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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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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

++ Just In Time For Halloween

By Dave Renard

++ Open up your trick-or-treat bags:

Part 1: The fearless freaks

Animal Collective, "Grass" (Fat Cat) Songs that seemed aggressively psychedelic and forbiddingly weird in the Animal Collective's live shows last year come off much more pop-oriented (albeit in a fractured, Flaming Lips kinda way) on their new album, the excellent Feels. "Grass" opens with a bubbling organic/ electronic underbrush, leading into a sunny verse that gallops headlong into a wall of voices and drums — ecstatic psychedelic bursts that pop like flashbulbs. Sounding bigger and brighter than the intimate, acoustic Sung Tongs, this is futuristic pastoral pop from one of the most inventive bands around. (Visit the Fat Cat Web site to listen to "Grass" on a streaming audio player.)

Devendra Banhart, "Long Haired Child" (XL) Wouldn't it rock if Devendra Banhart went the fairy-folk-to-glam-rock route à la Marc Bolan and Tyrannosaurus Rex? We can hope, but in the meantime the patchouli boogie stomp of "Long Haired Child" will do just fine. Fuzzbox blues-explosion guitar plays call-and-response with Banhart's Shel Silverstein absurdities, his voice dipped low into a rock-'n'- roll growl, then curling upward into a questioning whine: "Do I buy a wig? Should I grow my beard?/ And comb it upwards and around my ears? ... I'm gonna want the child to be a long haired child." Oddly, the song switches directions a minute before the end, sliding into a swaying island groove. (Listen to tracks from Cripple Crow on a streaming audio player at www.cripplecrow.com.)

The Fall, "I Can Hear the Grass Grow" (Narnack) On their new album, Fall Heads Roll, the Fall add another Nuggets-era cover song to their repertoire, to go along with longtime fan favorite and live-show staple "Mr. Pharmacist." "I Can Hear the Grass Grow," an "Incense and Peppermints" swirl of '60s Brit-pop by the Move, gets a revved-up revision as Mark E. Smith plays it pretty straight with the uncharacteristically hippy-dippy lyrics — "I can hear the grass grow/ I hear rainbows in the evening!" It may not top the original, but the Fall's version is a trip all its own that serves as a timely reminder: the current lineup is tight.

Part 2: So much bass it's scary

Slim Thug, "Diamonds" (Geffen) The rap equivalent of Sunn O)))? Slim Thug's latest single, "Diamonds," plays at the molasses tempo of "screwed" Houston hip-hop, the pitched-down style invented by the late DJ Screw. Produced by Mr. Lee, the track is all rumbling, menacing bass, lurching from tone to tone under the punctuation of sharp snares and high-pitched electronic squiggles. "I'm the dirty South boss, all them others is clones," Slim Thug raps, and his scary-ass slowed-down voice makes you believe it. He's like Candyman with the bees about to come out of his chest; better do what he says. (Listen to a sound clip of "Diamonds" and the other tracks from the album Already Platinum at Slim Thug's official site. Turn the bass way up.)

Busta Rhymes, "Touch It" Busta loves the next-level shit — he's rhymed over everything from Stereolab to the strings from Psycho — and this Swizz Beats hijack of the robot vocals from Daft Punk's "Technologic" is no exception. Amped as always, Busta easily flips it (flipmode is the greatest) on the track's alternating sections, getting low with thumps and handclaps and going berserk when the real drums come in. When this track went up on the Lemon-Red blog, Ghislain Poirier (Chocolate Industries recording artist, Montreal hip-hop hybrid) posted in the comments section that he was going to play it in every set until 2008. Looks like Human After All led to a great single after all — just not a Daft Punk single.

Three 6 Mafia feat. 8-Ball & MJG and Young Buck, "Stay Fly" (Sony) On their new album, The Most Known Unknown (is that a Rumsfeld reference?!), Tennessee's Three 6 Mafia prove that boundary-pushing Southern rap like OutKast's Speakerboxxx hasn't fallen on deaf ears. This sonically inventive track stirs together sped-up strings, rapid-fire synthetic drums and two layers of vocals to create a Memphis soul stew for the '05. The stutter voice seals the deal: "I gotta stay fly---y-y-y---y-y---y-y-y ..."
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