Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Jack's Top Tracks - May 1 2013 - Swingamajig Special

Do you have enough electro-swing in your life? I didn't think so. Isn't it a good thing that I am here with a big bottle of the latest tunes to keep your musical glass brim full with bubbly, banging beats. This week sees the worlds' first ever electro-swing festival take place in Birmingham. In honour of that fact, this week's selection is from acts and artists performing there. Tickets are still available, so have a look at their website for more info.


The Correspondents - What's Happened to Soho

With the Correspondents headlining the whole beano, where else can I begin but with the astonishing Mr. Bruce and Mr. Chuckles. This is the video to their 2011 single 'What's Happened to Soho', which quickly became something of an anthem. If you don't know it, watch the video, learn the words and expect to shout them back at Mr. Bruce as he thrashes his way about the stage.


DJ Switch - High Definition episode 

Anthony Culverwell aka DJ Switch aka Tony 'Three Times' has taken turntablism to another level. He has won the world DMC championship, you guessed it, three times. He was the first DJ to play at the BBC proms, performing in Gabriel Prokofiev's 'Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra'This is a video I have posted before, in which  he cuts, chops and generally plays around with a classic from Mr. Scruff.


Dutty Moonshine feat. Charlie D

As far as I am concerned these Dutty Moonshine are the embodiment of the electroswing ethos - they have a genuine love of big, dirty electro which they blend with great samples and proper understanding of what makes a great set. That may be why they are headlining at Swingamajig. They have so much energy behind the decks. Made last summer, this track features MC Charlie D. Not your run of the mill MC, Charlie has recently been performing a show called 'The Stories of Shakey P', which looks at the works of Shakespeare through the medium of rap. He often MCs for Dutty Moonshine when they play out live, so fingers crossed you will get to hear him live. He also has a dashed excellent jacket.


C@ in the H@ - Sneakin' About

The cat with the big bass sound is back with this aptly titled track which features on the new 'Speakeasy Electro Swing' compilation. This track makes use of a sample that will be familiar to anyone who has listened to White Mink albums, with a healthy dose of wub. Wub wib wob. Ahem. Have a listen and you will understand.


Electric Swing Circus - Everybody Wants to be a Cat

Electro-swing owes a great deal to Disney for some great jazz-age tracks that everyone knows. Electro-swing also owes a great deal to the boys and girls from the ESC as they are the masterminds of Swingamajig. The brains behind the festival have also got a new album ready, which they will be presenting to the public this weekend, which is one of the most exciting things I can think of at the moment.

That's it, that's your lot. Bugger off now, there's a good chap/lassie - I have some important Gin and Tonics to drink in the sunshine. I won't be at Swingamajig, so if you are going and fancy penning a review for me, please get in touch!

Tally Ho!


Friday, 26 April 2013

Jack's Top Tracks - April 26 2013 - the best electroswing on the web

I have been a bit rubbish with this lately. Those of you following my Twitter and Facebook may have seen a lot of stuff about a restaurant - my new job is doing the marketing and such for them, and we had the press launch this week, hence the radio silence on the electro-swing front. It has been a bit frustrating, as there has been so much new music being released that I wanted to share with you all but couldn't. Anyway, I am back in the game now, with some more freshly baked electro-swing goodies for you all to try.


Swing Republic - High Hat

I am starting this week off with a video from Swing Republic. Their album 'Midnight Calling' came out back in November and I thought that this track was one of the better ones. This is the official video, built using old clips - personally I find this kind of video rather annoying, but I suppose they do have a pleasing surreality.


Dutty Moonshine - Takin' it back

What is this Dutty Moonshine of which you speak? The Dutty Moonshine boys are busy little electro-swing bods, famed for their ability to make thunderously banging tunes. With this tune, released for free download on Soundcloud, they have created what may be their best work to date. With spadefuls of energy, cheeky brass, exuberant synths and a bouncing rhythm, this is everything electro-swing should be.


