The Last Drop

Reviews and Clues on Music That Matters (to me)

Archive for the ‘Stockpile’ Category

Stockpile: Burial

leave a comment

Burial, UntrueLonliness never sounded so good.

And London never had a better theme album since this guy came around. Every winter I fall into a state of needing seasonal music. And no, it’s not related to the holidays. When the sun becomes less and less prevalent (and I become more and more irritable), it’s nice to have music that is balanced. And slightly moody. Something to capture the essence of winter – cold, all encompassing and distant. And I can’t think of a better companion than Untrue.  Shallow drum and bass with 80’s R&B vocals spliced to sound like the very essence of council house living.Destitution in the midst of magnificence. It’s more urban than we Americans can fathom. Hip hop is tough because of it’s braggadocio, the need to fill a void with immensity. Burial is tough because of it’s emptiness. The soft fades. The empty promises. The unrequited love. I challenge anyone to listen to this album and not feel a little bit less than they were before. But not in a demeaning way. It’s the same feeling I got when watching Talk to Her – just because your heart is breaking doesn’t make it any less an amazing feat.

Written by TopDrop

November 4th, 2010 at 2:09 am

Posted in Stockpile

Tagged with

Stockpile: Santogold

leave a comment

Santogold, Santogold – This was another “I’ll pass on the mainstream release to hear the quirky remix album”. I had about heard enough of Santi White by the time I had left London in September last year. I even went to her show at Scala (quite impressive actually) and was a fan. But the overexposure of almost an entire album was too much for me to handle. So instead of actually buying the album, I went with the Diplo sponsored collabo Top Ranking. Mind you, this was the same approach I (less intentionally) made with Jamie Lidell to much success (try Multiply: Additions on for size if you haven’t had a chance). And to quite honest, I think Top Ranking improves upon the original. But I was shocked to hear how vastly different the recordings were. Where Top Ranking gets it kick from hard nocking beats and deft island inspired mash ups, Santogold is much more straight forward in its rock ambitions. It’s hard for me to truly appreciate all of the reviews on how forward thinking the original was when the remixes elevate her sound. But it is interesting to hear a fresher take on new wave rock. And her voice provides a great instrument that very few vocalists (moreso among women) can match in intensity and range. Even Jay Z took notice. Santogold stands on it’s own in spite of the ambitious Top Ranking and I give ample credit to Santi for bending her “genre” as many ways as possible.

Written by TopDrop

March 12th, 2009 at 12:38 am

Posted in Stockpile

Tagged with , , ,

Stockpile: Antony &The Johnsons

leave a comment

Antony & the Johnsons, Antony & the Johnsons – Everyone kept on describing this album as “passionate”. What does that really mean, particularly when all music should show some passion in it? But I must say, that is the best terminology to describe Antony’s voice. He is almost overwhelmed by his passion and the songs seem semi-operatic in structure. Or at least over the top. Same goes for the thematic structure. It’s all or nothing. But not in a pretentious way (Viva la Vida and….). Nevertheless, it took me by surprise and I couldn’t quite figure out if I liked it or not. But it grew on me. Quickly. And I genuinely enjoy it. It is definitely a mood piece – hard to digest often in the summer – but it does have it’s place. My major concern, which is totally unfair but still remains, is his lisp. It was SO hard to overcome in early listens. I didn’t know if it was a cruel joke or a real condition. It still takes me out of the music in the early songs, but falls away by the end of the album. Oh yes, another great aspect of this piece – good ending! I’m always surprised by albums that end poorly and this one was quite the opposite – “Blue Angel” was a rousing romp and great fun. Sign me up for the ever growing bandwagon.

Oh, and HUGE Thanks to Zubin for sending this my way. There is so much I’m missing and Zubin is showing me the light!

