When a music connoisseur mentions the words “DJ Muggs”, several things come to mind. One of the best hip-hop producers of all-time? One of the best producers of all-time, period? That guy from Queens behind all your favorite Cypress Hill classics (he’s working on the next album right now) and the unforgettable House of Pain’s “Jump Around”? The guy who’s collaborated with U2 and Depeche Mode and just recently released an EP this week called ‘Vita E Morte’ with a new multimedia collective featuring Andrew Kline, Brevi, and Sean Bonner named Cross My Heart Hope to Die (CMHHTD)? Yeah, that dude.
Is there any such thing as the perfect song? The truth is it is highly doubtful. Several have tried to write the perfect pop song but none have succeeded. First of all, it would be hard to get agreement on what constituted perfection. Even assuming this would be agreed, who would then decide? I would probably take serious issue with the likely judges in this, the most likely ones putting themselves forward would be record companies, DJ’s and music critics. Can you imagine the horrendous results that would occur if Andrew Cornall (Head of A&R at EMI), Fearne Cotton (Radio 1 DJ) and some dreadful hack from the New Musical Express formed a committee to pass judgement? Or worse, Simon Cowell.
Bitten by the travel bug to hit the road as temperatures rise, July is a great month to mix business with pleasure. With five months left to go before we wrap up 2014, it’s a good time take stock. How much have you achieved this year? What can you do to turn things around and make it count? Invited to a conference by the good people at SXSW, V2V (Venture to Venture) brought together business leaders, entrepreneurial artists and hopeful startup creators to discuss how to change the world.
Show or substance? There is likely to be little doubt among anyone who has followed this list since its inception, that I am going to be more inclined to favour artists whose appeal lies in the latter. That does not mean that “show” has no place. Particularly with live concerts, one goes to see and hear a performance not just hear it – to soak up the atmosphere which a good artist will impart to performances. There are several albums I have bought on the strength of a live performance I have seen, sometimes only to find that the studio recording does not match up. And I am sure I am not alone in this, but I have been to live performances by bands I really like only to be seriously disappointed by them.
One of the best things about summer, besides the abundance of outdoor shows to choose from, is the time to delve into new albums en route to said shows. June yielded several road trip and airplane friendly albums including José James’ standout latest offering, ‘While You Were Sleeping’. Known for merging the old with the new via the blending of neo-soul, electronic, hip-hop and classic jazz influences on previous efforts, José boldly brings touches of punk and folk into the foray this time around. On the experimental tip, he puts a trademark Generation X/Y blurred stamp on your definition of genre.
I am one of those who decry the decline of the old weekly singles charts. In my youth, Sunday evening sat by the radio listening to the new chart being counted down on BBC Radio 1 was one of the highlights of the week. Okay, like a lot of mainstream commercial stuff, much of it was unfathomable dross. But there were some real gems there, even if I did not realise it at the time. Though the way we listen to music has changed, the end of the weekly TV show, Top of the Pops in July 2006 was, for me at least, the end of an era. For forty two years it has been the staple of British pop music. One of those things families gathered round the TV to watch, like the FA Cup Final, The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race or the Grand National. And then, sadly, it was gone. Music would never be the same again.
Staying true to the (Hed)p.e. standard of change and growth both personally and musically, the new album “Evolution” takes the band back to their metal and underground roots they grew up on as kids. With tracks like “One More Body” and “No Tomorrow” holding down the metal and aggressive front, to the Led Zeppelin infused track “2 Many Games”, this album delivers every style imaginable and even rounds the album out with three reggae inspired/infused album closers. In a time when so many bands are playing it safe and going through the motions, whether it be out of fear of failure or lack of new ideas, (Hed)p.e. embraces change and “Evolves” with their greatest work to date.
You may have noticed as we go through the list that there are a number of covers included. There are tracks by the Byrds, the Feelies, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Jimi Hendrix and others which are covers. Some of these are more well-known than the original. But there are also a number of tracks which feature twice in this list (or perhaps will feature twice in this list – I don’t want to give anything away). But there is only one song which features three times in this list – the original and two covers. Any ideas? Answers on a postcard.
And in this twenty we will pass through the three-quarter mark.