I know I said I didn’t like reggae. But, I lied. Mostly I just don’t like people who like reggae, especially people in San Francisco who like reggae. Take a shower! But, ensconced in my relatively tidy house, with running water and clean air that doesn’t reek sourly of weed (I swear! It doesn’t!) sometimes that loping dancehall beat hits the spot. Thus, the presence of four, count ’em, four reggae or kinda-reggae tracks on this week’s Top Ten, plus the usual techno and stuff. Welcome to Jamrock:
10. Tegan & Sara – “The Con” (from The Con, out 7/24 on Sire)
Not reggae, and not quite as instantly catchy as 2005’s “Walking With a Ghost,” the Canadian duo still bring infectious melodies to this slightly rockier single. Their lyrics are as obtuse as ever (“I’m capsized, staring on the edge of safe”) but clearly impart the pain and confusion of a breakup.
9. Built to Spill – “They Got Away” (single on Warner Bros.)
(mp3s just taken down from Stereogum here, but they promise a stream soon, or, wow, buy it on iTunes)
Hey whoa, remember this band? Ten years ago (!) they made Perfect From Now On, a near-masterpiece of epic, heartbreaking 7- and 8-minute songs reminiscent of Neil Young. Now they’ve put out a, er, one-off reggae single, but somehow it works. Don’t worry, it’s still in a minor key, with lead singer Doug Marsch lamenting “they got the things that they came for,” before the band launches into an echoey instrumental dub.
8. People Press Play – “These Days” (from the self-titled album on Morr) (mp3 via Boule a Facettes)
This icy track from the Copenhagen quartet could fit on your mix tape with Air and Swayzak, but they’re unapolagetically synthy, with glitchy percussion and bubbling bass owing more to Aphex Twin, and a theremin-reminiscent solo at the end. Plus I think I have that same Ikea stool from their publicity photo. Flüggi or whatever.
7. Justice – “Genesis” (from † on Ed Banger / Vice)
(mp3 via Hate Something Beautiful)
The first track on the French duo’s new album makes explicit the hard-rock connection with what sounds like a Sabbath sample. But then it heads straight for techno-land, with acid squelches rising up in pitch until you can just imagine the hands-in-the-air cheers of the basement crowd.
6. The Pack – “Robocop” (from the forthcoming Based Boys)
(Stream at The Fader blog here)
This Bay Area rap crew had trouble getting their last video, “Vans,” on MTV, seeing as it’s about a trademarked shoe product; can somebody tell the Pack that their latest song title is shared with a movie that
starred our freakin’ Governator er, features a robotic cop?! Thankfully it makes sense: as The Fader points out, you can totally do the robot all day to the song’s Kraftwerky beats.
5. The Reggae Show (Thursdays 10pm-midnight on KXLU 88.9 FM, Los Angeles) (live stream here)
When you’re driving around LA, and KCRW is getting you down with its tendency to drift off into jazzy noodling or that horrible “Waiting Game” song, why not dial your radio a few beeps down to 88.9, Loyola Marymount’s broadcasting frequency. It’s adventurous without being completely insane, although the Thursday night reggae show was pretty bonkers. It actually sounded like it was being broadcast straight from Jamaica, with stoned dubby tracks and the lowdown on LA’s apparently vibrant reggae scene.
4. Wyclef feat. Akon & Lil’ Wayne – “The Sweetest Girl” (from the forthcoming The Second Wind) (stream at Def Sounds here)
I’m a sucker for hip-hop that features a melancholy acoustic guitar (see Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me”); this track adds a kind of dancehall groove to the nostalgic verses, then bursts into a surprisingly melodic reference to the Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” in the chorus.
3. Film School – “Lectric” (from the forthcoming Hideout, out 9/11 on Beggars Banquet)
(mp3 via Spinner.com)
Swirling guitars and buried vocals inevitably bring comparisons to My Bloody Valentine, but this driving, uptempo track from the up-and-coming San Francisco/LA combo (now a five-piece with the addition of bassist/vocalist Lorelei Plotcyzk) has a raw intensity that recalls Love & Rockets.
2. Big Sonic Chill (weekdays 10pm-2am Pacific on KBZT 94.9 FM, San Diego) (listen live here)
Under the guise of a “chill-out” show, host Midori puts together one of the most progressive timeslots on commercial radio in the US. The night I tuned in, mellow faves like Air and Bjork shared the airwaves with Great Northern and Feist; it’s a playlist unimaginable on most rawk-centric alternative stations.
1. Collie Buddz – “Come Around” (from the self-titled album on Sony) (iTunes link)
This is the backing track used by Lil’ Wayne on Rap City (see previous post); the easy, rolling beat is perfectly suited to Buddz’ weed-centric lyrics and bong-reminiscent sound effects. Buddz isn’t from Jamaica–he was born in New Orleans and lived in Bermuda–but this sounds like authentic roots reggae to me, and imparts all the fun of smoking out, without the… um, you know… er… I forget what.