Monday, March 31, 2008

PoP! Goes My Heart

Song: PoP! Goes My Heart
Artist: PoP! (Hugh Grant)
Album: Music & Lyrics - Music from the Motion Picture

For the most part, romantic comedies, as a genre, pretty much leave me cold. They are usually contrived and annoying, or worse yet… filled with “cringe” moments, times when you see the set up for something a mile away and yet the annoying characters prat-fall their way straight into it. (Basically the last eight years of Ben Stiller’s career.) I’m a fan of romantic comedies that have more going on. The romance can be the heart of the story… but there needs to be more to the plot. I think “Jerry Maguire” is quite underrated in this respect, as it not only has the personal story of a brink-of-a-breakdown sports agent, but a romance. And my favorite romantic comedy, “Working Girl” is not only about the romance between Tess Mcgill and Jack Trainer, but ladder climbing in the corporate world, as well as a Cinderella story on top of that.

Last years “Music & Lyrics” isn’t a GREAT romantic comedy on par with those favorites of mine, but it’s not annoying, maybe just a touch contrived… but coasts along on the charms of its stars, and at the heart is about something I’m quite passionate about… music! And what I love most about the movie is how much fun they have with the music and the characters, as types. Hugh Grant plays an aging pop star from the 80’s (think Wham!) whom is asked to write a song for a Britney Spears-like singer named Coco who wants to upgrade her current image to something more spiritual. (Her last single was the successful but empty, “Welcome to Bootytown”) Drew Barrymore plays the temporary plant lady who happens to come up with brilliant lyrics because Hugh cannot. (Okay, yes it’s a little contrived.)

What made the movie fun for me was seeing and hearing “fake” songs written for the movie worked into the plot. The film opens with a retro video from the aforementioned 80’s band (called “PoP!”) where we get to see Hugh and his former band mate in black and white outfits with skinny ties and goofy 80’s dancing. The song is called “PoP! Goes My Heart” and it’s a silly, super-catchy slice of retro cheese. It’s got the cheesy lyrics and sound effects that make you think you are just listening to a lost gem from ABC or Spandau Ballet. All the little nuances are there, very funny. I also can’t stop listening to it.

The majority of the songs were written by Fountains of Wayne and Ivy alum Adam Schlesinger who, besides writing “Stacy’s Mom” also wrote and received an Oscar and Golden Globe nod for the theme song from “That Thing You Do!” I planned on writing almost strictly about Adam as I incidentally saw “Cry Baby” on Broadway last week Wednesday, which he also wrote the songs to, and then “Music & Lyrics” the following night, but… while I really like the other songs on the album and from the movie, I just have been loving “Pop! Goes My Heart” and it turns out… he didn’t write that one. That particular track was written by Andrew Wyatt whom also contributed some of the fake Coco songs as well.

But I say see the movie, it’s cute.


PoP! Goes My Heart “fake” Music Video

The big song from the movie (and Adam wrote this one) “Way Back into Love”

Friday, March 28, 2008

Back In Your Head (Bill Hamel and Kevin St Croix Remix)

Song: Back In Your Head (Bill Hamel and Kevin St Croix Remix)
Artist: Tegan & Sara
Album: Back In Your Head (Single)

The worlds of Alternative/Indie Rock and club culture rarely meet. My only theory to this divide is essentially their differences in musical structure and the performance that goes into the music. Indie Rock fans go to a lot of shows and like to see their musical heroes onstage, jumping around, or emoting directly to their audience. You go to a club and if you even see the DJ, you basically just see them fiddling with knobs and switching records. But there are bands and musicians that are “indie” and/or “alternative” and have enjoyed the crossover, or fully embrace electronic/club type music… if not but through a hipster lens. (Hot Chip and Franz Ferdinand come to mind.)

But when it comes to full out club mixes of Alt-Rock music, there usually are not a lot to talk about. Some artist, like Tori Amos, have literally found a whole new fan base from techno fans. Starting with tracks from her second solo record, Tori saw remixes of her songs become club hits, and soon just about every Tori single was reworked by a handful of top DJ talent. I’ve heard bootleg remixes of everyone from Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Radiohead, but again are rare… and sometimes of debatable quality.

So it was with a degree of surprise when I found out that Tegan and Sara had commissioned a slew of dance mixes for the first single off their last record “The Con.” “Back in Your Head” was a favorite of mine and I really liked the club mixes that they released for the single. While they have been “remixed” before by The Rentals and Morgan Page (both on “Walking With the Ghost,”) the girls hadn’t given the full remix treatment to a single. I’m happy to say that they all work quite well. Morgan Page takes them on once again with nice results, and DJ legends Tiesto and Josh Harris create floor-filling mixes that really bang.

