certain swagger made this record a big one for me. When I got home today I had to dig out my old 12" from 1988, Destroy The Heart. What a great tune - thick, swirling guitar riffs, a driving beat, and a couple of wickedly cool guitar spazz solos - a bit reminiscent of Ride. Two minutes and forty seconds of melodic bliss.

I also recently purchased Of Montreal's latest, Satanic Panic In The Attic. I had downloaded a tune from one of my mp3 blog brethren, and it made a big impression. The album is full of whimsical, psychedelic pop rock with goofy lyrics and song titles - much tweeness abounds, as befits a band that used to be on Elephant Six, but it still makes for a very entertaining listen.
Vegan In Furs fits the bill on all of these counts. It starts off like a Talking Heads song from the late '80s and goes on to incorporate new wave, disco, and guitar riffs in a Boston stylee. Very infectious and lots of fun

Sunday, September 19, 2004

A Few Of This Week's Favorite Things

Tears For Fears have just released their new LP Everybody Loves A Happy Ending here in the US (it was out in Europe in June). After a few years apart Curt & Roland have reunited, and after some trepidation about it (as well as having read a few bad reviews) I am happy to report that, IMO, the record doesn't suck. It pretty much picks up where Seeds Of Love left off - super melodic, adult oriented pop. There's plenty of Beatlesque moments, and the production is pretty sweet - lush, and full of nice touches. Ladybird is definitely Beatles inspired, a swoony, summery song with a fabulous chorus and some very George Harrison guitar. I always loved the dynamics of these two singing and writing together, and it's good to hear them again.

Jill Scott has really impressed me with her new album Beautifully Human. It's some class act soul music that hearkens back to the golden days of her hometown Philly's vaunted soul scene. Talk To Me spends it's first 2 minutes bumping to a fantastic hip hop soul groove while Jill asks her distant lover to talk to her - then suddenly it's a swinging, big band jazz tune, all breezy horns and scatting. Not too many singers can try this kind of thing and be successful, and Jill carries it off effortlessly. A great album.

Deceptikon is Zack Wright, out of Portland, Oregon. His album Lost Subject is out now on Merck Records, and if you are a fan of well crafted instrumental hip hop grooves then look no further - this dude's got 'em. He does a deft job of blending samples and beats, and creates jazzy moody soundscapes that never fail to get my head bobbing. Ox Conservatory is one of the more uptempo tunes on the album, riding a funky ass beat, some killer keys and a few beautiful horn samples. Highly recommended.

Ultra Vivid Scene provide this week's flashback track - How Sweet. I have always felt that Kurt Ralske's band was one of the great under appreciated acts of the late '80s / early '90s rock scene. He had great song writing ability, creating catchy pop songs swathed in all manner of cool production sounds. How Sweet is from their second album on 4AD, Rev (the first is Joy 1967-1990 - a great record!) and rocks like T.Rex infused with a even bigger dose of psychedelia. Also of note on this track are the guest musicians - Matthew Sweet on bass and Fred Maher on drums. Kurt's guitar playing is blazing on this track, and the melody is very beguiling. If you ever come across these old albums you must buy them!

Friday, September 17, 2004

Funky Friday Hangin' On A String

Back in 1985 Brit trio Loose Ends broke into the charts with their amazingly good single Hangin' On A String (Contemplating) . In the long standing tradition of Brits trying to emulate the US r'n'b sound and not always suceeding, these guys actually did a great job. This track, to me, is on a par with the stuff that Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis were doing with the S.O.S. Band et al. Sweet programmed beats, some nice guitar and a catchy as hell song & great vocals all make this tune a true '80s classic.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Beatboxin' With The Super Furry Animals

The SFA remix album Phantom Phorce got it's US release this week. It's filled with some great mixes and a few duff ones. There are some naff commentary tracks bewtween every song (also on the DVD) which seriously intrude on the flow of the music, so be prepared to program your disc player to edit them out. Human beat boxer Killa Kela has done a smashing job of funking up Golden Retriever - it's gone from a straight up rocker to a mid tempo hip-hopper. The beats are super tight and there are some cool vocals effects too. I love the Furries - they are unafraid to experiment, and quite often the results are brilliant.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Bloc Party's Banquet

