Possumwalk; Release date: March 1, 2012
Hardcore Lounge's founding brothers, Wes and Chris Johnson, have been Charlotte scene stalwarts for many years, with musical roots stretching back three generations. As a child, their father was a member of the country gospel group The Johnson Family Singers, and, as a solo act, Aunt Betty dueted with Nashville sound innovator Eddy Arnold.
With this musical legacy as bedrock, Wes and Chris have accrued a bewildering cornucopia of influences, running from the avant garde New Wave of Wall of Voodoo to the psychedelic Americana of Chris' old band Cyclone Mack. All of this coalesced on Hardcore Lounge's 2010 debut LP, Dance of My Life.
Dedicated nerd rockers, the pumping bass, synth strings and full-throated Barry Manilow-meets-Stan Ridgway vocals of Dance of My Life's title track were a bit of a departure for the brothers Johnson. Intriguingly, Hardcore Lounge goes further down the dance music rabbit hole with their latest remix CD. Including the album cut of "Dance of My Life," it also offers five remixes of the titular track, courtesy of former and current Queen City DJs.
The "Mikey & DSKO Mix" takes skeletal elements, like the original track's synth string stabs and muted trumpet, and sculpts them into an homage to '90s electronic body music. George Brazil offers a buzzy, grittier take on the source material, adding vintage vinyl needle fuzz and pops. "Mr. Atomic's Saxy Edit" features stuttering skipping sax in a dada cut-up that is the disc's most radical and experimental mix, while "Coop's Midnight Dub" opts for a horn-heavy Afropop sound. But the "Farfalla Mix" is the shortest and most effective cut, taking the original's piano figure as a departure point for a rocketing bullet train to Casablanca. It's a fitting pinnacle to this attractive package of club music, a nod to the past and a pointer to the future, much like Hardcore Lounge's repertoire.