About The Cold Cut...

The musings of a teenage audiophile. Indie, Rock, Hip-Hop, Rap, Dance, Dubstep, Garage, Metal... music crosses all boundaries. The Cold Cut is devoted to giving you a taste of what's going on in music at the moment.

About Me

A 17 year old taking his first tentative steps into the world of blogging. In my first year, its been up and down, from the slow first months to a busy time around the one year anniversary.

We have moved.

The Cold Cut can now be found at www.thecoldcut.com.


Moving On.

The Cold Cut, as you know it, is in the process of migrating.

I've been keeping things on the down low for a while, but Blogger have been bugging me over my posts and its time that we parted ways. They have been a good home for me, but The Cold Cut needs to move on and become part of something bigger. That 'thing' is Be All/End All.

It's my new website, you see. But before you get worried about the wellbeing of The Cold Cut, let me explain...

Music is starting to take on a much larger role in my life. I love writing about music. I love singing. I love the process of making music. I want to develop my contribution to this industry- why spend all my time writing and listening to music when I'm not contributing myself? Therefore I made the expensive move of buying my first pair of decks, a mixer and Serato Scratch Live. I hope to be able to start remixing songs- in my first experiment (a remix of 'Violet Hill' on GarageBand) I managed to get to number 3 on the Hype Machine, so I'm going to look into this.

Be All/End All is going to grow as my tastes and ideas develop. I see it becoming a musical portal, with many types of content- music, posts, links, videos. The lot. The Cold Cut will be moving to www.thecoldcut.com over the next few days.

This new site also represents a move to my own self-hosted website. It's great to have complete freedom over design and content, and I am aiming for visually impressive content from now on. In my new job, I am exposed to IT everyday, and I now feel more confident with the challenges presented by CSS and PHP.

So what's been going on with me? I'm really sorry for my absence, but I've been busy these last two months. I'm currently applying to university in the US and have been settling into my new job; therefore I really haven't had any time or patience for the old blog. Things are beginning to settle down now (considering I have finished my SATs) and 250000 hits is a great time to revamp The Cold Cut.

I'll be spending some time on the migration over the next few days. Bear with me, and I promise you will not be dissapointed. Once again, thanks for your support, comments and readership.

Kanye West- Say You Will

808's And Heartbreak

I'm right in the middle of many things right now (new job, new decks, US university applications, etc etc) so my talented brother has kindly agreed to step in. Bravo.
Kanye West- Anyway (Link 2)

So Kanye’s Heartbreak is leaking all over the internet at the moment, and I for one am a little confused. Auto-tune? 808s? TEARS FOR FEARS samples? Wake up, Mr West.

Kanye wants to do whatever he wants, and what he wants is to no longer be seen as just a rapper, but a pop artist not bound in by a particular style. Those in the know realised some time ago that his music is just great pop, and when it comes to flow he’s never really had skills that pay the bills. In a John-Woo-style shoot-out of great rappers, Kanye would be first of the gang to die.

The problem is, he’s turned into a bit of prick. Yes, rappers are supposed to be arrogant, but The College Dropout gave hip-hop back its soul not because of all those vintage samples, but through its subject matter: less bitches and bling, more tales of how he used to pee the bed as a child. Sadly, post-fame, his last album revealed that he has become everything that he used to rail against: “I shop so much I can speak Italian”, anyone? Don’t even get me started on Drunk and Hot Girls. Graduation is a good album, but he’s not easy to love any more.

And so to “808s”: this sounds like we’re headed towards an album of commercial r ‘n b. The title hints that it’s going to be about relationship troubles. So perhaps a move towards a bit of honesty and soul again, which is good. But the musical wrapping concerns me a little, as a whole album of this is going to be a bit much for me.

I do like the fact that he’s trying to switch up his game rather than ploughing the same path, but hopefully there will be some genuine rapping in there as well.

Over to you Kanye.

Definitive: 'Love Lockdown'

Kanye West- Love Lockdown (T-Minus 321 Remix) (Link 2)

Unlike many of the bigger blogs out there, I've kept 'Love Lockdown' at arm's reach... not because I don't like it, but because I wanted the dust to settle before I posted a definitive remix. I've also tried to keep the number of 'hot tracks' down to a minimum for the last few weeks, purely because its nice to have something in reserve when you need it.

Let me state my position: 'Love Lockdown' is such a grower. If you break it down, its a pretty simple composition, but Kanye has really impressed me by upping the audience-input, evolving the song little by little and responding to the backlash. The 'Love Lockdown' that I now sing along to is not the same song that he debuted at the VMA's. I also don't believe that this version will appear on the album, as Kanye has displayed an experimentive nature that will no doubt carry over to the album.

