Friday, July 28, 2006

Funky Friday Four Pack

Today features four funky diverse selections culled from some recent purchases...

Pharrell - Number One (Featuring Kanye West)
The kings of hip hop team up for a slick and sophisticated groove with a dreamy, catchy chorus - the kind of tune Michael Jackson used to pull off with ease back in the day.

The Knife - Silent Shout
People seem so divided in their opinions about the latest LP from the Swedish techno duo that I knew I needed to hear it for myself. I am happy to say that I like it alot, even the wacky vocals that seem to put most folks off. It is occasionally experimental yet always very melodic in a cold, hard, European way. This title track is slamming - I am entranced by it's arpeggios.

Scritti Politti - E Eleventh Nuts
Two songs in one week! I am so enthralled with this new Scritti album that I must share some more of it. This is a sweetly syncopated shuffle that has blissfully multitracked vocals. Have I told you how much I like this album?

Yoko Ono - Walking On Thin Ice
My kids have been spending this summer getting to know The Beatles because, as it turns out, they love everything that they hear by the band. It has been almost impossible to pry the CD One from the player in the house or the car. In my attempt to broaden their horizons further I picked up a couple of reissues of some of the Beatles solo stuff, including Lennon & Ono's Double Fantasy. This Yoko tune is one of the bonus tracks on the reissue, and is of course a legendary slice of avant garde disco with some glorious wacked out vocalizing, a funky ass bass line, and killer percussion.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Jurassic 5 versus Art Of Noise

Jurassic 5's new album Feedback was released this week. With Cut Chemist having moved on most of the production is handled by their old backup (and now full time) DJ Nu Mark. There are veterans like Salaam Remi and current faves like Scott Storch on board too. I'm feeling a bit unsure about it all - I've played it a few times and it hasn't grabbed me yet. One tune has though. Back 4 You kicks off the album, and all I needed to know is here - "Back 4 You contains a sample of (and elements of) the recording Beat Box as performed by Art Of Noise." It is a song largely built around the piano motif with finger snaps from the fade out of the Art of Noise classic. It is a thrill to hear such a glorious little piece of music used in such a fashion.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

For Meth Amphetamine, For Volunteers

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

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday Stew

Today is clearing out the inbox day - you get to try some of the goodies that got sent to me via e-mail over the last few weeks...

Chris Chinchilla used to be the guitarist slash songwriter for fab Brit rock hipsters Art Brut. He has since left the band and (ahem) formed a band of his own called Macaca Mulatta with some blokes from from former punk band Rhesus. The band have been doing shows, including opening for The Rakes, and they have a bunch of demo recordings up to check out - not too far removed from his old band, just a bit more lo-fi. I look forward to hearing more of what these guys can come up with.

Dancing On A Weeknight
Welcome To The Real World

Steven Bloodbath is part of Philly party crew the Town Jewelrz. He is a mixtape master whose latest joint, Bloodbath And Beyond is a fabulous mix that ranges from Royksopp to hip hop with stops along the way at new wave and some seriously cheesed out '80s stuff. Guaranteed to entertain - check out some of his other mixes at the Town Jewelrz myspace page - click the link above.

From the forthcoming LP Impeccable Blahs by Say Hi To Your Mom, enjoy the first single Blah Blah Blah

Friday, July 21, 2006

Funky Friday Fourpack

It's an odd asssortment today - Jeff Beck brings the 1976 fusion/porno soundtrack, MSTRKRFT bring the '80s flavor, and a couple of Collins' take you back to the old school in a James Brown stylee...