There have been a few articles written about a new underground movement that is mixing indie rock with disco, or just flat out disco that is marketed, aimed at, and created by the hipster indie circuit. This would delight me as I am such a dance music fan and believe EVERYONE would be happier dancing (You should be dancin’!) So these mixes of current indie darlings Tegan and Sara really makes sense.

My favorite of the mixes, hands-down is the epic end-of-the-night mix by Bill Hamel and Kevin St. Croix. At just over eight minutes it’s a commitment, but has a great build and really best utilizes the piano vamp from the song, masking it enough at first so you’re unsure what it is… but if you are familiar with the original it then grabs you. Once they start singing the chorus you’re up and moving like a monkey. So I suggest that for your next hipster party, you get them boys and girls all hopped up on Pabst Blue Ribbon, hit them with a few Hot Chip, Franz, or upbeat Bjork tracks, and then put this on. You’ll be having a winner!


DJ Tiesto Video Remix

And this is actually quite adorable...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Destination Calabria

Song: Destination Calabria (Original)
Artist: Alex Gaudino w/Crystal Waters
Album: Destination Calabria (Single)

When I was doing research on Crystal Waters when writing about her criminally overlooked track “Come on Down,” I found out that she had leant vocals to a song by Alex Gaudino. I got “Destination Calabria” and really got into over the past month. Incidentally, my friend Melanie called me up in desperate need, “what’s the big club song with the horns?” Lucky for me, I was listening to the song a lot around this time and was able to name it just from that info… haha, I sounded a LOT more informed that I am. I’m coming clean Mel!

The track is now almost a year old and has had huge chart success in Europe, Australia, and anywhere else that isn’t the U.S. (sarcasm) It’s actually a mash up of Rune’s song “Calabria” and Gaudino and Waters song “Destination Unknown.” It’s a great song and a sure-fire four-to-the-floor anthem. When those horns kick in, building it up to the beat-heavy breakdown… well that ladies and gentlemen, it’s simply dancefloor Nirvana!


Destination Calabria

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who Knew (Bimbo Jones Remix)

Song: Who Knew (Bimbo Jones Remix)
Artist: Pink
Album: Who Knew

Back in 1993 the band 4 Non Blondes, lead by now uber-producer Linda Perry, had a hit with their song “What’s Up?” (“What’s going on?”) One year later, DJ Miko did a remix of the song as a dance track (with a different, sound-a-like vocalist) and had another hit with the song. (He has since re-mixed the song in 2000, 2001, and just last year... give it up partner!) Despite Nirvana killing dance music on the pop charts in the early 90’s… this Alternative pop / meets the clubs fusion worked and it was a hit again. Another noteworthy example of this was Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone” which was a smash pop-rock track, and then a huge club hit due to the Jason Nevins remix. While many pop tracks are remixed for club play, they rarely crossover again to radio as club versions.

Pink’s last single from her latest album “I’m Not Dead” didn’t have that fate unfortunately. Though “Who Knew” and the previous single “U + Ur Hand” did have success on the dance charts. I was a big fan of Pink’s record, and while it was huge in Europe and especially in Australia, it just didn’t catch on as well here in the States. And it should have. Pink is actually a great songwriter, and she teamed up with some catchy producers who gave her the pop sheen she needed for the songs, yet never diminished what makes her great… the powerful soulful voice, and her resistance to staying within the pop norm. (Do you think Rihanna had an anti-Bush song on her record?)

“Who Knew” is a rather moving song about death and/or the end of a close friendship. If you’ve ever lost someone close to you, or lost contact with a once close friend, you will feel it with this song. As far as pop remixes go, Bimbo Jones really excel in my book because they keep the vocals and choruses pretty much in tact, and just build bigger drama, extenuating the hooks and basically just making the perfect peak hour stomper. They did the same to “U + Ur Hand,” but “Who Knew” is a better song, just as catchy, but deeper.

I REALLY like this mix as it does al the right things. It keeps the essence of the song but adds a new dimension; the club beats perfectly fitting in with the songs structures and killer hooks. As pop remixes go, this is good stuff.


Who Knew (Bimbo Jones Remix)

U + Ur Hand (Bimbo Jones Remix)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sledgehammer (White Label Remix)

Song: Sledgehammer (White Label Remix)
Artist: Peter Gabriel
Album: Sledgehammer White Label

Often club remixes will come on limited pressing vinyl, sometimes only 300 or 500 copies are printed, or even as little as under five. These pressings are referred to as “White label” because the label is literally white. No artwork, 12” vinyl, and sometimes very little or no writing at all on them. White label can mean a variety of things, some are mixes done by DJ’s that are bootlegs or unofficial (not commissioned by the artist or record label) to test out during their sets, or are limited released commissioned mixes for DJ’s. Sometimes the white label is used to leave off the name of the artist as not to let pre-conceived notions of the name damage the chance of play (this was apparently done for Traci Lords singles, as well as LaToya Jackson) or they are simply white because the DJ peeled the label off as to not give away a secret weapon track to competing DJ’s.

