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June 22, 2005

Music Reviews:
Pride 2005 Edition

BY
DJ PLEZ

There's lots of music to catch you all up on, so let's get to it.

Dance Singles --

Pride 2005 Edition
"Don't Cha" – The Pussycat Dolls (A&M Records)
Definitely the #1 hit down at Gay Days, this is probably the hottest dance single out at the moment and it could lead to Ralphi Rosario getting a Grammy nomination for his fun and energetic Hot Freak Mix. Fellow Chicagoan Kaskade serves up a Club Mix that's perfect for a softer lounge or deep house environment.

"Hollaback Girl" – Gwen Stefani (Interscope)
The second hottest single around is Ms. Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" with mixes by Matt Moss and Gomi & Escape rocking dance floors near and far. Let's all go "bananas!"

"Nothin More To Say" - Alyson (PM Media)
Clearly a rising talent worth keeping an eye out for, Alyson is now out with her third dance single following two Top 10 Billboard hits. Hex Hector, Eric Kupper, and Norty Cotto all come through with strong mixes for a range of dance floor vibes.

Pride 2005 Edition
"Krafty" – New Order (Warner Brothers)
Wow! This is an excellent song and thus makes a solid foundation for a strong set of remixes that will please a wide and diverse range of dance audiences. There's an interesting presentation of what I call new school and old school electro mixes. The modern-sounding Phones Reality Remix has a strong funky beat while the Riton Re-Rub is more pop-synth and harkens back to the 1980s. Progressive fans will find much to their liking with the understated tribal beats in Morel's Pink Noise Vocal mix and in the synth lushness of Eric Kupper's Club Mix. Finally, for the more commercial ears out there, the DJ Dan Vocal mix and The Glimmers Extended mix serve up "Krafty" closer to the original Radio Edit version. This is a top notch maxi-single CD. Again I say "Wow!"

Pride 2005 Edition
"Breathe" – Erasure (Mute U.S.)
This beautiful song is from the Nightbird CD and comes with three dance remixes on the enhanced maxi-single CD. The Pete Heller Phela Mix is a smoothly produced treatment that mixes mainstream dance stylings with progressive atmosperics. The much faster LMC Club Mix is somewhat tranc-esque in nature and comes closest of the three mixes to being able to satisfy a peak hour dance floor. The third mix of the bunch - the When Andy Bell Met Manhattan Clique Extended Remix – has an interesting electro-lounge feel to it. Erasure fans will undoubtedly appreciate these quality dance remixes.

"You Wouldn't Know How" - Sarah Atereth (Warner Music Group)
We got four mixes of this single from the Beguile CD that are making their way to dance floors all over the place. Personally, I found the Dr. Octavo remix to be the most interesting with its funky electro synth stabs balancing the lushness of Atereth's voice. The peak hour anthem treatment comes courtesy of the familiar duo of Tony Moran and Warren Rigg while Mac Quayle delivers a solid remix that is light and airy, perfect for a summer outdoor tea dance or within a trancey morning music set. Finally, the Davy D 186 Mix has a strong mainstream sensibility that will serve it well for radio airplay and in Lincoln Park bars and clubs.

Dance Compilations CDs –

Pride 2005 Edition
Gay Days Vol. 2 – mixed by DJ Randy Bettis (Centaur)
There are two important things to note about the new mixed compilation CD. The first is that this CD really isn't quite representative of the style of music that's heard during Gay Days, at least not at the nighttime parties (and remember I've been there five out of the past six years, so if anyone should know, it's me). This CD is more like the Friday afternoon pool party during Gay Days and definitely not the Colosseum Party or a Magic Journey after-hours. That said, the second and most important thing to know is that this is an excellent CD; in my estimation one of the better ones that Centaur has put out in the past year or so. The mix has a nicely controlled pace that's never over the top or excessive and the tracklisting is an interesting blend of strong "pop-ish" vocals.

