The OXD Mirror is a weekly music column brought to you by the boys of OCCUPY THE DISCO (OXD), a New York City based movement created by three music lovers, Ru Bhatt, Josh Appelbaum, and Tadeu Magalhães, who want to share their love for disco, house and dance music with the world.
Many people consider Labor Day the end of summer despite having over 20 days left in the season. The songs in the first part of today's post echo this somber thought but after the jump you'll find tracks that will have you dancing into the fall.
The Reflections - 'Summer Days'
The California-based trio known as The Reflections focus on a failed summer romance on their debut single, 'Summer Days,' off their upcoming album Limerance. The song's breezy, light sound may make it sound like a cheery summer track, but don't let that fool you. The introspective lyrics, delivered in Darian Zahedi's soothing, melodic voice, tell a different story all together, leaving the listener wondering whether it is happy or sad to have ended the summer in solitude.
El Perro Del Mar - 'Walk on By'
Sarah Assbring, the Swedish pop artist better known as El Perro Del Mar, embraces being on her own with 'Walk on By,' the first single from her fifth album, Pale Fire. Sarah has moved on from the 60's-influenced album Love is Not Pop by playing the role of a chilled out, 80's Brit-soul/jazz singer that has decided to remove herself from the dating pool after one too many failed relationships. The sad tale is accompanied by haunting saxophone melodies that add to the song's seductive feel. If you're a fan of early Robyn or Lykke Li, this track is right up your alley.
Satellite Stories - 'Sirens (Slow Magic Remix)'
The final solemn track in today's post comes from the Finnish quartet known as Satellite Stories. The original song is reminiscent of Two Door Cinema Club with its percussive, energetic sound. Known for their dreamwave style, Slow Magic replaces the original's staccato rhythms with soothing synths that give the lyrics a chance to shine. One can't help but sway along as lead singer, Esa, recounts a couple's last kiss before they end their relationship. Look for for Satellite Stories' debut album, Phases to Break the Ice, out on September 21st.
Girls Aloud may be one of the biggest U.K. pop groups of all time, but in America, they're somewhat of a curiosity: They were a girl group manufactured by a 2002 reality television competition. They were a hit-making machine whose underlying hit-making production machine, Xenomania, became almost as famous as the girls themselves. And perhaps less endearingly, they were the band that spawned Cheryl Cole, who is now best known on these shores for lasting half an episode as a judge on the U.S. X Factor before being sent back to England. Despite all this, we should care. Because when Girls Aloud were great — and they did, indeed, have their fair share of transcendent moments — they embodied everything we love about pop music.
Nicola Roberts wasn't Girls Aloud's Beyoncé — or their Kelly Rowland, for that matter — which is all the more reason why Cinderella's Eyes has already positioned itself as somewhat of a coup. Unlike Cole's post-GA output — which is only as good as you think Will.I.Am is good — Roberts made an album that doesn't depart from the blueprint as much as it sends it up-to-date: The Diplo–produced "Beat Of My Drum" is a raucous freestyle affair, while "Lucky Day" — co-written by Canadian electro trio Dragonette — takes the spirit of 2008's Girls Aloud/Pet Shop Boys collaboration out of Neil Tennant's sullen range and into an elated place. That said, formulas work for a reason, and when Roberts teams up with former Xenomania member Jon Shave for "Say It Out Loud" — an impossibly pleasurable synthpop track, the caliber of which we haven't heard since "Dancing On My Own" — it's like she's no longer a struggling solo artist from a multiplatinum group, but the star of a group who never got her due.
Bloc Party have only marginally cleared up rumors of Kele Okereke's dismissal, with guitarist Russell Lissack saying that while he hasn't spoken to Kele in a couple of months, and while there are "no bad vibes," the remaining three members are still auditioning new singers. "It's not really a secret because Kele's been pretty busy doing solo stuff," he explains. "The other three of us wanted to meet up and make music." On his blog, Kele still sounds confused: "A big part of me is laughing hard at all of this, but another part of me is all like WTF?"
This week in free downloads: Vampire Weekend's out keyboardist/producer Rostam Batmanglij took to his Tumblr this week to introduce a new Indian raga–influenced solo track called "Wood." DJ A-Trak remixed The Rapture's latest single,"How Deep Is Your Love?" and dedicated the Dub mix to recently departed Ed Banger producer and DJ Mehdi. Meanwhile, New York duo Ford & Lopatin get the French remix treatment on "Too Much Midi (Please Forgive Me)"courtesy of Alan Braxe.
Will Young cops to the Pet Shop Boys and Bronski Beat influence on his excellent new album, Echoes, but still isn't sure he can express his sexuality more openly: "You're still a minority. There are lots of people who don't want to think about" — he pauses and laughs — "anal sex, to be honest. And I don't have a problem with that."
