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Posts Tagged ‘Exile’

19. The Tallest Man On Earth –Troubles Will Be Gone

Singer Kristian Matsson’s folksy laments sound like they have been filtered through Bob Dylan’s wounded larynx. Either the Swede has had too much lighter fluid go down his throat or the honeyed sandpaper-grating vocals come naturally to him. I can picture flower children huddling up and wailing about stuff that Papa Roach would base their music upon several cultures later, as The Tallest Man On Earth’s The Wild Hunt album plays in the background. Being free-spirited and lonesome at the same time would have been too much of an effort for those goddam hippies.

18. Feist & Ben Gibbard – The Train Song

Ben Gibbard, vocalist for Death Cab For A Cutie, and Canadian singer Leslie Feist, came together to create this featherweight alt ballad for Dark Was the Night – a compilation release supporting the Red Hot Organization. Their dueling vocals create the sort of chill that bites through our cheeks during those cold nights, backed by lovely mellow acoustic breeze. Highly recommended for corporate cabin-dwellers to help daydream about lonesome trains whistling through dusky meadows.

17. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Suddenly

Bands like these, I tell you, they come, do their thing and bow out. No one pimps their ride, we don’t see their cribs, and we haven’t a clue what happens backstage at their concerts. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club play spaced-out garage rock. And how. On the 2003 album Take Them On, On Your Own, their music felt darker and more strung out than ever before, as evidenced by this sweaty mantra that drips of some serious psychedelia.

16. Mudville – Hero Of The World

Marilyn Carino and Benny Cha Cha comprise the Manhattan-based Mudville. They make a delicious cocktail of neo soul, jazz rock, minimalist pop and lucid trip hop. Their 2005 The Glory of Man is Not in Vogue album is chockfull of enchanting electronica. Carino’s impressive vocals that harkens back to the glory days of Memphis soul is a perfect bedmate to Benny’s brooding instrumentation, especially on drawling moments such as this one.

15. Orphans and Vandals – Metropes

“It’s been quite a while since indie music has drawn me with such allure. Imagine ‘American Pie’ explosively rewritten by Liam Gallagher and sung by a younger, fitter Lou Reed piss drunk on malt whiskey. If you prefer not to, then you should know that Metropes is a fantastic piece of rock n’ roll storytelling.” Orphans and Vandals, ladies and germs.

14. Blu and Exile – Soul Amazing

MC Blu’s silky smooth flow sticks to DJ Exile’s über-swank production like a George Bush glance towards something shiny and useless. Nearly every track in their debut Below The Heavens is a great example of how much hip hop has evolved and turned from a form of social protest into a channel of cultural communication. This is, as some audiophiles refer to, all killer no filler.

13. Gnarls Barkley – Smiley Faces

The insane popularity of Gnarls Barkley’s debut St. Elsewhere was one of those rare instances where the masses took kindly to clever pop music as the industry credited its musicians for defying categorization. Fittingly, the music video for this track has Danger Mouse and Cee Lo randomly popping in during pivotal moments in the history of pop culture. The song too is a collage of sounds that could have made waves during different periods of time. Heck, in all of them, probably.

12. Moneybrother – Born Under A Broken Sign

Former Monster vocalist Anders Wendin is the brains behind Moneybrother, a band that blurs the line between Sixties garage pop and Nineties’ indie punk. The glorious lalalaaas that greet us during the first 15 seconds quickly settle down and burst into a soulful funky groove as Wendin sighs, “I’ve been born under a badly broken sign. He’s also a Grammy award winner…in Sweden that is. Great song to drive your car into a lamppost and sheepishly crawl out with a smile on your face. Yes, that happened.

11. Jo Yeong-Wook – The Last Waltz (Download)

South Korean composer Jo Yeong-Wook, a longtime collaborator with director Park Chan-Wook, strings together pieces of passing beauty and gets them high on classical jazz and film noir tunes. The final scene in Park Chan’s Oldboy with its protagonist Dae-su Oh vacantly smiling at the screen, with snow falling like a famous portrait beckoned it to, is made even more memorable through this exquisite composition.

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I don’t subscribe to any particular theory on artistic integrity, irregardless of the medium…after all everyone’s got to paid sometime right? All this nonsense about “oh that? That’s not art” is purely subjective; each of us has an imaginary line that blurs out any artist who steps over it. I think Herzog is one of the greatest directors ever…I also think that modern R&B sucks. I’m neither right nor wrong; just an opinion that makes it obvious that I let my definition of art govern my discovery of more, as do you. In fact even similarities in taste doesn’t add an ounce of credibility to whatever it is we admire; it just means that we are people who have common aesthetical grounds and who prioritize art above, let’s say, dental insurance or casual ogling at bus stops, and hence it is only natural that we feel let down when it doesn’t serve its purpose for us.

