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This Week's HipBites

Tune Trends

I once met someone who told me that he "doesn't like music." Around here at HipGuide, if you told any of us that, we would squint our eyes at you, purse our lips, and check you for a resemblance to Ted Bundy. Since music sounds better with our recommendations, here's our listening report on the current tune trends.
~~~Syl

Dancehall Reggae
Big trend in pop towards dancehall reggae, such as Beenie Man 'Dude', Elephant Man 'Pon De River', Nina Skye 'Move Your Body', Sean Paul anything. Even artists less well known in the U.S. such as Vybez Cartel are getting exposure. You can hear the Indian influence in Sean Paul, you can hear steel drums in "Move Your Body." In our opinion, Vybez Cartel is the ruffest in reggae right now.

Hip Hop
Still Outkast. From "Hey Ya" to "I Like the Way ...", they are pushing the boundaries of pop music. They're really visionaries, and every song on their album is something different. Kanye West. It's a total sleeper that a song like 'Jesus Walks', which is very sophisticated in its lyrics, should have hit hip hop number one. but we're getting a bit sick of him. Hip hop itself has been pretty stagnant of late with only Kanye West and Andre 3000 of Outkast trying new things - theyre bringing golf and argyle into hip hop, which is complex.

Latin
Reggaeton, or Puerto Rican reggae, is massive. It is dark, heavily rhythmic and sensual, and menacing. Tego Calderon is the undisputed king right now. Check out such songs as 'Yo Quisiera' or 'Guasa Guasa.' Also Don Omar, Hector y Tito, Vico C. This is also connected to the growing 'tropical' trend in pop music we mentioned above.

Rock
The new Wilco album is even more complex and self-referential than the first. Check out www.pitchforkmedia.com, the authority in indie rock. All the bands called anything "the this" or "the that" are taking their song cues from the sixties (think The Beatles, The Byrds...) Though we're not crazy about all those bands such as The Faint or The Darkness, in contrast to the tropical trend, rock is moving away from pop sensibilities and attempting for more of an unusual, cerebral, thoughtful, artsy, reflective song-writing angle.

Other
The most interesting thing happening right now is this group 'TV on the Radio' which is deeply unclassifiable. They have two albums, the 'Young Liars' ep and 'Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes,' which use haunting singing and strange instrumental sounds to create this sense of urban tension no one else can muster. It can be catchy and rhythmic though, its not gregorian chant. It's energy, urban poverty, paranoia, and loneliness all in one.

Read

1. An oversized british magazine called 'Straight No Chaser' (you'll only see the word Chaser). Be prepared that it is so far ahead of everyone else in music that you won't recognise anything in it. But the editors have encyclopedic knowledge of Latin, African, Middle Eastern music, and all the international genre-benders that are where music should be.

2. The magazine 'The Wire' is also interesting. They write about a lot of forgotten old people, classical, world traditions, electronic experiments - very strange music.

Buy

1. A Swedish girl rock group called 'Sahara Hotnights'
Jennie Bomb
C'Mon Lets Pretend
Kiss & Tell

2. 'The Exploding Hearts.' Songs that are vaguely Fifties/Sixties, and very straightforward in their romantic themes, but in a really 70s punk way, very garage. Sounds the way a studded leather jacket worn by a pretty girl should sound. Singers voice is annoying but it goes well. If the Ramones knew more than three chords and could write good love songs. They died in a van crash.Check out songs like 'Jailbird,' 'Sleeping Aides and Razorblades,' 'Throwaway Style.'
Guitar Romantic

3. The Walkmen. Forget the hit song called 'The Rat'. It's not very representative. Most of their stuff sounds like a demented music box. Like Winter in New York: lonely, sterile - it's like the soundtrack to your budding I-banking career that you actually hate, deep within. We like the songs 'We've been had,' 'Blizzard of 96,' and 'Hang on, Siobhan.'
Bows & Arrows
Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone
Little House of Savages 1
Little House of Savages 2

4. The Shins. A poppy indie rock group with complex vocals and very strange, strange lyrics. Check out songs 'So Says I' and 'Kissing the Lipless,' but their first album 'Oh Inverted World' is better.
So Says I
Oh, Inverted World

5. Fela Kuti aka Fela Anikulapo Kuti. He was Nigerian musician in the Seventies who created a very interesting musical style called Afrobeat, which draws on Latin, American Funk, African drumming, and other traditions. The lyrics are very political, as you'd expect from the era. He died, but his son Femi Kuti continues and expands the tradition today. If you can find them, check out the two albums, 'Shoki Shoki' and 'Fight to Win.' Shoki Shoki is more pop-y and has some serious party tracks, but Fight to Win is more sober and complex, and has some sad songs about the state of Africa. It's hugely energetic and intense music, and apparently the live shows are wild. You can hear a Femi Kuti remix on Costes 3, it's actually a really good remix.
The Best Best of Fela Kuti
Hotel Costes 3

~~~ Reported by Robin Tang.

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above The cover art from one of the biggest musical heroes in the world outside the U.S., Fela Kuti's the "best of" album
.

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