Crazy Itch Radio
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Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
|2. Hush Boy|
|4. Take Me Back To Your House|
|5. Hey You|
|6. On The Train|
|7. Run 4 Cover|
|9. Smoke Bubbles|
|10. Lights Go Down|
|11. Intro Reprise|
|13. Keep Keep On|
The dust has barely settled from their recent The Singles retrospective but Basement Jaxx are back on the floor with a brand new studio album. Crazy Itch Radio, built around the concept of a radio station (complete with interludes and skits), begins with an absurdly dramatic intro before flowing into the contrastively slinky, feel-good single "Hush Boy", a slick, mellow mash-up of styles that wouldn't be out of place on the duo's kaleidoscopic debut Remedy. Indeed, Crazy Itch… unfolds with a fluidity and infectious joie-de-vivre not really seen since first album. The ease with which tracks like banjo-house anthem "Take Me Back To Your House" and "Hey You!" spill from the speakers in colourful floods of cinematic strings, Balkan folk references, house beats and rock guitars, pays testament to the duo's outstanding studio alchemy. Elsewhere on the album they make grime sound fun ("Run 4 Cover"), pay coruscating tribute to marijuana ("Bubbles") and drop the odd slow number ("Lights Go Down"). Immediate and vibrant, Crazy Itch... is Basement Jaxx at their sassy, life-affirming best. --Paul Sullivan
Smashed up in a jam-packed stew, Basement Jaxx's Crazy Itch Radio is an extravagant lesson in musical jollies. Rippling with R&B, kitchen-sink funk, and a litany of resourceful MCs, it's a concept record with a boy-meets-girl storyline that exists mostly as a prop for Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Burton's manic inventiveness. On Jaxx records like Rooty and even 2003's Kish Kash, house masterminds Masters at Work and Green Velvet were the most often-mentioned reference points, but Radio blows out the kind of easy genre-hopping more associated with Prince, along with a Parliament/Funkadelic-style theatricality. Despite how much is going on, the whole thing sounds impeccably smooth, even when Ratcliffe and Burton decide to toss a banjo into "Take Me Back to Your House," or flirt with ballads on "Lights Go Down" and "Keep Keep On." The record lacks a dance floor jam like their breakthrough "Rendez-Vu" or Rooty's "Where's Your Head At" (though "Everybody" comes close), and the finale "U R On My Mind" wanders aimlessly. But wild ingenuity and the desire to stretch are qualities that threaten to keep Basement Jaxx relevant well into the next decade. --Matthew Cooke
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The highlights of the album are easily the gypsy-folk-dance of Hey You (with an ace guest vocal from Robyn) and Run 4 Cover, which sounds a little like Hollaback Girl's frenetic, twisted cousin. As with Basement Jaxx's earlier work, Crazy Itch Radio tries to be a little bit of everything. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it's just a mess. Take Me Back To Your House sounds a bit like Kylie gone country and it's probably the most immediate pop song on the album. On the other side of the spectrum, Everybody incorporates so many different vocals, sounds and tones that it ends up being more of a sound collage than a real song.
All ten of the album's proper songs feature guest vocalists and are on the poppier (though still experimental) side of dance music. There are also interludes that give the impression that you're listening to the radio (of the crazy itch variety, apparently), which helps the album feel more cohesive. Still, while it's a pretty consistent listen, there isn't much on Crazy Itch Radio that really stands out. It's better and more self-contained than most dance records, but there's a lingering sense that it just could have been a bit better.
Key Tracks: Hey You, Run 4 Cover, Take Me Back To Your House
Sounding more carnival than ever, each track has a happy and melodic vibe. The disc begins with a grand and over-the-top dramatic intro. First single Hush Boy is all diva and too much of a chip of the block from Kish Kash. You'd be happier with Les Visiteurs Remix. Better tracks are elsewhere including the fun second single Take Me Back To Your House, the quasi-trippy Smoke Bubbles, the soulful electro track Lights Go Down, the reggae-influenced Keep Keep On and the riotous Everybody which contains a delightful Bollywood bridge. (B+)
And then they changed a whole lot with the album Kish Kash (though, they were ahead in predicting the curve of this necessary change, later followed by pretty much everybody else).. With songs like "Plug It In," and "Good Luck," and "Oh My Gosh," to me, it seems they began to go overboard, losing sensibility. Their music-production values remained amazing, there were even two songs I really loved -- and consider to be right up there with their best -- "Lucky Star" and "Right Here's The Spot." But it seemed, to me, that they lost focus in their "everything including the kitchen sink, actually, let's throw in ten kitchen sinks" stylings.
