Soundwaves

Summer dance charts, Scumfrog, Puretone

by Doug Rule
Published on June 19, 2003, 12:00am | Comments

CHART WATCH… It's summertime and the sun is finally peeking out from the clouds. That's a good enough reason to get out, get up and get dancing. But wait! There's an even better reason to dance. We're drowning in quality material right now. Usually, weeks go by and only a few songs stand out in Billboard's influential Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, compiled by a select crew of 140 reporting DJs, including many familiar names (the local Darryl Strickland, Julian Marsh, Peter Rauhofer, Joe Gauthreaux, Lydia Prim). But the past few weeks have been exceptional, and the week of June 21 is a case in point -- songs great and good stack the Top 20, most of them songs you've likely heard before (for a change). Besides the usual suspects (Justin, Whitney, J.Lo, Anastacia, a new, boring Deborah Cox), there's also Daniel Bedingfield, at number nine with remixes of his accomplished ballad “If You're Not the One.” There's the pesky maybe-lesbians t.A.T.u. at three with remixes of “Not Gonna Get Us,” the best song from their recent album. At four there's Puretone, who last year gave us the habit-forming “Addicted to Bass,” from one of the best dance-pop artist albums in years, Stuck in a Groove (V2). And there are others (Becky Baeling's “Getaway,” soaring to number two, Ricky Martin's “Relight My Fire,” Deborah Cooper's “Real Love”) just bubbling up to the surface of frequent club play. To paraphrase Puretone, we're stuck in a groove, with too many good tunes going round in our head.


Scumfrog

A SCUM-FREE FROGPOND… Monica's single “So Gone” from her just-released album is climbing high on every singles chart, including Billboard's Club Play, compliments of remixer the Scumfrog, who also has his own production, “Music Revolution,” about to break into that chart. Plus, he's just completed a remix of Annie Lennox's “Pavement Cracks.” Soon enough, obviously, you won't be asking who the hell is the Scumfrog, though questioning how Dutchman Jesse Houk choose that name by which to remix and DJ will linger. Fortunately, his work lingers too, and his glorious two-disc set Extended Engagement (Effin Records/Positiva) has yet to wear out its welcome, a couple months after its unassuming release and after near-nonstop repeated play ever since. Featuring twenty tracks that he's personally produced or remixed (often adding his own percussion, guitar chords and vocals), Houk colors the set with his disco/funk/dark house sensibility that relies far more on noisy weather patterns (thunder, wind, rain) than the prototypical heavy machinery and industrial sounds of most DJs. He has a minimal way with weather, not beating you over the head with formulaic thunder and bombast, just allowing nature to run its own unpredictable course. It works your mood better than any drug. Houk, as the Scumfrog, has electrified the New York underground dance field the past couple years, and his tornado-imbued remix of Kylie Minogue's “Love at First Sight” earlier this year put the rest of us on watch for his next effort. His stormy reworking of “Days Go By” drips with melancholy to match the forlorn lyrics better than Dirty Vegas's trance-y original mix. He's clearly the remixer of the moment -- there's not a flaw to be found on Extended Engagement. Check it out, then check him out live, spinning at Home Nightclub, 911 F St NW, Friday, July 4 (visit www.homenightclub.net).

IN THE MIX… Speaking of Puretone, the Australian act's lead singer Amiel will release her debut album, Audio Out (Festival Mushroom Records), in August. Here's to the playful-voiced Australian following in Kylie's footsteps to success stateside... The Canadian remix/production act Wide Life has created the theme song and other music for the Bravo/NBC reality makeover show, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, debuting this summer. Wide Life (Rachid Wehbi and Ian Nieman) scored major club play last year with the over-the-top “I Don't Want U” single. Again, they've enlisted Love Inc.'s Simone Denny (“You're A Superstar”) to powerbelt, though hopefully this time around they'll actually give her props, by including her name in the credits. Wide Life will produce remixes of the theme song for club play... Nearly twenty years since its last full-length album, the seminal German electronic group Kraftwerk will release Tour De France (Astralwerks/EMI) next month. Kraftwerk has influenced any number of dance-pop artists, from nearly every French act (Daft Punk, Mirwais) and electroclash group (Felix da Housecat, Ladytron) working today. Astralwerks/EMI will release the album July 22, and a first single, “Tour De France 03,” on July 8, to coincide with the centennial version of the Tour de France bicycle race... After fumbling her remix of “American Life,” Missy Elliott will once again tackle Madonna, by covering “Into the Groove” for a new Gap publicity campaign…

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