Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Playlist

Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmastime
Miles Davis & Bob Dorough - Blue Xmas
Aretha Franklin - Winter Wonderland
The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping
James Brown - Soulful Christmas
Kurtis Blow - Christmas Rappin'
Run DMC - Christmas In Hollis
Wham! - Last Christmas
Elastica - Gloria

Friday, November 23, 2007

Funky Friday Playlist

DJ Vadim - Got To Rock (Remix)
DJ Vadim - Watch That Sound (Remix)
Kenna - Loose Wires/Blink Radio
The Hives - T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.
Kev Brown - Brown Liquor
Duran Duran - Nite Runner
Gorillaz - 68 State
Róisín Murphy - Checkin' On Me
Róisín Murphy - Let Me Know
Working For A Nuclear Free City - Innocence

Friday, November 02, 2007

Funky Friday Playlist

Yelle - Ce Jeu
Heliocentrics - Joyride
Shocking Pinks - Smokescreen
Prefuse 73 - Girlfriend Boyfriend
Muscles - Hey Muscles I Love You
Moving Units - Nail It To the Cross
Young Holt Unlimited - Pusher Man
Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra - Hey Ya
Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra - Rock Your Body
LCD Soundsystem - Us V Them (Any Color You Like Remix By Windsurf)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


After 30 years in the music biz Siouxsie Sioux has released her first solo album, Mantaray. She started out as the post-punk ice queen with The Banshees, then mutated into the experimentation of The Creatures, a duo with her long time partner in life (and Banshees drummer) Budgie. That marriage is over, and Siouxsie is moving on with this album. It is easily the most straight forward album of her career; this is not arty experimentation but actual pop music. It ranges from the industrial edged rock of lead single Into A Swan to Goldfrapp-y glitter and stomp, with jazzy bits (Drone Zone), a Shirley Bassey moment on Here Comes That Day and a swoony Bond film song in Sea Of Tranquility. It is a gleaming modern rock record, ably produced and played by Goldfrapp collaborators Charlie Jones and Steve Evans. They have a firm grasp on what sounds good today, while retaining key snippets of the post-punk and spookiness of old. Siouxsie is in fine voice too, capable of sounding hard as nails and then soft and gentle. It is refreshing to hear a more commercial album that retains the Siouxsie edge. I have really been enjoying this record. Not bad for the 50 year old rocker.
About To Happen
Heaven And Alchemy

Friday, October 05, 2007

Funky Friday

It's been a few weeks since I've posted, due to a general disinterest in writing and having other things to do - like play with the kids, or watch Around The Horn and PTI, or veg to CNN and so on and so forth. I have still been consuming as much music as before, I just haven't felt the urge to tell you about it. Well, that changes today with this funky Friday playlist.

Dinosaur L - #1 (You're Gonna Be Clean On Your Bean) - from a nice expanded reissue of 1981 LP 24→24 Music, this is some Arthur Russell art funk at it's best.
Dondolo - Dondolisme - seriously '80s flavored synth pop from France. Magnifique.
Underworld - Crocodile - from the forthcoming album, this is a pretty typical Underworld track with an absolutely monstrous bass riff.
MC 900 Ft. Jesus - Killer Inside Me - demented hip hop from the early '90s.
Felix Da Housecat - It's Your Move - a taster from the new Virgo Blaktro & The Movie Disco.
Heliocentrics - Distant Star - stellar space funk from the SF crew's debut Out There.
Imagination - Flashback - a nice slice of early '80s British soul with falsettos set on stun.
Jill Scott - Hate On Me - from her new album, this is definitely one of the tougher cuts.
Just Jack - I Talk Too Much (featuring Kylie Minogue) - a catchy slice of Brit hip pop with the lovely Kylie cooing along.
Duran Duran - My Own Way (Night Version) - this is one of my fave remixes ever. DD re-recorded this, adding huge strings and the big disco pacing. JT's funky bass on this is truly astounding.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Loud Like Nature

Today I listened to Add N To (X)' 2002 album Loud Like Nature. A year after this came out the band split up. I miss them. Over the course of 5 albums they developed from cold, analogue synth porn fetishists into something deeper and warmer and more psychedelic. I love their use of electronics as rock instrument. Lots of electronic bands "rock", but these guys (OK, two guys and a girl) crafted shredding electro punk that hit me in a way that no one else did. I dug how they gradually morphed their style, and for me Loud Like Nature was their peak. When it came out I was amazed that it didn't generate more buzz/airplay/sales. The record is a dense, trippy soundscape that goes from Gary Glitter stomp to nightmarish soundtrack music. In between is sandwiched downtempo hippy grooves, screaming punk rock and experimental art pop. It is an engaging and challenging listen. I think its pretty catchy too. Here it is five years on from it's release and I'm still playing it. Here are three prime examples why...
Party Bag
Up The Punks
Large Number

