Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Resuscitate Me

Song: Resuscitate Me
Artist: September
Album: Love CPR

I first heard of Swedish dance-pop artist September when I got her compilation album "September" back in 2008.  A mix of her second album, 2005's "In Orbit" and third, 2007's "Dancing Shoes," the compilation was released here in the US, Canada, and Australia in order to capitalize on her growing popularity in Sweden and the strength of several hit tunes.  But it was single "Cry for You," that got things really going and she subsequently released compilations "Dancing in Orbit" for Belgium & the Netherlands, "Gold" for Europe, and then "Cry For You: The Album" in the UK and Ireland.  All having the same songs as "September" with slight differences here and there.

Well, it's time that September stop riding the wave of old (but great) tracks from years past, and in 2011 we will see the release of an international follow up to all of these compilations, "Love CPR."  With fellow Swede Robyn blowing things up this year with "Body Talk," can September ride the Swedish dance-pop wave?

First single "Resuscitate Me" was released this month and sounds right in line with the material from "September."   I do like it... though the more I hear her I realize she's a little less "Dancing On My Own," and a bit more "Evacuate the Dancefloor."  Yikes.  But I do think September has something a little more than the cavity-enducing Euro-pop like Cascada that seems to have a random pop hit here in the States every once in a while.  I wore the shit out of "September" despite it's Euro-pop sheen.  So I'm excited to hear what she does with the rest of "Love CPR."

I do highly recommend her old album if you dig this new single.  Not sure if "Resuscitate Me" has the spark of my personal favorites "Satellites" "Because I Love You" and "Looking For Love..." but I'm digging it.


Resuscitate Me


Looking for Love

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Baska Brother

Song: Baska Brother
Artist: Parov Stelar
Album: The Paris Swing Box

Here is a random find.  Parov Stelar is an Austrian Producer/DJ who heads up Etage Noir Records.  He began DJ'ing in the 90's and then started producing records in early 2000 under a variety of names until he settled on Parov Stelar.

Stelar has coined the term "Electroswing" to what he does... a mix of, get this... swing music and electro.  (Brilliant eh?)  Well, a quick listen to his latest EP, "The Paris Swing Box" and you'll get where he's from. Not surprising, his music has been used in a variety of car ads, I immediately thought of Yolanda Be Cool's International mega-hit "We No Speak Americano" as mixing some old-time sound with updated beats and production.  Though in the case of Stelar, it doesn't seem that he is relying on a past song to sample... this is new swing music he's written.

It's something that you immediately dig or just isn't your speed.  I liked it.  It's a bit more edgy beat-wise than the whole concept might let on.  "Baska Brother" is the first track and really tells you all you need know, but also check out "The Golden Boy," it's quite a banger.

The man has released seven albums since 2001, with "Coco" from 2009 being his latest.  He's released more than double that amount in EP's, with "Paris Swing Box" being the latest.  He has a best-of called "The Swing" I might check out as I'm digging this quite a bit. (Amazon has it listed as "Single Collection Volumes 1 & 2.)

You can learn more about Stelar by visiting his official website.


Baska Brother

The Golden Boy

The Paris Swing Box

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ma Baker

Song: Ma Baker
Artist: Boney M
Album: Love For Sale

So within days of each other, reader Shain sent me the track "Ma Baker" by 70's disco act Boney M. and I was researching Duck Sauce and their infectious track "Barbara Streisand," which is built on a very generous sample of disco track "Gotta Go Home," by... Boney M.  Since there are no musical coincidences, I decided I needed to know about this band...

The plot thickened as my friend Brian pointed out that "Ma Baker" was sampled by Gaga for "Poker Face." !!! (I initially thought it was just inspired by, as it doesn't sound like a straight sample... but it is.)  Who is this disco band that I'd never heard of?  Well, I highly recommend the career spanning Magic of Boney M, which contains all of their most well known songs, and spans their entire career.

So who are Boney M?  Well, initially it was solely German producer Frank Farian, whom recorded the dance track "Do You Wanna Bump?" in 1974 using his own studio-altered vocals, and released the track under the name Boney M.  He subsequently hired performers to "front" the group and hired four Jamaican's; Liz Mitchell, Marcia Barrett, Maizie Williams, and Bobby Farrell.

