Check it twice

Pub date December 18, 2007
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features



<\!s><0x0007>Panda Bear, Person Pitch (Paw Tracks). One of the few albums that deserved the hype, Person Pitch delivered what Animal Collective could not.

<\!s><0x0007>Various artists, Zanzibara, Volume 3: Ujamaa (Buda Musique). Ujamaa focuses on 1960s Tanzania and recalls the ecstatic languidity of Tabu Ley Rocehrau and the imprint’s Angola ’60s compilations.

<\!s><0x0007>Various artists, Dirty Space Disco (Tigersushi). Parisians Pilooski and Dirty Sound System are some of the most exciting discoveries of the year.

<\!s><0x0007>Thomas Fehlmann, Honigpumpe (Kompakt). This was the year I got back into minimal techno after a few years away. Lodged somewhere between Kompakt’s "Pop Ambient" series and Superpitcher, Fehlmann made his strongest album since 2004’s Visions of Blah.

<\!s><0x0007>Lilith Records. In 2007 the enigmatic new label that appears to come from the Russian Federation reissued lavish vinyl versions of Caetano Veloso’s Araca Azul, Harmonia’s De Luxe, Tim Hardin 2, No New York, Claudine Longet’s Colours, Black Merda’s Black Merda, and Cluster’s Zuckerzeit. The only reissue imprint that rivals them in scope and quality is the Bay Area’s Water Records.

<\!s><0x0007>Iasos, Inter-Dimensional Music (Iasos Unity/Em, 1975). With so many new artists taking the easy electronic-prog route, it’s good to realize there’s much more where that came from — in the place between space rock and new age. This makes me think of Alice Coltrane and Robert Fripp and Brian Eno’s Evening Star (Editions Eg) but doesn’t really sound like any of them. The sleeve is incredible.

<\!s><0x0007>Niger: Magic and Ecstasy in the Sahel DVD (Sublime Frequencies). The last 15 minutes, focusing on Tuareg musicians, contain some of the most ecstatic and tranced-out jams I’ve heard or seen.

<\!s><0x0007>Various artists, Brazil 70 (Soul Jazz). No longer borrowing from John Cage or the Beatles, Jards Mascale, and Novos Baianos ushered in what may be the most exciting time in Brazil’s musical history.

<\!s><0x0007>Frank Bretschneider, Rhythm (Raster-Noton). He may be working in the domain of clicks and cuts, but instead of pursuing pure sine wave research, Bretschneider — picking up where SND left off but surpassing them — mimics the rhythms of dubstep, minimal techno, and hip-hop. Listen loud and your mind will be rearranged.

<\!s><0x0007>Shit Robot, "Chasm"/"Wrong Galaxy" (DFA). Yes, the name is awful. Nevertheless, DFA’s recent signing of this Markus Lambkin project is too good to pass over. Lambkin has been learning from the best of Carl Craig and Berlin and Cologne techno, and his full-length is eagerly awaited.



(1) <0x0007>Miles Davis: The Complete On the Corner Sessions (Sony Legacy)

(2) <0x0007>Ace Records: Bob Lind, Elusive Butterfly: The Complete Jack Nitzsche Sessions; various artists, Phil’s Spectre III: A Third Wall of Soundalikes; and various artists, Hard Workin’ Man: The Jack Nitzsche Story, Vol. 2

(3) <0x0007>Bloodcount, Seconds CD/DVD (Screwgun)

(4) <0x0007>Clockcleaner, Babylon Rules (Load)

(5) <0x0007>Terminal Sound System, Compressor (Extreme)

(6) <0x0007>ugEXPLODE label: Nondor Nevai, The Wooden Machine Music, and Flying Luttenbachers, Incarceration by Abstraction

(7) <0x0007>Down, Over the Under (Down)

(8) <0x0007>The Pipettes, We Are the Pipettes (Cherry Tree/Interscope)

(9) <0x0007>Slough Feg, "Tiger! Tiger!," Hardworlder (Cruz del Sur)

(10) <0x0007>Tesla, "Ball of Confusion," Real to Reel (Tesla Electric Co.)



<\!s><0x0007>Aretha Franklin, Aretha Live at Fillmore West (deluxe edition) (Rhino). So electric you’ll get goose bumps.

<\!s><0x0007>Jason Lindner Big Band, Live at the Jazz Gallery (Anzic)

<\!s><0x0007>Charles Mingus Sextet with Eric Dolphy, Cornell 1964 (Blue Note)

<\!s><0x0007>Sam Yahel Trio, Truth and Beauty (Origin). Talented friends get into the groove of a young man and his keyboard.

<\!s><0x0007>Joshua Redman Trio, Back East (Nonesuch)

<\!s><0x0007>Joe Henry, Civilians (Anti-). Fiercely literate adult rock without acronyms.

