Archive for July, 2012

Review: Lydmor – A Pile of Empty Tapes

Posted in Review with tags on July 28, 2012 by softsynth

For no obvious reason, the title of this album just feels both a) awesome and b) just right. A good album title can really pave the way to a great listening experience. You know, assuming the album is actually…well, “good”. Fortunately this is a keeper. This epic, sweeping, clever, innovative and brilliant album stand as a highlight to an increasingly strong year for electronic music.

Lydmor is Jenny Rossander, a talented and strikingly beautiful singer/songwriter from Denmark, and while one of the beauties of electronic music is you don’t need to be an accomplished traditional musician to build it, it’s sometimes nice to hear someone bring real musical chops to the process. It results in a fleshed out, sometimes deeper musical experience.
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Review: Empire State Human – The Art

Posted in Review with tags on July 27, 2012 by softsynth

The art of well-excecuted synth-pop is rarely found and most appreciated when it is. We were hard on Ireland’s Empire State Human’s last release, really hard in fact. It just didn’t work for us and we said so. We’re pleased to report their latest is a marked step up and they are deserving of recognition for their adherence to the traditional rules of synth pop and for years of dedication to that lost art. The solid instrumental, “The Secret Life of Artists” is a perfect example of what they do best – hook-driven, straight-ahead synth-pop that trades heavily on styles and structures we know so well from decades gone by; “Stars Shine Bright” has a vague Heaven 17 feel to it that makes it one of the album’s stronger tracks; “Search for Love” is pure, fun disco; “My Passion” is a strong dance plodder that’s better on its own than anything we heard on the entire last album, Audio Gothic. Continue reading

Three artists we’re digging this week

Posted in Observations with tags , , on July 25, 2012 by softsynth

We’ve written about the frustration of missing a cool, noteworthy album release altogether. Some labels or individual artists send in material directly, other times we follow artists’ twitter feeds, other times still we might go down the Softsynth Last FM playlist and troll the web sites of between 20 and 100 artists we’ve listened to at some point. Still, sometimes a good one gets away. Continue reading

Odds and ends, observations and so forth

Posted in Observations with tags , , , , , on July 18, 2012 by softsynth

We found ourselves in another forced layoff when we were struck with the twin joys of a hard drive crash and the discovery, following the eventual, and far-too painful recovery process, of the DNS Trojan virus that shut us down and forced a rebuild of your humble bloggers computer. T’was a lovely time, rest assured. So meantime we banked more reviews and observations etc. A few things to help catch up:

– Really digging new songs by Shiny Toy Guns (“Waiting Alone”) and Rezonance (!! – we seriously thought this band had gone away, never to return, so = yay! Very much digging on “Obscurity” so far). The former is clearly returning to form with the re-establishment of the original lineup and the latter, whose debut, Black Filters (holy shit – seven years ago!) is a total Softsynth favourite. Yays all around here.

– We’ve been deluged by CDs from more established artists and digital tracks by new up-and-coming bands. Many reviews in the can.

– As we blogged (not that long ago at all in fact), still listening to the Rockets in a Coma album, Squared Strawberries a lot in recent weeks and though it’s been out for a few years and though we’ve already blogged about it – holy crap this is a good album. We know it’s a bit repetitive to keep saying so, but in the pantheon of “great albums you probably aren’t listening to” this is at the top of the pile. Still no idea if they are still together, coming out with another album any time soon, or still among the living (any news? Anyone?), but this album, though hard as hell to find, it so very worth getting your virtual hands on if you can.

– The Karin Park album gets better and better with the passage of time. Inside front-runner for our album of the year…in July. Check back in December.

– You know who’s pretty awesome? Lydmor. Review coming soon.

– We keep getting requests for mailing address and email to submit albums for review: for your records: charles@hfx.eastlink.ca; email for address. Note – as you can see in the previous post, we do not provide a blind publicity service; if we think an album doesn’t work we’ll say so in no uncertain terms (or we will withhold a review altogether if we’re feeling all precious and sensitive to hard working artists’ feelings), so, duly warned and all that…

Edited to add: Enjoying the track by Sudden Creation “Shouldn’t I be a Girl?”. A kind of distant cousin to Synthpop’s Alive. Clever and catchy at the same time that makes a good point actually…

Review: Hot Chip – In Our Heads

Posted in Review with tags on July 18, 2012 by softsynth

The more one is a fan of a band, the more vested in their continued output, the more angsty one can get in anticipation of successive releases. We’ve been big fans of Hot Chip since the very beginning, particularly digging their last two albums, Made in the Dark and One Life Stand, which we reviewed somewhat rapturously on this very blog. So it is that we greet their new album, In Our Heads with great anticipation and the usual bit of nervousness – what next hath thou wrought, Hot Chip?

Well, for one thing they’ve gone and busted out the disco machines in full force. This is a dance album through and through. Hot Chip have finally gone all the way over and become a disco act. Unfortunately, and perhaps a little surprisingly (since = who better to embrace their white suits and medallions?) it doesn’t work and the result is a diminished act. Continue reading