The bands full history is actually very interesting.  Take a gander at the bands Wikipedia page.  But the most interesting tidbit was that it was public knowledge that Bobby Farrell didn't actually "sing" on record or live, just miming Farian's vocals, but it wasn't until 1974 that it became known that Maizie Williams also didn't sing on the recorded material from the band... which was common practice with bands of the day.  While this didn't seem to effect the career of his Boney M, it did in fact cause a major scandal with another group Farian put together in 1988 called... Milli Vanilli.  Whoops!

Regardless of being a studio band, I have to say that the band have a goofy charm that I really like.  "Magic of Boney M" comes well recommended.  Take a listen to the tracks below.  What a different time!


Ma Baker

Rivers of Babylon

Brown Girl in the Ring

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rolling in the Deep

Song: Rolling in the Deep
Artist: Adele
Album: 21

Holy crap.  Okay... I didn't pay attention to Adele when she came out.  It was just a little too much after Winehouse being so good (and then crashing) and Duffy not fulfilling ANY of the promise made with "Mercy" on her debut album... once Adele was the "next" white girl British soul singer, I'd just had enough and never paid attention.  Mistake.

Well, that was until a couple friends posted "Rolling in the Deep," her new single from upcoming sophomore album "21" on the Face and I decided to get with it.  Whoa!  This song is unbelievable... like  a cross between The Stones "Gimme Shelter" and Gossip's "Heavy Cross."  It's big, bold, and quite the attention-getter.  It was Adel's voice that was spoken of the most upon the release of her debut album "19" and here is why... dang.

She describes this song as a "dark bluesy gospel disco tune."  Dig.


Rolling in the Deep

Friday, November 19, 2010

Jump on Stage

Song: Jump on Stage
Artist: Girl Talk
Album: All Day

Girl Talk is the moniker taken by Pittsburgh, PA DJ and sample artist Gregg Gillis who made quite a splash back in 2006 when his third album of non-stop mash-up's "The Night Ripper," came out on Illegal Art.  Made almost entirely of samples and mash-up's of popular songs into one non-stop mix.  Girl Talk continued the concept with his incredibly well-reviewed follow up "Feed the Animals" from 2008.  This week he released his fifth album, "All Day," again on Illegal Art.

I'd listened to the last two Girl Talk albums and honestly have to say that I didn't really care for them.  Despite the obvious skill and time that I know is involved with what Gillis does, I just couldn't get into the short-attention-span, break-neck-speed per track, that includes on average, about thirty different samples into one "song."  There wasn't one through-line or specific sample that would run through one song... shifting from here to there... it's pretty schizophrenic.  And more so just... unenjoyable.  Despite moments of greatness.

But I was missing something.  It should be mentioned that Girl Talk has made "All Day" available for free via the Illegal Art website.  When I got the album there it gives you the option to get it as a one-track MP3, or broken up into "songs" for "convenience."  And taking the thing as a whole makes it feel a little less disjointed... as that is how it's constructed, it shifts constantly... you can't grab onto one particular sample as less than a minute later... it's moved on.  I always found this disorienting.

As much as I listened to "Feed the Animals" and couldn't get into it... I am with "All Day."  There seems to be more 80's and 90's samples form tracks I love... with the hip-hop coming across as less intrusive this time out.  It's either something that I suppose rocks you, or leaves you absolutely cold.  But as in "Feed the Animals" there are moments that absolutely blow me away.  This guys has an ear for mixing tracks together.  It's pretty head-shake inducing.  Check it out.


Jump on Stage

Get it Get it

This is the Remix

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Song: D.I.L.
Artist: Voltaire Twins
Album: Cabin Fever EP

I don't know much about the brother/sister team from Perth, Australia called Voltaire Twins, but their debut EP, "Cabin Fever" is pretty rad. Apparently, there is a serious electro/indie-nu-rave movement happening down under... and the Voltaire Twins are in the mix.  They describe themselves as "Twin-bop," which seems... kinda specific to them but... if the shoe fits.

