Posts Tagged 'bloc party'

What I’m Hearing, Vol. 15

{for last month’s What I’m Hearing, click here}

July’s iPod update was an extremely diverse one, not just for the artists, but for the songs themselves. Taking a new tact, I made July an all mash-up month, checking out some of the ways in which DJs have started taking on the mix and match genre full-throttle. While Danger Mouse helped pioneer it with the Grey Album and AmpLive took it another step with his remixes of Radiohead’s In Rainbows, the mash-up culture is far past those now. But while there is much to be said for the style of Girl Talk where there are more layers than you can reasonably dissect in a listening, I find the club mash-ups utilizing 2 to 3 songs to be a most effective use of the genre. The best news? As all of these are off the grid, they’re all available for download, so follow the links to check the music out for yourself. July’s iPod update included 118 songs.

50 Cent vs. The 50s, DJ Doc Rok: Currently residing in Washington, D.C., DJ Doc Rok’s (djdocrok@gmail.com) work is among the strongest of all artists I heard this month. What’s more is that while he does have a collection of odd mash-ups and various artists, he also sets out to create complete albums of one to two artists. On this album, Rok focuses on all lyrics from 50 Cent songs and combines them with Golden Oldie hits from the R&B and Pop genres. The result? 50 Cent party songs with a touch of flair, moved out of the straight club motif that dominates so many of his songs and saturated with style and soul. Using songs like Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man,” The Four Seasons’ “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and Booker T. and the MG’s “Green Onions,” Rok flips the 50 acapellas on their head with fantastic result. Definitely my favorite download of the month. Don’t Sleep On: “Rowdy Rowdy/It’s My Party (And I’ll Cry If I Want To),” “Like My Style/One Fine Day,” and “The Good Die Young/Little Susie.”

Best of 2007 (Mash-Up Your Bootz), Various Artists: If you’re looking for a comprehensive blog that provides a vast cross-section of the variety of mash-ups available online, check out Mash-up Your Bootz. They provide comprehensive year-end wrap-up mixes, links to other mash-up sites, and breaking news in the genre. I downloaded both their 2007 and 2008 Best of Mixes and wasn’t disappointed with either. Beck takes on Green Day, AC/DC meets 50 Cent and the Scissor Sisters, Peggy Lee and Iggy Pop collide and Peter Bjorn and John find their whistle backing both Bloc Party and Amy Winehouse. Some of the mashers on this mix include DJ Peaking, DJ Le Clown, CheekyBoy, DJ Lobsterdust, and Party Ben. Perhaps the most pleasant track is by Norwegian Recycling who put together a very simple acoustic mash-up called “How Six Songs Collide” featuring Jason Mraz, Howie Day, Five For Fighting, Angela Ammons, Boyzone, and 3 Doors Down. This one is mirrored nicely with the eerie and melancholy mash of Placebo, Kate Bush and the Pet Shop Boys called, “Love Comes Running Up That Hill Quickly.” Don’t Sleep On: “Young Folks Rehab” by DJ Topcat (Amy Winehouse’s v. Peter Bjorn and John), “Love Comes Running Up That Hill Quickly” by DJ Magnet (Pet Shop Boys v. Placebo v. Kate Bush) and “Break Through Love” by DJ Zebra (The Doors v. Led Zeppelin)

Best of 2008 (Mash-Up Your Bootz), Various Artists: The 2008 mix picks up where 2007 left off and offers an impressive array of very different artists finding their songs blended with people of opposite genres. The album kicks off with Bryan Adams going head to head with Metallica, James Brown duels The Offspring, and Rage Against the Machine gets thrown together with AC/DC, Joan Jett, Queen and Red Hot Chili Peppers. To say that these songs stretch the concept of mashable genres is an understatement. Contributors include Wax Audio, MadMixMustang, DJ Morgoth and Divide and Kreate. Best track has to come when DJ Schmolli brings the haunting guitar lilt of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” and fills it with a slowed down Billy Idol singing “White Wedding.” The result is astounding. Don’t Sleep On: “Wicked Wedding” by DJ Schmolli (Chris Isaak v. Billy Idol v. HIM) “The Low Anthem” by Bass 211 (Flo Rida v. Pitbull) and “Dance Dreams” by Divide and Kreate (Eurythmics v. Lady Gaga)