Anyway, after sifting through the remixes (trust me, there are waaay to many), I chose one definitive song. As well as taking the song somewhere totally new, the artwork is incredible. Feel free to keep the creativity alive by downloading the stems (they're all over the net).

QUIX- Only In Your Long Hair

QUIX- Only In Your Long Hair (Link 2)

I would say I'm the slightly on edge right now. I've been over-taxed. I'm doing SATs (and whilst they are interesting, they do take up time). I guess I need to chill. Not let the little things get to me. Focus on the big picture. Go on a pub-crawl tomorrow night.

QUIX sent me 'Only In Your Long Hair' last night, and its exactly the medication that I needed. It winds you down. Chills you out. Uplifts.

In my opinion, no one can explain the process behind a track better than the artist themselves. As QUIX puts it:

'LA/Washington DC producer/turntablist QUIX is currently in the works on his debut solo LP - this is a demo version of one of the lead tracks - "Only In Your Long Hair" started as a comissioned remix for Washington DC rock act The Speaks - when the label (Warner) rejected it for its "club sound", QUIX held on to the track for use on his album.'

I love a track with a good story. 'Only In Your Long Hair' starts big, brings the synths to the party, and then we're set. As well as featuring a particularly quaint vocal sample, the song jumps around, and the scratching influence is clear. I like.


Twisted Wheel

Twisted Wheel- She's A Weapon (Link 2)

Twisted Wheel. Wow. How have I not heard of you? I'm fairly sure its a combination of my aversion to the NME, and my brief hiatus from blogging. Either way, I'm sorry I missed you.

Raucous. Raw. To the point. These were the first words that sprung into my mind when listening to 'She's A Weapon'. It's unfortunate that often, we immediately associate these with poor lyrics and musicianship, but we do have reason. Twisted Wheel are an exciting exception.

The latest from Sony BMG, Twisted Wheel are definitely moving in the right direction; they have heaps of attitude and have been picked up by record label that will surely market them to hell and back. The band are currently on tour with The Rascals, another band making moves (largely due to 'The Large Shadow Puppet's popularity, it has to be said), and have a series of dates with Oasis lined up in October. My view is slightly tinted, though, in that the band immediately reminded me of a fusion of The Twang and The Courteeners. Memories of hype. A huge build up. And then, the album drops, flat as a pancake.

I do have a good feeling about this one, though, and those feelings are going to be put on hold... permanently. With both of the aforementioned bands, I just let the hype carry me along, and I wasn't particularly fussed when the resultant album's fell short. This time around, though, I'm going to indulge. Get involved.

Let us say, Twisted Wheel are to those bands what The Verve were to Oasis and The Stone Roses. A perfect combination. And I just hope they can emulate Mr. Ashcroft's success.

[Myspace] ['Lucy The Castle' out 10.11.o8]

What the digital revolution missed...

Ashwin here.

So guys, this week I've been making a mixtape for a friend, and I figured a good way to introduce myself would be by posting it on here for you lovely people.

But first, let me extol the virtues of the cassette mixtape over a CD. I'm sure plenty of people think cassettes are obsolete these days, but in my opinion they serve a vital role.

Practically, in some ways they're more useful. You can only store 80 minutes of music on an audio CD, but 90 on a cassette. They're also more durable, it's hard to snap a tape in half by accident. Tapes are prettier too. Case in point: the first google image result for cassette, vs the first google image result for CD...

which would you rather stick in your stereo?

The most important thing though, and I cannot stress this enough, is this:

sequential access

i.e. to listen to a track you have to have listened to (or fast forwarded past) all of the tracks before it. This is the real magic of a mixtape. With a mixtape, you can tell a story, build up to crescendos, and make the listener expect and receive whatever you want. When you can instantly skip to any track you want, this power is lost. You've gone from a musical novel to simply a group of tracks. You've lost your power over the listener forever without sequential access.

Nevertheless, here is my mixtape in all of its digital, skippable glory. Hope you like electro.

Immuzikation- Fortisphere

Justice vs Daft Punk vs Kanye West vs A-Trak vs Diplo- Fortisphère (Immuzikation Blend) (Link 2)

What happens when you take the songs below, splice them and force them into a shell of 3 minutes? 'Fortisphere'. In a time when many people are talking about the end of the world, this is the song that I would want to go out to.
  • Justice - Planisphère Part 1
  • Daft Punk - Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
  • Kanye West - Stronger
  • Kanye West - Stronger (A-Trak Remix)
  • Kanye West and Daft Punk - Stronger (Live at the Grammy's)
  • Diplo - Work is Never Over
It's reassuring that some things never change. Even though the stock market is slowly dying, and the world is rumoured to end sometime soon, one thing has never changed. No matter what, I can always rely on a new track from Immuzikation gracing my ears every now and then. And that's why we love him so damn much.