So complicated! To learn more about White labels check out the very good Wikipedia article.

I am a fan of White label mixes as many of them take older songs, 80’s or 70’s stuff, and upgrade them with updated beats. One of my recent favorites that I found is a mix for Peter Gabriel’s 1986 number one single, “Sledgehammer.” I found it labeled only as “White label” so not sure who it is that did the actual mix… but that is par for the course for these type of remixes. But it’s a song like this, and the treatment that it gets from the remix, that I find perfect for club play. Unfortunately, it is very rare to hear a DJ play something “old” like this… despite the updated treatment. You have a better chance hearing a new Britney, Rihanna, or Justin mix, or just an unrecognizable song. Which is what frustrated me about these DJ’s… because if you have a song like “Sledgehammer” that EVERYONE knows (well, that’s over 25… which may be the reason) the crowd goes crazy for it. And this particular remix hits all the right notes (and beats) in regards to peak hour on the floor dancing. Hot.

Now that I’m a bit older I realize how sexual this song is… Peter is such a horn-dog!


And just because it’s so amazing…. here is the original video for “Sledgehammer,” which I think still holds up as one of the best videos of all time:

I miss this era of the music video… when people were really trying to do something interesting. Not that this isn’t still happening, but they just don’t seem to become huge video singles. It’s just all T and A now. (old man alert)

Monday, March 24, 2008

I Just Wanna Dance

Song: I Just Wanna Dance (BuZZ-Boi’s Wayne G Heaven Edit)
Artist: Alison Jiear
Album: I Just Wanna Dance (The Remixes)

Back in January I took my first gay cruise through the Caribbean. It was equal parts amazing, relaxing, outrageous, and well… a bit dirty. One thing that was on the minds of the boys on this week long jaunt was music, and specifically how much many were growing tired of the bloody thumpa-thumpa house music that was played at EVERY major party. Personally I have never gotten fully into the heavy club music that is a HUGE part of the youth culture in Europe, which is relegated to gay culture here in the States. (Club music here is usually R&B/Hip Hop influenced.) But after this week of (practically) being force-fed monotonous beats I started to kind of get it, even though at the same time… I was getting a little tired of it.

Since that week I have been researching and obtaining a bunch of trance, jungle, house… you name it and have actually enjoyed quite a bit. As dance music, I like the beat… the propulsive consistent beat… but I also like vocals, and therefore prefer a remix of a song I know, or really just a song that has words. I can’t tell you how many times I was at one of these parties and though “has this song gone on for like thirty minutes?” Without vocals you can’t tell. These DJ’s may play a remix of a well-known song every 20-30 minutes, but that’s it! Despite the fact that when a recognizable song does come on, the crowd goes crazy. I don’t get it, but I’m learning.

So this week I have decided to do a club music week of stuff I have been listening to. I am certainly no expert in this genre… so a lot of it will probably not be cutting edge, but on the other hand… you might like it better! Haha.

So to start the week (and what could be a 30+ minute continuous mix for your next house party) I wanted to introduce you all too one of the most hysterical (and gayest) songs I’ve ever heard. This song was HUGE on the ship and played, in various forms, for just about every party… and the boys ate it up. “I Just Wanna Dance” is actually a soaring ballad written for the British musical “The Jerry Springer Opera.” Yes… there is a musical based on the Jerry Springer Show. In the show, Alison Jiear plays a hard on her luck woman who turns to stripping to make ends meet. In the song she throws her hands up and says to hell with what people think… “I just wanna fucking dance.” (The musical has been very controversial, especially with religious groups, for its profanity.)

As you can imagine, you throw a kicking beat to a song called “I Just Wanna Dance” with some bigger than life diva vocals and the boys… well they swoon. I find it hysterical, and think it could be “the chicken dance” for any gay wedding. (When that you know, like happens.) Don’t ya think?


THIS is mandatory viewing… someone has edited together clips from movies, as well as a filming of the stage performance together into this found-footage music video. It’s actually pretty great…

Friday, March 21, 2008

Touch My Body

Song: Touch My Body
Artist: Mariah Carey
Album: E=MC2

So hate is a strong word… I understand that. So maybe that’s not the BEST way I would describe my feelings for Mariah Carey. But at the least, I have spent the majority of this girl’s career (which is impressive honestly) thinking she is just downright ridiculous. I must admit though that this was probably due mostly to my hipster bullshit, and the fact that I couldn’t possibly dig the vocal acrobatics and pop sound of Ms. Long Island Mimi.

