Friday, December 28, 2007

Top 100 Tunes Of 2007 (40-31)

Apologies for the break, but xmas got in the way, then minor illness, then internet problems, yada yada yada. I'm back now though...

40. Panda Bear - Take Pills (Paw Tracks)

A song of two halves, 'Take Pills' starts off on some bucolic, heavy-psych Brian Wilson tip before segueing into a submerged, Buddy Holly-like, sock-hopping bop with all the sonic detritus that coloured Person Pitch so brilliantly. Noah Lennox's greatest strength is filtering all his influences through a kaleidoscope of his own making and 'Take Pills' is his most immediate moment. It's most certainly not pop music but it's born of it.

Panda Bear - Take Pills (mp3)

Bonus: Live footage of Panda Bear playing 'Take Pills'.

39. Elektrons - Get Up (PIAS/Genuine)

Maybe it's "the London bias of the music media" that's to blame but it kind of saddens me that Elektrons didn't get more coverage this year than they did. Especially so when you hear 'Get Up', a song that surely would have been a massive party hit had it been given a chance. Close to Basement Jaxx and The Go! Team in spirit but more soulful and classier than either of them, 'Get Up' is the most fun call-to-arms of the year, it's just a shame that not more people heard it.

Elektrons - Get Up (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the video for 'Get Up'.

38. R. Kelly feat. T.I. & T-Pain - I'm A Flirt (Remix) (Sony BMG)

I'm of the opinion that R. Kelly is, most of the time, a stupid arse. He's ridiculously self-involved, often overbearingly mawkish and, as his legal problems in recent years are anything to go off, a very bad person indeed. BUT, every now and then, he just comes out with something just so exceedingly larger-than-life and massively colourful that it's hard not to believe even his most self-aggrandising statements. File 'I'm A Flirt (Remix)' alongside other triumphs such as 'Ignition (Remix)', 'Feelin' On Yo Booty' and, naturally, Trapped In The Closet, as its irresistible bounce just burrows its way into your cerebellum, takes up residence and convinces you of the man's genius. That in itself is vindication of Kells' abilities.

R. Kelly feat. T.I. & T-Pain - I'm A Flirt (Remix) (mp3)

Bonus: "Let me remind you that I am the king of r'n'b". Watch the video over at YouTube and while you're there, do yourself a favour and check out as many episodes of Trapped In The Closet as you can.

37. Lindstrom & Solale - Let's Practise (Feedelity)

Lindstrom takes a more Italo-disco tack with his new side-project, a collaboration with Swedish chanteuse, Solale (aka Christabelle, with whom Hans-Peter released 'Music' a few years back). Yes, it's still very kosmische, but it's more in the vein of Moroder or Vangelis than the soft-pop touches of his work with Prins Thomas or the more club-wise stuff he releases by himself. It's a slo-mo groove that insidiously does its stuff almost without you noticing, before it explodes in a morass of colour and flourish around the eight minute mark. Truly brilliant and if it's a precursor for next year's album then we're in for something very special indeed.

Lindstrom & Solale - Let's Practise (mp3)

Bonus: L&S do Vangelis: Lindstrom & Solale - Let It Happen (mp3)

36. Busdriver - Sun Showers (Epitaph)

Busdriver's almost nauseatingly 'indie'. A backpacker rapper signed to Epitaph, who tours with Deerhoof and rhymes about Noam Chomsky and Lou Reed should be nigh-on unbearable. The fact that Busdriver manages to be likeable and relatable (almost) is down to the frequent humanist touches on his latest record, Roadkillovercoat, of which this track is the one most likely to receive repeat plays. A world-weary treatise on the futility of hip-hop elitism, with a steady-thumping, downtempo house beat and downcast guitar, it's witty, insightful and infectious. Great stuff from an artist on the grow.

Busdriver - Sun Showers (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the eye-fucking video for 'Sun Showers'.

35. Animal Collective - Peacebone (Domino)

Between them, Animal Collective (Panda Bear included), Battles and Deerhoof have injected a fair bit of fun into cerebral indie art-rock this year. 'Peacebone' is a brain-damaged pop song which marks AC's move into more immediate, less challenging fare. That's not to say that they've lost any of the feverish imagination and innovation that made them such a good band in the first place, just that they've learnt how to channel that into something more palatable to people who aren't used to music like this. Some might comment that this is exactly the kind of thing bands like Animal Collective should be shying away from, but under those junky electronic burbles and crazed screams lies the beating heart of progress and that's something to be admired and revered.

Animal Collective - Peacebone (mp3)

Bonus: 'Peacebone' live in Malta video.

34. Girls Aloud - Can't Speak French (Universal)

Finally, the Girls put their name behind something that can stand up to 'Biology'. The ersatz, electro-Motown swing of 'Can't Speak French' is arguably the classiest moment of a very classy bunch on Tangled Up, with all the girls putting in noteworthy performances. It's classic GA really, with Nadine, Kimberley and Nicola going tag-team on the opening verse, before Cheryl and Sarah raunch it up on the second. Who really cares who sings what though? This, like all the best Girls Aloud songs, sees them form into a perv-pop Voltron with consummate ease. They know that when any of them hogs the limelight for too long, they begin to crumble under the weight of it all, but the sum of all their magnificent parts (oo-er!) always adds up to nothing short of brilliant. Textbook girl-pop from the best proponents we have.

Girls Aloud - Can't Speak French (mp3)

Bonus: Watch Nadine having a seriously off night on The Friday Night Project.

33. Trus'me - Nard's (Stilove4music)

When this turned up unnanounced earlier in the year, not much was known about Manchester's Trus'me and now, two more 12s and an album down the line, he's still leaving us very little to go off. What I do know however, is that 'Nard's' is probably the best Moodymann track that KDJ never produced. He'll probably despise the Moodymanc title by now, but he's going to find it hard to escape it. To be honest though, there are some of his own personality in 'Nard's' that's for sure. KDJ would have definitely stretched the ominous first half out even longer, but Trus'me can't resist going all out for the dancefloor and he does it with considerable aplomb. Not bad for a shadowy 20-something from the rainy city.

Trus'me - Nard's (mp3)

Bonus: Download an exclusive Trus'me live mix from Cosmic Disco. Also, while you're at it, you could try to work out a little more about the guy from the interview he did for Another Night On Earth.

