Monday, July 30, 2007

Pow Wow

Song: Pow Wow
Artist: Corey Daye
Album: Pow Wow

Speaking of disco, here is a genuine disco gem you might not know. “Pow Wow” by former Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band vocalist Corey Daye, is an immediately joyful, utterly ridiculous record that you (and your feet) will have a hard time resisting. Mixing a broken heart with, well… sparking up, Corey Daye’s “Pow Wow” is one of two major hits the singer recorded (along with “Green Light”) found on her only solo album.

I thank my good friend Ray for introducing me to this song via some killer disco mixes he made me. (This one entitled “Crisco Disco”… nasty!) Again, another reminder that within the world of music, it is impossible to know it all and there are still untold gems out there awaiting to be discovered. Oh wow!

Something I didn’t know from my research… Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band’s song “Sunshowers” has been sampled by A Tribe Called Quest, Ghostface Killer, De La Soul, Doug E. Fresh, and was the basis of the M.I.A. single of the same name.


See Miss Daye work it out with Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band:


Friday, July 27, 2007

Music Sounds Better With You

Song: Music Sounds Better With You
Artist: Stardust
Album: Music Sounds Better With You

In the world of dance music, specifically more techno/house beat-heavy song, it is rare that a track becomes officially a classic. Dance music can, actually mostly will, become dated in as fast as a year. L.A. Style’s birth-of-techno hit “James Brown is Dead” was mind-blowing in 1991 and seems almost childlike-goofy now. But, I am a huge advocate and supporter of dance music and will argue for its legitimacy in the over-all realm of music.

“Dance music” as we’ve come to know it really began with the birth of disco, possibly the most maligned genre to have come, gone, and come back again in pop history. During the 70’s disco was king, and due to garbage joke tracks like “Disco Duck” and the growing conservatism in the U.S., disco died. Now that dance music has officially come back and house, techno, and even modern day rap and R & B use elements of disco. It is important to go back and hear just how forward thinking and well… MODERN some of this now 30+ year-old music is. Without disco there would have been no New Wave, and I challenge anyone to listen to a track like Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and not be blown away by Giorgio Moroder’s production and damn near “from-the-future” vibe it has. Amazing, even today.

But I’m not really qualified to write a history of disco, I just really want to highlight a not so old, but old enough track that still sounds remarkably fresh. Stardust’s 1998 single “Music Sounds Better With You.” The only song that Stardust would do, it was the collaboration of French House pioneer Alan Braxe, vocalist Benjamin Diamond, and Thomas Bangalter, who would later become one half of Daft Punk. Diamond ended up releasing the amazing “Strange Attitude” LP which I can not recommend more, and then two years ago released the more pop oriented “Out of Myself” which I though was awful.

Braxe’s production work in the French House scene is by now legendary and all of his singles with partner Fred Falke were collected in 2005 on “The Upper Cuts” by Alan Braxe & Friends. It’s a great collection, perfect for a groovy lounge party… I highly recommend it. “Music Sounds Better With You” is thankfully included and is a must for any dance connoisseur… and those that love them. Also worth tracking down is a great mash-up called “Music Sounds Better on Holiday” which mixes in Madonna’s “Holiday” to dizzying ear candy heights. Put that on and watch any party be kicked up to ten. But you can’t touch the original.

Braxe is currently mostly on demand as a remixer (often working with Falke) and I highly recommend his re-working of Annie’s “Heartbeat” and Goldfrapp’s “Number 1” Hot.


The Michel Gondry directed video:

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Iron Lion Zion

Song: Iron Lion Zion
Artist: Bob Marley
Album: Iron Lion Zion

A friend and I were recently discussing Bob Marley, his legend, greatness, etc. and I realized that I don’t know his catalog that well. But I also got thinking about him as an artist and putting him in the context of 2007. While not a huge reggae fan, I was really taken with Bob’s son Stephen’s debut album “Mind Control” that came out earlier this year. He’s almost vocally a dead ringer for his father and while his music balances between classic reggae and updated hip hop, I still found it to sound very classic, or timeless. In the vein of “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” or Common’s recent records.

What struck me was thinking about how positive Bob’s music was and how little of that exists today. The optimism and “one love” vibe of his music is sadly something of the past. We have gotten too use to pessimism and abject irony. But… as a positive guy I do not give up hope! And know that the earth is ready for a re-birth of such, and there has got to be the musician out there that will spearhead this. Could you please stand up?

