The Sweet Sounds of Summer

The Fiery Furnaces,
Blueberry Boat
This brother/sister duo of Eleanor and Mathew Freiberger first madea name for themselves with last year’s debut, Galllows Bird Bark, atwangy, bouncy, occasionally White Stripes-influenced littlerecord. It was good but ultimately forgettable. What a surpriseBlueberry Boat is. The first 10 minutes are more akin toRadiohead’s Kid A than any hipster-filtered delta blues. This albumdwarfs The Furnaces’ last effort with rolling piano lines,electronic noise, and feedback-laden jams. Eleanor Freidberger’squirky, detailed, often hilarious lyrics and brilliant intonationsare occasionally hidden away by the glut of instrumentation buteventually return to the center of each song, reminding us why TheFiery Furnaces caught our attention to begin with. I can’t stoplistening to this.

Yesterday’s New Quintet,
Originally released as a promo-only CD for clothing brand Triple 5Soul, Stevie has finally found its way to a real release. The albumis an all-instrumental tribute to the genius of Stevie Wonderthrough a swirling mass of scattered beats, heavy bass, vibes andanalogue keyboards. Yesterday’s New Quintet is a project of Madlib,the multi instrumentalist, prolific DJ, superstar producer, andhelium-voiced MC. He is the King Midas of all things hip hop andthe genius behind the landmark Quasimoto and Madvillian albums. Hedoesn’t fail to impress here, embodying the aspects of Stevie’smusic that have been universally loved and constantly sampled. Thealbum begins brilliantly with “Superstition” before segues throughversions of “Visions,” “Superwoman,” and “Where Were You LastWinter.” The middle of the album begins to lag a bit with a halfhearted takes on “Send One Your Love” and “Too High,” but picks upagain immediately with what could be the most tripped-out versionof “Golden Lady” ever recorded. Just like any instrumental albumStevie will ultimately find itself in the unfortunate position ofbeing relegated to background music for the hipster picnic set, butI can’t think of a better soundtrack for working my way through agallon and a half of Safeway’s potato salad.

Kiss Of Death
Why them dudes ain’t ridin’ if they’re part of your set? Why didKobe have to hit that raw? Why did Bush knock down those towers?Why’d Alliyah have to take that flight? Why they let the Terminatorwin the election? Why sell in the stores when you can sell in thestreets? Why they didn’t make the CL6 with a clutch? Why my buzz inL.A. ain’t like it is in New York?

Why does the summer’s hottest jam have to be the worst song EVERrecorded?

DJ Shadow,
Live! In Tune and On Time
There’s something to be said for a man who hasn’t released afull-length album in two years and cheers himself in the intro tohis live album. That something is, “What the fuck?!” Shadow is oneof the most talented producers alive and has released album afteralbum of some of the most amazing hip-hop ever to hit the wax, butfor some reason I can’t make it through this album without fallingasleep. It may has well be a greatest hits – complete with spotsfrom Entroducing, Unkle and the Private Press but minus any of theimproves and trickery one expects from live DJ sets. Recorded inLondon, Shadow plays well to the crowd, giving the impression he’sdoing more than just pressing buttons on a sampler, but youwouldn’t know it from the album. The real crusher here is there area mountains of live Shadow bootlegs out there that are brilliant,making this effort seem even more half-assed. Oh well, it just goesto show you: the English don’t know shit about hip-hop.