Top 5 albums of the week

Various-Marzo Es Marte (At At) (Mexico)
I found this disk as a free download on the Myspace page of one of the Nortec Collective artists. I have been a huge fan of the Nortec sound for quite some time but this compilation is well beyond the standard snares, tubas, and techno with 15 different acts spanning the limits of shoegazer, indie pop, electro, and straight up minimal techno. While the sheer diversity is astounding all are held together with something uniquely Mexican-whether it's the Morrissey fixation shining through in the more pop-oriented acts or the crazy Aztlan riddims spewing forth from nearly all of the dance tracks. The label's touts "independent energy" and is interested in signing Spanish-speaking pop or techno acts with a roster of artists from all over Latin America and Spain that in many respects are putting US artists to shame. Be sure to bop over to their website and have a listen and see what I mean.

Various-Protected: Massive Samples (Rapster)(US)
Overall, I'd say any collection that includes John Holt's roots classic "Man Next Door", the Blackbyrd's "Rock Creek Park", and Isaac Hayes' mesmerizing "Ike's Mood" is something worth listening to but this disk comes with a catch. This is essentially a comp of Massive Attack's template for all of their biggest hits from "Protection" to "Unfinished Sympathies". What's shocking is how much the legendary Bristol trio straight up steal from the original material and somehow have the audacity to in turn call their own creations. Haters of sample based music will be quick to start their incessant and pointless arguments here but lovers of DJ culture will instantly recognize the roots of the Jamaican sound system at work on these tracks. This re-rubbing or "versioning" of other people's music was born out of Massive Attack's own UK sound system connections via the now-illustrious Wild Bunch crew way back in the 1980s. On Protected you can here the band growing out of a love and affinity of that party mentality. I found that archival journey both necessary and fun- at least in a guilty pleasure sorta way.

Rithma-Sex Sells (OM)(US)
Rithma first caught my attention a few years ago on OM's 100th release triple disk spectacular with a weird but effective cross-pollination of Mazzy Star-like shimmering guitar folkiness with tastefully beautiful downtempo beats and bass propelling the whole enchilada. It has been, to date, the only genuine attempt to merge verse-chorus-verse music with electronica that didn't sound lame or contrived. The inappropriately titled Sex Sells certainly rectifies that gap between pop and house as Rithma stretches out on 20 tracks-every single one catchy and radio friendly. The interesting thing is this dude is no hack churning out sugary pabulum to pad his and the label's pockets with dinero. He's musically talented like Stevie Wonder and nobody talks shit about Little Stevie getting too much radio airplay or being too catchy. Rithma has that same kinda mojo effortlessly classic credible house beats against his unbelievable songwriting ability. The production isn't as slick as you'd expect from an OM release and yet every song hugs the line of ABBA induced nausea and the epic beauty of the aforementioned Massive Attack. Hard to explain in terms of genre but all good music is difficult to define in such a limiting scope.

All Good Funk Alliance-Slingshot Boogie (Funk Weapons International)(US)
The All Good Funk Alliance is a jam band plain and simple, if they were from Cali they'd look and sound like Spearhead but since they are from Washington DC they bring the electro booty sound to the game. These guys are kinda like Fort Knox 5 for the house party scene and seems to have no real aspirations beyond that-not that there is anything wrong with that.... However, with no direction comes little that bears repeat listening on Slingshot Boogie beyond the occasional drunken family reunion DJ session.

Darude-Label This! (Robbins Entertainment)(US)
I'll admit that my wife and I actually sat and listened to this over the Xmas break- not that we were going to suddenly be won over as fans by the Finnish trance stooge and his "awesome" music. No, this was simply rubbernecking akin to spying a horrible auto accident on the highway so to speak. Not surprisingly the album is awful from the rock n roll overdrive of "My Game" to the gut busting laughter inducing cover of the Flock Of Hairdo's "I Ran". My wife's summation of the latest Darude album says it best-"'Label This!' will definitely give you cancer". Ugh!

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