While “Legend,” the definitive single-disc hits collection, is an absolute MUST for any music fan (if you are to have just ONE reggae album, that should be it) I am sure there are many riches within the Marley canon to be found. Specifically, I remember this track, “Iron Lion Zion” being released around 1992, posthumously, that had a found-footage music video released and played on Alternative Nation or 120 Minutes way back in MTV’s pre-decade old history. It’s a great track, and I am sure there are much more like it to discover.

What’s your favorite Marley track?


Gotta love YouTube… found that video:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Chick Habit

Song: Chick Habit
Artist: April March
Album: Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof

I’m a pretty big Quentin Tarantino fan, have dug the majority of his films since “Reservoir Dogs” and also have great respect for the soundtracks he builds for his movies. While “Death Proof,” half of the double feature “Grindhouse” from this year, may be my least favorite of his films, once again the music he picked was top notch.

I recently heard both “Flowers on the Wall” by the Statler Brothers and “Miserlou” from Dick Dale & His Deltones and immediately thought of “Pulp Fiction” and the scenes the songs were placed in. I often find music has just that power, when played at the right moment either in film or real life… the song becomes married to the memory, either the image you see or the feeling you get. Just another example of the power of music.

Death Proof” is no exception and the closing credits tune “Chick Habit” by April March is once again that just perfect fit. The film is cast mostly with women, bad-ass women to be specific, and the 60’s girl-group vibe fits with the memory of the film. The song is actually from 1995, which I found after some research, as I had convinced myself this was some lost nugget from the 60’s. Also, it is a bit of a remake, based on the Serge Gainsbourg penned song “Laisse Tomber Les Filles” as sung by France Gall (see below.) April March did a straight cover in French, and then penned English lyrics for this version. March is a bit of a music eccentric as well, singing mostly in French by way of New England. She’s also a cartoon animator and has worked on a variety of shows and movies including “Ren & Stimpy” and the Madonna disaster “Who’s That Girl.”

The rest of the “Death Proof” soundtrack is recommended. It’s one obscure song after another all pretty good. Another favorite is the sexy “Baby, It’s You” by Smith, which is actually a Shirelles cover.


The trailer to “Death Proof”

Laisse Tomber Les Filles

A video of sorts with “Death Proof” footage

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Piano

Song: My Piano
Artist: Hot Chip
Album: DJ Kicks

While we wait for the new Hot Chip record, due out sometime this year, I have been enjoying their only new song officially released, “My Piano.” The song is taken from their DJ Kicks compilation that was released earlier this year. It is a fun little ditty, built on (duh) a killer piano vamp that runs throughout the song.

Their new record is supposed to be a bit more organic, recorded live and featuring less loops. I sort of like Hot Chip as they are, but I will hold off judgment until I actually hear some of the new music. Though while the loops may be gone, new track “I Became a Volunteer,” which can be heard on their MySpace Page, is totally Hot Chip. Long live geek techno!


The video for “Over & Over”

And my favorite Hot Chip tune, “Boy From School”

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hold On

Song: Hold On
Artist: KT Tunstall
Album: Drastic Fantastic

When I first heard “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” by KT Tunstall I was pretty taken. It became, mostly through word of mouth, a huge success and rocketed KT’s debut “Eye to the Telescope” to the top of the charts in the UK. She also found success in America, and got some needed exposure when Katherine McPhee performed an on the floor sexed-up version of the song during the 5th season of American Idol.

Unfortunately I was a little disappointed with the debut as a whole, finding nothing as gripping as “Black Horse,” and some of it downright boring. But, I do think she is a talented songwriter and I’m very interested in what she does for her follow up. Lead single from the new album “Drastic Fantastic,” due in September, “Hold On” is another slice of up-beat blues-folk rock. She doesn’t mess with the formula, and again while not as arresting as “Black Horse” it still packs a punch and is immediately enjoyable.

“Drastic Fantastic” has such a crazy cover, it looks like she’s recorded a disco-metal record. A, e-hem, drastic change from the folk-chick look she sported on the debut. Could she have some interesting tricks up her sleeve?


Here is a clip of the tune live on Today:

And the video for “Back Horse and the Cherry Tree”

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fall For You

Song: Fall for You
Artist: Kylie Minogue
Album: White Diamond?

Recently, new tracks from Kylie Minogue’s eagerly awaited 10th studio album, the follow up to 2003’s “Body Language,” were leaked to the Internet. Many have suspected that this is a marketing ploy to build early buzz for the album, which the label said was ridiculous. Regardless if they were stolen, leaked on purpose, or done in error… we have new Kylie to talk about people!

