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LYDIA’S FRESH CIRCUIT SOUND… Lydia Prim makes a good point in the liner notes to her latest circuit party compilation, Party Groove: Blue Ball Vol. 4. "[I] staunchly refuse to believe that the nation of party boys and girls want to travel to various events all over the U.S. just to hear the same songs played by different DJs," she writes. But is she right? Well, the assumed guiding principle of dance music is that every DJ has his or her own unique sound. In reality, a circuit-party DJ usually only reveals a unique style, while playing pretty much the same sounds and tunes heard by his or her competitors. And many clubgoers really truly do go for that — same sound, different DJ.
Prim’s new compilation doesn’t sound like most other current DJ compilations. Even better, it doesn’t sound much like her previous mediocre Centaur sets. It’s exceptionally good, featuring much less of her heretofore signature gospel dance sound and far more rock-flavored Euro-house. It sounds pretty much like live Prim. She goes with obscure artists in the category of dance-rock, a category inspired in equal measure by disco and post-disco punk. It’s the freshest sound around. Nearly half of the 12 tracks here feature spangly strings and a not-quite-peak-hour club pace. There’s even a surprisingly decent rip-off of New Order‘s "True Faith," performed by the one and only K, whoever that may be….
GRAMMY SPEARS VS. BRIT SHEARSÂ… While gay attention may be turning to this weekend’s award orgy known as the Oscars, it’s the award orgy known as the Grammys that is still dancing in our heads. As usual, this year’s dance music awards — a record three of them — weren’t broadcast. In case you didn’t hear, the Jake Shears-fronted Scissor Sisters didn’t win the Grammy for Best Dance Recording, for its wholesale rework of Pink Floyd‘s "Comfortably Numb." Don’t cry too hard for the band, though, since the song wasn’t the best of the bunch. Kylie Minogue‘s "Slow" deserved the win, but we are not surprised by and have no argument against Britney Spears‘ "Toxic" taking the honor instead. Another reason you can’t cry too hard for the Sisters: just a few days earlier the band dominated the British equivalent of the Grammys, winning three Brit Awards. Though it probably would have taken Best Dance Album if the Brit Award organizers hadn’t junked that category this year, the quintet nevertheless won for Best International Group, International Breakthrough Act and Best International Album for their self-titled debut, which was also the United Kingdom’s best-selling album in 2004. Nothing to cry about here….
THE BITTERSWEET GRAMMY GOES TOÂ… Crying is in order for Basement Jaxx. Though the Jaxx’s magnificent Kish Kash won the first-ever Best Electronic/Dance Album Grammy this year, the win was bittersweet for the British duo. Its American label Astralwerks had just given the Jaxx the heave-ho. Why? The label didn’t respond to our requests for comment, and there was no official word from them. But backstage at the Grammys, the Jaxx told Billboard it figures the hard-to-pigeonhole band was too tough to market stateside. Maybe so, but here’s hoping the Grammy award will convince another American label to step up to at least release the duo’s forthcoming 15-track greatest-hits set The Singles….
GRAMMY HONORS NOTEWORTHY REMIXERÂ… In better Astralwerks news, the label will release a remix album from Jacques Lu Cont, who picked up this year’s Grammy for Best Remixed Recording for his Thin White Duke remix of No Doubt‘s "It’s My Life." The Grammy nod shows that its voters can occasionally be as forward-thinking as they often are in recognizing achievement decades late. Lu Cont, after all, has only been on the remixing radar for a couple years, and there hasn’t yet been a widely released compilation from him (not in the U.S. at least). He may be still a novice, but his ingenuity with dance music cannot be denied, and his name — be it as Lu Cont or Thin White Duke or even his birth name Stuart Price (you see he’s not French after all, but British) — should only grow more familiar with time.