Written by TopDrop

July 16th, 2008 at 5:14 am

Stockpile: TeddyBears

one comment

Teddybears, Soft Machine – Long live Swedish pop! They are taking over the world! Or at least my world of music. And how wonderful it is. Just to tick off a few of my Swedish favorites: Robyn, Peter, Bjorn and John, Lykkie Li, Max Martin (true, he did sell out by producing early Britney, but come on, you know you liked it) and Jens Lekman. They really do just know pop up there. And being fit. And having excellent socialized services. But high taxes! Where is this going….

Ah yes, back to the mainstream pop. Which this album exhibits an unending collection. Soft touches of genre bending make it instantly appealing without seeming too “poppy” (the Black Eyed Peas fell off the deep end a long time ago and should take note). Alas, it is still a little too commercial for me. The radio presence of collaborations is a bit nauseating at times (Elephant Man goes to Sweden? I don’t think so…) and you can tell this is easily a cell phone and iTunes selling CD. In fact, I’m sure most of the tracks have been sampled in one way or another to sell some type of product. Not to say that all advertising music is bad (Jamie Lidell DID sell out to Target and I still love him), but a whole album of catchy with no substance leaves me lacking. Much like eating Fun Dip, the sugar is too sweet after a while. I would have liked a little more of the quirkiness that their brethren all exhibit (a hook that is whistled, a dance song about breaking up, a misinterpretation of a conversation sung in troubadour style, etc.) Still, I have to give respect to a culture that respects great pop music and continues to progress its bounds.

Written by TopDrop

July 15th, 2008 at 5:08 am

Stockpile: The Libertines

leave a comment

The Libertines, The Libertines – UK garage rock royalty, compliments of my new favorite music supporter and recommender Zubin. Big ups to Greenwich!

I guess for rock and roll, it really does take two. The early collaboration of Carl Barat and Pete Doherty was explosive, problematic, but overall fruitful. Warring personalities at worst, these two created interesting music together. On this second and final album, The Libertines personify garage rock to fullest. Warts and all. Stylistically, they cross lots of territory, but sit quite comfortably in post punk independent rock. Easy hooks, pseudo Beatles pop sensibility, and nothing more than 3 minutes. Which can be fun at first, but ultimately runs out of steam halfway through the album. 14 songs following a sad, self flagellating relationship is bit much. Don’t get me wrong, these two are at their songwriting finest when they are pining and wanton with desire. It just gets tedious. And since I don’t have the innate heredity of following their tumult from the beginning, I’m less swayed by their antics to add “depth” to their records. Still, a seminal rock album from a group that is destined to influence a generation of art rockers.

Written by TopDrop

May 4th, 2008 at 4:34 pm

Posted in Stockpile

Tagged with ,

Stockpile: De La Soul

leave a comment

De La Soul, Bulhoone Mind State – More music that I slept on in it’s original release. True, I was much younger then (and still didn’t own my first CD until age 21) and living in western NY state. Bring on the Bon Jovi and Warrant. Tribe Called who? EP needs an MD? Yeah, I’m behind. But I am trying. And liking what I try. This may prove to be a series on the grandness that is De La Soul. I’ve been airing my grievances on contemporary hip hop lacking any serious depth when all I had to do was go back 10 years to find it. Regressive? Don’t tell Lil’ Jon.

This album is as much a triumph on lyrical expressionism as it is with musical experimentation. De La Soul flirt with weighty images of self identification, image, poverty, and moral mistakes with a genuine and sonically diverse attitude. Early to mid ’90s hip hop should be classified as the Impressionist era. No two songs seem to settle blanketly on one type of genre, whether jazzy, funky, bass driven, or pop. Yet they convey the strengths of each element well. Plus, we get intelligent lyrics that are clever and witty but unpretentious. And even fun. This is hip hop after all.

I’ve acquired much of De La Soul’s library of classic albums and I look forward to expanding my knowledge of their sound. If only I wasn’t being a harbinger of the past…

Written by TopDrop

April 11th, 2008 at 11:17 am

Posted in Stockpile

Tagged with ,

Black History Month Special: New School

leave a comment

Posting #2 in my Black History month review. From the Queen of Soul to a destined child of pop/R&B royalty.

