Youngblood Brass Band – Center Level Roar (Ozone) – I got this on a whim along with my semi-annual dose of underground hiphop. It turned into my favourite discovery of the year. They do brass band with hiphop. They are funky and gutbucket too. And some of the best euophonium / tuba lines this side of Kirk Joseph of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
Black Uhuru – Dub Factor (Island) – Finally! I’ve been waiting for years for this thing to be re-issued! Some of the deepest electro-dub ever and still sounding fresh today. From the beginning of the second golden age of dub.
Misty In Roots – Live at Counter-Eurovision ’79 – (Snapper UK – 1997) – I picked up a cheapo CD called “Jah Sees, Jah Knows” and got the best surprise of the year! Included in the package was a second CD of this legendary live LP from 1979. As far as I know, this is the only CD release of this eternal document of deepest, dreadest, roots. Next too impossible to find (again), but do your best I say.
Lyrics Born – Later That Day (Quanuum Projects) – Another long-awaited project. Last time out he made my poop with Latryx on “The Album”. This time the beats are dense and flowing (is that possible?) and the overall effect is mesmerizing. Bling-apologists accuse underground hiphop of being obscure and elitist. Play them this and ask again.
Bembeya Jazz – Bembeya (World Village) – a “comback” record and a US tour showed that the diamond guitarist still rules.
Teenage Fan Club – 4,766 Six Seconds: A Shortcut to TFC (Jetset) – The usual take on TFC is “criminally ignored”. But it’s more than that. These are pop and rock songs you can hum along to 10 years after you last heard them. That
Iron Horse – Fade To Bluegrass, The Bluegrass Tribute to Metallica (CMH) – Exactly what it sounds like. Proving that a good song is a good song, no matter what. Good be about half the length though…
Basement Jaxx – Kish Kash (Astralwerks) – A couple of the collaborations aren’t quite up to snuff. The whole rocks and rocks.
The Libertines – Up The Bracket (Rough Trade) – Rough rock and roll the way I think it should be. Sure, they’ve listened to their record collections too much (Rockabilly Psychosis perhaps?), but it’s not so self-conscious that you’d mind.
Underworld – 1992-2003 (V2) – 2 CD set includes several tracks I’ve not seen since I got the original 12″s. The grooves go on and on, sometimes repetatively, urging me to go driving.
Chemical Brothers – Singles- 93-03 (Astralwerks) – Bangin’, bangin’ and more bangin’
Dr. John – All By Hisself (Sin-Drome) – Piano and some vocals and nothing else except a great ambiance and an appreciative Lone Star Roadhouse crowd. A rollicking fun time with the Gris-Gris man.
V.A. – Bellyliscious (Shakti/Virgin) – Got this in a batch of rejects from a reviewer. I looked so cheesy I had to try it for the fun. Kept coming back to it for the grooves. Dunno if these artists are at the forefront of the belly dance scene, I hope so.
Kid Koala – Some of My Best Friends are DJs (Ninja) – So it’s a turntablist record. So it’s go humor. So what. It swings.
Stereolab – ABC Music (BBC) – Fun versions of many “hits” all in one place. Just enough twists to keep me coming back.
Mavericks – Mavericks (Sanctuary) – The get back together after what, 5 years? Eschew the search for alt-country/rock credibility and make a pop record. Sure, Raul still occasionally sounds like he’s swallowed Roy Orbison whole, but the musicl settings of these tracks make it OK.
Belle & Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress (Rough Trade) – “Trevor Horn is producing B&S??!!!” the twee-pop loving indie world shuddered. And it works! He sets off all the instruments and now that there is only the one voice to rely on, the shimmer comes over.
Kekele – Congo Life (Sterns Africa) – Sweet and swinging congolese rhumba. This is not the charging soukous I love so much, but the earlier more obviously cuban-influenced “mellower” sound. Of course, there are still moments when your internal air-guitarist says “Huh? … What?”
Dizzee Rascal – Boy in Da Corner – (UK import – will be on XL/Matador US) – Did huge business in UK, who knows what it’ll do here. Almost completely undefinable (unidentifiable?) noises and abrasions meet nervous, nervy vocals with lyrics of agita. Remarkable. What’s next?
New Pornographers – Electric Version – (Matador) CafeTacuba – Cuatro Caminos (MCA) The Be Good Tanyas – Chinatown (Nettwerk) Johnny Cash – Cash Unearthed (American)
Disapppointment of the year – Seeing a “new” Andrian Sherwood CD advertised, buying wthout research and finding that it is really a mishmash of his remixes of limp-dick tracks from Peter Gabriel’s Real World lable. Yaawwwwnnnnnn.