“It’s a scary world out there”; words you can hear far and wide all across the globe, but when you enter the world of NIGHT CLUB, it can get scarier still.
For the twisted, dirty and sick, look no further than the bombastic American duo, where Emily Kavanaugh rules the roost with her aggressive vocal style, sugar coated at times, but don’t be fooled…
Introducing the second album from the unusual twosome, which follows the acclaimed ‘Requiem for Romance’, NIGHT CLUB are on tour with none other than the mega Gods of heavy electronica, COMBI (f**king) CHRIST.
And from the onset, the heavily pitch shifted vocals on the first single ‘Candy Coated Suicide’ glide and slide over the gritty pop, tainted by dirt, which can be visually verified by the kinky video depicting rather unsavoury looking bunnies (yes, costume bunnies, and not so cute like Chandler in ‘Friends’), as well as a teddy bear in chains and cuffs. As Kavanaugh describes: “like if an 8 year old and her stuffed animals discovered LSD and went on a solid 4 day bender”. Say no more…
But the whole affair starts with the ominous ‘Beware!’, a delicate fairy tale which can fool one into thinking all is glossy and pink. Oh no, it isn’t! The title track hits with the expected force, and even though the vocal is candy sweet a la Britney, the tone is what it says it is on the tin (even the kids choir will confirm it), and hey, after all “they only love you if you swallow”.
With the NIGHT CLUB world being a tad ‘Schizophrenic’, it’s no wonder it sounds like Spears’ ‘Toxic’ at times. It’s so LA baby! ‘Your Addiction’ hits with a majestic synth boom, which canvasses that sexy voice to perfection. Kavanaugh can make anything dirty and kinky after all, and she does it with style.
If LADY GAGA made it big with ‘Do What You Want’, NIGHT CLUB will make it huge with ‘Blood On Your Blade’, with its multitude of style shifts and wealth of influences.
In the meantime, ‘Therapy (Get High)’ spells out the need for drugs, where instead of the instant arrest, Kavanaugh is given a prize. A perfect alternative pop song, even if you won’t play it to your kids. And although she doesn’t really have many friends, as she points out in ‘Therapy’, she is graced with an ‘Imaginary Friend’. And that goes something like vintage DM, so there!
As for the bloodsucking monsters, ‘Vampires’ shows off the vocal wizardry from the Princess Of Darkness, as even with the life being sucked out of her, she’s still the coolest. Still, she will ‘Survive’ as she calms things down towards the end with a single piano substituting the synth for a while, leading the follow-up opus to its conclusion.
And what’s the conclusion? ‘Requiem for Romance’ was good, ‘Scary World’ is scarier and better. Way to go Mr Brooks, and welcome back Miss Kavanaugh. Again, you haven’t disappointed.
If Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake had not been part of The Disney Club but actually raised by The Addams Family, would they have ended up making a record like this?
Fresh from lending her voice to one of the songs of 2017 in AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s ‘Rhythm + Control’, NYXX begins her year with some ‘Voodoo’.
Laced in lusty gothic tension with robotic voices and an almost evangelical middle eight from Daniel Graves, ‘Voodoo’ is like its predecessor ‘Diabolical’, co-written by the AESTHETIC PERFECTION main man.
The promo video, self-directed by NYXX, sees the striking tattooed starlet out in the dust and briars of the LA countryside, pondering how best to dispose of her latest victim because “that girl is psycho”!
The speedier Danny Armand Remix of ‘Voodoo’ with its stutters and drops, comes over like Britney gone dubstep so won’t be to everyone’s tastes.
But with its enticing pop sensibilities and a sinister animist backdrop of swirling electronics built around the rhythmic snap of imperial phase LADY GAGA, the single version of ‘Voodoo’ is the first truly happening tune of 2018.
‘Voodoo’ is released as a download bundle by Close To Human Music through the usual digital outlets
Bridging the gap between Synth Britannia and Acid House, PET SHOP BOYS first found international success with ‘West End Girls’ in 1986.
Photo by Cindy Palmano
With their Gilbert & George inspired persona, they cleverly satirised Thatcherism on ‘Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)’ and used board game symbolism in their observation of the AIDS crisis on ‘Domino Dancing’.
