Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Ever since I got my hands on Juan MacLean's huge single "Happy House" earlier this year, I've been very excited to hear his upcoming full length The Future Will Come, due some time later this year. Anyway, if "Find A Way," the latest single off the album, is any indication, this record is going to be absolutely huge-- the looping pianos and classic house beats on "Happy House" were enough to make me wish for another house revival (there was one in like 2002, but no one really seemed to notice), and this makes me want it even more. Anyway, download it here (you can also follow that link to download "Happy House" and several remixes).
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Leonard Cohen - The Traitor
Running across a copy of Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man in my local Blockbuster's $3.99 bin a few weeks ago has had me on an extended Cohen kick of late, especially this tune off of 1979's Recent Songs. Arriving half way through the album that saw Cohen return to a more initmate (some would say less adventurous) folk sound after the widescreen, spunk-sozzled Wall of Sound experimentation of his Phil Spector collaboration, Death Of A Ladies' Man, "The Traitor" stands as Recent Song's beating heart, a six and a half minute mini-epic of enigmatic romance. I'll keep my obsessive gushing to that in order to escape sounding like a college freshman deep in to my "reading Rimbaud and smoking overpriced, novelty cigarettes" phase, but listen to the song and watch for Cohen's description of it in I'm Your Man. If it doesn't have you perusing the intertrons for a closer look at the lyrics, your jaded cynicism just might not be a phase after all.
Malente & Dex - Hyperactive
Another strong entry in the ever so fashionable rave revival sweepstakes, this upcoming release from relative newcomers Malente & Dex on Shir Kahn's ever so fashionable Exploited label practically reeks of pill sweat and VapoRub and should bring tooth-grinding grins to pie-eyed faces on international dance floors all summer. Turn this one on loud in your room, flip the lights on and off, and the next thing you know you'll be making the "big fish - little fish - cardboard box." In a nutshell, it's an illegal early 90s warehouse party to go. No taking eggs to an undisclosed location required.
Freeway - Hip Hop Lives
If you keep up with these little "tracks of the week" missives with any regularity (Hi, Mom!), you may have gotten the impression that I find hip hop nostalgia, true school-style throwbackisms, and modern day East Coast rap in general to be the definition of boredom. I applaud your insight. Nothing gets my eyes rolling and gag reflex working over time like some dude in his 30s (or even worse, young kid) blathering on about how great hip hop used to be when it was run by the East Coast and how East Coast rappers are all about lyricism over lifestyle and how hip hop today (i.e. Southern and West Coast rap) is just style with no substance and blah blah sore ass blah blah blah. Maybe it's reverse snobbery, but I'd much rather bump the new David Banner in my truck than watch Peedi Crack "spit hot sixteens" a cappella in some shitty YouTube video. With that said, this new teaser for Freeway's upcoming Freedom Of Speech album jumps a number of my personal hurdles (a "grimy" street rapper from Philly raps about hip hop over a no-name, near hookless track - snooze) on the strength of what might be termed Freeway's balls and his word. An audaciously joyous ode to hip hop's strength and staying power as one of the defining worldwide cultural forces of our era (No, that's not hyperbole.) over a spartan, trunk banger of a beat, this is what I dream of East Coast rap being, swagger and substance, floss and brains, penthouse and pavement - exciting, basically.
Van She - Virgin Suicide
It might come as a shock to those who noticed the internet ripples Australia's Van She have been making over the past couple of years with their Van She Tech remixes and brief run of singles ("Kelly," "Sex City") that basically stood as little more than jumping off points for a much longer run of much drooled over remixes by higher profile artists, but there is next to nothing blog and/or house about their upcoming album V. Harkening back to that brief moment a decade or so ago when being French and owning a copy of Supertramp's Breakfast In America was a sure pathway to a record deal and model ass, "Virgin Suicide" (along with the rest of the album) sounds like it could slip easily in to the Air-penned score or 70s soft rock soundtrack of Sofia Coppola's similarly titled film. They may amount to little more than an Antipodean version of Phoenix, but I can definitely see this being a movie kiss soundtrack placement away from annoying ubiquity in a few months. Enjoy it while you can.
