Monday, 22 June 2009

The Phenomenal Handclap Band

I've been meaning to get around to blogging this for a few weeks but have been putting it off, just cos it's a hard album to do justice to in words… you SO need to hear this!

I made a list of things this album reminded me of, and it included Scissor Sisters, 'Rapture'-era Blondie, Faze Action, Steely Dan, 'Murmurs'-era Pink Floyd, Blood, Sweat & Tears and Tom Tom Club… even mid-’70s Rolling Stones, 'Afternoon Delight' and, oh, Lord knows what else.**

Not all at once, mind. This is an album that ranges from the Caravan-esque psychedelic jazz-rock of opener 'The Journey To Serra Da Estrella', to the punk-funk neo-proto-rap of '15-20' (which you've probably heard), to the glittery space disco of the single 'You'll Disappear' (out next week) to the blue-eyed soul of 'Baby'. It's an album that I suspect grew up in the 1970s, wearing pale blue flared, brushed denim jeans and riding a Schwinn Stingray… and I can so get to that. Yes I can.

Unlike many of the artists featured on this blog, TPHC are an actual proper band, an eight-piece outfit based in New York's Lower East Side... and the best news is they're touring the UK in July. They're at Bristol's Start The Bus on July 7 and I'll certainly be there, I suggest you (ahem) "check 'em out"* if you get a chance. I'm sure the dates are on the obligatory MySpace link…

Oh yeah, and some of the band are also in TV On The Radio. If that's of any interest.

*one of my least favourite expressions in the English language. SO over-used.

**I'm going to add Love & Rockets to that list as well, but only around the time of Kundalini Express (their post-gothic, pre-stadium, psychedelic pop phase)

About the label: This is brought to you courtesy of Tim 'Love' Lee's Tummy Touch, which has always been a bit more miss than hit, to these ears… but remember they brought us Groove Armada way back when, and now they've brought us this, so we'll forgive 'em.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Me On The Dancefloor

Not me on the dancefloor – graceful and elegant sight to behold though that may be – but rather Me On The Dancefloor, which is a Facebook group you might like to know about for keeping up with release news, club nights, radio shows and so forth. 

MOTD seems to be doing pretty well, they're sponsoring a series of parties called As One in Ibiza this summer for starters. The news feed is nicely non-partisan, which means it covers a broader spectrum than you'll find on this blog (by which I mean there's quite a bit of trance and electro, basically) but that's a good thing... one love and all that, plus Jon who runs it has been kind enough to show TIWWD plenty of love so the least a boy can do is reciprocate!

This is the direct link but you'll need to be logged into your Facebook account I expect...

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Roderick Fox - Splendid

After dissing minimal techno a few posts back I thought it'd be nice and hypocritical to then go ahead and enthuse about some here. "Do I contradict myself?/Very well then I contradict myself/I am large, I contain contradictions"*

The best minimal was never really a genre in its own right in my book… and so it is here. Over the three mixes, what you basically have is bouncy, slightly wonkified deep house (Original Mix), deep techno (Nidecker Mix) and mellow, tech-y prog (Stefanowitz Mix). I'm feeling the Original Mix the most, unsurprisingly, but Nidecker's mix is pretty fine too.

What you DON'T have is wanky self-indulgent post-IDM 'electronica' thoroughly devoid of melody and funk, and full instead of nasty grating synth noises repeated at 11-second intervals for the next six minutes. THAT'S the kind of minimal I was slating before. Just so's we're clear.

Oh, and the really good news? The track is free to download! Hurray! So go grab it from the Strom site here.

*That's from Song Of Myself  by Walt Whitman, don't you know? Come for the house reviews, stay for the American 19th Century epic poetry.

About the label: It's on Strom Netlabel. I know nothing about parent label Strom but from their website I gather it's a Dutch techno label, which would explain that. Anyway Strom Netlabel is in their words "a net label with some deeper stuff and it's free"… what more do you need to know?

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Kikumoto Allstars - House Music

The German house music onslaught continues, although this is actually the work of an Australian, known to the taxman as Cam Farrar. And unlike a lot of the current 'house revival' coming out of Germany, this isn't some post-minimal deep house affair, just 12 tracks of straight-up Chi-town jackery. Ac-ieeeed! 