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Handful Of Covers

Chaka Khan is set to release a new album next Tuesday. Funk This is a collection of new songs and covers, all produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Where 2004's Classikhan was a set of songbook standards backed up by the London Symphony Orchestra, this set is a return to the r'n'b and funk of her 30 year past. Who better than Jam & Lewis to make it all sound good. And sound good it does. The vibe is old school but sounds very 2007. The originals are funky and gritty (the duet with Mary J. Blige), and there are some nice ballads (including leadoff single Angel). Then there are the covers. She mashes up a couple of old Rufus songs on Pack'd My Bags/You Got The Love which also features Rufus guitarist Tony Maiden. She covers her peers - Joni Mitchell's Ladies Man and Carly Simon's You Belong To Me (a duet with Michael McDonald). The influences are where I'm really feeling Chaka, as she takes on Hendrix' Castles Made Of Sand and Prince's Sign O' The Times. The Hendrix tune is smoking, with lots of dreamy backtracked guitar and a wailing solo. Chaka lets the vocals smoulder, and it really suits the song. The Prince song hits all the right notes and sounds fantastic. It's a no brainer really, with Jam & Lewis having been in on the Minneapolis sound since the get go. Chaka gets in the big vocal workout, and it's glorious hearing her multitracked. This album is a really welcome return for Chaka, and it will be interesting to see if it gets press/airplay/chart success. Go buy it next week.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday Clean Up

I've had some time to tinker with the blog today so I updated the blog roll. A bunch of you have disappeared, stopped posting or no longer link to me. Today I bid you (the dead links) a fond farewell...

El Hoyo (Live)
I got this Manu Chao live in concert mp3 in the inbox this week from Because Music. Very enjoyable.

Simon over at Spoilt Victorian Child Records sent me a couple of absolutely blazing tunes from a forthcoming self titled EP by Texas quartet Ringo Deathstarr. The EP is available as a download tomorrow from the SVC site, then hits CD and the other digital retailers on October 29th. If you love the JAMC and MBV then you will love these offerings.

Or you could try this tasty bit of electro pop from The Real Tuesday Weld called Last Words. Its from the forthcoming album The London Book of The Dead.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Funky Friday Playlist

I've been a bit negligent around here lately, so here's a funky playlist of the hotness to brighten your weekend. Here's the line-up; Kanye cops Steely Dan's Kid Charlemagne. A US bonus track from SMD shows the synthpop spirit of the early '80s Human League/Yellow Magic Orchestra living on. A remix from the Midnight Juggernauts bonus disc strips it down to the gnarly bass riff. Chaka and Mary J. battle it out over a rhythm track that Beyoncé or Amerie would love. The Go! Team is an old school electro remix from the US bonus disc. Enjoy.

Kanye West - Champion

Simian Mobile Disco - Clock

Midnight Juggernauts - Shadows (Ajax Remix)

Chaka Khan - Disrespectful (feat. Mary J. Blige)

The Go! Team - Grip Like A Vice (Black Affair Remix)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

La Radiolina

Manu Chao is back with a new album called La Radiolina. The former leader of Mano Negra ("the French Clash") has taken six years to follow up 2001's Próxima Estación... Esperanza. That album was stylistically similar to its predecessor Clandestino, a nomadic anarchist's journey through Latin, dub, reggae, rock and folk music, all mixed up with Manu's political messages about the state of the world. Neither of the albums rocked in tradition of classic Mano Negra. La Radiolina takes that into account, and is a welcome return to a more rocktacular Manu. Lyrically he is still political, ranting against Bush and being a humble spokesman for the impoverished of the world. Several musical motifs reappear throughout the album, and his vocals remain impassioned and worldly. Minimalist rockers, blues jams and folk songs are given a sonic makeover as all kinds of noises burst out of the background. It is a heady, urgent call to action on a gobal scale. The first three songs on the record are a great indicator of what your getting into, so listen up and then go and get a copy of this for yourself. You won't regret it.
Tristeza Maleza
Politik Kills

Monday, September 03, 2007

My '80s Remastered - Steve McQueen

Prefab Sprout's second album Steve McQueen would probably make it onto a list of my top 25 favorite records of all time. Originally released in 1985 and produced by Thomas Dolby, it has been remastered (by Dolby) and paired with a second disc of newly recorded acoustic versions. The reason I checked out this album in the first place was because of Dolby's participation, and I remain glad that I did. It is a lush, dreamy album of pop songs detailing love and heartbreak. Singer/songwriter Paddy McAloon's influences range from Broadway show tunes to the '60s pop of the Brill Building writers to Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello. You get the idea - sharp, literary and musically complex. According to the liner notes this is really Dolby's album; "I gave him a huge collection of songs (some dating back as far as 1976), and almost all of the ones he picked were written in 1979, long before Swoon (the band's debut). I had no opportunity to test out any of my ideas about layers of sound. I had to get somebody who knew about that, someone on the technical side who was also a good keyboard player." Dolby fits the bill to a T, with his trademark synth sounds and production suiting the melancholy of the songs perfectly. And what songs! Bonny, Appetite, When Love Breaks Down, Goodbye Lucille #1, filled with sharp emotion and even sharper melodies, the kind of songs that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and you arms gooseflesh-y. My brother and I once had a discussion about this album and we determined that it's first 6 songs (side A of the vinyl version of the album) make it one of the best "sides" ever produced in pop music. I still think this true.

