Tunes: old, new, a retrospective, and an opinion.

These are some random joints I’ve been on lately….some old, some sorta new, some in between.  Side note:  I will be putting together a (somewhat uniquely themed) podcast (relatively) soon.  Look out for that. (apparently…there’s fees….RIAA….etc….not happening.)  (I had to add in a few to grow on.)  Without further ado…

Super700 -Lovebites

This chick will prolly end up making Dave’s hot singer chick list (and everyone else’s too.)  Ibadet Ramadani is definitely a talent to be reckoned with, and this album, too, is a force – she’s not a one woman band.  Her bandmates show quite a bit to be happy with.  For my money, the basslines and drumming are where the album shines in the music.  Nice pick up.

Malakai – Ugly Side of Love

You might dig this if you like the Black Keys…which is amazingly lazy to use, but….it’s true.  This yet another iTunes find is hard rock of the scratchy throated old school soul variety, with emphasis on soul and instrumentation (and samples…seems a little trip hoppy, but not corny).  Honestly, it’s a rather beautiful album really.  One of the most listened to albums I’m on right now – very dense…but overly so.  A complete album.

The xx – xx

That isn’t a typo.  That is the name of the band (and title) giving us the debut of 2009.  (That also isn’t the true cover – the album actually has a plain white ‘X’, but I didn’t see it online.  This is for one the singles.)  There are no tricks to them, besides the double man/woman vocals (which isn’t that much of trick.)  I’ve seen some talk about comparing this to Arcade Fire’s debut, and I can see the similarities in scale, I suppose. (Although, it was be said and I have to admit, I slept on the AF debut when it first came out…..hey, I’m not perfect.)  This is my recommendation of the moment.

Jack Penate – Everything Is New

Very appropriate title.  I kind of stumbled into this, as I usually do, on iTunes.  I read up and listened to the first album (which got reviewed as a subpar album….which is mostly true.)  I decided to go ahead and check this one out, after all I like redemption stories.  I have to say that if this is his re-starting block, we might have something here with this Jack guy.  Good voice, good lyrics, nice drive in the low-ends of the music.  He sounds like a natural.  “Tonight’s Today” is the star, with the nice Afrobeat feel.

The Antlers – Hospice

Another iTunes find.  A very sad album, but not the kind of sad that makes you cry….but the sad that make you wonder where the songwriter (Peter Silberman) was writing from.  Very understated, and as warm as an empty room at the top of a swanky hotel – yet you’re drawn in and intrigued at what this man is looking out his window at.  Well written album about life and how change can affect you.  (I read that Silberman’s move to NYC was the catalyst for this album.)

Venetian Snares – Rossz Csillag Alatt Szuletett (Born Under a Bad Star)

Basically classical horns and strings with a little glitch/breakcore thrown in for flavor.  Nothing serious going on here.  :/.  The star here is “Szerencsetlen”.  By the way, the title and the track names are not misspellings (sp? Lol); they are Hungarian.  I would love to see this be played in a live set at the MET or something.

…a retrospective:

Kool & The Gang – 3 albums (Wild and Peaceful/Light of Worlds/Spirit of the Boogie)

I was basically raised on this, from birth – at least the softer 80’s, JT Taylor fronted version of the band.  But these are the amazing albums in their catalogue.  Obviously “Summer Madness” is the big winner, if you need a dominant track in the bunch.   Crucial junctures in the funk/jazz fusion of the ‘70s.  This is basically the K&G trinity, as far as I’m concerned.

Bill Withers – Live at Carnegie Hall

One of the greatest (sort of unsung) singer/songwriters in music history.  This live set really puts you into the greatness of this man, the impeccable lyrics and instrumentation…..the deep-rooted soul that everyone could feel.  I would’ve slapped your mother for tickets to this performance.  “Use Me” – I heard they played this for Stephen Hawking.  They reported a slight head bob and movement in his hips.

…something about me eating crow:

MuteMath – Armistice

I claimed they would be the next U2/Coldplay but the American version.  I don’t make many, but this was a bad call.  At least for now.  It’s not that the album sucks, they are talented…..it’s just not the “anthemic” breakout I was anticipating.  It’s like a U2 album with just the songs surrounding “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”, or “With or Without You”, etc.  I personally wished they led a little more with the percussion – that is where they shine.

My (long overdue) take on:

Drake – Comeback Season and So Far Gone (mixtapes…and now album..see below)

Never mind that he used to be on some Canadian teeny bopper show.  Putting that aside, and the unusual symbiotic relationship he has with Weezy…he’s actually pretty nice on the vocals – rapping and singing.  I’d actually say he’s dope.  I think he’s somewhat over-hyped, but the praise is deserved.  He doesn’t go around talking about street shit, he keeps it narrowed down into his lane – so it’s hard to say he’s fake, because it’s not.  But he’s an unusual spot – given his genre is one that requires at least some authenticity of the street variety, and his Banana Republic vibe are somewhat at odds with that fact.

It would seem that he’s come along at the right time though.  It’s starting to come back around the lyrics – and he really excels at that, which the one thing he cannot be questioned on.  What will get him over the top is his singing skills….they are up to par to the point to where he really could do excellent well-written singing-only albums.

If you haven’t heard “Ignant Shit” off So far Gone…do so.  You can hate….but then you need to love it… then embrace this dude.  I’ve been bumping this for a few months.  Even Weezy, who’s starting to win me over, gets retarded on this track.  (Although….if you believe some the rumors, Drake might’ve “helped” Weezy improve.  Wink, wink. – this is telling in and of itself really…)  I’m looking forward to his second album, which is probably going to be ill.  I say second album because So Far Gone is basically now the first album – it is going to be reworked a little as an official Young Money release, with a short (almost EP-like) track listing.

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