++ Needle Drops is now an occasional music column that a number of Neumu writers take turns writing. All columns prior to March 2004 were written by Philip Sherburne.
++ Recently ++
Tuesday, November 29, 2005 = The Stooges Unearthed (Again)
Tuesday, November 8, 2005 = Documenting Beulah And DCFC
Tuesday, November 1, 2005 = Out-Of-Control Rock 'N' Roll Is Alive And Well
Tuesday, October 25, 2005 = Just In Time For Halloween
Monday, October 3, 2005 = The Dandyesque Raunch Of Louis XI
Monday, August 15, 2005 = The Empire Blues
Tuesday, August 9, 2005 = David Howie's Sónar Diary
Monday, July 25, 2005 = Hot Sounds For Summertime
Monday, June 27, 2005 = Overcoming Writer's Block At Sónar 2005
Monday, June 4, 2005 = Cool New Sounds To Download Or Stream
++ Needle Drops Archives ++
View full list of Needle Drops articles...
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
++ Mixtape Round-up
By David Renard
++ Whether due to an ever-shrinking attention span or a shortage of worthy
new releases, mixtapes seem to take up more and more of my listening
real estate. Direct from the obsessives' record shelves to your ears,
the best mixtapes (on shiny-blue CDRs, not C-90s) lay out a personal
style that the record labels ain't ready for and unearth a lot of
obscure gems in the process. None of the discs below some of the
best mixes of the past year or so qualify as new releases, but when
"released" means the CD burner stopped spinning and the cover popped
out of the inkjet printer, what does it matter?
++ Tim Sweeney, Rvng Presents MX3
Crash course: Sweeney, known for his weekly radio show "Beats in
Space" on WNYU and for mixing the third disc of last year's DFA
Compilation #2, slings up-to-the-minute dance tracks as well as
music from the dawn of the drum machine. Created for Brooklyn's Rvng
Intl (one of those companies that does something more than throw great
parties, but you can't figure out what), MX3 swerves from
pioneering electro-funk (Cybotron, "Techno City") to hard-to-define
dancefloor weirdness (Mu, "Let's Get Sick"), with pit stops for more
song-oriented stuff like Radiohead ("Idioteque"), Bauhaus ("Kick in the
Eye"), and Tones on Tail ("Performance").
Homemade factor: The packaging is a combination of budget
materials and high design, as the CD comes in a plastic Ziploc bag
that's been stickered with the title; Sweeney's mug peeks out from
underneath. At least they kept the overhead low: The insert bears a
Dischord-esque instruction to "Pay no more than $5."
Moments of Zen: The U.N.K.L.E. mix of Can's classic "Vitamin C"
kick-starts the first section of the mix. Toward the end, when the
frantic thump and wailing sirens of "Let's Get Sick" come storming out
of Yoko Ono's 1981 dance track "Walking on Thin Ice," your pulse can't
help but rise.
++ Italo DeRuggiero and Italo DeRuggiero Parte Due
Crash course: Alec DeRuggiero, who books the DJ talent at New
York nightclub APT, goes deep to find the gems of late-'70s, early-'80s
Italian disco and electro i.e., the tracks that aren't marred by
ridiculous vocals and an excess of synthetic Euro-cheez. The music from
this era is a big part of the blueprint for modern disco producers like
Metro Area in fact, DeRuggiero's first volume shares at least one
track, Discotheque's "Disco Special," with the Unclassics
compilation put together by Metro Area's Morgan Geist. The sequel,
Parte Due, is less focused on vocals than its predecessor, with
a spaced-out and slightly druggy vibe to go with its synthesized string
sections, computerized handclaps and echoing laser blasts.
Homemade factor: Both volumes feature goofy/hilarious cover art
that looks like it could have been dug out of the thrift store along
with some of these records. The Euro fashion victims of Parte
Due have got that Patrick Nagel, Duran Duran Rio look down
pat, but nothing can top the bizarre figure who graces the cover of
Italo DeRuggiero Vincent Van Gogh meets Michael Jackson seems
to be the leading description.