There isn’t any universal algorithm that can determine the purity of art. Once again it’s just in our heads. Art’s the most magnanimous whore ever…it can be as pure or as ugly as we want it to be. So if you hate any aspect of any form of art, feel free to express it, but don’t go overboard and completely disassociate the medium or genre from all credibility (techno music and James Cameron’s films are exceptions because I know people who can scientifically prove that both literally cause the brain to temporarily malfunction). Of course, if you only express hatred towards art because you don’t understand why some people have to hate their jobs for a living while others get to sing, dance and act for theirs, well, tough shit, mate…life’s unfair, get yourself some tissues and call the suicide hotline.

(If self-indulgent, long-ass soliloquies don’t stop people from asking shit like why I listen to rap or why I watch horror films, I don’t know what will.)

On to some hip hop then…

Brother Ali’s Us has been hailed by many as the one of the best hip-hop albums of 2009. The collective consciousness hasn’t fucked up this time around, folks. It’s true. The raging intensity which gave his vocals a cartoonish tweak on the 2007 Undisputed Truth album is gone; instead we are treated to a more restrained MC who knows when to take it down a notch to let the music shine. The title song exemplifies this evolution, with producer Ant letting frenzied strings dive headfirst into those gorgeous handclaps as Brother Ali waxes lyrical “the worlds getting too small to stand in one place, it’s like we’re roommates just sharing a space, can’t separate and still carry the weight, gotta heal get away from the fear and the hate.” Stupid vegan hippies and tree-hugging journalists give peace a bad name; Brother Ali and his music sing glorious hymns in its praise. Give your money some real use and buy this man’s album.

*****

Daniel Dumile dabbles in schizophrenia for a living. Only WWE wrestlers of the 80s have had more monikers than this guy. The rest of the world puts up with his identity crisis because the man is a fantastic musician. No matter who he is in the studio – MF Doom, Dr Octagon,  Zev Love X, Metal Fingers, King Geedorah or Viktor Vaughn – he is almost never off the mark when it comes to crafting absurdly brilliant rap music. I’ll come back to the rest later, for now I’ll start with his MF Doom persona.  From the twisted sounds of his debut Operation Doomsday to the 2005’s hilariously conceptual Mm..Food, he’s become crazier and consequently more innovative with each album. Despite the awesomeness that were the 2003 release – Vaudeville Villain – and the more recent Born Like This album, for me, Mm..Food showcases Dumile in his finest hour. He references absurdist food metaphors and samples music from old episodes of Fantastic Four, and Spiderman. He even ropes in obscure Zappa songs for a little help on Beef Rapp. Don’t fight it, folks…and don’t you dare try understanding it.

*****

Fashawn’s one of the new kids on the block. A young MC who doesn’t believe in ripping words to shreds over grinding beats. He’s one of those who caress words gently and lets the music flirt with Fifties jazz and Seventies soul. With Exile handling the production duties on his debut Boy Meets World, word’s out that Fashawn is a name you’re going to be hearing a lot. Maybe not on Billboard charts or American Idol finales, but certainly from the lips of people who appreciate hip-hop beyond the gangsta manifesto. Ecology and the title track are my favourites of the lot, with one effortlessly riding on a haunting sample and the other sampling the Graduation song for nearly ten minutes, not once sounding redundant. How long must I wait for another Blu and Exile album (seriously, it’s been 3 years, guys)? More than patience, more than perseverance, give me rappers like Fashawn.

*****

If I had been introduced to artists like Juggaknots during the late Nineties I wouldn’t have wasted precious pocket money on those stupid Bad Boy records. I can’t believe their Clear Blue Skies album was released in 1996 and kids who started rapping post millennium weren’t influenced by it. I guess Biggie and Tupac screwed hip hop by getting out early, leaving the next two generations of rappers falsely correlating braggadocio with dollars earned from album sales. Biggie and Pac weren’t hardcore because they were popular, they actually were. Juggaknots is more like De La Soul with all the comedy edited out. Smooth, groovy and mellow enough to give you time to appreciate it fully. The title track Clear Blue Skies is just plain fantastic. The words, the music, the production…everything. If you still think you are getting more value for your time/money with cretin like 50 Cents and Akon, go and get yourself a haircut, and hope to God he misses and takes out your ears.

Watch

Brother Ali – Intro (with Chuck D), Us

MF Doom – Beef Rapp, Potholderz

Fashawn – Ecology, Boys Meets World

Juggaknots – Clear Blue Skies

Blu and Exile – Soul Amazin’

Buy

Brother Ali – Us

MF Doom – Mm..Food

Fashawn – Boy Meets World

Juggaknots – Clear Blue Skies

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