Juan Maclean: DJ-Kicks

Juan Maclean: DJ-Kicks
For nearly a decade and a half the DJ-Kicks compilations have brought house experiences to the masses. It’s easy to overlook the compilations importance now, but when DJ-Kicks was started in 1995, the concept was novel. Having artists create a non-stop mix of music like they would for a club appearance but putting it on a CD for home consumption was something that had never been done before. That first DJ-Kicks album in 1995 was a mix by CJ Bolland and since then the DJ-Kicks’ albums have been made by such artists as Carl Craig, DJ Cam, Thievery Corporation, Nightmares on Wax, Tiga, Annie, Four Tet, Hot Chip, and Chromeo among others. The fact is nearly every important electronic musical figure of our generations have curated a compilation. So that is why the 32nd installment of the compilation is produced by Juan Maclean.
Juan Maclean started his music career as guitarist for Providence, RI-based dance punk band, Six Finger Satellite. That is where he met James Murphy before he was the front man of LCD Soundsystem or the owner of DFA Records. When Six Finger Satellite broke up, Maclean began teaching English in New Hampshire while James Murphy moved to New York City and created his empire. Upon Murphy’s urging, Maclean finally restarted his musical career as The Juan Maclean. Since his 2005 debut album, Less Than Human, Maclean has been one of the most critically successful dance-punk producers. His style blends his dance-punk background with an obvious love for synthpop and traditional house.
These same influences are what are most purvasive on Maclean’s DJ-Kicks’ CD. Maclean uses selections from NYC’s Still Going, Germany’s Andre Crom, Scotland’s 6th Borough Project, Austria’s Florian Meindl, Italy’s Jee Day, London’s Giom, Argentina’s Manuel Sahagun, and Australia’s Sonny Fodera. The common connection from this international tour that Maclean takes the listener on is the sweat-inducing house beats. Even tracks like Armando‘s “Don’t Take It (Thomos Edit)” that are not the obviously thumping house listeners are used to do not slow down the mix.
While Maclean has built his reputation playing dance punk, it might be a little disconcerting to fans to hear him go straight out house. As is the problem with most house albums, the mix gets a little monotonous. Towards the end of the 72-minute mix, you may feel like your ears will bleed if it hears any more fake tambourine over straight four-on-the-floor drums. But despite the monotony, there are some real highlights on the album that make it a passable, if not good, listen.
Rating: 5.3/10
MP3: The Juan Maclean “Feel So Good (DJ-KiCKS)”
Buy: iTunes or Insound!