November 30, 2005

Bet you didn’t know German mod music existed. Maybe you didn’t care. Well, you were wrong, and you should. Hamburg’s Marina Records recently released The In-Kraut, a compilation that includes twenty rare soul, beat, Now Sound, mod and soundtrack gems straight from the dustbin of post-war Germany, recorded between 1966 and 1974, to convince you of the error of your ways.

As you probably didn’t know, the pop-musical climate in Germany of the late 60s and early 70s was dominated by sub-kitsch radio hits called Schlager (literally, “hits”), with only the occasional 45 released that was comparable to the swingin’-est out of the US and the UK. Due to the shocking dearth of information available in English about the following bands and artists, I am forced to let the following tracks all but speak for themselves.

Those behind post-Schlager pop productions were mostly slick jazz players and studio musicians from the most popular big bands and orchestras in Germany. Composer and organist Ingfried Hoffman, known for his work on the German version of “Sesame Street” and member of the Klaus Doldinger Quartet turned the beat for a commercial jingle he was working on into Memphis Black’s groovy “Why Don’t You Play the Organ, Man.”

Erwin Halletz’s unique brand of proto-funk is highlighted on “Das Stundenhotel Von St. Pauli,” a down-and-dirty track with a funky groove clearly inspired by James Brown, originally included on a soundtrack from a B-movie about the goings on in a pay-by-the-hour hotel.

The drugsploitation nugget “Marihuana Mantra” by Kuno & The Marihuana Brass was a 45 celebrating the merits of marijuana use written by members Frank Dostal and Achim Reichel of Hamburg’s most renowned beat band The Rattles, both of whom, oddly enough, admitted to never having touched the stuff. Maybe that’s why it sounds more like they’ve been huffing paint thinner.

There’s even proof here that Germans sometimes have a sense of humor: Werner Müller’s hilarious “Bodybuilding” seems to foretell Arnie’s career, and was even sampled by camp-masters Bentley Rhythm Ace in 1997.

If for no other reason, pick this up for Heidi Brühl’s “Berlin.” Brühl was a successful Schlager Fräulein and musical theatre starlet who once co-starred in Sammy Davis Jr.’s Las Vegas show. Eventually, Heidi decided to update her sound for the Now Generation. She made the pilgrimage to London, put on her white go-go boots and recorded “Berlin” with English musicians, whose presence is conspicuously evident in the song’s trademark psychedelic guitar solo.

[Christmas is coming. Buy this for that Deutschophile in your life.]

Jessica Graves | 8:00 am | Comments (5)

November 29, 2005

Is it too early to declare 2005 the year of Arts&Crafts? I suppose that Stylus’ 2004 judgment of Merge as the top label occurred around this time. Besides, for all I know, the rest of Stylus may disagree with my particular choice, coming out with a top five list that doesn’t have A&C anywhere near it. However, as far as this writer is concerned, the kings and queens of Canadian indie (and, by extension, the entire twisted scene) are the incestuous compatriots of Broken Social Scene. And I’m not likely to change my mind in the next month.

I recently saw Broken Social Scene and Feist at the Showbox here in Seattle, and I was blown away, to say the least. Despite a rash of technical problems, resulting in a very miffed Feist, the eventual image of sixteen people on stage, crooning a ten-minute epic in unison was, to say the very least, a spiritual experience. People talk about the amazing transcendent power of live music, and although I never really doubted them, the show certainly allowed me to identify powerfully with that particular assessment. Suffice to say, it was an excellent show.

I did, however, have one problem: the notable disappearance of labelmates The Most Serene Republic. The group sadly had to cancel without offering an explanation; the crowd seemed more annoyed at the wait than saddened, but I for one had been anticipating their set. Touted as the first band on A&C not tangled up with Broken Social Scene, Underwater Cinematographer is a promising debut. Soaring somewhere in the spaced-out fuzz of Flaming Lips territory, TMSR delivers strong cuts, like the oddly-named “Where Cedar Nouns and Adverbs Walk” (In a way, they seem like Broken Social Scene’s nerdy cousins, dabbling in semi-pretentious song titles and complicated metaphors). There’s a subtle quiet build of an intro, and then instantly and without warning we are hit with an impossibly-fast synth drum beat. Adrian Jewett’s subdued tenor cuts in with optimistic, oddly grammatical lyrics, most of which are inaudible. I can make out snatches like, “our last words, every vowel and phrase, make it better than before.” The song evolves, adding layer upon layer of distorted keyboard, Of course, the best part is the riotous chorus near the end, where a collection of voices starts chanting, “I think we all know the words.” While the song fades away, the chant grows louder and louder, until there is only that one line, emphatically and almost atonally driven into the listener’s skull. It’s a powerful moment for one as concerned with the art of words as I am, and there’s a writerly kinship there I felt, from one young, hopeful wordsmith to another.

