Little White Earbuds January Charts 2014

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Chart courtesy of The Economist

01. Soulphiction, “When Radio Was Boss”
[Pampa Records] (buy)

Perhaps like you, my earliest memories of recorded music are of listening to the radio in the car. Many of us taped songs we liked off the radio for our primitive mixtapes. Michael Baumann, the German producer better known as Soulphiction and Jackmate, plugs straight into this nostalgic feeling for “When Radio Was Boss.” As if a live broadcast, a charismatic radio DJ from 90.3FM WBAU plunges into the track at times to shout out call letters, solicit phone calls and briefly interview a band. The unexpected mix of media is attention grabbing and puts an unexpected frame around the track that reaches into listeners’ memories. The music is more evocative still, a bright and bountiful array of swelling, radio compressed strings, perky bass runs, and cowbell-heavy metallic percussion. Snippets of a touching conversation between two R&B singers completes a trifecta of emotional resonance, one also tapped by DJ Nature on his Return Of The Savage LP. A dose of sentimentality this large is probably not for everyone, but the people who do connect with “When Radio Was Boss” are likely to have quite a moment when it hijacks the club.

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02. Lawrence, “Marlen” (Carsten Jost & DJ Richard Remix) [Dial] (buy)
Carsten Jost records have been few and far between since 2007, after which point the Dial co-founder’s output slowed to a trickle of excellent if somewhat overlooked compilation tracks. A soaring career in the art world — where people call him David Lieske — is the commendable excuse for the scarcity. This puts a particular premium on his remix of “Marlen,” a buzz-worthy collaboration with DJ Richard of White Material. In their hands, the standout track from Lawrence’s Films & Windows is not so much transformed as efficiently evolved. That circular bass line learned to swim deeper and is shadowed by the dragged texture of sampled vocal snippets. Cameos of the original’s quavering chords complement a new, descending progression so delicious it could have been a contender in the original. Gruff, smoked out vocals of someone professing that “everyone in New York has a gimmick… and I found out that mine is hustling.” That it turns into an anti 9-to-5 office job monologue of sorts hits a soft spot in many listeners, not just those who’d rather spend those hours in a club or hustling. We may never see a time again where Lieske returns to the production pace of the early 00s, but remixes like this remind me why I keep checking for him anyways.

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03. G. Marcell, “I Be Damn”
[Episodes] (buy)

One of Chicago’s most unfairly slept on producers of the moment is G. Marcell. While active since 2003, it’s only been in the last couple years that his music has been featured outside his own Bearatonerecordings. Following a superb EP on Hakim Murphy’s Machining Dreams comes the Destructured World EP for Ike Release’s Episodes label, a record which showcases his technical skill and songwriting in equal measure. While I could be happy writing about any or all of the tracks on here, the relatively low key “Be Damn” has its hooks in me and hasn’t let go since I first heard it. Many familiar elements of modern Chicago house are present but subtly upgraded: constant tom patterns with a pliable, almost rubbery texture; whistling melodies intertwined over long intervals; and clearheaded piano leads that usher in friendly, eager bass tones. It’s one of those effortless deep house tracks that doesn’t need to rewrite the playbook to be endlessly effective — especially in warm up or cool down contexts.

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04. Recloose, “You Just Love You”
[Delusions Of Grandeur] (buy)

From his early days on Planet E to this present day record for Delusions of Grandeur, Matthew Chicoine’s music almost always contains a pronounced fun streak. Whether it’s the quirky arrangements, unexpected samples, or just a general vibe, a Recloose record is likely to bring a smile to listeners’ faces. So it is with “You Just Love You,” a merri-go-round of gleefully sung vocals and funk samples taking dancers on a joy ride as they whirl around each other. The vocals accuse someone of being in love with themselves, but the bouncing groove, starbursts of melody, and various party ambience suggest this is a playful ribbing at best. And for dance music obsessives like me, there are little elements that never fail to get me grinning: a brilliantly syncopated hi-hat pattern which hisses sassy nothings; clap clusters that explode like firecrackers; sprightly sleighbell shakes; and an array of expertly sequenced vocals that keep the whole thing spinning. Although the December-released It’s Too Late EP seemed to have been overlooked over the holiday break, “You Just Love You” by itself is enough reason for keen DJs and admirers of chipper dance music to reach back into 2013 and snag this record.