32. Battles - Atlas (Warp)

Critics have spent the best part of 2007 trying to get a handle on Battles' Mirrored and in particular its lead-off single, 'Atlas'. Some have even gone so far as to call it hip-hop. It ain't that, but it's refreshing to hear something that has the capacity to sound so familiar and alien at the same time. In a gloriously clumsy, yet confident manner, Battles apply math-rock to glam, disco, pop and, yes, even at a push, hip-hop to make one of the year's most surprisingly engaging leftfield delights. Bravo, you eggheads!

Battles - Atlas (mp3)

Bonus: 'Atlas' live on Jools Holland.

31. Partial Arts - Trauermusik (Kompakt)

The augur that Kompakt was going to have a decent year was 'Trauermusik', released by Partial Arts (Al Usher and Ewan Pearson) back in January. A chiming, ultimately uplifting slab of electro melancholy, replete with warm synths, cellos and drums that Pearson himself as described as sounding like "cannons going off", it laid the foundation for the likes of Justus Kohncke, Supermayer, The Field and Gui Boratto to build on, making it the best twelve months the label has had since about 2003. It was the first warning shot and still the best 12 to come from Cologne in the past year.

Partial Arts - Trauermusik (mp3)

Bonus: Partial Arts - Trauermusik (Alter Ego Mix) (mp3)


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Normal service will resume shortly.

Apologies for the slow-down in inventory-taking these past few days. I have been busy though (Xmas is coming, you know?), so I can be excused.

In the meantime, here's a few things to chew on...

Jon the Beef, over at Black Country Grammar is currently counting down his top 10 albums of the year. He's only at number eight so far, but they're a suitably eclectic bunch at this juncture.

Also, the Cosmic Disco boys have posted an interesting review of the year. Props for bigging up Sorcerer.

Here's a tune that I inexplicably forgot to leave off my tunes of the year list. How I didn't remember this one is beyond me as I've loved it from the moment I heard it. Oh well, apologies to Mr Smith and Mr Mudd.

Smith & Mudd - Shulme (mp3)

More year-end gubbins tomorrow. Promise.


Labels: ,

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Top 50 Albums Of 2007: 25-21

25. The National - Boxer (Beggar's Banquet)

Boxer marked The National out as one of the most perfectly-formed, idiosyncratic bands of their generation and, more clearly, proved Matt Berninger to be a man amongst lyricists. Where before he has stumbled with his punchy prose, here he hit the mark more often than not. There was something a little amiss though. Alligator is still a better record, even though the class and flow of Boxer is evident and true.

What Boxer is missing is a 'Lit Up', 'Abel' or 'Mr. November'. Most of this album is soul-bared and bruised beauty but, taken as a whole, the pace can flag a little. It's a minor quibble though as Boxer has plenty else to offer forth. 'Racing Like A Pro' and 'Start A War' positively ooze regret and melancholia, while rockier numbers like 'Squalor Victoria' and the single, 'Mistaken For Strangers' seethe and menace like we know The National can. In all, Boxer isn't so much of a step-forward for the band, more of a lunge sideways and still packed with enough grace and power to go the distance.

The National - Brainy (mp3)

The National - Racing Like A Pro (mp3)

Bonus: 'Squalor Victoria'! Live!! In Portsmouth!!!

24. Black Lips - Good Bad, Not Evil (Vice)

Long regarded one of the best live bands around (I've seen them twice and they are), Black Lips have struggled in the past to recreate the danger and frisson of their gigs. So in 2007, they just released a live album (Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo, more about that soon), got that out of their system and made their most obviously polished, commercial-sounding album to date. Some purists may say that the clean - although far from clean-cut - sound of Good Bad, Not Evil lacks the edge of their earlier albums, but that's nonesense. Granted, there's less fuzz on their latest, but that just allows their best set of songs so far to breathe a little easier and the clarity of sound suits them.

This album also shows them to be the diverse, perverse little fuckers we all knew they could be, as they try their hand at brain-screwed country ('How Do You Tell'), low-slung blues ('Lock And Key'), Nuggets-pop ('Cold Hands'), hick-hop ('Veni Vidi Vici'), sweet-natured college rock ('Transcendental Light') and 50s rock 'n' roll ('Bad Kids'), amongst other things. The most fun band you can see in the flesh just became one of the most fun bands you can listen to through headphones too.

Black Lips - Bad Kids (mp3)

Black Lips - Veni Vidi Vici (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the band playing 'Bad Kids' live. Unfortunately, nowhere near as good as seeing them with your own eyes.

23. Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity (All Tomorrow's Parties)

In which Deerhoof continue their quest to make pop music and continue to wildly, brilliantly miss the mark. Friend Opportunity gets closer to the elusive ideal than its predecessor, The Runners Four, but they still can't resist pulling the rug when things look like they're heading in too linear a direction. Check the funk bounce of 'Believe E.S.P.' for instance. Things bob along in an loose, groovy manner, before going all free-jazz skronk on us.

It's in these frequent curveballs where Deerhoof really sound comfortable though, as if harmony and melody are too far outside the band's comfort zones, so a really straitlaced pop song might sound a little contrived (the closest they get being the terrifically sweet, 'Matchbook Seeks Maniac'). This is the sound of a band playing with convention the only way they know how; making the complex sound childlike and vice versa. These are smart cookies and talented musicians who often sound like a group of 'special' kids let loose in the instrument closet, yet they never give the impression that they aren't totally in control of their craft. All of this makes for Deerhoof's most accomplished full-length to date and one of the year's best to boot.

Deerhoof - Kidz Are So Small (mp3)

Deerhoof - The Galaxist (mp3)

Bonus: Brilliant footage of Deerhoof performing '+81' live in Berlin.

22. !!! - Myth Takes (Warp)

!!! then; the funkiest damn white dudes on the planet, strike back with their most mind and ass-freeing album to date. Where Louden Up Now got bogged down in meandering experimentation and (gulp!) jamming, Myth Takes goes for the jugular and gets to the heart of the matter much more immediately, commanding the listener to shake their frame in the most uninhibited of ways.

It's more diverse than that sounds though, as !!! have woken up to the fact that scratchy punk-funk is way past its revive-by date now. So, we have the Glitter Band stomp of 'Yadnus', the comedown chill of closer, 'Infinifold' and the deep disco of 'Break In Case Of Anything', alongside the more direct party jams like 'Heart Of Hearts', 'Must Be The Moon' and 'Bend Over Beethoven'. Extra plaudits are reserved however for the soul-flecked pop of 'Sweet Life' and 'A New Name''s refreshing take on Prince-funk (seriously, Jam & Lewis could have come up with this in 1983 or something. What could have been just a fun diversion ended up being one of 2007's most playthroughable platters.

