Singles, clips and rap flashbacks.

Strokes Folks: Nickel Eye is the latest side project from members of The Strokes.

Here’s some tips on unearthing great new music from the Internet and bits of breaking music news. Go to www.montereycountyweekly.com/music to view the video clip of the week.

Single of the Week:

“Brandy of the Damned,” Nickel Eye

Though The Strokes haven’t put out a CD since 2006’s First Impressions of Earth, three of the band’s members have been immersed in side projects. Guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. released his second album this summer, while drummer Fabrizio Moretti debuted his Little Joy project this fall with a low key but catchy self-titled pop nugget.

Bassist Nikolai Fraiture got in on the act when his new band Nickel Eye – get it? – dropped The Time of the Assassins this past Tuesday. You can get a taste by downloading “Brandy of the Damned” from music sites like iTunes, Shockhound, Amazon and Zune. It sounds like the mix of rock and reggae by bands like The Clash and Blondie. Over an elastic bassline, Fraiture sings fighting words: “Don’t let them get you down/They will step on you to get to get to higher ground.”

Clip of the Week:

“Cappuccino,” The Knux

During the ’80s, bands loved making music videos set in classrooms. Van Halen made the uproarious “Hot For Teacher” video, with an elementary school class that had strip club atmosphere and The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” showed sexual tension between a teacher and a student.

Now, New Orleans based hip-hop duo The Knux’s “Cappuccino” video includes a teacher with a possibly fatal case of geekiness and a bunch of rowdy students soaring paper airplanes and blasting music from a boombox. The song’s catchy, often-repeated chorus, “I need a fresh cappuccino with a mocha twist,” shows that the sibling duo might be the rightful heirs to Outkast’s creative hip-hop throne.

Flashback CD of the Week:

Black on Both Sides, Mos Def

With excitement growing towards Mos Def’s Feb. 9 release of his fourth CD, The Ecstatic, now is a good time to take a look at his first and best release, 1999’s Black on Both Sides. Before Mos Def was an actor starring in Hollywood films like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, he was a hungry hip-hop artist from Brooklyn. Much more than straight hip hop, Black on Both Sides dips into jazzy sounds on “Umi Says,” which was later used in an Air Jordan commercial, and full-fledged punk rock on the burning final minute of “Rock ‘N’ Roll.” The hip-hop numbers tackle unconventional subject matter like “New World Water,” which includes rhymes about the growing world-wide water shortage. Mos Def’s laser-sharp lyrics and deft rapping ability have never been on better display than during the sweeping, orchestral “Hip-Hop,” though the song foreshadows the rapper’s future immersion in acting at the expense of his music. The song ends with the prophetic lines: “Hip-hop will simply amaze you/Craze you, pay you/Do whatever you say do/But black, it can’t save you.”

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