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Posts Tagged ‘dead can dance’

5. Queens of the Stone Age – Mosquito Song

The Queens of the Stone Age can make spectacular rock music when they put their minds to it. Most of the time, they take the easy route by sticking meaty hooks over a few desert grooves, giving us tracks like No One Knows and Make It Witchu that sound too convenient, with their stuttering rhythms and pansy percussion lacking the proper venom that their brand of rock and roll truly deserves. Some of their other tracks, (Hanging Tree, Burn The Witch, In The Fade) make me want to believe that the Palm Beach rock scene didn’t die a horrid death when the almighty Kyuss disbanded. Mosquito Song is a tranquil moment for Josh Homme and the boys; a mellow acoustic trip that couldn’t have gotten lovelier if Mark Lanegan had joined him for the final chorus. Thankfully, the searing violins did.

4. Natalie Imbruglia & Sneaker Pimps – Cold Air (Download)

The music industry hated everything about Natalie Imbruglia except her Torn video and pre-emo emo haircut so that we, the quasi badass nerds and fantasy music critics with our beady eyes, could enjoy her music without feeling brainwashed by MTV. Naaaah they probably didn’t like her because she was too far away from what they perceived as the future template of mainstream pop music – Lady ‘mother loving’ Gaga. Not that the poor thing was either a very good singer or a talented songwriter. In fact I wish Cold Air, a B-side remix from her White Lilies Island album, was originally written by someone else, let’s say, Isobel Campbell or Shara Worden. I can’t though. So here goes, a scrumptious pop tart from someone the collective consciousness previously rejected as a flash-in-the-pan. Surely that gives her some sort of reverse pop psychology credibility. Yay for Sneaker Pimps too.

3. Pantera & Kerry King – Goddamn Electric

Heavy metal is like that stepdad who beats the living daylights out of little Johnny. Yet Johnny keeps coming back for more; not because he likes it, but rather out of the flimsy hope that someday his stepdad just might show him some love. See, Johnny is a lot like us, haggard metal fans. Tired of the abuse handed down to us; and just not enough love going around. I say, enough with the shrieking drama kings and queens clad in black designer wear, posing as the prima donnas of popular heavy metal. Whenever I listen to Bad Brains, Pantera or Zakk Wylde, I can understand why little Johnny still gets excited whenever the drunken oaf puts the belt away and makes him a paper airplane to play with. “Goddamit man, you’re not the best daddy that little Johnny could hope for, but screw it, paper planes are awesome and so was this moment…for little Johnny”. So Pantera jams with Slayer’s guitarist and pays a fearsome ode to Black Sabbath and whiskey? How could this not be inspiring? Solos like this are meant to be used as a case against civil decency.

2. Saul Williams – Twice Upon A Time (Download)

Saul Stacey Williams is to alternative hip hop what Lou Reed once was to punk music. We can’t always see the connection, but we can only be sure that they somehow revolutionized it. Saul’s not just an incredible rhyme slayer; he’s an open mic beat poet, a very competent writer and a decent enough actor. That’s already 3,456 things that Ice Cube is not. Over the years his albums have sonically pushed all sides of spectrum and much like his enviably retro afro have grown more captivating. So much so that his 2007 album NiggyTardust was sometimes unlistenable from a pop perspective, but was intensely captivating in its own right, as dense collages of sound that challenge listeners to break down barriers. Twice Upon A Time is an amazing track that can be found on Disc 3 of Xen Cuts – a Ninja Tune compilation. This track is so poorly misrepresented on the Web that this blog shows up when you Google it. It starts off with a chilly broken blues lament that leads to Saul Williams coercing poetry and hip hop to writhe in imperfect harmony, the kind that sounds really good. “As if a heartbeat wasn’t enough…” Also read the Scholar wax lyrical about this track, as always.