Jeff Beck - Come Dancing

MSTRKRFT - She's Good For Business
The Looks

Lynn Collins - You Can't Love Me If You Don't Respect Me
Bootsy Collins - What So Never The Dance
From the Mojo Magazine compilation
James Browns' Funky Summer

Thursday, July 20, 2006

London Barrave

Amen Andrews is an alias of noted electronic studio wiz Luke Vibert (AKA Wagon Christ/Kerrier District/Butler Kiev). So is Spac Hand Luke. There is a CD out on Rephlex records called Amen Andrews Vs. Spac Hand Luke. So what we have here is Luke versus Luke. Doing jungle. And it is fat. I have been over jungle for several years, so it is kind of refreshing to hear some tight riddims. Luke is an old hand at this stuff, having recorded a bunch of jungle as Plug back in the '90s. Does this stuff break any new ground? No, not really, but it does make me wax nostalgic for when this stuff was booming from the underground. All that having been said, the two tunes I share today are like the only two tunes on it that aren't junglist. Album opener London is some killer skittery, stop-start hip hop with booming bass, ghostly sound affects, cool guitar riffs and loads of weird vocal samples. Barrave is (as it title implies) a bit of classic rave electro, with the key stabs and all. I love it!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Greedy Baby

British IDM duo Plaid have been one of my faves of the genre for years now. Born out of the influential Black Dog, they released their debut Mbuki Mvuki in 1991. They craft quirky, mathematical, melodic music that often takes time to sink in. Some of it can be pretty experimental, but they have a certain knack with a melody that almost always helps keep them listenable. I first encountered them as remixers on Funki Porcini's 1995 LP Hed Phone Sex, then as producers on Nicolette's Let No-One Live Rent Free In Your Head. They finally followed up their debut in 1997 with Not For Threes. The next two albums are my favorites - Rust Proof Clockwork and Double Figure. Last month brought a new record called Greedy Baby. It is a CD and DVD combo, with the DVD containing a 5.1 mix of the album as well as videos for all the songs by film maker Bob Jaroc as well as an additional 4 vids for some oldie but goodies (Crumax Rins and Assault On Precinct Zero). A sweet package that sounds as good as it looks. Today's tunes give you a bit of classic burbly goodness in The Launching Of Big Face, and a brief, lovely bit of peacefulness in The Return Of Super Barrio - End Credits

Monday, July 17, 2006

Crying Shame

Muse dropped their new album Black Holes And Revelations last week. They are a band that I like a lot, although for some reason I feel like I shouldn't - too many disparate influences like Queen, Radiohead and pompous prog mash up with classic European pop melodies, synth pop and gushing, swelling sentiment. Somehow these boys can transcend it all and grab me by the ears. I have even gone so far as to see them live, and they knocked my socks off there too. Suffice it to say the new album is in heavy rotation this week, and it is classic Muse with a few new twists. I am liking it. Free with my purchase of the album came the nifty picture disc you see above. It contains a b-side song that isn't on the new album, Crying Shame. RAWK!!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Funky Friday's Audience Is Listening

Turtablist extraordinaire Cut Chemist dropped his debut solo LP The Audience's Listening this week. Best known as DJ (and beat maker) for Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli, as well as the Brainfreeze and Product Placement collaborations with DJ Shadow, it is a record that has been years in the making. I am loving it. It's a crate digger's blend of old school hip hop, party jams and electro mixed up with post-rock, Brazilian flavors and a bit of jazz. It is a predominantly instrumental record, and it really surprised me with it's approach - I expected much more of a hip hop record, and this touches on a lot more musical ground. It flows nicely. Storm featuring Edan & Mr. Lif is a fierce electro hip hop track with sci-fi sound effects and hep flows from two of indie hip hop's leading voices. Spoon is a killer mid tempo instrumental that is all about an old school soul beat and a beefy bass riff. OK, there's some cool post-rock guitar too. I love the last minute of this where it gets all slamming with the scratches and vocal snippets.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Unreleased Futureheads