!!! - A New Name (mp3)

!!! - Sweet Life (mp3)

Bonus: !!! do ESG's 'Moody' with a little help from one of the Scroggins sisters.

21. Elektrons - Red Light, Don't Stop (PIAS/Genuine)

When it comes to genre-spanning urban pop music, no-one does it better than us Brits, as Elektrons' (Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford, aka The Unabombers) superb debut attests. This is the type of album that Basement Jaxx should have made last time out, as it's a style-mashing approximation of Britain's long-standing soundsystem tradition. It effortlessly blends together soul, hip-hop, reggae, disco, gospel, house and funk in an addictive way and the fact that it wasn't the breakout hit of the summer is, quite frankly, a fucking travesty.

Blame whatever you like (shit weather, poor promotion), but really you had absolutely no excuse not to take this record to your bosom like a long-lost relative. Containing some of the most righteous party-starters of the year ('Get Up', 'Dirty Basement', 'Maximal', 'Classic Cliche', 'Joy') and uncovering one of British music's best-kept secrets in Sheffield soul-boy, Pete Simpson, it's an album with an invigorating spirit and, most importantly of all, honest-to-goodness great tunes.

Elektrons - Don't Give Up (mp3)

Elektrons - Maximal (mp3)

Bonus: Luke Unabomber 'remixes' 'Hey Jude' in his own, inimitable style. Funny as fuck. You need to see this.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Top 100 Tunes Of 2007 (50-41)

50. Henrik Schwarz - Walk Music (Moodmusic)

I guess this shouldn't really count as it is, essentially, a remix, albeit a remix by Schwarz of one of his own compositions from 2003. I'm not getting into semantics though here, as all that matters is that 'Walk Music' is one of the deepest, grimiest house productions of the year. A ghostly backwards vocal refrain acts as the track's spine, around which is wrapped one of Schwarz' patented shuffly drum patterns and one of the feircest bass 'n' synth combos of 2007. I'm tempted to dub it '(sleep)Walk Music' as it seems that Schwarz can pull off this kind of majestic, classy house music as he counts sheep these days, but it would sound too much of a detraction from the august, controlled menace of the track, so I'll just ask you a question; is anyone doing this kind of thing better than Schwarz right now?

Henrik Schwarz - Walk Music (mp3)

Bonus: Watch an interview with Schwarz from last year.

49. Deerhunter - Lake Somerset (Kranky)

One of Deerhunter's more openly violent tracks, 'Lake Somerset' sees Bradford Cox coming in over some spooky CB radio transmission (actually just some very effective vocal treatment), blood dripping from tooth and claw, while his band plough away relentlessly in the background with some seriously plundering, heavy bass drops and vicious, squalling guitars. It's the aural equivalent of a cheese-induced nightmare where you get attacked by shoegazing vampires. You'll be all like "Oh, they're fine, they're just inspecting their Converse", and then there's a flash of teeth, searing pain, it all goes black and you wake in a pool of sweat. Or something like that anyway.

Deerhunter - Lake Somerset (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the video for 'Lake Somerset'. No vamps, but one seriously hungry turtle.

48. Kotey Extra Band feat. Chaz Jankel - Sooner Or Later (Bear Funk Gold)

A cover of Giorgio Moroder's languid discoid classic that crackles with as much intensity and restless energy as to make the original irrelevant, this announced the return to recording of neglected great, Chaz Jankel after some years in the wilderness. Steve Kotey woke the sleeping giant here and Jankel adds some seriously furious piano work on this epic (it clocks in at just short of eight-and-a-half minutes but feels like it runs for less than half that time). The drums, courtesy of another forgotten veteran, Dave Barbe from Bow Wow Wow, ably back up the Blockhead's virtuoso ivory-tinkling, providing a ceaseless motor for Kotey and Jankel to sprinkle disco dust all over. One of the year's most unalloyed, gloriously out-of-time pleasures.

Kotey Extra Band feat. Chaz Jankel - Sooner Or Later (mp3)

Bonus: Giorgio Moroder - Sooner Or Later (mp3)

47. Caribou - Melody Day (City Slang)

'Melody Day' positively bursts from the speakers with colour and verve, brightening the darkest of days on impact with its melange of flutes, glockenspiel, bells, fuzz bass, careening drums and fabulously detuned guitar. It harks back, like all of Dan Snaith's best work ('Hendrix With Ko', 'Yeti', 'I've Lived On A Dirt Road All My Life') to a time when pop music was intended to tickle the senses rather than merely adding to the background (ie; the '60s). 'Melody Day' is life writ large and one of those songs that you kid yourself everyone should love. Some people won't, but those kind of people mustn't like life, so it's their loss.

Caribou - Melody Day (mp3)

Bonus: Watch a curiously spooky live run-through of 'Melody Day'.

46. Hot Chip - My Piano (Studio !K7)

Contractual obligations aren't supposed to be this good. One of the stipulations of getting to put together a mix for !K7's DJ-Kicks series is that you must record something new of your own making and fit it into the mix as well. There hasn't been any particularly bad ones of note in the past, but they all pretty much just serve a purpose and fail to stand on their own. 'My Piano' is the exception to the rule, but do we expect anything less than brilliantly downcast, futurist electro-pop from Hot Chip? We shouldn't but, as the forthcoming Made In The Dark attests, we may have set the bar a little too high for these guys to assail each and every time. 'My Piano', on the other hand, vaults it with itchy precision.

Hot Chip - My Piano (mp3)

Bonus: Live footage of new single/Kylie cast-off, 'Ready For The Floor' from NYC's Webster Hall.

45. The Arcade Fire - No Cars Go (Mercury)

It's perhaps a little ironic that a dusted-down oldie from their first EP is, in my opinion, the thing most worth saving from The Arcade Fire's lacklustre sophomore effort, Neon Bible. Amidst all the water-treading and morose navel-gazing, 'No Cars Go' shone like a beacon. Maybe I'm being a little too harsh on Neon Bible, but this aside, there wasn't much that was fit to lace the boots of Funeral and it's probably got something to do with the fact that this originally saw the light of day in 2003 and pre-dates the band getting lazy and believing their own hype. It has the same effortlessly stirring, spine-chilling catharsis that peppered their debut full-length and when Win's and Regine's voices combine so beautifully on "Between the click of a light/And the start of the dream", I'm willing to forgive their grossest indiscretions.

