This collection of 17 remixes by electronic producer Michael Fakesch features a selection of dancefloor shakers, moody electronica and re-interpretations that were once lost. Fakesch, famed for his sound designs for commercials and music for short movies, originally came to prominence as one half of the now defunct Funkstorung who from 1994 to 2006 made weird beats, digital electro-madness and beautiful melodies. Remixes for Bjork and Wu-Tang Clan found them fame, and now Fakesch presents his solo remix work which is every bit as impressive covering acts such as Mr. Oizo, Booka Shade, Herbert, Jimmy Edgar, Towa Tei and Hexstatic.
When you are listening to the Story of the Safe House, you have the feeling of being part of a privileged few, because we know we have here the first solo album of a musician who will be one the greatest, a rare bird among songwriters.
Barney Morse-Brown is currently best known for his role as cellist of The Imagined Village, though his skills can also be heard as part of Eliza Carthy’s band as well as on Chris Wood’s critically acclaimed Handmade Life. But all that is set to change as Morse-Brown launches his solo efforts under the pseudonym Duotone, a reflection of his double edged role as both cellist/guitarist and vocalist. With a pedigree background in the folk world, the solo route seems a logical progression it would seem for the former Royal College of Music student, who has previously explored the songwriter terrain during a two year break from the cello post graduation.
Born in Liverpool before his musician father’s career took the family to London, Pete Lawrie didn’t find his own musical connection till the family resettled in Wales. A need to express himself prompted a move into songwriting, which has developed into many songs being written in bedrooms and often recorded in the same place. Unable to find his own voice, or a voice he was happy with, Lawrie persisted. The hard work paid off as he has managed to move from bedroom studios to real studios with real people. Now surrounded by a band, who double up as close friends, Lawrie asks matter of factly How Could I Complain?
When Northern Irish pop-rockers Ash arrived on the scene with their 1994 mini album Trailer they were seen as a breath of fresh air. Followed swiftly by the phenomenal success of 1996’s debut full length 1977, Ash’s success was assured. Yet the Downpatrick trio felt restricted by their size and in 1997 recruited Charlotte Heatherley a week before V. The move was much criticised and the initial success appeared as if it would be shortlived. 1998’s Nu-Clear Sounds was both a commercial and critical failure. Facing bankruptcy, the group reconsidered their next move. A lot of hard graft assured the success of 2001’s Free All Angels but it looked as though Ash would never really live up to their early promise. Following albums fared well but didn’t set the music world alight, possibly prompting the 2006 departure of Heatherley. 2007 saw the release of what Ash hailed as their last album, Twilight of the Innocents with Ash facing the issues of the contemporary single based music industry head-on. Thus they release their seventh studio ‘album’, A-Z Vol. 1.
Formed as Ireland’s answer to Take That by Louis Walsh back in 1993, Boyzone went on to be one of the most successful boybands ever. With Ronan Keating’s increasing dominance and flourishing solo career, the boys decided to call it a day back in 2000. Three tried solo careers and one succeeded short term (unsurprisingly Ronan). Soon enough though Take That were back and Boyzone followed suit with a comeback tour and album in 2008. A somewhat mediocre success, their tour fared well but their single sales were just a shadow of their former glory. Then tragedy struck. Whilst recording the first full album on new material since reforming, band member Stephen Gately died on holiday of an unknown heart fault. The boys and fans were devastated and wave of sadness hit the pop world. Unperturbed, the quartet vowed to continue in the name of their Brother.
It is over a decade since Southampton’s Craig David asked us to all “Re-Rewind” and was hailed an overnight ‘Garage God’. A lot has changed since then, with David’s move from cutting edge King to middle of the road has-been. Having released his Greatest Hits back in 2008, many had consigned David to the dumper. But as a new decade dawns, David has landed a new record deal and moved into Motown.
If you wondered exactly what significance the name “Asseteria!” has for this mix, well you probably haven’t been to the New York Sunday club night featuring seven-foot tall trannies and fashion models hiding from the paparazzi listening to DJs including curator Chriss Vargas, Phat Mike, Joey Slips, Kriss Mass and Rob Phab. Columbian prodigy Vargas steps forth for this mix to lay down tunes oozing sleaze appeal, sounding like a cross between an afterparty, a strip club and dodgy porn flick. In a word: filth of the highest variety to an underground beat of minimalist house and techno.
