Saturday, April 29, 2006

Saturday Bits 'n' Bobs

I got this track in my e-mail this week by Voicst called Whatever You Want From Life. They are a trio from Amsterdam who have been touring around the world for the past year in support of their album 11-11. The album is being released in the U.S. on July 18th on their own label, Duurtlang Records. Eli Janney from Girls Against Boys produced the album. I like what I'm hearing - indie rock with a bit of synthy dance pop production. You can stream more songs over at the band's website,

Scott Walker is one hell of a trippy dude. At the height of his pop career in the late '60s as half one third of the Walker Brothers, he left it all behind. For a life of increasing reclusiveness, and recordings that got fewer and stranger with the passing of time. Where his pop hits were gorgeously orchestrated crooners, his solo stuff became more and more minimal and concrete. He is about to release a new album called The Drift on 4AD, and there is a very cool microsite up - There are photos, a historical timeline of the man's career, lyrics to all of the new songs, and a video for new song Jesse. It is essentially an animation of ever changing patterns with images emerging. I have watched it a couple of times and found it to be incredibly psychedelic - very close to things I myself have "experienced" long long ago. Considering that the "song" is supposedly "sung" from Elvis to his dead, 6 foot fetus twin Jesse I'd say it's incredibly surreal stuff. I personally don't know if I will buy the album - I'm not sure I can handle much of it. But for anyone interested in experimentation, I would say that this is where it's at. Of further interest is this Scott Walker interview from British TV's The Culture Show which I found very engaging.

P.S. - I'd like to give Steve over at a big up for hooking me up with the fly new banner!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Funky Friday - Let's Stay Together

Same title, different songs...

Al Green - Let's Stay Together
This is a classic slice of soul from 1971 that is probably best known as the song Tina Turner covered to revitalise her career in the early '80s. It's gorgeous, warm and sweet.

Cee-Lo & Pharrell - Let's Stay Together
Cee-Lo's two solo albums have been in steady rotation the last couple of weeks - helping me get hyped for the Gnarls Barkely album which is comes out in two weeks. In case you've been living under a rock, this is Cee-Lo and DJ Dangermouse's collaboration that has already netted them a number one hit in the UK ad been blogged about by pretty much everyone. Anyway, when Cee-Lo sings it reminds me a whole hell of a lot of Al Green - sometimes it's uncannily similar. I love the big fella - his music is adventurous and funny and deserves wider success, so it makes me happy to see all of the buzz for Gnarls Barkley.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

'Covered' - QOTSA/Röyksöpp
It's a simple concept - the original song and a cover of it offered up for comparison. Here it's a thick and tightly riffed hard rockin' Josh Homme/Nick Olivieri song from 2002's Songs For The Deaf, with the ever great Dave Grohl on power drums, versus the power electronics of a Scandanavian dance pop duo. Röyksöpp rock it new wave style with big keys and it is great.

Queens Of The Stone Age - Go With The Flow

Röyksöpp Go With The Flow
...which is taken from the recently released (and surprisingly excellent) live EP Röyksopp's Night Out.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Zero | A Martin Hannett Story, 1977-1991

Martin Hannett was a musician and producer of the original post-punk era. He is a legend largely due to his stint as house producer for Factory Records where he helmed the desk for the seminal recordings of Joy Division, ACR, New Order and Section 25 among others. There are brilliant stories of his insane genius and studio ingenuity, often involving that insanity - see the movie 24 Hour Party People, read Simon Reynolds' Rip It Up..., and if you click on the links above you will find more stories. Zero | A Martin Hannett Story, 1977-1991 is a brilliant new compilation. It is a great set of music he produced that bear all of his sonic trademarks - spartan dub ambience. As you can see from the tracklisting below, it is a veritable who's-who of post-punk. It is brilliant. I know I've already said that, but it's true. It balances well known songs (Pretty In Pink) with lots of not-so-well known songs (Basement 5's fab The Last White Christmas). From the better known stuff you get one of my favorite OMD songs, Electricity, with it's memorable bass riff and keyboard melody. On the lesser known side enjoy an absolutely bitchin' alternate take of the Magazine classic The Light Pours Out Of Me (Second Version). Then get thee to your music mart and get your own copy!