Bird Peterson - Hunger Strike 5000
I've had a musical brain ache for the last few days courtesy of Austin's Bird Peterson (who also has a great remix on the previously mentioned Malente & Dex single) and this track he claims to have made on a dare from Dave Nada. Is it great? Is it awful? Is it grawful? I leave it to you and your god to work out. If you're lucky (or not), Bird might slip this in to his set at The Loft anniversary party on Friday.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
George Michael - Freedom (Back To Reality Mix)
"I didn't think he'd do 'Freedom,' but then... BAM! second encore!" And if you get that one, Big Nerd prize for you! You get to touch my $160.00 ticket stub! This isn't the version Mr. Panayiotou closed his big American Airlines Center show with last Sunday, but it is an interesting one for the collection. Hopping on a dance trend about a dozen years ahead of everyone else, George takes the mash-up route for this mix of his hit single from 1990, mixing it with bits of Soul II Soul, Neneh Cherry, and Sinead O'Connor.
ABN feat. H.A.W.K. - Down In Texas
This week's release of the highly anticipated (at least in my head) re-teaming of Z-Ro and Trae for their first album-length Assholes By Nature project in five years has proven to be another strong Houston contender for consideration on any short list of rap albums of the year. An album of rolling trunk bangers and thug life tales that strongly recalls the glory days of West Coast G-funk, It Is What It Is is a strong dose of street medicine for hip hop's current Lil Wayne overdose refreshingly bereft of crossover pop appeal. Here, the titular Assholes raise the late H.A.W.K. for an unusually bleak example of the required Texas Rap Album Song About Texas.
Primal Scream - The Glory Of Love (Single Version)
Britain's greatest drug monkey survivors not named Keith Richards will be releasing their ninth studio album later this month, and unlike most new Primal Scream records, this one doesn't find them chasing a new sound like a pack of speed-addled David Bowies. If anything, Beautiful Future is an amalgamation of all their previous sounds with nods to clubby bliss-outs, tooth drill techno, Stonesy roots rock, and white boy swamp funk sitting with surprising ease next to (and occasionally on top of) each other. Trading dystopian paranoia for love-stoned good times, this lead single is one of the more straight forward guitar pop songs Primal Scream has ever released and an obvious fruit of the producer's chair being shared by Paul Epworth (Bloc Party and every other neuvo post-punk band) and Peter Björn and John's Björn (who it seems brought his hand claps along).
Kid Cudi - The Prayer
Another month, another 10 Deep sponsored mixtape from a blog rap Next Big Thing. This time the brass knuckles logo and commemorative t-shirt go to Cleveland's Kid Cudi, who, strangely enough for the genre, has actually released physical product prior to this in the form of his Day 'N' Nite single for A-Trak and Nick Catchdub's Fools Gold label (also home to blog rap crush object Kid Sister). I must admit A Kid Named Cudi isn't as consistently interesting and clever as Wale's 10 Deep collabo, The Mixtape About Nothing, but I would still 100% rather listen to it than the new G-Unit or Jim Jones & Byrdgang albums. On this track, Kid Cudi heads straight for Pitchfork's G-spot with the first rap tune (I feel I am pretty safe to say) built around a Band Of Horses sample. Download the mixtape for free or buy the t-shirt/CD party pack here.
Emynd - Oogum Boogum
Known by many in a certain segment of the hipster DJ community for being the official scourge of the white-ification of Bmore club as much as for his White Tees & White Belts party in Philadelphia, Emynd has finally taken his crusade to club mecca and released Philly 2 Bmore on the godfather Scottie B's Unruly Records. A release truly worthy of the Unruly seal of approval, Emynd showcases a number of the trends currently falling under the "club music" umbrella, while always staying true to the scene's more hard-edged underground roots. Even his hipster-bait 80s track turns Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy" in to a Lil Jon-laced head bustin' anthem. The EP's highlight for me, though, is this slightly sweeter take on Brenton Wood's 1967 soul staple "Oogum Boogum Song," which already has club classic written all over it. Buy individual tracks or the full EP here.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Big Star - Thirteen (Live)
Yes, Snarky McSnarkston, I am well aware that espousing your love for Big Star is probably second only to introducing your moody teen cousin to The Velvet Underground in the list of Aging Hipster Clichés, but reading Robert Gordon's It Came From Memphis had me on a bit of an Alex Chilton kick this week. From million-selling teen pop idol to guiding force of one of the 70s' seminal cult bands in a half dozen years and all before the age of 24, it is hardly surprising that Chilton became one of the venerated saints of the 80s American indie underground. One can only hope that this is how Miley Cyrus' career will go. Hopefully, The Cramps will still be around for her to produce when she is in her washed up pill-head phase. This is a live version of Big Star's beloved teen angst ballad from a show in 1974. Good stuff.
