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.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Twista feat. R. Kelly - So Sexy (Chromeo Remix)
Not guilty, snitches!!!! You know I had to post something up in honor of The Pied Pipers' acquittal, but I thought the Chromeo connection would make this a little easier on all your hipster sensibilities than "I Believe I Can Fly." Here, A-Trak's brother and the other guy turn Twista and Kells' ode to "girls who like to keep the d up inside of 'em" in to the kind of white guy electro-funk extravaganza that fickle Vice readers loved last summer, but probably would feel snobby about this summer. Regardless, The R is free, 12 Play: Fourth Quarter will be out next month, and a late summer tour should be hitting an American Airlines Center near you. Mothers lock up your underage daughters!
Crystal Antlers - A Thousand Eyes
I'm extremely embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of Crystal Antlers prior to Pitchfork's review of their newish EP the other day. As disappointing as it was to find that my finger had briefly wandered off the musical pulse, I quickly forgot about it in favor of enjoying one of the better half hours of modern psychedelia I have heard in a while. Pummeling drums, screeching guitar freak outs, 60s-inspired organ lines, throat shredding vocals, it all adds up to a record that tightrope walks a precarious line of controlled chaos over a yawning abyss of sweaty, sloppy, self-indulgent wankery. Basically, Crystal Antlers are what your buddies' "space improv collective" think they sound like when they're on acid. This track is the moody midpoint of the EP and offers a more sedate take on the band's sound that I might be tempted to compare to a keyboard-less Wolf Parade if I was writing a review for Pitchfork.
Little Brother feat. Skillz and Carlitta Durand - Life Of The Party (Remix)
"Life Of The Party" has been floating around in various permutations since late 2006, but its inclusion on Little Brother's recently released quasi-compilation of new tunes and old mixtape joints, ...And Justus For All, seemed like a good enough excuse to give it a few spins this week and post it here. An ode to being the perpetual "next big thing," the track is a sly nod to Little Brothers' professional life as critical darlings who can't seem to make it past opening act status built around a celebratory hook provided by Carlitta Durand. This remix adds a solid verse by fellow also-ran Skillz to an already winning formula and turns out as my favorite thing Little Brother has ever done. Plus, the opening line is the funniest opening I'm aware of to a rap song.
Boy 8-Bit - Bulbs Burn Out (Original Mix)
Londoner Boy 8-Bit has been around for a while, but he didn't really start getting notice outside of serious dance nerd circles until late last year when his tune "Suspense Is Killing Me" started cropping up in the sets of taste maker DJs like Switch and Crookers. With a freshly released EP on Diplo's ultra-trendy (in a good way) Mad Decent label, Boy 8-Bit should join label mates Bonde Do Role, Blaqstarr, and DJ Sega on the list of dance music names dropped by cool kids who don't really keep up with dance music. In addition to two versions of the aforementioned "Suspense Is Killing Me," the EP is home to this track, which is one of the most strangely irresistible club tracks I've heard recently. It's something like a Baltimore club version of epic trance (or vice versa), minus the awful stomach turning that sounds like it would entail. It probably won't make any sense coming out of your computer speakers, but on a proper sound system at the right moment, this is the textbook definition of huge, expect to hear it a lot this summer.
Elvis Presley - (Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame
In honor of Father's Day, this one goes out to my pops. Although his unquenchable love for corny Southern gospel music leaves me perpetually scratching my head, it was his love of Elvis movies that taught me what rock and roll should be about and his old copy of Elvis' How Great Thou Art album that was the charter member of my record collection. This take on the Pomus/Shuman tune stands as the highlight of Elvis' less than stellar early 60s output and would provide the impetus for a storming live cover by The Smiths, as featured on their less than stellar swan song, Rank. A truly great tune for a truly great human being.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Tony Allen - Kilode (Carl Craig Remix)
If you are anything like me, you are probably a bit of a loser, but in addition to that, you probably find the "World Music" section of the record store (Yes, people like me still go to them.) to be a mysterious place for the most part bereft of the signposts (recognizable artists, producers, record labels, etc.) you might normally use to make purchase decisions. Where do you start when Fela Kuti released almost thirty albums in the 70s alone? Which beardy tabla master is better than the other beardy tabla masters? For those of us standing scratching our heads like fat tourists wearing fanny packs and Bermuda shorts while we try to find someone who speaks English to direct us back to the hotel, the recently released Lagos Shake: A Tony Allen Chop Up (on Blur front man Damon Albarn's Honest Jon label) provides an easy introduction to the man who, as drummer and leader of Fela's band in the 70s, pretty much singlehandedly invented the rhythmic template for Afro-Beat and much of African pop thereafter, with hipster friendly artists like Diplo and Bonde Do Role taking remix cracks at tunes from Allen's 2006 release, Lagos No Shaking. Allen's tracks slip easily in to diverse styles from dub reggae to disco to baile electrofunk, but the collection's crowning glory is easily this remix from techno kingpin Carl Craig. In a true legend meets legend moment, Craig turns "Kilode" in to the kind of diva-heavy, hands-in-the-air peak hour tune that has routinely separated him from the head nodding techno pack and leads you warmly in to a brave new world of even more records to buy. Now if only someone could teach me to like jazz.
