Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hut Two Three Four

There is Love in You
Four Tet

In the last year or two, I've discovered a growing love for electronic music. Not necessarily dance electronic, though it never hurts if I can move to it. No, what I like, and quite specifically, is being able to listen to the same groove for seven minutes. I enjoy that. I like sinking into the sensation, and letting myself go. The best electronic music doesn't just make me lose my sense of time; it runs over time with a bulldozer. And that's what There is Love in You does so spectacularly.

Here we have a very gentle record, though at no point does it fall into the category of ambiance. The instrumentation is never pressing or aggressive, it never intrudes on a room, but it sits there, comfortable that you are interested enough to give it most of your attention. Any time you start to fade, it pulls you back in with a new detail.

The only unfortunate part of being fairly new to electronic music is that I don't have much to say about it. I know what I like. I like Four Tet. From the albums I already have, this is going to be a great year, folks. Get comfy.

I'll Explain Later

I've just heard the first great song of the year, Los Campesnos!' "The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future." I'll explain more when I review its parent album, Romance s Boring.

That Great Motown Sound...


Spoon have always been about the sound.

Calm down. I'm not saying that's all they have going for them. Far from it. We're talking about one of my favourite bands of the last decade; I assure you, it doesn't boil down purely to their sound. They have airtight songs from Britt Daniels. They have Britt Daniels' uncanny ability to emote anything with a few choice words. They have Britt Daniels' voice. Mostly, they have Britt Daniels. But they also have Jim Eno, a drummer who's understatement is by far his greatest attribute. And the two of them together are remarkable as an engineering team. After Eno's production of "The Underdog" on their last offering, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Spoon decided to break off from the rest of the world, and recorded this one on their own. The results are very good, and very Spoon.

To start off with, Transference is not Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. But this isn't surprising; no two Spoon albums are the same, nor do any of them try to be. Series of Sneaks was a hungry, young band. Girls Can Tell was a suave, new-wave influenced band playing around with a less toothy sound. Kill the Moonlight was a band, finally convinced of their sound, stripping everything down to the support beams. Gimme Fiction was darker, and more full-sounding. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was a culmination of all that; it featured the tightest songs, the best lyrics, the best arrangements. It was, simply put, the best Spoon have offered, and will likely remain so. I'm okay with that.

The first half of Transference is sloppy and aggressive. "Written in Reverse" has been on the radio for a few weeks now, and you may well be familiar with its clumsy, gripping piano riff. The second half of the record (it's easy for me to do this; I've only listened to it on vinyl so far, and what's nice is that it is really divided to work that way, much like Gimme Fiction) is much more gentle, with "Goodnight Laura" being perhaps the loveliest thing Spoon have ever offered. Most of the record, however, goes by without a strong sense of form. Or, at least, with as little a sense of form as these guys will allow. The songs start to bleed together around the edges, resulting in an album that probably wouldn't work well divided up.

But this is not such a bad thing, and Spoon have always been about the album. Sure, they write impeccable singles too, but they've never focused on that so much as the broader tapestry. This is best exemplified when "Got Nuffin," the albums most ferocious track, comes roaring out of the gentle wreckage of the second side of the record. It reminds us where we've been in the last thirty or so minutes, before giving away to "Nobody Gets Me But You," a great Spoon closer as they always are. The song rides a groove with a melancholy progression while Daniels espouses the title in a way I've come to believe only he is capable of doing.

So, this is not Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Consider yourself warned. This is not about the songs. Spoon have always been about the sound, and that's what this is.

Dearth My Ass

January is typically known for being the fallow period, across the cultural spectrum; there are no crops to harvest, and there are few new albums worth your time. From the holiday and awards seasons, everything is drained. This goes for books and movies as well. Nothing classic comes out during January. Everyone knows that's the case. Most good things don't even come out now. This is the fallow period.

So far, for 2010, if this is the fallow month, it's going to be an amazing harvest season. So far, in the first four weeks of 2010, I've already got eleven (eleven!!!) albums on my to-do list. I've manged to read absolutely nothing since Jared Diamond's magnificent Guns, Germs and Steel, which I finished back at the beginning of the month (4 January, for those keeping track at home), because I picked up the unabridged version of Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, and it's just not doing it for me. But I'm stubborn, and refuse to put it down. I'd take a break, but it's intricate, and I feel like I'd forget what's happening. Too many characters, not enough going on. I just don't care.

