Recommend awesome music.
March 28, 2006 4:28 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend some really excellent music?

My friend requested mix cd's for her birthday. She and her bf both have very expansive listening habits, and I want to choose tracks that are new to her and that are, well, awesome. This is why I need your help.

I would appreciate recommendations for your favorite music that is upbeat, groovy, funky, or otherwise delicious, and that falls well off the beaten path.

Typical alterna-rock, while I have nothing against it, is not what I am looking for. Electronic is good if it is melodic and danceable. Music from other countries is good. Music from previous eras is good.

Examples of some things she and I both like: Bjork. Good disco. Music that involves people singing in Hindi. Your recommendations can diverge rather wildly from these examples.

I know questions like this have been asked before, but since I am seeking something rather specific I thought it needed a new question.
posted by mai to Media & Arts (61 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
One of my favourite tracks of all time is "sweetness and light" by Itch-e & Scratch-e.

Now, a link to it:

Sorry, I can't find a link to an mp3 - I'm sure there is one out there..
posted by wilful at 4:43 PM on March 28, 2006

Hollertronix - Never Scared (you'll have to download this from P2P)

Basement Jaxx - The Singles
posted by driveler at 4:44 PM on March 28, 2006

Origa - Inner Universe is my favorite upbeat electronica song. It's the he theme to Ghost In The Shell SAC 2nd Gig, with lyrics in English and Russian. I don't know that it's danceable, but she's a fantastic vocalist and I always drive too fast when I'm listening to it.
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 4:45 PM on March 28, 2006

Single Gun Theory may fit the bill. Their second album was liberally peppered with samples they recorded while travelling through India, Kashmir, Turkey and south-east Asia, so it has a bit of an eastern feel, but is mostly groovy electronic loungish music with female vox.
posted by pompomtom at 4:45 PM on March 28, 2006

I just posted this over on Metachat: Venus Vs. Gas Onna by eX-Girl, a nicely odd Japanese band.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:46 PM on March 28, 2006

Oh, PS - I'd especially pick the track "Angels over Tehran".
posted by pompomtom at 4:47 PM on March 28, 2006

Supreme Beings of Leisure, maybe. Definitely check out Thievery Corporation; they are AMAZING. Bjork's earlier band, The Sugarcubes, are also quite fun to listen to. Daft Punk's Discovery is lots of fun. These groups would most likely be lumped into the "electronica" category.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 4:48 PM on March 28, 2006

Ghanan Ghanan from the Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India Soundtrack.
posted by surferboy at 4:52 PM on March 28, 2006

I know I plug Beatport a lot, but take a browse around there for dance music singles, you can see what's popular there and get high quality unmixed singles (though it's more expensive than itunes, you can get a LOT of tracks that you can't find on itunes)
posted by empath at 4:53 PM on March 28, 2006

posted by webtom at 4:54 PM on March 28, 2006

Maybe Tehilim by Steve Reich. It's a really interesting percussion + choral arrangement of a Hewbrew psalm. I love it - it's really unlike his other compositions (which I also like) and I was addicted to it for weeks after I got it. It's quite upbeat, too.

I bought an earlier recording so I can't vouch for this one. And if you like Steve Reich + techno, Reich Remixed is fantastic. (Different DJ's remix his compositions. Also upbeat and danceable for people who can dance to 5/4 time signatures, etc.)
posted by sophie at 4:54 PM on March 28, 2006

By the way, the last track of the Hollertronix, Gujarati Soundclash, is an awesome 12-minute mix of Indian pop and hip-hop. Post here if you can't find it and I can e-mail it to you.
posted by driveler at 4:55 PM on March 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

Disco/Funk-ish: Marvin Gaye- T Plays It Cool
Jazz/Cover/From Another Era: Bad Plus- Iron Man
Funk/Newish: Deep Banana Blackout- Take the Time
Hip Hop/Upbeat: People Under the Stairs- Acid Raindrops
Other countries/Hip Hop/Funk: Die Fantastischen Vier- Le Smou
Jazz/????: Drums and Tuba- Brain Liaters
Jazz/Funk/Offbeat: Isotope 217- PhonoMetrics
Jazz/Electronic: Benevento and Russo Duo- Welcome Red
Hip Hop/Aqua Teen/Fun: Dangerdoom- A.T.H.F (Or anything else from the Mouse and the Mask album)

