Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy birthday you old bum...

Okay, Tom Waits does not do disco. Yet. But posting here nonetheless because the Great Man just hit 60 and that's something to celebrate. It doesn't all have to be about dancing music here, right?
     Saw him last year for an exorbitant price in a big tent in Phoenix Park but it was worth it alone for the unexpected pleasure of witnessing Waits solo at the piano, crooning one of my favourites: '(Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night' and God knows I may not get the chance again seeing as he probably prefers to spend most of his time cooked up in the house mysteriously mucking with machines and music. Plus he was bloody hilarious (wish I could remember some of the stage patter here but I know the live album just out for the tour a features a bonus disc collecting his non-musical musings so I  an remind myself later maybe).

I won't say much else other than earlier today I read that he might do some more acting and stick on the latex socks to play a hobbit next year. Can't wait. Here's some more choice vids:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Remix of the week: XX + Florence + the Machine = Genius

Next one in a nominally weekly series. We take a remix, re-work, re-edit, whatever and big it up so you might then listen to it. The track doesn't have to be new or anything but it should stand-up to or even better the original. Usually it'd be a track we'd spin on a TomTom night - but don't hold us to that either!

The next one we're bigging up here is very arguably not a remix, but sure we're not into strict definitions here on the TomTom blog. What we're talking about here is a full-blown cover of a cover that's already been covered many times (as the Guardian have recently detailed) that samples a small part of one of the covers (by Florence + the Machine) and does a lot more besides. Funny thing is, if you buy the new Florence 7 inch of 'You've Got the Love' the b-side has the Jamie XX re-work Feat. The XX on the flip so technically the artist is Florence + the Machine, which is a bit stupid; but anyway, like strict definitions, we won't get bogged down in the details. [note: I just played the Florence version on 7 inch at 33 rpm (i.e the wrong speed) and it's a disturbingly listenable slow-burner torch-song - kind of sounds a bit like Antony Hegarty's younger, slightly butcher brother who's realy into Scott Walker. I'm sorry I can't be arsed recording this to digital right now so you can hear it here but if someone is intrigued enough then give me a shout in the comments and I'll see what I can do].

Florence Welsh's take the on the 1986 The Source featuring Candi Staton original is not bad, but it's a bit of a no-brainer easy-fit for someone with such a soulful voice and is obviously indebted to later interpretations of the original; saying that it's probably amazing live when she lets rip. South-west Londoners The XX (pictured above) come up with one of the year's most memorable "remixes", refashioning it as a sexy duet prefaced in the intro by a dreamy harp sample, and then blasted with 2-step precision, then something marimba sounding and choppy ticks and snares ducking in and out of the sensuous assault; it all culminates to reinvent this song in a way Florence did not. You need to hear this and if you haven't heard The XX's debut album then you have even more work to do.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No Disco where art thou?

Came across a lovely piece on on the oft-lamented RTE music show No Disco by Tanya Sweeney. This show was a formative influence on myself and many mates - mainly due to original presenter Donal Dineen's fondness for showing trippy videos from the nascent trip-hop scene (Massive Attack's Karmacoma and Protection as well as Tricky's Hell Is Around the Corner stand out big time in my mind). Many's a night did I sit propped by the VCR, finger twitching over the record button to catch these gems for posterity.

In hindsight, the reticent Dineen was so remarkably 'not there' on screen, head jerking self-consciously as he whispered record label names and meticulous adjectives from the auto-cue. The lack of professionalism was of course decidedly refreshing. His successor, the late Uaneen Fitzsimons, was a little too commercial for my tastes, but, as Sweeney's article reflects, she was made for the screen and no doubt would have gone on to, well, if not greater, at least more high-profile assignments. Leagues O'Toole revived the laid back, subtler tones of Dineen and did a decent job until the show was axed in 2003.

There's something new on the increasingly depressing RTE homegrown schedule called When Under Ether (not a good name guys, PJ Harvey song or no) - I haven't watched it but here's hoping it proves worthy of being spoken of in the same breath as No Disco by some media correspondants.

