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Posts Tagged ‘Twice Upon A Time’

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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Saul_WilliamsSaul Williams is a poet, writer, actor, critic, music producer, vocalist and MC extraordinaire. You just have to imagine our comical neighbourhood bear – T Rajendar – but without the exaggeration of talent or opposable thumbs. As a musician, he has been known to breathe heavily into the microphone and spit fiery words against oppression, corruption, social degeneration and other such things you’d find under every rock in your neighbourhood. His music is unclassifiable and that’s that; only someone truly hotheaded could mistake him for a pure Hip-Hop musician. While his debut Amethyst Rock Star was an eclectic soup of the finest ingredients this side of Hip Hop, IDM, funk and even chamber music, the more recent Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust had Saul coaxing industrial post-rock sounds to fornicate with street poetry. Nothing in-between (Not in My Name, Self-Titled) bothered lending itself to a singular description either.

The only thing you can be sure of Saul Williams is that he considers his prodigious talent to be a responsibility, without it ever becoming a mere obligation. He seems to be the sort of a person who craves for music to be used as a weapon to blast sense and civility into people rather than as a pointy stick with which musicians can point out irreverent statistical data on the white board. Of course, what I know of him is just what I have read about it…so I am not going to sit here and argue about how someone should probably steal Rock N Rolla Fucka Bono’s honorary knighthood and give it to him instead.

saulwilliamsHaving been an erstwhile fan of his for many years, I can’t speak enough about the man’s brilliance as a songwriter and beatsmith. Songs like Convict Colony, Pedagogue of Young Gods, Coded Language and the truly great Twice Upon A Time challenge you to listen to them one more time. Like most of the music that I drown myself into, these stimulating passages of glorious sounds backed by provocative wordplay and pristine production can make you uneasily adjust your rear end to the chair or bite your fingernails without realizing it until the flesh makes for difficult chewing.

Don’t be alarmed by it.

Matter of fact, I expect you to squirm while listening to Black Stacey…and it’s not because the track contains a venomously personal message by Saul Williams, as evidenced by words such as “I apologize for bottling up all the little things you said that warped my head and my gut, even though I always told you not to brag about the fact that your great grand mother was raped by her slave master, yeah I became militant too”. That’s all fine and dandy, but hearing him spit it out without a filter had more of an effect on me than the actual content of what he says.

It goes beyond lyrics and social issues and miscues, man.

Way beyond.

Watch

Saul Williams – Black Stacey

Saul Williams – List Of Demands

Saul Williams – Coded Language

Buy

Amethyst Rock Star

And the rest

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