1 Buzzcocks - Boredom
2 Slaughter And The Dogs - Cranked Up Really High
3 Jilted John - Jilted John
4 John Cooper Clarke - I Don't Want To Be Nice
5 Pauline Murray And The Invisible Girls - Dream Sequence 1
6 U2 - 11 O'Clock Tick Tock
7 Joy Division - Transmission
8 Durutti Column - Conduct
9 Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Electricity
10 Magazine - The Light Pours Out Of Me (Second Version)
11 New Order - In a Lonely Place
12 The Only Ones - Oh Lucinda (Love Becomes A Habit)
13 The Names - Night Shift
14 Basement 5 - The Last White Christmas
15 The Psychedelic Furs - Pretty In Pink
16 Section 25 - Friendly Fires
17 Wasted Youth - Rebecca's Room
18 Nico And The Invisible Girls - All Tomorrow's Parties
19 Kitchens Of Distinction - Quick As Rainbows
20 Happy Mondays - Wrote For Luck
21 World Of Twist - She's A Rainbow

Monday, April 24, 2006

Route de la Slack

One of my favorite electronic duos of the last decade has been Swayzak. My first exposure to them was 2000's Himawari, a superb set of electronica that had all the right moves - dub, reggae, downtempo, glitch, micro house and techno all get a piece of the action. There are songs, with vocals by Benjamin Zephaniah and Kirsty Hawkshaw. The music was icy cool and creative and hooky. They followed that up with Dirty Dancing in 2002 where they went full tilt at synthpop and electroclash, with guests like .Adult. In 2004 they returned to the mostly instrumental style of their earlier works with Loops From The Bergerie. Last month brought us Route de la Slack. It is 2CDs - disc one is a sampling of the remixes they've done for the likes of Señor Coconut, Slam, Quark and a few others. Disc two is rarites and previously unreleased music dating back to '94. The title is a dig at themselves and their work ethic - they haven't been the most prolific of musicians over the last 10 years. It's always interesting to hear an established musical act apply itself to someone else's music, so from disc one enjoy this fantastic glitchpop treatment of Tahiti 80's Changes (Swayzak Darkfarmer Remix). These guys remind me a a bit of fellow Frenchmen Phoenix - blue eyed soul with a slight accent and some gorgeous hooks. This remix is just bumpin'. From the disc of rarities comes a very nice bit of slightly foreboding downtempo from 1994, I Love Lassie. A deep breakbeat and some inspired vocal snippets make this one a killer.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Funky Friday A Capriccio

Back in 1995 when they released their seminal G-Stoned EP Kruder & Dorfmeister seemed destined for downtempo greatness. The duo crafted slick tracks that featured impeccable beats and grooves. They became the hottest remixers around - everybody got the K&D treatment, from Depeche Mode to Bomb The Bass to Madonna. They had side projects - Peace Orchestra, Dr. Richard, Voom Voom and Tosca to name a few, all pushing music of the same ilk - silky smooth grooves. Unfortunately it has meant that K&D have never put out a full length album of their own - they've put out maybe six or seven tracks total! Of all the side stuff I have enjoyed Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber's Tosca project the most. They have been the most prolific too, with several LPs and remix collections available. The latest is Souvenirs, a set of remixes of tracks from their j.a.c. LP from May of last year. It is a typically groovy set of tunes, all dubby bliss and sun kissed vibes, and features remixes by Burnt Friedman, Señor Coconut, Lindstrom & Prins Thomas, Stereotyp and Madrid de los Austrias. DJ DSL pimps out Rondo Acapricio (DSL Mix) with a low rider beat, some tasty bass and guitar riffing, snippets of radio DJ speak and organ stabs. Very smooth. Forte (Urbs Mix) is your spy theme for the day. It features wah wah, a tight breakbeat, and a long and space-y buildup to about the 3 minute mark when everything explodes into a string filled car chase around the streets of Rome - at least that is what I see in my head when I hear it! Good stuff from a largely played out genre.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

If I Gave You Sugar...

