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Friday, 8 August 2008

The Monthly - July's 08

For a few months now I’ve been suggesting a playlist for a few friends (well, anyone who’s expressed an interest really). The idea’s simple – I love finding new music (new or old) so started putting a playlist together for my wife of new songs I’d discovered that month (and that’s the key – it’s new stuff I’ve discovered, so I’m not guaranteeing to anyone that these tracks will necessarily be new to them). To avoid any confusion on that last point though I’ve put a little flag up on each one saying when it’s from, and this is the key:

Hot off the press – newly released, or pre-release – usually new music.
Re-release – newly discovered by me due to a specific reason (usually a re-release or repackaging)
New to me – not a new track, but one I’ve only just come across
Rediscovery of the month – this is just a one off track that I already know, but for some topical reason has put itself back under my nose

So here’s the latest one, for July. I’ll post these every month and in the next few weeks I’ll put May and June’s up as well.

1. Girl Talk - Play Your Part (Pt. 1) Hot off the press
Okay, we’ll start off with the best of the best of the month – this is AMAZING. The whole album is a mix by a guy called Girl Talk containing over 300 unlicensed samples – they said it couldn’t be done again after Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique prompted law changes but this manages it. Track down the whole album while you can because sometimes these sort of things disappear much quicker than they should be allowed to. For more on this, check out the post Let Girl Talk into your life.

2. The BPA - Toe Jam (Radio Edit) [feat. Dizzee Rascal & David Byrne] Hot off the press
A new project from Fatboy Slim which has his trademarks all over it – including a brilliant video that’s well worth seeking out where some clever dick director has made a spoof of a 70s porn flick and used the censor bars across the people bits to make funny patterns on screen. Look out for the Norman Cook cameo. Great guest vocal spots too, especially from former Talking Head David Byrne, and Dizzee Rascal’s rap bucks the trend for these things and doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

3. Beck - Gamma Ray Hot off the press
He’s back, with a new producer (Danger Mouse) and a new label in the UK (XL), which makes me feel better as I used to do work with Beck in the UK but left that company, so wouldn’t be working him even if I’d stayed there. The album’s pretty sedate overall but this is a standout track. And incidentally, I’m struggling to identify the definitive Danger Mouse sound – maybe it’s because his scattergun approach to who he produces is making it tricky for me to pin him down. I like all he’s done, from Black Keys to Shortwave Set to Beck to The Grey Album and of course Gnarls Barkley, but I could necessarily spot him in a blind taste test, so to speak. The Word magazine described him as sounding tight and loose at the same time, so I’m trying to get to grips with that.

4. Busy P - Rainbow Man New to me
The first of two from the compilation Bippp – French Synth Wave 1979-1985 that made it on to this CD, which on the one might have been a little indulgent, especially when a fair chunk of it is kind of unlistenable, but the tracks that work (it might actually just be these two, to be honest), really work. My brother in law turned me on to it, and this track rocks anyway, but it’s clearly, if not actually the main sample, then the inspiration for Daft Punk track Da Funk from their seminal Homework debut album.

5. Lil Wayne - A Milli Hot off the press
Underestimate this guy at your peril – he’s MASSIVE in the US right now, selling millions and getting rave reviews (Rolling Stone gave it 4.5 out of 5, pretty much unheard of for a hip hop album). He’s bizarre, terrifying and a brilliant rapper – quite literally bonkers, but he’s clearly connecting with a lot of people in a big way, probably making the most impact since 50 Cent’s debut Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ in 2003.

6. The Cool Kids - Black Mags Hot off the press
More good US rap, this time from newcomers, Chicago’s The Cool Kids. Much more on the trendy end of the scale than Lil Wayne, but a great track nonetheless. I’ve just got the album and from a brief early listen it won’t disappoint though, whether it’ll have longevity in it, we’ll just have to see.

7. Foxboro Hot Tubs - Red Tide New to me
This came out a while ago but I only picked it up recently for cheap in the US. It’s Green Day’s side project (the whole band, which makes it a pretty unusual side project for starters) where they exorcise their rock ‘n’ roll fantasies, mostly to excellent effect and managing to avoid being too self-indulgent. This one feels like it has Tarantino soundtrack written all over it.

8. Mr. Peters’ Boom & Chime - Solomon Gi Ah New to me
A discovery from Belize where we were on holiday this month. The title of this means ‘Solomon gave it’ and it only takes nine words on this track to celebrate Solomon’s wedding night, whoever he may be. Wilfred Peters is the full name o Mr. Peters and the sleeve notes say he’s a national icon in Belize and the “King of Brukdown”, a type of music where the emphasis is firmly on the beat, which might explain the sparse lyrics.