The Arcade Fire - No Cars Go (mp3)

Bonus: Watch a thrilling performance of the song from Glastonbury this year.

44. Linkwood Family - Piece Of Mind (Firecracker)

Is it or isn't it an edit? I'd argue that it's no more an edit than, say, Jay-Z's 'Heart Of The City (Ain't No Love)' is a cover, as Edinburgh's Linkwood Family take a sampling of Leo's Sunshipp's 'I'm Back For More' and make a whole, beautiful new thing out of it. A peak-time groove with a see-sawing bassline, some super-clever studio tricks (backwards stuff, echo, stops and starts) that make any DJ that chooses to drop it look a lot better than they actually are and some nigh-on orgasmic vocals combine to make one of the hippest, funkiest floorfillers of 2007.

Linkwood Family - Piece Of Mind (mp3)

Bonus: Leo's Sunshipp - I'm Back For More (Instrumental) (mp3)

43. Queens Of The Stone Age - 3's & 7's (Interscope)

And so the purists carped that Era Vulgaris was, shall we say, a little more commercial than the Queens' previous output. "Bring back Nick!", they cried and there was a nugget of truth in their complaints; Era Vulgaris wasn't as granite-hard and molten as Songs For The Deaf, Rated R or, indeed, as downright weird as Lullabies To Paralyze, but it still beat most of mainstream rock into a cocked hat this year. Plus, it threw up this gem, easily one of QOTSA's best singles to date. A turbo-charged pummel of riffing and hooks and featuring one of 2007's most perversely heavy middle eights. Maybe the naysayers are right. Maybe Queens Of The Stone Age have lost some of their edge, but they're still a damn sight harder, cooler and just better than Foo Fighters.

Queens Of The Stone Age - 3's & 7's (mp3)

Bonus: A practically bludgeoning live version of '3's & 7's' from T4, of all programmes. Shake that hair, Mikey Shoes!

42. Sorcerer - Egyptian Sunset (Tirk)

Balearic has become a by-word for music that feels totally, blissfully out-of-step with fashion and trends this past year and there was none more Balearic than Daniel Saxon-Judd (Sorcerer). His name suggests that he should spend his days shooting foxes on his many acres of land, but in actuality, he's a fine purveyor of carefree beach music. 'Egyptian Sunset' is the finest moment from a veritable bunch of fine moments on Saxon-Judd's White Magic album. It sounds like the world waking up, with its sun-bleached guitars and skittery drum patterns and there really is no better way to greet the dawn.

Sorcerer - Egyptian Sunset (mp3)

Bonus: Download the Sorcerer Mega Mixx from Sorcerer's website.

41. Marcus Worgull - Spellbound (feat. Mr. White) (Innervisions)

Dad house. There, I said it. House music for Dads. That is the pigeonhole that best suits 'Spellbound'. A midtempo shuffler the kind of which they don't make anymore and blessed with a massively soulful vocal from Chad White (oh how did I neglect to leave 'The Sun Can't Compare' off last year's list?!) and an overall reach-for-the-lasers vibe that's priceless in this cynical age. Dad house sounds like such a reductive, derogatory term, but if it means that this kind of music is for the more discerning adult who know what they like and remember when it was all illegal raves round these parts then, lack of kids permitting, count me in their number.

Marcus Worgull - Spellbound (feat. Mr. White) (mp3)

Bonus: Marcus Worgull - Spellbound (Dub) (mp3)


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Top 50 Albums Of 2007: 30-26

30. Mark Sultan - The Sultanic Verses (In The Red)

2007 was a really good year for back-to-basics garage-punk and no-one was as basic as Mark Sultan. After plying his trade under various monikers (BBQ being the most prominent, due to his hook-ups with King Khan) and with a multitude of bands (The Spaceshits, Les Sexareenos...), Sultan chose this album to record under his real name for the first time. It's understandable why, as The Sultanic Verses features his rawest, most unreconstructed music to date.

Indebted to rockabilly, 60s soul, 50s girl groups, mid-60s garage pop nuggets and pure sock-hopping 50s rock'n'roll, The Sultanic Verses is a bracing ride, but one that will leave its feather-headed hooks bludgeoned into your skull for some time after. There are breezy janglers like the opener 'Beautiful Girl' (replete with toy piano), brain-damaged psych ('Cursed World'), Stooges-esque punkers ('Warpath') and spooked out girl-pop (the closing 'Unicorn Rainbow Odyssey'), but it's all filtered through Sultan's skewed puritanism to the point where all that matters are the infectious tunes and isn't that how music's supposed to be?

Mark Sultan - Beautiful Girl (mp3)

Mark Sultan - Cursed World (mp3)

Bonus: Mark Sultan live in Paris.

29. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam (Domino)

And the award for most blogged-about band of 2007 goes to... Well, actually, it's probably Radiohead, but Animal Collective came in a close second. Not since Kid A has an album inspired so much fevered, enraptured clamouring from the internet tastemakers as Strawberry Jam. In fact, I reckon that the band were that confident their new album would garner so much fanboyish frothing that they felt compelled to throw the people itching to naysay a bone in the shape of one of the worst album covers of the year.

What lay inside though was a thing of warped beauty as AC took one step closer to some kind of freak-pop ideal through strange loops, fucked-up harmonics and, in 'Fireworks' and 'Peacebone', two of the year's most unlikely ANTHEM! moments. It most definitely isn't pop but it's as close as twisted art-folk will probably ever get. I still prefer their early stuff though.

Animal Collective - Fireworks (mp3)

Animal Collective - For Reverend Green (mp3)

Bonus: Animal Collective weirding up Conan O'Brien with a suitably deranged take on '#1'.

28. Freeway - Free At Last (Roc-A-Fella)

The best beard in hip-hop could have reason to feel aggrieved that his sophomore effort was the first in ages on Roc-A-Fella not to feature production from either Just Blaze or Kanye West, but Freeway just got on with it, making his rhymes tighter and calling in the best beats possible from some second-tier producers. The result is Free At Last, West aside, the best album to come from the Roc stable since The Blueprint.