And I didn’t get to see them.

Meanwhile, across town, the same night that I was drooling over the sublime sounds of Broken Social Scene, A&C distribution-deal holder Sally Seltmann is opening up for Ben Lee at Chop Suey, another local club. Performing under the moniker New Buffalo, she’s another worthy addition to the Canadian lineup, despite hailing from Melbourne. She’s opened for Cat Power and Mount Eerie, and sounds perfect for the job. She’s got a subdued, jazzy feel to her arrangements that create a perfect lounge atmosphere, the kind of performance where you imagine her draped across a candlelit piano in a clingy velvet dress, boldly looking straight into your eyes while she croons. The last song on her latest album, The Last Beautiful Day, “On Sunday,” is exactly what she’d be singing in that situation. There’s an anachronistic horn part and an upright bass plucked quietly in the background. Seltmann’s crisp, confident voice glides in, delivering lines like “how about we have a little action,” with the alluring charm of a nightclub siren. She relates a narrative of a young actress, seducing her leading man with an innocent flair. It feels like old Hollywood, and it’s sexy as all hell. The entire ethos of New Buffalo seems to be a balance between innocent affirmations of love and the conflicted desire to draw that love into the bedroom.

Hm. That one almost got away from me for a second. Seltmann is married. And lives on the other side of the world. Need to remind myself of that on occasion.

There are plenty of other fantastic contributions to the A&C lineup. It’s been a banner year. Set Yourself on Fire. Broken Social Scene. Set Free. Let It Die (which I’m pretty sure was a 2005 release in the U.S., so lucky me, I get to count it towards the label’s domination). But sometimes it’s nice to look at the lesser-known comrades, the ones who maybe don’t headline shows (or, occasionally, even show up). It’s the quiet little victories, after all, that add up.

[buy stuff here/here]

Jeff Echert | 8:00 am | Comments (0)

Is it too early to declare 2005 the year of Arts&Crafts? I suppose that Stylus’ 2004 judgment of Merge as the top label occurred around this time. Besides, for all I know, the rest of Stylus may disagree with my particular choice, coming out with a top five list that doesn’t have A&C anywhere near it. However, as far as this writer is concerned, the kings and queens of Canadian indie (and, by extension, the entire twisted scene) are the incestuous compatriots of Broken Social Scene. And I’m not likely to change my mind in the next month.

I recently saw Broken Social Scene and Feist at the Showbox here in Seattle, and I was blown away, to say the least. Despite a rash of technical problems, resulting in a very miffed Feist, the eventual image of sixteen people on stage, crooning a ten-minute epic in unison was, to say the very least, a spiritual experience. People talk about the amazing transcendent power of live music, and although I never really doubted them, the show certainly allowed me to identify powerfully with that particular assessment. Suffice to say, it was an excellent show.

I did, however, have one problem: the notable disappearance of labelmates The Most Serene Republic. The group sadly had to cancel without offering an explanation; the crowd seemed more annoyed at the wait than saddened, but I for one had been anticipating their set. Touted as the first band on A&C not tangled up with Broken Social Scene, Underwater Cinematographer is a promising debut. Soaring somewhere in the spaced-out fuzz of Flaming Lips territory, TMSR delivers strong cuts, like the oddly-named “Where Cedar Nouns and Adverbs Walk” (In a way, they seem like Broken Social Scene’s nerdy cousins, dabbling in semi-pretentious song titles and complicated metaphors). There’s a subtle quiet build of an intro, and then instantly and without warning we are hit with an impossibly-fast synth drum beat. Adrian Jewett’s subdued tenor cuts in with optimistic, oddly grammatical lyrics, most of which are inaudible. I can make out snatches like, “our last words, every vowel and phrase, make it better than before.” The song evolves, adding layer upon layer of distorted keyboard, Of course, the best part is the riotous chorus near the end, where a collection of voices starts chanting, “I think we all know the words.” While the song fades away, the chant grows louder and louder, until there is only that one line, emphatically and almost atonally driven into the listener’s skull. It’s a powerful moment for one as concerned with the art of words as I am, and there’s a writerly kinship there I felt, from one young, hopeful wordsmith to another.

And I didn’t get to see them.