9. Ladyhawke – Paris Is Burning Hot off the press
Just great, great pop – this is a delight in all respects. I can definitely see this being a staple at cool parties for a long time to come. Perhaps not surprisingly, it reminds me of the likes of Annie’s Chewing Gum, rather than the more arty Goldfrapp and Roisin Murphy.

10. Act - Ping Pong New to me
The second track from the Bippp collection (see track 4), this one’s got a real new wave/punky vibe to it and I’d be willing to bet that it had the early 80s French hipsters straight on the dancefloor. Seeing as I DJ once a month at the excellent Young Offender’s Institute, which revolves around a rolling beer-in-hand ping pong match, I’ll be looking for this on vinyl to trot out at the next night. The clue’s in the title. Check out the club here:

11. Black Kids - Partie Traumatic Hot off the press
After the two excellent singles of Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You and Hurricane Jane the album was a must to buy, and this is the title track. They’re channeling a hell of a lot of obvious influences but when it’s this good that doesn’t count against them.

12. The Hold Steady - Constructive Summer Hot off the press
The awesome opener from their Stay Positive album, another one that’s been getting rave reviews. Worth checking interviews with singer Craig Finn for his take on the narrative and recurring characters that appear through all their albums, something which hadn’t occurred to me after I (like many people) came to this great American band through their last album, Boys And Girls In America.

13. Dennis Wilson – Dreamer Re-release
This is taken from the much-lauded re-release of Pacific Ocean Blue. The album, from the fallen Beach Boy and brother of Brian, lives up to the hype. He died in 1983, swimming while drunk, and was buried at sea a few days later. Interestingly, there’s a band from Portland called Dolorean who wrote an instrumental song called "33-53.9° N/118-38.8° W” which is a reference to the co-ordinates of Wilson’s sea burial.

14. Fred Neil - That's The Bag I'm In New to me
My looking into this guy has been a long time coming, but this classic 70s singer songwriter (and original author of Stealer’s Wheel’s Everybody’s Talkin’) was worth the wait. He’s also the guy who originally did Dolphins, which is a track I’ve long loved from the Tim ‘father of Jeff’ Buckley live album Honeyman. Thanks to my bro-in-law Drew for the best of that this is taken from!

15. The Postal Service - Such Great Heights New to me
Okay, so I know you’ve all probably known about this album for years but it’s new to me. For those that don’t know, this is Ben Gibbard, the singer from Death Cab For Cutie, and producer Jimmy Tamborello of many obscure indie-electro projects and the album this comes from (Give Up) dates from 2003. The reason it’s only just come my way are because that whole family of American alt-indie is something I’ve only been getting in to in the past couple of years - Iron & Wine (who has covered this track), Calexico, Death Cab For Cutie, The Shins and those kind of folks. And I’m glad I have because not only is it a really high standard of music, it’s also meant I’m in a much better position to appreciate the excellent new bunch of alt-indie bands from the US, like Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Band of Horses.

One final Postal Service nugget – the actual US Postal Service sued them over the name and the action was only dropped when the band agreed to let the mail people use their music on the website and advertising. Weird.

16. Andrew Bird - Yawny At The Apocalypse New to me
I confess that this is someone I didn’t know a great deal about. He was introduced to me by a great couple of American honeymooners called Joe & Molly from Washington (known to them exclusively as “DC”) who we met on holiday. Anyway, he’s a man with a terrific pedigree. This is taken from his seventh studio album, Armchair Apocrypha, and he’s also appeared on albums with Rufus Wainwright, Ani DiFranco, The Handsome Family, My Morning Jacket and Bonnie Prince Billy. He’s got a great voice, but despite that I’ve included on this a purely instrumental track, his album closer.

17. Sébastien Tellier – Roche Hot off the press
A fixture on the French dance scene for some time, this is from his fifth album, Sexuality, produced by Guy-Manuel De Homem Christo of Daft Punk. If you’re not in to dance but think his name sounds familiar that might be because rather bizarrely he was the French entry in the Eurovision Song Contest this year, and apart from coming 18th out of 25 he caused controversy by being the first French Eurovision entry to be sung completely in English. Public demand proved decisive though and he introduced more French just before the final in Belgrade. But don’t let all that put you off this – it’s sophisticated, assured house that’s a million miles away from any shitty rave in a field.

Rediscovery of the month
18. Jay-Z - Heart Of The City (Ain't No Love)

We saw the great Jay Hova at Hyde Park on July 5th and he was awesome, so this month I dipped back into his catalogue and was reminded of this gem. The gospel breakdown is amazing, thanks largely to the producer, a certain Mr. Kanye West, back in the days when he was known for his work behind the mic, rather than in front of it. It comes from Jay-Z’s Blueprint album which was released on September 11th 2001.

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