With CMJ happening in New York this week, that’s all the blogs are talking about. Lucky them. Your intrepid, ridiculously-named reporter was not there, I’m just listening to music on the hi-fi, or the lo-fi, as the case may be.
10. The Dream – “She Needs My Love” (from Love/Hate out Dec. 11 on Def Jam)
(stream at The Fader)
Hey, it’s super-slo-mo choruses! Remember how much I love those? Combine that with Dream’s songwriting skills (this is the guy who wrote “Umbrella”) and you have a track that veers between sing-along almost-ballad and car stereo-pounding thumper.
9. New Young Pony Club – “Get Lucky” (video)
This new wave-y track from the UK combo appeared in my Top Ten a while back already, but this video is so odd, both charming and disconcerting, I felt like it deserved a re-entry:
8. South Rakkas Crew – “Crazy Feelings” (from The Mix Up on Mad Decent)
(listen at the Mad Decent site)
First I thought the bassline was from The Other Two’s “Selfish,” and then the chorus kicked in and I realized, that’s the Jacksons. Not the Jackson 5, the Jacksons, Triumph-era. That’s the trouble with samples: you suddenly realize you might actually like the original. Aack!
7. Travis Barker vs. Soulja Boy – “Crank That”
Yes, this is the drummer from Blink 182 and +44, playing over the still-inescapable “Crank That.” While you just want to be annoyed with him, all tattooed and rich and bashing the living bejesus out of his drums to overcompensate for being like 4’11”, this is truly, unbelievably awesome.
6. Roisin Murphy – “Let Me Know” (from Overpowered on EMI)
The former Moloko lead singer has struck out on her own in a somewhat typical British solo artist style: too pop to be cool, too weird to reach America. Hello, Robbie Williams! It’s too bad, because this is glammy, perfectly-executed electro-disco that should be bigger than Madonna, and the video illustrates why: it can make even the most mundane moments of our pathetic lives feel special.
5. Arcade Fire – “Poupée de Cire, Poupée de Son” (Serge Gainsbourg cover) (from split 7″ with LCD Soundsystem)
(stream at Prefix)
Really, a troupe of monkeys in cowboy hats could cover Serge Gainsbourg and I’d probably like it, but the Fire’s francophone heritage makes them slightly more qualified. It’s got that patented Arcade Fire intensity, but combined with the Gainsbourgian pop brevity, it makes… well, something different.
4. Various Artists – John Digweed BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix (download via BBC Essential Mixes)
While the UK DJ became known in the 90s for progressive trance a la Sasha, he’s successfully navigated the changing world of dance music, and his sets feel as cutting-edge as ever. That may be because this playlist relies heavily on German minimalism, but it’s put together with such skill that you can hear the crowd go nuts for the subtlest shifts in sonic effects.
3. Emily Jane White – “Wild Tigers I Have Known” (from Dark Undercoat on Double Negative out November 6th)
(listen at the Double Negative site)
The Bay Area is, for sure, your home for freak folk. Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhardt, it’s like LSD residue is keeping everybody loopy. This San Franciscan singer-songwriter is acoustic, for sure, but the unpretentious rootsy piano on this track hints at the chill of PJ Harvey way more than the wood nymph spirit of Newsom.
2. Flying White Dots – Into the Great Unknown (download the whole album at his site here)
The Brighton, England producer digs deep into the ambient record crates for an album that’s purportedly a “mashup soundscape,” but since the works that inspired it (say, The KLF’s The White Room, The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld) were themselves based on winking appropriation, and this is so dreamy and enjoyable, I can’t figure out why it shouldn’t be on the shelf right next to them.
1. Lil Wayne – “Gossip” (live on the BET Hip-Hop Awards, 10/17/07)
When people say rap sucks live, they’re often right, but this proves how edge-of-your-seat exhilarating even a straightforward performance can be in the right hands. Wayne even seems a little nervous, or maybe just intent on getting his urgency across: “It rains a lot in my city/Cause my city’s cryin,/Cause my city’s dyin’.” Plus, each time he stops for the Supremes, it’s like, wow.