Archive for July, 2012
I recently got a DJ promo of a great new track from the UK R&B girl group StooShe, called Black Heart. The fantastic remix from Bimbo Jones (one of several remixes) gives the otherwise retro sounding track some seriously great energy, and while it sucks the retro right out of it, it doesn’t complete obliterate the song’s character.
The original version, viewable with the official video on YouTube, was a bit of a surprise when I heard it—after falling in love with the the dance mix. I’m not sure I’ve heard someone attempt to revive the classic 60s sound quite so unabashedly. (Embedded below.)
In any case, this is another you can expect to hear regularly in my mixshows for awhile to come.
Regrettably, the girls’ label—Warner—hasn’t seen fit to release the track in the United States. What a shame.
I have a large(-ish) music collection. I know there are people who make my collection look tiny, but I have roughly 15,000 MP3 files which are a combination of dance/DJ, as well as the smattering of other things I listen to. Anything from Diane Schuur with her smooth jazz vocals, to Elton John classics, to a crapload of 80s music of all types (although emphasizing new wave).
Since getting sucked into the cult of Apple (first iPod Touch, then iPhone, then iPad, then Apple TV, and most recently iMac and MacBook Pro), I’ve worked a little harder at resolving my disdain for iTunes. I still think it’s an abysmally poorly written piece of software, lacking anything even remotely resembling tools for true power users. But it is what it is, and I’ve tried to accept its glaring and numerous flaws since—for better or worse—it’s the requisite tool for managing one’s various iDevices.
So after trying to juggle my massive music collection and the need (well, desire) to have the right music on the right device at the right time, I decided—screw it. I’m signing-up for iTunes Match. $25 is a year is trivial for enabling me to access substantially all my music, nearly anytime, nearly anytime. Unfortunately, that meant undertaking a process of organizing this big pile of crap that is my music collection, and making at least some reasonable effort to ensure it’s tagged properly, de-duped, and so forth.
Alas, now was the time anyway. I recently got a NAS (a Western Digital MyBook Live Duo, specifically), set it up in RAID 1 mode, with the express purpose of having a central repository for my music, my videos, my photos, and various digital bric-a-brac. Let’s just say that sifting through the contents of roughly a dozen desktops and laptops, along with a handful of external hard drives, to extract content that I want to save is a process akin to yanking all my teeth out with a rusty pair of pliers. First off, it hurts like bloody hell, and secondly, it seems to be consuming a lot of time.
In any case, I did manage to get my old shared music library quickly tag-cleaned (read: barely dusted off), moved to the NAS, where it joined a somewhat more scrubbed copy of my DJ music library, so at least there’s a centralized copy of that. (There’s still a lot of work to do; there’s music scattered everywhere in the storage devices around here.) And I did sign-up for iTunes Match. And I have added the resulting centralized library to iTunes.
As I write this, iTunes is busy uploading a megaton of obscure dance music to the Apple servers—songs it failed to match successfully against Apple’s own store content. I reckon it’ll be finished by the end of the weekend at this rate, despite having a full 20 Mbps of upstream capacity here.
In any case, the process of cleaning-up my music collection, adding it to iTunes and syncing to the cloud has reminded me of an awful lot of great music I have in my music collection which I’ve not listened to in years. Among them is Anything Box.
Billed as a “synthpop” group, they are best known for their late-80s smash hit, Living in Oblivion. Personally, I think their best work came later on, but I was ecstatic to rediscover great tracks like Where is Love and Happiness, Every Single Day, Life is Fun, and Lady in Waiting, which I remember putting on endless repeat when first acquired.
I was also happy to discover that ABox head Claude Strilio and his musical partners who’ve ebbed and flowed over the years are still going strong. (Information at anythingbox.com.)
Maybe I’m showing my age, but I was also happy to discover the sense that the music of Anything Box still feels modern and relevant to me. Stylistically, Anything Box is not unlike Erasure, Duran Duran, or other groups dating back to the late 80s and early 90s which coincidentally are still finding audiences today. (Albeit, perhaps, audiences…of a certain age.)
Below is a YouTube video of one of my favorite ABox songs: Every Single Day; this is the remix version. The video is not great (and the audio isn’t either). The group’s actual performance of the song starts at about the 1 minute mark, but it’ll give you a taste.
Perhaps my favorite track of the moment is a new one from the UK’s Ben Montague.
I’d not heard of the guy until the promo for Love Like Stars came across my in-box in the form of a remix from Cahill, that delicious trio of producers from Liverpool. I’ve no idea who penned the song (perhaps Montague himself?), but it’s got a beautiful lyric, an infectious melody, and Cahill’s production work turns into a flawless mainstream dance track with haunting synth hooks and arps that really drive the thing home.
The original version, viewable with the official video on YouTube, is also a terrific rendition of the track, and lets Montague’s pipes shine through a tad bit better than the dance production. (Embedded below.)
The single will be out soon on iTunes, at least in Great Britain… No word on whether the track will be available in the US iTunes Store.
Regardless, you can catch this one in my mixshows from time to time; it’s already made an appearance a couple of times, and I’m certain I’ll be spinning it more in the future.