This week, I already covered the Detour festival so none of that can go in here, and on most of my drive down to LA I passed the time with French lessons, so I didn’t delve into a lot of new recorded music, I’m afraid. Thus, the presence in the Top Ten of a TV show, some new stuff by people I’ve already covered, and a lot of hyper beats, cause when you’re driving up the Grapevine and heading for Hollywood traffic, you need tunes that keep you on your toes.
10. Justin Timberlake – “LoveStoned” (Justice remix)
(mp3 via Bridging the Atlantic)
One of the most underwhelming tracks from the Trousersnake’s album is turned into an epic disco megajam by the reigning kings of electro, and the fact that this doesn’t come out sounding like Jamiroquai is a tribute to everyone involved. Instead, it’s somewhere between the French duo’s own “D.A.N.C.E.” and classic Boney M, with totally up-to-date production values. What’s not to love?
9. Weeds (Monday nights on Showtime)
Maybe this is a new tactic for TV shows: jump the shark immediately and get it out of the way. This dark comedy has always walked a very thin line between ridiculous melodrama and finely-honed satire, and at the end of last season, with everyone in a zany predicament, you had to wonder if it was just turning into a soap opera with pot. But this season, the writers seemed to remember that the show isn’t called “Weed,” and it’s not really about drugs, it’s about the weed-y people: flawed, scarred, not like everybody else, and barely keeping up on the payments for their “little boxes made of ticky tacky.” For instance, a recent moment where a cancer survivor revealed her scarred breasts had surprising pathos, even though it was in a sex scene with Matthew Modine.
8. Jay-Z – “Blue Magic” (from American Gangster, out Nov 8 on Island Def Jam)
(Stream at the Island Records site)
Hova’s surprise return to the music biz turns out to be a concept album based on the Frank Lucas biopic of the same name, and the lead single has an urgent intensity that we’ve come to expect from one of our greatest rappers ever. He addresses the complicated topic—drugs and dealing—with complex lyrics: “Blame Reagan for making me into a monster/Blame Oliver North and Iran-Contra/I ran contraband that they sponsored.” So, everybody out there who doesn’t like gangster rap: is it okay if it’s about a gangster movie?
7. Arcade Fire – “Neon Bible”
(crazy interactive video thing that you can watch here)
Well, the secret Arcade Fire website turned out to be an interactive video for the title cut from the Montreal combo’s critically-acclaimed album. What, you were hoping for an Arcade Fire remix album produced by James Murphy? Who gave you that idea? Anyway, this song wasn’t my favorite from the album, but the video is a lot of oddly creepy fun: you can do stuff to it! Go click around!
6. Goose – “Bring It On” (from Bring It On on Skint)
(listen at their MySpace here)
While this track is over a year old, I just can’t escape it these days; it keeps turning up in DJ mixes all over the place, and seeping into my brain. The multi-part harmony in the chorus elevates what could be typical hoover-y blog-techno into something that just plain rocks. Go, Belgium. Apparently they started out as an AC/DC cover band, so there’s that.
5. Pluramon – “Border” (from The Monstrous Surplus on Karaoke Kalk)
(listen at Obscure Sound)
Even though this track doesn’t feature usual singer Julee Cruise in the forefront, it still has a Twin Peaks-style creepiness underneath its pretty chords. Too deep to be strictly shoegaze, too punk to be psychedelic, Pluramon is all of those things, executed with precision; German multi-instrumentalist Marcus Schmickler likes reverb but doesn’t rely on it to cover up sloppy playing.
4. Various Artists – Fabriclive 36 mixed by James Murphy and Pat Mahoney (out in the US on 11/20 on Caroline)
(listen to excerpts at the Fabric site)
My love for the quirky cut-up style of J Dilla has been widely documented (by, er, myself), and I’ve often thought that this methodology of oddly constructed loops and surprising segues could work well with other retro styles. Here, the LCD Soundsystem guys apply it to (mostly) classic, long-lost disco tracks, and the effect is really pretty amazing. The duo used a vintage DJ mixer to produce the set, and the warm, rich sound is a revelation: check out the cut-up of GQ’s “Lies.”
3. “The Perennial Philosophy,” Sundays 3-6pm on 90.1 FM KSZU
Why did I drive to LA this weekend? A last-minute plane ticket would have been like $150, but I thought “I’ll save money, darrr,” so I rented a car, and then of course including gas it ended up being more expensive anyway, not to mention the total of over 12 hours of traffic-filled hell. So, on the return drive, as I finally crossed the pass into San Leandro and started flipping through the college stations, Stanford’s frequency welcomed me back with open arms, otherwise known as bass-heavy dubstep. I never heard who the DJ was since I lost the signal going over the bridge (can anyone clue me in?), but the mixing was stellar and the tracks were great: like reggae filtered through Blade Runner. Ahh, I’m home!
2. MGMT – “Electric Feel”
(from Oracular Spectacular on Cantora/Sony)
While their album seems to veer between David Bowie-style glam, straight-up electro, and psychedelia, this track is ’80s R&B, plain and simple. With its funky bassline and smoove chorus of “Ooh girl/You shock me like an electric eel,” you have to wonder if they’re joking. But the sound, soaked in reverb, is such a loving homage to the genre, it kind of makes me want to watch some Soul Train.
1. Santogold – “I Believe”
All I could find was this live video:
After hearing this on KCRW this weekend, I thought maybe it was a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song I’d somehow missed; you should have seen the classic double-take I did at the radio when the DJ said “Santogold.” Wha-wha-whaaa? You mean the M.I.A. soundalike whose grime-y “Les Artistes” I put in the Top Ten just last week, she can also sound like Karen O? Holy crap! This song is like “Maps”-level good!