Up until about two or three years ago I thought Mariah had exactly one good song, “Fantasy” which I would confess to digging ONLY because it so heavily sampled the amazing Tom Tom Club song “Genius of Love.” See, I could enjoy “Fantasy” semi-guilt free because it was laced with the former Talking Heads coolness… oy, youth is just patently obnoxious no? So I say “up until” because that was pre-“We Belong Together.”

Oh boy… “We Belong Together.” After the “Glitter”-fied breakdown, Ms. Carey came back with “The Emancipation of Mimi” what would become the best selling record of 2005. It was the comeback of comebacks and what really MADE the record was the mid-tempo flawlessness that was, “We Belong Together.” Okay, say what you will (the song had ten writers… TEN!) but “We Belong Together” was one of those songs, like Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone,” that literally everyone seemed to like, From pop radio, urban radio, children, thirty and forty-somethings, to even hipsters… it was just a HUGE single.

For her “Emancipation” follow up, Carey will be dropping “E=MC2” (clever!) in April. The first single is the “We Belong”-ish “Touch My Body.” While the song sounds similar, it doesn’t hold a candle to “Belong” and the ONLY reason I’m discussing this silly song is the lyric, “If there’s a camera up in here then it’s gonna leave with me, when I do (I do) If there’s a camera up in here then I’d best not catch this flick on YouTube (YouTube!)” Hahahaha! I have literally been laughing about this song for like a week and when I hear it it just makes me laugh. (I Also can’t get it out of my head.) And the way she Mariah’s it up on the YouTube… frankly it sounds like an SNL/Mad TV skit. Hysterical.

But I kid Ms. Mariah… I mean not for nothin’, but a clip of Mariah getting her sexy on posted to YouTube is something that she ACTUALLY needs to be concerned with. She’s always seemed a bit out of touch with reality… but this IS her reality. I love a crazy mess.


OMG... this video is hysterical. It's got the guy from 30 Rock and proves that Mimi is not taking this song (or herself) too seriously. That's it, I surrender... LOVE YOU GIRL!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe

Song: Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe
Artist: Whale
Album: We Care

My good friend Mike reminded me of the existence of this typically odd “Alternative Nation” seeking Swedish band who had a sole hit with this single back in 1993. I wouldn’t look for deeper meaning, the song came from a time when being “different” meant you had a record deal. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this song at the time… but it also didn’t make me run out and buy the record. I hadn’t heard from Whale before or since but a little research unearthed some interesting facts…

The band was formed back in 1987 (As Southern Whale Cult) and released a handful of albums in Sweden before signing a worldwide deal in the early 90’s and recording “We Care” with producer Tricky. No second single ever took hold, but they did record a second album, “All Disco Dance Must End In Broken Bones” (really?) in 1998 with famed producer Brad Wood. (Liz Phair, Veruca Salt, Pete Yorn, and Ben Lee.) I have neither heard anything else off of “We Care” nor any of the sophomore record. I am sure there is a used record bin somewhere that may have multiple copies of both.

This is a goofy song that might hit a few nostalgia buttons if played in the correct context. If nothing else, it reminded me how nut-so the video was…


Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe

Doc Martins, check. Scream/shout vocals, check. Braces…. hot.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Silence Between Us

Song: The Silence Between Us
Artist: Bob Mould
Album: District Line

While I was a bit too young to catch the Hüsker Dü movement at it’s time, I came to know the Alt. rock legend Bob Mould through his 1990’s band Sugar. Sugar released two killer LP’s, “Copper Blue” and “File Under Easy Listening,” (which you could do anything BUT) and a bracing EP, “Beaster,” as well as a compilation before disbanding. Their sound typified the alternative rock boom of the time and while their sound was catchy and melodic, they never caught on to the “mainstream alternative,” unwilling to dumb-down or further pop-ify their sound the way MUCH less talented acts like Sponge and Bush did, whom were more willing to play the MTV game.

I hadn’t followed Bob’s solo material since the break up of Sugar, though had heard rumblings of his change toward a more electronic and beat-heavy sound. He recently released his 7th (!!!) solo album “District Line” this year, which I’ve recently had a chance to listen to. Only one song utilizes his newfound interest in electronics (“Shelter Me,” a beautiful, lush track) but otherwise, “District Line” sounds like a great Sugar record to me, typified by the great first single “The Silence Between Us.” It’s melodic yet rockin’ and sounds almost like the 90’s “Alternative Nation” never died. A blast from the past, but totally new.