Freeway is a charismatic MC - well, I say MC, but what he actually does is somewhere between crying and growling, his style emotive and guttural. He gives as good as his boss man on Jay-Z-guesting 'Roc-A-Fella Billionaires' (with, naturally, 'Hey Big Spender' sample) and elsewhere he enlists 50 Cent to do probably his most likeable guest turn in a while on irrepressible pop-rap belter, 'Take It To The Top', while the venerable Scarface graces 'Baby Don't Do It' with his inimitable presence. Even Cool & Dre (with Rick Ross in tow) turn in a nice and moody production on 'Lights Get Low'. Free At Last really impresses though when Free has full reign to do his thing, like on 'Still Got Love', 'Reppin' The Streets' and the title track. Thick, heavy soul with one of hip-hop's forgotten men making an admirable push for star status.

Freeway - Still Got Love (mp3)

Freeway - Baby Don't Do It (feat. Scarface) (mp3)

Bonus: Video for 'Still Got Love'.

27. Super Furry Animals - Hey Venus! (Rough Trade)

Another contender for worst album art of 2007, Hey Venus! was, cover aside, a marked improvement on 2005's over-produced, under-nourished Love Kraft. The polish was still there (that comes from working with Mario Caldato Jr., I guess), but this was a more pared-down, more song-focused set than its predecessor and it's when SFA are concentrating on making gorgeous psych-infused pop songs that they're at their best.

'Run-Away' was their best single since 'Juxtapozed With U', 'Suckers' showed they still had a wicked sense of humour, 'Neo-Consumer' and 'Into The Night' proved them to still be the peerless glam rockers they once were and the The Band-like country soul of 'Let The Wolves Howl At The Moon' was just pure heartbreak. As nothing is ever easy with this band, we also got the execrable 'Battersea Odyssey', but hey, you can't have it all ways. For nine of its ten songs however, Hey Venus! was Britain's most-neglected bands firing on all cylinders once more and that's cause for celebration in itself.

Super Furry Animals - Show Your Hand (mp3)

Super Furry Animals - Suckers (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the hilarious video for 'Run-Away', starring the man formerly known as Dixon Bainbridge, Matt Berry.

26. The Field - From Here We Go Sublime (Kompakt)

Had I done this list in, say, May, From Here We Go Sublime would have easily made the top five, but repeated plays doesn't become it. Maybe it's because Axel Willner revels so much in repetition that leads to the cracks showing after a lot of spins. Don't get me wrong, it remains an immensely enjoyable listen, but it just doesn't reveal much more on the 30th run-through as what you're already met with the first time around.

Which is probably why this album has crossed over outside the techno ghetto. Like Isolee's Wearemonster, The Field's debut takes some of that genre's more populist touches and a love of melody and amps them up for maximum euphoria. Unlike that album, however, it's not a jaw-dropping masterwork, just a really good album by a producer you suspect will get better as he continues to grow. He's mastered this technique and it's when Willner starts to play outside his comfort zone that things will really get interesting. For now, however, From Here We Go To Sublime still stands as one of the most thrilling electronic albums of the year.

The Field - Good Things End (mp3)

The Field - The Deal (mp3)

Bonus: Weird little American Grafitti fan video that makes great use of this album's title track.


Top 100 Tunes Of 2007 (60-51)

60. Supermayer - Two Of Us (Kompakt)

I think that anticipation for Supermayer's debut LP was a little too high for the duo to assail in certain circles (superheroes or not), but there's no doubting that 'Two Of Us' was the zenith of both their powers. In fact, the more closely you listen to this track, the more you can pinpoint the distinction between the two players. You can almost tell who brought what to the table. The incessant, glitchy pummel of gnarled sub-bass? That'll be Superpitcher. The bells, handclaps and skippy ancillary rhythm track? That has to be Michael Mayer. They worked best together though, when both sides of the track rub up against each other to create a furious, fricative beast of a big-room worker, now that's when Supermayer sounded like they could actually save the world.

Supermayer - Two Of Us (mp3)

Bonus: Supermayer - Two Of Us (Geiger Mix) (mp3)

59. Dan Deacon - Wham City (Carpark)

I wasn't one of the many that fell for Dan Deacon's idiot savant, kid-in-the-toy-box approach to electronic music. In fact, I thought that most of Spiderman Of The Rings was utter shite. Then there was this, a wondrously massive, cathartic monolith dumped three songs into said album and it was a beautiful thing. An anthem to god knows what but an anthem that anyone with a pulse could have got behind, 'Wham City' is an imperious krautrocking mountain ("...of snow, across the big glen"), with more than enough grace notes to make up for an album full of interminable goofing around.

Dan Deacon - Wham City (mp3)

Bonus: Dan Deacon at Pitchfork festival earlier this year.

58. Black Lips - O Katrina! (Vice)

And so we have Black Lips' first political song and, guess what? It sounds like all the other Black Lips songs. There's no po-faced mewling on this diatribe for the hurricane that devastated so much of New Orleans, just heads-down, no-nonesense rock'n'boogie with a delinquent streak and that echoey rumble that populates so many Black Lips' songs. This could have been about any old no-good woman really, but it goes to show that even when the Lips are tackling a SERIOUS SUBJECT, they still sound like Lucifer's in-house band.

Black Lips - O Katrina! (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the video for 'O Katrina!'.

57. Liars - Houseclouds (Mute)

2007 was a funny old year for Liars. They made an album that could be seen as their most commercial yet and pretty much no-one outside of Liars' fans really gave a shit. 'Houseclouds', the second single from their self-titled 'pop' album was one of those should-have-been-massive style missed hits. 'Houseclouds' sounds like Beck back when he was good and it was a bit too much of a curveball for some fans and commentators (cue lots of "OMFG! What haz happend to my band! Wherez the freeform drum workoutz gone?!!!" on message boards all over the internet) and obviously a little too left-of-centre for the mainstream. It all boils down to one of 2007's great outsider pop moments.

Liars - Houseclouds (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the video for 'Houseclouds'.

56. A Mountain Of One - Brown Piano (AMO1)

You can almost smell the patchouli oil and lentils from here, but cheap hippie gags aside, there's something so intangibly transcendent about A Mountain Of One's music that makes anyone who hates Pink Floyd (me included) just melt in their presence. Yes, it's undoubtedly proggy, but there's an involving, humanist streak that runs through 'Brown Piano' that the mutton chops 'n' mellotrons crew of the 70s didn't really tap into. Partly, it has something to do with Zeben Jameson's familiar croon, but mostly it's because, as opposed to sounding like it was beamed in from Jupiter, there's something very earthy and relatable to 'Brown Piano' that I can't quite put my finger on. Oh, and it wasn't made by Oxford university students in 1974 either.