"D.I.L." is the first official single from the EP, despite "Cabin Fever" being the first and title track... maybe that's just some Southern Hemisphere logic... I dunno.  Regardless, "D.I.L." is a pretty great, a cute slice of dance-rock that sounds a bit like my idea of what new Postal Service would sound like if they did some uppers.  "Cabin Fever" is also a great track... and upon a couple listens I realized how rock-based their tunes are.  The beats, etc. are additions to these songs... don't get me wrong, I love it, there are just some serious melodies in these songs, vs. hiding behind some swirling production.  I get the feeling that they're good live... though I don't know why.

Ultimately the "Cabin Fever" EP feels a little too short, so I'm excited to hear what the band does on their full length.  Check out more from the band on their MySpace page, Facebook, etc.



Cabin Fever


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Devil is a Lady

Song: Devil is a Lady
Artist: The Chain Gang of 1974
Album: White Guts

The Chain Gang of 1974 hail from Denver, CO by way of San Jose, and then Hawaii.  The one-man-band consists of Kamtin Mohager, the singer/multi-instrumentalist.  Sort of a mix of LCD Soundsytem and Tears for Fears, the band mixes electronic beats, crunching guitar, and a variety of off-kilter sounds.

After the release of "Fantastic Nostalgic: The Early Recordings" in January of this year, the band digitally released "White Guts," the proper debut this past April.  The album is pretty varied; opener "Stop!" sounds like junkyard Beck, until is segues into trance-like bliss.  "Devil is a Lady" is where you hear the LCD reference with a dash of Scissor Sister-esque falsetto, and the epic, 8-min "Hold On" rides a persistent modern beat but slowly begins to read very 80's.  "Visually Appealing" goes a step further mixing Depeche Mode, OMD, & a slice of New Order for a particularly pleasing slice of indie-dancerock heaven.

Elements of dance punk and underground post-punk creep in throughout, and by the time you reach "Matter of Time," an earnest ballad... you're ready for anything.  By the time you get to final track "Don't Walk Away" you really feel like you've been somewhere, ready to get back to the future even when you know you're already there.  "White Guts" in all is pretty exciting, and Mohager is obviously talented and one to watch.  There is much to enjoy on this record, very recommended.

For more on the band check out their MySpace Page.



Hold On

Matter of Time

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

As the World Falls Down

Song: As the World Falls Down
Artist: Lights (NYC)
Album: We Were So Turned On: A Tribute to David Bowie

I've posted about David Bowie a handful of times, he's a musical legend, and an artist that I've liked since I was (literally) a child.  I have no qualms letting on that it was his work in the Jim Henson live-action/puppet (muppet?) fantasy musical "Labyrinth" from 1987.  I was fascinated by him as a child in that film, loved the music (which is very underrated) and got me into then recent albums "Modern Love" and "Never Let Me Down," which then led me to his more celebrated 70's work, and his also underrated 90's work. ("Outside," "Earthling.")

Bowie and his management have never signed off on a tribute album of his music until War Child's recent double-disc collection of covers called "We Were So Turned On: A Tribute to David Bowie."  The album was released back in September, and supports War Child's efforts to help children in areas of conflict or post-conflict.  It was released on Manimal Vinyl, and started by the companies founder, Paul Beahan.

Instead of big-budget mix of industry heavyweights and big names, "We Were So Turned On" is mostly comprised of indie bands, the majority of those I haven't heard of.  It's a heady mix of a variety of styles and far-from-the-original takes on many a classic song from the Thin White Duke.  The biggest names on the album include Duran Duran's "Boys Keep Swinging," Devendra Banharts's Megapuss' take on "Sound + Vision" (which is in Spanish) and the Vivian Girls' "John, I'm Only Dancing."

