This week, heartwarming Emmy moments, psychedelic French rock, and avant-Cumbia make the cut, but the theme (as always, emerging after the fact) seems to be boundary-pushing and genre-crushing hip-hop/techno cross-pollination. That should always be the theme, really.
10. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert giving Ricky Gervais' Emmy to Steve Carell
I was actually on a flight from Minneapolis during the Emmys, and probably wouldn't have watched anyway (Ryan Seacrest?!) but the YouTube of this is fantastic, and not just for the comedy value: the audience's cheers give you the sense that despite Extras' acknowledged awesomeness, Steve Carell is just a more awesome person, especially since Gervais didn't even show up. I wonder if any of it was planned?
9. Ivan Ives - "Got It" (From Iconoclast on No Threshold)
I remember Russia being way more into Army of Lovers than hip-hop, but that was a while ago; maybe Russian-born Ives is the tip of a new expat Russki rap scene iceberg. He actually lives in LA now and this track reflects sunny climes more than winter nights, with a funky retro sample and a cute DIY video. Not exactly ground-breaking, but I've been humming the chorus all week.
8. Twista feat. Kanye West - "Well It's Time"
(from Adrenaline Rush 2007, out 9/18 on Atlantic)
(listen at The Fader)
Hyper Chicago rapper Twista's auctioneer-speed rhymes are offset with a decidedly mellow sample from Feist in this Kanye West production; it's apparently the bonus track on his new album, out tomorrow, and while the song is definitely breezy, it's no throwaway.
7. The Bee Gees - "Stayin' Alive" (Teddybears Remix) (from Bee Gees Greatest, out 9/18 on Rhino)
(listen at Pitchfork)
Swedish combo Teddybears accomplished the almost-unthinkable on their 2006 album Soft Machine: they brought back Big Beat without any backlash, and it was actaully good. Or maybe they just brought back the good parts of Big Beat—eclectic, upbeat, accessible, soulful sounds. On this disco-riffic remix, the band correctly assesses that the original has the "accessible" part pretty much down, and their job is to f*** things up a little. This they do via skronky bass noises that sound a little like French contemporaries Justice.
6. Various Artists - Las Rebajadas van a Brooklin (DJ set by Sonido Martines) (download an mp3 at Muy Bastard or Disco Shawn's blog, or listen at WFMU.org)
My expat compadre in Buenos Aires Disco Shawn introduced me to the amazing avant-Cumbia scene happening down there, and a billiant new DJ or producer seems to pop up every day. Sonido Martines produced this mix for DJ/Rupture's WFMU radio show, and the two share a philosophy: the NY DJ's marriage of Indian pop to drill 'n' bass was itself a radical reimagining of indigenous music. Sonido Martines' style, "Cumbias Rebajadas," is characterized by pitching tracks way, way down; at those speeds, the music takes on a strange psychedelic crackle, like a transmission from another time.
5. Partial Arts - "Trauermusik" (from Kompakt Total 8)
(get an mp3 from Discobelle)
I first heard this in an Eric Prydz DJ set, but it's uncharacteristically mellow for his usual intense electro style. Turns out it's a pseudonym for British producers Ewan Pearson and Al Usher, put out by Cologne, Germany-based minimal tecnho label Kompakt; however, the track's layered, organic sound and melancholy feel separates it from that crowd too. Breaking down to a violin solo in the middle, this is an example of a song that needs every second of its nearly 8-minute length to do its job.
4. Pets with Pets - "The Girl Up and Down" (unreleased, listen on their MySpace)
Combining angular post-punk guitar work with dance-music's insistence on the groove, Melbourne's PWP would have maybe been called "dance-punk" back in 2003, but they're more raw, lo-fi and alive than much of that genre's current formulaic output, and sound more like Tom Vek than The Bravery. Under repeated shrieks of "it's all the same," the guitars build to a swirly frenzy, until dropping out for a single, buzzing bass note.
3. Turzi - "Afghanistan" (from A on Kemado)
(via I Rock Cleveland)
French psychedelic rockers Turzi are a little more agressive and droney than labelmates Dungen, and their video, focusing on colored-in scenes of military maneuvers, is also a little darker, like taking acid during a war. Plus, every track on their new album starts with the letter A, which is convenient.
2. Dude 'n' Nem - "Watch My Feet"
As the NY Times pointed out on Sunday, and the New Yorker did last week, Chicago's "Juke" music scene is another one of the regional genres (see also: Hyphy, Baltimore Club) whose vibrancy is so jaw-dropping a national breakout seems imminent, and Dude 'n' Nem may be the ones to take Juke to the masses. A bigger Juke post here later; for now, just enjoy the video for "Watch My Feet," and the dancers' ability to keep up with the chorus' frenetic beat.
1. Various Artists - Jokers of the Scene - Topshelf Mixtape 1 (mp3 and tracklisting at Discobelle or listen at their MySpace) (some bad language)
While Jokers of the Scene hail from Ottawa, not Baltimore, this hour-plus mix features both B-more-style beats and a more experimental approach similar to M.I.A. producer Switch. Most of all, they share a dedication to euphoric intensity that recalls (and at times directly references) early rave music, combined with an understanding and appreciation of hip-hop; no matter how utterly bonkers the often atonal, stuttering tracks become, they're always funky. The cross-pollination of these traditionally black and white musical genres, hip-hop and techno, hasn't been this exciting since the late 80s, when house music seemed to spawn a new offshoot every few minutes; now both seem to be entering a new creative era thanks to influences from the other. Mixes like this are inspirational, not only for their purely sonic thrills, but also for the underlying philosophy: the more race ceases to be a factor, the better.