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Pop Making Sense: The Sounds of Summer
by David Byrne with Tony Peregrin
2007-06-01

This article shared 3014 times since Fri Jun 1, 2007
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Grime, Silk and Thunder is Ultra Nate's triumphant follow-up to her 2001 album, Stranger Than Fiction. The lead singles, Love's The Only Drug and an electro-flavored cover of the Pointer Sisters' Automatic, have already impacted the dance charts. Also revamped are Nate's own classics, Scandal and It's Over Now, both from her 1991 debut Blue Notes In The Basement. The rich opener, Loosely Based On, is melodic, yet the slowest on the set, while Falling is one killer throwback piano-based house track. Easily Nate's strongest effort, this Tommy Boy release is well worth the wait. By the way, Nate will perform at Green Dolphin Street, 2200 N. Ashland, on June 25.

The hottest compilation of summer is Music With A Twist: Revolutions. Out now via Sony/Columbia's queer imprint, Revolutions features a variety of genres. Dylan Rice shows inspirations from The Smiths on The Lie, whereas God-des & She rap through the verses and sing the chorus on Love You Better and Israel's Ivri Lider sings of loving closet cases on the electronic Jesse. The all-star and all-queer line-up also includes The Gossip, Sarah Bettens, Kirsten Price and Levi Kreis. Be sure to catch Rice performing at Martyr's on June 1 at 10 p.m.

Most people do not believe me when I describe Sia as a combination of Dido and Janis Joplin—but it's true. On her live album, Lady Croissant, Sia belts out her breakout hit, Breathe Me, among her Zero 7 collaborations, new material and work from her outings Colour the Small One and Healing Is Difficult. The quirky new studio recording Pictures is not out of focus amid her tortured epic Blow It All Away or her rendition of The Pretenders' I Go To Sleep. Lady Croissant should tide over diehards while Sia works on her next record.

Mika is already a sensation abroad with his hit album, Life In Cartoon Motion. The Lebanon-born singer marries the sounds of his idols to his five-octave vocal range. Love Today opens with the same measures as Dolly Parton's 9 to 5, while Gene Kelley has Mika delivering the bridge like Queen's Somebody to Love; then, Relax, Take It Easy has many similarities to The Scissor Sisters' Comfortably Numb. But Relax's sample of the Cutting Crew's I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight adds the perfect touch. Maintaining the fine line between copying and saluting, Mika's debut proves to be the right pace. But don't read too much into his lyrics—the young talent is mum about his sexual orientation. Mika is scheduled to take to the stage at The Metro on June 11.

It is no easy task redoing Alison Moyet's works. Leave it to vocal powerhouse Diva Avari to weigh in on this option. Born in the United States and now residing in gay Paris, Avari teams with Starting Rock for this dance anthem. The video is already a YouTube favorite, showing that people of all sizes are capable of being sexy. Don't Go is included on the compilation Ultra.Dance 08.

I just happened to be doing my routine shopping trip to the record store the day it received the import single of Dannii Minogue's He's The Greatest Dancer. Kylie's sister does an honest take on this Sister Sledge disco hit. While it is doubtful that Dancer is a prelude to a new album, it is a welcome return for Minogue. Need another Niles Rogers-penned disco remake? Look no further than Jody Watley's flawless spin on Le Chic's I Want Your Love, which is available via iTunes.

Suddenly it is 1978 all over again with The Black Ensemble Theater Company's latest stage production, Those Sensuous Seductive '70s. Here, expect to hear live renditions of beloved '70s classics such as What's Goin' On by Marvin Gaye, I'll Be There by The Jacksons and Loving You by the late Minnie Riperton. Written, produced and directed by the theater's founder and artistic director, Jackie Taylor, the show opens June 3 and runs through Aug. 26 at 4520 N. Beacon. More information is available at www.blackensembletheater.org and tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

Looking for more vintage soul? Universal Music Enterprises' '70s Soul Number 1s is a cohesive collection encompassing these treasured radio hits from back in the day. Included are Rufus and Chaka Khan's Sweet Thing, Rick James' You And I, Jackson 5's Dancing Machine and, my personal favorite, Marvin Gaye's Got To Give It Up ( Pt. 1 ) . '70s Soul Number 1s is just one of many compilations from Universal. Elton John, Elvis Costello and Diana Ross and The Supremes are just some of the legendary acts to have retrospectives out via UMe. For a more detailed list of UMe's catalog, visit ilovethatsong.com .

With Feels Like Home, Meck adds new breath to the revival trend. Home contains the riffs from Felix's 15-year-old rave hit Don't You Want Me, which actually samples Yomanda's vocals. Last year, Meck hit number one overseas with Thunder In My Heart Again, which is a reworking of disco singer Leo Sayer's song of the same name.

Young Folks by Peter, Bjorn & John is so sweet, it has to be from Sweden. This airy duet has a trippy animated video and one hell of a hook courtesy of a whistle. Sound familiar? Young Folks is used in an AT&T commercial. Pulled from the trio's album, Writer's Block, Young Folks has a sense of feel-good breeziness.


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