Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Born Again Floozies Will Tap And Blast Their Way Into Your Ears

How can anyone go wrong with a name like that? Every once in a while those "free" CDs that come in music magazines contain a genuine gem. Ever since I found Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel," which is actually a song built around an unfinished and unreleased chorus that Bob Dylan penned for the film, "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid," I frantically dig through all those freebie CDs looking for something similar. Finally... I found another gem: Born Again Floozies' "7 Deadly Sinners." It was in a recent Paste Magazine accompanying CD. The Floozies craft beautiful music that skips around from country to rockabilly to blues, but with two magical ingredients: a pounding, blasting tuba and the clickity-clack of tap dancing. Though no other song compares to "7 Deadly Sinners" within the album of the same name, there are a few other noteworthy tracks if you just can't get enough tuba or tap dancing:"Floozies Repent" and "Miranda Rights."

Devendra Banhart

Freak folk, freak folk, freak folk... Please, let it be the last time either of those two words are used as short cuts to define or contain a magnificently complicated and almost uncategorizable talent like Devendra Banhart. The only thing to say about his new album "Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Mountain" is that it's a challenging affair that cavorts from samba to salsa to art rock to Andean rock, all the while stitched together by some vintage 60s thread. Although he lived in Venezuela for some years and he often sings in Spanish, he's never been considered part of the Latin alternative movement. It seems it's time to reconsider. Banhart's new effort may very well rank among the best Latin alternative albums of the year based simply on four tracks: "Cristobal", "Samba Vexillographica", "Rosa" and "Carmensita." And considering that this year, pioneers and genre monoliths like Manu Chao and Café Tacvba both released outstanding albums, Señor Banhart is good company.

Of course, if the Brazilian and Latin American-influenced stuff doesn't grab you, the album's gem, the harder-hitting, Morrison-esque "Tonada Yanomaminista," should be in contention for one of the best singles of the year--definitely THE best single that you will never learn how to pronounce.

Read A.D. Amarosi's excellent cover story on Banhart here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The kids are alright!

Tiny Masters of Today are proof positive you're never too young to start rocking out or to tell "Bushy" what you think of him. Ivan and little sister Ada, who were born two years AFTER the first Bush left office and four years before the second Bush came on, respectively, delivered one of the most punk albums of the year. Once you get over their pint-sized frames and the fact that--yes--Ivan just hit his teens, you realize that their garage punk sound, screeching vocals and unforced lyrics that sadly seem too angry for kids their age (until you look into the world we're leaving them) far outburn the "novelty band" label. In a nanny-nanny boo-boo kinda way, they gut punch the president with such delicious intensity that they've probably caused many, many struggling bands to just hang it up and ponder, "If these little kids can come up with this, what chance do we have?" In "Bushy" clocking in just over a minute, they simply sing: "All my friends agree with me/ You're the worst president... Bushy/ I talked to the government and they agree/ You're the worst president... Bushy." To add insult to injury, some Web sites report that Ada came up with the lyrics when she was eight!

The albums is filled with other gritty gems like "Hey, Mr. DJ", "Hologram World (featuring 2/3 of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Karen O and Nick Zinner)" and "Stickin' It to the Man," which David Bowie had this to say about it:
"This 2:43 minute slice of detached cool comes across like Suicide crashing a Shaggs rehearsal. How can you resist? 'You say yes, I say no. You say stop, I say go. You say up, I say down. You say smile, I say frown. Stickin' it to The Man, stickin' it cos I can, stickin it to The Man, every day.' Genius."