Review: French producer Armless Kid is set to have a big year in 2017, reaching a global audience with his productions thanks to a helping hand from his friends at Classic. A young self-taught artist who has been working the Paris scene for only a short time, Xavier is right at home on Justin Solomon's label with his inventive approach to producing. Over just three tracks on the EP, he covers synth-enhanced jacking grooves featuring the diva tones of Queen Rose on "Loubar's Stars" and heady BPM cranked wildness on "BDX Biches Gang". Finally he finds a glorious middle ground with heavy syncopated beats and tight chords on "Road To Grand Champ".
Review: Brett Johnson was always one of the most innovative house producers and this release for the re-launched Classic shows that he hasn't lost his signature sound. On the OG Demo mix of "Mr Johnson's Talk'n Now", he lays down a gritty, stripped back house groove, replete with lo fi blips and bursts of noise that accompany wired, weird vocal samples. The 'Luke's Video Games Rework' is just as off-beat, with the vocals deeper in the mix and a furious stab taking centre stage, while the 'BJ Revamp' remix swings back towards Johnson's wild, stripped back sound. Only on "Give It To Them" does he opt for a more conventional approach, with a disco stab riding the relentlessly jacking groove.
Review: Since first popping up on Classic back in 2015, Chicago stalwart Chrissy (once famed for his juke productions as Chrissy Murderbot, but not embracing his house and disco roots) has barely put a foot wrong. "Back in Time", his third single for Derrick Carter and Luke Solomon's label, is another surefire hit; a delightfully celebratory vocal workout blessed with nods towards classic disco, Maurice Fulton's Syclops project (check the meandering analogue synth bassline) and sing-along house. Of the producer's two versions, it's the Extended Mix, with its additional bassline pressure and punchy drum fills, that's the superior choice. Arguably even better is Crackazat's swinging, piano-heavy Extended Remix, which comes on like a long-lost vocal house anthem from the mid '90s.
Review: Thanks to a series of killer re-edit EPs released over recent years, Chicago veteran Cratebug is finally getting the credit his talents deserve. This surprise release on Classic - his first "original" production to get an official release since 2013 - is likely to raise his profile further. "Melondrop" is something of a sleazy peak-time treat: a sweaty, disco-tinged jack-track full of urgent drum machine percussion, delay-laden vocal samples and mind-altering analogue bass. Cratebug's "Chicago Mix" subtly rises and falls throughout, with the producer tweaking a handful of killer elements to do maximum dancefloor damage. Label boss Luke Solomon provides the obligatory rework, delivering a "Savage Body Edit" that pushes the track's disco elements to the fore whilst retaining the original's locked-in intensity.
Review: Following on from their successful hook up with 2020 Vision, nu-disco heroes Crazy P have now joined forces with the Classic label (how has this not happened before?!) and here we get the "Truelight EP". Spacey retro soul balladry gives way to filthy cosmic funk on "One True Light" and "In My Hands" is nasty Padlock EP-style disco of the highest order. Hot Toddy (aka Chris Todd of Crazy P) remixes the latter into hypnotic acid and band co-founder Ron Basejam turns the former into chugging, sun-warped Balearic boogie.
Review: Hard-working Toronto producer Demuir has appeared on all manner of labels in recent times, but none more so than Derrick Carter and Luke Solomon's Classic Music Company. This debut EP for the long-running imprint undoubtedly contains some of Demuir's strongest work to date. Chief among these is opener "My Predictable Locals", a boompty-influenced chunk of disco-flecked Chi-town bump that could easily pass for a DJ Sneak or Derrick Carter production. Elsewhere, Mark Farina lends a hand on the rolling deep house hustle of "Story Of A DJ", and soul chanteuse Cynthia Amoah lends her honeyed tonsils to the modern soul-goes-house celebration of dancing that is "Here's To Friday".