The latest and greatest from Alfredo is 'Fortisphere', a truly epic piece of mash-up magic that combines most of the things I love and somehow manages to not screw it up. This song is destined for a live outing soon- no club, stadium or galaxy is too big for this song.

'Fortisphere' is just another string to Immuzikation's bow- if someone doesn't snap this guy up soon I might have to start my own record label and do the honours.


Introducing... A new face, and Planisphere

Will here, and as promised, a new face. Be warned- with a musical knowledge that spans across galaxies, Ashwin is here, and he takes no prisoners. Enjoy.

Hey guys, I'm the new guy here at The Cold Cut, I'm Ashwin and it's a pleasure to meet you, but I'm no fan of small talk when there's music to be argued over.

So while Bloc Party seem to be moving away from the guitars and onto the synths with their latest surprise release, Justice seem to be doing the opposite.

Their new release was commissioned by Dior Homme for their new fashion show. It shies away from the more lightweight, simple, glitchy hooks of their album, and takes a more Waters of Nazareth approach to things. The tracks are intense, exciting, even involving a massive guitar solo in the final act. A guitar solo, in electro!

You all know why the dance world fell in love with Justice in the first place, that gritty, messy, just downright thrilling grungy sound, and the rock flavour accentuates that no end. It sounds more like Justice than ever, unapologetic electro in the high polished world of fashion. Enter Planisphère.

Now comparisons will always be drawn with Daft Punk when it comes to Justice, and DP themselves did a killer track for Louis Vuitton. This is more some kind of hectic electro opera though, with it's overarching melodies and hooks. Think Intersterlla 5555 kind of thing. I can see Justice doing a feature film if they keep stuff like this up. Man, that has to happen.
Anyway, enjoy the tracks.

Justice - Planisphère, Part 1 [Link 2]

p.s. Will pronounces Justice differently to me. I say Justice, he says Justeece. I think I'm right though, since in the introductions to Ed Bangers compilations, they say Justice. Opinions? [Will: I'm just trying to sound French!]

Myspace [BUY]

Fabrizio Moretti shuns The Strokes with Little Joy

Update: 3 Tracks are now online over at the Myspace. Enjoy a sneak peak:

Little Joy- No One Better's Sake

Another few months pass, and another member of The Strokes announces their own side project.

Obviously feeling that he missed out on the solo-pie, Fabrizio Moretti (aka the drummer) has been brewing his own project, entitled Little Joy. The project itself sounds enticing (anything even remotely connected to The Strokes gets most people going), although Devendra Banhart notably produced the entirety of the LP, coming out November 4th.

Alas, no tunes, as of yet... but if you keep checking Little Joy's Myspace, I'm sure you will eventually be rewarded. Instead, enjoy a Strokes rarity, if you like:

The Strokes- Hawaii Aloha (Live) (Link 2)

LP tracklisting is as follows:
1.The Next Time Around
2.Brand New Start
3. Play the Part
4. No One's Better Sake
5. Unattainable
6. Shoulder to Shoulder
7. With Strangers
8. Keep Me in Mind
9. How to Hang a Warhol

10. Don't Watch Me Dancing
11. Evaporar

The Dark Knight. The ultimate cinematic experience.

I couldn't handle a 'hot out of the screening room' review of The Dark Knight. I'm still unsure how the collected press managed to draft up honest reviews of the film mere minutes after walking out of the press screenings. Maybe I was too wrapped up in all the pre-release hype that surrounded this film, but regardless, that hype was not left unjustified.

The Dark Knight, as a cinematic spectacle, is unmatched by any blockbuster of the last ten years (my movie-going period). It is also the most emotionally draining piece of culture that I have ever being exposed to. I felt like a shell of my former self as we walked out of the cinema, physically exhausted by the ever-changing merry-go-round of emotions that the film conjured in me.

The only place to start is the hype. The buzz surrounding this film has been fever-pitch since Commissioner Gordon handed over the Joker card to our caped crusader as the credits rolled for Batman Begins. In that card, Christopher Nolan sent an obvious signal that whilst he wasn't committed to a sequel, Batman was officially reborn, and ready for a franchise if the world was ready for it. And we were.

Cinema is, by the law of averages, a lonely experience. Sure, we go in pairs, threes or more, but ultimately, sitting in a dark room watching a screen is an anti-social experience. So, why do we do it? For the reaction. And if you are looking for a provoking film, look no further. At my birthday dinner I was quite happy to argue with my parents that as a cinematic experience, this is the pinnacle. For two hours.

