Home > 1994, 2011, 2013, diva, House, LDN, NY, video > Picks 5/12/2013

Picks 5/12/2013

My old receiver was literally the bane of my existence and so I upgraded to a little $25 amp from China. Best move. Can’t wait to give the old one the Office Space treatment. I’ve been having really good record luck recently. I don’t know what it is, but I love it. TIME2MOVE on Friday was great. Despite some heavy competition (stacked house show down the street / stacked lineup at Rhonda) a lot of people showed up and we had a good ass time. Stay up, its just about summer.

Pulled from the wellsprings that are: Amoeba, Chemical-Records and Discogs.

Brandy – Brandy (Atlantic, 1994)

As I’ve said before, I’m deep in an R&B state of mind. The R&B 12″s section of the record store has been a consistent first stop for me in the last few months. This record came with a particularly amazing comeuppance of modern R&B LPs, Beyonce and Brandy, Jessie Ware and Cassie still sealed in the shrink. Still working through the stack, but this has been the instant winner right here.

Largely produced by Keith Crouch, Brandy’s first album serves as a precursor to the burgeoning neo-soul movement. More soulful than new jack swing, harder than a Babyface production, the record shares that sense of warmness that comes from real instruments and analog production. Listen to the unbelievable “I Wanna Be Down” and tell me that D’Angelo and Erykah Badu weren’t vibin. The warmth and emotion, the vocal delivery, the lyrics are all perfect. She’s able to convey so much emotion, so much conviction in a way that seems effortless. That beat just shuffling along, holding down the groove but giving plenty of space to the star. It’s a timeless track that sounds good almost twenty years later and will still sound good in another twenty.

Brandy is just unstoppable throughout the record as her vocal style is unique, passionate and so pleasant to the ear. Moving between ballads, party starters, diva jams and weirdo 90s r&b, the record is cohesive, although a little long. Of course I have a preference to the funky tracks, the groovers with that 90s swing. “Baby” (above) appears early on in the tracklist and its appeal is immediately felt. The beat is breezy and funky with Brandy absolutely killing it on the mic, sounding vibrant and powerful like a seasoned veteran delivering a hook that just wont quit. The track also serves as an excellent example of her use of overdubbed vocals. Layered vocals was a formula that Brandy used frequently and gives her vocal delivery an dynamic nature that is unparalleled, and really, can you have too much of a good thing?

The low slung “Best Friend” is another Keith Crouch win. Effortlessly sounding like two or three singers within the frame of one song, Brandy has the ability to make every simple phrase brim with melody, overflow with that golden tone of her voice. The other production team on deck is Somethin’ For the People and their blend of hip hop and soul sensibilities works almost as well as Crouch’s work. On “Sunny Day,” the vibe shines bright as a rhodes drenched shuffling instrumental makes enough noise to easily pass for a missing Q-Tip beat. The harder boombap of Somethin’s productions foreshadows the direction she would ultimately spend her career chasing.

Absolutely excellent record, I know this is going to get a lot of play this summer. “Baby” has already done an excellent job rocking a few parties. My only complaint is that like a lot of records from this time when CDs were the greater focus, it was pressed as a single LP and at 28 minutes of music on each side the record kinda sounds like shit. Oh well, that’s why they make mp3s, right?

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Girl Unit / Morri$ – Night Slugs Allstars Vol. 2 Sampler (Night Slugs, 2013)

This is something else I’ve been trying to pick up for a while. Nobody has had it for a price I like so I bit the bullet yesterday and picked it up Amoeba for $15. I’m a big fan of the Night Slugs label, those cats are really pushing forward a different style of music, borrowing from all over the place to piece together a grime/ghettohouse/trap/ballroom/whatever concoction. Their shit knocks, and although I don’t buy every release, I will gladly admit that each 12″ or LP is never anything but forward looking music. Combined with their sister Fade to Mind crew, we have the future of club music right here.

