A tale of two CDs

I haven’t really followed contemporary popular music for the last few years. But two 2006-releases that I picked up recently are worth mentioning.

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margin:0px !important;” />First up is With Love and Squalor by New-York-based We Are Scientists. You might guess that I originally picked this CD because if its cover. I was at Streetlight Records in Santa Cruz to buy a gift for a friend and check whether any copies of my CD had sold. I also browsed for bargain experimental electronic or “contemporary classical” CDs, but instead came out with this one. Not only does the cover have three cute kittens, they have the markings/colorings of the three cats I have had, with Luna represented by the all-black center kitten. Musically, the band does decent indie-rock of the sort one can hear in clubs in downtown and Brooklyn.

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/>Next, we have the rather popular St. Elsewhere from hip-hop duo Gnarls Barkley. As the sticker on the CD case explains, “Gnarls Barkley = Cee-Lo + Danger Mouse,” both of whom have names in contemporary hip-hop. However, the album is a lot more ecclectic, with many tracks whose sound is more reminscent of old funk, soul and R&B from the 1960s/1970s – there is even one that sounds like British New Wave from the early 1980s. I think the retro quality is what appeals to me, tracks that sound more like funk and disco than the contemporary hip-hop sound, which frankly doesn’t resonate with me. The first three tracks, including “Crazy” which has become a hit as a single, form am amazing unit to listen to in tandem, and the final track of the album segues back into the beginning with something that sounds like an old movie projector. Those tracks have become part of my portable-player set, which I think qualifies as an aesthetic endorsement.

Well, you’re on your own now to check out these albums if you feel so inclined.