Back to those eleven albums. Six of them are by bona fide quantities; Charlotte Gainsborough, Corinne Bailey Rae, Eels, The Magnetic Fields, Spoon, and Vampire Weekend. Three are by relatively low-radar figures, but ones with (I'm told) good past records; Beach House, Four Tet, and Los Campesinos!. Two are from newbies; Delphic and Surfer Blood. All but two are carrying eighties or above on Metacritic. This is setting up to be a good year. A very, very good one. I already reviewd Vampire Weekend's Contra. Spoon's Transference should follow within the hour.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Count of Monte Cristo, Pt. 1

I'm 528 pages into this almost-insufferable book, which, unabridged, suffers from every malady that can possibly befall 19th-Century literature. Having said that, there's a quote on page 526 which I found disproportionately amusing, and wanted to share;

"Well, take a glass of sherry and a biscuit."

Something about the phrasing of that, and the way I read it in my mind, caused me to thoroughly enjoy it.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Robert Christgau is a music critic known for writing very short, very concise reviews of albums; typically in the neighbourhood of two or three sentences. And whilst they often don't quite seem to make sense, they still manage to hit the nail on the head, which is a rare quality to have in a critic. For the sake of my own personal enjoyment, from time to time I will attempt to write a review in his style. These will be labeled like so:

Contra (RCReview)
One man's mature is another man's boring, and depending on the flip, the coin could land with either face up. Personally, their Paul Simon shtick still hits the mark, but as they go further down the rabbit hole, they'll likely shake a few early die-hards. Those people never liked the music so much as the ethos anyway, so fuck 'em. B+


One of my favourite albums is Paul Simon's solo debut, Paul Simon. I've yet to digest most of his subsequent solo work, though it is all assuredly on the To-Do List (It's a playlist I have on iTunes). What I have listened to is Graceland, and I've also listened to Negotiations and Love Songs, a best of. Between those two, I can hear precisely where Vampire Weekend are coming from on Contra, their sophomore album out a few weeks ago.

I'll start this by saying that I haven't listened to their first album yet. It, too, is on the To-Do List. But that may have worked out to their advantage here. Whilst I've read many reviews for this album, the major point of contention seems to be in regards to how it stacks up against their first album. It's either an appropriate artistic evolution, or it's less catchy. These are, I'll point out, often the same coin, viewed from different sides. One man's mature is another man's boring.

Being (mostly) devoid of a sense of their evolution, I find this to be a very pleasant, well, pastiche, really. It's all a bit Simon, but that's not a bad thing. We could use more of his influence in modern music. His song structures were winding and nubile, and, so long as you were paying attention, when he was at his best you could never call him boring. He also had a way with gentle, meandering melodies, which populate this album in all corners. What's crucial is that the boys don't sound like they had to work at it; Simon's melodies are the sort which will only work if you don't force them.

There's nothing here that's as much a shot in the arm as "A-Punk," sure, but "Cousins" is probably more invigorating. It doesn't stay with you for as long, but it's more muscle and sinew, two of my favourite words to apply to this kind of music. The rest of the album is more gentle, but its sound is a unique (if clearly derivative) one, and that's what most of us are looking for. The thing about derivative sounds is while we constantly claim to seek new things, we don't really want anything completely new. We want that recognition and familiarity of the old with a new spin. And that's exactly what you'll get here.

Provided you like Paul Simon. Which, fortunately enough, I do.

*A post-script to this review; As I've listened more, the lyrics have worn at me. Horribly. And I've also found the melodies slightly less involving each time through. I've downgraded this from a B+ to a B.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


The new Gorillaz single, "Stylo," has been released via Youtube. Those who wish may listen to it, whilst they read, here:

On my first listen, the whole song left me feeling a bit empty; I wasn't discouraged from looking forward to Damon Albarn's next offering (Plastic Beach comes out 9 March), but I lost a bit of nerve. "Stylo" opens with a throwback synth hook that manages to remind me simultaneously of both Night Rider and "West End Girls" by Pet Shop Boys. I mean that to be a good thing. I've listened to it a few times since then, and I've grown rather fond of it. The hook repeats throughout the song, and it takes on a hypnotic quality, particularly when paired with Damon's gently vocodered vocal, espousing "When you know your heart is light, electric is the move." Bobby Womack is superb, throwing his back into a great guest vocal. Mos Def is featured as a character called Sun Moon Stars, and whilst his contribution here is minimal, it's still very effective. This is an excellent song, indicative of yet another new direction for Gorillaz, without betraying their core sound. How Damon Albarn manages to do this so consistently is one of life's great mysteries. But I hope he doesn't stop any time soon. And I look forward to hitting the Plastic Beach come March.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Spoon Dilemma

I've bought two tickets to see Spoon at the Aragon Ballroom in three months' time. I'm very excited about this, and, if you've seen Spoon play live before, you're excited for me. They're ferocious live, and put on a show I can best describe as "transcendent."

