Mr. Vacation and Brett Burton spin the finest Soul, Funk and Disco records for your dancing and drinking pleasure from 11-4, need we say more?
Mr. Vacation and Brett Burton spin the finest Soul, Funk and Disco records for your dancing and drinking pleasure from 11-4, need we say more?
I thought I’d kick off the 2015 with a new mixtape. This one’s more laid back than my usual selections. I went a little ADHD on some weird disco, electro oddities and a bit of early house. It’s probably more of a repeat listen type thing, so if you don’t get it on the first try, it’s your fault. All kidding aside though, if you don’t record this on cassette immediately and pop it in the tape deck of your car, you’re doing something wrong. This is the soundtrack for your winter drive to the outlet mall to buy some post holiday marked down Pumas.
#2 – Do It Again by Royksopp & Robyn
With its elastic synths, four-on-the-floor thump and anthemic chorus, this collaboration between Royksopp and Robyn could easily have drifted into the realm of over-the-top schlock pop. And yet, as with so many tracks featuring Robyn at the helm, there’s an extra layer of emotional intensity that’s absent from much of the dance music that climbs the charts. It’s partly due to the restraint she shows in front of the microphone- even at the song’s peak, when delivering the lines “Don’t care what they say / it hurts so good / I don’t wanna stop / I know I should,” Robyn doesn’t oversell the song. She sounds strong, but vulnerable- an emotional combination we’ve all experienced at some point. Maybe that’s why we can’t help but sing along.
#5 – Madhouse by Kimbra
This first entry in my list of faves from 2014 could easily be mistaken for a forgotten gem from 25 years before. A Rhythm Nation-era Janet b-side, perhaps? Or maybe a shelved take from some long-lost session at Prince’s Paisley Park? Retro, as we know, can easily come off as cloying nostalgia, or even just plain lazy, but all should be forgiven when the results are this good. New Zealander Kimbra Johnson mines the New Jack Swing-era pretty heavily on “Madhouse,” but by doing it so enthusiastically, and so well, it’s impossible not to get taken in by the sheer joy of it.
JKriv, the man behind nu-disco label Deep & Disco and a DJ/producer in his own right, got a chance to remix YDH2S faves Escort for their recent Remixed compilation, and he turned the Brooklyn disco orchestra’s sound into a summery, retro-vibe of a house track. JKriv casts a warm glow on what was originally a chilly piece of electro-disco, adding vintage drum machines and prime 1990s house piano plinks, upping our nostalgia for summers long gone as we hunker down here for a winter spell.
This track, along with the rest of the Escort Remixed collection, is available here on iTunes.
I wrote this a few weeks back, but then Escort decided to hold off on promoting the remixes until the single officially dropped. So now I’m reposting. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…
Escort’s Camèleon Chameleon had a lot of good stuff going on before The Black Russian Party got their hands on it. The track was a nice pop-disco romp with jaunty horns and catchy sprinklings of keyboards. Fun and danceable but maybe a bit on the tame side. The Black Russian Party, Rok One and Mike Dextro, held onto what worked in the original mix, and upgraded the bass to a springy electro bounce. They open with some drums from the Yazoo school and then send the percussion ricocheting off the walls with dubby delay. Cranking the tempo from 112 up to about 120 and finishing with some latin percussion gives the remix sort of a Tom Tom Club meets Jimmy Castor Bunch alt-disco feel. This is only the second remix from this crew, following an awesome reworking of Washed Up by the Glass, but something tells me they’ve just begun. Make way for the Siberian Soundsystem.
Crazy P – “Stop Space Return (Hot Toddy Remix)”
With the musical floodgates open wide these days (thanks to blogs and clouds and everything else) it’s easy for some great tunes to get lost in the deluge. Case in point for me is this track by Crazy P– I’d grabbed it from some dusty corner of the internet a few years back, but it wasn’t til it popped up on my shuffle a few months ago that I realized just how fantastic it is. The original, a delicious piece of bubbling electro in its own right, is the title track from their 2008 album (and the first not issued under the band’s old moniker, Crazy Penis (good choice to drop the ‘enis, eh?)). Band member Chris Todd, aka Hot Toddy, gives the song a disco makeover, adding scratch ‘n’ vamp guitars and a laidback bass under singer Danielle Moore’s slinky vocal, upping the sex appeal even more. I’ve been dropping it in DJ sets ever since my re-discovery and it never fails to turn some heads, bobbing and bouncing along, and making me wonder- what else do I need to re-dig out of my overstuffed digital crates?
