Mr. Lava's Trash Music Compendium

Another round-up of the best, the worst, and the most intriguing trash of the past and present.

(August 2010)

Hope your summers are going well. I have been hiding in air conditioned environments for the last several weeks (I am one of the only mammals that hibernates during the summer). I am living in a motel with too-slow internet in Atlanta, Georgia, plotting my next escape to Europe. Until then, I visit the continent through music.

Click on the music notes to hear song samples.

Diskoteka Avariya - Diskoteka Avariya (Дискотека Авария - Дискотека Авария) ("Disaster Discotheque")

Regardless of whether Russia is culturally part of Europe or something utterly unique, what is indisputable is the popularity of Russian pop music in many Eastern European countries. Diskoteka Avariya, who regularly appeared on the Latvian charts during their heyday around 2000, were a Russian group who produced an impressive roster of catchy tunes. Remarkably, American iTunes seems to have their complete discography available for purchase. A fine opener for Volume 81 is their (mostly) instrumental eponymous track. It's got breakbeats and bagpipes. Their work in general also serves as a fine example of the rock/rap/dance fusion so popular back in Y2K (see also Bomfunk MCs, Mighty 44, and Bloodhound Gang).

Ruki Vverh - Pesenka (Руки Вверх - Песенка) ("The Song")

This Russian track is, believe it or not, the original version of the song that ATC later transformed into their massive hit "Around the World (La La La La La)." There's a touch more house influence in this first take, which is a reflection of the time; glossier dance sounds emerged shortly after 1998 and by 2000 a sheen of lushness had come to coat the ATC version.

KAMON!!! - Bryunetka (Брюнетка) ("Brunette")

We conclude our journey through Russian songs with a tune from last year that is charting right now on the Russian-language charts in Estonia. This song achieves the impossible—it is both incredibly irritating and wonderfully catchy. Witness the big, boom-boom electro pop sound coupled with women singing in extraordinarily irritating voices (I presume this is deliberate and that they are impersonating personality-types familiar to Russians).

Jay C & Felix Baumgartner - Souk (Original Mix)

Instrumental dance tune samples guitars that will sound familiar to those of you in certain parts of Europe and beyond; I've heard this atmospheric style of guitar playing on Turkish tracks like Yavuz Bingöl's haunting "Gitti Canimin Canani." Neat to hear it brought to the dancefloor—though these guys are apparently not the first to do that, as a YouTube battle has broken out over whether or not Djuma Soundsystem's earlier and similar "Les Djinns" is superior.

Aikakone - Anna mun bailaa

A discovery I made during my recent deep exploration of the year 2000 in pop music (apparently this 1999 tune hung onto the charts when 2000 rolled around). This Finnish Eurodance track is spectacular tear-the-room-apart stuff.

Prezioso feat. Marvin - Let Me Stay

Another 2000 excavation, this song hails from the time when Eiffel 65's success opened the floodgates for at least one or two dozen other catchy "nu Italo disco" projects. I am very nostalgic for this sound; the Italians really had something unique going on back then. Those days had ended by the mid-2000s, and I still wear black in mourning. So let's go back to that happier time and revisit "Let Me Stay," which captures the appeal of the nu Italo genre—right down to its "Tuba-Bass," a distinctive "oompah-oompah" bassline heard in many such tunes. The lyrics are a bit silly, the arrangement over the top, but that's the appeal. I particularly like the nifty transitions from the verses (which oddly recall Steve Miller Band's "Abracadabra") into the anthemic choruses.

Getter Jaani - Parim Päev

I have wanted to plug this Getter Jaani track for quite some time, but only recently was able to get my hands on a decent recording of it, thanks to (amazingly) the "Parim Päev EP" becoming available on American iTunes. The title track is an infectious blend of stomping R&B and sugar-sweet electro pop. The whole EP is excellent. For example, "Saladus" is a goosebump-good track (recently added to the Pub Pigeon playlist), and Jaani's stab at "Walk Like an Egyptian" is charming. Estonian pop perfection; purchase the whole thing.

Adrian Lux - Teenage Crime (Axwell Remix)

"Teenage Crime," along with Yolanda Be Cool's "We No Speak Americano," and Swedish House Mafia's "One," appear to be Europe's big Summer 2010 dance choons. The strength of "Teenage Crime" rests on its appealing female vocal which, when combined with guitar sounds, lends a strong indie rock quality to the production. But therein also lies the tune's greatest weakness—those four lines in the vocal are repeated ad nauseum, and there is little else that, by way of contrast, sets things up for a knock-out. Fortunately, the Axwell remix adds a roar of atmospheric chords in the song's final minutes—an injection of adrenaline and a dose of extra wonder just when those elements are most needed.

Les Jumo feat. Willy William - C'Show

Les Jumo clearly enjoy Eurodance, having married the sounds of Culture Beat's "Mr. Vain" to French Afro-pop on their catchy "Zoomer." "C'Show" does a similar trick, taking big synth sounds that would have been happily showcased in any number of Euro tunes a decade ago and blending those with the duo's native Congolese influences. Hard to imagine anyone not enjoying this.