At any rate, my roommate Stephanie is going to accompany me to the show, and, as she's not very familiar with the Spoon cannon, I've been set with the task of creating a CD that adequately distills their essence down to a mere 12-15 tracks.

At face value, this is not a difficult task. Spoon are a great band, with a great catalogue, but I could easily choose for you a 12-track Best Of. It's the sequencing that's a bitch. We're dealing with a band known for their immaculately sequenced albums. Hell, Gimme Fiction is sequenced so well it even plays brilliantly in reverse order.

I imagine progress would be faster on this if I knew what song to start it with. Spoon albums are unique in that, once you've listened to them a few times, you can't imagine any of them starting with any other song. The heavier and darker tone of Gimme Fiction is slammed in place by "The Beast and Dragon, Adored," while the ragged glories of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga find no more immediate representative than "Don't Make Me a Target." "Everything Hits at Once," off of Girls Can Tell, sets the emotional tone for everything that follows. You get the idea. This is a band of near-terrifying studio acumen.

I think the best solution is to do it in chronological order. Because this is a band that progresses, and they do it very, very well. Sure, this means Telephono and A Series of Sneaks are going to get relatively overlooked, but, hey, when you keep writing great songs, your best of is inevitably going to ignore more than a few. Just ask John Prine.

Looking over it, let's skip Telephono altogether. They never play material from that anyway. If she wants more, she can find it. Let's open with

1. "Utilitarian"

from A Series of Sneaks. It's as great an opener as any. And it's less, well, "growy" than most Spoon music. You can appreciate the hook right away. Most Spoon music needs to marinate to grow appreciation. That's why this isn't a review of Transference; I need time. Next has to be Girls Can Tell opener

2. "Everything Hits at Once"

Intelligent, cool, sleek, it's the new Spoon, after their more raw beginnings. Which leads into the cover of

3. "Me and the Bean"

Mostly because I appreciate any chorus with a chorus devoid of words. That I've yet to write one myself is besides the point; I don't have a voice as emotive as Britt Daniels. The focused, heavy groove of

4. "The Fitted Shirt"

would be a nice way to round out this album's contributions, but my roommate is from Chicago, and so the next track has to be the home-town shout-out

5. "Chicago at Night"

Kill the Moonlight contributes

6. "The Way We Get By"

I know, I was surprised, too. But we needed the space.

7. "The Beast and Dragon, Adored"

is just a great song. So I'll throw that in there, along with

8. "I Turn My Camera On"

which is necessary for its groove.

9. "Sister Jack"

is a shoe-in, as it's the happiest thing you'll hear from a dour indie band this year, promise. Vampire Weekend get peppier, sure, but they don't normally sound as morose as Britt Daniels.

10. "I Summon You"

is probably the best song ever written about anything at any point. So it's a winner. Which brings us to Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, the masterpiece. We need to save some room for Transference on here, so let's keep it light. Leaves more to discover later, I suppose.

11. "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb"

Why? Because it's Motown filtered through Indie anal-retentive tendencies. Awesome.

12. "Don't You Evah"

rocks the groove. It's as tight and in-the-pocket as music gets, and it knows it, too. Next has to be

13. "The Underdog"

if for no reason other than it's the perfect summation of the Spoon ethos: The little guy is gonna tear you apart one day. He's just biding his time.

14. "Black Like Me"

is a bit of a surprise inclusion, but it's there because it's gorgeous, and everyone forgets about it. It's the perfect closer to a near-perfect album, and I'm a bit partial. This leaves only one song off the new album... hm... I haven't reviewed it yet, I don't have a full sense of what will stand up well on its own. There's a languishing beauty to "Out Go the Lights," but I think I have to go with, one more time, the off-kilter, snapped-in groove of

15. "Written in Reverse."

What a piano figure. Clumsy yet nuanced. Perfect.

Make this CD if you don't know Spoon well. I think it'll convert you to the wonders.

