SECOND CHANCE TO D-D-D-DANCE… Junior Senior is coming back-back jack-jack! Yes, we’re talking those same silly, stuttering Scandinavians who four years ago made ”everybody feel united” with dance-pop hits ”Move Your Feet” and ”Shake Your Coconuts,” and a delightful, delirious debut album, D-D-D-Don’t Stop the Beat. The daffy Danish duo of straight Jesper ”Junior” Mortensen and gay Jeppe ”Senior” Laursen were away for so long only because the duo’s original U.S. label Atlantic actually stopped the beat. Such spoilsports. So the duo’s sophomore set Hey Hey My My Yo Yo was released in 2005 in many other countries, except here. It took two additional years, but the smaller Warner Music label Rykodisc is finally set to revive the party. Rykodisc will release the album August 14. But wait, there’s more: The label will also release a companion seven-song EP with the album.
”We wanted to dance this summer, so we went into the studio,” Senior says in a press release about the EP, titled Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. And the boys whipped it out fast, too. ”Four days. Wham-bam! I hope people will want to dance to it too!” Oh, don’t worry, Senior, we do. Now we can also dance to the second full-length, which includes tracks such as the ’80s rap-influenced ”Hip Hop a Lula,” ”Take My Time,” featuring the unmistakable harmonies of the B-52’s’ Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson, and ”Itch U Can’t Skratch,” which LOGO is using in promotions. Also on the album: first single ”Can I Get Get Get,” featured in a recent episode of ”Ugly Betty.” JD Samson of dance-punk trio Le Tigre and of the Le Tigre DJ-duo offshoot MEN joins to rap with Senior. ”Can I get-get-get to know, no-no-know you better-better baby.”
Dates will be announced ”soon” for a U.S. fall tour to support the album, but they’re hitting a few clubs next month, including Manhattan’s Highline Ballroom on album release’s eve. If you can make it there, by all means, go! They’re even more fun live than you could ever imagine….
BASEMENT’S BACK… Yet another party-pop dance duo knows what it’s like to deal with American record label spoil sports. About the same time Atlantic stopped Junior Senior’s beat, Astralwerks wished ”Good Luck” and good riddance to Basement Jaxx, dropping them just as the British duo, the best in the biz, won the inaugural Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album for 2003’s Kish Kash. To paraphrase the Jaxx, where was their head at? But XL Recordings tuned us into last year’s brilliant Crazy Itch Radio, and now comes word that Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Burton are already readying the duo’s sixth album. As we reported last month, they’ve also worked on a track for Cyndi Lauper‘s forthcoming dance album. Billboard reports that early tracks recorded for the new Jaxx album recall the pair’s early Latin-flavored jams. (Think ”Red Alert,” ”Jump N’ Shout,” ”Bingo Bango” and other gems from the 1999 debut Remedy.) Guests this time around reportedly include Yoko Ono and early house-music hitmaker Lil’ Louis….
MARIAH VS. JANET, ROUND TWO… You know how Mariah Carey, after a series of commercial and critical flubs, managed to bounce back and make an unprecedented comeback in 2005? And you know how Janet Jackson, after a series of commercial and critical flubs, managed to flounce on and make an unprecedented flop in 2006? Well, hip-hop producer Jermaine Dupri is the connecting thread to both developments. And now, Dupri is set to repeat things all over again with new albums from both artists, both tentatively scheduled for release later this year. Dupri told Billboard that longtime producer and record executive L.A. Reid will produce Jackson’s new album while he does the deed with Carey. ”I’m going to do Mariah, and we’re going to make it seem like we’re in competition to see who’s going to have the biggest album of the year.”
Uh-oh. Not only does that sound incredibly unromantic — all signs are that Dupri and Jackson are still very much a couple. At first blush, it also sounds incredibly unhelpful for Miss Jackson. Dupri, you see, hasn’t helped our one-time favorite ”Nasty” girl. In fact, ever since the two got together, he’s only hurt her career, first with 2003’s middling Damito Jo, then with last year’s maddening 20 Y.O. And 20 Y.O., we stress to point out, was intended to be a comeback for Jackson on par (hell, even half-under par) with Carey’s The Emancipation of Mimi. He royally failed that challenge, both critically and commercially, resulting in both his and Jackson’s eventual departure from Virgin. They’re now both at Island Urban, with Dupri the executive in charge.