Subjective answers to subjective questions (offbeat, upbeat, etc.) but hope it gives you a place to start. Email is in my profile if you need more or have trouble finding what I've listed.
posted by rollbiz at 4:55 PM on March 28, 2006

The Postal Service - Give Up

Anything by Mr. Skruff

Royksopp - The Understanding or Melody A.M.

I also like Telepopmusik

Not necessarily new, but all good, poppy electronic stuff
posted by discokitty at 4:57 PM on March 28, 2006

Matthew Herbert's album Bodily Functions is jazzy, soulful, dancable, and playful, simultaneously. The short amazon clips don't do it justice at all (most fade out before the vocals even start).
posted by aubilenon at 4:59 PM on March 28, 2006

posted by kdern at 5:00 PM on March 28, 2006

Doob Doob O' Rama I & II
posted by horsemuth at 5:02 PM on March 28, 2006

Upbeat electro-funk with a little hip-hop (but no vocals) thrown in for good measure. Toss me an email if you want to hear a sample a little better then Amazon's.
posted by cyphill at 5:07 PM on March 28, 2006

Communicate, by a band called Blend. They are Lebanese, but sing in English, and have an interesting style; it's sort of a mix of Western rock with traditional Arabic music.
posted by number9dream at 5:09 PM on March 28, 2006

Nitin Sawhney, Philtre
posted by flabdablet at 5:09 PM on March 28, 2006

Tricky Disco - Tricky Disco - Plone mix.
Plaid - undoneson.
Gnarls Barkley - Crazy.
Mr. Scruff - get a move on (yeah yeah I know, I liked it before the car commercials)
posted by subtle-t at 5:11 PM on March 28, 2006

Manu Chao. Especially this album. Check out "Me Gustas Tu" and "Homens" to get an idea.
posted by Decani at 5:13 PM on March 28, 2006

Andy Narell.
posted by danb at 5:14 PM on March 28, 2006

My current upbeat fav: Souther Culture on the Skids, the title track for Liquored up and Laquered Down.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:22 PM on March 28, 2006

This is a brilliant way to end the day. Nice question and keep those suggestions coming.

I'd suggest for your mix:

-- Michael Brook+Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
-- Paolo Conte
-- Rebirth Brass Band
-- Radio Tarifa
-- Ali Farka Toure (plus Toumani Diabate on a recent album),
-- Brave Combo
-- Goran Bregovic

...and, well, gosh, the list can go on and on and on.

I think you'll find much more of the stuff you're requesting if you give Andy Kershaw's BBC Radio Show a the Mondomix dj's (archived audio) offer a great modern-world stew on a regular basis.
posted by diastematic at 5:23 PM on March 28, 2006

Dhol Foundation are amazing. I saw them live a week or so ago.
posted by tomble at 5:28 PM on March 28, 2006

...upbeat, groovy, funky, or otherwise delicious
  • Jamie Lidell (electro-soul)
  • !!! (crazed dance-punk)
  • Chromeo (slick electronic hip-hop)
Electronic is good if it is melodic and danceable.
  • I second Ratatat (dance-electro-guitar-instrumental)
  • Daft Punk (classic french electro)
  • Mylo (bouncy scottish electro)
Music from other countries is good.
  • Lali Puna (german lap-pop)
  • Annie (norwegian dance music)
  • Junior Senior (sugary hyper dutch dance)
Music from previous eras is good.
  • Os Mutantes (60s psychedelic brazilian pop)
  • Silver Apples (60s psychedelic electro)
  • Brian Eno (70s-80s eclectic electronic)

posted by themadjuggler at 5:34 PM on March 28, 2006

Robyn - Robyn. This album recently won the Swedish Grammy for album of the year.
posted by driveler at 5:42 PM on March 28, 2006

Jorge Ben Jor - a great Brazilian guitarist and song writer. If you've listened to any pop music in the last 40 years, you'll recognize his influence.

Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra - politically-minded afrobeat. Very rythmic and upbeat. I heart them.

if you need sample tracks, my email is in my profile.
posted by muddgirl at 5:43 PM on March 28, 2006

"The Party's Crashing Us" by Of Montreal

I've seen them multiple times and I have never seen so many hipsters dancing their asses off. The last time I saw them, the lead singer (male) walked out in a wedding dress and said he wanted to marry the audience...if that tells you anything about what kind of band they are.
posted by awegz at 5:49 PM on March 28, 2006

Ugh, the clip of Of Montreal on Amazon doesn't really do the song (or chorus) justice. Maybe check out their website.
posted by awegz at 5:52 PM on March 28, 2006

Traveller '99: A Planet of Grooves

Animal Collective: Sung Tongs
posted by A dead Quaker at 5:58 PM on March 28, 2006

For a good time, try Rough Guide to...
posted by glibhamdreck at 6:04 PM on March 28, 2006

Tom waits, Low, Balkin Beat Box, Eleni Mandell, Coco Rosie, raspertina, Lounge Lizards (John Laurie), Brazziville, Shuggie Otis, Marc Ribot The Prosthetic Cubans, Over the Rhine's Ohio disc, Sam Phillips, Thievery Corporation, Tin Hat Trio
posted by edgeways at 6:22 PM on March 28, 2006

Your Mama by Green Towel is catchy, upbeat, and funny to boot
posted by scottreynen at 6:33 PM on March 28, 2006

I think I've mentioned them on AskMe before, but I would recommend checking out some of the bands on the Northside label, which specializes in modernized versions of traditional Scandinavian music. Lots of stuff there that might meet your criteria. In particular, I'd recommend Hedningarna's "Trä", which is one of my favorite albums of any genre. Joyous, primal music that sounds like nothing else I've heard. My other favorite band from that label, Garmarna, is probably more downbeat then what you're after in general, but you might want to check out the song "Gamen."

There's been a bunch of compilations of music from the short-lived Cambodian rock scene of the 60s that might appeal- I have this one, and I like it a lot. Also worth checking out are Dengue Fever, who carry on that tradition.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is amazing, but the sheer size of his discography can be intimidating. I've only scratched the surface of it, but of the little of his work I have, I'd recommend this CD as being the most accessible of the pure Qawaali stuff. For the more Westernized Nusrat, there's this one.
posted by a louis wain cat at 6:56 PM on March 28, 2006

Here's an obscure Latin tune (from another era) with French lyrics (another country) performed acoustically. And they've probably never heard this version (because it's performed by me and a buddy)

Le Quotiden
posted by nonmyopicdave at 7:19 PM on March 28, 2006

Look no further than The Whitey on the Moon UK LP by The Department of Eagles. Every song is funky, beautiful, and creative as hell. I cannot say enough good things about this record.
posted by saladin at 7:19 PM on March 28, 2006

I second Dengue Fever!!
posted by granted at 8:03 PM on March 28, 2006

anjali might fit the bill.
posted by joeblough at 8:09 PM on March 28, 2006

I'll second Daft Punk and throw in a recommendation for VNV Nation (The song Chrome, a snippit of which is on their myspace, is great) and Fisherspooner (their myspace, my fav is Emerge).
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:13 PM on March 28, 2006

glibhamdreck, looking through the threads you linked to, it looks like someone indexed them here.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:30 PM on March 28, 2006

Electronic is good if it is melodic and danceable.



Also recommend Fischerspooner. And Ladytron. Definitely Ladytron.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 8:59 PM on March 28, 2006

I'll second Jorge Ben Jor, and I'll recommend focusing on his sixties and seventies stuff, when he was called Jorge Ben. África Brazil could possibly be his funkiest.

