Saturday, July 5, 2008

king of the world

First Jay Z mashes up Oasis and AC/DC at Glastonbury...

Then Jay-Z mashes U2 into his own mash of Bobby Blue Bland, at Glastonbury...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

the ruby three.2

no burble, just tunes. the second in a regular ruby series.

lowell fulsom tramp (mp3 removed)
Big old blues singer, dead, this song a '67 soul-funk special later covered by Otis (Redding) and Carla (Thomas).

midfield general teddy bear (mp3 removed)
In which Damien Harris from Skint goes all 10-4 big buddy on yo ass in a Daisy Duke/big-beat/rock-spider/cripple-love style. From new album General Disarray. Disturbing.

shearwater the snow leopard (mp3 removed)
Intense falsetto-led Texan orchestra-rock from the lovely but difficult new album Rook, in which seabird themes, post-rock and nu-folk swim through oil.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

these are the ones who will save us

Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake: Four Minutes.

There's so, so much to love about this - and her "tick-tock-tick-tock-tick-tock" thing is one of them.

Produced by Timbaland.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

liszt this: " my dream your fat mouth was a gun..."

I’ve been asked in the real world to contribute some ideas toward a list of the greatest Australian albums of the last 50 years. The occasion is that Johnny O’Keefe’s Real Wild Child/Oh You Beautiful Doll 7’’ was released in 1958, meaning that rock music in this country has been deemed officially alive for fifty years, which is a problematic notion in itself.
Wasn’t there a Melbourne band called The Thunderbirds who played rock ‘n’ roll shows at a Drill Hall in Ascot Vale in 1957? Well - yes there was.
Birth – so slippery, so gravely at risk of appropriation by outside forces.
The List is devilishly hard to administer. I think if I were an editor I would never commission one: although I did once, which was a list of the best songs about Melbourne, and that turned into a valuable exercise, but only because the premise had a big fence around it...songs about something.
In this case though, the fiftieth thing, what records actually get in the from the 1950’s – when there were few albums – and the 1960s? Even the 70’s? In the end in some ways it comes down to who is asked to contribute and what preconceptions and hang-ups they bring to the process. Another issue is political correctness. Another is ego. Journalists and music critics are enormously driven by these things. So it comes down to the records that people THINK should get in rather than the ones they want to get in, which is wrong. It distorts history and it distorts truth. And it distorts memory, which is what music, in the end, is about. Memory and truth. In that order.
With my ten I can’t contribute anything from the 50’s or 60’s because either a) I haven’t heard them, or b) I haven’t heard anything I like. From the 70’s there’s Skyhooks, obviously, but I don’t like Skyhooks. I didn’t grow up with them, can’t include them. It’s fiddly and complicated, I don’t like it. I know it’s important, but not to me. What about Ready To Deal by Renee Geyer, from ’75? Incredible soul-funk album. I know Joelistics from TZU has stuck it in his top ten and I’ll pay him that, and I love the album, but it couldn’t fly.
I wanted to include some Australian beats. The Avalanches are in my list. I loved an album by a Sydney crew called Moonrock, but, really, it couldn’t make it. There was a period in the early 90’s when there was some fantastic techno and electronica being made but who cares about albums in those realms? Third Eye. Severed Heads, paving the way from industrial to acidhouse before anyone knew what time it was. Josh Abrahams.
Bias B, an MC from Melbourne, can tell stories of my city like I’ve never heard before. Ed Kuepper, from the Saints, in particular his spectral 1991 album Honey Steel's Gold where guitar playing felt thick and voluminous and beautiful. Oh my God the Hoodoo Gurus. The Necks. Not Drowning Waving, especially when they got really ‘world’ on yo ass. Tendrils. Triffids.
There was this scuzzy, baggy band called Harry’s Laundry back in the early 90’s in Melbourne and they used to play pilled-up dance-rock on the back of a truck outside of the Razor nightclub at 4 in the morning in Albert Park, guerrilla style. I’d list them any night. Fragmentary, isolated, important.
There was this song that I heard, in an Australian lift, alone and stuck, in Australia, wearing a hat and suncream, and thongs, while drunk. Australian, it was. Unlike me.
But I can’t remember it now.
I’m in love with fragments and moments and feelings, which is why DJ culture suckered me so, and also why MP3 culture is threatening to and why the only albums I keep now are the ones that can sustain and that can mean something in the long format. It’s rare. To list them seems somehow too detailed. Having said that, the last album I bought, actually the last two, from the same $10 shop in Colac, on holiday, were Hunky Dory and Sticky Fingers, and this week I’ve been listening to the new Holly Throsby album A Loud Call – which is Australian -- and marvelling at how she can sustain such emotional intimacy.
Yet I’d like to make a list of my top ten moments, top ten feelings. Maybe next week, with songs to match. They’d come from a live experience, probably, all of them. Meantime, I’ll confess I do like looking at Robert Christgau’s lists, but it’s kind of vicarious. I don’t enjoy them or look forward to seeing them or take anything valuable from them.
I think one of the main things about lists is that they’re in list form. Sometimes I think this is the main thing they have going for them. That a list is small and meaningless.