Here's some more video memories off the top of my head (some not embedded 'cause EMI the poopers won't allow it) - anyone remember any others on heavy rotation that I've forgottn here - there must be loads?:

Smashing Pumpkins - Today 
Portishead - Glory Box
Radiohead - Just
Beck - The New Pollution 
Daft Punk - Around the World and Da Funk

Friday, November 13, 2009

Remix of the Week: WhoMadeWho kick out the tunes

Next one in a nominally weekly series. We take a remix, re-work, re-edit - whatever - and big it up so you might then listen to it. The track doesn't have to be new or anything but it should stand-up to or even better the original. Usually it'd be a track we'd spin on a TomTom night - but don't hold us to that either!

It's usually LCD Soundsystem man James Murphy who turns whatever he touches into gold, but in the case of his and LCD colleague Nancy Wang's collaboration with electro-rockers Munk (aka Mathias Modica), it's a bunch of Danes who turn on the greatness on this occasion. I can't say I know much about WhoMadeWho; they're presumably named after an AC/DC song; the little I have heard since this remix of a song call 'Kick Out the Chairs' hasn't come close to the cowbell funk brilliance of their re-imagining of that tune. In fact, so good is the instrumental track they slide underneath the vocals here that you wonder why these guys did not keep the song for themselves; but there's the rub - the selfless beauty of the truly great remix and whole point of this regular post.

So, the Munk original mix is decent in its own respect - twangy, menacing eletrco-rock lynch-pinned by the LCD co-vocalists possibly talking spontaneous gibberish but making sense in their own hipsterish way. But it doesn't hold a candle to what came later - those vocals were made for WhoMadeWho's addictive groove. The original is rendered truly moot in the best possible way. Check it out for yourself:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sesame St. is forty. Not a grey hair to be found.

This week saw the fortieth birthday of that little eternal gem known as Sesame St. There's been many deserving tributes throughout the media spectrum in the past week: Google released a week of homepage doodles dedicated to the show; those commies over at the Guardian, as always, put things into context as only they can; and even the impossibly perfect Michelle Obama turned up to teach kids how to grow cucumbers on the birthday show.

One thing we've always loved about Sesame Street are the plethora of musical guest who've turned up over the years to serenade Big Bird and his mates. Some of these people have even adapted their lyrics in an effort to appeal to the decidedly younger demographic (or, in James Blunt's case, to prove that Top Gear wasn't just a fluke and that he actually really isn't that thing that rhymes with his name). Below are a few examples of our fave musical appearances for your eternal enjoyment. The Stevie Wonder magic is dedicated to TomTom's design wiz El Yob and Mrs El Yob all the way on the other side of the planet.

But first, take us to school Ms. Patti Labelle:

On to the next one: TomTom November

November 21st and we are back in Sligo for our third party and once again we set up shop upstairs at Tobergal Lane Cafe. We're well happy to return to the scene of our last party where, in the end, we weren't too far from filling the place.

That night saw Liam take to the decks for the first hour and a half or so for a very nice mix of scene-setters (Arthur Russell, Grace Jones, Röyksopp/Kings of Convenience) and then I came on the decks in slightly less subtle fashion to (ahem) play some classics. It was a good night we think - bodies were moving, balloons were popping, er, records were even skipping. But let us know if you think we can do more - click that comment link at the bottom, go on, go on.

The upstairs venue at Tobergal offers an intimate setting and attracts good heads and even some familiar faces, which is always nice. We're hoping for more of the same and even more besides in little over a week. Expect more balloons, tunes, and maybe even a free gift for those in early doors (that's 10.30pm). We'll be there til 2am or thereabouts. Do say hello.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Remix of the Week: Holy Fuck do things to Röyksopp

Next one in a nominally weekly series. We take a remix, re-work, re-edit - whatever - and big it up so you might then listen to it. The track doesn't have to be new or anything but usually it should stand-up to or even better the original. Usually it'd be a track we'd spin on a TomTom night - but don't hold us to that either!

For some reason, Icelandic band Röyksopp don't seem very interesting to me. Someone gave me their second album when it came out and I didn't listen to it (sorry Liam). In fairness, they did a great mix of a Kings of Convenience song a few years back and that one 'Eple' off their first (?) album is always nice to hear now and then - especially the Scratch Attack mix.  (Hello Aran McMahon!)

