Friday, May 15th, 2009

Meleka – Go (Crazy Cousinz Remix)

First Jukebox appearance for the leading lights of funky house…


Rodney J. Greene: Crazy Cousinz at their most crowd-pleasing, feminine, cautious, and simple. In other words, this is “Do You Mind” without the rightly earned shock of the new.

Matt Cibula: The production job here is surprisingly beautiful, but that is about as far as I can rep for its played-out reggaeton-house stylings. Any human elements here have been avalanched, if that is a word; and yes I know “human elements” is an outdated concept but at least have more interesting robots next time.

Alex Macpherson: See, this is how you do heartbreak on the dancefloor. You don’t lazily toss the idea of it around, à la Freemasons and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, but you actually get down and dirty with some real emotions and real beats. Meleka may be throwing a boy out, but her pleading tone reveals that it’s her internal struggle which is at the song’s core: just listen to that pleading on “You messed it up for your own damn self“. But she ends up triumphing over the heartbreak, thanks to Crazy Cousinz and their endless, sun-kissed good vibes, which complement Meleka rather than working against her by turning her conflict into a single-minded anthem; yes, their remixes follow formula, but there’s no reason whatsoever to stop bringing that irresistible echoing rhythm or those staccato piano notes when they frame these emotional divas so well. And, as with every UK funky track covered so far, “Go” is a dancefloor monster: from the hands-in-the-air, belt-along arrival of the chorus a minute in to the repeated stutter of “I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna” to the oh-so-brief, unexpected drop at 3:49, it’s packed with puncta.

Michaelangelo Matos: Oh my goodness yes. I’m a perennial sucker for this kind of vocal, especially when it’s cut up slightly to heighten its emotional effects: “I don’t wanna! I don’t wanna! I don’t wanna!” The way the chorus’s melisma is matched perfectly with the smeared organ line. The record this one has me flashing on immediately is Kristine Blond’s “Loveshy (Tuff Jam Classic Vocal).” This means it’s pretty much unimpeachable.

Dave Moore: Maybe my favorite of the limited number of funky house tracks I’ve actually listened to — takes on the repeat-to-ecstasy tactics of French house but still keeps an excellent chorus hook intact. Cleverly accomplishes the two seemingly contradictory impulses within funky house to construct and deconstruct dancefloor anthems simultaneously.

Chuck Eddy: I like the quasi-tribal counter-rhythms or whatever you call them at the beginning; kinda cringe at the humorlessly whining and reverent vocal mannerisms, which I gather are supposed to be, um, communicating something (oh, I get it: It’s a “get out my life, pack your bags,” song right? Which is delivered as unconvincingly as the law allows). Would work better as a quasi-tribal chant. Plus it needs saxophones. Singer’s a washout, but the first 30 seconds or so surely have some melekahekahineyho in them.

Jordan Sargent: With every remix, Crazy Cousinz prove to be increasingly invigorating and vital, and their aim with “Go” is a simple one: Meleka is jettisoning her guy, so her remixers try and give her a punchy, inspirational and joyous beat with which to soundtrack the final act of removal. Unsurprisingly they strike the bullseye, remixing “Go” into a track that seems to give power and confidence to the moment in which Meleka finally demands that he gets out. But, crucially, the beat doesn’t overpower her intense and emotive vocals, instead it congeals into a whole that is as thrilling as it is passionate.

Martin Kavka: This is the first “UK funky” track I’ve heard that reaches the heights of this genre’s great-grandtrack, the speed-garage version of Tina Moore’s “Never Let You Go.” In fact, this is probably even better, for it achieves the miracle of transcending place. At certain moments, this sounds like London. At others (especially the first half of the fourth minute), it sounds like Miami. At still others (the weird backing vox/grunts), it sounds like New York (or Berlin). At still yet others, it sounds like J’burg. And when it’s over, I have no sense of having listened to a “club” track, even though I’ve been bopping around my office). If there is justice, this will appear on 1000 compilations this year.

Hillary Brown: I’m catching a hint of the R. Kelly/Isley Brothers “Busted” occasionally (in the bits about “packing your”), only minus interest and joy and good delivery. Boooo.

Andrew Unterberger: Relatively unremarkable song, but I had to mention that the fact that UK funky house is now apparently a reputable-enough genre to get its own Wikipedia page is making me feel very old right now. Also, Crazy Cousinz is one of those names so brilliantly appropriate that it seems almost wasted on a non-fictional artist.

Ian Mathers: I haven’t been able to track down the original version to confirm, but this sounds like a pretty amazing remix of what comes across as a pretty bog standard “that’s it, get out of my life” R’n’B track. The Crazy Cousins do a great job adding some real propulsiveness to “Go,” whether or not the repeated echoey chants of “go!” are their work or not. Most dance remixes, even the satisfying ones, don’t necessarily make me want to dance, but this version of “Go” makes me eager to hear it out.

