Tuesday, 8 September 2009

I might have been born yesterday, but I stayed up all night.

GodDAMN that El-P record that came out two years ago (I'll Sleep When You're Dead) is good. Really, really good.

His production still sounds like I believe regular hip-hop will sound in twenty years time and when he's dropping lines like the one in the title of this here post he's pretty much unstoppable. Fantastic video too. I wanna go back in time to 2007 and slot it into my best of the year list.

More hip-hop I've been listening to this week: Eyedea and Abilities. Now that I'm using Media Monkey to listen to stuff I keep digging up old rekkerds that I haven't listened to in forever, and one of them was their self titled second album. When I got it I was hooked in by Now (it's streaming on their myspace, check it out), which is just by far the best track on a pretty solid album that didn't really blow me away. There's too much posturing, and it's really hard to put my finger on why that doesn't work for me there, I mean, posturing is in no way a bad thing in hip-hop terms. I think it's maybe something to do with the fact that they most certainly have the skills to pay the bills, but being a champion battle rapper and champion scratch artist, it's like they set out to make an album that played to their strengths, that maximised their potential and... maybe they could'a just made a better album if they relaxed a bit and not locked themselves in a classic, but limited, hip-hop paint box. Anyway, after five years or whatever off doing a million different things they're back, and the press release says back to the battle rapping and scratching, which is entirely misleading because they've made a much more interesting album than that.

That's not even one of the better songs on the new album By the Throat, which is a blast. It's short, punchy, it obeys no formulas, it's not in any box (well, kinda the modern indie hip-hop playpen I guess) and it sounds like a record made by people with inspiration rather than people toiling to make the most of their gifts within the genre in which they're expected to perform. Everything's messier and noisier, nothing fades out and songs are cut off before their natural end point, there are lots of fuzzy guitar noises that never lapse into actual rock riffs (barring a couple of shaky straight-punk sections) and great beats and good lines and most importantly of all they get the most out of every track and then they kill it. The previous album, like many, many rock and hip-hop records works with the assumption that a track should be yay-long, regardless whether the song is good enough to keep the attention for that long. This is one of my biggest personal bugbears in pop music - the so-so chorus that still gets repeated four times at the end of a four minute song in the hope that momentum might give it extra mass; the third or fourth verse in a song where the point's been made in the first, filled out in the second and there's nowhere else for it to go. Christ I wish people would think about what structure would make the song better, rather than dragging the song out to fit some trad-skeleton. By The Throat is execptional in that way. There's a track about gun control and he makes his point in the first verse and that's it. Done in one verse. One minute forty four seconds, and it's as complete as every other song on the record. Awesome.

Heh, white guys rapping. Now for rock, Pitchfork, god bless it's little cotton socks turned me onto Health, and their second album Get Color is very good. This is the best song though, and the video is exceptional:

So it might be slightly downhill after that. Apparently they used to be accused of jumping on some noise-rock bandwagon (oh man, they must've smelt the billions in gold bullion you can make from noise-rock these days!) but while you can see their influences, I think the sound they've carved out for themselves here is pretty unique. Despite sounding like a car-plant trying to romance a circular saw and play the dums at the same time the record flows really, really well. They keep up the same sonics almost all the way through and there's a great balance of focus and freedom.

Wow, I had a good music week. I also got the Beta Satan album (you can buy it easily, not just through itunes! off their myspace there) which is fantastic. Some of Beta Satan used to be Tiger Tunes, who made Denmark awesome with their electronic indie music, and Beta Satan are just like Tiger Tunes except ROCK and with a lot of swearing and a hilariously surly attitude. Their NSFW video is:

I mean, I saw NSFW, but as always it depends where you "W" and whether you care what people think of you. They have a song called Maths and Chemistry with a repeated refrain of "Politics Politics" that I find incredibly amusing for no reason I can consciously fathom.

Pitchfork (and some guy on a message board) also told me to get XX by The XX but in this case I can't be all that enthusiastic about it. I mean, it's a good downbeat electro pop album, and I'll certainly listen to it for background music when I'm trying to do something else (oh! backhanded dis! I don't mean that as bitchily as it came out), but it really, really sounds like The Blow to me. Except it's more downbeat and it's really trying to be classy and aloof and touching and down to earth at the same time, and The Blow are much more carefree and, frankly, much better. Hmmm, I wonder how much of it comes down to the fact that the girl who sings for The XX sounds exactly like
Khaela Maricich of The Blow? Maybe my senses are being misled by that. It is funny that on a couple of duets the slightly affected vocals of the boy from The XX make him sound exactly like Har Mar Superstar. So, essentially, if I hadn't known what I was listening to when that track came on then I would've sworn on my pirate ancestor's grave that it was an old Blow song with guest vocals from Har Mar Superstar.

Oh man, that's a lot of writing about music! It was fun though. See you around!

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