Boom Boom Satellites
Pounding ambient bass, understated, computer-synthesized voices and a penchant for trippy speaker games makes this one of the top mix records of the summer. The best part about it, though, is that unlike most big-beat, dance club discs, Out Loud is actually something you'll want to listen to start to finish in your car, at home or in the office — these tracks, despite having minimal vocals, are highly catchy. This is not just a collection of repetitive beats.
Hailing from Tokyo, the duo behind Boom Boom Satellites has been releasing their everything-but-the-kitchen-sink style of electronica since 1995. They have obviously become masters in the studio in that period.
There are expansive touches of jazz secreted throughout Out Loud's wild ride through the techno landscape, and "Better The Jam No. 3" and "Oneness" manage to effectively make a party out of soprano saxophone jazz fusion, turntable scratching and flutes for a sometimes moody, sometimes modern jazz-band-gone-mad impact. There are tracks with echoing piano contemplation, alternative rock guitar riffs and even the occasional background-rapped vocal.
But the real winner on this disc is the opening track, "Missing Note," which starts with an ambient sigh that slowly grows for nearly two minutes before the rhythm section comes in and the track turns into a bass-worship-ping, reverb-heavy stew of sonic mystery. It's beautiful, eclectic and perfect for closing your eyes with the headphones on, as bits of voice and sythesizer twist and turn in musical space like warped figures in a Dali painting.
Out Loud is a treasure chest of rhythm and release. Seek it out and play it loud.
You Can't Stop The Bum Rush
After eight years of honing their rap-pop-punk style and releasing three independent discs in Ontario, Canada, Len burst onto the American scene a couple months ago on the soundtrack to "Go," with "Steal My Sunshine," the highlight of that CD and of their just unveiled debut. Led by the brother-sister duo vocalists Marc (The Burger Pimp) and Sharon Costanzo, Len is a feel-good band of DJs, rappers and musicians who are (with the exception of one song) "clean" enough to be playing "After School Specials" for the kids and catchy enough to top the charts.
Rather than falling into the rap trap of urban slurs and foul-mouthed angst, Len scratches, samples and funks their way through a dozen upbeat, feel-good anthems perfect for summer partying. What's even more refreshing than their mostly G-rated attitude is their refusal to fall into any particular style. "Steal My Sunshine" is a straight-up pop rock party tune resting on a sample from "More More More," "Cryptic Souls Crew" features a rap in the classic hip-hop style of Grandmaster Flash and "Man of the Year" has a low fuzz synthesizer prowling below the chants of a robotic voice before Sharon comes in with a clean pop chorus. And those wildly divergent pieces are just the first three songs.
Former Poison member C. C. DeVille plays guitar on the rocking anthem about picking yourself up from feeling low in "Feelin' Alright," rapper Biz Markie holds the mic on the rapping horn-punched "Beautiful Day" and a crowd is part of the instrumentation for the "live" recording dance riff of "Cold Chillin" which rests on Sharon's cool-voiced incitation to "cold chill" with the stereo because "we're partying Friday night..." At the end of the track they underscore the band's message by telling the crowd, "thanks for keeping it peaceful."
There's also a perfectly simulated Kraftwerk bit of German elecronic pop in "The Hard Disk Approach" and a couple of throwaway slow jazz numbers that close off the disc.
While You Can't Stop The Bum Rush sometimes gets almost too smiley-happy, this is a great pump-up-the-stereo album that's loaded with catchy beats and a potpourri of styles. It'd be hard not to like at least one of these songs; I have a feeling it will be on my stereo for a long time.
Columbia has pulled out the oldies from Bob Dylan's multi-decade catalog and re-released his Greatest Hits and Greatest Hits II volumes on CD. The first disc includes his classic early '60s output, featuring "Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35," "Blowing in the Wind," "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and "Mr. Tambourine Man," among others. Greatest Hits II offers two discs with more from the '60s through 1971, including "Lay, Lady, Lay," "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again," "Maggie's Farm," "All Along the Watchtower," "The Mighty Quinn (Quinn, The Eskimo)" and "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You."
Columbia digs back even farther for the new (!) Doris Day collection Golden Girl, which is actually a compilation of Day's recordings for Columbia from 1944-1966. A 48-song compilation, the set includes "Sentimental Journey," "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" and "Secret Love," as well as five tracks previously unreleased in the U.S.