Monday, April 14, 2008

Pop implosion

There's something about a specific kind of pop song that aggressively leaps out of your speakers: sometimes, more is more. It's hard to beat the exuberance of the ’60s in that respect, but the Xenomania producing team more than hold up its own. Here are two tracks that illustrate both approaches.

Orchester G√ľnter Gollasch "Es Steht ein Haus in New Orleans" (from Achtung! German Grooves, 2007) This explosive 1969 cover of "House of Rising Sun" comes from an East German bandleader and conductor of the Berlin Radio Dance Orchestra. I think it's the propulsive drumming I like best, particularly at 1:57, when the song picks up after the bridge and reintroduces ultra-agressive horns and mixes them up with oddly haunting strings. (For another similarly themed comp, see also Amiga A Go-Go Vol.1—Deutsch-Demokratische Rare Grooves, a collection of funk and soul tracks from East Germany.)

Gabriella Cilmi "Don't Want to Go to Bed Now" (from Lessons to Be Learned, 2008) Cilmi's a 16-year-old Australian girl who's among the hordes of singers now getting tagged "the new Amy Winehouse." Please ignore that. She had the good fortune to get her debut album produced by Xenomania, the genius team behind Girls Aloud and countless hits. Two memorable things about "Don't Want to Go to Bed Now": the galloping acoustic-guitar riff that propels the song into the pop stratosphere (that's one of the best things about Xenomania arrangements: these guys just don't believe in understatement) and the way Cilmi's shouted "Tonight!" makes me think of Blondie's "Call Me."

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