Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Ever onward

Since the end of the festival season the electro-swing world could have patted itself on the back and congratulated itself on a job well done. But instead there has been an all pervading buzz of activity and anticipation. There have been album and EP releases, successful European tours and broken bones.Let us start with the music.

A short while ago Italy’s Swingrowers released their debut album “Pronounced Swing Grow’ers”. It is, in my view, a triumph, and a great example of the genre: cheerful, fast-paced and Loredanna’s voice continues to make my spine tingle. The opening track “Senza Ciatu” sets the tone, with a strong bass driving the beat and a very pleasing drop. There is the real sense that the album was made to party to – the track titles give a hint: ‘Crazy People’, ‘Craziness’,‘L’Ubriaco’ (Italian for ‘The Drunk’). At times the party takes a turn for the sultry, particularly in ‘Hot Shiver’ and ‘At Least I Live’. ‘Minor Swing’ is a reworking of the Django Reinhart classic, and Bidibambumbey is just the right combination of dark and light, with a very Amy Winehouse feel about the vocal. The publicity from the label Freshly Squeezed suggested that this is one of six truly great electro-swing albums, and I am inclined to agree. The whole flows seamlessly yet there is enough variety to keep things interesting. There are a few of the album tracks below:

Long-time favourite of this blog C@ in the H@ has been busy again, releasing his ‘Gangsta Swing EP’ - a 3 track offernig on new label Ragtime Records - a couple of weeks ago. This delivers big spoonfuls of chunky bass and breaks and he makes use of his not inconsiderable turntablism skills to good effect. I also highly recommend his mix for Swing Rebellion.

Another EP is out today, from Vassili Gemini. It is called ‘Stuck in a Bar’ and features the voice of Mad’zelle. Vassili specialises in a sort of classic swing house that puts me in mind of early 90s house, makes one instantly smile. The EP includes remixes by C@ in the H@ (him again), KiwistarSabatA and The Swing Bot

As Jamko of Swing Rebellion mentioned in his excellent new music roundup the other day, Dutty Moonshine, the kings of swinghop, have been touring with their EP Rauchestra Volume 1. The tour comes to an end soon with Captain Flatcap supporting them. Why not check out this new tune from Dutty Moonshine – it’s called ‘Stomp Rocket’, which sums it up rather well. When you have done that you should listen to Captain Flatcap’s remix of Get Busy, below.

I should also mention a great new EP from the McMash Clan: Swing Break features the voice of Kate Mullins, who was in the Puppini Sisters. Those who have listened to modern vintage music for a while will know the name. Those of you who are more recent converts, the Puppini Sisters were one of the first acts to sing in an a capella vintage style, with versions of ‘Walk like and Egyptian’ and ‘Crazy in Love’ long before even Swing Republic’s. Their success has given rise to several other vocal groups, like Elle and the Pocket Belles (see below for more on them). As you will hear, this track has been getting some support from some fairly major players in the music industry. Below the track in question is an unspeakably filthy mix from the McMash boys that is making my morning that much better.

We can expect new music very soon from Birmingham’s Electric Swing Circus, who have not only found the time to do a tour of Europe but have also recorded an album funded entirely by their fans. Impressive stuff.I also want to share some of the other big tracks I have come across in recent Soundcloud trawls. It may not be the freshest, but these tracks were all new to me and made me grin.

DJ Tomahawk brings us this remix of Smokey Joe and the Kid's "Smokey Joe's Cafe".

Grant Lazlo, one of the most creative and original producers out there at the moment has brought us this inventive remix:

Circoswing, an act with much in common with Slamboree, bring us this scary little number:

Finally, one of the most hotly anticipated albums in electro-swing history is finally here. “Midnight Calling” by Swing Republic was released on Monday and I finally got ‘round to having a listen today. Released on Freshly Squeezed, this album is rather more eclectic in feel than the Swingrowers offering from earlier this year. Where the Italians played around with the beats, Swing Republic have been experimenting with genres: “I Dream of You” has a distinctly latin feel to it, while Mama skanks to a gentle reggae vibe, reminding me somewhat of Fat Freddie’s Drop and to a lesser extent, Molotov Jukebox. Most of the tracks, however, are ‘electro-swing’ in the classic sense, though they take a more song-like structure than those of many others, with a verse/chorus/verse rather than build/break composition. The title track, “Midnight Calling” has hints of gypsy-swing to it. Particular favourites of mine are “High Hat” - a tasty, bassy, sassy tune with a very sexy brass section – and “On the Rooftop” possesses a bounce that puts a smile on one’s face immediately. New singer, Karina Kappel, made her debut on Crazy in Love (featured on this blog a few months ago) and her voice, made for jazz, is a great addition. It seems that the formula of finding a great producer and teaming them up with a proper jazz singer is working well for Nick Hollywood. Here is the album minimix:

On to the events. Naturally it goes without saying that the big date in the diary for the next few weeks is Caravan Palace, supported by Swingrowers, live at KOKO. If you don’t have your ticket yet then there is no hope for you – it sold out months ago. There are a number of other great gigs taking place in the next couple of months though, so  don’t panic.

At the Electro Swing Club @ the Bookclub on the 17th November you can see the powerhouse that is the Electro Swing Circus  (tipped to be the 'next Caravan Palace'), along with other big names like Jon Bongly and Don Johnson.

Next is the 5th Birthday of Green Queen Music being held in Dalston on Sat 24th November, with DJs Dr. Cat, Pony Montana, John Bingly Bongly and Malaka.

Then on December 30th at Ginglik in ShepherdsBush we have Swingkick. This will include sets from the aforementioned Elle and the Pocket Belles, Kitten and the Hip (who I hear may be signing to Freshly Squeezed too - another producer-female-vocalist combo there), MustDash, the mighty Odjbox, plus hostess DJ Shefitza. I am fairly sure to be at this one as it is the weekend after my birthday... Here is a fantastic remix of Elle and the Pocket Belles' "Get Down Tonight" by Sound Nomaden.

There is a bit of a hiatus up until Christmas, but come New Year, there will probably be only the one place to be in London if you like Electro-swing, and that is White Mink. With performances from Odjbox, DJ Dodgy Style, Pony Montana and Electric Swing Circus, it is set to be a blinder. Last year’s party was amazing, so this year promises much – lots to live up to! I hear that this will be the last White Mink at the Bedroom Bar before they move to a new venue in 2013… an interesting prospect.In other news, if you have been wondering what happened to the Correspondents, the answer is that sadly Mr. Bruce broke his foot. As he explains in this video, he is well on the road to recovery, and that they have been recording an album – HUZZAH! This means that they will be gigging before Christmas, and Mr. Bruce will be thrashing about on stage once more.

That’s about it for now, but follow me on twittersoundcloud and facebook to find out what I am listening to between blog posts.