Frightened Rabbit - Keep Yourself Warm
I went to check out Frightened Rabbit open up for French Kicks at The Granada on Wednesday, and it wound up being one of those shows that reminds me how much I still love going to see a few dudes stand around and play music. As Stonedranger stated in his show preview, these guys are definitely not doing anything new or off the beaten path, and a pretty straight line can be drawn from their latest release, The Midnight Organ Fight, through fellow Scots Idlewild, and back to early 90s R.E.M. Instead of breeding contempt, though, Frightened Rabbit's brand of familiarity has more of a "buddy from college that you get drunk with every once in a while" feel to it, and with the aid of a great, hard-hitting drummer, their live set stretches the music in to that vaguely transcendent place that leaves you with a big shit-eating grin at the end of the night. I bounced before French Kicks could ruin my high.
Lil Wayne feat. Robin Thicke - Tie My Hands
Well, America, the wait is almost over. Come this Tuesday, the most anticipated event since that whole "Jesus coming back" thing will be upon us when Weezy F. Baby releases his long awaited magnum opus, Tha Carter III, on our brilliance starved ears and proves once and for all that he is officially the "best rapper alive." At least that's what Lil Wayne would have you believe. If you've already heard one of the million leaks that has been floating around the internet since last weekend, though, you'll know that Tha Carter III is a somewhat messy, suprisingly East Coast sounding, good, but not great, album that probably won't have much appeal beyond serious rap fans. No Kanye West-style crossovers and appearances on The Ellen Degeneres Show in Young Weezy's future as far as I can tell. Amid all the glassy-eyed braggadocio and substance abuse, this track stands out as the beating heart of the record with Wayne wrapped in post-Katrina grief for his hometown but offering hope for the future over a Kanye beat and a soulful hook from Robin Thicke. (Brief aside: How did Alan Thicke's son become the go-to white guy for rap hooks?) G.O.A.T.? Not even close, but, with a little more time on the album and less time on the guest appearances and mixtapes next go-round, he just might get there.
Manfred Mann - The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)
When I was a young buck comin' up in the heady days I like to call "Reagan's first term," I used to continually check records out at the nearby public library, and nine times out of ten I would opt for one of the seemingly endless number of novelty song compilations put out by K-Tel and the Longines Symphonette Society under names like Goofy Greats and 40 Funky Hits. Packaged in cartoon-inspired covers and obviously marketed to kids, they always wound up throwing strangely subversive, and sometimes plainly inappropriate songs, in with usual suspects like "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron" and "The Jolly Green Giant." These collections were where I was introduced to "Dirty Water," "Stagger Lee," "Little Green Bag," "My Ding-a-Ling," and this plainly LSD-referencing, psychedelic Dylan cover by British Invasion B-listers Manfred Mann. One of a number of takes on St. Bob songs that they recorded during the 60s, this is easily the height of Mike D'Abo's tenure as lead singer and, no doubt, a major contributing factor in my desire for "a dose" later in life. I could never find an Eskimo to give me one, though. Such is life.
Wale feat. Tawiah - The Remake Of A Remake (All I Need)
With his new 10 Deep sponsored The Mixtape About Nothing, D.C.'s Wale has consolidated his place at the head of the "Streetwear Internet Nerd" rap pack and added another strong bullet point to his 2008 résumé to sit next to his guest spot on the new Roots album and the production of his own New Era fitted hat. Featuring appearances by Lil Wayne, Bun B, and Clipse's Pusha T and filled with the go-go inspired rap that has been setting the blogosphere on its collective ear for the last year or so, The Mixtape About Nothing holds the bizarre distinction of being (I believe) the first hip hop mixtape inspired by Seinfeld. A hip hop mixtape filled with samples of Jerry, George, and Kramer and even including a drop from Julia Louis-Dreyfus (which you can hear the tail end of on this track) sounds like the textbook definition of annoying, but under the capable guidance of hipster DJ du jour Nick Catchdubs it becomes easily one of the most creative and well-conceived mixtapes I've ever heard and looks like another nail in the coffin for the traditional, major label rap album. This track finds Amy Winehouse's favorite production hunk, Mark Ronson, behind the board for Wale's take on Method Man and Mary J. Blige's take on Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's take on the Ashford & Simpson classic "You're All I Need To Get By." Another great moment from one of the most interesting new talents in hip hop, download the full mix for free (and buy the limited edition t-shirt) here.