PRGz feat. Jackie Chain - Rollin (DJ Ayres Remix)
Just when the blog hype was starting to die down around Huntsville, Alabama's vaguely mysterious Paper Route Records rap scene, DJ Ayres of Brooklyn's The Rub crew goes and works this little bit of remix magic with some synths borrowed from French prog/electro/dance/new wave/whatever-you-want-to-call-'ems M83. The internet can't seem to agree on if this track is by PRGz or Hood Headlinaz, but regardless of who is there rapping with Jackie Chain, Ayres has definitely turned this ode to being on ecstasy for weeks on end in to a menacing throb more reminiscent of how I think I would feel after such a lengthy bout of "rolling." Hopefully, this will remind Diplo of how impatiently people are awaiting Mad Decent's Paper Route collabo project, and it will see the light of day before prime summer driving season is over.
Pnau feat. Ladyhawke - Embrace (Fred Falke & Miami Horror Remix)
This remix of Pnau's new single is like a globe-straddling Voltron minus one of the lions (or minus however many cars, planes, and boats made up the less good Voltron that was on in the mornings). With Pnau, Ladyhawke, and Miami Horror representing the Australia/NZ wing and Fred Falke flying the tri-color for France, this one just needs someone from LA to send the needle flying past the red zone on the Blog House Boner Overload meter. Luckily, instead of defining the term "hot mess" like a number of recent blog house collaborations (I see you Busy P and Murs.), Falke puts his masterfully sticky fingers all over "Embrace" and adds another silky smooth dance jam to his 2008 résumé. Come December, I think everyone will look back and realize he has pretty much owned this year. Q: Will that one guy ever stop riding Fred Falke's dick? A: Unlikely.
Killer Mike - 10 G's
With Killer Mike's I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II dropping last Tuesday and David Banner's The Greatest Story Ever Told due to be released next Tuesday, July is shaping up as a banner month for strong, righteous Southern rap. Killer Mike's latest opus proves once again that few on either side of the Mason-Dixon Line can hold a candle to him when it comes to mic skills and the ability to straddle the thug/teacher, gangster/poet fence without lapsing in to caricature on either side. A perfect example of that dichotomy is this lead off track that recommends flipping hustling money in to real estate investments and the procurement of Fed Ex jobs by any drug dealer over thirty. Plus, it has a monster beat made for rattling trunks. Another strong statement for one of rap's most singular and independent voices and another long step out of Oukast's shadow, this one comes highly recommended. Cop that album.
The Durutti Column - Head Glue
I'll round things out this week with a wussy ambient guitar slow burn courtesy of Factory Records surviors The Durutti Column for all of you who enjoy smoking grass. A lovely eight minute outing from Vini Reilly's forthcoming album Sunlight To Blue ... Blue To Blackness, "Head Glue" is one of a handful of vocal tracks scattered throughout the album and finds Reilly dueting with an (at the time of this writing) unknown female vocalist over a track that whispers "shoegaze" in your ear as it calls up images of English bands fronted by quirkily cute Asian women being interviewed in the 90s run of Creem magazine.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Pase Rock - Get Money Kids
If forced in to honesty, I would have to say that, as a rapper, Pase Rock is a really great DJ. No offense to him, but I'm sure he would be the first to admit he won't ever be making any "Top 10 Spitters" lists. His party rocking skills can't be denied, though, and they more than make up for any linguistic dexterity he might lack when he gets on the mic. Adding to a list of shout-a-long crowd pleasers that he already has under his belt like "Lindsay Lohan's Revenge" and "So Fucking Disco," this brand new track (just dropped yesterday to friends and internet audio vultures) is a definite summertime heater with a horny horn beat from your favorite DJ/producer's favorite DJ/producer, Eli Escobar, that could probably make me sound like a great rapper. It looks like this will be seeing a physical release along with "So Fucking Disco" later in the summer, and Pase and Eli have promised a slew of high-profile remixes to round out the package. Note to Central Booking: Back To School Hands Up featuring Pase Rock and DJ Eli has a really strong ring to it. Just a thought.
