1) Menomena – The Pelican (Live on Daytrotter)
A live version of a track from what might be the album of the year (Friend and Foe). They opened with this song both times I’ve seen them, so I thought it might make sense to make it a mixtape opener as well.
2) The Narrator – Son Of The Son Of The Kiss Of Death
Saw these guys in Chicago, and was duly impressed. Turns out, they’ve got an album out, and it’s quite good. They’re kind of like a more serious Oxford Collapse.
3) The Narrator – SurfJew
Unfortunately, I missed them when they came to Chapel Hill. Because if I went to see them, I could have asked them what the hell this song is supposed to be about.
4) War on Drugs – Arms Like Boulders
I don’t know where I found this one. But they’re from Philly, and this song, at least, is quite good.
5) Schooner – Pray For You To Die
This song was the highlight of the show they played for their CD release at Cat’s Cradle. It was stuck in my head for days afterwards. It’s at once catchy, pretty, and quite dark. If scientists ever figure out how to reanimate the corpse of Johnny Cash, they should get him to do a cover of this song.
6) Super Furry Animals – Carbon Dating
Here’s another pretty, throwback-sounding song, this time courtesy of long-time Welsh psych rockers, SFA. I’m not a big fan of the album…a bit too tongue-in-cheek (actual song title: “Baby Ate My Eightball”). But they’re pretty good when playing it straight, like they do here.
7) Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – 100 Days, 100 Nights
If you like Amy Winehouse, you need some Sharon Jones in your life. Respect the originators (of the entirely derivative genre of retro-soul).
8) Soul Generation – Super Fine
OK, now we’re really getting back to the originators. This is some baby-making music at its finest.
9) Mitch Mitchell & Gene King – Never Walk Out On You
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you can’t go wrong with a Numero Group release. This is the first of three songs on this month’s mix from Numero Group’s Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label. Bonus points for a guy being named Mitch Mitchell.
10) East of Underground – I Love You For All Seasons
I’m a big critic of the military. But I’d like them more if they still turned out musicians like East of Underground. These guys won a 1971 talent contest for servicemen in Germany, with the winning prize being the opportunity to record an album. I still hate war, but I’m a sucker for a good falsetto.
11) Eddie Ray – You Are Mine
This sounds like a demo version, with the singer accompanied only by a guitar and some bongos. But the bare bones approach really lets Eddie’s voice take center stage, and you can really hear his sense of longing.
12) Marion Black – Come On And Gettit
I haven’t featured nearly enough straight-up dirty funk numbers on these monthly mixes. When I’ve been listening to old stuff, I’ve been more attracted to old soul and African pop music lately. But this is some prime, dirty, deep funk.
13) Galactic (ft. Big Chief Monk Boudreaux) – Second and Dryades
Galactic’s newest album has the New Orleans jam/funk band playing back-up to a whole host of really good (mostly underground) rappers. Unfortunately, it mostly comes up flat. Not bad, not good…mostly boring. The lone exception is this weird number featuring Monk Boudreaux, which I don’t find boring at all.
14) M.I.A. – $20
This is hands-down my favorite new song of the moment. That beat is insane, and begs to be absolutely blasted. It captures the craziness of a world where, on the streets of Africa, you can cop an AK-47 for just $20. “$20 ain’t sh*t to you, but that’s how much they are, so they’re going to use the sh*t just to get by.”
15) M.I.A. (feat. Bun B & Rich Boy) – Paper Planes (Remix)
Ahh, this sounds much lighter and nicer. But don’t get lost in that breezy beat, or you’ll miss the best pro-robbery anthem you’ll hear this year (ever?). Bun B hops up on the remix to prove why he’s one of the best to ever do it “being poor is a disease, gotta hustle up a cure.” Meanwhile, Rich Boy really really loves his gun…maybe even more than he loves his D’s.
16) UGK – Swishas and Dosha
The opening track to UGK’s fantastic double-album Underground Kingz. It hits you in the face from the outset, letting you know that Pimp C and Bun B haven’t gone anywhere, and haven’t lost a step. Reminds me a lot of Aquemini opener “Return of the G.”
17) Kanye West – I Wonder
Graduation is full of excellent songs, but I think this one best encapsulates the feeling of the album. Big synths and Kanye trying to deal with being uber-famous. It’s not the easiest stuff to relate to, but it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than stuff being put out by dudes like Fiddy, and it sounds freakin’ great.
18) Amp G – Looking Good
Not sure if I can relate to a song about looking good, either. “Damn I’m lookin’ good, my feet lookin’ good, my whip game good, I feel like I should.” My whip game is pretty much stuck at “Civic Hybrid,” but my feet will start looking good as soon as I get my new Le Coq Sportif’s in the mail. Maybe there’s hope for me after all. Anyways, Amp G is from Alabama, which I only mention so that I can link to the video about Alabama’s famous leprechaun ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrpSTcjUaks).
19) UGK – Like That
Not necessarily the best song on Underground Kingz, but certainly the one that will get stuck in your head the longest. I hope this one becomes an anthem at “adult ballets” across the country.
20) Kanye West (ft. T-Pain) – Good Life
You can’t be mad at Tallahassee Pain!
21) Ooh Ee – Party Party
I wish I knew how to breakdance.