The Dark Knight is probably not the best movie ever. It would be hard to argue that it is a complete masterpiece, as there are a few limited flaws. And yet, as a complete package, there is nothing out there that even comes close to this as a piece of cinema. The film itself has obviously connected with audiences the world over, and most average people that you speak to would happily place this film in their top 5 of all time. The $300 million in 10 days (amongst a host of other amazing records) alongside a never-ending series of 5 star reviews mean that The Dark Knight will never be forgotten.

Christopher Nolan has a dilemma to deal with. Where do you go from this? Whilst his previous films have all been brilliant, this huge level of commercial success has never factored into his equation, and yet these kind of figures will have changed that. The Prestige was a commercial hit, debuting at #1 in the US and garnering Academy Award nominations. And yet if you mentioned it, most people wouldn't bat an eyelid. The Dark Knight is not that film.

The film is centered around a host of characters who are all totally inhabited by the actors. Christian Bale will no doubt be under-appreciated as Bruce Wayne, although he is the foundation of this film, holding the meandering plot together. Maggie Gyllenhaal reinvents Rachel Dawes, taking over from Katie Holmes and thankfully erasing her annoying turn in Batman Begins from my memory. Then we have the 'white knight' to Batman's 'dark knight'- Harvey Dent. Aaron Eckhart is another success story, using the talent he has to burn and creating an interesting character arc for Harvey. We care about him, and that is the crucial aspect- that whilst Two Face does appear in this film, we are still aware that he and Harvey are the same person, regardless of whats going on underneath that exterior. Commisioner Gordon has an expanded role in this sequel, and Gary Oldman is once again stellar, with the rest of the cast also providing interesting foils for the leads.

And finally I am brought to Heath Ledger. Heath, Heath, Heath. This performance is far bigger than him. It's far bigger than this film. It's bigger than the hype surrounding it. This film has reinvented the concept of a villain. The Joker is a villain for the modern era, killing and creating havoc purely because he wants to. There are no motives- evidence in the fact that his back story continually changes, and the 'wanna know how I got these scars?' question pops up a few times, each time with a different answer. We have all heard the buzz surrounding Ledger's widely supported Oscar nomination, and it is founded. And yet, most of the buzz suggests a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In actuality, The Joker is the lead role, carrying this film, his presence never absent.

This last fact is down to the fact that Gotham City plays a much bigger role second time around. The shots of Christian Bale standing alone on some of the city's skyscrapers are truly breathtaking, and although I didn't see the film in IMAX, I am almost certain that these visuals would be even more impressive on the larger screens. And through Gotham's presence and destruction, The Joker is effectively never off screen. He orchestrates the destruction which plagues the city- cause and effect.

There are some places where this film experiences slight mis-steps. Whilst the first film felt relatively (and that is a huge 'relatively') grounded in terms of realistic technology, The Dark Knight moves away from this approach. Whilst the Batpod is one of the coolest pieces of automotive technology to ever grace the screen, the circumstances in which this transition is made are a little far-fetched. And in the closing moments of the film, a certain piece of equipment almost burst the bubble of Gotham's believable world which had been built so well. Finally, Christian Bale over does the gruff voice a little bit. And that's it.

So, The Dark Knight. Finally, a film by Christopher Nolan that saw the public realisation of his talent. A film that features many revelations- Heath Ledger's terrible passing, and outstanding performance. A film which may finally unseat Titanic. A viral phenomena. And most importantly, a brilliant film. A film that deserves to be remembered, in our hearts and in the record books. The Dark Knight. Where next?

Bloc Party- 'Talons', and the infuriating truth of their track distribution.

Bloc Party- Talons (Link 2)

The hype surrounding 'Intimacy' is slowly ebbing away. In retrospect, you gotta say- what a move by Bloc Party. I'll be posting my full verdict on the album soon, but this I'll say: 'Intimacy' definitely has its charms.

Bloc Party are a pretty solid band by my reckoning. I don't buy into this whole 'Kele is a moody bastard' shit- as long as the tunes keep coming, then I'll be happy. Kele is entitled to his privacy, and his mood-swings. I do, however, have a few niggles with the band, all based around their music, and primarily where its going. Firstly, one of my mates astutely pointed out that Bloc Party always release great songs in the aftermath of an album release. It's happened thrice- 'Two More Years' and 'The Marshalls Are Dead' were nigh on perfect, and could have lifted the latter part of 'Silent Alarm'. 'Weekend In The City' suffered badly from top-heavy track listing, and was followed by a host of bonus tracks that were stronger than most of the songs on the album ('Rhododendron', 'Atonement', 'The Once And Future King' and 'Version 2.0' to name a few).

