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Published: Thursday, 4/14/2011

Dirty Vegas makes dance music accessible

BLADE STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES

ELECTRIC LOVE Dirty Vegas (OM)

In the early 2000s, Dirty Vegas crossed over from the clubs to the heartland with the song "Days Go By" that provided the soundtrack to a Mitsubishi advertisement. In the decade since that single was released, the band has split up, got back together, and on "Electric Love" created a sound that marries dance beats and a rock esthetic, synths and guitars, the electronic and organic.

When that sound is wrapped around songs that are melodic, feature solid vocals from Steve Smith, and revel in rhythms that are as suited for the dance floor as the car radio or ear buds, the result is massive.

The opening "Little White Dove" sets the tone -- one that's cemented by the following "Changes." The bass pulses or pops depending on the tone of the song, the drums push the rhythms forward, as all the while echoes of '80s synth bands swirl through the mix -- echoes that grow louder on "Never Enough."

There's depth to the disc, in the meaty break beat and expansive production of "21st Century," or potent rhythms of "Pressure" which, as the title suggests, builds and builds, the vocals rising above the insistent beats.

"Electric Love," which is packaged with a second disc of instrumental versions of the tracks, provides the counter argument to those who think dance music is little more than a drum machine and warbling on a synthesizer, OK under the mirror ball but not in the light of day.

On this disc, Dirty Vegas bridges rock, pop, and dance, creating music that refuses to be pigeon-holed, that's easy to dance to and a pleasure to listen to. And you can't ask for much more than that.

-- RICHARD PATON

FACTORY MAN Eric Hanke (Ten Foot Texan Records)

There's a feeling of classic rock punctuating the 11 tunes here, but they're primarily country-laced folk with a heaping helping of blues. For want of a better description, you might settle on contemporary Americana. Oh, yes, you might also pick out a bit of soul music here and there.

Hanke's tenor vocals are perfectly suited for the story-telling chores in these songs about "genuine" people in real-life situations. It's a hearty blend of reality dressed up in no-nonsense lyrics and some fine melodies, all wrapped up in some very good musicianship unadorned by studio gimmickry.

Hanke wrote nine of the numbers by himself and had some co-writing help on the other two. His songwriting talents show a breadth of experience that must be felt in real life to translate into something believable. Apparently, he has that sort of background because it shines through here. For more than 43 minutes, you can feel some of it too.

-- KEN ROSENBAUM

WASTING LIGHT Foo Fighters (Roswell/RCA)

There's a moment of pure alt-rock bliss about halfway through the Foo Fighters' "White Limo" when Dave Grohl lets loose a true, throat-ripping shriek, "Yeahhhho! Limmmmmohhhhh!" over a thunderous, incessant metal-guitar assault.

That's when you know "Wasting Light," the Foo Fighters' seventh studio album, is for real, that Grohl and the gang have shaken off the responsibilities of being torchbearers and money makers and arena-fillers, and simply have found a way to rock again.

Though they get help from some important pals from the '90s -- "Nevermind" producer Butch Vig is onboard, as are Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and once-and-future Foo Pat Smear -- this is no nostalgia trip. Even "Dear Rosemary," which features Husker Du hero Bob Mould and seems influenced by everyone from Blue Oyster Cult to the Smithereens, sounds forward-looking, thanks to Vig's crisp production and the cool, clipped guitar riffs.

"Arlandria" takes the power-pop sensibilities of the Foos' early work and gives it new depth. They lighten the mood with nursery rhymes and cheesy '80s hand claps, but beneath it Grohl sings of pain and being haunted by memories. In "These Days," they bring back the loud-soft-loud dynamic with great results.

Something clearly has clicked with this lineup, which once again includes guitarist Smear, and the Foos seem renewed. As tough as it is to top 1997's "The Colour and the Shape" in their catalog, "Wasting Light" might just do it.

-- GLENN GAMBOA, Newsday



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