Four years ago, Mark Ronson was a party DJ playing celebrity gigs. This was the Ronson who released "Here Comes the Fuzz," a competent hip-hop mash-up full of celebrity cameos ranging from Rivers Cuomo to Q-Tip, to Ghostface Killah, to Sean Paul. What a difference time makes. While that was a decent record, "Version" is a great one. Now a powerhouse producer working with Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse, Ronson switched up his sound a couple of years ago when he was asked to do a track for a Radiohead tribute. He enlisted Phantom Planet's Alex Greenwald and the Dap-Tone Horns to create a funky cover of "Just." It came out so well, Ronson decided to turn the whole concept into an album. He covered mostly British songs, often substituting the guitar parts with horn parts and enlisting vocalists to participate. He we get an instrumental upbeat take on Coldplay's "God Put A Smile Upon Your Face," Lily Allen singing the Kasier Chiefs' "Oh My God," Amy Winehouse singing a lung-busting version of the Zutons' "Valerie," Kenna reworking Ryan Adams' "Amy," a strange but interesting cover of Britney Spears' "Toxic" featuring of all things, a posthumous verse from the "Ol' Dirty Bastard, remixes of songs by Kasabian and Maximo Park among others. It's a great party record and a great listen. Too bad it doesn't include Ronson's recent remix of Bob Dylan's "Most Likely To Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine.)" Behold the new maestro.
"Oh My God" (with Lily Allen)
"Valerie" (with Amy Winehouse)
"Amy" (with Kenna)
"L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)" (with Kasabian)
"God Put A Smile Upon Your Face"
13. NINE INCH NAILS — "Year Zero"
The most striking thing about "Year Zero" is that it is one of Nine Inch Nails' best records. Not only that, a lot of the beat-work makes it seem like Trent Reznor must be listening to some old hip-hop. Tracks like "The Warning" and "Vessel," are some of the greatest breakdance ready tracks recorded in the last ten years. (Yes, you read that right!) After the highly enjoyable "With Teeth" two years ago, this has proven to be a fruitful rebirth for Reznor considering his long periods of dormancy. Nearly 20 years after "Pretty Hate Machine," that's pretty remarkable. Sure, there is more standard NIN fare on here, like "Capital G." and "Survivalism," but the radically trippy tracks are the major feast. "Year Zero" is a concept album of apocalyptic proportions, but Reznor has never sounded more alive. The album's thesis isn't self-loathing like earlier work like "The Downward Spiral." The concerns are more global is scope, with thinly veiled references to war and our current political climate. It is violent and messy and bothersome. ." If the end is nigh, it's good that Trent Reznor has given us something to dance to until it comes. I'll meet you after school. I'll bring the boombox, you bring the cardboard for headspins!
Also recommended is the separately sold remix album, "Y34RZ3ROR3MIX3D."
"The Good Soldier"
"My Violent Heart"
14. COMMON — "Finding Forever"