Since moving to and settling in Washington D.C., Mould has started a semi-monthly alternative dance party called “Blowoff” with D.C. based DJ and Producer Richard Morel It’s mostly in D.C., but comes to New York every once in a while, and will be here on April 5th. Mould’s sexuality had been a bit of an open secret in his Hüsker Dü and Sugar days but he officially “came out” in the 90’s and the Blowoff party caters to the Bear community that likes dance music without diva vocals! I haven’t been to one yet, but am shooting to make the April 5th date.


The “District Line” EPK

Sugar’s “If I Can’t Change Your Mind”

Here’s a crappy video of Bob playing the Hüsker Dü classic “Chartered Trips” acoustic in 1991

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

That’s How People Grow Up

Song: That’s How People Grow Up
Artist: Morrissey
Album; Greatest Hits

Admittedly, I’m somewhat of a Morrissey fanatic. There is very little the man hasn’t done that I don’t like. But the guy can be pretty polarizing, and many people simply can’t stand him. (My good friend Jennifer from college used to say; “how can you like that guy, when he sings he sounds like Grover.”) But I dig Morrissey through thick and thin and have really liked his recent material. He’s had a resurgence of sorts, and his last album “Ringleader of the Tormentors” was one of his best. He is once again working with legendary producer Tony Visconti on a new record, but in the meantime he has released another very strange collection called “Greatest Hits.” Which is a totally misleading title.

Actually, Morrissey has a history of putting out very strange compilations, some a smattering of hits, unreleased tracks, or non-single album tracks. While they usually hold a handful of songs no Morrissey fan should be without, they certainly don’t put together a clear picture of his career, and mostly seem… well totally random. That’s not to say that I haven’t totally dug past collections like “World of Morrissey” and “My Early Burglary Years.” But as I mentioned… I’m a fanatic.

“Greatest Hits” contains mostly tracks from his last two albums as well as a smattering of tracks from past records. Singles yes… and hits, okay. But where is “Tomorrow” from “Your Arsenal?” Or ANYTHING from “Southpaw Grammar,” “Maladjusted,” “Kill Uncle,” I mean… I could go on and on. I guess it’s really made for new fans… that haven’t gotten the last two records. Maybe it’s specifically for those that went to his recent shows and knew nothing about him. (Frankly I had tickets to two separate shows that were cancelled due to illness, I’m starting to think I am destined to never see the man live.)

Whatever the target audience, “Greatest Hits” does have a bunch of the great new songs, as well as two new ones, the single “That’s How People Grow Up” and “All You Need is me.” They both fit right in line with the new material, both sonically and lyrically. Morrissey has changed in the past couple years… discussing sex and love like it was an actual option in life. (A first for Mr. Sourpuss.) For me, I see “That’s How People Grow Up” as a testament to this change in the man… and a sign of more exciting rock and roll to come.


That’s How People Grow Up

Monday, March 17, 2008

27 Jennifers

Song: 27 Jennifers
Artist: Mike Doughty
Album: Golden Delicious

I was a HUGE Soul Coughing fan back in High School and College and managed to see them once on their “El Oso” tour back in school. I flipped for their debut “Ruby Vroom,” as well as their subsequent releases “Irrisistible Bliss” and “El Oso.” “Ruby Vroom,” (named after Suzanne Vega’s daughter,) was always my favorite… and when I did see them on the tour for their third record I was (pleasantly) surprised that they must know it was their best, as they played it almost in its entirety. The band split after the third album and while I knew lead singer and chief songwriter Mike Doughty (known as M. Doughty during the Soul Coughing days) had continued as a solo artist… I hadn’t really followed him.

What I didn’t know is that post Soul Coughing Doughty struggled with drug addiction and self-promoted himself by touring in his car around the country and selling burned copies of his record label rejected first solo album “Skittish.” I heard that record and the EP “Rockity Roll” and frankly wasn’t that impressed, save for a cool cover of Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love.” So I stopped following the man.

Well this year Doughty is releasing his fourth solo album “Golden Delicious” which has been produced by Semisonic’s Dan Wilson. I listened out of interest, wondering where he was at and I have been pleasantly surprised. The production is great, and the sound is only what I could call as ‘Soul Coughing grown up.” It’s less attention grabbing than his older material, less trying to by kooky… and more relaxed. But don’t get me wrong… it works. And seems the right progression for a man that has been through so much.

There is a lot to recommend on “Golden Delicious” but the song that first immediately grabbed me was “27 Jennifers,” which seems to be a favorite of Doughty’s as well… it’s the third time he’s released it. The record is good start to finish though, and would highly recommend it to any aging Soul Coughing fan that wants a hit of nostalgia with a mix of forward thinking maturity.