While not confirmed yet, the album is rumored to be titled “White Diamond” (I can’t believe this) or Kylie X (for her 10th album, which I also can’t really believe.) She is working once again with the Scissor Sisters and electro newcomer Calvin Harris, as well as Groove Armada and Boy George. It has also been said that she has done a LOT of songs with a LOT of people all in the hopes to make a huge comeback after her bout with cancer. (Though, after a successful greatest hits double disc, and the recent news that home girl made 4.5 million quid last year despite being sick, I’m not sure what she has to comeback from.) She hopes to have her first single blow “Can’t get You Out of My Head” out of the water… not a small task as that still remains her biggest world-wide hit to date.

Of the five songs that I heard, I am pretty certain that they are not completely mixed and possibly demos. None of them sound very Scissor Sister or Groove Armada-like to me, and none have the immediate pop charms of “Can’t Get You” but after all, this is Kylie… and I sort of worship everything she does. “Fall For You” has some crazy noises peppered throughout and is so high energy it dares you not to bop along. “In My Arms” is also a favorite, could be the Calvin Harris track with it’s 80’s-esque electro vibe, and fits right in with Kylie’s recent sex-kitten yet innocent thing she’s been working for her past three records. The others are more current sounding electro-pop, not totally mind blowing, but very enjoyable.

Time will tell if these are final versions that will end up on the album, or if they are just teasers and not on the record at all. (THAT would be hot) We’ll see.


Here is a clip of her performing the song “White Diamond,” also rumored for the new record:

A few great Kylie videos:


Come into My World

Love At First Sight

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Don't Stop Believing (DJ Teva Sway Beat Remix)

Song: Don't Stop Believing (DJ Teva Sway Beat Remix)
Artist: Journey
Album: N/A

All of last week I spent in the wonderful beach vacation village called Provincetown at the very end tip of Cape Cod, MA. I have been going annually for the past several years and continue to enjoy the town, the crowd it draws, and the beach and pool(s) respectively. As in the past, I am always interested in the music I’ll hear over the week from the DJ’s they bring in and see what I know and what I don’t. Unfortunately, as P-Town is a pretty thriving gay resort, the music tends to be almost strictly house music, and heavy on remixes. Because, you know, that’s only what the homos listen to.

Despite my cranky attitude (am I the only one that would like to hear some ROCK from time to time?) I do enjoy dance music to a certain degree so it’s not like the whole situation is AWFUL for me, and besides… listening to other DJ’s, no matter what they play, makes you a better DJ yourself.

Not only do you have the club and bar tunes to keep up with in the evening, every single day at the Boatslip pool/bar is a “tea dance” that goes from 4 – 7 PM. This way, it is possible to basically get a buzz going in the late afternoon and carry that on until early the following morning, but for me… if I go to tea dance it means my night is going to be cut short, I just don’t have the energy… maybe I’m getting older. Anyhow, tea dance music is comprised of almost exclusively house remixes. In past years the packed dance floor (about 150-200 people) would boogie down to thumping remixes of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “Behind These Hazel Eyes” and then of course another recent classic… The Pussycat Dolls “Don’t Cha.” I’d love to know if this was intentional as the writers of the song MUST have known it would be a hit with homos but the sight of over a hundred men sing along (mostly shirtless) to “Don’t-cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me” is really something to behold, and gives the song a totally different meaning. [Poor straight girls, now they not only have to worry about the Pussycat Dolls stealing their man… but now gay men that are no doubt probably prettier than they. Life is unusually cruel.]

This year the tradition of remixing female pop songs was no different. “U + Your Hand” by Pink seemed to be played daily, and despite not being fresh, Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” got the dance floor treatment and the boys ate it up. They all knew the lyrics and again… there is something fun and “community-feeling” about a group of people all singing along to a song, and in the case of “Irreplaceable,” just another bitter lover taking a stand from a no-good ex. Gay men love this stuff, as evident by Deborah Cox’s entire career. Also big was a remix of the 80’s hit “Stand Back” by my love, Stevie Knicks. No stranger to the remix, Stevie has already seen her Fleetwood Mac hit “Dreams” re-worked for the dance floor by Deep Dish, as well as a White Label version of “Sara.” It is also worth noting that a dance version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Never Again” was HUGELY popular despite all the talk that the song hasn’t really caught on. I’m sorry… if you have a packed room of homo’s singing along and knowing every word it’s a h, hands down.

It might now be officially the song of the summer, as evident in its daily play at tea consistently, AND its ubiquity on pop radio, but my favorite of the daily songs I heard was Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” a vaguely sexual song that I have little idea what she’s talking about or for that matter what words she’s saying. But alas, after a good hour and a half of buzz building I found myself in the middle of that dance floor singing along. “When the sun shines we shine together, supple-up means do gree… whatever. We will always be together suck ‘em dreams, stick it out till the end…” (that is from memory of course, no google-ing) And then she stretches the word “Umbrella” into a whole chorus… “Ella…ella…ella…,” Brilliant! I’ve had a chance to preview her entire record and man if it doesn’t sound like a hits machine. She should see more “Umbrella” sized smashes come from it, and I am pleased to report that she doesn’t stick to tired Ashanti-like pop R & B and flirts with rock and electro-pop. Hot.