(Side note(s): I love that they got Solid Groove to Remix "U Don't Know Me," a song I don't like in it's original version, but the remix ROCKS. And I REALLY love the Jaxx's remix of "Like I Love You" by Justin Timberlake.)
On this album, Crazy Itch Radio, there are three songs I'd consider right up there with their best: "Hey U" (i can't even explain it, it's SO good) and "Everybody" (makes a few references to other Basement Jaxx tracks, the overall sound is a little like Jamiroquai mixed with Scissor Sisters and a hint of Daft Punk -- it's SO good) and "Run 4 Cover" (sounds like Gwen Stefani mixed with MIA performing at Karneval in Rio de Janero -- it's SO good)... I really love these songs.
"Intro" (featured twice on the album) is interesting... Thomas Bangalter used a direct sample of the last few measures of Mahler's 9th symphony (last movement) in a song on the Irreversible soundtrack. Here, there are very-highly-inspired repeated chords (and chorus) from the beginning of the Dies Irae of Verdi's Requiem, except it's "original performance" (not a sample)... I love this.
"Take Me Back to Your House" (very fun, excellent use of mandolins) and "Keep Keep On" (it uses samples similar to those in Kanye West's "Gold Digger," the song is, unfortunately, too damn short) and "Smoke Bubbles" (has a Bernard Herrmann "Psycho" type sample, and a little tiny hint of the choral-part from the Bjork song "Oceania" -- the rest is very animated, lively, fun) and "Lights Go Down" (has some very interesting sounds, and some amazing chorus work, reminding me of something from Bjork's "Vespertine" album) and "U R On My Mind" (neat sounds of whistles and beeps and strings and gurgles) are really good, as is "Hush Boy, though this song, in particular, takes a little getting used to (what, with its at-first-annoying talk of chicken fajitas and margaritas and the internet, and its at-first-awkward, almost nagging, chorus of "if you want to be my boyfriend") but it's very fun once it's won you over... I really like these songs.
The unnumbered untitled hidden track, at the end of the album (it goes: "As the Night Moves On") -- it has a sort of Bjork feel to it (electrical storms and machine beats from the "Homogenic" album and harmonies from the "Medulla" album), only, of course, it isn't Bjork singing -- is good, as is "On the Train" ... I like these songs.
"Zoomalude" and "Skillalude" serve their purpose (interludes). Not much to mention.
After a few dozen listenings, I finally "feel" and "understand" the album, each song individually, and the album as a whole. It's taken some adjustment, this ever-changing Basement Jaxx process-of-music-making. Overall, a "fantastic voyage," definitely recommended.
I'm very much looking forward to the singles' remixes. I pray Soulwax AND Solid Groove are chosen to do them!
Four albums on, Basement Jaxx has really established a unique and immediately recognizable style that few have been able to properly duplicate or imitate. Yet there is a mild sense of "been there done that" to this record. It doesn't really go anywhere that the Jaxx haven't been before. Remedy and Rooty had more radio-friendly singles, Kish Kash was more bizarrely eclectic. But this is nevertheless a solid release. Hush Boy is the most poppish, Everybody the most danceable, On the Train the most soulful, Run 4 Cover the most, well, Basement Jaxxy. And the slower numbers near the end, like the silky Lights Go Down and the bonus track, have more subtlety than on the other records. But there are no real weak points.
Furthermore, a cursory glance at the lyrics suggests that this is, however vaguely, a concept album. While that seems completely counterintuitive for a band as ADHD as Basement Jaxx, the songs do appear to chronicle the ups and downs of a single drunken relationship (although each stands alone, also). Of course, then there's that Run 4 Cover song. I don't know what that one's about.