Thursday, April 17, 2008

Róisín Murphy and some other newer shit that gets me all excited..

For some reason, in the last little while, I've felt the urge to immerse myself in some of the pop music that I've completely missed out on lately, so these things are most likely well covered elsewhere, but given the disco influence in some of these songs, I suppose it'll still fit in with the format of things on here.. Note: this was the post that I was actually intending to put up in place of the last one.

First off, I can't help but feel extremely excited about a lot of the great music that has come out recently. Despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that the industry seems to be recovering from the onslaught of file sharing, I don't think music has been this exciting in quite a while. Although I have to admit a certain fondness for the Cher-popularized Metro-produced/Thunderpuss remixed dance resurgence of the late 90's, 8-10 years ago, with the prevalence of boardroom pop music - the onslaught of boy-bands, Britney and assorted clones thereof, I definitely don't remember things being nearly as interesting... Personally speaking, this really doesn't have anything much to do with chart positions, commercial music TV/radio (which I had completely given up on at least 8-9 years ago) or big record labels, but with how much the internet has evolved in only the last little while (call it the effect of Web 2.0 maybe?) as a means of disseminating music and information and the levelling effect that it seems to have. Not so much with file sharing alone, but with blogs, message boards, and the evolution of other websites like Discogs and Myspace, YouTube etc.., it seems easier than ever to hear and find out about music and artists that I would have never gotten to hear on commercial radio or any other traditional outlet. The biggest manifestation of that, for me at least, has been in exploring disco music/artists. Even if the 'net weren't around, I would still most likely be looking for disco at used record shops, however I doubt that the exploration (and the appreciation) of it would be nearly as interesting and enjoyable.

I guess much of this comes down to the fact that, for the first time, on a more personal level, even without listening to commercial radio, subscribing to any popular magazines or watching cable TV, it feels like there's more music out there that I'm interested to hear than I can actually really listen to or at least really take in like I once did.. If someone would have told me ten/eleven years ago when I first logged on to the good old interweb that years later some of the latest musical acts would be signed on the strength of a social networking site like Myspace, I would have had a hard time imagining it. It would be interesting to see what people will say ten or twenty years from now at the music of today, the industry and the effect of technology and all of the changes taking place.. For me, at least, the web has definitely become the new radio..

Anyway, while these things have been covered many times earlier and elsewhere, I figure this would be a good post for this, lest anyone think this blog and my appreciation of disco is my way of completely rejecting anything new and contemporary, musically speaking.

I can't say that I'm familiar with a great deal of Moloko's records, nor of Róisín Murphy's first solo album, but lately, having spent the last few months luxuriating in her latest album "Overpowered" (2007, EMI), her boldest bid for pop stardom thus far, I don't think there's a pop singer out there today (sorry Kylie, sorry Madonna) who has the incredible sense of style - physically and musically, and who conveys as much personality as she does. Quite honestly, the last time an artist has captured me with their style and music in this way was some nine or ten years ago when I'd discovered Grace Jones (which is another post, for another time). Not surprisingly, Róisín's a fan, too.. Although chart-wise the results have been somewhat modest by pop standards, they've managed to crank out three singles (with a fourth on the way). At the very least, reading the reviews and reactions to her album, appearances and concerts, she certainly seems to have built up an even stronger image and following as the penultimate fashion-forward pop star of the day. As far as the disco connection goes, Róisín herself has said in the album's press release and in an interview with Anthem Magazine (among other places) that much of the album was based around disco influences, and nowhere is that more obvious than on one of my favourite tracks on the album, "Let Me Know," produced by Groove Armada's Andy Cato.

Definitely my favourite video of hers. The greasy spoon-turned-disco, the outfit, the whimsical dancing and oblivious patrons - love the colours and thematic contrast.. At first listen, the chord progressions stuck out like a sore thumb, not quite a sample, but obviously based on something familiar that I couldn't quite put my finger on. My first thought was of some early 80's Leroy Burgess boogie track (like Fonda Rae's "Over Like A Fat Rat", maybe), but it appears the closest similarity is to the chords of Tracy Weber's Larry Levan mixed disco hit, "Sure Shot" (which, it seems, goes uncredited on the album). Someone posted a side-by-side comparison on YouTube, which seems to have been taken down recently..