Martin Skidmore: I continue to find the rhythms too broken up, stuttery or halting to entirely get lost in dancing to it, but in between the moments I hear as awkward, it’s very good. I rather like the forceful and soulful vocal, and the bright rhythms are most of the time as infectious as, and really extremely similar to, soca. I think I wanted more drama in the sound to go with the punchy vocal, and maybe it’s just that this old bloke is not connecting with the irregularity, but I’m not quite feeling funky house yet. I may get the hang of it in time…

18 Responses to “Meleka – Go (Crazy Cousinz Remix)”

  1. Wow, it’s a whole new ballgame. Welcome new comrades and spoilers. Even without the new infusion of haterade this would have barely missed the top ten, tho. It does squeak into controversy consideration (2.06) but wouldn’t make top twenty.

  2. I haven’t heard this song, but I’m stoked at the Jukebox debuts of Cibula, Eddy, and Unterberger.

  3. There have been 5 UK funky(-ish) tunes in the jukebox so far. Three panelists have rated all of them. Average scores:

    Brown: 1.8
    Macpherson: 9.4
    Skidmore: 7.2

  4. Those who rated 3 or 4 of the 5:

    Greene: 7.67 (would be 8 if I’d rated all of them, giving K.I.G. a [10] and Ms. Dynamite a [7])
    Kavka: 4.5
    Mathers: 5.75
    Matos: 7.67
    Moore: 6.67
    Okulicz: 5

  5. I’d have given this song 7 or 8, which would have moved my average up a tad. The first funky-ish one, the Kigz Family, I thought was just a bit moronic and was no more actually funky than the average AATW single release!

  6. The KIG track makes me want to dance like few other things in this world.

  7. I forget which one I didn’t blurb, although that’s partly because I can’t necessarily tell offhand which tracks are funky house.

    But hey, I’m with John: the real store here is the very welcome presences of Cibula, Eddy, and Unterberger.

  8. My average won’t be going down any time soon: there basically aren’t any UK funky tracks likely to make the Jukebox which I wouldn’t give 9 or 10. As I said before, music doesn’t get any better than this at the moment. For me personally, it’s kind of like a glorious synthesis of every style of music I’ve ever loved, and the haterade baffles and saddens me.

    The original is a kind of languid, dreamy thing which is very nice and definitely not bog standard – it (and the remix) was on UK iTunes at some point last year but seems to have been deleted now, wtf? Though you can probably live without it tbh, it’s a 7/10 kind of track. (The release I presume we’re hooking the Jukebox coverage to is the Crazy Cousinz EP, which also features their Jazmine Sullivan remix, which is ASTONISHING.

  9. crazy cousinz are so fucking necessary

  10. Yes, a big welcome to the new people!

    I have a feeling that in a few months I will regret my moderately good marks on these. The music does occasionally seem awkward at times, but I suspect that I am just not in the swing of it yet, and when I am I will like them much better.

    Also, the rhythms on most of this are SO ’90s soca!

  11. Yeah, and I don’t think my average is going up. Apparently, I hate UK funky house.

  12. Well, in my own defense, my review contained no haterade — maybe some meh-ade (so-whatterade?), but that’s about it. If I was haterading, I’d have given it a lower grade. Had no idea it was considered “funky” (an adjective-turned-noun that seems a misnomer in this case, but hey). Am really curious, though, exactly which styles of music Lex hears it synthesizing. (Martin’s soca comparison is interesting, but to be honest I’m not sure I even heard any soca in the ’90s.) (Oh wait, I’ve still got that Lif Up Yuh Leg An Trample comp on Honest Jon’s from five years ago. But that may well be early ’00s stuff, I’m not sure. Either way, I’m pretty sure I don’t hear any connection to this track.)

    In other news, I’m stoked to be here, too!

  13. It’s really easy to dismiss every CC remix as structurally the same (even for house), so trying to concentrate on how they do differ (this attitude depends on how you weigh up funky formula against other house formula e.g. the harder electroey stuff, but i try and judge them all the same and on their own terms)…

    But soon after that I just give up and resort to vague enjoyment. 6/10 but please try switching it up more CC.

  14. I think it’s eh-monade.

  15. Oh yeah, welcome Matt, Chuck, and Andrew!

  16. Eh-monade always hurts more than haterade, though.

    The styles that UK funky is synthesising (not all of which may be present in this particular track, but my love of it is very much for the scene as a whole) most obviously are soca, as Martin says, UK garage, NYC house and R&B; but what’s key is that listening to a UK funky set or at a club night, you might well hear it weaving in all kinds of sensibilities, from grime to Detroit techno to dancehall to dubstep to handbag house, and creating a new one of its own.

    More prosaically it’s done two specific things for me – 1) swung the pendulum of UK garage back towards a smooth, pop-friendly, feminine aesthetic, having been dominated by grime and dubstep for the past few years; 2) created a bridge between the house and techno side of me and the ‘urban’ side of me – previously it had been a bit “never the twain shall meet” (w/r/t my real-life clubbing options).

  17. ^^not actually v well-explained but I’m in a rush!

  18. Thanks for the support on that, Lex – a big part of the beats on this could have been sampled from the great Grynner or some such.