  1. John Martyn – Glory Box

These lists that bloggers make are so absurd. Top 25 this, top 3 that.  Someone should make a top 100 list of things to do that are more worthwhile than sitting in front of the laptop, hoping that strange (and possibly lonelier) people think we’re cool because we assume that great and obscure music is drawn to us.  Aren’t we just precious? Let’s all approach Gollum and just bend over. More importantly, let’s just pretend that I’m above such judgment and move along. Singer-songwriter John Martyn sounds like the child that Frank Sinatra and Tom Waits could have never had.  Give him a Vogon poem and he’ll make that sound mesmerizing. Arundhati Roy’s articles too. His 1998 album – The Church With One Bell – has one of the most jaw-dropping covers ever made. His raspy tone segues with the seductively lounge-y instrumentation to turn Portishead’s Glory Box into a gorgeous jazz number that you can kick back and smell the nicotine stains to. Get the entire album, minions…there are promises of Billie Holiday and Dead Can Dance too. (PS: Yes I’m aware that the list says 1999-2009).

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29. Zwan – The Number Of The Beast

Some days you wake up wondering how many straight punches to the face you can unflinchingly take before your instinct kicks in and you crumble to the floor like a sack of anemic tomatoes. Then you get all confused trying to figure out which option hurts a whole lot less and you’d probably sink in the armchair, desperately holding on to a cigarette. At that time you’d be well advised to play this track; the fact that it is a cover of an Iron Maiden classic only adds to the cruelty of life that Zwan’s version briefly soothes.

28. Super Furry Animals – The Man Don’t Give A Fuck

I sometimes wonder if I scourge the web for bands with ridiculous monikers and force myself to appreciate their music. Rhys, Bunford, Pryce, Ciaran and Ieuan (Super Furry Animals) laugh uproariously at such contrived pop psychology with this amazing track released on Out Spaced, a collection of their B-sides and rarities. It even boasts of a grand chorus that samples Steely Dan’s Showbiz Kids. One of those precious moments during the Nineties when quasi-juvenility lent itself to a mean artistic streak. Isn’t it remarkable how everybody takes any side but that of the censorship board? Makes me want to have faith in humanity and stuff.

27. Belleruche – It’ll Come

Belleruche lovingly evolves Nineties blue-eyed soul into something funkier and far more soulful. In 2007 Kathrin deBoer, Ricky Fabulous and DJ Modest put out possibly the best album in their label Tru Thoughts’ brief history. You should go out of way to pick up their album – Turntable Soul Music. Matter of fact send them an email or give them a shout-out on Facebook and tell them how awesome they are. I bet they’d be all “ah shucks, thanks…do you want a free CD?” but you should refuse and pay for it anyway.

26. Tricky & Martina Topley Bird – Hell Is Around The Corner

The coolness of Tricky’s deeply breathed poetry has found an irresistible bedmate in Martina Bird’s sweaty and sultry cooing. Go back to when Don Henley paired up with Patty Smyth in 1992 to sing about how sometimes love just isn’t enough. Remember how unholy and irritating that was? This has the exact opposite effect. Great video too.

25. Solace – Mother Godzilla (Download)

Just so you know, New Mexico-based MeteorCity Records is home to plenty of great stoner rock bands. Now, Solace comprises a bunch of unruly guys from Jersey Shore who pay proper respect to the almighty riff. Their sound is gargantuan with downtuned rhythm sections exploding like heavy metal shrapnel over fiery solos. Mother Godzilla, from the ultra cool Destroysall (A Tribute To Godzilla) album, wakes from its fuzzy slumber around the 1:15 min mark and launches itself into a superlative free metal jam that haunts as much as it rocks.

24. Broken Bells – Mall and Misery

Broken Bells is all that and then some. The talents of Brian J. Burton a.k.a Danger Mouse and James Mercer (The Shins) mix like green candles and decent sex. Dueling vocals effortlessly, one sulky and the other cherubic, drip through a bubbling canvas of warm snares and quirky electronics on this track; and once again, my minions, we stand a good chance of getting our ears wetted by sticky sweet pop goodness.

23. Dead Can Dance – Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove (Live in Hague)

Singer/composer Lisa Gerrard and multi-instrumentalist Brendan Perry were the purveyors of neo-classical medieval pop exotica that caused the wind chill to bite through a large chunk of underground goth clubs during the Nineties. In this 2005 live version of a Dead Can Dance classic, Brendan and Lisa revisit those incredible double reed instruments, tripped-out percussion arrangements and ethereal vocals that reach such heights it’s a wonder how Enya could sleep at night knowing she was making more money than these guys.