I need to go back and listen to his third record “Haughty Melodic” as it apparently re-generated his career, giving him bigger hits than he did with Soul Coughing. His song “Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well” was a Grey’s Anatomy hit, as well as “I Hear the Bells” on Veronica Mars. I am happy to report that Doughty has turned things around and doing well musically.


27 Jennifers

Looking at the World From the Bottom of a Well

An old Soul Coughing favorite “Circles”

Friday, March 14, 2008

4 Minutes

Song: 4 Minutes
Artist: Madonna
Album: Hard Candy

Madonna is the most successful female artist of all time. Madonna has remained culturally relevant throughout her entire career, save for a few dips from absolutely conquering the world, to just being like crazy huge. She remains cutting edge, inventive, and has taken on each new album as a project in and of itself. Her last record, the 8 million worldwide selling “Confessions on a Dancefloor” and it’s adjoining tour was a commercial and critical success, and a “return” after the disappointing “American Life.” (I personally think “American Life” is a GREAT record and one that wasn’t meant to be HUGE.)

I really loved “Confessions,” so when I heard that she was already working on a new record (and her last with Warner Brothers) I was pretty excited. Then I heard she was working on a “hip-hop record” and collaborating with Timbaland and the Neptunes. Hmmm… okay. Then I heard two of the tracks that got leaked from the Neptunes sessions (“The Beat Goes On” and “Candy Shop”) and thought they were okay… but knew they were leaks, so I’d wait for the official album version to pass judgment. But was honestly more interested in what Timbaland had done with JT. And so here it is…

“4 Minutes” is the official first single for the new album and man… I don’t know what to think. Madonna has a history of releasing absolutely KILLER 1st singles from all her records. This is not to say they are the best songs on the album, but they usually typify the albums sound, and are urgent, direct, and well… bloody awesome. I was crazy for “Hung Up” when it came out (and still am) and the same can be said of “Music,” “Frozen,” “Like a Prayer,” etc. And I just don’t feel it with this song. I don’t know. True, I was not blown away by “American Life” the song when it came out… and loved the record. So we’ll see. And while Timbaland is a hit or miss producer, he did nail it with Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous” and Justin’s “Sexyback.” Maybe it will grow on me… maybe my expectations are too high… but I expected something crazy, off the hook, even bananas… hmmmm.

I do still question her doing a hip-hop record but again will wait until I hear the thing. the facts are for me… Madonna RARELY disappoints.

What do YOU think of “4 Minutes?” Are of the mind that homegirl just needs to pack it up?


Thursday, March 13, 2008


Song: Girlfriend
Artist: Annie
Album: 2008 Title TBD

Over the past couple years I’ve gotten more in tuned to Scandinavian pop. From Royksopp to The Ark, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have given us pop acts that have taken the catchy hook and done interesting things with it. ABBA really started things off for pop from that region, and bands like The Cardigans, Whale, and Gus Gus have continued the tradition of pop friendly tunes, mixed with a push-things-forward sensibility. I recently wrote about Swedish dance-pop singer September late last month, a record that I have been really enjoying for the past few weeks.

One of my favorite electro-pop records of the past few years would have to be 2005’s “Anniemal” by Norwegian songstress Annie. A mix of dance-pop, clever samples, and electronica flourishes, I found it absolutely irresistible. First single “Chewing Gum” was pure pop, the Madonna-sampling “Greatest Hit” was steeped in future-disco, and the highlight (for me) was the glorious “Heartbeat,” a slow-building effervescent club track that showed Annie was more than just another Scandinavian pop-tart, but an artist that was pushing dance music into new areas. When she came on the scene she was often referred to as “ABBA meets Daft Punk.” Hot!

It’s been a long three years since “Anniemal.” She released a DJ Kicks compilation later in 2005, which included two unimpressive new tracks. And then did a few singles including a new track “Crush” and a cover of the Teddybears (from Sweden!) “Yours to Keep.” Also, in a move that probably gained her a few fans in the geek world, she recorded “Simlish” versions of her singles “Chewing Gum” and “Heartbeat.” (The nonsense language used in the popular videogame The Sims.)

2008 will see the return of Annie as she releases her follow up next month. She has been said to be working with producer Brian Higgins (Sugarbabes, Girls Aloud, Saint Etienne, Franz Ferdinand, & Kylie) as well as former “Anniemal” collaborator Richard X. X is responsible for the first single “Girlfriend,” (initially thought to be titles “I Know Your Girlfriend Hates Me.”) It’s a fun song… and while it’s not as great as “Heartbeat,” it succeeds as sort of a counterpart to “Chewing Gum,” which it resembles a bit. I like it though… and makes me very excited to hear what else the new record holds.

