Pod Picks for Aug. 1, 2013

July 31, 2013 

This week we recommend an eclectic grab bag of new tunes which you can download (legally, of course) or stream to your iPod, iPad, iPhone or other personal media device.

"Family Reunion" by Wu-Tang Clan

It’s been 20 years since Wu-Tang released its debut album, “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).” The proper response to that is:

“holy shit! It’s been 20 years since cash rules everything around me,” since we discovered what an Ol’ Dirty Bastard was. For the platinum anniversary, the group intends to unite the eight remaining members and produce an album of new material, “A Better Tomorrow,” and release it with the reissue of the debut. It’s the collective’s first new music in six years, and it’s good to hear RZA doing what he does best – putting beats together and mixing in rhymes to get the right ratio. But it’s not quite right yet. This is only half of the Clan. But it’s a great start.

"Waiting in Vain" by Bob Marley (Jim James Remix)

Jim James takes a break from his frontman duties as the singer/guitarist for My Morning Jacket and climbs behind the soundboard to tackle a daunting job – remixing a song from Marley’s legendary “Legend.” It’s no secret that a lot of these remix projects have been quickly dismissed. For good reason - why change something we still listen to and love? How did James handle it? First and most importantly, he keeps true to Marley’s vocals. But the world around them morphs into a land of fuzzy bass, tinkering guitars, shifting time signatures, bouncing keyboards, splashing cymbals and layered harmonies that sound like Marley’s lyrics are echoing inside of echoes for infinity.

"Pocket Change" by Alabama Shakes

This band is still riding high from its early successes – Grammy nominations, being sought after for contributions to soundtracks. The group’s popularity is a bit head-scratching, a soulful blues band that look like middle-school math teachers. This song is on “True Blood: Music from the HBO Original Series, Volume 4,” and features Brittany Howard getting cutesy with her vocals over a rollicking folk/blues tune. This track could’ve been recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis back in the mid-‘50s. The lively organ, the chugging acoustic, the tambourine accompanied drums, Howard’s sweetly scruffy voice – it’s a new usage of those old familiar Southern sounds.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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