October 30, 2013

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Charlotte - Somebody's Baby (Peter Rauhofer Remixes)

The singer-songwriter is best known for the club hits "Skin", "Someday", and "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark." This song appeared on her debut album which remains unreleased in the U.S. These previously unheard, unreleased remixes by Peter Rauhofer, who passed away earlier this year were made available yesterday for the first time. It is unknown exactly when these mixes were completed, but based on the overall sound and style of them, it was reportedly between 1998 and 2000. Peter worked with Eric Kupper on these gorgeous Garage/House mixes. Charlotte delivers a spirited vocal performance which goes perfectly with the production.

Listen to clips of the 2 mixes here:

The acapella was also released earlier this year as part of Nervous Accapellas Vol 6

Grade: A+

October 28, 2013

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Jonas Oakland - What Happens On The Dancefloor (Stays On The Dancefloor)

This is the latest single from the Swedish Dance/Pop recording artist. This new one channels the edgy contemporary Electro/Pop style that Ke$ha and Lady Gaga are known for, however he puts his own spin on it. The result is an ultra infectious song that is perfect for the dancefloor and radio. Perhaps this one could get him noticed internationally.

Listen to the song here:

Grade: A-
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Thema Houston & JANITOR - FORTYTWO (EP)

This brand new EP is the collaboration of R&B/Disco singer Thelma Houston (of "Don't Leave Me This Way" and "Saturday Night, Sunday Morning" fame) and eclectic producer JANITOR. It features 5 exquisitely produced and well-written songs in different styles. "Enemy" is a soulful Quiet Storm, R&B slow jam while "Landlover" is a rollicking Disco number. The 80s synthpop midtempo "The Surreal Deal" is stunning. "Colorblind" has an authentic Punk Rock band flavor. The soft R&B "When The Party's Over" is the perfect EP closer. Thelma's vocals are incredible form on all the songs. This is an essential listen for anyone looking for something thoughtful and eclectic.

-The EP may be previewed and purchased here (iTunes)

Grade: A

October 26, 2013

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Thaea - Dance Until I'm Free

Thaea is all set to make her proper debut on the music scene with this catchy club track. Though she can in an operatic style as she did on "Genesis", she can also sing in a traditional style, and she sounds amazing. Produced by Joe Carrano, the song is perfect for both the clubs and radio. The EDM mixes are more big room oriented while the USA mix has a Rock edge to it. Both are extremely well done.

-Listen to clips and purchase here (iTunes) or here for DJ friendly lossless files (Beatport)

Grade: A

October 25, 2013

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Deborah Cox feat Paige - Higher (Remixes)

Nearly 7 months after the original versions were released, some new remixes were released today. Carlos Melange, Chris Staropoli (aka That Kid Chris), Dave Rose & Dimitri Tee, DJ Escape & Tony Coluccio, and Paige provide the new mixes. The Carlos Melange mix is a big room Electro/House style that is rather noisy, focusing on lots of buildups and breakdowns. Chris Staropoli's Moroder-esque tribal mix has a subtle 80s feel. Dave Rose & Dimitri Tee's piano-based Electro mix is uplifting and mainstream. DJ Escape & Tony Coluccio's hard mixes are the strongest of the package, utilizing all of the fantastic vocals. They give the song everything it needs to be an anthem. Both the vocal and dub mixes are well done. Rounding out the package is Paige's own new 'Resurrection' mix which is a much harder, synthier take on the original version.

-Listen to clips and purchase here (iTunes)

Grade: A

October 22, 2013

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Katy Perry - Prism (Review)

This is the highly anticipated 3rd studio album serving as the followup to the massive Teenage Dream which spawned 7 consecutive hit singles. This album was reportedly meant to be much darker and introspective when it was first conceptualized, however, the darker elements have been toned down.

Here is an overview of each track:

Roar The #1 hit in which she tells her lover that she will be fine and be stronger than ever on her own opens things up setting the tone for the album clearly inspired by the breakup of her brief marriage to Russell Brand.

Legendary Lovers Things slow down just a little with the exotic Middle Eastern and Indian flavored song. The sensual tabla breakdown in the middle is so hot.

Birthday The innuendo heavy song is classic Katy. This is what "Hummingbird Heartbeat" was for her last album. All the little zingers on the midtempo are very cute.