As an album, it's a bit disorienting because there isn't the recognition of voice and style given the artists here, and many of the songs are so different from their original versions, without looking at the track list... it's a bit of a guessing game as to which classic you're listening to.  All of the big ones are here; "Space Oddity," "Be My Wife," "Fame," "Suffragette City," "China Girl," "Heroes," "Absolute Beginners," "Changes," "Ashes to Ashes," "Starman..." the list goes on.  I was quite surprised to see not one but TWO songs taken from the aforementioned "Labyrinth" soundtrack.  Laco$te take on the dark, brooding "Within You" which I found a bit... un-listenable.  Lights (NYC) do a much better job with one of my favorite Bowie songs of all time... "As the World Falls Down," which I reviewed and highlighted over four years ago (!!!) on this here little blog.  Somehow Lights (NYC,) (whom I know absolutely nothing about and can't tell if it's this this chick or not) give the song a slowed-down 60's girl group vibe to the song.  I really dig it.

Much of your enjoyment to this sprawling tribute will depend on your love of Bowie, and the style each band brings to their track.  But I must mention... I couldn't help but think about Mr. Bowie's own off-kilter cover of The Doors "The Alabama Song."  It was a b-side to "Space Oddity," and anytime I have ever played it for a Doors fan, they HATE it.  Take a listen here.  Mind-blowing.


As the World Falls Down - Lights

Xu Xu Fang - Chine Girl

Modern Love - Pizza!

Bonus: Never seen this, the "official" video for the song, without footage from the film.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Summer Nights

Song: Summer Nights
Artist: Florrie
Album: Introduction

I first heard of Florrie while researching remixes by Fred Falke, who is tied to the Xenomania production team (Girls Aloud, Pet Shop Boys) whom Florrie joined in 2008 as their drummer.  This year Florrie is branching out on her own after honing her skills in writing and production.  She's been recording tracks and releasing them via her website, all while really trying to figure out what her sound was going to be.  To which she told Ponystep recently:

"It’s going to be a big mixture: Kind of a sixties, organic feel merged with modern pop beats and electronics"

After a couple of songs (not "singles") were sent out into the blogospehere, she's "officially" released the four-track EP "Introduction," possibly meant as the first real taste of what to expect from Florrie in the future and for her debut album.  "Call of the Wild" has a little surf guitar, some gurgling beats, and some "She Wolf"-esque howling.  Immediately with this track we hear her 60's go-go influence met with modern beats and electronics.  "Give Me Your Love" is the most "pop" of the tracks and feels the most single-ready.  Piano-based, but beat heavy... it's a nice track but lacks a bit of the edge that "Call of the Wild" hinted at.  Though when it kicks in at the two minute mark... you're paying attention.

My hands-down favorite track is the 80's-inspired "Summer Nights," which has an inescapable guitar lick and a great melodic chorus that I've fallen for.  It's a little tough-chick rock mixed with electro-dance-pop.  Love.  Last track "Left Too Late" slows things down initially for a moody mid-tempo electro ballad, until it explodes over a sing-a-long-or-be-damned chorus.  Impressive.

People have been saying Florrie is one to watch, and partly because of her grassroots style of marketing. In a very interesting let's-see-how-this-works concept... Florrie has thus far made EVERYTHING she's done available online for free.  Take a look at her website.  There you can download not only this four-track EP in its entirety, but all her early tracks, remixes, etc.  (And at different file sizes/bit rates to boot.)  She's encouraging music fans and bloggers to spread the word via their own websites, Twitter, Facebook... it's interesting.  And hey... the music s pretty good.  Check her out.


Summer Nights

Call of the Wild

Give Me Your Love

Friday, November 12, 2010


Song: Karate
Artist: Kennedy
Album: Life is a Party

Okay, this is gonzo.  And a bit of a story...

So Wednesday night I went to see Robyn at Terminal 5, she was amazing.  Great show, good crowd, and just made me fall in love with her.  If you haven't done so yet, order her new album "Body Talk" now.  (P.S. its better than "Aphrodite.")  Anyhow, about mid-show my friend Mel actually found me in the crowd and we got to hang and dance a bit.  She has recently started her own music blog which I urge you to all check out, it's called My Music Mission.