They also combined cool aloofness with pop stardom and achieved 4 UK No1 singles; they were only denied a fifth with their 1993 cover of Village People’s ‘Go West’ by Will Smith as ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ and his pal DJ Jazzy Jeff!
Preferring to “dance to disco” because they “don’t like rock”, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe managed to change the whole concept of concert presentation in 1991 by removing from the stage, that one consistent element in the history of rock ‘n’ roll… the live musician!
The success in 1987 of ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This?’, a duet with iconic starlet DUSTY SPRINGFIELD showed PET SHOP BOYS’ willingness to collaborate, while Tennant’s involvement in ELECTRONIC with Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr illustrated that work away from the nest was not out of bounds either.
Since their imperial phase, they have shown their versatility in projects ranging from producing or remixing other artists and running their own Spaghetti Records label to assorted theatre, film and ballet commissions. As well as DUSTY SPRINGFIELD, LIZA MINNELLI and DAVID BOWIE, the PET SHOP BOYS portfolio has also included TINA TURNER, MADONNA, KYLIE MINOGUE and GIRLS ALOUD.
Becoming the esteemed funny uncles of the British music scene, they have managed to acquire the sort of public recognition that has been denied to DEPECHE MODE. Although both can count a Brit Award for Best Single on their mantelpieces, it would appear publicly in the UK at least that PET SHOP BOYS are held in greater affection.
With an Outstanding Contribution to Music BRIT Award in 2009 and an appearance in the 2012 London Olympics Closing Ceremony alongside Ray Davies, PET SHOP BOYS can now be regarded as quintessentially English as much as THE KINKS.
So presented in chronological order with a limit of one track per artist project, here are 20 tracks by PET SHOP BOYS… collaboratively!
EIGHTH WONDER I’m Not Scared (1988)
‘I’m Not Scared’ for Patsy Kensit’s EIGHTH WONDER was the duo’s first production outside of their own work; dubbed a “Princess Stephanie record” by Tennant, influenced by the likes of moody Gallic disco tunes like ‘Voyage Voyage’, Kensit’s gorgeous purr en Français of “Débarrasse-moi de ces chiens – Avant qu’ils mordent…” was the icing on the cake. PET SHOP BOYS released their own recording of the song for ‘Introspective’, but it lacked the panache of Kensit’s version.
Available on the album ‘Fearless’ via Cherry Red Records
The combination of “Liza with a Z” and her strident theatrics with PET SHOP BOYS’ orchestrated electronic pop was somewhere over the rainbow and the ‘Results’ project was a combination of Tennant / Lowe originals and cover versions; one of those covers was an outlandish hip-hop inspired take on Tanita Tikaram’s ‘Twist in My Sobriety’, featuring a rap by A CERTAIN RATIO’s Donald Johnson. Whereas the original was organic and droll, this was a welcome stab in the face!
Available on the LIZA MINNELLI album ‘Results’ via Cherry Red Records
The snappy electropop of ‘In Private’ was Springfield’s third hit single in a row helmed by PET SHOP BOYS and had originally been written for the film ‘Scandal’; considered too contemporary by the film’s producers, the song was temporarily shelved and the moodier ‘Nothing Has Been Proved’ was used instead. As with ‘I’m Not Scared’, when PET SHOP BOYS recorded their own version as a duet with Elton John for the B-side to ‘Minimal’ in 2006, it was less accomplished.
Available on the DUSTY SPRINGFIELD album ‘Reputation’ via Cherry Red Records
David Cicero was a Scottish musician who after attending a PET SHOP BOYS concert in Glasgow, passed a demo tape to the duo’s personal assistant Peter Andreas. Impressed, they signed him to Spaghetti Records and co-produced his second single ‘Love is Everywhere’. Like NEW ORDER crossed with OMD and RUNRIG, complete with bagpipes, it actually reached No19 in the UK singles chart. Despite a tour supporting TAKE THAT, Cicero’s career was unable to gain further mainstream momentum.
