Thursday, 10 June 2010

Madvillain - Accordion (2004)

Melancholy hip hop - not something you hear very often. This tune is a mere 1 minute 50 seconds long. It features a repetitive accordian loop, a simple, unfussy beat, a bit of deep bass burble every now and again, and the buttery flow of the one and only MF Doom.

Madvillain is but one of a myriad of groups, aliases or guest appearances by the enigmatic supervillain of underground hip hop known as MF (Metal Face) Doom. There is no room in this blog post to discuss the amazing music, story and legend of MF Doom - check out wikipedia as a starting point and go from there. But remember, truth is stranger than fiction, and often with Doom it's hard to tell the one from the other. But what's indisputable he's produced some of the most creative and goddamn funky hip hop of the last 20 years.

Livin' off borrowed time, the clock tick faster
That'd be the hour they knock the slick blaster
Dick Dastardly and Muttley with sick laughter
A gun fight and they come to cut the mixmaster
I-C-E cold, nice to be old
Y2G steed twice to threefold
He sold scrolls, lo and behold
Know who's the illest ever like the greatest story told
Keep your glory, gold and glitter
For have half of his niggaz'll take him out the picture
The other half is rich and don't mean shit-ta
Villain a mixture between both with a twist of liquor
Chase it with more beer, taste it like truth or dare
When he have the mic it's like the place get like: 'Ah yeah!'
It's like they know what's 'bout to happen
Just keep ya eye out, like 'aye, aye captain'
Is he still a fly guy clappin' if nobody ain't hear it

And can they testify from inner spirit
In living, the true gods
Givin' y'all nothing but the lick like two broads
Got more lyrics than the church got 'Ooh Lords'
And he hold the mic and your attention like two swords
Or even one with two blades on it
Hey you, don't touch the mic like it's AIDS on it
It's like the end to the means
Fucked type of message that sends to the fiends
That's why he brings his own needles
And get more cheese than Doritos, Cheetos or Fritos..
Slip like Freudian
Your first and last step to playin' yourself like accordion
When he had the mic you don't go next
Leaving pussy cats like wild hoes need Kotex
Exercise index won't need Boflex
And won't take the one with no skinny legs like Joe Tex

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Loose Joints - Is It All Over My Face (1980)

Arthur Russell. A proper, 24 carat gold genius. He started off an art-rocker, then went punk, next he created some of the most influential disco and proto-house music ever, before veering into cello and dub before ending up making electro-pop and hip hop. And that's not even mentioning the acoustic songwriter material, the power pop or the orchestral stuff.

This tune is from his disco period, and is a stone cold classic. It's combination of four four beats and almost Lee Perry-esque levels of bassy murkiness were at least a decade ahead of it's time, and if you listen carefully, you can hear Arthur singing and bowing away on his cello too.

Don't just stop here - there's an album called The World Of Arthur Russell. It's the perfect launchpad into the kaleidoscopic musical world of one of the true, true musical geniuses. Buy it.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Sleigh Bells - Tell 'Em (2010)

Noisy, fucked up pop music. Guitars screaming past your ears like exocets. Drumbeats blowing up all over the shop. Sugar-sweet vocals and melodies.

Sleigh Bells are, of course, blisteringly hip at the moment, but please don't let that put you off. They make a magnificent, distorted racket which sounds like My Bloody Valentine and Girls Aloud having a dust up in Missy Elliot's living room. First time you'll think your speakers are bust, second you'll be singing along.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Stevie Wonder - You Haven't Done Nothin' (1974)

Angry Stevie. Recorded during his Imperial Phase (the crucial 4 albums Innervisions, Talking Book, Songs In The Key Of Life and Fulfillingness' First Finale), this is a snarly, snarky rant against Tricky Dicky Nixon. A little slower than his usual funkathons- this tune has swagger, attitude and nasty, nasty funk all the way through it. And it has the Jackson 5 on the doo-doo-waps. Done deal.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Serge Gainsbourg - Melody (1971)

This isn't something to listen to while washing the dishes. It's a tune you need to immerse yourself in. On headphones maybe, or in a quiet room on a good stereo. It's languid, a little bit funky, a little bit rocky and OH MY GOD THE STRINGS.

If you like Beck (who lifted this almost wholesale for 'Paper Tiger'), Air, Massive Attack, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Thievery Corporation or anything which gets your head nodding while blowing your mind then this is for you.

And how many tunes have the guys who wrote the themes to Grange Hill and the News At Ten, plus Herbie Flowers, who played bass on Walk On The Wild Side?

Thursday, 3 June 2010

A Guy Called Gerald "Voodoo Ray" (1988)

This record CHANGED MY LIFE. Coulda-woulda-shoulda been the first tune I put up on here. I first heard it summer of 88, at the first house party I'd thrown at my folks without their knowledge. I wrecked the house, snogged the greatest gal I'd ever met and discovered one of the greatest pieces of recorded music ever all in one night. High fiiiive.

This still sounds completely original and is still as hypnotic and sensual as ever. I wish I could say I first heard it in the Hacienda or Shoom, but nah - I was in me ma's kitchen in Crosby. Off a "Deep Heat" compilation someone brought over. It absolutely stopped me in my tracks as those beats and that amazing vocal came pouring out of my Toshiba ghetto blaster. I'd had nothing stronger than a few cans of Breaker that night, but it blew my mind.

I've since heard it in varying states of sobriety all over the world, from sweaty underground Manchester clubs to Malaysian beach parties, and every time I hear it I think of that moment, on that night. This tune sends me. Every time. And there's not many that do.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

THE HUMAN LEAGUE - Being Boiled (1978)

The Human League are one of the great bands. Fact. They actually helped change music. They went from the avant-garde underground to the toppermost of the poppermost, by developing and finessing a style of music unheard of by most of the world. They've written at least 10 stone cold classics - Love Action, Fascination, Mirror Man, Sound Of The Crowd, Empire State Human, Open Your Heart, Louise, Don't You Want Me, The Things That Dreams Are Made Of and, of course, this earthquake of a pop record.

