Any knucklehead with DSL and a laptop can now make an electronic track. With a half hour of clicking and fiddling, you can sample enough cheesy beats and mashups to clog arteries from here to Berlin. Simple dropdown mouse maneuvers can transform electro tracks into progressive house tracks (from dry and synthetic to wet and gushy), rhythm tracks can be tempo-tweaked with an upward toggle to change a Timbaland beat into a Chromeo one. Add some T-Pain-esque pitch-correction vocals to your between-track banter for that 2008 feel (actually, please don't). The rail guiding it all: that four-on-the-floor stomp. Herewith: nine collections of dance music (and one licentious exception), some of them mixed into sets, others unmixed for your own sampling pleasure.
Simian Mobile Disco
At least four different Fabric mixes could have landed on any reputable list of the year's best dance collections. Depending on your mood and your hormonal levels, either Metro Area's syrupy Demerol disco mix, M.A.N.D.Y.'s 25-track thumpfest (featuring Yello, Gui Burrato and Booka Shade), or DJ Yoda's insanely diverse FabricLive mix (Violent Femmes, Jurassic 5, Bell Biv Devoe, Adam F, Wiley), could effectively wobble your azz. Simian's stands a little above the rest (save one - see below) in its audacity, inclusiveness and ability to celebrate electro and house without resorting to the stupid futuristic robotic stuff. The set opens with Japanese 1970s cheeseball Tomita, features the year's best dance track, Hercules & Love Affair's "Blind," transforms "Suite Equitra" by the late NYC street composer Moondog (who's having a very healthy afterlife as a mixtape MC) into a dancefloor stomper, hits on current faves Deadmau5, and digs deep in the crates to uncover genius inventor/musician Raymond Scott. It closes with a great threesome: Plastikman's "Spastik" into Green Velvet's "Flash" into (of all things) the Walker Brothers' "Night Flight." This mix will totally transform your rush hour slog home from work.
(from Simian Mobile Disco's FabricLive.41 mix)
(Word and Sound)
Part of Ellen Allien's BPitch Control posse out of Berlin, Sasha Funke creates crisp, clear, antiseptic beats on his own tracks, and this mix, released by the popular Watergate club in Berlin, hits all the right riddims if you like your techno with funny chirps, bloops, hisses and electro-riffs swirling around heavy bottom-end bass bump. It's a cool mix of minimalism, one in which repetition is dotted with tidbits of oddball melodies and sampled voice-wisps. You're not going to hear any raucous divas pretending to lose their virginity, not going to hear dumb k-hole trance washes or dirt-covered electro. Rather, Funke offers a mixed sampler of mostly 21st century, mostly German techno (DJ Koze's masterful "I Want to Sleep" included), with one glorious surprise smack dab in the middle: Midwest rave legend (Minneapolis) Woody McBride's "Boy Girl Boy Girl."
Minilogue Vs KAB
"That's a Nice Way to Give Me Feedback"
from Sascha Funke's Watergate 02 mix
In 2008, independent rock returned to the underground, where it belongs. Given the grand catastrophe that is today's record industry, most major-label executives don't have the time or energy to convince music fans they might like something a little out of the ordinary. They're too busy recycling variations on what were once sure things while desperately searching for career exit strategies that don't involve tall buildings, open windows and running leaps. As a result, fringier artists have had the opportunity to develop outside the spotlight, sans the sort of unrealistic commercial expectations that can lead to self-consciousness, compromise and a lifetime of regret. Not selling means not selling out, as the following albums demonstrate. -- Michael Roberts
Just when you thought the boys from Parachute Musical had completely forgotten you this holiday season, here they come galloping through the snow with a special holiday gift just for you. As the video above explains, the band has posted a free EP titled Seasons Greetings and you can download it at www.parachutemusicalfreeep.com.
If you pick up a copy of this week's dead tree edition, you'll find our annual Rock 'n' Roll Poll, compiled this year by Mr. Adam "Dave Matthews rules my life" Gold and myself. While you'll find plenty of gems in the spread (e.g. David Berman's favorite episodes of CMT Crossroads and what Brendan Benson thinks of himself), we were only able to include so much with our given amount of space. Thusly, we present to you outtakes--the gold that was just too golden for print. Or too superfluous. Take your pick. If you don't recognize some of the names, find a paper copy of The Scene to crack the code. Outtakes after the jump.
By Annie Zaleski
Pop music often gets a bad rap for being disposable or vapid, and in many cases that's true. (Katy Perry, Danity Kane and the Pussycat Dolls, step right up!) But every year, a few irresistible bits of innovative ear candy rocket up the charts and seep into our subconscious.
The following ten singles saturated the Top 40--or what passes for hit-oriented radio in this topsy-turvy musical climate--while proving that accessibility doesn't necessarily preclude creativity.
Posting will be rather light the next few days, but we will have a few guest bloggers here and there, looking back at 2008. Safe travels, everyone.
Like dancing? Hate working? Well, they say Monday is the new Friday. "They" of course being Todd & Co. over at The 5 Spot. Not that any of us need an excuse to dance our balls off. Merry Cream-smas!
Gotta be the greatest headline ever: "Promoter says Nickelback tickets are moving briskly." As briskly as those richly emotive lyrics? As briskly as those arghy vocables? As briskly as those phenomenal pyrotechnics the band so adeptly employ in their live shows? As briskly as the quiet curls of a gentle lion's perm? Right you are, old boy. (To be read in classy British accent.)
Tickets for the band's forthcoming early 2009 tour, which went on sale to the public Dec. 5, are tracking 20% ahead of the band's 2007 tour numbers, with 210,000 tickets--or 70% of all available seats--already sold, according to a press release issued by Live Nation, which is promoting the tour. The trek, which represents the first fruits of the band's comprehensive unified rights deal with Live Nation, kicks off Feb. 25 in Nashville, TN.
I get inundated with a lot of email, so it's fairly common for me to misread subject lines as new messages pop up. But some misreads are funnier than others. The other day, I saw this: "Ben Folds Back with NOVEL & Talib Kweli." Of course, I figured that meant that Ben Folds had written a work of fiction. I didn't really know how Talib Kweli fit into that, but I was too busy opening the message, hoping to read some dust-jacket fodder along these lines:
In a mid-sized Southern city, a music school cast-off and one-time contract songwriter attempts to live the quiet life, driving his children around in a Volvo and performing ironic piano-based covers of "gangsta" rap songs. Returning home after a European tour, during which time he'd let a band of photogenic garage-rockers catsit for him, Sven Golds is feeling fine. Then, one day, he discovers a notebook, accidentally left behind at his home recording studio by the drummer in his touring band, an outwardly mild-mannered cineaste. Sven is aghast when he finds detailed storyboards sketched inside the notebook depicting an elaborate "mishap" involving a stage lighting rig, set to fall on Sven's head during a keynote performance at the local symphony hall. Is his friend and bandmate, Smith Samson, really about to betray him, just to jump-start his own career as a film director?
In his debut novel, A Genius Work of Staggering Heartbreak, Ben Folds spins a masterful, completely non-autobiographical tale of gut-wrenching poignancy, politics, sweeping social change, anthropology, ethnomusicology, prescription eyewear and cloak-and-dagger romance.
As it turns out, Folds makes a guest appearance on a new song by Novel, called "I Am," which also includes a sample of Folds' "The Luckiest."
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