Available on the CICERO album ‘Future Boy’ via Cherry Red Records
Having appeared on ‘Gettting Away With It’ and ‘The Patience Of A Saint’, Tennant sang lead vocals on his third and final contribution to Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr’s ELECTRONIC. A Europop number inspired by the French dance hit ‘Désenchantée’ by MYLENE FARMER, producer Stephen Hague’s pop sensibilities came to the fore on the lush single mix; ‘Disappointed’ became a fully functioning hit that many understandably mistook for being PET SHOP BOYS.
Commissioned to produce the soundtrack of the Neil Jordan film ‘The Crying Game’, Tennant and Lowe covered the 1964 hit for Dave Berry with Boy George as the song for the closing credits; he laid down what the duo thought was a guide vocal, expecting him to return to the studio the next day to finish it. But he didn’t and they were left to salvage the track using the CULTURE CLUB singer’s slightly wayward performance. Not that it mattered, as it gave the finished recording a marvellously vulnerable quality.
Already aping BLONDIE’s ‘Atomic’ and DURAN DURAN with its discofied template, ‘Girls & Boys’ was BLUR’s breakthrough hit. Beginning a spate of remix commissions, bassist Alex James remarked that having a PET SHOP BOYS remix was like having your dog being taken for a walk, but when it came back, it was a different dog! That different dog was performed live by Tennant and Lowe themselves on their ‘Discovery’ tour later in the year.
If ‘Girls & Boys’ came back as a different dog, then ‘Hallo Spacebuoy’ was virtually hijacked, with PET SHOP BOYS certainly re-producing this Bowie / Eno composition from ‘1.Outside’ into a much more commercial proposition. But in the true artful spirit of Bowie, Tennant even utilised the cut-up technique made famous by William S Burroughs to decide which words from the song he would duet with. It became Bowie’s biggest UK hit single since ‘Jump They Say’ in 1990.
PETER RAUHOFER + PET SHOP BOYS = THE COLLABORATION Break 4 Love – UK Radio Mix (2002)
A renowned remixer with DEPECHE MODE and MADONNA among his credits, the late Peter Rauhofer’s project THE COLLABORATION united him with Tennant and Lowe to produce a cover of RAZE’s cult house classic ‘Break 4 Love’. While the ‘Classic Radio Mix’ straightforwardly borrowed the arrangement of the sparse original, the ‘UK Radio Mix’ was more frantic and busy, the energetic antithesis of the more understated ‘Release’ album that was out at the time.
Available on the PET SHOP BOYS single ‘Home & Dry’ via EMI Records
YOKO ONO Walking On Thin Ice – PSB Electro Mix (2003)
The original recording of ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ was notable for being the very last song that John Lennon ever worked on. Yoko Ono’s haunting lyrics for the disco inflected tune reflected on the unpredictability of life, death and of “throwing the dice in the air” before poignantly adding that “when our hearts return to ashes, it will be just a story….”. The PET SHOP BOYS remix, with its hypnotic octave shift mantra and metronomic backbone, gave it a respectful futuristic sheen.
Available on the PET SHOP BOYS album ‘Disco 4’ via EMI Records
Sounding not unlike the backing track to PET SHOP BOYS’ remix of ‘Walking On Thin Ice’, ‘Jack & Jill Party’ was a long awaited recording with the late Pete Burns that exuded a wonderful Electroclash tension that suited the snarly DEAD OR ALIVE singer down to the ground. Mixed by Bob Kraushaar and released on Tennant and Lowe’s Olde English imprint, it actually reached No75 in the UK singles chart but this was to be a collaborative one-off.
RAMMSTEIN Mein Teil – PSB You Are What You Eat Remix (2004)
When German industrial metallers RAMMSTEIN released ‘Mein Teil’, it attracted controversy as its lyrics were inspired by the disturbing Armin Meiwes cannibalism case. Vocalist Till Lindemann said “It is so sick that it becomes fascinating and there just has to be a song about it”. Appropriately, PET SHOP BOYS offered up the ‘You Are What You Eat Remix’ which retained the guitars and the aggression, thus maintaining some gothic fervour for the dancefloor.