Beyonce, B’Day – To be fair, I was a proclaimed hater. I enjoyed the radio hits from Destiny’s Child but tired easily of Beyonce’s solo effort. I wrote her off as another pop/r&b singer with some talent that was wasted on trying to create for the masses. Dangerously In Love used a tired and repetitive theme and wore me out with trite lyrics and limited song structure. And an over-abundance of ballads. Thus, when B’Day was released, I was the first to write her off. Even if I did like “Deja Vu” – live instrumentation, bass groove driven, no unnecessary wailing. But the Jay Z added verse was too much of a tell tale sign of corporate(and romantic) collaboration for the purpose of selling a single. And then I heard “Get Me Bodied”.

“Get Me Bodied” is still blowing my mind. I can’t stop freaking out when I hear this song on the radio or in a club. It is the perfect mix of contagious and silly. I’ve never been inspired to learn dance steps to an extended mix before and now I constantly show off my prowess on “Patting my Weave” and “Doing the Naomi Campbell walk”. Once I realized that Beyonce had the potential to be crazy (not in love), I instantly liked her. The whole album is full of these witty, silly jokes set to a non-stop groove that has put a hold on me. The titles say it all – Freak Um Dress, Kitty Kat, Sugga Mama. You could easily mistake this as Beyonce reincarnating her image as Foxxy Brown. And she does it well. Especially considering it is rumored to have taken only 2 weeks to record (after Dreamgirls but before Kelly Rowland’s release – scandal!). She even sold me on two ballads – the now ubiquitous “Irreplaceable”and gospel tinged, tricky, 9/8 timed “Resentment”. Both are to the point and don’t belabor the point. She gets a little showy, but I guess she had to prove that she could still sing after cooing and funking up the majority of the album. I got to hand it B, I’m hooked. The turn towards camp and full blown dance diva works. Seriously, what does “Get Me Bodied” even mean? That’s how good you are!

Written by TopDrop

February 27th, 2008 at 5:02 pm

Black History Month Special: Old School

leave a comment

It’s a little late in the month to show the true spirit, but I had to show support in some fashion. Even if I happened to stumble on my black history finds. No one has to know 😉 Here’s to remembering a legend and their influence on our current musical landscape.

Aretha Franklin, Aretha Arrives – Yep, another first album from a well respected (and prolific) artist. I know the hits, but what a difference it makes to hear original recordings. It’s like being invited into the anticipation and excitement of first hearing her voice. That voice. You never forget the way her voice made you feel the first time you heard it. Aretha Arrives only magnifies that sensation with the added rustic appeal from the 1967 Atlantic recording techniques. It’s just this powerful and emotive wall of sound (not as dramatic as Phil Spector) that is…intense. In that great kind of way. I mean, come on, Whitney Houston’s mother was one of her background singers. Completely unfair. She performs a wide spectrum of covers, starting with the The Stones’ “Satisfaction”, turned into this funk inspired jam, hitting even Sinatra’s “That’s Life” for an inspiring gospelified R&B anthem. She covers the spectrum of R&B material and styles with equally amounts of technique and unbridled emotion. Simply, this is a wide-eyed, head shaking, awe inspiring album. Such a shame that is not in print in America anymore (thank you to Offbeat Music for importing this and letting me purchase the last copy!)

