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Thursday, 29 January 2009

The Monthly - December '08 & January '09

I'm going to be making these monthly picks limited to a dozen tracks, so with that in mind there was lots more than normal that I've discovered this month that I'd still recommend but didn’t make it on to the final dozen…other excellent things to come my way recently include White Lies (brooding British indie a la Editors)…Bon Iver (tracks from his album session cheekily put out as a ‘new EP’. Good though)…The Very Best (as featured on October’s monthly pick and also in my tracks of the year, their pre-album mixtape is absolutely brilliant)…She & Him (actress and Zooey Deschanel and cool music guy M. Ward create a beguiling indie pop masterpiece)…Franz Ferdinand (ignore the reviews – it’s a good album)…Bruce Springsteen (working for Obama obviously does him good because his new one is terrific)…and the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack (great and I haven’t seen the movie yet – several M.I.A. tracks and some stirring stuff from Indian music legend AR Rahman)…

And in other news recently...

Big month for music awards with both sides of the Atlantic getting in on the act…the Brits over here seem to be all about Coldplay and Duffy…good to see UK acts getting some good shouts in the Grammy nominations across the pond…

Ignore the politics….Obama’s easily the most rock and roll president ever…he called on Springsteen, Kanye, Stevie, Beyonce, Aretha and U2 amongst others for his inaugural celebrations …Gobama!...Barack to the Future!...etc etc

Lady Gaga seems to be everywhere…I’ve nothing against her but I’m really surprised that she’s managed to be so successful…the music’s been done a thousand times before and that whole blind wonderwoman look just doesn’t do it for me…

Going to see Bob Dylan at the O2 on April 25th...sure, it’s no tiny club but better than never seeing him…

1. The Knux – Cappuccino Hot Off The Press
Rolling Stone mag alerted me to these brothers from New Orleans. It’s just the sort of cool, offbeat rap that’s all too missing these days. There’s shades of Outkast, NERD and even more recent acts like Cool Kids, but this track will show you why RS mag put The Knux’s album, Remind Me In 3 Days, in their top 50 of the year.

2. Mos Def – Quiet Dog Hot Off The Press
Almost as known for his acting as his rapping these days it’s good to have Mos Def remind us where his heart is. He’s sometimes very earnest in his rapping, but as far as I can tell this is just a straight-up hip shakin’ hunk o’funk.

3. Beyonce – Video Phone Hot Off The Press
Ooh, girl, you hot! This is practically music porn, but what I’m really interested in is what Matthew Knowles, Beyonce’s dad and manager, thinks about her singing “What? You want me naked? If you like it in this position you can tape it.” Please god, tell me he doesn’t attend her recording sessions.

4. Common – Gladiator Hot Off The Press
Okay, we’re still on a hip hop tip and this track is off the freaking hizzook. Common’s back and throws everything at this track. Like the man says, are you not entertained?

5. Wiley – Cash In My Pocket Hot Off The Press
First things first, if you haven’t seen the video for this track, stop what you’re doing (yes, that includes reading this) and get yourself on YouTube. It’s a very cool promo. Good chorus from Daniel Merriweather here too, last heard (by me at least) on Mark Ronson’s Smiths cover, Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before.

6. Jay Rock feat. Lil’ Wayne – All My Life Hot Off The Press
I confess, I know very little about Jay Rock other than this track is a good ‘un. It owes more than a little to 50 Cent and The Game’s Hate It Or Love It, and yes, it’s yet another Lil’ Wayne cameo, but it’s still a cool track.

7. Busy Signal – Unknown Number Hot Off The Press
If it wasn’t the depths of winter I’d say that this had ‘summer anthem’ written all over it. Still, it’s as good a modern reggae track as I’ve heard in a long while. And don’t forget kids, “gangsta no answer no private caller”.

8. N.A.S.A. feat. Spank Rock, M.I.A., Santogold & Nick Zinner – Whachadoin? Hot Off The Press
N.A.S.A (standing for North America/South America) seem to have come out of nowhere and announced themselves with an album resplendent in fine guests – Tom Waits, Karen O, Chuck D, David Byrne all chip in, as well as the stellar line-up on this track. And in case you’re wondering, Nick Zinner is from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

9. Late Of The Pier – Space And The Woods Hot Off The Press
Okay – I really like this song but also fully admit that there’s a whiff of style over substance about it. I’m just not convinced they’ll be around in a couple of years, you know? But hey, that’s the music industry I guess. So we should enjoy this stomping heavy pop from this British four-piece while they’re still around.

10. Kings Of Leon vs. Lykke Li – Knocked Up (Rodeo Mash Up) Hot Off The Press
Reeeeeemix! Reading between the lines, this isn’t so much a mash-up as a clever intertwining of two versions of the same song. Lykke Li’s obviously covered this at some point to get the lyrics to work and it’s been put together really well by whoever these Rodeo people are. Definitely one to impress your mates with.

11. Serge Gainsbourg – Requiem Pour Un Con &
12. Requiem Pour Un Con (Bonus Beats)
New To Me
Since getting a little more into the works of the infamous Serge, this has been a real standout track for me. The beat is spellbinding, as illustrated even further by the Bonus Beats track that comes on the Les Annees Psychedeliques collection, and that I couldn’t resist including here, because the two work so well together. By the way, I think con is a very rude word in French, so tread carefully if you have any exchange students staying with you right now.

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