King Britt: The Philadelphia Experiment Remixed

Wayne Franklin

King Britt

The Philadelphia Experiment Remixed

Label: Rope-A-Dope

A great spiritual leader once said "if you think you have it going on in a certain area of your life, that is probably the area you need to check yourself in regularly."

What does this have to do with anything, you ask? Well, when I was offered the chance to impart my not so humble opinion of what's good and what's garbage in music, I'll admit I took it on with an elitist attitude. "This will be easy," I thought. "I'm a published author and an expert when it comes to music. I can do this with my eyes closed."

My confidence was put to the test when King Britt's The Philadelphia Experiment Remixed came across my desk. "Simple," I thought. I mean the groundwork was easy, right? You have Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, bandleader/drummer for, quite possibly, the most innovative hip-hop band ever (I'm speaking of the Roots, of course), Uri Caine, the jazz pianist once referred to as the Be Bop Beethoven, and bassist extraordinaire Christian McBride, who toured with Sting (a favorite), and the creator of the masterpiece Number Two Express (1996, Polygram), a disc that I give regular rotation to this day. Then, you add King Britt, Digable Planets former DJ and the brains behind Sylk 130? "Man, please! This will be written in ten minutes tops."

Fast forward a few months, and this CD sat on my desk, taunting me. Was it just too much? Was it a sensory overload? What would the people at www.okayplayer.com (The Roots website) think? The members there are so fickle (I should know -- I'm one of 'em). I told myself "it's a CD. It's an inanimate object!" The thing was (is), that the disc is so good it intimidated me. I couldn't just drop names of the people involved (the aforementioned bigwigs, plus guest remixers Rob Life, Charlie Dark, Vikter Duplaix and the Randy Watson Experience a.k.a. ?uestlove among others, all hailing from Philly), people would see right through that. Then, I couldn't quote any lyrics from the songs -- it's jazz! I knew I liked it, but how could I express the coolness/funkiness to the masses? The answer lay in the message board of the very website I was so concerned about.

A post on okayplayer.com discussed "cinematic headphone experiences", times in which the music playing in your headphones provides the perfect soundtrack to your surroundings. The Philadelphia Experiment Remixed is best listened to on headphones (really high-end, noise canceling headphones to be exact), and is best described as that -- a cinematic headphone experience.

From the opening notes of Rob Life's Main Mix of "Miles Hit", to the final sounds of the "Mr. Magic" remix, the listener is taken on a multi-genred (is that an actual word?) trek through late night Philadelphia, complete with stops on Brown, Delaware, Diamond, and South streets. Stand out tracks include "Grover the III (Theme to massagejawn.com)", "Grover" remix, and the King Britt Scuba Remix of "Miles Hit".

So, for a melodic trek through the streets of Philly, I strongly suggest picking up The Philadelphia Experiment Remixed. Unfortunately, cheesesteaks are not included.


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Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

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Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

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Curb Your Enthusiasm's well-established characters are reacting to their former selves, rather than inhabiting or reinventing themselves. Thus, it loses the rhythms and inflections that once made the show so consistently, diabolically funny.

In an era of reboots and revivals, we've invented a new form of entertainment: speculation. It sometimes seems as if we enjoy begging for television shows to return more than watching them when they're on the air. And why wouldn't we? We can't be disappointed by our own imaginations. Only the realities of art and commerce get in the way.

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Wars of attrition are a matter of stamina, of who has the most tools with which to keep fighting. A surprising common tool in this collection? Humor.

The name of the game is "normal or abnormal". Here's how you play: When some exceedingly shocking political news pops up on your radar, turn to the person next to you, read them the headline and ask, "is this normal or abnormal?" If you want to up the stakes, drink a shot every time the answer is abnormal. If that's too many shots, alter the rules so that you drink only when things are normal—which is basically never, these days. Hilarious, right?

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