A Touch of Class

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

If you’ve been in a bar or club over the past few years, there’s a damn good chance you’ve heard at least one song from the NY-based electro-rock-pop label A Touch of Class. For close to ten years, ATOC has been dropping dancefloor bombs from artists like Waldorf, The Ones and Scissor Sisters, and capped off a few years of hit 12-inches with their 2003 release A Touch of Class Sucks! which is a 2×12 vinyl release divided up in four sections: Punk Sucks!; Rock Sucks!; Disco Sucks!; Electro Sucks! The album is a DJ’s dream since you basically could spin The Fox’s “Ride On (ATOC Disco Dub) into Klein & MBO’s “Dirty Talk (ATOC Re-Edit),” flip the record on table one and play A.R.E. Weapons’ “Streetgang (ATOC Remix).” Rinse. Repeat.

So four years later, apparently the label is just as shitty as it was in 2003, releasing another label compilation entitled A Touch of Class Still Sucks! This time, label owners Oliver Stumm and Dominique Clausen push the limits even further, extending their pop-crossover roots deep into the underground. Leading off Still Sucks! is a hot revamp of “Listen Up” by Washington’s synth-rockers The Gossip. The ATOC tag-team only needed to slightly alter this one for the DJs, adding in a more driving kick, some dope samples and an ear-friendly hi-hat. The structure remains, as the OG version is cool enough as is, but a little too rocking for the dancefloor. Following that one is a hard-house recreation of Le Tigre’s best song from their 2004 release The Island. The ATOC crew sprinkle some magic dust on this cut, spicing it up, pulling it out of the oven with the cooked-up “After Dark (Atoc Remix).” Once again, not straying too far from the original, but giving this song just enough of a boost to get any ass in gear.

Just like their first comp, ATOC show off how versatile they are on such songs as “I Feel Upside Down (ATOC Vocal Mix),” which doesn’t fall into any true dance category. It rocks as much as it grooves, with a funky bassline, hot vocals and a guitar line that ties this musical knot together so tight it would impress a patch-emblazoned Boy Scout. Perhaps the hottest cut on the album is “Trigger (ATOC Remix)” by The Alpine. It’s jumpy and fun as hell with an edgy, distorted bassline. The vocals are catchy and work both as a dancefloor banger or an indie hit. Welcome to Crossoverville.

Rounding out the album is a remix of old-school synthesists Erasure, where ATOC take a stab at “Don't Say You Love Me,” birthing ATOC's Ravin' & Rockin' Remix. There is some serious drama on this jam. The tight electro synths and samples on top of a pounding bassline make this track the perfect midnight fill-the-floor cut. Easy to mix in and out of, the song builds and build and as much as they say not to, you will love this cut. All in all, A Touch of Class Still Sucks! shows off the label’s ingenuity, making them a powerhouse in the U.S. Pound-for-pound ATOC can easily compete with Montreal, Berlin and Rotterdam on the international dance music scene. Score one for the home team.

A Touch of Class Still Sucks! is out now.

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