Monday, June 2, 2008
If you were cool, you would already know that Rustie's "Patrick Ewing" could very well be the hipster hop summer jam of the year... the best part is that it doesn't suck. It's actually the shit, and it's better than any of Cadence Weapon's singles. Or Cool Kids for that matter. Thanks Boomkat.
Download it here.
Download it here.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Player - Baby Come Back
Friday night, I was arguing with a friend over the technical definition of Yacht Rock, particularly as it pertains to "Sara Smiles" by Hall & Oates. I contended it fell more in to the Blue Eyed Soul realm and, further, that Hall & Oates' lack of nautically-themed album covers disallowed them, by definition, from the category. She was throwing a much wider net with her definition and, basically, giving full Yacht Rock status to any soft rock from the 70s (including The Carpenters... sigh). Feel free to offer your thoughts on this highly charged issue in the Comments. Regardless of definition, I think we can all agree that "Baby Come Back" sits near the top of the 70s Yacht/soft/lite rock heap. What does a mustache sightly damp with pool water and sprinkled with cocaine cruising in the driver's seat of a custom van down Sunset Boulevard in search of daytime friends and nighttime lovers sound like? I think the search ends here.
Paul Weller - Echoes Round The Sun
Like that fitted cap you wear to cover your receding hairline, there are certain boxes that, when checked, show that your hipster card is getting worn around the edges. I dare say the most obvious checks for a lot of you of my vintage sit next to the boxes labeled "Britpop" and "Post-Britpop." We might stand next to the kids at the club while they spazz out to their noise rock and street wear rap, but during that moment of indecision while grabbing a CD for the car our hands invariably stray towards some Charlatans UK or Cast's debut album, not the new No Age. If any of that sounds familiar, "Echoes Round The Sun" should fit you like a well-tailored Ben Sherman button-down. Part of the double A-side single (along with "Have You Made Up Your Mind") previewing the Modfather's new album, 22 Dreams, this song is the first co-write for Weller and the other big dog of Dadrock, Oasis' Noel Gallagher. I know, so far, so 1997, but instead of being the Traffic-by-way-of-The Beatles pastoral ballad one might expect (and, no doubt, kind of like), "Echoes Round The Sun" is a surprisingly heavy psychedelic number with a heaping helping of guitar nastiness that one might be so bold as to call "Stooges-esque." If this is any indication of their respective forthcoming full-lengths, 2008 may turn out to be the inevitable hipster reevaluation year for Blokerock in general. The 18 year olds will be soooo envious of your vintage Ocean Colour Scene t-shirt.
V.I.C. feat. Soulja Boy, Bun B, E-40, Pitbull, Pollow Da Don, Jermaine Dupri, Arab, DJ Unk, Big Kuntry King, and Tech - Get Silly (Official Remix)
Just in time for a new summer, a new Mr. Collipark protege is, like Soulja Boy in 2007, eating up the charts with a track that hip hop purists decry as the death of the art form while kids in their bedrooms dance to it for YouTube cameras. You may have already heard V.I.C.'s track enough for this lifetime already, but, as is the way in 2008, a rap hit can't leave the scene without the inevitable seven minute remix featuring a bunch of rappers who seemed to have been drafted in based on their names being drawn from a hat. As far as these things go, this one is pretty solid with quality showings from most of the featured artists and what has to be one of my favorite guest spots from Bun B so far this year. In a few quick lines, the King of Trill chops the legs out from under the "ringtone rap" label and encourages anyone who disparages Southern rap to eat the proverbial dick. All in all, a quality victory lap for a fun track that will probably hang around for another couple of months. Just wait until your Mom is gettin' silly with it!
