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Remember when flipping through TV channels, you’d see a video that would stop you in your tracks and engage you so much in its cleverness? Enter Alien Ant Farm’s 2001 MJ cover “Smooth Criminal”. In a sea of SoCal altrock bands, they had the goods to stand out above the rest and copped two Grammy nominations along the way. Having their music reaching worldwide audiences featured in video games and movies, the band’s returned to the stage for their “ANTARCHY In The USA” tour with a new single “Homage” scheduled to hit iTunes on September 2nd and a new album ‘Always and Forever’ coming soon.
We all have them, and frequently we do not admit to them. I am talking of songs which are guilty pleasures. Every fibre of your being tells you that should dislike that song, but you cannot help yourself. Don’t deny it. There is nothing wrong in it, for if, as I have suggested earlier, songs which remind you of people, places, events will have positive associations in your mind, then there are inevitably going to be occasions when those songs are not those you would normally like. That is the very definition of a guilty pleasure. In this list there are number of guilty pleasures and I am pretty sure that those who have read my reviews will be able to identify them with some ease.
At the end of this twenty we will only have 100 to go.
Music journalists get hit with a steady helping of press releases every day. For the music fan without that kind of sensory overload, a lot of music news can pass by without being seen. Every Monday, I will weed through and compile a list of some of the most intriguing press releases to come across my virtual desk.
When a hip-hop head ponders the history of hip-hop in the NorthEast, you won’t have to look far before encountering Boston heavy hitter Slaine. Whether his group work with Special Teamz or La Coka Nostra (watch for a new album soon) or his solo work, he’s consistently towed the line of painful subjects and aggresive partying for decades. Still verbally murdering the competition while capturing a fun but taxing period of his life, Slaine dropped his latest effort, ‘The King Of Everything Else’ this week. Inspired by a pep talk with a close friend at a low point, he brings artists like Ill Bill, Madchild, Tech N9ne, Apathy and Bishop Lamont to assist. With many layers and facets, he still also juggles music with a thriving acting career.
Following on from last week, can bad songs come from great albums? This is a much trickier question to answer. On any album, good or bad, there will always be weaker songs and stronger songs. The weaker ones may not be “bad” per se, and may only be weaker in comparison with other songs on the album in that they might be regarded as good songs if they were on another album. In this instance, “weaker” is a subjective term whereas “bad” is an objective one. In some cases, ‘weaker’ may also be seen as another term for filler and if a band has to put filler in album to make it long enough, then that suggests there is not enough decent material, so how could it be a great album? Looking through the list of albums that I regard as five star albums, I cannot identify a “bad” song on any of them and certainly no filler.
Entering that final bend and onto the home strait.
To any passionate fan, it’s obvious random “digging in the crates” online can yield unbelievable finds. Will remain ever grateful to the universe for bringing me to the music of producer/master musician/composer Mark de Clive-Lowe. Drawn into his expansive discography via his dope ‘Renegades’ project and witness to his live show experiences which attract some of the best musicians around, I connected with Mark last year as he prepared his latest statement album, ‘CHURCH’. Since its release in late May, my ears daily enjoy the full sound explosion of jazz, electronica, African beats and soul and hear something new with each listen.
As we head towards the end of summer days and folks savor each vacation moment possible, I was busy breaking into a “cold sweat” at last night’s James Brown Celebration at the Hollywood Bowl. Timed well with the recent release of the Godfather of Soul’s biopic in theatres last week, the diverse crowd settled in to ‘let the funk flow’. After a brief intro by three-time Grammy winner Christian McBride, the house band full of legendary musicians including JB trombonist Fred Wesley supported the lineup featuring Bettye LaVette, Aloe Blacc, Angelique Kidjo and D’Angelo.
Do great songs always come from great albums? Not always, would have to be my reply. Obviously great albums tend to have great songs, though some so called great albums would not get my vote as such. But there are number of tracks on this list which come from albums which I despise (though others may think they are great); and some from albums which it would be hard to define as great by anybody’s standards. It would appear that some artists, in an otherwise routine and unremarkable career, have that one moment of inspiration which results in something truly great and, no matter how hard they try, they are going to find it hard to repeat. Such songs can still be called ‘great’
Closer to the apotheosis we come with the next twenty.