Groove Armada-Soundboy Rock (Strictly Rhythm)(US)
A much-needed new one from the UK duo of Tom Findlay & Andy Cato aka Groove Armada, although as both they and I get older I will admit the boys are becoming more of a guilty pleasure than must have. The opening track "Get Down" was keenly summed up by my wife as containing elements of everything that is hip in clubland right now in one track with out retaining any of the power. "The Things That We Could Share" has a good hook but also suffers the same fluffy fate as "Get Down" due to Simian's Simon Lord and his oh so fey Rick Astley 80s style vocals. However, house diva legend Candi Staton's tasteful usage by the boys on "Paris" and the especially great "Love Sweet Sound" make this whole album a worthwhile endeavor. On the other hand, "Lightsonic" is sadly just an updated version of GA's megasmash "Supersonic" while "What's Your Version" and the title track do add some much needed eccentric anglophile flare to Soundboy Rock. Overall there are some nice tracks here but they are sandwiched in between copious amounts of fluffy filler where their should have been album, but should I expect anything less than the resurrection of the zombie label Strictly Rhythm?
Hipp-e/Style Of Eye-OM: Winter Sessions 2 2xCD (OM)(US)
One of my favorite CDs of 2006 was OM's first volume of Winter Sessions featuring a now seminal mix from SF's legendary Justin Martin . The only downside of that CD was a rather ordinary mix from deep house DJ Johnny Fiasco on the flip. To my delight OM rectifies that on the second installment with a focus squarely on the techno and mnml. While it's nice to hear a new mix from one half of the sorely missed H-Foundation, Hipp-e has never been one to shy away from the techno in the past (even when it wasn't fashionable to be a tech head). Sadly, the techno on his mix only celebrates moments of greatness and could have been much better. The Worthy remix of Justin Martin's no-brainer "Ghetto Train" somehow strips this anthem of its power which is unusual not only for the DJ but also the remixer who is normally on point, and that sort of sums up this mix. Worthy does redeem himself later on with a sterling remix of New Zealand Magick Johnson's "Sneaker Asylum" and Deadset brings the noise on "Cardinal Rules" to great effect but this mix lacks focus and sounds more like a stoner's lazy journey through some great tracks than a great mix. Style of Eye aka Linus Eklow of Sweden provides a decidedly euro-techno take on things and his unabashed voyage to mnml is certainly uncharted waters for the OM imprint. His mix is much more to the point than Hipp-e's and definitely edgier than much else in the OM canon but in reality isn't much better than any of the more commercial progressive house comps I have been getting from Ministry of Sound or Renaissance lately. Nice tracks from the Rejekts, Oliver Huntemann, Gel Abril, and Worthy (is there a mix he isn't on?) add a nice dimension to the mix but Style Of Eye's own productions as well as tracks like "Ribcage" by Dubfire can't save this one from the progressive ghetto.
Pole Folder-Destinations (Frisky)(US)
Seven years after the launch of the progressive house focused internet radio station friskyRadio, the successful site has gone on to launch a companion label with the first ever Pole Folder mix CD entitled Destinations, which serves as a bookend to his friskyRadio show of the same name. Some of you may remember Belgian Benoit Franquet's (aka Pole Folder) debut artist album on John Digweed's Bedrock imprint entitled Zero Gold way back in 2005 and Destinations is an apple that does not fall far from that tree. While there are some nice new-ish sounds via Simon Baker and Clubbervision (goth meets prog?) most of this mix feels like a weak attempt at the underground courtesy of prog nation circa 2002. One note johnnies like Andy Moor and DJ Yellow try desperately to sound fresh but still can't get past the whole melodic trance thing and that makes Destinations absolutely boring and way past its prime.
Inland Knights/Olivier Desmet-San Francisco Sessions 2xCD (OM)(US)
Another installment of the warm SF house OM has become famous for, this time featuring a Bay Area transplant (Desmet) as well as a duo from the UK (Inland Knights) possibly indicating that that these days SF house is an international phenomenon. Well actually no, the Knights have been making tracks like this for years on their own Drop Music imprint while Olivier Desmet runs the Primal group of labels which pretty much owns the patent on the SF house sound. There is little difference in this new edition from a mix either would have laid down 7 or 8 years ago leaving me to believe the SF sound these days is probably completely DOA. Even hot cuts from up & comers like Vernon & Dacosta and Giom on Desmet's mix can do little to save me from drifting off to sleep about half in to either of the two mixes. Time to move on boys and stick a fork in this sound- it's done.
Miguel Migs-Those Things Remixed (Salted)(US)
Miguel Migs has never been on my list of top DJs although I won't deny his talent nor the devotion and love his crowd heaps upon him. Unfortunately, I was never that surfin, Eddie Vedder inspired laidback slacker kinda guy. When Lou Reed and Johnny Thunders are your musical role models as a young 'un it becomes doubtful that a guy like me and a guy like Migs are gonna see eye to eye about musical tastes. Those Things from last year was way too Prince'd out to be more than influenced by and the accompanying ragga influences were just,well, annoying and out of place. However, I actually approached the remixed version of the album with a much more open mind for two reasons. One: Migs is a great remixer, the guy can even make Britney Spears sound good. Hell only the Neptunes can share claim to that so that is pretty select company. Two: there is a whole slew of other people's reworkings that often times outdo the original and Migs drops an amazing dub of "Giving It All" that should have been on Those Things. Faze Action and Sade's own Cottonbelly offer 180 degree opposite vision respectively of the Junior Reid propelled "Fire" while Chicago house legend Alix Alvarez takes it old school on "Mesmerized". There are a lot more highlights besides to be found on the remixed edition with a very diverse selection of remixes that even includes cats like Eric Satamile, J-Boogie, and Rasmus Faber.