As promised last month, this is a reminder that the Frames' "Burn the Maps" is now available for download on iTunes and most other music stores, and that you really, really should download the amazing opening track, "Happy," which goes from a Radiohead-style jittery, paranoid verse to a wide-open, gloriously expansive chorus. Also grab "Finally," a love-triangle song ("When you've found something so good it's hard to focus on what's right") in which Glen Hansard takes his deceptively weak voice and pushes it up to an improbably fist-pumping, powerful chorus.
Also new on iTunes this week: an extraordinary new single called "1 Thing" by Amerie. Her singing leaves me cold, but the track itself, produced by Rich Harrison (the man behind "Crazy in Love"), is genius. It's just a few guitar stabs and a whole lot of drums, and although it's fairly transparent where the samples begin and end, and how they're clipped together, the whole thing still has the feel of a blistering, raucous jam, nearly out-of-control with excitement and energy. There are also a couple of moments of woozy, surreal synth strings -- gorgeously incongruous within the raw, live feel of the rest of the track -- which remind me, in the way they are deployed, of the few little snatches of fusion-y keyboard harmony dropped like oases into Snoop Dogg and Pharrell's otherwise bone-dry "Drop It Like It's Hot." Apparently Harrison and Amerie made the track last June, and her label (Sony) hated it, the fools. Somehow it got leaked to Internet radio in the U.K. and started making waves there -- hence the current U.S. release as a single.
And a moment of comic relief: R. Kelly seems to have two basic modes, the nostalgic, utopian sweetheart of songs like "World's Greatest" and the sublime "Happy People," and the almost farcically dirty sex fiend of the equally brilliant "Ignition" (not to mention real life). His new single, "In the Kitchen," is vintage Kelly sleaze, from the first line ("Girl, you're in the kitchen, cooking me a meal/ Something makes me want to come in there and get a feel") to the chorus ("Sex in the kitchen over by the stove/ Put you on the counter by the buttered rolls"). But lines like "Cutting up tomatoes, fruits and vegetables and potatoes/ Girl, you looks so sexy while you're doing the damn thang I want," and the inevitable "Girl, I'm ready to toss your salad," push the song from creepiness into pure silliness. This is going to be a regular on party mix tapes at my house.