My favorite “out of left field” remix had to be the closing song at the very house(and dirty)-minded Fireman’s Ball on Friday night… none other than a throbbing, grab you, remix of Journey’s so-hot-right-now “Don’t Stop Believing.” While the Soprano’s finale was the obvious impetus of the selection, they chose to let the song go all the way to the end where I, just for effect, would have cut if off at the final chorus just as the show did, “Don’t stop…. SILENCE.” It would have been cruel maybe, but surely would have been the talk of the town the following day.

The DJ Teva Sway Beat Remix isn’t the one that was played that night, but my favorite of the ones I found. (I still don’t know where these DJ’s get their remixes, I often can never find the one I’ve heard out.) What I did find was that the song absolutely needed a dancy start, then a sudden cut to the familiar piano vamp from the beginning of the song sans any beats. Each remix seemed to follow this pattern as it just plain WORKS. As the music builds, only then do the beats come back, hard & heavy. I do distinctly remember this happening with the one that was played, and all the boys stopped for a second and swayed until the song picked up again.


Here is the band doing the song live:


And in case you have been living under a rock (or don't have HBO)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Wanna Be (w/Lily Allen)

Song: Wanna Be (w/Lily Allen)
Artist: Dizzee Rascal
Album: Maths & English

London born Dizzee Rascal burst onto the "Grime" scene back in 2003 just as the new electronic based hip hop was making waves in the media and record buying public. "Maths & English" is Dizzee's third full length album and has already been met with pretty universal good reviews. He's gone for a more 80's hip hop vibe on the record, as evident from the Rob Base sampling early leaked track "Pussyhole."

While I have liked some of Dizzee's songs, I will be honest and say that his style wears on me, and hard to get through a full album of his material. I appreciate it more than anything else as it's great to have hip hop that exists outside the tired recycled R&B beats and violence saturated negativity that you find in most popular hip hop. Because of his style, despite superstar status in the UK and Europe he's never had a hit in America, despite hip hop being the most popular genre here.

Lead single "Sirens" is vintage Dizzee, but for the pop lover in me I immediately fell for the Lily Allen duet "Wanna Be" that contains an infectious lyrical hook from Allen which, thanks to my musical theater minded boyfriend, I now is lifted from "So You Wanna Be a Boxer" from the show Bugsy Malone. You'll love it... and won't be able to get it out of your head!


Maths & English lead single "Sirens"

One of my favorite Dizze tracks "Stand Up Tall"

"So You Wanna Be a Boxer" from Bugsy Malone

Monday, July 02, 2007

How I Feel

Song: How I Feel
Artist: Kelly Clarkson
Album: My December

So much has been made of Kelly's fight with her record label over the content of "My December" (read about it here and here)it's hard not to listen to it with all these questions... Is it "pop" enough? Is it depressing? Is it a sad documentation of a a young artist losing it in the face of great success? Is there anything as good as "Since You've Been Gone???"

After being able to listen to "My December" I've decided that the whole thing stinks of a media stunt. The facts are "My December" sounds less like a musical jump than that of from "Thankful" to the blockbuster "Breakaway." It sounds like a Kelly Clarkson record... it just might be what most pop records aren't... cohesive. Kelly has made her first "album," and yet it contains a good amount of possible hit singles.

At this point, I am so suspect of the media, the press, and how they are trying to sell records I am trying to throw out everything I "know" about the record and just listen. So while I immediate had thoughts about Kelly taking the reigns of her career, getting a piece of the songwriting pie, etc. etc. what I really keep thinking about is how much I've grown to LIKE Kelly. "Since You've Been Gone" was one of those hits that come along once in a lifetime and actually, I can't think of another major pop hit that was still accceptable by the hipsters. And while lead single "Never Again" has "stalled" at radio (meaning it isn't "Since You've Been Gone II") it's not a bad song, and like most re-treads just doesn't have what "Gone" did. Oh well.

I say let the music speak for itself. I dig the straight up dirty rock of third track "Hole," and the New Wave kick of "How I Feel." Actually, as I skip through the songs to pick a favorite I am finding it tough going. "My December" is a solid pop-rock record and do NOT listen to those ridiculous Evanescence comparisons... "My December" the album isn't manufactured drama, even if this "feud" is.


Never Again