Thursday, March 31, 2005
Live From Planet X | Nature Sounds
Even before Madvillain or Venomous Villain, MF Doom was still the baddest masked dude on the scene. Here’s proof: this whirlwind set was recorded live at San Francisco’s DNA Lounge in January of 2004—before any of his enormous underground shockwaves later that year.
There are early inklings of the world domination to come when Doom busts into a couple soon-to-be-famous Madlib-collabs (“One Beer,” “Accordion,” and “Great Day”), but the real movers for the crowd come from his older material. Tracks from 1999’s Operation: Doomsday display Doom at his sharpest, weaving freestyles in and out of his practiced repertoire (switching up “Go With the Drawls” into “Gas Flows,” “Rhymes Like Dimes”). In typical supervillain style, he blazes through a furious 14 cuts in about 45 minutes, hardly stopping to take a breath. (BS)
Arular | XL Recordings
Catching praise all the way from Pitchfork Media to the New Yorker, Maya Arulpragasam seems poised to be the next huge pop star. Her debut album, Arular, has already been tapped as one of the best things of 2005, and thanks to numerous delays on the original release the buzz has only grown. It’s no surprise: young and hot, M.I.A. lives the life of the hipster diva she is. Add to that her Sri Lankan revolutionary heritage (the album is named in homage to her freedom fighter father) and sexy London slang talk, she’s at once youthfully political (shouting out to the PLO on “Sunshowers”) and coolly aloof (take any one of her nonsensical chorus mantras, i.e. “Galang” or “Banana Skit”).
For those with more mature tastes, though, it’ll take more than a cute cockney accent and teen-angst politics to make Arular listenable. The album is pervaded by the same minimalist electronic fuzz noise for its entire duration. Filled with techno blips and miscellaneous booms and bangs set against a reverberating bass, it’s music that’s suited for the ultra-modern dancehall generation. At a first listen, it’s primal and aggressive—frightening in the way the Elvis must have sounded to parents in the ‘50s. But once you get used to it, it’s catchy and hypnotic enough draw you in with its underlying melodic experimentalism. Still, by the time it’s over, it leaves you yearning for something…pleasant. (BS)
Time For Biting | Abbey Lounge Records
Why is this punk pop quartet from Boston any different than any other guitar/bass/drums group? On the surface, it isn’t, but as the deceptively catchy songs start sinking in and the utter weirdness of the twin female vocals in strident twang start resounding—think a punk-rock Judds with a streak of Algerian Rai heaved in—they are indeed a special group.
Up, upper and more up they are, with “love equals revenge” as the general plotline. The best of the cuts is “Better Off,” which marries the ancient Clash tune “Hateful”’s groove to a sorta-shitkicker verse into a chorus somewhat resembling Nirvana’s “In Bloom.”
Decrying in “Miserable Day,” asserting in “On My Own,” this is straight-ahead rock and roll whose added flavors make the music Quirksville. The Dents principals—Jennifer D’Angora, Craig Adams and Michelle Paulhus—have been paying dues on Boston’s merciless rock circuit for years (with the ancient Real Kids and Freeze, kids) and it has paid off. A definite addition! (JA)