Stat Quo feat. B.O.B - My Ride Double Bubble
Making this new Stat Quo track the official Summer Jam '08 has been pretty high on my agenda for the past month and a half, but so far I feel like that's been pretty unsuccessful. With that in mind, I'm using this forum as my last ditch effort to drive it in to the public consciousness and reap the reward of pulling up to a stop light and hearing B.O.B's guest verse flowing over this borderline bizarre doo-wop/Beach Boys-like backing track blasting out of a car next to me. Download it. Take it to your car. I'll meet you at the corner. You'll thank me.
This track has been floating around for a few months now, but given the title I thought it would be a perfect time to post it up. We Shot JR and the NBA, that's what you call cross-marketing (or at least that's what my philosophy degree would have me believe you call cross-marketing). With this one, Chicago's Willy Joy freaks Capcom's redux of a painfully recognizable (just plain painful?) 80s rock staple (I won't spoil the surprise) in to a hard and fast peak time monster aimed squarely at drunkenly amped up white people of all ages. Throw this on at your next hipster meet and greet, Becky/Chad bro down, or late night at your cousin's wedding and watch the dance floor fill with the sloppy sing-along. I can smell the beer sweat already.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
We just received a new track that will appear on Baltimore based, Wham City affiliated Ponytail's latest album, Ice Cream Spiritual. The track is called "Celebrate the Body Electric (It Came from an Angel)," and you can download it here.
Good stuff. I would expect this album to get a lot of press here in the coming weeks.
Good stuff. I would expect this album to get a lot of press here in the coming weeks.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Blood Raw feat. Mannie Fresh - Almost There
According to his MySpace page, the streets love Blood Raw, and as We Shot JR's (self-proclaimed) Official Ear To The Streets, I'll play along with that. His major label debut, My Life: The True Testimony, is scheduled to be released by Def Jam on June 10, and, if the tracks that have leaked are any indication, Blood Raw may be the heir to the hungry and struggling version of Young Jeezy (another rapper who famously claimed love from the streets), who seemed to disappear after Thug Motivation stormed the rap world a few years ago. With a signature beat from former Cash Money producer Mannie Fresh, this track is Blood Raw's salute to those who haven't quite put it together yet. Office thug anthem '08!
Cyndi Lauper - The Goonies 'R' Good Enough (Dance Re-mix)
When I see lists of "The Greatest Movie Themes Of All Time," I'm always a little taken aback by the glaring omissions. All respect to Italians with orchestras, but what does someone whistling over a 100-piece string section really tell me about Clint Eastwood shooting people? This track, on the other hand, tells me everything I need to know about the movie in question. Specifically, The Goonies are good enough for you, and their good enough for me. Aiy-yi-yi-yi-yaiy. Plus, the two part video for this song may be the greatest kid's adventure movie / golden-era WWF cross promotion ever with appearances by The Goonies, Andre The Giant, Captain Lou Albano, Rowdy Roddy Piper, The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Steven Spielberg, and The Bangles. In the end, it all makes me really regret taping over my copy of this soundtrack with Hatful Of Hollow in 10th grade.
GG Allin - Carmalita
I just realized this week that the Todd Phillips who directed the GG Allin documentary, Hated, is the same Todd Phillips who directed such Frat Pack classics as Old School and Starsky & Hutch. How's that for a CV? From the soundtrack to the best rock documentary with piss drinking in it I've ever seen, here's GG's acoustic interpretation of a Warren Zevon classic that, in the balls and pathos departments, beats Dwight Yoakam's stale cover into a cocked hat and perfectly evokes Echo Park for me. Not the most indicative moment in his catalog, but if it whets your appetite for some old-fashioned punk rock mayhem, a GG-less Murder Junkies will be playing at The Prophet Bar on Memorial Day.
T.I. - No Matter What
This track is one of those that just seems to get better every time I hear it and is quickly moving in to prominent position on a short list of my favorite rap singles of the year. Coming back hard after a 2007 that looked like it might spell the end of his career with the release of the disastrously tepid T.I. vs. T.I.P. album and the felony weapons charges that have confined him to house arrest since last October, T.I. gives a sharp slap to all the haters and nay sayers (lookin' right at you, Shawty LO) and proves that he still holds the ATL trap rap crown. Built on a monstrous beat from Timbaland protege Danja, this is another classic single from T.I. and hopefully points to an energized new direction for his art. Regardless of how the court case turns out, he ain't dead. He ain't done. He ain't scared. He ain't run. Believe that.