For want of $1,000,000 extra...

The festival organisers of Glastonbury have apparently helped to organise a large number of nifty auctions on e-bay in support of the Haiti epidemic. These include things like a turntable touched by the golden hand of DJ Shadow, a guitar from the Arctic Monkeys; you know, cool stuff, but stuff that gets auctioned fairly regularly.

But there was one thing that caught my eye, and I feel inclined to share. Apparently, Damon Albarn will write and record a song for you. Yes, you, my friend. If You are the winning bidder, You will get a song personally written and recorded for You by Damon Albarn, which is pretty special. Honestly. If I had $1,000,000, I would probably bid it on that. Well, I'd certainly bid $50,000, and go up from there. But that's really cool.

Of course, there's no guarantee it will be a good song, or that he will have put any effort into it. And I can't decide if I want this song to leak on the internet, once it's been handed over to You, or if I want it to stay hidden in You's possession, never to be heard. What if it's Damon's masterpiece? The possibilities make me salivate. The good news is I know he's too practical, and if he writes a piece of brilliance, he'll set it aside and write something else. So, then. Cheers.

Transference, Pt. 1

The new Spoon album is out! And I'm listening to it! Spread the word!

I'll have a review in a few days. I have to digest.

Return to your lives.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bitte Orca Orca Bitte

I'm not a professional reviewer. This is obvious, given the amateur venue through which I share what I laughably call my informed opinions. There are upsides and downsides to this. On the downside, I don't get compensated for my time, and few people care about my opinion. This is all done for the love of what I'm reviewing. But that's the first upside. Another is that I don't have to worry about the embarrassment of changing my mind to a broader audience. There is no broader audience, and so I have no issue revising previous statements. There are, after all, few consequences.

So it is with full confidence, and with nary a bit of egg on my face, that I tell you I was wrong about an album I reviewed last year. That's right. I'm fallible. I have moments of weakness. I only ask that you stay with me through them. I'm currently listening through The Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca, and I was mistaken. This is, truly, a great album, to sit alongside the very best last year had to offer. It is, at times, disarmingly gorgeous, and, at others, such as on the event of the title of this article, seethed over and over again with a backdrop of acerbic guitars, incredibly rough. It is always, without fail, idiosyncratic, but within the function of the form. This is not freaking out because we can, one of the cardinal sins; this is making slightly odd music because we know it is what we were made to do. And it's really brilliant.

So I was wrong. And I couldn't be happier to say so. I've never understood the refusal to be wrong, anyway. You gain knowledge, experience, and, in the case of reevaluating an album or a movie or a book, you gain something new to appreciate. And who doesn't need that?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dear Rush Limbaugh...

I will do my best to avoid inflammatory language here, as that is the scourge which plagues the majority of political discussion these days. Some of you may recall my critically-lauded essay "Glenn Beck: Why Can't I Hate You?" from a few months back; that essay could have easily been called "Rush Limbaugh: Why Can't I Hate You?," with little trouble. Mr. Beck just happened to be on my mind at the time. It really would have been simple to write it about Rush Limbaugh, instead. Both men were equal in their sins, if Limbaugh has been doing it for significantly longer. They were equal in my eyes.

Until this week.

I would like to take a moment now to address Rush Limbaugh.

Rush Limbaugh, sir, you are a genius. You really are. I wish to adulate you, to praise you, to get down on mein knees and pray to Allah (because I know you'd like that) that he should see it fit to bequeath unto me- if, that is, Allah bequeaths- the brilliance with which you have forged your $400 million-dollar career. And that's just one contract! Very impressive, sir.

You know your audience, like any good entertainer. You are able to see the smallest cracks, the most imperceptible flaws, in any argument, and place the appropriate explosives, in the appropriate positions, to destroy any wall an opponent might place before you.

President Barack Obama has asked for Americans to give what they can to help the survivors of the earthquake in Haiti. He has posted a link on the White House website, one that takes you to the Red Cross website, so that people can be easily guided in the process. But you're too smart for his game, and thank Allah for that. You, sir, have said what we were all thinking, what we all, deep down, can't help but believe, that President Obama is secretly misdirecting that money into the pockets of the Democratic party, and that he is taking all the information the Red Cross requests of us so he can add us to mailing lists.