More Brazilian: Novos Baianos, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Moreno + 2 and Domenico + 2, DJ Dolores & Orchestra Santa Massa, Lucas Santtana. (Links go to most awesomest/most danceable albums, or to what I could find with audio samples.)
More Brazilian party music can be found on compilations: samba (NSFW: naked rear), forró, soul samba, favela funk.

Sex-crazed Venezuelan party band: Los Amigos Invisibles

More afrobeat: check out the amazingly funky Fela Kuti (flash, pop-ups, embedded audio) (NSFW warning: if you go looking for more, there is an album called Expensive Sh*t, the cover of which has several bare-chested women)

The Go! Team is an indie band that's getting closer to the beaten path, but their music has everything else you asked for. Plus I've recommended them in tons of threads, so why stop now?

Arthur Russell made cool disco and post-disco records.

More good disco:
Peter Brown - Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me
Suzy-Q - Get On Up and Do It Again
Machine - There But for the Grace of God
Double Exposure - Ten Percent
And check out the comp Nicky Siano's the Gallery
posted by hydrophonic at 9:07 PM on March 28, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I guess I've heard of/already like about half the music on this list, and I can't wait to check out the rest!
posted by mai at 9:34 PM on March 28, 2006

Second the Go Team and Mr Scruff, plus try Lemon Jelly and Aphilas (both eminently melodic).
posted by greycap at 10:16 PM on March 28, 2006

This is a plug and I apologize for that, but my podcast is probably something you would enjoy and you would probably find several things you like each week. It fits the bill with your eclectic tastes.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 10:29 PM on March 28, 2006

Dang, I meant to link to this Arthur Russell disc, which has his more danceable stuff.

Also, how could I neglect to recommend the upbeat goovy funky style of go-go?
posted by hydrophonic at 10:54 PM on March 28, 2006

United State of Electronica



The first is from Seattle, the other two from Japan.
posted by emmling at 11:45 PM on March 28, 2006

daktaris soul explosion - toughest afro-funk album ever recorded

while we are at it... sharon jones is pretty badass too.

congotronics is some amazing shit as well...

off the top of my head
posted by specialk420 at 12:13 AM on March 29, 2006

soul ecstasy
posted by mushroom_tattoo at 1:22 AM on March 29, 2006

Check out the mixes from Sonic Sunset - deep, chunky, soulful (often electronic) music from the 70's to the present - particularly the mixes from Matt MacQueen. Links and playlists updated frequently.

WeFunk radio also has downloads available, and often has tons of great tracks in a single show. Might be what you're looking for.
posted by jba at 1:43 AM on March 29, 2006

Two I'm really diggin at the moment that fall into the Dance-Rock vein (but not obnoxiously pretentiously are)

Men, Women and Children [MySpace] [Official site] - The guitarist from glassjaw and his DJ friend do Disco-Rock right. Early contender for my rock album of the year.
Electric Six - Señor Smoke [MySpace] [Official Site]
Fun fun fun. If lyrics like "We karaoke all night long, we’ll Macarena ’til the break of dawn,” appeal to you, then definitely check them out.

I have my top 10 records of the year for every year since 2000 on my blog (link in my profile) if you'd like to compare and contrast).
posted by softlord at 4:58 AM on March 29, 2006

Try some (obscure) Australian music:
Bryce, Full Fathom Five (who now appear to be defunct but who I really like) and Charles Foster Kane.
posted by dantodd at 5:19 AM on March 29, 2006

Ugress. Funky, upbeat, Norwegian. One of my all-time favorites.