Rumored collaborators for the new record include Franz Ferdinand, Datarock, and Girls Aloud. On the “possible bad idea” front, X has said to have produced a cover of Stacey Q’s impossibly bouncy 1986 hit “Two of Hearts.” I will hold judgment until I hear it though…



Chewing Gum

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Song: Blind
Artist: Hercules And Love Affair
Album: Hercules And Love Affair

So in addition to his production for the new Cut Copy, Tim Goldsworthy worked on the debut album by New York based Hercules And Love Affair. I can only describe their sound as “indie-disco,” a mix of vintage strings, chugging beats, and off-kilter vocals. I really dig it.

It seems that, starting with the garage-rock revival that gave us the White Stripes, Strokes, and the Hives, and ultimately Franz Ferdinand… indie-rock bands are turning to throbbing beats to add to their guitar and bass. LCD Soundsystem mixes aspects of punk to their eltro/big beat electronica, and new acts like Scissor Sisters, The Rapture, The Wire, and… Cut Copy, form a new group of acts that make dance music for hipsters.

Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) contributes vocals on five of the tracks on the album, most notably “Blind,” first single and my new favorite song. At over six minutes, it’s an epic disco-rock odyssey, complete with chugging bass line and bouncing horns. It’s a hoot… and “if it don’t make your booty move… your booty must be dead.”

The rest of the album is a pleasant mix of upbeat Studio 54-style… er, maybe more Paradise Garage style disco tracks with a rock edge and underground attitude. They are getting attention though, as they recently did an official remix for Goldfrapp's "A&E."

Perfect for your next “Cruising”-style basement/dungeon dance party. Or Williamsburg house party… I suppose.



Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lights & Music

Song: Lights & Music
Artist: Cut Copy
Album: Lights & Music (single)

Cut Copy are an Australian indie-dance outfit that hit the scene first in 2001 and released their debut, “Bright Like Neon Love” in 2004. I was a fan of their debut, especially the tracks “That Was Just a Dream” and “Future.” It’s taken four years but they have completed a follow-up, “In Ghost Colours,” which will be released later this month. The album is being produced by Tim Goldsworthy, half of the DFA and part of LCD Soundsystem, whom has also recently produced for The Rapture.

“Lights & Music” has been a slow build for me. I got the song early last month and was semi unimpressed. I kept it within rotation and recently, all of a sudden, I realized that I quite liked it. Funny how that happens sometimes. It’s a bit more upbeat and driving than the relaxed lounge-y vibe of “Bright Like Neon Love,” and it has me very interested to hear more from the new album.


Lights & Music

That Was Just a Dream

Friday, March 07, 2008

I Can’t Make You Love Me

Song: I Can’t Make You Love Me
Artist: Prince
Album: Emancipation

Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” from her stellar album “Luck of the Draw” is one of my favorite songs. Written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin, it’s one of the most heartbreaking songs you’ll hear… with emotional honesty that literally every singer-songwriter strives to achieve. It’s been covered by a variety of artists, including Bonnie Tyler, Kenny Rodgers, Gina G, and Kimberly Locke of American Idol fame. The most famous cover is probably George Michael’s version, which took on new meanings as sung by a man, and then so based on his sexuality. What I didn’t know, is that Price had recorded a version that takes a whole new spin.

I had the three biggest Prince fans I know at my listening party, and while I consider myself a fan, I just can’t keep up with the man. I was on a Prince jag in the 90’s, getting every new record he released… but after “Chaos & Disorder,” I just couldn’t take on the three disc (THREE!) album that was “Emancipation.” And to follow THAT up with the five disc “Crystal Ball…” dude you lost me. I don’t have that much time! But as with every Prince record, there are always gems.

So when Felice said she was going to play something from “Emancipation” I was excited because I knew it would be something great I didn’t know, but then was VERY surprised when it was none other that this cover. Felice pointed out the emotional desperation that resides within the song (and every version she’s heard) is somehow missing in the Prince version. After hearing it I completely agree… his come-ons are not of a man that has given up on some deep unrequited love. I mean… this guy is Prince! It really puts an interesting twist to the track… aside from just Prince-ing it.


Some versions of “I Can’t Make You Love Me”

Bonnie Raitt

George Michael

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Heartbeat (Club Version)

Song: Heartbeat (Club Version)
Artist: Taana Gardner
Album: Journey Into Paradise: The Larry Levan Story

We didn’t get to listen to too much of it at the party, but my friend Nick introduced me to this great compilation (not to mention a legendary DJ) entitled “Journey Into Paradise: The Larry Levan Story.” Larry Levan is considered by many to be the first of what we know as the modern DJ. He was the main DJ at the now legendary Paradise Garage of the late 70’s and 80’s in Greenwich Village of NYC. He specialized in obscure disco tracks, which he often had produced and mixed himself.