Vetiver - Hurry On Sundown
When Donny & Marie sang "I'm A Little Bit Freak Folk, I'm A Little Bit Stoner Space Metal" (or something like that) on their hit variety show back in the late 70s, few realized that they were prophetically setting the template for a magic moment in 2008 when Vetiver would include a version of Hawkwind's first single on their new covers album, Thing Of The Past. True, "Hurry On Sundown" isn't full-blown cosmic drug rock Hawkwind (no, "Masters Of The Universe" here), but it is pretty fun to hear the decidedly frail and sedate Vetiver take a crack at a song by the band that bizarrely collaborated with legendary sci-fi novelist Michael Moorcock and spawned metal kingpins Motorhead. Sounding not unlike a cough syrup and speed frazzled hootenanny in the Haight circa-1967, Andy Cabic and co. take the tune down a road that should be pretty familiar to anyone who enjoys Spiritualized's more shambolic acoustic moments. Who here likes drugs?
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Bun B - Get Cha Issue
The next time some crusty old "true school"er gives me the tired line about Southern rap being borderline minstrelsy bereft of any ideas beyond shuffle stepping and rims I'll play them this right after I punch them in the throat. On the most politically charged track off of his new solo album, II Trill (released May 20), "Big Dick Cheney" comes across like a Texan Ice Cube circa AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted with a damning tirade against preachers, police, and politicians which manages to mention Sean Bell and Larry Craig over a paint peeler of a beat. If, as a prominently displayed t-shirt in Bun's new "That's Gangsta" video states, "Smart is the new gangsta," this thing is gangsta as fuck. A strong capper to a roller coaster twelve months that saw UGK's first number one album and Grammy nomination overshadowed by the tragic death of Pimp C, Bun shows the world how a true legend stays strong. This is one to spend your money on.
*Bonus: Here's some video of Jay-Z and Bun B performing "Big Pimpin'" in Houston last month. Watch for Houston holding it down for Pimp C. Shit gives me chills. And, oh yeah, it's still UGK 4 life!
The Jam - Beat Surrender
I have a simple personality test that I sometimes use when I meet new people and the subject turns to music. If in response to the question "What is your favorite Jam single?" they say anything other than "Beat Surrender," I automatically place them in the "People Who Are Wrong" category. So far, it's worked fairly well for me. This may be the most perfect example of how a band goes out on a high note.
Lykke Li - I'm Good, I'm Gone (Fred Falke Vocal)
There's a line from a Hunter S. Thompson essay (cliche, I know) about the Roxanne Pulitzer trial that has always stuck in my head where he describes "cruising the beach at dawn in a red Chrysler convertible with... a head full of bogus cocaine and two beautiful lesbians in the front seat beside me, telling jokes to each other in French." With his recent Music For My Friends EP and remix work for The Whitest Boy Alive, Ladyhawke, and Swedish hipster-fave-of-the-moment, Lykke Li, it seems to me that Fred Falke has spent the first half of 2008 attempting to create the perfect soundtrack to Thompson's scenario. This is dance music that's more suited to top down, ocean view driving than a dark club, but Falke adds just enough French house touch to remind you your sundown destination is still the unisex bathroom stalls of a sleazy Euro disco.
The Move - Blackberry Way
Often forgotten in the roll call of 60s psych pop and eternally overshadowed by the band that arose from its ashes, The Move was the brainchild of Roy Wood and a rotating cast of musicians and lead singers that would finally include Wood's fellow Brummie, Jeff Lynne. A bitterly sarcastic riposte to the cheeky chappy fun of The Beatles' "Penny Lane," "Blackbery Way" nevertheless wraps its farewell to a terrible day in an inescapably upbeat melody. The song topped the British charts in 1969 and for the most part marked the end of The Move's pop era. After this, things got a bit heavier, a bit proggier, and the stage was set for Wood, Lynne, and drummer Bev Bevan to create the 70s arena rock behemoth E.L.O.
Going on three months after its initial release, Usher's "Love In This Club" is still a reliable staple at any club where you have to wear a collared shirt and pay to sit down, and with new remixes featuring T.I., Lil Wayne, and Beyonce dropping within the last month, it doesn't look like it will be going anywhere any time soon. I've been told this MSTRKRFT remix has been doing well with the fitted-hats-and-limited-edition-sneakers crowd, but I've yet to hear it out anywhere myself. Beginning and ending with some very sub-par Daft Punk aping that doesn't sit with Usher's vocals at all, the remix seems like it is going to be an epic bit of failure until a Supertramp-style electric piano break shows up at the 1:30 mark and takes the whole proceedings somewhere rather sublime. I'm not sure that even saves it, but it is definitely an interesting listen on a "Boy, this could have been something kind of great instead of kind of half-assed" tip. Keep working on your mustaches, boys!