Meanwhile, across town, the same night that I was drooling over the sublime sounds of Broken Social Scene, A&C distribution-deal holder Sally Seltmann is opening up for Ben Lee at Chop Suey, another local club. Performing under the moniker New Buffalo, she’s another worthy addition to the Canadian lineup, despite hailing from Melbourne. She’s opened for Cat Power and Mount Eerie, and sounds perfect for the job. She’s got a subdued, jazzy feel to her arrangements that create a perfect lounge atmosphere, the kind of performance where you imagine her draped across a candlelit piano in a clingy velvet dress, boldly looking straight into your eyes while she croons. The last song on her latest album, The Last Beautiful Day, “On Sunday,” is exactly what she’d be singing in that situation. There’s an anachronistic horn part and an upright bass plucked quietly in the background. Seltmann’s crisp, confident voice glides in, delivering lines like “how about we have a little action,” with the alluring charm of a nightclub siren. She relates a narrative of a young actress, seducing her leading man with an innocent flair. It feels like old Hollywood, and it’s sexy as all hell. The entire ethos of New Buffalo seems to be a balance between innocent affirmations of love and the conflicted desire to draw that love into the bedroom.

Hm. That one almost got away from me for a second. Seltmann is married. And lives on the other side of the world. Need to remind myself of that on occasion.

There are plenty of other fantastic contributions to the A&C lineup. It’s been a banner year. Set Yourself on Fire. Broken Social Scene. Set Free. Let It Die (which I’m pretty sure was a 2005 release in the U.S., so lucky me, I get to count it towards the label’s domination). But sometimes it’s nice to look at the lesser-known comrades, the ones who maybe don’t headline shows (or, occasionally, even show up). It’s the quiet little victories, after all, that add up.

[buy stuff here/here]

Jeff Echert | 8:00 am | Comments (1)

November 23, 2005

Probably every article or review ever written about Life Without Buildings focuses on Sue Tompkins and her vocals, and to be honest so will this one; but I’d like to start with a plea for consideration on behalf of the rest of the band. Will Bradley on drums, Chris Evans on bass, Robert Johnston on guitar—even their names and instruments sound kind of boring. But from the opening notes of Life Without Buildings sole LP Any Other City they burst into life, poised halfway between jangle and angle, post-rocking around the clock. A large degree of the interest, the drive, the life in Life Without Buildings’ sound comes from their singer, yes, but if they’d released an instrumental version of the album it would still be good music. Not great, which is what it is with Tompkins, but good, which is more than you can say for many of their contemporaries.

Their work is in fact the necessary precondition for Tompkins’ post-Mark E. Smith verbal fireworks, that network of stutters, repetitions and obliques that sound like normal communication after almost distressingly few spins. Bradley’s double thumps let her yell with twice the power, Evans and Johnston melding together into one unified melodic engine, filling in the cracks and colouring slightly outside the lines. And then Tompkins wades in the stream of her consciousness, and although some themes come through (heartbreak, leaving, moving; “Sorrow,” “New Town,” “Let’s Get Out”) the whole story remains walled up in her head, or maybe in her life. It’s the kind of tantalizing almost-narrative that makes us invent stories to explain them, sometimes wonderful ones. That kind of opacity can turn into adaptability, though, a kind of emotional malleability that means Life Without Buildings’ music means more to you than anything more specific could.

“Juno” is a song about “you,” whoever that is. It is long, it is changing, she is angry at you and she might love you and she wonders if you’re real and a million more things. And in the middle, after the gently cryptic opening and before the exhausted end, is the moment. There’s a build-up, of course. The song has gone through two parts that might be verses and a couple of other, similar parts that might be a chorus, and the music drops down and Tompkins whispers “Don’t be fearful / Don’t be fearful to me.” And then as the band surges steadily around her, Tompkins starts fixating on a single phrase: “My lips are sealed.” She sing/shouts it with heedless abandon, pitched between anger and joy as the bass hums and the drums ratatat and Johnston plays a little like the Byrds if they’d heard Tortoise. It’s enthralling, fall-in-love stuff, just like on “New Town” when she starts taunting the listener with the words “Lookin’ in your eyes!” But this time it feels more like being filled with happiness, like you’ve been sworn to silence about the best secret ever.

