Listen to this…
A simple concept. One music obsessed blogger recommends three tracks to another audio junkie, and they do the same. This time round I pick three for the 7″ obsessed “Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before”, a site for all the latest single reviews. In return for my listening pleasure he’s picked two great releases, and something by Morrissey.
Scroobius Pip – First Time I Met Music (MP3)
MLD: This week seems to have randomly become white hip-hop week on musiclikedirt so I thought i’d recommend Scroobius Pip (The Streets earlier in the week, then Lily Allen, now Scroobius… watch out for Daz Sampson tomorrow 😉 ).
The Pip was chosen as I know “Stop Me” loves unusual or creative lyrics, and the denser the better, therefore an Edward Lear influenced rapper seemed perfect. Scroobius is out on the “Kindness of Strangers tour” as we speak, and the debut album is available from his site, along with oodles of free MP3’s, including The Cure sampling Lullaby – scroobiuspip.co.uk).
Stop Me: ‘First Time I Met Musik’ has a slow burning, soulful sound that acts as the subtle backing for Scroobius Pip’s relentlessly inventive lyrics. The vocals sound like Eddie Argos turning his hand to rap. The lyrics are about meeting “The physical embodiment of music”, a tale that is told with no small amount of wit in a refreshing no nonsense style. He more or less talks rather than sings, Mike Skinner does the same but in a totally different way. It’s packed with so many incredible lines that it’s difficult to get your head round on the first listen. It’s so non-stop, that at points you can hear him struggling for breath at the end of verses.
For me the best line has to be “She joked.. Gansta-Rap?, I said no, but drop the G, you might start to get a better description of me, Angsta-Rap? she said, if it sticks you’ll regret that”. Really you could pick almost any line from this song as an example of his genius. All the clever references to Hendrix, Coltrane, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles and other legends are manor from heaven to a musically obsessed person like me. If he’s got any other songs half as good as this he should be massive. (MLD: You’re in luck there are four more tracks to download on Myspace, “1000 Words” in particular is well worth a listen).
Morrissey – Life Is A Pigsty (MP3 link)
Stop Me: Morrissey is without question my favourite artist, MLD usually detests him. I can understand that musiclikedirt loved the exciting late ’80’s Rap and Dance revolution, so Morrissey must have seemed like the enemy at the time. But it’s been a few years since then, so could it be time to give him another chance. At first this seemed like one of the weaker tracks from Morrissey’s new album. But I’ve just seen him live and it was undoubtedly the highlight. I love the sinister bass guitar, the atmospheric storm sound-effects and Boz’s surprisingly expressive Milk Bottle playing. Listen at 4.40 when there is a sky-scrapingly majestic guitar solo. Initially I think I was put off by the relatively simple lyrics, but this song doesn’t need clever lyrics. Listen to the way he sings “Life is a pigsty” eight times in a row. Each time he sings it, he charges it with more and more emotion. When his voice is on such form it wouldn’t really matter what he was singing. He could’ve sung “Baked beans have gone up at Tesco” eight times and it would have been just as heart rending. Listen to the chilling way he sings “Cold”, it sends shivers down my spine. Then after he’s plumbed the depths of despair we get the final line “Even now, in the final hour of my life, I’m falling in love, again”. The drums build and build to epic proportions towards the end and seem to echo this joyous personal revelation.
MLD: What are you trying to do to me!? Much as I pride myself on being openminded musically I’ve always drawn a blank where the master of misery is concerned. That said my dislike has mellowed from outright loathing in the 1980’s to indifference now. Its always been a mystery that someone who puts such effort into his lyrics, can allow them to be consistently served up on a musical backdrop that is at best mediocre, and unimaginative. Listening to this my instant reaction wasn’t favourable, but I’ve tried listening quietly on my ipod, and have even put it on the big speakers in case I was missing something just playing it through the computer. The upshot… well its growing on me. The production is overblown and MOR, but the more I listen the more I, well if not like, at least don’t dislike. Perhaps there is a Mozza enhanced future for me yet??? I still prefer the faux lesbians Tatu’s version of “How Soon Is Now?” to the original.. so on second thoughts maybe not.
Beirut – Postcards From Italy (MP3)
Destined for my top tracks of 2006 list, “Postcards From Italy” is a glorious mix of mournful brass, ramshackle guitar, and a tune to die for. Mandolins, ukulele’s, cello’s, congo drums, and Rufus/Sufjan-esque vocals enter the musical pot, and come out sounding like they were born to be together.
Order the album from BoomKat.
Beirut sound like a male Nico or Sufjan Stevens turning his attention to South America. The wonderful Trumpets sound partly funereal and partly celebratory. When the whole Brass section comes back in at 2.54, it’s magical. It also reminded me of the brilliant Hidden Cameras, but without the references to drinking piss.