I recently picked up the latest album from The Futureheads. Called News And Tributes, it's the follow up to their excellent self titled debut from 2004. That album was one of my faves of that year, with tight clipped guitars and lots of frenetic new wave energy and loads of great tunes. The latest effort has yet to grab me by the ears. I have been playing it once or twice a week, and while I enjoy some of what I hear, the rest just seems lackluster. It would appear to be the sophomore slump, as the band tries to broaden it's sonic palette and try a few new things. I will keep playing it in the hopes that that will change. Anyway, I got a freebie 7" with my CD purchase. It has album track Worry About It Later on side A, and the previously unreleased song History Itself is the B side. It is all that I like about them - the taut rhythm, the sharp guitars, and the classic sing song Futureheads melody. It's great.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Music For Barbecues Redux

Last week I got an e-mail from Tom. He inquired about the availability of a Bent song I posted in August of 2005. Since it is one of my personal favorites of theirs, I am happy to oblige...

tasty delicious music for barbecues
Today's tune is from the 12" EP Music For Barbecues. Released in November of 2000, it features four songs not available on the Programmed To Love album, and they are all good. K.I.S.S.E.S. kicks off side A in stellar style. It starts with some wind chimes, adds a deep guitar riff, then some bumping, shuffling beats, and suddenly you are being crooned to by a mysterious German fraulein. She sings in a pure voice, and though I don't speak the tongue to me it sounds like she's singing about kisses tasting like wine. This tracks is pure bliss, with a glorious break about a third of the way through - it's the strings, so melodramatic, yet so heart tuggingly lovely. In my opinion this tune is one of the best things they've ever done.


I got an email from Tom thanking me for the repost of this tune and in it he provided a nifty translation of what the lovely fraulein is saying...

"By the way: The "mysterious German fraulein" is singing about kisses sweeter than wine..."

(Ich) träumte so gerne von den Freuden der Welt
Ich hatte manches Schöne mir vorgestellt
Und dann kam ein Tag und den vergesse ich nie
Viel schöner als meine Phantasie
Ooh, ooh, Küsse süßer als Wein

(I dreamed so happily about the joys of the world
I had met a beautiful one
And then came one day that I'll never forget
Much more beautiful than my fantasy
Ooh, ooh, kisses sweeter than wine)

Thanks Tom in Vienna!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Funky Friday Shapes

I recently picked up the lastest compilation from jazzy downtempo label Tru Thoughts called Shapes Compilation. It is a collection of tracks highlighting it's own acts like Quantic, Alice Russell, Nostalgia 77 and Diesler, and then some of the acts on it's hip hop imprint Zebra Traffic. It was an impulse buy that has turned out pretty well as I am digging it's blend of jazzy downtempo, hip hop, disco and funk.

Nirobi & Barakas - Bungee Jump Against Racism (Diesler Remix)
Nirobi & Barakas is a collabo between Tru Thoughts co-owner/A&R guy Robert Luis and Simon Green, AKA Bonobo (who released his early records on Tru Thoughts before moving to NinjaTune). A killer track of Bollywood inspired funk, it features some ace horns, nice uptempo shuffle-y beats, sweet vocal snippets from some Hindi songstress, and did I mention the kiler horns?

TM Juke - Playground Games (Maddslinky Vs Askew Mix)
This is some sweet midtempo disco. It builds up gently over warm keys and burbling percussion, adds scatting vocalese, wah wah guitar and then full on disco drums. Blissful.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Shoegazing In '06

Asobi Seksu means playful sex in Japanese. It is also the name of a hipster band from NYC. They are fronted by Japanese singer Yuki, who sings in both English and Japanese as well as playing keyboards. The music they whip up is pure shoegazer rock. Yes, you can draw comparisons to the classic bands of the genre - the raging squall of My Bloody Valentine, the poppier side of Lush - but these guys have developed a nice style of their own. Their second album Citrus dropped back in May, and I really like it. It balances pretty melodies with raging guitars and feedback, and Yuki has a lovely voice that soars over everything. The packaging is very psychedelic - a bright orange clear jewel case, swirling fonts and lots of loud color make it a real looker. It's good stuff inside and out...
Strings (Glass Factory Remix)