Walking On Air Taking cues from 90s House music, this one is so very delightful, and speaks of the giddiness one can feel while in love.

Unconditionally A gorgeous powerballad that Jim Steinman would be proud of comes next showcasing a knockout vocal performance from Katy.

Dark Horse The psychedelic Hip Hop track is the only collaboration on the album. The otherworldly feel of the song is really exciting.

This Is How We Do The 80s inspired Synthpop midtempo is two tons of fun with the catchy chorus and delicious bubblegummy production.

International Smile Continuing the 80s trend is a song that could have easily been on Madonna's Like A Virgin album. The "ooh uh ooh" backing vocals in the verses are so pretty.

Ghost The "Bette Davis Eyes" styled midtempo gives the public and fans some insight into the breakup of her marriage: it happened via text message.

Love Me The standard Adult Contemporary fare ends up being the weakest song on the album despite the solid production and vocals.

This Moment The "Such A Shame" styled track also does not live up to its full potential. It feels really middle of the road.

Double Rainbow Things get back on track with this gorgeous ballad. This is easily one of her best vocal performances to date.

By The Grace Of God The stunning tearjerker ballad talks of initially contemplating suicide but ultimately deciding not to go through with it because of a savior helping them through difficult circumstances may resonate with some who have been in similar situations before or are possibly going through something like that right now.

Spiritual The Alanis Morissette-esque midtempo is the perfect next track to the heavier track that came before it.

It Takes Two This Pop/Rock midtempo about the dynamics of a relationship, possibly Katy and John Mayer's current one is rather thought provoking.

Choose Your Battles Things close on a bittersweet note with another song about relationships.

This is a strong collection of songs, however, the album does not really flow all that well as whole as there are so many different styles of music represented. The placement of "Unconditionally" is really odd in the first half of the album whereas the 3 bonus tracks also feel like they don't belong at the end. The latter two would have been more effective in place of "Love Me" and "This Moment" which are easily two of the weakest songs. The lyrics on nearly all of the songs are anywhere from good to incredible. None are cringe-worthy or lazy. The production sounds contemporary despite all the 80s and 90s throwbacks which are a nice break from the ubiquitous EDM sound that is all over radio right now. Those longing for the 80s and 90s might enjoy this. The album is full of great single choices. "Dark Horse", "Legendary Lovers", "Walking On Air", "By The Grace Of God", and "Spiritual" are some of the obvious ones.

Listen to the album here:

Purchase the album here (iTunes)

Grade: A-

October 20, 2013

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Lady Gaga feat R Kelly - Do What You Want

This is the first iTunes countdown single from her highly anticipated ARTPOP album due out next month. This is NOT the next single from the album ("Venus" is). The pairing of Lady Gaga and R. Kelly may seem like an unusual one given their drastically different styles of music, but somehow it all works perfectly. Their vocal styles complement one another. The early 90s Ace Of Base sound previously heard in her own "Alejandro" is present here along with a bit of 80s R&B and Freestyle, yet this all sounds so fresh. This song is featured in the new Dre Beats commercials airing on TV networks all over the U.S. There are no plans to make this a single, but this is begging to be one eventually.

-Listen to the song here (YouTube)
-Buy the song here (iTunes)

Grade: A
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Kelly Clarkson - Underneath The Tree

This is the first single from the first American Idol winner's new Holiday album. The original song is festive and joyous, recalling the glory days of Phil Spector. Everything about the song is so perfect from the lyrics to Kelly's flawless vocals. This song has the potential to become a beloved modern classic in the way Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" did nearly 2 decades back. This is absolutely wonderful!

-Listen to the song here (YouTube)

Grade: A+
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Chicane feat Duane Harden - One More Time

Taking a page from Avicii's recent hit single "Wake Me Up" which also incorporates a Country style banjo and Electronic music, "One More Time" is in a similar vein. Duane Harden (of "You Don't Know Me" and "What You Need" fame) provides the few soulful vocals. It is mostly instrumental with just a few vocal drops. In addition to the dubby original is the slightly similar Disco Citizens mix which is a bit more accessible and clearer sounding. The Andi Durrant & Steve More mix is extremely noisy and it adds absolutely nothing of note to the song.

