Music

The Weepies: Be My Thrill

The Weepies fourth studio album is more of the same easily digestible charm, even if it is forgettable.


The Weepies

Be My Thrill

Label: Nettwerk
US Release Date: 2010-08-31
UK Release Date: 2010-08-31
Artist Website
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On the opening track “Please Speak Well of Me” of the Weepies fourth studio album Be My Thrill there is the most annoying triangle sound that emulates the ring of a 60s rotary phone. It makes me think my cell phone is ringing and it’s thoroughly distracting and rather aggravating. I’m continuously raising my ear to listen for my phone, placing the album on hold to ensure that the sound is in fact coming from my headphones. Luckily, the Weepies are one of the most charming and non-confrontational married folk duos to emerge out of this decade—almost like a modern day The Sundays, but not as edgy, if you can refer to The Sundays as edgy—so this fleeting annoyance is easily forgivable.

The Weepies caught my attention when I heard their infectious happy-blues track “World Spins Madly On” from 2006s Say I Am You, on Grey’s Anatomy. (I know, I know, whatever, this review is not about that). Much hasn’t changed since then, and the Weepies continue to spin madly on. Every track is infectiously sweet and catchy, and the lyrical content never strives for greater depth then lines like: “Well I know that life is hard/You make it all right/And I know how dark you get/Late in the night” on “Add my Effort”. They even sing about how completely happy and sunny they are on “I Was Made For Sunny Days”, where a doe-eyed Deb Talan sings: “I was made for sunny days/I made do with grey/But I didn’t stay/I was made for sunny days/And I was made for you”. The lyrics mimic the worst Hayley Sales or Darrelle London tunes. As sweet and vomit-inducing as these lyrics are, handled improperly could be a disaster. Thankfully, the Weepies are quite adept musicians and songwriters, never letting the unintentional and laughable sincerity in their horrendous lyrics overshadow their delivery. There vocal performance is coy and playful, at times nauseating, but always charming. This is happy done well.

What is most impressive about Be My Thrill is how musically diverse it is. No song lingers for longer than three and a half minutes, nor would you want it too. The album (at a substantial 12 tracks) comes and goes in a swift 33½ minutes. Thankfully, each is distinct from the previous regardless of how similar the songwriting structure is. The simplicity of their verse-chorus-verse-chorus format, coupled with identical BPMs for each tune would drive a tone of monotony in the hands of lesser artists, but for the Weepies, it works. It actually characterizes their sound, and hones their abilities into a singular focus. They occasionally trade off lead vocal duties as well, with Deb dominating more so than Steve, but neither member detracts from their overall appeal. They complement each other nicely.

The Weepies do not complicate their successful format for greater degrees of reverence—which is a good thing. Their music is simple, and is meant to be taken almost completely at face value. Although their music is happy done well, it’s also unmemorable happy. Their uncomplicated approach to music making, could certainly be their undoing. Who remembers the simple albums meant for easy digesting? How often do you sing the praises of the Wild Strawberries or Sixpence None the Richer? Most uncomplicated music inevitably fades from its initial precarious starting position into the realms of music abyss, lost in the shuffle of the $2 bin at used CD stores; and with used CD stores quickly and steadily disappearing, the potential future revival of The Weepies looks to be even more grim. Once you delete those iTunes Mp3s from your computer, they’re gone forever—you can’t buy cheap used Mp3s anywhere, trust me.

There are, of course, a few missteps and bad songs on the album. The track “Red Red Rose” sung by husband Steven Tannen is one of the most insufferable tunes with his preposterous insistence to sing words three times each: “Don’t know why you do the things you do do do/Holding it together with some glue glue glue/You’re favourite color isn’t red it’s blue blue blue/No one knows a red red rose”. It’s almost as if they are trying to compensate for their inexorable unmemorable-ness by simply repeating words in hopes they catch on. It kind of works, but not in the way they are hoping. “Be My Honeypie” is another that will leave your ears bleeding: “Be my honeypie/Never say goodbye/If you don’t love me I will die/Be my honeypie”. It’s ingratiating.

Be My Thrill is a solid effort from married duo the Weepies, but without any of the pizzazz of more interesting duo’s like She & Him or The Sundays, to keep them on your radar for longer than a few years. Their nonchalant musical approach suits their infectiously happy/sunny vibe, and even if you want to stab yourself in the stomach from ingesting too much of it, you have to admit that they are always sweetly charming.

6

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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