WILD YOUNG RETRO FOREGINERS (WYRF!)


The Noisettes: Never Forget You
From Wild Young Hearts (2009)

Cookin’ On 3 Burners: This Girl
Dog Wash
Cars (snippet)
From Soul Messin’ (Freestyle, 2009)

It’s funny but I started prepping for this post a couple of days before I read Jody Rosen’s “DORF” theory of NPR’s Black music content (DORF = dead, old, retro or foreign) and I’m just slightly more self-conscious at the fact that I’ve actively put the “R” in DORF and here I am again, focusing on the R.

And you know what? So be it; this is how I roll. There’s plenty of other people focusing on YACL (young, alive, contemporary, local), can I live, dorfin’ it out (or, in this case, RFin’ it?)

The Noisettes are foreign (UK) but neither old nor dead. They’re not necessarily even that retro overall. Of course, on “Never Forget You,” it’s unavoidable that lead singer Shingai Shoniwa would be compared to Amy Winehouse; they have similar voices and the vibe on “Never Forget You” is clearly slathered in the same kind of ’60s, girl group flavor that some of Winehouse’s songs are known for. That said, I’d say this is as good as anything I’ve heard Winehouse (or really, anyone’s) put out and it’s not a pure Brill Building retread, especially with the power rock elements that enter in on the chorus.

And yeah, that hook? Where they go, “my sweet joy/always remember me”? w/ the back-up singers? Pure Ronnettes, pure butter. Love that. Really like the lyrics too – it’s both rebellious and sentimental, dipped in bittersweet sprinkles. (Thanks to DJ Phatrick who put me up on the song and its video).

Cookin’ on 3 Burners have been around for a few years but I’ve been slow in familiarizing myself with the Australian soul scene but there’s clearly a burgeoning scene there too with groups like CO3B and the Bamboos in the mix. “This Girl” is another great, catchy ballad, featuring the singing talents of TKTKT, and flows with the kind of vibe that reminds me of the best of Nicole Willis or Sharon Jones. Too bad I didn’t hear this earlier in the spring; it easily would have made my list of summer ’09 jams but better late than never. (“This Girl” is also CO3B’s latest 7″ for you vinyl dudes).

“This Girl” got me interested in the group but I was happy with how it introduced me to the rest of their repertoire. “Dog Wash,” in particular is on some vintage Meters’ tip – that slow groovin’ second line funk built on whinnying organ stabs and vamps, some smoky rhythm guitar and snappy drums. However, the song that really made me smile was an unexpected cover of Gary Numan’s “Cars”…one of the more defining pop songs of the early 1980s New Wave that I think deserves to be covered more. Listening to CO3B’s version makes me wonder if they were at all influenced by the noted steel drum version by the Katzenjammers. “Cars” is also available as on 12″.

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