And now, we have 'Intimacy'. The pacing is kind of wrong on this album... it starts loudly, but the first few songs are weak and jarring, excepting 'Biko'. The album slowly builds to a perfect, redeeming second half. Riddle me this- I purchased the mp3 version of the album, and whilst I recieved their new single (I thought single's were meant to come from albums?) 'Talons' free by email, it is not included in the album listing. This is a move beyond comprehension- 'Talons' is one of the stronger singles they've released in recent years, with chiming bells and a dance riff that is definitive of Bloc Party's new direction. Kele said of 'Talons':

“We wanted to keep things fresh and we thought the fans would be more excited to get a new song rather than something off the album. Talons is one of the last songs we recorded during the Intimacy sessions and I always had it in mind to be one of the extra tracks we promised for the CD if it turned out well. It turned out great so we decided to make it the next single. I’m enjoying this way of working, not over-thinking things, just make a decision and get on with it! It’s quite liberating in a way, I’m sure it’s going to be the way things happen more and more in the future."

The person responsible for the ordering of BP's albums really needs to get the boot. All three have been either top or bottom heavy, with unbelievable emissions- think about 'Intimacy', except remove 'Ares' and 'Mercury' and replace them with the one two punch of 'Talons' and 'Flux'. That's a proposition.

Secondly- where do the band see themselves in a few years time? I get the distinct impression that 'Silent Alarm' was just a front- albeit a fantastic, album of the year front. However, Kele has always made it clear that he wants to experiment- I remember one particular interview where he spoke of his long term wish- to mess around with Timbaland beats, basically. I respect this, but why not just start as you wish to continue? Anyway, back to the present- 'Talons' is another triumph for the band. It's just not going to make as big of an impact as it could.

Intimacy can be bought from the Bloc Party website. In doing so, you can collect your free download of 'Talons'.

How does this feel? Like a drink of water after a long walk in the desert.

Kanye West- Love Lockdown (Link 2)

I feel relieved. I feel happy. I feel exhausted. Many emotions. First, the good news. I am now able to get back into the swing of things. I have internet. I have lots of stuff to catch up with. I need to burst the bubble around me. The Cold Cut needs to become relevant again. Most of all, I have a blog to run. And run-it I will.

So how does one burst the bubble that's been enclosing you? With difficulty... I must admit, my lack of contact with the internet, TV and news has been a bit of an eye opener. As in, what the hell would we do without it? Now I appreciate it even more- I feel lucky to be connected again.

Anyway, back to the music. I've missed it ever so much, looking through my emails longingly on my phone. Able to see, but not to listen. Out of all the music that has flooded my inbox (about 250 emails and counting from the last few weeks- keep 'em coming), one track stands out. It's so 'now'. Kanye West's new track 'Love Lockdown', from the upcoming album release, '808's And Heartbreak'. A live debut at the VMA's was incredibly promising (watch it), and yet the recorded version falls annoyingly flat.

Disregarding an over-generous bass track that I could listen to all day long, it's hard to like this song, let alone love it. 'Love Lockdown' starts, peaks, starts, troughs, restarts... and finishes. It goes nowhere... Instead, we are treated to 270 seconds of Kanye living out a T-Pain fantasy. Jittery pianos and a vocoder dominate proceedings. There is no Chris Martin this time, though. And no intelligent sampling.

The VMA's were the perfect platform from which to launch the new album. Kanye performed well, his voice fragile, but hidden away behind Autotune. He sings better than you might expect, but will struggle with the live demands of this song. Still, it was a great performance, with strong images through lighting and his performance. Unfortunately, these fixtures cannot be translated onto the studio version.

This song hurts. Where has the genius of 'The College Dropout' gone? The concept is all wrong- Kanye isn't a singer by nature. It's brave, but a whole song of slow vocals is really pushing it. And in using a vocoder, you immediately take the emotion out of a song. I mean, who would attempt to prove that 'Lollipop' is an emotionally affecting song?

'808's And Heartbreak' drops on December 16th. Pre-order it on Amazon. The chips seem stacked against Kanye at this point in time. I'm not even going to mention the whole arrest fiasco. Still, I would never bet against him. Oh, and good luck Kanye. May you shock us all.

Busy Bee

Hey guys. Long time no speak. I just thought I would fill you in on the situation- wouldn't want you worrying about me after all!

The Cold Cut is not dead or dying- I like to think of this as a forced hiatus in which I can re-focus, brainstorm and generally miss my blog, writing and the sense of joy and achievment I get from a nice comment or popular post.

