Wbeeza ‘The Bagwag EP’ on Third Ear Recordings

WBEEZA "Bagwag EP"I’ll be honest, this one kind of leaves me speechless. I could go into some long diatribe about how great each track on this EP from London’s Warren Brown is. I could talk about the finite details of production on each track. However, that would just not do it justice.

This EP is just straight up warm, dance-floor fueling, electronic soul at its best. An essential record of 2011 in my opinion. Unbelievably good. Just listen to it.

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-Scotty Brandon

Visit or call Gramaphone Records today!
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Get dirty with Marcus Mixx’s ‘Use Your Mouth 2 Love Me’

Marcus Mixx "Use Your Mouth 2 Love Me"There is nothing subtle about this jacking Chicago house record from Marcus Mixx. From the mastering, to the programming, to the titles, this slab is taken to the extreme.

“Use Your Mouth 2 Love Me (Teeth Mix)” is a banging, compressed-drum machine romp that is sure to bring the club down (both figuratively and literally). This is Chicago shit for real, featuring screaming vocals and a thick-ass bassline.

On the flip is the more minimal, but equally as jacking, “U Blow Girl (Mouth Mix)”. This one is a bit more subliminal with some nice acid sounds and serious woofer moving bassline. However, even though the music is a touch more restrained, the lyrics certainly are not.

This is not one for the kiddies.

Listen at GramaphoneRecords.com

-Scotty Brandon

Visit or call Gramaphone Records today!
2843 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60657
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Motor City Drum Ensemble – L.O.V.E. – !K7

I think those already familiar with MCDE‘s oeuvre will be neither shocked nor disappointed by his latest turn. In support of his mix for the kingmaking DJ-Kicks series, he’s seized the opportunity and crafted a crowd pleasing, slinky, and characteristically hooky beatdown house tune.  With Dwayne King on the vocals, what the versions lack in his usual tracky, heavy funk, they make up for with flirtatious crooning, making for what is easily MCDE’s biggest crossover potential to date.  But while the lyrical hook weaves hotly in between the grooves, L.O.V.E. stays syncopated and blue, overall landing a not too far from Moodymann‘s recent R&B leanings.

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Dublin’s Apartment Records kicks off strong with NCW’s Panther Veil

NCW "Panther Veil"Lots of great records coming out in the past two weeks, and you can add this one to the list. This release by West London’s Nick Wilson is the debut record from the brand new Apartment Records label and carries with it some really nice and raw excursions into four-to-the-floor music.

The A-side kicks off the 3 tracker with “Veil”, a sexy, slow-burning house track built around a great vocal snippet and some Detroit-esque keys and strings. The B-side begins with a serious acid burner in “My Braindead Acid”. I like this one cause its built around a different drum programming framework than most acid tracks you hear these days having a bit of that Closer Musik chug to it. Wilson tops it all off with some mind-bending stabs thrown in to keep you on your toes. For the closer titled “Panther” the energy is raised for a late night jam that will have the floor freaking. This one has a bit of that old Dave Angel feel to it, disco-ish techno similar to some of the old Rotation Records releases. Wilson really teases the listener/dance floor here with some keen arrangement keeping things restricted yet enticing.

This release makes me look forward to what Apartment Records has in store for us in the future. Hopefully more great things to come from this new Dublin based imprint!

Listen at GramaphoneRecords.com

-Scotty Brandon

Visit or call Gramaphone Records today!
2843 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60657
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The Sound Diggers – Don’t Flap Just Jack 12″ – Flapjack

Justin Critchlow’s The Sound Diggers project, beyond a dozen releases deep since 2006, offers an uptempo four-track EP that will appeal to fans of the current Chicago sound of “Jackin House.” His range here spans from cut-up hip-hop vocals offsetting a bouncing bassline, all the way to a slightly bent big-band tune set to a house kick.  Summing up the attitude effectively: “The bare necessities… forget about your worries and your strife,” the vocal solo suggests during one of the bigger drops. While offering some tempo variation, the punchy sound frequent interludes and constant incorporation of horns, saxophones, rolling fretless bass, keyboard riffs, and the ubiquitous funky vocals samples keep this 12″ loose and light-hearted.  See also: Spatula City.


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The Deep Down Under – Francis Inferno Orchestra, Nicholas & Fantastic Man

Francis Inferno Orchestra "I Need It"There is something going on in Australia, and its groovy as hell. Two of my favorite releases of last year came from down there and from one man, Lewie Day aka Tornado Wallace. However, I thought it was a fluke. I thought he was the only guy down there that was making music that didn’t sound like Cut Copy or the Presets. Then I heard this new Francis Inferno Orchestra release on Join The Dots called I Need It EP and I realized… there are others!

This record is just deep, disco fueled heat. “I Need It” kicks things off with a sample-based, sultry disco groove reminiscent of early Moodymann and builds to include some great, lush chords and really nice hi-hat programming. If you’re a fan of The Revenge or anything on Delusions of Grandeur you’ll love this one.

Next up is “I Said Yes Sir” which is a bit less disco and a lot more house. Built around a simple organ line, the drum production becomes the highlight here. This is definitely one for the fans of the MCDE Raw Cuts records.