A Mountain Of One - Brown Piano (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the very weird short film made especially for 'Brown Piano'.

55. !!! - Heart Of Hearts (Warp)

!!! are damned funkier than they have any right to be. I mean, look at them! A bunch of gawky-looking, short-wearing dudes, some of them even have beards, and yet they sound like Prince, Funkadelic, The Meters and ESG all rolled into one. Maybe they have higher-minded pursuits to follow than the vagaries of fashion and that certainly checks out as 'Heart Of Hearts' is, without doubt, one of 2007's most badass funk tunes. The ghostly, high-pitched guitar line weaves its way through your brain while the deathless roll of the drums and the squiggly rhodes take care of your behind. The album, Myth Takes was the sound of a band maturing and learning that it's often best to go for the jugular rather than beat around the bush and 'Heart Of Hearts' was its blood-red, conviction-addled centerpiece.

!!! - Heart Of Hearts (mp3)

Bonus: 'Heart Of Hearts' live.

54. Lavender Diamond - Open Your Heart (Rough Trade)

Folk comfort food in the shape of one of the most carefree indie-pop songs of the year. Becky Stark's voice takes on more of an everywoman quality than it normally does (i.e.: the swoops and gymnastics are kept to a minimum), but the sheer sweetness of her performance, coupled with her band's close-to-the-hearth intimacy make 'Open Your Heart' such a good-natured joy from start to finish. It may be wet, but its heart's in the right place and I guarantee you'll be smiling when it's over.

Lavender Diamond - Open Your Heart (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the insufferably twee video for 'Open Your Heart', if your stomach can take it.

53. Binary Chaffinch - False Energy (Dissident)

We all love a bit of mystery with our music, so when the shadowy distribution label, Dissident started putting out 12"s that were limited to 100 or 200 at a time, with absolutely no fanfare, hype or even much in the way of press behind them, the leftfield disco nuts went, well, nuts, speculating as to their genesis and just generally making shit up. The best thing that Dissident has put out so far is this massive beauty. It's a brilliantly effective, clever piece of underground dance music, with loads of little winning touches (a bit of backwards vocal here, some sampled birdsong there), backed up by an equally brilliantly effective and clever piece of anti-hype. Why say anything when the music says more than you ever could?

Binary Chaffinch - False Energy (mp3)

Bonus: As you'd probably guessed, there's nothing much in the way of bonuses available when it comes to ver Chaffinch, so here's a picture of the bird in question.

52. Devin The Dude - What A Job (feat. Snoop Dogg & Andre 3000) (Rap-A-Lot)

The laidback, tick-tocking beat and mellifluous acoustic guitar was just a smokescreen for, arguably, the most outrageous statement made in mainstream hip-hop all year; that this rap game is really, like, tiring and quite a bit of a grind really. Aw, diddums! The argument that laying down rhymes over beats is one of the most difficult jobs you can have crumbled under the weight of the effortless nature of the verses by all involved. Devin's contribution is heavy-lidded at best, while Snoop sounds like he's doing that thing where you're between sleep and consciousness and you just talk crap about unicorns and stuff. Only Dre sounds like he's possibly breaking a sweat, but maybe that's it you know? Maybe this did follow "another all-nighter tryin' to get it done" and that's why they sound so fucked? Then again, they probably just burned one and knocked it out in five minutes. However it came to be, 'What A Job' is still one of the most satisfying hip-hop tunes of the year.

Devin The Dude - What A Job (feat. Snoop Dogg & Andre 3000) (mp3)

Bonus: An afternoon in the life of Devin The Dude, courtesy of XLR8R.

51. Amerie - Hate 2 Love U (Columbia)

Amerie's stuck with the fact that everything she releases between now and the end of time will be measured up to '1 Thing'. So momentous a pop moment that song was that she's doomed to spend the rest of her career in its shadow. Sad really, as she's probably the most consistently brilliant and - yes - challenging of the r'n'b divas currently out there doing it. The easily-loveable go-go funk of 'Hate 2 Love U' further cements her position of one of pop's current greats. No, it's not as good as '1 Thing', but then again not much is. But, hey, it's better than 'Umbrella'.

Amerie - Hate 2 Love U (mp3)

Bonus: Well-synched fan vid for 'Hate 2 Love U' cobbled together from other Amerie videos.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Top 50 Albums Of 2007: 35-31

35. Karizma - A Mind Of Its Own (R2 Records)

It's been a pretty decent year for house music, not that any of you cats noticed, as you were too busy being distracted by all the other shiny, fluorescent stuff in the room like nu-rave, blog-house, electro-rock or whatever you call it. Geez, I'm getting old! Anyway, no-one really shone in the house spectrum like Baltimore native, Chris Clayton aka Karizma in 2007.

A Mind Of Its Own is the culmination of over a decade in the game and it showed. A lot of influences come to bear on this, Karizma's debut album that meant it should have played outside of the house sphere. That it didn't was a damn shame, as A Mind Of Its Own is a colourful fusion of breaks ('The Damn Thing'), B-more club music ('K.O.N.G.'), hip-hop and nu-soul (the various interludes that scatter the album) and different shadings of house music from deep ('Tha D') to upfront, big room stylings ('Tech This Out Pt. 2', 'Twyst This'). A diverse, multi-faceted record that barely blipped on anyone's radars and one of the most criminally-neglected releases of the year.

Karizma - Didn't See It Comin' (mp3)

Karizma - K.O.N.G. (mp3)

Bonus: As featured on Karizma's mix for Coast2Coast: Raw Artistic Soul - The Light (feat. Ursula Rucker) (Karizma Deepah Mix) (mp3)

34. Black Dice - Load Blown (Paw Tracks)

The evolution or, at least, constant motion of Black Dice's music from the pastoral, almost blissful sweeps of 2002's Beaches And Canyons through to this year's awesome Load Blown has been almost like watching cavemen discover and create dance music. The subtle pushes and pulses of that previous masterpiece have gradually given way to a more harsh, yet also more colourful sound, not unlike machinery malfunctioning rhythmically.

