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Posts Tagged ‘Lou Reed’

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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As I was driving to work a few hours ago, I heard this song called Metropes by London-based indie hipsters Orphans and Vandals, which sort of blew me away. 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-vandalsYes, there is a resemblance to some of the more rollicking stuff that Velvet Underground recorded, but the folksy indie vibe really works in the track’s favour. Al Joshua’s vocals perfectly capture the mood of the story’s progression while the rest of the band – Gabi Woo (drums), Franchesca (strings), and Quinta (strings) – create a wall of fuzzy noise that you’d want to hear during the first hour of a long road trip.

Great, great music. In fact, so good that I feel bad putting up a free mp3 for download. So I tell you what…

Read about them

Here, here, here and hereThe Lost Revue

Listen to them online

Here and there

Watch

Orphans and Vandals – Metropes

Buy

Tickets to their shows

Most importantly,

Spread the word about them

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When cleverly done, pop music can sound extremely sensual. Phoenix-based trio Mr Meeble has seemingly made a career out of creating such precious electro-pop ditties. It’s almost as though they have taken Portishead’s blueprint for trip-hop and given it a soulful and glitchy twist.

Their new album Never Trust A Chinese is a collection of meticulously crafted grooves backed by cushy vocal styling of Michael Plaster. “I Fell Through” is all kinds of awesome. Slow-paced, with wayward harmonies, pop sensibilities and minimal beats copulating together to give birth to fragile moments. Like I said, all kinds of awesome.

Download

If I Fell Through – Mr Meeble

And there are those just make you want to dance. A rare moment when energy and music conspire together to stir things up on the dance floor. Born in 1926 somewere near Mississippi, RL Burnside picked up the guitar after hearing John Lee Hooker beat the crap out of the blues with his “Boogie Chillin”. The rest is largely unrecorded history. Tom Shimeru is a half-Japanese American, half-Italian American rapper who goes by the alias – Lyrics Born. He really smokes Burnside’s ripper of a track “Someday Baby” on the turntable. Very, very funky.

Download

RL Burnside – Someday Baby (Lyrics Born remix)

Velvet Underground brought sexy to the Seventies. Not the sort that inspires you to hold hands and prance around the park, but rather one that deconstructs lust and pushes the envelope concerning all things heart-shaped and guitar-strummed.

The effect was devastating, both to listeners trained to appreciate recognizable patterns in the rock and roll genre and to other musicians who were under the misconception that they already had explored the darkest nuances of sound. In “Heroin”, they talk about junk, as the conversation sways violently between the callousness of the habit and purity of the urge. Stuff that my nightmares were once made up of.

Watch

Acoustic version of Velvet Underground’s Heroin

Buy

Mr Meeble’s Never Trust The Chinese

RL Burnside’s Come On In

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