Yes, it sounds 20-25 years out of date. It's also just, y'know, ace. And with track titles like 'I'll Make You Jack', 'Jack The House', 'Last Train To Chi-Town' and 'Still Can't Stop The House', it's not like it's pretending to be anything other than what it is. Especially when Mr Farrar has named his outfit after the inventor of the TB-303 and TR-909! You can HEAR THE MUSIC for yourself at Kikumoto Allstars' MySpace 

About the label: It's on Berlin-based behemoth International Deejay Gigolo, who as I'm sure you know are better known for their techno and electro, but they've lately also been doing a fine line in retro acid house, as we see here. More on that soon.

Meanwhile, here's a list of offensive names to call Germans, just to balance out all the love they've been getting on TIWWD lately! :-)

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Divas of Color - One More Time

How on earth this managed to slip through the iDJ reviews net I don't know, cos One More Time by Divas Of Color feat Evelyn 'Champagne' King is just about a freakin' PERFECT record

Because I am Really Quite Old Now, I can recall seeing Ms King on chat shows and such when I was a nine-year-old disco fan growing up in New Jersey… here she is 30 years later and still absolutely kicking ass. What can I say? In terms of the vocal stylings, this reminds me quite a lot of the ace It Doesn't Matter by Shay Jones (Maxi, 1996), except that's a bit cart-before-horse, like saying Aretha reminds you of Joss Stone or something*...

Anyway, yeah: super-crisp gar-ahhhge beats, warbling organs and a legendary pair of disco tonsils getting a serious workout on top… musically it doesn't really get any better than that for me. Er, except then you get to the Dub, and arguably it does (I can't quite decide, but big up Mr Sean McCabe anyway, who's behind the boards on both mixes promo'ed).

About the label: All hail the mighty King Street, some 15+ years young and still one of the best gosh-darned house labels in the world as long as they keep putting out stuff like this. Which, incidentally, is out now digitally, but you'll have to wait till July for the vinyl.

*Not quite as bad as that though

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Manoo & Francois A

The hype sheet for this makes comparisons to both Kerri Chandler and Carl Craig, neither of which I'm sure is justified, but the Craig comparison is probably nearer the mark in that this has that sweeping, orchestral feel. But it's also a sight more proggy. Still, both tracks here could work for deep or prog jocks, with A-side Today Is Tomorrow being more of an uptempo, electronic cut and Souvenir a bit more atmospheric. They've both got 'mix CD opener' written all over them though, as opposed to 'dancefloor destroyer'.

It's out now and if you hit up the Buzzin' Fly website you can order limited edition vinyl

About the label:  Buzzin' Fly, as I'm sure you know, is Ben Watt's label and needs no introduction from me. Find them here

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Brown & Andrew Phelan - 'Gimme A Beat'

"Gimme a beat, you freaks!" The prolific duo of Brown & Phelan (see also recent releases Dusted Roots Vol 3 and, from Phelan & Origami, The Big Remix EP) deliver another very checkable deep house slab here. The Original Mix is the one for me, a proper bumper in that west coast/east Midlands kinda way. Ross Couch's two mixes are a touch techier – head for the Dub for some even bouncier dancefloor action. I'm less taken personally with the Fingermonsters' Remix but if you want it tuff and electrofied then that's where to heard.

Gimme A Beat is OUT THIS WEEK on Prismatic Tracks.

About the label: Prismatic Tracks is run by Andrew Phelan, who works at San Francisco's legendary Moulton Studios and has also had releases on Drop Music and So Sound, among others. Gimme A Beat is Prismatic's 15th release.

Bernard Jones ft Aren B – Don't You Wish

Actually this is Don't You Wish (Part 2) but part one seems to have slipped by me… anyway, if you can cast your mind back to the late 90s, when UK garage reigned supreme, well, that kind of near-falsetto male vocal à la Craig David/Artful Dodger/etc is what you get from Aren B here. And that's not meant as a diss! 