Available on the RAMMSTEIN single ‘Mein Teil’ via Universal Music
THE KILLERS Read My Mind – PSB Stars Are Blazing Mix (2005)
Singer Brandon Flowers referred to the underwhelming ‘Sam’s Town’ as “the album that keeps rock & roll afloat”, but Neil Tennant had joked that he knew THE KILLERS’ second long player would not be as good as the debut ‘Hot Fuss’ because Flowers had grown a beard! After the synth indie hybrid of ‘Somebody Told Me’ and ‘Mr Brightside’, it was extremely disappointing but Tennant and Lowe put some pulsing electronics into ‘Read My Mind’ to alert audiences as to what could have been.
Available on the PET SHOP BOYS album ‘Disco 4’ via EMI Records
‘Battleship Potemkin’ was a 1925 Soviet silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein about a 1905 naval mutiny. Using their surnames like classical composers on this updated soundtrack commission, the pair were accompanied by Dresdener Sinfoniker, conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer. Arranger Torsten Rasch had released ‘Mein Herz Brennt’, a song-cycle based on the music of RAMMSTEIN. Despite being uptempo, the mix of strings and electronics on ‘Nyet’ reflected the grim tension of the story.
The former TAKE THAT star had covered ‘I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing’ so was a proven fan. With PET SHOP BOYS in charge of production, ‘She’s Madonna’ was inspired by a conversation Williams had with his ex Tania Strecker on the excuse her former boyfriend Guy Ritchie gave for leaving her for Madonna. It was an interesting artistic twist, as Tennant and Lowe had remixed ‘Sorry’ for Madge in 2005.
Available on the ROBBIE WILLIAMS album ‘Rudebox’ via EMI Records
SAM TAYLOR-WOOD I’m In Love With German Film Star (2008)
Visual artist and director Sam Taylor-Wood became friends with PET SHOP BOYS when she provided film projections for their shows at London’s Savoy Theatre in 1997. She later recorded covers of ‘Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus’ and ‘Love To Love You Baby’ both produced by Tennant and Lowe, but it was her moody electro version of ‘I’m In Love With A German Film Star’, originally recorded by THE PASSIONS, that was the first to actually be released under her own name.
When Tennant and Lowe received their Outstanding Contribution to Music Award at the BRITs, they were joined on a ‘Hits Medley’ by THE KILLERS’ Brandon Flowers and LADY GAGA who did her turn on ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This?’. Originally a lame cod calypso excursion from the latter’s debut album ’The Fame’, PET SHOP BOYS managed to rework ‘Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)’ into an electro-disco stomper despite its break-up subject matter.
Available on the LADY GAGA album ‘The Remix’ via Interscope Records
PET SHOP BOYS featuring PHILIP OAKEY This Used To Be The Future (2009)
‘This Used To Be The Future’ was a dream trioet that featured both PET SHOP BOYS and Philip Oakey of THE HUMAN LEAGUE, recorded as a bonus song for ‘Yes etc’. With Lowe actually singing albeit autotuned, as opposed to just speaking, this celebration of yesterday’s tomorrow saw Oakey deadpan that his utopian dream didn’t quite turn out how Raymond Baxter predicted on ‘Tomorrow’s World’! Disappointed, he conclusively grunts “AMEN!”
A cover of the lost NEW ORDER single from 1985, Finnish producer Jori Hulkkonen remembered: “The idea was to take what me and STOP MODERNISTS partner Alex Nieminen felt was an underrated song, make a late 80s deep house interpretation and bring some extra twist with having Chris on the vocals. It’s very hard – impossible, actually – to explain how important this record is to me. PET SHOP BOYS have been the most important musical influence for me”.
Available on the STOP MODERNISTS single ‘Subculture’ via Keys Of Life
JEAN MICHEL JARRE & PET SHOP BOYS Brick England (2016)
JEAN-MICHEL JARRE’s ambitious ‘Electronica’ project was a worldwide collaborative adventure where the handsome French Maestro “had this idea of merging DNA with musicians and artists of different generations”; ‘Brick England’ with PET SHOP BOYS was a slice of classic mid-tempo Euro disco, with Tennant and Lowe not breaking with tradition, although Jarre’s ribbon controlled lead synth sounded like it was going to break into EUROPE’s ‘The Final Countdown’!
‘Requiem For Romance’ is the debut long playing opus by the LA based duo NIGHT CLUB.
