Music

Wolf + Lamb vs. Soul Clap: DJ Kicks

The two East Coast duos team up to fight the good fight against heartless dance music. Valiant effort, but they're not completely up to the task.


Wolf + Lamb vs. Soul Clap

DJ Kicks

Label: !K7
US Release Date: 2011-03-15
UK Release Date: 2011-03-14
Amazon
iTunes

Simply put, there's just too much noisy, throbby, cold-hearted dance music filling clubs and headphones these days. That's the philosophy Wolf + Lamb and Soul Clap adhere to. What you have here is two pairs of like-minded DJs. Bostonians Eli Goldstein and Charles Levine trade under the name Wolf + Lamb, while New Yorkers Gadi Mizrahi and Zev Eisenberg comprise Soul Clap. And it is really not difficult to agree with their point of view. A lot of dance music these days is too loud and devoid of warmth. This premise fails to take into account a lot of what's on offer, including labels like the very one that released this album, but it's a valid one nonetheless.

This installment of !K7's venerable DJ Kicks series, then, is the foursome's manifesto of sorts. Some DJs use mixes like this to give you a peek into their often eclectic record collections and setlists. But this mix is more like a private party. Wolf + Lamb and Soul Clap have filled the album's 75-minute running time with 27 tracks from what they call "family and friends". That means a lot of stuff from Wolf + Lamb's eponymous label, with nine tracks exclusive to this compilation. Also, the four principals appear often -- in various combinations. This DJ Kicks is an up-close, accurate picture of these four men's aesthetic.

It's a pretty likable one, too. Midetmpo beats predominate, with influences centering on house, soul, and R&B. The occasional synthesizer wash provides atmosphere, and if nothing particularly thrills you, nothing offends, either. Opener "Yellow Sky" from Greg Paulus pretty much sets the template, an '80s-ish synth-bass holding things down while the slow-attack synth pad whooshes around and a laid-back, soulful voice sings about cruising Sunset Strip. It's very much an American counterpart to English and European labels like Buzzin' Fly and Kompakt.

There are some standouts as well. Tanner Ross's "Goodbye Summer", an exclusive, is actually a groovy way to usher in the warm season with an old-school electro vibe, not modern electro-house, but the pulsating type of rhythm that drove NYC club anthems and Belgian hi-NRG rave-ups alike. Again, it's down to the synth-bass, but Wolf + Lamb and Soul Clap give the track a contemporary touch with spaced-out synth effects that float off every which way. Double Hill's "Everytime I Go" combines a dance beat with soulful guitar strumming and shimmering keyboards in a way that recalls vintage Saint Etienne. Only instead of Sarah Cracknell's gentle cooing, here you get a bluesy voice declaring, "I got a naked woman". If Stax had kept going through the millennium instead of petering out, it might have yielded something like this.

The more soul Wolf + Lamb and Soul Clap put in their DJ Kicks, the better it gets. The rich synth pads are back for Soul Clap's remix of Locussolus's "Next to You", along with affected new wave vocals. There isn't a lot of hip-hop to this album, but the mellow flow on No Regular Play's "Takin' You Back" works well. Also, the downtempo, atmospheric interludes are a nice touch.

Despite this handful of tracks that grab your ears, though, you sense Wolf + Lamb and Soul Clap hedging a bit. They aim to give you something that goes beyond ordinary dance music, yet most of the tracks on Wolf + Lamb vs. Soul Clap: DJ Kicks would sound at home next to a lot of the very same stuff the foursome decry. This is indeed a warm-sounding album, but that warmth doesn't go below the surface as much as you'd like. It's like cookies you buy at the store. They do the trick, but it's not hard to imagine something richer and fresher.

6

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


Keep reading... Show less
Film

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

The Force, which details the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts, is best viewed as a complimentary work to prior Black Lives Matter documentaries, such 2017's Whose Streets? and The Blood Is at the Doorstep.

Peter Nicks' documentary The Force examines the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts to curb its history of excessive police force and systemic civil rights violations, which have warranted federal government oversight of the Department since 2003. Although it has its imperfections, The Force stands out for its uniquely equitable treatment of law enforcement as a complex organism necessitating difficult incremental changes.

Keep reading... Show less
6

Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

Keep reading... Show less
7
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image