Robert Christgau’s top ten from 1977 was, in list form:
1. Television: Marquee Moon
2. Kate & Anna McGarrigle: Dancer with Bruised Knees
3. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
4. Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols
5. Ramones: Rocket to Russia
6. Andy Fairweather Low: Be Bop ‘n’ Holla
7. Parliament: Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome
8. Ornette Coleman: Dancing in Your Head
9. Al Green: The Belle Album
10. Hot Chocolate: 10 Greatest Hits

Here’s what I submitted for the Australian music thing.
Paul Kelly and the Messengers – So Much Water So Close To Home
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – The Good Son
Midnight Oil – 10-1
Hunters and Collectors – Hunters and Collectors
The Avalanches – Since I Left You
The Go-Betweens – Spring Hill Fair
AC/DC – Back In Black
The Dirty Three – Ocean Songs
INXS – Kick
Crowded House – Crowded House

And here’s three Australian-ish songs that’ll never make any lists, ever. Except maybe the BeeGees. But not the other two. Future Rubytipped shiznit shall include lengthy nonsense on skiphop (specifically Bias B, Pegz and Muph), that wondrous Hunters and Collectors record from ’82 and, oh, I dunno, Little River Band.

The Bee Gees: To Love Somebody (mp3) From their first album. 1967.

Deepchild: For A Reason (Colourblind rmx) (mp3) Deepchild is Australian. He makes satisfying liquid beats and wears dreadlocks. This a French remix. Which is not Australian and could therefore never be considered for any list of anything connected to Australia.

The Plums: Gun (mp3) From 1994. Singer Caroline Kennedy (Deadstar, The Tulips) is a painter and sculptor now and she assembles like she sings and writes: plain, no bullshit, strange dreams, odd lines, obvious, beautiful:
"… in my dream your fat mouth was a gun…”

They had another song, called The Trip, and there’s a line in it which became a kind of mantra to me: “…I could catch it, cage it, but the colours start to slide…” In other words, this band's virtues were unlistable, but immense.

Monday, June 9, 2008


beatless nostalgia djing becomes one long artful play on notions of cutting, scratching and 'huckleberry friends.' by kid koala + audrey hepburn

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

the robots

Dancing to techno, I never thought about the robots. Except for this one time. But they made me promise not to tell what happened out there on the perimeter where there were never any stars and the DJs took pills and played for 7 days, so I'm not saying nothing.
But, really, it's all about the robots, it's all about the production line. It's about Detroit and the noises inside the car factories. It's about P-funk and white funk. Juan Atkins coined the term 'techno' in a song of his called 'Techno City' and what was going through his mind back then in the early 80's was a kind of Alvin Toffler/Prince/Kraftwerk scenario in which ideas from hiphop and afrocentrism blended with the practicalities of the mixer, the utility of Kraftwerks's metronome beat and the notion that cold blackness would win the urban war. It was Atkins who said that Kraftwerk were so white they were funky and his protege, the great musical innovator Derrick May, was the one who annointed Atkins as “the fire...the matrix.”
Around the time that May told me that I went to listen to Juan Atkins playing records in Melbourne. He is my Leadbelly, my Blind Lemon Jefferson. Late 90's, this was. Juan was fat and wore glasses and people complained he couldn't mix but it was never about the mix. At least now we know that.
I wrote then: ''...he’s playing beautiful records that glisten with soul and just a little bit of menace. A little twist of the alien, the subphonic. It’s techno all right and it’s going quickly crazy for us squashed up there beneath him as he does it. He drops “Bingo Bango” by Basement Jaxx followed by a bracket of samba-house; he goes through stretches of wild and deep electro; he drops “Beau Mot Plage” by Isolee. We love that. We’re mad for that. It’s Detroit in the area. Original style. He’s a big man and his glasses are fogging up but you can tell he’s a quiet man behind all the thunder of the records.''
Here then is his defining electro track from 1985, on Metroplex. 

