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Murphy's Law

L.A.-based Murphy holds down the Left Coast regional office of Mixtape Riot--his living room--where he writes & schemes on grand ideas. He also hosts BOOGALOO! a weekly residency at The Short Stop in Echo Park with colleague and fellow superblogger O-Dub (www.soul-sides.com).

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Beautiful Beautiful Brazil

Clube Da Esquina Image

Gonna keep today’s post short and sweet. This is a song that has been absolutely slaying me for months now. A little slice of heaven so potent you might need to sit down so you don’t get bowled over. (I spent an entire night listening to it for the first time, not sure that a song this good actually existed.) From the insanity of the guitar lines (can you say, distortion?) to the incomprehensible beauty of the vocals (any Portugese speakers out there who’d care to translate this, please, hit a brother up), I literally cannot get enough of this track. The Captain reminded me that this song needed to be shared when he mentioned Milton on a recent post over at Soul-Sides.  Now I’m sharing it with you. Enjoy.

Milton Nascimento : Trem De Doido
Taken from the album “Clube Da Esquina” on Odeon (1972)

  • Murphy's Law

    ERIC! You are the MAN! Muito muito OBRIGADO!!!!!!!

  • Tov

    Dig it. Very haunting.

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A Different Cut of the Same Stone

Magazine Cover    Ronny Cover

Artistically speaking, I think a lot can be said for a band that can pull off a good cover. A delicate balance exists in the act of re-imagining somebody else’s art: how much to keep, how much to leave; how to imprint the mark of one’s originality without forsaking the historical precedent of the O.G. A good musician will pull and tug certain parts as if from clay so that the resulting form, hewn from the same elemental parts, exists completely anew.

These two covers resonate for me with particular potency for a few reasons. For starters, they happen to be two of favorite Sly & The Family Stone songs of all time. I love too that the music, both original and redone, emerged in similar contextual environments — albeit ten years apart — at the tip of the proverbial spear in their respective genres. These were highly innovative sounds or, at the very least, great examples of recent innovations in the “new” worlds of Funk (a style Sly was instrumenal in creating) and Post-Punk or New Wave (a sound which Magazine pioneered). (Ps. If you’re unfamiliar with either of these mavens, don’t tell anybody; run don’t walk to the nearest record store and drop a few bucks for your own sake.)

“Thank You” comes off Magazine’s 3rd LP, which finds the band in full stride as a juggernaut of the kind of synthy, drum and bass-heavy instrumentation that would inform the sounds of later bands like A Certain Ratio  and New Order. Having left his punk roots behind with the Buzzocks, frontman Howard Devoto’s stripped down arrangements bring to mind a similar phenomenon which occurred a decade earlier as the frenetic pace of barnstorm funk streamlined into its leaner early 70’s mode. It’s no wonder Devoto chose to re-work this material; likely he recognized in Sly Stone certain elements of himself.

As for Ronny… Okay. So the French model-turned-scenester-turned-singer doesn’t exactly reek of “maverick” (survey any given street corner in Williamsburg and you’ll find more of these types than you could shake a fist at), but, for whatever it’s worth, ol’ girl hits this one out of the park. (The sexy breakdown and the subsequent build absolutely KILL IT.) One of only a small handful of singles she recorded under the musical direction of impressive figures like Vangelis and Yellow Magic Orchestra, this explosive composition and unique delivery on a classic does well to cement her into the annals of history, if only as a pretty, androgynous footnote.  Continue reading…

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The Voice

antonyphoto1

I wrote about Antony Hegarty a while back in regards to the release of Hercules & Love Affair‘s amazing self-titled debut, which kind of stole the show for me in terms of last year’s cream of the crop records. I think that album appealed in particular to people like me: music heads who felt a significant void in contemporary electronic and/or disco music; folks who loved to boogie but maybe couldn’t help harboring the suspicion that a lot of what they danced to was kind of wack. It was a record  that opened people’s eyes in a lot of ways, not least of all to remind us that party bangers can be lyrical and complex and even beautiful. For them Hercules‘ depth resonated certainly in the music, but also, and perhaps even more importantly, in  Antony Hegarty’s voice. That album left more than a few newbies wondering simply, “Who is that?”