So thanks to her blog I recently discovered Kennedy, and his song "Karate" which I can't get enough of.    I didn't understand her post as I thought this was actually a "70's Disco Funk" track that I'd somehow missed.  Sure, there is plenty of underground disco that I don't know from that era... but one-off golden 70's Lite-FM tracks seem to have ingrained themselves into my consciousness... how did I miss something like "Karate?!"  (No doubt it would have been placed in the same breath as Carl Douglas' "Kung Fu Fighting" right?)

Well it turns out that Kennedy isn't from the 70's... he's a tongue-in-cheek hipster from Silverlake with a penchant for goofy lyrics, disco, and glam rock, who's been at the game since all the way back in... 1999.  So this is not some golden oldie I've somehow let slipped by... but yet slipped by it has.  It turns out that Kennedy has been pretty prolific, but finding complete info on the dude is a little dicey.  His Wikipedia page shows a handful of early albums, though excludes the latest "Life is a Party" which includes tracks from the 2006 EP "Special K" (which "Karate" is from.)  A look on iTunes shows this dude is nothing put prolific, with several other singles and EP's listed.  You can read/hear more from this goofball on his MySpace Page.

"Life is a Party" is a fun mix of goofy disco and glam rock nuggets that actually has some killer songs included, and a handful of filler.  "John & Yoko" is a crunchy electro rock duet with French singer Yelle.  "Oh Yeah" is full on glam, and quite good.  And Euro-house jam "Let it Out" is a kicker... very very good.  Final track "Your Mama" returns the straight-up disco, albeit very goofy wink-wink knowing disco.  All you need to know about the dude is in the video for that track, see below.  All-in-all the album reminds me a bit of Simple Kid, Beck, Mickey Avalon, Har Mar Superstar, and The Hues Corporation.  Kooky for sure... and yet I totally recommend.

Well a big thanks to My Music Mission for introducing me to Kennedy!  This one will start your weekend off right.



Your Mama

John & Yoko (feat. Yelle)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Dark Star

Song: My Dark Star
Artist: Suede
Album: The Best of Suede

The history of what is known as "Britpop" cannot be told without mentioning Suede, (sometimes, due to a lawsuit, referred to as "The London Suede" here in the US) though the band now has become a bit of a footnote in the history, a precursor to when the genre really took off globally with Oasis and Blur.

I was a fan of Suede in High School, eating up their self-titled debut that only continued to grow on me into college as I was getting into The Smiths and a variety of British mope rock.  Despite a string of successful singles from that album in the U.K. (The Drowners, Metal Mickey, Animal Nitrate, So Young) and being described as "the next big thing," that debut didn't ride the wave of American Alternative that was happening at the time.

Therefore, I didn't really follow the band as much as I got swept up in the Blur phenomenon (and trashing the much more popular Oasis to anyone who listened) so it wasn't until the well received double-disc B-Sides collection "Sci-Fi Lullabies" that I paid attention to the band again.  Despite it literally being a leftovers collection, I loved the album, and have read that it is now considered one of the best B-Side collections ever released.  At the time I couldn't believe songs like "My Insatiable One," "Killing of a Flash Boy," and slow, epic "My Dark Star" were never made as singles.

The bands history was troubled, with leads Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler feuding often, until Butler was kicked out.  The band was further sidelined by Anderson's addiction to Meth and Heroin, and the band called it quits in 2003 after their last album, "A New Morning."

The band reformed this year for some "one-off" shows, and worked on the remastering of tracks for a double-disc compilation called "Best of Suede," which was put together by Anderson.  The record is followed by previous, single-disc collection "Singles."  "Best Of," aside from just having more seems to be the better overview of the band as it paints their full history, and even includes some of the more noteworthy tracks from "Lullabies."

It's hard to pick one song from such a killer collection of songs, but I really want to highlight "My Dark Star," an epic ballad that really shows the drama, beauty, and power of this amazing band.  If you know nothing of the band, but dig the tracks below, GET THIS COMPILATION. It's literally brimming with some of the best songs from the 90's.


My Dark Star

Animal Nitrate

Killing of a Flash Boy

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Breaking New

Song: Breaking News
Artist: Michael Jackson
Album: Michael

Tupac ended up releasing more album after his death than he did alive, he was always recording, and while the results were certainly spotty...  it was profitable.  All of that despite his estate coming under fire for "finishing" tracks, creating duets where they didn't exist... basically blood from a stone.