Too Many Ts - 1992

Now, this may not be electro-swing as such, but these guys are big supporters of the scene and can often be seen doing their MC thing to swinging beats courtesy of DJ Savage Henry. This is their latest single, and it is the subject of a remix competition with Ghettofunk. This track was produced by that giant of the electro-swing world, the one and only Odjbox. To describe the beat as 'funk' is to miss a splendid opportunity to use the term 'funking heavy', while the rhymes are delivered with customary vim by Leon Rhymes and Standaloft. Make way for 'the UK's answer to the Beastie Boys'.


Skeewiff - Jizz Rag

This disgustingly titled toe-tapper comes from a new compilation from the guys behind several of North America's biggest electro-swing nights. Speakeasy Electro-Swing is 21 tunes from some of the best producers and artists on both sides of the pond, including C@ in the H@, Grant Lazlo, Incontrol and Defunk. It is available for free download over here. This track, as the name suggests, is a ragtime given a good, hard Wiffing.


C2C - Happy (Grant Lazlo's remix)

It may have come to your attention that the French DMC champions C2C have been running a remix competion for their track 'Happy'. They have had so many entries that they had to change the rules. Happily, there is an electro-swing act currently at the top of the heap - Smokey Joe and the Kid. This is Grant Lazlo's entry. I simply could not decide which version to put up, so in the end I left the decision of a pretty little thing I know. She made a good choice. This has all the joy of the original, and plenty of those sharp scratches that are a feature of C2C's style, with a healthy dose of Lazlo's customary oomphy house to rev it up a bit. Go and vote for your favourite here. NB. If you are really, really keen that one track win, remember you can vote once per day, so keep going back and supporting your favourite.

Well, that's it. Barring disasters (w*rk) I will be back with another selection of the finest electro-swing I can find. Also, don't forget to keep checking back, as I have a few more interesting posts lined up, and one project in the pipe-line that could be extremely exciting indeed.


Jack the Cad

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Lifestyle - Sharps Barbers - Windmill Street, London

This post heralds the arrival of a new section of the blog - a section about businesses and events associated with electro-swing, but not of it, namely clothing, drinks etc. This one deals with the bristly issue of barbering.

I was invited to the launch of Sharp's Barbers new flagship store in Windmill Street last week. As those who have met me know, I am extremely attached to my 'tache. However, I have never been professionally barbed (is that the right verb), so I was keen to find out more about these guys, who are keen to promote the idea that 'Maintenance Matters'.

They are trying to offer a service aimed directly at gentlemen, an alternative to feeling awkward in Tony&Guy or the 'what can I do you for' brigade and their electric clippers. The shop has a pleasing retro feel, with vintage barber's chairs and a table tennis table in the waiting area - gone are the days of leafing through ragged copies of Esquire magazine!

Although at the launch we were served proper drinks (the G&Ts I had may have played a small part in my leaving my laptop on the tube later that evening), they will be serving high quality, barista-style coffee and will even have a pop-up food event later next month.

"Enough!" I hear you cry. "Did you let them near your 'tache?" In the end, and to my great satisfaction, the barber and I decided that it didn't need any work, and that my nail-scissor trimming of the lip-hedge had been accurate enough, despite the shakiness of my hands in the mornings. That said, the barber in question (Andy, I think his name was), did give me a fantastic haircut - he really listened to what I asked for, and then gave me some tips as to how to achieve the same effect.

Some bounder getting a haircut

My one moment of concern was when he suggested the use of a hairdryer to 'add volume'. Quite apart from not being prepared to be someone who worries about whether their hair has volume (this is a musical term, no?), hairdryers are very noisy and I tend to be a bit fragile before about three in the afternoon.

Their price list is very reasonable. If you just want your facial topiary straightened out (perhaps you are due in front of the magistrate for pinching a policeman's helmet, or have to meet the mother of that heiress you met last weekend) it will cost you a mere £16.50 - pennies for avoiding ten days without the option or the withering glance of a protective parent. I strongly recommend trying them out.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

SwinGrowers take the Rebel Colonies by storm

For the last few weeks the SwinGrowers have been touring the USA and Canada. Despite lots of travelling and plenty of gigs, they took the time out to have a chat with me. I have been interested to see how long it would take for electro-swing to really take off in the States, especially given the rise of EDM (ptui!) and the debates it has provoked both in the States and in the wider dance music world. The reception these guys get should provide a good barometer or litmus test. [Jack the Cad - bringing you not one but two clich├ęd metaphors to choose from] 

For those who don't know them the SwinGrowers are an Italian outfit, consisting of DJ/producer Roberto Pisk, vocalist Loredana, and manouche guitarist Alessio. They hail from Sicily, but have been touring hard. Their album "Pronounced Swing Grow'ers" came out last year and was one of my top 5 releases of the year.

The tour has seen them drop in on Speakeasy Electro Swing Montreal, the longest running electro-swing night in North America, and other venues in San Francisco, New York and a host of other glamourous places.The first thing I wanted to know was how they have been getting on in the land which gave us swing music in the first place. "Everything is going great!" they tell me enthusiastically. They say they have been shown fantastic hospitality, great support from the promoters and a lot of pampering. Montreal has been the highlight so far: " There is a big electro-swing crowd there, and the whole audience was there to see the SwinGrowers. In any case, the cities where we have been have all been great because each one is different from the other and because they are all completely different from home. Here, everything is a surprise." 

North Americans, in the eyes of lots of Europeans, have taken a while to really appreciate dance music, so I wanted to know how audiences have reacted to their sound. Happily, it seems they have been well received. "We have had nothing but  positive reactions! At the end of every show people we get loads of compliments. There are parts in the show where people go crazy: when Pisk sings with the vocoder, or during Alessio's solos, or when Loredana gets the audience dancing." They must have done something right as their New York show sold out.

And how do the crowds across the water compare to those in the UK? Favourably, it would seem: "The U.S. audience is giving us lots of feedback. It is an interactive audience that receives and then gives it back. If we wanted to compare the U.S. and the UK crowds, we can say that they are very similar! Both warm and active. The only difference perhaps is that in the UK we are always inside of Europe, so we can say that we are "at home", whereas in the U.S. and CANADA we are on the other side of the ocean, so people are really excited to find the Italians on stage!"

We can see what they are talking about in this fantastically cool little video of Lore doing her thing in Tompkins Square Park in the NYC.

At the time of writing they have two gigs left in North America: Toronto on Friday 26th April and 27th April in Detroit. Having said that, they also promise further dates to be added, so keep an eye on their Facebook page if you are in that part of the world. 

One thing I forgot to ask them... when will you be back in the UK guys?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Preview - Swingamajig - Birmingham - 5th May 2013 - electro swing festival

The Electric Swing Circus may well be the hardest working act in the electro-swing scene. Not only have they recently recorded an album (funded by their fans), organised their own regular and hugely successful Birmingham-based club night "Hot Club de Swing" and set up a record label (at least, Tom is one half of Ragtime Records), but they have also organised what must be the world's first electro-swing festival - Swingamajig. The event will take place on 5th May, from 2pm. The whole thing will stagger to a close at 5am the following morning.

The line up reads like a who's who of electroswing. I mean, just look at this poster: 

The festival will be centered around Spotlight Bar in Digbeth. There will be two outdoor stages, and a further indoor 'speakeasy'. As one might expect, there will also be a variety of stalls and associated festival-stuff like circus performers and what-not. 

Other people involved are the guys from Nottingham's Jitterbug nights, and Madame Electrifie's Discotech, which might go some way to explaining the strength of the line-up. I understand that there are still tickets left. Go to www.swingamajig.co.uk for more details.

If you still haven't decided to go, have a look at this here video.

If nothing else, the event should provide electro-swing fans a great taste of what is to come at Boomtown this summer, and the Electric Swing Circus a great warm up gig for their appearance at Glastonbury.