When Dolby was working on the remaster last year he wrote on his blog "I am in Los Angeles remastering Prefab Sprout’s second album ‘Steve McQueen’ which I produced for them in 1985. It sounds INSANELY good. Many writers and music afficionados list this among their top LPs of all time, and listening to it for the first time years, I have to agree. Even if I was objective, I would agree. It’s a stunner! The fact it was never successful in America is one of the greatest crimes in living memory. Paddy McAloon’s voice; those chunky guitar lines interweaving with soaring piano; Neil Conti’s tastful drum grooves; Martin’s melodic, inside-out bass; and Wendy Smith’s breathy bittersweet harmonies, all combined in a magic formula that was at once soulful and challenging. If you never heard this album, I urge you to seek it out. You won’t regret it. And, if you like my music, please know that you don’t have a complete overview unless you own this album and 1990’s ‘Jordan: The Comeback’–because these two works are as close to my heart as anything I’ve ever put out under my own name."

Dolby's remaster suits the record well and was a great choice for the project. His familiarity with the material makes it easy for him to preserve the vision of the original. The accompanying disc of acoustic remakes strips all of the production, focusing on the songs themselves, and some of the versions are arranged quite differently. I love these songs, and its cool to hear the difference, but I think I will always prefer the album versions. Today I share two of the most swooningly gorgeous songs ever, and I heartily recommend that you go out and pick up this remaster for yourself!
Bonny (Acoustic)
Appetite (Acoustic)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Division Kent's Gravity

Division Kent are Andrea B. & Sky Antinori. They are from Switzerland, but are named after a street corner (Division & Kent) in NYC. Their MySpace page lists their influences as new wave/electro/indie/punk/dub/pop, which sounds right up my alley. And until last week I had never heard of them. I got an e-mail from Stefan (in Switzerland), who said he was a friend of the band. Attached was an mp3. He wrote that based on my blog posts, this was something I might like. The mp3 was for a song called This Big Hush. I recognized the song title, quickly dl'd the song and began to play it. It was what I thought it was - a cover of a classic Shriekback song from the band's 1985 album Oil And Gold. It is a lush, atmospheric track, and one that has always held me spellbound. Happily, Division Kent did not ruin the song. It is, I thought, a pretty damn good version. It is not a radical remake, just a nicely updated version. I decided I needed to hear more, and after a few more e-mails I acquired a copy of their new album Gravity. It is the follow up to their electroclash-y 2006 debut Monsterproof (which you can stream at the website). It is set to be released in Europe on September 7th, with no word yet on a US release.

Gravity is a nice step forward from Monsterproof. In the studio they are a duo, but onstage they expand into a 5 piece band, and to me it sounds as if Gravity was influenced by their live excursions. While it is still full of elecronic sounds there is a warmer, more organic approach taken, and one that rocks a little bit harder than it's predecessor. Looking for a simple "sounds like" guide? I hear Ladytron, Metric, Midnight Movies, Death In Vegas and Depeche Mode (no coincidence there as half of the album is co-produced by the Mode's longtime collaborator Gareth Jones) in the mix. It is modern indie rock with a dash of '90s electronica (Rooftop Rallye) plus a splash of krautrock. There are a couple of really dance-y tracks (Offshore), a couple of moody ballads and even a kind of Tom Waits moment on Salty. Both Andrea & Sky sing (in English and in French), and their voices compliment each other (and the music) well. I have to say the album is a pleasant surprise, and one deserving a wider audience. Enjoy the moody space of This Big Hush (produced by NYC composer/producer Peter Scherer), and the glimmering electro-rock of Pat The Pan Am Pilot.

Listen to more Division Kent on their MySpace page and on the Hype Machine.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New Music Tuesday - New Young Pony Club

New Young Pony Club's debut LP Fantstic Playroom hits US stores today. I came across a leak of it three or four months ago and have literally not stopped playing it since. The MO of this British 5 piece is simple - they are post-punk revisionists. They really don't bring anything new and exciting to the table, except for some exceptionally catchy songs. Which is a good thing because it saves the album from being a pointless retread. Elements of your all my fave '80s bands are represented, from the Talking Heads to Gang Of Four to The Cure to the B52s. The band whips up a tasty melange of disco, funk and new wave, much like CSS. Lead singer Tahita Bulmer is a driving force here, with vocals that range from breathy coos to shout-y rage, and there is a certain snottiness to it that I really dig. The sassy and sexy lyrics and sharp, contemporary production have kept me entertained all summer and show no signs of wearing out their welcome. Here are a couple of primo examples of why you should own this record; The Bomb is one of the harder edged tunes, all sharp riffs and sweet "ah-ha-s". Grey is a mellow groover, Cure-ish synth pop with a vintage Peter Hook bass riff and a chorus harmonies that totally remind me of Cindy & Kate from the B52s. Mmm-mmm good.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Funky Friday 4+1

A tasty little assortment today. ESG bring the old school spartan funk rarity. M.I.A. delivers a sweet Bollywood disco treat. Dr.Who Dat? delivers lush, blissful and summer-y jazz-hop. After Dark is a great compilation of new Italo stuff, including the Kraftwerk cover and the remix of the Indeep classic.

