Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The idea of building a pop record out of stolen pieces of other pop records dates back as far as novelty singles like Chubby Checker's "The Class" and Dickie Goodman's "Mr. Jaws," and lately the art of mash-up has gotten so refined that DJs can craft songs that bear almost no resemblance to the songs they're sampling. But Girl Talk's Night Ripper is a throwback party album, in the tradition of Double Dee & Steinski's black-market "Lesson" singles. For 12 tracks and 40 minutes, Girl Talk—a.k.a. Pittsburgh DJ Greg Gillis—piles up instantly recognizable hooks from the likes of James Taylor, Smashing Pumpkins, Kanye West, MIA, Eminem, Billy Squier, The Waitresses, and more than 150 others. The disc is structured as a continuous mix, and Girl Talk rarely repeats the samples, so no one song really exists as a discrete entity. (Though some elements are "rhymed": for example, a snippet of a rap about bouncing breasts plays over the synth-line from The Pointer Sisters' "Jump.") It isn't exactly high art—it's more like a neat parlor trick—but Night Ripper is one of the most purely fun albums to come along since The Go! Team's debut. Pick it up quick, before it gets sued out of existence.

Or play it safer and try The Fix, the debut album by Bay Area retro-funk-soul wizard Nino Moschella. Working on his own in a makeshift studio, Moschella spins loose, likeable fragments of blue-eyed Afrobeat, layered with psychedelic guitar and his own sweet, raspy voice. Radio programmers looking for a substitute for Gnarls Barkley's effortlessly catchy "Crazy" should consider Moschella's brief, bright "Didn't You See Her," a neo-classic that deploys walking bass, trap drums, steel-string guitar, and a spun-sugar melody. Like the rest of The Fix, "Didn't You See Her" has an appealing DIY underdog quality. The album only occasionally veers into facile Jamiroquai/Matisyahu/G. Love territory, and though Moschella is just as brazen as Girl Talk about stealing from the musicians he loves, his handcrafted homage stays on the good side of the law.


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