10 things of recent vintage that i’ve been listening to:
conway – “lisa’s got hives” (from here)
rap-rock that won’t appeal to rap-rock fans — too much estrogen, too much, well, fun. it seems to me that the best mash-ups are those that wouldn’t appeal to the constituencies of either (or any) of the bootlegged artists.
dj shatterglass – without m (from here)
here’s an exception. if eminem fans could swallow the discoid original, i couldn’t see them having problem with, gasp, “pop muzik.” m fans are far less forgiving. if eminem didn’t already have enough worries with the bootlegging, his “without me” is quickly becoming one of the most mashed-up tunes ever. this one is damn fine, though it could use more bass in the mix.
nelly – “hot in here” (single, from nellyville lp)
standard issue neptunes track, perhaps a bit more steely dan than recent work. saved from being as mediocre as nsync’s “girlfriend” — a song that not even nelly could salvage on the remix — by virtue of nelly being nelly, and not, say, joey fatone. the force of his personality and his inexhaustible array of hooks are what ultimately make this a great single, suggesting that, like education, the neptunes productions are only as good as what one puts into it.
outkast – “land of a million drums” (single, from, i shit you not, scooby-doo ost lp)
just about the most peculiar artist/film tie-in since hammer and the addams family. bypass the references to the mystery machine and scooby snacks and you have another left-field outkast track, a song that lives up to its title as much as “bombs over baghdad,” “so fresh so clean,” or “southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.”
the jamie starr scenario, “welcome to thee lite” (12″ single)
jamie starr, for those unaware, was the alias under which prince wrote and produced for the time. the name seems to be an acknowledgement of his influence more than anything else as this song sounds little like prince (or the time, for that matter), except that the scenario seem to own the same equipment he was using in 1982. instead, it falls somewhere between daft punk’s discovery and the nu-electro of artists like felix da housecat and miss kittin and the hackers. nothing but a synth riff repeating over a sequencer and synth drums, but, baby, does it sparkle.
primal scream, “miss lucifer” (single, from evil heat or whatever they’ve decided to call it)
rest easy, kids. stop confounding your friends and family with your speech because, by the looks of things, vowels are okay again. bobby g. has seemingly taken all of his hostility towards the inherent fascism of the latin alphabet and funneled it into this booty-shaking single. futuristic garage rock, but it’s not garage and it’s not rock — the archtype for the new album appears to be their cover of the third bardo’s “i’m five years ahead of my time.” though i imagine there are more infuriating tactics to come with the album and its marketing, for now i have difficulty hating a single with a chorus of “shake it baby,” sung in a mick jagger falsetto shriek. a return to the simplicity of give out but don’t give up is surely welcome at this juncture.
tom waits, “i’m still here” (from alice lp)
“you haven’t looked at me that way in years,” rasps ol’ tom on this is a lovely ballad of weary, ragged devotion from, imo, his best lp since the black rider. the voice is getting worse, but if anything, he’s becoming a better actor as the years go by, putting over nearly everything he applies that pneumatic wheeze to.
the rapture, “the house of jealous lovers” (12″ single)
sort of like a more disco gang of four, without the politics. ooh! even better! like wildbunch and jack white’s “danger! high voltage”, but not quite as good.
the vines, “mary jane” (from highly evolved lp)
highly-touted aussie youngsters the vines are noted for their rocking-out, but it’s the slowies that make the album a keeper as far as i’m concerned. they all share this air of pastoral contentment: they’re swaying lullabies for hot summer nights — soporific, if only that word held positive connotations. epic rock ballads, but not in the course of nature/chad kroeger & josey scott sense — i guess it’s a bit like radiohead ca. the bends but warmer with lush, elton-john style backing vox. like most young boys who are scared to show their sensitive side, they rocked out on the ending at their new york debut, a show that brought out the rock press big-shots (and nikolai stroke!)
bryan ferry, “i thought” (from frantic lp)
it’s been, what, 30 years since the last ferry/eno composition? it’s been time well spent by both: on the first two roxy albums, it was the contrast between the two egos and the conflict between their styles that forged the vitality of those records; now, they seem to be on the same page and the results could hardly be more engaging. the gathering storm of keyboards and effects amounts to nothing but a delicate spring rain over ferry’s eternal croon, ending the record on a high and with the hope that the two won’t be strangers in the future.