Hot Chip: Epics in Minutes
Because they've got good taste, first of all. Because on one of the best mixtapes in my collection, called the Greco Roman Mix, Joe Hot Chip and Alex of K7 drop, among others, "White Horse" by Laid Back, Prince's "Erotic City" and, miraculously, a seamless run of Lady Sovereign's "Random" mixed into Sade's "Sweetest Taboo" mixed into the very dirty version of Ying Yang Twins' "Wait" followed by "Why Does Your Love Hurt So Much" by Natasha Thomas. Also, in a feat never before attempted, let alone achieved, Greco Roman features tracks by both Busta Rhymes and Paul McCartney, not to mention Hot Chip's biggest hit, last year's "Over and Over," which is famous not only for sharing a title with both Three Days Grace and Nelly/Tim McGraw, but for its perfect chorus: "Over and over and over and over/Like a monkey with a miniature cymbal/The joy of repetition really is in you."
Because musical breakdowns that include a singer spelling out buzzwords while the band gets funky can really get a party started, as in:
Because the Casio reference perfectly captures the spirit of Hot Chip: digital's past sneaking into the present, possessing the synthesizers with the spirit of the days gone by, merging analog and digital to create not friction but harmony, and, perhaps most important, never forgetting that the tambourine is a potent secret weapon. Oh, and because the Greco Roman Mix illustrates that at least one of the two founding members of Hot Chip (Joe Goddard and Alexis Taylor) knows his funkiness and expresses it without fear that he'll be ridiculed for doing so because he's white and British.
Because when I've got a frickin' fever and a cough and headache and, well, I'd prefer sleeping to writing, when "Ready for the Floor" drops on the stereo, I can't help but stand up, start shaking my leg like James Brown, do a Temptations spin and throw it down. Hot Chip in the system conjuring ghosts of raves gone right, alone in the house (or on the iPod with the bedroom door locked) = a perfect recipe for miraculous, once-a-millennium dance moves. Just now, while the deep, house-y bass line of "Shining Escalade" from their first CD, Coming On Strong, rolled along the boulevard of my soul, I did this weird dance maneuver where my hips swiveled one way and my neck the other, followed by a pterodactyl move with my wings, let loose with a little head roll, a chicken neck and a karate kick. It was awesome, and if I didn't feel like shit, I would have done some somersault thing to cap it off. (Next time.) I even managed to drop a couple of true-to-life sneezes into my moves, funky sneezes the likes of which can only be achieved with the aid of Hot Chip.
Because the Hot Chip model should be studied by every industry executive and budding band looking for direction. To wit: The album's not dead, and never will be. Short stories didn't kill the novel, so why should the fact that you can download single songs negate the fact that you can just as easily download 13 at a time in a specific order and play them front to back like a mixtape? What Hot Chip do, though, is use the annual album launch not as an ending but as a starting point. After the release, they dish out the individual tracks to remixers who use the originals as springboards. In addition to crafting great songs, Hot Chip makes brilliant templates which, torn apart and reconstructed, more often than not are equally great. "Colours," from The Warning, was good on the album, but as interpreted by the DFA, was transformed into an effusive NYC minimal disco stomp.
Between album releases, Hot Chip is constantly remixing other artists (including Stephen Malkmus, Kraftwerk, Le Tigre, Amy Winehouse, Queens of the Stone Age, Matthew Dear, CSS) and making compilation appearances (they stole the show on the great David Shrigley's Worried Noodles collection last year) or releasing videos or mix CDs. Their Web site is smooth and functional and without so many bells and whistles that you get annoyed and never want to return (are you reading this, Universal?), and it offers little gems like the Greco Roman Mix just for the heck of it. They augment all these things with a stellar live show that feels like a big-ass event wherever it lands. The result: a sturdy production machine of the new industry. In your face always — but pleasantly so.
And because their new CD, Made in the Dark, delivers said 13 tracks with as much joy and exuberance as Sly and the Family Stone offering "Dance to the Music," or Prince's insistent "Housequake." Dance music for pop heads, for dance freaks, for aging ravers and budding Nu Ravers. Your mom would probably even like them. And because, in addition to all these things, Hot Chip is a perfect cure for any sickness you may have, whether it be jungle fever, existential dread, scurvy, food poisoning or, especially, dance fever.
Hot Chip performs at the El Rey on Mon., Feb. 4.
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