Michael Jackson: With the unfortunate and untimely death of Michael Jackson last month, I decided to go back and flesh out my Jackson music collection. Sure, I had Thriller and parts of Bad, but I was still missing a large chunk of music from the Jackson 5 days as well as the tracks he did as part of The Jacksons. In all of these outings, Michael’s voice is distinct and easy to pick out, and his energy serves to carry most of the songs. So if you’re looking for some tracks you may not have heard, Don’t Sleep On: “Too Late to Change the Time,” (Jackson 5) “State of Shock,” (The Jacksons) “Another Part of Me” (Michael Jackson)

Jay-Z vs. Led Zeppelin, DJ Doc Rok: By taking the lyrics from Jay-Z’s soundtrack to American Gangster and mashing them with various Led Zeppelin songs, Doc Rok succeeds again in creating an album that can stand on its own. Darker and more subdued than the 50 Cent album, this outing utilizes Zeppelin songs like “Immigrant,” “No Quarter,” “Tangerine,” and “Kashmir.” The result is a new way to think of Jay-Z, liberated from much of the standard hip-hop and rap tracks he’s been tied to, the guitars and gritty classic Rock from Led Zeppelin provide a new canvas which comes off fresh. Don’t Sleep On: “Success/Moby Dick,” “Party Life/I’m Gonna Leave You,” “No Hook/Tangerine”

Party Vol. 25 (Mash-Up Your Bootz), Various Artists: Where the 2007 and 2008 span every genre, what you find most on this party album are mashes primarily utilizing hip-hop, dance and rock. DJ Lobsterdust brings The Police and Coldplay together while DJ BC brings together George Harrison, L’il Kim and Notorious B.I.G. The nice part of this album is that all of it is danceable and will appeal to most anyone on the dance floor. When Gloria Gaynor and Fall Out Boy meet each other at the hands of Mighty Mike, just about anything is possible. Don’t Sleep On: “Get the Day ‘n’Night Started” by Pheugoo (Pink v. Kid Cudi), “Beautiful Journey” by DJ MashUP (Journey v. Akon) and “Lady and the Usher” by Divide and Kreate (Usher v. Ladyhawke)

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Remix Delphic

delphic

Have you heard the driving electronic sounds of the band Delphic? If not, add them to your list of music to check out. Their band name was enough to pique my interest. Why the Greek reference? Why ambiguous or obscure? Why did they pick it…?

Then you hear their music and the intrigue grows. At times paying homage to fellow countrymen and musical pioneers, New Order, or other greats, and at times creating an experience completely their own, Delphic is poised to make some serious noise in the musical landscape of 2009. So, it seems, say the oracles of the dancefloor.

Also, the “forward-thinking, indie-rave” sound of the “best new band in Manchester” is now yours to remix! Yep, they’ve got a Remix Wizard for you to play with, so get to it. Check out the remixes done so far and/or make your own here!

The young band is releasing their single “Counterpoint” on Belgium’s R&S label. Though fairly new to the scene, they are already opening for the likes of Bloc Party and The Streets. Not bad for a band still in their musical diapers. Check out the “Counterpoint” video, which was produced by Ewan Pearson, who will be working with the Delphic boys on their debut album.

Musical Musings

With 2008 and all the music that came with it steadily speeding away in our rear view, I got to thinking a lot about what we did and didn’t see last year in the musical world, and what’s coming. When it comes down to it, 2008 was largely defined by some of the musical trends we saw, the continuing struggle over DRM and the ever growing attempts to market, brand and distribute music in ways that utilize multiple media and social platforms.