ESG - Moody (A New Mood)

M.I.A. - Jimmy

Dr.Who Dat? - Braziliant Thought

Glass Candy - Computer Love
Indeep - Last Night A DJ Saved My Life (Mirage Mix)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My New Favorite Record This Week - Midnight Juggernauts

Australian synth-rock-electro-pop trio Midnight Juggernauts have a great debut album out called Dystopia. Unfortunately it is an Aussie only release, with the rest of the world pending. These guys fuse all of the best elements of the current French electronic music scene to some solid indie/new wave/rock and pop songs. They then polish everything up with spacey electronics and dance floor glitter. I first encountered them through Paul's review over at 75 Or Less. He referred to it as the "sleeper hit of the summer", and my interest was piqued. I am hooked. A few years ago fellow Aussies Cut Copy really grabbed my attention with their debut album Bright Like Neon Love, and I get the same feeling from this. I am a big fan of indie dance, and these guys hit all the right notes. The '70s flavor comes in the disco beats and breezy ELO/Fleetwood Mac-isms. The '80s are represented by new wave keys and New Order-isms. The '90s dance revolution forged by Daft Punk and the surge of their followers is here in the gloss and cutting edge electronics. It is a seductively good listen, and deserving of a wider audience, so let's hope that it gets a US (and Euro) release soon. Shadows was the first single from the album, and is a semi-spooky disco number with gloriously huge bass riffs. However, it is Into The Galaxy that really has me entranced. Slowly building on a wave of synths, it explodes into a prime slice of 1981 new wave, all herky jerky with moody vocals. That is, until the chorus, when the gleaming ELO vocals kick in. And what a catchy hook. I can't get enough. Enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2007

This Is The Record Of The Time

A month ago I wrote about the 25th anniversary edition of Laurie Anderson's Big Science album. A classic bit of experimental pop art, the album opens with the song From The Air, which is about planes falling from the sky. Dan The Automator has done a remix of the song. Art pop + hip hop = good.

From The Air (Dan The Automator Remix)

Good evening. This is your Captain.
We are about to attempt a crash landing.
Please extinuish all cigarettes.
Place your tray tables in their
upright, locked position.
Your Captain says: Put your head on your knees.
Your Captain says: Put your head on your hands.
Captain says: Put your hands on your head.
Put your hands on your hips. Heh heh.
This is your Captain-and we are going down.
We are all going down, together.
And I said: Uh oh. This is gonna be some day.
Standby. This is the time. And this is the record of the time.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.

Uh-this is your Captain again.
You know, I've got a funny feeling I've seen this all before.
Why? 'Cause I'm a caveman.
Why? 'Cause I've got eyes in the back of my head.
Why? It's the heat. Standby.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.

Put your hands over your eyes.
Jump out of the plane. There is no pilot. You are not alone. Standby.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Funky Friday Mixtape

Funky Friday has been AWOL for two weeks now. Today I rectify that with a bumper selection of beats and bass and grooviness. It is a nice little mixtape that goes from hip hop to '70s prog, with stops at techno, post-punk, acid, France, Australia and the '80s. Prepare to get down...

Midnight Juggernauts - Shadows
Calvin Harris - Merrymaking At My Place
Lil Mama - Lipgloss
The Knife - Pass This On (M.A.N.D.Y. Remix)
Luke Vibert - Rapperdacid
Modeselektor - 2000007 (featuring TTC)
Tussle - Trappings
Black Moth Super Rainbow - Rollerdisco
Rush - Tom Sawyer (DJ Z-Trip Remix)
Sixtoo - Jackals And Vipers In Envy Of Man Pt.9

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hot Promo Action - Baby Elephant

Baby Elephant is the latest collaborative effort to emerge from the mind of hip hop legend Prince Paul. A quick primer in case you don't know; he was an original member of Stetasonic. He produced De La Soul's debut (and invented the oft maligned hip hop skit in the process) and parts of their next two records. He then went on to form the Gravediggaz with RZA, Frukwan and Too Poetic. In the late '90s he helmed Handsome Boy Modeling School with Dan The Automator. In between he found time to release a few solo LPs as well as do production work on records by Vernon Reid, Princess Superstar and MC Paul Barman. According to this interview there has been bad blood between him and Dan The Automator, so there will be no more Handsome Boy Modeling School albums.

Which brings us to Baby Elephant, a trio comprised of Paul, his long time pal Newkirk, and eccentric keyboard mastermind and two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bernie Worrell (P-Funk, Talking Heads). According to the bio "These two legends met while promoting the Worrell documentary "Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth", and they hit it off immediately. Together with Worrell, Prince Paul was able to create the funk/soul album that has been dancing in his head all of these years." The resulting album is a showcase for Worrell's talents. He plays an array of vintage keyboards, synthesizers and pianos, as well as adding his oft-imitated (and sampled) string sections and Moog bass lines. As with all Prince Paul collabos there are some other notable talents on display here; singer/comedian Reggie Watts, Yellowman, George Clinton, Digital Underground's Shock G, DJ Roc Raida, Nona Hendryx and David Byrne all contribute. The resulting album is funny, warm, quirky, funky and filled with killer keys over hip hop beats. There are plenty of familiar vibes and even a bit of reggae. And of course there are skits. I am really digging it's diversity and funkiness and unique sound. Today I offer two cuts to sample; How Does The Brain Wave? is a semi-reunion of several members of the seminal Talking Heads lineup of the early '80s, with David Byrne and Nona Hendryx on vocals. The track also features DJ Roc Raida on the ones and twos. It is loopy space funk, filled with blips and bleeps and some of those great key sounds you remember from 20 years ago. Fred Berry is a great instrumental, a bit more uptempo funk than the rest of the LP - you can really feel the spirit of P-Funk at work here! The album is due to drop on September 11th so be sure to pick one up!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Music Tuesday - Junior Senior