Over the last few weeks, a number of factors have prevented me from blogging. It all started around the 14th august when I got my exam results- I'm hugely relieved to have obtained straight a's- school doesn't feel like a waste anymore!

Next came lowlands music festival... This was a total blast- I'll be covering this on full later on- good news is I got my hands on my first festival press pass, which was fun.

The day that lowlands finished, my new job started. For the last week, I've had an intense induction week, and my real job commences on tuesday! I won't say who the company are, but they have an office in southbank and like using lotus notes. The more technically inclined of you will have no problems working out who I'm talking about. If you are interested in finding out more or have you own experiences with this company to share, send over and email.

And that brings us to my current situation. I'm just settling into my new house, which currently has no Internet. No posts this weekend then, buthopefull I will be able to start working g through the backlog soon. In other news, I think I might have found the perfect candidate for a new writer- which should take some of the strain off of me! If you feel you have the skills and music taste to write here, drop me a line. At this pont in time I could use all the help I can get. Cheers.

Nas- 'Untitled' review... Rap album of the year.


Nas has some serious issues. Huge, eye-achingly massive problems. And thank god. As rap wouldn't be nearly as interesting without people like him, who adore controversy and love to channel the world's problems into an album. The majority of the albums he has penned have a clear message, and when it's been lacking, the music struggles. 'Illmatic'- urban poverty. 'Hip Hop Is Dead'- the recent degradation of the quality of hip-hop music. 'Streets Disciple'- the women in Nas' life. And where the focus isn't there, neither is the quality. 'Nastradamas'- whilst still a cut above normal fare, arguably Nas' worst LP- flitted between themes.

9 albums into his career, Nas has finally pounced onto the biggest and most controversial subject matter. Race. And now is the time. Whilst his approach was at first a little crude, Nas confidently pulls off the album through sheer force of will- it honestly feels as if he is an unstoppable bulldozer, and we are set for demolition. Now, I am not particularly knowledgeable on this side of music (something I'm working on, guys), but I would say that this is the rap album of the year. Whilst it may not impress hard-core rap aficionados, I am unfortunately not one of those people- basically, this album blew me away, and will do the same for a frequent reader of The Cold Cut. And that is enough.

The controversy surrounding this album is close to detracting from it. In the run up to the release, various artists stepped forward to support or condemn Nas' title choice. And yet, all the controversy was in vain, when Nas buckled under the pressure. Anyone would in his situation: huge contributors threatening to withdraw hundreds of millions of dollars from Vivendi and Universal, as well as rumours that Def Jam were going to drop Nas unless he gave in. It's a small loss- the album is simply 'Untitled', due to the effects the original name (yet we all know it now), and yet the 'Nigger tape' remained (also brilliant- download it). 'Be A Nigger Too', the original choice for lead single, was also removed from the album, and was a dedicated 'street' release... He addresses the title change on 'Hero': 'No matter what the CD called, I'm unbeatable, y'all'.

Nas- Be A Nigger Too (Link 2)

I always like to see what other people think before I write my review to get some different perspectives- what a surprise, Pitchfork gave the album 3.8 out of 10, with their arguments hanging on a string- they use 'Graduation' as an example of a mentally challenging Billboard blockbuster, almost suggesting that the quality of an album is dictated by how many units it shifts, or potentially will. Interesting nonetheless, but everyone else unanimously gave it at least 8/10. It was a match made in hell- both Nas and Pitchfork are vying to get their message heard. Unfortunately, Pitchfork, Nas is an artist, and we are just commentators. So he comes off better here.

Nas- as a lyricist- is all about the ego and his views. He's always been opinionated, from an ongoing feud with Jay-Z to the various Fox controversies. Those peak hostile days have mostly passed, but Nas still has the same chip on his shoulder. Whilst his verses are largely devoid of 'my sex is greater because my dick is bigger' style sections, Nas does have things he want to prove. As in, he's the saviour of rap. 'Queen's Get The Opening' uses the familiar sample from the 'I Am Sam' theme: 'hip hop was dead so Nas breathes life into the embryo'. It's a short lived reprisal of the 'Hip Hop Is Dead' theme.

This is a mature album, relentlessly challenging and might be accused of taking itself a little too seriously. The accusations might be true, save for one redeeming factor- 'Fried Chicken', featuring Busta Rhymes and produced by Mark Ronson- 'Untitled's sole release, Busta putting in a strong contribution as a featuring artist, elevating the song with his absolutely defined brand of rapping (although he might want to watch out for Gorilla Zoe of 'Top Ranking' fame).

