Monday, October 30, 2006

Halloween Party Mix

This is 22 minutes of spooky fun for you, courtesy of DJ Paul V.

DJ Paul V's SmashOWeen Mix

* Fabio Frizzi - Zombi 2
* Dublxero - Halloween Hassle
* DJ Schmolli - Satan, Omen, Death
* Nine Inch Nails - Dead Souls (Excorcist mix)
* Cheekyboy - Halloween With Morrissey
* Ian Brown - Thriller
* DJBC - The Witchdoctor vs. The Exorcist
* Voicedude - The Crazy Voices Inside My Head
* Apollo Zero - Don’t Scream, Halloween’s Paid In Full
* 6AM - B-Movies
* King Of Pants - Frankenbooted
* The Boy Least Likely To - Monsters (Armand Van Helden dub)
* Ted Cassidy - Do The Lurch
* Metronomy - Trick Or Treatz (South Central remix)
* Dunproofin’ - Black Metal Monster
* DJ Clivester - The Megablast Of Dragula
* Divide + Kreate - Highway Reaper
* Jarvis Cocker - Black Magic
* Amerie - Take Control (instrumental)
* Movie Trailer - "Vampire Playgirls"
* DJ John - Devil Mix
* Audio Hacker - Spooky (Arcade Horror mix)
* Mr. Fab & His Bag Of Heads - Night Of The Alive Dead
* The Sonics - The Witch
* Agent Orange - Bloodstains

Friday, October 27, 2006

Funky Friday Says "Just Do It!"

Sports apparel giant Nike has been commissioning music for it's own imprint, Nike Sports Music. James Murphy, aka LCD Soundsystem, is the second contributor to the label's Nike+ Original Run series - the Crystal Method were the first. LCD Soundsystem's installment is called 45:33 - Nike+ Original Run, and it is a continuous mix of music specially recorded for this project. The title is the actual length of the recording, and it's a pretty cool listen, James Murphy says "In testing I found that hard, fast, propulsive music was not the best running music for me. Sometimes the best way to keep running is to find the parts of the run that are actually the rests - that while you're still running you're viewing some of the run as soothing and recuperative." He mentions loving the time honored concept of one song taking up a whole side of an LP, and how it would be fun to abandon "making easily digestible lumps of music for albums or radio or whatever." The result is typically LCD, a funky mix of electronic and rock elements, with a nice ebb and flow to it. There are some lovely, spacy keyboard bits, some choice horns, and vocals courtesy of Terra Deva as well as James Murphy. I'm not a runner, but this mix sounds like it would work pretty well as the soundtrack to some sort of athletic activity. Or you could just to dance to it. I really dig it's scruffy vibes and shuffling beats. The catch here is that it is a limited run mp3 release, and that you can only get it from the iTunes store for the next six months. It's pure speculation on my part, but it might get some kind of a physical release once that six month period lapses. Here are a couple of excerpts - the titles are rough takes on where they show up in the mix. Now get ready to get your groove on...
16:54 - 28:53
28:33 - 37:45

Buy the full track at the iTunes store

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Leaving The Nest

For the last couple of weeks I've been listening to an advance copy of Leaving The Nest, a new album from Benjy Ferree. Hipster UK indie label Domino Recording Co.'s US branch are set to release the record on November 7th. A bit of bio...

Raised in an vigorously religious but musical family, Benjy was inspired at an impressionable age by Will Oldham: not to rock, but to act, thanks to young Will's performance in John Sayles' Matewan, a movie based on flesh and blood (The Hatfields of that famous familial squabble, if you must know). After high school, he moved straight to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, supporting himself in a variety of service industry jobs (including a stint as an au pair during which he crossed paths with David Lynch, but, more like, David Lynch's kids). Frustrated with his experiences there, Benjy returned to The Potomac Basin. While bartending at The Black Cat in DC, he was befriended by Brendan Canty (Fugazi), amongst many others, who encouraged him to focus instead on the songs he'd been writing for his own personal enjoyment. What you have here are the fruits of that encouragement and those life experiences, with a surefooted timelessness in an era of trends being cycled and recycled through at an exhausting speed.

