Top 10: Gruff Rhys, Cadence Weapon, Steve Reid Ensemble
A weekly examination of our favorite current and forthcoming albums, compilations, and singles.
"Babylon By Car/Tragedy Symphony"
Death From Abroad
Release Date: Out Now
We've already given a nod to this single on xlr8r.com, but any track that's been on constant repeat in the web office for three days straight deserves a spot in the Top 10. Parisian producers Cosmo Vitelli and Julien Briffaz join forces once again as Bot'Ox, and pack two sides of a 12" with sinister disco beats, choppy vocals, and enough live instruments to put the London Philharmonic to shame.
Badd Santa: A Stones Throw Records Xmas
Release Date: Out now, available at select locations.
For this year's Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah present, Stones Throw is giving you a lesson in vintage hip-hop. Peanut Butter Wolf has compiled a boatload of vinyl gems and thrown them on a CD that, while pretty exclusive, is well worth hunting for. Legends like James Brown and Cocoa Tea share the bill with Baron Zen and James Pants, and tracks by The Soul Saints Orchestra, Georgia Ann Muldrow, and Vince Guaraldi make this a present for both hardcore hip-hop fans and the less-acquainted.
Release Date: TBA
XLR8R TV producer Kerry McLaughlin tipped us to this hot new track from the K Records stable. From his MySpace page, kid looks about 12–but Jeremy Jay's got all the hip-pop swagger of Ian Svenonius and The dBs rolled into that 12-year-old body. Okay, so he's probably 22, but still... Think C.O.C.O. + The Make-Up and love this '60s-guitar-pop track like your weekend depended on it. KT
The follow-up to his 2006 debut, Breaking Kayfabe, finds Roland Pemberton in fine form, mashing hip-hop, grime, electro, and other forms of dance music together, then topping them off with a full platter of witty lyrics. To rap with intelligence about Limewire, Friendster, and "hip-hop hipsters" takes a lot of talent, and Pemberton delivers throughout. Like a finely made film, this is the kind of album you can play for months on end and still find new intricacies with each listen.
Steve Reid Ensemble
Release Date: February 5, 2008
In the spirit of spontaneity, Bronx-born drummer and former Black Panther Steve Reid, joined by Kieren Hebden and keyboardist Boris Netsvetaev, traveled to Africa last January to jam with the locals, and though this isn't a new practice (see Nomadic Wax's entire catalog), Daxaar is probably the most original result to come of this activity. Named after an earlier spelling of Senegalese city Dakar, the album showcases a huge sampling of tribal drums, and the kind of improv jazz that would make Thelonius Monk proud. A refreshing–and uplifting–change of pace from Africa.
Murmurs Mixes is the perfect soundtrack for easing gracefully into a busy day. Temporary Residence enlisted the likes of Lullatone, Adreas Bjørck, and others to remix tracks from Caroline Lufkin's synth-saturated debut album, and the result is a variety of takes on her brand of dream-pop. Brightest Feathers has the standout track here, remixing "Sunrise" into a collage of snipped vocals and soaring strings that rise epically before crashing into a melancholy piano solo. Download this.
School of Language
Sea from Shore
Release Date: February 2008
We’re still confused as to whether or not Field Music has disbanded entirely, but until such things are sorted out, we can enjoy the music of member David Brewis, who has taken the last few months to piece together the debut album under his School of Language moniker. A cut-and-paste album this most certainly is, with vocal snippets and dozens of guitar sounds layered into tracks that range from experimental rock to meandering guitar ballads fit for a smoky Midwestern bar.
This compilation has been out for a little while now, but since last week kicked off Waxploitation's fourth charity auction for Darfur, the label's Causes 1 disc deserves a little more attention. Bypass the Bloc Party, Travis, and Shins tracks, and get straight to an exclusive live Animal Collective track, a remix of Cornelius' "Wataridori," and contributions from Thievery Corporation, Teargas & Plateglass, and The Black Keys. Of course, you, as an upstanding individual, should just suck it up and download the whole thing, as 100% of the comp's proceeds go towards non-profits aiding victims of the Darfur crisis.
Release Date: February 2008
What's better than an album from Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys? Try a collaboration between Rhys and L.A.-based producer Boom Bip. Stainless Style finds these two gents working under their Neon Neon moniker and getting in touch with their '80s sensibilities. Synths crash and soar and vocoders abound, but it's Bip's production and Rhys’ always-unpredictable vocals, not to mention an appearance from Spank Rock's Naeem, that keep this album from being just another '80s rip-off. Oh, and the entire concept of the album is based on the life of John DeLorean, whose DMC-12 "time machine" was made immortal in Back to the Future.
We are Punks Volume Two
Release Date: January 22, 2008
Volume One of Datapunk's We are Punks series was a hit. Volume Two should send fans through the roof, as label boss Anthony Rother, along with Matthias Gustke, pulls two discs of tracks together that further spread the gospel of techno-electro. The fully mixed compilation features both unreleased material and some of Datapunk's best tracks from the last several months, with much-welcomed appearances from Miss Kittin, The Hacker, Gregor Tresher, and more.
Photo of Gruff Rhys by Paul O'Valle.