Mr. Lava's Trash Music Compendium|
Another round-up of the best, the worst, and the most intriguing trash of the past and present.
Volume 1 of this music review series came out in June 2001, a decade ago this month. In those ten years, European pop and dance music has undergone numerous changes. Fads come and go, but good stuff keeps coming out, and it always will keep coming out. It is a pleasure to announce that Volume 88 is every bit as catchy, compelling, and idiotic as Volume 1 was. So, happy ten years! Tunemakers, keep on trashin'. :-)
← Click on the music notes to hear song samples.
Ottawan - Haut les mains (Donne Moi Ton Coeur)
By 1980, disco had died in America, but the beat went on in Europe, where Ottawan enjoyed success with "D.I.S.C.O." and this frequently-covered tune, better known outside of France by its English-language title as "Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)."
Oh La La! - Oser
Catchy French pop song reminiscent of early-era Stereolab or late-90s hipsters Komeda. Are these ultra-clever cats too cool for the likes of Eurotrashy us? Would they even crack a smile in acknowledgement of the pleasures of Ottawan's "Haut les mains"? Let's crash their party and find out!
Alexandra Stan - Get Back (Radio Edit)
The follow-up single to the Romanian singer's international smash "Mr. Saxobeat" begins, worryingly, with more saxophones. Back to the well, eh? But the melody that follows is even sturdier than that earlier effort, and a melodic sweetness not present in the previous single infuses the chorus of this one. I guess I'm saying I like this one more.
Victoria Aitken - Sunshine (The Scumfrog Remix Intrumental)
Victoria, whose father's political career exploded in a spectacularly awesome fashion after he unwisely challenged the Guardian's integrity in a libel suit, left Britain to begin a new life in the New York club scene. She began cutting records, and now has a number of singles under her belt. Unfortunately, her vocal ability is such that I am recommending this instrumental remix.
Nero - Guilt
This is the second single from the dubstep group to tickle my ears. It's a bit more somber than their earlier "Me and You," and delivers the goosebumps.
Camo & Krooked (feat. Shaz Sparks) - All Fall Down
A majestic beast of a tune.
Nino (Νίνο) - Theos (God)
Greece burns, but more Greek songs of this quality might speed up delivery of the next bailout package from Brussels.
Studio Killers - Ode to the Bouncer
Gorillaz now must face another cartoon band of formidable musical talent. Studio Killers, who have so far appeared only in their animated forms, offer a debut tune packed with good hooks, clever lyrics (our narrator tries to negotiate her way past the world's toughest doorman; a more sympathetic take on a concept also explored in Katalina's "DJ's Girl"), plus a very cool fox playing the keytar. Identities of the band members are currently secret; all that we (might) know about them is that they are Scandinavian and British. Even the gender of the lead singer is uncertain (though my ears have me betting it's a guy). Whoever they are, it's a very talented crew behind this song.
Toddla T - Take It Back (Club Edit)
Toddla T is taking it back to the old school techno days of the early 90s (as seems to be fashionable now), and offers a nice breakbeat and pounding pianos track that should make Day V Lately happy. It's on Ninja Tune records, a label that knows its club classics because it has produced so many of them.
Big Swede - Aliens in Hollywood
If L.A.'s music scene were to be likened to the city that spawns it, I'd say it is often impressively brash and loud, yet paved a mile deep by the corpses of its burnouts of unfulfilled promise. Here, the coolest DJs spin for the world's most beautiful people, but where is L.A.'s footprint on the international dance scene? Along comes Big Swede, a production group out of L.A., who deliver this raucous stomper of a club tune, a noisy and psychedelic thing that ably captures L.A.'s flash and delirium. But then comes the maddening realization that beneath all that energy is emptiness. Oh, L.A.! Must it always be so?
Nicola Roberts - Beat of My Drum
It's often the case that "the quiet one" in a group is the one with the best ideas, and Nicola, stepping out during UK girl group Girls Aloud's hiatus, seems to be proving that again. A contender for single of the year, this Diplo-produced expectations-defying mindfuck of a tune smacks your head repeatedly until a dazed and happy grin of surrender spreads across your face.
Mohombi (feat. Nicole Scherzinger) - Coconut Tree
Nicole out of Pussycat Dolls teams up with Mohombi. Song is pretty silly, but I love the big choruses. "Usually I'll be gone before the morning light," they warn, yet their desire for true love is palpable, as they pledge to overcome their propensity for flight and make each other stay "forever." (Brushing tears out of eyes. Cannot type anymore.)
Pitch & Patch - Itsy Bitsy (Original Extended)
The stupidest song I recommend this month is this jerked-off updating of the classic "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini." 'Tis the season for Beachtrash!
Robert Abigail & DJ Rebel - Cuba (feat. the Gibson Brothers)
Not that you can tell from this percussion-mad, piano-pounding effort, but this is actually a remix/updating of a 1979 French disco hit (that original tune was written and produced by Daniel Vangarde [the father of Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter] and Jean Kluger [who worked with Ottawan, a band you know because you read the first review on the top of this page]). Mr. Abigail and Mr. Rebel must have figured it was time to make the song more authentically and aggressively Cuban in tone. They have delivered the goods. It's the best tropi-trash tune of recent weeks--and I say it like that because I am sure there will be several more such tunes coming out before the summer of 2011 is over.
Getter Jaani and Koit Toome - Valged Ööd (Radio Version)
Getter Jaani can now put her Eurovision 2011 song's poor showing behind her, because here is an exciting, high-energy fist-pumper. Brings its "Oh oh oh-oh!" choruses to the anthemic levels Britney wasn't quite capable of reaching with hers in "Till the World Ends."
Ottawan - Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)
And we come full-circle, with the English-language version of the track that opened this review. Bonne nuit!
2002 12/2003 01