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ITALIANS DO IT BETTER

Various Artists

Italians Do It Better - A Tribute To Madonna

    Since 2006, listeners have been curious about the origin of the label name Italians Do It Better. Some say it's an homage to Italo Disco, others guess it's related to ancestry, but in fact it's a nod to the iconic T-shirt Madonna wears in the "Papa Don't Preach" video circa 1986.

    Fast forward to a world pandemic... To encourage creativity & lift spirits, Italians Do It Better President, Megan Louise asked every artist “If you could cover your favourite Madonna song…What would it be?”

    As a tribute to their label muse & the impact Madonna’s music has had on the world around us, Italians Do It Better are sharing a compilation of covers simply titled “Italians Do It Better”. One of the tracks (“Lucky Star” by Club Intl) is even produced by Max Kamins, the son of Mark Kamins, the New York DJ who helped break Madonna in the early 1980's. From the experience he says “Dance music was the soundtrack of my early childhood. Working on "Lucky Star" reconnected me not only to my father, but also reminded me that a good song is timeless".

    Executive produced by Johnny Jewel, the compilation is a passport to 20 covers from the bedrooms of 19 artists across 10 different countries.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Joon - Papa Don't Preach
    2. Desire - Angel
    3. Sally Shapiro - Holiday
    4. DlinaVolny - Hollywood
    5. Farah - Gang Bang
    6. Mothermary - Like A Virgin
    7. Club Intl - Lucky Star
    8. Love Object - Frozen
    9. Orion - Into The Groove
    10. Number One Pop Star - Hung Up
    11. Double Mixte - La Isla Bonita
    12. Juno Francis - Beautiful Stranger
    13. Glüme - Material Girl
    14. In Mirrors - I'm Addicted
    15. Causeway - Crazy For You
    16. Mothermary - Like A Prayer
    17. Jorja Chalmers - Justify My Love
    18. Pink Gloves - What It Feels Like Fora Girl
    19. Lou Rebecca - Burning Up

    Desire

    Escape

      Desire shares Escape, their new album written & recorded in Los Angeles & Palm Springs, California. Inspired by the ultra-vivid world of 1970's giallo films, they wrote the soundtrack of their dreams using their favorite musical instruments: Minikorg, Jupiter 8, 909, Mellotron, Simmons Rhythm Modules, String Machine, a D-50 & Fender Rhodes.

      House music rhythms provide the canvas for girl group narratives & a children's choir to paint the picture. Throbbing synthwave & daytime drama soap operas all play into the color pallet of the album. The lyrics are sung in English, French, & Korean, adding even more drama to the mix. Through it all, there is the optimism of true love's compass navigating us through all the chaos life has to offer.

      TRACK LISTING

      Side 1
      1. Black Latex
      2. Telling Me Lies
      3. Liquid Dreams
      4. Love Is A Crime

      Side 2
      5. Zeros
      6. Dark Age
      7. Haenim (ft. Ether)

      Side 3
      8. Ghosts
      9. Escape
      10. The Young And The Restless

      Side 4
      11. Days & Nights
      12. Broken Windows
      13. Friends & Enemies

      Sally Shapiro

      Rent

        Swedish synthpop duo Sally Shapiro (the duo of Sally Shapiro and Johan Agebjörn) announce a new 12" 'Rent' co-mixed by Johnny Jewel.

        On the single, Johan offered "I am a longtime fan of Pet Shop Boys and have been thinking from time to time about covering some PSB song, without any clear idea of how to do it. Suddenly it became apparent that the melancholic and painfully beautiful harmonies of 'Rent' would suit our style perfectly, and I started playing a synth line over the chorus."

        Johnny Jewel added "Sally Shapiro's cover of this Pet Shop Boys classic keeps the original close to the heart. Emphasizing the baroque leanings of the chord progression, they take it further with a 16th note melody careening over icy pads. The result is a Synthwave skyline scraping the upper atmosphere in the never-ending race to survive the first of the month. It's a twisted tale of the politics of economy in relationships where the currency is love. Sally's crystalline coo glides over Johan's elegant Italo production as the bass line anchors the galloping rhythm section. Home is where the heart is...but shelter comes first in this game of love."

        Sally added "We also think the lyrics to Rent are intriguing, how the singer – in our version, a mistress – tries to convince herself that she’s happy, while the melancholy shines through. Pet Shop Boys is also very much childhood nostalgia for me."

        Johan was a member of the Pet Shop Boys Club as a child, and even got a penpal request published in the official fanclub magazine in 1993. Johan said "I received numerous answers! I had a pretty long correspondence with a fan from the UK."