Are you bored with the whole post punk thing? British four piece Bloc Party are here to get you interested again. Their self titled EP got it's US release this week on Dim Mak Records, and it's 6 tracks of searing, spiky guitar riffs and hugely catchy songs. Leadoff track Banquet is a wicked tune, rocking but danceable, a little bit reminiscent of the earliest Cure records. As a bonus cut you get a second version, Banquet (Phones Disco Edit), where the dance factor is cranked up with a lot more disco thump and some whizzing electronics. Fantastic band, great EP.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Birth School Work Death

Back in 1988 British rock band The Godfathers had their moment in the charts with their somewhat amusing take on life, Birth School Work Death. 16 years later the song has turned up on a compilation from ultra cool label Output Recordings. Channel 3 features Manhead's version of Birth School Work Death. It's turned from a punk pop tune into a real dancefloor groover - poppin' bass, chicken scratchy disco guitars, and monotone Euro vocals mixed with just the right amount of electronics. Label honcho Trevor Jackson has a great ear for cool bands, and the rest of the compilation is just as good as this tune.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Remastered Ant Music

Last week saw the reissue of the first 3 Adam & The Ants albums - Dirk Wears White Sox, Kings of The Wild Frontier and Prince Charming, all with bonus tracks. I picked up Dirk... this week and am giddy about it. It's a great album of art school post punk rock, without all of the emphasis on tribal rhythms and facepaint that was to come. Malcolm McLaren liked this band so much he stole them away from Adam so he could put them behind his latest protege Annabella, and thus was born Bow Wow Wow. Anyway, the record holds up very well, and the remastering is awesome - finally at a decent volume! One of the bonus tracks is the Chris Hughes mix of the classic single Cartrouble (Parts 1 & 2), from the 1982 12" EP release. Hughes later became Adam's drummer, and this recording also features soon to be regular Ant guitarist Marco Pirroni. It's a more produced version that boosts the bass and drums, a sign of things to come. Great stuff, and I look forward to getting the next 2 over the coming weeks.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Crate Digging - Some Classic 12" Singles

This week, 12" remixes from the late '80s / early '90s Madchester - Baggydelic scene...

Frazier Chorus were initially signed to 4AD Records, where their brand of dream pop fit in with that label's aesthetic. They eventually moved on to Virgin Records, where they released the single Nothing (Raid Mix). This is the killer Paul Oakenfold remix of this swoony, string laden electro-disco song - before Oakey became the dodgy trance DJ saviour of the world he actually did some pretty cool remixes. It's got the Italo- disco piano stabs and a truly dreamy feel to it, right down to singer Tim Freeman's fey, whispy vocals. A big tune that never fails to get me grooving.

Electronic burst out of the inactivity of New Order and the demise of The Smiths. Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr introduced themselves to the world with Getting Away With It (Extended), their debut single. Featuring the guest vocals of Neil Tennant from The Pet Shop Boys, it's a fantastically lush disco tune - the cool electro beats and synths of New Order/PSB combined with the always inspiring Johnny Marr jangle works wonders. There are also some lovely strings, and a cooler than cool acoustic solo that never fails to send shivers down my spine.

Happy Mondays were, for me, the height of the baggydelic scene. OK, The Stone Roses are in there too, but the Mondays were a different kettle of fish. They rocked, they funked, they were always on the verge of collapse, and they were groovier than shit. The afore mentioned Paul Oakenfold had a big hand in their success, taking them from their gloomy Martin Hannant produced roots and turning them into a drug splashed (OK - they were already that) funk rock and soul band, ready to get people's asses on the dancefloor. At the height of their popularity they released the single Loose Fit, which was backed by Bob's Yer Uncle. The 12" was remixed by Oakey and his partner Steve Osbourne. Factory also issued a companion 12" - the same two songs , but remixed by techno boffins The Grid instead. From that 12" I give you Loose Fix - a truly huge guitar riff, the great soulful backing vocals, all spaced out nicely for the dancefloor. The flip side is Bob's Yer Tune, a very pervy space disco tune - a bit of flute, some breathy backing vocals and Sean's mumled sex talk all make for a very smooth ride on this remix. Ah, those were the days...

Friday, September 10, 2004

Funky Friday with ABC

Since ABC were the subject of Bands Reunited earlier this week I give you their debut single Tears Are Not Enough. I loved this tune the first time I heard it, and promptly went out and bought the 45. It's got cool chikka chikka guitars like Chic, great horns, sharp and witty lyrics, and Martin's falsetto soars. It also features a uniquely funky harpsichord breakdown - not too many songs have those! From the LP The Lexicon Of Love, produced by Trevor Horn - one of the great albums of the early '80s.

