#MusicMonday, Vol. XVIII: Caribou, Wiz Khalifa, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Good Old War, The Faint, and more (with video)

[image-1] Wiz Khalifa, Burn After Rolling Mixtape (2009)

Wiz is right. This mixtape is a dizzying combination of samples ranging from Beyonce’s “I’m a Diva” to “The Thrill” by Empire of the Sun. What’s rewarding is how dexterous Wiz proves himself to be from track to track. He’ll mix singing with his raps, speed it up, slow it down, and maintain a fun, consistent vibe throughout.  Think Drake if he didn’t take himself so seriously. His own greatness (what’s new?), girls, and weed are the lyrical mainstays of Burn After Rolling, but the diversity of the track mix and Wiz’s hyper-delivery really overshadow any lyrical shortcomings.  Plus, the dude’s like, 22, and this is just one of the eight mixtapes he’s put out in the last five years. Quantity and quality as a pair are rare commodities in the rap game.  Give him a few more more releases and Wiz could easily own both. And hey, Coen brothers fans, how great is that album cover?

Taylor Eiffel65, Europop (1999)

Rummaging through my CD collection, I found this and was taken back to sixth grade Girl Scout road trips and slumber parties -- days when knowing all the lyrics to these dumb techno-drippy songs was way cool. Most of these tracks are forgettable, but the classic "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" will invariably make it onto my iPod workout mix.

[image-2] Good Old War, Good Old War (2010)

The indie trio from Philadelphia purveys an appealing style of indie pop with country roots-tinged flavors and bright sprays of accordion, gorgeous multi-part vocal harmonies, sunny inspiring melodies and the sort of songwriting that just makes you feel good inside. The band opens for Xavier Rudd this Sunday, September 5, at State Theatre in St. Petersburg.

Steve Robert Pollard, Moses on a Snail (2010)

Don't let the faux yacht-rock cover art fool you. This is another miniature masterpiece by the absurdly prolific former commander of Guided by Voices, and it fully rocks.

Julie Gentlemen Please, Philip Pietri and the Manatees

Yes, sirs, I'll have another. That's my response to local band Gentlemen Please. I've seen a little too little of this band around town. I want some more. GP are catchy and interesting, a nice balance of weirdness and appeal. Nothing too corny or predictable.The trio of Alastair St. Hill (guitar and vocals), Justin Grimshaw (percussion and melodica) and John Niles (bass) have recorded a new song, "Ooh-La!" Listen here: http://www.grandnationalchampionships.com/songs/ooh-la.mp3

Another local act on the sparkly, intelligent pop tip but a bit mellower and more mellifluous: Philip Pietri and the Manatees. They're a little dreamy, jazzy and psychedelic. I like to call them underwater dream-weavers. Plus, they take me back to the '80s, to bands like Spandau Ballet and the Style Council, when bands added jazzy horns, lounge-y marimbas and other tropical touches to their songs without sounding like they belong on the easy listening station. Here's a New World performance of their tune, "Boney":

[image-3]Bag of Toys, Stripped Alive (2010)

Randomly discovered this surf-rock quartet via Pandora.com and immediately found myself grooving to the infectious acoustic rhythms and carefree lyrics. The current album features lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Robert Tait as well as lead guitarist Steve Cowgill in live studio performances jamming stripped down, acoustic versions of 12 of their studio tracks. Overall, a funky and fun listening experience, with songs like "Oo La La," "More Sex Than Me," "Surf Song" and "California." Because it's surf rock, it is comparable to Jack Johnson, but Bag of Toys has much more energy and I also get an aggressive Violent Femmes vibe from the sonics. The beach-loving, beer-drinking band has several dates lined up in September on Florida's east coast, and Stripped Alive has definitely tempted me to possibly take the I-4 trek over to Daytona or Vero Beach to check out what I'm sure would be a jammin live show.

Evan The Faint, Danse Macabre (2001)

The Faint recorded this seedy techno-dance album in the early '00s, but it sounds like it could come from the early '80s. The synthesizers, sexual allusions, and rampant misanthropy make it sound like an after-hours goth/new-wave dive -- sticky, sweaty, dance-y, and dirty.

What are YOU listening to right now? We want to know! Leave your answer below in the comments section...

What the Creative Loafing music team is listening to this Monday to get us through the day and rocket launch the week… Click here to check out previous entries.

Gabe Ryuichi Sakamoto, Moto.Tronic (2003)

Career overview of the brilliant Japanese composer who'd previously fronted ground-breaking electronic act Yellow Magic Orchestra. The purpose of this compilation is to showcase the diversity and all the styles Sakamoto is capable of pulling off. The set ranges from moody piano pieces to traditional Brazilian samba. Guest vocal appearances by Iggy Pop and Japan lead singer David Sylvian are a nice bonus. If you've never had the pleasure of experiencing the genius of Ryuichi Sakamoto, this is a great introduction to the man and his music

JoelIron Maiden, The Final Frontier (2010)

Iron Maiden never shied away from theatricality in metal: “Phantom of the Opera,” “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” and so on. But The Final Frontier builds songs to the point of Broadway musical excess. These 10 songs are long-winded, melodramatic, and unlike their 1980’s output, uninteresting. Not since The X-Factor, their bloated 1995 Blaze Bayley-fronted effort, has this band spent so much time doing so little. The goodwill created by their 2000 renaissance album Brave New World has since eroded in the face of the band's increasing mediocrity. The Final Frontier tests both the physical limits of the compact disc and my patience.

Further Seems Forever, The Moon is Down (2001)

Since finding out last week that the original lineup was getting back together to possibly tour and record a new album, I haven't been able to put this one down. While I fell in love with this album nine years ago as a much younger/less cynical "boy," I can still appreciate the saccharine longing oozing out of hopelessly-romantic love letters and songs about falling in love with tourists. The intricate, over-the-top playing is a huge bonus. I still love this album and the nostalgia it evokes of a simpler and more volatile time in my life. I can't wait to see what they come up with next spring. Best tracks: "Monechetti," "The Moon is Down," "Pictures of Shorelines."

DeborahCaribou, Swim (2010)

This Monday morning, I'm in desperate need of something to keep me focused while my brain transitions from weekend to workweek. The new release from Caribou is fitting the bill perfectly: techno/house full of pulsing bass, electro effects, flute, cowbell, and oodles of atmospheric echoes. It's not a complete departure from the '60's influenced sounds of 2007's Andorra, retaining just enough psychedelia to feel somewhat familiar; but this album is definitely more danceable. It's keeping my head bobbing and fingers typing this morning, and building my excitement for their October 17th show at Crowbar.


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