Matt Alber’s Cover of Missing is Missing Nothing

18 07 2011

Most songs come and go in and out of your life and your ears, but some linger, some become legendary in your heart. When I moved away from St. Louis to Chicago in the 90’s leaving my friends and family, this became not only legendary, but my all time favorite song.

Everything But the Girl originally recorded Missing for their Amplified Heart CD, a transitional album away from their “Sunday Brunch” sound of the late 80’s, early 90’s to a more contemporary but still soft sound. It debuted to little fanfare but to their die hard fans like me who’d bought their 8 previous albums and loved every one. From the Smiths-like sound of the first 2, to the Swing Out Sister vibe of the middle period, to their minor hit, Driving, a VH-1/soft jazz staple I’d love every one of their eras. Now it seams they were trying to get a bit serious without trying to seem to young. It didn’t work. Until Todd Terry remixed the single for Missing.

After the remix hit the club, it hit the radio and hit the world. Going #1 in Germany and #2 in the US it would be their biggest hit and be remixed and remade many times over the years (most recently by Fedde LeGrand). EBTG went on to embrace this sound with the heavily electronic two following CDs, and Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn’s solo careers which have been primarily house and electronic respectively.

Forward 15 years and DJ Saul Ruiz meets classically trained vocalist Matt Alber. Alber, hot on the heals of hit album, Hide Nothing, due to the single End Of The World was riding high and prepping for his new CD when Ruiz walked in with an idea to cover Missing, followed by a proposed EP of other covers in the dance vein. Unlike Ben and Tracey’s version, Saul’s version is recorded as a dance track, forcing Matt to record it as such unlike EBTG’s which was remixed later. And the result is no less beautiful. Saul’s version, which takes the Todd Terry approach of less is more and sexy is best, caresses Matt’s silky vocals never overtaking. Matt’s appoach is not trying to be Tracey Thorn but to be Matt in his signature seductive manner, without ever sounding too morose for the dancefloor. That is until his otherworldly wail before and after the bridge like a ghost in the night. Nice touch.

The EP, out now (click on the graphic) contains 4 remixes. The best of which is Hector Fonseca’s soaring and epic remix and Saul’s own Peak Hour Mix. Saul told me earlier today he and Matt are working currently on doing a few more covers for a planned EP. Next on the list, Fleetwood Mac’s legendary dreams. Are they stalking my Best Of All Time playlist or what?!

P.S. You can preorder Matt’s long desired second album here for a short time

Saul Ruiz feat. Matt Alber’s Missing (Original Mix)


Moose’s Top Albums of 2010

31 12 2010

As time’s gone by, I, like most American’s have gotten less about albums and more about singles, just like we went back to 1955. So when going over my top singles of the year, and annual event for me for 15 years, I was struck by home many albums that I loved, didn’t have that one key single to make the cut. So, here, judged on a whole as an album, and not by the songs themselves, my top full lengths of 2010.

Robyn ruled the nest in 2010

  1. Robyn – Body Talk (the culmination of the 2 EPs and the full length was a pop event that Kylie and Madonna have never touched)
  2. Scissor Sisters – Night Work (Producer Stuart Price did for SS, what Mark Ronson did for Duran this year: tapped into their heart for a glimpse into what we always knew was there.  Slicker and sexier than ever)
  3. Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer (Fuck You isn’t even the hottest song on this flawless soul album. He’s crazy/genius)
  4. Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid (not since Grace Jones has a black female sing gone so crazy, ambitious and brilliant. This is who Kelis could be)
  5. Kelis – Flesh Tone (best effort of her career. She was playing it like the gays, and not Nas, were listening)
  6. Tracey Thorn – Love and Its Opposites (the first solo effort where I’ve not missed her partner Ben Watt)
  7. Salem – King Night (if you like Crystal Castles but want to feel like you’re constantly terrified, try this horror/electro/crunk masterpiece)
  8. Girl Talk – All Day (first CD the mash master has put out that sounds like his live show: a non-stop consistent party thta never lets up. and did i tell you the album is FREE?)
  9. Hurts – Happiness (completely bringing back the spirit of the fancy Brit keyboard New Romantic sounds but doing it BETTER than the originals. Fans of Tears for Fears or Human League, pay attention)
  10. OMD – History of Modern (first full album by full band in decades. sounds like they never left the 80’s, in a good way)

