I know what a disappointment I am to you. With a ridonkulous name like “Party Ben,” you’re all expecting the DJ version of Duffman, delivering 10-packs of stoopid-fresh jams with for your beer-hat headphones, but then my Top Tens turn out to be full of mopey, depressing space-rock. Sorry. Well, finally, this week, songs you could potentially refer to as “party tunes” actually dominate the Top Ten, with a ratio of, maybe, 7-to-3? …Depending on what your definition of “party” is, come to think of it.
10. Mad Martigan – “That’s All Grandpa” (Neil Young vs. Genesis) (mp3 from his site here)
Who says all mashups have to be a cheesy 80s track with a current rap hit over the top? (Urp, me, I guess). Anyway, the French producer admits this might be “for old people,” but the oddly melancholy feeling the obscure Young track gives the Genesis vocal is entirely fresh.
9. Spoon – “Rhthm and Soul” (from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, out tomorrow on Merge) (stream the whole album here)
Go over to the Merge jukebox site there, and under the list of song titles, you’ll see the sentence “This record is a Hit!” in goofy type. They’re probably being silly, but with seemingly unprecedented blog hype, that may actually be right. Songs like “Soul” aren’t immediately accessible in a pop-radio sense, but the brilliantly crafted piano-heavy rock on display here feels timeless.
8. DJ Fashen – “Dangerous Jane” (Yin Yang Twins vs. Jefferson Starship) (on his MySpace page)
While I’m skeptical of anyone who’s part of the whole DJ-to-the-stars posse with DJ AM and Steve Aoki, Fashen actually seems to have some chops, and this mashup is awesome. The almost-forgotten classic from good old Jefferson Starship brings out the urgency in the Yin Yang Twins’ warning, which itself lifts a line from Hall & Oates: “Watch out boy, she’ll chew you up.”
7. Air – “Mer du Japon” (Teenagers remix)
(from the Mer du Japon EP on Virgin)
“Japon” was a piano-laden highlight from the otherwise underwhelming Pocket Symphony; on this remix, Teenagers gives the track a driving beat reminiscent of Royksopp’s “Remind Me” and allows the melody space to breathe.
6. T.I. feat. Wyclef Jean – “You Know What It Is” (from T.I. vs. T.I.P. on Atlantic)
Produced by Fugee Jean with a deceptively minimal beat that packs an aggressive, insistent punch (along with a couple sirens for good measure), Georgian rapper T.I. delivers his lines with a casual effortlessness, managing to cover what seems like a whole octave just in the title phrase.
5. Duke Dumont – “Lean & Bounce” (from a forthcoming EP on Turbo Recordings) (short mp3 sample here)
Simian Mobile Disco played this in their phenomenal live DJ set last month on BBC Radio 1, and I finally tracked down who made it: Duke Dumont, recent winner of Diesel Music’s award for “Best Electronic Act.” This track, dominated by a distored, metallic throb and a pitched-down sample loop that insists we “keep bouncin’,” this is techno at its extreme, psychotic best.
4. Pharaohe Monch – “Desire” (from Desire on Universal) (mp3 from Nerd Litter here)
The Queens, NY native is good enough to ghost-write for the likes of Diddy, but on his second solo album, he seems free to let his instincts run wild like never before. This track, with its uplifting Motown sample and head-spinning puns (“Slave to labels / But I own my masters”), would be a massive radio hit in a just universe.
3. The Go! Team – “Grip Like a Vice” (from Proof of Youth, out 9/11 on Sub Pop) (listen on their MySpace here)
England’s electro/hip-hop combo Go! Team makes music that sometimes seems ready to derail, like an awesome house party gone a bit out of control. “Vice” manages to keep things on track with an infectious, rolling four-chord backing beat reminisent of the Beastie Boys before they started making lounge music.
2. Rilo Kiley – “The Moneymaker” (from Under the Blacklight, out 8/21 on Warner) (video and mp3 from if:mv, or iTunes)
Fans of Jenny Lewis and crew’s country-inflected rock might need a moment to adjust to this, a funky, bluesy jam with a vague similarity to David Bowie’s “Fame.” The video confirms the track’s sleazy intent, with what appear to be porn stars lip-synching along to the chorus’s “ahs” and “yeahs.”
1. Various Artists – Bougouni Yaalali (on Yaala Yaala)
Recorded in Mali, this CD features no artist or track listings (partially due to the performers often refusing to give producer Jack Carneal their names); it therefore feels more like an audio snapshot, which somehow makes it all the more beguiling. While fans of Malian pop like Amadou & Mariam may recognize certain musical motifs, the songs here are often just a singer and a percussionist; along with the background noise of a party or just daily life, it’s as close as you can get to a trip to Bamako without a plane ticket.