Saturday, June 21, 2008

that one guy's tracks of the week: 06/21/2008

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.

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

that one guy's tracks of the week: 06/14/2008

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.  

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.

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

that one guy's tracks of the week: 06/07/2008

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.

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.

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

Rustie "Patrick Ewing"

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.