The Last Drop

Reviews and Clues on Music That Matters (to me)

Archive for February, 2008

Black History Month Special: New School

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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

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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

O Happy Day

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Can it be that my dreams have come true? A whole day for celebrating the relevance and importance of independent record stores? Why yes, yes it has!

Written by TopDrop

February 20th, 2008 at 2:16 pm

New Issue: Vampire Weekend

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Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend – Fresh from their glowing review on Pitchfork and lots of (inter)national buzz, Vampire Weekend is choc full of “the next best thing out of New York” excitement. With comparisons to Paul Simon and The Police, how could they not take the world by storm? Even I have been sucked into this mess (well, they DO have an emphasis on African rhythms, so I’m merely supporting my people…). One day into this album, I can see where the hype has been built from. The first 5 tracks are a monstrous success – full of articulate, lean, pop filled, transcontinental sounds. Even I was surprised at how good they sound for a college band from an elitist school. Not that I have any problems with elitist schools (thank you Wash U for that $120,000 receipt!). Just the combination of college elitism AND New York can sometimes lead to underwhelming hype. Which seeps into the middle section of this album. When the songs start to rely heavily on the college themes (“Campus”, “One(Blake’s Got a New Face”), the album starts to sound repetitive and too self referential. Nevertheless, their sound is expansive in all of the right places and the addition of equatorial soundscapes makes it more enduring than their earlier buzzmakers (The Strokes anyone?). For all of their many positives, I still think this may be a one off band. I like the allusions to Sting and Paul Simon, but Ezra Koenig is not nearly as skilled a vocalist as I would like him to be. This seems to be the trend in indy rock – you can get by with enough wit to make up for limited skill. I have not been a fan of this approach, but I guess I am in the minority. Not looking for the next American Idol, but I wouldn’t mind a few lead singers that can stay on pitch without having to scream. Either way, this effort is good in spite of it’s overt attempt to be off the cuff and clever. I don’t know if this is a lasting formula. Rather, I can’t imagine this being a lasting formula. But for now, I’ll take it for what it’s worth and listen heartily.

Written by TopDrop

February 17th, 2008 at 3:58 pm

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A Banner Year

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It is a sign. The stars are aligning. This year will be…something special. Outside of the radical changes that I’ve already taken to start off 2008 (still living in London, that Trek to the Himalayas that I need your help with, finally learning Spanish/Italian, etc.), so shall my musical journey follow. I’ve mentioned to a few that there are two artists that I would do anything to see – absolute drop all commitments and pay whatever they ask – which has been a tall order to live up to. Especially when both artists were not touring actively in Europe. Well, the wait is over and I am lucky enough to see BOTH in 2008. Plus, I just saw The Cool Kids up close and personal. If you haven’t gotten onto their bandwagon, do so immediately. I can’t wait to see them blow up this year (courtesy of their friendship of a certain Mr. West in Chicago). And to reveal my hidden pleasures of musical supremacy:

Jamie Lidell@Koko, April 29th
– Yeah, yeah, I’ve already seen him. On a birthday concert to boot. But he is still the only man I would marry. And Koko is a top notch venue. Plus he has a new album that is releasing the day before the show. He has been noted as “Britain’s version of Prince”. Don’t know if I agree (no signs of wearing any purple or Lake Minnetonka references), but he is one of the most creative soul singers I’ve ever witnessed.

Girl Talk@The Dome, March 3rd – I missed him the first time he came to London and was devastated. Literally. I couldn’t get any work done and was depressed for three days. Now that he is coming back, I am prepared. Tickets are bought. Dancing shoes will be in full use. Hot and sweaty pictures may even be must. This is one underground trendsetter that has my unabashed support.

Written by TopDrop

February 14th, 2008 at 4:22 am

Posted in Drop Kick

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New Issue: The Maccabees

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The Maccabees, Coulour It In – I purchased this album based on the free tracks from Daytrotter (see, free music DOES make you want to hear more). And that the album uses the British spelling of color. Any excuse to enjoy the differences in British and American culture is always appreciated. Even without my crude sense of humour, the album stands on its own. Driving indie rock to the fullest. Lots of clear cut guitar riffs, cleanly delineated rhythms and a heartfelt, emotional lead singer. Also, more upbeat than expected. The Daytrotter sessions were more of the brooding variety, yet the album relies heavily on a brisk pace. This can sometimes lead to bleeding of songs into one another. In a bad way. They all become a little non-descript since they are all at the same speed. But the British indie bands usually salvage sonic repetition for lyrical ingenuity. The Maccabees are at the top of the NME indie ladder, but they do make an enjoyable album. It is definitely a first album with limited expansion of different music styles. However, it does hint towards a more interesting follow up. Furthermore, it would be a ton of fun to see them live, get sweaty and two step/hop with the rest in the crowd.

Written by TopDrop

February 4th, 2008 at 1:13 pm