Brooklyn’s Project Jenny, Project Jan (comprising neither a Jenny nor a Jan but rather programmer/keyboardist Sammy Rubin and vocalist Jeremy Haines) makes cluttered-desktop art pop and kitchen-sink dance rock. Things don’t get any less confusing or fun on the new The Colors EP, a five-song effort featuring collaborations with Fujiya & Miyagi, Mixel Pixel and others. Considering Project Jenny, Project Jan’s exceptionally wide musical canvas (not to mention their appearance in Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist), we asked Rubin to compile his own personal hit parade.
“You Said” (featuring So Percussion) (download):
JEFFREY LEWIS “The East River” (2002)
Perfect NYC song. Not only do you get a great geography lesson, but you can hear the streets of New York in the background. As you can for this whole album; I think he did it on a four-track in his apartment or something.
MENAHAN STREET BAND “Make The Road By Walking” (2008)
Like many people, I only heard this track after Jay-Z sampled it for “Roc Boys (And The Winner Is),” which he must have done while the ink was still drying on the vinyl. Menahan Street Band is part of the Dap-Kings crew and specializes in that authentic ’60s soul sound. All the players do it right, and the melody is $BOOM$.
MENOMENA “Wet And Rusting” (2007)
Great sounds (instruments and otherwise), arrangement and production. There’s a lot happening in this song. The drums are exciting, the piano is urgent and ominous. There was obviously a lot of thought and care put into making this song. And I love the line “It’s hard to take risks with a pessimist.”
DONALD BYRD BAND & VOICES “Cristo Redentor” (1963)
This composition is simple enough (though it actual plays a chordal trick on you that you may not notice unless you’ve got an instrument handy), but it has an incredible amount of depth. And Donald Byrd absolutely kills by repeating the melody over and over and simply varying it a bit each time. Herbie’s taking names on piano, too.
KOOL KEITH “Aliens” (2006)
Produced by One Watt Sun. Eerie and hard hitting. Check out the use of applause, the piano having a blast in the back and the trumpet solo in the end. Also how Kool Keith’s voice is spliced up. The first time I heard this song and it got to the part that speeds up, I nearly lost it. “With two cans of that’s right, we came dangerous.”
TOM ZÉ “Tô” (1975)
I could have just as easily put on any other track from the Estudando O Samba album. This song always put me in a good mood.
BRIAN HYLAND “Sealed With A Kiss” (1962)
Beautiful song. It’s mournful and tender, and probably nostalgic for lots of us.
LYKKE LI “Little Bit” (2008)
I love Lykke Li and Björn Yttling’s whole electronic/live aesthetic in general. She kills the second verse (starting at “For you … “) by dropping all these little melodic surprises like presents.
SHUGGIE OTIS “Strawberry Letter 23” (1974)
Another summertime (at least I think of it) love song. Play this at your next rooftop BBQ right after some Mary Wells.
OP8 “Cracklin’ Water” (1997)
A kind-of duet between Lisa Germano and Howe Gelb, this track is perfectly built. It’s raw as hell, happy and sad, sweet and salty. It has a great chorus toward the end that hits you right when you need it. I love how Germano sounds desperate and floating, pathetically in love.