Sunday, November 30, 2008

Masterbeat New Releases 11/30/08

Thanksgiving wasn't just about eating lots of turkey, as a bevy of new music found it's way to Masterbeat. There are some big new tracks as well as something for those of you who are looking for something a little different.
  • Beyoncé - Single Ladies (Escape & Tony Coluccio Club Mix)
    Unless you've been hiding in a box recently, you've seen Beyoncé's new video and assorted video reworks. I've had people asking me for remixes and fortunately, Masterbeat is already on top of things. I have to admit that I was really pleased with this official batch of remixes. First off is Dave Audé -- his remix is more relaxed and lighter, perfect for a tea dance or pool party. Craig C takes it in a bit of a darker direction (compared to Dave Audé), with synths that make it perfect for building into another track that will give you more of a climax. Finally, you have DJ Escape & Tony Coluccio's mix. With a song that features the line, "Put your hands up," this remix has some great buildups and more of a playful feel, in my view. Definitely a track that is listenable and will keep your dance floor happy.
  • Alanis Morissette - Not As We (Dangerous Muse Remix) & (DJ Lynwood Reborn Remix)
    I love me some Alanis and I always enjoy hearing her music make the crossover to the dance floor. Not As We isn't one of my favorite tracks, but there are a few remixes worth playing -- DJ Lynwood goes from some piano based riffs to an electro-ish vibe that works well. The Dangerous Muse remix is a standard club house track -- nothing outstanding, but it flows well. Eddie Amador also has a good remix, although it feels a little more plodding compared to the Dangerous Muse remix.
  • Kristine W - Never (Nick Harvey Club Mix) & (DJ Peter Canellis & Kamil Bartoszcze Mix)
    Kristine W is an old pro when it comes to the gay scene, so it's no surprise that she's back with another track. This new track is something like Kristine W makes her own I Will Survive -- 180 degrees from her last track, The Boss. That said, it seems like the gay scene can never have too many "You broke my heart but I'm still strong" sort of tracks. If you're a fan of the classic disco vibe, go with the 7th Heaven or Love To Infinity mixes. The Canellis & Bartoszcze has a darker, progressive feel that works well with this track. Nick Harvey's mix is a high energy mainstream club feel. DJ Escape & Johnny Vicious also have a remix and a few years ago I bet Johnny Vicious would have made this track into something especially fierce. The Escape & Vicious track is solid but nothing special.
  • Kenneth Thomas feat. Betsy Larkin - Stronger Creature (Kenneth Thomas Mix), (Darude Mix) & (Talla 2XLC Remix)
    One thing you can count on in trance is some good vocal tracks serving up a full plate of melancholy. Perfect for those days when you want to remind the world just how much love sucks. Enter Kenneth Thomas's new track -- Betsy Larkin's vocals are perfect for this track, she hits the right feeling for lyrics that include "a stronger creature made of ice." Kenneth Thomas's Mix is the moodiest of the bunch while Talla 2XLC manages to add a higher, more ethereal vibe while keeping a tone that fits the track. Beautiful and sad without feeling quite as overpowering emotionally. Darude (remember them?) cranks up the energy and gives the track more of a climactic feel.
  • Eddie Silverton - Aperitif (Original Mix)
    I started dipping my toe into the Lounge/Downtempo genre earlier this year. It's great to be able to create a mood that works even when you're in a more relaxed setting. One of my favorite stylistic elements, whether on the dance floor or in a lounge setting, is acoustic guitar. Eddie Silverton creates a nice melding of modern and classic, combining acoustic guitar and synths.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Marc's Midweek Trainwreck Beef Haiku

Just because you're beef
doesn't mean that you're immune
to laws of good taste.
(via Towleroad)

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Masterbeat New Releases 11/23/08

There are a couple of new tracks out that I wanted to cover, so I decided to combine the House and Trance reviews into one.

