In honor of my Mom’s big **th birthday (a true lady never divulges her age), this month I’ll review these releases with a bit of Carol Kerpan Evans’ unique Croatian-Catholic-Democrat flair. Not that she can be found listening to much of this stuff outside of when she’s entertaining her many surrogate sons and daughters at the RedWine Social. But I owe all my weirdness and lust for life, as well as a sizable and eclectic musical collection, to this Chicago-area expat, and I thank her daily for every moment of my upbringing. All the rough times and dirt-poor years, the bike rides and train trips, the late-night rides home from jail or the hospital–Moms was always there. So listen up and have a drink of the grape with Mom. Zivjeli and Happy Birthday!
1. Scotty Coats & Wes The Mess
An aptly titled ode to their debaucherous weekly in L.A., this was a super-funky drum-break-and-hand-clapper that only came out in a limited pressing, but look out for remixes by Prins Thomas coming out on Rong/DFA. Mom has always loved a good party.
“On a Cloud”
Yeah, I could see Mom getting down in a little mod Laugh-In outfit in Hollywood back in ’65. Insane backbeat soul from Waajeed and Saadiq with a hot remix by the Bay’s own Trackademicks. Heavy Detroit funk with “Angel” on the flip. Can’t wait for their full-length, Abundance, coming soon.
Vulture's Wisdom, Volume One
Mom’s not a big rap fan, but if she can dance to it, she’ll dig it, and producer The Architect makes it funky enough throughout Opio’s second solo release. Plenty of wine references and the Hiero mastermind’s trademark wordplay (check “I Need a Money Tree”) make this a must.
Our man DJ Centipede (a.k.a. Mophono) slays it once again with a “skip-on-beat” 45 of funky-ass break edits. That’s right kids, buy two copies for that rough boat-party set, ’cause wherever you drop the needle, you’re on beat!
5. The Fun Years
Baby, It's Cold Inside
As soon as I put this on, a thick milky fog enveloped my neighborhood and I felt an uncontrollable urge to curl up on the couch and nap. No joke: These cats wield that powerful and hypnotic vibe like a sword.
6. Heavy Petting Crew
Songs Our Pets Taught Us
You cannot not love this record. With songs like the punky “I Love Goats” or the electro hip-hop of “Funky Bunnies (Remix),” this hot and mysterious trio (including a real-life vet technician!) sings about the animals they love in a fun and delightful manner of styles. My mom still sends me birthday cards from pet turtles and chickens that have been dead almost 30 years, so you know we love our critters too.
7. Arabian Prince
Innovative Life: The Anthology (84-89)
Buy it for the ground-breaking and still very rockable sounds. Buy it for the 20-page booklet on West Coast hip-hop.
8. Treasure Fingers
"Cross the Dancefloor"
Stupid-funky debut from this Atlanta producer, with remixes from Laidback Luke, Curses, and Lifelike. Mom’s no stranger to the dancefloor, either.
Mom always taught me, don’t judge a book by its cover, and it’s a damn good thing, too, because if I did this CD might be filed under ’80s SoCal thrash metal. In reality, it’s a fine slice of Columbus, OH hip-hop, expertly produced by label honcho Blueprint. Gotta love that Midwest flavor!
10. Ain't No Disco
“TOUCH THE GROUND”
This would be the latest from veteran Bay Area heavyweights Felix the Dog and Buna, and it is burning hot. Hardcore dancefloor bass all the way–this one’s actually for Otto, RIP.
“Live Fast! Die Old! (Remixes Part 2)”
Hot mutant disco from the studios of Ed Banger, WhoMadeWho, and Rio’s Amazing Clay. Smart money is on the Amazing Clay mix getting Carol’s vote.
12. Lizzie Parks
“Raise the Roof”
Stunning soul vocals with music by the Nostalgia 77 band from a label that can do no wrong in my book. Vintage sounds for Mom to groove to.
The Cackle Factor
As Mash and Pedal have done for urban bicycling, the Kranked series has documented the furthest extremes in MTB and downhill riding. From streets and terrain parks to the farthest outback, the Radical crew captures the best of the best. I gotta show this to Mom so she can see the kind of hell I could be wreaking on a bike.