This collection is a solid mix of lesser-known tracks of the day (no “I Will Survive” here) both upbeat and loungy. I immediately recognized Taana Gardner’s “Heartbeat,” and initially thought… OMG, that’s that Seduction song! Well surprise surprise late 80’s fans… that was NOT an original! Gardner’s is a bit slower, but you soon realize that Seduction did a completely faithful cover, complete with the spoken word break toward the end. (“Now you know this don't make no kind of sense Walkin’ around here so intense”)

Unfortunately, Levan became quite dependant on PCP and heroin, and thus died in 1992 of heart failure resulting from endocarditis. I knew nothing about Levan until listening to this compilation and am now so happy that I do. This collection seems more like a time capsule, and a celebration to an important figurehead in the history of New York nightlife, disco, and the art of DJ-ing itself. If you like 70’s disco (and a touch of early 80’s new wave) but are tired of the same old tracks, this is a great compilation of brand new favorites.


Here is a quick (and poor quality) video of Levan DJ-ing the last party at the Paradise Garage in 1987. It lasted a full 48 hours! Now that’s a party!

Here’s a great short piece that shows the inside of the Paradise Garage from the documentary “Maestro.”

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Mating Game

Song: The Mating Game
Artist: Bitter:Sweet
Album: The Mating Game

It was my friend Ray (the disco connection) that introduced me to Bitter:Sweet and the song “The Mating Game.” It’s a great little trip-hop/house track that should probably be showing up in a car commercial any day now… unless it already has. It comes from the album of the same name, which I have not heard yet. The song, and album, are from 2006, Bitter:Sweet released a remix album just last year, and their follow up “Drama” is due this year. Their song “The Bomb,” which will be on the new record is the theme song to the latest “ladies in New York” show “Lipstick Jungle,” which I have not yet heard.

Oops… deeper research reveals it has been used in a commercial. Which now that I recall… was discussed at the listening party. I’m such a tool.

The song is fun, and should be a must on your next cocktail party playlist.


The Mating Game

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Crazy in Love

Song: Crazy in Love
Artist: The Puppini Sisters
Album: The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo

So if I can pat myself on the back… I wanted to celebrate something I didn’t even realize I had recently achieved last week… my 300th post! Three hundred?! It doesn’t seem possible! Well it is (officially this is my 302nd post on blogger) and to celebrate this week I am going to jump back (sort of,) jump forward (in a way,) and celebrate my readers, who also introduce ME to music.

A couple weeks ago I had a few of my readers (though they are friends first) over for a “Listening Party.” We hung around my apartment, iPods and CDs in hand, and took turns playing new (and a lot of old) music in the hopes to introduce people to something new. It was a blast actually, and I look forward to doing it again. My entire blog’s existence is really due to the fact that I get frustrated that good music can fall through the cracks for me, even if I am keeping tabs on new releases and constantly going back to older stuff. So, thank you all for sending me music and suggestions, and being readers!

Okay, so at my listening party one of my main music guys Brian brought over the new Puppini Sisters album “The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo.” While I was familiar with the group (actually, they were one of the first acts I posted about on the blog, and thus the inspiration for this week of “discoveries” in my 300th post week) I didn’t realize they had released a new record. If you’re not familiar with the band, they are comprised of one Italian and two English gals whom sing 30’s swing style covers and originals. Their debut “Betcha Bottom Dollar” was released in 2006, and their latest came out late last year.

While their style doesn’t change throughout their records… they have basically re-worked the template of their debut for the sophomore effort. “Ruby Woo” is comprised of old time covers (“It Don’t Mean a Thing [If it Ain’t Got That Swing),” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”) swing-style covers of contemporary pop hits (“Walk Like an Egyptian,” “Crazy in Love”) as well as a handful of originals (“Jilted,” “I Can’t Believe I’m a Millionaire.”) In a way they’re a one-joke band… and their success is really dependant on your interest in 30’s/40’s style swing. I personally get a little bored about half way through the whole album as the style grows cold on me… but what they are doing, they are doing very well.

To their credit, what separates the Puppini Sisters from other cover bands like Nouvelle Vague, is the fact that they actually write original tunes. And while you may or may not recognize more obscure covers (like Manilow’s “Could it be Magic”) originals like “Soho Nights” seamlessly blend with everything, holding some surprises as the album chugs along. It’s fun… and if you like the genre, it could be your new favorite record.

While “Crazy in Love” is the one you might play the most (and the one Brian played for us all) check out the originals, which raise the Puppini Sisters above the novelty act they are usually presented as.


Jilted (Third single and an original for the ladies)