And then, between repetitions of the line, Tompkins does it—she shouts out “I can see you!” in a half mockingly sing-song, half thrilled to death voice. It’s such an innocuous thing to say, the delivery carrying connotations of catching someone during childhood hide-and-seek, and in the middle of the glee of the refrain it’s suddenly the most perverse life affirming thing ever. It takes you back to a time and place and mood where things just feel right, where you see that person and you know they’re all you need for now. It makes me want to run outside and make snow angels, or run down a hill or play a game of tag. Life Without Buildings aren’t twee and neither is “Juno,” but there’s a clean-limbed joie de vivre in the middle of it that makes the city make more sense, that can’t exist apart from the heartache of the end of the album, just as Tompkins would be merely annoying without the almost invisible but crucial support of the music, four parts making one whole.

[buy stuff here]

The styPod | 8:00 am | Comments (0)

November 22, 2005

“I fell asleep,” Jason said, apologizing.

“Ah.”

“I was awoken in the worst way possible.”

“Fire?”

“No.”

“Earthquake?”

“No.”

“What, then?”

“A bunch of drunk people next door,” Jason said, keeping his voice flat, “singing ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’.”

I like “American Idiot.” I listened to it for the first time because I was having a bad day and needed something to mock and I was bitterly disappointed. It’s a frightening world where little mockable can be found in a political rock opera by a pop-punk band whose past métier was the joy of stoned masturbation, but I guess it’s good to have another decent album out there. I even kinda like “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” though it’s the most obviously overblown song, and I can understand that it might suffer in quality when delivered by a bunch of drunk people next door. Or might it? Isn’t there something joyful, something communal and spontaneous, about a bunch of drunk people next door? Probably not in this case; the song’s all over MTV, and Jason just returned from a few months in Italy, where, apparently, the radio only plays “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Speed of Sound.” (This is sad and fallow compared to the rich musical climate of American radio, which also plays “My Humps.”) Such songs have become unhearable now, oatmeal, mere noise. But isn’t it possible that some songs, vivisected by the alcohol-drenched scalpels of a ruthless crowd, might yield better results? What might be sung so as to make Jason’s forced awakening, if not pleasant, at least memorable? Some suggestions:

The Decemberists - The Tain (Pt. 5): Not all of the Decemberists’ Irish-legend masterpiece lends itself to intoxicated ululation, but this, the penultimate movement, is just asking to be belted for all that it’s worth. Lurching from lead singer Colin Meloy’s deadpan recitations over nothing but a stuttering drumbeat to ascending AC/DC riffage, it’s full of stuff like “Darling dear, what have you done / Your clothes are torn, your makeup runs,” except it’s not “runs,” it’s “RUH-OOOOOH-UNS.”

American Music Club - Crabwalk: Contains the three hallmarks of the ideal drunken singalong: a loud, inescapable beat; an idiosyncratic singer whose flouting of conventional vocal rules has to be imitated with a deft, almost surgical touch lest things turn into an atonal Charybdis; and rapid-fire, Dylanesque lyrics that no one will ever be able to remember. Get some friends together and you can make a truly awful noise.

Tom Lehrer - Poisoning Pigeons in the Park: Many of Tom Lehrer’s songs are incisive, humane topical satires. This is not one of them. Giggle at the blissful strings and the oom-pah rhythm, then swirl your incompetent voices around lines like “when they see us coming the birdies all try and hide / But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide!” Let the teetotaler in your party negotiate the hazards of the bridge, in which Lehrer confesses having “gained notoriety and caused much anxiety in the Audobon society with our games,” and join in afterwards, when Lehrer speaks plainly: “it’s not against any religion to want to dispose of a pigeon.” Social consciousness and animal cruelty—the song’s a gold mine.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - Details of the War: The most fragile, soaring ballad on CYHSY’s gorgeous debut is ripe for violent destruction. Begin with a sacreligious desecration of the delicately mumbled stretched-gum vocals and build slowly to a horrifying climax, smashing Alex Ounsworth’s voice into oblivion as you shriek along: “be careful with the details of the war!” Extra fun comes from the inescapable fact that you don’t even know what the hell the lyrics are sober.

Garbage - Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!): The overlooked single from Garbage’s third album is kept from being a truly perfect pop song only by its slightly too-overt desire to be such. Drink until you don’t know what “overt” means, and you’ll be set. Banish critical thought from the room, and settle down with Shirley Manson, a hook made of Day-Glo bubble-gum, and the kind of handclaps you have to do while moving your hands to alternating sides of your head. Get your falsetto on, and navigate each bouncy verse in the knowledge that you’re careening towards the orgasmic chorus, where Manson’s voice slides up and down sonic valleys like a character in an 80s platform game, while chiming bells and booming timpani cast the idea of restraint into the abyss from whence it came.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen (from “The Magic Flute”): If none of your friends want to sing this, you need some new friends. Sure, the lyrics are in German, but that shouldn’t stop you; nor should the impossibility of imitating the hearstopping acrobatics of the melody give you pause. We all know the famous part (which I shall attempt to reproduce here as the “ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-AH” part) but one forgets how soaring and inventive everything surrounding it is, and how dramatic Mozart allows his villain’s musical accompaniment to become. “The Magic Flute” is Mozart’s giddiest, most delirious opera, its every second demanding of a Wodehousian simile, and deserves to be experienced sober, but the fact is that nothing “Girls Gone Wild” scrapes from the bottom of the brainstem can touch the spectacle of a slightly intoxicated girl trying to punch her voice through the ceiling that separates it from the Queen of the Night’s. Except, of course, for a guy trying the same. This is your big finish.