If your only experience of Antony’s pipes came from listening to the psuedo- psycho- emo- disco of that collaboration, then you’re in for a treat. Because it’s the softer, weirder, more elegant stuff that really thrills: music that sticks with you when you go to sleep at night; that drags you through the kind of screwy dreamscape you might find yourself in if you fell asleep watching Alice In Wonderland, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and The Shining at the same time. His voice and the sonic landscape it inhabits burst with the sort haunting, sensual, confounding beauty that you might expect of a 6+ foot tall ghost-pale transvestite… which is to say, what expectations? 

For my part, I can’t think of too many voices in contemporary music who have elicited the kind of physical response I registered the first time I heard Hegarty sing. I remember cringing. I remember my heart beating a little faster. I remember registering a deep gut tingle, perhaps in disgust, perhaps in awe. Certainly the lyrics themselves, which often alluded to the less-trod paths of sexual aberration, jarred me. I found myself regarding his music with equal parts suspicion, confusion and utter enthrallment. In some ways I felt almost victimized by the melodrama. Syrupy. Hyperbolic. Schmaltzy. But somehow, endlessly captivating. Was this the kind of stuff that you weren’t supposed to admit you liked?  Was Antony Hegarty a hipster’s Celine Dion? Maybe. But if it was schmaltz he was selling, the stuff worked like a potion. I’ve been hooked ever since.

That first encounter came just after the release of his second album “I Am a Bird Now”, at which point I resolved myself to see him in the flesh. I’ve since watched him perform twice and each time I left the show nearly speechless. Live, perhaps even more so than on record, he is a force — smoldering with a subdued intensity that only crests from time to time as the trembling vibrato of his voice rises into a plaintive gale. His live shows reveal a musician clearly at ease with his vocal prowess and a man who thankfully hasn’t forgotten that, at the end of the day, we all still like dance music. Thus Beyonce:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGtmwZjGjyw[/youtube]

I’m supplying you today with a few other things to boot: a favorite track from each of his three albums and his new video, directed by, um, THE WACHOWSKI BROTHERS. (Did you ever hear of that movie called The Matrix?) Like I said, Alice in Wonderland meets Priscilla meets The Shining. Plus maybe a dash of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Bugged out.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y30PCFVTyDQ[/youtube]

Enjoy. 

      Cripple And The Starfish

      Fistful Of Love

      Epilepsy Is Dancing

Taken, respectively, from the LPs “Antony & The Johnsons” on Secretly Canadian (2000), “I Am A Bird Now” on Secretly Canadian (2005) and “The Crying Light” on Secretly Canadian (2009)

  • plaid feathers

    Well, well. I am a bit beside myself. My first love affair with Hegarty was when an ex gave me “I am a Bird Now” after the break up. I crawled deep inside myself and listened from there sheepishly. His voice has weird mind controlling powers. Fantastic entry!
    I am still a bit in awe that unbeknownst to me, my crush is a contributor to Mix Tape Riot……a central inspiration in our lil office in Brooklyn:)

  • Murphy's Law

    What!?! Mixtape Riot is heatin’ things up Coast to Coast! Igniting crushes, etc, apparently. Glad you liked the post, _____.

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The Unspoken, The Unheard

margo-guryan-take-a-picture

What happens when you’re a singer who can’t sing your own praises? What happens when your talent doesn’t come genetically outfitted with the blueprints for an inner Hype Machine? When the process of creating and the act of performing do not demand mutual reciprocation? In other words, what happens when you’re not a Kanye West?

Well. You have a career like Margo Guryan. 

I stumbled on this album, Guryan’s only recorded LP, by chance, while sifting around for nuggets on Emusic–a guilty pleasure from time to time. Needless to say, it didn’t take much for me to be seduced. The uber-smooth vocals, soothing riffs… and FUZZ? DRUMS?! FUNKY TIME SIGNATURES?!

This is essentially a typical late 60’s easy-listening album tricked out by a true musical original with future beat heads and record dorks like us in mind. Listen to “Love” and you’re basically treated to a three part carnival of ill psychaedelic experimentation. “Sunday Morning” opens almost like Billy Garner’s super-funky “I Got Some”. And let’s not forget “Someone I Know” which incorporates those beautifully melodic french horns… directly borrowed from J.S. Bach!

