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Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The Monthly - April 09

Here's April’s The Monthly. During moving flat this month, the music’s been ever-present on the stereo and what started off as hundreds of new songs has now been whittled down to the baker’s dozen that you have here. These were the ones that stood out from the crowd and it’s an eclectic bunch – April takes in brilliant R&B (a genre that I find disappoints more than it impresses), a spot of hip hop, some crazy old psychedelia, a bunch of great alt.rock numbers, a couple of little known old folkies and the return of one Mr. Bob Dylan. Hopefully something for everyone, so get stuck in and enjoy.

1. The-Dream – Rockin’ That Shit New To Me
Terius Nash, aka The-Dream, has made a big name for himself in the US as a producer to the stars in the past couple of years, but doesn’t seem to have made many ripples in the UK. After seeing a near-perfect review for his latest album, Love Vs. Money, in Rolling Stone, the album didn’t disappoint – with only three (very impressive) guests on the album (Kanye, Mariah and Lil Wayne), it’s all about Dream, and with perfect hooks, amazing production and lyrics that focus on sex, sex and then more sex, it’s as good an R&B record as you’ll find at the moment. This is the opening track from it.

2. Chester French & Clinton Sparks Feat Common – What A World Hot Off The Press
Common’s one of the best rappers in the world in my opinion and this track is taken not only from his recent album Universal Mind Control but also from a free mixtape by DJ Clinton Sparks to showcase new band Chester French, who feature on this version. Chester French are connected up to the nines – a pair of Harvard grads, they’re signed to Pharrell’s Star Trak label (he produced this) after Kanye West put him on to them. As well as the hip hop fraternity loving them they also do a pretty good line in breezy indie pop, but for me this was the highlight of the mixtape, which was called Jacques Jams.

3. Sebastien Tellier – Kilometer (Moulinex Remix) Hot Off The Press
One of my favourite ever house tracks is the beautifully euphoric Let’s Get Down by Supafly Vs. Fishbowl from 2005, and this track from Parisian scenester Sebastien Tellier is in the same league. It’s a remix of a track that was on his Sexuality album from last year, but Moulinex (of whom I can find little info) has taken a decent song and made it great – exactly what a good remixer should do.

4. The Black Lips – Veni Vidi Vici (Diplo Remix) New To Me
The Black Lips have just released their album 200 Million Thousand, but this track, taken from 2007’s Good Bad Not Evil album, has had a new lease of life as it’s taken from the recently released compilation of Diplo remixes, Decent Work For Decent Pay. Diplo’s worked his magic to good effect – known for his bonkers crunking-up of tracks, this is a more subtle remix from someone who’s made a name for himself as one of the most in-demand remixers of the past year or so.

5. Chris Gallbert – Sing Sing New To Me
The main point of interest for me on this track isn’t the obscure artist listed above but the producer, France’s Jean-Pierre Massiera. A revered name (apparently) in the world of psyche and 60s rock, he’s just had a collection of his work released as an album, Midnight Massiera. Some of it is so out there I stopped short of considering it for The Monthly but this track will give you a taste of his style without putting off the uninitiated.

6. Handsome Furs – Talking Arbat Blues Hot Off The Press
Handsome Furs are a husband/wife duo, with he on vocals and guitar and she on drum machine and synths. Hailing from Montreal, they’re signed to Sub Pop and this is taken from their new album Face Control, their second long player. It’s an impressive noise for a duo and owes a lot to the classic rock of the likes of Springsteen (whose influence seems all-prevailing right now).

7. Neko Case – The Train From Kansas City New To Me
Speaking of The Boss, he selected the track listing for the cover CD of the new issue of Uncut magazine, and that’s where I found this splendidly retro number that the newly incarcerated Phil Spector would have been proud of. Neko Case has had a lot of music mag column inches recently about her new material but this is from 2004, and thanks go to Springsteen and Uncut for putting it under my nose.

8. Bob Dylan – Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ Hot Off The Press
Dylan rolled into town this month for a show at the O2, which is the last place I’d have chosen to see him in London, but you take what you can get with one of the most significant cultural figures of the past 40 years. Check out the blog for a review of the gig, but there’s no denying the charm of this Cajun-esque track, taken from his new album, Together Through Life.

9. Bonnie “Prince” Billy – You Don’t Love Me Hot Off The Press
Will Oldham’s most famous pseudonym is Prince Billy and he returns this month with a critically-acclaimed new album, Beware, from which this sweet country track is taken. For someone who has a reputation for seriousness, the lyrics of You Don’t Love Me are disarmingly funny, especially the line about his stomach jiggling.

10. Alexander “Skip” Spence – Little Hands New To Me
I’m familiar with the name of 60s band Moby Grape but have never listened to them, and this guy was apparently their lead singer. He came to my attention after the singer from Doves recommended it in an interview he did in support of the excellent new Doves album Kingdom Of Rust. Spence left Moby Grape and made a solo album in 1969, from where this comes from. The album, Oar, is a brilliantly subtle acoustic rocker and is well worth seeking out if you like that sort of thing.

11. Grizzly Bear – Cheerleader Hot Off The Press
Hailing from Brooklyn, this track is a lot more relaxed than most new NYC bands of late, but that makes sense when you know that one of the Grizzly Bears is also in Department Of Eagles, who were the Fleet Foxes singer Robin Pecknold’s favourite band of last year. Grizzly Bear are also of note for being on Warp, a label which is much better known for its electronic output than this style.

12. Bill Callahan – Rococo Zephyr Hot Off The Press
After seeing a 5/5 review of Bill Callahan’s brilliantly titled album Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle in Mojo magazine a couple of months back, I’ve been itching to get hold of it. It’s not as immediate as such high praise might suggest, but because you need to let it get under your skin a bit, it should also prove to have the longevity that all great albums possess. Under the name of Smog, Callahan has already released a dozen albums stretching back to 1990, but this is only his second with his real name, and he’s definitely someone I want to look into more.

13. Iron & Wine – The Trapeze Swinger New To Me
Sam Beam is Iron & Wine and he’s been a much-respected figure on the acoustic indie circuit for years now, but has never really gone overground. The forthcoming release of his rarities and b-sides album, Around The Well, is unlikely to change that, but this track, from 2004 and recorded for the film In Good Company, clocks in at just under 10 minutes and is no less lovely for its obscure status.

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