<\!s><0x0007>Wayne Shorter Quartet at the Mondavi Center, UC Davis, Feb. 2.

<\!s><0x0007>Jason Moran with T.S. Monk and ensemble, the Monk Town Hall Concert, Herbst Theatre, May 19. A large band swings very, very hard.

<\!s><0x0007>SFJAZZ Collective, Live 2007: Fourth Annual Concert Tour (SFJAZZ). Smart arrangements with the necessary new blood of underrated pianist Renee Rosnes.

<\!s><0x0007>Kiki and Herb, American Conservatory Theater, July 13. We need their holiday show.

<\!s><0x0007>The Sea and Cake, "Up on Crutches," Everybody (Thrill Jockey). The song I couldn’t stop playing.



<\!s><0x0007>MIA, Kala (Interscope)

<\!s><0x0007>Feist, The Reminder (Cherry Tree/Interscope)

<\!s><0x0007>Calle 13, Residente o Visitante (Sony)

<\!s><0x0007>Chamillionaire, Ultimate Victory (Motown)

<\!s><0x0007>Kanye West, Graduation (Roc-A-Fella)

<\!s><0x0007>Apostle of Hustle, National Anthem of Nowhere (Arts and Crafts)

<\!s><0x0007>Jose Gonzalez, "In Our Nature" (Mute)

<\!s><0x0007>El-P, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead (Definitive Jux)

<\!s><0x0007>The Federation, "It’s Whateva" (Southwest Federation/Reprise)

<\!s><0x0007>Chingo Bling, They Can’t Deport Us All (Asylum)



(1) <0x0007>Aaron Ross, Shapeshifter (Grass Roots Record Co.). The Hella member’s solo LP is ragged singer-songwriter stuff that seems to do everything wrong. It’s strident, too long, and too loud; it’s chirpy and pained; it must have broken a guitar’s worth of strings. And then, somewhere around the point it stops being ugly, it becomes transcendent — an album with more heart than any I’ve heard in a while.

(2) <0x0007>The Arcade Fire, Neon Bible (Merge). How quickly you realize the stunning last song, "My Body Is a Cage," will be a testament to the trust the Montreal group has built, understood, and not yet defaulted on. Few groups have a better sense of what they are and mean, and the Arcade Fire know what they do right: write hymns.

(3) <0x0007>MIA, Kala (Interscope). On her second album, Maya Arulpragasam turned a government-forced world tour into an excuse to make her music even better traveled.

(4) <0x0007>Ferraby Lionheart, Ferraby Lionheart EP (Nettwerk). Lush, antique, richly sung pop that plays like an argument for Jon Brion. Wes Anderson will one day base an entire script on a Lionheart disc.

(5) <0x0007>Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand (Rounder). The best moments on this gorgeous, out-of-nowhere release are when you’ve been listening to sweetheart old-time country pop, then realize you are listening to Robert Plant. There’s a whisper of "Gallows Pole" in "Fortune Teller" and "Going to California" in "Please Read the Letter," and that’s the great pleasure here: an almost mystical Led Zeppelin overlay in music that’s nowhere near classic rock.

(6) <0x0007>Black Moth Super Rainbow, Dandelion Gum (Graveface). Psychedelia wouldn’t have a bad name if more of it were like this. The rural Pennsylvania group counters séance vocals and guitar and keyboard spazz-outs with focus and snappy drums.

(7) <0x0007>St. Vincent, Marry Me (Beggars Banquet). Anne Clark is a Sufjan Stevens crony, but Marry Me is eventually hers alone. Sinister electrofuzz, deft polyrhythms, and scarily chameleonic vocals give her indie pop a postmodern turn.

(8) <0x0007>Blitzen Trapper, Wild Mountain Nation (Lidkercow). At turns pure classic rock — all jammy blues riffs and sun-dappled vocals — countrified songwriter stuff, and something loudly proggy and textural, Wild Mountain Nation sends salvos in several directions.

(9) <0x0007>UGK, UGK: Underground Kingz (Jive). Bun B and Pimp C sound ecstatic to be back at it, and they turn in a two-disc Southern hip-hop epic with cameos that are actually exciting. André 3000 is drawly and perfect on "Int’l Players Anthem," and hearing Dizzee Rascal over this beat is a treat.

(10) <0x0007>Miracle Fortress, Five Roses (Secret City). Montreal’s Graham Van Pelt shoots straight for the Beach Boys here, which means his songs sound a little derivative and a lot lovely. Pop’s melodic purism, dressed up for audiophiles.



<\!s><0x0007>Percee P, Perseverance (Stones Throw)

The long-awaited solo album from Bronx legend Percee P does not disappoint, with its intricate rhyme schemes and exceptional production from Stones Throw’s resident maestro Madlib. Alarmingly dope from start to finish, with collabos with Diamond D and Vinnie Paz. Look for the remix album in January.