Not that his legacy wasn't confused enough, but Michael Jackson, the former self-proclaimed King of Pop who was arguably the most famous person to ever walk the planet, but segued into a troubled (and strange) tragic figure who while still influential, couldn't reclaim the success he'd had years prior.  Marred by a molestation trial that handicapped both his aforementioned legacy, and sales of his last album, everything changed after his untimely death... as it was time to celebrate the legend he was, not the man he'd become.

And now SONY is releasing (after the smash success of the "This is It" concert documentary and album) "Michael," the first of ten (!!) planned posthumous albums as part of the biggest music deal given to one artist, let alone one that is no longer living.  $250 million was paid to his estate for the rights to all of his unreleased material, extended to 2017.  So yes... be prepared for "new" Michael Jackson music for years to come.

But it wouldn't be a Michael Jackson project without some kind of strange drama, and low and behold... just released new single "Breaking News" is being challenged, by the singers own mother and kids no less, that it isn't Michael singing... but a sound-a-like.  Oy.

Regardless of all that... how is "Breaking News?"  Well, it certainly sounds like late-era Michael, very "Dangerous"/"You Rock My World" but a song about how slandered by the press the singer is has a) been already done back in 1989 when it was called "Leave Me Alone" and b) only really relatable to one particular person (who is no longer alive) and/or the Charlie Sheen/Lindsay Lohen's of the world.  It doesn't scream hit to me.

In the past I'd been critical of those that suddenly were praising the man as a legend post-death that was no longer paying attention to him, or worse lambasting him while he was still alive... but the man is a legend.  And the music he leaves behind is true American history.  I'm shrugging at "Breaking News," and have little to say about it possibly not being his 100% vocals.  Taking incomplete song fragments and doing something with them can only partially be held up to the music he himself signed off on, but what does interest me is the rumored songs that were written and recorded during the "Off the Wall," "Thriller," even "Bad" era that didn't make the album... and have never been heard.

Those will speak to his actual legacy.

What do you think of "Breaking News?"  Sacrileg?


Breaking News

Monday, November 08, 2010

When I'm Small

Song: When I'm Small
Artist: Phantogram
Album: Eyelid Movies

A co-worker introduced me to this band last week and I've been hooked since.  Phantogram are an electronic duo from Saratoga Springs, NY consisting of singer-songwriters Josh Carter and Sarah Bethel.  Both sing depending on the track, their debut "Eyelid Movies," was released early this year.

Things kick in with first track, and first single, "Mouthful of Diamonds," a buzzy yet shimmering pop track that is buoyed by Barthel's vocals, and a steady beat.  But second track (and second single) "When I'm Small" really grabs you when it kicks in.  I hear a little xx, a little Portishead... is trip-hop back?

Actually, I've listened to this album a couple times and only since reading up on the band and the album have I heard "trip hop" used as a genre to put the band in.  I guess that fits... but the sound and this record in general doesn't quite fit that and shouldn't be written off as so.  A fellow musician from Saratoga Springs described their sound as "street beat, psych pop."  Sure I'll go along with that.  I find, in particular, they know how to pair simple guitar strumming with a killer beat.

I also really love "Running From the Cops," which has a sinister/sexy beat and some freak-out worthy psychedelic vocal effects.  "As Far As I Can See" has a little Saint Etienne vibe mixed in with their sound.  "Bloody Palms" immediately reminded me of 90's Alternative.  All in all, there is a lot to like on this record.


Mouthful of Diamonds

When I'm Small

Futuristic Casket

Friday, November 05, 2010

I Need Air

Song: I Need Air (Feat. Angela Hunte)
Artist: Magnetic Man
Album: Magnetic Man

I'm not a huge fan of Dubstep (a descendant of breakbeat and drum & bass), but mysterious super group Magnetic Man have taken the formula and mixed it with a more mainstream approach.  The results are mixed, but I've found a couple tracks I'm digging from their self-titled debut, which was released last month.

