I am not a house head, as some enthusiasts of electronic music might insist. I am, however, deeply rooted in my musical past, a history punctuated by middle-American rave culture, pre-emo indie shows in Ohio clubs, and stints at several of the top college radio stations in the U.S. They say it’s bad for a woman’s roots to show, but as one who sports natural color, I have nothing else to hide. Basement Jaxx, a duo of house DJs from the UK, show their own roots with stylish flair on their latest studio album, Scars.
The Jaxx have an impressive track record of incorporating strong female vocals into their funky traxx. Title track “Scars” features Kelis, and no doubt due to her extraordinary harmony on Kish Kash hit “Good Luck,” Lisa Kekaula is back to impress on “Stay Close.” “What’s a girl got to do/To get your attention?” asks British singer Paloma Faith on “What’s A Girl Got To Do?” Indeed, how many angst-ridden times did I scream some variant at my college boyfriend? Again, we circle back without feeling tedious. It isn’t as though I contemplate failed relationships daily, but I do think closure is a bit of a myth.
“Day of the Sunflowers (We March On)” features Yoko Ono. Doesn’t Yoko strike many as a feminist icon? Renowned yet hated for existing. Blamed for the downfall of a great man, of great men in a group. There are more blatant examples of misogyny at the intersection of popular music and popular culture, but instead of listing my grievances, I will take this opportunity to praise Ono.
While not exactly related to femininity unless the song conjures images of a gyrating Jennifer Beals a la Flashdance, the BJ reappropriation of Michael Sembello’s lyrics from the ‘80s hit “Maniac” for “Twerk” is a more manic, production-heavy take on a classic. It’s just enough of a detour from the original to make it interesting without feeling repetitious.
Perhaps most notable is radio hit “Raindrops.” While it doesn’t feature cameos from any famous pop stars, it does offer a classic Basement Jaxx blend of random screeches and computerized voices over an addictive dance beat. I have it on my regular rotation for the trudge into work. It adds a spring to my otherwise clunky step.
I was a slightly neurotic high school student when I picked up Rooty, mostly due to my love of their giant white gorilla on the album cover. Yet because of my queer best friend’s insatiable love of booty-shaking techno, the once impulse buy became a mainstay. I don’t mind looking back—and I’m looking forward to more Basement Jaxx.