Five Songs Of The Week

I’ve grown tired of the official version of the friday five, but I enjoy the exciting thrill of having a designated writing assignment each week. With a ton of music to review, I figured this would be a good chance to spotlight some music I’ve been listening to lately that you should be as well.
So let’s do this weekly – five tracks, on Saturdays, that you’ve been listening to a lot over the past week. Doesn’t have to be new music, just whatever you’ve had stuck on repeat. Tell a story about it if there is one. List them in whatever order you want. And join in if you want.
Reign, by UNKLE, off the album Never, Never, Land
When I picked up the import of this album this past week on a fluke find, I was a little shocked to find that DJ Shadow was no longer a part of the group. Before I was able to get home and listen, the question was rolling around my head – would this be similar to Psyence Fiction? Was the stuff I liked Shadow, or was it James Lavelle?
This track stands out far from the rest (although the album on a whole is quite good). Superb vocals from Ian Brown, nice orchestral instrumentation, and has that ability to move you for having just the right chords. Definitely pick this up when it hits stateside.
Dark & Long (Dark Train), by Underworld, off the album 1992-2002.
Back in 1999, after self-subjecting myself to house and industrialish rock for much of high school, and dabbling electronically for the first year of college, I was still very green when it came to good techno/trance. During finals in the Spring semester, my parents were abroad in England. They brought me back three CDs. One was Orbital’s Middle Of Nowhere, which had just come out. One was Lab 4’s Neurocide, which lead to a brief dabble with hardcore trance. And then there was the original Trance Nation, which (I just noticed) had just come out.
Right there, on the first disk, was the song that hooked me for good. And that song was Dark & Long (Dark Train) – albeit a 4 minute or so cut. This version, from the recently released Underworld greatest hits collection, is over 10 minutes long, and not a second of it is wasted. It’s a classic in every sense of the word.
Spaceship Earth, by Naoki Kenji, off the album Tozai: The New Sound of Japanese Breakbeat Cultures.
Thanks to my love affair with Japanese music games, I’ve been digging a lot more into Japanese music as of late. My m-flo addiction, for instance, rapidly became a standard part of my collection. But I stumbled onto this album, and it’s a fantastic collection of breakbeat/drum’n’bass work – not heavy, not even close to IDM, but just really well done breakbeats. The kind of stuff I like to have as a life soundtrack when I’m busy. The first track, Spaceship Earth, is very enjoyable.
Let’s Push Things Forward (Streets Remix with Roll Deep With Dizzee Rascal, by The Streets, off the album All Got Our Runnins
I remember when I first saw the hype for the Streets – it was the almost uniform inclusion of the album on every top 25 albums of 2002 list. I wondered what the big deal was – British rap? Meh. But with a two-step beat? Hmm, maybe.
I nabbed the album, and at first I was incredulous – what the fuck was this? I joke with Thom frequently that you can make a Streets song by just going “Oi, Geezers, Oi” in random combinations. But like all good albums, it grabs you after a few listens. The hooks are there, and the rapping IS good, even if it is distinctively british.
This EP, which consists largely of remixes, contains the aforementioned remix of Let’s Push Things Forward – which I had not exactly liked on the album. But this version – with a sharp string section with a completely unregular rhythm, works fantastically. Not sure if I can recommend this to people who aren’t into the Streets to begin with, but hey, you never know. Oi oi oi.
Rock Star (Nevins Club Blaster Edit), by N.E.R.D., off the SSX 3 Soundtrack
No, I’m not just listing this because of the new iPod ad – out of the rather abridged soundtrack CD, this is by far the best track. I’ve never had any interest in the Neptunes, and I dig this. It’s just fantastically mixed – grabs you and doesn’t stop shaking you for eight minutes. And yeah, it helps that it’s fantastic for in-game music for SSX 3.