Musically, there was a greater push towards mash-ups (AmpLive Interview) and punk fueled Indie rock. Bands like Fall Out Boy and Bloc Party among many others kept driving guitars, sometimes melancholy lyrics and music that’s in your face in terms of pace at the forefront of the radio mainstream. Hip-Hop continued its usual pond-like trend: scum on the surface, beautiful water underneath with “artists” like T.I., T-Pain and Flo-rida topping the charts while rappers like Akrobatik, eLZhi and Black Milk continued struggling to boost their word of mouth. The line between Hip-Hop and Pop was continually blurred as radio Rap brought in more Rock and World music sounds into their songs.

We saw Kanye West rebound from a personally disastrous year to re-vamp his sound with 808s and Heartbreak, and we saw Guns ‘N Roses dig themselves out of a nearly 20 year grave to release the much anticipated Chinese Democracy album, something that many fans thought they’d never hear. Of course, most fans expected to hear either a new Eminem album (Relapse) or the long awaited and highly anticipated Detox album from Dr. Dre, and they got neither.

The DRM battle raged on in 2008, and in even just the beginning weeks of ’09 we’ve seen a nice movement in the area. For most of 2008, the IFPI (2) and the RIAA battled downloaders, both large and small, in court. Looking for lost compensation, they took to trial serial filesharers and spent massive amounts of time and money scaring college kids into settling out of court for fear of an expensive and punitive sentence against them. In the end, these efforts were largely useless, and in my mind, a joke, as they claimed to be fighting for the artists, while we all pretty much know how little the labels show the artists from individual song downloads.

The record industry spent months wringing their hands over lost profits and ways to control music that they long ago lost almost all control over. You have to wonder if, looking back now, they aren’t thinking of all their recent efforts as merely shutting the barn door after all the animals already escaped. And the change in tune has been brisk… Now, just two weeks into ’09, Apple has announced one of the broadest and most accessible withdrawals of DRM and price restructuring of MP3s in years. The four major labels have helped produce this movement, and it shows the increasing power of the consumers in the music marketplace. Once tied to hard copy formats like CDs with an average price table, consumers this year found diverse and creative ways to obtain their music, forcing the hand of the labels to recognize that DRM is not what the people want. How this lack of DRM will effect iPod sales or iTunes downloads remains to be seen. The launch of the App Store on iTunes also took music mobile with an incredible number of music related apps (and a few apps that are just plain incredible) designed for the iPhone.

The idea of Take Away shows and having artists perform live in unconventional venues took off. Nine Inch Nails picked up on Radiohead’s experiment with a free download format of an album, but they’ve taken it a step further now by offering over 400 GB of HD video footage from their concert tours up on torrent streams for fans to remix and create DVDs. This fan interaction has become tantamount to bands in the last year with MySpace including music, and a large number of acts going from conventional websites to social networking platforms.

And while these social networking sites and the bands that use them were beginning to become increasingly entwined, musicians were getting in the mix as well, literally. Late in 2008, MixMatchMusic officially opened its doors to musicians from all over the world to create, upload, collaborate and work with stems to broaden the ways people approach making music. With the DemoGod award at Demo ’08, a write-up in the San Francisco Chronicle and the ever-popular RemixSarahPalin.com, this vision of worldwide musical collaboration and the power of mixing and matching steps closer to being a full-fledged reality. (MixMatchMusic)

So what’s next? With the DRM barriers falling, the new foundations of band and fan interaction being laid and Web 2.0 casting a wider net over the ‘net, music in 2009 could be anyone’s game. Personally, I’m just waiting for The Detox… And now a moment for the outstanding musicians we lost this year, Bo Diddley and LeRoi Moore, among others.

What I’m Hearing, Vol. 8

For a taste of October’s music, click here.

November’s update comes with over 100 tracks spanning both new and old albums, and quite a bit in terms of the Yancey family. We’ve got hip-hop and indie rock, R&B and rap. Enjoy!