It was initially Girl Unit’s “Double Take (Part 2)”  that instilled the lust in me. “Double Take” initially appeared on his Club Rez EP from last year and it always bummed me out that the euphoric mellow part didn’t stick around long enough. I was even considering trying to piece together an edit just when I heard a long version of the track on Kingdom’s 1xtra mix. It’s a really wonderful track, but I’ve gotta say Morri$’ “White Hood” (above) takes the cake on this one. It’s like a hood symphony up in here. The accordion sample is absolutely killer, slightly menacing, but overwhelmingly catchy. The atmosphere is thick with sound, fat 808s rock against samples of marbles in a wooden box, with chimes and hazy synth tones all up in the mix. Bok Bok’s dub mix takes away the clutter and leaves for a functional rhythm track, but the winner is definitely the original.

Morri$ is in town Thursday, playing the opening party for the homies Low Limit and Sodapop’s new venture Household.

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Zomby – Dedication (4AD, 2011)

Not sure why it took me so long to pick this up, I’ve got a lot of his early stuff and I really love Where Were U in ’92. For the last few months I have literally been craving the sound of Zomby; his grimey, neon tones coupled with deep rhythmic palettes ranging from grime to funky, house to juke. After a few trips to record stores and not being able to find this record I took to the trusty fallback, Discogs.

As much as people talk about Zomby’s music, they talk about his persona more. He’s notorious for being outlandish, a shit talker and pretty self-involved. His twitter feed is absolutely hilarious. Perhaps his biggest his, “Natalia’s Song” (above) came out in controversy last year, revealing that the producer took a sample or segment of a track from another artist and didn’t credit him. Regardless, the song is beautiful, a perfectly hazy, melancholy garage track with bits of glimmering melody at every step of the way. It’s obviously an ode to the work of Burial, and although not executed with the same expertise, it still conjures the same emotional depth.

Much of the record is characterized by bright ravey synth tones, echoing both jungle and grime, but implemented in a way that manages to sound fresh. “Riding With Death” enters with some old school dubbed out subbass, then carried along by a shuffling beat and a rolling muted organ. The atmosphere is thick and the groove is insatiable. When the first tracks from this album began to leak it took everyone by surprise that most of the songs just seemed to end without any logical conclusion. But in typical Zomby fashion, he seems to have had the grander vision of a cohesive album journey in mind. Often when one track ends it’ll dive straight into another, like a raucous mix in the club or a party mix on the radio – all accentuated with gunshot samples and airhorns. It works to great effect when the rolling rave rhythm of “Lucifer” morphs into the thumping “Digital Rain“.

This album works well, it balances brooding dark atmosphere and percussion with those bright synths that creep in like lasers through the haze. My favorite track on the record, “A Devil Lay Here” moves along patiently, heavily focused on that groovey bassline and some heavily romanticized Ruff Sqwad worship. All in all a great buy. I’m amped for his new album next month.

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Kenny Dope Presents The Bucketheads – The Bomb! (Henry Street/Decks Classix, 1994)

As I had no prior knowledge of this song, maybe I internalized it when hearing it on the radio or seeing it on MTV as a kid (I honestly have no memory of either), but when I heard a 45 second clip of this on the Chemical-Records new arrivals section I did a backflip. Something about the track instilled a sense of longing and nostalgia aka I had to buy it immediately. Funny enough, that same week I found two copies of it in the Amoeba used bin for $2-4 and then I read an interview with the Black Madonna who gave it a shout out.

The Bomb” (full version) has been in my possession for over a month now and I can’t help but give the full 14+ minutes of it a listen pretty much everyday. I love how the rolling tribal rhythm peppered with raucous organ stabs sheds its tough exterior to reveal a beautifully soulful disco-house track. The horns are the definition of alluring, the chopped vocals catchy and nonsensical in the way that only Dope can do it. I really love every moment of this track. Everytime I start to mix records at home it inevitably ends up getting played. I think the Black Madonna sums up my feelings for this record pretty well: “It’s one of those records that ate the world because it was just so good.”

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Categories: 1994, 2011, 2013, diva, House, LDN, NY, video Tags: ,
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