Thursday, January 03, 2008

Superstar, Where's the Music? Don't Hesitate, Kissy Baby; I Got It (What You Need)

No, this isn't the project I was talking about in my last post -- but it'll tide you guys over in the meantime!

Uptown enters 2008 with a bevy of looks back to 2007, so go grab it. (Or read it online, but hard copies are so much more satisfying.)

Me being me, I devoted my column this week to the Ten Best Songs of 2007 You Haven't Heard -- and surprisingly few people have heard 'em, considering the very long collection of top ten lists also included in this week's issue. Nine of the ten acts mentioned in my column weren't brought up anywhere else; the lone overlap was with Odario Williams of Grand Analog, who listed Antibalas' Security as one of his top ten albums. And rightfully so!

The old year having recently ended and this year having just begun, this is the best time of year to dig through music blogs; they have a wonderful habit of posting their yearly favourites up all at once. And if you want to hear the tracks that I listed in (mostly) no particular order, you could dig through the Hype Machine -- but you don't need to! Because I've posted them all below, in my dogged determination to have you listen to them.

(My apologies about the cumbersome interface of the download links; I keep trying to find a better free hosting site, and better free hosting sites keep collapsing or removing their free service. Have to play with what I'm dealt, I guess.)


The Procession - Don't Hesitate (Musique Magnifique, 2007)
[buy | site | myspace]

(Previously posted April 12th.)

As I've mentioned previously, all the other tracks are in no particular order; this song is my number one favourite of the year, undisputed, no challengers, no question. Its corresponding music video is also my undisputed favourite YouTube posting of the year, no small feat considering it was put up exactly a year ago today and still held onto the crown for the next twelve months.

Antibalas - Beaten Metal (Security, 2007)
[buy | site | myspace]

You'll recall I was at the Antibalas concert this summer; it would probably be on my top ten concerts list if I thought to make one. (Number one on said list would be Michael Franti at the Folk Festival this year. Because Michael Franti, that's why!) This is also by far the least accessible track on this list; this stuff ain't for everybody, as you'll quickly find out if you play it for people. Such are the risks involved.

Heavy Trash - Kissy Baby (Going Way Out With Heavy Trash, 2007)
[buy | site | myspace]

I can't listen to this song without grinning widely. Can not. This is a physiological impossibility for me.

I'm a longstanding, self-confessed Jon Spencer mark; this is not a new development. What was new for me, when I first discovered this song, was the realization that I will sing along with Jon Spencer even when he isn't singing real words.


Kiss a that baby gonna kiss a that baby
Gonna kiss a kiss a kiss a kiss a kiss a that baby
Gonna buh buh buh buh buh buh buppa
yowww a that baby
kiss a kiss a kiss gonna kiss a that baby

Yes, you will look at me funny, but I am going to sing this in my car whether you like it or not.

Old-school rock and roll lives! Whoo!

Plastic Operator - Why Don't You? (Different Places, 2007)
[buy | site | myspace]

Have you ever heard a song that was kind of pessimistic about relationships but still made you want to snuggle up to someone? Well, you have now!

I had initially written that this song erased Imogen Heap's Hide and Seek from my brain, and that's true -- but it hasn't stopped there, and even as we speak it's nibbling away at my mental recognition of Simple Minds' Don't You Forget About Me. At its current pace this song is going to erode all vaguely similar songs before it, until I end up singing these lyrics over whatever music happens to be playing at the time.

So watch for that. That'll probably be pretty funny.

Siobhan Donaghy - Ghosts (Ghosts, 2007)
[buy | site | myspace]

As a heterosexual boy becomes a heterosexual man, it is an inevitable rite of passage that a prominent member of the opposite sex will become imprinted on him as his first major object of affection -- the first to make him sit up straight, tilt his head forward a little and go "oh, hey, women".

Ask any modern male about this and you'll get examples ranging from the mainstream (Farrah Fawcett, Cindy Crawford) to the unexpected (Aimee Mann, Ally Sheedy) to the unsettling (...Cheetara? What--), or you might not get an answer at all if they aren't particularily forthcoming. Assuming they tell you, their answer will reveal a lot about them; what generation they belong to, what kind of women they're susceptible to, and to some extent the personality traits that emerged from their maturation.