<\!s><0x0007>Prodigy, Return of the Mac (Koch)

A lot of older fans gave up on Mobb Deep years ago, and their horrible last record seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. But on this independent release, Prodigy comes alive, spitting flagrant murder raps over Alchemist’s outstanding blaxploitation-style beats. Unfortunately, P is heading into a three-and-a-half-year bid — I hope he finishes his new solo joint first.

<\!s><0x0007>Kamackeris, Artz and Craftz (Mindbenda)

Also known as Kwite Def or KD, Kamackeris is a New York rapper best known for his work with Monsta Island Czars and a show-stealing appearance on the first MF Doom album. He’s blessed with one of the grimiest voices in hip-hop, and his rugged yet introspective wordplay shines over X-Ray’s cinematic tracks. Completely slept on but crazy good.

<\!s><0x0007>Camp Lo, "Ticket For 2" (self-released)

These cats have been MIA for a minute, and it’s been a full decade since their classic debut, but Cheeba and Suede come back something serious on this ultrasmooth single produced by longtime homey Ski Beatz. Unfortunately, it’s not on their recent album, but it’s all over the Internet.

<\!s><0x0007>Snoop Dogg, "Sexual Eruption, a.k.a. Sensual Seduction" (unreleased)

Man! While T-Pain, Akon, and countless others assault the airwaves with their hypercomputerized, later-era Cher-style "R&B," Big Snoop takes it back to the Roger Troutman essence, freaking the (virtual) talk box on this ode to female orgasm. The song is awesome enough, but the throwback video, complete with flying saucers and a keytar, is something to behold.

<\!s><0x0007>50 Cent, "I Get Money," Curtis (Aftermath/Shady/Interscope)

He lost the sales battle with Kanye West, G Unit is fading fast, and Curtis is his worst LP to date. However, even his millions of haters have to admit: this song is a banger.

<\!s><0x0007>Devin the Dude, live at South by Southwest, March 14

Mild-mannered but funny as hell, Devin has been putting it down for a long time now, winning fans with his mellow storytelling rhymes, low-key singing, and affinity for all weed and women. I saw him live three times this year, but this show in his home state was the best: he rolled with the Coughee Brothaz and injected some much-needed funk into the indie-centric convention.

<\!s><0x0007>Third annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival

Unlike the more hyped-up "Rock the Bells," this festival got everything right. Free show, great location on the water in BK, and all-day performances from Ghostface, Sean P, Large Professor, El Michaels Affair, Dres from Black Sheep, and others. Throw in surprise appearances from Chubb Rock and Jeru, and you’ve got middle-aged rap fan heaven.

<\!s><0x0007>Sonic Youth at the Berkeley Community Theatre, July 19

As part of the "Don’t Look Back" concert series, in which artists perform a classic album in its entirety, Thurston Moore and the gang revisited their 1988 epic Daydream Nation (DGC) to the delight of a sold-out crowd. Next time I hope they do Bad Moon Rising.

<\!s><0x0007>ZZ Top at Konocti Harbor, April 21

All I can say is "wow." Despite my driving several hours to and from Clear Lake and getting rained on the entire time, this was amazing. These dudes are mad old, but they put on a better show than most kids a fraction of their age.



(1) <0x0007>Rufus Wainwright, Release the Stars (Geffen)

(2) <0x0007>Tinariwen, Aman Iman (World Village)

(3) <0x0007>Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand (Rounder)

(4) <0x0007>Betty Davis, Betty Davis (Light in the Attic)

(5) <0x0007>Miles Davis, The Complete On the Corner Sessions (Sony Legacy)

(6) <0x0007>Donnie, The Daily News (SoulThought Entertainment)

(7) <0x0007>Gogol Bordello, Super Taranta! (Side One Dummy)

(8) <0x0007>Hanson, The Walk (Three Car Garage)

(9) <0x0007>Babyshambles, Shotter’s Nation (Astralwerks)

(10) <0x0007>Beirut, The Flying Club Cup (Ba Da Bing)



<\!s><0x0007>Playing to a confused crowd in Beijing, China, then riding on the back of a motorcycle cab. The next day I was eating at a vegan buffet in a mall where you paid not by what you ate but by how quickly you finished.

<\!s><0x0007>In the Netherlands, I performed to 550,000 people on drugs who think that camping out in sewage is "awesome." Lots of moms and dads with huge glazed eyes, hula-hooping and juggling glow sticks at 4 a.m.

<\!s><0x0007>XBXRX having to sleep at a (dirty and unkempt) brothel. There were bloodstains and tire treads (?) on my pillow. *

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