“Oh everybody said she was the next big thing. The shining light on a the Saturday night. Dreaming of the day when she could run away. She didn’t believe the hype, was right.” Amy Macdonald was just turning 20 when she found herself catapulted from obscurity to international star. Her 2007 debut This Is The Life was not just successful, it was a phenomenon. The self-taught musician from Bishopbriggs, Scotland had been inspired to try writing a song after seeing fellow Scots Travis in concert, little did she know that her musings would go on to sell in excess of 3 million copies and make her one of the most lucrative UK female singer/songwriters to date. A three year hiatus was well deserved for the girl who never dreamt of stardom.
With his brother Pontus Winberg (of Miike Snow) proving the critics’ flavour of the month, Stockholm’s Petter (& The Pix) is set to unleash his second album Good As Gold on the British public. Bouncing between genres, Petter never attempts to align with his brother, but rather creates a distinct flavour of his own. Whilst his brother was helping Britney work on “Toxic”, Petter headed off to Iceland alongside school friends to create his own sound. Those friends just happened to have also worked with Mum and Gusgus, giving the sextet a credible music base to build on. The initial results proved positive, with scintillating debut album Easily Tricked gaining critical acclaim, though not commercial success. As a result, the sextet went away to work on the second release, blending their folk tinged sound with pop sensibility.
Ohio born Joshua Radin may still be a relative unknown on the British Isles, but he is much celebrated Stateside. Having got his big break when his friend Cary Brothers played his song “Winter” to Scrubs star Zach Braff, who then used it in a series. Recognition was almost immediate, with Radin signing to Columbia in 2006. Soon enough Radin could be heard in the background on everything from Grey’s Anatomy to So You Think You Can Dance. Current American Idol host Ellen Degeneres even asked Radin to perform at her wedding, having been so impressed by his performance on her chat show. With celebrity pedigree backing him in every corner, it was inevitable that Radin would become a household name himself. However, the independently minded Radin fell out with Columbia when they asked him to record a radio-friendly single for second album Simple Times. He refused and released the record independently in its original form back in 2008. Two years later, having nevertheless attained success Stateside, it is with his non-radio friendly folk that Joshua Radin is attacking the British music scene.
The 27-year-old daughter of a 7th Day Adventist Preacher, Diane Birch spent her early years in Zimbabwe and Australia with little contact to popular culture until she returned to America as an early teen. Until that point, her life had revolved solely around the Church and Christian culture, bar the rare occasion she would hear the radio or see a television programme. Thus, when finally introduced to recorded mediums, Birch initially embraced all that is Gothic — from Sisters of Mercy to Joy Division, Christian Death. But soon enough she found external influences providing further musical education, with those surrounding her introducing her to anything from jazz to the Beatles.
Seth Troxler joins the “Shaking Heads” cover star elite of the BPitch Control Boogybytes series with this sumptuous mix from the Berliner. Following albums from Elen Allien, Kiki, Modeselektor and Sashcha Funke, Troxler is the first non-BPitch Control label artist to be given a release. The vocal “it’s about score, about clubs and pubs, about personality and the things that define us” opens a collection which takes in Mike Shannon, Alexi Delano, Fever Ray, Heartthrob, Dinky, Spektrum and Roman Flugel. Troxler pays homage both to his Detroit roots and to the minimal house style of his new home, Berlin, and makes listeners feel very welcome with a finely-tuned techno trip.
Colin MacLeod has adopted a moniker, The Boy Who Trapped The Sun. Basing his new identity on Icarus, MacLeod has a similar aim — to get so close to the sun that he can eventually capture it. In the meantime though, he continues on his other quest towards musical stardom.
Mavis was conceived three years ago when Ashley Beedle and Darren Morris were sat in one evening listening to old Mavis Staples and The Staples Sisters recordings. For Beedle, Mavis Steeples had always been an icon, not only for her musical talents but for her involvement in the Civil Rights movement. Little had been done to celebrate her legacy, so together the pair decided to right a very large wrong. Thus some three years later, Mavis is born.
Polar Bear are not easy to categorise. At the heart of their work is a clear love of free-form jazz, yet with a wide range of musical influences, Polar Bear continue to break down barriers of what is often seen as a staid genre. By allowing their recordings to never lose the vibrancy of a live set, Polar Bear ensure that each listening experience unveils hidden layers. Fourth album Peepers is no exception to the rule. With Sebastian Rochford at the helm once more, whilst undertaking percussion duties, the ensemble set out to create an album more raw than any of their previous. In order to do so, Rochford fed his bandmates with as little information as possible before their recording session, thus ensuring spontaneity on the record.
