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This Week's Free Song Download
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Free song download of "Capricorn One," taken from Anti-Pop Consortium's new album Fluorescent Black, out this Tuesday, September 29th. Beans, Earl Blaize, High Priest and M. Sayyid's first record together in six years is another ground-breaking hip-hop masterpiece, with the band's killer, heady wordplay riding atop 17 tracks of binary bangers, digital-funk and all sorts of avant-electro weirdness. A strong contender for album of the year!
This Week's Featured Downloads
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Two world renowned beat diggers hailing from Manchester have put together this secret psych-edit mix under the anagram monikers of Tandy Love and Mike Smooth. True to the concept, each sliced and diced cut is shrouded in secrecy and is titled with an anagram as well, making the trainspotting that much more difficult. After one listen to this world-beat aural feast, it's not that difficult to figure out the folks behind this release (hint: their initials are AV and DT), but good luck trying to decipher the mystery of their music sources. This is probably the most blatantly "hip-hop" sounding mix the B-Music guys have done and the whole thing plays out like an old school b-boy party in a parallel universe. Unlike Votel's renowned Vertigo and Music to Watch Girls Cry mixes, there's a sustained dancefloor-like vibe to the edits here. The heavy-fuzz workout of "Dead Army" sounds like Rush covering "It's Just Begun" while "Career Cats Get Tiger Suits" is a Donuts-styled domecracker utilizing a break from an old Israeli psych record and it sounds tailor made for a Ghostface verse. You'll also find loads of effervescent, groove-laden Bollywood silliness, crazed synth-prog madness and a healthy dose of humor to lighten the pretense of such a conceptual selection. If you enjoyed the Purple Brain RVNG Prsnts Mx7 or the Bim Marx edit mix CDs, this is right up your alley. Thanks for sharing guys; we'd love some more!
Eric Lau & Dudley Perkins
Dudley & Friends
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Up-n-coming UK-based producer Eric Lau's debut album New Territories was one of the more acclaimed underground soul/hip-hop releases of 2008. Gilles Peterson pronounced it one of his faves of the year and Little Brother's Phonte Coleman called Lau "one of the illest producers out now." Since then Lau has worked greats like Lupe Fiasco and Guilty Simpson, to name a few, but it's this vinyl-only collabo with Dudley Perkins from '08 that helped establish him as "the one to watch for" and it's good to see it available digitally. Inspired by the spacey soul-hop of Sa-Ra and J Dilla, as well as Shuggie Otis and Riot-era Sly and the Family Stone, Lau's production is wide and all encompassing. His beats don't hit you over the head as much as they simply envelop your body. Perkins lends his stoned, sincere astro-soul crooning to the mix, along with a few guest vocalists including his romantic/creative partner Georgia Ann Muldrow in "Yet & Still," and also a duet with newcomer Rahel in "Lost Love," a beautiful piece of blue, break-up neo-soul. All in all, a great collaboration that is not only one of Perkins' stronger efforts but also a fantastic introduction to Lau's stellar brand of murky boom-bap soul.
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There's been a lot of talk about San Francisco's Grass Widow lately; they seem to own their hometown, and their debut LP was out of print long before I even knew it was out. With this excellent new EP I'd expect there to be even more attention thrown their way. The most obvious reference point would be the early Rough Trade scene, as every song is built upon jittery guitar, rubbery bass lines, insistent drums and three overlapping vocalists. While I wouldn't call their songs instantly memorable, their overall sound is so infectious that you gladly come back for repeated listens and before you know it you're on a first name basis with all the tracks. They also cover the Urinals' "Black Hole" here, and while I hold that seminal band in such high regard that cover versions inevitably disappoint me, these ladies do a bang-up job and come up with an excellent version. I'd say that Grass Widow are one US tour away from owning the rest of the country as well.
Love and Curses
In the Red Records
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It's been quite a while since the last proper Reigning Sound album, 2005's Too Much Guitar, but the band hasn't been relaxing in the Memphis sun. In addition to writing most of the songs for and backing legendary Shangri-La Mary Weiss on her Dangerous Game album, Reigning Sound mainman Greg Cartwright (a/k/a Greg Oblivian) also just played a string of Oblivians reunion shows, and there's been several live albums as well, like the must-have Live at Goner Records. No doubt, time well spent.
I personally consider Cartwright to be one of America's greatest living songwriters, with chops that just won't quit and a voice made from equal parts whiskey and gravel. He also is responsible for some of the choicest cover songs ever. This album's one non-original is the previously unknown to me "Stick Up for Me" (a/k/a "Stick Over Me) by the Glass Sun and it is a tune that, along with a good portion of the rest of the record, will be lodged in your head for the rest of the summer after one listen. There are also two songs from the Mary Weiss album that get the full Reigning Sound treatment and actually benefit from it. Overall the record is the perfect mix of Byrds jangle, garage-fuzz fury and organ-drenched Memphis soul and R&B that comes closer to summing up everything I love about rock and roll than any recent release I can think of. My favorite record of the year, so far.
The Strange Dreams of Paul White
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Hailing from South London, Paul White has put together an impressive debut of murky, plunderphonic wonkiness that firmly establishes him as one to watch in this post-Dilla beatmaking landscape. The MPC is back in a major way, and new artists such as Bullion, Flying Lotus and now White are taking cues from their elder statesmen (the aforementioned Dilla, Madlib and Prefuse 73), pushing the machine to new musical heights. A sound library producer for the BBC by trade, White adapts the Beat Konducta model and presents a 40-minute beat collage, taking snippets of everything ranging from Robert Wyatt and Captain Beefheart to Stevie Wonder and Eddie Harris. Overall the effect is intoxicating and there is definitely a sci-fi vibe that pervades throughout. Tracks like "Alien Nature," "Can't Sleep," "City Bright Lights" and "Floating Free" are spacey tweeter rattlers, anchored by synth-heavy prog-rock samples. If you ever wondered what 2001: A Space Odyssey would sound like if it had been scored by Dilla, this could be the closest thing you might get to an answer. Recommended!
The Liverpool Scene
The Amazing Adventures of...
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A truly wonderful two-and-a-half hour collection of the Liverpool Scene's collected works, an unlikely group of 1960s underground poets influenced by pop music, Allen Ginsberg, surrealism, and the French Symbolists, who went ahead and had a go at forming a band. Nominally headed by poet/painter Adrian Henri, the group counted John Peel as their biggest fan and supporter, and he produced the first of their four LPs, and frequently hosted the band on his legendary radio show. However, despite an appearance at the Isle of Wight festival and a tour opening for Led Zeppelin, the Liverpool Scene were never really more than a cult interest.
Which is too bad. Now normally there's nothing I find more embarrassing than some chap reciting his verse to beatnik jazz-rock bongo stylings, but that's not exactly what's going on here, as Henri's delivery and lyrics are pretty well integrated with the music and almost seem like an English take on what Captain Beefheart was up to at the time, combined with the skewed folk lyricism of a Kevin Coyne or Roy Harper perhaps. And if you told me that Mark E. Smith, Billy Childish, and Arab Strap don't have these records in their collections, I simply wouldn't believe you. There's a diverse range of sounds across these two discs, super arrhythmic jammers, full-on Zeppelin-esque boogie rock, a wee bit of skronky psychedelic free-jazz, the most tender of folk-ballads, and yes, the occasional gentle bongo backing the dulcet tones of Henri's speak-singing voice. It's an amazing '60s counter-culture document that you can curl up to with an old issue of OZ magazine, and one of the best reissues of the year in my book.