Sankofa – Music With Friends 1 – Give it up for the underground sound of Ft Wayne, Indiana. OK, everything out of Ft. Wayne is underground. This is a rough collection of 8 songs from a rapper named Sankofa. You will find no over-the-top bitches and bling rapping here. This stuff is earnest and raw. It’s got more of an early 90’s vibe where the words and vibe were much more important than posing and attitude. This stuff is free so go download yours at this link. Then impress your friends with the obscure tunes you listen to.
Santogold – Santogold – Bored music journalists have been throwing out terms like “80’s throwback” a lot lately just because they can’t be bothered to be creative in describing a band. So you have some crap album like the one from Ladyhawke getting traction because of it’s alleged “80’s-ness”. As much as Ladyhawke completely missed the boat, Santogold (now Santigold, I see) set full sail on that ship. Aside from having some great songs, the music actually does have an overt throwback-to-the-eighties vibe to it. But the throwback sound doesn’t come off as a cheap trick here like it does in most of the current crop of 80’s throwback music. She makes it work. The song “L.E.S. Artistes” was one of my favorite songs of 2008.
Scarlet Blonde – Bedroom Superstars – Fairly obscure little band. Mixes the electronic and the rock in a throw back kind of way. Here is what they call themselves: “We are scarlet/blonde, a post-electro rock, post-nu rave behemoth where Muse and Mansun meet a Massive Attack with Duran Duran pop sensibilities, louder guitars, and a stunning female front person/guitar virtuoso.” So there. I like them but then I am a sucker for a well used synth and drum machine and they’re probably not as good as I think they are.
The Sea and Cake – Car Alarm– These guys just have such a cool, laid back sound that completely connects with me. Really, all of their songs sound the same. I can’t explain it. They cast a spell over me. Maybe they are warlocks or something. But I could listen to this stuff on repeat for days before I got bored with it. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how this album is any different than any of their other albums, but I don’t care. I like it.
She & Him – Volume 1 – So apparently every music journalist on the planet just really wishes that Karen Carpenter had eaten a few extra sandwiches and that The Carpenters were still cranking out there special brand of yawn rock. I don’t hate this album but really – Amazon.com reviewers: 4 stars. Metacritic: 76% Good. Users on Metacritic – 8.7 out of 10. So I’m out of the loop. This album is obviously great fun and I don’t get it. All things equal, I’ll listen to a greatest hits from The Carpenters. The only redeeming value is the chick (whose name I currently forget) got to be Trillian, so she gets a lifetime pass from me.
Shiny Toy Guns – Season of Poison– Very inconsistent album. I could see these guys being wildly popular with the moody teenager demographic. The songs all seem somewhat shallow and relying on attitude as much as songwriting. There are a few highlights though. “I Owe you a Love Song” is a wonderful synth-pop tune and “Ghost Town” sounds like an updated Bow Wow Wow. I’ve heard both their albums and here’s a bit of advice: The good songs are almost universally the ones that the girl sings on. So do more of that.