Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Isobel Campbell’

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).

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

A lot of great music has come and gone recently. In between writing those darn movie reviews and dealing with my Attention Deficit Disorder kicking into top gear, I have been finding it hard to pick out one track or one artist to showcase. So, here goes…a medley of tunes that I have accidentally stumbled upon for the past two weeks.

the-rootsThe Roots (featuring Jack Davey) – Atonement

Few rap outfits can make music with such polished elegance and yet remain comfortably perched outside the vicious wasteland of drunken stupour that is the mainstream hip hop scene. Backed by a lovely Radiohead sample (You And Whose Army), the Philadelphia-based crew drop a great beat that bring back placid memories of cloudy summers. The immensely talented Black Thought spits, “feelin the steam from the cauldron, with tension runnin deep as the ocean. many are called, but so few are chosen, as I go through the motions, of medication uppin my dosage,” as Jack Davey’s ethereal vocals leads the chorus into one of those battles that musicians wage to lull the listener into quiet slumber.

Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and David Lynch – Dark Night Of The Soul

Dark Night of the Soul by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse is just one of those albums that dares you to seduce the night with sadness. The plodding title track sung by David Lynch caresses her in a way that might make the stars blush. It’s simple enough; a single piano-driven melody backed by ghostly vocals that mumble, “shadows of the dark night, daaaark night of the soulllll”. I expected Lynch to sound like a subdued C-grade Brett Michaels (don’t ask me why), but I’m glad he sounds like a poor man’s Cee Lo on sedatives.

the decemberistsThe Decemberists – The Wanting Comes In Waves

I have been wanting (self hi-fi in progress) to write about these indie blokes from Portland for quite some time now. In case you didn’t already know, The Decemberists have been tearing it up in the underground scene for a few years. They have been so critically-acclaimed that some say that their drummer craps star ratings after Sunday lunch. I think they sort of deserve it; I mean, very few indie rock bands can indulge in such stylistic grandeur without sounding pretentious. In the magnificently titled “The Wanting Comes In Waves”, they grab the natural progression of a folk song and throttle it until the choruses swear that Indie rock is their daddy. Suffocating and wondrous.

Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbell – Come On Over

Kobayashi’s Shasta is no longer the greatest James Bond theme song that never was; this is! With the sound of violins gently crashing them, Mark Lanegan’s whiskey-coated vocals writhe all over Isobel Campbell’s totally sexy whisper as they sing in unison, “like a thief crawling through the night, like a drunk brawling in a fight…come on over, turn me on” If that wasn’t alluring enough, Come On Over frantically ups the pace by the end of the second verse by threatening to blossom into a full-blown Seventies psychedelic freak-out. Hell, Mark Lanegan would make for a groovy James Bond. He’ll save all those pretty women, their guitars and their souls.

dengue feverDengue Fever – Ethanopium

Los Angeles-based Dengue Fever have been known to fuse psychedelic rock with Cambodian pop and Khmer folk. Hmpf go figure. Organist extraordinaire Ethan Holtzman and his guitarist brother Zac Holtzman pay tribute to legendary Cambodian rock scene of the Seventies that briefly flourished before falling prey to Pol Pot’s infamous slaughtering of people and culture. The track Ethanopium is a fantastic cover of Ethiopian jazz guru Mulatu Astatke’s Yegelle Tezeta that reaches a glorious level once Ethan’s Farfisa organ starts to seductively growl. Turn off the air-conditioning please, you need to sweat while listening to this.

The Roots (featuring Jack Davey) – Atonement

Few rap outfits can make music with such polished elegance and yet remain comfortably perched outside the vicious wasteland of drunken stupour that is the mainstream hip hop scene. Backed by a lovely Radiohead sample (You And Whose Army), the Philadelphia-based crew drop a great beat that bring back placid memories of cloudy summers. The immensely talented Black Thought spits, “feelin the steam from the cauldron, with tension runnin deep as the ocean. many are called, but so few are chosen, as I go through the motions, of medication uppin my dosage,” as Jack Davey’s ethereal vocals leads the chorus into one of those battles that musicians wage to lull the listener into quiet slumber. Thank you, The Roots.

Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and David Lynch – Dark Night Of The Soul

Dark Night of the Soul by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse is just one of those albums that dares you to seduce the night with sadness. The plodding title track sung by David Lynch caresses her in a way that might make the stars blush. It’s simple enough; a single piano-driven melody backed by ghostly vocals that mumble, “shadows of the dark night, daaaark night of the soulllll”. I expected Lynch to sound like a subdued C-grade Brett Michaels (don’t ask me why), but I’m glad he sounds like a poor man’s Cee Lo on sedatives.

The Decemberists – The Wanting Comes In Waves

I have been wanting (self hi-fi in progress) to write about these indie blokes from Portland for quite some time now. In case you didn’t already know, The Decemberists have been tearing it up in the underground scene for a few years. They have been so critically-acclaimed that some say that their drummer craps star ratings after Sunday lunch. I think they sort of deserve it; I mean, very few indie rock bands can indulge in such stylistic grandeur without sounding pretentious. In the magnificently titled “The Wanting Comes In Waves”, they grab the natural progression of a folk song and throttle it until the choruses swear that Indie rock is their daddy. Suffocating and wondrous.

Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbell – Come On Over

Kobayashi’s Shasta is no longer the greatest James Bond theme song that never was; this is! With the sound of violins gently crashing them, Mark Lanegan’s whiskey-coated vocals writhe all over Isobel Campbell’s totally sexy whisper as they sing in unison, “like a thief crawling through the night, like a drunk brawling in a fight…come on over, turn me on” If that wasn’t alluring enough, Come On Over frantically ups the pace by the end of the second verse by threatening to blossom into a full-blown Seventies psychedelic freak-out. Hell, Mark Lanegan would make for a groovy James Bond. He’ll save all those pretty women, their guitars and their souls.

Dengue Fever – Ethanopium

Los Angeles-based Dengue Fever have been known to fuse psychedelic rock with Cambodian pop and Khmer folk. Hmpf go figure. Organist extraordinaire Ethan Holtzman and his guitarist brother Zac Holtzman pay tribute to legendary Cambodian rock scene of the Seventies that briefly flourished before falling prey to Pol Pot’s infamous slaughtering of people and culture. The track Ethanopium is a fantastic cover of Ethiopian jazz guru Mulatu Astatke’s Yegelle Tezeta that reaches a glorious level once Ethan’s Farfisa organ starts to seductively growl. Turn off the air-conditioning please, you need to sweat while listening to this.

Read Full Post »