Akala – Bullshit (free download from Akala’s site)
Stop Me: Akala’s album has been getting rubbished in some quarters and been given rave reviews in others. I think he’s an amazing new talent in Rap, I want to know what musiclikedirt thinks. Its a brilliant and spontaneous list of the things that Akala thinks are quite simply, “Bullshit”. It’s like he wrote ‘Bullshit’ at the top of a piece of paper and wrote down all the things that irritated him. Some of them are deep and political, some of them are just things that were pissing him off on the day he wrote it. So “Third World Debt” is “Bullshit”, but Britain’s weather is “Motherfuckin” Bullshit. The fact that every other line is “Bullshit” means that it’s just very funny, but some of the lines are deadly serious. You might disagree with some of the lines, but it’s about what annoys him, not what annoys you.
MLD: Fantastic stuff! Ms. Dynamite’s little brother had completely evaded my radar, but on the basis of this I’ve just ordered the album. On top of an old fashioned party hiphop tinkly piano loop that reminds me of Naughty By Nature’s “OPP” Akala reels off angry but often funny observations of things that are quite simply bullshit. As Stop Me said I dont agree with everything he says, but that doesn’t really matter.
Akala is doing some of the music festivals, and appeared at Live8 with his sister so hopefully he’ll carve himself a niche, but these are difficult days for people trying to make a living in UK HipHop. I’m sure radio play wasn’t helped by releasing a first single containing dozens of “Bullshits”, although it was probably his damning words on the Iraq war that scuppered it more.
Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom – Relevee (Carl Craig Remix) (YouTube dodgy video)– No MP3 due to legal heavies from DFA Records
MLD: Stop Me’s first love is the 2min 30sec guitar song, it arrives, it hits and it leaves… what he needs in his life is 11 minutes of techno wonderment! Carl Craig is in a rich vain of form at the moment turning out a flow of epic remixes, and this is the latest. Delia & Gavins album track is hotwired for the dancefloor, seemingly simple loops & brooding synths, build and build until the 4 minute mark when the drum kicks in and dancefloor mayhem ensues! Check out this YouTube movie to hear what a reaction this track gets.. love the way the dj plays the first bit and then just stands back in awe 🙂
Stop Me: This starts off sounding like the theme to ‘Open University’. After a while, it starts to wear a bit thin, then a heavy Drumbeat comes in at 3.45 and livens things up. There are moments like this all the way through when evil “Clockwork Orange” Synths, Tribal Drums and fantastic Jazz Piano parts are introduced. But over the coarse of 11 long minutes these are like finding an oasis in a barren Desert of tedium. I thought LCD Soundsystem, !!!, Fischerspooner and others had killed off this sort of thing. I’d like to hear the original track because I suspect that those flashes of brilliance come courtesy of the Un-Remixed version.
Gnarls Barkley – Crazy (MP3)
Stop Me: The whole world seems to have been going “Crazy” for this song but I’ve been struggling to see why. The drums sound like “Production genius” Danger-Mouse hit the auto setting on a Casio keyboard. The music doesn’t really go anywhere, skip to any part of the song and it’s the same chugging Bass Guitar and maybe some shity Strings. Admittedly Cee-Lo is an amazing singer and his lyrics are fantastic “Even your emotions have an echo, and so much space”. But why is everyone saying this is one of the greatest singles ever written? I feel like I was born with a different set of ears to everyone else and nobody told me. It doesn’t sound any different to the kind of stuff Black Eyed Peas might do. It’s just another under-whelming slice of R’n’B. If only it had rhythm, if it only it had the Blues.
MLD: Number 19 in the top 100 of 2005, and despite it now being inescapable still a favourite. Anything that gets the criminally ignored Cee-Lo to a wider audience has to be good, but “Crazy” is a pop soul classic. Its deceptively basic, and yes the strings are a bit tiny, but you Cee-Lo has crafted a great song onto Dangermouse’s music. Its been covered by loads of people who’ve not really done it justice, the ballad (by Ray Lamontagne) is passable, The Kooks murder it but then it is The Kooks, and its left to Gnarls to do not one but two blinding versions of it, a slow version (showing off Cee-lo’s voice on TOTP (YouTube)) and on Later with Jools Holland with a full band. As “Sweeping The Nation” points out with next single “Smiling Faces” (which I actually prefer) due for a July release we could be “beginning to foresee a Bryan Adams situation where Can’t Stop This Thing We Started had its entire top 40 run while Everything I Do was still number one.” Not that he’s likening Bryan Adams to Gnarls of course!