Ladytron are a longtime favorite of SIART. They are cool to look at - two girls and two guys, chic in all black. The music is the perfect synthesis of two worlds; classic synthpop like Depeche Mode and the poppier side of shoegaze like Lush. They craft truly memorable melodies, swathed in towering electronics and buzzing with guitars. It is distinctly European music, beholden to Kraftwerk and krautrock. I have been caning their latest LP Witching Hour for five months now - it came out in October of last year. That is a pretty long life in rotation in my world of music. Last week saw the release of Extended Play, a CD+DVD. It is a collection of remixes and b-sides from the last record, plus two videos (for Destroy Everthing You Touch & Sugar, both very moody and arty and very cool in totally different ways) and some documentary footage of the band touring in China. On the music side of things, James Iha's remix of Weekend and the Shipps & Tait remix of Last One Standing are particularly good. I like Sugar (Jagz Kooner Remix), which is typically Kooner - the original stripped down to motorik beats, droning, buzzing synths and the girls. I also really like the vibe of Tender Talons, an instrumental full of moody menace, driven by a beautiful flute melody and harpsichord awash in reverb - it's a Euro spy flick about to go wrong.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Leftfield Beats

Aceyalone is a very busy man. This week (and hot on the heels of February's smoking RJD2 collaboration Magnificent City) comes an album of rarities and other stuff called Grand Imperial. Among the cuts are 3 RJD2 tracks that didn't make the album, a DJ Z-Trip collabo, a UK remix of Doin' My Job, and a live take of Annalillia that mashes up the raps with the beats and music from Michael Jackson's Billie Jean. I'm digging the title track, Grand Imperial. Produced by Kenny Segal (AKA Syndakit), it has some nice chunky beats, deliciously jazzy guitar loops and killer horns as well as a sharp rap from Acey.

Jel is the "head architect" for the indie hiphop label Anticon. His unique music and beats make him a much sought out producer. His latest solo LP Soft Money came out in February. It is absolutely fantastic. I am still playing it a couple of times a week, hooked on it's combination of crunk ass beats mixed with organic instrumentation (courtesy of Minneapolis' own Dosh & Andrew Broder AKA Fog) and electronic flavor on the Boards of Canada tip. It's also politically right up my alley, with titles like WMD, rants against G.W. and on To Buy A Car, an anticommercialism rap interlaced with snippets of commercials - the antidote to the Hummer commercial with the phat beats, yo. A great album (and some very nice cover art too...).

Monday, April 17, 2006

It's Coming Up

My daughters, aged 2 and 6, are BIG fans of Gorillaz. Demon Days was the big hit all last summer, and their interest has been renewed due to the release of the Demon Days Live DVD. I'm not normally a big fan of the live-in-concert on DVD, but this show is stellar. Recorded in Manchester last year, it features live appearances from most of the special guests - De La Soul, Neneh Cherry, Roots Manuva et al... The band are tight and only ever seen in silouhette against a brightly colored backdrop. There are Jamie Hewlett's visuals on the big screen - you can watch the DVD with the band and the visuals, or just watch it with the visuals alone. Damon sounds great, and seems to be enjoying the show too. The kids have been watching bits of it almost every day, with their favorites being Feel Good Inc, Dirty Harry with it's chorus of about 30 kids, and Dare with it's memorable guest vocal courtesy of Happy Mondays lead singer Shaun Ryder. My 6 year old, upon seeing Shaun Ryder for the first time, turned to me and said - "Dad, that guy looks really weird." Hahahaha. I lost it. The honesty of children, eh? Anyway, it's a big thumbs up from me and the kids on the live DVD.