Black Milk, Tronic: An album that pushes the traditional boundaries of hip-hop with futuristic synths and musical approaches, Black Milk still puts out several songs that utilize nostalgic samples. I won’t say much more because I’ve already written a full album review, but in my recent interview with Hieroglyphics members Opio and Tajai, they named Black Milk as one of the hip-hop producers they were liking the sound of recently. Read the full album review here. Don’t Sleep On: “Long Story Short,” “Bounce,” and “Losing Out” featuring Royce da 5’9″

Bloc Party, Intimacy: When Bloc Party released their initial effort, Silent Alarm in 2005, it brought a distinct sound to the indie rock arena with Kele Okereke’s emotional British accent and their hard charging guitars on songs like “Banquet.” That album spawned a remix album before the release of what I viewed to be a lackluster sophomore effort on 2007’s A Weekend in the City, an album that had three, maybe four really solid songs, tops. Thankfully though, Intimacy not only serves to take some of the band’s music in another direction, but returns the indie sound on their rock songs to the top-notch form that looked possible from their debut. Intimacy still has driving drums and screaming guitars, but the band has started to utilize more in the way of drum machines and electronic flourishes that create a new dimension for them to explore and in some cases creates some of the most musically advanced songs the band has produced to date. Okereke’s use of his voice is showing maturity, commanding more range of both pitch and emotion here. In some songs, it feels like the input they had on their work from Silent Alarm Remixes has prompted them to explore in new directions. A very solid album. Don’t Sleep On: “Signs,” “One Month Off,” and “Talons.”

Illa J, Yancey Boys: I’ve read a few reviews of this album that basically mock Illa J’s approach and state that he only made this album because he got posthumously released tracks from his big brother J Dilla. I think these reviews miss the point of the album in that Illa J doesn’t fancy himself a rapper or hip-hopper, he’s a self-described singer/songwriter, so it only makes sense that what he does over Dilla beats is going to be different from Dilla’s output when he was alive. On this album, the younger Yancey proves himself musically diverse and extremely relaxed, while also recognizing the importance of respecting Dilla’s production. The tracks here are laid back and jazzy, and Illa takes no effort to listen to, he’s that easy. Click here for the full album review, and click here for my interview with Illa J. Don’t Sleep On: “R U Listenin’?” feat. Guity Simpson, “We Here,” and “DTFT” feat. Affion Crockett

J Dilla, Welcome 2 Detroit: With the way underground hip-hop is structured and feeds into the mainstream, it’s often possible for fans to miss an initial classic album from an artist, and then never check it out once they’ve gotten big because it gets lost in the new music. With Illa J’s debut album dropping this month featuring almost exclusive production from Dilla, it only made sense to make sure people were aware of J Dilla’s initial solo offering and the way it intersects with the rest of the hip-hop genre. On Welcome 2 Detroit, Dilla’s signature melodic and stoned out beats are in fine form with lyrical help from other Detroit rappers such as eLZhi (WIH6) and Phat Kat. The album, released in 2001, still sounds fresh and innovative today and features several tracks that showcase Dilla’s ability to fuse other sounds into his hip-hop such as the co-produced (Karriem Riggins) “Rico Suave Bossa Nova” and “B.B.E. (Big Booty Express)” which Dilla seems to have created in order to slip onto future releases of the 1977 Kraftwerk album Trans-Europe Express. Don’t Sleep On: “Shake It Down,” “It’s Like That,” feat. Hodge Podge and Lacks, and “Pause” feat. Frank-N-Dank.

Jedi Mind Tricks, A History of Violence: Underground hip-hop mainstays Jedi Mind Tricks return for their 6th studio album with more hard hitting tracks, masterful production and intricate lyrics. The conspiracy themes from previous albums remain here, and the production draws from interesting samples such as the strings and haunting foreign lyrics on “Monolith” and the sparse flute in “Trail of Lies.” The lyrical deliveries on these tracks are tight, concise and deep in content, and on the whole, the album is a display of exceptional craft from artists working together with a common musical vision and knowledge of their strengths. Don’t Sleep On: “Trail of Lies,” “Death Messiah,” and “Heavy Artillery.”

