Archive for Alice in Videoland

The Softsynth 2010 playlist

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by softsynth

Daunting is the idea of having to single out singles.

a) What do singles even mean in 2010? The digital age, the era of the pre-release leak, the lack of any physical “release” for all intents and purposes, the absence of any television presence where videos are played in any meaningful way – all have lead to a music world where a so-called “single” means no more than any other stand-out track on an album.

b) If breaking down the best albums in a particular genre is as daunting as it was in 2010, the idea of having to attack the mountain of meaningful electronic songs and somehow rank them in a consequential way is beyond the mental capacity of this blogger.

That said, each year there rises an honour roll of sorts, in absolutely no particular order at all, no “first”, no “last” . just those songs (yes, usually singles, but not always) that were constantly on the Softsynth playlist this year; those songs that resonated and rose above the conclave, the 30 “best” electronic songs of 2010. Continue reading

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Ho 2010

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2010 by softsynth

It’s that time again, as we settle into our pre-holiday stupor we’re reflecting back over the year in the music we all love and share.

It also happens to be the second anniversary of this blog. Feel’s like it’s been around forever but it was a mere two years ago today we kicked off this little hootinany after years blogging elsewhere. Connecting to members of the electronic music community has been a real treat this year as well as connecting with many of the bands about which we blog.

It’s been a busy year with the blog as the releases have come fast and furious. 2011 promises much of the same and we’ll be there every step of the way.

As we look back our corrections and mea culpas:

  • A few reviews weren’t as strong as they should have been. On further listening albums by Alice in Videoland and Jakalope while positive/sort of positive respectively, should have been more glowing as both have grown into real treats. Conversely, albums by Iris and sadly, O.M.D. were not reviewed rapturously and yet landed with an even bigger thud than we imagined. Aberrations we’re sure, and onwards and upwards for both.
  • For the first time we’ve had a few second thoughts about our top ten of the year. On further listening there’s no doubt albums by Method Cell and Parralox belonged among the best of the year. While it would seem cruel to remove anyone, we’ll just call it the top 12 of the year and be done with it.
  • While we enjoyed the debut album from Villa Nah enough, we just didn’t get it. A large number of the electronic music commentators we love and respect most considered this among the cream of the crop in 2010 electronic music, and we’re obviously missing something. We’ll try harder in ’11 to wrap our heads around whatever it is we’re missing there.
  • Saddest moments this year were the disbanding of our beloved Thermostatic, the weirdness of the maybe-end of Ashbury Heights and the very recent departure of Sarah Blackwood as the singer for Client.
  • The greatest treat of all this year has been the discovery of new bands who blew our socks off. Future/Perfect, Chew Lips, Muchuu, The Girl and the Robot, The Golden Filter, Ambra Red, Sunday Girl and Vile Electrodes all got added into our cauldron and stirred about to delicious results. It’ll be a blast to see what they’re all up to in the new year, as well as to see what’s new on the horizon to add further flavour to our stew.

Most of all thanks to you for taking the time to visit from time to time, sometimes even to share your wisdom. We can be opinionated (as can some of our commentators) but that’s the joy of these tubes we call the internets. The discussions have been often awesome. Our community is a rich one and Softsynth is proud to be a small part of it.

Happy Holidays to you and yours from Softsynth!

Review: Alice in Videoland – A Million Thoughts and They’re All About You

Posted in Review with tags on December 10, 2010 by softsynth

We’ve noted before we have a super-soft spot for Alice in Videoland. Despite the sometimes-cheesy posing, the overly affected sense of “we’re bad, we’re naughty, we’re punk, despite the synthesizers”, we love AiV for the niche they so expertly fill. At first listen we were sorely disappointed with this album. It felt too glammed, too glitzy and the edgier side of the band seemed left behind altogether. But on repeated listens we’ve become entranced by this collection. Now we’re full-on digging the album. Continue reading

New releases in early 2011

Posted in News with tags , , , , on November 23, 2010 by softsynth

The new year will bring its usual assortment of cool new releases. While we’re giving thought to what will make up the Softsynth best of the year list for 2010 we’ve already got our eyes on what the year-to-come will bring, rumoured or otherwise.

The big names include Erasure who will bring forth an as-yet-untitled new work. It will be interesting to see what the boys proffer this year after the highly disappointing Light at the End of the World.

