Shazam In The Vaults digs into the archives and resurrects the overlooked and underrated tracks that may have escaped the acclaim they deserved first time around. First off is Zapp’s ‘More Bounce To The Ounce’…
Although Zapp never really reached mega-stardom, the group have remained one of the most influential funk bands of the era. Shooting to notoriety in the early ‘80’s the group mixed raw synth lead funk with a unique talkbox sound provided by the band’s leader, Roger Troutman. Although plenty of acts had used the talkbox before, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock and rocker Peter Frampton to name only a handful, few acts had placed the sound as front and centre as Zapp did. Produced by Bootsy Collins – the star-spectacled funk god who provided the bass in some of James Brown’s and Parliament’s greatest hits – ‘More Bounce To the Ounce’ enjoyed plenty of success on the R&B charts but failed to cross over to the mainstream when it was released in 1980.
Zapp’s real impact, however, can be credited to their influence on hip-hop. ‘More Bounce To The Ounce’ was sampled in the 90’s by rap giants such as Ice Cube, EPMD, Eazy E and Notorious B.I.G. What’s more, the stylist nuances of the record – swinging electro handclaps, bouncy synth bass and talk box add libs – were pretty much copied whole sale to create the G-funk style that first propelled Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg to stardom. Roger Troutman himself even made a cameo appearance on Dre’s 1996 smash ‘California Love’, adding his digitised vocals to one of rap’s most instantly recognisable moments. Zapp’s music is also referenced in the work of electro-funkers Chromeo, the Gallic-house of Daft Punk and the futuristic grooves of Dam Funk.
Canadian electro-pop duo Chromeo have been penning addictive, 80’s influenced tracks since 2004 when they burst onto the scene with their debut album ‘She’s In Control’; with its standout track ‘Needy Girl’ propelling the pair to the attentions of dance fans across the globe. At the time the band - with their brazen nods to Hall & Oates, Prince and Kraftwerk - were probably the only group around to wear their love for all things 80’s so brazenly on their sleeve. However, since then the likes of La Roux and Friendly Fires have propelled the sound firmly into the mainstream. Where Chromeo may have once seemed an unusual commodity, they have now established themselves firmly with their signature, vocoder aided, sound.
Their latest album ‘Business Casual’ – released this week – proves again their skill for crafting instantly catchy pop tracks. Singles ‘Night By Night’ and ‘Don’t Turn Lights Out’ are sure to cause contagious bouts of moonwalking and robot dancing amongst all listeners. The band are set to embark on their biggest ever UK tour later this year, including a headline show at London’s legendary Camden venue –The Roundhouse.
We spoke to P-Thug – the shorter, talk box wielding member of Chromeo – about their new album, their collaboration with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koening and who, in his valued opinion, is the all time King of the vocoder.
Since they dropped their debut album on the sickeningly cool Vice magazine label back in 2004, Chromeo have continued to maintain a reputation as the pop band that even the most hardened rock snob can’t help but love. With a sound that’s equal parts Hall & Oates and Daft Punk, the vocoder loving duo have one over hipsters the world over with their certified-good-time live show. Their frontman, Dave 1, is so damned cool that he regularly pulls off wearing full white suits and wayfarer shades without looking like a reject from ‘Saturday Night Fever’.
The release of their third album, ‘Business Casual’, is due to be preceded by the single ‘Don’t Turn The Lights On’ – once again showing Dave 1 and P-Funk’s knack of blending a vicious hook over an infectious bass line.. The pair already wowed us at Lovebox Festival this summer and they are now embarking on a full ‘Business Casual Tour’. Currently rolling through their homeland of Canada before heading to the US, the tour will be supported by Holy Ghost! and Telephoned. Chromeo will then head over to the UK in November for a clutch of dates, bringing along Midnight Juggernauts with them as their support act.
‘Don’t Turn The Light’s On’ is backed by a great, if not slightly disturbing video. It gives a nod to Spike Jonze at his most playful and the front cover of Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted. The track is currently available on iTunes, with the equally addictive ‘Night By Night’ on the B-Side.
Pay attention fans of 80’s influenced, vocoder enhanced electro pop - we have the perfect competition for you. We have a copy of Chromeo’s recent DJ Kicks compilation and an exclusive bag to give away to anyone who can answer the very simple question at the bottom of the page.
Chromeo’s new mix is just what you’d expect from the Canadian duo. Delving through their extensive record collections, Dave 1 and P-Thug deliver a mix that is straight up dancefloor bait. To get your hands on this prize simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with your address and answer to the following question:
Who is Dave 1’s famous DJ brother?
C) Eh? Track?
Also any fans of the band in London tomorrow should head down to the Neon Noise Project party where the band will be playing a rare DJ set. The full location of the East London based event is only given to tickets holders, so for more info head to their website. Alongside Chromeo, there will be sets from JBAG, Punks Jump Up and Classixx.
Terms and conditions of competition: 1.Closing date for the competition is 07/12/2009. All entries after this point will be void. 2. All winners will be notified by email on 07/12/2009. 3. All correct answers will enter a prize draw and the winners selected at random. 4. There will be one winners who will win a Chromeo bag andChromeo mix CD 6. The decision of Shazam Entertainment is final. 7. Employees of Shazam Entertainment are not eligible to enter this competition
UK based readers of this blog may have to stretch their memories back a while to remember Mountain Dew, as the drink was pulled from British shelves in the mid 90’s after the it’s mind bendingly high sugar content proved unpopular with consumers. However, the yellow beverage is still big news in the USA – so much so that it has signed up a bunch of the world’s coolest musicians to work on their online music project, ‘Green Label Sound’. Blog friendly acts such as Matt and Kim, Holy Ghost!, The Cool Kids and Amazing Baby have all been involved in Mountain Dew’s (or Mtn Dew as it’s now branded) latest market spin by giving away tracks for free on ‘Green Label Sound’s’ blog site.
The latest band to be roped in to the venture are Canadian electro funksters Chromeo, who are offering a sneak peak of their new material before their next artist album drops sometime next year. The band’s new track entitled ‘Night By Night’ is a typically 80’s sounding Chromeo track blending falsetto vocals, power guitar riffs, chugging vintage synthesisers, synthetic keyboard strings and the all important analogue vocoder from Pee Thugg. In short the track’s vintage Chromeo sounding somewhere between Prince, Daft Punk and ‘P.Y.T.’ era Michael Jackson.
Added to the original Dubstep don Skream adds a remix that, like his face slappingly good remix of La Roux’s ‘In For The Kill’, doesn’t really sound much like Dubstep.
German label !K7 have, in recent years, given us some indispensable mixes through their DJ Kicks brand. Hot Chip, Tiga and Erlend Oye are just some of the names that have compiled albums for the series. !K7 now continue their high standards with 80′s funk obsessed synth-duo Chromeo.
As to be expected with Dave 1 and P-Thug, the album is a route through some lesser known 80’s gems. Opening with the Italo Disco of Kano’s ‘Ikeya-Seki’ could be seen as a fashion conscious nod to the recent increase in popularity of said genre; however, as the tracklisting shows, Chromeo have never been ones to jump on the band wagon. They even find some space for the ever mocked, former Big Brother contestant, Leo Sayer and to suprisingly cover The Eagles on ‘I Can’t Tell You Why’. As always Chromeo turn the ridiculous into the sublime, crafting an infectious blend of unheard gems. Read more…