Wild Beasts - Brace Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants
It's no surprise that Wild Beasts' debut album Limbo, Panto is being released by Domino Records considering they vaguely sound like what you might expect to come out of a spirited game of musical Twister involving their high-profile label mates in Franz Ferdinand and Animal Collective. An extremely British sounding band who wed the Scottish school of awkward white funk to a fondness for psychedelically loose flights of melodic fancy and inscrutable lyrical content voiced by one of the most divisive vocalists I've encountered since Antony Hegarty began to make tastemaker waves, Wild Beasts are probably one of the more singular listening experiences you will hear coming from a fairly mainstream indie label like Domino this year. Far more challenging than their recent single "The Devil's Crayon," this older track is definitely the "hate it or love it" kind of music that most artists dream of making. I'm grabbing a seat in the "love it" section before it gets too crowded.
John Legend feat. Andre 3000 - Green Light
This one should probably be subtitled "Mr. Legend Goes For That Crossover Money," and that's really not a good thing. Awkwardly soldered to a wan beat that sounds more bad New Romantic than the vibe music sexiness it seeks to approximate, Legend's silky, smooth bedroom vocals sound incredibly out of place exhorting a nameless club rat to shake a little faster and come a little closer like an oily bottle-service lothario. So, how did this get in to the "Tracks Of The Week?" Two words: Three Stacks. Once again, as he has done since he incongruously appeared on Unk's "Walk It Out" remix two years ago, the kooky half of Outkast comes in from the Hollywood wilderness to completely slay a track, proving that in the quality over quantity stakes he, not Lil Wayne, is the current king of the feature and in so doing, turns this piece of epic pop failure in to a must listen for anyone with even a slight interest in hip hop. Raise your hand if you're ready for a new Outkast album.
Small Faces - The Autumn Stone
This week's "Old Song That No One Ever Downloads" spot goes to this quietly haunting ballad from the Small Faces. An English pastoral sounding far more like the then new breed of English hippie folk (Fairport Convention, Pentangle, etc.) than the psychedelic, neo-music hall dandies of their preceding album, Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake, this posthumously released title track to the classic Small Faces compilation points to the quieter moments the Steve Marriott-less band would soon occasionally find with Rod Stewart and Ron Wood in the Faces and would form the template for bassist Ronnie Lane's solo ventures with Slim Chance. This is a must listen for anyone who likes John Barleycorn Must Die-era Traffic or Wild Wood-era Paul Weller. Just be thankful I didn't post the Gene version (which I do have on CD single and a horrible mid-90s Small Faces tribute album. I like this song that much.).
It has been my long held belief that contemporary club remixes of classic tunes are rarely worth listening to for anything beyond an "Oh my" novelty factor. For every DJ Technics take on "Mr. Postman" there are a thousand Neptunes remixes of "Sympathy For The Devil," and with the proliferation of easily used production software and bloggers who think Girl Talk is the best DJ in America, the glut just gets worse every day. With that being said, though, when you come across a gem like this there are few things more smile-inducing in the remix world. Released as part of Yaz/Yazoo's reintroduction to the world coinciding with their reunion tour this summer (Lakewood Theater, July 22), Hercules & Love Affair work their magic on the 80s standard and, not unlike Frankie Knuckles did for their recent "Blind" single, take it straight to the Madchester-era floor of the Hacienda with an abundance of big house pianos and Alison Moyet re-imagined as a Chicago-style diva. This is what you refer to as "dance floor manna" and will no doubt be saving more than a few DJs waning sets in the coming months. Surefire floor filler for sure.