In the past couple of weeks, Italians Do It Better has re-invigorated its web store with brand-new releases — but none is Dear Tommy, Chromatics’ much-anticipated followup to their 2012 masterpiece, Kill For Love.
Fans have been waiting impatiently (and, me, patiently) since label head and super-producer Johnny Jewel announced Tommy on Facebook in 2014 for an early 2015 release. We’ve been treated to a handful of great singles, which is nice. There’s even talk that Chromatics’ involvement with the new Twin Peaks season will mean something for the release of Tommy — though that’s speculation of the highest and most unreliable order; it’s just fan hopes. All I know is that Jewel will be releasing a lot of music this year.
But over the label’s 12-year existence, it hasn’t been about just Chromatics’ music (or Glass Candy’s, whose Body Work album has been teased since 2010). The label has released work by other artists, like Farah, Twisted Wires, and Nite Jewel. Here’s a glimpse at those artists’ new work on Italians.
Farah – The Only Ones
Fans of Chromatics and Glass Candy who can measure their wait for new albums in multiple presidential terms have nothing on the Farah die-hards. At least those folks get a new EP or handful of singles every few years. But Texas-based Farah? She takes time, releasing maybe a half-dozen songs in 10 years.
When the cuts do come out, though, they’re great. Farah’s somewhat detached, English-Farsi sing-talk style paired with Jewel’s glamorous dark-disco compositions has been a reliable formula for such classics as “Dancing Girls” and “Law of Life” from 2007’s Italians showcase After Dark, “Gay Boy” from around 2010, and, most recently, “Into Eternity,” from 2013’s After Dark 2.
On “The Only Ones,” the Jewel and Farah dynamic is strong, reminding us of why we long for their work in the first place. The cut is backed with the hypnotic “Baby Girl,” an equally enjoyable song with a synth-funk underpinning. Buy them both on vinyl today.
Twisted Wires – 0000
On stunning cut “0000,” Houston-based Twisted Wires shows why he is a standout act on Italians. He’s got this velvety and haunting low register that he pairs with dark synths and Linn drum expressions straight out of the 1980s. Buy the seven-cut EP (with alternate versions and such) via Italians’ Big Cartel store and stay tuned for his upcoming LP Always.
Nite Jewel – Obsession
Nite Jewel (AKA Ramona Gonzalez, and no relation to Johnny) — fresh off a killer 2016 collaboration with Dam-Funk called Nite Funk — is returning to Italians after an eight-year absence that the laid-back Want You Back EP kicked off. In preparation for her upcoming Real High LP due in May, Nite Jewel has released album teaser Obsession.
The EP’s title cut is a gorgeous and relaxed formulation of atmospheric R&B, featuring Nite Jewel’s beautiful vocals and a minimal but emotionally powerful array of syncopated drums, meditative synths, wistful minor-chord electric piano expressions, and a soulful synth-bass part.
The other songs on the teaser are 100 percent worth your time. It’s a truly special project. I can’t wait for the LP. Buy it on vinyl via Italians.
(Feature Photo: Nite Jewel. Courtesy of Italians Do It Better.)
‘I Do Nothing but Think of You’
If you missed it the first time around, Italians is again selling a four-song, 12-inch of the “pop” songs from Drive — Kavinsky’s “Nightcall,” Desire’s “Under Your Spell,” College and Electric Youth’s “A Real Hero,” and Chromatics’ “Tick of the Clock.” Also, did you miss the Drive 5th anniversary interview I did with all of those people — save for Kavinsky?
NWR: Master Curator
One final thing: Milan Records shared some copies of Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn’s new comp, The Wicked Die Young, with Italians to sell on the label’s store. You can pick it up today. (And if you missed it, check out my in-depth review of the compilation, which Refn curated to showcase the songs that inspired him while making The Neon Demon. It features new music by Electric Youth, Cliff Martinez, and Julian Winding, along with classics from the likes of Giorgio Moroder and Suicide.)