22. Soulfly & Tom Araya – Terrorist

If I was a super villain with access to thousands of vicious flying monkeys, I’d watch them wreak havoc on the general populace while listening to this. Max Cavalera and Tom Araya were once Ares and Hephaestus of the thrash metal scene and they have proudly shown it off in Soulfly’s Primitive album. They shred their throats dry over Roy Mayorga’s apocalyptic percussion blasts and frenzied four-stringed riffing to create an atmosphere so brutal that the least you should do after the track ends is watch a Kim Ki-Duk film. Fly, my monkeys, fly.

21. Air – Playground Love

Air’s possibly one of the underrated electronic duos out there; problem being when they’re ordinary, they sound truly horrendous, but when in form they sound like a distant male cousin of Cocteau Twins with a voracious appetite for trespassing uncommon grounds in the electronica genre. They were in spectacular form during the recording for the Virgin Suicides’ soundtrack and it shows in this moody gem with its sleepy-eyed saxophone licks coaxing us to beg for more. You can move on to Cherry Blossom Girl and Alone In Kyoto after this.

20. The Deftones & Maynard James Keenan – Passenger

Barring the ferocity of My Own Summer, The Deftones never sounded as compelling as they did on the 2001 album – White Pony. This had so many fantastic tunes that picking just of the lot should rightfully be both insidious and misleading…if it weren’t for Maynard James Keenan absolutely tearing the goddam roof off with a jaw dropping vocal performance on this , of course. “Ahhhhhhhh I’m your passsssengerrrrr”.

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dead_can_danceSome say that the obsession that Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry have had for instruments that have faded away with ancient cultures is the reason why they are collectively known as Dead Can Dance. Their music defies all the descriptions available for today’s genres. They are eclectic with a certain degree of austerity in the way they craft mesmerizing rhythms. Having started off their respective careers under the legendary 4AD Records label, some of Dead Can Dance’s earlier material drifted nervously between gothic pop and post-punk rock. Later on, they adopted a seemingly less cautious approach by going all out in their efforts to strangulate all signs of normalcy in their music. The result was both breathtaking and vulnerable; sort of like cherubic dementia. Born in one of the multi-ethnic suburbs of Melbourne, Lisa Gerrad has been one of Australia’s best-kept secrets since 1981. With influences from various countries, tribes, manuscripts and even bands like Bauhaus, Silent Stream of Godless Elegy and Cocteau Twins, her haunting and sometimes soaring vocals mesh beautifully with the eerie soundscapes created by multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist Brendan Perry. Released in 1981, their self-titled debut created quite the buzz. In 1985, their sophomore album – Spleen and Ideal – adopted a more ethereal twist and kept the post-punk influences out of the mix. Incidentally, the lyrics of the songs in this particular album were based on the writings of controversial writers Charles Baudelaire and Thomas de Quincey.

lotus_eaters_dead_can_danceWith Air Supply and Phil Collins ruling roost for most of that part of the decade, Dead Can Dance’s first two albums forced music fraternities all over to conjure up the spirit of Jimmi and ask themselves, “Are we truly experienced?” Six albums, two compilations and 14 movie soundtracks later, Gerrard and Perry still weren’t done answering the question. Having worked up a voracious appetite for change, much like Radiohead, they remained deeply committed to chopping and changing their sound. Even the environment wasn’t spared as Brendan Perry moved back to Ireland and bought a 150-year-old church to record their final album – Spiritchaser. Strangely enough, there was a strong presence of African tribal influences in the music they created for this album, as opposed to the Middle-Eastern rhythms that were known to permeate their previous efforts.

By 1997, the duo separated to pursue their respective solo careers and well, called it quits.

Despite being vastly experimental, their sounds are no less accessible than that of Pink Floyd. And much like Pink Floyd, there is a particular way of getting closer to their music. I would recommend that you start off by listening to Arabian Gothic, The Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove and then finally, Desert Song. And if you don’t like, any of them…don’t go any further, it seems that the dead are not in favour of dancing for you.

lisagWatch

Dead Can Dance – The Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove

Dead Can Dance – Desert Song

Download

Dead Can Dance – Arabian Gothic

Buy

Dead Can Dance’s Awake

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