round #2 of adam’s essentials

here’s another set of folks (no longer in any order)…

1.
yoko kanno – this is one that I’d say 95% of the folks who read this journal won’t know. yoko is mostly known for her work in anime and the japan gaming industry, and more specifically cowboy bebop, which if you’ve never watched and would like to understand anime, it’s a great start. in any case, she brings a sense of traditional jazz and a sophisticated experimental style into places where one doesn’t expect them, and it creates (at least in the sense of cowboy bebop) a sense of realism that isn’t prevalent in a world dominated with pokemon anime ripoffs. critical tracks: piano black (cowboy bebop ost); time to know (future blues); tank! (cowboy bebop ost)

2.
kanye west – excluding those awfully stupid remarks he made after katrina, kanye west is a new face for hip hop. i am always upset by the death culture hip-hop generates, because it’s detracted from the music and how actually good it is. his last album, late registration, was produced by jon brion, who is mostly famous for his work with fiona apple, and who’s all about aural overload. and while with fiona that can sometimes wear one out while listening, with kanye, it only bolsters his rapping ability, turning his voice into an instrument. and that’s not to say kanye himself does not have the sensibility (alicia keys, jay-z, john legend, twista, mariah carey, talib kweli), but brion took his thought to another level. critical tracks: gone (late registration); get ’em high (feat talib kweli) (the college dropout); jay-z’s lucifer (the black album); a. keys you don’t know my name (diary of alicia keys)

3.
jay-z – the thing about jay-z is his entrepreneurial gifts and his ability to define what i think mainstream rap should sound like. i’m so tired of that eminem garbage that taking samples that are really nothing more than an eight year old hitting triads on a keyboard. jay-z has taken that exact garbage and reworked it, making clean and straight. what jay-z does especially well is work with multiple producers – from the stacatto vibes of pharrell williams and n.e.r.d. to kanye to dre to just blaze, it’s good music. and then you throw in roc-a-fella and everything sprung successfully from that, how can you not give him some credit? critical tracks: ain’t no love (mtv unplugged (w/the roots!!!)); encore (black album); i just wanna love u (the dynasty…)

4.
radiohead – i love radiohead for how they make me feel. radiohead is an experience. and when you listen through the majority of their catalogue (pablo honey, ok computer, hail to the thief), there’s a progression that, while different each time, is unmistakably radiohead. i think another thing i like about the band is the lead singer thom yorke’s ability to glide all sorts of directions in his voice. in songs like pyramid song that is so empty, it’s hauntingly beautiful. adding that to the electronic overtones and the more-catchy-than-not songwriting ability, you do indeed have an experience. critical tracks: pyramid song (amnesiac); 2+2=5 (hail to the theif); paranoid andriod (ok computer)

i had a tough time picking between #5 of set 2 and #1 of set 3, but i picked:

5.
coldplay – the reasoning behind it for me was because i think coldplay music has been with me longer, and i have enjoyed it longer than #1 in set 3 (coming soon). coldplay is a band (much like radiohead) that plays like you discovered them. you feel like a musical genius because somehow, you stumbled upon this band that cares about the music, cares about progressive politics, and then you realize that they were in the top 20 of concert sales this year. and while sometimes i feel they might be slightly over-polished, there’s an energy that comes out in their sound. there’s a drive in the guitar (especially in a song like shiver) that drives the music along, and makes you feel like they’re playing for you, in your own apartment, which i feel is a good indicator of a good band. if one can feel like it’s music that could be played just as well in the confines of your own house, it’s good music. critical tracks: shiver (parachutes); God put a smile upon your face (a rush of blood to the head); twisted logic (x&y)

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