From the archives: Cool Kid

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IT SAYS something that classic turntablist album Carpal Tunnel Syndrome comes with a free comic book and computer game.
Now that’s value for money – clearly Kid Koala, real name Eric San, is a DJ bulging with ideas.
And never content to just drop a beat and sit back, from start to finish this album is a lesson in DJ-ing technically as well as creatively.
And clearly the leg work has been done beforehand as well – there’s no Eric B or James Brown sampling here, in fact nothing obvious at all.
From the ‘wakey wakey, eggs and bakey’ of Music For Morning People through the meandering Drunk Trumpet to the clucking bizarre Like Irregular Chickens, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is some of the most original, skilled and entertaining music to come out of two turntables.

From the archives: Divine Grace

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IN THE pantheon of musicians who died before their time, up there with greats such as Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon, should be Jeff Buckley.
If you’ve heard Jeff Buckley’s golden voice you know what I’m talking about. Sadly, most people haven’t as Jeff, son of folk great Tim, died in 1997 while working on a follow-up to 1994’s Grace, his only completed album.
This is an album that touches people that hear it, that cannot fail to bring a tear to the eye and a shiver to the spine.
Although Jeff drowned before completing the sophomore Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk, his music continues to grow in cult status through word of mouth and influence, which can be heard in countless critically-acclaimed artists luckily still around today, such as Radiohead, Chris Cornell, PJ Harvey, Muse, Rufus Wainwright, Our Lady Peace, John Legend, Badly Drawn Boy, Aimee Mann, Jason Mraz, the list goes on and on.

From the archives: Mraz you like it

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WITH his new single I’m Yours, Mechanicsville-born singer songwriter Jason Mraz is finally getting some deserved recognition in the UK.
And it’s about time too.
I’ve been a massive advocate of reggae-tinged rap singer Mraz since his 2002 debut album Waiting For My Rocket To Come.
From the tender tracks like You And I and Boy’s Gone to the cheeky patter of I’ll Do Anything and Curbside Prophet, Waiting For My Rocket To Come was an assured launchpad for an artist hopefully about to explode.

From the archives: Head master

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IF HERBIE Hancock’s semainal Head Hunters album is not yet in your collection, it’s time for you to track it down and capture a copy for yourself.
The four-track LP was a real breakwater for the jazz funk genre, soaking the listener in squelching basslines, wah wah synths, furious-fingered piano, skittering drums and space age sound effects, even blazing trails for genres yet to be invented, such as hop hop and electro.
Amazingly, the pioneering album was released way back in 1973.
Less amazingly, the first half of the album, made up of the all-time classic Chameleon and beer bottle blowing Watermelon Man, are standards today.
Coupled with Sly, a jazz track dedicated to funk musician Sly Stone, and the wild Vein Melter, Head Hunters is a real bounty.

From the archives: Automatica choice

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OF ALL the bands you’d have expected to spawn a side project of groovy dance-floor filling hip-hop, screaming hardcore outfit Glassjaw would be pretty far down the list.
However frontman Daryl Palumbo, whose inimitable vocal style is more heavily influenced by his Chrone’s disease than any singer, created Head Automatica in 2004 to indulge his love for the distinctly un-Glassjaw genres of hip hop and Britpop.
With Dan The Automator of Gorillaz and Handsome Boy Modeling School fame at the mixing desk, the resulting Decadance album is a triumphant clash of styles.
With reggae-influenced skanking hip-hop beats meeting glittery electronica and funk-soaked indie guitar licking backing a toned-down Palumbo, Decadance was a classic that woefully slipped under the radar.

From the archives: Haunted resurrected

SWEDISH band The Haunted managed to spirit up something special with their 2000 release The Haunted Made Me Do It.
Brutal metal is the order of the day, and yet, the album is still eminently listenable.
Nothing here is OTT – slimline riffing, vocals that are just the far side of unintelligible, and guitar solos that rarely stretch beyond 30 seconds.
The result is an album which neither offends the purists or alienates the casual metal fan.
So I’m making you do it – pick up a copy of The Haunted Made Me Do It now.

From the archives: Directors’ cut

IF YOU’RE a fan of hip hop and you haven’t heard Gravediggaz’s dark debut, then get with the plot.
When the horrorcore supergroup – made up of Prince Paul and Rza alongside Frukwan and the now-deceased Too Poetic – released 1994’s Six Feet Deep, originally titled Niggamortis, a true classic was born.
With a mixture of black, black humour, lyrical flow akin to Wu Tang Clan’s seminal Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), and brutal old school production you would expect from two all time great producers, this is one LP worth resurrecting again and again.

From the archives: Knockout Glassjaw

COUPLING influences ranging from acts such as Helmet to lead singer Daryl Palumbo’s irritable bowel syndrome with an experimental urge to combine incendiary punk and hardcore with anything from jazz to ambient, Worship And Tribute was always going to be that little bit different.
New Yorkers Glassjaw’s second LP, the 2002 release saw the group deliberately maturing their explosive post-hardcore sound honed on Everything You Wanted To Know About Silence.
As well as being both challenging and intriguing musically, Palumbo’s engaging, acerbic style is also more melodic here.
As a result songs such as Mu Empire and Ape Dos Mil have almost mainstream twist, whilst remaining fiercely unique, creative and raw.
As I alluded to in a previous post, fans like myself are still awaiting a follow-up to this album.
But for the meantime this LP is worthy of both worship and tribute.

From the archives: Maggot Brain pretty fly

FOR 1971’s seminal Maggot Brain, funk legends Funkadelic decided on a stark departure from their previously groove-orientated sound.
As a young pup I can only imagine what die-hard fans of the band made of it when they whacked the album on for the first time to hear 10-minute long opener Maggot Brain, where the group wander around spaced out in the realms of psychedelia.
However with George Clinton at the helm, Maggot Brain was always going to be funky – and from track two, Can You Get To That, onwards, the mould for the funk rock genre was set.
On Hit It And Quit It, the guitars roar, and You And Your Folks, Me And My Folks sees a soulful gospel side added to the mix.
Fans of any modern rock band that every slapped a bass string in anger should not hesitate to add this blistering collection of formative funk rock to their collection.

From the archives: ‘s good

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GREAT googly moogly!
The prolific Frank Zappa’s back catalogue can seem a little daunting to the uninitiated – after all, there’s at least 60 studio albums to work through.
But if you’d like a place to start, then Apostrophe, his most commercially successful venture, is the best place to start, full stop.
It has all the hallmarks of classic Zappa – not least some of highest standards of funky classic rock set to tape, played by virtuosos including Cream bassist Jack Bruce.
And on the first half of the album – side A in old money – Zappa’s renowned creative comic nonsense is showcased in an absurd yet brilliant ‘concept album’ narrative spanning six tracks.
So I urge you, pick up Apostrophe and do the funky Alfonso – you won’t regret it.