Review: Having previously plied his trade on a number of New York-affiliated imprints (Wurst, Night People NYC and Nervous offshoot Nurvous amongst them), Eli Escobar makes his debut on Transatlantic label Classic. Opener "Phreeky" features contributions from regular collaborators Vanessa Daou and Nomi Ruiz, and is little less than a killer combination of classic piano-house grooves, party-starting disco samples, relentless cowbells and choice old school vocal samples. It's something of a belter, all told, and one of Classic's strongest releases of recent times. Escobar continues this retro-futurist feel on the Masters At Work-via-Detroit-and-Chicago vibe of "Can't Stop Dancing", where vibraphone solos and whispered female vocals ride an Andres-styles deep house rhythm.
Review: Eli Escobar is turning into a one-man anthem machine. Since joining the Classic Music ranks a couple of years back, the New York producer has been responsible for a string of insatiable dancefloor hits. Predictably, "Handz Up" is another belter: a jaunty, piano-laden roller that smartly builds in intensity throughout. Escobar achieves this primarily through the layering and manipulation of impassioned gospel style vocal samples, bold piano riffs and occasional Church organ, though the stomping, handclap-heavy beat also plays a significant part. Chicagoan scalpel fiend Cratebug - better known for his killer re-edits - provides the obligatory remix, re-imagining the track as a sleazy chunk of head-cracking, mind-altering acid house/gospel house fusion. It's a filthy remix, all told, and offers a druggy alternative to Escobar's cheery original version.
Review: You don't get any more NYC than Manhattan disco/deep house hero Eli Escobar who presents his debut album on Luke Solomon's Classic Music Company. Starting out with the soulful feel good opener that is the title track, there's more quality on offer on the pure disco inferno "Phreeky" featuring Hercules & Love Affair's Nomi Ruiz on vocals (who appears on several tracks throughout the albums duration) and the cheeky "Chaka Khan" which is a bouncy after-hours jam for freaks and the deep low-slung groover "Next To Me". But that's just scraping the surface. The album is full of quality grooves from start to finish, inspired by one of the Big Apple's finest talents and we highly recommend it!
Review: While Eli Escobar's recent album, Shout, was undeniably superb, there's little doubt in our eyes that "City Song" and "City Song Part 2: Love & Happiness" were amongst the standouts. Here, both tracks are given the remix treatment. Munich twosome COEO handles "City Song", transforming the dubbed-out, disco-influenced deep house original version into a sparkling, piano-heavy chunk of classic, late '90s New York house complete with fluttering vocal samples and oceans-deep chords. The more organic and disco-fired "City Song Part 2" is re-imagined in contrasting ways by Escobar and Ron Basejam. While the latter's Crazy P-plus-acid lines version is fine (the funk-fuelled synths are particularly ear-catching), we're slightly preferring the sweaty, restless disco thump of Escobar's own rework.
Review: Hot on the heels of his rather fine Phreeky single, Eli Escobar returns to Classic with two more hot-to-trot house hits. "Chaka Khan", in particular, is something of a retro-futurist treat, with the NYC producer expertly blending hip-house era breakbeats, tipsy chords, warehouse-friendly electronics and a swathe of old school vocal samples. It sounds like a guaranteed party-starter, like many of Escobar's nostalgia-tinted productions. "Up All Night Part 2" sees him revisit the title track of his 2014 album, expertly working selected disco loops into a bumpin', sweaty, hands-aloft house stomper. It rises and falls in all the right places, and sounds like it could be capable of causing serious dancefloor devastation.
Review: There's something pleasingly old-fashioned about Happy Again, an album of alternative versions and remixes of tracks from Eli Escobar's acclaimed Happiness full-length. Thanks to the presence of DJ-friendly dubs, rhythm tracks and acappellas, it feels like Classic looked to the pioneering remix albums of the 1980s for inspiration. What really makes it stand out, though, is the quality of the material. Kon's rework of "Happiness (Part 2)" offers the perfect balance between subtle house and voodoo disco, while Soulphiction and Soul Clap steal the show with contrasting deep house takes on "Can't Stop Dancing" and "4 Luv". We're particularly impressed, too, with the freestyle-tinged revision of "Chaka Khan" by The Carry Nation, while Escobar's own dub of "Happiness (Part 2)" is a loose, warm and groovy treat.