My take on the record is simple - it's pretty good. It is scruffy, down home indie rock that is infused with flavor. Vocally he reminds me of a cross between Jack White, Jeff Tweedy and Marc Bolan. All of their flavors are also present in the music - swampy leftfield blues a la the White Stripes, the experimental, plaintive roots rock of Wilco and the glammy stomp of T.Rex are all here. It is a nice mix of styles and sounds and hooky melodies that have grown on me quite a bit. The Desert has as a lovely fiddled melody and some nice twangy guitar. The title track Leaving the Nest (It's A Long Way Down) kicks off with a bit of George Harrison slide guitar before settling into a swampy groove with a great catchy chorus. Great stuff.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Music Tuesday - John Legend

I was a big fan of John Legend's 2004 debut Get Lifted. The neo-soulster was a friend of Kanye West, who executive produced the album as well as quite a few of the tracks. It was filled with old school vibes, lovely piano and arrangements that harked back to the '70s soul of Stevie and Smokey and Marvin and Donny. I loved the warm and languid feeling of it all, and was an even bigger fan of his controlled vocals - no histrionics or fitting thirty notes into a riff here. The follow up hits stores today. Called Once Again, I've had a chance to give it one listen today, and my first impressions are good. It picks up where Get Lifted left off, but this time around it seems a bit bigger. Kanye, Will I Am, Raphael Sadiq, Craig Street and the splendidly monikered Devo Springsteen handle the production, with John taking on all the lyrical duties. There is a bit of rock riffing, lots of balladry and a few mid tempo shufflers, two of which are today's offerings. Stereo is rooted in the hip hop rhythms of today, while P.D.A. (We Just Don't Care) is a bit slicker and discofied.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Funky Friday Four Pack

The Human League - Love Action (12" Remix)
Since it's been all-'80s-all-week I have to end the week with at least one oldie. This is absolutely one of my ten most favorite songs ever.

Goldfrapp - Fly Me Away (C2 Remix 4)
Carl Craig takes Moroder's riff for Donna Summer's I Feel Love and applies it to the lovely Miss Goldfrapp for a gently simmering mix.

Tommy Guerrero - Badder Than Bullets
This former skate god turned guitar hero has a new LP out on Quannum. Called From The Soil To The Soul, it is his usual blend of low fi hip hop and guitar licks, although this time around it rocks harder. It also features Lyrics Born singing. Good stuff.

Dosh - Um, Circles And Squares
Martin Dosh is a Minneapolis drummer. He has played for Fog and Lateduster. He has also released several albums and EPs of post rock experimentation. This track is from his brand new Anticon LP The Lost Take. It features some lovely violin and saxophone. Not exactly funky like James Brown, but it still has me grooving.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bamboo Houses

Day four of digitized vinyl "ripped from the '80s" delivers an electronic twelve inch gem...

David Sylvian is a long time favorite of mine. I was (and still am) a fan of his band Japan, both their early rockist years and the later years when it was all about artful experimentation, tasteful electronics and Eastern fascination. While the band was finding success in the early '80s one of their boosters (and often a contributor to Japan albums) was Ryuichi Sakamoto. A whiz at the keys, he was already known for his work with Yellow Magic Orchestra, and was also building a career as a solo artist. In between their busy recording schedules they found time to collaborate, and a few of their songs got released as singles. The best known is the ambient ballad Forbidden Colours from 1983, which was part of the soundtrack for the film Merry Christmas Mr.Lawrence. The other joint collaboration to get a release was the double A sided single for Bamboo Houses and Bamboo Music from 1982. Bamboo Music is an uptempo vocal track with much Eastern flavor and skittery beats, while Bamboo Houses is largely instrumental, built on a precise, offbeat rhythm track and full of pretty gong-like keyboard sounds and washes of ambient synth. David does sing a bit towards the end, but it's only one verse. I have always really loved the vibe of this tune, from the beats to the melody. A kickin' double A side.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Two Hearts Beat As One

Day 3 of digitized vinyl "ripped from the '80s" and it's a classic little remix...

U2 are one of those bands that tends to polarize people - you either love 'em or you don't. Me, I love 'em. It goes back to their very first album, 1980's Boy. I was mesmerized by the riffs of it's first single I Will Follow, and a long standing love/hate relationship was born. I say love/hate because there came a time when I decided I didn't like them anymore - right after The Joshua Tree stormed the world with it's anthemic hits. At that point the pomposity seemed to overtake the music. I eventually came back into the fold years later with Achtung Baby, but I digress. In 1983 they were about to really break through - the LP War was on it's way, and it's opening single was New Year's Day. A monster piano riff, those "Edge-y" guitars and the vid with the band in the snow all seared itself into the public consciousness. The follow-up was the very post-punk Two Hearts Beat As One. It was available as a limited edition 2x7", with the second single containing two remixes by the legendary François K. One was a version of New Years Day and the other was Two Hearts Beat As One (François Kevorkian Remix). While they aren't exactly your typical dance floor fodder, these tunes worked pretty well in their stretched out formats. This track in particular has a very funky bass riff, and I like the punched up rhythms and the tautness of the arrangement. It's funny, but this production sounds very "now", what with The DFA and some of the other second generation of post punkers adopting a very similar modus operandi.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Muck It Out

Day two of digitized vinyl "ripped from the '80s" brings this little oddity from 1983...