Moments of Zen: On volume one, the proto-hip-hop of Answering
Service's "Call Me Mr. Telephone" mixes into Ris's "Love-N-Music," an
anthemic electro song with a Roland 808 breakdown and vocals that
prefigure the house music of later in the decade. The next track, Jamie
Principle's "Waiting on an Angel," is Italo at its catchiest.
++ DJ Greg Caz Presents The Soul of Samba-Rock
Crash course: As the liner notes say, "Just remember: samba ...
but funky!" Caz and his partner Sean Marquand run a weekly Brazilian
party in Brooklyn that has yielded several cool mixes, this being the
latest. The Soul of Samba-Rock highlights a musical hybrid of
samba and the early American rock 'n' roll of the 1950s, compiling 30
tracks that are unavailable elsewhere on CD.
Homemade factor: Though self-released, the Brazilian Beat CDs
are getting more and more professional, with a full-color double-sided
booklet, printing on the disc, and a real jewel case (not slimline).
Moments of Zen: Where their previous Baile Funk mix mined
a James Brown, jump-up '60s vein, Samba-Rock mostly surfs on a
wave of cocktail cool. Strangely, two of the best tracks are covers of
U.S. hits: Noriel Vilela's version of "Sixteen Tons," and Ivo
Meirelles' "Swing Man," a genius Portuguese reworking of "Tin Man" by
soft-rockers America ("now Oz never did do nothin' for the Tin Man
++ Diplo, Favela on Blast: Rio Baile Funk 04
Crash course: Diplo found himself on permanent buzz status in
2004, with his album Florida getting nice attention, his mixtape
for M.I.A., Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1, burning up eBay and
critics' top-10 lists, and the Hollertronix brand spreading like
crazy. He also had a hand in bringing baile funk, the sound of Brazil's
ghettoes, to U.S. ears after a trip to Rio de Janeiro to gather source
material. Not to be confused with the mellow baile music of the
Brazilian Beat Brooklyn series a baile, or "ball," is just a name
for a dance party, no matter the era the current Rio sound consists
of roughly hacked-up samples, Miami bass, and rhymes shouted in
Portuguese. I don't speak the language, but the lyrics are reportedly
raunchy, traceable to the same source as the pounding 808 bass: 2 Live
Homemade factor: The half-hour mix isn't separated into tracks
and there are no artists or titles given, but the cover art is pretty
swank. It's designed by Nick Catchdubs, a Hollertronix affiliate with a
mashed-up mix of his own, called What's Really?
Moments of Zen: Somewhere in the slums of Rio, someone sat down
on a mattress in front of a cobbled-together old PC and looped up the
Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony."
++ $mall ¢hange, Orientation
Crash course: $mall ¢hange's resume includes "Nickel and Dime
Radio" on New Jersey's WFMU, as well as DJing with the Black Crack crew
(they fiend for the vinyl, geddit?). Orientation touches on all
the usual genres hip-hop, soul, funk, reggae with an unusually
nice touch to the track selection, sidestepping most of the obvious
picks in favor of lesser-heard nuggets like the Sylvers' "We Can Make
It If We Try" and Anthony Johnson's "Sound Clash." There's some blends,
too; "Breakin' in Space With Vanilla Ice" unfortunately proves that the
Iceman is uncool in any context (word to your mutha), but the "Bombay"
version of "I Gotta Good Thing" (Superlover Cee and Casanova Rudd) goes
Handmade factor: The ultimate. Every cover has a different piece
of found art cut to fit, with the tracklist Scotch-taped to the inside.
Moments of Zen: The track from Pete Rodriguez a most
scorching Latin soul number never fails to inspire living-room
boogaloo when it's on the stereo. "Oh That's Nice!"
Several of these mixes are for sale at Turntable Lab or similar online music stores. Tim Sweeney's MX3 can be found here.
DJ $mall ¢hange posts his playlists and archived radio shows online.