Emerging fresh from last year's enjoyable 'Modern Guilt' record, Beck (left) has kick-started a revamp of his website, http://beck.com, with an interesting new project. Called "Record Club", the new endeavour sees Beck set himself the not inconsiderable task of recording, with the help of various musicians, cover versions of entire albums in a single day's studio session – with no prior rehearsals or planning.
A track will be uploaded once a week on Beck's site. For the first edition, Beck and co placed the bar high: "after lengthy deliberation and coming close to covering Digital Underground's 'Sex Packets', all present voted in favour of the 'other' Underground's 'The Velvet Underground & Nico'," he explained. "Participants included this time around are Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker, Brian Lebarton, Bram Inscore, Yo, Giovanni Ribisi, Chris Holmes, and from Iceland, special guest Thorunn Magnusdottir, and myself." Complete with a suitably grainy Warhol-like video, the result sounds rather nice, with a dreamy sound melting with Beck's lethargic vocals.
Your average electro track tends not to spew out lyrics referencing James Joyce, Damien Hirst, Peter Tosh and Mama Cass, and probably for good reason, but Simian Mobile Disco have dared to do so, albeit in a playful rather than pretentious manner. Their new song, "Audacity of Huge", sees the UK duo employ the vocal talents of Yeasayer's Chris Keating, with the latter liberally lobbing out pop culture references over some infectious, skittish electro. Hear the results, and see a rather colourful video to go with it, at http://www.simianmobile disco.co.uk. The song comes from their 'Temporary Pleasure' album, due out in August.
Out of Africa
The Very Best is a collaboration between Malawi singer Esau Mwamwaya and London-based dj/production duo Radioclit; their free mixtape was one last year's surprise delights. 'Warm Heart of Africa', their debut album is due in the Autumn, but the balmy title track of eclectic Afro-pop featuring guest vocals by Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig can be downloaded at tinyurl.com/l7owhl. More new songs are streamed at www.myspace.com/theverybest myspace.
Around the world before release date
Last October, a Scottish blog, The Pop Cop, kicked off the "Music Alliance Pact" – "a simple but devastatingly effective way to get a song heard by hundreds of thousands of people in over 20 countries and five continents". Every month music blogs from around the world choose one song by a band from their home country which is posted on each participating blog. The June instalment features 24 multi-national tracks – get them at http://thepopcop.blogspot.com
Sites for sore eyes
From Paris's Take Away Shows (tinyurl.com/2bkowe), to London's Black Cab Sessions (www.blackcabsessions.com) to Sydney's Shoot the Player (www.shoottheplayer.com), there is no shortage of sites offering nicely shot videos of bands performing; be it stripped down takes in strange settings, or studio recordings. A site getting attention lately is Nashville's lakefeversessions.com. Again the premise is simple: videos of bands performing in their studio – St Vincent is the latest to show up, playing accoustic takes on her album 'Actor'. Over on www.pitchfork. com/tv, she can be seen doing a more amped-up set on their series 'Cemetery Gates', broadcast from a chapel in the middle of a graveyard in Brooklyn.