Mr. Limbaugh, I applaud you for having the courage to say it, to be the one to come forward and state, without hesitation, that our President is using a tragedy on the scale of the Haitian earthquake to make money and increase his mailing list. You, sir, are what America is about. The freedom to speak what your heart, and not your $400-million-dollar contract, tells you what must be said. I am, truly, in awe of your intelligence, and the brilliance you must possess to process these ideas so quickly, before the rest of us have the chance to do so. You are a visionary, a luminary, and I hope my children speak of you with the admiration you deserve.

I've noticed that the only difference between Rush Limbaugh and Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A., is the audience; Libaugh's audience takes what he says seriously. Sir Dr. Colbert's audience knows better.

Friday, January 8, 2010

So I Lied

It seems every trip comes with its own theme song.

If one were to observe me, for a short period of time leading up to a trip (let's say a week), one would find it easy to predict, and with great accuracy, what the song is going to be. Four days prior to leaving for New Jersey in June, I discovered a fan video on Youtube for Phoenix's "Lisztomania," where footage from various John Hughes films was spliced together to create a (very good) alternative video. I believe, though I could be mistaken here, that Phoenix have even commented that the video was better than the one they created themselves. At any rate, the video caused me to fall in love with the song, and in the seventeen hours between Chicago and New Jersey, I listened to it somewhere in the neighbourhood of thirty times. It was enough that it's still the top song on my iTunes Most Played list, where it has remained unchallenged; That is, of course, until now.

On Wednesday, I left for Boston. The train ride, a near-orgasmic twenty-three hour sojourn, was soundtracked by Annie's "Heartbeat." Again, the circumstances were similar. While I did not discover any video on Youtube, I heard the song, for the first time, five days prior. There's something about that temporal proximity, I think, which allows the song to be at just the right amount of familiar; and there's something about a trip that just screams out for a theme.

This didn't used to require a special occasion. Before the invention of the iPod, music was as much a reminder of time and place as it was performing a function unto itself. Bob, for example, doesn't listen to many CDs, and he certainly doesn't own an iPod; because of the aforementioned, he still gets a rush when he listens to his favourite song, Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." Don't get me wrong, we all get a rush when we listen to our favourite song; that's part of why it is our favourite. But it's different for Bob than it is for me when I hear "Care of Cell 44," or "No Thugs in Our House." (The jury remains out on which will claim the top prize)

For Bob, listening to "Born to Run" isn't just a great experience because it's his favourite song, but also because it instantly transports him back to when he was seventeen, when he heard that song the most often. There's a fair chance he could even tell you the first time he heard the song. And every time he listens to it, he's reminded of youth, of what he did, of how it felt (The good parts... the bad parts, one can only hope, were assigned to something like Supertramp). I imagine he has that same experience, albeit less intense in most cases, with a lot of songs. That is, of course, why oldies stations work. It's not because they're playing old music, it's because they're playing music that can instantly transport the listener back to the time when they first heard the songs.

Because of the iPod, though, we no longer associate songs with particular times or places. I'm not blaming it for that, but I feel like something is being lost. Of course, it's happening slowly. Bob gets taken back by songs on the radio constantly. I had a young high school teacher with a strong memory attached to "Zombie," and the entirety of that album, by The Cranberries. For myself, there are three songs I know that instantly transport me back to a time or a place, and all of them happened while I was on a vacation: "Home and Dry" by Pet Shop Boys takes me back to New Years 2007, sitting in the guest bedroom of Chris Kopency's house, looking at the freshly fallen snow on the yard through the window. When I listen to it, I can see the room, I can feel the bedspread I was sitting on, I can sense that sense of insulation you always seem to carry around in the deep winter with fresh snow. "Lisztomania" reminds me of that trip, of the sense of excitement and promise (it was my first adult vacation, where I paid for it and everything). "Heartbeat" will, I believe, forever remind me of this trip to Boston.

Now, of course, we'll always attach songs to time periods. "Poker Face" will be attached to my Junior year of college for the rest of my life, or at least to my college years when I get older and start forgetting such details. That's natural. But these songs are going to stop having that immediate, strong connection, that major tie that pulls at you and can literally make you forget where you are. And how magical is that? That's what music is about. Taking us outside of ourselves, to another time, to remember, to experience things we've longed forgotten how to. If you need me for the next four minutes and twenty-one seconds, I'll be on that bedspread. And all I have to do is press play.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Well, faithful reader(s), it's my woeful duty to inform you that I'm going on vacation for two weeks, and I don't expect to so much as look at Thoughts Dowinion in that time. The good news is that I'm taking this break in the dead season, so we likely won't miss out on much as far as entertainment goes.

