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September 06


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Scott H. Biram
Graveyard Shift

Bloodshot Records

Scott H. Biram is a one-man band (in which he provides, among other things, lead and harmony vocals, CB radio, loudspeaker, breathing, harmonica, gut-all acoustic & electric guitars, Hammond B3 organ, homemade foot stomp board, hi-hat, tambourine, claps, hambone, bible thump, special effects and…random noises), and a very bad one-man band at that.

Now, when this critic, welding truly awesome musical industry power, says, “bad” that means it’s good. In fact that means, REAL good, so G-damn good that this stuff makes you want to hug your drinkin’ buddies, or perhaps punch them in the face and then buy them a shot of something that truly deserves to be called “Rot-gut.”

This music is a rusty black ‘54 Ford covered in road-dust stirred up by chicken scratchin, sitting on cinder blocks, kept by an old hard-workin (and drinkin’) blue-collar salt of the earth type only because the back seat can hold an apparently endless number of empty PBR cans and the radio still works…sometimes.

There are truckers (18-Wheeler Fever), bad preachers (Church Babies), and most of all, drinkin’, smokin’, country wives, long roads and an attitude that is more true to what was once the real American man’s beliefs than anything you hear on the top 40 radio stations and their fancy-pants loud mouthed loser DJs.

No matter what time of night Mr. Biram works, this is some of the funkiest, most original and enjoyable music you can find…and you don’t even need to bring a shovel —Brandon Whitehead (posted 09/22/06)


Maya Arulpragasam


A social scientist recently released a study that said after the age of 35 a person’s receptivity to new musical styles ends. Maybe that's why I have trouble with hip-hop; maybe that's why I’ve avoided reviewing Maya Arulpragasam’s M.I.A. ARULAR release for so long. Yet, I’ve been periodically listening to it after its release back in February 2005, when it soon acquired wide critical praise.

Here’s my belated boomer praise: It’s true, M.I.A. ARULAR is a remarkable CD. Forget the preachiness of a typical anti-war rally. Play this CD. Its beats and lyrics lack the pretentiousness of the usual hip-hop posturing and wordplay, and it will stir the want to “do something.”

Arulpragasam’s primary weapon is a Roland MC-505 drum machine. She couples that with a lyrical talent unquestionably original in its ability to level anger at all manner of brutality. In her art, Arulpragasam revolts against our savagery remarkably devoid of political beliefs or jingoistic trademarks. Be it CIA rendition, Shi’a kidnappings, Darfar genocide or child prostitution and white slavery, Arulpragasam is a world citizen, egalitarian in her reaction — specifics are secondary. Her Sri Lankan birth amid a swirling and deadly civil war, and her London ghetto childhood give Arulpragasam a street cred most hip-hop artists can’t touch.

From the cut “Amazon:” Painted nails, sunsets on horizons/palm tree silhouette smells amazing/blindfolds under home made lanterns/somewhere in the Amazon/They’re holding me ransom

Reportedly, Arulpragasam was in Memphis at Andent Studios earlier this month recording a new CD with the help of Juicy J and DJ Paul of Three 6 Mafia. Here’s hoping her sophomore effort is as raw and compelling as M.I.A. ARULAR Bruce Rodgers (posted 09/22/06)

Open Season (Remixes and Collabs)

Arts & Crafts

Magic happened when Canadian born Feist agreed to let friends, musicians, and producers strip down songs from her phenomenal debut Let It Die and recreate the music with a few new tricks.

Her voice remained aching and pensive where needed. "Inside and Out" shed its skin as a slinky piano and come hither bass romp to reveal a naked composition of voice and acoustic guitar with Apostle of Hustle's live unmix. Four versions of the catchy "Mushaboom" transformed the song into a snowy, airy serenade (Mocky mix); a chunky B-boy beat fest with handclaps and scratching (k-os mix), a shimmery electro ditty (Postal Service mix), and twitchy video game loop fit for the club (VV mix). "One Evening" interpreted in VV's mix has a jaunty bounce with R2-D2 chirps over the sexy piano and bass lines. "Lonely Lonely" shifted into a bliss-out, dreamy confection by Ungodly Hours worth savoring for more than six minutes.

None of the fifteen tracks on this remix album took anything away from the original compositions. If anything, the artists on this collaboration treated the songs with reverence, putting their distinctive stamps on a work without destroying the intrinsic and essential elements that made it superb from the start. For fans of Feist, Open Season will endure as an enhancement on her original compositions that merit consideration for their well-crafted innovations. —Pete Dulin (posted 09/15/06)

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