  • Donna Summer - Fame (The Game) (Ralphi Rosario Club Mix)
    The Queen of Disco is back with another single from her latest album, Crayons. Donna goes with a rock feel and plenty of electric guitar in the album version. The remixes, with the exception of the Ultimix Extended Album Version, each take a different angle on this track. Dave Aude's remix takes a lighter approach while Dan Chase isn't quite what I would describe as electro, but has a bit of that vibe while feeling somewhat thin and low energy. Ralphi Rosario ends up coming out with a track that captures more of the feeling of the original track, while adapting it for your mainstream big room dance club. Ralphi's tracks are always very distinctive, this track is no different. At the same time, Ralphi's style definitely works for this track.
  • Brandy - Right Here (The Departed) (Moto Blanco Club Mix)
    I haven't heard much from our girl Moesha in a while... My favorite track of the bunch is the Moto Blanco mix. While I generally like Moto Blanco, a number of their remixes sound far too similar for my tastes. They do a good job with keeping things high energy with a groovy feel but without sounding like a carbon copy of their other remixes. In fact, this track gives me a hint of something I would expect out of the SoulSeekerz. That is a very good thing. Seamus Haji & Paul Emanuel put in a good showing as well, just a bit more relaxed than the Moto Blanco mix.
  • Aquilia - Dreamstate (Oliver Lieb's LSG Mix)
    I've said before that I prefer my trance to be pretty and with great vocals. That said, there's a lot of different trance out there, and some great tracks without significant vocals. Oliver Lieb's mix of Dreamstate combines all the elements I like -- good energy, pretty and euphoric elements, while giving you just enough vocals so that you can grab ahold of this track.
  • Moussa Clarke & Terrafunk - She Wants Him (Blake Jarrell's Panty Dropper Mix)
    For those of you who like covers of your favorite classic rock tracks on the dance floor, Moussa Clark takes part of the Police's Don't Stand So Close to Me and trances it up, while keeping the rock vibe. Ok, it's not Sting's vocals and you never get to the iconic "Don't stand so..." that I love, but I still like this track. Definitely worth a listen.
  • Ascension - Someone (Signum Mix) & Chakra - Love Shines Through (Vocal Mix)
    Okay, these aren't new tracks by any sense of the word, but for those of you who haven't been following the genre for long or just want to own two of the best trance tracks of all time, Ultra has included them in their Classic Trance America release. Both tracks are by the duo also known as The Space Brothers, Ricky Simmonds and Stephen Jones, who have released under the names Ascension, Lamai, Chakra & Lustral. In my own mind, Simmonds & Jones represent some of the very best that the trance genre has to offer. Two essential tracks for any dance music lover.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Marc's Midweek Winter Beef Haiku

Here in the desert
no snow or changing leaves, but
a sign of winter

(for the record, I know that winter isn't technically for another several weeks)

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cosmic Humor

Just in case you forgot that the FSM had a sense of humor: Exhibit 1: The Furby. Yes, they're evil and will steal your soul. But you thought that was just make believe, didn't you? You didn't think that a real live Furby would show up to devour your very essense, did you?

The evil is real. When your doom appears, you'll know it originated in Indonesia.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Gratuitous Beef

If you've you been following the blog lately, you might think I've lost my taste for beef, seeing as how there haven't really been any beeves making an appearance. nothing can be further from the truth. And for that, here's some tasty wrestler beef just because I'm in the mood.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Masterbeat Trance New Releases 11/12/08

Marc's Top Trance New Releases 11/12/08
  1. Quantum feat. Karen Porat - The Race (Original Mix)
    I've said it before -- one of the issues I have with trance is that many of the tracks are incredibly similar. That can be said about many different genres of music, especially when you're not familiar with the genre, but as a whole, it's important to keep things feeling fresh. I was pleasantly surprised with The Race because it tries to be distinctive and succeeds. The track merges traditional trance with a Middle East vibe and vocals. I've heard it done well on a handful of mainstream house tracks and once in trance with Sauna's Mirage. This track doesn't have the same sort of haunting beauty of Mirage, but it's definitely good if you're looking for something different.
  2. Glockenspiel feat. Blackfeel Wite - Away (Original Mix)
    This track reminds me of some recent tracks I really enjoyed - Armin Van Buuren & DJ Shah's Going Wrong and the Cicada mix of Filo & Peri's Anthem. You've got emotive male vocals on top of more relaxed trance stylings with a dash of electric guitar thrown in. Personally, I dig it.
  3. Robert Nickson feat. Elsa Hill - Never Again (Original Mix)
    While I said earlier that trance tracks can all sound the same, it's still a versatile genre. One of my favorite flavors of trance is where it's more relaxed and floating, something you'd use for morning music at the end of a long set. Never Again fits the bill perfectly. It strolls while other tracks race or pound. The vocals are breathy and light -- I have no idea what the lyrics are, but this is a track where the vocals really just add to the atmosphere of the overall track. Not a showstopper but picture, if you will, coming down off a hit of Ecstacy and floating along nicely while the evening comes to it's last hour or so. That's where I'd throw it in... not that I'm advocating illegal mind you. Heh.
  4. DJ Shog with Lemon & Einar K - (Feel Me) Through the Radio (Duderstadt Uplifting Remix)
    The last description works nicely for this track as well. A great comedown song with vocals that are still light but more coherent than those in Never Again. Duderstadt does a great job keeping things light without killing the energy. I give credit to Markus Schultz for putting this track on one of his recent lists.
  5. Kamaya Painters - The Collected Works
    Ok, it's not really "new" and I've said that I prefer vocal trance over pure instrumental trance. That said, Kamaya Painters is an exception to the rule. I remember their classic Endless Wave from around 2000 and the rest of the tracks are memorable and worth getting.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Masterbeat New House Releases 11/11/08

Okay, I know it's been more than a week since my last music review. I'd rather let a little extra time pass than review a lot of mediocre music. In any event, here's the latest!