Although Emily Kavanaugh and Mark Brooks kicked off NIGHT CLUB in 2011, their music has been extensively used in television offerings, such as ‘Jersey Shore’, ‘XOX Batsey Johnson’, ‘Washington Heights’, ‘Miami Monkey’ and ‘The Mysteries Of Laura’.
The Comedy Central show ‘Moonbeam City’ saw the band’s compositions featuring in all ten episodes of the production, and its soundtrack was released in 2015.
Although 2014 saw their best body of work so far with the ‘Black Leather Heart’ EP, ‘Requiem For Romance’ promises to capture a “more bombastic and aggressive” sound. Indeed, the heralding single ‘Bad Girl’ offers a darker, rockier approach to synthpop, with quirky use of pitch shift on Kavanaugh’s vocals. LADY GAGA wouldn’t be ashamed to put her name to the production, which is fresh and provocatively jagged.
Acting as an intro track, ‘Requiem’ sounds suspiciously similar to DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Shake The Disease’ plus or minus a few notes, with that haunting voice humming the simple melody. ‘Show It 2 Me’ introduces uncomplicated electronica laced with an intoxicating delivery, while ‘Dear Enemy’ truly plays around the synth capacities, interwoven with the candied tones of the euphuistic singer.
‘Psychosuperlover’ offers a wholesome club track, brilliantly executed both vocally and musically, with scantily clad synth, sexy guitar and the perfect bounciness of a marvellous dance tune.
Brooks’ production brilliance shines through on ‘Freak Like Me’. No, it’s not another SUGABABES meets Numan serving; it’s Kavanaugh sounding like a bloke at times!
‘Magnetic’ is indeed magnetic, and ‘Dangerous Heart’ provides another perfect club piece, fabulously executed with vocal samples reminiscent of PET SHOP BOYS’ ‘New York City Boy’.
The sequenced ‘Pray’ with its unsettling dual pitch harmony is an exhibitionist infatuation with anything synthy, whilst ‘Requiem For Romance’ closes with ‘Little Token’; a piano based ballad laced with sparse electronic elements dotted about strategically, wrapping up the opus in the warm embrace of Kavanaugh’s Madonna-esque vocal.
This pleasing album certainly serves the listener with an adequate dose of fantastic synth action provided by Mark Brooks and the larger than life personality of Emily Kavanaugh. Unlaboured rhythms lend themselves beautifully as the canvass to the many voices of this talented rock chick.
Kavanaugh recently lent her vocals to Rusty Egan’s project ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’, on a song called ‘Evermore’ co-written with Chris Payne. On NIGHT CLUB’s latest offering, she certainly showcases the multitude of her oral talents.
LA based duo NIGHT CLUB launch their forthcoming debut album ‘Requiem For Romance’ with their most provocative musical offering yet.
Entitled ‘Bad Girl’, it is perhaps less Britney and more Gaga in its approach with the use of vocal pitch shift adding a particularly sinister air to proceedings. The duo of Emily Kavanaugh and Mark Brooks told TEC: “‘Bad Girl’ is the first single from our upcoming full length debut. Our live sound has always been more bombastic and aggressive than our recordings so this time around we wanted to fully capture that sound”.
Following their best body of work so far in 2014’s ‘Black Leather Heart’, ‘Bad Girl’ is a startling progression that harks back to Brooks’ rock roots and his love of bands like SLAYER. The monochromatic visual accompaniment to the single sees the duo out in the desert, with Brooks running his synth on solar power while Kavanaugh ably takes on the role of leather clad rock chick.
As well as the new NIGHT CLUB album landing this Autumn, Kavanaugh will be lending her voice to ‘Evermore’, a song for Rusty Egan’s upcoming ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ project co-written with Chris Payne, best known for his work with GARY NUMAN and his compositional role in VISAGE’s ‘Fade To Grey’.
Last year, NIGHT CLUB contributed music to the soundtrack of acclaimed Comedy Central animation series ‘Moonbeam City’ which featured the voice of one-time Brat Packer Rob Lowe.
‘Bad Girl’ is available as a download single via Bandcamp, iTunes and Amazon.
NIGHT CLUB’s other EP releases ‘Night Club’, ‘Love Casualty’ and ‘Black Leather heart’ are available from their Bandcamp at http://nightclubband.com/