House of Om – Mixed by DJ Sneak (Om Records)
As I always tell you all, house music is essential nourishment for the soul, and with this recently released CD by DJ Sneak I can almost guarantee you healthy and happy living throughout the rest of the spring and summer. The bouncy groove that Sneak achieves with his superb mixing of tracks such as "The Truth" by Lawnchair Generals, "Werk It" by Johnny Fiasco, and his own recent hit "Funky Rhythm" allows for a warmth and deep soulfulness to successfully marry "track-y jack" beats. House of Om will bring a smile and knowing head nods to any and all that have an appreciation and affinity for Chicago house music. If you liked last year's Live At Om double CD set by Mark Farina and Derrick Carter, then Sneak is also your cup of tea.

Pride 2005 Edition
Queer As Folk – Club Babylon – Mixed by DJs Chris Cox and Abel Aguilera (Tommy Boy Silver Label)
As the QAF franchise continues on television and through its globe-trotting dance party, another compilation of the music – that have been featured already at the fictional Club Babylon and that will undoubtedly be played there – has been released. CD1 (called "Babylon") is mixed by Chris Cox and eclectically filled with an array of original mixes and interesting remixes of classic tracks such as "Safe From Harm," "Smalltown Boy," "Spin Spin Sugar," "Appreciate Me," and "Dive In The Pool." Circuit DJ legend Abel controls CD2 ("Beyond Babylon") with recent and soon to be dance floor hits by the likes of Suzanne Palmer, Kristine W, and Inaya Day's. The balance of former hit songs and future classics makes this a CD that's perfect for now.

Pride 2005 Edition
Africanism: Volume 3 – mixed by Bob Sinclair (Tommy Boy)
If you desire dance music heavy on bass beats and funky rhythms, then legendary French DJ/producer Bob Sinclair is your man and Africanism 3 is the CD for you. Sinclair has combined his passion for African music with his contemporary knowledge of the global dance music scene to present a creative mix if 16 tracks, all but one of which were produced expressly for this album. While there have been recent echoes from many quarters that dance music is in trouble, fresh, innovative and captivating music such as that found on this CD tell a different story.

Pride 2005 Edition
Superstars #1 Hits Remixed – Various Artists (Sony BMG)
This may be the "best value buy" I've ever written about as it is chock full of some of the biggest hits – 19 to be exact - of the past few years, many of which are by the reigning Diva Class: Mariah Carey's "Dreamlover," Whitney Houston's "It's Not Right But It's Okay," Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful," Kelis' "Milkshake," Toni Braxton's "Un-break My Heart," Dido's "White Flag'" and Britney Spear's "Toxic." And then they are remixed for your dancing pleasure by the biggest names in the game, including Victor Calderone, Peter Rauhofer, Hex Hector, Junior Vasquez, Scumfrog, Jason Nevins, and David Morales. Note that most of the versions of the songs are the shorter radio edits and quickly get to the vocals so you don't have to wait too long to throw your hands in the air. This is the perfect CD for the summer beach season and is guaranteed to keep all within earshot happy.

Artist Albums –

Pride 2005 Edition
Bleed Like Me – Garbage (Geffen)
It's been four years since the previous Garbage CD, but the wait has been well worth it as Bleed Like Me will surely delight both new and old fans alike. Amidst a seeming symphony of guitars with drums – this band seems more rock than alt to me - singer Shirley Manson delivers bold vocal performances throughout. And the confessional title track that in part is about Manson's years as a self-destructive cutter is simply an awesome piece of music. And while there is a definite rock-y feel to this effort, there's also a diversity in Bleed Like Me with the ballad "It's All Over But The Crying" as well as the funky and danceable "Boys Wanna Fight." Garbage has been successfully making music for a decade and with the excellence of Bleed Like Me there's no reason why we can't expect another incredible decade yet to come.

Pride 2005 Edition
Hypnotized – Colette (Om Records)
Colette is a house music DJ with a residency at Smart Bar who often sings live while she DJs. Hypnotized is her debut artist album - with 13 songs ranging in styles from ballads to up-tempo dance tracks - and it's "the goods" and proves that her singing from the booth isn't just some marketing gimmick: she can flat out sing! (her take on Cherrelle's "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On" is quite impressive). She's already had success with the lead single, "Feeling Hypnotized" which was featured in a Motorola ad campaign last year (and received a 2004 DanceStar Award for "Best Song in a Commercial"), and may need to prepare herself for the accolades that will surely come as a result of this excellent CD.

 
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