Tunes to Find Online
Enjoying the Last Days of NapsterBy Devdoot Majumdar
Quite frankly, I’ve had enough of this Napster legal gobbledygook. I don’t care to understand nor delineate Napster’s intrinsically soporific legal problems: like every other Napster user, I know it has no legal basis and I intend to use it to the fullest before it meets the recycle bin.
But in honor of the ostensible purpose of Napster (that is, to explore new music) I figured a few weeks ago that I ought to start “exploring.” So in the process of scouring the music libraries of many T3 connections, I found a few wonderfully unrecognizable bands -- “new music,” so to speak. For your downloading delight, I have compiled a list of first class groups that you haven’t heard on the radio:
Straight out of Los Angeles, this is a band with the angst characteristic of the traditional L.A. rappers. The caveat is that they’re white, putting them in the Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock category. The difference: their rhythms are suave and addictive -- each song having a hypnotic repetitive melody. Crazytown’s unique ability to mix relaxing beats with attitude-ridden rapping brings back memories of Sublime.
Both “Butterfly” and “Revolving Door” are without doubt their best songs. The lyrics are indeed explicit, sexually and otherwise, but it only adds to the edgy, ebonic sensation that complements the stuck-in-your-head guitar riffs in the background. These guys are on a big label (Columbia) already, so I wouldn’t doubt their becoming popular momentarily.
It began when Karl Jenkins, a musician most known for his “seminal” work in the 60s with the band Soft Machine, got a contract to do a Delta commercial. The music he produced (with the help of contracted vocalists and choirs and orchestras) was, in a word, exotic. Filled with African overtones and enriched primarily with full voices singing without real lyrics, it exudes Lion King splendor. Though the band did achieve considerable popularity through the Delta commercial and by being placed on the treasured Pure Moods CD, it has received little further recognition for the groundbreaking music it has spawned.
The self-titled song “Adiemus” and “Kayama” are arguably Adiemus’s best work. “Adiemus” is an enchanting melody featureing awe-inspiring solos and “Kayama” is a demonstration of how euphoric an orchestra and a chorus can sound. The group is extremely prolific, sporting three packed CD’s. However unpopular, Adiemus brings a profoundly new and glorious genre of music to any listener.
Fountains of Wayne (Alternative)
Stamped out by music critics because one of its members wrote the oh-so-annoying “That Thing You Do” song, Fountains of Wayne never really made it. They are inescapably alternative in genre, and good at it too! Their hidden undertones of the 60s and 70s funk bands makes for a refreshing new rock band.
Their best work seems to be “Sink to the Bottom,” a Ben-Folds-Five-meets-Cake kind of song, featuring tired-out voices and acridly sarcastic lyrics that seem to be what little teenage girls like these days. Of their more humorous songs is “I Want An Alien For Christmas” and a male rendition of “Baby One More Time” (Britney Spears, anyone?). All in all, they are a fun-to-listen-to band with definite musical talent.
Buena Vista Social Club (Latin Jazz)
Buena Vista Social Club is definitely popular. The problem is that it’s popular in world music circles, which in general aren’t too popular. The subject of a recent PBS documentary, the Buena Vista Social Club is an aggregation of some ancient yet nonetheless brilliant Cuban musicians who, when together, fell upon some extraordinary Latin Jazz.
“Chan Chan” is probably their most recognizable song, featuring husky Cuban voices accompanied by masterfully played guitars and trumpets -- all this resulting in a passionate mood resounding of insolence and belligerence. Other recommended downloads include “Candela” and “De Camino a La Vereda,” each featuring its own separate mood. It’s a pity that world music never made it to the ranks of popularity, as Buena Vista is a prime example of how enjoyable the genre can be.
Smurfarna & Tai Mai Shu (Parody)
This is for those with more of a sense of humor (that was my disclaimer). Smurfarna sings easily recognizable American songs in Swedish. For instance, “Barbie Girl” by Aqua became their “Bagar smurfen” and Ricky Martin’s “Living La Vida Loca” became “Den Vita Smurfen.” I guess this band just defies description -- there’s something about their Alvin and the Chipmunk voices imitating the songs we are so very sick of that makes them special.
And then there is the Tai Mai Shu, who wrote the “Hard Core Chinese Freestyle Rap,” offensive to some and a source of endless enjoyment to others. Featuring a distinctly stereotyped accent and playing on all of the traditional Chinese stereotypes, this song is hilarious, ending with “Hong Kong people throw your hands up, throw your hands up ....”
Following the same theme is “Combo #5,” the famous parody of Lou Bega’s “Mambo #5,” sporting hilarious lines like “A little sweet and sour is all you need, a little bit of salt and no MSG.” In the spirit of this piece, Tai Mai Shu is available only online.
So get connected to Napster and try out some “new music,” if only to say that you don’t just use Napster to contribute to global piracy.