Blakroc,"On The Vista" Feat. Mos Def:
So I've been geeked about Blakroc-- a project headed by Damon Dash that brings together The Black Keys and eleven luminary emcees (Ludacris, RZA, Pharoahe Monch, etc.) as features for a full album-- since I happened upon their website a couple of months ago. The Black Keys just get rhythm, and why hasn't a hip-hop producer remixed "Just A Little Heat" yet?
Finally, less than two weeks away from the official release date, Blakroc has leaked the track that justifies my "told you so." This song is the perfect blur of genres, a spiraling gem with lots of decay, and I am adoring Mos Def's lyricism and delivery in his Ecstatic period. Stone cold poetry.
I wish I had Nouela Johnston around when I was in middle school and couldn't match my adolescent rage with the prettily singing young women--the Michelle Branches and Vanessa Carletons and whatnot-- that occupied my musical consciousness at the time.
Johnston, formally of Mon Frere (who won the EMP Sound Off! competition in 2004), spins together piano ditties and wry lyrics that actually address some real shit while also showcasing her lovely vocal range. She dips into shadowy nuances a la Fiona Apple but People Eating People has its own lively spunk about it. I can see her singing this song--"I don't need supernatural help/ I can fuck things up myself"--while rolling her eyes. Sometimes you need some pop that'll pop your bubble.
Sublime Frequencies Presents: Siamese Soul -- Thai Pop Spectacular Volume 2
Sublime Frequencies is easily my favorite local label, perhaps first and foremost because they're impossible to get in contact with (their preferred method of communication is snail mail sent to their PO Box.) They periodically release compilations of global or "exotic" music, but unlike the hand-holdy Starbucks favorite, Putamayo, Sublime Frequencies uses its collections to piece together untold narratives that are rooted, localized, and contribute towards a greater understanding of musical diaspora and production. So instead of, say, Putamayo's "musical masala" of Asian Grooves, we have Siamese Soul, which collects Thai music created in the tradition of 60's go-go and 70's funk and soul. The release is also paired with an in-depth historical booklet of the musical climate within which the tracks were created. Sublime Frequencies rewards the critical listener, and we need more focused scholarly/renegade world music presenters that embrace the complexity of global musical exchange.
The songs on "Siamese Soul" are eclectic: at times hypnotic, at other times very funky, at all times revelatory for the traditional Western listener. While I would highly recommend purchasing Siamese Soul to support local music and to peruse the booklet, you can download the entire album here.