Elevate Difference

Franchise Player 02

Joey Youngman’s Franchise Player 02 is an excellent collection of dance songs marketed for sophisticated urban hipsters, who prefer their dance music steeped in brainy jazz music. The album’s short 16 songs blend into each other, creating a cohesive and nonstop celebration that rarely hits any emotional or sonic crescendos; instead the songs provide a consistent level of sound and beats that provide a fascinating, if an aloof listen.

The album opens with Mils Maeda’s “Lovely Daye” (Greenkeeps 205 Mix), and the song sets the tone of the album, with its dropped horn samples (popping in to accentuate a particular riff or an intricate sequence of beats). Raw Instinct “Grande de Follie” (DJ Gregory’s Main Club Mix) continues the midnight mix feel, adding a lounge feel with murmuring French voices (bringing Serge Gainsbourg’s sensual music to mind), and also including the sampled jazz voices, as well as electronically blanched voices that act like synths, competing with the electric pops and whistles.

Many of the songs recall early 1990’s house music with keyboard, organ or piano riffs springing in between the jungle beats. Jay-Jays & Miguel Mig’s “Rock the Spot” and Bobby and Klein’s “Café Filtre” both pull in elements of house music mainstays including the chiming organs and like-clockwork beats, and “Café Filtre” climaxes with an audience’s ovation. These songs and Bryan Jones’ “Vibe Like Tonight” aren’t terribly mainstream, but they do sound like what C&C Music Factory would’ve crafted if they had been edgier and more creative.

While the songs benefit from their aloofness, there is a much-needed shot of emotion from Jasper Street Co. “Lift Every Voice” (Mousse T. Uplifting Dub); just as the subtitle suggests the song is a moving number with wonderful soul wails by sweet-voiced gospel shouters. The song is a gospel hymn that takes the club to the church.

The other track that follows in the theme of humanity is Troydon’s “City Slummin’” (Johnny Fiasco’s Byrd Word Mix) which samples the Temptation’s classic “Cloud Nine.” The song is removed from its Motown context and cushioned in the squealing electronic setting, removing the original grittiness and replacing it with the glossy shiny technological sheen. The only reminder of the song’s socially conscious origins is the plaintive warbling, “I was born and raised in the slums of the city,” though this isn’t a call-to-arms because any of the emotional oomph is rubbed out by the abbreviation of the singing.

The rest of the album slinks back into sexy, slinky dance music for the nightclub. The atmosphere is chilly and detached and more acknowledgements are made to the influence of jazz in hip-hop and house, most notably in Alan Barratt’s My Kinda Music” (Inland Knights Remix) and the KenLou3 track “Moonshine.” Things take a brief return to the ebullient with Bryan Jones’ “Groove Foundation” that includes a back-up chorus of divas, before the album slithers into a close with more reserved material, capping off with Demon Ritchie’s “Only in New York” which boasts electronically-manipulated choruses that shimmer like sonic liquid. A stylish and arch collection that would be the perfect soundtrack for any nightclub, lounge or runway show.

Written by: Peter Piatkowski, May 21st 2007