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Mp3 Digest: May 31, 2006

It’s well known how you blow up a computer: You give it conflicting information until it can no longer process what you’re saying, until its motherboard eventually fries up and explodes. “Ain’t Nobody Straight in LA” does the very same thing, only to the human mind—see, for example, how the brain reacts to the first verse of the song.

“Ain’t nobody straight in LA.”
Oh, this song came out in 1975. They must be talking about drugs; as in, nobody’s straight, everybody’s on drugs.

“It seems that everybody is gay.”
Wait, never mind.

“Homosexuality is a part of society.”
It’s an enlightened view, at least.

“I guess that they need some more variety.”
Actually, that’s kind of mean.

“Freedom of expression is really the thing.”
Is it getting warm inside this skull?

The lyrics then switch to Spanish, and if that’s not enough, the song ends with dialogue between the band members, who are arguing whether or not they should go to a gay bar. The argument—in an extraordinary example of sticking with the concept—trades back and forth and back and forth, until: Blammo.

» Hear the Miracles at Marathonpacks

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Not all songs that continuously morph have to melt your brain. In fact, some can be downright pleasing. Take the OhSees’ “The Dumb Drums,” for example. Subtle vocal effects come at you from almost every direction, and the only thing you can expect from this song is the oddly reassuring guitar/drum chug-along combo. Otherwise, the vocal squiggles and lead-guitar tangents are working on unexpected levels. It’s really a lovely song, though.

» Hear the OhSees at Said the Gramophone

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Remember Bullette? She’s back, and in a band, the Sky Drops, and you only think they’re shoegazers—but did shoegazers ever use a flange effect quite like on “Now Would Be?” No, they did not, not quite like this. Pleasantly dissonant.

» Hear the Sky Drops at My Old Kentucky Blog

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At some point and somewhat silently, Animal Collective—whose Feels was one of the very best albums of 2005—released a white-label, seven-inch record (read: rare!) with a “Stevie Wonder” mix of their own: “The Purple Bottle” on one side and a cover of Nirvana’s “Polly” on the other. The former is practically the same as the already top-notch track, though with a choice lyrical insertion at one point; the latter, however, is the real surprise: Tense like a highwire, it practically redefines the original.

» Hear Animal Collective at Skatterbrain

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Anyone can do a cover version. How good it is, however, is a matter of discussion. And how many covers of Pixies songs must there be by now? And how many of them are faux “celebrity” versions? For example, a cover of “Hey,” if it were performed by Prince—and, based on what happens during and after the breakdown, the Revolution.

» Hear Matthew’s Celebrity Pixies Covers at rbally

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As Music for Robots attests, “Call Around You” from Certified Bananas sounds like Tortoise meets Usher, and I don’t believe a more accurate description is possible. Don’t be skeptical, though: On paper “Tortoise meets Usher” does sound like just another in a long line of ironic mash-ups, but the result couldn’t be further away: It’s a natural, soulful combination of influences.

» Hear Certified Bananas at Music for Robots


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack

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