Life's been hectic this week so there haven't been too many posts - this coupled with the fact that my updates are no longer being seen by the mp3blogs aggregator have made me feel a bit meh! about things. Can anybody shed light on this aggregator thing? It seems to be working now...

Monday, September 06, 2004

The return of Bands Reunited - Haircut 100

VH1's great mini-series Bands Reunited is back tonight, and features the poptastic Haircut 100. Remember the cardigans, the nautical themes? I do, and I loved every minute of it. The songs were always eminently catchy, full of funky bass and guitar, lots of cool percussion and big horns. I was 17 when I bought Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl) on 45, and was way into it's weird cross pollination of James Brown style funk grooves with the whimsy of British pop. I still listen to their debut Pelican West - too bad they never made more than one album.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

The NME's Big Four from 1986

The NME used to give away cool 45's with issues of their paper. Today's mp3s are all from the '86 EP The NME's Big Four....
Tom Wait's Downtown Train (NME Version) is a great tune that most people know of because of Rod Stewart's hit version in the '80s. It's a more traditional style song than a lot of Tom's stuff - straight up rock with a fairly straightforward vocal, instead of swampy voodoo cabaret. I think that's why I like it so much. It's a hell of a lot better than Rod's rendition too...

The Jesus And Mary Chain's Some Candy Talking is from the earliest years of their career, when it was all about the huge, Phil Spector-like reverb laden VU riffs. When I first heard this song all those years ago I thought it was rubbish - but then, I was young and foolish. A lovely melody buried in a wall of sound.

Husker Du were Minneapolis' garage rock gods at the time of this recording - a great little cover version of the Beatles classic Ticket To Ride. It captures the trios raw energy - big drums, the bristling guitars and the vocal interplay between Grant and Bob. Big rock music.

Troublefunk burst out of DC with their vibrant, big band sound - "go-go" music's rising stars, fusing the energy of rap, the funk of bands like Parliament and the instantly recognizable "go-go" drum rhythms of this uniquely DC/Maryland/Virginia scene. For a year or two there was a lot of hype and a bunch of fresh records, but it never crossed over. Let's Get Small is a typically funky number with a very memorable melody line that sounds like it's played on a harmonium, and lots of call and response shouts. Definitely a booty shaker.
The Beat's Stand Down Margaret

When The Beat / English Beat released the song Stand Down Margaret it was a call to get rid of then Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher, the neo-con queen of the '80s. In light of the upcoming elections, and the end of last week's Neo-Con Wankfest '04 in NYC this song's opening salvos still ring true - you just need to change the name of the leader. "I see no joy, I see only sorrow, I see no chance of your bright new tomorrow, So stand down Margaret ( or "W") stand down please...". A lovely bit of ska.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Funky Friday - Jill Scott

Jill Scott's new LP Beautifully Human hit stores this week, and it's a stunner. She has a beautiful voice, and it's displayed over all manner of fresh grooves, from jazzy riffing to hip hop beats with stops at some classic Philly soul in between. Bedda At Home is one of the more hip hoppy tracks on the album, and it's a funky piano driven tune with a nice jazzy guitar lick. Lyrically it's her checking out the hot guys all around her and letting them know that she's got something better at home. It's nice to see that she's kept some of that sassiness from her first record. Great stuff.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Return of The Blue Nile

I was quite pleasantly surprised to see that The Blue Nile had a new record coming out today - their first since 1996 - because I hadn't heard anything about it. This Scottish trio are the masters of understated, mellow, melancholic electronica. I was a fan from the get-go, having bought their debut 12" Tinsletown In The Rain 20 years ago. The key to their musical approach is minimalism - the arrangements, the vocals, the lyrics and the melodies are all very minimal. I love Paul Buchanan's croon - his quivering delivery fits so well with the music. Soul Boy is a typically mellow tune, with languid guitars and atmospherics laid over an almost hip hop beat - a nice way to update sound their unique sound. It's fantastic, and after 20 years in the business that's pretty impressive. Their minimalism may not be for everyone, but it's worth a listen anyway...