Last week Astralwerks released DFA Remixes Chapter One. It's a selection of some of the remixes they've done for acts that aren't part of the DFA Records stable. There are remixes of Hot Chip, Fischerspooner, Le Tigre, Soulwax, Metro Area, Blues Explosion, Radio 4, and the Chemical Brothers. There is also this cool, stripped down version of Gorillaz' Dare (DFA Remix) - loose disco beats, killer cow bell, lots of fuzzy buzzin' and a "just the vocals left from the original" approach. It's great and gets seriously droned out. The kids dig this too - "play the remix, Dad!".

Friday, April 14, 2006

Funky Friday - Evening Edition

It's been a busy week at work and Spring has sprung - it's been in the '70s and sunny every day. As a result I've been spending my free time in the yard cleaning up all the winter debris, soaking up the sun and watching the kids play and having a beer or two instead of posting here. Now that the sun is setting I'm taking a quick moment to get in a couple of special requests...

This one goes out to ModFab who enjoyed the M+M post from March 27th. He said 'I'd dearly love to hear "Black Stations/White Stations", but is that too mainstream for a site like SIART?'. No. Enjoy the album version of their minor hit from 1984, Black Stations/White Stations.

I-Level Redux
This is a special request - a repost from April 1, 2005...

I Level were a trio comprised of Jo Dworniak, Duncan Bridgeman and Sam Jones. Their first single was Give Me, and it was a hit in both the UK and the US (top 5 of the R'n'B charts at the time). They released a couple more singles and an album but none of it found the success that the first single had. After a second album in 1985 failed to sell they disbanded. Their music had it's own thing going - a blend of US funk, Brit white boy electronics and the West African vibe that singer Sam's voice brought. Give Me (US Remix) is a John Luongo remix of their first single that can be found on the b-side of their second single Minefield. I've always loved the bass line and the blippy keyboard riff on this, and Sam's reggae tinged vocals are fantastic. A very groovin' tune that still sounds pretty unique today.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited

Last month marked the fifteenth anniversary of the death of the legendary Serge Gainsbourg. I am a big fan, amazed by his ability to change his music - jazz, African rhythms, rock, reggae and pop all get their dues - and by his ability to take on all manner of dodgy subject matter - sex, sex with minors and all kinds of debauchery in between. A French icon, he could do no wrong. It is fascinating stuff, and some of it is beautiful too, with lush arrangements and instrumentation. Last month also brought a tribute album, Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited. It is a very hip roster of bands taking on some of Serge's classics and rendering them in English. Franz Ferdinand duet with Jane Birkin. Jarvis Cocker croons over a Kid Loco backing track. Portishead rip it up on Requiem For Anna - yes, new Portishead! There's Tricky, Cat Power & Karen Elson, Marc Almond & Trash Palace, The Rakes, The Kills, Placebo, Michael Stipe, Carla Bruni and Faultline & Françoise Hardy. Then there are these two. Marianne Faithfull & Sly & Robbie collaborate on Lola R. Forever, a track from Serge's reggae period. The rhythm is tough as nails - just as you'd expect - and so is the broad talking. Marianne delivers a nice and gritty vocal on this sordid love story. Canada is in the house with Gonzales, Feist & Dani delivering a hip and grooving Boomerang 2005 - nice beat, lovely organ and a tight rap all feature on this. Gainsbourg originally penned Comme Un Boomerang for Dani as France's entry in the 1975 Eurovision song contest, but it was deemed too risqué and not selected. It's also interesting to hear the translations of some of the lyrics - I'm so used to hearing them in the native tongue. This is, IMO, one of the best conceived and constructed tribute albums I have ever heard - highly recommended.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts

Today is the day. The seminal Brian Eno & David Byrne album My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts (originally released in 1981) has been remastered and fitted with seven new tracks. I have had it for six hours and heard it twice already. It sounds as phenomenal as ever, only more so. It is a firm favorite in my collection. I was (and still am) smitten by it's mish mash of rhythms, spoken word snippets, ethnic music and art funk. It is a pioneer in terms of it's technical achievements - much of sampling and cut & paste has it's roots here. I wish to avoid excessive hyperbole - suffice it to say I think everyone should try this record on for size. Regiment is one of the best tunes on the album - Chris Frantz' steady beats, Busta Jones' funky ass bass riffage and glorious Middle Eastern elements collide. Fantastic. New Feet is one of the previously unreleased tracks - clattery, metallic rhythms and more Arabic vocals bathed in watery reverb. The CD is enhanced and includes a film/video for Mea Culpa by Bruce Conner. A must have.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Funky Friday On The Jungle Floor

Van Hunt's self titled debut came out early in 2004. I remember seeing a few of his videos on VH1Soul and thinking that the tunes sounded pretty interesting. By the end of the year I had bought the album and Van had become one of my favorite neo-soulsters. He is an old schooler when it comes to influences - '70s funk, funk rock, Sly & the Family Stone, Prince, Curtis Mayfield - you see what I'm getting at. All of these influences get deftly incorporated into Van's mix, occasionally with breathtaking effect - "Down Here In Hell (With You)" and "Dust" from the debut are classics. He is also a musical virtuoso, playing all or most of the instruments on his records. Dude has chops.

The long awaited follow-up finally got released this week. On The Jungle Floor pretty much picks up from where he left off. It's an equally dizzying brew of styles and flavors. There are a couple of rockers - the debut album had rock-ish tunes, but Ride, Ride, Ride flat out rocks. It's immediately followed by Being A Girl,an electro funker that has the simplicity of a Pharrell tune. There's a nice blues-y duet with Nikka Costa, a Stooges cover (No Sense Of Crime) and several psych-funk jams that are really tasty. Hot Stage Lights was a hit with me right away with it's burbling syncopation, gritty guitar riffage and femme fatale story line. On the slow jam/ballad tip you have Hole In My Heart, where his sweet, soulful croon and smooth, funky backing track seduces your ears. Delicious.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Three Way Boogie

Stereolab - Interlock.
I am happy to report that Sterolab continue to hold my attention after all these years. Fab Four Suture is a collection of 7"s and the b-sides from the last year. It shows the band continuing it's unique style, but IMO in a tougher fashion - more edge, a harded sound. This tune has all of their lovely trademarks - melody, vocal harmonies, horns, buzzing keys, and a boogie-riffic disco breakdown in the middle.

The Flaming Lips - The Wizard Turns On...
Here's a bit of instrumental psychedelic space boogie in slow motion from the Lips' latest, At War With The Mystics. Despite mediocre reviews I like it's assortment of new sounds and directions (I feel the spirit of Queen on several of the songs) and the fact that it doesn't sound like Yoshimi... part 2.

ZZ Top - Waitin' For The Bus
I was at the record store a few weeks ago and came across a remastered/expanded edition of ZZ's 1973 album Tres Hombres for cheap. I have always dug the tunes Jesus Just Left Chicago and La Grange, and this song kicks off the LP in spectacularly boogie-fied fashion. Just plain smokin' from start to finish.