Written by TopDrop

February 27th, 2008 at 4:12 pm

Stockpile: Jay Z

leave a comment

Jay Z, Kingdom Come – So, this is my first Jay Z album. No, I’m not an alien from another planet. I just never got around to owning his work he has been a mainstay on Top 40 radio for the last decade. If I didn’t hear it in the car driving I could always find it out at a club for prime booty shaking. Now you see the large gaps in my musical knowledge showing. Just wait until I get into my Beatles rant…

Kingdom Come was critically panned by most everyone. Furthermore, it was one of Jay Z’s lowest selling releases of the recent past. So, of all the Jay Z albums I could own, let alone review, why this one? Because I actually like it. Yes, I am the raging minority that enjoys Jay Z as a grown up. True, his lyrics aren’t as biting as even his radio releases (did I just hear him mention Gwyneth Paltrow and St. Tropez for the third time). True, you won’t be astounded by the amazing production value of his usual roster of hitmakers. No Timbaland in sight – how did that happen? But what you do gain is a a peek into the life of a grown up rapper. There aren’t many of them. Or at least the older ones don’t reference their age ever (Snoop, you still trying to tell me you a thug at 100 lbs soaking wet? Go back to MTV and get your Shownizzle recontractizzled.). Thus, this is my first chance at looking at what a 30 year old CEO has on his mind after being a raw, yet talented hustler. Not surprisingly, he focuses much of his effort on reinforcing his age to flaunt the fact that he isn’t young anymore, but youth may not be what is desirable. When you have a song entitled “30 something” you are really trying to sell this “grown up” vibe. For me, it works. I don’t need another record highlighting how much money you have, how nice your car is, or how hood you can be – admitting that you are older and don’t have the urge to buy rims anymore is actually inspiring. Go ahead and write a(nother) song to your mother on how you are successful and can finally afford to buy her anything she wants. You know what, I actually would like to go to St. Tropez, so tell me a little more about it. He still has some venom to attack younger rappers and refute his self imposed retirement. He’s just not overly concerned with maintaining the tried braggadocio of most contemporary hip hop. For me, it works. I enjoy listening to an album that actually deals with internal conflict vs. reinforcing the external conflict of most rap themes (money, women, drugs, bling, etc.). I wish he did have some more bite in his lyrics and a few of the beats are a bit too laid back. Nevertheless, I’m more inclined to listen to future Jay Z records from this release. I know that puts me in a rather small minority, but I guess I’ve been dealing with that for a long time 🙂

Written by TopDrop

January 20th, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Posted in Stockpile

Tagged with ,

Stockpile: Basement Jaxx

one comment

Basement Jaxx, Kish Kash – I usually don’t quote other musical authorities in my own review, but I did take a peak at an old Pitchfork review that purely made me laugh and smile:

“At the time, I thought Kish Kash was something close to the perfect pop album. It’s more like the musical equivalent of playing Katamari Darmacy for eight hours straight or eating an entire bag of fun-size Hershey bars: feels great at the time, but oh the headache/toothache/feeling of recrimination the next day. Maybe I’m just getting older and need more roughage in my diet, or maybe the iPod has rendered the whole concept of “an album as the world’s greatest mixtape” irrelevant. Listening to Prince and gypsy music back to back is no longer a big deal, if it ever was.”

Oh Katamari Damacy, how I love thee! True enough, this album is dance music created for after you eat a large Pixie stick – hyperactive, obnoxious, and inducing a multicolored tongue. But I love it! And I’m looking for pixie sticks over here, but can’t find any, so I’m stuck with Kish Kash instead. Brilliant choices for collaborations (Who knew JC Chasez could be used so effectively outside of N’Sync; if only his solo efforts produced these type of gems) and pure entertainment from front to back. The Michelle N’Degeochello tracks are the true standouts, but I honestly can’t complain about much off of the whole album. Having found Basement Jaxx very late in life (well, I did here “Where’s Your Head At?” but didn’t own any of their work), I am rather shocked at how well their back catalog holds up with their recent efforts. Both Kish Kash and Crazy Itch Radio are extremely enjoyable listens to this day, each with distinctive, Jaxxy qualities that mark the success of great dance producers. This is not your typical European house and yet not friendly enough to cross over into mainstream America. Wherever this middle ground is, it’s a better place for embracing Basement Jaxx.

Written by TopDrop

January 20th, 2008 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Stockpile

Tagged with ,