Simply put, Modeselektor makes unpretentious, in-your-face dance music. Released on Berlin’s (as in Germany) BPitch Control, Hello Mom! consists of a hyper-addictive brand of breakbeat techno that bandmates Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary like to call “euro-crunk.” The music contains noticeable references to the acid-heavy era of early UK dance music, a la Warp Records’ first releases and the Rephlex label’s back catalog, but also has the solid, funky feel of French artists like Daftpunk. Toss in some glitchy programming and a few guest vocalists and the music that results will get even granny’s head bobbing.
Hello Mom! is complex at times, gritty at others and even occasionally breaks into laid-back headphone territory. Despite the variety there’s a primal pull and overall cohesiveness to the effort that underscores the high level of talent that went into each track’s production—beneath even the most slamming beat is a layered intricacy and precision demanding repeated listens. (Adam Fangsrud)
Modeselektor plays The Loft Wednesday, May 17. Doors open at 9 PM. $7.
Say I Am You
Deb Talan and Steve Tannen have more in common than just rhyming last names. In the days before The Weepies, the singer-songwriters each maintained successful solo careers in the Northeast. The soon-to-be He and She Weepies had admired one another’s work from afar and eventually met in 2002. When Talan showed up at one of Tannen’s gigs and invited him over to her tiny Boston apartment, he says it made him nervous—but he went home with her anyway. The two stayed up all night drinking wine, swapping songs and creating a musical bond that’s lasted four years thus far.
Say I Am You, the sophomore effort from the now California-based duo, proves that singer-songwriters can indeed dump the lyrical lust-and-mistrust baggage that so many solo artists drag around with them: “We’re cleaning the windows between us two/Funny, you do it once, and then again/and pretty soon the fingerprints and dust…/I’ve begun to trust the view here,” they sing on “Slow Pony Home.”
Perhaps every singer-songwriter could benefit from the buddy system. It works for The Weepies—and would certainly cut down on the shady back-alley Zoloft deals that plague the folk circuit today. (Caroline Keys)
The Weepies play The Raven Cafe Sunday, May 14, at 8 PM. $6/$4 for Missoula Folklore Society members.
Band o’ Steve
Flathead Valley resident Steve Jackman must be a really busy guy. Any normal man would require octopus arms to shovel the mound of sound Jackman piles up all by himself on his self-released debut album. This isn’t one of those “solo” albums that bears the name of a single artist even though there are actually 25 musicians on the project’s payroll—Jackman actually plays every note on the album. Well, almost—he has a little help from his friends on a live track recorded at Missoula’s Old Post Pub, but other than that, it’s all Jackman.
What’s so shocking about this recording is not only the time it must have taken a single man to layer bass, percussion, lead and harmony vocals, synthesizer, live guitars and other instruments into the cohesive songs on this rich and varied album, but also that this dude plays each part so fluently. Unlike, say, Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam, whose gutsy solo debut included clumsy yet charming instrumental tracks, Jackman doesn’t lay down a single feeble line of musical thought. This Pro Tools poster boy confidently Mambos, waxes jazzy and struts like Zepplin, all by his lonesome. (Caroline Keys)
Steve Jackman plays a CD release party for Band o’ Steve at Kalispell’s Red’s Wines and Blues Saturday, May 13, at 9 PM. Free.
Expressions (2012 a.u.)
Stones Throw Records
Hip-hop is starting to feel played out. The most innovative releases of the past two years have been those that push the genre’s tired boundaries, whether it be the “Baile-funk” of MIA and her imitators or the lo-fi aesthetic of UK grime. Another example of a record that successfully sidestepped hip-hop’s cliches was last year’s underrated A Li’l Light by Dudley Perkins. With the legendary Madlib handling production duties and Dudley’s fractured Marvin Gaye-style vocals, the resultant sound was an addictive brand of incredibly dense, beat-heavy, smoked-out soul music.
Expressions (2012 a.u.) is Dudley’s sophomore album and showcases his more-confident lower-octave singing; there’s a strong preference here for ’70s funk over the soul sounds of his previous effort. Madlib’s production this time around is way louder, with trumpets, flanged guitar and heavy, Parliament-style bass lines, while Dudley’s lyrics cover love, family and an obsession with apocalyptic Bible imagery. It’s a strange mix that gives the music a dark feel in spite of its positive energy—for example: Dudley’s romantic ruminations are offset by his conviction that we’re living in the “last days of time.”
For those not terribly worried about the approaching rapture, though, Expressions is a great summer record and highly recommended. (Adam Fansgrud)