The track from "Cinematronics" entitled "Manhattan Sapphire" features singing in Hindi. They have a lot you can download and burn yourself.
posted by kuperman at 6:02 AM on March 29, 2006

Excellent bands you may not have heard of. Mostly melodic, indie-rock/indie-pop with an emphasis on lyrics and arrangements:

Andrew Bird
John Vanderslice
The Mountain Goats
Wolf Parade
Elliott Smith
My Bloody Valentine
The Zombies
The Lucksmiths
Of Montreal
Neutral Milk Hotel
Apples in Stereo
Olivia Tremor Control
Jens Lekman
The New Pornographers
Belle and Sebastian
Iron and Wine
Sigur Ros
Sufjan Stevens
Sondre Lerche
The Decemberists
The Boy Least Likely To
The Notwist
Tapes 'n Tapes
A.C. Newman
Neko Case
Devendra Banhart
Antony and the Johnsons
posted by ludwig_van at 6:39 AM on March 29, 2006

The Cardigans especially Gran Turismo, Long Gone Before Daylight and Super Extra Gravity
posted by heartquake at 7:27 AM on March 29, 2006

I'd recommend:

Mint Royale - On The Ropes , has an indian feel on some tunes and maybe the best summer single that never was (Don't Falter)

Also The Sound of Music and The Fifth Release by Pizzicato Five. Japanese, not Indian, but upbeat. "Fifth Release" is easily my favorite, the track "Loudland!" goes from annoying to groovy in the span of two beats.

I'll also give another vote for Daft Punk's "Discovery"
posted by dr. fresh at 8:09 AM on March 29, 2006

Salif Keita - wonderful, wonderful Malian artist. Haunting, even if you can't understand the words. Mouffou is fantastic album.

Youssou N'Dour (pronounced Yus) - similarly wonderful Senegalese musician. I wouldn't necessarily recommend Egypt, his most recent album, because it is so different from the rest of his music, but it's still good. 7 Seconds is very good. Guide is great. He is an excellent performer too - totally invigorating, especially in small spaces.

The Shins aren't exactly new, but I think they have a great sound she might enjoy. I think their only album is Oh, Inverted World. Same goes for James Blunt - very enjoyable. I think Back to Bedlum is his only cd but not sure. Ozomatli - not especially new either, but fantastic, energetic, awesome. I really like their "Live at the Fillmore" album.
Wilco is very nice too. Not new, but you might like some of their newer stuff.
posted by Amizu at 9:12 AM on March 29, 2006

The Shins aren't exactly new, but I think they have a great sound she might enjoy. I think their only album is Oh, Inverted World.

They've released an album since then - 2003's Chutes Too Narrow, which is of a similar quality to the first album, but with cleaner production.

I didn't include The Shins in my list, but a lot of the bands I mentioned have a somewhat similar sound. I think Rogue Wave sounds particularly similar to The Shins.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:06 AM on March 29, 2006

late, as usual.

ludwig-van's list is straight off of my CD rack.

...upbeat, groovy, funky, or otherwise delicious
The Rat by The Walkmen (Bows & Arrows)
Without MSG I Am Nothing by Mclusky (The Difference Between Me & You Is That I'm Not On Fire)
What A Fool Believes by Self (Gizmodgery --caveat-- this is a cover song. there are other great tracks on this unique album, but I like the Doobie Bros. too, so...)
Parallel or Together by Ted Leo & the Rx (The Tyranny of Distance)
Everybody Seems To Think (You've Got Some Kind of Hold On Me) by The Deadly Snakes (Ode to Joy)
Oh, I Would Do Anything For My Girl by Vicious Vicious (Blood & Clover)

Electronic is good if it is melodic and danceable.
The Verve Remixed series.
Erlend Øye's Unrest is good. It's much groovier than his work as Kings of Convenience.
Lesser known than the above-recommended Postal Service is DNTEL, one of Jimmy Tamborello's other projects. It is very much melodic and danceable.

Music from other countries is good.
Second for Os Mutantes
I really like samba/bossa. Celso Fonseca & Bebel Gilberto are both making really great music these days. Seu Jorge's Life Aquatic Acoustic Sessions are, of course, spectacular.
Kaada from Norway. Don't bother with the stuff he did with Mike Patton--just that first album, uh, Thank You For Giving Me Your Valuable Time.

Music from previous eras is good.
you can't go wrong with good Motown.
The Feelies (Early 80's-ish)

posted by carsonb at 1:25 PM on April 2, 2006

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