Straight outta Denmark, Junior Senior crashed the pop world's party with their 2003 debut album D-D-Don't Don't Stop The Beat. The hit single Move Your Feet and the rest of the LP were filled with catchy electro-disco pop songs about the joys of dancing and singing. Ultra cheesy yet undeniably catchy, it was the ultimate throwaway summer fun record, filled with '80s synths and nods to everyone from ABBA to KC and the Sunshine Band. It also had a tendency to get a little annoying after a while. I drove my co-workers crazy with it, and then it hit the shelf. In 2005 they followed it up with Hey Hey My My Yo Yo. The only problem was that it didn't make it out here in the US - until today. Rykodisc has issued a cool 2 disc version, compiling the original LP plus the new Say Hello, Wave Goodbye EP - if you didn't get it already, those titles are "borrowed" from Neil Young and Soft Cell! This is kind of a clue to the diversity of influences - disco, funk, rock, Motown girl groups and '8os electro and rap are all stirred into the mix. Or think Jackson 5 meets Go!Team. The new album picks up where they left off, but this time around they've transcended the annoying aspects of their debut. They deliver a cohesive, 35 minute set of catchy, humorous and highly danceable pop songs. They also add a bunch of great guest chick vocalists - Le Tigre sing backups and lead on 3 or 4 songs, as do '60s Motown legends the Velvelettes. And then there's Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson from the B52s on Take My Time. If you're looking for serious muso stuff, keep on moving. But if it's a party starter you need, you've come to the right place, and just in time for the dog days of summer and cruising with top down. Take My Time is the track featuring the B52 girls, and it is a glorious slice of sing song pop. Itch U Can't Skratch is groovy bit of '80s pop-rap that features vocals by Johanna (from Le Tigre) and one of the Velvelettes, and Simple Minds Do Simple Things Part 2 is an '80s pop flavored remix from the bonus EP. A fun record that deserves as much attention as it's predecessor.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

"If there is a choice between the truth and the legend, choose the legend."

Tony Wilson, founder of Factory Records and the man who put Manchester on the musical map died yesterday at the age of 57. He had been fighting kidney cancer for the last year, but it was a heart attack that killed him. The man is a legend in my music world - Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays and the entire roster of Factory Records are a huge part of who I am as a music fan. He was a maverick in the industry, a man who understood the artists and was willing to do everything in his power to help them achieve some success. Factory Records and it's nightclub The Hacienda were two of the biggest elements of the late 80’s independent-led global dance music explosion. His wit, intelligence and musical savvy will be sorely missed, but his legacy will live on in rock history forever. We will miss you Tony - RIP.
Joy Division - As You Said
New Order - Subculture (Razormaid Mix v2.0)
Happy Mondays - The Boys Are Back In Town

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My New Favorite Record This Week

Life in SIART's world has been a little topsy turvy for the last week or so which is why there have been no posts. I've been on vacation this week so blogging hasn't been a top priority. Then factor in that my hometown of the last 20 years was hit by a pretty horrific tragedy last week when the I35 freeway bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed. It is a surreal scene, largely because it was a bridge which I (and everyone I know) used many times. My wife drove over it earlier in the week on her way to work. My brother used it to get to his work several times a week. I am amazed (and grateful) that more people weren't killed, especially when you consider the scope of the destruction. Anyway, today is the first time I have had some time and felt like posting, so cop a listen to my new favorite record this week...

The Aliens have indie rock pedigree. Gordon Anderson, John Maclean and Robin Jones were all founder members of The Beta Band, with Anderson leaving before the release of the first EP due to psychosis. He spent the next 8 years in and out of psych wards and undergoing shock therapy. He also released a few solo recordings as Lone Pigeon, lo-fi and full of ideas. The Aliens take flight as a full on psych-pop experience - think The Bees or Super Furry Animals. There are elements of their old band in some of more melancholy of these new songs, but they explore a lot more too. The guys sound like they are having fun traipsing through the best of British psychedelia and pop, from the Beatles to Pink Floyd to The Kinks (with a splash of the Beach Boys). They incorporate a bit of hip hop flavor and a nod to Madchester. There is a clarity to the production, and some of the songs genuinely rock out, none of which could really be said for their old band. There is nothing new or innovative here, but it certainly makes for a great listen. Today's selections are some of the loopier moments. Robot Man has an everything but the kitchen sink over a disco beat approach, and The Happy Song is, well, a happy, strummy song that really rocks.
Robot Man
The Happy Song

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Two Sevens Clash

(from the original album liner notes)
"One day Joseph Hill had a vision, while riding a bus, of 1977 as a year of judgment -- when two sevens clash -- when past injustices would be avenged. Lyrics and melodies came into his head as he rode and thus was born the song "Two Sevens Clash" which became a massive hit in reggae circles both in Jamaica and abroad. The prophecies noted by the lyrics so profoundly captured the imagination of the people that on July 7, 1977 - the day when sevens fully clashed (seventh day, seventh month, seventy-seventh year) a hush descended on Kingston; many people did not go outdoors, shops closed, an air of foreboding and expectation filled the city."