Jason peered at the list as I stood by expectantly. “What do you think?” I said. “People read this, y’know. I think. Word might get around. Tomorrow night it could be Clap Your Hands next door. Or Mozart. Wouldn’t that be cool?” He was still reading. “You know,” I continued, “I was thinking, and there really might be a common thread between these songs. You know, the shared aspect that makes them all work so well. Maybe there’s something more communal about them. Maybe as human beings there are certain themes - and I’m not just talking lyrical themes, or literary themes, I’m talking particular kinds of music as well—that we respond to more tribally than we do to, like, My Bloody Valentine. I mean, I like walking around town with headphones on as much as the next guy, but there are some songs where it’s just, wow, I really want to sing along with this. And get some guy on the street to help. You know what I mean? People want to come together. They’re just looking for a catalyst.”

Jason came to the end, folded the printout, and handed it back.

“Don’t encourage the bastards,” he said.

[buy stuff here/here/here/here/here/here]

Theon Weber | 8:00 am | Comments (1)

November 21, 2005

There was this one time I saved a mouse. Jose Gonzalez reminded me of that.

It was long ago, moons ago. I used to stash my pets in the caravan next door. But it was winter, and it was Scotland, so it was very, very cold. And the caravan wrapped its hard chassis in icicles, and one of my baby mice kind of got frozen, and the man from the Animal Welfare came, and he shook his head, and he whispered: ‘dead.’

But I thought of a story my grandmother told me: about scotch, and the restorative powers thereof. So I administered said liquor, softly on a cotton-bud, into the mouse’s tiny mouth.

Two things happened simultaneously. The mouse twitched sharply into life; and a breath-taking song started playing on the radio. The song was “Hand on Your Heart” by Kylie Minogue, and it sounded something like a miracle.

It had it all: Casio karate rhythms, roller-disco double vocals—synth pop like a jolt of pure hope; disco drumbeats like a lifeline.

The mouse remained lively for moons to come. But the real phenomenon, it transpires, is the recent act of resurrection that an ace Argentinean Swede has performed on the song that sound-tracked my tiny rodent’s mighty comeback.

Jose Gonzalez’s swoon-inducing, exquisite interpretation of “Hand on Your Heart”—as first evinced on a split single with countryman and charming fellow arch-bard Jens Lekman—is a gentle, melancholic marvel.

Gonzales re-writes Stock Aitken and Waterman’s teenage bike-shed attitude as the sweetest of treatises on denial and desolation; he re-casts the song’s legwarmer-saddled, sassy protagonist as a washed-up, worn-out, love-lorn wonder.

His temperate guitar patterns tumble like tears; his words crackle like the fire in his heart. “I want to hear you tell me you don’t want my love,” he fruitlessly bids to assert.

On this, (and on his debut, Veneer), Gonzalez circumscribes the fragility of life at the hands of man: like the beat of the heart of a mouse in my palm.

[buy stuff here/here]

Nicola Meighan | 8:00 am | Comments (1)

November 18, 2005

With practically no official solo releases to his credit, Brooklyn-based DJ/producer Tommie Sunshine has somehow managed to become one of the most sought-after and prolific remixers in the biz. Considering he’s flipped mixes for such industry heavyweights as Avril Lavigne, Pink, Da Brat, The Killers, Kelis, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, P.O.D., Good Charlotte and even Elvis, a debut mix CD seems like no big deal. Perhaps it isn’t, but Tommie has built a reputation as a rock-solid DJ talent, connecting the dots between dance-punk, electro, disco and first-wave house. He is probably the most adored stateside DJ of the sort.

Tommie’s mix CD will drop later this fall. A debut solo full length is set for a first-quarter ‘06 release. To get a better idea of Tommie’s DJ prowess, peep this Katrina charity set recorded in September. This is Tommie in his element, and you can bet the CD will be something of the like.

