Friday, December 29, 2006

Funky Friday - Old School Flavor

Today's funky four pack is all about the lesser known ladies of mid '90s hip hop...

Nonchalant - 5 O'Clock (K-Dep Mix)
Essentially a one hit wonder, Nonchalant has a pretty unique flow, and this remix is full of warm and jazzy Rhodes and guitar licks. Still sounds pretty good to my ears.

The Lady Of Rage - Afro Puffs
This is all about Dre. Written and produced by Dr. Dre, featuring Snoop on vocals, and the Lady brings the hardcore raps - "I rock rough and stuff with my afro puffs..." Classic G-funk.

Bahamdia - Word Play
One of my favorite rappers, Bahamdia brings occasionally dazzling lyricism, full of positivity and knowledge. She hooked up with great producers - DJ Premier, Guru, Da Beatminerz and The Roots - and had great songs like this one. The album Kollage is quality Native Tongues style stuff, got good reviews, but didn't have big sales. She released an EP in 2000 but she has yet to follow up this 1996 album.

Bahamadia - Uknowhowwedu
The vibe here is pure A Tribe Called Quest - you almost expect to hear Q-Tip at any time. A great tune.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Funky Friday - Christmas Edition

SIART wishes all of you a
Happy Holiday Season & a
Funky New Year!

The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping

Run DMC - Christmas In Hollis

Kurtis Blow - Christmas Rappin'

James Brown - Funky Christmas

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Best Of 2006 - The Top 20 Albums Of The Year

Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock & Roll - OK, it's a 2005 record but it came out in the US this year. Catchy, sharp and oh so British rock.

Goldfrapp - Supernature - slick electronics and THAT voice. I can't believe this band isn't bigger than it is...

Grand National - Kicking The National Habit - Drink To Moving On - another 2005 but out here in 2006 record. Former Police cover act takes elements of that band and applies them to catchy, funky, dance-y pop.

The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics - it's the Lips' protest record, as lush and as weird as ever.

Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere - people are all over the map when it comes to this. Some peeps hated it, but it was THE record of the summer at my house. Funky, dark and quirky, and Cee-lo's voice is tops.

Hot Chip - The Warning - And I Was A Boy From School - this record really took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting much, and when the dust settled I was still playing it once or twice a week - still am. Love this!

Fujiya & Miyagi - Transparent Things - due for a US release this Spring, this is Krautrock, indie rock, funky riffs, electronics and low key vocals all rolled up into one.

The Knife - Silent Shout - another polarizing record that many people hated, probably due to the vocals. I personally dug the icy electronics and melodies of this duo's third LP. Big ups this year to Mute Records for reissuing their first two albums too.

Scritti Politti - White Bread Black Beer - Cooking - happily married Green returns to music with this lovely and warm collection of pop songs and ballads. That he is still creating captivating music thirty years after first making the scene is amazing to me.

TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain - the art rock record of the year. Slow burning and simmering tracks full of atmosphere that explode into raging rock. Challenging but ultimately rewarding.

Kelis - Kelis Was Here - this surprised me. I didn't think I'd like it as much as I do, but here it is on the top 20 list. Diverse and real, this has something for everybody.

Cansei De Ser Sexy - CSS - Alala - didn't expect to get much prolonged pleasure from this but I'm still playing it. Punk, postpunk and electro clash with hysterical lyrics. Party record of the year?

Beck - The Information - a perfect synthesis of all the sides of Beck - folk, rock, hip hop and Gainsbourg all blend seamlessly for a smooth ride.

Kerrier District - Kerrier District 2 - Luke Vibert continues to please with his '80s inspired electro jams.

Charlotte Gainsbourg - 5:55 - read my post from December 10th and all will be explained...

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Lupe Fiasco - Food And Liquor - Daydreamin' (feat. Jill Scott) - I was blown away by the bustling creativity of this album - it's unique topics, great flow and killer tracks make this my hip hop record of the year.

Bent - Intercept! - a late comer to the list, full of the duo's trademark warm, lush and romantic electronica. Added bonus - using former Simian singer Simon Lord on half of the songs.

Lily Allen - Alright, Still... - chav humor applied to some skanktastic pop music. Humorous, catchy, rude and endlessly entertaining.

Poni Hoax - Poni Hoax - French rockers deliver moodiness, beauty and memorable songs. Another nice mix of rock and electronic danceability.

Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Kick Your Ass - Mr. Tough - how many years have these guys been going now? Sounding better than ever they deliver an album of sweet, soft ballads, raging rockfests, and faux Motown soul stylings.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Best Of 2006 - The Reissues

2006 was a very good year for reissues, particularly for fans of the music of the early '80s. You had expanded remasters of all kinds of stuff - all of the Yello albums, Depeche Mode 2 disc-ers, the Siouxsie & The Banshees back catalogue, The Cure 2 disc-ers, the early Ultravox albums and Heaven 17's early stuff. Then there were the Jesus And Mary Chain reissues (BOO! for the lack of bonus stuff), the Wire reissues, the first two Pretenders records as well as their Pirate Radio box. There were some nice compilations - Delta 5's Singles & Sessions 1979-81, Zero | A Martin Hannett Story '77-91, A Tom Moulton Mix from SoulJazz and 7"Up! - Singles Only UK 78-82 which collected rare and obscure post-punk stuff. Then you have The Clash's Singles box, The Incredible Bongo Band's Bongo Rock, the Ike Yard collection and The Beatles' Love. Not too shabby. And then there are these...

Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - Daytripper
Herb Alpert Presents...
A&M finally reissued the band's first three albums. I have loved these guys since I was like 2 or 3, so I was psyched to pick these up. Bossa nova treatments rule.

Robert Fripp - Chicago
Robert Fripp - Northstar
I blogged this album a bit earlier this year. This reissue collects two different mixes of the album with a bunch of bonus material. Ambient, prog, punk and art rock are all present, as well as stellar vocals from Daryl Hall.

Au Pairs - You
Au Pairs - Inconvenience (12" Version)
Stepping Out Of Line - The Anthology
The complete, collected works of the Au Pairs. That's two albums plus all kinds of 12" mixes, b-sides and live stuff. Great stuff.

Josef K - Sense Of Guilt
Josef K - Endless Soul
Finally, a comprehensive set to commemorate this Scottish combo's brilliant but brief career! Full of scratchy, jangly goodness.

Brian Eno & David Byrne - The Jezebel Spirit
Brian Eno & David Byrne - Defiant
My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts
My personal fave reissue of the year. I have waited a long time for this, and it didn't disappoint. It still sounds as good to me as now as it did all those years ago, and the bonus material is pretty interesting.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Best Of 2006 - The Guilty Pleasures

Ahhh, guilty pleasures. You shouldn't like them, but you do. Maybe it's because it's "too pop", or maybe it's because the hipsters hated it. Whatever it is, I found myself playing these a lot...

She Wants Revenge - She Wants Revenge - Broken Promises For Broken Hearts - OK, so it's not exactly the most original sound from one time hip hopper Justin Warfield, but damn, I really enjoyed this album's cookie cutter synth post punk pop. This tune is the perfect synthesis of Interpol and vintage Human League.

The Rapture - Pieces Of The People We Love - I listened to this more than their last one and I think this is a better record than that one. No good tunes? Gimme a break.

Scissor Sisters - Ta-Dah - sophomore slump? No. A little more subdued and maybe a wee bit less thrilling than the debut, but still lots of good tunes.

Teddy Bears - Soft Machine - man, this is a crazy record. Swedes with a history in reggae/rock make an eclectic party record chock full of hooks and great guest vocal turns from Iggy Pop and Neneh Cherry. My kids really like this record.

Morningwood - Morningwood - The Nth Degree - I saw a video of these guys and was hooked by sultry singer Chantal. These guys ride Pixies riffs like nobody, with lots of nice guitar riffage, lots of sex
and shiny production courtesy of of Pixies producer Gil Norton.

Justin Timberlake - Futuresex/Lovesounds - yeah, I like the dude from N'Sync.

Lansing-Dreiden - The Dividing Island - '80s synthpop, prog, metal riffs and art rock are among the many influences of this arty combo. It sounds like it shouldn't work, but it many ways it does.

Elefant - The Black Magic Show - I liked their debut a whole bunch. This is not as good - too overproduced - but I still enjoyed it.

Pharrell - In My Mind - sure, it was a little lazy, but it still ended up getting a lot of play.

We Are Scientists - With Love And Squalor - The Great Escape - I like this album a lot. It almost made the top 20 of the year list, but ended up here instead. Killer hooks, a sense of humor and some serious rocking.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Best Of 2006 - 10 On The Bubble

Writing last week's piece on Charlotte Gainsbourg I made a comment about not doing best of the year lists. I had done them a for a couple of years at the old blog, but it got to be too much work. Well. I had some time this weekend, and was able to go list crazy. This week will be all about the lists, leading up to my top 20 albums of the year. To kick it off I give you my "10 On The Bubble" - the 10 albums that fell just outside the top 20. During 2006 I posted tunes by and wrote about all of these records except two. Those two are the ones represented today. Oh yeah, these are in no particular order...

