Groove Line

Wed. September 24, 2008 12:00 AM
by DJ Plez

Precious Stone
When I first started writing this Groove Line column several years ago, one of the first musical artist I wrote about was Jem, the Welsh born singer who made a splash in 2004 with her debut album Finally Woken and the hit single "They," which appeared on the television show The O.C. Well, she's back with her sophomore effort Down To Earth and I'm glad to report that my initial enthusiasm for Jem four years ago has been renewed with this 12-track effort that's filled with ethereal vocals, hip-shaking beats, bright melodies, and introspective lyrics. Her first single from the album, "It's Amazing," was featured on the soundtrack for the Sex & The City movie this past summer, while "Aciiid!" is a lively dance-pop track that should appeal to electronica fans who find favor with the likes of The Prodigy. A well-crafted album, Down To Earth is a wide-ranging album that ably demonstrates Jem's wide-ranging style and proof that she's just at the beginning of what is sure to be a long and fruitful career.

Duo 1
The pop music duo and real life lovers Jason & deMarco , who graced the cover of The Advocate in 2004, proclaim that they want their music to be uplifting without being preachy and they sure have succeeded with their new album Safe (RJN Music!), a 12-track presentation that brought a continuous smile to my face. Featuring new music and recordings that appear in the controversial SHOWTIME documentary We're All Angels, this album with its beautiful harmonies and empowering message propels the duo past its core gay audience and into mainstream musical consciousness. Amidst impressive original compositions such as "You Changed My Life," Jason & deMarco really hit the ball out of the park with their absolutely fantastic takes on "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Ave Maria."

While Safe is a fairly subdued and low key album, the same can not be said about the dance remixes of " It's Okay ," the first single from the album. The R. Maharaj remixes have a deep proggy vibe that simmers with an after-hours flavor. Meanwhile, the Scotty K remixes have a big room big production sound that marries well with Jason & deMarco's voices. Both remixers deserve praise for their efforts.

Where's Archie?
The much praised The Veronicas are back with their second album, Hook Me Up (Sire Records), and boy do they have a winner on their hands. The Veronicas are actually twin sisters from Australia - neither of whom is named Veronica, but Lisa and Jessica Origliasso – and they've produced a 12-track collection of dance-friendly electro-rock that starts out really strong with "Untouched," the first single that debuted at #10 on MTV's TRL Top 10 Countdown. The rest of the album has some great material on it, including the title track, "Popular," and "I Can't Stay Away," and it's already been certified double-platinum in The Veronicas native land of Australia. I expect their Down Under success to carry over stateside and lead to lots of radio air time and downloads here.

At first look I thought he was the actor-turned-rapper David Faustino who played the character of Bud on the TV series Married With Children. But in fact he is dance music recording artist Adam Barta , an Hot 100 Celebrity who has become a familiar face to viewers of LOGO-TV. His latest single " Standing In The Rain " with DJ Russ Harris (EsNtion Records) has been making a splash in recent weeks, and the maxi-single CD hit my desk with 14, yes 14, different versions. Barta delivers a strong vocal performance on the track and Harris, who has had success in the recent past with female signers, proves that he can also work adeptly with the "twig and berries" set. While the Klubjumpers Klub Mix will most likely get the biggest play at clubs, my personal favorite mix of the bunch is the Tony Arzadon Club Mix . It has a bit more of a progressive feel to it and showcases Barta's fantastic voice.

Duo 2
Arguably, 2004's "Lola's Theme" was the last truly great global hit house music track. Produced by The Shapeshifters (the London-based duo of Simon Marlin and Max Reich), "Lola" rocked dance floors from Chicago to New York to Ibiza to Tokyo. The Shapeshifters produced several strong tracks in the ensuing years – "Back To Basics" and "Incredible" – and are now back in the dance music world's consciousness with In The House (Defected Records), an impressive 3-CD set. CD1 is a masterful blend of dance music styles with soulful artists like Grant Nelson, Alexander East and John Julius Knight along with current hot producers like Mike Monday and Nic Fanciulli's Skylark project. The uplifting groove of CD2 melds re-worked classics such as "Hideaway", "Bad Habit" and "I'll House You" with current day floor-fillers from the likes of Dirty South, Axwell, Bob Sinclar, Fedde le Grand and Funkerman. It also includes recent Shapeshifters tracks "Chime", "Treadstone", and even a 2008 Re-Edit of "Lola's Theme." Finally, CD3 is a selection of music that has influenced and inspired Marlin and Reich, including songs by Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Hall & Oates and Tears For Fears. All in all, In The House with The Shapeshifters is a CD you'll most definitely want to add to your collection.

Dancing with SJP
The movie may not have been as big a critical success as hoped for, but the music from the Sex & The City movie was quite good. So good in fact that a second soundtrack with 15 other songs has just been released to coincide with the DVD release. Sex and the City Volume 2 (New Line Records) includes tracks by Ciara, Amy Winehouse, Craig David, Janet Jackson, Goldfrapp and Estelle featuring Cee-Lo.