Straight outta Norwich in 1980, The Farmer's Boys released a couple of well reviewed singles before getting noticed by and signed by EMI. They reissued earlier single More Than A Dream, then they hooked the band up with a big time producer, Peter Collins. The result was their stab at the big time, Muck It Out. It's a perky little indie pop tune with some gloriously dramatic falsetto vocals about love gone wrong. I love the funky bass, and there are also some nice '80s keyboard sounds and drum machines. It sounded like a hit to my ears at the time, but radio support wasn't there and the single failed to crack the top 40.

From the Farmer's Boys fansite - This was the first time we’d used a real producer and it was a bit strange at first, and a bit strange when Collins tried to rewrite the song! Eventually we settled halfway between what he wanted and what we wanted, and so began the gradual demise in our working relationship – he eventually stopped working with us to produce Nik Kershaw – say no more! The single was released in March on 7”, 12” and silly shaped picture disc, reached number 48 in the charts and sold about 30,000 copies.

The band carried on for a few years with similarily middling results until finally calling it quits in 1985.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Ideal Copy

I had a couple of hours to myself yesterday so I took the time to digitize some crusty vinyl - this week's tunes are all "ripped from the '80s."

Wire essentially disappeared after releasing 154 in 1979. Seven years later they returned with an EP called Snakedrill. The music on offer was a sharp departure from the old band's economy, with no sixty second songs of thick guitar riffing to be found here. The "new" Wire were enamored of all things electronic. Where it had been used as embellishment on early records, drum machines and synths were pushed to the forefront. Of course there were still guitars, they just didn't rock quite like they used to. They followed this up in 1987 with a long awaited new album, The Ideal Copy. Musically it continued the themes of the Snakedrill single, with the emphasis on electronics instead of the rock. Today's offerings are two of the most accessible tunes on it, with Ahead being a perfectly good New Order clone, and Ambitious being a teeth-clenchingly taut, jerky pop song. I absolutely love the vocals on this track - so edgy sounding. I should probably get myself a copy of this on CD...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Funky Friday Four Pack

It's all about hip hop and r'n'b flavor today...

Lupe Fiasco - I Gotcha
Lupe Fiasco - What I Do
I only just got around to listening to Food And Liquor, the debut LP from this Chi-town rapper, and it has floored me. The music is sweet and the rhymes are fresh. It's a whole new perspective on the rap game, from the skater rap of Kick, Push to the dizzying wordplay of What I Do. Fantastic record!

Kelis - Trilogy
A few weeks ago I posted about the latest Kelis record and I referred to it as a bit "up and down" for me. Well, I've come around and am a full blown fan of the album. From it's sassy lewdness to the genuine love songs to the few slightly rock-ist tunes in between, it's all good. This record deserves to be heard, and everyone I've played it for has fallen in love with it.

Q-Tip - Breathe & Stop
Everybody loves Q-Tip. The Abstract brings unique flavor and tone to any record, and I've been listening to his 1999 solo LP Amplified this week and wondering why there haven't been more of these...

Thursday, October 12, 2006


It's hard to believe it, but it has been ten years since I first discovered Daft Punk. Me and a couple of buddies would get together on Saturday afternoons, imbibing beers and other things, and spin music. We'd take turns at the "wheels of steel", playing short 3 or 4 record sets. It was eclectic, both style (anything goes as long as there are fat beats) and skillz wise - early on our beat matching left much to be desired. The first time one of us played the Daft Punk single Musique (Version Longue) we were all mesmerized. It was repetitive and basic but damn it was funky. Built over hoppin' house beats, they used a few well placed samples, some synth squiggle and a bunch of filters working overtime. Top it off with the vocal chant of "musique!" and a dance floor favorite was established. They followed this up with their debut LP and it's big hit singles, but that's another day's post.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

File Under Random

I was never much of a Dinosaur Jr. fan. I can say the same thing about Sebadoh. Lou Barlow was in both of those bands, and he also records as The Folk Implosion. I am a fan of the Folk Implosion. 1999's One Part Lullaby is my fave of theirs, a fantastic album of well orchestrated, catchy indie rock songs. There are lots of nice production touches, from the loops and electronics to the dulcimers and glockenspiels. I particularly enjoy Serge, which is an instrumental tribute to the grand old man of French rock, Monsieur Gainsbourg. It samples the most excellent rhythms from Serge's own Requiem Pour Un Con, and builds into a nice and atmospheric rocker with plenty of Gallic flavor.

