Currently enjoying “For Lack of a Better Name” by deadmau5

Toronto’s own Joel “deadmau5″ Zimmerman is a serious case of “local boy makes good,” at least as far as the international club scene is concerned. Originally from Niagara Falls, and currently celebrated worldwide as a DJ and producer alike, deadmau5 showcases both his impressive solo skills and his flair for collaboration on this, his second proper album.

To be fair, it’s the solo material that winds up winning the day on this mix album. No disrespect to the album’s two guest vocalists – Rob Swire on “Ghosts N Stuff,” MC Flipside on “Hi Friend!” – but the mix doesn’t hit its stride until after their contributions on the third and fourth tracks are over and done with. What follows, from the fifth track all the way to the closing tenth, is over forty-five minutes of what’s probably some of the best electro house music that came out last year. If the album had just been those six tracks, then it could have been one of Canada’s best and most cohesive records of 2009. But as it is, it takes an awfully long time to get there.

Which isn’t to say that the first four tracks are bad, of course – but at best, the vocals and the lyrics are a little superfluous. When I raved about Rhythm and Stealth by Leftfield last week, for example, I pointed out that each of the album’s five guest vocalists were put to excellent use. The vocal tracks on this record, by comparison, could be mistaken for overdubbed afterthoughts – especially if you’re like me and you got hooked on the instrumental version of “Ghosts N Stuff” before you’d ever heard the album version. Maybe that’s just me and my practically allergic hatred of Auto-Tune, but there you go.

It’s the no-nonsense instrumental tracks that make this album great. Once the chart fodder is out of the way, deadmau5 doesn’t mess around. The beats are basic and driving, and the hooks are undeniably catchy. Like fellow Canadian producer Tiga – or like Daft Punk at times, if you want to be generous – deadmau5 does a lot with a little, and he does it well.

By the way, my brother appears in the video for “Ghosts N Stuff,” which is deadmau5′s first and only music video so far. But don’t bother looking for his face, because you’re not going to see it. “I was the ghost in the hospital scenes and the party,” he says. “Rest of the time it was him.”

So yeah, basically, the main thing my brother has in common with Charlie Brown is once you dress either one of them up like a ghost, they’ve gotta rock.

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