Spankers - Chupa Rico (Nicola Fasano & Steve Forest Remix)

This tune will have you reaching for your spear, which you will then shake wildly as you dance around that firepit on the beach (wow, I used that same analogy writing about Acapulco's "Caliente Tambores" back in 2002; running out of ideas, here!). The old-fashioned analog synth sounds remind me a bit of those featured on the original opening title music from "Wild Wild World of Animals." (Am I the king of music free-association or what?) The remixers seem to specialize in this sort of tribal tropi-trash; they also recently tackled Stereo Palma's "Andale," which also yielded a catchy result.

Timoteij - Högt Över Ängarna

If you miss the sound of hook-heavy sugar-pop girl groups like Atomic Kitten, then pick up the entire Längtan album from Swedish lovelies Timoteij. Their tunes are designed to keep your foot tapping, but the songs also, paradoxically, evaporate into the ether the moment the music ends. Album features an appearance from Norway's temperamental 2009 Eurovision winner Alexander Rybak, who hopefully did not smash his violin in anger during the recording process.

K-liber4life - Drop Die Beat

Punchy little Dutch rap/dance tune with funky 80s basslines and a chorus that sounds a bit like Kiss's "I Was Made for Lovin' You."

Venuto - Love (Feenixpawl Remix)

A history of dance music in Australia might make mention of the impact of Gatecrasher on the continent a decade ago, Sneaky Sound System (who partnered with DJ Tiësto on a track last year), and, of course, the eternal Kylie Minogue. Venuto has added his name to the list of Aussie dancefloor artists, and "Love" marks a promising debut. It suffers, as too many dance songs do, from one-trick-pony over-reliance on a heavily repeated hook, but then the vocals take a nice turn and really take off. Good on ya, Venuto!

Angel - Candy Cane (Awesome 3 Remix)

Old skool dance music aficionados will do a double-take when they see the name "Awesome 3"; that's a name going back to 1992, when that group produced the classic breakbeat/hardcore techno tune "Don't Go." So they have mysteriously resurfaced and turned in my favorite remix of the gleefully dopey "Candy Cane." Awesome 3 wisely emphasize the chick rap sections (the best part of the song). This would make a fine, if obvious, companion piece to Dada featuring Sandy Rivera & Trix's 2006 track "Lollipop."

69 Danguje - Vasara

Snag a sample of Sly and the Family Stone's "We Are Family," toss in four leggy Lithuanian ladies, and you have yourself a winner.

Sigma - Baltimore

This drum & bass tune with swirling strings and swinging brass could serve as the soundtrack to the coolest 60s spy movie never made. The vocal version is certainly pleasant, but I've grown fond of the instrumental, which (at the time of this writing) is all you can buy on American iTunes anyway.

(October 2010)

Would you buy her a drink? King Pigeon seems to have made a friend. Another of my Saloon photos from Zagreb earlier this year.

Click on the music notes to hear song samples.

Baby Alice - Piña Colada Boy (Extended)

The Baby Alice project boasts no members named "Alice" (something they have in common with our much-missed Alice DeeJay). They hail from Sweden, and like many Swedish bands they seem keen on mentally escaping from the cooler temperatures of the northern latitudes by singing tropi-trash tunes (see also Ace of Base, i.e., the greatest reggae act on earth). If the lyrics are the singer's own, she is clearly a chick in heat. Cute English-language fail as she adopts the tone of a young woman flirting at a bar: "So tell me! Do I come here often?"

Nyusha - Chudo / Niusha - Chudo / Нюша - Чудо / "Miracle"

Here's a good mid-tempo tune which strongly reminds me of the way Romanian pop used to sound, before every other song became a blippity techno track with an accordion. Nice little electronic counter-melodies sprinkled in the choruses hint at a higher level of musical inventiveness than I am accustomed to hearing in Russian pop. Indeed, when it comes to the output of Russian women pop singers, it's not often that you get more than tits and ass. Though Нюша certainly has those, too.

Eako & Morelly - You Make Me Crazy (Original Mix) [seems to be the same as DJ Eako & Robert Livensu - You Make Me Crazy (Eako & Morelly Club Mix)]

Glossy tru trash of the finest calibre, chock full of flavorful melodies. The lyrics manage to sound stupid and profound at once: "You make me crazy / Oh baby baby / And now it's over / You're my hangover," plus the usual "I Will Survive" clichés about ditching that no-good guy/I can make it on my own, etc. I usually offend with my compliments ("Did he just call my song 'stupid'?"—oh wait I guess I kinda did). So to be clear, THE WORLD NEEDS MORE SONGS LIKE THIS. It's a killer track, sure to warm up the dancefloor here at Fortress King Pigeon as summer turns into fall.

Tensnake - Coma Cat

Bongos, banging pianos, a slinky bassline, tons of retro electronic sounds, and garnishes of sampled vocals add up to a tune that sounds like it would have been right at home in 1992. The engaging hook seems to be delivered on steel drums. Is the name a tip of the hat to Tom Wilson's "Techno Cat"? The mood reminds me a bit of that of Eric Prydz's "Pjanoo," a huge hit a couple years back; "Coma Cat" possesses the same laid-back cool and catchy qualities as that track, and with recent buzz in such publications as The Guardian, it may surpass "Pjanoo's" success.