and some honorable mentions that i also LOVED: Bryan Ferry’s Olympia, Neil Young’s Le Noise, Bruce Springsteen’s The Promise, Eric & The Adams’ EP, Voxbox’s vx/bx, Audra (Liza’s cousin) Mae’s Little Bird, Robert Plant’s Band of Joy


The Moosie Awards 2010

22 12 2010

Since I was a little gay I used to watch and critique US award shows. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a roster of award winners on any of them that made sense commercially or artistically. I’m still stinging from Taylor Swift’s Grammy win last year. So, if only to make balance things out karmically in my musical world, I present the 2010 “Moosies” (why does that sound dirty?).

Best New Artist: While Florence + The Machine’s Lungs came out overseas and crept into the US market in 2009, it was official released and broke big in 2010. Florence’s voice harkens back to vintage Sarah McLachlan (see Vox) or later Siouxie Sioux but does better than both. Along with Beth Ditto, she ushered in new era of girls who can REALLY sing. I mean REALLY. If you’ve not yet, make sure you get Dog Days or Rabbit Heart, two of the best songs of this or any year.

Best Album: Tracey Thorn and Scissor Sisters made the 2 best CDs of their careers this year, but I have to give this one to Robyn for Body Talk. More than any artist in my lifetime she blends pop, dance and intelligence breaking down this hardest hipster heart into whirling dance dervish.

Best Remake: Not In Love by Crystal Castles featuring Robert Smith takes an obscure Canadian hit by Platinum Blonde and transforms it into a manic, urgent and moving synth-pop masterpiece. Also best workout song of the decade.

Best Remix: For a year where dance music seems to have died…again, it was one of the hottest years for remixes. Robin, Gaga and Kylie put out some brilliant mixes by up and comers Aviici, Alphabeat and Monarchy respectably, but the most addicting remix of the year was by genius Fred Falke for Gossip’s Heavy Cross. He completely rethought the song into an early Duran Duran fantasy that built and built until it erupted in a luscious synthgasm.

Best Live Show: a-ha – While Robyn’s show should probably win, I have a soft spot in  my heart for a-ha and this year was their farewell tour and only time we’ll have had to see them live ever again. It was a joyous and moving sold out show at the Riviera. If you missed, you missed it, and you should be sad. Their 25 year career yield far more groundbreaking stuff than Take On Me. And Robyn will be back soon anyway if you’re a fan of hot Scandinavians.

Best Comeback: Kelis hit it strong this year after a career of hits and misses. Getting dumped by NAS and having a baby would make most women get all Lilith Fair, but Kelis amped up the energy and love on her Flesh Tone collection. It’s what we’ve always known she could do.

Most Overhyped: Predictably Taylor Swift. OK songwriter, cute girl, just can’t sing. In the real world she’d be writing hits for better singers.

Most Overrated: Katy Perry. Since her first album, I’ve been waiting for her to show us how good she can be but this is two overhyped, pitiful albums in a row. In fact, Teenage Dream is worse than the first so she’s sliding artistically downhill. Outside the title track, it sounds like she wrote this album with a drunk Ke$ha and a few 5 years olds. “Show me your Peacock, cock, cock”. Really? (This really should have been Ke$ha, but you have to be talked about to be overrated)

Biggest Letdown: So many things I was looking forward to this year that just sucked after all the hype, but none as bad as the David Byrne/Fatboy Slim double CD concept album Here Lies Love. Done as a story of Imelda Marcos, it featured guest vocals by some of the biggest names in the business: Cyndi Lauper, Tori Amos, Natalie Merchant and more but every last track was horribly campy and poorly written. It’s a big of a joke as the theme indicates.

