Review: There’s something rather quaint about JMI’s approach to product placement. On each chorus of her fizzy new A-side “Kix”, her revolving door policy for footwear magnates resembles less of a display of collar-popping narcissism than it does an earnest stab at promoting the very kind of inclusivity inherent to the most seminal dance cuts. After granting shout-outs to both Puma and Nike, the New York-based singer-producer ousts them both on the track’s final charge of adrenaline, bidding adieu to her listeners with the more neutral image of her having her “heels on” – an appropriately unpretentious note for this decidedly rough-and-ready slice of EDM to finish on.
JMI gleefully pilfers the Icona Pop formula of throwing down walls of crunchy synth, before breaking out the spray paint and putting her own underground stamp on them. “Kix” hurtles along like a rogue spaceship, complete with zippy effects and JMI’s own breathy moan coming straight in from Houston to remind us to don our dancing shoes. With more than a hint of the bratty coquettishness that powered Princess Superstar’s most compelling moments, she’s an effective Mistress of Ceremonies, although it is on the slinky B-side “Amanda” that her personality comes closer to the fore. A sparse creep-a-long built on dry percussion, yodeling BV’s and a catchy proposition (“Amanda, do you wanna?”), it’s a striking antithesis to the sugary chaos of its A-side. If the “Kix” video demonstrates anything, it’s that JMI’s shoes were almost definitely made for dancing, but on “Amanda” she proves herself a versatile talent.
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Review: Christening your music project with the name of a universally renowned work of art may seem like textbook blog-baiting, but we are in an age where the Louvre happily flog flip-flops emblazoned with the face of the Mona Lisa in their gift shop, so we’re hardly in a position to clutch pearls.
If Lady Gaga’s convoluted Artpop manifesto hemorrhaged potential supporters by constantly looking forward to a future determined not by her audience but a bourgeois collective of artists including Jeff Koons, Marina Abramovic et al, then New York-based musicians Paul Alfonso & Cristopher Rodriguez’s appropriation of Michelangelo’s iconic, and arguably entry-level, masterwork offers the duo a certain degree of approachability – and that’s before you’ve heard even a note of their self-titled EP.
The Original Renaissance Man actually works as an unexpectedly credible statement of intent. The Statue of David produce music that is clean, toned and occasionally non-descript in its sentiments. They usurp another classic on their opening number, repackaging “House of the Rising Sun” as a fuzz-laden sprint through dystopia’s nightlife. Although driven by synths, cyber-punk flourishes and a 4/4 beat, the band retain the standard’s bluesy quality through the inclusion of real instruments and guest vocalist Anna Aversing’s cloudy delivery. Her howl is occasionally distorted into a blunt drone, sitting atop the mix like oil on water.
The rest of this three-tracker puts a breezier spin on their grungy dance-rock aesthetic. “Hawaiian Girls” mashes Beach Boys-style whimsy with the glittering testosterone of a Soulwax record. Riding waves of chintzy keyboard strokes, swirling electronica and a winking vocal performance from Alfonso, the band’s full time vocalist, it’s a blast from start to finish, with snapping drums grounding what could have been a fun but throwaway cut.
There’s a doe-eyed innocence to the drunken shout-along “Daddy’s Little Girl” that negates the slightly queasy implications of a lyric such as “I go to work while she’s at school / and we’ve got everybody fooled / It doesn’t matter what they say”. Bring out the pitchforks if you must. In allowing crass expressions of lust to stand as starkly naked as their namesake, The Statue of David are taking the necessary steps towards proving themselves worthy of it.
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Review: Given their regal status in the industry, it takes a brave soul to even contemplate reworking the chrome-plated beats of Daft Punk. While the French duo may be best known for tracks propelled by a kind of cold vacuum-packed energy, their 2001 single “Digital Love” is unusually warm. The track excelled not only on the back of a guitar riff sampled from George Duke’s “I Love You More”, but also a rare emphasis on lyrics that amounted to more than glib party-baiting rhetoric.
Lines as bleakly sentimental as “Oh, I don’t know what to do […] We’ll make this dream come true / Why don’t you play the game?” flew over helmet-shielded heads thanks to the emotional impotence of the robotic voice that sang them. By lending them a human avatar, New York-based ballet dancer-turned-singer Almamy unearths a few new layers of a beloved post-millennial classic.
His cover is something of a grower, beginning with a subdued squawk of a voice that we were initially tempted to compare unfavourably to Eric Cartman on helium. The presentation is extremely raw and borderline confrontational, but multi-tracked harmonies and a burbling bassline soon come to brighten up the palette. By the one minute mark, this breathy timbre makes imperfect sense among the colourful production. As Almamy fattens up the track’s hook with a series of coos, “Digital Love” hits the same sweet spot as the vocoded sections of Lipps Inc.’s disco staple “Funkytown”.
Just as the track finds its footing, however, it descends into a breakdown that clumsily apes the industrial crush integral to Daft Punk’s DNA. It’s a bemusing but ultimately satisfying U-turn that solidifies the track’s sweaty, late-night feel.
Not only is Almamy playing the game his own way, he’s doing a damn good job of it.