Our most anticipated release of the new year is IAMX’s Volatile Times. After the peerless, near-perfect Kingdom of Welcome Addiction, our unquestioned pick as the number one electronic album of last year, we are both excited and nervous about what’s next on the docket. It will be among us in March and no other album is as yearned-for.

Covenant finally bring us the long-delayed Modern Ruin January 17th. We’re big Covenant fans so the repeated delays have frustrated us to no end. The “Lightbringer” teaser hasn’t set us afire but we’re still greatly looking forward to what our Swedish stalwarts have in store.

Greece’s Marsheaux will release Message From Mars in the early months of the new year. Consistent and utterly in the know about what makes electronic music work this duo is sure to bring us an electronic highlight for the year.

Swedish electropunk band Alice in Videoland will release their fourth album A Million Thoughts and They’re All About You January 11 in North America (but is already available in some markets). Alice in Videoland can do little wrong as far as we’re concerned so we’re all a-twitter.

There are a lot of terrific electronic releases yet to come in 2010 and we’re girding ourselves accordingly but we can’t help but cast our glance to the first few months of ’11 to remind ourselves that the electronic movement keeps on ticketing and barreling ever-forward. Much yet to come…

(What have we missed? What else in on the scene in the first quarter of the new year? Let us know!)

The synthesizer was the ultimate punk instrument

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2010 by softsynth

We recently alluded to the fact that we believe the synthesizer was the ultimate realization of the punk movement. This is an idea we’ve embraced for decades and as time passes it becomes more clear the early, pioneer electronic bands carried the spirit of the punk scene, if not in attitude, definitely in the democratization of music-making.

The entire punk ethic was built around the populist democratization of music. It was in part a rebellion against the bloated, technically efficient but emotionally void prog rock supergroups, your YES, your Supertramp, your Genesis, your ELP, your Chicago, your Rush. These bands were big, blowsy, splashy, proficient to a fault and oh-so-controlled. To the youth of, especially the US and Europe this wasn’t music that connected to them emotionally. At all. Witness a movement that said, “prodigious proficiency is not what makes music connect, it’s heart and guts and a message that matters most.” Continue reading

Three bands we’re digging this week

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on June 20, 2010 by softsynth

Been listening to a few bands that are hard to access but finally scraped up their material. A couple of these are our two favourite new additions to the Softsynth stable.

The first is Norway’s Electro Spectre whose most recent album Watch It All Turn is an utter treat. It’s as old school electro as old school gets. Right down to the production values the album sounds like it could be have been released in 1982. There is some confusion as to whether or not this is a 2009 album or released more recently than this (a recent label change has added to the confusion – it’s only as issue inasmuch as this is already a strong contender for Softsynth’s Best of 2010 though be all accounts it’s been out in some form for a while), but either way its’ delightful retro synth pop and nakedly European vocals make it go down like tea with a strong helping of honey. Wonderful stuff.

The other we simply cannot stop listening to is Squared Strawberries by Greece’s Rockets in a Coma. This is a dance-influenced electro pop album released last year but only now coming to our attention and it’s a beautiful, shockingly original collection of material. Hard to pin down exactly what this band “is” (Synth pop? Dance? Experimental? Something else altogether?) but what we do know is it’s become a fast favourite around here and we’re excited as hell to hear more. Crazy-hard to get a hold of but well worth the effort if you do. Continue reading

Bands we miss – Zeigeist (and what’s the deal with Sweden?)

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2009 by softsynth

“What?” you are saying, provided you have heard of this Swedish electronic band. “Didn’t they, like,*just* break up…a few months ago? How does one “miss” a band that just ceased to be? And a fair query, that.

Zeigeist were a trio, yet another emerging from Sweden, that endeavoured to be merge their musical ideas with graphic design, film, art and music, a la Fischerspooner. On that front their success rate was debatable and their ultimate output was minimal, releasing one actual album, The Jade Motel, but what an interesting album it was. Similar to the Scissor Sisters in sound but with a more committed, unabashed electronic aura, they experimented not just with sound but with lyrics that made one’s eyebrows raise, particularly on the peerless “Cuffs” which takes a forward-looking view of someone discovering the joys of a little S&M. It was the kind of album that makes one wonder what could have been had they toughed it out. Softsynth highly, highly, recommends the album while mourning the passing of the band, who disbanded this February (member, Pearl has already launched a new project, Pearl Fiction). And we miss not only this highly interesting band but all that they could have built. Continue reading