Various Artists - Onelove: Smash Your Stereo 2010
Thu 7th Oct, 2010 Music Reviewsin
While I don’t want to make myself irrelevant here, you could argue that reviewing releases like this latest compilation from the Onelove stable is a pretty pointless exercise. Just as you know what to expect if you buy a carton of milk or a loaf of bread, you know that mixes like this will present the latest commercial dance tunes in an easy and inoffensive manner. It’s not like you’re going to be surprised by some hardcore techno or some frantic drum ‘n’ bass. Still, any fool can throw together a handful of David Guetta and Dirty South tracks, so you need me to tell you whether those tracks have been thrown together in an interesting way.
If the assignment of mixing duties on the three discs here is anything to go by, then solo DJs seem to be yesterday’s news. Duos are obviously the future, with Denzal Park taking charge on the first electro and house-charged disc, and they’ve certainly brought in the big guns. Tenderoni from Bloc Party front man Kele kicks things off in a suitably frantic fashion, and it’s followed by latest pop sensation Uffie’s ADD SUV, a co-write with super producer Mirwais and Pharrell Williams, which is given a pounding disco overhaul courtesy of Armand Van Helden. Further in, Mark Ronson puts in an appearance with Bang Bang Bang, although Count & Sinden do a good job of remixing the track into a worse state than its original form. Similarly, I’ve never been a lover of Sam Sparro’s dulcet tones, so hearing him warble over the glitchy electro of Corrected is a pretty torturous experience.
Fortunately the mix picks up with some surging house tracks from Jam Xpress, Riva Starr and Justin Harris, all of which have huge grooves and funky disco bass lines that are pretty much irresistible. Tracks from Fatboy Slim, TV Rock and Kaskade flesh out the rest of the mix, with the Denzal Park boys teaming up with Zoe Badwi for the euphoric Freefallin’, although (un)fortunately it’s not a cover of the Tom Petty classic. Adrian Lux’s Teenage Crime is an understated gem in its original form, but the Axwell mix on offer here strips away its delicate subtlety in favour of some ‘peak time’ madness, with disastrous consequences. Yet the mix ends on a high note with Dirty South’s uplifting Phazing, which cleverly borrows the riff from Harry Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talkin’, and in doing so recalls Paul Oakenfold’s Starry Eyed Surprise from 2002.
Song-writing duo, and now DJing team, the Nervo sisters take the reins on disc two, cranking up the pace a few notches. While you may not have heard of them by name, you’ve most certainly heard of their music. As well as having worked extensively with pop starlet Ke$ha, one of their biggest hits to date is David Guetta and Kelly Rowland’s When Love Takes Over, which gets an outing on here towards the end in the form of a Norman Doray remix. The mix starts with Dirty South’s Phazing, which I’m assuming is an attempt to lend a sense of continuity between this and the previous mix, rather than a massive oversight on the part of the compilers. Similar to Denzal Park’s effort, bits of electro, house and disco all get thrown into the pot, with the term ‘anthem’ being applicable in a few cases. Early highlights include the bouncing disco-house of Reboot’s Enjoy Music, DJ Chus’ tropical-flavoured One Night in Havana, and ATFC’s synth-driven It’s Over.
Nervo throw in a couple of their own productions with the epic vocal cuts This Kind of Love and Irresistible, the latter standing out as the highlight of the entire compilation. Jose Nunez proves he’s still got the funk with Dance Again, while Eric Prydz contributes the shimmering retro electronica of M.S.B.O.Y. Dennis Ferrer’s fantastic Hey Hey has certainly had its fair share of compilation exposure in the past few months, and rightly so, although the Vandalism remix on here is an electro shocker. Despite that, this is the best disc of the three, simply because it includes loads of big tunes and shiny melodies, as well as flowing in an interesting and consistent manner, and ending with Lusine’s gorgeous and sublime Two Dots is simply inspired. On the strength of this, the Nervo girls have a bright DJing career ahead to complement their stellar song-writing activities.
Disc three is helmed by Yolanda Be Cool, and it’s a little bit more left-of-centre and less commercially-minded than the other two discs. Tribal-esque beats and darker hues seem to be the name of the game, proceedings starting well with sparse, percussive tracks from Riva Starr, Jamie Jones and Hickup. The mix really hits its stride with two idiosyncratic tracks from Round Table Knights, with the funky, gospel-infused Cut to the Top flowing seamlessly into the galloping Belly Dance. The awesome Paper Romance from Groove Armada puts in a welcome appearance in the guise of a sleazy Zombie Disco Squad remix, and the inclusion of We No Speak Americano is guaranteed to satisfy more than a few punters. If you like things more rhythmic and less melodic, then this is the disc for you.
So as you’d expect, there’s nothing on here that’s going to revolutionise the world of mix CDs, but all three discs do a fine job of upholding the Onelove brand and its commercial aesthetic. When there’s so much music on offer, there’s no reason to complain, and all three mixes are genuinely interesting and worth investigating, particularly Nervo’s. While you’re never going to get the Onelove CDs becoming timeless classics, they always seem to nail this kind of thing with a little bit more bite and integrity than some of the other dance music brands.
Onelove Smash Your Stereo is out now on Onelove through Sony Music.