Magnetic Man consist of DJ's Benga, Skream, and Artwork, who each take a different duty (drum samples, basses, leads & samples) on three different laptops while performing live.  They got their start in 2007, and got signed to Columbia early this year.  Their first and best charting single, "I Need Air" featuring vocals by Angela Hunte, was released this past July and are currently working second single "Perfect Stranger" with vocals by Katy B.

Again, I'm not very big into this genre and the album has a couple "lose me" moments of serious Dubstep instrumentals.  But if it's your bag... you might dig it.

I do like future single "Fire" featuring Ms. Dynamite, as well as the aforementioned "I Need Air," which is by far my favorite.  Album closer "Getting Nowhere" featuring John Legend is also interesting.  To me, the similar style of beats gets repetitive... but that's Dubstep.  That said, "I Need Air" is a must-hear single from this year... I'm just getting to it late.


I Need Air

Perfect Stranger


Thursday, November 04, 2010


Artist: Kid Cudi
Album: Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager

I was a big fan of Kid Cudi's debut album "Man on the Moon: The End of Day," a musically varied hip hop odyssey that was as trippy and sonically diverse as it was incredibly catchy.  I flipped for singles "Day 'N' Nite" and "Pursuit of Happiness," as well as album track "Simple As."  But as a whole it was pretty incredible.

Next week will see the release of his follow up, "Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager," I've been very interested to hear the entire album just to find out if Cudi was going to be a one trick pony.  After a couple of listens I'm happy to report that "Mr. Rager" is a hands-down success, just as dynamic as the debut without repeating himself.  This is one of the most interesting guys working in hip hop, and probably little known.

I'd first heard promo single "REVOFEV" a couple months ago, produced by Plain Pat & No I.D. I really dug it right away and immediately fell into his flow and dark semi-sinister vibe of the track.  (Something that flowed through the entirety of his debut, and continues on "Mr. Rager.")  Second I hear first single proper "Erase Me" featuring collaborator Kanye West which honestly sounds like a collaboration with Weezer.  Lots of crunchy, catchy guitar work... quite a surprise.  But I also recently just read that Cudi is interested in getting into more rock music and leaving the hip hop behind.  Interesting.  My only complaint with "Erase Me" is that like "Simple As..." from the debut... it's over as soon as you get into it.  Grrrr!

The rest of "Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager" is a sound collage and freak-out trip that really can only be compared to his debut because it's so out there.  It's another entire album of soundscapes, off-kilter raps, and stellar production.  He's not repeating himself... he's just in a class entirely on his own.  Do I hear a little xx in "Mr. Rager?" Despite the onslaught of collaborators, (Kanye, Mary J. Blige, Cee-Lo Green, Cage, St. Vincent, etc.) this album is unquestionably a Kid Cudi joint.

This album and Kanye's upcoming "My Beautiful dark Twisted Fantasy" were my two most anticipated hip hop albums of the end of the year.  Kid Cudi did not disappoint.  Kanye?



Erase Me

Mr. Rager

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Song: Doncamatic
Artist: Gorillaz
Album: Doncamatic - Single

After the go-for-broke and totally gonzo "Demon Days," it was hard not to be a little disappointed with this years follow-up "Plastic Beach."  There was a lot I liked on it, and certainly had more ideas and production excellence than many a release this year... and yet holding themselves up to their own material, it fell a touch short.

This was seemingly reflected in the lack of successful singles form the album.  Not that the album, or the project is considered a failure, but "Stylo," "On Melancholy Hill," and "Rhinestone Eyes" all couldn't stand up against past singles (and super hits)  "Feel Good, Inc." "DARE," & "Dirty Harry."

So it might come as no surprise that Gorillaz have released a new single of a track that isn't on "Plastic Beach," entitled "Doncamatic" featuring Manchester singer Daley.  I didn't think much of it upon a first couple listens (thought it was a b-side or something) but have really started to dig it.  It almost doesn't even sound like the band possibly because of Daley (and I think actually might have felt out of place on "Beach") but this is a noteworthy track anyhow.  Take a listen.