The original of 'Happy Up Here' is not bad I suppose. It bounces along airily for a couple minutes; has an indistinct vocal that might allude to the title; and will probably be used in an ad to sell you insurance before the end of the year.  The 12" for some REALLY ANNOYING REASON does not include the "Re-interpretation" by Toronto's analogue zealots Holy Fuck, though it does have about fourteen other versions of the song crammed in there. A lazy kick drum ushers in its groovesome three and three-quarter minutes; whooshing panning noises strafe the speakers; and then the sparring Low-era Bowie synths jostle with a bassline to crumble your corn flakes. There might be a Dyson in there at one stage. It's a belter. Job's a good'un.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Here we go again

This Saturday brings our second TomTom party in Sligo. Right now we're definitely focused on playing in our hometown, though we'll see what the new year brings in regard to the spreading of wings across the land for extra curricular activities.

Our first one took place in the Clarence and for a first night we were happy enough with the numbers. The Clarence has a punchy sound system and offers the chance to really pack a lot of people into a party but we're not convinced some of their regulars were entirely in love with our eclectic, not-always-balls-out-banging shenanigans. Saying that, we were happy to be play at that Wine St. venue and indeed we're very happy to play somewhere else in a few of days time. In fact, with the right folks and a decent set of speakers, we'll be content to try and rock a party any old place.

We'd been hearing lots about Tobergal Lane Cafe and especially some of the nights they've hosted upstairs; needless to say, our curiosity was pricked and we made inroads. Our old night Funk Up! started as an upstairs club also so it's funny that we find ourselves on a first floor again across the river. it should be interesting.

We've a had a bit of gap of a couple of months or whatever since the first one, but that's given us the chance to to really think about what we want in a party night and to further our investigation into the kind of music we want to play. As the tagline for our posters say: classic funk and future disco - old and new music with a definite groove; the aim is to simply get people smiling and dancing all night (er, with a few breaks obviously to buy some drinks and keep our hosts content). To get a definite feel for the kind of music we want to play, people can check out our song of the day tweets on (And please follow us if you're on Twitter - we're thinking this thing could be used for interacting with a crowd during an actual set so it would be great to have a bunch of folks signed up as potential participants in that kind of experiement. By the way, anyone have any experience of beining involved in that kind of live interaction? Anyhow, give us a minute and we'll get back to you on that one in regard to TomTom nights.You got to find a way out of the womb before you can crawl etc...)

Hopefully we'll help fill some kind of musical gap in Sligo or at least add to what I'm being told is a good buzz about the place. That's great to hear - really. Before Liam and I started djing in the early part of this century (gulp!) it was either Equinox or Toffs and going for a well-timed 'supper' midway through the night as you crossed your fingers for a couple of minutes of Blackstreet's 'No Dignity' or something decent amid the odious chart fodder. But that's another rant for another post. Live and enjoy the present! See you Saturday people.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Remix of the Week: #1 Erol Alkan takes on 'Zero' by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Okay so the first in a, er, weekly series. We'll take a remix, re-work, re-edit - whatever - and big it up so you might then listen to it. The track doesn't have to be new or anything but usually it should stand-up to or even better the original. Usually it'd be a track we'd spin on a TomTom night - but don't hold us to that!

This week we kick off with one of our favourite remixers of recent times: Erol Alkan. A famed DJ, Mr Alkan has lately turned his hand to producing (see material by Klaxons, The Long Blondes) and recently appeared to team up with Boys Noize for a mental double-A side 12". However, what really excites us about Alkan is his role as a rip-it-up-and-start-again reinterpreter of other people's music.

He sometimes works with musician Richard Norris as the unfortunately titled Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve duo (see interesting renderings of the likes of Franz Ferdinand and the brilliant 'Roscoe' by Midlake here). The one we're focusing on here is an Alkan solo mix and also perhaps the latest official remix he's created. This year the Yeah Yeah Yeahs released their third record to favourable reviews; lead-off single 'Zero' showcased the bands somewhat new synth-rock direction in typically fervent fashion. The original's not half bad at all, but Alkan's version melts it into an unholy late-night party banger, primed to take the sweaty roof off of your local disco.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Blog...ah, recontinued

Things have been a bit quiet around these blogging parts in recent times but fear not for TomTom should be announcing an upcoming date for Sligo soon enough - and, indeed, we're very much in the head down, planning stage for how we want to put on our parties in general. We're looking forward to getting back on the decks after our first night and playing some of the tunes we've been tweeting as our 'Song of the Day'. Hopefully you've been checking them out and liking what you hear.

