Retro/Grade are the duo of Tom Neville and Serge Santiago who produce high quality sensory Italo-electro-disco. Residing in London at present, they have worked together in unison since 2004 after slapping their musical style onto Kano's track "It's A War". Since then the duo have progressed in leaps and bounds harnessing their position as juggernauts of the electro/disco scene both in the UK, across Europe and beyond. "Mindfighter" is already several months old but is still a cracker of a tune worth mentioning and is one of a number of singles the duo plan to release in the build up to their highly anticipated LP release.
"Mindfighter" starts off as a brisk, clean and minimal track laying down a galactic stream of electro-synth waves and an eighties inspired woozy echoed bassline that oscillates with dynamic verve and robotic efficiency. As the track progresses, Retro/Grade gently filter delicate layer upon delicate layer of synths and polished back beats that fuse together with expert precision, creating a perfectly honed plethora of computational sounds that tentatively transcend one another. Consequently this track is rich in auditory composition that stimulates the senses and asserts the belief that Neville and Santiago can produce intelligent nuances stemming from Italo-disco norms, defiantly thrusting it in the face of commercial dubstep trends that saturate the present charts. As "Mindfighter" progresses it jabs at the senses and pulses viciously; both jittery and reactive, it forges an anxious weight that looms over the whole ensemble. Whilst the track's momentum builds, there is at times an overwhelming and omnipotent presence that furthers the credentials of this brilliant track; the cosmic beats slice through extraordinarily sublime synths, puncturing the tempo of the track and neatly culminating into the addition of progressive vocals over the sample.
Sounding like a complex hybrid of Jake Shears, Hot Chip and Daft Punk, the vocals start off as a mild whisper and progressively gains in volume, tone and heightened pitch, sounding more exasperated, anxious and emotive as the song strides forth. The glassy vocals conjure images of hysteria and psychedelia which ignites further energy behind the song's already powerful punch. As the chorus peaks there is an array of hypnotically spacey synths and galvanised keying that marches on through till the end highlighting the supreme wizardry behind constructing such a tune. Retro/Grade oozes the French flair of Daft Punk, the efficient Teutonic nature of Kraftwerk and the finesse of Boys Noize; packaging these styles together ultimately returns a quintessential Anglo-Italo thoroughfare, both passionate and pleasant for our ears to appreciate.
Check out the incredible music video below and as is always the case by now; show the guys some love by visiting their Facebook/Youtube pages.
BELLE AMIE - "GIRLS UP"
Belle Amie are a three-piece girl group who were born out of the UK reality show 'The X Factor', back in 2010. All three members originally entered the popular contest as solo artists, but were thrown a wildcard and made to form into a girl group. Since then the original four member line up shed Geneva Lane, leaving Rebecca Creighton, Esther Campbell and Sophia Wardman. After lying low for six months the band have quietly been working on new material and their debut track "Girls Up" is testament to the hard work these young ladies have put into their musical craft and by working with Chad Dexter (Beyonce, Rihanna, Nelly) they are certainly working with top industry professionals. Belle Amie are quite obviously a commercially associated pop band, who are aiming to dominate the Top 40 Charts and give pop heavyweights The Saturdays or resurgent music legends the Sugababes a run for their money. There is no pretence of alternativism, a band like this is commonplace, but Belle Amie have an interestingly ditsy charm and air of excitability, with this energetic exuberance, it gives them a slight edge and degree of interest that perhaps current girlbands may lack.
When you gaze past the initial splurge of sickly pop bravado that "Girls Up" possesses and avoid the narrow mindedness associated with commercial pop, it is refreshing to have a single with some lyrical drive and musical diversity that strays from the current path of "pop plus dubstep equals money earner", courtesy of Britney Spears' "Till The World Ends". "Girls Up" starts off as a heavily layered tune with deep bumbling back beats strung along with wheezing disorientated electro-pop synths, a rambunctious bassline topped with the intermittent chirps of castanets amongst over things in the distant background. This contradictory audio circus carries on with youthful enthusiasm and speed right from the offset barraging through into the chorus. The composition is not exactly smooth and orchestrated, moreover the abundance of various noises and beats makes the song rather overproduced and confused. Despite this, "Girls Up" still remains enjoyable to listen to; the meteorological tide of energy and panache carries on through wildly and will cause you to move limbs and jig around with the same enthusiasm that is instilled within this corker of a pop tune.
What truly sets this track apart from the usual chart fodder is the underlying emotions laced within the lyrics; the girls make a bold dig at misogyny within society and the pressures placed on women to conform to ideological stereotypes. Lyrics such as "she wants the lights turned off...feels like she's lacking it, doesn't realise that she's beautiful" really emphasise the passion of these girls and gives the song much more credibility and applied understanding for the listener. The cumbersome thoroughfare sprints forth into an infectious chorus that is flashy, robust and boisterous, bulldozing onwards till the end without even a momentary pause for breath. This single will split opinions but it puts the humble girls in good stead for deserved chart success.
Check out the zany and visually frenetic music video below, buy the single and show the girls some Facebook/Youtube/Myspace online love.