Sia - You've Changed

"You've Changed" originally appeared in mid-2009 as a Lauren Flax song featuring Aussie Sia on vocals. This is the version that has since popped up on Sia's own record. When I first saw the title I imagined a sulking song, the sort of thing one might hear from the likes of another edgy blonde popster—Robyn. Happily, "You've Changed" is the very opposite of all that, a cheery tune that will have you dancing with a smile instead of tears in your eyes.

Jitka Charvatova ("Ji") - Real Life

Jitka seems to have a few screws loose, as evidenced by her avant-garde zombies battling in the sewers (or something) video for this tune. Of course, we like our artists with a few screws loose. Fantastic stop/start bursts of electronic sound make this one of the more intriguing singles of the year. In a recent interview she said that originally there were concerns that those abrupt bursts would prove too jarring to Czech radio listeners, but fortunately artistry prevailed and, like the "ch-ch-CHUNK" guitar lead-ins to the chorus of Radiohead's "Creep," they really make the song.

Alexis Jordan - Happiness (Wideboys Club Mix)

Alexis Jordan is an American (she performed on "America's Got Talent" at age 14), but despite being signed to Jay Z's Roc Nation label and her single "Happiness" charting in Europe, her tunes have yet to see a formal U.S. release. Fortunately, the "Happiness" remixes have surfaced on American iTunes, including the uplifting Wideboys Club Mix, and these will tide us over for now.

Channing - Peanuts Enhancer (Minimal Chic 4 Big Room Extended Remix)

So she's not really saying "Peanuts." Surreal electro sleaze with ties to, unsurprisingly, the king of surreal electro sleaze: Benny Benassi. But while I reverently worship the man, I prefer the Minimal Chic remix to the Benassi-driven Mobbing mix. Filthy, funny, and kinda cool.

Calcinha Preta - Você Não Vale Nada

Some sunny Brazil trash which "Eurotrash or Eurotreasure?" proudly exports to fellow Portuguese-speakers—in Portugal! The group has been kicking around with various line-ups for over a decade and, if the Wikipedia entry is to be believed (and my Chrome translator is not failing me), they have had more than the usual share of soap opera drama, including fatal heart attacks, dramatic personnel exits, and the awkwardness of learning that some of their male back-up dancers posed in a gay men's magazine. A taste of what you can expect after 15 years in the biz.

DJ Fresh - Golddust

Perky drum and bass tune that ably demonstrates the pop appeal of this once fiercely underground genre of music.

Tim Berg - Bromance (Avicii's Arena Mix)

Choon of the summer! Well, maybe after Yolanda Be Cool's "We No Speak Americano." Oh, and Swedish House Mafia's "One." Well anyway, this is my fave of that lot, with Avicii's mix having claimed the crown as The Definitive Version (TDV). Video is ace, too. Song is a strong instrumental, full of melodic flavor; it stands on its own without a vocal. However, an effective mash-up which adds vocals is charting in France under the name, "I Love You Bromance"; it marries the Avicii remix of "Bromance" to Samuele Sartini feat. Amanda Wilson's "Love You Seek."

Baron Massilia - Lolita (R2D2 & Chris Di Tenda Remix) (Dub Version)

This remix outdoes the original version. Indeed, it is TDV. The cheery, blippity melody frolics like a happy porpoise in a lagoon of bongo-driven tropi-trash.

Booty Luv - Shine

This trashed-up Luther Vandross cover proved an excellent soundtrack to the cringingly comical antics of the lads in season two of "The Inbetweeners," and having just laughed my ass off watching that series the song thus reappears on my radar.

Alyshen - What is Love? (Yakush Remix)

Alyshen's MySpace page mysteriously proclaims that he is from "all over." He appears to reside in Los Angeles, and he seems to have a Russian background. His "Betty" landed on the Armenian charts earlier this year (the Armenian charts feature a lot of Russian stuff). DJ Yakush's remix of this track is an aggressive, psychedelic onslaught. Good stuff.

Lauren Flax, Sia & Dean Coleman - You've Changed (feat. Sia) [Dean Coleman Village Dub]

There are approximately 500 remixes of Lauren Flax's "You've Changed." This may be the sunniest of them all.

The compendiums:

2001 06/07
2001 08
2002 01
2002 01
2002 01/02
2002 04
2002 06
2002 09
2002 10/11
2002 12/2003 01
2003 02
2003 03/04
2003 05/06
2003 06
2003 08
2003 09
2003 10/12
2004 02/07
2004 07/09
2004 11
2004 12
2005 01/03
2005 05/09
2005 09
2005 12
2006 03
2006 06/09
2006 11/12
2007 01/03
2007 04/05
2007 06/07
2007 09/10
2008 01
2008 04/06
2008 06/07
2008 09/12
2009 02
2009 04/06
2009 08/09
2009 10/11
2010 01
2010 02/03
2010 04/07
2010 08/10
2010 11
2011 01/03
2011 04/05
2011 06
2011 09

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