        TRACK LISTING

        A1. Rent (Extended Mix)
        A2. Believe In Me (Italoconnection Remix)
        B1. Rent (NICOLAAS Remix) Feat. Steve Moore
        B2. Rent (Instrumental)

        Jorja Chalmers

        Midnight Train

          Jorja Chalmers enjoys a quiet life. The Australian born mother of two lives in Margate, the Kent coastal town that is turning into something of a cultural hub. Yet there’s another, shadow version of Jorja Chalmers, one that resides in a liminal realm; a saxophonist & composer, a brooding, vampiric, twilight soul who yearns for some sense of aesthetic transformation.

          New album ‘Midnight Train’ comes close to severing the two. Constructed during the long winter lockdown, Jorja would put her kids to bed before closing the door in the spare room, building lengthy, undulating passages of cinematic terror, patching together European art-pop glamour with outsider electronics. It’s composed, intense, & challenging – but it’s also utterly exhilarating.

          “I feel incredibly proud of this album,” she says. “It feels like a life’s work squeezed into one space. It feels like I’m saying something.”

          TRACK LISTING

          A1. Bring Me Down
          A2. I'll Be Waiting
          A3. Rabbit In The Headlights
          A4. Boadicea
          A5. Love Me Tonight
          A6. Nightingale
          A7. Riders On The Storm
          B1. Rhapsody
          B2. The Poet
          B3. The Wolves Of The Orangery
          B4. On Such A Clear Day
          B5. Midnight Train
          B6. Underwater Blood

          Sally Shapiro

          Sad Cities

            REWIND…

            15 years ago, they shared their first song online. Blogs & record labels immediately took notice & swarmed. Our introduction to the elusive Swedish duo was the now classic “I’ll Be By Your Side”, a shimmering Italo Disco track with ethereal vocals that hypnotized everyone who heard it. Johan’s elegant production was years ahead of what anyone else was doing at the time, & the elusive falsetto of the dreamlike singer was unforgettable. In 2007, their debut album, Disco Romance, was revered by the press. The album was nominated as “Best Dance/Electronic Album of the Year” & was given a spot in Pitchfork’s Top 50 albums of 2007. Their sound was a unique take on the romantic club music of the mid 1980’s. At the time you could count the artists exploring this territory on one hand. Johnny Jewel began corresponding with Johan later that year resulting in Agebjörn’s remix of Glass Candy’s “The Chameleon”. The seminal After Dark compilation had come out that summer & the kindred spirits kept in touch.

            Their debut album sees remixes by other likeminded producers like Lindstrøm, Tensnake, Junior Boys, CFCF, & Juan MacLean. In 2009, My Guilty Pleasure, picks up where Disco Romance left off. They collaborated with Electric Youth (known from the ”Drive” soundtrack) on their third album Somewhere Else in 2013. Johan is a fixture on European dancefloors collaborating with Lindstrøm, Glass Candy, Annie, Wolfram, Hercules & Love Affair, & more. In 2018 he produced the addictive Samantha Fox single “Hot Boy”.

            PAUSE…

            Sally is notoriously shy, remaining shrouded in anonymity. To this day she insists on recording her vocals alone in the studio & refuses to perform her songs live. In 2016, the duo went underground & released what was thought to have been their final single.

            FAST FORWARD…

            Working in deep seclusion over the last half decade, they recorded an incredible collection of material out this fall via Italians Do It Better. A gorgeous bouquet of pure electronic bliss mixed by Johan Agebjörn & Johnny Jewel. The enigmatic duo re-surfaces from the underground this week with “Fading Away”, a first look at a new era.

            PLAY…

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Forget About You
            2. Believe In Me
            3. Down This Road
            4. Sad City
            5. Dulcinea
            6. Falling Clouds
            7. Love In Slow Motion (Feat. Electric Youth)
            8. Million Ways
            9. Tell Me How (Feat. Tommy ’86)
            10. Christmas Escape
            11. Fading Away

            From Bryan Ferry’s side on stage for the past decade to lighting up your night sky with a neon symphony, Jorja Chalmers’ debut album "Human Again"

            In 2004 Jorja Chalmers moved to London from Sydney, Australia with zero cash, her saxophone & a massive crush on an English boy she met while he was visiting Australia. Fast forward 3 years later and Bryan Ferry’s assistant caught Jorja performing at a nightclub in London. The next day she received a message inviting her to audition for his band. She met Ferry at his studio, played some Roxy Music tunes & as anyone who has caught one of Ferry’s live shows of the past 10+ years knows, has been a salient addition to his band ever since.

