Keep Their Heads Ringin’ (Fool’s Gold
Records) Freely distributed mixtapes have become a surefire way for DJs and rappers to launch careers, and they often count as innovative albums in their own right. Quite different from traditional CDs, mixtapes steal swaths of material from other artists, latching on to a popular beat if it suits their cause. Telephoned, the sometime duo of DJ Sammy Bananas and R&B chanteuse Maggie Horn, tweak the mixtape format on their freely distributed download mix. Taking their cues from childhood games of telephone, the two cover — rather than sampling — a bevy of top 40 hip-hop/ R&B artists (Gucci Mane, The Dream, Gyptian) alongside their own takes on classics by Led Zeppelin and The Cure. Thanks to Horn’s sultry voice, these covers avoid the fate of being dancefloor novelties and are instead endowed with a sweet sadness. Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be” gets transformed into a bittersweet early-’90s house-music stomper. “Lemonade,” rapper Gucci Mane’s throwaway ode to lemon-scented cannabis, similarly becomes something epic and awe-inspiring thanks to some riffs lifted from the noisepop band Sleigh Bells. Not every track sustains the same quality of fusion, but this is a lovely experiment, swaddled in nostalgia for the ’ 90s era of raves and unabashed sentimental R&B.
— Casey Sanchez