Virgo Four – Resurrection

Ahead of a recent trip abroad I decided it was time to update my music collection; JLS’ lp is over a week old and Frankie Cocozza won’t be releasing anything until 2012 at the earliest (and I suspect even then it’ll be a dubplate-only release).

With this in mind, I plumped for Rush Hour’s second Virgo Four release in as many years, Resurrection. The CD boasts 15 unreleased Chicago house hits from ’80s tunesters Eric Lewis and Merwyn Sanders. If you get the vinyl, you’re treated to twice as many tracks in a limited edition box set. Bonus.

Whilst some of the beats feel like filler – this was after all a compilation of unreleased material rather than an lp by conception, unlike their fantastic self-titled 1989 album – a handful of the tracks are Chicago gold. Sex, for example, deals with the intricacies of ‘naughty times’ with a base-heavy drum lick that would have made J Dilla proud (RIP). Moskaw’s locomotive-inspired beats and synth baseline feel icy fresh, as if you’re sat atop the Glacier Express in your birthday suit, hurtling through the Swiss Alps with a smile on your face and a chilly willy. The standout track for me, however, has to be it’s a crime. Co-written by Greg Gary (great name), the soul-drenched vocals, thoughtful message and instantly hummable baseline make this track a special find.

Better still is Caribou‘s remix. Caribou’s take on its a crime preserves the best elements; the bouncy bass remains the backbone and the rueful vocal riffs are now ably performed by Daniel Victor Snaith (Mr Caribou himself, previously known as Manitoba). As with many of the tracks on his 2010 lp Swim, this remix passes through a series of phases which grow and grow until the 3m 50s mark when a soaring baseline preludes a monster drop.

With this track on heavy rotation, I decided to check out some of the Caribou back catalogue and I’ve not been underwhelmed. The Milk of Human Kindness has a delicate sound while last year’s ‘Swim’ is made for the dancefloor. Both are exercises in effective songwriting.

Dave – I definitely came late to the Caribou party. The good news is it’s not too late for others to learn from my mistake. The Caribou Vibration Ensemble are playing at Scala in London on 6 December for those lucky enough to have bought tickets in time. If not, check out Nightmare Before Christmas in Minehead between 9-11 December which is co-curated by Caribou. And if you can’t make that, Snaith has put a delightful, download-friendly mix together ahead of the festival here.

Santiago Street Machine – Noisemaker

Manchester alternative electro three piece Santiago Street Machine released their debut single, Noisemaker, today.

Alongside a rampant, thumping, grit fuelled, bassy monster of a track, they’ve linked up with some very talented photographers, videographers and graphic designers to bring a triple threat track, video and artwork.

The single artwork features a photograph by Cambridge based photographer Tom Mayle with graphics from London based designer Ed Chandler. It’s an explosive photo which sets off the explosive sound of the track well.

No single release is complete without a music video, and London based duo James Gough and Steve Roberts (Master Original Dub) have delivered an intriguing watch to accompany the track. The steps needed to make that “noise” with your debut offering can ride on the flip of a coin decision, as the video portrays. Some young acting talent on show too from Alex Payne and Isabella Lueen.

You can pick up the single now on iTunes, Amazon and all the other big download sites. Next live show is at London hot spot Cargo on Saturday 17 December.

The Weeknd – House of Balloons / Thursday

Canada; the boring loft gathering above the killer house party that is America. That’s how I’ve heard it described before. I’m not sure that such a description is really fair, and given the rate at which Canada is bringing us a whole raft of new creatives, I’d say the tables could be turning.

The likes of Drake have made it HUGE on a global scale in the last few years. You can see that through the decadence in the video for Headlines, doesn’t the man know there’s Euro zone debt crisis going on! Lunice has raided the UK this year to bring his own blend of electrified hip hop madness to Carnival and the Boiler Room to great effect. More than just a DJ, he’s a one man mime dance troop to boot (I sometimes wish his audience would give has much as he does).

For me, the maverick of the bunch has been 21 year old game changer Abel Tesfaye, you probably know him by his stage name; The Weeknd.

This, his latest offering called Initiation, is full of angst ridden, pitch shifted vocals, eerie guitar loops and a drum shuffle that would break down any club floor.

But what’s the big deal, surely he’s just another major label backed, R&B crooner with a bit of edge. No sir! Rumour has it he’s never even left his home town of Scarborough, Ontario (although some of the lyrics in “The Morning” suggest otherwise).

His two releases to date have both been put out on his own “XO” label as completely free (you don’t even need to give him your e-mail address) downloads.

Out of the two, I’d say debut offering “House Of Balloons” is the stronger, with tracks like “What You Need” (introduced with Aliyah samples then slinking along in the style of a smooth K-Ci & Jo Jo classic) and “The Morning” (picture waking up to a Prince guitar solo, being serenaded with memories of the night before before an 808 roll explodes to snap you back to reality) standing firm in the pack.

It’s the emotion in his delivery that really mark The Weeknd out. That and the fact that, by all accounts, there’s been little outside assistance in pulling these albums cum mixtapes together.

Still unsigned at the time of writing this, and with another self released album “Echoes Of Silence” pencilled in for this year, we could be seeing The Weeknd and Canada riding higher and higher on the musical map in the coming year.

Click the pics, download the albums and enjoy the weekend!