Lu Cont has co-produced tracks for the forthcoming New Order album, Waiting for the Sirens’ Call, which includes one track, "Jetstream," featuring Ana Matronic from the Scissor Sisters. And Lu Cont also just produced and remixed for the newest one-name dance artist, Juliet. Though the rock-oriented Philadelphian’s debut album won’t be out until this summer, her first single, the moody, hypnotic "Avalon," is quickly getting notice. Notice it yourself at www.astralwerks.com/juliet/
DANCE SPOTLIGHT ON D.C.Â… Could 2005 be the year D.C.’s dance community gains greater recognition? Well, let’s do our part to push it. The community’s pillars, house-heads Deep Dish and lounge-lappers Thievery Corporation, both have new artist albums on tap. Thievery’s rocking new album, Cosmic Game, is due out later this month. And as has been reported several times earlier, our own Bob Mould and Rich Morel‘s duo Blowoff will also release its debut artist album this summer. Morel, who also works with Deep Dish, just posted on www.morelworld.com a video, drawn from concert footage, for its new single, "If You Love Me." That song should see light soon on the Billboard Club Play Chart, but he’s actually already represented there — last week he was on top, reaching the pinnacle by virtue of his remix of Seal’s classic song, "Killer." Peter Rauhofer and J. Albert also remixed the song, rechristened for the occasion "Killer 2005" and released as an EP. All remixes are exceptional, but DJ Monk‘s is the most revolutionary reworking. Monk adds heavy beats and strips down the music, which has the effect of emphasizing the lonely feeling that’s at the heart of Seal’s tale.
Morel was joined in the Top Five by Rachel Panay, often seen on weekends hydrating at the very same watering holes where you might be found. Panay scores her highest charting single yet with her best song yet, "Back to Love," which rocketed from No. 9 to No. 4. The Josh Harris Love Anthem remix of the track closes in fine form David Knapp‘s latest Centaur compilation CD, White Party 6. It’s also set to appear on this year’s installment of the Queer as Folk compilation, due in March — obviously a great development for Panay, as well as an early sign that the Folk compilers are turning back to dance music after a couple years straying into indie rock territory….
SEAL’S DANCE-FLOOR MOVES… Warner Bros. last week released the Killer 2005 EP at the same time it released on iTunes Seal: Best Remixes 1991-2005, which follows by a couple months a regular Best of Seal package. Overall, the Best Remixes set is a bit of a disappointment, with few truly phenomenal reworkings present. Still, most of the remixes are enjoyable, especially the guitar-centered remix from Burnin’ Thick Dick (abbreviated as "Thick D.") of Seal’s recent great hit "Waiting for You." And there are sure to be many Club Play chart-toppers to come from the set, too. Our bet for the next: "I’m Alive," a joint reworking of a 10-year-old ballad that comes from two of dance music’s biggest producers, Sasha and D.C. native B.T….
BLONDES’ DANCE AMBITIONÂ… At least two more blondes are gearing up to stir up dance floors with new songs. Baby Spice Emma Bunton reached No. 4 on the Club Play Chart recently with remixes of "Free Me," but her newest single, "Maybe," features a far better assortment, so it should do even better. Though the single hasn’t been released in the U.S. just yet, and nor have the remixes, it’s never too early to request and track down the Illicit Club Mix of the tune, or failing that, the Almighty Club Mix. Both capture the heady, sparkling energy of the original, though Almighty’s is a little too forceful in its approach.
Suzanne Palmer will finally — finally — release her debut artist album on Star 69 Records within the next two months. Originally slated for last fall, Home will feature one of last year’s biggest and best club hits, "Luv 2 Luv," as well as the title track, which has just been released as a single. After a quick spin, "Home" doesn’t sound quite as amazing as its immediate predecessor, but it is as captivating as every previous Palmer effort. Palmer was the voice behind most of Peter Rauhofer’s Club 69 mid-90s tunes, from "Muscles" to "Much Better." "Hide U" and "Show Me" revisited dance floors most recentlyÂ…
ANASTACIA COMES HOMEÂ… Anastacia is another blonde who’ll finally be back in the U.S. music headlines. It was just announced that her self-titled latest album, one of 2004’s biggest albums worldwide, will finally see an American release, although not until June 7. Columbia Records obviously intends to spend months pushing the album, to finally make Chicago-born, New York-raised Anastacia the star she is everywhere else. Maybe third time’s the charm. No word on whether the label will re-release her winning first hit, "Left Outside Alone," which got some club play last summer. Or whether it’ll simply move on to the also appealing "Sick and Tired," which better shows off her album’s dance-rock-pop fusion sound….