Review: Eli Escobar is a staple of New York's electronic music scene and on his latest release, demonstrates why he is held in such high regard. That said, the title track shows that he is also expert in house music from Chicago. It starts with a stripped back drum pattern, followed by a reptitive vocal, hissings hats, insistent acid and doubled up claps. The unfussy production sound and straightforward approach to arranging harks back to the classic sound of Larry Heard and Adonis. On "Back 2 Luv", Escobar makes a stylistic return to NY. While the drums are solid, the combination of Steven Klavier's soulful vocals and celebratory piano keys make this house music of the most uplifting variety. The Jamie 3_26 Alright Ronnie version, with its disco influences closes out the release.
Review: It would be fair to say that Eli Escobar's second album, Shout, is not a carefree affair. Inspired by his growing anger at American politics, it's a much more poignant and melancholic affair than his party-hearty debut album. As such, the 15-track set is arguably his strongest collection to date, with cuts such as "Nightmare Rag", the gospel influenced disco deep house cry for freedom "The People", twisted and intense "ANGR", blissfully slick and tactile "City Song" and superb "Going On?" - a kind of sorrowful deep house update of Marvin Gaye's most heartfelt work - proving that Escobar is a far more thoughtful and musically savvy producer than many incorrectly believed. There are plenty of groovy and quietly positive moments, too, fuelled by Escobar's belief that love may be the answer to America's mounting problems.
Review: Having previously popped up on the Defected's Glitterbox imprint, it was probably only a matter of time before Folamour made his bow on Classic, another imprint under the ownership of Simon Dunmore's company. In its' original form, "Devoted To You" is a stunning slice of sun-baked deep house positivity that will sound spectacular at open-air parties this summer. While underpinned by a snappy and relatively weighty rhythm track, it's the classic musicality - all swirling synth motifs, dewy-eyed vocal samples and finely filtered disco orchestration - and pitched-down breakdown that really makes the senses tingle. Session Victim moves the track further towards loose and languid disco territory on their "Extended Remix", which hits the filters a touch harder, ups the piano factor and adds even more live-sounding percussion.
Review: Many thought that Moonrise Hill Material co-founder Folamour's acclaimed second album, Umami, would only ever appear on vinyl. Happily, Classic has licensed it and here makes it available as a digital download for the very first time. The album boasts few surprises to those who know his catalogue and sees the hyped producer accompany dusty, sample-heavy deep house club jams with a smattering of soulful, MPC style beat workouts. There's naturally little in the way of flabby filler, just a wealth of good grooves heavily influenced by soul, jazz and disco. Highlights include the Theo Parrish/Andres style jazzy deep house of "Look At Me Or I'll Steal Your Eyes", the head-nodding hip-hop soul of "Kickflippin' That Stuff" and the full-throttle disco-house of "Ivoire".
Review: Rather confusingly, Girls of the Internet are not scantily clad ladies with a passion for music production and webcams, but rather two mask-wearing blokes who closely guard their secrecy. This is their first single since 2014 and marks their first appearance on Derrick Carter and Luke Solomon's long running house imprint, Classic. Interesting, "When U Go" is something of a slinky and seductive affair; an unfussy, slow burn deep house shuffler blessed with in immaculately soulful vocal and some subtle jazz guitar flourishes. Italian producer MoBlack provides the obligatory remixes. His two revisions (vocal and dub) add a little rhythmic pressure (thanks to some jaunty, bossa-house beats) and subtle dreaminess, whilst retaining the best parts of the duo's simmering original mix.
Review: Introducing the remixes from Hannah Holland's recent EP featuring IMMA/MESS. "High Over You" gets a makeover by UK house hero Huxley which introduces a druggy, afterhours tech house vibe which perfectly suits the vocals if you ask us. It then gets a remix by label head honcho Luke Solomon who gives it some of that funky and swing fuelled Chicago deep house magic like only he can really. Finally The Catz 'N Dogz Club Tool Mix of "Lush" sounds like classic Green Velvet or Cashmere; once again suits the druggy edge of the track in the vein of the rave anthem 'Flash".