-Buy the song here (iTunes)

Listen to the song here:

Grade: A-
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Katy Perry - Unconditionally

This is the second official single from Prism. The universal power ballad is every bit as epic as the early reviews have said it was. The theme of loving someone unconditionally will resonate with almost everyone everywhere. Overall, Katy sounds amazing on this. She really shines on songs with minimal productions. With other big ballads such as Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" doing well right now, this should have no trouble either.

For those wanting an uptempo version, Country Club Martini Crew has done a remix which gives the song everything it needs to be appropriate for the dancefloor while maintaining the overall soul of the song.

-Watch the lyric video here (YouTube)
-Listen to the Country Club Martini Crew remix here (Soundcloud)

Grade: A
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Tamar Braxton - Love And War (Danny Verde Remix)

The remix by Danny Verde of the lead single from the album of the same name has finally been made available to the public in some form. Nearly 3 singles have been released in the time since this song was a single. A preview of the remix was warmly received, however, the remix remained unreleased until earlier this week. The big room anthem mix is fitting for the ballad. Danny's driving production is superb.

-Listen to the Danny Verde remix and download it here (Soundcloud)

Grade: A

October 17, 2013

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Donna Summer - Love To Love You Donna

This is the first posthumous release for the Queen Of Disco. It is a collection of brand new remixes that were produced just for this collection. This collection only covers a limited part of Donna's multi-decade career, but it focuses on the most important time when she had a string of hits.

Here is an overview of each track:

Love To Love You Baby (feat. Chris Cox) [Giorgio Moroder Remix]
This orgasmic odyssey clocking at almost 17 minutes in its original version back in the day is re-imagined in an "I Feel Love" aesthetic by Giorgio Moroder and Chris Cox. Despite the production being re-arranged as much as it has, the sensuality quotient is still very high. This song is every bit as erotic as it was in 1975.

Dim All the Lights (Duke Dumont Remix)
It is a shame that this one only uses so few vocals because the production was rather promising. It basically loops the same line over and over for much of it.

Hot Stuff (Frankie Knuckles & Eric Kupper As Director's Cut Signature Mix)
This song's Disco meets Rock production is appropriately minimized in this 90s House rework which incorporates a few key instrumental flourishes and hooks from the original, however, the Rock elements are sorely missed.

I Feel Love (Afrojack Remix)
One of the most influential songs in all of Dance/Electronic music has been updated ever so slightly picking up the tempo, but the soul of the song and that signature arpeggio hook that has been sampled and ripped off countless times is left intact. There have been a number of remixes of this song over the years which strayed too far and left much to be desired. This is one of the best mixes of the song ever done other than the Rollo & Sister Bliss one from 1995.

Love Is In Control (Finger On the Trigger) [Chromeo & Oliver Remix]
While certain melodies from the original were kept, this mix ends up sounding far more dated than it should.

Sunset People (Hot Chip Dub Edit)
The Disco vibe of the original is maintained though the tempo is lowered just a little. This would have worked better as a full vocal mix.

Working the Midnight Shift (Holy Ghost! Remix)
The Once Upon A Time album track is reinvented in a Kevin Saunderson/Inner City style. The industrial sound of the original is there too, just changed up a bit.

Bad Girls (Gigamesh Remix)
The song from the double album of the same name about the ladies of the evening is given an 80s synthpop styled reworking. The Disco/Rock vibe of the original has been entirely stripped away.

MacArthur Park (Laidback Luke Remix) [Instrumental Version]
It's puzzling why the instrumental was put on the standard edition instead of the vocal mix which is on the deluxe edition. It's a good instrumental, but the vocals really bring it home.

I Feel Love (Benga Remix)
After the amazing Afrojack mix, this one is totally unnecessary. There are hardly any vocals and the few teases of the original that are there just don't work.

On the Radio (Jacques Greene Remix)
The remix of this evergreen classic just sucks out all of the fun that the original had. The effects on the vocals make them sound so distant.

Last Dance (Masters At Work Remix) [Short Version]
The classic closing song at any club was already cinematic and over the top in all of the right ways, but this remix lacks the power and urgency that the original had. The orchestral elements that are there from the original feel out of place with the watered down production.

La Dolce Vita
This previously unreleased, unleaked song seems out of place on this collection because every other song has been released before in some fashion. It's a great track and sounds fairly modern courtesy of Giorgio Moroder's forward-thinking productions, but it would be more at home on a collection of Donna's unreleased songs (and there are possibly hundreds of those!).

