"Yeah (Stupid Mix)"/"Yeah (Pretentious Mix)"
Right, this indie-rocker-turned-dancing-machine—better known as James Murphy, half of indie superproducers the DFA—is too precious for his own good. His first single, 2002's "Losing My Edge," was about record geekdom gone awry (which I certainly wasn't offended by, cough cough), and this belated follow-up has "Not as good as 'Loosing [sic] My Edge'" cut into the vinyl runoff groove. Cute. But what everyone seems to have missed is that "Edge"'s B-side, "Beat Connection," had the (even) hotter groove, and that's what the (very) belated follow-up takes off from. Like !!!'s "Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard," the "Stupid Mix" features an awkwardly geekazoid vocal, but Murphy's song works in part because of the vocal, not despite it the way !!!'s does. And once that's finished, the groove grows so compulsive—loosier and goosier—that it damn near shakes itself apart. The "Pretentious Mix" steps back, surveys the wreckage, scotches the vocals (apart from a cute little faux-Michael Jackson squeal in the middle), and retraces its own footsteps just cautiously enough to keep itself in place. Not you, though.
GO HOME PRODUCTIONS
"Rock With Addiction (Awww)"
Mash-up bootlegs might have fallen off the hipster map after buoying to the surface in 2002, but, thankfully, nobody seems to have told Londoner Mark Vidler, aka Go Home Productions. His strike rate is inconsistent, but for every three of the many mashes he posts on his Web site, one is generally a real prize—"Montell Benson," which bridges the agreeably smooth jazz of George Benson's "Gimme the Night" with the agreeably smooth G-funkdafied R&B of Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It," or "Paperback Believer," the Beatles/Monkees merger of Tiger Beat's dreams, circa 1966, or "Making Plans for Vinyl," the Tweet/XTC boot that first earned Vidler deserved attention. This one might be the best. The "Addiction" of the piece is Jane's; the music is lifted from "Just Because," from Strays. What's amazing is that the "Rock With" comes from Ashanti, and not just because it was originally her title. If the original "Rock With U" sounded wispily distracted, here, with a backing track that sounds like it's literally exploding and drums that might as well be, she sounds transported, and the wordless, harmonized bridge lifts it up and over. They give her muscle, and she gives them a reason to continue existing beyond craven greed and/or dwindling bank accounts. Awww.
"Raiding the 20th Century: A History of the Cutup"
Speaking of mash ups, a couple years ago someone called Osymyso stitched together "Intro Introspection," a 12-minute cavalcade of the beginnings of some 100 instantly recognizable tunes, and surely the last word in appropriationist pop. Not quite. Discounting Playgroup's straightforwardly dance-oriented Party-Mix, this is the densest, most intricate, funniest, and most complete survey of, uh, damn near everything you can remember about pop music ever. The secret: Everything on it was appropriated from other peoples' megamixes, which means you don't hear Chic's "Good Times"—you hear Chic as folded into "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel." Totally brilliant, totally exhausting, and at 40 minutes maybe the longest great single ever made.
"Figured You Out"
There we were in the Uptown, waiting for Girl With a Pearl Earring (not great, but better than anticipated) to begin, half reading, half answering the stupid trivia questions on the screen, for once not paying attention to the music piping in. Or maybe it's more like everything else paled in the face of what happened after a chipper female on-air personality led into the new single from Nickelback, whose most recent album, we learned, had received high marks in Billboard, which reminded us why we read Billboard for the charts, not the ratings. Then in comes Chad Kroeger's put-upon honk growl: "I like your pants around your feet/And I like the dirt that's on your knees/And I like the way you still say please/While you're looking up at me/You're like my favorite damn disease." Or more to the point, "You're like my favo—," followed by the theater's staff executing the fastest fade-up of a whole 'nother song you have ever heard in your life. Moral: Even corporate greed has its limits. We hope.
One Piece at a Time will appear every three weeks.