This tune is from 1978, ferchrissakes. Just stop and think about that for a minute. Hits from around the time included Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street", Rod Stewart's "Hot Legs", about 17 singles from the Grease Soundtrack, James fucking Galway and plenty, plenty more arsewands. The post-punk top 40 was not a pretty place, people.

They took drum machines, synthesisers, freaky androgyny and a huge bowl of anti-virtuoso punk rock attitude and smashed it into the top 10. This is one of the most audacious, game-changing, futuristic, comes-from-outer-space hit records EVER.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Primal Scream - Accelerator (2000)

Let's not beat around the bush here. Screamadelica's a hype. A bluffer's indie-dance guide with a top-one-sorted cover. Some cool (Andy Weatherall and Orb) tracks and a nice bit of Jah Wobble. About 5 good tracks. The Scream's Imperial Phase was the Vanishing Point/ XTRMNTR/ Evil Heat trilogy.

After the pills, thrills and smack habits, things got dark in scream-world. But 2 very important things happened during this time. Firstly, Mani joined. Second, they started working with Kevin Shields.

XTRMNTR, the first classic album of a new millenium, was the peak of their powers. Vicious, searing white noise punk rock with beats and seriously tripped out production. Turn this up and enjoy. It's like standing in a wind tunnel.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Brian Eno - Here Come the Warm Jets (1974)

There's a lot of people who'll be put off by the whole "Professor Of Pop" image which Eno has. Don't be - his first four albums are brilliant, wonky pop albums which predict or predate tonnes of stuff which has since followed.

This is lo-fi epicness, with a weirdly anthemic feel, and a seriously mental guitar sound (which James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem obviously loves). Clever? Yes. But ace, ace, ace.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

World Of Twist - Sons Of The Stage (1991)

World Of Twist were cool. They were proper cool. They had the lot - killer tunes, they were cool as fuck, druggy, poppy, dancey, rocky, a cool frontman and an UNBEFREAKINGLIEVABLE live show. I saw them once and Tony Ogden, the lead singer, did a whole gig standing about 15 ft in front of a wind machine on full tilt. Just because it looked cool. They had 2 band members who just looked after the lightshow, ferchrisakes. Cool. There was even a band member called MC Shells (she's the one in the video sitting in a er... shell.) who's job description was "Swirls and Seanoises". Also cool.

Obviously, a band with such a mentalist streak was always going to fall out spectularly with their record company, and that's exactly how the cookie crumbled. 3 brilliant singles were followed by a patchy debut album which was basically a tug of war between the band and the uncool producer imposed on them by the uber-uncool men with the chequebooks. Disheartened by the machinations of the music industry, Tony Ogden decided he no longer wanted to be the singer, but still wanted to be in the band. Cool.

And that was that for the World Of Twist.The various chaotic creative influences in the band started turning on each other... rumours abound of a legendary lost second album (obviously cool) but no recording has ever seen the light of day (even fucking cooler). Tragically, both Ogden and drummer Nick Sanderson have since shuffled off this mortal coil. We'll never see the likes of this lot again. They were cool. For a brilliant, brief time they were the best band in the world. And the coolest. Man, were they cool.

"There's nothing you can do 'cos there is no solution, you've gotta get down to the noise and confusion"

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

David Axelrod - Holy Thursday (1968)

A cheeky surge of strings on a record gets me EVERY time. At a Spiritualized gig a few years ago, the combination of a variety of exotic cakes, an hour and a half of being bombarded with strobe lights, a gospel choir going full tilt and about 500 silver balloons falling from the ceiling left me at the point where a 32 piece orchestra crashing in on everything literally reduced me to a weeping buffoon. But it was DEFINITELY the strings that did it.

David Axelrod has made loads of tunes that you already know. DJ Shadow, Dre and DJ Premier have all sampled the ass of his stuff. He's made records with a massive variety of musicians and across genres. Funk, soul, jazz, classical, psychedelic rock, hip hop... the chap gets around. He's had a career lasting over 50 years and he's broken more boundaries than John Leslie on Meow Meow.

This mind-melting tune is one of 3 that I've got lined up on my funeral playlist. It's all about the strings...

Monday, 17 May 2010

Whitey - Leave Them All Behind (2005)

Taken from the album "The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is A Train".

Big fat rock drums, looped to fuck. Synths modulating and screeching all over the gaffe. Guitars. LOTS of guitars. A cool, cool vocal- slightly reminiscent of The Beta Band's Steve Mason.

Why Whitey isn't the UK's answer to Beck now is beyond me. He did another tune ("Non Stop") that was on a TV ad a few years ago. You'll know it, it's also very cool. Check it.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Harlem - "Gay Human Bones"

This blog isn't just going to be about me digging in the crates for old obscure shit you may or may not have heard before, oh no sirree bob. It's about new obscure shit you may or may not have heard, too.

So, the very firstest CHOON... evah! on this mighty blog comes from a band called HARLEM, who confusingly hail from Austin, Texas.

Loads of the reviews for this album have gone on about the Pixies (and in some cases Nirvana) influence on these chaps. There's definitely a little bit of Joey Santiago in the guitars, but if you go in expecting a Surfer Rosa / Doolittle kind of experience you're going to be disappointed.

What they do very, very well is simple, "Nuggets"-y rock'n'roll with a high chirp factor and a nifty sideline in weird lyrics. This is the lead single from the new album "Hippies", and I reckon it's a corker...