My youthful years were spent increasingly besotted by Kate Bush.

Yeah, what. You wanna fight about it? I will fight you about this.

So I've an existing innate weakness for elegant, eccentric ladies who write music that is eclectic and kind of spooky. (For example -- I didn't particularly care about Norah Jones when she initially appeared, but good lord did the video for Sinkin' Soon win me over in a hurry. Cartoon hearts appearing from the top of my head and all.) With that said, when Siobhan Donaghy cast aside her Sugababes origins and came out on the other side as an obvious Kate Bush revival act--

--then my interests are quite clearly being catered to. But I would like this song no matter who put it out, because it is creepy and catchy and charming all at once.

Lupe Fiasco feat. Matthew Santos - Superstar (Lupe Fiasco's The Cool, 2007)
[buy | site | myspace]

This track was released onto the vast expanses of the internet last September, and the album came out just two weeks ago; I was sorely displeased to see this single vanish quietly, and I included it on my list as such. Go figure that I watch Letterman last night -- Letterman looks badass with that beard, by the by -- and the musical guest is none other than Lupe Fiasco, who performs this very song on worldwide television the night before this week's issue of Uptown comes out.

See? I'm smart! And there's still plenty of room on this bandwagon, guys!

(Incidentally -- the keyboards were mixed way too high, the bass was mixed too low, and Matt Santos' hairdo looked hideous. But these are minor complaints; it's an awesome song, it was an awesome 'live' rendition, and I marked out hard when it hit.)

Galactic feat. Lyrics Born - I Got It (What You Need) (From the Corner to the Block, 2007)
[buy | site | myspace]

This one should have been the feelgood radio megahit of last, this or any summer. It saddens me that it's not; it's hugely catchy, blazingly clever and marvellously arranged, and it is to our collective discredit as a civilization that we don't have this song playing through every shopping mall intercom and Top 40 station on the continent.

Those aren't sampled instruments, by the way; Galactic is actually a full five-piece funk band who dabble extensively in other genres, and for this latest album they collaborated with as many quality rappers as they could find. And that electric guitar you hear in the chorus sections? That's actually a distorted harmonica. Yes, really!

Alabama Thunderpussy - Words of the Dying Man (Open Fire, 2007)
[buy | official site | buy on vinyl (hells yes)]

(Previously posted April 12th.)

I have to be careful singing along with this one, because I'm probably going to throw my throat out one of these days. I know where it'll be, too; it'll be that gigantic surprise high note 2:31 into the song, the kind of note that a singer includes just because he can. (Consider it the Bruce Dickenson corollary: there is never a wrong time to hit the high octave rather than the low one.)

José González - Killing for Love (In Our Nature, 2007)
[buy | site | myspace]

(Previously posted August 28th.)

The Alabama Thunderpussy track above is something you would want playing when you're driving along the highway; this track is the song you would want above all else when you're a passenger being driven along the highway, staring off into the extended distance, through the occasional secluded groves of trees and over the seemingly endless fields of brightly coloured crops.

With this song in your ears, you feel closer to nature no matter what nature you're near; something about its steady pulse and echoed depth seems so hauntingly ancient and timelessly wise that you feel connected to a deeper reserve of experience and brilliance than you alone could be responsible for.

Nothing could be further from the truth, of course; when the song ends you're the same idiot that you always were, and you've spent three minutes staring at dandelions. But it's a very immersive illusion while it lasts, and such is the power that this song wields.

Medeski, Martin & Wood - Where's the Music? (internet exclusive single, 2007; Let's Go Everywhere to be released next week)
[preorder | label | free downloads]

(Previously posted February 12th.)

This album was originally intended to come out in April. It has been a long eight months to wait. When I have kids one day, they are going to be hearing this album a lot; it will be only the protestations of the eventual mother and hospital staff that prevent this album from being played during the birth of the firstborn. I am only partially joking about this.

2007 was a pretty good year for music, you guys! I can't imagine 2008 being any less astounding, so rest assured I'll be keeping my ears open; when I find new hotness, you'll be the first to know.


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James Howard said...