Model 500 Night Drive (mp3)

He also recorded as Cybotron, but there was also a cooking 70's/80's electro outfit from Melbourne of the same name. They were into Krautrock, into Tangerine Dream. They were and still are desperately, brillantly obscure. Picked this one up from Bumrocks even though the geezers probably live just down the street. In, perhaps, Moorabbin. Or even Bentleigh, if they had a good royalty deal.
The fact that two pioneering techno outfits could use the name Cybotron -- and it's worth pointing out the Melbourne version came first - is a tribute to the power of the robot. The tron. The Man-Machine. We'll talk Kraftwerk later, OK?

Which brings me to Gary Numan. Here's his great track about dislocation and what it must feel like to have a kind of alien love for another creature in the uniform of authority even though he/it wants to either kill you outright or gore you for the amusement of gourmet diners.
Juan Atkins, incidentally, thought Gary Numan was "dope."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

the ruby three.1

No burble, just tunes. The first in a regular Ruby series.

the menahan street band make the road by walking (mp3)
Where Jay-Z got the horns for 'roc boys' from 'american gangster.' They're from New York on Daptone.

renee geyer sweet love (mp3)
The first lady of soul where I live. This is a funk cut from 1975. She has Aretha's name tattooed on her skin.

wiley wearing my rolex (burns rmx) (mp3)
The first grime tune to go top ten in Britain. This is the shimmery French disco remix by Burns, via the marvellous Shoplifters.

Monday, May 12, 2008

amerykahn roots

The Roots are the perfect American rock 'n' roll band, a kind of groove machine based on old skool hiphop, psychedelic soul, rock 'n' roll, the notion of the jam and obtuse riddims making for a sometimes hellbound passageway into the trance.
Then politics. This is serious afro-political agitation, a theme I go back to again and again in the endless quest for musical purity and truth; the emancipation of black races, the elucidation of the struggle, the rising of the underclasses, the things that must be heard. Soul, funk, Philly, reggae, hiphop of course, disco, house, techno.
On their newest, eighth album "Rising Down" - the title again filched from a political tract; drummer ?uestlove has said, incredibly, that the record is their most ''incendiary'' and ''political'' yet - it's an unapologetic, American-election-year fight for rights and justice in high volume the whole way. There was a sweet little ditty on it with the white singer from Fall Out Boy but they removed it because it didn't fit.
"I Will Not Apologise" - with floating members Dice Raw and Porn joining Black Thought and Talib Kweli on the mic - is the blueprint. Cosmic blackness, the newest danger, heavy shit, the real deal. The sample is from Fela Kuti, a sign in itself. It makes the intro sound like ''Christiansands'' by Tricky. What a load. What a sonic weight.

Check it: "...don’t blame the nigga/ blame America/ it's all business/actin' like a monkey is the only way to sell tickets/ shit, I can dig it/ niggas gossip silly digits white kids buy it its a riot/ when we talking about pimpin' or sippin on old English brew or whatever they think we do/ spraying double Uzis cause you know they think we live in zoos...''

the roots i will not apologise (mp3)

Then Erykah Badu joins the campaign. This a long journey from "Baduism" and all that light, night-light, tranquil blended nu-soul business. What she's done now is simple: she's made the boldest and most strident American hiphop record -- and the most deeply, deeply political -- since the one where Mos Def played heavy metal to get his point across.
"New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)" is ridiculous in its intensity. In part it's a paean to dead beloved producer J-Dilla; there's a handful of songs that use his premature end and the talent he held in his hands as a metaphor for the death of yet another young black American dream. One track, written with ?uestlove from The Roots, called "Telephone", is a kind of bizarre dreamscape conversation between Ol' Dirty Bastard, J Dilla's mother and Badu's own sense of the afterlife.
Producers are Madlib, Ninth Wonder and Sa-Ra. Georgia Anne Muldorow guests and even co-writes.
Badu is out on her own here. This is space rock gone hiphop gone desperate and combative. Apparently she'll drop a sequel before the end of the year. I've included the album opener "Amerykahn Promise" here not because it's representative but because it's totally the shit, the funkiest sister-dance since 'A Message From The Soul Sisters Part 1 & 2' by Vickie Anderson, and twice as orchestral. 'The Healer', however, is where she's at. Redemptive, dark, searching, hopeful, down, still strong, never weakened.

