Superstars: #1 Hits Remixed (SONY BMG Strategic Marketing Group)
I’ll admit it. I love this album. I dare you to listen to it without smiling and dancing. “Superstars: #1 Hits Remixed” is the ultimate summer album. Together in one place for the first time are a whole slew of Top 40 songs remixed, many of which I don’t even like in their original versions. But I’m not ashamed to say that Jason Nevins’ radio remix of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” makes me want to blast it with my car windows down, begging passerbys to break my heart. These are the kinds of songs I want to hear when I’m in dance clubs, not the blips and beats of obscure songs I’ve never heard before. There’s something to be said for singing along while you dance. In addition to newer songs by Pink, J-Lo, and Britney Spears, “Superstars” includes favorite radio mixes of Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay,” Toni Braxton’s “Un-break My Heart,” and Deborah Cox’s “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here,” the Hex Hector radio edit mix, not the lame mash-up that was on Cox’s greatest hits album last year. Though “Superstars” is dominated by the divas, Maroon 5’s “This Love” (remixed by Junior Vasquez) and Duran Duran (another Jason Nevins remix) represent the fairer sex. A fun collection that commands your pants to dance.
Brazilian Girls Brazilian Girls (Verve Forecast)
Don’t try to Google the Brazilian Girls, unless you’re actually looking for porn. If you’re looking for something original, interesting, and sexy to listen to, pick up the foursome’s self-titled debut disc. But keep in mind, they aren’t from Brazil, and only one of them, Sabina Sciubba, is a girl. Rounding out the band is Didi Gutman on keyboards, bass player Jesse Murphy, and drummer Aaron Johnson. The multilingual Sciubba, a former jazz singer, sings over sophisticated trip-hop beats with a dash of Bossa Nova, jazz, lounge, and pop. They are hip, elegant, and at times profane (the song “Pussy” extols the virtues of female genitalia, or at least repeats the name over and over again, as well as a certain mind-altering “funny cigarette”). The song “Don’t Stop,” with its smooth beats and lyrical innuendo, is probably the Girls’ best bet for mainstream radio success. But who needs that? The Brazilian Girls offer a little something for everyone. Think Portishead meets Astrud Gilberto meets Everything But The Girl. The album is so diverse listeners might find themselves scratching their heads even as they move their feet. You haven’t heard anything like this before. And that’s a very good thing.
Sleeping in the Nothing Kelly Osbourne (Sanctuary)
Kelly Osbourne’s claim to fame is that she’s the foul-mouthed, occasionally funny daughter of metal legend Ozzy. She is not Madonna, as hard as she may try. It’s hard to believe that lesbian hit parader Lynda Perry, who spun gold for Gwen Stefani last year, produced this waste of plastic. With lyrics like, “So why you always think I’m so retarded standing on the edge of your atmosphere,” Osbourne comes across as a whiny celebrity brat with nothing of substance to say. On “Don’t Touch Me” Osbourne tackles the difficult subject of date rape. Unfortunately the song can’t seem to decide if it wants to be funny (it sounds an awful lot like Julie Brown’s 80s hit “Homecoming Queen’s Got A Gun”) or a tribute to feminist empowerment (which she tries to do by threatening to break her date’s neck, telling him, “I hope you had a good time motherf—-r now it’s time to say goodbye to your balls”). I’m all for someone taking on the rapist assholes of the world in song, it’s just a shame the song has to suck this bad. While “One Word,” the album’s first single, is palatable, the CD as a whole is a quick dip in the shallowest end of the pop music pool.
Prom Amy Ray (Daemon Records)
“Prom” is the ultimate homecoming for Indigo Girls fans whose hearts beat a little faster for the edgier songs penned by Amy Ray and for fans of girl-punks bands like The Butchies. Ray, the grittier Indigo Girl, shows off her punk rock chops with “Prom,” her second solo album since 2001’s critically acclaimed “Stag.” Whether wearing her folk or punk hat, Ray’s lyrics are always raw and rustic. “Prom” contains plenty of John Deere tractor and camptown song, but the guitars are largely electric and loud. One exception is the lovely and heartbreakingly simple “Rodeo.” “I am just a dog waiting at the kitchen door. Love is a kindness I’ve never known before,” she sings. The bulk of “Prom” is set in the context of high school life, specifically the experiences of a gay teen. Ray tackles the hard stuff head on like suicide, racism, gender identity, and homophobia. Ray’s eye for lyrical detail is great and downright poetic, especially on “Driver Education.” “I fell for guys who tried to commit suicide, with soft rock hair and blood shot eyes,” she sings. The queen of this “Prom” is the album opener “Put It Out For Good,” the high school angst anthem most gay kids never had. Until now.
Africanism Volume III Various Artists (Tommy Boy)
For those looking for something more sophisticated and interesting than the usual dance divas, enter “Africanism Vol. III,” a perfect blend of world music and dance. A project of French producer Bob Sinclar, this continuous dance mix brings together the best of contemporary African musicians and French DJs. The result is sexy, fun, completely addictive and will have you seeking out the import-only first and second volumes.
Balance 007 Chris Fortier (Stomp/EQ)
If a three disc long progressive house mix is what you’re looking for, internationally renown DJ and producer Chris Fortier serves up “Balance 007.” Fortier expertly crafts the past, present, and future sounds of electronic music into this sophisticated and danceable mix featuring the sounds of Rabbit in the Moon, !!! (Chk Chk Chk), Micah, and more. Creative, solid, and relentless, “Balance 007” is for the true electronic music aficionado.
Atlantiquity Various Artists (Atlantic/Rhino)
Injecting new life into the classic soul, funk, and jazz of the 70s, “Atlantiquity” unleashes some of today’s hottest producers on 12 vintage tracks from the Atlantic archives. Ripe with respect and fat bass lines, “Atlantiquity” feels like an homage, not just a bunch of producers showing off. Highlights include Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” remixed by Daz-I-Kue and Kev Brown’s remix of “I’ll Be Around” by the Spinners.
Live Classics Vol. 1 Bobby Conn & The Glass Gypsies (Thrill Jockey)
The Chicago Tribune described a Bobby Conn show as “Marilyn Manson with a sense of humor, Burt Bacharach with a blue streak, ‘MacArthur Park’ meets ‘Springtime for Hitler.'” The Glass Gypsies wield violin, guitar, drums, and plenty o’ guitar for the screaming studio audience they recorded this CD in front of. When it comes to sound, think 70s orange shag and shiny eye shadow. The result is compelling but weird falsetto protest rock with a sense of humor.
Everything’s OK Al Green (Blue Note)
After a quarter of a century devoted primarily to making gospel music, the Reverend Al Green is back making secular soul. Best known for 70s hits like “Let’s Stay Together,” Green’s latest, “Everything’s OK,” shows he still croons with the best of them. “Everything’s OK” features 11 new songs plus a cover of “You Are So Beautiful.” OK is an understatement. The Reverend proves that some things do get better with age.
Naked Fame Various Artists (Centaur)
“Naked Fame” is the soundtrack to the documentary of the same name which chronicles ex-porn star Colton Ford’s journey from music to porn to music again. “Naked Fame” features three mixes of the title song sung by diva Melissa G as well as two songs by Ford himself, “Everything” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” his duet with Pepper MaShay. An album highlight is the 2005 remix of “Naughty Girls Need Love Too” by Samantha Fox.