By Nick Noeding, Jr.
Super Furry Animals Songbook: The Singles Volume 1 (XL/Beggars Group))
This 21-track greatest hits release comes to us from one of pop's most prolific and shapeshifting bands in recent memory. Spanning a decade of EPs, this collection is an excellent starting point for the new SFA listener. Have no fear: included for the seasoned connoisseur are a few obscure, early and hard-to-locate tracks. Pulling influence from everything from The Beach Boys to Brian Eno, this collection is a fairly accurate core sample of what SFA is trying to accomplish as a creative entity. You may need a Welsh translator for some of the track titles, though.
Beck Guero (Deluxe Edition)
Continuing his alternating album style trend, this ironically titled release from Beck is a nice change from his sappy previous album (don't get me wrong, though; I liked Sea Change, just in a different way). The two-disc bonus edition contains 5.1 mixes of the whole album, as well as remixes from some electronic/hip hop all-stars (Boards of Canada, Dizzee Rascal, Royksopp and Octet), experimental video and a 52-page booklet. You could settle for the standard CD release, but why would you want to? This multi-featured throwback to the Odelay era is definitely worth checking out.
Boom Bip Blue Eyed in the Red Room (Lex)
Bending the genre of electronic music once again, Bryan Hollon (aka Boom Bip) offers this recent Lex release for your listening pleasure. The good news is that there are no samples or “oonst-oonsts” to be found anywhere. In fact, other than a few blips, synth basses and sequenced drums, this album is largely comprised of acoustic instrumentation. These songs sound less like the typical electronic album and more like, say, lyricless Stereolab or Broadcast. That is, except for the two tracks with guest vocalists Gruff Rhys and Nina Nastasia, which sound like, um, the aforementioned bands with different singers.
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