Culture's album Two Sevens Clash has since become a roots reggae classic, having helped establish a vocabulary of terms that became the norm in reggae. It took inspiration from Marcus Garvey, Rastafarianism and Jamaica's reggae rhythms. It proved inspirational to the UK punk rock scene, with bands like the Clash and The Ruts embracing reggae rhythms. The music was impressive, making ample use riddim kings Sly & Robbie and their crack band, and production came courtesy of the legendary Joe Gibbs. The vocals are so sweet, with Joseph Hill's (RIP) lead working beautifully with the harmonies of Albert Walker and Kenneth Dayes. This year is the 30th anniversary of this classic and Shanachie has remastered it and reissued it with a bunch of bonus stuff. It is a lovely record, low key and simple. Today's selections are the stellar title track, and two of the bonus cuts, both dub plate versions of album tracks. Sweet skanking...
Two Sevens Clash
See Dem Dub
Not Ashamed Dub

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New Music Tuesday - Common

Common seems to stir up a lot of mixed emotions in the hip hop world. Not hardcore enough for a lot of people, too artsy for others. Lyrically he comes across as the sensitive, thinking type, and largely eschews the whole bitches'n'hos thing - altho' he stills drops the N word quite a bit. Personally speaking I have enjoyed all of his records, even the much maligned Electric Circus. His new LP Finding Forever drops today, and it sticks to the formula of it's predecessor Be. Kanye West is once again the man in charge. He produces the majority of the tracks, and he brings his warm, soulful take on hip hop - gritty beats, lush soundscapes, gospel vocals and a few choice samples (like the drums from Paul Simon's 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover). He also brings a few choice guests; Lily Allen (yes, that Lily Allen) sings on Drivin' Me Wild. D'Angelo and Bilal croon, DJ Premier scratches and Will I Am produces and sings. I have only had a couple of listens and a few tracks stand out - the hard rocking Southside, the Lily Allen bit, The Game with it's old skool Premier cuts, and today's selection, I Want You. This is Common's collaboration with Will I Am. It's a love song that floats on dreamy Bob James samples. I have a love-hate thing with Will. I think he's plenty talented. I was a fan of the first few Black Eyed Peas records. But then Fergie entered the picture and the dopiest pop songs ever ensued. I like what Will does for others, and this is no exception. Smooth.

Find more Common on Hype Machine or

Friday, July 27, 2007

Funky Friday - New York Latin Hustle!

Soul Jazz Records brings the hotness again with this smoking 2 disc set of NuYorican tastiness. Covering "The Sound Of New York" from the Latin POV, it's tracks range from the '60s to the '80s. It covers all the bases, with authentic rhythms bumping up against jazz, funk and disco. The big names are here; Tito Puente, Willie Colon, Eddie Palmieri and Ray Barretto all represent. There are lots of lesser known gems too, including a great cover of "Ain't no Stopping Us Now" by La Charanga 76. There are a few other covers of "Tighten Up" and "Soul Makossa", and a classic bit of lost disco greatness by J Walter Negro And The Loose Jointz. There is no chronological order to the comp, and I'm sure they missed a bunch of stuff, but when the end result is a good as this who am I to argue? A fantastic selection of funkiness to get you grooving today...
Nature Zone - Porcupine
Louie Ramirez - Do It Anyway You Wanna
Jose Mangual - Mai Kinshasa
J Walter Negro And The Loose Jointz - Shoot The Pump

Look for more Latin hotness on The Hype Machine and

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My '70s Remastered - The Pop Group

Rhino Records is a great label when it comes to reissues - everybody knows that. In April they put out a remastered and (slightly) expanded version of the classic Y by seminal UK post-p(f)unkers The Pop Group. It is a glorious thing. The only problem is that it is a Euro only release. Seeing as how the label has a big presence in the US I find it surprising that it hasn't surfaced yet. This week I came across the import at my local priced at $17 and had to have it. I have been rocking a crusty rip of this record for years now and it is ace to hear a crisp, loud and clear recording.

Originally released in 1979, this is the Bristol band's debut, produced by UK dub master Dennis Bovell. It is a royal soundclash, with funk, punk, jazz, art rock and radical politics all colliding in a sometimes heady brew. Lets be upfront here - it is not an easy listening record. Half the time it sounds as if the five members are all coming from someplace different. But then they hit that spot where they are all in agreement and BAM! You get a song like their debut single
She Is Beyond Good And Evil. Not on the original version of the album, it is a memorable bit of audio roughing up, as vocalist Mark Stewart rants and shrieks and squawks at you while the band plays like The JBs on acid. Included on this reissue is the bonus cut 3:38. A cool bit of psychedelic dub, it was created when Dennis Bovell took the track for She Is Beyond Good And Evil and played it backwards. A nice bit of deconstruction.

