Music News

Basement Jaxx

Talk about an overload! There's so much action inside Kish Kash, the Basement Jaxx's romper-stomper of a third album -- bells, clicks, grunts and 808 squeals accenting every single beat atop the heavy strings, brass and accouterments -- you don't know whether to head-bang or have a heart attack. From the word go, when Lisa Kekaula, vocalist for California's Sabbath-meets-soul burners the BellRays, pops up to lay a curse on her ex in "Good Luck," British producers Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton cut 'n' paste together a punk-rock disco symphony. And it doesn't stop, racing the pulse, nary slowing down for a chill-out room breather or clearing the cacophony.

If there's a rub, there it lies. Fans initially charmed by Simon and Felix as house music's post-Daft Punk saviors should understand: The stadium disco the Jaxx practice is sitting out this season's rock revival with a pulled groin and a lack of ideas to fix its, by turns, "deep," "jazzy" and "progressive" injuries. At the same time, the manic energy that drove the Jaxx's "Where's Your Head At?" to MTV and radio in 2002 is fueling numerous rock bands that want to play to gyrating dance floors. So Kish Kash gives the people what they want: an amusement park's worth of beats, live instruments, and more interesting vocalists than an opera festival. (On one record, one time only: *NSYNC's other boy wonder JC Chasez, U.K. hip-hop wunderkind Dizzee Rascal, bald soul mama Me'Shell NdegéOcello, and wigged punk mama Siouxsie Sioux. But there's hardly an instrumental on here.)

The basic tenet of Kish Kash is if you can't have fun here, you can't have fun. The Jaxx's predisposition to the funk of the Prince and "Magnificent Seven" variety remains at the fore, as does their desire to see what else is out there. And they still produce music to make a large, packed room of individuals of differing, discerning tastes vibe together, which, come to think of it, is not a bad kind of overload at all.

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Piotr Orlov