I was looking for some good rainy day music, and I stumbled on a couple tracks. FPU is known for his cover of the Jan Hammer Miami Vice staple, Crockett’s Theme, which was a big electroclash-era tune that, unlike most of its contemporaries, aged really well. He put out an album’s worth of material under the FPU moniker entitled Traxxdata, and just about every song is a gem. Here’s a particularly rainy one called Endgame I like a lot.
And here’s an original tune by the Noodleman that he’s graciously given out as a free download. I love the ominous Twin Peaks-ish bed synths. Throw in Moroder-esque bassline, a few plinky plonky leads and I’m sold. Break out your umbrellas, it’s gonna be a doozy.
/// Brian Blackout
Dutch producers Kraak & Smaak first blipped on my DJ radar last year when they dropped a boogie-funk edit of their single “Dynamite” (intoning the synth & rubber groove of the genre’s forefathers, Zapp & Roger), which was perfect for taking parties from that early-first-or-second-drink vibe to the let’s-turn-this-place-into-a-sweatbox-frenzy peak-hour set. Now they’re back with a new track, “Built for Love,” featuring Romanthony on the mic (the voice on Daft Punk’s “One More Time”), which has a nice, nighttime, cool-breeze sound to it, but I’m putting my cash on this Psychemagik remix. The UK duo forfeits the open-air approach of the original for a production packed tight with sound, heavy with a 4/4 disco-house pulse. I bet it can take an open-air dance floor and pack it tight with bodies, too.
Psychemagik’s remix of “Built For Love,” as well as the original single and remixes by Roach Motel, are available as an EP on Beatport.
Bon Iver drummer S. Carey just dropped a gorgeous little EP called Hoyas on the Jagjaguwar label, a tightly wrapped box of songs built for after-afterparties, late-night highway driving, general insomnia, or just plain headphone head-drifts. This track, “Avalanche”, gives a pretty apt synopsis- chilled synths and stark beats with plenty of space in between, it could almost be an electro-tone-poem to that vast dome of sky over Carey’s Wisconsin home, all those stars trembling blue in the frozen winter night. Cold, a little sad, and completely lovely.
Owl Eyes is Australian Brooke Addamo. The first single off her unnamed, yet-to-be released album is Crystalized. It’s not on soundcloud yet and Addamo’s web presence doesn’t amount to much more than a Facebook page, and a one-sentence wikipedia entry. She had two minor hits that didn’t make it far out of the Australian singles chart. Further digging turns up that Addamo got her start as a finalist on Australian Idol. Some might count that as a strike against her, but hey, I’ll trade for Kelly Clarkson. Since You Been Gone is fun and all, but Owl Eyes lays her pop hooks over a simmering dancefloor banger that will have even the most uptight hipsters spilling their gin and tonics as they move to its infectious beat.
Crystalized is polished in the way we’ve come to expect from Aussie dance pop. It has that sheen that Kylie made great use of, but the chord changes and particularly the rhythm have a real 80’s Freestyle thing going on. The simple stop start bass is the musical crack sauce you usually find slathered on a Tony Butler or Midnight Star single. The high keyboard melody is a little Lisa Lisa and the hand claps seal the deal. Clocking at just three minutes and forty seconds, Owl Eyes is unapologetically poppy. But don’t dismiss her, when the chorus drops on this track, people are gonna lose their shit. I can’t wait for this to get remixed.
Believe me, I’m as shocked as you are that I’m blogging about a Deadmau5 song.
On its own, Deadmau5 stands for everything that I hate about music that tries to make you dance. It’s bland. It’s uninteresting. I don’t get it. And quite frankly, I don’t want to get it. Deadmau5 is the McDonald’s Big Mac of dance music – some people love this shit, but I don’t want anything to do with it.
However, this is a sun-kissed Madeon remix. And it completely changes everything you may or may not know about this song.
When I was at Coachella, I saw the 18-year-old French DJ perform in the Sahara. It wasn’t even close: at a festival where I witnessed great sets from Pulp, Radiohead, Jacques Lu Cont, Florence & the Machine and Bon Iver, Madeon emerged at the top of the musical scrap heap with the biggest beaming smile I’ve ever seen in a live musical performance. Madeon completely aced his time on the stage, coming off as a little kid grooving wildly in front of a bedroom boombox. There was no ego. Only smiles – and that’s how this song feels to me.
What I learned at Coachella is that Madeon is the future. I’m fully convinced that he’s going to be the voidfiller that replaces James Murphy in my dance music universe. Nearly a year after LCD Soundsystem’s breakup, I was trying to figure out how I was going to recover.
This is how.
Raise your gun. Raise your weapon. Dance real hard.
