Nice bunch of eclectic choices this week, so let’s get started:

Hip-hop began as the music of the slums (the South Bronx, to be specific), where poor kids took the music of their culture (60s and 70s R&B) and rapped over loops of sound. Now that it’s spread worldwide, you get some very interesting combinations. For example: Clotaire K – “Beyrouth écoeurée”, in which the French-born Lebanese raps (in French) over classical Arabic music. I love this — The slum may be different, but the spirit is the same.

Another form of music that I’m into is mash-up, where the vocal track of one or more songs is cut-and-pasted onto the instrumental track of one or more different songs, creating a new piece of music in the process. It’s harder than it sounds (I’ve tried it)–matching beats per minute is easy, but finding combinations that work well together, matching pitches, etc. is where the real skill of mash-up lies. A british mash-up artist, CCC, has recently released a collection on his website that mashes the Beatles album Revolver–and I want to share with you two of my favorite tracks: You Only Live Tomorrow, which combines the Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows” with Nancy Sinatra’s Bond theme, “You Only Live Twice”; and Got To Get You In The Mood, featuring the vocals from “Got To Get You Into My Life” matched to Glen Miller’s “In the Mood.” Brilliant stuff. There’s tons more out there, you just have to look. Search for “mash up”, “bastard pop” or “bootleg remix”–a lot of it is ham-fisted crap, but you occasionally come across some gems.

From the “interesting cover tunes” category, check out Nouvelle Vague – “Love Will Tear Us Apart” which is sort of Ian Curtis meets the Girl from Ipanema: A cover of the Joy Division classic, done as a Brazilian bossa nova. I like it more than it probably deserves. Not only is Ian Curtis spinning in his grave, but he’s groovin’ out.

Kula Shaker had a brief go of it in the mid-90s, before breaking up and fading away. The Hindi-themed UK band, fronted by Crispin Mills (nephew of Disney child star Haley Mills) got onto a couple of soundtracks, released two albums, and had a minor radio-play single with “Tattva”, which showcased their style, which I once described to a friend as “music from an alternate dimension where sitar psychedelia continued from the late 60s to become the dominant style of popular music.” Kula Shaker – “Govinda” is my favorite track from their first album, “K” — it starts with some ambient Indian-jungle sounds, but then the tablas kick in. The entire song is sung in Hindi, but I still find myself singing along. Govinda jaya jaya, gopala jaya jaya….

Another my @nubis tracks — Hey, it’s my site, you’ve got to expect me to plug my own stuff occasionally, right? This one is built upon a sample that fans of Dune should appreciate. @nubis – “IX”.

A while back, I posted about the fact that Fiona Apple’s new album, Extraordinary Machine, is sitting on a shelf gathering dust, because Sony refuses to release it, saying it’s not commercial enough. A few tracks leaked to the internet (which I linked), revealing that it just as brilliant as her first two platinum-selling efforts. Well, the entire album has now leaked, if you want to give it a listen. The leaks are not CD quality, to encourage people to buy the real thing when it’s available…and the leaks are also having an effect. Some radio stations are playing the tracks, and now Sony is actually making the occasional public comment…so maybe this might be released after all. If you don’t want to grab the whole album, here’s a good track as a sample: Fiona Apple – “Used to Love Him”.

Since I started this with something French, I’d better end with something Spanish, or Mike will stab me during rehearsal tomorrow. So, with that in mind, I present The Runarounds, a Spanish pop-punk band from Murcia. The Runarounds – “Como Estas”.

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