I have been. Thankfully, some surprising, relaxing, slightly odd pop produced by the Fleet Foxes — another great pick-up by Sub Pop — has come along to soothe:
MP3: Fleet Foxes - “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” (from Fleet Foxes, 2008).
MP3: Fleet Foxes - “White Winter Hymnal” (from Fleet Foxes, 2008).
PS A total ad, but I’d love you to check these out:
I’m over at The Sport Count (all about bad contracts, great signings, surprising trades and the best of the NBA) and The League Count (about rugby league, launched yesterday, and already a lot of great stories about very big men hitting the shit out of each other).
Beats can be created a number of ways: with an 808, or a live drum kit, or — and I recommend this — you can just sample a gun being either fired or reloaded.
Now, an 808 has its charms, but a snare and a hi-hat can’t compete with a shotgun being reloaded. Dr. Dre knows that:
MP3: Dr. Dre - “Bang Bang” (from 2001, 1999).
And more recently, M.I.A. has exploited the potential of handgun fire as rhythm:
MP3: M.I.A. - “Paper Planes (Remix Feat. Bun B & Rich Boy)” (from the Paper Planes single, 2008).
(Photo taken from Losanjealous)
C’mon, Kobe! Put up 45 points, with 9 assists. The assists are important. Otherwise people might wrongfully accuse you of being selfish.
And Lamar, take down 15 boards and inexplicably hit two threes. Please. Luke Walton, be a ‘great glue guy’ with a ‘high basketball IQ.’ (PS I love your tattoo of monkeys dunking basketballs. That’s what it is, right?). Chris Mihm, keep those muscles warm; you never know when Phil will mouth those magic words: ‘thirty. one.’ And then those other three: ‘yes, Chris. You!’
And Pau? Just keep that beard. Don’t even think about shaving. You’re beautiful.
MP3: Kobe Bryant - “K.O.B.E.” (Feat. Tyra Banks) (from Eight, 2001).
MP3: Warren Zevon - “Join Me In L.A.” (from Warren Zevon, 1976).
Oh, and fellas: do all that three times in a row. And yeah, two of them will be at the fake Garden.
Oh lord. Seeing Sounds is going to be good.
The new single from N.E.R.D’s third record features Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, and (’I can’t believe he’s still getting slept on’) Pusha T of Clipse. It will not shock you to learn that the track is hot:
MP3: N.E.R.D - “Everyone Nose Feat. Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco & Pusha T” (from Seeing Sounds, 2008).
You get a slow burn intro featuring Kanye asking a girl if she has any black inside of her (and whether she’d like any). That’s followed by a Storch-esque heavy synth explosion of a chorus. Things finish up with Pusha T spitting fire.
It’s a little played out, the whole ‘take a pop smash and re-do it earnestly, accompanied by acoustic guitar’ thing. And yet, I can’t stop myself liking it. Travis did it with Hit Me Baby One More Time (and it was good), and Ted Leo did it with Since U Been Gone (and it was good).
And now Israeli-French* singer Yael Naïm (you may know her from the Macbook Air ads**… or not) has done it with Toxic. And hey, it’s good:
MP3: Yael Naïm - “Toxic” (from Yael Naïm, 2007).
And just in case you missed the Britney original:
MP3: Britney Spears - “Toxic” (from In The Zone, 2003).
*For some reason, when talking about Yael, you have to mention her heritage. You have to.
**Here’s the song:
MP3: Yael Naïm - “New Soul” (from Yael Naïm, 2007).
Though most hip-hop freaks loved it, I felt like Things Fall Apart was a collection of filler stuffed around one hot track:
MP3: The Roots - Dynamite! (from Things Fall Apart, 1999).
Three years later we got Phrenology, an album boasting one of the greatest tracks in hip-hop (The Seed 2.0, with the reliably odd Cody Chesnutt*). Unfortunately, that single was distractingly good, making the rest of the record look dead average in comparison.
But with Game Theory, and the recently released Rising Down, The Roots have become — kind of inexplicably — a real album band. Instead of top-loading their records with hit singles, they’ve seemingly dedicated themselves to crafting an experience… LPs with peaks and valleys, soundscapes, recorded memories, speech sampled from the news and every day life.
MP3: The Roots - “The Pow Wow” (from Rising Down, 2008).
They’re the Pink Floyd of rap, wilfully anti-commercial, dedicated to art over commerce, sometimes deliberately difficult. Nowadays The Roots are interested in headphone experiences, not club bangers. They’re stronger for it.
Besides, they can still release a good single, as the punch-in-the-gut beats and bangs centrepiece of Game Theory (that’d be Here I Come) proved. Rising Down lacks a similarly electrified single, but it’s still a strong record, full of anger and frustration. And, as per usual, great music:
MP3: The Roots - “Rising Down Feat. Mos Def & Styles P” (from Rising Down, 2008).
*I know Cody asks that his surname is written ‘ChesnuTT’, but I’ll never abide artists fucking with capitalisation. You listening, K.D.? Fuck off, E.E.
Hidden at the end of the uniformly terrible Dance Into The Light lies a terrible mistake: Phil Collins doing Bob Dylan.
And not just any Dylan. The most clichéd, obvious Dylan track. Instead of breaking it down, trying to find its core, Phil wraps it in maudlin piano and sings it like he’s reading the phone book.
MP3: Phil Collins - “The Times They Are A-Changin’” (from Dance Into The Light, 1996).
I’m not slagging Mister Collins because it’s the done thing. Really, I like Phil. I’m slagging him because I expect so much more.
Yes, even during his Not Very Good Music Period (a period that began in the early 90s and has never ended).