            "Human Again" was written & recorded by Jorja in hotel rooms after performing Roxy Music & Bryan Ferry songs drenched in sweat each night. Finishing touches were added & distilled inside Ferry’s London studio & then brushed by Johnny Jewel’s glittering hands with Dean Hurley at the legendary Asymmetrical Studio in the Hollywood Hills. The combination is intoxicating. "Human Again" bottles that stark loneliness the artist faces night after night on the road. Sonically, the album explores the spaciousness alive inside the minimalism of Bowie & Eno’s "Low", her vocal reflects early Laurie Anderson alongside the troubled smoke of Badalamenti’s score for "Lost Highway", & the impeding doom of Goblin. Chalmers embraces the claustrophobia of a John Carpenter film cut with the patience & precision of Amon Duul. The quest to be "Human Again" is to be a stranger in a strange land.

            In "Red Light" metal machine magic grinds as a wish is granted. The saxophone wails, humming a new strain of serpentine song. The triggered, vast descent of "Suburban Pastel" unfurls as the landscape expands the mystery. This is visual music that slowly coils its wings around the listener.

            Jorja’s pale blue eyes glance across the vivid landscape. Suspended in reverie, bathed in sound, adrift until the tidal brass of "This Is Where The Night Sky Begins" calls the dreamer back down to earth. As the needle drops again, the petal soft synthesizers sprawl toward the event horizon, hypnotized by the distant call of the Siren. Visions of intimacy & sentient contact triggered by endless weeks on tour. The human heart of a Saturday night still beating on Tuesday morning. The album’s closing track "Ship In The Sky" is the heroine’s journey into the unknown, without a compass.


            TRACK LISTING

            1. Human Again
            2. Red Light
            3. Black Shadow
            4. She Made Him Love Again
            5. Copper Bells
            6. No Words
            7. Our Love In A Glass So Thin
            8. Suburban Pastel
            9. This Is Where The Sky Begins
            10. The Sum Of Our Sins
            11. She Made Him Love Again (Reprise)
            12. Ship In The Sky

            Portland's masters of cinematic synth, the inimitable Chromatics are back with their fifth studio LP, "Closer To Grey". The band's first album since 2012, "Closer To Grey" continues the outfit's exploration of neon lit diners, freezing city streets and 80s noir, kicking off with a stripped back and atmospheric interpretation of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound Of Silence". The tempo rises for "You're No Good", "Closer To Grey" and twist the knife, which alternate between vintage Italians Do It Better disco and propulsive new wave, before "Light As A Feather" pairs Chromatics' trademark sound with the fresh addition of a breakbeat. The first disc ends on a note of romance with the prom-friendly "Move A Mountain", a reminder that vocalist Ruth Radelet can kill with a whisper. As we head to the C-side "Touch Red" leads us through a little lounge-styled melancholy while "Whispers In The Hall" finds the middle ground between trap-bass tones and Carpenter's Halloween soundtrack. A synth and scuzz cover of Jesus And Mary Chain's "On The Wall" reminds us of the group's DIY origins, a wonderful contrast to the luxurious textures of "Love Theme..." and dreamy closer "Wishing Well". 

            And just like that, Chromatics pull off that most difficult of tasks, creating something which is the same, but different. All the emotion, feeling and mood remain, but bolstered with a few new musical flavours which compliment rather than detract. 

            TRACK LISTING

            1. The Sound Of Silence
            2. You’re No Good
            3. Closer To Grey
            4. Twist The Knife
            5. Light As A Feather
            6. Move A Mountain
            7. Touch Red
            8. Through The Looking Glass
            9. Whispers In The Hall
            10. On The Wall
            11. Love Theme From Closer To Grey
            12. Wishing Well

            Glass Candy

            B/E/A/T/B/O/X - Clear Vinyl Pressing

            It's hard to think of any other record that so perfectly encapsulates that favourite part of the day for all nighthawks, revellers and DJs. The hour before dawn, when the streets of the city are empty, lights change for traffic that isn't there and a lone fox is you're only companion on your walk home. Taking their inspiration from the synth-heavy soundtracks of John Carpenter (especially "Assault On Precinct 13"), Kraftwerk, Madonna and Timbaland their sound is unique because of the absence of sequencers and computers. There's something undeniably refreshing about dance music that goes out of time occasionally. Highlights include "Rolling Down The Hills" and "Beatific" but it's their cover of Kraftwerk's "Computer Love" that's the record's masterpiece. It's hard to believe that a song written nearly thirty years ago could soundtrack, so perfectly, the alienation of city living in the twenty first century. Thank you Italians Do It Better for "B/E/A/T/B/O/X".


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