On the other side we’re treated to an absolutely delicious remix of “I Need It” by the Italian don of slow, deep house; Nicholas. He takes the tempo down but turns up the heat by playing with the structure and throwing in some really choice 90’s-esque organs just when you thought it couldn’t get any better.

The final cut is a remix of “I Need It” by fellow Australian artist Mic Newman (or as he’s called here, Fantastic Man). Newman takes the track in an entirely different direction cutting up the melodies and the beats for a really nice broken-beat approach. This one is for all of the Recloose fans out there and really rounds out the EP.

This is one of those records I knew right away was seriously hot, and it still is even after repeat listens. I need to go to Australia. Summers coming soon there right?

Visit or call Gramaphone Records today to hear this release!
2843 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 472-3683 

– Scotty Brandon

Amir Alexander’s “Interdimensional Transit EP” takes me back

Amir Alexander "Interdimensional Transit EP"This record takes me back to being lost in the music, sweating and altogether losing my shit in the Packard Plant or any of the other Detroit warehouses I used to find myself in. Amir Alexander hits a definite nostalgic chord with the Interdimensional Transit EP on Machining Dreams, but it doesn’t sound dated, nor does it fit nicely into any one genre. Which, as I’ve eluded to before, I love.

The first track “White Rhino (Deep Down Beat Down)” keeps it simple with raw, jacking drums and oscillating synth sounds similar to those great Neil Landstrumm records on Scandinavia/Tresor from the early to mid 90’s. However, Alexander presents an updated take on that sound in structure and cleaner production. Next, things go a bit deeper with “Transcend” which features some really nice pads, arpeggiated synths and more raw, pumping 909 beats. On the flip things stay deep with the appropriately named “Deep Within.” This one is built around a really nice rolling portamento bassline and some choice synth melodies. Then last, but definitely not least, is “The Abyss” which is just fantastic. Its creative and powerful, combining pounding drums and some really gorgeous chord work to create a feel deserving of its title. If you dig the Lawrence stuff or the Kompakt sound this track may be right up your alley.

This is a record that walks the line gracefully between house and techno showing that music can have feeling and also drive a dancefloor. It is raw but polished and it is a great balance between old and new ideas. I’d love to hear more releases like this one getting some play these days.

Listen at GramaphoneRecords.com

Visit or call Gramaphone Records today!
2843 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 472-3683 

– Scotty Brandon

DJ Appel – [untitled 12″] – Happyghost

Heavy, stripped-down, atmospheric and lo-fi house music throughout this locally released four-track EP.  Appealing to fans of Underground Quality or even Aus Music, this is a collection driven by ominous, warm melodies and churning reverberant low-end.  Pinkmachine’s lone contribution to the EP is an electro-tinged closing track, staying very much within the atmosphere of the preceeding tracks, but breaking up the four-to-the-floor stomp with classic drum-machine sounds reminiscent of many of Momentsounds‘ offerings.

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Gramaphone Records today!
2843 N. Clark St.
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Pangaea reminds us that genres are stupid.

Pangaea "Hex"/"Fatalist"I am not a fan of the over-classification of music, especially dance music. I believe it divides us into small factions and makes it difficult for an outsider to understand. After all it is just music right? Moving air that our ear perceives as sound. Why do we need to have a million labels for it?

That’s one of the reasons why I really like this new Pangaea 12″ on Hemlock. Its weird. It blends genres and breaks rules. Is it jungle, is it dubstep, is it just good old breaks? I guess they just call this Bass music now. I thought thats what 2 Live Crew and Ghost Town DJs were? Anyway, who cares what they call it, this record is good.

On the a-side titled “Hex” Pangaea (Hessle Audio co-founder, the UK’s Kevin McAuley) takes a really nice broken-beat break and just works it out with the right sounds, stuttered samples and architecture. Its dark and strange but equally groovy and danceable. On the flip, McAuley takes it even darker with “Fatalist”. With a less familiar beat structure, some nice sub-bass and really keen production work, this track could work really well in a number of situations from dubstep to techno.

Michael Serafini at Gramaphone thought I wouldn’t like this one, but I definitely do. It’s gotten a lot of listens here at home. I may not play it out much, but I appreciate creativity and excellent production and this record definitely has both.

Visit or call Gramaphone Records today to hear this release!
2843 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 472-3683 

– Scotty Brandon

From Kenya to Detroit with Owiny Sigoma Band, Theo Parrish & KDJ

Wires "Owiny Sigoma Band"I love Detroit. I grew up in the area and have the city to thank for my passion for music. But it is a passion for music of a different land that sparks the inspiration for the Owiny Sigoma Band.

At the core of the Owiny Sigoma Band are 5 London-based musicians who traveled to Nairobi in Kenya in order to play with musicians and share ideas. The 4 demo tracks that this experiment resulted in were so good, Gilles Peterson signed them to his Brownswood Recordings label and then sent them back to Kenya to reunite with Joseph Nyamungu, Charles Owoko and other musicians to finish an album.

