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Posts Tagged ‘Super Furry Animals’

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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Director Wes Anderson chooses great music for his films. They mirror the eccentric, laidback vibe his films are known for. Whether it is composer Mark Mothersbaugh bringing alive Max Fischer’s torment in Rushmore or singer Seu Jorge covering David Bowie classics in The Life Aquatic, music has always been this director’s friend, breathing life into his vision. The Darjeeling Limited, released in 2007, has his most fascinating collection of tunes. The soundtrack uses excerpts from a bunch of Satyajit Ray and Merchant Ivory films from the Seventies, and also features The Kinks in their splendor and a great cover of Champs Elysées by French/Jewish songwriter Joe Dassin; for anyone who has studied in an Indian Catholic school, there is a nostalgic treat in the form of Udaipur Convent School Nuns & Students’ rendition of “Praise Him In The Morning”. The highlight however is the inclusion of the theme song to James Ivory’s Bombay Talkies (composed by Shankarsinh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Pankal); a breezy sing-along that carries along with it the casual vibrancy of a decade gone by. Smell the cheap cigarettes, the bell bottoms and socialist dissension of India during the Seventies. Take a long whiff…mmmmmmm good stuff.

*****

Newton Battenberg Faulkner is a singer-songwriter from UK. He has performed at Glastonbury and Lollapalooza, released a “critically acclaimed” album, toured with his anti-thesis John Mayer and James Morrison and has prominently been featured on BBC Radio 2. You probably haven’t heard of him because he is about marketable as soap made from the fat of celebrity animals. There isn’t room left for dreadlocked, guitar-tapping, post-Renaissance hippies in the music industry anymore, I guess. His debut Hand Built by Robots even debuted #3 in the UK Charts, with the single Dream Catch Me raising a few eyebrows in the industry. The real gem however is Newton Faulkner’s cover of Massive Attack’s Teardrop. While the acoustic arrangement is similar to José González’s version it distinctly sounds more engaging, with Newton’s vocals powering the simplicity of its rhythm. For the millionth time, minions, don’t associate popularity with actual talent. Sure, people would rather pay money to see John Mayer picking his nose backstage than see this guy fingerpicking harmonies out of thin air, but that’s just life or art or whatever else you want to call it. Don’t let that stop you from discovering music that doesn’t have a VJ introducing it on TV. You’d be surprised at how often public opinion amounts to little else than utter bullshit.

*****

With Mark Everett going country with his new End Times album, I believe there is a vacancy for the title of King of Pop. Damon Albarn just might be the one. His stellar work lately with bands like Gorillaz and The Good, the Bad and the Queen have given him the right to go grab that crown, especially considering all the great music he has created through his first claim to fame – Blur.  Gorillaz’s latest album Plastic Beach will end up as one of this year’s most precious pop albums. It is infinitely better than anything else Albarn has put out through any incarnation for the past nine years. From the intriguing guest appearances to the treasure cove of catchy hooks, the album not only showcases their maturity but also has them hopping across genres like a frightened rabbit under a falling sky. Hip-hop, dream pop, post-bop, it’s all in there; a sprawling sonic landscape of music that has your feet tapping and your mind skipping to its insane beats. Tracks like “Cloud of Unknowing” featuring Bobby Womack and “Superfast Jellyfish”, with Gruff Rhys (leadsinger of Super Furry Animals and Neon Neon) and De La Soul, drift so far away from what we expect from pop music these days, gently abetting the de-compartmentalization of music and its boundaries. Like Helen Brown, writer for Telegraph, says… “He (Albarn) lovingly salvages the things they’ve left behind, like a hip, 21st century Womble.”

*****

American VI: Ain’t No Grave finds Johnny Cash posthumously giving us the chills. Since these songs were recorded during the American V sessions, in which he bared his soul, cold and sore, there is a general pale of gloom that has found its way into this album. His version of Claude Ely’s Ain’t No Grave chugs along like a funeral march for sad little locomotive engine, as the Man in Black, sounding more broken down ever before, predicts “when you hear that trumpet sound, I’m gonna get up out of the ground”. I guess “there ain’t no grave gonna hold” his spirit down.

*****

Peter Gabriel’s musical sensibilities started shifting towards the promised land of placid harmonies ever since the release of his 2002 album Up. It remains his most intense work to date, with its gorgeously haunting tracks – I Grieve and Sky Blue – weighing down on the speakers, spectacularly crushing them with their melancholy. Peter Gabriel’s 2010 album Scratch My Back is far more minimalist in its style and substance, slowly plodding its way into our hearts. Yes, it’s a cover album, but it sidesteps obvious classics and lays to waste any assumption of unoriginality, transforming feisty indie songs by bands such The Magnetic Fields, Elbow, and Arcade Fire into unearthly laments. His cover of Radiohead’s Street Spirit is incredible, mostly because the former Genesis flautist sounds even more tortured than Thom Yorke. When he sings “fade out again” for the third time it really gets to you, with the violins coaxing us to drown further in its sprawling desolation. One of those moments when you wonder if music needs therapy.

Watch/Listen

Shankarsinh & Jaikishan – Bombay Talkies

Udaipur Convent School Nuns & Students – Praise Him

Newton Faulkner – Teardrop

Gorillaz – Cloud Of Unknowing, Superfast Jellyfish

Johnny Cash – Ain’t No Grave

Peter Gabriel – Street Spirit

Buy

The Darjeeling Limited Soundtrack

Newton Faulkner’s Hand Built By Robots

Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach

Johnny Cash’s American VI: Ain’t No Grave

Peter Gabriel’s Scratch My Back

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