Kanye West, 808s and Heartbreaks: Following the death of his mother, I was wondering what the latest output from an artist so in touch with his emotions and personal experiences would sound like. On the one hand, I could see West shaking off the events of the last year or so and putting out his most bouncy and sample-laden disc to date. On the opposite end of that, I could imagine West delving deep into what was going on and producing an intensely personal album. On 808s, West moves in a direction completely opposite of the roads he’s traveled before, and comes out all the better for it. Let’s be clear. 808s is not an album for anyone expecting the continuation of sound and work from West’s previous three albums, and it’s not an album that everyone is going to enjoy musically. Using an 808 drum machine and extensively using Auto-Tune to sing rather than rap, West has produced a stripped down and emotionally raw album. Heavy on synths and in points retro-80s sounds (tracks here could have made an Aphex Twin or Tricky album), West lays bare what’s going on with him and refuses to apologize for the new direction of his music. What’s amazing is that while I think the roster of musicians today who could completely change course from one album to the next and do so successfully is small, Kanye does make that list with this album. Dark, personal and musically adventurous, 808s and Heartbreaks exposes West as the musician he is rather than the hip-pop clone machine he’s often typecast as. Don’t Sleep On: “Paranoid,” feat. Mr. Hudson, ” “Bad News” (which features a sample from Nina Simone‘s “See Line Woman”) and “Street Lights.”

Ludacris, Theater of the Mind: While some artists are out to create philosophically moving pieces, or to in some way further the hip-hop culture, Ludacris doesn’t concern himself with such lofty ideals. He’s about making money. A lot of it. On his 6th studio album, Ludacris returns with the formula that has made him the hottest rapper in the South’s history… pulsing and grimy beats full of horns and deep bass kicks meet with quick delivery lyrics touching on sex, violence, money and his ability to outsell other rappers. Keep in mind, I’m not saying that this formula doesn’t work for him and doesn’t have its place within rap and hip-hop, but it is without any sort of creative growth that Luda moves forward. If there’s any doubt about the kind of sales Ludacris would like to see, this album is the most saturated rap album I’ve seen in years in terms of cameo appearances. Ludacris is the lone rapper on only 2 of the 15 tracks, getting guest appearances from Floyd Mayweather (yes, the boxer), Chris Rock (yes, that comedian), Jamie Foxx (still an actor?), Common and Spike Lee (one of them is a rapper, right?), Nas, Jay-Z and current Top 40 mainstays T.I., The Game, T-Pain and Lil Wayne. This approach either means that he intends to make a lot of money based on name recognition of his guests or he realizes that to put out an album that only has him on it, he’d need to come up with full lyrics to all of his songs, a task that might seem daunting (I mean, how many times can you really come up with new raps about rims and Cadillacs?) While musically and lyrically this album isn’t challenging, it has certainly produced some tracks that we’re sure to be hearing in clubs and parties very soon. Don’t Sleep On: “Intro” (only a minute of rapping, but well worth it, and one of only 2 songs with just Luda on it), “Undisputed” feat. Floyd Mayweather, and “Wish You Would” feat. T.I.

Opio, Vuture’s Wisdom, Vol. 1: The first in a trilogy of albums to be released by Opio from Hieroglyphics with production by Architect. The idea behind the albums is that people are saying hip-hop is dead, or at least that’s the popular expression lately. Vulture’s Wisdom refers to the ability to pick what’s left of life from the bones of the deceased, and this album shows that Opio hasn’t lost any of the edge that has carried him through more than a decade in the industry as a part of the Hiero Imperium. Be on the lookout for my interview with Opio and Tajai, where they discuss their plans to release a new single every week in 2009. Don’t Sleep On: “Don Julio,” “Mind, Body and Soul,” and “Some Superfly Shit.”

Singles… these are the songs where the full album just didn’t cut it, but the songs deserve their time in your ears. Check out “4 Wind,” a multi-lingual remix of the cut from Breez Evahflowin and Dirt E. Dutch’s Troublemakers album, and the radio ready hip-pop of T-Pain songs “Can’t Believe It” featuring L’il Wayne and “Karaoke” featuring DJ Khaled where T-Pain goes off on the rest of the industry (funny coming from the guy who did “Bartender”) and claims the only cool rappers are Kanye West and L’il Wayne. Well, at least he’s consistent. There you have it, the November update… up next is the second installment of last year’s 11 Songs to Be Thankful For.

