What follows are some of my definitive, all-time favorite albums. These are the discs and nuggets that I don't think I will ever tire of. Note that all of the MP3s that appear here were made freely available by the record labels or bands themselves during the writing of these reviews.
There's a lot of good Trojan ska / dub /reggae compilations, but Scratchy Sounds is (so far) undeniably the best.
Compiled by DJ Barry "Scratchy" Myers, most notably the touring DJ for The Clash (and a significant influence on their music), this two-disc set is packed with a canon of ska, dub, reggae and roots, perfectly restored and crystal clear. The mix is thoughtful and witty too - even thematic.
If you're a fan of this music then some of these songs are critical must-gets for your collection. That said, I've even played this for non-fans of reggae and they've absolutely loved it.
As a bonus, the liner notes are written by Barry Myers himself and chronicle his lifetime with this music and all the politics, fads, struggles, victories, and humor that came in-between. The only problem was that I wanted to read more! When does the book come out, Barry?
It's actually been quite some time since I've heard a good DJ mix. I guess sometime after the turn of the century they all started to sound the same to me.
However, Minesweeper Suite is good. I'm sad that it managed to slip under the radar for so long.
It is very much a world music mix, and that's one thing that makes it great. It also has a lot of DJ/rupture's own flavor thrown in.
I would even go as far as to call it a concept album. There are great moments of both chaos and clarity as the mix travels from african drumming to dub, to hip hop to rock, and so forth. The overall sound constantly builds up and falls down, making the reference to tower of babel later in the mix, and the global music choices, all the more pertinent.
This disc contains a seriously random mix of elements.
Take one part 1960s European psychedelic pop, one part turntableism, and one part hard-core rap, and while your at it, take this and put it on your tongue, and you've got Edan's "Beauty and the Beat," a swirling, flowing, vibrating mish-mash of excellent DJ work and wordplay with a flavor all of its own.
Its not as easy as you think. Someone less skillful could seriously mess up such a potent mixture and it would be an extremely bad trip. Fortunately, Edan pulls it off better than you could ever imagine. There are so many layers to each song on this disc that I am still find another little trick or lyric that makes me smile each time I listen.
The psychedelic stylings in the rap lyrics are one of my favorite aspects of this album. While Edan isn't the first to do it, it's still very fun and refreshing to hear songs about traveling through space and time instead of your typical fair.
I will admit that "Beauty and the Beat" is challenging at times, but after a few listens I think you will realize that it's all part of the ride.
Now here's a band that needs more buzz.
I picked up The Moaners' "Dark Snack" on the iTunes Music Store (iTMS Link) after listening to a few samples on Monday and I'm officially making them my latest musical discovery.
Cross-breed Kim Deal with Toadies and you're about there, but not really.
I guess lead-lady Melissa Swingle was involved in a popular alt-country band called Trailer Bride previous to The Moaners.
However, aside from the sound of her her lazy country drawl, this ain't no alt-country, this is pure-rock and roll. These girls like to tear it up. Definitely check them out.
These days, when capturing some kind of retro sound is so very much the "in" thing to do, Mylo's "Destroy Rock And Roll" could be so easily mistaken for some kind of 90's techno/electronica revival. You know, before electronica became nothing more than great music for television ads. It's not, though. It's more a declaration that that era never died. (And perhaps with its title, a call to war.)
Whatever the case, this to me this is electronic music's finest (and most fun) moment yet. It doesn't have too much we haven't actually heard. A little Oribital there, a little Daft Punk here, some good deep synths, fun samples, some bleeps and boops.... but end result is just so undeniably smooth and solid you may find yourself doing something you haven't done in some while: turning back on the "repeat" function on your CD player.
Almost everyone that I've played "Destroy Rock And Roll" for, or who discovered it on their own, has admitted to me they went through something like the following three stages: First, they laughed, and probably said something like "this is so cheesy!" Second, they had some kind of uncontrollable repeating body movement for few good minutes, and then said, "you know, this is actually pretty sweet!" And finally, there is acceptance that, beyond all pretense, "goddamn this is good."
"Destroy Rock And Roll" could arguably be more of a swan-song then a revolution, depending on your perspective. Either way, it's still more than worth a listen.
The GF recently turned me on to Turpentine Brothers, a band whose shows she used to frequent in Boston and get "rollicking drunk at."
Their music is definitely like a stumbling, drunk, angry, head bobbing good time. I really dig them. The organ is absolutely awesome. It's somewhat revival, somewhat not. But whatever you want to call it, it sounds right.
I can also safely say that every track on their debut album, "We Don't Care About Your Good Times," is quite good. However, the two .mp3s that their label is has up on their website are some of the best:
Why Can't I Do (.mp3)
We Don't Care About Your Good Times (.mp3)
If you only have time for one, listen to "Why Can't I Do." It's lazy, it stumbles, and then gains pace thanks to the organ and explodes at all the right times. A really, really great song.
If you haven't yet already, you should really check out TV on the Radio's "Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes".
Atmospheric stuff doesn't impress me much these days. Perhaps I don't have the attention span for it anymore. But this works. It's very layered, but still quite simple. It works with the four ingredient rule (in-joke, kinda). Most of all though, it's soulful. My only problem is that the lyrics don't seem to mean a whole lot. They're of the "words that taste good in your mouth" variety. Still, maybe I just haven't listened to it enough.
Here's a link to the album on the iTMS so you can check out the previews there.