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Editor’s Pick #282: How To Make It In America Mixtape

Mixtape for HBO's upcoming show, "How To Make It In America"

PREVIEW: LISTEN to Dan Black ft. Kid Cudi  “Symphonies”

Publicity can be so effing sneaky sometimes.  I thought I was downloading the mixtape for HBO’s latest bro comedy “How To Make It In America” premiering this Sunday.  I don’t think my logic was flawed, either — show starring Kid Cudi? Accompanying mixtape? Sounded legit.

But don’t be fooled, this mixtape is mostly a compilation of indie remixes like Florence & The Machine’s spin on The xx’s “You’ve Got The Love” with Cudi and other cast members promoting the show in the background.  Save yourself the disk space and don’t download the entire mixtape, unless, of course, you’d like to hear sound bytes from the show awkwardly mixed with your favorite songs.

But while you’re waiting for a real soundtrack to leak, do check out Kid Cudi’s remix of “Symphonies” by British electronica artist, Dan Black.  It often sounds as if Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” were blended together, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.  The vibe coincides with the “two guys trying to make it in the concrete jungle” theme of the show.

— Carly Wolkoff, Front of Book Editor

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Editor’s Pick #270: Doesn’t Diplo have better things to do?
January 29, 2010, 7:30 pm
Filed under: Editor Picks, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Free Gucci mixtape fails to free Gucci

PREVIEW: LISTEN to Diplo’s Remix of Gucci Mane’s “Excuse Me” on YouTube

In a recent interview, Philadelphia-based DJ Diplo stated, “Gucci Mane is an underdog.”  This patronizing assertion may have contributed to his reasoning in creating the Diplo Presents: Free Gucci (Best of the Cold War Mixtapes) mixtape, but Gucci Mane is certainly no less of an underdog because of Diplo’s remix magic.

You can gather your most talented hipster-approved DJ friends in the game (Zomby, Flying Lotus, Memory Tapes), but if you ask them to remix shit songs, the result will not be genius – not even the familiar sounds of the most common club beats can gild Gucci’s trite lyrics and unoriginality.

–Carly Wolkoff, Front of Book Editor

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Editor’s Pick #261: New York Noise

PREVIEW: Visit “New York Noise’s YouTube channel

My bored-to-death high school evenings were often spent watching “New York Noise” on NYC TV, entranced.  “New York Noise” is basically what MTV should have been–full of the newest indie music videos, artist interviews and festival adventures, completely devoted to discovering up-and-coming talent.

Making me feel like an unaccomplished fool, Brooklyn native Shirley Braha masterminded “New York Noise” in 2003, the summer before her senior year at Smith College while interning at NYC TV.  And since its inception, we’ve gone virtual record shopping with Mark Ronson, drank tea with Tommy Ramone, toured Les Savy Fav’s apartment and partied at a rooftop barbeque hosted by Bishop Allen.

Luckily the fun hasn’t ended yet; word on the Internet is that new episodes will begin airing in May of this year.  But for now, if you live in the NYC metro area, you can catch reruns of this hour-long eyegasm at 11 p.m. on Wednesdays, channel 25.  Oh, and before ever contemplating the uselessness of the Oxford comma, guess who interned at “New York Noise”? None other than Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig.

–Carly Wolkoff, Front of Book Editor

Editor’s Pick #246: “I Wish it Was Christmas Today”

On Monday night’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Strokes’ frontman Julian Casablancas covered the Saturday Night Live classic “I Wish it Was Christmas Today.”  Originally performed on SNL by Fallon, Chris Kattan, Tracy Morgan and Horatio Sanz, Casablancas received help from both Fallon and Sanz, as well as the Roots.  While it may seem like Casablancas is taking the silliness out of the song with his uber serious shades and characteristic fierceness, once the two funnymen join him on stage, the rockstar cracks a smile and all is merry again.  The song is available for purchase via iTunes, except today actually is Christmas…so there’s no need to wish.

— Carly Wolkoff, Front of Book Editor

Editor’s Pick #237: Common’s “Strange Fruit”



Discarded track from Common's Finding Forever leaks

PREVIEW: Listen to “Strange Fruit” on YouTube

Apparently “Strange Fruit” was spared from Common’s 2007 Grammy-winning album, Finding Forever.  But I don’t see why.  The discarded song which recently surfaced samples Nina Simone’s cover of Billie Holiday’s iconic “Strange Fruit” and her passionate cries as she sings, “Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze” will lure you instantly.

While the original “Strange Fruit” may have been a reaction to a lynching in the South, Common’s rhymes provide a more relevant spin as he insists that although as a society we’ve come a long way since Holiday’s time, we’ve still yet to scratch the surfact of what needs to be accomplished.  John Legend’s soulful choral accompaniment encourages listeners to persevere despite current inequalities and celebrate our progress.  Whether or not the rumors regarding Kanye’s involvement in the production of the song are true, “Strange Fruit” is a stellar track.

— Carly Wolkoff, Front of Book Editor

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Editor’s Pick #232: “December 4th”
December 4, 2009, 6:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

The hip-hop legend turns the big 4-0

PREVIEW: Listen to Jay-Z’s “December 4th” on YouTube 

“I was conceived by Gloria Carter and Adaness Reeves who made love under the Sycamore tree, which makes me a more sicker emcee,” Jay-Z raps in the autobiographical “December 4th.”  In this opening track straight off The Black Album, Jay guides you through his life from birth to present, while his doting mother narrates personal anecdotes in the background.

Back in 2003, Jay-Z announced that The Black Album would be his last studio album.  With his masterful use of wordplay, he attempts to foreshadow, “If you can’t respect that your whole perspective is wack, maybe you’ll love me when I fade to black.”  Although we now know the rapper ultimately wouldn’t fade to black just yet, “December 4th” helps bring his life and career full circle.  Happy 40th Birthday Hov!

— Carly Wolkoff, Front of Book Editor

Editor’s Pick #221: múm
November 20, 2009, 5:24 pm
Filed under: Editor Picks | Tags: ,

Icelandic group, mum

PREVIEW: Visit múm’s MySpace

Like the title of their song, “Smell Memory” intimates, múm’s music will take you back to a time and place from moments past by a rapturous rousing of the senses. With this Icelandic band’s sublime blend of electronic squeaks and blinks alongside more traditional instrumentation, each person’s experience while listening to múm is bound to be different.  Listen to “Dancing behind my eyelids” and let múm guide you on the best 20 minute zone out of your life.

— Carly Wolkoff, Front of Book Editor

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