Look, I think old music's cool too, but Pierce and Tomens seem stuck in the past. The fact is that there's loads of great music around today. Here, in my opinion, are six examples of exciting new sounds.
Destiny - Goddess (LP)
Three fantastic Afro-American ladies from Detroit. They may be 'black', but they're not too dark, and each spends at least three hours a day in the gym, obviously. Gospel-influenced vocals combined with masterful R&B production from Whiz McFarland make this a killer album that's soulful and contemporary. 'She', 'You Text When You Shoulda Sexed', and 'Homie Alone Too' are three stand out tracks. Their version of Aretha's 'Respect' is also spot on.
Blak Nu World Order - Crak Hedd (LP)
Hedd (aka Luther Davies) is an ex-con, pimp and pusher man who makes Mobb Deep look shallow. 'Cell Blok Hell' is a tortured retelling of life inside, whilst 'Night Of The Hunter' describes a gangland killing in graphic detail ("With my pistol up his nose / He froze / Heart stopped when I popped / Wearin' his brains on my top / I saw the black hole in his skull / Now he's livin' in the past like Jethro Tull"). Jed-Eye's production is claustrophobic, beats metallic, sparse, and the samples minimal. Some people find this stuff depressing, or even cynical, but the tales told by victims of Amerika's racist society must be heard of we're to understand life in the ghetto. Davies is due in court soon for allegedly shooting his last manager, Sean 'Sugar Daddy' Brush.
Flyover - Highway 61 (LP)
The folk implosion continues with this debut album by Highway 61, three boys and a girl from Sidmouth. Who says people can't write songs anymore? Jason Jeffries' voice combines the bittersweet tones of Buckley with the maturity of late-Stephen Stills. Jemima Swanson, who shares half the vocals, sounds like Joan Baez (with a hint of West Country). 'Tales Of The River Bank' and 'Your Foot In My Mouth' are obviously soon-to-be-classics, the latter combining the politics of the recent epidemic with domestic violence. The basic line-up of two guitars, bass and drum is reinvented as a medium for pastoral classicism on the 9-minute long 'Shire'. Fantastic.
8975^4 - Mikel Janacek (LP)
This 3-disc event comes without a case (it's wrapped in tape) and is the result of Janacek leaving his computer on 'random programme' mode from nearly four hours. The preparation involved sampling Coltrane samples from various live albums, editing out the bass, drums and piano, and feeding them through an X-L 20303. The glitch hailstorm and beat distortion (Janacek hitting his settee with a mallet, apparently) form a backdrop which varies from the least intrusive to the full-on white noise. It's like Free Jazz of the future. A resident of Dusseldorf and Skegness, Janacek transcends national/musical barriers and breaks out for new terrain of his own, innovative making.
'Hi-Life' - Mercedes Magic (Single)
Garage may be overground, officially, but the sound of Hackney's Mercedes Magic (Stevie Grote and Mike Pickering) suggests that there's life in the genre yet. Pitched-up vocals (reputedly Whitney Houston) recall old-school techniques, but the three-step beat, mobile bleep percussive effect, and chopped bass line are very fresh. This is the real sound of urban Britain and coming from a Merc with darkened windows it will sound awesome. The flipside, 'Cecil Gee St', is a homage to that famous tailor of old, who is much in favour with the crews that frequent the Shady Lady night-club, apparently.
'Skies Of Montana' - Thrust (Single)
Nu Fusion of the highest order, Thrust are Danny Walton and Art Hancock, two Brighton boys whose debut single bodes well for their soon-come long-player, Running The Voodoo Down. Rhodes heaven, but the garage-type beat injects a contemporary feel whilst jazzy bass (sampled from a Grover Washington tune, I believe) acknowledges the golden era of Cortina sun strips and Caister weekenders. The flipside, 'Sojourn Down The Nile', features Clarissa on vocals, and recalls Norman Conners at his very best. Sublime.
© Will Haley 2001