If you haven't heard of The Streets, you should check it out. The band consists of a single guy from Birmingham (UK, not Alabama), Mike Skinner. He produced his first album single-handedly in his parents' basement. I don't think I can put this in any specific genre. It is: cockney, hip-hop, R&B, pop, techno. The lyrics are very clever and gritty and all those other words that critics like, and the timing is charmingly off-kilter and awkward in a way that makes me think of both Nick Cave and various 'outlaw country' artists. The first album, Original Pirate Material, is pretty good as a whole, and has a few songs that are great. The second album, A Grand Don't Come For Free, is on a whole different level. It's a concept album where each song is a snap-shot in a guy's life. Put together, the album is both a discreet story, and a portrait. Some of the songs are hilarious - this is from a song about a fight with his girlfriend:
Don't try and gimme that shit, right?
'Cos, d'you know what I mean?
You're not exactly...fuckin'..y'know..d'you know what I mean?
It don't really matter anymore, d'you know what I mean?
It's hard enough to remember my opinions without remembering my reasons for them
You're confusing me now
I'm not gonna give you an example
I can't remember an example
You do it all the time
You know, that thing that you do
I...look, I can't remember when you last did it can I?
Other songs are so beautiful that they make me want to cry (see Dry Your Eyes and I Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way). Even the songs that don't initially seem to make much impression somehow stay with you. This is definitely not background music. Every time a song comes on the random play on my iPod I either have to stop and listen or skip to the next song. You can't ignore it.

The only downside? I've learned enough British slang to annoy everyone around me.

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