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CD of The Month: Hey Champ

I don’t believe that Hey Champ would dislike this classification, in fact it seems like they have embraced it, but this album, the band’s debut, is pure pop. Star collects the various singles and club hits like “Cold Dust Girl” and “Neverest”, but adds new and more rock based tracks like “Shake” and “Steampunk”. While listening through this album the main comparison that came to mind was New Order, or for a more current comparison Awesome New Republic.

The connection is not only sound, but in the mixture of dance pop and political themes that the band mixes in. Songs like “World=War”, “So American”, and “No Future” brings a very forceful political message while still allowing the listen to dance. I don’t feel that political messages in pop music are as unusual or jarring as they once were, but the album does, in certain points, begin to become a little weighted down by these themes. I suppose it all in what you are looking for. Do you want you dance music light of fun or do you want a line like “lay down your sword because you would be ill advised to fight anymore”? This is still an album to playing at the pool or the summer barbeque, but it walks that fine line. Overall, Star is an impressive debut and is more effective and focused than I expected give their diverse pool of remix work. I suppose we can call it dance pop with a purpose.

Star will be released on July 13th, but can be pre-ordered right now for just $4.99. The band will be performing on August 1st here in Chicago at the Lolla Remix Throwdown.

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July 2010
Hey Champ
"Star
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mp3

I don’t believe that Hey Champ would dislike this classification, in fact it seems like they have embraced it, but this album, the band’s debut, is pure pop. Star collects the various singles and club hits like “Cold Dust Girl” and “Neverest”, but adds new and more rock based tracks like “Shake” and “Steampunk”. While listening through this album the main comparison that came to mind was New Order, or for a more current comparison Awesome New Republic. The connection is not only sound, but in the mixture of dance pop and political themes that the band mixes in. Songs like “World=War”, “So American”, and “No Future” brings a very forceful political message while still allowing the listen to dance. I don’t feel that political messages in pop music are as unusual or jarring as they once were, but the album does, in certain points, begin to become a little weighted down by these themes. I suppose it all in what you are looking for. Do you want you dance music light of fun or do you want a line like “lay down your sword because you would be ill advised to fight anymore”? This is still an album to playing at the pool or the summer barbeque, but it walks that fine line. Overall, Star is an impressive debut and is more effective and focused than I expected give their diverse pool of remix work. I suppose we can call it dance pop with a purpose.





CD Review: Mazzzes

When I first heard that Mazes were releasing a remixed version of their debut record (dubbed Mazzzes this time around), I was a little skeptical. Why mess with a great thing?

The answer, it turns out, is “Why not?” The remixed tracks on Mazzzes are more like reimaginations, offering completely new perspectives. Lo-fi, breezy tunes sit comfortably next to avant garde and electronic mixes, and while none of it is necessarily better than the original, it’s all interesting and certainly worth a listen. The Dana Okon mix of “Manual Systems” stays true to the essence of the song, adding a fuzzy effect that makes it sound like you’re listening to it on an old radio. It’s an approach that works well with Mazes’ aesthetic, and the Pierce Doerr remix of “I Have Laid in the Darkness of Doubt” likewise takes a page from this book by imitating the locked groove of a broken record.

Several tracks are almost unrecognizable, but it’s never a bad thing. Jeffrey Thomas’ “Cat State Comity” would fit in well on a Frank Zappa album, and “Heather Kissing Heather on the Dancefloor” (Joshua Dumas’ take on “Heather on Heather”) sounds like something you’d listen to on your way home from a rave in 1996. These mixes couldn’t be further from the originals, but they’re great in their own right. When it comes down to it, that’s what makes Mazzzes a success: it achieves the perfect balance of familiar sounds that Mazes fans are bound to love and daring noise that they’ll love for completely different reasons.

Mazes are performing tonight (July 2nd) at The Hideout with Hotel Brotherhood at 10pm. - Bonnie Stiernberg

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Last Minute Plans: Ceiling Stars @ Hideout

Back in April Ceiling Stars released their latest album All The Fallen Parts. Above is the video by Hiroshi Narasaki for their track “A Good Son”.

Ceiling Stars is performing tonight (July 1st) with Scott Lucas And The Married Men at Hideout. The show starts at 9pm and is only $8.

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Maps & Atlases on Daytrotter

In case you missed it, like I did, Daytrotter posted a new session with Maps & Atlases on June 24th. The band performed three tracks from their latest album Perch Patchwork, and an unreleased track called “Ted Zancha”.

The band does not have a Chicago show scheduled right now, but will be touring the country this summer and heading to the UK in October.

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