The Songs We Can't Escape

Rainbow Arabia

Rainbow Arabia

"Live at Shakemore Ah Go Go, July 12, 2008"

It begins as a brushfire of kinked sitar chordage buffered by dull gray whorls, as if a Boeing starship were setting down somewhere nearby. It quickly becomes clear that the vessel's about to land on you—but the flanged fuckery carries on within the cavernous, expanding roar. When the dust settles and the ululating subsides, the air feels different. This bit of spellbinding sonic sorcery can be yours for the cost of the time and energy it takes to search for "Ami Dang."

"Dark Side of Night"

I know, I know: Big-time rock superstars get restless, and bored. So between radio-friendly unit-shifters they go on these incognito larks for a giggle and little else. Scott Weiland does this sorta shit under his own name and it's not so bad. The same can't be said for U2 or for Green Day, whose glosses on classic rack as (har har) Foxboro Hot Tubs—"Dark Side of Night" is their go at the Zombies, I guess, and they 1) sound nothing like Green Day, and 2) add zilch to the overall musical canon that wasn't already there, moldering on oldies stations.

"Holiday in Congo"

These Echo Park, California, world-popsmiths toured with Gang Gang Dance recently, and it's not difficult to understand why: Ethnic chants that resolve into hiccupped exclamation marks, disciplined drum-circle ka-bum-bum-bum, staunch keyboard stabs that nail the exotic hook home with a vengeance. Promising; a duo to watch.


Hard to say which represents a greater risk for this Philly spitter: Ditching the Re-Up Gang to strike out solo or utilizing a sample of Queen's "We Will Rock You," as he does here. (Hip hop's rigid stance on alternative lifestyles: "No homo.") What's for sure: Sandman's intricate, hypnotic rhymes work fine without assists. What's not: just how many free-for-download mixtapes the guy will have to issue before someone hands him a contract.

"By the Way"

I'm not sure if any rapper's been able to milk as much from a commonplace conversational phrase as Jeezy does here. What gruff (blue) magic could he wrest from "So yeah" or "As I was saying" or "At the end of the day," I wonder? Ay!