The Back-To-School Hitlist
ROGUES GALLERY: PIRATE BALLADS, SEA SONGS AND CHANTEYS (Anti)
Conceptualized by everyone’s favorite pirate, Johnny Depp, and realized by legendary special projects producer Hal Willner, Rogues Gallery is a good idea that got way beyond itself. As a single album of lilting, occasionally filthy sea shanties, it might have worked: but 43 songs across 2CDs is exhausting, especially as almost every bloody song has that same familiar Rum, Sodomy and The Lash rhythm. Even more frustratingly, the best music comes right at the end of CD2, when most listeners will have lost patience. Still, Van Dyke Parks (‘Greenland Whale Fisheries’), Jarvis Cocker (‘A Drop Of Nelson’s Blood’) , Jodie Holland (‘The Grey Funnel Line’), and Lou Reed (‘Leave Her Johnny’) and do indeed save the day. Of course, you’ll have to skip Sting in the middle of this sterling roster, but that’s what the remote control is for. Oh, and while Rogues Gallery looks like it’s fun for kids, be sure to have that remote on hand when Loudon Wainwright III comes on board to sing ‘The Good Ship Venus.’ Some of us remember it sung by Steve Jones as ‘Friggin’ In the Riggin.’
GEOFFREY ARMES – NOOR (GeoffreyArmes.com)
iJamming! regular commentator’s self-produced album written in tribute to Noor Inayat Khan, a Sufi Princess, Children’s Book Author and Musician, who was also an Allied Spy, captured in Paris and executed in Dachau on September 13th, 1944, aged 29. “The more I learned about her, the more I read her father’s words, the more fascinated I became,” says Armes. “This music is an expression of that.” That music is a unique mix of acoustic folk, middle eastern melodies, jazzy vibes and ethereal vocals.
PROFESSOR MURDER: Professor Murder Rides The Subway EP (Kanine)
The cowbell still rules as far as this new Brooklyn band is concerned. So does dub bass. Double standards perhaps when it gets a rave at pitchforkmedia.com, but Professor Murder are scruffy and exuberant enough to get away it. And they’re great live.
PERSEPHONE’S BEES – Notes From The Underworld (Columbia)
Cheerful major label psychedelic power pop. ‘Nice Day’ is the single, and it’s catchy as helll, but don’t ignore ‘Walk To The Moon’ and ‘On The Earth.’ It won’t change your world, but it should certainly rock your boat for a week or two.
UNCLE ROCK: Uncle Rock Plays Well With Others (unclerock.com)
In his previous life as an NYC musician, Robert Burke Warren played with John Moore, Hub Moore and maybe even Bobby Moore. (He also starred in the London production of Buddy, was a member of The Fleshtones and wrote with Rosanna Cash.) Since moving to Phoenicia, he’s reinvented himself as a nursery school teacher and, like Dan Zanes and They Might Be Giants, started an alternative (rock) career as a writer of cool songs for modern kids. His debut was cheerfully shambolic: Uncle Rock Plays Well With Others is more professional but, crucially, it’s not parronizing. For once, kids’ music that parents can also enjoy.
PROPHET OMEGA: The Natural World (Astralwerks)
Kasabian and Primal Scream get together for a mash-up in a Catskills cabin. Don’t believe me? Check ‘Dear Satellite’ and ‘Soul Control.’ Check the rest of the album for more varied influences; Joe Mogistro has put together one hell of an impressive one-man band. And yes, it was (mostly) recorded in a Catskills cabin.
TONE396: Pass The Rizla (Prank Monkey)
Throwback to best of British big beat drum and bass singalong a ragga. Listen to the 4-track 12” and order a copy here.
LILY ALLEN: Smile (Tone396 remix)
Tone 396 has a background in bootleg mixes, and if you surf round his site you’ll find some classics, like Rebel MC mixed with PWEI, or Happy Mondays versus Beats International. But he’s also out there doing semi-conventional remixes these days, and the front page of his web site gives out, gratis, a ‘Smile’ remix that brings Lily Allen right into an east coast hip-hop/R&B stylee.
LAST CHANCE SUNDAY
Former Apocalypse trumpeter Kevin Bagnall has taken to managing these days, and his Cheshire-based findings, Last Chance Sunday, have as much of The Beautiful South (‘Our Summer’) as they do The Buzzcocks (‘Memories’). Watch this/myspace.
KEXP Music That Matters Podcast Volume 24.
In honor of Seattle’s Decibel Festival, an electronic music convention that takes place this weekend of Sep 16-17, Kevin Cole plays 11 artists that run the gamet of what currently passes for electronic music, including Nortec Colletive, Static and Speedy J. Best by far, at least in my (i)book, is the otherworldly opener, ‘Montreal’ by Apparat. Download to the Podcast here.
THE BLACK ANGELS in concert
Yes, they were named after a Velvet Underground song that reminds one of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. But something about Alex Maas’ desperate voice has gotten critics beyond the obvious influences and into rave reviews for debut album Passover. Listen to The Black Angels in concert on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic or KEXP’s Live Performances Podcasts and figure the fuss for yourself.
INDIEFEED Alternative Modern Rock
I’ve been getting my daily download from Indiefeed’s Electronica Podcast for a year or so now, but only recently subscribed to the site’s Alternative Modern Rock freebie. Duh! I’ve just fallen for The Hidden Cameras’ ‘Awoo,’ one of the most cheerful pop songs since ‘Wake Up Boo,’ and have a dozen more one-offs to wade through on the plane to Brazil. Go grab it via iTunes or the Indiefeed web site: all downloads are officially sanctioned.
WIRED MAGAZINE: The Music Issue
I’ve given up reading American rock magazines. How can I take Rolling Stone seriously when Justin Timberlake is on the cover? How can I take Spin seriously when it’s all about the Best 100 Spin Best 100s ever? So when vainly looking for some reading material at Port Authority the other day, I was majorly relieved to see Wired’s Music Issue, with Beck hyping the concept of ‘The Infinite Album,’ Nettwerk management encouraging its artists to leave their major labels and own their own copyrights, and former Spin editor Dave Itzkoff explaining how pitchforkmedia.com effectively stole his job. Being that it’s Wired, you can read everything online. Except, for some bizarre reason, the story about online magazine pitchfork.
NYTIMES HIPNESS FACTOR
Last Sunday’s Times magazine, in a special issue about NYC five years after 9/11, featured a story on Flavorpill, the weekly localized electronic newsletter that is fast becoming the Time Out of America. It also featured an interesting essay about Bohemia, asking whether it’s a physical location or merely a state of mind. (Either way, it’s been firmly entrenched in Brooklyn as far as New Yorkers have been concerned these past five years.) And today’s Styles section has a cover story on MisShapes, the trio of NYC club promoters named after a Pulp song and now the arbiters of hip. “At least for a few minutes,” notes The Times rather cynically, which only a few weeks ago pictured the same promoters sipping rosé on a Manhattan roof as if they’d just discovered it. They call the Times the Gray Lady, just like they call the BBC ‘Auntie.’ But sometimes these old fogies can surprise you.