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++ 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...




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Monday, June 4, 2005

++ Cool New Sounds To Download Or Stream

By Dave Renard

++ Album reviews can't catch everything, so check this space every few weeks and refuel your playlists — we'll go track by track with a survey of MP3s, 12-inch singles and pop-music heat (hello, "1 Thing"), keeping an eye out for official "sneak preview" tracks and legal downloads.

++ White Stripes, "Blue Orchid" (V2) — Fire in the disco! Jack White's guitar tone on this single from the White Stripes' new album, Get Behind Me Satan, halfway sounds like it was jacked from Daft Punk's "Robot Rock" — and that's no insult, since "Robot Rock" would be pretty rad if it were about half as long and had falsetto glam-rock vox to kill for. Satan could do with fewer oddball xylophone and marimba arrangements and more of this no-nonsense snort and swagger. (Stream "Blue Orchid" and tracks by other V2 bands.)

++ New Pornographers, "Twin Cinema" (Matador) — The title track from the New Porns' new one (out August 23) sounds a bit like a placeholder compared to their previous albums' best singles — near-perfect power-pop delivery devices like "Letter From an Occupant" (belt it out, Neko!) or "The Laws Have Changed." I'm not feeling the purposely out-of-tune guitar solo on "Twin Cinema" at all, and where's the whirling-dervish Wurlitzer? The overstuffed hooks that give you an ice cream headache? It's too bad this one's sort of a dud, but the album holds plenty of other enticements — a sweet duet between Dan Bejar (Destroyer) and Neko Case, for starters ("Streets of Fire"). (Download "Twin Cinema.")

++ Missy Elliott, "Lose Control" (Elektra) — This Timbaland-produced track from Missy's The Cookbook (July 5) rolls with a virtual entourage of voices — a Vocoder sample to set things off ("Music make you lose control!"), Ciara crooning the chorus, a multitracked Missy riding the electro groove, and Fatman Scoop being Fatman Scoop ("Misdemeanor in the houuuuse! Misdemeanor in the houuuuse!"). "On and On," this single's double-A-side companion, might pack the more immediate punch, but a Roxanne Shante flow over Neptunes-by-numbers sounds "so 2004" next to the retro-futuristic fizz of "Lose Control." Call-and-response calisthenics and a cascading Cybotron sample — who says nobody listens to techno?

++ Jonathan Vance, "Sylvia the Eagle (JD Twitch Optimo Mix)" (Run-Roc) — Hard to describe what Jonathan Vance is up to based just on this 12-inch — it's like mid-'80s college rock, atmospheric and a little jangly, with a sprinkling of the DFA aesthetic and cryptic lyrics ("I said a prayer to the huntress/ That resides on Olympus/ That she should cast her light down"). Twitch, half of the musically omnivorous DJ duo Optimo, reimagines the song as jittery, electrified post-punk with a track that sounds like James Chance's "Contort Yourself" fed through the Akufen glitch blender on "lightly puree." The rework brings out a growl in the vocals that's only hinted at in the more dreamy original. (Download the original mix. The Optimo mix is not online.)

++ The Hold Steady, "Stevie Nix" (Frenchkiss) — Best Meat Loaf song ever? This track from the excellent Separation Sunday goes from kick-in-the-door opening to piano-ballad middle to bittersweet Thin Lizzy curtain call. The lyrics sketch everyday dissolution like something out of Denis Johnson ("he came into the E.R. drinking gin from a jam jar"), and catch the specific moment when someone stares out through half-closed eyelids and realizes it's not fun anymore (when "the whispers bit like fangs in the last hour of the party"). There are even a couple of references for the Lifter Puller heads out there, the ones charting all of Craig Finn's lyrical connections until it looks like the hotel-room wall from Memento: "I was half dead, but I got born again/ I got lost in all the lights, but it was OK in the end." That's everything I remember ... (The Village Voice has "Stevie Nix" available for download.)

++ Henrik Schwarz, "Leave My Head Alone Brain" (Sunday-Music) — Cool 12-inch out of Germany starts with the sound palette of dubby Berlin techno and slows things to a relaxed lope, piling on human elements to create organic, futuristic afro-funk. Think fusion-era Miles Davis remixed by Basic Channel and you've got the idea. (Overselling here, but not by that much.) The beauty is it makes as much sense on a sunny day in the park as it does in a basement with red light bulbs. The nine-minute sprawl of the original mix is worth getting lost in, but "Mix 2" adds a more insistent thump that would work great rubbing up against a funky house track like Osborne's "Afrika."
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