Shot Of Rhythm

[ Thursday, July 20, 2006 ]


New release round-up

Two records to spotlight today.

-First, the newly-freed Pimp C, one-half of Houston's mighty UGK and recent cause celebre among hip-hop artists from the Dirty South and elsewhere, returns with a fine collection of down-and-dirty H-town hip-hop, less reflective than might be assumed either by his recent incarceration or his association with Bun B, whose TRILL album last year featured some of the smartest hip-hop in recent years. The Pimp does, however, know how to work the gospel-esque celebration that marks so much Southern hip-hop, both lyrically and thematically. Combined with his new freedom, this energy permeates PIMPALATION, particularly on the kick-off tracks. "Free," appropriately titled and suitably energetic, is not only the best use ever of Tom Petty in a hip-hop song, but also far more interesting than anything on his upcoming, okay-not-great album HIGHWAY COMPANION. If Petty had sounded half this engaged on his last couple records, he'd still be one of the premier rock-and-rollers in the world. The second track, "Knockin' Doorz Down," is both a block-rocking H-town anthem, and a thinly-veiled statement of African-American solidarity that seems to advocate the union of both the hip-hop nation and the black community generally. Like the Peaches track I spotlighted last week, this is how politics should feel all the time.

Pimp C - "I'm Free," from PIMPALATION

Pimp C (feat. Pop and Lil Keke) - "Knockin' Doorz Down," from PIMPALATION

-The second record worth mentioning, Golden Smog's ANOTHER FINE DAY, totally snuck up on me. I've always liked this alt-supergroup's output, but (perhaps unsurprisingly) it's never approached the highpoints of the Smog's contributing groups (Wilco, Jayhawks, Soul Asylum and Run Westy Run). On this effort, though, Tweedy, Louris and the crew put together a fine collection of warm-and-warbly pop/rock that, at its best, stands with the recent work of the members' regular gigs. "Long Time Gone" is Tweedy at his melancholy best, "Corvette" is a wonderful escapee from the golden age of guitar pop, and "Cure For This" captures the group's gift for melody and harmony at its cascading, ethereal finest. Not everything on the album is great, but - particularly for a part-time "supergroup" that releases an album every eight years or so - I'll take it.

Golden Smog - "Long Time Gone," from ANOTHER FINE DAY

Golden Smog - "Corvette," from ANOTHER FINE DAY

Golden Smog - "Cure For This," from ANOTHER FINE DAY

I also added a couple links on the left, to blogs worth checking out: Ross Of Love, a nice, music-based blog run by Ross, who I met at the EMP conference, and Waxing America, a Madison-based politico-blog run by Mad City political legend Paul Soglin, which was kind enough to mention our little operation here in a post a couple weeks ago. Check 'em out.

I'd also point your way over to IckMusic, which recently spotlighted the friendship and collaboration between Joe Ely and The Clash. As usual at the site, the stories are supplemented with some choice tracks. Good stuff indeed.

On the box right now: Various Artists, THE TOMMY BOY STORY, VOLUME 1.


Dove With Claws [4:06 PM]

[ Tuesday, July 18, 2006 ]


Down Home In Dane County

I recently published an article (which can be found here) about the rich country-music scene currently riding the range in Madison, Wisconsin. I thought I'd celebrate the occasion by posting a few of the many great country tracks released by area artists.

-First is The Junkers, who - though now living only in memory and at the occasional reunion show - are still, in my opinion, the gold standard for Dane County country. The lead singer/main songwriter, Kenneth Burns (who can be found blogging his way into infamy at Back With Interest), is a superior vocalist and tunesmith, and the band found their deep "Maximum C&W" groove quickly, consistently and effectively.

The Junkers - "I Always Cry At Divorces"

-Next comes Pupy Costello and his Big City Honky Tonk, who have taken up that "Maximum C&W" mantle, quite noticeable on this rocket-blast cover of Roger Miller. Their album almost perfectly captures their live sound, in all its raucous energy and ragged glory.

Pupy Costello and his Big City Honky Tonk - "Kansas City Star"

-Cris Plata is perhaps the most woefully underappreciated talent in this town...or maybe it's the state. Tex-Mex country-rock with some really exceptional songs, Plata's music doesn't sound out of place next to any more famed or respected artist. This song is, for my money, Plata's current masterpiece.

Cris Plata - "Flag Day"

-Finally, we have Bill and Bobbie Malone. Bill C. Malone pioneered the study of country music, and - particularly in duet with his wife, and fellow scholar, Bobbie - he musically makes clear what he means. They've recently released a sweetly intimate album of some of their favorite songs, and - as a proud collaborator with the Doctors Malone - I can safely say that their record absolutely reflects the warmth of both their music and their spirit.

Bill and Bobbie Malone - "Wheels"

For more of this stuff, listen live, tomorrow (Wednesday the 19th) from 9 AM to 12 PM CST, to Bill Malone's radio show Back To The Country, on which - to connect with my piece - the good Doctor will be playing a full show of Madison country, featuring many of the artists that I featured, plus a bunch I didn't have room for.

On the box right now: The Roots, GAME THEORY. Comes out next month; more on this later.


Dove With Claws [8:14 AM]

[ Sunday, July 16, 2006 ]



Leave it to Peaches, the techno-punk queen of the blues, to come up with our new political motto: "I'd rather fuck who I want than kill who I am told to." Amen.

Just like any good slogan, the line's delivered memorably and briefly, in this 46-second kick-off track to Peaches' new record. Coming soon to rallies and flyers...

Peaches - "Fuck Or Kill"

On the box right now: Various Artists, THE CHESS STORY, Disc 1.


Dove With Claws [9:56 AM]