Friday, January 20, 2006

What I’ve been listening to...

1. Pete Rock – Soul Survivor 1-2
I’ve always been a big fan of Pete Rock and CL’s Smooth’s earlier records and Pete’s outside production but I stayed away from his solo albums/compilations for whatever reason. No more, the recent Pete Rock revival got me to take a look at some of his recent records and they are definitely ill. Not the oldschool layering of Mecca and the Soul Brother but definitely still lush and soulful. It should be worth noting that everytime Pete Rock has collaborated with a Wu-Tang member the results have been nothing less than spectacular. That Gza/Muggs album was tight, now what we really need is for Pete to ring up Raekwon for a full post-CL2 collabo after he’s done contributing to Ghost’s record.

2. Devendra Banhart – Cripple Crow
Been a fan of Devendra for a while now but I never actually picked up a whole album of his work until last week. Cripple Crow isn’t perfect: it goes on a little too long and has a few too many half-baked moments where he gets lost in whatever ether he inhabits, but taken as a whole it’s a nice relaxing trip through freak-folk with some eyebrow raising highlights. Long Haired Child is particularly nice with its fuller rock instrumentation and Chinese Children’s rambling-man style is another overlooked gem. I wish they played this on rock radio instead of the same damn 70’s songs over and over.

3. Eddie Hazel – Game, Dames and Guitar Thangs
California Dreamin’ is perhaps my favorite song of all time which is one of the reasons I can watch Chungking Express as much as I do. Eddie Hazel may not have the best cover version of that song I’ve ever heard (that honor goes to fellow guitar Maestro George Benson) but he comes damn close with his heavy hard rocking attempt which makes this album a must listen. For those who manage to survive that first jam, the legendary P-funk guitarist covers Lennon (She’s so Heavy) and contributes some of his own material all of which feature out of this world space solos. Sure it’s kind of masturbatory and goes nowhere but going nowhere never sounded so good.

4. Mulatu Astatke and his Ethiopian Quintet – Afro Latin Soul
Ethiopian jazz is one of those things that I should really know more about but that’s quite difficult to research. I don’t know any Ethiopians personally, have never been to Ethiopia and am fairly sure that the country’s record shops are in areas that feature gun-toting militias I’d want to avoid. Luckily the internet regularly drops stuff like this on me. The songs are all rather short and could be interludes in a hiphop record but as a whole they’re fascinating with a heavy use of vibes. Hopefully I can use these as the soundtrack to a cool spy film one day.

5. Spirit – The 12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
Hippie music! Sure Spirit’s the kind of thing that’s usually better left to CHOM FM, but there’s no denying that this particular album has got all the right stuff: folky guitar, proggy instrumentals, tape loops, songs about being bald etc. I always have at least one classic rock LP going on at any given time and this week this is it.


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