– Mister Disco
You Don’t Have To Settle’s Dope Werewolf just hurled his latest mix into the world and it took my ears on one hell of a joyride. The title, How To Wreck a Nice Beat, points to Dave Tompkin’s recent book How To Wreck a Nice Beach on the history of the vocoder, and, much like that machine, which shatters human speech into tiny electronic shards and reconstitutes it for maximum robotic effect, this mix digests dance music from the ‘60s forward- witness The Trashmen’s bird-surfing “Papa-ooh-mow-mow”s getting spun into the Human Beatbox’s punctuated dry heaves and Penguin Prison’s nu-disco stomp to dizzying effect- and spits out a swirl of far-flung reference points that always manages to somehow stay cohesive. Absorbing globe-stepping sounds from Senegal (Ndiogou Seck) and Brazil (Tom Zé), as well as rolling German electro-fathers Kraftwerk and their Bronx funk son Afrika Baambaataa into a tightly rolled ball of synthetic sheen and analog pulse right in the middle of the mix, this set showcases Dope Werewolf’s skills not just as well-honed DJ, but as a full-on dance floor ethnomusicologist. Break out your pens and notebooks, kids, class is definitely in session.
Dope Werewolf will be DJing along with the rest of the YDH2S crew at Ugly Rhino’s Cinco De Mayo blowout on Saturday May 5th at the Magic Futurebox in Brooklyn. Full details are here.
Last week, Mister Disco pinged me from his Verizon Wireless 4GLTE smartphone, bummed that he’d just heard one of our favorite tracks from last year, the Moullinex remix of “Cairo” by Kamp!, underneath a Guess jeans ad. Sure, it fit the vibe of lithe bodies posturing in streamlined denim, but we both felt we’d lost a little something. Maybe it was our inner-teenagers still clinging to the ragged notion that we’re defined more by the music we like than the products we own, or maybe we just knew if we ever dropped the tune in a DJ set again, someone would inevitably come up and ask if it was that song from the Guess commercial. Of course, this isn’t anything to get pouty about, it’s just how musicians pay the rent these days, and if someone offered me cash to tie my name to the Macbook Pro I flipped open to type this piece, I’d discreetly wipe the drool from my chin and immediately sign on the dotted line.
Anyway, I came across a great song by up-and-coming Brooklyn band Xylos this week. Their new single “Summerlong” is sweet slice of electropop, tinged with a bit of melancholy on top, seeming to opine for a time that’s past (“We could make it like we did all summerlong”), and probably won’t be coming back. There’s not much on their website or Facebook page in the way of background or bio info, though contact emails are provided for their legal representation at Carroll, Guido & Groffman, LLP, as well as syncing and licensing via Universal Music Publishing Group, which makes me think we’ll be hearing this song in an ad for AmEx or Vitaminwater soon enough. And that’s fine by me. The band gets paid, and I get to hit the sidewalks this summer in my Puma TT Supers, cranking the Koss KSC75s every time this jam shuffles up on my iPhone 3GS (gotta upgrade soon), waiting for that chant-a-long chorus of outstretched “Whoa-ohs” to grab me by the ears and carry me off smiling and shining, claiming the syncing rights to “Summerlong” as the soundtrack to my own blissed-out afternoon.
Stockholm based Daniel Savio aka Kool DJ Dust is perhaps best known as the man who coined the term Skweee. The name, derived from squeezing wild sounds out of his Roland Alpha Juno synth is what the swedes call their bleepy blippy techno hip-hop hybrid. With his new self-titled release out on Dodpop, Savio manages to show maturity and restraint in a genre that was built on over-doing it.
My biggest criticism of 8-bit music has always been that the palette was too small. When every instrument is sampled off a game boy, it winds up sounding like it. Savio avoids this by striking a balance between lush production (you know, reverb), and upfront acid leads. It still sounds like Skweee, but the floor is a little heavier, the synths a bit creepier and the string parts more epic. Savio has always been forward thinking and generally funkier than some of his cohorts. The track, Inseminoid is a perfect example. With jagged syncopated synth arpeggiations, crunchy bass and trashcan drums, it wouldn’t be out of place on a Mr. Oizo album.
The album’s single, Revolt is built on Kraftwerk Robot stile bloops and a driving 16th beat electro high hat. On top of everything are metallic stabs and searing SID leads. The video is weird, dark and awesome.
Voice of the Voiceless is like Trans Europe Express’s fucked up brother that no one talks about. Let’s Split revs to a start with a Rad Racer engine sound before dropping into ethereal Yellow Magic Orchestra funk. The whole album owes equal debt to video game music and early techno and house. It’s Megaman meets Megatron Man. Hopefully Savio continues to push his music to darker places and defy the boundaries set by the genre that he helped create.
