Mark Knight-Toolroom Knights 2.0 2xCD (Toolroom)(UK)
UK superstar and Toolroom Records founder Mark Knight returns with a second volume of summertime house anthems of the predicable yet fun variety. After hearing the recent Oakenfold mix I now realize there is a lot of ticky-tacky house music going on in the mainstream and Knight is no different in that respect from his other superstar brethren. On the other hand, on the second go-round he's actually toned down the anthems in favor of something darker and more headsdown-til-the-breakadawn and that's a wise move here. Mainly because he favors cuts mainly from his own roster of artists or those in the Toolroom vein-big dumb UK house with limited variety. Both disks are pretty much the same in respect to the programming but once again Knight shows off that he does love the music by closing out each mix with his own reworks of the legendary Leftfield and Faithless. Toolroom Knights 2.0 but it works.
J-Boogie's Dubtronic Science-Soul Vibrations Dub Remixes (OM)(US)
I am bummed that there isn't a brand new album from SF producer J-Boogie but the dub remixes of his amazing album Soul Vibrations from last year ain't a shabby fill-in. There's a ton of guest apperances on this record and he adds a heavy Latin funk element to many of the remixes and radically re-works some of my favorites like "Inferno". While there technically isn't any new material on here Boogie does a good job of stretching the source work into myriad new discoveries and makes this album a worthy summertime dance gem.
Akron/Family-Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free (Deep Oceans)(US)
It's super rare that I come across an indie rock group worth a sh*t, it has literally been years since I've found even one worth talking about. These guys are that one band and they are excessively good. Akron/Family is modern in the sense of an iPod span of influences going on in each song and no two are the same in terms of construction. But there is also a sense of retro nostalgia that draws heavily upon the SST catalog (especially the Meat Puppets) with a strong whiff of the Uncle Tupelo alt country thang. Songs like "Gravelly Mountains Of The Moon" are ornate, ever ascending peons to writing the epic pop song and more often than not these determined jam band stoners succeed in connecting with the primal forces of rawk. Well done!
Various-Sly & Robbie Present Taxi Trio (Taxi)(?)
Reggae's legendary production duo and rhythm section plunder their Taxi imprint's vaults for this collection of Eighties classics from three of reggae's biggest stars-Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, and the late Sugar Minott. Each of the artists gets an EPs worth of material with Sly & Robbie in the background guiding the riddims. Brown takes on a political stance with three versions of his classic rasta anthem "Revolution" including a wicked dub version by Sly & Robbie. Gregory Isaacs turns in some classics like "Tune In" and "Going Downtown" in his sweet, rootsy style that should appeal to most reggae fans. However, the most surprising tracks in the collection belong to Minott, whom I normally associate with spiritual roots music and lover's rock mellowness not gritty urban tales like "Herbman Hustling" and "Devil Pickney". For that alone this compilation is worth checking out but add in all of the material from Brown and Isaacs and Taxi Trio is a bonafide reggae classic.
Rae & Christian-Raiding The Vaults (Yes King)(UK)
It's hard to believe the Mancunian duo Rae & Christian haven't had a new release since 2002. This latest collection is, unfortunately, an opportunity for R&C to turn a quick buck by using a few new beats, a lot of recycled ones from less successful remixes by the two, and a whole buncha cuts you've heard before. While it is nice to hear the classics featuring ill emcees like Jeru Tha Damaja and the Jungle Brothers to be reminded of how pioneering these guys were...TEN YEARS AGO. The addition of all the instrumentals only prolong the agony. Let's hope this is just a quick fund-raiser to get these guys off their asses to make that one last album they've always promised.