Steinski – Nothing To Fear (Soul Ting Records)
I am just a little ashamed to have this on the Pooplist, not because of the music, but because the CD is almost impossible to find. Steinski is one of the great DJ/Selector originators, responsible, along with partner Double D, for the seminal “Lesson 1”, “2” and “3”. “Nothing To Fear” is a CD of the mix he made for the BBC radio show “Solid Steel”. The primacy of the beat is the point here. It’s not just that, it’s also the spoken samples he chooses (including one of my own favourites from “Diner”), it’s the mix of obscure and familiar. Perfect.
Laura Cantrell – When The Roses Bloom Again (Diesel Only)
Her second LP builds on the strengths of the first. A well thought out mix of covers and originals. I’m not usually partial to voices mixed this far up in the mix, but the precision of her tone and the clearness of purpose overall make for a very special listen. Even more special give the current Nashville tilt toward boring power ballads masking as “country”. She lives in Brooklyn and hosts a very good radio show on WFMU also. Maybe that’s jsut far enough away from Nashville’s grasp…
Mekons – Out Of Our Heads (Qaurterstick)
Most of the songs were written before Sept. 11 2001, but this still reads as the best response yet. Profoundly humanistic and open minded to the last.
Anti-Pop Consortium – Arrhythmia (Warp)
Buzzes blips and a few springy beats are the least of it. The most of it is the barrage of words, ideas, concepts, motifs, rhymes, broken metre and brain-busting vocal output. You might want a nice cup of soothing miso soup after this one.
Royksopp – Melody AM (Astralwerks)
Blips and warm old-school synths over modernistic beats made for a slow learning curve for me on this one. I came ‘round in the end. I wonder if this is really ever as immediate as some supporters claim.
Salif Keita – Moffou (Universal)
Acoustic settings for one of the great voices in popular music anywhere. The synth washes used on previous records worked in similar ways, but they also intruded at times. Here we have a voice, and somewhere further down in the list of priorities are the songs and then further down the list are the instruments. Works for me.
Dalek – From Filthy Tongue of Gods & Griots (Ipecac Recordings)
Ambitious noise and boundary stretching hip hop. Is this what Public Enemy might have sounded like without Chuck D’s insistence on the balance of noise and message? Some false notes in the noise, but a great effort.
Underworld – A Hundred Days Off (V2)
The question of what direction they would take after the departure of Darren Emerson was not really answered by last years’ live record. This is the first proper studio album in for the duo and they come off in fine form. Epic, danceable and listenable too. Those are words which we sling about individual tracks by certain artists, but these guys are among the rare few who can keep it up over the course of a whole CD.
The Streets – Original Pirate Material (Vice/Atlantic)
So sue me, maybe it’s the Brit in me. Can the New Wave Of Geezer Rap be far behind? The beats may veer toward UK Garage and 2-step (or whatever that micro-genre is called this week), but they hold up in the long run.
RJD2 – Dead Ringer (Definitive Jux)
Who knows what category this thing should be in? Should it be abstract beats? Mixology? Hip-Hop? Must hear?
Orchestra Baobab – Specialist in All Styles (Nonesuch)
So they re-release “Pirates Choice” and it’s marketed by the same team that brought Buena Vista social Club to a coffee shop near you. It gets a well-deserved break-out and does so well that the band re-unites, tours and records a new CD. Good recipe for a lukewarm, even tepid, attempt to recapture old glories but thankfully they go another route and approach the old stuff afresh and add new stuff too. Even Ibrahim Ferrer, in great danger of over-exposure, puts in a fine appearance. All in all a plain delight and overrides this snobs’ wariness of projects which take shape like this and are taken up by the Volvo-driving, NPR-listening hordes it is this music’s fate to have as its’ major supporters.
Cee-Lo – Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections (Arista)
Joyous, funky, generous. He might have used an editor as the sprawl creeps too far in places. Still, better to hear wild overreaching ambition than the safe beats and bling which still afflict too much mainstream hip hop.
Jurassic 5 – Power in Numbers (Interscope) || Blasters – Testament: The Complete Slash Recordings (Rhino) || Neko Case – Blacklisted (Bloodshot) || Luna – Romantica (Jetset) || Elvis Costello – When I Was Cruel (Universal) || Kelly Willis – Easy (Rykodisc) || Blackalicious – Blazing Arrow (MCA) || Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights (Matador) || The Doves – The Last Broadcast (Capitol) || Solomon Burke – Don’t Give Up on Me (Fat Possum) || Tom Waits – Blood Money (Anti) || The Hives – Veni Vidi Vicious (Warner Bros.) || DJ Shadow – The Private Press (MCA) || Sleater-Kinney – One Beat (Kill Rock Stars) || Bjork – Live in Japan November 2001 (Bootleg) || Donnas – Spend the Night (Atlantic)
RECORDS I MIGHT NOT BE CLEVER ENOUGH TO “GET” —
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Nonesuch)
1 giant Leap – 1 Giant Leap (Palm Pictures)
RECORDS I DONT CARE TO “GET” – –
Coldplay – A Rush of Blood To The Head (Capitol)
TWO ALBUMS ARE NOT BETTER THAN ONE – –
Badly Drawn Boy – About A Boy Soundtrack / Have You Fed The Fish? (Artist Direct)
“Have You Fed the Fish” starts with a skit of an airline pilot telling his passengers that there’s a cloud outside the plane which looks just like Badly Drawn Boy. “Wow” says a passenger, “that guy is everywhere”. And that’s the trouble. If you mashed these two CDs together, you’d get one very good CD. As it is, they are overlong, thin and tantalizing in their weaknesses.
GUILTY PLEASURE – –
2 Many DJ’s – As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2 (Pias)
Dolly Parton meets Royksopp meets Skee-Lo meets The Stooges meets a blender meets too many others to mention makes for a mash-up a bootleg scene from hell. Yeah, some of the electro-revival shit is tired, but this one was a blast from beginning to end. Will we be listening in 5 years? I doubt it, but that’s pop music for you…
RECORDS I PROBABLY DON’T NEED BUT WISH I COULD AFFORD – –
Dwight Yoakam – Reprise Please Baby: The Warner Bros. Years (Rhino)
24 Hour Party People
Remarkable example of telling the truth through lies. The talking to the camera conceit wears just a little thin, but small niggles like that paled when my heart burst a the sight of “Joy Division” doing “She’s Lost Control”.
Far From Heaven
The use of dialog like that heard in 50s TV sitcoms to expose the hurt underlying the perfect life made the movie for me. Also, man, can Julianne Moore act! Melodrama must have music and Elmer Bernstein was on the button.
LIVE SHOWS – –
Robbie Fulks / Laura Cantrell (Mercury Lounge)
Robbie Fulks, armed with a guitar and the sharpest of witty songs, offers a show in support of Cantrell’s record release party. His songs are pointed, funny and concise. He even does the fun sing along “Godfrey” (“the sickly, unemployed, amateur children’s magician…”) from the awesome Bloodshot “The Bottle Let Me Down” kids album. The request part of the show takes over and he does my choice, “She Took A Lot of Pills”, also a chance to see some of his fiery guitar playing. Then Cantrell comes out and introduces new songs and covers from the new CD. Great.
Djelimady Tounkara (Symphony Space)
The lead guitarist for Mali’s Super Rail Band in an acoustic concert with a small chamber music style band. Just guitar, bass guitar, ngoni, percussion and voices fill Symphony space with such effortlessness as to make the audience question exactly how many people there are on stage. Such technique would be useless in the service of anything but the most soulful of performers, and these folks have it spades. A very special night.