Friday, 3 April 2009

Vadim and you don't stop

When James Brown sadly passed away, his title as the hardest working man in music was inherited by a one DJ Vadim - at least in hip-hop circles. This Anglo-Russian beatsmith simply must be an insomniac such is the volume of his output and the incessant touring he embarks on. This was underlined late last year when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer of the eye. Yet following an operation, here he is barely six months later with a new single - and a fricking excellent one at that - and yep he's still out there touring. Check out the fantastic video above. The release date is unclear for this but I'll add a link to buy it when it's available.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The National - New Songs

The new National album isn't due until 2010 but if you're a fan, and i know i am, here's a couple of new songs that they played at the Carnegie Hall in NYC back in February. They're live recordings but the quality is alright. This band mix a beautiful melancholy with with some sort of uplifting energy so effortlessly it's staggering. It always makes me want to chain smoke cigarettes on an overnight train somewhere (see picture from Wong Kar-Wai's 2046 for better description). Bryan Devendorf is also the best drummer recording today: discuss.

The National - Karamazov

The National - Wake Up Your Saints

Buy The National albums here

Monday, 30 March 2009

Dylan - Beyond Here Lies Nothing

It's a good time to be a Dylan fan. Well, maybe if you're a casual best-of-buying fan then you wouldn't agree, you're probably out there saying how Dylan's voice is awful and how you preferred him when he was a folk singer or when he was a wandering mistrel or some other such pre-prescribed notion of what you think he is. Personally, i gave up ideas of what i wanted him to be some time ago, and just enjoy watching the many different masks and personas come on and off, evolving all the time. Especially since his creative output remains at such an incredibly high level. So for me it's a good time; i got tickets to see him at the Roundhouse in London last week and today i get a brand new track from the upcoming album Together Through Life called 'Beyond Here Lies Nothing'. It's got a slight creole lilt to it, slightly garagey production (read about Dylan and the loudness war) and a wry, mystical vocal and suggests that the current golden period is not dark yet.

Read Dylan's interview about the new album here.

Download 'Beyond Here Lies Nothing' here.

Pre-order the album here.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Take time for Tom Brosseau

The idea of the slow burner - an album or song that does not immediately knock you off your feet but takes weeks, months or years to infiltrate your nervous system - is a dying concept in an age where we're becoming increasingly accustomed to having every song ever recorded at our fingertips. It is hard to invest time in the awkward when you have Spotify's entire catalogue to get through and only an infinite amount of time before you die.

But we must fight the impatience that technology instills in us and return to those albums that we dismissed too quickly because sometimes (only sometimes, but isn't that enough?) the reward is extra special. For me, the perfect example is Tom Brosseau's Cavalier which took quite a few listens to finally reveal its full beauty to me, but now - a year and a half later - I still listen to it about once a week.

Ahead of the release of his new album, Posthumous Success in May, Mr Brosseau will be in the UK in April supporting PJ Harvey and John Parish (who produced Cavalier) on tour. He will also play a handful of smaller venues including London, Brighton and Glasgow (see here for details) and I strongly urge you to go along as he is a fantastic singer and storyteller.

Download: Favorite Color Blue - Tom Brosseau (from Posthumous Success, forthcoming on FatCat)

Monday, 16 March 2009

Damn, Doooom

Jeez, there are some literal-minded motherfuckers in the world. Barely a week goes by that we don't we receive a message via one of the myriad forms of 21st century communication informing us that this blog doesn't contain enough beats or enough poetry or both. Well, we would argue that Beat Poetry in 2009 means a lot more than a well-thumbed Ginsberg paperback or some tedious chin-stroking backpack rap. This is a place where we bow down to drums and metaphors in all their forms, sometimes on their own, sometimes in combination. A perfect example of when they collide is BP hero Q-Tip, who was oustanding at the Roundhouse here in London on Saturday night.
All of this brings me to MF Doom - a rapper who has carried on the spirit and innovation of A Tribe Called Quest. His King Geedorah album is probably one of my top five rap LPs of all-time and his new effort on London's Lex Records - Born Like This, which is released on March 24th - promises to be one of the muscial highlights of the year. Kanye West posted this track Ballskin on his blog, and it sounds hottttt.

Download: Ballskin - DOOM

Friday, 13 March 2009

Heroes: Q-Tip

'Q-Tip is my title, i don't think that is vital, for me to be your idol, but dig this recital...'

'Back in the days when i was a teenager, before i had status and before i had a pager...'

'I'm the cherry on the top of your ice-cream, i'm the piece of thought inside your dream...'

So, welcome to the first installment of our Heroes feature. First up is Q-Tip, aka The Abstract, aka Jonathan Davis, aka Kamaal Ibn John Fareed. He's a fitting person to start with as he was hugely influential in shaping how i think about music and in setting me off on the journey of exploring influences that never ends. As a teenager i spent hours staring out the side of minbuses after football games listening to Tribe albums on my walkman, pouring over the lyrics and wondering about places like Lyden Boulevard, Queens and El Segundo and how different they were from the pebbledash suburbia that i knew. He is a great rapper but more importantly for me, he a great lyricist. I loved Ali Shaheed's beats and jazz samples and Phife's energy but Q-Tip showed me that music could be about ideas and philosophy, about poetry and wordplay. As a huge Dylan fan, i can't help but think that it was the Tribe's influence that set me on that path. I love the 'Daisy Age' hip-hop-meets-hippy mentality and sheer positivity he's always had, a track like 'Go Ahead In The Rain' is a good example, a song about staying positive and ambitious despite the depressing aspects of life, a pretty useful influence if you live in grey, rainy England.

Tomorrow night i get to see Q-Tip live for the first time and i'm pretty excited. His new album, The Renaissance, is the best thing he's done since Beats, Rhymes & Life (although The Love Movement is massively underrated).

Q-Tip - Johnny Is Dead from The Renaissance
A Tribe Called Quest - Excursions from The Low End Theory
A Tribe Called Quest - Luck of Lucien from People's Instinctive Travels and Paths of Rhythm

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Prodigy sample-spotting

Everyone's favourite firestarters return with their new album this week and although in places the Justice/Pendulum rip-offs threaten to turn it into a cringe-fest, it is A LOT better than their last two records. I will not hear a bad word said about the Prodigy after witnessing the best gig of my life at the Brixton Academy two years ago. They redefined the expression "ripping the roof off" and there are at least three tracks on Invaders Must Die (buy it here) that would fit perfectly into their epic live-show. Go and download Warrior's Dance NOW.

Liam Howlett also samples one of my favourite ever songs on the album, Manfred Mann's One Way Glass. He doesn't do it justice really on Stand Up, although I always wondered what it would sound like with a thudding beat under it, so here is the original for your listening pleasure.

Download: One Way Glass - Manfred Mann Chapter Three

And while we're on the Prodigy samples tip, you should check out this awesome mix by London DJ Huskii made up entirely of beats and pieces used by Mr Howlett, including the Breeders, Nirvana, Ultramagnetic MCs and Lee Scratch Perry. A spotter's delight.

Photo of Keith Flint taken by Jae Donnelly, the Sevenoaks Chronicle's finest.