While French electro troupe The Shoes wait to see if it pays to cast Jake Gyllenhaal in your latest video as a loner exacting revenge on the world for not landing a spot on the US Olympic fencing team (featuring 80s-style-training-sequence shots of pec deck butterfly reps and treadmill sweat!), the rest of us can enjoy this remix by fellow Frenchman and Ed Banger affiliate SebastiAn. Monsieur SebastiAn drops the tempo a couple notches so you don’t need to be triple maxxxed on a treadmill to catch the groove, and amps up the arms-in-the-air factor by zoning in on the best part of the song- that spell-a-long chant explaining that it’s finally “T-I-M-E-T-O-D-A-N-C-E in the city!” Yep, there are similarities to another French electro-disco jam crammed with spelling bee aficionados and pop/slap bass, but when you’ve got an anthem on your hands, why mess with the recipe?
Back in my college heyday, Chromeo was the band that bridged the musical gap between the salty hipsters and the wayward frat dudes who would wander their way down a country road and light things on fire in my backyard. If there was a struggle over the living room iPod between whether or not to play Annie or Chingy, simply putting on “Fancy Footwork” was the easiest way to settle the score and send people into a frenzy.
“Night by Night” as remixed by Shreddie Mercury (Sidenote: What is this, your roller derby name, guy?) isn’t just a way to settle the score; it’s the hi-score. Mix a dash of chiptune with some fuzzy Ed Banger attitude and you’ll get a dance floor jam that sounds like a Mega Man boss fight when it hits its apex.
Pay attention when you hear this one on the dancefloor. You might see Dr. Wily & Dr. Light engaging in a dance off under the disco ball.
– Mister Disco
In the last few years, a wave of garage rock and surf bands popped up, possibly in reaction to the 130 beat-per-minute songs and heavily distorted bass arpeggiators of post-Justice electro. Maybe it’s the natural order of things. Disco ran it’s course and was replaced by supposedly “real” music. Electroclash in the early ’00s was immediately followed by a return to guitar rock via the Strokes and White Stripes. Now that everyone has had a some time off, grown beards, brewed their own beer, pickled everything they could, and ran their hand-crafted rocking chair business into the ground, we can take the synthesizers and drum machines out of the closet and get back to business.
Frankie Rose seems to think so. The former member of Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, and Vivian Girls is by no means typical in terms of dance music. Rose steals the slinky surf leads and reverb-drenched guitars of her former scene and sets them adrift over epic landscapes of synth pads and pulsing bass. Think the Ventures meets Vangelis. The results are minimal, psychedelic, spaced out and sexy.
Montreal’s Claire Boucher is another artist who seems to have traded her pachouli for patch cables. After being kicked out of Montreal’s McGill University for missing over a year of classes, she built a 20-foot houseboat. Christening it the “Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, she and her then boyfriend took the names “Varuschka” and “Zelda Xox” for themselves and Mark Twain-ed it down the Mississippi. They got as far as Minnesota where, in true hippie radical fashion, they ran afoul of the man. The boat and its cargo of live chickens were impounded and Claire began looking for a new alias. Now signed to 4AD, she’s called Grimes. Her follow up to the wild bohemian nautical adventure is a new full length LP of sleek, polished electro-pop.
With programmed beats and disco baselines back in rotation, maybe it’s time to put away the mustache wax and hang up the flannel.
Ever since some Bronx parking lot DJ plugged his decks into a lamppost and crossfaded “Trans Europe Express” into James Brown, electronic music’s been looking past its stiff, synthetic backbone to find its inner rubber-limbed soul. Add one more notch to this legacy with Shit Hot Soundsystem’s remix of Daft Punk. The Sussex-based DJ spreads his syncopated cowbell and agogo rolls all over the French droids’ beat, making it looser than ever. Layer in that monotonic babble from the lipless robot baby and you can feel the friction build- a rigid, animatronic vocal rubbing up against all that loose-jointed percussion, setting off sparks, til a blast furnace bassline lashes out just under the two minute mark and the whole damn thing catches fire.
Unless you’ve been stuck beneath a rusted out Volvo under the BQE, you’ve probably heard of Gotye. The Belgian has somebody been making waves with “Somebody That I Used To Know” – a song I was pretty lukewarm on, but knew would be poised for a really solid remix.
Apaprently, ponder and you shall receive. The blog gods opened up the sky and spit down more remixes of this track than Rick Santorum has problems with brown people. The problem is, every single remix was as underwhelming as the original track.
Until, that is, some dude I’ve never heard of called The Fat Rat dropped his take on the song. For the first 90 seconds or so, I was pretty unimpressed until the thunderous bass line kicked in supported by some strings. Suddenly, it’s simultaneously 1995 and 2006 – the exact cross section between the heyday of Ed Banger Records and Phil Collins inspired vocals circa Genesis, and that’s not so bad.
– Mister Disco