Lollapalooza Going MixMatch

In a press release today, I read a most interesting thing about the long-running mega music marathon known as Lollapalooza. Founded in 1997 by Perry Farrell to say good-bye to the legend of Jane’s Addiction, the tour stalled out on the national level to be revived in a format similar to Bonnaroo, Coachella and this year’s Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco. While not a multi-day festival like these, the Bridge School Benefit has been doing much the same at the Shoreline Amphitheater for more than 20 years now.

Of course, the most frustrating portion of these festivals is the opportunity to see a wide variety and assortment of acts, and then never hearing their music or their collaborations again. In recent years, Bridge School has started recording and releasing acts by the artists, but it seems to me that in this day of high quality live recording and digital distribution, it shouldn’t be that difficult to release an entire live set from one of these festivals a few days after it ends.

For the charitable festivals (Outside Lands/Bridge School), this can increase the revenue poured into the cause, and for artist-centered festivals, it can help increase their revenue from the show. But really, it’s the unique collaborations that happen on stage between dissimilar artists that are usually the highlights of these shows. Tom Waits performing with the Kronos Quartet at Bridge School, Tom Petty sharing the stage with Neil Young. These are musical moments that are incredibly memorable to the audience (“Man, you should have been there when X and Z performed together!”) but retaining the way it sounded in your mind is much more difficult over time.

Now, with the line-up at this year’s Lollapalooza, featuring distribution revolutionaries Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead, odd couple Gnarls Barkley, Bloc Party, Broken Social Scene, G. Love and Special Sauce and the rapidly diversifying Kanye West, the potential combinations are endless. How about Trent and Thom settling their digital download dispute through a mash-up of “Hurt” and “Idioteque?” Or Kanye and Barkley going “Crazy” over “Diamonds From Sierra Leone?”

Well, in an idea that sounds like it came straight from the MixMatchMusic garage, Farrell has announced that he will be attempting to collaborate with the Empire that is Apple and iTunes to release iTunes-only music from the festival in digital formats that could include on-stage collaborations followed up with studio releases of those collaborations for download. Whether Farrell is actually focusing on the release of the live performances isn’t too clear, but he talks openly about his idea of having bands who have performed on stage together at the concert working through the internet and various worldwide recording studios to put the songs together in a more polished format.

The talk of all of these artists coming together in music in some way gets my pulse racing. One can only hope now that Farrell doesn’t stop short. Sure, the idea of studio versions of these collaborations is very cool, but he should well know that with a festival like this, fans would love to get their hands on copies of the entire live set, and will certainly want to download the various combinations of these artists. All that’s left is to let Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails debate over which file format the songs should be available in to download.

11 Songs to Be Thankful For

In a mainstream musical landscape of, for the most part, rapidly declining talent and increasing acceptance of incredibly low musical standards (I mean, you have just read an entire blog about people actually performing and videotaping jack ass Soulja Boy’s song, complete with the lyrics “superman dat ho,” and didn’t think it was entirely out of the ordinary, in fact, you were probably entertained), it’s important to keep somewhat grounded by recognizing the unrecognized…the real musicians and rappers that slip through the crack because they can’t sell or ink deals with the majors. Also in need of recognition are songs of the past that we sometimes discard as the next CD/download comes out.

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I give you a newly discovered or enjoyed song from each month of my musical year. Not all of them are new to this year, the month merely represents when I first heard them or came back to them. Some of them you might have heard, some you may not have, but the idea is these are songs that immediately sunk in and made an impression, and can probably offer you three minutes or more of something you’ll enjoy more than taking a hammer to your head (which is what 94.9 makes me feel like doing). For whatever reason, of the 600 or so new/refound songs I’ve heard this year, these stood out and deserve a listen if you’re looking for something new, or a revisit to a song you’ve heard that’s worth hanging on to. Copyrights prevent us from posting the actual songs, but I’m sure y’all are smart enough to do a little research…