0:00:00: Ellen Allien – “Your Body Is My Body (Kiki’s ‘Body Trip’ Remix)” (BPitch Control)
0:06:22: Baxendale – “I Built This City (Justus Kohncke Remix)” (Kompakt Pop)
0:11:15: DJ T. – “A Guy Called Jack (Joakim Remix)” (Get Physical)
0:16:16: Audion – “Just Fucking (Roman Flugel’s ‘23 Positions in a One-Night Stand’ Remix)” (Spectral)
0:20:55: Dirty Princess – “Jugar Al Reves (Roman Flugel DP01 Remix)” (Mad Dildo)
0:25:26: Ellen Allien – “Magma” (BPitch Control)
0:30:52: Silicon Soul – “Who Needs Sleep Tonight (Abe Duque Remix)” (Soma)
0:36:45: Moby – “Dream About Me (Booka Shade Remix)” (V2 UK)
0:42:53: Mish Mash – “Speechless” (Crosstown Rebels)
0:49:44: Tim Taylor – “Nite Daddy (Da Fresh Phatt Bass)” (Disco-Tech)
0:55:11: Hugg & Pepp – “Partymakers” (Cocoon)
0:59:19: John Dahlback – “Day of the Night” (Systematic)
1:02:58: Chromeo – “Needy Girl (Jacques Lu Cont Remix)” (V2 UK)
1:11:00: Bloc Party – “Banquet (Boyz Noise Remix)” (Self Released)
1:17:19: Ciara (feat. Ludacris) – “Oh” vs. Missy Elliott – “Lose Control” (Self Released)
1:21:20: Zoo Brazil – “My Personal Jesus” (Systematic)
1:28:02: Jorge Martins – “Welcome to the Machine (Introducao Remix)” (Sixty Four)
1:34:00: Justice – “Let There Be Light” (Ed Bangers)
1:36:26: Justice vs. Simian vs. Fast Track – “Erol Re-Edit” (Self Release)
1:42:46: LCD Soundsystem – “Tribulations (Tiga’s ‘Out of the Trance Closet’ Remix)” (EMI)
1:49:34: Sharam Jey – “Push Your Body (John Dahlback Remix)” (Underwater)
1:54:39: Oliver Koletzki – “Der Mückenschwarm” (Cocoon)
1:59:53: Freeform Five – “No More Conversations (Richard X Remix)” (Ultimate Dilemma)
2:05:21: Johannes Heil & Richard Bartz – “Don’t Stop (Extended Mix)” (Kurbel)

Tommie graces the cover of this month’s Urb Magazine and compiles monthly playlists for Spin. Unfortunately, no tour dates have been announced.

[buy stuff here]

Will Simmons | 8:00 am | Comments (0)

With practically no official solo releases to his credit, Brooklyn-based DJ/producer Tommie Sunshine has somehow managed to become one of the most sought-after and prolific remixers in the biz. Considering he’s flipped mixes for such industry heavyweights as Avril Lavigne, Pink, Da Brat, The Killers, Kelis, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, P.O.D., Good Charlotte and even Elvis, a debut mix CD seems like no big deal. Perhaps it isn’t, but Tommie has built a reputation as a rock-solid DJ talent, connecting the dots between dance-punk, electro, disco and first-wave house. He is probably the most adored stateside DJ of the sort.

Tommie’s mix CD will drop later this fall. A debut solo full length is set for a first-quarter ‘06 release. To get a better idea of Tommie’s DJ prowess, peep this Katrina charity set recorded in September. This is Tommie in his element, and you can bet the CD will be something of the like.

