Alt.Disco? Jessica 6 May Know Something About It…Plus: Armin van Buuren/Nadia Ali, Penguin Prison, Gavin Mikhail, Collin McLoughlin

Jessica 6 featuring Antony Hegarty “Prisoner of Love” (and more)

As much as I search for my own musical finds, the collective world of the BlogVerse is not only daunting for all of the knowledge that my fellow bloggers possess, but also for the numerous treasures that they find.

Courtesy of xolondon comes New York trio Jessica 6 (the name comes from the sci-fi book/film “Logan’s Run”) with their debut album See The Light, featuring singer Nomi Ruiz, keyboardist Morgan Wiley and bassist Andrew Raposo.  The group finds a happy middle ground between alternative rock and dance that doesn’t take a pure pop road, something that Nomi  knows all too well from working with the acclaimed Hercules & Love Affair.

And it reminds me specifically of the territory once covered in the late 70’s and early 80’s by the unique performers who were signed to ZE Records.  From eccentric “mutant disco” (Bill Laswell’s Material, early Was (Not Was)) to full throttle disco (Don Armando’s Second Avenue Rhumba Band) and eventually to their most accessible and successful act (Kid Creole & The Coconuts), ZE Records had the underbelly between rock and dance covered.

And I’m in total agreement with xolondon, and in somewhat amazement, at Jessica 6’s best song, “Prisoner Of Love”.  Lyrically, there’s nothing new that hasn’t been said equally as well elsewhere.  But the vocals and arrangement are what make this song so special.   What starts off as slick mid-evening rhythmic pop sung by Nomi segues into an-almost duet with the influential Antony Hegarty (he of Antony & The Johnsons).  I say ‘almost’ because Antony scores the lead in the second part of the song.  The remainder is derived so much from impromptu vocal jazz collaborations, when all that’s sung is the title, and then the voices are caught up in a whirlwind of what I can only describe as disco rapture.   It’s one of the very best performances of the year.

The group shows its further 70’s and 80’s R&B and funk influences with the polished “East West Funk” (reminds me of early 80’s George Benson songs if his songs had a dash of Parliament/Funkadelic) and the enchanting sleazy pleasure of “Fun Girl” and “White Horse” (not the Laid Back hit from the 80’s – video below).

One thing’s for sure:  If they want to call it Alt.Disco, Jessica 6 has the category all to itself.  That is, until word spreads like wildfire while the band plays shows on the East coast.

Armin van Buuren featuring Nadia Ali “Feels So Good”

Dutch performer/DJ/producer van Buuren and dance doyenne Ali are a match made in heaven in “Feels So Good”.  It makes you wonder why the collaboration hadn’t happened sooner since both performers have kind of led parallel careers.  Van Buuren has made much fine dance music with an intense emotional quality about it over the last decade including such diverse hits as “Yet Another Day” (featuring Ray Wilson, 2003) and “Going Wrong” (featuring Chris Jones, 2008), both of which got to #1 on my personal chart.  Ali of course was the lead voice of the duo IIO, whose “Rapture (Tastes So Sweet)”, “At The End”, and “Smooth” all found their way into my chart’s Top 5, along with her stunning 2009 solo effort “Love Story”.  So while the angle of “Feels So Good” isn’t so fervent this time round, the sensuality and delight delivered courtesy of Ms Nadia leave their mark.

Penguin Prison “Fair Warning” (official video)

The video speaks loudly – want wait for more live shows from PP and the upcoming self-titled album!

Gavin Mikhail “The A Team”

I’ve been thoroughly impressed at the quality of singer/pianist Gavin Mikhail’s music over the past few years, and he’s still releasing amazing music independently while raising a young family.  Following his bang-on version of Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” from late last year comes a cover version that’s a little bit more unexpected.  Ed Sheeran currently has a #3 hit in the UK with “The A Team”, which has struck me as an edgier side of someone like Jason Mraz.  Gavin once again makes this song his own with his precision playing and this time a softer interpretation.  He knows how to play to the song’s strong points and send it home.

Collin McLoughlin “Save The World (Tonight)”

Similarly to “The A Team”, New York singer Collin McLoughlin, whose rocking “Back To The Wall” impressed me this past Spring, has bested Swedish House Mafia themselves with his acoustic cover of their pop/dance hit “Save The World (Tonight)”.  Collin’s version simplifies the emotional content of the song by stripping away the overwrought side of the original.

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  1. […] alt.disco trio Jessica 6 with “Prisoner of Love”, an excellent duet with Antony Hegarty which was reviewed earlier this week.  The appeal of “Prisoner” is instant, and it pops onto the chart at #21.  Lastly, we […]

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