Marc's Top House Picks for 11/11/08

  1. Madonna - Miles Away (Miles Page Mix) & (Rebirth Mix)
    I received an excited e-mail from Brett about their newest exclusive -- Madonna's latest, Miles Away. To be honest, I haven't been impressed with her latest CD, but here's a reality: I play in a gay club, so Madonna is a must. I was excited to see that Johnny Vicious had done a couple of remixes of this track; I'm definitely a fan of his work. That said, I was disappointed with them. The Johnny Vicious doesn't have the kind of energy I'd expect from a Johnny Vicious track. To boot, the gays generally like their Madonna to have a "throw your hands in the air" sort of vibe and neither remix has much punch.

    That said, I'd go with the Morgan Page Remix as well as the Rebirth Remix. Both have a strong electro feel. While electro isn't my usual cup of tea, the Morgan Page mix has a good flow to it -- like some of Benny Benassi's better known tracks. The Rebirth mix has the contrast between some very flowing synths along with some stacatto sections that give it some pop.
  2. Room for Two - Roots Before Branches (Studio Crashers Extended Mix)
    More pop-crossover that should play well especially to your traditional gay crowd. I confess, I know nothing about Room for Two and the vocals could pass for any of the second tier pop divas. At the same time this is a solid track -- something that would definitely be welcomed in your playlist for a few months. I was surprised to see that Almighty has a mix of this track and for those of you who like tracks that have a little bit lighter, but not quite trancey of a feel, you should definitely check it out. The Studio Crashers mix is a solid club mix with that fits the vocals and track as a whole.
  3. The Veronicas - Untouched (Napack - Dangerous Muse Remix)
    If you're paying attention, you're noticing a pattern by now -- I'm definitely a little on the pop side today. There are four main remixes for Untouched: Eddie Amador, Napack - Dangerous Muse, Designer Drugs and Von Doom. The Eddie Amador feels a little heavy and plodding for my taste. The Designer Drugs mix features a lot of the electric guitar feeling that was part of the original release. I went with the Napack - Dangerous Muse mix because it has more of a mainstream club feel that flows well. Mainly a stylistic choice.
  4. LeAnn Rimes - What I Cannot Change (Scotty K Klub Mix) & Good Friend and a Glass of Wine (Soul Seekerz Extended Mix)
    I'm not sure how much crossover appeal LeAnn Rimes has in the dance scene anymore. I doubt she'll find the kind of hit she had with Can't Fight the Moonlight or even a Suddenly. But LeAnn has had plenty of tracks adapted for the dance floor, so maybe she'll prove me wrong. What struck me most about this track is the interplay between Scotty K's instrumentation and LeAnn's vocals. They're a great fit and while the song isn't a smash hit, the combination of Scotty K and LeAnn make this worth a try. On the flip side, there's the Soul Seekerz' mix of Good Friend and a Glass of Wine. I love the Soul Seekerz and I enjoyed hearing them take on Ms. Rimes. If you like your LeAnn with a little bit of funk to it, check this one out.
  5. Murk - Believe (Andrew Salsano & Danny Woo Remix)
    For those of you who like your music dark & melancholy and you've already got all the Offer Nissim tracks you can find, you can always count on Murk to give you what you like. This track reminds me a lot of some of the Star 69 tracks from 3-4 years ago -- like I Try by Made By Monkeys or Amuka's Appreciate Me. Nothing flashy, just dark and melancholy, Murk at it's murky best.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's Over!

Yes, We Did.

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As you can see in my last blog entry, I'm predicting a big Obama victory. Even those who are hallucinating a McCain victory have to anticipate tremendous gains by Democrats in the House and Senate. They might not get to 60 votes in the Senate, but they'll be close.

I've already started hearing the psychological defense mechanisms from conservative Republicans. The talking point of choice: "America is a center-right country." Usage: The Democrats won't be able to really pursue their agenda because America is a center-right country. I was reading an article on the candidates' environmental policies and Newt Gingrich used that line with regard to Obama's policies. "Obama's plan won't work because America is a center-right country." I heard a clip of another Republican talking head say that this morning.

This, my friends, is what's called "denial." While I don't see the US suddenly becoming Sweden politically, it's hard to envision that some intrinsic "center-rightness" will magically counteract what is clearly a movement leftward. Should the Democrats learn their lessons from the last 8 years and avoid governing from the fringe of the party as opposed to the center? Of course. Despite all the Fox News talking points that Obama is a radical, it's hard to imagine that he's going to up and nationalize the healthcare system or pursue anything far out. From all accounts, Obama's politics are on the left, but he's demonstrated (if you bother to listen) that he isn't particularly ideological. But to imagine that the voters are going to elect him as well as a large majority in the Congress but not really expect that they're not going to govern in a different way is just pure fantasy.

