tag, i'm it
a few caveats before i begin: i will not be including any of the songs that i have discussed here or elsewhere. so that means no amy winehouse, even though she would probably top the list (besides, metrodad's already all over her ... and fairly oddmother already claimed lily allen, leaving lady sovereign as the remaining unclaimed british bad girl du jour. i like her just fine, but i don't think she'll make the final list). nor will any of the songs i included on BIYF's blogger's choice oh so many moons ago--besides, that wouldn't qualify as "presently" even though i do still very much enjoy each of those songs.
still, this is a much harder exercise than it sounds. only seven? that's it? oy. impossible. so to wheedle down the potential contenders, i grabbed my ipod, hit shuffle and chose the first seven songs that i'm actively digging, more or less at this instant. there are so many, many more who were simply unlucky enough to not be fingered by the shuffle button first. also, i'd post mp3s to go along with the selections, but all my music lives on an external hard drive which is not in my bed with me, my laptop and my percocet.
here we go, in order of my ipod's choosing:
1. Moto Ya Motemo by Seke Motenga and Kalo Kawongolo: oh hell yes. this lee "scratch" perry produced track (from their "African Roots" album) was recorded in the late 70's and finally released on CD last year. Motenga and Kawongolo came to jamaica by way of their native Zaire and brought with them their zouk and afro-beat influences. when merged with perry's dub mastery, their sound coalesced into something very special. add some slick american soul into the Fela-meets-Trojan Records mix and you get this gorgeous, mellow, groovy, spacey, innovative sound. (short clip here)
2. Forty Days by Billy Brooks: anyone who was paying attention in the early 90s will instantly recognize this as the backbone to Tribe Called Quest's "Luck of Lucien." i only recently unearthed this big band soul-jazz breakbeat gem. (for the record, i am a mid-level breakbeat geek.) the thick, velvety horns, the slick guitar, the crisp drums ... it all pours into your ears like audible chocolate milk. makes the hairs on my arms stand up every time i hear it. seven minutes of pure sophisticated groove. the gentle reminder that Tribe was probably the greatest thing that ever happened in hip hop only adds to the appeal. sigh. (short clip here.) Forty Days also reminds me of Don't Cha Hear Me Callin' to Ya by pianist Junior Mance (i do love me some soul-jazz piano -- listen here -- looks like you just got two songs for the price of one). "Don't Cha" was included on last year's required-listening 4-disc funk compliation What It Is!!! but mance is the real deal--no fly-by-night funketeer. he cut his proessional teeth with some pretty impressive all-star jazz heavyweights, like these guys (in fact, that's mance on piano):
3. Oh But I Do by the Nat King Cole Trio: speaking of jazz and funk, this is funky in the way things were funky before the '50s: these cats have more soul in their pinky toenails than everybody who has ever been related to me by blood combined. i've always loved Cole's early trio work, but for some reason it wasn't until fairly recently that i checked out his live recordings. this is off his "live from the cirlce room" cd. such a great recording -- you can hear glasses tinkling and voices chattering in between songs. the record has an incredible atmosphere to it, you feel like you're in the room with them. (clip here)
couldn't find the footage i wanted, but this sure doesn't suck:
4. Sad and Lonesome Day by the Carter Family: this is actually something i was really into about 12 years ago that recently wormed its way back into my heart. it's fairly straight-ahead carter family grimness and haunting harmonies. straight up american gothic. i love the guitar work -- it's almost a cross between wildwood flower and john hardy. (clip). the best part about it? beck covered it. yes, that beck. and he did it on banjo! instead of singing "o, today has been a lonesome day" he caterwauls "today has been a fucked up day" without too much irony (or perhaps with just enough -- clip here). pitch perfect.
speaking of wildwood flower, let's take off our hats and pay mother maybelle some respect:
5. Electric by Boris: because sometimes you need to completely trash your hotel room and you require just the right japanese art metal to do it to. this is an onslaught of violence and ardrenal gland punishment. put your headphones on and blow holes through your eardrums. (clip) NOW. don't take my word for it, though. the pretentious douchebags at pitchfork are all over boris: "Electric" cranks the cowbell for two minutes of instrumental boogie, replete with tiny post-punk guitar daggers closing out the song.
here they are in action, not as good as "electric," mind you, but it'll suit our room-smashing needs:
6. Vans by the Pack: i'll be the first to admit that i am probably not the target audience for this song. also, i thought vans were sneakers? and another also, are these guys like 12 or something? whatevs. these bay area teens flip expectations by rapping about ... skateboarding? this is pretty sick. "get your grown man on," indeed:
actually, now that i think of it. Vans reminds me of another current yay area favorite: White T-Shirt, Blue Jeans and Nikes by Keak the Sneak. hyphy at its hyphest. this is outstanding stuff. highlight is E-40s verse (he's the dude in the camo shirt). the ideal soundtrack for all your gas-brake-dippin':
7. Georgie Buck by the Carolina Chocolate Drops: good old traditional antebellum string band music by a trio of kids from the piedmont region. sorry, you thought traditional string band music was strictly the domain of whitefolk? ah, well, you haven't done your homework. more flipping of expectations here as the chocolate drops do their ethnomusicological thing. they're digging up the rich history of black fiddle and banjo folk music (in the most literal interpretation of "folk") that used to permeate the south. robert johnson was the exception not the rule. when record companies started sending recording engineers down south, they thought that the only "authentic" black music was blues ... the cruder the better. so the string band music that used to be so dominant in black culture was virtually erased from history. these guys are bringing it back. i had the distinct pleasure of seeing them play in new york last month. there is nothing quite like being in a stuffed room watching three musicians stomp, hoot and holler their way through some of the most enduring cathartic party music. they had the sweaty, beaming crowd eating out of their palms. check it out:
instead of tagging some poor hapless soul to prolong this meme, let me just invite y'all to leave comments -- what seven songs are you currently into? what did you think of my brilliant selections? what are you wearing right now? hit me.