Artist of the Year: Robyn. See album of the year. She did no wrong.


Tracey Thorn Gives Us a Little “Oh” & “Yeah”

17 04 2010

A few new updates on our favorite vocalist pretty much ever, Tracey Thorn. She sent out an alert this week that you can now get her new single, Oh, The Divorces on clear vinyl in the UK and worldwide they’re taking preorders on her 3rd solo album, Love and Its Opposite. Merge her in the US and her husband Ben Watt’s label, Buzzin Fly in the UK.

Tracey, who’s always so good to her fans, just posted this intimate video of her in her in-home studio playing the very moving first single.

And if that got you in the mood for some breaking up, take a listen to the Magnetic Field’s cover she did with the amazing Jens Lekman for Merge Record’s tribute album.

You can get a copy of it direct from Merge’s teet or via iTunes.

Everything But the Girl, back, but apart

18 02 2010

Though still happily partnered with kids, Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn of Everything But the Girl haven’t put out and EBTG record since 1999’s sublime Tempermental. Ben’s been busy being a DJ, club-owner, and record label mogul with his Buzzin’ Fly franchise. And Tracey’s been raising the kids for the most part with the exception of her solo album, Out of the Woods in ’07. With 25 years between that album and her first, pre-EBTG, solo album and a decade since their last collaboration, who thought she’d crank out another CD so soon. But recently, she announced her next album, Love and It’s Opposite, would be out soon.
Just yesterday, she was kind enough to make the first single, “Oh the Divorces”, a gorgeous, stripped down ballad lamenting all her favorite couples breaking up, FREE for download on her site. A heart wrenching and sadly true tune, you can tell Tracey’s really feeling this one hard.

And then, out of the blue, I see Ben’s set to release a new track as well with Julia Biel called “Bright Star.” Predictably housey but surprisingly rather Bjorky, Bright Star sounds like it belongs on an updated version of Bjork’s Debut.  Listen to the new track HERE as part of one of his DJ set radio shows.

But my question is, if Tracey’s writing and recording, and Ben’s writing and recording, why on earth can’t these two just do an EBTG CD together. Seems odd. But now we get double the material, so I shouldn’t complain.

Ben’s single comes out next week in the UK, while Tracey’s album comes out May 18th her in the US on Merge, for whom Tracey just contributed a track to the Merge anniversary album, Score!, with Jens Lekman.

Well, Ain’t That Allotta Love?!

27 01 2010

It’s like the floodgates of Marc’s musical river just opened up today and spilled love and happiness all over my desk! I just got notices of 3 amazing things today from three of my all time favorites

Tracey Thorn of Everything But the Girl is leaking some info about her upcoming 3rd solo CD on her Facebook page: “New album is to be called Love and Its Opposite. Will be released mid-May. As you probably know, the record was finished a little while ago, but the slight hold-up has been caused by contractual business. Having come to an agreement with Virgin, the album will be released on Ben’s Strange Feeling label, and in the US on the very lovely Merge label. Was recorded in Berlin and London. Produced by Ewan Pearson. Is 10 songs long – the PERFECT album length! (I was so cross when Out Of The Woods ended up having 11 songs….) Eight new songs by me, plus a cover of “Come On Home To Me” by Lee Hazlewood, and a cover of The Unbending Trees song “You are a lover.””

a-ha is teasing their US fans this morning, that an announcement is forthcoming on some final US dates for their farewell tour: “Last July, Magne mentioned in a radio interview that a-ha would return to America in 2010, and fans have been waiting eagerly since then for news of US tour dates. The wait is almost over, and an announcement will be made next week! Back in 2005, a-ha played a single show in America, at Irving Plaza in New York on September 12. The concert sold out in 52 minutes and fans from all over the United States traveled to New York for the one-off show.This time around, expect more than one show – but that’s all we’re saying for now. Stay tuned for more information!”

and finally, my boy, Blake Lewis, who we’ve hyped countless times here and on the podcast, will be doing a DJ set and signing at Borderline Music in Chicago on 2/13 @ 2pm.