Keep in mind, I'm not a registered Democrat -- I'm an independent and I understand and expect that the Democratic Party can exhibit the same sort of excesses that we've seen from the Bush Administration. That said, these past 8 years and the Rove "Permanent Republican Majority" strategy has fucked the Republican Party for many years to come. There won't be a way to put the pieces back together they way they were, especially because what's left of the base is hell bent on branding as traitors anyone who doesn't subscribe to orthodoxy. That's not a recipe for building a new coalition.

So, sit back and enjoy the show!

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Here's my Electoral College prediction...

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Fear and Hope

For me, one of the best things about this election is that it's given me tremendous insight into my own internal processes regarding my life. In many ways, this election has really mirrored much of what has been going on in my head regarding my life. From my vantage point, this is the fundamental issue of this election: Change vs. Fear.

Whether it's the country as a whole or certain aspects of my life, there's the general feeling that we're on the wrong track and something needs to change. Things could be, perhaps SHOULD be better. But as we all know, that doesn't happen unless we do something differently. And so, the opportunity for change presents itself.

Yet, we're confronted with opposition to the change we seek -- the mainstay of McCain's campaign has been the call of fear. At it's core the message is: Change is scary. It will be worse than it is now. The McCain campaign has used a variety of narratives to accomplish this -- because Obama looks different, he's secretly a radical/Muslim (ie terrorist)/America-hater. He's a Socialist! He's going to raise your taxes and the economy will collapse! Terrorists will attack the moment he's elected! He wants government to control every aspect of your life!

The easy answer is to point at these people as nutcases and just push forward. For the record, on a political level, DO I think these people are nutcases (this means YOU, Kevin & Patrick... just kidding!)? I certainly think most/all of the the conservative memes about Obama are neither credible nor compelling. At the same time, to dismiss these things out of hand misses the point.

If you believe that these things are true, that somehow Obama is some sort of Islamic Manchurian Candidate, then suddenly the case against change is quite a rational thing. If you believe that no despite how bad things are, the only possible alternative is catastrophic, then keeping things as they are is the logical choice. At that point -- you pull the lever to "reform" the current path and just do a better job, despite the evidence that what you've been doing before just isn't working.

I'll say this again -- I don't believe any of that on a political level, but on a personal level it really becomes enlightening because it highlights what I haven't been wanting to see about myself. In one of my previous entries that detailed one of my requests of the Universe, Alex responded, "Be careful what you ask for..." While I know his comments were in jest, the truth of it is, for every desire and hope for the future of my life, I fear each of them as much if not more than I desire them.

And like those conservatives out there who fear that somehow terrorists will strike the US again if Obama is elected, I have the events in my past that make the fear seem quite reasonable. Maybe these things will take me in a direction I don't want to go, maybe I won't be able to handle them, maybe I'll get my heart broken again. Maybe I'll repeat the mistakes of my past. Legitimate concerns, all of them.

I can't predict the future, I don't know exactly what is to come. I don't know the answers to questions that haven't been asked. In fact, sometimes I have trouble with answering the questions that HAVE been asked. So, it's no longer a mystery why I've been resisting the changes I've wanted for so long.

The one thing I DO know is that while I can't change the past, I am not the same person I was back then. I may not know what is to come, but I do know that I am much more now than I have ever been. I can feel the differences between who and where I was and who and where I am now. Even if things look the same on the outside, I know they're not.

Perhaps that seems like a flimsy reason to hope that things can be better. At the same time, I know what's changed, I know the work I've done. I also know that I'll never reach a point where everything is perfect, or where I won't make mistakes. I'm learning to be okay with that. I don't expect everything to change overnight, but I know the issues I need to confront. I'm not afraid to look at the fears that I've left hidden. Maybe that's not everything I need to get me where I want to go, but at least it's enough to let me take a step forward.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy Halloween?

I hope everybody had a good Halloween. Mine was uneventful, for the most part. The highlight of the evening was finding out some kids decided that tearing up our Obama sign would be a good Halloween trick. Fear not, I managed to tape the sign up and put it back out later that night.

That said, it sounds like the grumpy McCain supports are taking this election to the extreme... via Halloween tactics. Maybe this was the "October Surprise" they were talking about: According to an AP Press report, a woman in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan decided that she was only giving out candy to kids whose parents supported John McCain. I shit you not.

According to TV station WJPK, Shirley Nagel posted a sign outside her house that read: "No handouts for Obama supporters, liars, tricksters or kids of supporters." Apparently, it wasn't just an empty threat. Asked about turning away two kids, driven to tears, she explained, "Oh well. Everybody has a choice."

Wow. Sometimes the stereotypes prove themselves.

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