Over the last couple of weeks I finally revived the old habit of scouting for interesting bits of pop culture produce, and after overcoming work-induced inertia it paid off well. Feels good to be somewhat back on track... I'll start off with some music-related findings.
If you're not listening to anything else atm I invite you to set the mood first by tuning in to my Last.fm station of the week: The Bug's similar artists (radio URL) [Btw: Elias is already working hard on improving our playlist tuning algorithms, you can expect some huge improvements in our radio experience over the coming weeks and months.]
Among other things I recently spent some time on expanding my podcast subscriptions. Beside Steve Gillmor's grand new Bad Sinatra, which surely attracts only a very limited crowd (it's insider entertainment alright, yet "highly rewarding"), the most interesting podcast by far I found to be the mixtape show. Great music selection (Dex focuses on what he calls "rap/soultronica"), and some of the funniest, inventive, stimulating skits around.
The mixtape show also brought Sa-Ra to my attention, an interesting laid-back blend of "new soul" and hip hop with an André 3000-esque approach to pop music. Their latest album is a tad homogenic for my taste, and I still have to check out their older output, but it seems they bring the right mix to deservedly become a serious pop phenomenon, or at least produce some major club hits.
Another mixtape show gem was the Jay Electronica episode, which consisted entirely of an EP by Jay composed of looped fragments of the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack (my most favourite soundtrack ever), and some great lyrics. You can also download the EP at myspace.com/jayelectronica. Jay Electronics is the first artist to be signed to Erykah Badu's Control FreaQ label, and we can expect a proper album "soon". weapons of mass distraction links to some additional downloads.
Speaking of interesting mixtures: At Rough Trade today I grabbed a FACT mag, which includes a teaser for an upcoming release that sounds promising indeed. Apparently The Bug's Kevin Martin started a new project with Roger Robinson, King Midas Sound. Subtle, deep, dubby electronics, low-key falsetto vocals. Much less upfront than The Bug. In his own words: "we strived to create a fresh sound, like a post-apocalyptic lover's rock, where hip hop rhythms would sound smacked-out or dubstep would implode." The album will be called "Super Heavy", no idea about the release date. (And you can expect a lot of the reviews for this one to draw parallels to Tricky's Maxinquaye. Listen to the demo tracks to see why this is a fairly obvious comparison.)
Also at Rough Trade I bought Triosk's 2006 release The Headlight Serenade, and have to admit I was a little disappointed. The one time I saw them play live with Jan Jelinek some years ago their energy blew me away, especially their wild nutter of a drummer who was piling one seemingly impossible rhythm onto the next. Compared to that this recording is fairly tame, almost staid.