The quality never dips, though highlights include 'Sly Fox', a headstrong attack aimed directly at Fox News, a battle against racial bias in which Nas has been embroiled. On 'Make The World Go Round', Nas flirts with mainstream ideals by roping in both The Game and Chris Brown and then... well, the resultant song sounded very different to my expectations. Chris Brown's talents are used effectively, and The Game impresses, as always.

In terms of raw talent, Nas is currently one of the best on the scene. He has an intelligence possessed by few people, notable exceptions include Lupe Fiasco (listen to 'Dumb It Down' and tell me rap isn't one of the most intellectually challenging genres) and Common, amongst others. And yet, even in comparison to these guys, it appears that Nas is currently on some higher plane- the lyrics on this album are hands down the best I've heard in a long, long time. Unfortunately, those who have this talent are outnumbered three to one by those who market their generic brand of posturing. Don't get me wrong- I'll settle for AYO Technology any day, but a whole album stretches my patience.

Then, I realised about half way through 'Untitled', that I was enjoying the experience much more because of the aforementioned circumstances. Songs like 'America' just aren't recorded anymore, and I really appreciate their rarity all the more. If you need an example of how Nas is from a different breed of rapper, this song is a perfect place to start. In essence, this is just an extended observation of the title country, but the resultant piece of music is expansive, and more engaging than it appears on paper, with beautiful vocals from Flo Simpson.

Nas- America
(Link 2)

The ambition behind the album is clear as day. Lets begin this analysis with 'Black President'- a Tupac line on loop begins- 'And though it seems heaven sent, we ain't ready for a black president'. In this song, he tells the story of the first black president of the united states, revealed as Barack Obama in the closing seconds of the song. We can only hope.

I struggled to find anything wrong with this album. At a stretch, the beats might not be the best, and that's the only area where Nas can improve. The music is still engaging, though. It just shows that putting time and effort into your lyrics more than makes up for overproducing. 'Untitled' is also thankfully devoid of skits. By this, I mean no expositional moments of random chat- instead, the vocal elements are found in most of the songs. We have a couple of monologues, but they are never lacking in actual content.

'Untitled' isn't 'Illmatic'. Thus far, no album Nas has recorded has touched that level, although from my previous experience, this comes closest. And yet, we are in a new age of rap- why ponder what has passed when there are still people around making engaging music? I think Nelly (of all people) said it best in a random interview with NME a few years back: 'Who says hip hop needs saving? The original rock music has been dead for twenty years and they seem to be doing alright.' Although Nas keeps pointing it out, he is the very man who makes me question whether hip hop needs saving at all. 'Untitled' is just fuel to the fire.

'Untitled' can be purchased from Amazon.

Muse/The Streets Collabo with 'Who Knows Who'. Interest piqued.

Muse and The Streets- Who Knows Who (Link 2)

Any new music from Muse is a bonus at this point in time. They most certainly deserve a rest after the seminal space opera of 'Black Holes & Revelations', and yet, I get the feeling that they're holed up somewhere (Mars at a guess) working out how to overcome the limitations of a 6 string electric guitar, drum kit and standard bass guitar.

However, in between this, Muse had time to quickly meet up with Mike Skinner from The Streets and record a very quick track. 'Who Knows Who' is a solid effort, considering the following:

"The MP3 floating around on the message boards at the moment is a track we recorded with Mike Skinner a few months ago. The track was the result of a late night jam session and something we did for a bit of a laugh featuring a blues riff we have been playing live recently upon which Skinner recorded some vocals. It is not intended to be a serious release so we are happy for it to be leaked around unofficially. Hope you enjoy, Cheers. Matt, Dom & Chris."

The Streets latest album-"Everything is Borrowed"-will be released on September 15- although Muse are alone in emerging from this new song with pristine integrity, The Streets have once again piqued my interest.

Keane shock the internet.

Keane- Spiralling (Official HQ Download)

Ok. Wow. I really wasn't expecting anything from Keane to ever surprise the collective internet communities. However, it appears they have really shocked a selection of bloggers who previously despised their music. Some people have been converted.

I like Keane. There, I said it. Some might say they're a tad, well, predictable, but that's not hard to overcome. The only hang-up I have is with their live performances- namely, the use of pre-recorded sounds in the background which are cued by a technician. See, that's not strictly live, unless the technician is on stage. And yet, I get the feeling that this is about to change. Other than that small hiccup, they're fine in my books.

Hot on the heels of 'Crawl', Keane have offered up an mp-free entitled 'Spiralling'. It's an interesting one, certainly different to anything else they've offered up, with a lighter, poppier tone.