January: “Tulips (Club Version)” (Single) by Bloc Party. Actually a 2005 song, but hidden in single format, this one sounds just as relevant as their more current work. With the driving rock mixed with a melancholy edge, the song is at once both energizing and haunting. Honorable Mention: “Classical Hit” (Straight From the Crates, Vol. 1) by Phil Da Agony

February: “Float” (Half Full Ashtrays, Half Empty Glasses) by the Lab Rats. Off their 2006 self-release, “Float” provides some of the most intricate and touching lyrics of any of their songs. This group, independents out of Ohio, usually vent on the struggle of a below middle class life and the difficulties of getting their music conceived, written, produced and distributed. This one though finds a more harmonious tilt and examines the feeling of letting the tide of life come to you rather than chasing it. “Where you are right now is a specific composition of every single decision that you’ve made in the past.” Honorable Mention: “In Love” (The Medicine) by Planet Asia feat. Jonell

March: “4 AM in 4 Parts” (Prox EP) by edIT. Off the 2006 various artist EP, this super glitch song displays edIT‘s diversity as he breaks the song into 4 parts to elicit different aspects and moods of the rave culture. A must listen for anyone trying to get a grasp of what edIT is all about. Honorable Mention: “Mirror in the Sky” (Atlantis – Hymns for Disco) by k-os

April: “Cooter Brown” (To Tha X-Treme) by Devin the Dude. Off his 2004 release, the laid back beat and old sample of this song had me cruising for weeks. His smooth delivery as he examines the issues in his life and his progress through them drift over this melody with a relaxed purpose that make it good for any mood. Honorable Mention: “Pusherman” (Supafly Soundtrack) by Curtis Mayfield

May: “Groundswell” (Moonbeams) by Throw Me the Statue. If you wonder why we keep plugging TMTS over here, it’s because the music is worth the listen and you may not hear it elsewhere. This song, utilizing the same excellent mixture of driving rock, positive sounds and yet still slightly melancholy feel that made “Tulips” stick to me, does it with horns and an acoustic riff that you can take with you. Honorable Mention: “Do It” (Loose) by Nelly Furtado (I’m still dancing to this one, a rare tasty pop treat)

June: “The Killing Moon” (Songs to Learn and Sing by Echo and the Bunnymen. Odds are, if you were born when I was, this song doesn’t remind you of a pop radio hit. But it was, back when we were running around in DARE programs and listening to Bush and Dukakis square off. It came back to me through the repeated watching of Donnie Darko. It’s eerie, fleeting and perfect for a fast drive down a dark street. Honorable Mention: “Got Me Lost/Driving In LA” (Telefon Tel Aviv – Remixes Compiled) by John Hughes

July: “Relax” (Port Authority) by Marco Polo feat. J*Davey. A mellow hip-hop/R&B cut with a Tribe Called Quest sample, this song is lounge perfect hip-hop and nightcap music. Honorable Mention: “Back in Your Head” (The Con) by Tegan and Sara.

August: “Play Your Cards Right” (Finding Forever) by Common. Off his newest album, this track works on your way to or from your evening. The up-tempo throwback sound and Common’s expert delivery work again and again, and the feet keep moving to this one. Honorable Mention: “None Shall Pass” (None Shall Pass) by Aesop Rock

September: “Good Life” (Graduation) by Kanye West. I don’t think I need to break this one down…if you haven’t heard it, it’s very possible you’re living in a cave and not reading this. Sampling a little Michael Jackson, Kanye toasts to his newfound status and keeps it moving. Honorable Mention: “Crunk de Gaulle” (Certified Air Raid Material) by edIT feat. TTC, Busdriver and D-Styles)

October: “Bayani” (Bayani) by Blue Scholars. This one is short, sweet, uplifting and at the same time borne of pain. Honorable Mention: 15 Step (In Rainbows) by Radiohead

November: “Windmills of Your Mind” (Thomas Crown Affair Soundtrack (1968) by Noel Harrison. A fantastic oldie/goodie I hadn’t heard before checking out the original movie. Cut in the echo filled folk sound mold of some of Simon and Garfunkel’s work of that era. Honorable Mention: “Dancing In the Dark” (Born in the USA) by Bruce Springsteen


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