The album that has occupied most of our time and attention so far this year is Girl Talk’s All Day. We were initially disappointed. After a first few listens, it seemed to lack the exuberance and freelance inspiration of Feed The Animals, or the high points on Night Ripper. The first transcendent moment does not arrive until 1:42 of track three (“That’s Right”), when you hear the burble of Spacehog’s “In The Meantime” behind DJ Amaze’s “I Wanna Rock.” (Disclaimer: We love Spacehog.) That was when we finally started warming up to it.
There are more moments like this one, but Gregg Gillis has backloaded virtually all of them. The best tracks on All Day are the last four, each of which delivers at least one inspired mashup. (This site breaks down each track by samples so you can visually trace how Gillis has constructed each song.) From track nine (“Make Me Wanna”), there is the pairing of Birdman over Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up,” followed by a Van Halen bridge into Radiohead’s “Idioteque” with an Isley Brother’s sample of “Shout” thrown in for good measure. Track ten (“Steady Shock”) begins with Nicki Minaj rapping over Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” before bleeding into a one-two-three punch of Soulja Boy, Bruce Springsteen and N.E.R.D. The album’s best track, number 11 (“Triple Double”), features three transcendent moments, none more brilliant than sampling Crooked I over Neil Diamond’s “Cherry, Cherry.” (The other two: meshing Ludacris’s “How Low” with Phoenix, and Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day” over Devo’s “Gates of Steel.”) The final track (“Every Day”) couples Jay Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” with Modern English’s “I Melt With You” before sampling a string of artists over John Lennon’s “Imagine,” the song to which Gillis gives the album’s final word, much like he did Journey on Feed The Animals. (When in doubt, Lennon and Journey are always reliable closers.)
Theoretically, anyone could sit in front of a computer and create these Frankenstein mash-ups. What Gillis does is give them just the right jolt of electricity to bring them to life, repurposing anything and everything that’s ever hit the Top 40 over the last five decades and providing a sort of Cliff’s Notes education in pop music while simultaneously creating great party music. When the current is flowing, as on the latter half of All Day, it makes for mesmerizing listening, especially if you’re ADD or running long distances.
If All Day hasn’t grabbed you yet, keep listening. Or just go to a show when Gillis is in town. He’ll make you a believer.
Beach House, Teen Dream. Teen Dream didn’t quite crack our Top 10 of 2010, but it has been in steady rotation in the new year. This may be because the CD tray broke on our stereo and we literally can’t get it out. Good thing we like music that makes us feel like we’re floating on clouds!
Mynabirds, What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood. Laura Burhenn split from the D.C. duo Georgie James to make this soulful, thoroughly Saddle Creek album (“Neil Young doing Motown,” in Burhenn’s words), released nearly a year ago but just recently on our radar. Echoes of Dusty Springfield here; she also drinks coffee with David Bazan. The single “Numbers Don’t Lie” is our fave, but if you like yourself some good ol’ pedal steel, the closer “Good Heart” will do you right. Hat tip to Anne Evans for the recommendation here.
Over The Rhine, The Long Surrender. Erin’s favorite since Ohio. On an OTR side note, we were recently introduced to “The Poopsmith Song” by Ryan Mecum. (That is, Ryan Mecum introduced us to the song. He himself did not write it. Over The Rhine did.) When the day comes that Sam needs potty-training, we will surely enlist Linford Detweiler to help remind our son that poop does not go on 1) arms, 2) legs, 3) toast, 4) eggs, 5) carpet, or 6) linoleum, but rather in the potty.
R.E.M., Collapse Into Now. We thoroughly concur with Mr. Andrew Cashmere’s assessment of this album in this space last week. In the vein of comparing other rock bands to pretty girls from high school who have now grown up, we submit the following list for your consideration:
Band – High School Persona – Current Persona
U2 – Popular Star Athlete/Homecoming Queen – PTA President & Mother Of 4
Pearl Jam – Crunchy Straight Edge Girl – NPR Station Manager
Dave Matthews – Hot, Long-Haired Stoner Girl – Less Hot, Long-Haired, Unemployed Stoner Girl
Metallica – Hot Goth Chick – Born-Again Yoga Instructor
Genesis – Hot Valedictorian – Human Resources Manager
Poison – Hot Vo-Tech Girl – Michelle Rodriguez
Please submit your own band evolutions in the comments below.
Sleigh Bells, Treats. Sleigh Bells brings an unusual combination of things to the table: on one hand, raucous, screeching guitar; and on the other, sugary, cheerleader chant female vocals — “two things that would drown the other in a toilet,” as Matthew Leathers aptly put it. Think of them as the musical equivalent of Manute Bol. A 7’7″ man should not have been able to hit three pointers the way Manute did. Likewise, any group whose vocals sound like a high school pep squad should not legally be allowed to rock like Treats does. You start the album, you think to yourself, This should not be working, and suddenly this video montage just floats into your head…
True story: As a cowherd in his native Sudan, Manute once killed a lion with a spear. He also had more blocks than points in his career.
Erin is now wondering aloud whether this is a music post or a basketball post. Moving on.
The Strokes, Angles. Why did they steal their latest album cover from Q*Bert?