Mixes come from Nick Dare, Peckos and Paul Hardy, with the latter's vocal and instrumental rubs my pick for their tuff, bouncy beats and squelchy synths. Hardy's a new name to me but he's apparently a 2020Vision studio boffin who's had releases out on 2020, dotbleep and his own Baker Street Recordings. Oh, yeah, and this is OUT THIS WEEK, cat no LMDX011, and you can click here to find out where to get it.

About the label: Don't You Wish comes atcha on Lost My Dog. LMD are kind of, if not unsung then certainly undersung heroes of the UK deep house scene… they send me loads of stuff that often gets overlooked for iDJ cos it's on CD, so I'm gonna try and rectify that on this blog this month!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

New Mondo - Total Control

New Mondo are better known as west coast deep house heroes Vincent Kwok and DJ MFR, but this debut long player is a bit of a surprise… cos Total Control is a far more accessible, dare I say poppy project than you'd expect from this pair.

Don't get me wrong, we're not in Spiller/Freemasons territory just yet. But still, this is the kind of slickly produced 'grown-up pop'-style house that's more familiar coming from fellow San Fran stable Om, than from the generally more underground Transport. I still quite like it, though. If you're not in the mood then it can easily start to sound a bit too sickly sweet (and those who are allergic to vocals should steer well clear), but if you're happy with a complete album of spangly (that's spangly, not spangled) vibes then there's plenty to love here, particularly Lisa Shaw's make-me-go-a-bit-funny-at-the-knees vocal on opener I Want Cha, which is coming out as a single soon, and the rumbling Chi-Town b-line on 909

[UPDATE Just found some audio previews on Soundcloud]

Actually, this album reminds me of  nothing so much as Stonebridge's Can't Get Enough. Which is a compliment BTW! Anyway, you can find out more about New Mondo here, or they've got a MySpace as well but they don't seem to have done much with it yet…

About the label: Surprisingly, as I said, this is on Transport… which is a wicked deep house label out of San Fran. If you don't know the label this probably isn't the best place to start, though. May I suggest a couple of label showcases instead, Julius Papp's Montreal Departure via Om or House Session: Transport Recordings on Soulstar, or better yet DJ MFR's Rome Departure on Transport itself? Yes, I may. In fact, I just have.

Purple Music - Master Collection 6

This is worth the price of admission for Christian Hornbostel & Alfred Azzetto's Paradise Garage tribute 84 King St alone, a housified disco romp which comes on like a 1000 Finger Man or Disco Juice for the noughties. Which means that having another 19 upfront soulful/funky/disco house nuggets to play with on top of that – presented unmixed in a lavish two-disc package – is somewhat of a Brucie bonus.

As more astute readers will have worked out, this is the sixth in the Master Collection series, which showcases the output of Switzerland's ever-reliable Purple Music stable. If you dig more trad-style disco house/US garage, then Purple is one of Europe's most dependable labels. The vibes are pretty much always vocal and uplifting, with the emphasis on full-pelt peak-time belters, and this album, compiled by label stalwart Jamie Lewis, is no exception. 

What else… some names? How do Michael Watford, Studio Apartment feat Mr V and the mighty Cerrone grab ya? Oh yeah, and there's a couple of covers, of D-Train's You're The One For Me (by Roberto De Carlo) and Joe Smooth's Promised Land (by The Collective), that thankfully manage to disgrace neither the originals nor themselves and that will guarantee maximum club grinnage. 

Once again, we're in Unashamed Disco Dolly™ territory here… chin-strokers will want to look elsewhere, but for sheer joyous vocal house dancefloor action, you won't find a better album than this this month.

Hear it: there's audio samples at the Black Market webstore

About the label: er, which one? Cos this showcases the work of Purple Music, but it's actually out through Germany's Clubstar, who I've raved about before on here and whose website seems to be out of action today so check their MySpace for now. Suffice to say they're two of  Europe's best labels for us UDDs…

Namito - Eleven

Right then, Berlin, centre of the bleedin' universe yada yada yawn… as we all know, the Germans have recently rediscovered house music and suddenly house is flavour of the month again. 