I'm not an authority on this, but I can definitely detect guitar and bass in the mix... Can anyone clarify this? This might explain Jesse Quin's (a touring bass player) involvement in the project- the message board queried this months ago when Keane featured a photo with four members, which was quickly taken down. Further to this, Tom Chaplin and Tim Rice-Oxley have also both gone on record as saying that they picked up the guitar during the sessions. And whereas on their previous albums (see 'Is It Any Wonder?') we had a keyboard that was made to sound like a guitar, this new move is a distinct improvement. Their sound is fuller, with serious hints of David Bowie and Talking Heads thrown in the mixer.

'Spiralling' is definite progress. A little on the cheesy side (that spoken interlude is a little bit much for most people), this song is still a sign that Keane weren't content producing another album that sounds vaguely similar to 'Hopes And Fears'.

This song comes ahead of the release of their upcoming 3rd album- 'Perfect Symmetry'- out October 13th. The official first single is 'Lovers Are Losing', to be released on September 29th. An interview which explores the details of the new album can be found here.

Kings Of Leon stream single 'Sex On Fire'

I'm not going to post this one (it's red-hot- if you had synesthesia, this song would have 'cease and desist' written all over it), but you should hop over to Myspace for an exclusive first listen to Kings Of Leon's single, 'Sex On Fire'. Instead, enjoy an early song from the 'Holy Roller Novocaine' EP. 'Sex On Fire' is another brilliant addition to the new album, some people will be happy to hear that this is a fully fledged song with a chorus and verses, rather than 'a groove' (as certain individuals have described 'Crawl', although this doesn't bother me personally). Oh, and as a side note, Caleb must have one of the best voices in rock? Right?

Kings Of Leon- Wicker Chair

NME have also just announced the official tracklisting for 'Only By The Night', released on September 22:

'Sex On Fire'
'Use Somebody'
'I Want You'
'Be Somebody'
'Cold Desert'

Sunshine Mix.

So, same old, same old. I will now be enjoying my last day of Barcelona. I've never done this before, but here's a little role play of what I believe my Sunday in Barca will be like:

"Ooh, it's sunny here. 30 degrees, in fact (Celsius, people!). Let's go grab some chocolate con churros. Ooh, Sagrada Familia/Park Guell. Lovely. More food. More drink. It's baking hot now. Walking down to the Olympic Port. Chilled afternoon. Wait until 9.30. Finally grab more food. More drink. Flight Home. End."

As you can see, it should be fun. Anyway, short on time to create this post, (my flight to Barcelona leaves in a few hours and I'm not ready yet) so a few more tracks to keep you busy.

Coldplay Vs. Nas- If I Viva La Vida (Starters Remix)
(Link 2)
Justice Vs. Wu-Tang Clan- C.R.E.A.M. Your Friends (Link 2)
Britney Spears Vs. Justin Timberlake- Break The Ice (Raza Remix) (Link 2)
Yoav Yoav- Adore Adore (modwheelmood remix) (Link 2)
Black Kids- Partie Traumatic (Link 2)


What would I do without scheduled blogging? At this point in time, I will be happily walking around Barcelona, in the sweltering August temperatures. I'm away for four days, returning on Sunday evening.

I'm not going to let that stop me blogging, though. I have a little time today (Thursday ) to upload a few tracks, and prepare some posts for you. I'm sorry to say that the posts aren't going to be mind-blowing, but updates are better than a slowly stagnating blog. You can expect daily updates around lunch-time (for my American readers). So enjoy, and look after the blog for me, okay?

CRS- Sky High Graduates (Dub Floyd Screamixx) (Link 2)
CRS (Child Rebel Soldier) released a mixtape a while back- it kept well under the radar, but I got my hands on a copy, and it really doesn't dissapoint. The concept of Lupe, Pharrell and Kanye sharing a track is always enough to set me salivating, and the T-shirt above does nothing to lessen teh hype.

Daft Punk?- Daft Gang (Link 2)
People have made a huge deal out of this new track from Daft Punk. The fans are going crazy, which I find a little weird considering this is clearly a fake. Daft Punk would never willingly put their stamp on something so textbook. Will the real Daft Punk please stand up?

The Joy Formidable- The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade (Link 2)
Okay, this is getting ridiculous. Will someone in a priveliged position cotton on to the fact that The Joy Formidable are awesome? Another few months pass, another few corkers from the band. Injustice? [Myspace]

Gnarls Barkley- Reckoner (Radiohead Cover) (Link 2)
As if anyone needed more proof of Gnarls Barkley's pedigree? Well, if you're in the minority, listen to this tastefully interpreted cover of 'Reckoner'. Cee-Lo even adopts Thom's 'unique' style of dancing: