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The Count & Sinden set to go mega mega mega

Sinden (pictured left) and Hervé AKA The Count (right) are two of the most prolific English house producers of the past half-decade, both emerging during the fidget house eruption of the mid-’00s. Teaming up in 2007, the duo has released a series of stellar, catchy dance singles leading up to the release of their debut album next month. The latest, “After Dark”, is #nowplaying on 22tracks’ disco playlist.

The first time I heard a record by Hervé was in the spring of 2006, when I bought his “What You Need the Most” EP on the Dubsided label. Fidget house was one of the most exciting new sounds around at the time, and B-side “I’m Mo Try”, a co-production by figure head Switch, was the stand-out track on that 12-inch. A couple of months later, producer Switch (using his Solid Groove alias) also introduced me to Graeme Sinden. Another a co-production, “Red Hot” was a Baltimore styled club banger released on Basement Jaxx’ Atlantic Jaxx label:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Doq8rF9RDww

Ever since, Hervé’s and Sinden’s discography is an intertwining maze that I won’t try and entangle here. I think their first release together was “Tamborzuda” (2007), a baile funk influenced rave track featuring Brazilian MC Thiaguinho. Back then, Hervé was still known as The Count of Monte Cristal. They’ve remixed Pharoahe Monch, Alphabeat and Robbie Williams, and, in a striking move, were the first club act to sign to Domino, one of the most important indie pop labels in the UK (its roster includes Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys and Four Tet). This is The Count & Sinden‘s second release for the label, 2008′s “Beeper”, featuring US rapper Kid Sister:

“Beeper” won’t be on Mega Mega Mega, The Count & Sinden’s debut album that’s coming out 23 August. New single “After Dark” will be, and it’s a little bit different from the crunchy bleepy electro-y (is that a word?) house sound that the two are known for. It’s a tropical summer dance record with a funky guitar and a disco feel. It also features the English pop band Mystery Jets, who have just released their own, third album. Here’s their latest video, “Dreaming of Another World”:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBRsXKgRAHc

I’m really looking forward to Mega Mega Mega (download a minimix here). After Basement Jaxx seemed to have lost their edge somewhat, this should be the bright, poppy, dynamic UK dance album to take their cue into the 2010s.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fs9vRtZsMz0

Brap brap brap: Bart B More

When I first heard of Bart B More a couple of years ago, I thought he was some wannabe trying to hitch a ride on Baltimore club music, sometimes known as Bmore. At the time, it seemed like the Baltimore sound (uptempo club music built on hip-hop breaks) was possibly maybe going to be the next big thing. Turned out that Utrecht DJ/producer Bart van der Meer was more of a Dutch house type. I don’t know if that still holds true after hearing “Brap” his new banger of a record that is #nowplaying on 22tracks’ electro playlist.

For those paying better attention than I was, Bart B More’s breakthrough record was probably “So it Goes”, released in 2007 on the British Toolroom Trax label:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGLMNyakPYg

That’s what I learned from this interview (in Dutch) with Joost van Bellen, anyway. In it, Bart B More explains that “I’d like to believe that I am more than Dutch House and I think you can tell from my productions. Some tracks are very close to being cheesy, but plenty others are getting played in the cool scene and the underground.”

The latest in that fashion is “Brap”, Bart B More’s first release on Boysnoize Records. He’s admitted fair and square that the track has been inspired by “Raven”, a 2008 single by the Russian DJ/producer Yevgeny Pozharnov AKA Proxy:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-ebQpWqH2k

I guess there was no point in denying it anyway. That is not a slight on Bart B More, however. As Joost van Bellen said on his Rauw blog:

It’s a film sequel, but with a different major director. Spiderman 2, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, Sex in the City 6, Rocky 106, The Naked Gun 2.5… And then: Raven 2 = Brap!

That’s not a bad comparison! Once the storyline has been established, “Brap” is like an action flick that has you jumping through windows, chasing helicopters and detonating small countries—on the dancefloor.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXLuHJ7QzlM

A killer record from Dexter

You may have noticed a switch-up in gears this week from 22tracks’ house and techno departments. DJ/producer Tom Trago has taken over the house playlist, while his old job of choosing the techno playlist is now filled by Cool Chris, DJ and co-owner of Amsterdam’s Rush Hour empire. One of the new tracks #nowplaying in house is “Junofest” by Dexter AKA Dutch producer Remy Verheijen.

Since the dawn of the ’00s, Dexter has been instrumental in re-establishing electro as a major force in dance music. His debut single “I Don’t Care” (2000) is an electroclash classic (now there’s a tongue twister!) and has been licensed numerous times. It was also the first release on the terrific little Klakson label that Dexter runs with his friend (and, by now, superstar DJ) Steffi.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exY5hHN2J5I

Since then, Dexter has remixed Fischerspooner, The Hacker, De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig, amonst others, released more of his own and other people’s music on Klakson and other record labels, and had a hit TV series named after his extra-curricular serial killing activities. Well, not really.

“Junofest” is the first release in Rush Hour’s new Voyage Direct series, Tom Trago’s new label vehicle named after his own, still-great debut album that is “all about feel good club music“. That sounds about right as far as product description goes. JunoFest, on the other hand, is a Canadian music festival that, as far as I can tell, has nothing to do whatsoever with anyone involved in the making of this record.

Cancelled: 22tracks get together @Tolhuistuin

Due to the fact that the city council won’t give us the needed permit to organize our 22tracks get together at the Tolhuistuin we have to cancel and reschedule this event. And yes, that sucks, a lot. We are very sorry. Please keep an eye out for the next 22tracks get together. We’ll announce it as soon as possible! Hope to see you there!

22tracks changes up house and techno playlists

For over ten years, Amsterdam’s Rush Hour has been a leading record store, label and distributor, recognized and well respected all over the globe for their on-point house and techno music. Founders Antal Heitlager and Christiaan Macdonald have been releasing terrific music since day one, supporting local heroes like Aardvarck, Kid Sublime and Tom Trago. A perfect opportunity for 22tracks to join forces with their expertise. In other words, we are very happy to announce that Antal and Chris have joined the 22tracks team! Antal will keep the house playlist updated alongside his pal Tom Trago, while Cool Chris is going to make sure that the techno list is as diverse and fresh as you’d want it to be.

22tracks would like to thank Ricky Rivaro for his effort and dedication during the time he was in charge of the house playlist, and the same goes for Marco Solo and his techno efforts. And good luck to Antal, Chris and Tom with selecting the cream of the dance music crop. Enjoy the refreshed house and techno lists!

Nite Jewel: mighty real

One of my favourite new bands of the last couple of years is Nite Jewel, which is basically Ramona Gonzalez from Los Angeles. She’s the singer, songwriter, keyboardplayer and producer. Nite Jewel’s debut album was a little bit too lo-fi for my tastes, which is why I’m very happy with the sound of “Am I Real?”, #nowplaying on 22tracks’ pop playlist.

Nite Jewel’s album Good Evening (2008), and last year’s “Want You Back” single both had a disco pulse that is missing from Am I Real?, the new EP. That’s okay though, because Gonzalez has a way with chords and beats and melody that is invariaby mesmerising. She showed as much, in September of last year, when Nite Jewel (three people) played its first show in Amsterdam and I got really into it. The music is funky, and jazzy, and poppy but at the same time elusive, hazy and dreamy. “Am I Real?” definitely has some ’80s R&B in it. Watch Nite Jewel make a song with likemind Dâm-Funk late last year:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhlQYYDXwGg

Am I Real? contains a couple of revamped songs from the tour CD that I bought at Studio 80 last year. I hope to buy a copy of the new one whenever Nite Jewel returns to Holland. On it, Gonzalez collaborates with Cole M.G.N. (also guitarist in the wonderful Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti) and, on the title track, brothers Andrew and Daniel Aged of the similarly ’80s-inclined Teen Inc. The way things are going, I wouldn’t rule out a Toto collabo somewhere along the way, but for now you can listen to the current Nite Jewel record thanks to this handy widget:

22tracks get-together at Tolhuistuin!

It’s summer! And that’s why this upcoming Thursday July 22, our monthly get-together will take place at the open-air Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam-Noord. We’ll serve you some fresh reggae, soul, funk and hiphop!

Never been there before? No stress! It’s easy to get to; take the ferry to Buiksloterweg (Buiksloterveer, PDF) and take a two-minute stroll from the ferry stop. Just follow the “Tolhuistuin” signs and you’ll be fine. Entrance to the Tolhuistuin is 5 euros.

Line-up:
19:00 – 21:00 Djef & Venz
21:00 – 22:30 Full Crate & FS Green
22:30 – 00:00 Waxfiend

See you there? Let us know!

Magnetic Men + Woman

So far, dubstep hasn’t lend itself very well to a pop translation. Where its musical predecessor, 2-step/garage, dominated the UK charts for a brief while around the turn of the century, dubstep has largely remained moody and instrumental. That doesn’t get you very far on daytime radio and music television. I have a feeling this is going to change. UK dubstep supertrio Magnetic Man (made up of producers Skream, Benga and Artwork) is about to release “I Need Air” and as far as I’m concerned, it has the words “crossover smash” written all over it. It is #nowplaying on 22tracks’ pop playlist (!), and you can hear Redlight‘s remix on the electro playlist.

If there’s an immediate predecessor for “I Need Air”, it’s Skream’s “Lets Get Ravey Remix” of “In For The Kill” (2009), a mix that is almost as well-known as La Roux‘s original version. Like “I Need Air”, it features a high-pitched female vocal and a foreboding beat:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynq_DcwIxQ4

Skream and Benga are two of the best know DJs and producers in dubstep, so let’s talk about the other people involved in the making of “I Need Air”. First, Artwork, AKA London producer Arthur Smith. His name may not ring a bell, but he is one of the originators of the sound. Teaming up with Skream and Benga is like the teacher joining his pupils. Back in the day, Smith used to work in the Big Apple record shop in South-London, and operate a studio on the second floor. There has only ever been one Artwork release (the Red EP from 2002), but Smith has been involved in several seminal garage releases by D’n'D (“Diamond Rings“, 1999) and Menta (“Sounds of da Future“, 2001, and “Ramp“, 2002), amongst others.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TIj8ECzQgk

The featured singer on “I Need Air” is Angela Hunte. You think you don’t know her, but you do. Everybody does. She co-wrote and co-producedEmpire State of Mind” for Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. Even though she is a New Yorker, Hunte has strong links with the UK music scene, thanks to her longtime association with hip-hop producer Salaam Remi. He was called in to produce UK garage sensation Ms Dynamite‘s debut album A Little Deeper (2002), and brought her along. She stayed. A year later, Angela Hunte sang on three tracks from DJ Zinc‘s album Faster. I guess word travels.

This summer, Magnetic Man are playing festivals in Japan, England, Finland, Belgium and the Netherlands.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2vWQFHP3D0

Nothing sticks to Rick Ross

Somehow, Rick Ross has established himself as one of the most bankable rap stars around. His fourth album Teflon Don is one of the most highly anticipated albums of the summer. How did that happen? He is neither a lyrical genius nor a pretty pop star, he has no credentials as a live performer whatsoever and he was facing some serious credibility issues just a few years ago. I guess the answer lies in the memorable lines that Ricky Rozay knows how to string together, the amount of personality wrapped up in his vocal performance, and, it has to, that incredible beard of his.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs56MhfDhjc

“Free Mason” (featuring Jay-Z and John Legend) and “Maybach Music III” (featuring T.I., Jadakiss and Erykah Badu) are both #nowplaying on 22tracks’ hiphop playlist. The Teflon Don album comes out next week and promises to also showcase Cee-Lo Green, Kanye West, Gucci Mane and Raphael Saadiq (amongst others). That’s a lot of starpower right there and in his five-year career, the Miami rapper has not had much trouble pulling in the big names. Jay-Z signed him to Def Jam in 2006, when Ross (real name: William Roberts) was already thirty years old. “Hustlin’” was one of the anthems of the year:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU9TouRnO84

I expected, surely, Ross’ career to be over after The Smoking Gun revealed the gangsta rapper’s secret past as a correctional officer. Remember: this is a guy who named himself after the notorious drug trafficker “Freeway” Ricky Ross. Photographed while wearing a prison warden’s uniform. Beefing with 50 Cent hasn’t appeared to have harmed Rick Ross in anyway, either.

Nothing sticks to teflon, remember? Rick Ross is stronger than ever. His beard is looking phenomenal, he jetskis around the harbour and releases low-budget videos of himself driving around Miami after dark nonstop. I bet he’s doing just fine.

This time, Johan Cruijff is playing

A lot of Dutch people (men over fifty years of age, usually) maintain that the Netherlands could have won the World Cup in 1978 if Johan Cruijff hadn’t declined to put on the orange jersey. Coulda woulda shoulda. We didn’t win, and didn’t reach another World Cup final for decades. But we’re playing one this Sunday. 22tracks is getting ready for the big match with a special Hup Holland Hup playlist. And guess what? This time, Johan Cruijff is #nowplaying.

Back in 1969, Cruijff (then 22 years old) was Holland’s greatest footballing sensation. In his fifth season at Amsterdam’s main club Ajax, he won the championship for the fourth consequetive time. The Netherlands had failed to qualify for Mexico 70, but in May, Ajax played the European Cup final against AC Milan. (And lost, although they would get it two, three and four years later). Anyway, back in 1969, it seemed like a good idea for Cruijff (who, at the time, for some reason, spelled his name as Cruyff) to record a single. His manager insisted on a flat fee instead of a royalty. No problem.

A song was written by Peter Koelewijn. If you look at it (very) charitably, you could call Koelewijn the Dutch Elvis. Or Cliff. In any case, he is responsible for the early Dutch rock ‘n’ roll hit: 1960′s “Kom van dat Dak af” (‘get off that roof’):

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeQtREEaPOw

Koelewijn is from the PSV city of Eindhoven. Johan Cruijff’s “Oei Oei Oei (Dat Was Me Weer een Loei)” was written and recorded in the oom-pah style popular in the south of the Netherlands (like Eindhoven) and isn’t representative of Amsterdam folk songs at all. Nevertheless, Koelewijn’s production is highly musical and the lyrics are actually kind of funny (in a silly way, of course). Cruijff’s singing isn’t all that terrible, he really adds some flavour. That was not how the recording session started off, apparently.

On his website, Koelewijn recalls that Cruijff “could not sing, could not hold a note, had no sense of rhythm and was a pack of nerves”. A couple of rum ‘n cokes did the job, and the song got to number 21.

Five years later, after Cruijff got a transfer to FC Barcelona, the same record (in Dutch!) was released in Catalonia and sold more copies than it had done in Holland.

Here’s Cruijff’s 2-0 against Brazil from the 1974 World Cup:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCU1uExiplo



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