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it's like: yes, Fritz, house music is just BETTER. I've been telling you that for years and was groovin' with Sneak* while you were still down at fucking Tresor, or something. But you wouldn't listen. On the plus side though,  after years of drowning in a sea of their tedious minimal techno there's this whole new school of post-minimal deep house and some of it's really rather good. 

Enter Namito, who's actually from Tehran originally but grew up in Berlin. This album is a good example of the kind of post-minimal deep I was on about, except it's actually a bit less 'post-minimal' and a bit more just straight-up house, really. There's a definite Chicago feel to a lot of the percussion, with those crisp, crisp snares that hark back to the Cajual/Relief days, and there's a definite funkiness to it all as well. Good work Iranian chap. Could maybe have done with the odd vocal to break things up but who am I to say? It's still a pretty damn solid 74 minutes (or whatever it is) of jackin' dancefloor business. Me like.

If you dig this, the new DJ T album is also worth checking, but you'll have to buy the July issue of iDJ to read about that one.

*I say Sneak cos now all the minimal kiddies love him cos Ricardo Villalobos says so. 

About the label: I'd always kind of written off Kling Klong in my head as a bit of a 'trendy German techno' stable but with the current climate the way it is, they've been doing some good stuff lately, so I might have to reassess. Kling Klong is an offshoot of Great Stuff and is run by Martin Eyerer, and if you click HERE you'll find links to learn more about all three.

Physics - Live Sessions

From live nu-funk (see Speedometer review below), of which there's no shortage, to live deep jazz-house which is a slightly rarer beast! Physics have been around for several years now and indeed this live recording from Stockholm's Hotel Lydmare, dates from 2003.

Physics are primarily associated with Deeplay (see below), but their second album Influences came out on Seamless and they've also had 12"s out on several other quality labels, including Large, Sub-Urban and Swing City. Oh yeah, and Mikael Surdi and Torbjörn Olsson (for tis they) also record as Neoelectrique and had an album out under that moniker on the excellent Little Angel.

Musically, then, this sits somewhere between deep, soulful house and more traditional soul-jazz/jazz-funk... with the emphasis on jazz, daddio. There are a couple of tracks on this album that haven't been released as studio recordings, and there are also versions of my personal two Physics faves, Don't Deny My Love (which is a bit of a highlight) and Flyin' Away, not to mention their other standard, the samba-ish The Most Beautiful Boy In Brazil which I believe has cropped up on various compilations.

If you don't already own a copy of Physics' debut album First Flight, I'd suggest you remedy such foolishness forthwith. That remains their most essential release but this is pretty damn ace and dandy all the same.

About the label: This album comes at you on Deeplay, which is probably Sweden's best deep house label. It's run by Martin Brodin who's been a busy lad as a producer in his own right lately (check current single 'Deep Shit', for one). I could be wrong but they seem to be concentrating more on the more electronic Deeplay Soultec imprint at the moment.

Speedometer - 'Speedometer Live'

Until I got this album I didn't know anything about Speedometer... and after a bit of a trawl on the interweb I still don't. Where's yer viral marketing eh, Speedometer peeps? All I can really tell you is what it says here which is also where you can hear the album. Do you get that? You're meant to click on the link you see. Tee hee.

Did you click yet?

If you did then you don't need me to tell you this is one for all the lovers of new-old funk à la Dapp Kings, Haggis Horns etc. In fact this is the one mention I could find of Speedometer on Wikipedia (from the entry for 'Funk'):

Since the mid 1990s the nu-funk scene, centered around the Deep Funk collectors scene, is producing new material influenced by the sounds of rare funk 45's. Labels include Desco, Soul Fire, Daptone, Timmion, Neapolitan, Kay-Dee, and Tramp. Bands include Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, The Soul Destroyers, The Grits, Chris Joss, Speedometer, The Poets of Rhythm, The Neapolitans, Quantic Soul Orchestra, The New MastersoundsBreakestraThe Bamboos and Lefties Soul Connection.

That's about it really. Oh… except that the album also includes a cover of The Chi-Lites' Am I Your Woman (Tell Me So), which you hopefully don't need me to tell you is the original source for Crazy In Love.