I know. I'll miss you too.

Stay strong for both of us, okay? You're the man of the house now.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jay-Z: The Remixes

I'm going to take it for granted right now that most of you are familiar with DJ Danger Mouse's The Grey Album, released back in 2004 to questionable legality. For those who aren't, it rather brilliantly mixed the vocals from Jay-Z's The Black Album with music taken from The Beatles. It was masterful, and the uproar over copyright infringement was drowned out by the impulse to acquire a copy. I managed to get one the day before it was pulled off the net. Well, I say "pulled off the net" like that's really possible, but the day before it was "officially" "pulled off the net."

I was in Reckless Records today, flipping through the records, and I came across Jaydiohead, a limited pressing of an album mixing those same vocals from Jay-Z with music by Radiohead. After I recovered from the shock that it was actually pressed, with an actual sleeve, in an actual store, I became skeptical, as to how it would sound. To be in Reckless Records, it had to be legal, so I wasn't worried about that, but... something wasn't right. At least, it didn't feel right.

I had to listen, so I did.

Oh, right, for those not in the know; Jay-Z isn't concerned in any of this, because he released the vocal tracks from The Black Album to the public, specifically so they could do remixes like this. Personally, I think it was a great gesture, and one that should be committed more often. Moving on.

I listened to Jaydiohead, and then I listened to The Grey Album, and it brought me to an interesting question; At what point is the appeal purely in the novelty? What makes one thing art, and another merely a cute idea that was fun the first time, like Feed the Animals by Girl Talk (I kid, but it's a criticism)? This deserved closer inspection.

I listened to Jaydiohead again, and I still walked away from it feeling like nothing that exciting had happened. I mean, don't get me wrong, the concept got me excited enough. I enjoy mashups in concept. There's a video on Youtube of... I want to say it's "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol mashed with "Every Breath You Take" by The Police, and it's awesome. Goosebump raising, even. Point here, folks, is that it can be done well. And The Grey Album does. So, what about Jaydiohead left me feeling so empty?

This could have taken years of debate and careful introspection. Fortunately, as both drew from The Black Album's pool of tracks, I was able to do direct comparisons, so it took about an hour instead. If you can, acquire a copy of each, and listen. Particularly if you enjoy DJ-style music. You'll notice, almost right away, the mistakes made on Jaydiohead that were avoided on The Grey Album.

My whole point here can be illustrated by looking at the two respective versions of "99 Problems." The Grey Album offers "99 Problems" mixed with "Helter Skelter." Jaydiohead gives us "99 Anthems," which mixes it with "The National Anthem" from Kid A. Both open rather splendidly; "99 Problems"+"Helter Skelter" opens with an acapella refrain, "If you're having girl problems, I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain't one," from Jay-Z's original, and then the wall of "WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH" from "Helter Skelter" roars into life. (Don't give me that look; you know what I mean) The beat is nuanced, and hits all the right points of emphasis. It may not be quite as good as the original "99 Problems," but it's still a thrilling four minutes. "99 Anthems" opens with the bass groove from "The National Anthem," which I think we can all agree is an excellent way to start any song, combined with the siren from Jay-Z's. It's a great start. And then the rapping starts, and it's fine, until you realise that the DJ behind this, Max Tannone, has basically put on "The National Anthem" and "99 Problems," and left the room. The beat's not far off, but it's not right, and the novelty of the idea is only enough to carry you through one listen; trust me. I checked.

What it boils down to is this: With The Grey Album, DJ Danger Mouse spent hours splicing everything. He used the music of The Beatles, but he didn't use their songs. Because of that, The Grey Album is an exciting, exhilarating listen, and well worth your time. With Jaydiohead, DJ Max Tannone had a potentially great idea (One, by the way, I think he may have gotten from "Set It Off" off of Feed the Animals which features Jay-Z's "Roc Boys (And the Winner Is...)" set over the music from Radiohead's "Paranoid Android"), but he didn't follow through on it. Not only did he use Radiohead's music to back up Jay-Z's nuanced and rhythmically sophisticated lyrics, but he used their songs, which are meant for Thom Yorke's keening, not Jay-Z's preening. Listening to Jaydiohead, you can tell what you're hearing is not of one world. Listening to The Grey Album, you'd be forgiven for thinking that The Beatles were parts of the original track. And that, my friends, is the best compliment you can give a remix.