lundi 5 novembre 2012

Alex Kassel follows the steps of David Guetta with his first album

It is while I was looking at the new CD releases at my local FNAC record shop yesterday that I've been attracted by a name I thought I was remembering. The name is Alex Kassel and even though he is not much hyped, this french blue-eyed boy can be the future of the international dancefloor music made in France. I remember last year having bought on download his first single with community record company MyMajorCompany, Chasing the dream, so I thought he had finally made it on CD and I have given it a go by listening to it to check if the style was what I liked on all the 11 tracks of the album ; I stopped the preview at #7 to grab my CD and leave to pay for it, along the two others I had come there first, Kylie's Abbey road sessions and Sandra's comeback in 80's style album. Along the Way sounded just right like I was dreaming it would be, electro house styled vocal dance music and full albums are too rare in that style to be snobbed. Since yesterday, I've already listened to it five times and it keeps bringing me back to it so as there seems to be little info on the net for this release, I have decided to put my own little brick to Alex Kassel's soon to be whole wall of fame.
The album starts with No love left, one of the 5 songs that features lead vocals by american boy Adam Joseph. He co-wrote even more songs with Alex and is, with producer/mixer Maxime Desprez, the dominant collaborator for Alex Kassel who co-produce and co-write nearly everything here. No love left incorporates disco inspirations but is a full joyful & uplifting house anthem, in the oldschool style that never sounds -nor will sound- dated. Adam Joseph vocals are reminiscent of those by Chris Willis on first David Guetta's works and in truth, their partnership really makes sense in some kind of an heritage kind of thing with this other DJ/producer & lead vocalist on feature. Alex has even more charisma and goodlooking image than the DJ superstar, kind of mix between Gilles Luka and Bob Sinclar with this semi-longhaired look. The CD booklet doesn't rely on this blue-eyed look enough if you want my opinion... When the song ends, you keep on hearing its chorus line "'cause there's no love left here for you anymore" in your head and if it doesn't become a single, it'll be pure waste !
Put your money where your mouth is is next and sounds as if it had the same single potential even if the vocalist has changed. This time, it is Mani Hoffman, the man that was behind the Supermen Lovers' mega hit Starlight and leads now his own pop/rock band Mani on the same label. Once again, it is a full powerful house anthem that pays tribute to Mani's first house previous hit and belongs to that french touch sound.
Turn it up brings back Adam Joseph on lead vocals but I wonder if the french lyrics in this new song that has been chosen as the new single could be sung by Axel Kassel hilmself. The english/french mix should help this single to be playlisted by dance radios for french quotas, and it reminds me of Benjamin Braxton's recent outputs, or even more Gilles Luka. The sound is more electro/dance and the repetitive beat and chorus makes it the ideal single to launch the album and invade the club and charts. Fact is you can't stop yourself from moving your feat to the rhythm of Turn it up that is a pure club anthem made for our saturday nights.
Music in my mind sees the beat lose their electro/dance part to sound vocal house back again. The surprise comes from the female vocal lead this time, belonging to miss Dawn Tallman, and her beautiful pipes all shine bright and loud on the chorus, that brings back today's electro sounds, while the intro had made me thought it was all oldschool style again... I wish the song could have lasted just a little bit longer as the end comes too soon. Notice it is Adam Joseph that co-wrote this diva anthem with Axel, co-producer with Maxime Desprez, who mixes all the album, and, I remember him, was the man behind Quentin Mosimann's whole album Exhibition.
Retro house time on track #5 as it is time to treat ourselves with Axel Kassel's first single, Chasing the dream, and first with Adam Joseph on vocals. And the feeling is the same as on its initial release back in summer 2010 : it all sounds like a David Guetta / Chris Willis collaboration from the 2004/2006 era : funky beat, house anthemic and powerful colours with a strong soulful vocal and electro loops. This song really deserved to be a hit ; it's a shame MyMajorCompany doesn't put more promotion time and money on him because Axel Kassel really has the potential to break it BIG time worldwide !
Another Adam Joseph collaboration with next track, Live love, and it is more laid back and breezy, even though when the chorus comes, the song loses a little its lightful appeal to become more anthemic. I really like this dual visage to the song, and its nearly trance inspiration to lift the verses and pre-chorus into the full blasting chorus. This one belongs to the Ibiza dreamy scene to me, made for beach house parties under the sun, all feeling friendly and happy with hands in the air and feet hardly touching the ground. For me, the end of the song, with its piano solo, is a total tribute to Guetta's When love takes over and I can't get enough of that song !
While Live love was the longest track of all at 4'25, All my people is the shortest with 2'39 but it is just right because it is a little too repetitive and the sound's too dark and raw on this "All my people say yeah" chorus line looped up to death. It is the last song to feature Adam Joseph's lead vocals, even if he co-wrote three other songs afterward.
Along the way, title track of the album sees Axel Kassel himself take the microphone and even if his voice has less soul than Adam's, he doesn't have to be ashamed at all : he does the job pretty good, but it shows the man knows how to make his music sound at its best : with soulful vocals, his house anthems sounds better and he kept this dreamy one for himself where his white voice suits it well. The song seems to be personal too, like a love song he wrote for someone and for his fans who put money on his project on MyMajorCompany too maybe. Sometimes songs can have several readings... I found it rather interesting to read on background vocals a trace of a man I haven't heard of since his soul/R&B french album's release in 2000, that includes the beautiful L'amour a eu raison de moi and Victime du temps, as well as his adaptation of Brenda Russell's Get here into Tu m'as tout donné, and his name is Omar Chakil. I didn't really recognize his warm vocals in the mix although the song features soulful wailings near the end that shall belong to him.

No credits for So sexy's lead vocals nor the female backing vocals but the song has been co-written with Adam Joseph so maybe he took the duty or shared it with Axel ? The song is the second after Turn it up to be co-produced with Trak Invaders and it does still sound very electro and into today's sounds. It has less single potential to me though.
Move on up is next with vocals by J-Reid (who?) but it all belongs to the same soulful male touch that on previous tracks and by the video that has been made for it, I suppose it was the second single after Chasing the dream. The song's melody is really catchy and I hope it has been a club hit somewhere... The video is nice and inventive, without any big budget like american MTV clips, and it shows Axel's evident appeal for the camera.
Last track on the album, Sweep me away features another lady on lead vocals, called Dagmara, and even if she doesn't have the same depth as Jocelyn Brown or Dawn Tallman, after the verses, the girl shows she can really sing it out when the chorus comes. It is not the best song of the album though, only a strong album track that I wouldn't see take the crowd on a dancefloor like other here could, but it is a nice way to come to the end.

Now let yourself give this man a chance by clicking to his MyMajorCompany page or directly to iTunes to have a preview (or more) :

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