Damn! Girl had it going on! But like I said, the lady didn’t like to toot her own horn.  She went about quietly penning a few more hits here and there, collaborating with a handful of other notable musicians of various schools: jazz, rock, pop. She started a family. But did she ever get her props? Hell no!  So I’ll do it for her, forty years too late. 

To the soft spoken Margo Guryan; to the longevity of good music.

Continue reading…

  • doublepower

    Thanks for the post on Margo. Truly one of the under-appreciated/recognized voices out there. ‘Someone I Know’ is just sublime – one of my all time favorites.

  • Icastico

    New to me. Thanks.

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100% of Me Adores This Song

Vanessa Kendricks

Man o man. A song like this will do it to me every time. A little simple Tuesday soul for y’all.

Your average R&B flunky is likely familiar with the Gwen McCrae original (Glades, 1972) which is, in its own right, an absolute jam. I wouldn’t say this really tops the OG version, per se. I mean, truth be told, it’s not terribly different. The instrumental track is virtually identical and the drums are actually harder behind Gwen… but… but…

It’s the voice. Whereas Gwen vamps heavy with her powerful phrasing, my girl Vanessa goes with understated sexy. A little softer. A little sadder somehow. And I’m just spinning… 

Vanessa Kendricks - 90% of Me Is You

taken from the re-issue 12″ on Jazzman; also on the Jazzman complilation Florida Funk 

  • alphastart

    hey…um…love this track…um, how does one d-load these tracks???

  • alphastart

    arghhh….nvrmnd…

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Nobody Dances To Hip Hop No More

Breakdancing

Here’s the problem with T-Pain — and believe me, this is coming from someone who absolutely adores the robot-voiced man and his music. The problem with T-Pain is that sometimes when I listen to his music alone in the private comfort of my living room (and I do, often), and am given a booze-free mind and club-free atmosphere to ponder what he is actually talking aboutthe words themselves, mind you — well, I feel a bit guilty. What comes out of his mouth is about 90% complete and utter, unadulterated nonsense. Or at very least, not very lyrically sophisticated. Which, sadly, is the case for most pop music and, in particular, most music that you’d care to hear when you go out to get your shake on.

For the most part, Club Rap has become a trite series of the same old rhymes.

I ain’t mad. I get it. It’s the way stuff works. You can’t have a bunch of crazy words interfering with your baseline. Drums are more important than metaphors when you’re grinding up on the girl of your dreams. But this is only a half-truth. There was a time when you could hit a dancefloor and step out your troubles listening to the same music that got you hype in your car, in your shower, in your headphones. Songs that had a certain, how shall we say, complexity. It doesn’t mean that the lyrics themselves have to be philosophical gems each and every one, but that there’s more to ’em than languidly rhyming “Lamborghini Gallardo” with “Toronto”. (And this from a guy who loves “Can’t Believe It” as much or more than my mother.)

I’m really not hating. Not trying to anyway. I just wanted to remind y’all that dancefloors need more Hip Hop like this:

–New Mighty Mos: so neccessary

Q-Tip blessed us with a truly great album last year; this is a track that seemed to have slipped through the cracks

Wale + Ayers = the future.

–And as for Suga Free… Shee-it. I’m from L.A. y’all. This is the closest thing we’ve got.

Enjoy dancing.

Mos Def - Quiet Dog
taken from the forthcoming album The Ecstatic on Downtown Records (2009)

Q-Tip – Manwomanboggie (feat Amanda Diva)
taken from The Renaissance on Jive (2008)

Wale – Roof (DJ Ayres Remix)
taken from the whitelable 12″ (2008)

Suga Free – Cool
taken from the 12″ on Laneway (2003)

  • Ballantino

    Sorry to burst your bubble homie, but Suga Free is from Pomona. He’s also allergic to bullshit, just for the record.

  • Thun

    I agree wholeheartedly. There is no reason that a danceable song has to have dumbed down lyrics or must shy away from any attempt at meaningfully communicating something other than “shake your ass.” Every song that sounds good in a club doesn’t have to be about clubbing.

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