0:00:00: Ellen Allien – “Your Body Is My Body (Kiki’s ‘Body Trip’ Remix)” (BPitch Control)
0:06:22: Baxendale – “I Built This City (Justus Kohncke Remix)” (Kompakt Pop)
0:11:15: DJ T. – “A Guy Called Jack (Joakim Remix)” (Get Physical)
0:16:16: Audion – “Just Fucking (Roman Flugel’s ‘23 Positions in a One-Night Stand’ Remix)” (Spectral)
0:20:55: Dirty Princess – “Jugar Al Reves (Roman Flugel DP01 Remix)” (Mad Dildo)
0:25:26: Ellen Allien – “Magma” (BPitch Control)
0:30:52: Silicon Soul – “Who Needs Sleep Tonight (Abe Duque Remix)” (Soma)
0:36:45: Moby – “Dream About Me (Booka Shade Remix)” (V2 UK)
0:42:53: Mish Mash – “Speechless” (Crosstown Rebels)
0:49:44: Tim Taylor – “Nite Daddy (Da Fresh Phatt Bass)” (Disco-Tech)
0:55:11: Hugg & Pepp – “Partymakers” (Cocoon)
0:59:19: John Dahlback – “Day of the Night” (Systematic)
1:02:58: Chromeo – “Needy Girl (Jacques Lu Cont Remix)” (V2 UK)
1:11:00: Bloc Party – “Banquet (Boyz Noise Remix)” (Self Released)
1:17:19: Ciara (feat. Ludacris) – “Oh” vs. Missy Elliott – “Lose Control” (Self Released)
1:21:20: Zoo Brazil – “My Personal Jesus” (Systematic)
1:28:02: Jorge Martins – “Welcome to the Machine (Introducao Remix)” (Sixty Four)
1:34:00: Justice – “Let There Be Light” (Ed Bangers)
1:36:26: Justice vs. Simian vs. Fast Track – “Erol Re-Edit” (Self Release)
1:42:46: LCD Soundsystem – “Tribulations (Tiga’s ‘Out of the Trance Closet’ Remix)” (EMI)
1:49:34: Sharam Jey – “Push Your Body (John Dahlback Remix)” (Underwater)
1:54:39: Oliver Koletzki – “Der Mückenschwarm” (Cocoon)
1:59:53: Freeform Five – “No More Conversations (Richard X Remix)” (Ultimate Dilemma)
2:05:21: Johannes Heil & Richard Bartz – “Don’t Stop (Extended Mix)” (Kurbel)

Tommie graces the cover of this month’s Urb Magazine and compiles monthly playlists for Spin. Unfortunately, no tour dates have been announced.

[buy stuff here]

Will Simmons | 8:00 am | Comments (0)

November 17, 2005

You see them better at night, of course.

Sometimes they’re lasers; sometimes they’re flares; sometimes they’re saucers—bright orbs in the sky.

Karlheinz Stockhausen wanted to see them. The moustachioed council guy started to see them. I think Arab Strap saw them once. So did my mum.

They say these unsolved Central Scotland “sightings”—which earned the area the tag of the Bonnybridge Triangle—are a product of the chemical plant nearby. But if such incandescent phenomena are fashioned by a petroleum glow, how might we explain the impact they’ve exercised toward extraordinary Triangle natives, Arab Strap?

Their bewitching, extra-terrestrial treatise “The Clearing” audibly re-writes a small-town Body Snatchers episode wherein singer Aidan Moffat’s conformist human amorata is replaced with a wanton alien doppelganger who surfaces spread-legged and leering in a crop circle.

Our protagonist’s paranormal incredulity is palpable, as is his awareness of further Martian attendance: “And now the things that used to turn me off / I find endearing / And they laugh behind the trees / As she lies naked in the clearing,” he groans.

Some say the Bonnybridge Triangle’s prolific UFO accounts—which number more than Area 51 or Roswell—can be explained by the arching flight paths of planes as they scale the blackening Scottish skies. But flights to Lanzarote alone cannot elucidate the celestial being of inhabitants the Cocteau Twins: their soaring alien aria “Little Spacey” evinces a lunar, otherworldly charm. Indeed, the Cocteaus’ signature shimmering distortion and interstellar serenades make like a channel to another dimension.

Some people advocate that the locale’s impressive intake of fortified tonic wine is commensurate with the UFO sightings (re-christening it, wryly, the ‘Buckfast Triangle’). But if the populace is pie-eyed and addled on liquor, how can its resident jazz agitator, Bill Wells, create such vibrant, life-affirming art—such as the glorious “Wiltz,” which comes on like Close Encounters meets Belle & Sebastian? This smacks of cosmic—not alcoholic—forces.

Final proof of Central Scotland as Astral Portal is evidenced by sonic astronauts Mogwai: they hail from beyond the Bonnybridge Triangle, and appear to regret that this is so, on their silvery satellite discourse, “Take Me Somewhere Nice.” It beautifully berates a painful lack of alien action on their city-centre patch: “What would you do / If you saw spaceships / Over Glasgow?” sighs Stuart Braithwaite, bereft of said experience, ever.

You see them better at night, of course—but not in the city, if we’re to listen to Mogwai. I guess they’re trepidatious, or maybe just shy, these curious stars in the Scottish sky.

