A new illegal album project featuring various Electronic and Experimental artists rewiring the Beach Boys' historic Pet Sounds album has been making the rounds. Spearheaded by the Manchester, U.K.-based musical collective/Internet label Hippocamp, Hippocamp Ruins Pet Sounds is an enthralling remix project made by artists who have a clear reverence for the album many consider the best ever made. Using lead and harmony a cappella tracks from the original, the songs are playfully reconstructed using elements of Dance, Electro, Ambient, Avant Garde and even Hip Hop music (a seven-minute version of the instrumental title track is especially creative, splicing together Brian Wilson interview snippets, a pinch-pitched rap section and, of course, actual pet sounds). It's an exciting listen, one so unusual you'd think Wilson might actually approve. Perhaps he would, but his lawyers definitely do not -- the site hosting the project was shut down last month after legal threats. But the rebellious heroes behind bannedmusic.org have come to the rescue. That site -- set up to house endangered aural art like The Grey Album (Jay-Z merged with The Beatles) and The Double Black Album (Jay-Z meets Metallica) -- posted the Pet Sounds experiment a mere days after it was originally yanked.
From 'Fight the Power' to 'Power the Fight?'
First Hick Hop and now this? Unhappy with having complete control over everything political in this country, do conservatives now have their eyes set on overthrowing Hip Hop in the cultural wars? Novelty "Country rapper" Cowboy Troy is riding the charts with a hearty "Yo Haw!" and now a group of U.S. soldiers formerly stationed in Iraq are promoting their new album, Live From Iraq, written and recorded during the platoon's one-year stint overseas. But, surprisingly (or perhaps not so much), the album isn't exactly a Toby Keith-styled "U.S.A., U.S.A." chant, as the soldiers rhyme about the emotional side of being involved in the conflict as well as the violent horrors they've witnessed. Song topics range from tales of cheating lovers back home to their fears of being pushed into battle without proper equipment. There seems to be no left or right agenda here, just musical journalism revealing what these guys saw every day. If the Bush administration doesn't want you to see flag-draped coffins or hear the names of all the men and women killed in Iraq on TV, they can't be too thrilled with a group of well-credentialed rappers describing the terrifying realities of being in the field. If this release actually gets huge, expect MC Rummy and crew to wage their own version of a Rap war sometime soon. If Hip Hop is the "black CNN," as Chuck D once said, then these are the embedded war correspondents. More on the disc can be found at 4th25.com.
Million Dollar Babies
Reality TV star/singer Nick Lachey has always been a noble ambassador for his Cincinnati hometown, and in the May 30 Cincinnati Enquirer Mr. Jessica Simpson defended his local millionaire buddies Danny Graves and Bob Huggins in a sports column (is there anything this guy can´t do?). He makes some good points about Huggins' seemingly unavoidable departure from the UC basketball program, but his defense of the beleaguered former Reds pitcher reeks of buddy-buddy subjectivity. "Why get rid of a guy who actually embraced Cincinnati and said he wanted to play there his entire career?" Lachey wrote. Let's put it in terms he might understand: If someone puts out a solo album, calls it something ridiculous like, we don't know, SoulO or something, and nobody buys it but you're a really nice guy and you used to sell a fairly decent amount of records, then the record company owes it to you to keep you on the payroll?