Update: I should have saved this post as now that the album is out and getting radio play it’s probably more appropriate.
My last food music post was a face-off between Frittellis donuts in Beverly Hills and a Fratellis concert at the Troubadour.
This time I decided to combine a post about Hot Chip’s new album with Kettle’s People’s Choice hot chips.
The battle of audible vs edible occurred on Christmas Eve. The potato chips were the front-runner, because it’s hard to beat a Kettle potato chip- even with club banging bass and vibrant electro hooks. But first let’s get up to speed on the Chips:
October 2005- I downloaded “And I Was a Boy From School” by Hot Chip after much hype (probably from Good Weather for Airstrikes). The song is a terrific electronic blend of intricate harmonies, head-nodding beats and memorable melodies. Since then Hot Chip has managed to recreate this magic on numerous synthy hits. Overall, however, I’ve never been blown away by their albums.
Kettle chips, on the other hand, have been impressive in almost every flavor since their inception-including their new baked pretzel crips. With an affinity towards spice I was elated when I saw their “people’s choice” fire and spice 5-pack. I ordered it immediately and it arrived with a party pack of stickers, placards and booklet. It wasn’t easy but I saved them for over a month to be tested at a Christmas Eve dinner.
July 2007- I first heard Hot Chip’s new single “Shake A Fist.” It was a live version on KEXP (home of John in the Morning, the greatest show on the radio) and didn’t even feature the song’s highlight breakdown.
September 2007- I heard the album version of the song featuring said breakdown and was impressed enough to seek out the whole album, Made in the Dark.December 2007- I got a hold of the pre-released full length and I listened steadily up until the Christmas Eve chip-off:
ROUND 1 – DEATH VALLEY CHIPOTLE vs. OUT AT THE PICTURES (track 1)
I was drawn to the Death Valley Chipotle first because they were supposed to be the spiciest of the 5-pack. I stress “supposed to be” because I’ve been building up my tolerance to spice and this would be a good gauge. There’s definitely a kick, some heat in the afterburn, but nothing too painful. It was a very flavorful chip but ultimately too similar to Lays BBQ flavor to earn a top spot.
“Out at the Pictures” is a great track to start the album off with. An array of time signatures throughout the song identify Hot Chip as a talented, risk-taking band. The chorus lacks a little but should afford them some key commercial and trailer licenses as it’s catchy and reminiscent of Fatboy Slim’s popular late 90’s electronica.
ROUND 2 – ORANGE GINGER WASABI vs. SHAKE A FIST (track 2)
Hand’s down my favorite track and chip. The song’s rich, layered production is akin to the chip’s depth of flavor. Jangly bass undertones in the song are similar to the chip’s subtle ginger flavor. The bass and wasabi are the highlights the song and chip respectively- notable in the aforementioned mid-song breakdown. The citrus in the chips is best represented by the overall synths in the song- both are well-defined, well-chosen and blend well with the other elements.
ROUND 3 – JALAPENO SALSA FRESCA vs. READY FOR THE FLOOR (track 3)
My second favorite track and chips were the Jalapeño Salsa Fresca and “Ready for the Floor.” The jalapeño chip is not a new creation. I remember eating Crunch Taters at the beach when I was a kid. They were the first jalapeño chips that I’d ever had and I loved them. I felt the same about Kettle’s version.
“Ready for the Floor” is similar to Hot Chip’s past triumphs. Their signature harmonies, smooth electronics, bouncy beat and pop sensibility create songs that are as enjoyable as… well, a bag of potato chips.
ROUND 4 – WICKED HOT SAUCE vs. WRESTLERS (track 10)
Wrestlers is Hot Chip’s version of R Kelly’s hit song Ignition. Although thinner in its production, lyrically and musically it could have been a chapter in the genius creation that was Trapped in the Closet.
Similarly Wicked Hot Sauce could be any boutique chip company’s spicy flavor (Tim’s Cascade, Cape Cod, etc.). I think the chip is more of a cop-out than the song, as Kettle could have attempted a spicy curry or kung pao flavor.
ROUND 5 – MANGO CHILI vs. THE REST OF THE ALBUM
I had high hopes for the Mango Chili chips. The sweetness of the mango wasn’t pronounced enough, perhaps because the flavor couldn’t be replicated in the factory in New Jersey where they were chemically produced.
I had high hopes for a lot of other tracks on the album. They range from weak dance tracks to semi-soulful r&b to uninspired ballads not worthy of full reviews.
Also, all the chips have the same nutritional information, confirming the chemically produced nature of their construction.
Conclusion: I think Hot Chip should produce Britney Spears’ next album. It would earn her street cred with the hipsters and capitalize on the endless media coverage, while exposing Hot Chip’s pop-friendly song writing. Plus the tour would put Britney back in her dancing shoes and pull her away from those calorie-filled potato chips.