Listed: Jonathan Lethem + Chromeo
Jonathan Lethem was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1964. He burst onto the scene with the critically acclaimed novel, Gun, with Occasional Music (1994). He followed this with Amnesia Moon (1995) and As She Climbed Across the Table (1997). His 1999 novel Motherless Brooklyn launched him into literary megastardom as it collected a number of awards (including the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction) and earned him a host of new fans. But his most recent novel, The Fortress Of Solitude is clearly his finest work to date. Telling a story that mirrors Lethem's own fairly closely, The Fortress Of Solitude follows the protagonist's life from his childhood in an all black neighborhood in Brooklyn to his college years in Vermont to his adulthood spent as a music critic in California (Dusted favorites Dump garner a mention, as do Dusted chart reporters KALX). Music is a central theme of the book , so it's no surprise that Lethem was also the editor of the De Capo Best Music Writing anthology in 2002.
Here goes. Call it: Extremely Recent Listening:
2. VA - Country Got Soul, Vol 1. (Casual Records) - A great cross-section of deep-70's swampy, sexy Nashville-Memphis confusion. Check out Travis Wammack's Arthur Alexander cover, "You Better Move On".
3. Outkast - The Onion had a nice headline: "Outkast Universally Accepted". I hope so. This new disc is a glimpse of the solo careers you might get if Prince broke up.
4. Gillian Welch - Here's the funny thing about Gillian Welch: the part of her song that gets stuck in your head – and for me she has written some of the most unshakeable hooks of the last few years – is always the very first line of the song ("Miss Ohio", "One Monkey Don't Stop the Show", "My First Lover"). This makes me think of ultra radio-friendly pop songs by Prince and the Cars, which isn't otherwise my image of Gillian Welch at all.
5. Belle And Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress (Rough Trade) - A resurgence that isn't a return-to-form, exactly. With Trevor Horn as accomplice we get to hear Belle-and-Sebastian as Madness, and Belle-and-Sebastian as Squeeze, and Belle-and-Sebastian as The Style Council. Plus a song about the NY Mets.
6. Philip Price - Honey In The Chemicals: A Screenplay (ListenHere Records) - I'll go to my grave swearing Price's former band, The Maggies, was the Lost Pop Band of the '90's. This is his newest and greatest solo record. Full disclosure: I've written a lyric or two for him, not that he needs any help.
7. The Rapture - Echoes (Strummer/DFA) - It really is amazing how long the punk revival took to get around to plundering Gang of Four's treasure.
8. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Greendale (Reprise) - It's the 'storytelling' that gets all the ink, but I haven't yet bothered to make heads or tails out of it. Something about a grandfather. There's something about the long, relaxed jams and incanted lyrics that makes it impossible to concentrate, but delightful to keep playing – really a sort of trance record.
9. VA - The Rough Guide to South African Gospel - I try not to think about how it's the African Christians who hate the gay bishop from New Hampshire. Their music kicks the ass of any gospel I've heard out of New Hampshire, anyway.
10. "VERSUS", The Compact Disc Compact (private label) - I belong to this thing called The Compact Disc Compact, where a lot of guys who I don't know send me mixed CDs. This one is all comprised of what I think are called 'mashups' – DJs mixing up violently different songs in weirdly compatible ways. Sort of illegal reproduction of copyrighted material squared, I guess. My favorites are "Ray of Gob" – Madonna versus the Sex Pistols, and "Love Will Freak Us" – Joy Division versus Missy Elliot.
Dave 1 and Pee Thugg (aka David Macklovitch and Patrick Gamayal) have been making music together since they were kids growing up in Montreal. While in Montreal Dave 1 helped make some of the freshest beats to creep south from the border for groups such as Bran Van 3000 ("Drinking in LA" anyone???). Now based out of New York, the duo has recently begun to work together as Chromeo and have turned a number of heads in the process. The pair has since worked with luminaries such as the DFA and has played with like-minded acts like The Streets and Fannypack. Their debut album, She's In Control (Vice) is a synthed-out blast back to the future of party records and is due to come out this February.
Chromeo Top 10
2. DJ Quik - Safe + Sound - Before hearing Safe + Sound for the first time in 1995, I thought I was the only bozo who played the talkbox and still listened to Zapp like "Heartbreaker" was a recent hit. DJ Quik showed me that I was not alone. His authentic talkbox mastery on "Can I Eat It", his nod to Cameo on "Get At Me" and the superb "Quik's Groove" have made Quik one of my modern funk heroes. (Pee)
3. DJ Quik - Rhythmalism - Safe + Sound is Pee's record and this is mine. The ingredients: thumping drums, Moogs galore, electric guitar solos, horns, flutes and gangsta rap, not to mention that El Debarge sings on half the tracks. What else is there to life? French literature. (Dave)
4. Paul Simon - Graceland - Paul Simon is one of my idols. I love all his albums (solo, that is, I don't like Garfunkel), but Graceland is by far the best one. From the sweet African chants of "Homeless" to the funky zouk guitars on "I Know What I Know" and "Gumboots", to Paul's angelic voice on "Diamonds On The Sole Of Her Shoes," "Graceland" is a perfectly well-rounded masterpiece that sometimes makes me want to dance, and sometimes makes me want to think. (Pee)
5. Gino Soccio - Face to Face - Little do you know, Chromeo is part of a long lineage of Quebec funky musicians. OK there's Lime, but they were never really that dope. Gino Soccio, however, catches wreck on this unspoken classic, thanks in part to the percussive talents of Luc Boivin and the sultry saxophone stylings of Laflèche Doré. (Dave)
6. Serge Ponsard - Back To The Light - Robotic drum programming plus synth bass equals my favorite combo. Serge spices up the whole mix with soulful vocals, funky leads and voila, that's all it takes. I love this album, it puts me in a good mood in the morning. Some people drink coffee to wake up, I listen to "I Want Money." (Pee)
7. Mannie Fresh - Now that Timbaland and the Neptunes are played out in the eyes of everybody except electronic music geeks, it's time to give it up to the real Southern electro wizard: Cash Money's Mannie Fresh. Although his newer stuff isn't nearly as good as his hits from a couple of years ago, he still needs to be universally recognized as the new Mantronix. (Dave)
8. Phil Collins - ...Hits - OK I know it's cheap to choose a greatest hits record, but his songs are so good! My favorite one? "One More Night". I listen to this record when I drive down from Montreal to New York to see Dave. Do you know how good it feels to be bumping "In The Air Tonight" at four in the morning on the highway outside of Coxsackie? (Pee)
9. Non Phixion - The Future Is Now - Non Phixion are our buddies and they're one of the most slept-on rap groups out there. Their debut album features production from the likes Pete Rock and DJ Premier (and myself), and the end result sounds like Ghostface if he were a sci-fi driven, paranoid, neurotic Jew. (Dave)
10. Brooklyn's own Joe Causi on WKTU - If you live in the New York area, you have to tune in to Joe Causi's Studio 54 Clubhouse on Sunday nights. He laces you with back to back disco classics, nonstop zingers and all kinds of Italian trash talk. We can only dream of a guest spot on his show. (Dave)
By Dusted Magazine