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05. Âme, “Tatischeff”
[Innervisions] (buy)

There’s something rather impressive about Âme’s ability to keep moving forward as artists while staying true to their aesthetic built up over the last 10+ years. Many in their position end up with a string of mediocre derivations of what made them famous, with nods to the prevailing trends for the sake of relevance. By most accounts the German duo have eschewed all trends and tunneled deeper into their sound, which is readily apparent in their latest single, “Tatischeff.” Bristling synth arpeggios, queasy finger cymbals, pulsating marimba lines, and a vacant female vocal all have roots in Âme’s previous work, but their patient build up is less forceful than we’ve come to expect — not hesitant, just considered. A sorrowful melodic refrain wraps the whole thing together, affirming the track’s reflective mood and providing a hook to hold onto. Given its immediate familiarity as an Âme track, some listeners may crave a bit more novelty than “Tatischeff” delivers. Yet that doesn’t take away from its undeniably solid appeal, both in Frank and Kristian’s discography and in the sets of DJs who include it.

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06. JTC, “Valley Road (We Are One)”
[Spectral Sound] (buy)

07. Hakim Murphy, “Vatitio” (Murdoc Remix) [Mindshift Records] (buy)
08. Elgato, “Links” [Galdoors] (buy)
09. Shackleton, “Silver Keys”
[Woe To The Septic Heart] (buy)

10. NHK’Koyxeи, “766” [PAN] (buy)

Staff Charts:

Brandon Bussolini
01. Leif, “Stutter and Hum” [Fear of Flying]
02. Mssingno, “XE2” [Goon Club Allstars]
03. Actress, “Gaze” [Werkdiscs]
04. Elgato, “Links” [Galdoors]
05. Richard Tobar, “Hundreds” [Desire Records]
06. The Citizen’s Band, “Eddy’s Theme” [Tasteful Nudes]
07. Vril, “Vortekz” [Delsin]
08. Shackleton, “Freezing Opening Thawing” [Woe To The Septic Heart]
09. AnD, “The Jellyfish” [Electric Deluxe]
10. Earthen Sea, “Saharan Ocean” [Lovers Rock]

Dino Lalić
01. Shackleton, “Silver Keys” [Woe To The Septic Heart]
02. Elbee Bad, “Don’t Wanna Lose Ya Love” [Knuggles Recordings]
03. Webster Wraight Ensemble, “The Ruins Of Britain” (Pépé Bradock’s ‘Robin’s Hot Barbershop’ Remix)” [Miso]
04. XI, “MANIA 16” (E-Gzr Mellow Mix) [Wania]
05. Tony G, “Simple Dreams” (Young Marco Remix) [Infinite Juju]
06. Traumprinz, “Believe” [Giegling]
07. Denaji, “Wuhti” (DJ Sotofett’s Bhakti Crew Mix Feat. Paleo Logos) [Unthank]
08. Enchanté, “NT” [Born Free Records]
09. Antoine Rouge, “Tapioca Island” [Crimes Of The Future]
10. Legowelt, “Blue Tearz” [Riverette]

Brandon Wilner
01. Johanna Knutsson & Hans Berg, “Vintergatan” [Crime City Disco]
02. Actress, “Rap” [Werkdiscs]
03. The Citizen’s Band, “Smalltown Blues” [Tasteful Nudes]
04. Elgato, “Sun” [Galdoors]
05. Giovanni Damico, “Cuttin, Samplin, Housin” [Geography Records]
06. Juju & Jordash, “Waldorf Salad” [Dekmantel]
07. Tim McAllister, “Can’t Hide” [StilLove4Music]
08. NHK’Koyxeи, “501” [PAN]
09. Paul Johnson, “Feel My M.F. Bass” [Strut]
10. General Ludd, “Woo Ha” [Mister Saturday Night Records]

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