Archive for February, 2009

“Wrong” video one for the ages

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 28, 2009 by softsynth

We don’t blog about videos generally speaking, if for no other reason than they stopped being a meaningful artform some years ago (around the time MTV, and in Canada, MuchMusic more or less stopped airing them), but now and then one stands out (see=Weezer’s “Pork and Beans”). Doubly odd is the idea of Depeche Mode making a good video, given much of the work they have done with Anton Corbijn has been crap (wonderful photographer, occasionally a good album cover designer, especially bad video director). I haven’t enjoyed a DM video since the three made for singles from the Black Celebration album (and yes that includes “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy the Silence”, both great singles but I thought the videos were pretentious twaddle). And yet here is one of the most compelling videos I’ve seen in a very long time from any band. Dark as all hell it’s essentially the story of a man we discover has been duct taped and thrown into a car that’s speeding through the streets backwards with an ending that is other than happy. Unlike anything else on the tubes right now…

See for yourself:

Review: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!

Posted in Review with tags , on February 25, 2009 by softsynth

I’ve always enjoyed Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and particularly singer Karen O, the dangerous, charismatic, and let’s be honest, utterly hot lead singer, but they’ve outdone themselves with their new album, It’s Blitz! To anyone who is familiar with the band to hear a record so blatantly electronic is almost jarring at first listen and true enough, there has been a great deal of debate over the band’s choice of direction for this album, especially among diehard fans (which=I can’t help but find it interesting being on this side of one of these debates considering how frequently electronic bands turn their back on the sound that defined them, and how distressing this can sometimes be; it’s odd to have a band that is not known for electro dabbling to cross over to the land of the synths). But after one gets over the fact that the sound is quite different they realize that the songwriting and spirit that truly define this band are fully intact, it becomes easier to let go and go along for the ride. Continue reading

Bell: “Magic Tape” – most exciting electro song on the scene?

Posted in News with tags , on February 24, 2009 by softsynth

You’ll need to go to Stereogum to hear for yourself but the electronic song that has most excited me of late is the newest series of layers from Bell. Her previous work is solid, experimental and powerful but she’s added a new hard-hitting energy that just makes this track pop.

New IAMX coming May 19

Posted in News with tags , on February 23, 2009 by softsynth

Britain’s IAMX, aka former Sneaker Pimp, Chris Corner will release their third album, titled Kingdom of Welcome Addiction May 19. The eleven-track album features a duet with electro goddess Imogen Heap, “My Secret Friend” (which=exciting!), and their recent single, “Think of England” (full track listing at the IAMX website). I’m hearing the new sound is more “organic” and more indie rock than the electro IAMX does so blindingly well. Time will tell, but the single left me cold and I can only hope for more from the rest of the album…

Watch: “Think of England”:

Ten essential electronic albums – Part IX and X

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2009 by softsynth

As the 80’s sputtered to a close, electronic music with mainstream appeal began to die on the vine. The popular taste had moved on and electronic bands that defined the early part of the decade were disbanding, changing or just fading away. 

But meanwhile exciting things were happening across Europe. For years bands like Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle were working outside the confines of more popular forms of electronic music, but this remained steadfastly on the fringes (Cabaret Voltaire would enjoy some degree of commercial success with later tracks like “Sensoria” and “I Want You” but would streamline their sound a great deal in the process). Ministry morphed from a British-style traditional synthpop band into a darker, experimental electro band, then further to the fringes until they found themselves out of the scene altogether as a de facto heavy metal band (but with numerous side projects that kept their feet firmly planted in the outer reaches of the genre, like PTP and Revolting Cocks). The masses weren’t in the loop but electronic music was doing some very exciting and interesting things, off to the side.

Continue reading

Depeche Mode debut “Wrong”

Posted in News with tags , on February 22, 2009 by softsynth

Depeche Mode debuted their brand new single, “Wrong” tonight at the Echo Awards in Berlin. Only listened to it once but really liking it at first glance. Not exactly catchy but I like the energy, the lyrics and a seeming return to unapologetic electronics. (Not digging the lip sync though. That’s never, never cool…)

Listen for yourself (while you can; DM web folks are notorious for yanking material down quickly):

Ten essential electronic albums – Part VII and VIII

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on February 21, 2009 by softsynth

The first couple of years of the 80’s saw electronic music rear its head in earnest. Human League and Soft Cell had number one hits. The most penetrating one-hit wonders of the day were synthpop bands – Flock of Seagulls, The Buggles, Berlin, Taco, Bronski Beat, Thomas Dolby on and on it went. Talk Talk released “It’s My Life”, one of the best songs of the era. Duran Duran and the New Romantics began to dominate the charts the world over. But it wasn’t long before synthpop and it’s hybrid cousins began to atrophy. Suddenly everyone sounded the same. OMD aside, most successful bands of the time stuck rigidly close to the formula that Ultravox and Gary Numan had originated (or at least popularized). Some, like Soft Cell differentiated themselves by their content (in Soft Cell’s case to become the sleaziest band on the planet), but most were blending together to form a kind of monolithic pastiche of increasingly bland musical wallpaper. Then Vince Clarke posted an ad in Melody Maker… Continue reading