For further critical analysis read this review on Julian Cope's Head Heritage site or this review from Stylus.

Listen to more of The Pop Group on The Hype Machine.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Music Tuesday - Prince

The Purple One has a new LP out today on NPG/Columbia Records. Called Planet Earth, it is 10 tracks of typically Prince-ly fare. Rumor has it that some of these songs have been around for ages, and I can hear that in the music here. There are several ballads, some pop tunes and a couple of funk rockers. This set is notable for some of his collaborators too. Wendy & Lisa contribute guitar, mandolin and vocals and Sheila E is on percussion. I like it. It has some nice variety, and the guitar playing on it is phenomenal. Dude can shred the frets, and some of his soloing is pretty sweet. I have to say that I have enjoyed the resurgent Purple One's last few albums, and I am enjoying this one too. Chelsea Rodgers is a throwback to the really old school Prince of the early '80s. It rides disco beats, has bass poppin' goodness, big horns and lots of soulful backing vocals. Mmm-mmm good. I dig the hologram-a-glyphic cover too.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Funky Friday - A Handful Of Covers

Today is a rare Saturday repost of yesterday's offerings. The occasion? To let you all know that you can now bookmark me at
That's right - I'm a dot-com, baby!

I pulled this February 2003 Muzik Magazine compilation off the shelf today to play at work. Heroes! Rewind! is a set of covers and a few odds and ends, and features a couple of exclusives from Soul II Soul, LTJ Bukem and Bent. It is an interesting selection of tunes and artists, and made for a fun listen. Today's selections include two Prince covers, a classic by Parliament and a Pink Floyd song - two slices of downtempo, two slices of uptempo. Tasty.

Bent - Dirty Mind
A slightly goofy yet endearing reading of this Purple chestnut puts it in the realm of psychedelic downtempo.
Open Door - Breathe
I was wary at first but this one ended up winning me over with it's breakbeats and warm keys.
Rae & Christian - Flashlight
I think this is a pretty unique take. It loses all the vocals and adds R&C's Britfunk flavor.
Space Cowboy - I Would Die 4 U
Another Prince cover given a little bit of four to floor action.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Somebody ratted me out to and the DRM police forced them to remove all of my files from my public folder. So, you'll notice today that if you try to d/l something it will not work. I hope to get things going again in the next couple of days. I need to find an alternate host for the mp3s - can anyone recommend a service? I am willing to pay, but there are a lot of free services too. I need a service that can be read by the Hype Machine and Elbows. Any of my fellow bloggers have any suggestions? Let me know in the comments.

The record industry really needs to get it's shit together. It is apparent to me that music blogging has changed the music biz. Many bands owe their success to the bloggers who championed them early on. It is also apparent that the industry is conflicted on how to deal with it. Several of those mp3s that were just removed from my server space by the DRM police were record company sanctioned. I received promos from the labels, wrote the pieces, uploaded the mp3s, sent the label reps an e-mail with a link to the post, and got responses thanking me for the pieces. Go figure.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

New Music Tuesday - Big Science

This is the time. And this is the record of the time.

Today brings the release of the re-mastered 25th anniversary edition of Laurie Anderson's debut LP Big Science. I lived in the UK when this came out and I can remember how amazed I was that O Superman almost topped the UK charts (it got to #2) - all 8 minutes (!) of it, with it's bizarre repetition and vocodered vocal samples and sounds. It remains one of those rare moments when a performance art piece reached out and crossed over into popular culture, and it's hit status still amazes me today.

In the early 1980s Laurie rose to prominence as a conceptual artist and composer in the Lower Manhattan music-visual avant garde art-performance scene that Philip Glass and David Byrne emerged from. At the time of its original release, the NME wrote of Big Science, “There’s a dream-like, subconscious quality about her song which helps them work at deeper, secret levels of the psyche.” With instrumentation ranging from tape loops to found sounds to bag pipes to sampling, Big Science anticipated much of the contemporary electronic and dance music that followed over the past 25 years. Most of the songs were adapted from United States, her seven-hour performance art/theater piece. She was able to articulate the social/political anxiety she perceived in American society as well as a longing for safety and emotional connection. Big Science includes images of planes falling out of the sky (From the Air), the comforting yet sinister embrace of technology (O Superman), and the failure of men and women to speak in the same language (The It Tango). This reissue includes liner notes written by Anderson, and is enhanced to include the classic video for O Superman, and an mp3 of it's original B-side track Walk the Dog. Despite it's age it sounds remarkably good today. This is the beginning of a bit of a media blitz for Anderson; next year Nonesuch Records will release her new album Homeland, and she will then be touring extensively.