Islands - Return To The Sea - The Unicorns die and are reborn as the more focused yet equally weird Islands. A lot of fun with hooks.

Matmos - The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of A Beast - Inventive and often humorous electronica made from found sound. These guys are a hoot.

Rekid - Made In Menorca - Dubbed out electronics - a fresh take on the pretty much played out genre of downtempo.

The M's - Future Women - Truckers Speed

Cut Chemist - The Audience's Listening - Ace DJ creates remarkably diverse and warm album.

Outkast - Idlewild - People were hating on this but I like it.

The Roots - Game Theory - Tight tunes and great flows.

Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye - indie electronic duo with a boatload of catchy, danceable and sensitive tunes.

Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon - The Iliad

Grandaddy - Just Like The Fambly Cat - The final LP from the Cali combo was classic Grandaddy.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Blue Xmas

Christmas is a week away from today. I'm continuing a holiday tradition here at SIART by posting this gem from Miles Davis and Bob Dorough...

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I like Christmas music, but my tastes tend towards the traditional - massed choirs, orchestral interpretations, the classic takes 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.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Funky Friday's Flavor Is Yellow

La Yellow Collection

Yellow Productions was created in 1993 when jazz, funk and Brazilian music collector DJ Yellow hooked up with Chris LeFriant (Chris The French Kiss aka Bob Sinclar aka The Mighy Bop, resident DJ at famous Parisien club "La Palace") in a record store. The label's roster manifested Chris & DJ Yellow's tastes, and their love of soul, bossa nova, jazz, house and hip hop music.

La Yellow 357's Qu'elle Sensation Bizarre is a kitschy spy theme. C'est fantastique!

The Mighty Bop's Freestyle Linguistique (feat. EJM) is chill hip hop with laid back Franco flow, warm synth pads and nice scratching.

DJ Cam's DJ Cam Theme is just straight up goodness - big beats, great piano and kiler scratching as always.

Bob Sinclar's Rock Solid is some tasty disco loop-age.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I'm Gonna Get Under Your Skin

Charlotte Gainsbourg's 5:55 was released at the end of August this year. I scored a copy a couple of months ago, and have not stopped listening to it yet. If I was in the habit of making a year end "best of" list, I reckon this would be a candidate for the top 5, maybe even the top 3. Here's a quick breakdown for you. The music on the album is written and played by Air and produced by Nigel Godrich. The string arrangements are by Beck's dad, David Campbell. The drums are played by Tony Allen, one time drummer for Fela Kuti, now in Damon Albarn's The Good The Bad & The Queen. Oh yeah, and Brian Eno called him one of the best musicians on the planet. Lyrics are also collaborative, with Charlotte and the Air boys joined by the witty, sharp pens of Jarvis Cocker and The Divine Comedy's Neal Hannon. The end result is pretty spectacular. The music is Air at their best, lush and moody, a cool blend of electronics and organic instrumentation. There are echoes of her famous dad in some of the bass lines and strings. Charlotte coos in a seductive and breathy style not too terribly far from her mum, Jane Birkin, and it fits the songs very well. She also occasionally cops her dad's style of half speaking lyrics. The Operation is one of the few uptempo tracks and features a driving beat, lots of sinewy, intertwining guitar riffs and fab piano. The lyrics are deliciously creepy, mixing love and surgery metaphors. The second single from the album is The Song That We Sing. Full of gorgeous, swelling strings, chunky bass and lush melodies accented by chime-y bells, this tune grabbed me right away. A really gorgeous album.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Funky Friday Four Pack

Jimi Tenor - Total Devastation
Organism - 1999
Exquisite space disco from the Finnish funk wizard and master of big arrangements.

Will I Am - I Am
Will I Am - Yadda Yadda
Lost Change - 2001
Back before Feraglicious came into the picture I actually kind of dug Black Eyed Peas' take on concious hip hop. Will I Am obviously has skills as a producer and writer, and these are evident on this relatively unknown soundtrack/solo LP. I Am is classic herky-jerky Will I Am material. Yadda Yadda is a bumping instrumental, a sort of bossa rock hop fusion.

The Spinners - I'll Be Around
A stone cold classic from the deep '70s. A super slick slice of soul.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

5 Disc Shuffle Or What I Played At Work Today

It's a simple concept today - these 5 discs soundtracked my work day and it was rockin'.

Ride - Like A Daydream - The Byrds with serious balls.

Booker T. & The M.G.s - Time Is Tight - smooth like butter.

Simian - The Way I Live - Beatles-y backing vocals + woozy carnival music = good.

The Skatalites - James Bond Theme - the grandaddies of ska rock the spy theme.