Monday, October 09, 2006

In The Round

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The Cardigans have a new record out. Actually, it's an old record - out in October of 2005 in Europe - that has only just made it out here in the US. It's been a while since I had heard one of their records, having passed on their last record, 2003's Long Gone Before Daylight. So far I'm feeling a bit "meh" about it. It has some prettiness, it is well played and well produced, and it is free of the cheese of their early years. That might be it's downfall, because I always enjoyed the kind of cheese they offered. Instead of cocktails and a bit of disco syncopation we have very adult, indie rock in the vein of someone like Aimee Mann. Nice, but will it keep me coming back? I don't know. That having been said, I do really like In The Round, and it has everything to do with the guitar riffs on it. The two dualing riffs at the beginning suck me in, and the ultra-cool vibe keeps my attention. Very nice.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Funky Friday's Big Twelve Inches

Today brings a four pack of twelve inchers - a couple of tasty new school tracks and a couple of disco-licious old school hits to get your weekend off to a funky start.

Chromeo - Destination Overdrive (The DFA Remix)
From the just released DFA Remixes Chapter Two, this track sees the duo scruff up a tune by anothe duo, Canadian '80s fans Chromeo.

Klaxons - Gravity's Rainbow (Van She Remix)
From the forthcoming EP Xan Valleys, this Van She remix has the indie rock-ravers sounding like Cut Copy in Daft Punk mode.

Odyssey - Inside Out
This tune is just pure disco bliss. It's got a lovely beat, some seriously funkin' bass and that gorgeous melody, those squiggly synths and swelling strings and the British trio's glorious harmonies make this one a real winner for me.

Evelyn "Champagne" King - I'm In Love
Pure '80s electro-funk at it's best. Written and produced by Kashif, it bears all of his trademark sounds - synth bass, loads of synths, tight syncopation and lots of piano. Delicious.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Pretenders II

After yesterday's piece on the Pretenders' reissues you had to know there would be a second helping, and today I am happy to oblige. Their second album, 1981's Pretenders II, came out hot on the heels of the debut. It was a further refinement of their sound, and it saw them become chart regulars with the fabulous hit songs Message Of Love and Talk Of The Town. It also has some of Chrissie's hottest rocker goddess moments - The Adultress and Bad Boys Get Spanked come to mind! Then there is the stone cold classic ballad I Go To Sleep, which send shivers down my spine every time I hear her cracking vocals. Today's choices are all from the bonus disc, and are all previously unreleased. Talk Of The Town (Demo) is a slightly softer versioon that almost has a disco feel in the drums and rhythm guitar parts. I Go To Sleep (Guitar Version - Outtake) has a much harder electric guitar playing the glorious melody line - I can see why they went with the version without it, but it's interesting to hear nonetheless. Still as gorgeous as ever tho'. Pack It Up (Radio Mix - Outtake) is essentially an instrumental version of this hard rocking tune - all of the riffs and lots of radio interference. How tight is this shit?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

This week one of my music collector super wishes came true - Rhino Records remastered and expanded the first two Pretenders albums. Pretenders and Pretenders II are a couple of absolute rock and roll classic in my book, and these reissues have been a long time coming. Both of then are now 2CD sets - disc one is the original record, disc two is rarities, demos and live tracks, much of it previously unreleased. I played the debut today at work and it sounds fantastic - the remastering really enhances the sound.Today I offer some of the tasty extras from that debut. Swinging London sounds like it should be soundtracking an Austin Powers movie - plenty of swingin' swankiness and twangin' guitar. Brass In Pocket (Demo) is a bit slower than the final product but just as powerful, and notice how she sings "you're special" in the chorus instead of "I'm special". Kid (Demo) is full of the gorgeous vocals that only Chrissie can deliver - it's amusing to hear her riff on The Police at very beginning of this too. A brilliant LP and a fantastic reissue.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Handful Of Covers

I recently got sent a promo of Brazilian jazz pianist Elaine Elias' latest LP. Called Around The City, it is her 18th album and a more pop oriented record. No, it isn't pop like Xtina or Britney, but it has added some electronics and loops into the mix - dare I use the dreaded "trip hop" tag? There is still plenty of jazz flavor, and she is still playing some fierce piano, but now her vocals are just as much a focal point. There is of course much Brazilian flavor too, with several tunes sung in Potuguese. There are also a handful of covers, and the choices are so interesting that they really grabbed my attention. Tito Puente's Oye Como Va is a monster classic of Latin music, and best known as one of Carlos Santana's earliest hits. This is a fairly faithful rendition, full of smooth, sultry vocals and a smoking key solo. Her arrangement of Bob Marley's Jammin' is a radical departure from the original. Instead of a laid back reggae vibe think St. Germain's 2000 hit Rose Rouge. It has rolling, rumbling beats and shuffling percussion - there are two drummers at work here, plenty of piano vamping and a nice trumpet solo and hand claps all adding up to a very unique take on a classic song. Finally, a cover of Beck's Tropicalia brings it all back to Brazil - the original being a tribute to the Brazilian music scene of the mid to late '60s. A slightly mellower rendition that works very well.