Our Love (Krystal Klear Remix) [Bonus Track]
This one has been re-imagined as a soulful House track with a hint of electro in the bassline.

MacArthur Park (Laidback Luke Remix)
This should have been on the standard edition in place of the instrumental version. This one maintains the melody of the dramatic original which was in that epic "MacArthur Park Suite", adding some new bells and whistles, and of course some noisy electro buildups. This is still pretty decent.

Bad Girls (Boys Noize Club Mix)
This cut up rework is also unnecessary as it feels so messy and noisy.

Sunset People (Hot Chip Re-Edit)
This longer version of the mix on the standard edition is good for the clubs, but it might be too much for some listening at home unless one is into this sort of thing.

Overall, this remix collection ends up being rather disappointing with more than half of the mixes being underwhelming due to questionable production choices and the handling of the vocals. Cutting out 90% of the vocals and using just a fraction of them is not appropriate for someone like Donna. Her songs are meant to be heard with all the verses, choruses, bridge, and ad libs that made her originals so loved and memorable. The clear standouts of this collection are the Giorgio Moroder & Chris Cox mix of "Love To Love You Baby", the Afrojack mix of "I Feel Love", the Director's Cut mix of "Hot Stuff", the Laidback Luke mix of "MacArthur Park" (with the vocals), the Gigamesh mix of "Bad Girls", and the Holy Ghost! mix of "Working The Midnight Shift". 

Purchase the Deluxe Edition here (iTunes)

Grade: C
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Cazwell - No Selfie Control

Rapper Cazwell is known for his sometimes outrageous and humorous songs, videos, and performances. This song is a biting commentary on selfies (the act of taking a photo of oneself on their smartphone) and the subsequent posting of the photos on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vine. He half raps, half sings the song that most of could relate to over an instrumental bearing a striking resemblance to Daft Punk's massive hit "Get Lucky." The accompanying music video features Cazwell taking selfies in various states of undress. This song is lots of fun.

-Watch the music video here (YouTube)
-Buy the song and music video here (iTunes)

Grade: A-

October 14, 2013

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George Benson - Give Me The Night (DJ Meme Remix)

The Jazz great originally released this Disco/Funk track in 1980. It is one of his most successful recordings, and has gone on to be sampled and covered countless times, most notably by Randy Crawford (with superb remixes by Mousse T) and Xavier (with a fun mix by the Freemasons). DJ Meme has revisited this classic in a light, soulful House style which is close to the original, but updated just enough. It is available to download for a limited time.

Grade: A

October 6, 2013

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Clara LoFaro - Born To Love You

This is the singer-songwriter's latest single. Despite being largely unknown to the masses, her music has appeared in movies, TV shows, and TV ads. Her vulnerable meets powerful vocal style calls to mind the voices of Anastacia, Billie Ray Martin, and Dido. The Pop/Rock song has a captivating sensuality quality. It has all the makings of a big hit, if only PDs and MDs would take notice of this gem.

Chris Cox has done some club mixes of the song which retain the Pop/Rock atmosphere of the original while making it a little more uptempo for the dancefloor.

-Watch the original video here (YouTube)
-Watch the Chris Cox remix video here (YouTube)
-Purchase the original here (iTunes)

Grade: A
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Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball (Nick Harvey remix)

The second single from her new album Bangerz already went to number one recently after it had massive airplay, sales, and views of its controversial music video directed by Terry Richardson. The emotional power ballad produced by Dr. Luke showcases the Hannah Montana stars vocals brilliantly. It is easily one of her best songs and singles.

There have been countless bootlegs and uncommissioned club mixes of the song making the rounds, however, the best one has been produced by Nick Harvey. He delivers the quintessential anthem mix of the song, incorporating a massive synth riff reminiscent of the one found in the End All remix by Peter Bailey and Richie Santana of "The Lover That You Are". Miley's vocals soar over the epic production.

Listen to the mix and download it here:

Grade: A

October 3, 2013

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Christina Aguilera - We Remain

This song was recorded specifically for the 2nd Hunger Games movie. The midtempo ballad is very much in the same vein as some of Christina's own Stripped era sound. While she has been known to showcase her vocal prowess on her ballads, she chooses to hold back on this and delivers a more subdued, softer vocal. There are a few parts where she appears to be straining, but that may be intentional given the subject matter of the movie.

-Listen to the song here (YouTube)

Grade: A-
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