Brooklyn’s Aly Tadros spent the last decade traveling across Egypt, Turkey, Mexico and Europe, adding surprising depth to the jazzy alt-country vocals she brings to sophomore album The Fits. Tadros’ ability to wring each note for all its potential nuance makes songs like “Silence and the Truth” and “Sweet on Me” instantly stand apart from the crowd, putting her in the same realm as Norah Jones or Over the Rhine’s Karin Bergquist. The Fits is one of those rare well-rounded albums which covers so much ground it can’t possibly soak in on just a cursory listen Like Come Away With Me, which Norah Jones turned into a diamond-selling juggernaut, this album delivers the musical goods piece by piece over extended listens, so by the time she’s had her way, these songs will have listeners tied up in knots as they try to grasp the moment when Aly Tadros won them over as fans for life.
When I was young I told my momma
That I wanted to be famous
And I meant, and I meant, and I meant it …
Welcome to the freshest, most interesting old-school styled rap track of the year so far, where Skipp Whitman drops rhymes over drumline percussion, speaking of the long hard walk toward fame. The idea is if you want something you better get out there and earn it. No one’s going to give you anything. “Motherfuckers are talkers, everybody’s a salesman,” he says, but the question remains: what’s the product? In the case of Skipp Whitman and his latest single “Famous,” the product is tightly rhymed hip-hop with one foot in the past and the other firmly planted in the right-now.
He’s got personality and flair which clearly sets him apart from the rest of the pack. “Some say I’m full of myself, I say I’d rather be that than full of something … else!” This is a distinctive track from an artist I’d expect to make a much bigger mark down the road. His new album, Skipp City, makes a bold statement that he’s one of the most interesting artists to watch in the Brooklyn hip-hop scene, and he’s ready to be famous.
Are you ready to help?
Year of the Album — #068
The Bandana Splits – “Mr Sam Presents The Bandana Splits” (2011, Boy Scout Recordings)
In many ways, the last few years have been defined by pop-culture throwbacks. Now Brooklyn’s Bandana Splits arrive to provide their spin on 50s and 60s bubblegum pop and doo-wop. The result is a respectable diversion, reviving, but not innovating, the genre.
This was my audition piece for PopMatters, and I wrote it almost two months ago. The album didn’t blow my mind, but as far as retro revivals of classic styles go, this one’s going to please genre purists and make many more listeners stop at least for a moment to lend these ladies an ear. Sometimes we expect too much “innovation” from pop music anyway … some of the best pop songs are simple, ear-catching bits of ephemera to begin with, and they’re still great songs. There’s plenty to enjoy on this album, even if the individual songs don’t necessarily dig their way into the memory banks. You can read the full review at PopMatters.
With a lead singer who looks like Tim Meadows and a sound that’s straight-up retro funk fusion, Brooklyn-based Mighty Fine has a sound which truly lives up to their name. This is the perfect music to blast out loud as we all come down from the long weekend, and it’d make a perfect mix with some Imelda May and Fitz and the Tantrums to showcase the wild unpredictability of 2011′s revivalist leanings. The band’s already made the rounds with TV on the Radio and Clap Your Hands & Say Yeah while promoting 2006′s The Dirty Sessions, and they’ve been working on what was to become 2011′s Get Up To Get Down since 2008, recording everything on 12-track tape live, to preserve the raw sound and fury of a Mighty Fine show intact on record. That album comes out October 25th, but until then you can enjoy the fresh funk of “Black Train,” which debuted today. Download the song here if you get hooked like I did — all it’ll cost you is an email address.
Though they claim more hip influences such as prog-rockers Muse and RX Bandits, one listen to “Sweet Banana” by Brooklyn’s Great Caesar (viewable below in all its wonderous, horn-filled glory) and you’ll be thinking more along the lines of a modernized Cake … or what Cake might sound like if John McCrea had any interest in time-traveling beyond what worked well in 1995. All comparisons aside, however, and the one fact which matters is that these guys have serious chops. The video is fun as hell, and the rest of their music is up to the challenge of keeping your interest after such an auspicious, attention-grabbing debut.
You can name your own price on their Bandcamp page for their debut EP (simply titled Great Caesar EP), along with two singles, which include the aforementioned “Sweet Banana.” Trust me … you’ll want to hear this band; their music’s tightly constructed and creative, while maintaining a fun, quirky sound that surely makes for a fiery stage show. They’re definitely worth keeping an eye on — I’d suspect, if they’re given the chance to record a full-length, that we’ll be hearing a great deal more from them now that they’re pursuing their music full time.