Richard X - Finest Dreams (featuring Kelis) - Human League + SOS Band + Kelis = pure gold.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Poni Hoax

A few weeks ago I read a mini review of Poni Hoax's self titled debut. It was written by a guy who works at my local record store, and he and I have remarkably similar tastes. He raved about how full of musical ideas these guys were, and how you could feel their enthusiasm & energy. He also mentioned how he was already excited to hear it's follow up, to see where they went next. With that kind of enthusiasm I knew I had to hear it. I picked it up soon after, and can say with assurance that it is my favorite record right now. This French five piece traffics in all of the music I like - indie rock, post-punk, art rock and dance rock, embellished with all manner of electronics and a bit of that Franco dance flavor courtesy of producer Joakim. There is a whiff of Roxy Music, especially in the vocals of Nicolas Ker. There is a hint of Joy Division, a touch of Colder, a bit of krautrock on Budapest, and some lovely atmospherics. The album kicks off with the quirky new wave of She's On The Radio, where keys battle guitars and Nicolas croons and quivers. Fantastic. Cheerleader In My Dreams is moody mid tempo rock - a dreamy blend of Roxy Music and Interpol. Drunks And Painters On Parade is some vintage punk funk, with clattery disco beats and slashing guitars and lots of echo effects. I really like this record, and if you like what you hear here I encourage you to seek out the record for yourself!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Funky Friday - Clash Singles Edition

A couple of weeks ago I splurged and bought the beautiful box set The Clash - The Singles. It is the band's 19 UK singles on 19 CD singles. This is really only for compulsive collectors, as most of it is already available, but it is packaged with some things that have never been on CD before. They are really fantastic replicas, from the covers to the actual CD - black plastic with track grooves and replica labels. Each CD has between two and eight tracks, including all the various B-sides issued on different 7" & 12" singles, and some internationally released versions. It is all encased in a nice box to help keep the sleeves pristine. I am a music geek. I like this box a lot. In the band's later years they began to experiment with funkiness, and I've chosen a few examples to share today...

Rockers Galore... UK Tour - dub plate version of Bankrobber - skankin'.
The Cool Out - bitchin' instrumental version of The Call Up - funky disco treatment.

Outside Broadcast (UK 12") - seven minutes of Radio Clash put through the dub machine.
Overpowered By Funk (Argentinian 7") - funk in the title, funk in the bass and beats.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Mojo Magazine's November issue has a great freebie cover mount CD. Called Experienced, it is 15 tracks inspired by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. It's hard to believe it but their stellar debut Are You Experienced? will be FORTY next year. Yes, it was released in 1967, and it's influence can still be found today. This collection has covers, both contemporary and classic, as well as tracks by Hendrix associates and contemporaries. It is a nice and diverse set, as demonstrated by today's tunes - some cheesy eazy listening from the late '60s, some serious riffage from McLaughlin's '70s fusion period and some stone cold acid funk rock from a '70s classic album called Maggot Brain.

1 The Lords Of Altamont - Can You See Me
2 Noel Redding With 3:05 AM - Stone Free
3 The Move - Message From The Country (4:32)
4 Rotary Connection - Burning Of The Midnight Lamp
5 Chris Whitley - Drifting
6 Jamie Cullum - The Wind Cries Mary
7 Lightnin' Rod Featuring Jimi Hendrix - Doriella Du Fontaine
8 John McLaughlin - Don't Let The Dragon Eat Your Mother
9 Santana - La Puesta Del Sol
10 Johnny Winter - Help Me
11 Curtis Mayfield - Freddie's Dead
12 Funkadelic - Super Stupid
13 Bootsy Collins - Psychoticbumpschool
14 Love - Little Wing
15 The Hammersmith Gorillas - Wild Thing (Live)

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I am a big fan of the UK duo Bent. Their brand of left field electronica has always struck a chord with me, from their stellar debut Programmed To Love to it's equally great follow up The Everlasting Blink. These two albums are full of lush melodies, quirky arrangements and killer vocal samples from sources as diverse as The Captain & Tenille and Nana Mouskouri. They followed these up with Ariels, where the sounds remained the same but were now accompanied by actual vocals, sung by four different singers, as opposed to samples. I liked the result, but not as much as what had come before. Last month the duo sprang back into action with Intercept!. This time out they've enlisted the pipes of Simon Lord, former lead vocalist of Simian. I was a big fan of the now defunct Simian, so this move works for me. It makes this record sound like the work of a real band, and it's more cohesive overall than Ariels. The result is a record full of the duo's trademark sounds, with some nice post punk edge thrown into the mix, that moves ever so slightly towards the realm of pop. I am digging this album a lot. It kicks off with yet another installment of the long running Exercise series, Exercise 7. A spooky, spaced out intro gives way to big, lush, disco happenings with swelling melodies swirling around the beats. Waiting For You is one of the vocal tracks, and is pretty fierce. Built over growling synths and bass, it adds some delicious, scratchy Afro-pop guitar straight from Talking Heads circa Remain In Light and slowly builds into a real stomper before fading to blissed out synths. Welcome back, Bent!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Feel The Love

