Posts Tagged ‘Can’

You Call That a Shuffle?

August 2, 2016

New day, dif shuffle:

  1. The Exciters, Bring It Home To Me from Bring It Home To Me 7″. Three Stars.  A LatinAmerican soul band’s cover of the 1962 Sam Cooke song.  The keyboards and strings of the original get replaced with horns and the pace is slightly slowed down, but otherwise a pretty faithful cover.  Including the fact that both the original and this version are a B-side.  The problem is the Exciters don’t have Sam Cooke, and they don’t have Lou Rawls singing backup.  Given the song is really about the voices, it’s better to just stick with the original.
  2. Black Star, Respiration from Black Star. Five Stars.  Take two NYC MCs, Mos Def and Talib Kweli, at the top of their game, joining forces to create a hell of a late 90s NY hip hop album that features several great songs, including this one all the way at the back end of the album.  Producer Hi Tek takes a tiny snippet of Don Randi’s “The Fox” and transforms it into a beat that really captures the beautiful quiet melancholy of a late night in NYC as the city takes a short breath to recover from another bustling day.  Both Mos Def and Talib Kweli show their reverence for their city as well as frustration with some of the aspects of the city. The line “the shiny Apple is bruised but sweet” that Mos Def delivers is a good encapsulation of that duality. The two rappers have similar styles though Kweli delivers a faster staccato verse than Def here. Common, not a household name at the time, guests for the third verse and spits similar thoughts on his hometown of Chicago.  As the title implies, the MCs see their cities as a living organism and the poetic chorus nails it: “I can’t take it, y’all, I can feel the city breathing/Chest heaving, against the flesh of the evening/Sigh before we die like the last train leaving.”This is such a better NYC-banner rap song than that trash Empire State of Mind.  The Flying High remix by Pete Rock is almost as good as the original, check it out too.
  3. Can, I Want More, from Flow Motion. Three Stars. Can was always a band I read about as influencing a lot of modern music, but until recently I had not taken the time to listen to them. They are definitely an interesting band and I like a lot of what I’ve heard but this song just doesn’t do much for me. It ditches some of their heavier grooves for a more light synth driven beat. The breakdown that ditches (most of) the synth/piano for a funky guitar and bass redeems the song a little but then we get back to the main theme which veers too close to cheese for my taste.  Maybe due to that sound, it was their highest charting single in the UK.

Breathin’ in deep city breaths, sitting’ on shitty steps:

Spotify My Soul – February 6

February 6, 2012

Resurrecting this column after a hiatus when Spotify was giving me trouble, but now all seems well again.  Here’s a few things I’ve been listening to the begin the new year.

  • David Ackles, Subway To The Country.  An artist I read about in Rough Trade’s The Best Music You’ve Never Heard, Ackles was a singer-songwriter who released several albums in the late 60s and early 70s.  A favorite of Elton John, he definitely has some of the theatrical flair of John and a voice that at times reminds me of Neil Diamond, though his subject matter often delved into darker territory than either of those artists.  He goes almost into full-on showtunes in 1972’s American Gothic, which was a little too much for me.  Subway to the Country, the album before Gothic, still has some orchestral moments, but also some countrified tunes with a standout being Main Line Saloon.
  • Dennis Wilson, Pacific Ocean Blues.  Best known for being the drummer in the Beach Boys and introducing Charles Manson to the Hollywood music industry, he should be better known for his really good solo album released in 1977.  A gravelly voice and some beautiful instrumentation that brother Brian would be proud of make for a really good listen from top to bottom.  Opener River Song is as good a place as any to start.
  • Can, Tago Mago.  Having a resurgence in popularity in recent years, this album was recently reissued in a 40th anniversary version with some bonus live material.  If you like sprawling rock music fueled by aggressive drumming, this is an album you’ll want to listen to.  There’s elements at times that presage a lot of noise rock that’s become it’s own genre.  Oh Yeah is my favorite, starting off with the sounds of thunder and rain and then melding into drums, bass and vocals that sound like they’ve been looped backwards.
  • Lana Del Rey, Born to Die.  Lizzy Grant’s transformation to Lana Del Rey started off well; the release of Video Games garnered a lot of well-deserved buzz.  The disaffected vocals bemoaning a lover more interested in video games than her affection along with some trip-hop backing makes for a legit good song.  Leaving aside some of the other reasons she’s gained unpopularity since then (see Pitchfork’s review for a rundown), the reality appears that she’s a one-trick pony.  Only Born to Die, the opener on her debut, catches any of the same magic as Video Games; the rest of the songs are just flat, they have the detached air Lana seems to exude on camera, which makes for a very boring album.