Check out the Big Science micro site at for some very interesting interview footage about the making of/history of/imagery of the record, as well as song lyrics. There is also a great clip over on YouTube of a new song called Only An Expert/Maybe If I Fall, where she tackles the state of the world's environment and the current US policy towards Iraq. As always she is right on the money. Here are the last two songs from Big Science - they run into each other so let them play together and enjoy the gently undulating rhythms of Let X=X and It Tango.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Casino Classics

I love Saint Etienne. The trio grabbed my attention with their 1990 debut Foxbase Alpha with it's catchy pop stylings, heavy on the '60s girl pop flavor. I've remained a fan, right up to 2006's Tales From The Turnpike House (originally released in Europa in 2005). Distinctly British, they started out as an electro pop act that mutated into something more organic. Over the years they've teetered between the two, all the while retaining their signature sound. One constant through the years has been the ace selection of remixers the band has employed over the years. Aphex, Chemical Brothers, Paul van Dyk, Faze Action, Aim, To Rococco Rot, Etienne Daho and on and on and on. Casino Classics is a two disc set that came out the UK in 1996. It is a collection of some of more memorable remixes from the band's first 6 years. It never got a US release, so I plunked down the big $$$ on the import. It is s a pretty accurate snapshot of where my electronic music tastes were at that year, with mixes by Death In Vegas, Secret Knowledge, Lionrock, Underworld, the Chemical Bros, David Holmes and Broadcast. Among the older mixes is one of my favorite Saint Etienne moments, Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Andrew Weatherall Remix). Mr.Weatherall applies his best spaced out dub trickery to this killer cover of an old Neil Young song, giving you four minutes of beats and melodica before the meat and potatoes of the song kicks in. Huge. I am also very fond of Filthy (Monkey Mafia Remix). I'm not too proud to admit that I was into a bit of big beat back in the day, and Monkey Mafia were one of the acts I dug - they always had a bit of ragga flavor mixed into their funkiness. This is stripped down, focusing on Q-Tee's vocals, the crunk bass and beats and the wicked wah-wah guitar riff. Love it. A great compilation - if you ever see it anywhere snap it up!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Funky Friday Is Sneaker Pimpin'

I'm taking you back 10 or 11 years here, deep into the recesses of (ugh) "trip-hop", when downtempo beats + smoky chanteuses = the way to get peoples' attention. Sneaker Pimps seemed a bit different from the rest, and stormed my stereo for a year or two with their slick yet edgy noise and all of the ensuing remixes. Then the lead singer Kelli left to go solo, got replaced by a bloke, and I lost interest in (ugh) "trip-hop". Those early records still sound pretty good to me, so here are a few choice reminderss...

6 Underground
Becoming X
The classic single with the gorgeous John Barry Golden Girl sample. Still gives me a bit of gooseflesh.

Post Modern Sleaze (Underdog Remix)
Post Modern Sleaze
Trevor Jackson AKA Underdog goes all dub hop, infusing the song with the spirit of Lee "Scratch" Perry. Dreamy and spooky and dub-tastic.

Spin Spin Sugar (Armand's Dark Dub)
Spin Spin Sugar
Armand Van Helden brings the boom-hiss-boom-hiss-boom-hiss-boom-hiss 4-to-the-floor house flavor, then halfway through drops in the dub steppa beat and makes like a slowed down junglist.

Post Modern Sleaze (The Salt City Orchestra Nightclub Mix)
Becoming Remixed
A great, minimal '80s disco treatment that adds a huge slap happy bass riff to a stomping beat, and then sprinkles an occasional bit of fx over it all. Nice one.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

New Music Tuesday - Spoon

One of my fave indie rock bands is Spoon. I love the minimalist approach of singer/songwriter Britt Daniel. He is able to convey such depth and feeling with such economical arrangements, both in the music and his lyrics. Their latest LP Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga drops today. It is a great record. It doesn't really stray too far from the previous efforts - taut rhythm section, a hint of classic rock and the odd bit of studio embellishment, all topped off with Britt's raspy, melancholy vocals. The big thing here for me is how freaking pop-tastic this record is. If there was any justice in the music world, several of these songs would be top 10 hits. From opener Don't Make Me A Target to You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb to the groovy The Underdog there isn't a bum note on it - again with the economy! I've been listening to it for a month or two now and it is so damn catchy. Today I picked up the limited edition version - it comes with a bonus CD that crams 12 tracks into 22 minutes. It is some demos and alternate takes and studio jams and is weird and wonderful. Today I offer one of my favorites from the album, Don't You Evah. It is a cover of an unreleased song by The Natural History, and it features a great bass riff and crisp hand claps and for some reason it reminds me of vintage Joe Jackson. From the bonus disc enjoy the experimental spaciness of I Can Feel It Fade Like An AM Single. A great album which you can listen to in it's entirety here, and then you can go out and buy it for yourself!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Funky Friday Four Pack

It's a nifty mix of stuff today. There are a couple of leaky leaks in the Hexstatic and Happy Mondays - the Mondays may or may not be the mastered final version. The Kenna is some bumpin' Neptunes produced promo action, and Shalamar give you a great '80s oldie.

Hexstatic - Tokyo Traffic
When Robots Go Bad

Happy Mondays - Rush Rush
Uncle Dysfunktional

Kenna - Say Goodbye To Love
Make Sure They See My Face

Shalamar - A Night To Remember