More Róisín fabulosity: "Overpowered" and her latest - "You Know Me Better"

For some reason, her more avant-garde solo debut, "Ruby Blue" (2005, Echo) was released in North America, but unfortunately this one hasn't so far. If EMI can give Kylie Minogue a US release, surely they can put something behind this..

I'm not a vegan PETA supporter or anything, but I think the video for Moby's latest single, "Disco Lies" is pretty hilarious and clever, albeit in a bloody and twisted sort of way, that is.. Throw in some disco references, and I'm completely hooked..

Two different videos of the latest single, "Black & Gold" from the Australian-born LA-based singer Sam Sparro, currently riding high (#2 as of this writing) on the UK Charts. Easy on the ears and the eyes - the next gay pop star, perhaps? Definitely looking forward to this album..

If you haven't caught this on Pop Justice or Joe.My.God or anywhere else, "Longing For Lullabies," the latest single from Andreas Kleerup (who did Robyn's UK #1 last year, "With Every Heartbeat") is yet another one that I've been obsessed with lately. I must have had it on repeat all night after seeing it on Joe.My.God. Featuring Neneh Cherry's underrated (at least on these shores) sister, Titiyo, whose last album "Come Along" (2002, Lava/Atlantic) had a low-key US release, which I was surprised to find at an HMV here several years back. I remember enjoying that album quite a bit at the time (note to self: must find my copy). Here is the video along with a recent unplugged live performance from Swedish TV. Leave it to the Swedes to create something this simple and beautiful...

Must also give a hat-tip to Terry Miller of T.M.L. for introducing me to the neo-disco greatness that is Escort as well as the sweet and wonderful Sally Shapiro. Her album, "Disco Romance" (2007, Paper Bag) is/was one of my winter soundtracks this year and definitely among my favourite releases of 2007..

For those who are interested, Terry recently put together an excellent two part disco mix for Click over there and take a listen!




BoogieMan said...

I must admit, as I've gotten older, I've become a bit slow on the uptake in regards to the newer artists. The best references I can retroactivate (yes, I just created a new word) are from the mid to late 90s. Consequently, I've always been a fan of Moby. I think the man is a neo-musical genius, despite the occasional flakes that gather at his feet (metaphor). His "Play" LP is still a current favorite of mine.

Anonymous said...

Get Roisin to come to North America:

It would be a dream come true...

crotchbat said...

Another excellent post!

Question: does anyone know where I can get my hands on Escort vinyl in the States?

Andy said...

Escort is AMAZING! I found them randomly on iTunes and loving them!!
Thanks for the great post and look forward to checking more out all the rest.

Unknown said...

There's a rather cool interview with Roisin over at the blog - Roisin is Soooo overlooked.

Tommy said...

Thanks for the comments everyone..

Hey Dungeon, I have to admit, I'm not so farmiliar with Moby's output. I remember when Play came out and how everyone was heaping praise on it. I saw a great interview with him here on Canadian TV recently ( where he mentioned how he really hadn't intended for it to take off the way it did.. I've been enjoying what I've heard lately though, this one and the one he did with Debbie Harry a couple of years ago.

Hey Produzentin, I got to hear them recently and I love the Joey Negro mixes! Original Vibe mix is my favourite too, but I enjoy the Destination Boogie mix as well..

Anonymous, thanks for the petition link. I signed it. :)

Thanks Crotchbat! As far as US purchase links, I checked (as per the link on their myspace), but apparently they're sold out now too :(

Hey Andy, thanks! I can't wit for an Escort album to come out..

Hey Amanda, thanks for the link to the electroqueer interview!

Arex said...

you might like the Nightmoves remix of Róisín Murphy's You Know Me Better.

i love your blog, btw:)

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