Sigur Rós premiered their latest feature film, Inni, in Reykjavik, Iceland, last week. A 2CD+DVD package for Inni will get its release on November 15, and features music from the movie as well as bonus tracks and a previously unreleased song called "Lúppulagid."
The Scissor Sisters made an appearance at the New Yorker Festival this weekend to dish about Elton John, who recently brought Jake Shears and Babydaddy a box full of sweaters and shoes ("He's like your favorite grandma"), as well a shared moment with Gore Vidal: "At moments he was delighted by me, at moments he was disgusted by me," Shears said.
Commercial house music makes another bold leap into the mainstream: Swedish House Mafia — the trio of Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell, and Steve Angello — have announced two "One Night Stand" performance dates at Madison Square Garden in New York and the Milton Keynes National Bowl in England.
SOUND & VISION:
Lights — "Toes"
She's gone on tour with Owl City, but don't hold that against her: Lights Valerie Poxleitner — that's Lights to you — released an incredible sophomore album called Siberia today, and "Toes" is a pretty solid example of what this self-written/self-produced album achieves: Tightly-programmed beats and shoegaze tendencies underlie a solid pop proficiency, while Toronto's Holy F*ck — no strangers to a sequencer themselves — lend a hand.
Björk — "Moon"
I have yet to really dig into Björk's new album Biophilia, also out today, but a lot of that has to do with the overwhelming idea of discovering an album with an iPad app for each song. That's not easy listening! Which is probably the point: The harp-plucked "Moon" is more of a linear movement than your standard recursive pop song, and it's Björk's willingness to go there that keeps us willing to follow the path she forges.
Cher Lloyd — "With Ur Love" (feat. Mike Posner)
A runner-up from last year's X Factor in the U.K., Cher Lloyd's first single was the most regrettable song to rhyme "swagger" with "Jagger" in recent memory — and there have been quite a few entries in that race! But follow-up single "With Ur Love" is a much-needed rebound, ostensibly meant to remind us that Lloyd didn't get as far as she did on the X Factor for her rapping: If London street-pop wasn't a thing before, it is now.
Holy Ghost! — "Hold My Breath"
DFA's resident electrodisco duo Holy Ghost! have known each since they were six years old, and that shows in this song's impeccable tightness and intuitive phrasings. The music owes its debts to Sheffield and Manchester, of course, but these references suits the video's evocative collection of still and moving pictures: It would almost be nostalgic if it weren't happening right now.
He's still largely anonymous in America, but after selling more than 8 million albums everywhere else in the world — and celebrating this achievement with 2009's excellent The Hits compilation — now seems as a good a time as any for Will Young to rock the boat. On his fifth studio effort, Echoes, the out gay pop star has done just that: For one thing, hiring electropop maestro Richard X to helm production duties for the entire album was a bold move — not only because Richard X has never produced an entire full-length album for an artist of this size before, but because Young's sole experience with making electronic music before this album was a one-song collaboration with Groove Armada. And perhaps therein lies the genius. Echoes is the sound of a clean slate and the reintroduction to a Will Young that sounds more inspired than we've ever heard him. Opener (and lead single) "Jealousy" is a solid barometer for the album's tone, managing to convey sorrow through all of the musical signifiers we associate with euphoria, while the electro-disco "Runaway" showcases Young's soulful vocal chops utilizing an entirely fresh palette. But it's "Come On" that, by track 2, perfectly fuses past and present — retaining Young's classic sensibility, although trading in the stadium-sized string sections for synths. It's far too early to make any predictions, but this far into 2011, track for track in its entirety, I have yet to hear a more exciting and cohesive commercial pop album. Echoes will be called a reinvention, but it's actually just insanely good.
Eager to get her new single out — or just conceding to the fact that they did pretty much steal someone else's song — Leona Lewis (alongside label head Simon Cowell) have resolved their legal dispute with 22-year-old Swedish producer Avicii over "Collide," the lead single from Lewis' forthcoming third album. Complete details of the agreement have not been disclosed, but only a few days after leaving court new artwork for the single emerged, crediting the song to "Leona Lewis/Avicii." No word on whether or not Ministry of Sound still plans to release "Fade Into Darkness," the original Avicii composition at the center of this dispute.
Have James Blake and Bon Iver teamed up to form a new band? According to Blake's Twitter feed, the duo has planned something for tomorrow, August 24, under the name Fall Creek Boys Choir.
If you haven't heard Bright Light Bright Light yet, make it a priority: the London-based electropop songwriter recently released the impeccable "Disco Moment" as lead single for his forthcoming debut, and this week, he whipped up a DJ mix for BUTT magazine, who also get down to some need-to-know facts — like, "Have you ever had sex in the toilets?" — for a concise Q&A.