[buy stuff here, here, here, here]

Nicola Meighan | 8:00 am | Comments (1)

November 16, 2005

Ornelius Mugison has an S.J. Perelman name. It’d turn up halfway through a New Yorker article—a molasses-voiced carnie, or a decrepit, canebent magician with worrisome ties to some absurdly named criminal underworld. Or maybe Perelman would be even more clever, and invent Ornelius Mugison the Icelandic pop star—ramshackle genre-obliterator, composer of three albums, winner of two of the top honors at Iceland’s National Music Awards (Best Album and Best Song), an absolute nobody in every other country in the world, where people have apparently filled their one Icelandic-musician slot with everybody’s favorite swan-dressed beatboxer.

I’m exaggerating. 2003’s Lonely Mountain achieved the kind of please-listen-to-this critical acclaim usually reserved for such relentlessly unpopular artists as Momus, and the two follow-ups have been received solidly in the land of burned CDs and black Sharpie, but the bottom line is your average best friend, whether the last album he got excited about was X&Y or Rehearsing My Choir, has not heard of Mugison. Which is a shame, because he is exactly what people should be hearing about, as often and as stridently as possible.

Take “Sea Y,” the leadoff track on Lonely Mountain. Ten seconds of amiable electronic Rice Krispies noises and singer-songwriter acoustic guitar give way to brief, tumbling calliope tones. Mugison rumbles Beck-like about that most effective of pop-song characters, the nonspecific “she,” who in the case of “Sea Y” “can’t understand it / But I don’t blame her”. After this intro, which is solid but nothing to warrant the first two paragraphs of this post, the bottom drops out of the song, and an unrecognizable Mugison starts falsettoing the title over spiralling yelps of guitar. At this point there are about two and a half minutes left, and Mugison still has ahead of him a sudden shudder of dirty guitar, a music-box verse with the frozen immediacy of ultra-slick Europop, and a ghostly acapella bit in which his multitracked wails converge on the titular Y like missiles through rain. The song shares a haphazard, giddily eclectic feel with the current wave of ADD-rock, but its disparate parts are bound tightly together by the mantra-like lyrical repetition and the constantly winding swamplight music; it has more in common with such sculpted masterpieces as “Happiness is a Warm Gun” than with Architecture in Helsinki’s striated suites.

“Murr Murr,” the award-winning track from this year’s Mugimama, Is This Monkey Music?, is more of a straightforward pop song than “Sea Y”; it makes great use of a high-mixed acoustic-guitar riff, tripping and squiggling its way around Mugison’s unearthly voice. It sounds like a Martian Jack Johnson, and then about halfway through the guitar stumbles into an electronic bear trap, which chews it up and spits it into the left channel, before vanishing again and leaving the riff to lope on, mangled and shaken. On the same album, the hushed Nick Drake-isms of “I’d Ask” are slowly augmented by far-off fingersnaps, ghostly Parisian accordion, and Mugison’s own vocal idiosyncracies, which include, at one point, purring. Quietly, though; he wouldn’t want to be showy.

On his website, in slightly incorrect English, a disarmingly laid-back Mugison posts the lyrics and guitar tabs for “Murr Murr”: “try to get the groove, and the feel to it, do your own version of it!” This amiable modesty fits the music well; devoid both of the inflated meticulousness of Serious Rock Bands and the aggressive apathy of Irreverent Rock Bands, Mugison’s songs are carefully and rewardingly constructed while seeming organic and spontaneous. And he’s doing nothing if not evolving: “Go Blind,” from his next album, is a huge yet constrained affair that sounds like Led Zeppelin playing a gig in an isolation tank. And that’s where he sheds his Perelman skin once and for all—however evocative his name may be, Ornelius Mugison is nothing like a caricature, and works in nothing like a genre. It may not be clear exactly what he’s doing, but whatever it is, he couldn’t be better at it.

[buy stuff here or here]

Theon Weber | 8:00 am | Comments (0)

Next Page »
 
Links
Disclaimer
All MP3s are offered for a very limited time (usually 72 hours), so there's every reason to check back often. If you are an artist (or represent an artist) featured on this blog and want a song to be removed, please let us know and we will do so immediately. The MP3s are offered for evaluation purposes only: if you like what you hear, we've done some of the legwork required for you to purchase these records and strongly recommend that you do so. Also, please be courteous: download one track at a time and don't direct link to the tracks.

We love music and only wish to share that love in the best way that we know how. If you enjoy what you hear, let us or, better yet, the artists know!
Archives
Today on Stylus
Reviews
October 31st, 2007
Features
October 31st, 2007
Recently on Stylus
Reviews
October 30th, 2007
October 29th, 2007
Features
October 30th, 2007
October 29th, 2007
Recent Music Reviews
Recent Movie Reviews
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS). Powered by WordPress