Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Grab A Slice: Choice Cuts Volume 6

There's no excuse. In 2004, I was able to put together an end of year Choice Cuts even though we'd just had a baby. In 2006, we were busy finishing up our house addition, and yet I still had time.

This year, well, I guess we've both been busy. Maria with her freelancing, and me with all sorts of things. Plus, let's face it, in some ways a rambunctious 3 year-old requires more attention and energy than a newborn.

So that's my way of noting that, hi, it's the end of May, and I'm only now posting my 2007 Choice Cuts round up. Better late than never, yes? It's a fun mix, a lot of poppy stuff, plenty of electronic beats, several local entrants and... yes, two songs from TV shows, including one from a hip series geared toward preschoolers.

I popped it in the other day, and I didn't feel as bad -- I still like the mix, even if I put it together six months ago. Here it is, my sixth annual Choice Cuts CD, "Grab A Slice":

1. CITY OF ANGELS -- Ozomatli: Gotta start off with a Los Angeles-centric track, of course, and there are few better suited for an ode to the City of Angels than Ozomatli. The group is L.A. : Multi-ethnic, offering up a melting pot of hip-hop, rock and Spanish influences. Ozomatli’s one of the few groups that sound at home on KROQ, Power 106 or Super Estrella.

2. A GOOD START -- Maria Taylor: What can I say, I’m in love with Maria Taylor’s ethereal voice. Both Taylor and her old group, Azure Ray, have made frequent appearances on the year-end list. This one comes from her most recent CD, “14:59.” Thanks to Franklin Avenue reader and former Nettwerk exec JT, I was able to check out Taylor last year at the Echo. Great show.

3. MAN OVERBOARD -- Kristoffer Ragnstam: Catchy pop from Sweden’s Kristoffer Ragnstam, whose music doesn’t sound at all like he hails from Sweden . What can I say, I’m still enjoying the 80s influenced electro pop, as several tracks here can attest to.

4. GOOD LIFE -- Kanye West feat. T-Pain: I know, I know, going ultra mainstream with this pick. But I figured Kanye would whine if I didn’t include him. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good sample, and “Good Life’s” use of Michael Jackson’s “PYT” is so damn infectious, I can’t resist it.

5. FALLING SLOWLY -- The Frames: You know the version of this song from the movie “Once,” the duet featuring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Hansard also fronts The Frames; I kinda like this version better.

6. GET UP GET OUT -- The Rosebuds: The blog You Ain’t No Picasso writes: “The intro and chorus of Get Up Get Out” answer that age old question: What would it sound like if ABBA wrote music for the Final Fantasy video games? This is a delightfully poppy work that’s destined for glimpses of dancefloor glory.”

7. HOME -- Great Northern: Los Angeles’ own Great Northern had a great 2007. Not only did they become the year’s local indie darlings, but they scored big time national exposure thanks to a Nissan commercial, which used “Home” as musical accompaniment.

8. AGAIN & AGAIN -- The Bird and the Bee: I guess I’m a sucker for duos made up of producers and chanteuses. I loved Frou Frou, and I’m digging Bird and the Bee. Inara George, whose solo work you probably remember from the early part of the decade, has paired with producer/keyboardist Greg Kurstin to make up Bird and the Bee. Dare you not to get sucked in by “Again & Again’s” chorus.

9. PRESSURE SUIT -- Aqualung: The sweeping sound of Aqualung – also known as Matt Hales – makes another appearance on our end-of-year recap.

10. FLY PAPER -- K-OS: OK, remember how I said I was a sucker for a sample? The use of Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved?” guitar riff was good enough for entry on this song. And the maddeningly catchy hook kept me.

11. THE ERASER -- Thom Yorke: Reverb. The way Thom Yorke says “E – rase.” That final “ooh.” Like a rainy afternoon in New York .

12. POOL PARTY (YO GABBA GABBA! Mix) -- The Aquabats: Could a quirky Nick Jr. TV show geared toward pre-schoolers be the best new program of 2007? If you’re the parent of a toddler, the answer is yes. Evan’s introduction to indie rock has come via “Yo Gabba Gabba,” which was created by Aquabats frontman Christian Jacobs (with Scott Schultz). The 'Bats have appeared on the show several times, and performed a kid-friendly version of their track "Pool Party" -- a song that Evan now knows all the words to. I actually kinda like the YGG! version better than the original, believe it or not, as it's more uptempo.

13. BUSINESS TIME -- Flight of the Conchords: Maria and I are finally going to see Bret and Jemaine live next weekend, and we can't wait -- talk about a reason for getting a sitter! I had a hard time choosing which FOTC song to put in the end-of-year wrap... but how can I deny "Business Time?" You know when I'm down to just my socks it's time for business that's why they call them business socks!

14. LAST OF DAYS -- A Fine Frenzy: Singer/pianist Alison Sudol has seen several of her songs score TV airplay; she even guested last year on "CSI: Miami." Her "Almost Lover" was the big hit (well, "big hit" is a relative term), but I kinda like the gravity of "Last of Days" instead.

15. UMBRELLA (Remix) -- Rihanna feat. Chris Brown: Here's another pick inspired in part by the Kid Formerly Known As Blogger Toddler. A year ago, he and I would frequently sing "Umbrella" in the car -- and indeed, hearing a two-year-old croon "-ella, ella, ella, ella" is as cute as it sounds. This was obviously the song of the summer in 2007. Here, I've thrown on the reworked version featuring Chris Brown. Yes, his take on it -- "Cinderella -ella-ella-ella" is pretty damn cheesy. And yet, it's nearly as catchy.

16. ELEPHANT GUN -- Beirut: Zach Condon may be from New Mexico, but his voice and musical choices are as haunting and melancholy as the under-seige city from which he's taken his performing name. "Elephant Gun"

17. IT’S ALL TRUE -- Tracey Thorn: How great was it to see Tracey Thorn finally re-emerge with a new CD? One-half of Everything But the Girl, Thorn had been quiet in recent years, as hubby/partner Ben Watt continued to explore his DJ side.

18. TAP-TAP, CLICK-CLICK -- Division Day: Like many of you, we'd actually had "Beartrap Island" in our hands back in 2006, but the CD was re-released by Eenie Meenie in 2007. Much like Silversun Pickups before them, Division Day began to see it all come into fruition by the end of 2007. This is my favorite track off the CD.

19. VALERIE (REMIX) -- Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse: Here's another case where I think the remix is stronger than the original. Just as crazy, messed up Amy Winehouse is much more interesting.

20. PAPER PLANES -- MIA: I still remember the first time I heard this track. Wait, are those gun shots? And is that a cash register? Even Indie was too wussy to play the gun shots, muffling the sound effect. 2007 felt like the year of MIA, and it felt like a natural way to wrap up this year's "Choice Cuts."

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