Matthew Dear – Slowdance EP
Label: Ghostly International (2011)
Genres: Indie Electronic, House, Synth Pop
Sounds like: Bear In Heaven, Breakbot, Photocall, Todd Edwards
Review by: Eric Jensen
I’m admittedly not the biggest fan of Matthew Dear. I thought his Black City album was OK, but nothing special. This collection of remixes of songs from that album (and one bonus b-side “Innh Dahhh”), however, is awesome. Dear lined up some fantastic recognizable remix artists for this release, including Breakbot, Bear In Heaven, and Sascha, but it’s often the unknowns that produce the best re-interpretations. Nicolas Jaar turns “You Put A Smell On Me” into a Gorgio Moroder synth epic, while Breakbot makes Matthew Dear sound like a sexually charged Prince (redundant, I know) in his remix of the same song. Bear In Heaven takes the title of “Slowdance” literally, keeping their remix at the same tempo, but altering the rhythms enough to make one wonder if Matthew Dear is really Everlast in disguise. The large number of engaging remixes on this release would indicate the source material has a lot to offer. Perhaps I’ll give Black City another listen.
Led Bib – Bring Your Own
Label: Cuneiform (2011)
Genres: Jazz, Punk Jazz
Sounds like: John Zorn, Acoustic Ladyland, Gutbucket
Review by: David Zeek Martin
Raucous, dirty, discordant, chunky, noisy and just damn near perfect. Described by some as punk-jazz, there is no denying appropriateness of that label.
These guys are great, and pull from an extraordinarily varied combined past that kind of explains what the hell is going on here. Sort of. Great stuff.
Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part 2
Label: Capitol (2011)
Genre: Hip-Hop, Alternative
Sounds like: Public Enemy, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest
Review by: Harrison Grimwood
After staying inactive in 2010 as Yauch recovered, the Beasties are back with a 16-track album full of squelchy beats, tossed-off jokes and on-point rhyming. The Boys sound rejuvenated, especially on the terrific “Too Many Rappers,” which features Nas—it’s impressive how fresh their verses sound considering how long everyone involved has been in the game. “Make Some Noise” is a grimey slice of funk that’s topped with a sea of tripped-out rhymes—it’d be shocking if you don’t groove to it. The song showcases their stellar musicianship too, which isn’t always as noted as their vocal skills. The Beasties prove they’ve still got what it takes to rock the house—Hot Sauce was definitely worth the wait.
Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – Rome
Label: Capitol (2011)
Genre: Pop, Soundtrack
Sounds Like: Bruno Nicolai, Ennio Morricone, Norah Jones
Review by: TG Keas
Taking cues from spaghetti westerns, Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) and Daniele Luppi combine their pop writing with the grandeur of the Italian films. Much of this aesthetic is genuinely realized – Burton and Luppi were able to track down many of the aging musicians who performed the classic soundtracks. Likewise, vintage instruments and equipment were used to resurrect the sound. Unfortunately, Burton’s skills as a pop producer prove less than ideal. The production is rather clean and, as such, breaks with the 60’s thematic edge. The songs tend towards the sound of a modern soundtrack or album rather than the dustiness of a Leone picture. But even though the full sound might not be a perfect replica, the songwriting is quite good. When this is coupled with the performance of the ever-talented Jack White and Norah Jones, it gets genuinely impressive. At the end of the day, these are simply damn fine musicians doing what they do best.