But despite all that, chances are this really could be the boost needed for Jackson’s once-storied, now-suffering career. Reid, after all, actually guided Carey’s comeback as head of the Island Def Jam family of labels. And in that capacity, Reid oversees not only Jackson, but also Dupri. (Also: Def Jam’s Jay-Z, and his ”Umbrella” Rihanna, our new favorite ”bad” girl.) Plus, Dupri added this to Billboard: ”Janet’s record is one that [Reid's] wanted to do for a long time. He’s very passionate about it.” No word on how Jackson’s album is shaping up, or if this means the end of her longstanding relationship with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. But Dupri is effectively out of the picture professionally. And that’s nothing but good news….
| From YouTube
Junior Senior: Take My Time
WHEN ‘NO, NO, NO’ MEANS YES…America had to wait several years, but we’ve quickly become addicted to Amy Winehouse. The British R&B sensation’s single, ”Rehab,” and album, Back to Black, are both as big as her hair. Or at least, both continue to linger near the top of the charts, a feat few contemporary British singers manage to do here. So far, she’s not touring all that extensively in the states, making her stop Saturday, August 4, at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course for the Virgin Festival all the more a must-see. (It should be a must-see already, of course, with Danny Tenaglia, LCD Soundsystem, Sasha & John Digweed, Felix da Housecat and Booka Shade all performing — and that’s not even all the dance artists featured during the festival’s first of two full days.)
Given the success, it’s a bit of a surprise that ”Rehab” hasn’t made much of a dent in the clubs. As popular as the song is itself, especially among gay bar-hoppers — for, ahem, obvious reasons — ”Rehab” isn’t a club-burner. The main reason: it’s just a bit too slow for peak time on a gay dance floor. The Desert Eagle mix is very much in the same vein as Junior Vasquez‘s funky remix of Christina Aguilera‘s ”Ain’t No Other Man,” which got some play last summer. But an additional problem is that the remixes haven’t been as widely released as they should. The Hot Chip remix is the only one available at iTunes — and then only as a bonus with the full album. If you’ve already done it, it’s not worth buying again for this rather pallid remix.
So we might just have to grab another drink and sit a spell: Billboard reports that Steve Mac of the British production team Rhythm Masters has turned in a dark, aggressive and more club-primed remix of Winehouse’s wonderful, Shirley Bassey-channeling, title track. Hopefully that will see wide release once the song is ready as a single stateside. Should be soon. And let’s hope so: We’re more than ready to dance drunk to Winehouse…
WINEHOUSE’S PRODUCER STEPS UP…Meanwhile, the key producer behind Winehouse’s Back to Black is hoping to capitalize on her U.S. success. Next Tuesday, July 10, the British-reared American Mark Ronson, stepson of Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones, will release Versions. The album is just the latest in what looks to become a trend in pop music: the producer-as-artist album, in which celebrated producers move from being slightly behind the scenes to being slightly left of center stage. These albums are every bit as disjointed as the DJ-as-artist albums that have littered the dance genre in the past decade, on which singers are only featured as guests — when they get more than fine-print credit, that is. It’s more of a hodge-podge soundtrack than an album telling a consistent story. Ronson did this the first time four years ago, after having produced hits for Sean Paul and Macy Gray. Since then he has helped produce tracks for Christina Aguilera (including ”Hurt”) as well as UK superstars Winehouse, Lily Allen and Robbie Williams — all part of his work in making funky, horn-driven retro-soul the sound of today’s Britpop.
Versions is as much of a novelty as albums get: each track is a cover of a previous hit, including those from Coldplay, Britney Spears, The Smiths and more. It’s as good as you’d expect given Ronson’s recent work, and it will certainly work to spice and stir up conversation at your next social gathering. The three aforementioned UK superstars are all represented, with Winehouse outshining her competition in covering a tune from British pop-punk band The Zutons — ”Valerie” becomes an irresistible R&B jam in her hands…
TIMBALAND NEEDS NEW ‘SHOCKS’…”Oh Timbaland, they gonna run to you.” Pop music’s most in-demand producer isn’t just being immodest and solipsistic by launching his recent producer-as-artist album with a track noting just how in-demand he is. By sampling and paraphrasing a Nina Simone classic, some might say Timothy ”Timbaland” Mosley is also being sacrilegious. Beyond that though, the statement is more truth than hot air. Now that his Midas Touch has repeatedly turned out hits for Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado, even established acts with respected reputations for songcraft are running to the Norfolk-based producer, from Coldplay to Bjork to Duran Duran to, most famously, Madonna. More often than not, he strikes gold, no matter the artist who hired him.
But on Shock Value, he mostly just comes up with dirt. His sound isn’t nearly as original, distinctive or even noteworthy here as it is when his name is relegated to the fine print. The set works best in highlighting the artists he’s featuring, though not so much the long-legged model it was clearly intended to introduce. A promotional flyer is included in the CD’s jewel case announcing ”Keri Hilson Coming Soon!” Hilson sings on three tracks here, including current single ”The Way I Are.” Boring — next! And next would be the rock acts he’s dumped at the end of his 17-track set, especially The Hives and One Republic. If nothing else Shock Value works to show that Timbaland, still best known as a hip-hop producer, can rock, too — at least with help from some well-chosen friends…