Jean Claude Ades – „Appassionata / Ordinary Day“ (Be Crazy Music)
Be Crazy – that is everything with Jean Claude Ades: assertive, exciting, attitude to life and, of course, the slogan itself: Be Crazy. Be crazy. And creative: Jean Claude Ades refines this year’s summer season with two new tracks, which are now out on the Be Crazy label. “Appassionata” and “Ordinary Day” are the titles and both tracks fit perfectly into the portfolio of one of Ibiza’s most famous DJs and producers, one whose style is as unique as it is imaginative: Deep Tech House of the most inspired kind, perfectly seasoned with percussive elements, irresistible bass lines and surprising, unusual moments. A Moog-like pattern forms the groundwork of “Appassionata”, on top of which there are magical string sequences and keyboard lines, held on the ground by an unmistakably powerful bass drum. “Ordinary Day” is anything other than ‘ordinary’, as the tongue-in-cheek title suggests. Quite the contrary, the track gives a musical kick-start right onto the high season’s energy level. Flowing percussion, filigree drum loops, synth strings as well as Sterea’s grandiose vocals. The expansive breakdown that rounds the track out at the end is also perfectly timed. The must-hear track of the 2017 season.
Arcade Fire – „Everything Now“ (Columbia)
Thirteen years have now elapsed since Arcade Fire made their remarkable ‘exclamation’ mark with their début album, “Funeral”. Songs like the four-part “Neighborhood” or the irresistible “Rebellion (Lies)” set out to rewrite Indie rock in its entirety, no less. Highly melodious, meaningful subjects, great drama – Win Butler and his many-headed band combined cerebral concepts with catchy pop, and continued to do so on later records such as “Neon Bible” and the exquisite “The Suburbs”. After “Reflektor”, which was released on the market with a lot of artistic fuss, with “Everything Now” the Canadians have now not only regained a steady footing, but also taken a light-footed step towards the dancefloor. The title track already exudes latent Iberian charm, recalling, not incidentally, the blessed times of Abba. The rest of the album also steams with stylistically self-conscious arrangements. What is still missing for them to climb finally up to the top floor in order to accommodate themselves between U2 and Ed Sheeran? Perhaps that one all-encompassing hit. But even in the absence of the hit there is quality, because in the middle of the mainstream the tracks also tends to be too deep sometimes.
Ghostpoet – „Dark Days & Canapés“ (PIAS/Rough Trade)
Great Britain’s inspired middle class poet, Obaro Ejimive, remains a phenomenon, a stylistic free spirit who accomplishes the feat of hanging between styles while having settled in very nicely there. On the predecessor, “Shedding Skin”, the Nigerian-born resident of London fully expressed his musical formula for the first time: the recipe for success was a jazz-based sound at the interface of indie pop, Ejimive’s melancholic rap singing embedded in trip-hoppy beats. With Dark Days & Canapés, he has gone deeper into this style, and has once again managed to construct melancholic tracks that, nonetheless, never sound hopeless. The inclusion of Massive Attack member, Daddy G., who guests on the album, is extremely coherent. Tracks such as “Freakshow”, the profound “Helicopter Boogie” or the soberly descriptive “Blind as a Bat” cast a revealing light on life in British cities on the eve of Brexit. Songs that pause, look backwards and lend a perspective. Ones that, despite all the darkness, also lead you to suspect there might just be light at the end of the tunnel.
Zoot Woman – „Absence“ (Snowhite/Rough Trade)
The UK’s Zoot Woman shaped a not inconsiderable part of the noughties’ sound. Having already started out life as an instrumental band in 1995, with “Living in a Magazine” in 2001 the triumphal march of the 80s-infatuated dandies began. Songs like the title track, “It‘s Automatic” or the gigantic “You and I” had the dancefloor impetus of Daft Punk, the elegance of Duran Duran and, ultimately, attracted the attention of superstars like Madonna. As a result, the Queen of Pop entrusted founder member Stuart Price with the production of her tracks time and again. What’s more, Zoot Woman’s trademark sound is almost unchanged over two decades after the launch; it’s just been somewhat modernised in terms of studio technique here and there. The stylistic palette remains unaltered: electronic delicacies, 80s’ quotes, slightly rasping guitars and classic beats from indie disco “Solid Gold” is a wake-up call for the dance floor, “Ordinary Face” sees the foot taken off the accelerator, and, lastly, “Still Feels Like the First Time” a collaboration with Kylie Minogue, is a flawless ballad between disco and drama. According to singer, Johnny Blake, “Our goal was to find a balance between older sounding sounds and modern synthesisers.” Like this, the record has become more varied. ” It’s pointless to disagree: you just wish they might have put a bit more effort into the cover.
Phoenix – „Ti Amo“ (Atlantic)
There’s scarcely a band that could have fitted better at this point-in the immediate vicinity of Zoot Woman’s new work-than Phoenix, of all people. Appearing on the scene at about the same time, the French band also had one foot permanently in disco and the other in indie pop. However, where Zoot Woman flirted with the snobbery of megalomaniac 80s superstars, the heart of Thomas Mars and his rather slacker-looking band mates was beating for French classics along the lines of “La Boum”, the Gainsbourg family or even Michel Polnareff. Tracks like “Consolation Prizes” or “1901” turned into massive hits and the PR machine discovered the money-spinning side to their melodies. It’s not entirely easy to keep their heads up as a “simple band” and thus, with “Ti Amo”, Phoenix now seem to push to one side anything that is top heavy and get back to doing what they are best able to: Writing melodies that are highly infectious and yet which always manage to just scrape past all-too shallow bubblegum pop.