The first single from the self titled album is “Wires” which is a wonderful introduction into the world of what this project is all about. There’s undeniably an IndieDance sound here many will recognize, but equally as undeniable is its authenticity. This is not just some band from the city trying to have an Afrobeat sound. This is the sound of real musicians in a different country playing with local musicians and making music that is collaborative and real. Centering around a lovely guitar lick from Joseph Alego Ondir and bouncing bassline by Louis Hackett the song really is a jam session that you hope never ends.

However, its the flipside that takes us from Kenya back to Detroit where beatdown maestro Theo Parrish provides another one of his inspired remix offerings. A thumping excursion into intermingling rhythms, wildly hypnotic synths and key vocal elements, Theo strips the bright melodies of the original down to a different beast entirely. Imagine Fela Kuti producing an LCD Soundsystem and Matthew Dear collaboration and you’re in the right ballpark. With references like that this is a must hear, and I have to say I just can’t stop listening to the whole 12″ single.

Listen at GramaphoneRecords.com

As long as we’re in Detroit we may as well stay there to talk about another hot live jam from the Motor City that has been reissued. This time we have the usual suspects rounded up by Mr. Kenny Dixon Jr. (Moodymann, KDJ) for a rearrangement of Innerzone Orchestra’s People Make The World Go Round. Originally released back in 2000 on Planet E, this is a single-sided reissue featuring just the KDJ remix which is well worth its own slab.

In the remix (reinterpretation really), KDJ delivers us his trademarked sexy, slow-groover complete with saxophone. However, never one to play by the rules he throws in a surprise when the track ramps up into a full on house groove a third of the way through.

This track is an excellent end of the night record for the club or an excellent record to put on when you’ve got a gathering at your place. Its really no surprise though as KDJ releases are never ones to miss!

Listen at GramaphoneRecords.com

-Scotty Brandon

Visit or call Gramaphone Records today!
2843 N. Clark St.
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Tommy Four Seven – Track 5 / Verge (The Remixes) – CLR

This one does what it says on the tin: hard, clean, dark loops aimed squarely at the Berghain crowd. This purist techno outing features stalwart Robert Hood with a characteristically restrained, stoic take.  Much in the same style as he’s been revisiting with his recent M-Plant releases, the tracky style builds elements in slow increments over a hypnotic, square beat.  On the flip side, a delay-laden alternate version from UK-native Sigha, this rework falling in line with his recent work for Blueprint.  The release closes with a return to the original ambient textures from Tommy Four Seven. Tommy Four Seven is pushing hard at the limits of techno and sound-design, and this is a good addition to his catalog.  Recommended.

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Serious grooves from Nuremberg’s Marvin Zeyss

Marvin Zeyss "Living Forever E.P."

Anyone who thinks that Germans only know techno hasn’t heard the deep cuts that have been surfacing from the land that was the Minimal mecca just a few years back. Maybe it is because many of the artists are coming from outside of the city centers of Berlin and Munich, but for whatever reason there are some seriously soulful grooves making their way onto turntables across the globe from Deutschland.

One of those choice platters is the new four-track Living Forever E.P. from Marvin Zeyss on Space Breaks Records. On these four cuts, Zeyss displays a keen knack for making music that is technical but does not sacrifice on emotion. Aside from solid drum programming, each track on this E.P. is full of hidden melodies and movements making it perfect for late night sweaty soirees or afternoons at home sitting on the porch.

The first track “Living The Life” is one of those deep jams that works hard enough to keep the floor moving, but not too much to wear anyone out right away. Understated keys combine with delicious vocal snippits and horn samples to up-the-anti over what would normally be a simple little bass roll. “All The Times” is up next and is, in my humble opinion, the best cut on the E.P.  It lays out the framework with a big hefty kick and some nice percussion programming. However, it is the intermingling of the keys, bassline and stabs that make this one special. On the flip-side Zeyss picks things up a bit with “Nothing Lasts Forever” a solid, deep and techy house track. Then he closes things out with a seriously nice slow-house grinder in “White Lights”.

With four tracks that can work into a number of different settings, this record is a versatile DJ tool for working a dance floor in addition to being a great listening record. I highly recommend it, especially to fans of labels like Svek and Klang Elektronik.

Listen at GramaphoneRecords.com

Visit or call Gramaphone Records today!
2843 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 472-3683 

– Scotty Brandon

Welcome to Phonologue!

PhonologueHello readers, listeners and vinyl lovers!

Welcome to Phonologue, a blog about records brought to you by Chicago’s Gramaphone Records. On these electronic pages we hope to bring you information on some of the best releases that end up on the shelves. Our goal is not only to promote but also to inform. In each post we hope to give you not just descriptions of the music, but in-depth information on the artists, labels and everything that went into making that record special.

Headed up by Chicago based DJ/Producer m50 and myself, Phonologue will also feature posts from Gramaphone staff members as well as guest writers talking about their favorite records of the moment. With tons of records coming out every week, there is no shortage of wax to talk about.

We welcome your comments and suggestions, so bring them on. There will always be at least one post a day so keep checking back and don’t forget to tell your friends to check us out. We’ll see you digging in the bins!

– Scotty Brandon (aka The Cushion, Orso)