New York's Tayisha Busay have been fixtures in the city's indie dance and queer nightlife scene for some time now, but with the release of their forthcoming debut album, Focus/Virus, the trio are finally poised to hit the national stage. "Focus" is the first taste from the album, and it's a stunner that draws from vintage Kraftwerk and early New York proto-freestyle along the lines of Dominatrix. Stream it now from Soundcloud, and expect to hear much more from Tayisha Busay later this year.
Last year's winner of the UK X Factor, Matt Cardle, has announced an October 17 release date for his debut album, Letters, which includes lead single "Run For Your Life," written by current X Factor judge and Take That mainman Gary Barlow. "We had 99% of the album finished, then the track came through from Gary," Cardle says. "I was nearly in tears recording the vocals."
When it comes to battling biopics, Truman Capote has nothing on the late, lamented Jeff Buckley. There are three films about the highly influential singer currently in production, including Greetings from Tim Buckley (starring Penn Badgley as Jeff), A Pure Drop (directed by Australian auteur Brendan Fletcher), and an as-yet-unnamed production helmed by Ridley Scott's son, Jake — the only one to earn its blessings from the Buckley estate.
Victor Willis — better known as the original cop in the Village People — is suing someone again this week, but this time, he might actually make history! Citing a federal copyright provision that allows songwriters to regain control of registered titles beginning in 1978, Willis filed papers to regain control of his share of songs like "Y.M.C.A.," "In The Navy," and "Go West," which continue to accumulate millions of dollars annually. The companies currently holding the copyrights, of course, are fighting the claim, calling Willis an "adapter of French songs" that are not subject to U.S. law. But Willis' legal counsel counters this claim with a compelling challenge: "I dare you to go to Paris and find a Y.M.C.A."
Pat Grossi is a a true postmodernist — which is to say that on You Are All I See, his debut album as Active Child, there is no one dominant narrative, but a string of coexisting, albeit seemingly divergent ideas. It's not that classical harp, '80s synthpop, and slow-jam R&B are incapable of getting along, but more that before Grossi, no one ever put them in the same room. The end result is chilling at times — with Grossi's inimitable choir-like falsetto grimly anchoring standouts like "Way Too Fast" and the title track — but when the lights go down on "Playing House," it's like moving out of the church and into the bedroom. Throughout decades of rock 'n' roll history, there's still nothing like unexpected sex.
Obscurities is the latest release by acclaimed (and out) singer-songwriter Stephin Merritt, and if you're interested in tracing artistic trajectories, this 14-song collection will come in handy: Assembling the many compilation appearances, outtakes, and previously unreleased material that led up to the release of Magnetic Fields' universally loved — and impossibly epic — 69 Love Songs boxset, Obscurities reassesses what it means to be a castoff. In less capable hands, songs like "I Don't Believe You" and "Take Ecstasy With Me" could be centerpieces for a "proper" album.
I missed this one when it came out earlier this month, so let's correct that wrong right now: From their second album Interiors, due out next week, New York's Mirror Mirror make atmospheric neo-psych with a gentle gothic touch — a perfect backdrop, then, for this noir-inspired clip starring Rumi Missabu, one of the final survivors from San Francisco's legendary drag collective The Cockettes. Seriously, it's a work of art.
Snow Patrol — "Called Out In The Dark"
They came into mainstream prominence as the Scottish answer to Coldplay, so skeptics might be quick to call foul on the disco-fused lead single from Snow Patrol's forthcoming sixth album — as if they were riding trends or something. But if Gary Lightbody proves anything on "Called Out In The Dark," it's that he knows a little something about club music: Years before Snow Patrol, Lightbody was a house music DJ and even wrote a song for UK house stalwarts Freeform Five. The authenticity — and playfulness — on his band's latest single shows.
Chromeo — "When The Night Falls" (feat. Solange Knowles)
Fresh from her collaboration with Rewards for the DFA label, Beyoncé's little sister moves further down the indie-dance rabbithole with a cameo on the latest single by French Canadian electro-funk duo Chromeo. "When The Night Falls" is the fourth single from Business Casual, but the first to feature a street gang of angry pregnant women.
Matt & Kim, Andrew WK & Soulja Boy — "I'm A Goner"
This week's unlikely collaboration: Brooklyn's cutest power pop duo Matt & Kim team up with the frequently bloody Andrew WK and Atlanta rap prodigy-cum-whipping post Soulja Boy for "I'm A Goner." The surprisingly successful song is available as a free download now, and its video reestablishes Matt & Kim's lock on feel-good filmmaking — even if everyone in the clip is technically dead. It's like "Thriller" for hipsters.