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Pop Making Sense
by David Byrne with Tony Peregrin
2008-11-12

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The sounds that accompany daydreams are plucked and matched with organic electronica on out singer-songwriter Matt Alber's remarkable debut, Hide Nothing. The uplifting chorus on The Slow Club is pure bliss, acting like phonic ibuprofen. The former Chanticleer singer's video for the lead single, Monarch, cleverly concludes with him typing on his laptop, as if it were a piano. Alber even salutes fellow genre-pushing artist Imogen Heap with a vocally focused cover of her track, Hide and Seek. Classical influences are deftly infused on the lush Song of Stars and Beotia. ( The latter was performed at the opening ceremonies to the Gay Games in July 2006. ) The ethereal Hide Nothing is due out Tuesday, Nov. 18, via Tommy Boy's LGBT-oriented Silver Label.

On Salme Dahlstrom's full-length debut, The Acid Cowgirl Audio Trade, she proves that nobody knows sugary pop music quite like those Swedes. Superstar Crash and Hello California have choruses and hooks that will leave listeners drunk on giddiness in a diabetic fit. But there is nothing sweeter than the Klubjumpers remix of her track C'mon Y'all. The final product comes across as a timeless gem from Deee-Lite's prime as Dahlstrom coos 'oh la la,' all the while getting any party thrown into overdrive. Now residing in New York, Dahlstrom wrote and produced this album, which has plenty of moments of her being Fatboy Slim's feel-good female successor. Similar to what Moby did with his crossover Play, the 5'11' blonde has licensed every track from The Acid Cowgirl Audio Trade to outlets ranging from Miller Lite to Virgin Mobile and the TV show Veronica Mars.

The delay in this year's World Series could have possibly been Labelle's fault. Should the Phillies have had a dome and these ladies sang in Patti LaBelle's hometown team's stadium, they would surely blow the roof off. The 1995 number-one club hit Turn It Out was just another teaser regarding a proper reunion of the legendary divas. The vocal trio marks its comeback with the much overdue album Back to Now. Here, Lenny Kravitz finds a '70s love groove as he produces Candlelight, Superlover and System. The upbeat I Will Survive-like anthem Rollout is produced by Wyclef Jean. The openly bisexual Nona Hendryx still serves as the group's primary song-writer, although the threesome does share writing duties. The ode Dear Rosa and the cover of Cole Porter's Miss Otis Regrets show that Labelle can nail a slower song. It's no wonder these gals receive a shout-out during Midnight Radio, which is from the Hedwig and the Angry Inch soundtrack.

And I Try, by Bimbo Jones, is just one of those songs that just gets me going. With big beats, horns and diva vocals courtesy of Katherine Ellis, this jam sat pretty atop the Billboard Club Airplay charts this fall. And I Try is pulled from the group's first album, 1 Stop Harlem. Also highlighting the upbeat set are the catchy Poison Heart and Make You Mine, as well as the mid-tempo piece Tell Me My Name. Bimbo Jones can boast having done some of the hottest remixes out there, including Annie Lennox's A Thousand Beautiful Things, Ciara's Like a Boy and P!nk's U + Ur Hand.

On Tuesday, Nov. 18, The Ladies of the Canyon Presents does a tribute to Pat Benatar at Fitzgerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn. This showcase has Chicago-based songbirds paying homage to the great female singer-songwriters. Sure, Benatar has covered Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights, Fontella Bass' '60s staple Rescue Me, Roy Orbison and k.d. lang's Crying and John Mellencamp's I Need a Lover, but this multi-Grammy winner and her guitarist-husband, Neil Giraldo, have written a legacy of material. Benatar is outspoken about frustrations with sexism and social injustice on hits like Hell is for Children and Sex as a Weapon. Few realize that this pint-sized rocker with a four-and-a-half octave range was the first woman to have a video played on MTV with her remake of The Rascals' You Better Run. The always entertaining Ladies of the Canyon Presents never fails to deliver a phenomenal performance, while staying true to the material's original arrangements. For more information on Ladies of the Canyon Presents, please visit myspace.com/lotcchicago.

The highlight of Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour is the reworking of Like a Prayer. The 20-year-old chart-topper is mashed up with Meck's Feels Like Home. Meck scored a hit with this track in 2007 on dance radio with Dirty Vegas-like vocals provided by Dino Lenny. But what makes Feels Like Home stand out is the sampling of the beats from Felix's classic Don't You Want Me, which reached the pole position in the club airplay in 1993. This Felix cut is co-produced by Rollo, the mastermind behind Faithless ( Insomnia, God is a DJ, Mass Destruction ) ; Kristine W.'s breakthrough opus Land of the Living; and Dido's catalog. Don't You Want Me has been re-released overseas multiple times and lifts its vocals from Jomanda's Don't You Want My Love. So, Madonna, put this mash-up on your forthcoming single Miles Away. It's great having people buzzing about your music again, instead of your 'private' life or whatever headlines that conveniently surface whenever there is an album to sell or a tour to plug.


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