Monday, August 30, 2004

The Girl From UNCLE

Due to the kindness of a friend I was able to score a copy of the ultra swanky soundtrack to The Girl From UNCLE. Composed by Terry Randazzo, Dave Grusin and Howard Shores, it's a great combination of exotica laced lounge music - sultry horns, tropical rhythms, spy theme strings and the kind of vocals that usually accompany one of James T. Kirk's encounters with large breasted, green skinned alien vixens. If you've ever heard Dimitri From Paris' 1996 album Sacrebleu you will be familiar with both Out Of The Frying Pan Girl From UNCLE, because he bases two songs around the predominant riffs from these tunes. The first is a bass and bongo driven riff that features big horns and harpsichord and those vixen vocals - classic spy music. The second is a mellow bossa nova, once again with the vixen do-do-do's and fantastic strings, and also a classic Stan Getz styled sax solo. Grab a cocktail and your cigarette holder and get your swank on...

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Finns. Lali Puna, Neotropic & Wagon Christ

The Finn Brothers' Homesick is from their new LP Everyone Is Here. You aren't getting anything ground breaking or new from Neil and Tim - these guys have always crafted intelligent, melodic rock that your parents might like. This tune is has a bit of country rock flavor - it features some nice steel guitar, lovely piano and a big string accompaniment, as well as the usual expert harmonizing.

Lali Puna's Alienation is a track from their latest remix EP (for the song Micronomic). Anticon recording artist Alias handles the remix of this track, and instead of abstract hip hop he crafts a nice bit of glitchy ambient pop - hand-clappy beats, mournful keys, Valerie's vocals floating in and out of the mix. It's a nice little EP, also featuring a remix from Boom Bip.

Neotropic's Riz Mazlen has been at it for about a decade now, releasing a bunch of records on NinjaTune's now defunct side label nTone. Her latest LP White Rabbit is out now on Mush Records - it was a very pleasant surprise to learn that the album was largely recorded here in the Twin Cities, and features several key players from the local post rock scene including Dosh's Martin Dosh and Lateduster's JG Everest. Inch Inch is a lovely guitar and piano driven tune that drifts prettily along until it fades into a couple of minutes of noise and hiss. Watching Riz go from the hardcore electro and beats of her earliest stuff to the mellow, more organic tracks she does now has been cool. A very nice record.

Wagon Christ's Kwikwidetrax is from his latest album Sorry I Make You Lush It's Luke Vibert's 3rd album in a year (following Yoseph and Kerrier District) and some people might think he's stretching it a bit thin. Personally I really dig what he does with his different personas, and on Kwikwidetrax he does the loopy sci fi hip hop thing. The tune starts off with a thumping house tempo bass drum and some toasting and suddenly melts into a bumping hip hop beat, then slowly starts adding squelchy jazz funk synths and the usual odd vocal samples - the clincher for me is the deftly cut string sample he uses - it's a beauty. Yeah, it ain't nothing new, but damn it sure is funky.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Funky Friday - Bill Withers & Randy Crawford

Today at work I played the sound track to Quentin Tarentino's Jackie Brown. As with most Tarantino movies the music is great, and this one is no exception. It features a lot of funky tunes from Bobby Womack, Brothers Johnson, The Delfonics and Minnie Ripperton. Seeing as how I've made Fridays a day to feel the funk around here, I want to share a couple of my personal faves from the record. Bill Wither's 1972 hit Who Is He (And What Is He To You) is a classic, slow burning groove about unfaithfulness. The man has a great, soulful voice, and the riff is very memorable. Meshell N'degeocello's cover of this tune is also worth searching out.
The other tune is Randy Crawford's 1981 smash Street Life, written by and recorded with soul-jazz greats The Crusaders. It's a breezy strut, beautifully orchestrated (love those horns and strings!) and features Randy's uniquely quivering tone. Feel the funk...

P.S. A big thank you to Stereogum and Catchdubs for linking to me yesterday...

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Hot Chip versus Scissor Sisters

Hot Chip decribe themselves as "a modern day pop group with the spirit of Brian Wilson, the passion of Public Enemy and the niceness of the Neptunes" - and add a big old helping of Prince on top. I've heard a few tunes from their debut Coming On Strong and have dug what they're doing, so I was pretty psyched when I came across their remix of the Scissor Sisters hit Take Your Mama Out. In it's original form it's a rollicking rocker that owes a huge debt to Elton John, circa the mid to late '80s. Hot Chip's remix uses just the vocals, and they construct a whole new backing track - military marching drum rhythm, strangled guitar riffs, all sprinkled over glitchy synth-pop. It's the definition of what a good remix should be, unique and original.