News Item
The Rip It Up and Start Again compilation is released May 15th on V2.
Here's the tracklist:

* THE FALL — Fiery Jack
* DEVO — Praying Hands
* PULSALLAMA — The Devil Lives In My Husband's Body
* CABARET VOLTAIRE — Sluggin' For Jesus Part 1
* JOSEF K — Sense of Guilt
* THE SLITS — Spend Spend Spend
* FATAL MICROBES — Violence Grows
* THE RAINCOATS — Only Loved At Night
* THE HUMAN LEAGUE — Dancevision
* THOMAS LEER — Tight As A Drum
* THE ASSOCIATES — White Car In Germany
* THE B-52s — Give Me Back My Man
* JOHN COOPER CLARKE — Beasley Street
* THE SPECIALS — Friday Night, Saturday Morning
* HEAVEN 17 — I'm Your Money
* THE BLUE ORCHIDS — Dumb Magician

Happy to see a few things I don't have here - all in all a damn cool sounding set of tunes!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Another Window Of The World

Yesterday I posted the lovely Pretenders cover version of Windows Of The World. A lesser known Burt Bacharach and Hal David tune, it is probably best known for Dionne Warwick's rendition. It's been covered by a few different people - Stan Getz, Ronald Isley and Scott Walker have all done it. The version I prefer is the one I heard first, when I was but 3 years old. Taken from the 1968 LP Herb Alpert Presents Pete Jolly, it is a gorgeous instrumental that shows off Pete Jolly's understated, minimal (as opposed to flashy) approach to piano. It's got some nice strings, a mellow jazzy beat and the lush melodics gets me every time. It's a tasty little slice of '60s jazz pop and a pretty different take from the version I posted yesterday!
Pete Jolly - Windows Of The World

Random Bonus Track

Got a few Lady Sovereign tracks in my email inbox yesterday. I am not altogether sure how I feel about Lady Sov yet. I like M.I.A. - an obvious point of reference - but I still haven't really succombed to the whole UK grime thing. Anyway, I did get a kick out the music on this Rucker and Sindens remix of Random. It's a glitched out remix with cool bleep-y noises and a nice bit of drum programming. You can get her Vertically Challenged EP on Chocolate Industries. "cha-ching, cha-ching".

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Handful Of Covers

Last week was my birthday - 42 ripe, old years. My lovely wife and daughters gave me the latest Blondie collection, Greatest Hits:Sound And Vision which has a DVD with the band's videos on it - a lot of fun to watch! They also hooked me up with Pirate Radio - Pretenders 1979-2005, pictured above. It is 4 CDs worth of absolutely classic tunes - hits, misses, b-sides, oddities and live stuff along with a DVD of killer live performances and some great Top Of The Pops appearances. I am a huge fan of Chrissie Hynde and the various incarnations of the Pretenders that she's had over the years. I have been waiting patiently for years for Warner Brothers to remaster/expand/reissue the old records. The old LPs are a bit scratchy, and the older CDs are "quiet" ones. That hasn't happened yet, so this is the next best thing. I watched the DVD first, and loved it. I'm pretty sure that I saw a few of those TOTP performances when they were originally on, and it gave me a real rush of nostalgia to see them again. The music is wonderful of course, full of great hooks, memorable lines ("but not me baby, I'm too precious, f@#k off!") and the (to me) tremendous sexiness of Chrissie's voice and her rock 'n' roll stage persona. She is one of my all time fave rock babes - her smoulder makes me quiver, as does that quiver in her voice. The Pretenders were always a good cover band too, notable for doing songs by her ex-husband Ray Davies as well as Jimi Hendrix. Then we have these...

Every Day Is Like Sunday - a Morrissey original given the "twangy" treatment - lots of slide guitar and some strings.

Creep (Live) - the Radiohead classic. Chrissie kills me with it - it's cool to hear those words coming from her.

The Needle And The Damage Done - Neil Young given the Pretenders touch - tough and gritty and hard rocking.

Windows Of The World (Original Mix) - a dreamy version of the old Bacharach/David chestnut. I have always been floored by this song's lush melodicism, and to hear this take for the first time was one of those goose pimple moments for me.

All in all it's a thumbs up from me for the box. There are some memorable photos in the booklet, and a cool poster by S. Clay Wilson. The DVD is the clincher - if you're a fan you will want to see some of the old performances, especially the ones with the original lineup!