Tuesday, March 23, 2004
"Pangaea" (Up Above Records)
Left Coast luminaries the Visionaries have been criminally overlooked, not given accolades like those received by peers Jurassic 5 or Hieroglyphics. Boasting an MC melting pot as well as production from Beat Junkie DJ Rhettmatic, the Visionaries bring are a grab bag in the most solid sense; there are no plastic rings or expired candy bars in Pangaea's package.
The album's title track starts things off nicely, each member of the collective explaining their part in the Visionaries' hip-hop stew. Elsewhere, the sinister big-top beat of "6 Ring Circus" recalls Freestyle Fellowship's effortless showmanship, and "Meeting of the Minds" pits the crew against the equally formidable Living Legends, resulting in a posse cut that is notable in that each MC has their own beat to rock over.
If you release a 17-track album, there are going to be weak cuts on it, and Pangaea is no exception. However, the talent and tightness exhibited by the Visionaries here give them the nod to be the next from the West to break.
Easily satisfying fans of the underground, Pangaea is as solid as its mythical namesake.
Breakfast for Beatlovers, 9-Noon Tuesdays
"Kerrier District" (Rephlex Records)
Luke Vibert. Disco. Two seemingly unrelated entities.
One is a highly revered and influential member of the electronic music community, releasing albums tackling nearly every sub-genre of electronic music on some of the most respected labels in the world. The other is an often disrespected and defamed genre, its influence on contemporary pop and electronic music forgotten by many.
"Kerrier District" is Luke Vibert's outing into Disco. Instead of taking the ironic route of many of his electronic contemporaries (Kid606), Vibert tackles disco with an unadulterated interest, with the emphasis being on recreating more than updating (unlike other recent "disco" side projects -- see Metro Area.) The result is 10 tracks of pure dance party disco, complete with lush chords, cowbells, horns, flutes, and handclaps. As is expected of Vibert, the production is crisp and funky, with the grooves receiving just as much precedence as the utterly infectious melodies. Essential.
Courtesy Flush, Fridays 6-7pm
The Hang Ups
"The Hang Ups" (Contact Records)
Mild rock rhythms with warm upbeat vocals, The Hang Ups resemble a slower tempo Guster with the garage sound of Ben Folds Five. Simply good summer music. Most of the self-titled album is cheery, but goes somber on a few tracks about lost love and doubt.
The Minneapolis threesome's writing is standard for its genre. Nothing really stands out and the guitar work is fairly boring. If you're enjoying a lazy afternoon in the sun The Hangs Ups are fitting. And if you dig The Beach Boys, The Hang Ups are worth a listen, but I wouldn't drop the cash at the record store for this album.
New music rotation, 10-midnight Mondays
"Franz Ferdinand" (Domino)
The stylish full-length debut from this Scottish band may be the most enjoyable release so far this year. Franz Ferdinand (which is a band of four members, none named Franz) successfully puts out energetic songs that emulate the original urgency of indie rock without forgetting to clutch its audience with dramatic anthems that linger long after the album is back in its case. Songs like "Auf Achse," "Jacqueline," and "This Fire" will make you share this group with everyone you know but "Darts of Pleasure" and especially "Take Me Out" (the best single this year) will make you love them.
"Courtney on the Cracklebox," 4-6 am Saturdays