Abergavenny born Marina Lambrini Diamandis once auditioned for a boy band. She admits freely that she was driven by a passion for fame and fortune. If that is not reason enough to write her off straight away, then I don’t know what is. However, Marina, who performs as Marina & The Diamonds has been hailed as the new Florence & The Machine (sorry Florence, you are just so 2009!) and narrowly lost out to current flavour of the month Ellie Goulding in BBC’s Sound of 2010 poll. So, with everyone else giving the aspiring starlet a second chance, there must be something to talk about, right?
London based Danes Alphabeat are hoping to work “The Spell” you. Having taking a couple of years out after their incessant 80s styled indie pop debut This Is Alphabeat, the group are back on the road in support of their 90s house flavoured second album The Beat Is… Having switched a Spice Girls support slot for that of a Lady Gaga one, the sextet are guaranteed maximum exposure for the record but can their record do enough to stand out in the new swathe of 90s influenced albums?
This collection of tech house and electro is picked by Mind Control, AKA New York based producers and DJs Peter Bailey and Richie Santana. Over two CDs, Addicted provides a mix of obscure tunes, unreleased originals and dance chart toppers though none can elevate this above a plodding offering of beats.
Tom Stephan, known to many as Superchumbo, is a dancefloor superhero born in New York and now based in London. The house DJ with a fondness for the tribal and twisted is the latest star to mix a Nervous Nitelife album, and he takes a collection of trendy tunes and bopping beats for a pounding audio ride.
Irish wonder kids Delorentos have had an eventful few years. Since forming in 2005, they have released two successful independent EPS, signed a record deal, released an award winning debut (In Love With Detail, lost a lead singer, split up and reformed. Claiming their brief split to be a result of losing their independent voice by signing a record deal, it appears the quartet are back on fine form for their second album You Can Make Sound, which has already been nominated for numerous awards in their home country.
Sivert Hoyem may not be a name you are immediately familiar with, however the 34-year-old is a household name in his native Norway. Having fronted rock band Madrugada since the mid 90s and released solo albums in his mother tongue, Hoyem has finally decided it is time to go global. Following the premature death of Madrugada’s guitarist Robert Buras in 2007, Hoyem struggled to find his voice. Alognside bassist Frode Jacobsen, he finished the album they were working on at the time and after it’s release called closing time on the group. Shortly afterwards he lost his father. Hoyem didn’t know whether to continue or not, but he couldn’t escape his real passion. Music called him back and he decided to seek a new type of acclaim. Entitling his new collection Moon Landing to symbolise his passion for success, with the sky being the limit, Hoyem is determined to use his music to overcome former sadness.
Before the 80s craze really took hold in 2009, Temposhark’s debut The Invisible Line almost seemed fresh. Their annoyingly addictive hooks and determined beats were instantly unforgettable. Pairing their distinct pop songwriting alongside collaborations with Sophie Solomon and Imogen Heap assured that The Invisible Line was a credible affair. Fast forward two years and the 80s have been more than covered, thus a rethink was needed. Still drawing inspiration from the Pet Shop Boys for their second album Threads, Temposhark have chosen the 90s as their focal point. With the 90s not viewed as wilderness years for music have Temposhark made a foolish decision?
It was once said to me that in a poll to find the song linked to most accidental conceptions was Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”, therefore it is little surprise that with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the clever people at Universal/Island have realised that it is an appropriate time to release a double CD collection of Marvin Gaye’s greatest love songs. However, with a collection as strong and versatile as Gaye’s there is little to complain about. Of course, the King of Motown was also the King of Soul and Love Marvin is an irrepressible selection of his greatest hits.
As a reviewer I get to hear so many albums and EPs that unless they stand out from the crowd, they quickly get categorised and forgotten. I am half ashamed to say that upon hearing Club Smith’s debut EP The Loss, I placed them as cheap Kaiser Chief wannabes and forgot all about them. It wasn’t until I put the CD back into my stereo to listen to it once again today that I realised there is more to Club Smith than I had first thought. Fair enough, The Loss can hardly be called an EP of original thought, however the Leeds quartet do enough in the EP’s four tracks to prove their long-term potential.