The blog is an obvious platorm for self-promotion but we also want to create a site around the things we love. Expect to see upcoming posts in the next few weeks along the likes of: DJ Spotlights; remixes of the week; the 'Losing My Edge': Explained series; some album reviews; and various other randomness and bits and bobs.

Right now I'd like to big-up a really great blog - Funky16Corners, a treasure trove of old funk and soul records with many superb mp3s and mixes posted from the original vinyl since its inception in 2004. Check it out...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Our first night

So folks we just announced our first night at the end of last week and since then we've been hard at work trying to promote the bejaysus out of the thing - local press, national listings, Facebook, Twitter etc etc. It's been a blast thus far and the words of encouragements we've received to date are much appreciated. We thank you.

To be honest, when we decided to create a new club night we did not know where we would end up to start things off with TomTom. We've always intended - and still do - to make this a movable club; to transpose the night to places like Galway and Dublin - and anywhere else that'll take us (anyone have any ideas of good spots?). But it's starting to make a lot of sense that we kick things off in Sligo - back home, where we've not played for nearly a couple years, we are very much looking forward to seeing some familar faces throwing shapes.

In that sense, we're hoping of course that those of you who might remember Funk Up/Off from the old Garavouge ('old' being a very important distinction if reports I've heard about it's new incarnation are even half accurate) will be encouraged to check out TomTom this Saturday July 27th in the Clarence on Wine Street.

One thing that needs saying up front is that TomTom is not "Funk Up! Part Deaux". "Boo-urns" we hear some shout; "Thank God" a few others exhale. Well saying that , it's not going to be far removed from what you might have heard if you came along on one of those monthly shindigs. What we're getting at is this though: Funk Up! was lots of fun - not least for ourselves - but there was a feeling at times that at any moment we could have played some rowdy Balkan folk tunes as long as a few drunken loonies were on for it. We don't want to take ourselves too seriously but we don't want to take the piss either! Variety is great but you don't want to become an iPod shuffle either if you catch my drift.

It's great though in a way when people do take a night seriously to the point where they feel like it's now there's and you - even though you're the DJ - cannot fuck with it. I recall spinning INXS 'Need You Tonight' the week after I heard it standing in a Bank of Ireland queue in Galway when I thought, "Yeah, those guys weren't that naff afterall!" only to be informed afterwards on said night after playing said record that "this is not what Funk Up! is about". "I think I know what Funk Up! is about," I thought to myself all aggrevied, before sneering at the soon-to-be-even-more-offended party: "don't be a snob". Well, I take it back, sir - maybe you knew what the night was about more than I did by that stage...

I digress, in a way, but what I want to say here is that TomTom intends to be a little more focused for the most part. Our scope will take in most of the Seventies, early 80s, jumping forward from there to the 21st century. So, deep breath, that would be the likes of : James Brown, Donna Summer, Grace Jones, ESG, Liquid Liquid, Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club (duh), Sylvester, The Rapture, Hercules & Love Affair, LCD Soundsystem, Cut Copy and on and on (who knows, maybe even INXS). Compared to Funk Up! we'll be putting a little less of a spotlight on hip-hop, 60s soul, and indie in order to place the emphasis on the groove - beats, basslines, and general boogie-ing. But fear not, for we shall not be too dogmatic and you may just hear some Gang Star, Motwown, or The Strokes along the way.

So that's what we're about right now. We hope that this sounds good to you. We hope that you will come along and help make a night that we know Sligo needs. So please spread the word, bring your mates, and dance the legs off yourselves.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

TomTom's first hello

TomTom is a new club night in Ireland starting in 2009.

It's all about dancing - from classic funk to future disco amd everything in between - from the people who brought you (well, Sligo) the night known as Funk Up! in the old Garavouge.

Stayed tuned for details of our Sligo debut this summer very soon.