Various-For Yoder (mixdisk)
My good friend Passean just sent this disk to me recently with a package of other assorted musical nuggets. While I realize that none of you can rush out and buy this I just wanted to use this opportunity to talk a little bit about that lost art of the mixtape. I think I made my first mixtape back in '82-'83 and I can guarantee it included Eddy Grant, some Suicidal Tendencies, Kraftwerk, Bambaataa, Kool & The Gang, and that's just off the top of my head. . My friends and I grew up in a small town so I know that none of us knew shit about underground music but even in our middle school yrs. we knew there was some kinda new wave going on out there in the world out there and we were determined to find it thru the ultimate mix on cassette. My youth was spent in constant battle over who could make the perfect mixtape. My friends and I would spend hrs. each week dubbing mixes to play for each other after school, or better yet, a lazy saturday. These wasted hrs are the main reason I became a DJ and I've been doing it off and on for the past two decades. Which brings me back to this personally crafted mix from DJ friend and mentor Passean back in Chicago. He's another guy who still cares about the total art form and in it for the long haul and this mix spans an eff-load of new music-ranging from funky to soulful, stony to bangin'. Many of the tracks I was unfamiliar with but I'd say almost everyone worked and flowed well together with a sense of purpose-essential in any good mix. The highlights for me were personal and definitely vaulted this one to greatness Tracks like the Blendcrafters Pete Rock style re-work of "Imagine", the crate diggers classic "It's a New Day" by the Skull Snaps, David Alvarado's remix of an unidentified Andy Caldwell cut , the spoken word bit (big bonus points for any mixtape w actual good spoken word) "Grass Swept The Neigborhood" from the greatly missed George Carlin, and lastly "I Get Lifted" by KC & The Sunshine Band. That track was so unexpectedly good that I went out and got myself a copy and that pretty much seals this deal on this one. Makes me wish more people still cared about the art form. Below is the tracklist for the trainspotters:
Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova-If You Want Me
Lalah Hathaway-Let Go
Al Green-Standing In The Rain
Q-Tip-Breathe & Stop (Max Romeo mashup) edit
Albert King w Stevie Ray Vaughn-Overall Junction
Skull Snaps-It's A New Day
Lyrics Born-Don't Change
Andy Caldwell-David Alvarado Rmx
Fred Everything-On My Own feat Roy Davis Jr
Bitter:Sweet-Salty Air (Fort Knox Five Rmx)
George Carlin-Grass Swept The Neighborhood
The Mercers-By Mistake
Estelle-Pretty Please (Love Me feat Cee-Lo)
KC & The Sunshine Band-I Get Lifted
Me'Shell Ndegeocello-Two Doors Down
Curtis Mayfield-You're So Good To Me
Kim Fai-Kissing In Krakow (Leaders Of The New School/Toolroom)(UK)
The Toolroom label's bullpen aka its Leaders Of The New School sub-label has been pretty hit or miss. Tracks like those by Kate Lawler and Flip & Djuma Sound System were as hot as things got this summer in terms of anthemic tech house. On the other hand the great majority of the other releases from the label have been fairly dull and uninspired. I am kinda surprised that the label is dropping a full length by such a new artist in Kim Fai so early in the game (the label has only been around since the beginning of the year). Fai hails from Birmingham and his music reflects that industrial Midlands grimness quite well through varying shades of techno. The first half of the album unfortunately relies a lot on the big melodic progressions that dominated the summer and I found, well, quite cheesy and trancy despite any techno underpinnings. Only the track "Recluse" really caught my attention and was spared my anti-trance wrath. However, Fai pulls things outta the fire tidily starting with the title track which does have striking similarities to another accordion track you may remember and even with any "Heater" comparisons hang around its neck it is still a good, solid cut. "Rubik" is a straight-up banger while "Pass A Roach" is some nice shimmering end of night chill shit and puts a nice cap on a half decent album but again the new imprints falters in search of an identity.
Aaron Q-Live @ Freaks By The Beat 8/23/08 (mix)
I played with long-time NorCal DJ Aaron Q a couple of months ago in Sacramento and he passed me this disk of a recent mix at a rave he played at down there. Now granted, Sacramento and most of the Northern California that isn't SF is still stuck in a 1998 rave flashback so Aaron's mix is naturally a bit too bangin' and raved-up for my personal tastes. However, he does rise well above his contemporaries in the local scene with a focus on some serious bass without stumbling too far into the played-out dubstep territory. The guy was obviously raised on a steady diet of speed garage and two step as he never ventures too far from the classic wobbled bass sound but unlike a lot of the uni-dimensional fidget jocks jumping on this train, Aaron bounces around genres like a Freq Nasty or Drop The Lime keeping things fresh and never stale. The good news in spite all of the raving sirens and chaos are some good tracks that never get too evil or screechy with Aaron Q brings some fresh twists & turns to an otherwise moribund rave scene around these parts.
The Model-Physical (Playloop)(US)
My problem with these modern acts impersonating 80s retro acts just like my problem with the 80s bands aping the 60s bands back then was that the new artists never quite compare to the folks they are so desperately imitating. The Model somehow compare and name themselves after Kraftwerk and yet never actually get around to sounding like them. How pretentious. I did hear some New Order, Ultravox, and even (gulp) Nine Inch Nails on Physical but honestly I'd say I heard more Fischerspooner and other equally awful electroclash purveyors than anything even remotely German or cool like Kraftwerk. The album does manage to offer up some cheerful background music but mixed with a whole lot of posturing it leaves me wondering how good they would sound if they worked just a little bit harder and strutted just a little less. Maybe next time.
Home & Garden-Domesticated (OM)(US)
I sort of lump in the Chicago duo Home & Garden with other US producers making fluffy dance music and mad cash, right up there with Gabriel & Dresden, Kaskade, and D:Fuse. And just like D:Fuse these guys (aka Tom Kvasnosky & Timothy Schumaker) are actually very good producers but unlike D:Fuse understand the power of subtlety in the music. Good case in point is the title track from their latest album. The track features house music legend Derrick Carter and is based on a cut from Carter's favorite group-cult legends Kid Creole & The Coconuts. The track absolutely kills and totally blew me away in terms of expectations. They also seemed to do well with Lisa Shaw on vocals but redoing the Naked Music sound at this point is pretty yawn. The rest this disk is mainly comprised of lightweight after hours hump tunes in the Nellie Furtado vein, or even worse, the material with Colette which is so utterly soulless that I think even Celine Dion would vomit if she heard it. Wish these guys would spend more time making better tracks than accumulating the bling because they are definitely good enough to do both.