This week, French techno duos get silly, Joy Division gets the dub treatment, Beirut gets, uh, weird, and who likes Radiohead? Everybody likes Radiohead!
10. Daft Punk & Various Artists – 10-Minute Louis Vuitton Fashion Show Score (Video below, audio at Discobelle)
Where do they get the time for all this stuff? This stripped-down mix features rearranged Daft Punk hits as well as sly references to Kanye, Justice and Ratatat; it almost makes me kind of care about the silly fashions. What’s next, Daft Punk score the Chili Cookoff?
9. Justice – “D.A.N.C.E.” (Live on Jimmy Kimmel, 10/9/07)
In the biggest electro-prank since the KLF had a metal group perform for them at the BRIT awards in 1992, Justice thumb their nose at pseudo-live performances, standing off to the side of the stage as a variety of Hollywood Boulevard celebrity impersonators mime along to the song. Look, it’s Stevie Wonder on drums!
8. Jah Division – “Heart and Soul” (mp3 at The Social Registry or listen at Jah Division’s MySpace)
Okay here’s what a nerd I am: hearing this buzzy, dubby cover instantly reminded me that New Order and reggae have come together at least once before: on the phenomenal “silver” Peel Sessions EP, where they do an extended cover of Keith Hudson’s “Turn the Heater On.” Man, so good! I’ll have to get an mp3 up of that next week. Anyway this is good too.
7. Underworld – “Crocodile” (from Oblivion With Bells on Different Records)
(mp3 from Are You Light Green)
What a long strange trip it’s been for the British electronic combo. After lineup (and life) changes, it’s surprising to realize this is only their fifth studio album in their “Mark 2” incarnation. They used to excel at a kind of ecstatic, hands-in-the-air release, but times have changed, and now they’re more thoughtful. “Crocodile” has their standard driving beat, but Karl Hyde’s filtered vocals are melancholy: “All these things/In me,” he sings, unable to name them.
6. Cut Copy – “So Haunted” (from In Ghost Colours out in March, 2008 on Modular)
(Stream at The Fader)
Australia’s Cut Copy made a great, underappreciated album in 2004, Bright Like Neon Love, whose fashionable cover helped it get lumped in with all the other minimal electro/rock of that heady year, but the surprisingly solid songwriting made it something special. Now they’re back, and, jeez, kind of different. “Haunted,” for its first 2/3, is a full-on rock song, making the sweeping electronic breakdown all the more exciting. Plus, major bonus points for use of the tinkling xylophone we heard on LCD Soundsystem’s “Someone Great.”
5. Aceyalone – “Shango” (from Lighting Strikes on Project Blowed)
(Listen or grab an mp3 at Ick Music)
This Californian rapper had kind of lost me with his aimless “backpack rap” recently, but on Lightning, he’s newly… electrified? Sorry, I couldn’t help it. I’m not a real writer! Anyway, the power that jolted him was apparently dancehall, which infuses this whole album with its jaunty spirit. “Shango” combines the syncopated Jamaican style with robotic 80s drum machine fills, ending up somewhere between Jellybean and M.I.A.
4. Beirut – “Nantes” (from The Flying Club on Ba Da Bing)
(mp3 via T-Sides)
Well, if you’ve been on the internet at all in the last year, you’ve probably heard somebody mention Beirut, whose hype meter is currently set at 11. But like Arcade Fire, the buzz is justified: the album crosses all sorts of musical borders and brings to mind the eccentric power of Neutral Milk Hotel. On “Nantes,” a plucky keyboard riff gives way to a whole horn-and-percussion-filled party, with lead singer Zach Condon sounding like a less silly Rufus Wainwright: “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you smile.”
3. Flying Lotus – “Massage Situation” (from the EP Reset on Warp)
California’s Steven Ellison (grand-nephew of Alice Coltrane!) is one of the producers you’ll hear under the cute bumpers on Adult Swim, and yes, the music is a bit wonky, perhaps “stoned” might be the right word. But despite his Burning Man name, it’s not hippie music, I swear: buzzy, focused, and exciting, it’s entirely deserving of comparisons to J Dilla. Apparently something weird is happening on his website in like 26 hours, too.
2. José González – Live at Great American Music Hall, Monday 10/8
Mr. Gonzalez, you’re great, but can we please have a bouncer eject make-out couples from your shows? I swear, I was surrounded by four separate sets of happy heterosexuals in various states of entanglement, swaying whitely to the music. One of them kept banging into me and and then glaring at me as if it was my fault: how dare I get in the way of their hairy love. It’s wildly inappropriate: Gonzalez sits alone on stage, his songs gut-wrenching cries of pain and bleak odes to humanity’s failings; if that gets you off, straight people, you’re even more fucked up than I thought.
Hey look, somebody took a video:
1. Radiohead – “Reckoner” (from In Rainbows on, uh, the intertubes)
Well, Pitchfork’s review of the album today was pretty cute: enter your own rating! Hyuck hyuck! But if you clicked a couple times, you saw the actual judgement call: a 9.3 out of 10, and I have to admit they’re completely right. I’ve listened to the album two or three times a day since I managed to download it, and its combination of traditional Radiohead intensity and listenable comfort grows more amazing each time. It’s hard to pick a favorite song, but track 7, with its slightly wonky drum (loop?) and pleading falsetto vocals, is in the running: “Reckoner,” asks Thom Yorke, “Can you take it with you? Did I cater to all your needs?”