Because don't be fooled into thinking the chunky, multi-textured sound of Load Blown is formless, there's a wonderfully controlled agility at play here, especially on tracks like the Timbaland-flavoured (not a stretch) 'Gore', the heavy bass-fuelled opener, 'Kokomo' and the fizz and squawk of 'Scavenger' where the band actually - as perverse as it may sound - swing. It's in the more hypnotic tracks where Black Dice hit something approaching a warped state of grace that Load Blown really excels, like the devilishly addictive 'Roll Up'. No-one's suggesting that Black Dice could ever make music for the masses, but this is as close as they've come to injecting a sense of metre, cadence and, well, happiness into a full-length so far.

Black Dice - Roll Up (mp3)

Black Dice - Scavenger (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the video for 'Kokomo'.

33. Devin The Dude - Waitin' To Inhale (Rap-A-Lot)

The indolent, horny weedhead is a lost schtick in an increasingly coke-fuelled, pro-active hip-hop landscape, so it's refreshing to hear Devin The Dude extolling the virtues of marijuana, big booties and the pleasures of just letting the world pass you by in 2007. Yes, like kindred spirit Snoop, he's also pretty fucking sexist too, which, I won't lie, can sometimes be off-putting (Waitin' To Inhale would definitely be higher if some of the more mysoginist elements were left in the studio), but if you prefer to divorce politics (sexual, world or personal) from your music listening experiences and choose to look past this, then there's a whole lot to enjoy here.

Over an hour in the company of The Dude is damn funny too. You can crack a sick grimace to 'Broccoli & Cheese', laugh uproariously at the country bumpkin stylings in the 'Boom' interludes or let out a sympathetic chuckle at Devin on the broke-ass ode to the cost of living, 'Almighty Dollar'. Alternatively, you can just nod your head to some of the best mainstream rap tunes of 2007, like 'What A Job' (with Snoop and Andre 3000), 'She Useta Be' and 'Don't Wanna Be Alone'. Taken on its face value, Waitin' To Inhale is, without doubt one of the funniest, casually funky albums of the past twelve months.

Devin The Dude - She Useta Be (mp3)

Devin The Dude - Somebody Else's Wife (mp3)

Bonus: Live video of 'Lil' Girl Gone' where he doesn't even bother to rap Lil' Wayne and Bun B's verses he's that lazy!

32. Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover (Jagjaguwar)

And so, Spencer Krug's march to being crowned songwriter of his generation continues unabated on the latest Sunset Rubdown album (is this now his day-job, with Wolf Parade being his sideline?), which is yet another record full of grotesque, dazzlingly strange imagery and crashingly cathartic indie rock. If that all sounds anathema to you, then this probably won't change your mind any, but if that sounds like it should be up your street and you just haven't been touched by Krug's maginificent turn of phrase and love of vocabulary, then what are you waiting for?

Random Spirit Lover feels like so much of a step forward from last year's Shut Up I Am Dreaming in every way that you lose sight of just what to pinpoint. Moment after moment here is anthemic and rousing in a way that Krug's work hasn't been before (save 'Us Ones In Between', 'Stadiums And Shrines' and his songs on Apologies For The Queen Mary) and while some of the intimacy created by its predecessor is lost (although the melting 'Winged/Wicked Things' goes some way to making up for that), there's a buoyancy to Random Spirit Lover that makes it impossible to resist. Superb, scene-setting opener, 'The Mending Of The Gown' recreates the sense of being on a particularly bone-shaking white-knuckle ride, while 'The Taming Of The Hands That Came Back To Life' is a hip-swaying pop moment par excellence. Like I said, those who find Krug to be a little too 'rare' for their tastes won't have their heads turned by this but those who've already taken the little fella into their bosom will only find further course to cherish him.

Sunset Rubdown - For The Pier (And Dead Shimmering) (mp3)

Sunset Rubdown - Trumpet, Trumpet, Toot! Toot! (mp3)

Bonus: Live footage of Krug & co. performing 'The Mending Of The Gown'.

31. Caribou - Andorra (City Slang)

I still want to call them Manitoba, you know? I think that's because my first introduction to Dan Snaith's work was 2003's Up In Flames when he still went by that name. This is the first time since then that Snaith has come close to recreating that album's nigh-on perfect synthesis of modern electronics and 60s psychedelic pop. In fact, songs like 'Sandy', furnished as it is with stirring flutes and twinkly tambourine, and 'Sundialing', with its metronomic pulse and hazy vocals, could have easily slotted into the running order for that mini-modern masterpiece.

What sets Andorra apart from his other work is that Snaith often favours clarity over opacity, none more so than on the fuzzed-up electro-ballad, 'She's The One' - with Junior Boy, Jeremy Greenspan on vocals - or the burst of colour that opens the record, 'Melody Day'. Album closer 'Niobe' throws an even stranger spanner in the works however, in that it resembles a 4am trance number that, tantalisingly, never delivers the euphoria that its harsh ebbs suggest it might. It's an intriguing, grandstanding way to close an album on which Snaith shows he can alloy both his and music's past to its present in new, thrilling ways.

Caribou - Desiree (mp3)

Caribou - Niobe (mp3)

Bonus: Watch a BBC Collective mini-doc about Snaith.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Top 100 Tunes Of 2007 (70-61)

70. Gui Boratto - Mr. Decay (Kompakt)

It's trance, kids, but not as we know it. Trance has become a by-word for all that cheap, nasty, emotion-deficient, dead-eyed crap that clogs up the top 40 and commercial radio stations these days, but whereas that kind of stuff is 10p mix-up trance, Gui Boratto's 'Mr. Decay' is foie gras. A warm, meaty complexity courses through its shuffle and sway, before exploding in a mass of big spacey sonics towards the end. A peak-time anthem disguised as fuzzy mini-opera. One of the best things Kompakt have put out in quite some time.

Gui Boratto - Mr. Decay (mp3)

Bonus: Gui Boratto - Mr. Decay (Robert Babicz Universum Disco Mix) (mp3)

69. Zombie Zombie - Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free (Versatile)

France's Versatile label had such a good year, with big releases from Chateau Flight, the already-mentioned-here Cave Bear Cult, Joakim, I:Cube and Etienne Jaumet. Jaumet is also one half of cosmic-kraut-proggers Zombie Zombie, alongside Herman Dune drummer, Cosmic Neman and this, their first release for Versatile, is a chunky wedge of turbulent synths, horror soundtrack piano and surging drums. In keeping with the title, this is akin to driving down a desolate, barely-lit road at nighttime with the devil himself on your tail.