Earlier this year Cirque de Soleil was lucky enough to be given the right to score an entire show with the music of The Beatles. It is staged in residency in Las Vegas and is called Love. The deal with the soundtrack is pretty interesting. Sir George Martin (producer of so many of the original recordings) and his son Giles went into the studio with the original tapes and began to tweak and mash elements of old songs to create new ones. The reviews have been largely positive, but I remained skeptical. That is, until I picked up the record this week. It is 26 tracks of music you know but have never heard like this before. Apparently there are are at least 100 Beatles songs represented here, some in tiny fragments, others in close to their entirety. Having the original producer involved is obviously the key, as he knows his way intimately around the source material. The end result is a flowing, 78 minute mash up of old and new, some of it tweaked only a little, some of it tweaked a lot. There is also a 2 disc version, with the second disc being a DVD with a 5.1 surround mix that clocks in a slightly longer 81 minutes. This is the version I bought, and the 5.1 is a real trip. When I played this at work yesterday it generated a lot of interest and also a few of those all important "goosebump" moments. Those occurred mostly upon hearing some of the mashed up tunes - Drive My Car/The Word/What You're Doing, Within You, Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows. Some of the little snippets mixed into songs are also breathtaking. It is always a revelation to me when I hear familiar music tweaked like this, and this is no exception. If you are a fan of the band I think you will really dig this album. Here is a great example of one of the mash ups, as well as a pretty radical reworking of Lady Madonna.

Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite/I Want You (She's So Heavy)/Helter Skelter

Lady Madonna

Friday, November 17, 2006

Funky Friday Full Of Soul

I have been on a bit of a a soul/funk/r'n'b binge this week so today's four pack is a good indicator of where I'm at...

Bill Withers - Use Me
A great clavinet driven hook, Bill's honey voice and the overall funky vibe of this makes it a favorite of mine.

Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band - Kiburi (Pt.1)
I just picked up this reissue of an early '70s obscurity. It is essentially the roots of hip hop breaks and beats, all on one LP. The version of Apache which Grandmaster Flash first used 25 years ago is here. The beat that the Beasties and Massive Atack sampled is here. Musically it is often cheesy, with lounge-y elements and lots of "acid rock" guitar, and of course loads of bongo. It is also often fantastic, and as on this track, very funky. A little piece of musical history.

Anthony Hamilton - Sista Big Bones
I saw the video for this a few weeks ago and it made a big impression on me. I picked up his latest album Ain't Nobody Worryin', which features the song. A come on to a "big girl" - played in the video by comic Mo'Nique - it's sultry and warm and soulful. I love the piano rolls and Anthony's croon reminds me a bit of Lou Rawls. A very nice LP of old school soul.

Aretha Franklin - Rock Steady
I scored a used copy of the 2CD The Definitive Soul Collection last weekend. It is 30 of Aretha's best from the early years. It is, as she says in the song "a funky and lowdown feeling". A crucially funky track. You cannot resist Aretha.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

EP Roundup

Klaxons - The Bouncer
Xan Valley EP
The latest British sensation. Feel these guys shout at you over a loud, raucous and breakneck paced track. Mega riff skronkage. "Your name's not down, you're not coming in!!"

Fields - Brittlesticks
7 From The Village EP
Imagine Arcade Fire with the shoegaze button turned up to 11. Add some nice electronics, some indie strum and loads of melody and presto! A great 7 track EP.

The Slits - Number One Enemy
Revenge Of The Killer Slits EP
They're baaaaaaack. Well, at least a couple of 'em. Ari Up and Tessa Pollitt round up former Sex Pistol drummer Paul Cook and former Antperson/guitarist Marco Pirroni and it's 1977 all over again. A stonkin' bit of punk rock.

Dean & Britta - Colours
Words You Used To Say EP
Dean & Britta return with some more gentle indie meanderings. If you know their background - Galaxie 500, Luna and some solo outings - you kow what you're getting. This is a cover of an old Donovan tune.

The Rosewood Thieves - Back Home To Harlem
From The Decker House EP
This is some classic Americana - a bit of Dylan, some Spoon, the influence of the Beatles and Johnny Cash and vintage r'n'b. It's all here on this nice and warm six song set.