Melencholy Hill

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Song: Shameless
Artist: Bryan Ferry
Album: Olympia

I still haven't been able to connect completely with Bryan Ferry, nor his celebrated 70's/80's band Roxy Music.  Save for a few singles here and there I just didn't quite get it.  Despite getting a Roxy Music best of that I liked, I didn't go further, nor delve into Ferry's solo work.  But there was a rumor that he was reuiniting the band for their first album since 1982's "Avalon," but alas, despite many Roxy Music members working on the album, it's credited to Bryan Ferry.

"Olympia," his 13th solo record, was just released last month and is garnering some pretty solid reviews.  He has worked with many varied collaborators on this album, including Groove Armada, David Stewart, David Gilmour, Nile Rodgers, Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, and the Scissor Sisters, which had me the most interested.

Ferry's music has always been described as "art rock," a genre I find a little dubious and a bit too open.  I know when I listened to Roxy Music, I kept thinking of Talking Heads (possibly the Brian Eno connection) who also have been put under this banner.  For me, and specifically thinking of "Olympia," I hear "lush" and "adult," which I suppose is just as (non)descriptive as "art rock."  So, whatever.

While I haven't really grabbed on to "Olympia" completely, there is something about it; a style, mystery, and sweeping majesty that really can't be denied.  Ferry has always been a suave character and there is no denying that sexy voice.  Opener, and first single, "You Can Dance" is quite enchanting and mysterious, I like it... of course hearing the Fred Falke remix, found on the deluxe edition of the album really got me going.  But this is a very cool track.  "Heartache by Numbers," the track co-written by the Scissor Sisters is also very good, though I don't necessarily hear them at all.  It's very Ferry, bold, dramatic, and cinematic... which is really the best word to describe the entire venture.  My favorite track on the album is the "Shameless," the Groove Armada assisted track.  I hear the band in the music, and yet the song is very Ferry.  I also like the Leonard Cohen-esque "BF Bass (Ode to Olympia)" with cooing female back-up singers... they sort of don't write 'em like that anymore.

If you're a fan I think there is a lot to enjoy from "Olympia."  Check it out.



You Can Dance (check out this video for all you need to know about Ferry!)

Heartache by Numbers

Monday, November 01, 2010

White Knuckle Ride

Song: White Knuckle Ride
Artist: Jamiroquai
Album: Rock Dust Light Star

I've never been a huge Jamiroquai fan.  I certainly don't dislike them, and it was hard not to resist them back when "Virtual Insanity" became an international phenomenon thanks to the trippy music video, and of course the music.  While they never matched the success of that single here in the states, they have been steadily releasing albums over the years and have had many successful singles.  Their seventh album, "Rock Dust Light Star" is being released today in the UK.

Despite the band's limited exposure here in the US post-"Insanity," I have consistently met people who LOVE the band, and specifically always mention how great their albums as a whole are.  I've only heard smatterings from the band here and there so "Rock Dust Light Star" is really my first full listen to an entire offering.

I don't hear a specific reference so to speak but what always jumps out to me about the band is how strong the disco and funk influences are on the band.  Disco certainly died years ago, and while there are a handful of artist keeping the sound and/or new bands (like Hot Toddy I highlighted a few weeks ago) that continue all of the elements from that much maligned era, the majority of disco (and funk) influences take bits and pieces of that style and use them for a more modern dance sound.

So it's partly refreshing to hear a band like Jamiroquai keep the faith in a genre time forgot but it's not straight nostalgia going on here... actually, the band makes music with such joy and immediacy, you just need to take it as is.  It's pretty electrifying.

My only complaint might be the same-sounding-ness of their catalog.  And yet... while I connect sounds and vibe from past singles to the tracks on "Rock Dust Light Star," this particular record is quite diverse from song to song.  First proper single "Blue Skies" is a mid-tempo soul jam, while "White Knuckle Ride" and "All Good in the Hood" are more like the Jamiroquai of old.  I also love the Elton John-esque 70's pomp of "Lifeline" and the slowed-down groove of "Never Gonna Be Another."

Good stuff.


White Knuckle Ride

Blue Skies

All Good in the Hood