Zombie Zombie - Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free (mp3)

Bonus: Zombie Zombie - Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free (Joakim Remix) (mp3)

68. Lexx - Axis Shift (Permanent Vacation)

It's a shame that Alex Storrer isn't more prolific than he is as everything he releases oozes pure class (his 'Sirocco' made this list last year). When he does put something out though, he more than makes up for the gaps inbetween releases by making the closest thing the nu-disco scene has to 'event singles'. 'Axis Shift', taken from his first 12" for Permanent Vacation is just one of those, a euphonious amalgam of florid synths, burbling bass and urgent percussion, it was barely pressed up before the heads were bigging it up as one of the tunes of the year. Modern disco music with a tech-y twist, let's hope he doesn't procrastinate too much before gifting us some more of this.

Lexx - Axis Shift (mp3)

Bonus: Taken from his edits 12" on Big Bear: Disconnection - Bay City (Lexx Edit) (mp3)

67. Deerhoof - +81 (All Tomorrow's Parties)

Often sounding like virtuosos at play in the toybox, Deerhoof have gotten more 'pop' and accessible over the course of their last two albums, without sacrificing the wilful strangeness that made them so cherishable in the first place. '+81' is a rock stomper with a sideline in proggy weirdery that marks it out from so much grey indie schtickers. Deerhoof are becoming a catchy proposition, embracing memorable melodies more and more, going for the jugular more often but still sounding like art-damaged freaks for the most part and they're becoming a better band for it.

Deerhoof - +81 (mp3)

Bonus: Deerhoof onstage with Busdriver video.

66. Joakim - Lonely Hearts (Versatile)

Joakim can't seem to decide whether 'Lonely Hearts' is a chiming, harmonious pop song or an off-kilter dancefloor workout in keeping with most of the rest of his output. It's this dichotomy though that makes 'Lonely Hearts' so ear-tickling. Equally in debt to 70s new wave (check the sultry retro-synths) and acid house (don't believe me? Listen to that bleepy 303 line), it recalls early Ministry or The Cure jamming with The KLF circa 'What Time Is Love?', this is both sweetly melancholy and joyously danceable. What's best is that it sounded like such a beautiful anomaly amongst the Goblin-like freakouts on Joakim's album, Monsters And Silly Songs.

Joakim - Lonely Hearts (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the video for 'Lonely Hearts'.

65. Aeroplane - Aeroplane (Eskimo)

Disco-freak Belgians, Stephen Fasano and Vito De Luca announced themselves as top-line Balearica producers extraordinaire with this essential release back in August. An immediate hit on the underground it featured (like so many other big leftfield dance summer hits) on Lindstrom & Prins Thomas' zeitgeist-nailing Essential Mix. Its shelf life seems to expand and expand (heard it played out on Saturday night and it sounded as good as ever), but that's all down to the peerless production and its multifarious hooks (if the wonky synth line doesn't get you, then the running arpeggios and never-quitting bassline will). Aeroplane are most definitely ones to watch the ether for. And no, I won't apologise for that crappy joke.

Aeroplane - Aeroplane (mp3)

Bonus: Milky Globe - Magic Waves (Aeroplane Magnification Mix) (mp3)

64. Dizzee Rascal - Da Feelin' (XL)

Summer songs often suffer out of context, but occasionally, the really good ones sound great all year round. This collab between Dizzee and Shy FX falls into the latter pool. Apparently 12 months in the gestation, this track still sounds as breezy and effortless as if it were knocked up in five minutes. God knows how much Joss Stone would have ruined it (she sung the chorus on the original version, which will hopefully never see the light of day) and that this wasn't massive all over the summer was either due to Britain's shitty weather or the bizarre lack of a single release (d'n'b just doesn't sell these days I guess), but for me at least, Dizzee's horndog diatribe, coupled with Shy FX's upfront liquid production still makes it feel like the sun is shining.

Dizzee Rascal - Da Feelin' (mp3)

Bonus: Dizzee interview from this year's Glastonbury.

63. The Field - The Little Heart Beats So Fast (Kompakt)

All of The Field's music is about finding the inner melody in friction and repetition and 'The Little Heart Beats So Fast' - arguably his most immediate number - is an object lesson in Alex Willner's oft-pulled parlour tricks. Snippets of vocalese pinball off each other creating a disorientating effect, before the hitherto-foregrounded vocal element sinks into the background, allowing the other to rise up from behind, giving the song depth and shading. All the while, a jerky two-note synth line and a wobbly 303 (?) jostle for position. In the end, when it all breaks down, each facet of the track has had its glorious moment in the spotlight and you're left with the satisfaction that only the most value-for-money producer in techno (in terms of bulding expanse out of the smallest fragments, that is) can provide.

The Field - The Little Heart Beats So Fast (mp3)

Bonus: Suitably shaky footage of 'The Little Heart Beats So Fast' live in Monterey.

62. Lucky Soul - Lips Are Unhappy (Ruffa Lane)

'Lips Are Unhappy' starts with a "Shake! Shake! Shimmy!" command before documenting loss and longing in the manner of the best '60s girl groups. Lucky Soul work best when pitting opposites against each other; sugary harmonics with bittersweet lyrics and suchforth. It's grace notes like these that separate LS from anyone else out there with a Spector fetish. Whereas others recreate the surface, Lucky Soul are more concerned with reimagining the bigger picture. They haven't quite made a 'And Then He Kissed Me' yet, but they will at some point and this is as close as anyone in this day and age has come to doing just that.

Lucky Soul - Lips Are Unhappy (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the video for 'Lips Are Unhappy'.

61. Brennan Green & Studio - Escape From Chinatown (Chinatown)

Brennan Green's work is always, for me at least, enlivened by his collaborators, as evidenced by Lindstrom's take on Green's 'Little Ease', '900lb Man' a weirdo-disco hook-up with Ron Morelli and 2002's 'Potato Emperor' EP which had Daniel Wang on keyboard duties. Wang pops up here, although seemingly only in an engineering capacity, but the light Balearic touch of co-conspirators Studio is all over 'Escape From Chinatown'. It's a marriage made in heaven as Green toughens up the Swedes' more floaty tendencies, while in turn Messrs Hagg and Lissvik temper Green's fondness for going a bit too left-of-centre with a spot of harmonious counterbalancing. They fit like a glove and, I suspect, there may be more to come from these bedfellows.

Brennan Green & Studio - Escape From Chinatown (mp3)

Bonus: Vintage Green; Etc. Whatever (mp3) (taken from the aforementioned 'Potato Emperor' EP)