If somehow still unconvinced, somehow, read this. Or just cut straight to the New York Times, who also took an amazing photograph.

erykah badu amerykahn promise (mp3)
erykah badu the healer (mp3)

And finally, the pairing, from 1999. The birth of neo-soul. Real gone golden days.

the roots featuring erykah badu you got me (mp3) 

Monday, May 5, 2008

swedes, norweigans and tom of finland

The dark European forces make detailed, mechanical pop-tech with animal action and angels floating past your face and, in the case of Supermayer's component-overhaul of Hot Chip, a little bit of "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate.

One of these is brand new and the other isn't particularly, and newness is the ultimate currency within the tyranny of the 12", and I used to be a total slave to all that yet now you could say things move a little slower towards me - even with Beatport and Frostwire - so here is Norweigan producer Todd Terje dressing up like some kind of Tom of Finland guy come to life in a cold place in a hot sweatshop tech-house party. He revitalises a Swedish electro-pop tune by Fox 'N' Wolf into a dark exercise in technological, ecstasy-ridden pop with wolf noises and an air of nocturnal terror and cathartic druggy redemption.
It's superb, and about two minutes in it threatens to dub itself to such an extent that it turns in on its maker, crumbling and disappearing right there in the mix, a Jamaican-Norweigan version of what it feels like to be lost in a dance. Later it breaks down to nothing and what emerges is remarkable: an old-skool hip-house verse in a Neneh Cherry stylee.
The vocal is a pure house music blueprint in that it's distant and alien and clearly from somewhere else other than the experience at hand yet it implores the music forward. She's an angel in distress at this point; a crying angel, that picture all dreamy and shimmered transposed on the rafters of the club, wailing at you, beckoning at you, and then she is gone.

Likewise Supermayer's compulsive remix of Hot Chip's "One Pure Thought." Supermayer know what they're doing, no doubt; the Cologne pairing of DJ/producers Michael Mayer and his mate Aksel Schlaufer from Superpitcher - part of the Kompact management team, minimal freaks, micro-house pioneers and, now, deep techno explorers - construct a beautifully morphing series of sections on the remix here; this is pretty much the perfect example of microscopic shifts in texture and tempo and detail adding up to a whole lot more than what was initially promised. "One Pure Thought" never breaks down as such. It merely evolves through a slippery hi-hat addition, a distorted funk guitar note or, even, a chord, a bare sequence of single chimes. In these realms one single note from a thirty year old guitar riff can make the whole thing shift seismically on its axis.
The vocal, again female, is solitary and repetitive: ''...there is nothing greater...''

fox 'n' wolf claws against knives (todd terje rmx) (mp3)
hot chip one pure thought (supermayer rmx) (mp3)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

she's won the battle but now comes the fear

There's five of them and they come from London and Bernard Butler from Suede is involved but there's nothing winsome here nor is there any of his deliciously nonsense-'63 constructions from the Duffy record, which was nice for a minute then turned out to be kind of sick, as if, well, as if we'd been cheated. I listened to it a lot and then Adele and particularly "Chasing Pavements" and read that SFJ thing in the New Yorker here about Amy Winehouse and her retro junkie cool, and saw The Dap-Kings live with Sharon Jones in this time, a few months back, and lived within all that for a while, and came to realise that the Dap Kings were as vaudevile as anyone and Jones has a seriously embedded schtick, but the thing is: Then I was in an op-shop and got a $5 shirt but then also a Burt Bacharach record and focussed for too long on "Raindrops Keep Falling On Your Head" and thought: Duffy, Fluffy, Nuffy, enough.

Cajun Dance Party helped in these troubles too. It's heartening that a band so of the moment can have a deft grip on the excessively jaunty but also on the teardrop aesthetic of "No Joanna", which is such a simple prospect, a boy in love with a girl who doesn't love him back. He's not the Lone Ranger there, huh? And for me it was like, well, thank God, I can recognise you, you're not 1963 and there she goes: she sits on the wall, smiling, laughing and asking for more: we've seen that, it hurts. Whereby "Colourful Life" kind of emerges from the beginning of the album as if the album existed way before any listener got to grips with it, and it jigs along amongst handclaps and useful rythmns, not as African as Vampire Weekend, not as tight as The Las, not too far from The Chills and distantly yet obviously related to both The Feelies and The Beatles.

They have been like a clock to me in these few days. Bringing me back.
Both songs are from their album "This Colourful Life.'
It's got wilted sunflowers on the cover.

cajun dance party - no joanna (expired mp3)
cajun dance party - colourful life (expired mp3)