Review: Bay Area buddies Homero Espinosa and Mark Farina are old studio buddies, producing a string of collaborative singles for Moulton Music. Here, they recuit the services of smooth vocalist Ori Kawa and pitch up on Classic. "It's All Right" effortlessly combines the duo's usual hazy, soul-flecked deepness with the jazz-fired rhythmic swing and low-end bump more often associated with Derrick Carter and Luke Solomon's imprint. This latter aspect - and its' sneaky bassline borrowed from a David Joseph/Larry Levan classic - is explored further on the superb accompanying Dub, which also includes some life-affirming piano solo business.
Review: Given that she first worked with the Classic Music Company 15 years ago, it seems fitting that the label is releasing the long serving Chicagoan's debut album. Described by its creator as a "very personal statement", the set contains a mixture of remastered gems from the vaults and fresh new material - including a swathe of collaborative cuts featuring headline-grabbing names such as Seven Davis Jr, Joi Cardwell, Sam Sparro and regular studio sparring partner Tim K. It's naturally rooted in deep house, but also rather varied, with the First Lady of Chicago House variously doffing a cap to classic jack-tracks, smooth soulful fare, synth-laden boogie-house, wide-eyed late '80s fare and Dancemania-inspired hip-house. The set also contains a rather wonderful cover version of Carly Simon's "Why".
Review: The wonderful Honey Dijon returns to UK institution Classic with some top remixes from last year's LP The Best Of Both Worlds that she completed with Chicago veteran Tim K (Home & Garden) and guests Nomi Ruiz and Matrixxman. Here on Xtra, Keinemusik main man Rampa delivers some sultry and emotive dancefloor drama with his perspective of "Thunda", her homeboy - none other than legend Derrick Carter - brings the super boompty business (like only he can!) with his Black Catcher Extended Vocal remix of "Catch The Beat" and New York's finest Harry 'Choo Choo' Romero delivers an Extended Remix "Personal Slave"- a proper darkroom dub that gets deep-down and devilishly dirty.
Review: Soon, Chicagoan rising star Honey Dijon will release Xtra, a bulging collection featuring reworked versions of tracks from her 2017 debut album The Best of Both Worlds. First, though, we get this taster EP that predictably boasts some seriously good revisions. We're particularly enjoying the hip-house-goes-boompty bounce of Derrick Carter's fine rework of "Catch The Beat" featuring the superb flows of rapper Cakes Da Killa, though Harry "formerly Choo-Choo" Romero's dark and bustling big room take on Charles McLoud collaboration "Personal Slave" is also rather fine. Completing the package is Rampa, who delivers a slick and attractive European deep house revision of Tim K hook-up "Thunda".
Review: Honey Dijon may sound like a type of mustard, but is in fact a Chicago-raised DJ known for producing hot and peppery joints. Inspired by Danny Tenaglia's sets at legendary 90s club Twilo, Dijon is travels the world playing everywhere from the Sub Club to Berghain. Whenever she's got a spare minute in all this, she's also dedicates her spare time to transgender activism. Here however she's doing what she does best - delivering a pulsating tech-house stormer that balances tough beats with delicate rhythms. Cakes Da Killa adds some MC flow, bringing a touch of old skool hip-house vibes in the process.
Review: What could be more fun than a hot-to-trot combo of driving disco bass, psychedelic acid lines and haunting, Sylvester style vocals? That's the winning formula behind Chicago star Honey Dijon's new collaboration with Aussie vocalist Sam Sparro. This killer combo is brilliantly executed on both the original mix and longer "Disco Version", which sounds to us like a summer anthem in waiting. The track's nagging TB-303 acid lines are pushed to the fore on the wilder Cosmic Energy Dub, while Cratebug's "Nova Remix" is a predictably dusty slab of deep house/disco fusion.
Review: Fresh from a rock solid outing on Midnight Riot, Australia-based American James Curd returns to longtime home Classic. This time round, he has Shaun J Wright in tow, whose effortlessly soulful vocals - frequently chopped up and manipulated by boompty survivor Curd - rise above stretched-out pads, bubbly synthesizer melodies and energetic-but-unfussy drums on the duo's brilliant original version. Curd's loved-up synthesizer motifs and the bouncy groove are naturally given greater prominence on the accompanying Dubstramental version, which also includes even more cut-up snippets of Wright's brilliant vocal. While Curd rarely disappoints, "Now I Believe" is undoubtedly his strongest single for some time.