I really missed doing this last week….so, here we go.
First, a special treat for the crew of Icarus: The Fruity Oaty Bars commercial jingle, from “Serenity.”
This was one of the top dance tracks of 2005. Just listening to it makes me want to go clubbing, which I haven’t done in far too long. The electronic group Deep Dish contacted Stevie Nicks to ask permission to do a house version of “Dreams”….and not only did Ms. Nicks say Yes, but she also offered to sing vocals on the track. It turned out *really* well. I actually like this version better than the original. Deep Dish (feat. Stevie Nicks) – “Dreams.”
One of the niftier bands that I discovered in 2005 was Maximo Park, a band out of northern England that has yet to really break out over here yet. This is a track from their album, A Certain Trigger: Maximo Park – “Once a Glimpse.”
This is an absolutely smoking underground hip hop track from Japan. The song comes from a movie soundtrack about the underground hip hop movement in Tokyo, called “TKO Hip Hop” (TKO being slang for Tokyo, in the same way that “Brick City” is the slang for Newark and “Shaolin” is Staten Island). The group of MCs collectively call themselves TKO, and the song is also called TKO. So you’ve got a real “Bad Company, by Bad Company, off the album Bad Company” kinda thing going on here….but damn this track is good. Using the tabla drum loop is inspired, and I’ve said it before: Japanese, being a consonantal language with heavy emphasis on the syllables, makes for a PERFECT language to rap in. TKO – “TKO.” (Edit: Copy-and-paste this one, rather than clicking.)
I actually discovered this band via another MP3 blog….before finding out that they’re a local Lawrence band. They are sort of indie/folk/rock….with harmonies. A sound that, to me, is very reminiscent of Crosby Stills and Nash. OK Jones – “I Can Tune You Out.”
Here’s a song that Kanye West stole from Ray Charles. I’m stealing it back. West used hooks from this song (sung by Jamie Foxx) to form the basis of his current hit, “Gold Digger.” It only reminded me of how good the original song was, 50 years earlier. Ray Charles – “I Got A Woman.”
If you’re going to use samples, be creative, and use them to come up with something new. For example, here’s another track by Books, a group that I featured last year. They use obscure samples, combined in interesting ways, to come up with entirely new compositions. This is an example of their work. Every sound you hear is sampled. Books – “It Never Changes.”
Hanin Elias is a German/Syrian woman who mixes hardcore electronic dance with sultry vocals, summed up perfectly by the title of her new album, Future Noir. This is a track from that album (speaker warning– the song starts quietly, with the sound of a match being struck, but then gets loud…don’t turn it up because you can’t hear anything!): Hanin Elias – “Burn.”
I’m sure that a lot of you already know this song, but I love it, so I’m posting it. There are very few songs that get commercial success and airplay that have such overtly pagan subject matter, but this is certainly a shining example: Loreena McKennit – “The Mummers’ Dance.”
Lastly, here’s a song that I like that often gets eclipsed by a dance remix version that was popular in clubs a couple of years ago. I prefer the original single, with its solid walls of strings. Starsailor – “Four to the Floor.”
There you go, kids. First one of the new year. Many more to come.